Friday, November 06, 2015

Feminization of America Is Bad for the World

Last week the New York Times published an article, “Sweeping Away Gender-Specific Toys and Labels,” that contained three sentences that explain one of the most important phenomena in American life.

In discussing the increasing move to do away with gender-specific toys – something the New York Times approves of – the article quoted Tania Missad, the “director of global consumer insights” at one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, Mattel:

“Mattel’s research showed some differences in what girls and boys wanted in their action figures, Ms. Missad said. ‘For boys it’s very much about telling a story of the good guy killing the villain. . . .’ [Girls] would tell us: ‘Why does the good girl have to kill the villain? Can’t they be friends in the end?’”

Very little academic research on sex differences is likely to be as accurate as research conducted by businesses and advertising agencies. The reason is simple: Businesses and advertising agencies have no social or political agenda; their agenda is profit. Their assessments must be accurate or they lose money; and those providing wrong assessments are fired. Academics, on the other hand, have nothing on the line. When they publish studies that purport to show that boys and girls want the same types of toys, they lose nothing for asserting something so patently false. In business there is a very big price paid for believing what is untrue. Among academics, there is no price – certainly not their reputations, because other academics want to believe the same nonsense.

The Mattel research reveals that male nature wants good guys to kill bad guys (of course, in bad societies the definition of “good guy” and “villain” may well be inverted, but that is a values issue, not a male-nature issue); and that female nature wants the good guy and bad guy to “be friends in the end.”

This difference may be the most important of all the sex differences. Indeed, it can actually shape the future of America and of the world.

Of course, there are women who want evil destroyed – the late Margaret Thatcher, for example. And there are men who oppose confronting evil – the men who lead the modern Democratic Party, for example. (One such man is the president of the United States, whose has a feminized view of those who do evil – talk to them, but don't confront them, label them, or fight them.)

But these exceptions happen in large numbers under two circumstances: when women get married and when men are feminized.

When women get married, they are often influenced by their husbands with regard to political and moral issues, just as married men are influenced by their wives on a whole host of micro issues. As a result, married women are more likely than single women to prefer to fight villains than to befriend them.

Unfortunately, more and more American women are single.

Meanwhile American boys are increasingly raised by single women and taught almost only by female teachers. In addition, they are often taught to be ashamed of their masculine natures and to reject traditional masculine virtues.

As a result of the above two trends, the amount spent on national defense will continue to decline (while the amount spent on welfare will continue to increase), and America will confront the world’s evils less and less.

The consequences will be disastrous for millions of people around the globe. When America retreats from killing bad guys, bad guys kill more innocent people. We are witnessing this right now as a consequence of America abandoning Iraq and retreating from the world generally. Islamic State took over more and more territory as America abandoned those territories. Ironically, therefore, as American foreign policy becomes feminized, more Middle East females are raped.

Whenever I see the liberal bumper sticker, “War Is not the Answer,” on a car, I look to see who is driving. In years of looking, I have seen one male driver.

Both women and men have flawed natures. They share human nature, which is deeply flawed, and the sexes have their own particular natures, which are also flawed. That is one reason men need women and women need men. Men need women to soften their intrinsic aggressive nature and to help them control their predatory sexuality; and women need men to, among other things, better understand that evil people and regimes must be fought, not nurtured.

Mattel’s research has told a truth that America and the world need to pay attention to.

The Left has done many destructive things to America. It is quite possible that none will prove to be more destructive than its attempt to obliterate gender-distinctions.



From coast to coast, conservatives score huge victories in off-year elections

Just like the midterms one year ago, it was another awful night for Democrats.

    Republican Matt Bevin won a big upset in the Kentucky governor’s race. The guy who Mitch McConnell crushed by 25 points in a 2014 primary will now become just the second Republican to govern the Bluegrass State in four decades.

    Democrats failed to pick up Virginia’s state Senate. It’s a huge blow to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who went all-in to make it happen. Democrats could have won by capturing just one seat because of the tie-breaking authority of Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D). But Republicans held every single seat.

    Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, designed to privilege gay citizens and others, failed by a wide margin.

    Ohio rejected marijuana legalization by a two-to-one margin.

    Even in San Francisco, the sheriff who steadfastly defended the city’s “sanctuary city” policy went down. Fox News: “Ross Mirkarimi and his office received heavy criticism after Mexican illegal immigrant Francisco Sanchez allegedly shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle on San Francisco’s waterfront July 1.

Sanchez had been released from Mirkarimi’s jail in March even though federal immigration officials had requested that he be detained for possible deportation.”

The city also rejected new regulations on Airbnb.



Destroying Your Vote

By Walter E. Williams

Voter ID laws have been challenged because liberal Democrats deem them racist. I guess that’s because they see blacks as being incapable of acquiring some kind of government-issued identification. Interesting enough is the fact that I’ve never heard of a challenge to other ID requirements as racist, such as those: to board a plane, open a charge account, have lab work done or cash a welfare check. Since liberal Democrats only challenge legal procedures to promote ballot-box integrity, the conclusion one reaches is that they are for vote fraud prevalent in many Democrat-controlled cities.

There is another area where the attack on ballot-box integrity goes completely unappreciated. We can examine this attack by looking at the laws governing census taking. As required by law, the U.S. Census Bureau is supposed to count all persons in the U.S. Those to be counted include citizens, legal immigrants and non-citizen long-term visitors. The law also requires that illegal immigrants be a part of the decennial census. The estimated number of illegal immigrants ranges widely from 12 million to 30 million. Official estimates put the actual number closer to 12 million.

Both citizens and non-citizens are included in the census and thus affect apportionment counts. Counting illegals in the census undermines one of the fundamental principles of representative democracy — namely, that every citizen-voter has an equal voice. Through the decennial census-based process of apportionment, states with large numbers of illegal immigrants, such as California and Texas, unconstitutionally gain additional members in the U.S. House of Representatives thereby robbing the citizen-voters in other states of their rightful representation.

Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation scholar and former member of the Federal Election Commission, has written an article, “How Noncitizens Can Swing Elections: Without Even Voting Illegally.” He points to the fact that 12 million illegal aliens, plus other aliens who are here legally but are not citizens and have no right to vote, distort representation in the House. Spakovsky cites studies by Leonard Steinhorn of American University, scholars at Texas A&M University and the Center for Immigration Studies. Steinhorn’s study lists 10 states that are each short one congressional seat that they would have had if apportionment were based on U.S. citizen population: Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

On the other hand, states with large numbers of illegal aliens and other non-citizens have congressional seats they would not have had. They are: California (five seats), Florida (one seat), New York (one seat), Texas (two seats) and Washington state (one seat). Moreover, the inflated population count resulting from the inclusion of illegal immigrants and other non-citizens increases the number of votes some states get in the Electoral College system, affecting the actual process of electing the president of the United States.

There is a strong argument for counting non-citizens, whether they are here legally or illegally. An accurate population count is important for a number of public policy reasons as well as national security — we should know who is in our country. But as professor Mark Rozell, acting dean of the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University, and Paul Goldman, a weekly columnist for the Washington Post, say in their Politico article, there is no “persuasive reason to allow the presence of illegal immigrants, unlawfully in the country, or noncitizens generally, to play such a crucial role in picking a president.”

Hans von Spakovsky concludes his article saying, “It is a felony under federal law for a noncitizen to vote in our elections because voting is a right given only to American citizens. It is a precious right that must be earned by becoming a citizen. Giving aliens, particularly those whose first act was to break our laws to illegally enter the country, political power in Congress and allowing them to help choose our president strike at the very heart of our republic and what it means to be an American.”



Perfectly civil police officers doing their duty accused of racism by black woman

Another example of the black grievance fostered by the Left

On October 24, University of North Texas professor Dorothy Bland was walking around her affluent Dallas suburb when she was stopped by police. Professor Bland, who is African American, had been exercising in the street. The cops, who are both white, asked her to walk in the opposite direction so she could see traffic or, even better, to use the footpath. Roughly three minutes later, she was on her way.

The short and seemingly simple interaction has proved anything but, however.

Several days later, Professor Bland, who is the dean of UNT's journalism school, penned an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News claiming that she had been racially profiled.

"Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions," she wrote. "May God have mercy on our nation."

Corinth police responded by releasing the officers' dashcam video of the interaction and claiming Professor Bland had turned a "cordial" stop into a "racial issue".

"If we didn't have the video, these officers would have serious allegations against them," police chief Debra Walthall told Fox News. "Every white officer that stops an African American does not constitute racial profiling."

Now it is Professor Bland, not the cops, who is facing pressure as nearly 2500 people have signed a petition urging UNT to fire her.

Although disciplinary action against either the professor or police appears unlikely, the viral video is still generating a heated debate about law enforcement and race relations in the United States.

Like Professor Bland, many Americans see the stop as a subtle but significant instance of racial prejudice by police.

"If officers were concerned only about Bland's safety and her impeding traffic, why did they ask her for her ID? Why did they need her birth date? Why did they radio in a 'name check'?" wrote Dallas Morning News writer Leona Allen, who is African American.

"We're not fools," Allen added. "Sure looks like they're calling to check to see if she had outstanding warrants." So what is wrong with that? Stops often generate apprehensions of wrongdoers

Many others were equally angry – but with Professor Bland.

"As a person of colour, this upsets me," said former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, who is also African American. "Particularly against what happened in South Carolina. Particularly as this country is wrestling with very real concerns regarding the police treatment of African-American youth."

"She took advantage of a very innocent and thoughtful police response – walk on the right side of the street – she's just looking for her Skip Gates moment," Mr Kirk told the Morning News, referring to the 2009 arrest of black Harvard professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, which led to accusations of racism against a Cambridge, Massachusetts, police officer. "There's a real danger here."

See for yourself



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Theology of Liberalism

How much is liberalism like a religion?

by Tyler O'Neil

There is a sort of orthodoxy required among liberals. Do you believe in climate change? What about the gender pay gap? Those who do not toe the line often find themselves exiled — not just from the fold, but from the conversation.

To some extent, these views are merely what we mean when we say the word “liberal” — they describe a political program roughly supported by one major party. But at some point, these views have become prescriptive; they have morphed into a moral structure to provide meaning and guidance in place of religion. When political beliefs start to explain why bad things happen to good people, they may be crystallizing into something closer to faith.

Political views and religious belief are indeed two very different things, and many liberals have even criticized the pseudo-religious trends in their movement and party. Nevertheless, some recent events should make us wonder just how religious liberal orthodoxy has become.

These are not some cheap shots aimed at liberalism merely to discredit the ideas, but current trends in the movement which illustrate how a political ideology can answer human needs usually satisfied by religion. The ability to explain why bad things happen to good people, the need to confess your sins and find absolution, and the desire to attack opposing views as heretical — these traditionally religious activities are increasingly being taken up by a political movement.

Perhaps liberalism is more like a religion than we thought.

Maintaining Orthodoxy – Declaring Ideas “Anathema”

The practice of attacking views as incorrect, or even as manifestations of evil, can be found in many religious denominations. Early Christianity — not to mention the Reformation — is rife with examples of vitriolic debates that ended with consensus, and one side becoming villainized as heretical. The Sunnis and Shi’ites in Islam have been fighting it out for centuries, and they still hate one another.

Today, some benighted hicks and malicious liars still doubt the doctrine of climate change as a deadly threat. When Real Clear Politics writer David Harsanyi tweeted “Celebrate climate change, an externality of the greatest poverty destroying program in the history of mankind,” he was called a psychopath and a sociopath.

“When a group confuses politics with moral doctrine, it may have trouble comprehending how a decent human could disagree with its positions,” Harsanyi explained. This, he suspected, “is probably why so many liberals can bore into the deepest nooks of my soul to ferret out all those motivations but can’t waste any time arguing about the issue itself.”

The accusations are endless. If you don’t believe in liberal positions about climate change, the minimum wage or social justice programs, you must have been bought off — there simply is no other possible explanation. How could you hate the poor so much? How could you doubt established facts? How could you hate yourself?

“Don’t like big government? You’re a nihilist,” Harsanyi adds. Supporters of traditional marriage and sexuality are “transphobic, homophobic.” Pro-life advocates “may claim that you want to save unborn girls from the scalpels of Planned Parenthood, but your real goal is to control women — even if you’re Carly Fiorina.”

This move to silence the debate does not end with Twitter. Last month, 20 climate scientists petitioned President Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) – a law intended to fight organized crime — against people who “denied” climate change.

When Brookings scholar Robert Litan dared to analyze the downsides of a new federal regulation backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Warren essentially forced him to resign, despite the scholar’s more than 40 years at the organization.

When retired neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson said that the Nazis confiscated the firearms of Jews prior to the Holocaust, prominent liberals didn’t rebut his arguments. They didn’t even call him a liar. Instead, they wrote “f**k off” and accused him of “blaming the victims.” Carson was right, by the way, even though his comments were politically unwise and a bit oversimplified.

This tendency to shut down debate — through name-calling, accusing critics of ulterior motives or diagnosing their social pathologies — is unworthy even of a religion, but most closely resembles the religious practice of declaring certain views “anathema.” Instead of a papal bull against Martin Luther, we get a name-calling rant against Ben Carson.

Confession – Enforcing Morality

Whenever a public figure declares something heretical, a liberal outcry demands his or her head. Mozilla  CEO Brendan Eich was fired when it was discovered he had donated money to support California’s pro-traditional marriage Proposition 8. When the Boy Scouts of America dropped the national ban on gay leaders, liberal activists still said it wasn’t enough. Indiana’s tiny step toward a religious freedom law evoked a firestorm of anger.

Religion has historically provided a strong, non-state mechanism for society to enforce morality. When Jim was caught cheating on his wife, he had to express contrition, do penance, and only then would he be reconciled — if she took him back. Similarly, when Bernie Sanders declares that “all lives matter,” the crowd jeers him off the stage until he repents his sin, as he did at the Democratic debate.

Nowhere is the mechanism of liberal confession more pronounced than on many of today’s college campuses. Princeton student Tal Fortgang recalled that multiple times in 2014, when he voiced conservative opinions, he was met with an immediate response: “Check your privilege!”

This command “teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world,” Fortgang wrote. Fortgang’s family fled from the Holocaust during World War II — and many died.

Regardless of his family’s historic “privilege,” the student found the inherent attack on his accomplishments most galling. The assertion that any success he attains comes from society’s supposed preference for whites over people of other races posed a personal insult to his dignity. This mentality ascribes “all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive.” Until he acknowledges this “privilege,” his opinions can be disregarded as part of an unjust system.

Worse, the focus on “white privilege” obscures the fact that poverty — and being born into wealth — affects people of all races. Malia and Sasha Obama have a great deal of privilege, but that’s because their dad is the president, not because of their race. Poor whites in West Virginia won’t get help from affirmative action, but blacks will, regardless of how rich their daddy is.

Nevertheless, young white males are to apologize for their “privilege,” and acknowledge that they cannot possibly understand the viewpoints of their fellows. Such an enforced humility may be good for them, but it undermines the achievements of many and reeks of an enforced political morality.

Federal Government Theodicy: Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

Any mature Christian who has struggled with his or her faith has likely encountered the idea of theodicy, answering the question “if there is a good God, why is there evil in the world?” Christian history is rich with this perennial struggle — to explain God’s goodness to a world where injustice prevails.

Recently, liberal pundits seem to have taken up the cause of explaining why bad things happen to good people: we don’t have a large enough federal government. In May, an Amtrak train derailed, making national news. Who better to blame than congressional Republicans, who capped federal funding for Amtrak (a private for-profit corporation) at a measly $1 billion? Even as preliminary reports suggested the driver was to blame, liberals argued that a lack of “infrastructure spending” was the real culprit.

When bad things happen, it must be because the nation did not sacrifice enough to the federal government. If only the appropriate administrative agency had more money, we wouldn’t have gotten into this mess! As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway explained, “just as some religious groups might blame a weather event on insufficient fealty to the relevant god, some progressives blame…insufficient fealty, sacrifice, and offerings to the relevant god of federal government.”

Nevermind that Amtrak is a private company with problems of its own, and that members of the House of Representatives have called for a reorganization to promote more transparency. Nevermind the errors of the railroad operators in question who were more directly responsible for the derailment. No, congressional Republicans are to blame, because they were unwilling to dedicate more taxpayer dollars to the nebulous, job-creating savior “infrastructure.”

This thinking is so off-base it also proves an insult to religion, but sometimes liberal ideas can only be explained by comparison to faith.

Whether self-styled progressives question your ideas by calling you psychotic, demands that you “check your privilege” or blames all our woes on the insufficiency of big government, please understand that they are merely acting on the basis of firm convictions. We must not stoop to their level by questioning their motives or mental health. Only acknowledge that their faith can be as bigoted and entirely wrong as the most benighted religion.



Obamacare Is Still Failing

Obamacare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly

Yes, Obamacare has covered more people and has especially benefited those with pre-existing conditions (to be credible, Republican replacement plans have to do these things, as well), but the program is so poorly designed that, surely, even a new Democratic president will want to revisit it to try to make it more workable.

Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly ten million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climbdown from prior expectations. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that there would be roughly 20 million enrollees. If the administration is to be believed, enrollment will only increase about another million next year from its current nine million and only sign up about a quarter of the eligible uninsured.

What’s Wrong with Obamacare? Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent. Health-care expert Robert Laszewski points out that it is the insurers with the most enrollment and therefore the best information about actual enrollees who have tended to request the biggest increases — a sign that they don’t like what they’re seeing in their data.

Relatedly, the economics are shaky. According to a McKinsey & Co. analysis, last year health insurers lost $2.5 billion in the individual market that Obamacare remade.

Obamacare co-ops that were supposed to enhance choice and lower costs have been failing, and almost all of them are losing money, a victim of the absurd rules (no industry executives on their boards, no raising capital in public markets, etc.) imposed on them by the law.

The problem with Obamacare in a nutshell is that on one hand, by imposing motley regulations and mandates, it increases the price of health insurance, and on the other hand, by providing subsidies, it tries to hide the cost — but not enough.

According to an analysis of the health consultancy Avalere, the poor or near-poor have been signing up, but enrollment steeply drops off further up the income scale as the subsidies fall away. It found that three-fourths of uninsured people earning less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level got coverage through Medicaid or the exchanges, while a small fraction of the uninsured making more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level have enrolled.

For them, it’s just not a good deal. A study of the Obamacare exchanges by researchers at the Wharton School concluded that “even under the most optimistic assumptions, close to half of the formerly uninsured (especially those with higher incomes) experience both higher financial burden and lower estimated welfare.”

Even the success that Obamacare has had enrolling people should come with an asterisk. The Department of Health and Human Services announced earlier this year that nearly 11 million people have signed up for public health insurance — Medicaid or the children’s health program, CHIP — since 2013. If Medicaid is better than nothing (although this is harder to prove than you might think), it is substandard coverage that locks the poor into second-class care with limited access to doctors.

If the goal was to expand this deeply flawed program, it could have been achieved without the expense, disruption, and economic irrationality of the rest of Obamacare. As Robert Laszewski points out, on the individual market, Obamacare is essentially a monopoly. It gives money to people to buy its product and through the individual mandate punishes those who don’t. And yet it is still having trouble making the sale.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Fraudable Care Act

ObamaCare is not healthy. Saddled with side effects from fraud to canceled plans, the sickening reality is that government-driven health care delivers higher costs, more uncertainty and the potential to put insurance plans in a death spiral.

Undercover investigators from the Government Accountability Office created 18 false identities and successfully received subsidized coverage or Medicaid for all but one of them. This, despite the use of nonexistent Social Security numbers, fake birth certificates and other false documentation. Seto Bagdoyan, director of forensic audits at GAO, reported that “eligibility determination and enrollment process remains vulnerable to fraud.” One fictitious applicant not only received subsidized coverage from the federal marketplace, but also two state exchanges at the same time. Officials told Bagdoyan “there is no current process to identify individuals with multiple enrollments through different marketplaces.” What’s especially troubling is that the GAO discovered similar vulnerabilities to fraud during its 2013-14 investigation.

Duplicate coverage drives up the cost, as some people received subsidies for private insurance while enrolled in Medicaid. In addition, states incorrectly qualified some people for Medicaid despite their income exceeding the required income levels.

While one of the GAO’s fictitious applicants received three insurance policies, other real-life Americans are in round three of enrolling after losing their health insurance plans not once, but twice. Nine out of 23 co-ops set up to enroll people in ObamaCare have died and 11 more are on life support, causing families to switch plans again. National Review reports:

    "Over 600,000 people who enrolled in co-op health plans will lose their insurance at the end of this year. Many of them were forced into the co-ops to begin with when Obamacare canceled their private insurance policies in 2013, meaning they will have lost their health insurance twice because of the law."

Taxpayers have dished out over $1 billion for the nine failed co-ops. That would be a steep price for success, but to pay that much for fiascos is particularly onerous — especially during stagnant economic conditions.

Dollars get in the way of dreams, even in liberal Vermont, home to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the avid fan of Scandinavian-style socialism. Late last year, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin abandoned his vision of single-payer health care. “In my judgment," he said, "the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families and the state’s economy.” By disruption, Shumlin means an 11.5% payroll tax and an additional income tax hike up to 9.5%.

Despite this expensive lesson, Colorado is now considering single-payer. Yes, the same state that brought us the “Brosurance” keg stand ad promoting the Affordable Care Act and the Colorado Pot Guide for the “weed enthusiast” is voting next month to decide whether to replace ObamaCare with ColoradoCare, funded by a 10% payroll tax hike (a.k.a. a $25 billion increase). Investor's Business Daily reports that Colorado HealthOP, built with $72 million in federal loans, collapsed after losing $23 million in its first year. Before its demise, it had sought rate increases of up to 24% for the following year.

The collapse of Colorado HealthOP dumped more than 80,000 people off their insurance policies. Now these folks have to start shopping again in November, or face the consequences.

Meanwhile, an alarming number of doctors are looking for new jobs. Forbes reported that even before ObamaCare was implemented the mere thought of more government control in the health industry caused physicians to consider packing it in. A survey by the Doctor Patient Medical Association Foundation “reveals that 83 percent of physicians surveyed are thinking of quitting because of Obamacare.”

The Affordable Care Act is not affordable; it’s fraudable. But this isn't surprising since the entire enterprise was founded on fraud and deceit. As that notorious health insurance redesigner and MIT professor Jonathan Gruber pointed out, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”

While hawking ObamaCare, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” And on the campaign trail, Barack Obama repeatedly assured voters, “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. Period.” Now Americans don't like what they're finding. They're not only losing their doctors but also their insurance policies as co-ops collapse.

It’s important to remember that ObamaCare is not about health care as much as it's about money and power. It created a massive redistribution of insurance dollars — a “tax,” as Supreme Court Justice John Roberts bluntly termed it.

ObamaCare was brought to you by Democrats without a single Republican vote, not because the GOP doesn’t care about health, but because Republicans accurately predicted the side effects of government intrusion into the health insurance business. Democrats now own ObamaCare.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are many options, including the eight common-sense suggestions of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who endorsed ideas such as transparent costs, HSAs, interstate insurance commerce, tort reform, equalizing tax laws and repealing government mandates. Several GOP presidential candidates have workable alternatives, as well.

America can get healthier. But not with ObamaCare, which has routinely and repeatedly violated the foundational principle of healing: First, do no harm.



Foreign Policy and the Constitution

Excerpt from a long article by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a lawyer and a military veteran

The Founders believed the violation of major foreign commitments was a chief source of friction and war in international relations. In fact, Federalist 3 recognized only two sources of war: direct violence and the breach of treaties. Thus the Constitution requires that a major foreign commitment that binds our nation have a broad consensus among the people, and not result from the parochial interests of a minority or even a narrow majority. As matters of war and peace, treaties should reflect a strong Union, not a divided nation.

This principle led to the Treaty Clause, which empowers the president to negotiate treaties, but requires two-thirds of the Senate to approve them and—if necessary—to demand changes. This extraordinary requirement is really just an ongoing expression of the original decision to form a Union. And it has produced a system in which treaties routinely go through many iterations and rounds of negotiations, even after initial signature by the president. Treaties throughout our history carry scores of conditions, reservations, and amendments added by Congress, precisely to ensure widespread acceptance among the people.

This was in fact how the first treaty ratified under the Treaty Clause played out. The Jay Treaty with Britain—negotiated by a co-author of The Federalist—only gained Senate approval on the condition that Jay rework the treaty to add a clause regarding trade between the United States and the British West Indies.

Another principle of foreign policy rooted in the Constitution is that the Union must have a strong military, but one that is at the same time restrained and subject to the control of the people.

At the time of the Founding, a powerful and restrained military was something of an oxymoron. Federalist 11, for instance, states that a strong military—and in particular a strong navy—is vital not only to deter aggression, but also to secure and expand international trade. Yet Federalist 26 recognizes that military might has historically posed a grave threat to individual liberty. This presented what seemed to be a Hobson’s choice between a strong military and a weak military, both of which would threaten liberty over time.

But our Founders charted a way out of this dilemma. The Constitution empowered the president, as commander-in-chief, to defend against attack and take decisive military action where necessary. At the same time, it entrusted the people’s representatives in Congress with a wide range of foreign affairs powers as a means of fostering prudence, democratic control, and protection against tyranny. Thus only Congress can raise and support armies; only Congress may declare war and invoke the legal obligations and protections that this state of international relations confers; only Congress regulates foreign commerce, and with it control over important levers of influence with foreign nations in order to better relations, exact costs, and prevent war.

Under President Obama, there has been considerable drift away from all three of these principles. And that drift has contributed to the general drift of U.S. foreign policy. Even former President Carter has said, “I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than when he took over.” Our interests are threatened, our alliances are stressed, our honor is stained, and our adversaries are increasingly tempted into new episodes of adventurism and aggression.

The most recent example of this drift is the Iran nuclear deal. This is a major arms-control agreement with a mortal enemy—an enemy with the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands, and for whom “death to America” is a foreign-policy bedrock. And the agreement goes to the heart of the gravest threat facing the world: a terror-sponsoring state armed with nuclear weapons. It is precisely the type of agreement that the Founders intended to be tested and refined by the treaty process. It is precisely the type of agreement implicating matters of war and peace that must be supported by a widespread consensus of the American people.

But the President didn’t submit the Iran nuclear deal as a treaty. From the beginning, his intention was to circumvent the people’s representatives and obligate the U.S. to the ayatollahs by a mere executive agreement. Instead of rallying two-thirds of the Senate to support the deal, he relied on a tiny, partisan minority to protect his executive agreement from the judgment of the American people.

This is dangerous and nearly unprecedented. Executive agreements are and should be reserved for technical matters. Among the first executive agreements in our history were the 1792 agreements between the United States and other nations to coordinate mail delivery. Executive agreements have also traditionally been used to assign claims and debts between nations. These issues are low-stakes, and are not breeding grounds for armed conflict. They are akin to deciding whether cars will drive on the right or left side of the road. That’s why they do not need to be tested by a supermajority vote.

Nuclear weapons agreements are different. The dividing line between subjects reserved for treaties and subjects reserved for less formal scrutiny is not precise at the margins. But this isn’t anywhere near the margins. Historically, major arms control agreements that bind the U.S. have almost invariably been reached through treaty. One notable exception was the Agreed Framework with North Korea negotiated under President Clinton in 1994, which aimed at keeping North Korea from becoming a nuclear power. I doubt President Obama would like to cite the North Korea case as precedent—although it surely is a precedent in its contempt for Congress, and likely in its failure as well.

Why did President Obama ignore the Treaty Clause? The answer is stunning. Secretary of State Kerry lamented in testimony to Congress that it is “physically impossible” to get a treaty through the Senate in these polarized times. Of course, this logic could apply to any politically inconvenient part of the Constitution. Moreover, Secretary Kerry must have forgotten that, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he guided a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia to ratification less than five years ago.

The simple fact is that the President ignored the Constitution because he knew the Senate would reject his deal. This disregard for the Treaty Clause is the height of hubris. It mistakes tunnel vision for principle, closed-mindedness for superior wisdom, and personal legacy for the vital national interest. The nuclear deal with Iran is a travesty, one that betrays our close friend Israel, provides billions for Iran’s campaign of terror, and paves the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capability.

Besides the immediate damage to our national security, the deal also damages the foundational principle that major foreign commitments should be backed by a broad consensus of the people as reflected by Congress. This episode, added to the North Korea example, will make it extremely tempting for future presidents to avoid the expenditure of political capital required to pass a treaty. Presidents will be tempted to reach expedient deals on momentous issues, deals that divide rather than unite the nation.

As we think about our future and new strategies, it would serve us well to look back at old truths. We must hold fast to foundational principles. We must continue our rich foreign policy tradition, and vigorously fight any efforts to undermine it.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Understanding the Arab mind

Below is an excerpt from a long review and synthesis of two books by Egyptian author Tarek Heggy.  The books concerned are "The Arab Cocoon" and "The Arab Mind Bound".  I think the analysis concerned gets a lot right but overlooks the effects of Western Leftism. Leftist critiques of Western society have been joyously seized on by Islamists to reinforce their promotion of Islam and denigration of Western culture.  Muslim hostility to the West is partly powered by the constant Leftist portrayal of the West as evil.  Leftists have a lot to answer for

Efforts to explain the region’s seemingly intractable resistance to progress and development, many of which blame America, the West, and Israel for the Mideast’s problems, have yielded an immense literature. Heggy’s answer sets his books apart.  He dispenses with the familiar tropes:  No, U.S. foreign policy and the existence of Israel are not the primary reasons for Mideast malaise.  Nor does he blame European colonialism, the global capitalist system, or the league of autocratic rulers who clung (and in places, continue to cling) to power thanks to oil revenues or outside military aid.  Instead, Heggy draws on his cosmopolitan background, long experience in the region as a businessman, and discussions with public intellectuals of every persuasion to offer a profound critique of the Arab mind.

As the titles of Heggy’s books suggest, the root cause of the region’s endemic problems is not something outside of it; the problem is the region’s culture, a concatenation of insular beliefs and habits of mind nurtured and sustained by forces particular to the Arab world.  The mindset Heggy describes prevents those affected by it from adopting the aspects of Western civilization that make progress possible.  When Heggy uses the word “progress,” he has in mind a kind of updated, twenty-first century, Kantian Enlightenment conception of the term.  He places high emphasis on respect for individual rights, government according to the principle of consent that is also limited in its scope, widespread public confidence in the power of human reason to drive the sciences forward, the celebration of creativity and art, a tolerant civil sphere, gender equality, free markets, non-sectarian public administration, and the utilization of modern management techniques.[5]  The fact that the West, today, protects and cultivates these things to a historically unusual extent makes it worthy of emulation.[6]

The Arab Mind Bound, is by far the superior volume.  Its central contention–that a brand of medieval Islam long relegated to the Arabian Peninsula is resurgent to a crippling effect today–is an insight truly pregnant with significance.

Heggy’s honest exploration of the region’s “backwardness” (a term he uses freely) takes him into terrain few commentators dare tread:  Islam–or to be precise, a literalist and politicized manner of interpreting Islam–is an important, probably the most important, contributor to the Arab predicament.  Almost as dangerous, he challenges the comfortable assumptions of Western bien-pensants.  No, not all cultures are equal.  Yes, cultures can be judged; and yes, the political regimes of the West (though flawed to be sure) are superior to the alternatives, especially those being tried in the Arab-Islamic world today.

The core of Heggy’s most important contention is encapsulated by a metaphor he puts forth in The Arab Mind Bound.  Arab culture is “shackled with two heavy chains”:  attached to one is the species of Islam promulgated by Saudi Wahhabis and to a lesser extent, the Muslim Brotherhood; attached to the other is a dysfunctional educational system that perpetuates the “defective thought processes, intellectual distortions and negative delusions” that yield endemic stagnation in every sphere.[7]

It follows that no attempt to address the myriad political and economic problems facing the Arab-Islamic world will be successful absent cultural–and thus, educational–reform; but as Heggy demonstrates, there are institutional and ideational obstacles in the way of both.  The very forces responsible for promulgating the most rigidly insular brands of Islam have, over the course of decades, wrested control of schools and universities from liberally inclined modernizers.

By the end of the books–especially in light of the failure of the Arab Spring–readers are left profoundly pessimistic about the possibility of meaningful cultural reform in the short term.  All roads lead back to the university, the school, the mosque and the public intellectual; and the same pre-modern ideas have infiltrated, captured, and corrupted all four.

Heggy is not the first to suggest a binding of mind is the root cause of the region’s problems, nor is the problem without historical precedent or roots.  Others, notably Robert Reilly in his book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, have traced the genealogy of this cultural “suicide” (Reilly’s term) to intellectual developments that began to ossify Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, and theology a millennium ago.[8]

Heggy does the same, effectively, though in much less detail, recounting a story that begins with an eleventh century disagreement between a theologian and Islam’s great medieval philosophers.  In a work called The Incoherence of the Philosophers, al-Ghazali argued that the understanding of nature and God put forth by Greek philosophy was incompatible with Islam’s account of the cosmos, according to which an omnipotent and willful God created the universe.  Contemporary accounts of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy (alive and thriving at the time thanks to the popularity of al-Farabi and Avicenna) posited an eternal universe knowable to rational human beings. Al-Ghazali’s argument, bound tightly to Islamic scripture, purported to refute the Greek view, root and branch, in order to preserve the conception of God put forth in the Koran.

Averroes, one of the greatest contributors to medieval thought, tried to preserve the gifts of the Hellenistic world from al-Ghazali’s assault.  He argued that the Divine Law endorses philosophy, that reason and revelation are compatible in Islam.  Thus, he insisted that the human intellect is properly turned to, and can profitably investigate, the wider world and the claims of scripture (giving allegorical interpretation to those which fail to withstand rational scrutiny).

Al-Ghazali’s understanding won out in the East to devastating effect (though Averroes helped save the legacy of Athens for the West).[9]  Philosophy –man’s investigation of nature, the human good, the best political regime, etc. by his reason– was discouraged in the Arabic-speaking world in favor of a dogmatic adherence to sacred texts for answers to metaphysical as well as political questions.

Other thinkers achieved a similar feat in the juridical sphere.  Ibn Taymiyyah, and much later, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, argued that an upright Islamic community willingly tethers itself to Islamic law as derived from the Koran, the Sunna, and the consensus of Muhammad’s companions, which effectively erased generations of Islamic commentary (some of it modernizing).[10]  On this understanding, there is no place for democratic lawmaking.  Just laws instantiate the revealed will of God–the only legitimate source of legislative authority–and should therefore be enforced by the community’s temporal authority through the penal code.

Since the juridical interpretation of scripture was completed centuries ago, the political community is effectively bound to pre-modern legal codes and legal reasoning (for its own good).  On this understanding, modern inventions like the separation of church and state are forbidden; so, too, is the creation of positive law by deliberative legislatures responsible to, and selected by, the people.  To do either is tantamount to the usurpation of divine authority by human beings.

Returning the discussion to the Arab world’s present predicament, it is not hard to see why a political community dominated by these assumptions would have trouble making “progress” or embracing political systems devoted to instantiating the principles of political liberalism.  Heggy puts it bluntly:  Al-Ghazali’s victory is the reason “Arabs have become spectators rather participants on the stage of life.”[11]

Contra Reilly, however, Heggy makes the case that the anti-rational, “rigid and medieval,” model of Islam was, for much of history, a “marginal and ineffectual” heterodox view of a small minority–the isolated Bedouins living on the Arabian Peninsula.[12]  Until the mid-point of the twentieth century, what Heggy calls the “Turkish-Egyptian model of Islam”–a manner of practice that “adopted an enlightened approach to religion”–seemed destined to prevail in the Arab world.[13]

Signs of progress were everywhere.  Led by Ataturk, Turkish republicans had opted to emulate the West, turning their back on their Ottoman-Islamic past in favor of a secular society along European lines; under the Shah, Iran appeared to be following suit; Beirut and Cairo were thriving intellectual centers; Arab universities were providing an increasingly liberal education to an emergent middle class; and minorities were for the most part reasonably well treated.

At the same time, however, twentieth century Islamists were quietly working to rehabilitate, radicalize, and spread the inward-looking “Bedouin model.”  The most important among them are becoming familiar names, even in the West, as scholars and political commentators try to understand the resurgence of a radicalized Islam that has impacted communities from North Africa through to Pakistan.

For Heggy, Sayyid Qutb exemplifies the twentieth century Islamist intellectual.[14]  Qutb was an influential Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood midcentury, ultimately put to death by President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966.  His thought further politicized the Brotherhood by welding Wahhabi ideas to the Brotherhood’s brand of political Islam in Egypt;[15] this caused a number of violent organizations, including Hamas, to splinter from it.  In addition to his calls to establish an Islamic government, Qutb popularized an idea that lies at the heart of al-Qa’ida’s ideology.  The Muslim world, on his account, had fallen into a condition of widespread ignorance (jahiliyya) reminiscent of what Muhammad faced in Arabia.  In order for Islam to spread freely, the obstacles in its way–insufficiently Islamic rulers, Israel, the United States, etc.–must be driven out of the region, by violent jihad where necessary.

Of course, Qutb and those like him ground their arguments in the Koran and the hadiths in an attempt to coopt their tremendous authority.  Heggy acknowledges that this rigid, and sometimes violent, manner of interpreting Islam has deep roots, having emerged over centuries from the hard, arid, and isolated tribal life of the peninsula.  He insists, however, that Islamic scripture does not mandate the Bedouin model; rather, the Bedouin model is a reflection of the geographic and sociological conditions under which it emerged–the arid desert plains of the peninsula.[16]

On Heggy’s account, the peninsula’s puritanical understanding of Islam’s tenets spread throughout the world to create a ruinous mindset, one that suffuses almost every aspect of social and political life. Heggy describes the resultant “Arab mentality” as “a mixture of emotions, excitability and confused thinking, characterized by an overwrought imagination that is totally divorced from reality, rooted in the past, and based on sectarian or ideological considerations.”[17]

While Heggy is careful to note, even to insist, that Islam is not a monolith, he often describes the mentality that binds the Arab mind as though it is today almost ubiquitous.  Widespread anti-Western prejudice leads to a Pavlovian rejection of anything resembling a marketplace of ideas and, thus, intellectual stagnation across the scientific disciplines persists; an inclination to excessive self-praise rooted in distant glories (and with it, an incapacity for self-criticism) undermines the toleration of diversity and runs contrary to respect for minority rights; the paranoid fear that Western culture will destroy Arab identity if any of its dominant features are embraced makes compromise by Islamists with Western actors difficult; public apathy inspired by the account of God as an all-powerful and willful being (and the parallel depreciation of the individual as capacious agent) has crippled efforts at democratic reform where they have been tried.[18]  Heggy’s list is a long one.

The dissemination of this new brand of Islam was not inevitable. The better part of The Arab Mind Bound is devoted to explaining why the Bedouin model of Islam has spread, and to cataloguing its long list of pernicious effects.  This is one of the greatest contributions of either book; and it is here that one finds a more nuanced discussion of the respects in which Western actions have contributed to the Arab predicament.

The factors Heggy identifies are wide-ranging, though most of them are recent by historical standards.  The binding of the wider Arab mind begins, for Heggy, around World War I; its aftermath (in particular, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the English occupation of Egypt) dealt a first, though very survivable, blow to the emerging “Turkish-Egyptian” approach by humiliating at an instant those whose identity was tied up with Islam.[19]

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 to fill that space, a deliberate response to Ataturk’s abolition of the Caliphate; its express aim was to Islamize Egyptian culture such that political reform–ultimately the reestablishment of the Caliphate–might follow in time.  The legacy of colonialism and the steady influx of Jewish migrants into neighboring Palestine helped the Brotherhood’s message to resonate with ordinary Egyptians.

Under the pressure of religious oppression, as Brotherhood leaders suffered and collaborated in Nasser’s prisons, the organization’s ideas grew more radical.[20]  The Israel-Palestine problem that emerged in the ensuing decades, and especially the humiliation of 1967, helped to increase the appeal of politicized religious rhetoric by demolishing at an instant the promise and appeal of Arab nationalism (a more or less secular ideology).

The same events helped the “Wahhabi influence to infiltrate al-Azhar,” as Gulf money spread Wahhabi ideas throughout the Middle East and Africa.[21]  The utter failure of socialist movements in the region, most of which quickly morphed into the brutal military dictatorships that persisted into the twenty-first century, further undermined the appeal of Europe’s political ideas.

So too, the pervasive lack of economic opportunity in Egypt today, in the context of widespread corruption, helps Islamist criticisms of the state and its broader agenda to resonate.

Heggy is right to locate the root of the Mideast’s predicament in the Arab mind; and he is right to admire the political regimes of the North Atlantic states.  His books make an important and timely argument for cultural reform with force and eloquence. Indeed, the region’s prospects for a better future depend on the cultural and educational reforms public intellectuals like Heggy are working to catalyze.  What he does not convey is equally important, however; for the very regimes he would have Arab states emulate were not built by elections and constitutional reforms alone.  They were built for and upon peoples of a peculiar temperament, themselves the product of deliberate cultural reforms dating back centuries.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, November 02, 2015

Are we seeing the collapse of Muslim civilization?  And is that  disturbing?

Spengler (David Goldman) is always an unusual and interesting thinker and he answers both questions above in the affirmative. Despite his lengthy disquisition (excerpt below), however, I think he fails to make his case.

Muslims have always been at one-another's throats.  It was what enabled the Christian Byzantines to survive alongside Muslims for hundreds of years.  When a Muslim regime attacked Byzantium, some other Muslim regime would see that as a weakness in the warring Muslim regime and attack it "from behind".  So the war with Byzantium would suddenly be over as the besetting troops were withdawn to fight the sudden new Muslim enemy.  And just the fear of that situation among the Muslims helped protect Byzantium. So I can't see that the present chaotic situation in the Middle East and North Africa need disturb anyone.  It is just Muslims being Muslims.

And Muslim attacks on non-Muslims are neither new nor rare either -- from the Barbary pirates of the 17th to 19th century to the Turkish slaughter of the Christian Armenians and Pontine Greeks  only around 100 years ago.

And that period in history is the one that I would identify as the real big break in Muslim civilization.  The Ottoman empire, with its vast reach and power was long well accepted as the Caliphate but its great losses of territory in WWI plus the total abandonment of  its traditions by Mustafa Kemal totally disrupted its place in the Muslim world and left a large theological vacuum.  A Caliphate was lost! And Islamic scholars took a long time to adapt to that new situation on the ground.  But they did eventually adapt by returning to Bedouin roots and its primitivism.  And Saudi Arabia became the headquarters of the new/old understanding. And oil money gradually spread that understanding far and wide.

So the fall of the Ottomans made Islam polycentric, with all Muslims now responsible to propagate and promote the faith and with all Muslim rulers hopeful of becoming the new Caliph. And that has now built up some momentum.

So because the present scene is just a re-enactment of traditional Muslim hatreds and behaviour, I can't see that European countries have any reason to see in the present Muslim chaos any forewarning about their own future

The acceptance of a Muslim influx by Western European countries is driven not by any civilizational fears but by Leftist squawks about "compassion" and "racism", which embarrass governments into impotence.  And Leftists LIKE the Muslim influx.  Destroying the existing society has always been their primary aim and they care little about what replaces it. "Anything would be better" is their hate-filled and myopic cry.

Political leaders in Germany—which may absorb 1.5 million migrants this year—are struggling to respond to reports of a sex crime epidemic among newly-arrived Muslims. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere urged Germans not to believe rumors of widespread rape at refugee centers, while Germany’s police union chief Rainer Wendt warned, “There is a lot of glossing over going on. But this doesn’t represent reality.” Wendt added, “It is understandable that there is the desire to calm things down politically.”

Germany’s elite knows perfectly well that the migrants bring social pathologies, because they have already seen the world’s worst sex crime epidemic unfold in Scandinavia. Sweden now has the highest incidence of reported rape outside of a few African countries, and nearly ten times the rate of its European peers—and all this has happened in the past ten years. Sweden ranks near the top of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, yet it has become the most dangerous country for women outside of Africa, with an incidence of rape ten times that of its European peers. Sweden’s political leaders not only refuse to take action, but have made it a criminal offense to talk about it.

Even in liberated, feminist, gender-neutral Sweden, there is something more horrible than rape, something horrible enough to persuade the political elite to sacrifice the physical and mental health of tens of thousands of Swedish women. That is the horror of social disintegration in the Muslim world. Sweden opened its borders to refugees twenty years before the migrant flood arrived on Germany’s doorstep, and the foreign born rose from 9% of the population in 1990 to 15.4% in 2012. Foreigners have a higher birth rate, so the percentage is higher including second-generation immigrants.

There have been protests, to be sure, and nationalist parties like the Sweden Democrats have gained support on an anti-immigration platform, but Sweden will remain supine as its social fabric unravels. So, I expect, will Germany. Europe is transfixed by the horror unfolding from Libya to Afghanistan, as one of the world’s major civilizations unravels in real time. In its moment of agony, the Muslim world’s most potent weapon is its own weakness. The human cost of the collapse of Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria is horrendous, but it is small thus far compared to the horrors that would attend instability in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The West can’t bear to look at it.

The incidence of rape in Sweden has tripled in the past ten years as the country became Europe’s premier destination for Muslim immigrants. Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Ingrid Carlqvist and Lars Hedegaard observe,

"Since 2000, there has only been one research report on immigrant crime. It was done in 2006 by Ann-Christine Hjelm from Karlstads University. It emerged that in 2002, 85% of those sentenced to at least two years in prison for rape in 2002 were foreign born or second-generation immigrants.

A 1996 report by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reached the conclusion that immigrants from North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) were 23 times as likely to commit rape as Swedish men. The figures for men from Iraq, Bulgaria and Romania were, respectively, 20, 18 and 18. Men from the rest of Africa were 16 times more prone to commit rape; and men from Iran, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, 10 times as prone as Swedish men."

A new trend reached Sweden with full force over the past few decades: gang rape — virtually unknown before in Swedish criminal history. The number of gang rapes increased spectacularly between 1995 and 2006. Since then no studies of them have been undertaken.

Sweden not only stands by while large number of its women are raped, but outlaws public discussion of the causes. Michael Hess, a Social-Democratic politician, was condemned by a Swedish court under a law forbidding denigration of ethnic groups. for writing in 2014, “There is a strong connection between rapes in Sweden and the number of immigrants from MENA-countries [Middle East and North Africa].”

Why should Sweden inflict such damage upon itself and criminalize dissent against the policies which caused it? Ideology can’t be the whole explanation. Sweden is committed to a postmodern multicultural ideology, to be sure, but other ideologies have a voice, feminism. Yet the feminists are mute on the subject of Sweden’s rape epidemic. That is not because feminists condone rape, but because they believe that there is something even more horrible than rape.

There have been many wars of extermination, but there is something uniquely horrifying about today’s terrorism. Never in the history of warfare have tens of thousands of individuals stood ready to commit suicide in order to harm enemy civilians. Never for that matter, has one combatant (Hamas in the 2014 Gaza rocket war) sought to maximize civilian casualties on its own side. The Japanese killed over 20 million Chinese during the Second World War, but committed suicide in combat in the attempt to sink enemy warships, not kill enemy civilians. The Nazis did not ask their soldiers to kill themselves in order to kill Jews.

Bret Stephens, the Wall Street Journal’s chief foreign policy commentator, calls this behavior psychosis. That begs the question: Which kind? DSM-IV doesn’t have a name for it. Perhaps we should call it “Social Death Derangement Syndrome,” or SDDS.

The fear of social death that comes with civilizational decline is unspeakably worse than individual death, and horror before the prospect of social death gives impulse to atrocious behavior. More precisely, it makes it impossible to say what is atrocious and what is not. “We cannot, indeed, imagine our own death; whenever we try to do so we find that we survive ourselves as spectators,” said Freud. That is not quite true: we often tremble at the prospect of our own death in fear and horror, which we would not do if we did not imagine it. Our consciousness, rather, is both individual and social, and we regard our own death with the inner eye of those with whom we share a common language and aspirations, which will not end with our physical existence.

Unless it does. That is the ultimate horror. It is one thing to imagine being a spectator at your own funeral, and another to imagine yourself shut into perpetual silence, cut off from all human contact, with no past and no future. That is a living death, a mental presence without consciousness. Imagine, for example, that on your deathbed you are the last speaker of a language that will become extinct upon your passing, erasing your memory and your history. That is a horror much worse than Hell, where at least you can chat with your neighbor in the brimstone pit. At least the shade of Achilles could gripe to Odysseus about the misery of the underworld; imagine how the son of Peleus would have felt if all memory of Greece along with its language were forever extinguished, and he sat in Hades alone and in perpetual silence.

That is how it feels to be trapped in a dying civilization.  Rationality ceases to have meaning. Upon learning that you have an inoperable malignant brain tumor, you might cash in your insurance policy and go on a spree—but not if everyone who speaks your language and shares your memories already is extinct. In that case there is nothing to do with your money. You can sit at the bar by yourself and drink Chateau Petrus. Or you can go out and stab the next Israeli you run into.

The death of Muslim civilization is too horrible for the Germans to contemplate, because the bell tolls for them, too. And it is particularly painful for Germans to consider the possibility that the source of the terrible events that have driven millions to Germany is the character of the people themselves. Syria has torn itself to pieces not only because of the malfeasance of its leaders but rather because of the character of its people. Once the Sunni revolt against Shia-majority government in Iraq enlisted elements of Saddam Hussein’s army as well as the “Sunni Awakening” funded by Gen. Petraeus during the 2007-2008 “surge,” sectarian war to the death became inevitable in Syria, with both sides inflicting the most revolting atrocities imaginable.

The Assad regime has killed more people because it has the aircraft to attack Sunni civilians, but the Sunni opposition–including the “moderate,” American-backed Sunni opposition–has committed mass murder and bragged about it. Human Rights Watch in October 2013 that in one operation near Latakia in the Alawite heartland, Sunni “fighters killed 190 civilians. Residents and hospital staff in Latakia, the nearest city, spoke of burned bodies, beheaded corpses and graves being dug in backyards. Two hundred people from the area remain hostage.” Free Syrian Army chief of staff Salim Idriss, the poster-boy for “moderate opposition,” praised the operation in a video and took partial responsibility. ISIS has captured the world’s imagination and turned its stomach with public executions and the destruction of archaeological treasures, but that is how Muslims have fought wars for 1,500 years. Just ask the Christians of the Balkans or the Armenians of Anatolia about the Turks.

Very large parts of the Syrian population are complicit in the civil war’s atrocities, almost certainly by intent. Mass complicity in war crimes has two functions–first, to destroy the enemy’s will, and second, to make entire populations complicit in the atrocities.

Horror does not deter Muslims, because Muslims see the world in terms of unconstrained will. Allah’s will governs the spin of every electron and the path of every bullet. It is unfathomable and arbitrary, like nature in the pagan world. Islam can endure horror, but not humiliation. But horror is the Achilles’ heel of the Christian world, whose founding premise is that God offers unselfish love and unmerited grace to mankind, and in a sense stacked the deck in favor of goodness. The perception that the universe is cruel and without purpose is poison to Christianity. That is the great paradox of salvation: If God’s unselfish love and unmerited grace offer salvation to all humankind, what are we to make of those to willfully reject it?

All the promises of heavenly bliss are not worth the torment of a single child, said Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov. But Karamazov spoke of the aberrant behavior of a few cruel people within the Christian world, whose actions the vast majority of Christians would condemn. The news photo of one drowned boy overwhelmed Europe. What does one do with a culture that routinely commits atrocities?

“The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz,” quipped the Israeli psychiatrist Zvi Rex, and there is deep truth in the joke. Auschwitz is killing off the Germans while the Jews flourish, at least in Israel. Israeli Jews have three children per female while Germans have less than 1.4. At current fertility rates, there will be more Israelis than Germans under the age of 25 by the end of the present century. The share of Germany’s population over 60, meanwhile, will rise to 45%.

The impulse to open Germany to Muslim refugees is irresistable for Germany’s elite, prominently so in the case of Chancellor Angela Merkel. To understand her motives one must consider that she is not only a German, but also a Christian. “Belief in God and closeness to the church have molded me and occupied me since my childhood,” she wrote in an essay entitled “Why I am a Christian” just before her election victory. A pastor’s daughter, she grew up in atheist East Germany and maintained her belief despite the hostility of the state and her peers. “Since my youth I knew that I followed an inner compass through my commitment to God and his Church, one that was rejected by the [East German] state and the majority of the population. It was not always easy to stand by Christ. In contrast to most young people I went to Christian instruction and confirmation classes, rather than to the [state] ceremonies for youth.”

Only a few hundred thousand people have died in Iraq and Syria during the past fifteen years, but zeros could appear to the right of the death toll before long. Whether the migrant tidal wave arose spontaneously, or whether it was channeled by Turkey, is a secondary question. The Christian mind cannot absorb the horror of human suffering on an apocalyptic scale, and what we see now is tiny compared to what is likely to come next.

The Germans–the best Germans, like Chancellor Merkel–cannot absorb the horror of human suffering on the present scale, and what we see now is tiny compared to what is likely to come next.

The choices are between a near-apocalyptic level of horror, and a somewhat more limited horror. Whatever you can imagine, it will be worse. If the West invites the horror into its own home, though, it is unlikely to survive.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Anchorette puts Obama right about Muslims

Not just a pretty face.  Most conservatives have probably seen this by now but for those who have not ....


Rush Limbaugh: ‘Bias Doesn’t Even Cover What Happened’ at GOP candidate Debate

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh blasted CNBC for their bias in last night’s GOP presidential debate saying, “Bias doesn’t even cover what happened last night.”

“The display that we got last night was a culmination of everything that many of us have been trying to tell the American people the drive-by media is – arrogant, smug,” said Rush Limbaugh. “I mean, it goes so far beyond bias. Bias doesn’t even cover what happened last night.”

Below is a transcript of what Limbaugh had to say today

    “The display that we got last night was a culmination of everything that many of us have been trying to tell the American people the drive-by media is – arrogant, smug. I mean, it goes so far beyond bias. Bias doesn’t even cover what happened last night.

    “That was a kill show last night. That show was designed to kill every one of those candidates. That debate last night was designed to take them all out. That debate last night was to grease the skids for Hillary Clinton. That was the sole purpose of that debate last night.

    “And the smugness and the arrogance and the condescension with which those moderators went about it, finally came back and bit them to the point that everybody watching that debate, everybody – even other drive-by media types – saw what was going on. And you can count on one hand the number of drive-by media types defending what happened last night on CNBC. And one of them you don’t even really count because his mind was lost long ago, and that’s Chris Matthews.

    “So, you can count on four fingers the number of drive-bys that are actually defending. Ron Fournier, even, last night said that what happened, ‘The mainstream media’s getting beat up today, and we deserve it,’ he said. And he’s exactly right.”



Biggest loser in the CNBC debate? The media

by Jeff Jacoby

[Note: This comment was written immediately following the third televised Republican presidential debate in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday night.]

IT WAS, hands down, the most arresting moment of the Republican debate in Colorado.

One of the CNBC moderators, Carl Quintanilla, asked Senator Ted Cruz whether his opposition to the just-announced congressional deal raising the federal debt limit demonstrates that he's "not the kind of problem-solver American voters want."

Cruz's response was to turn the tables on the moderators, blasting them for the hostility toward the candidates that oozed from virtually every question they had asked so far.

Then, with devastating accuracy, he recited back the offensive questions:

"Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?"

By this point, the audience was going wild with cheers.

But Cruz wasn't finished. He contrasted the animus of the media panel toward the GOP field with the recent Democratic debate, "where every fawning question was: Which of you is more handsome and wise?" And then he underlined the message: "Nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators has any intention of voting in a Republican primary."

CNBC's moderators made little attempt to hide their contempt for the Republican presidential contenders — and deserved the beatdown administered to them by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

It was brutal takedown, and CNBC's smarmy moderators had it coming. Cruz is far from the first conservative to rail against liberal media bias, but he did it about as effectively as it can be done in 30 seconds. The clip of that moment will go viral. It may or may not give a boost to Cruz's presidential hopes, but it will certainly reinforce the public's sense that the mainstream media isn't trustworthy.

Rubio played the media-bias card, too. When he was asked about a home-state newspaper calling on him to resign from the Senate because of all the votes he has missed while on the campaign trail, he pointed out that he has missed fewer votes than John Kerry and Barack Obama — two former senators who ran for president, and were endorsed by the very same paper.

Bush then made the mistake of trying to pile on: "Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work." Rubio's deft response was to note that Bush claims to be modeling his campaign after John McCain's — "yet I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's voting record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because . . . someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you." Ouch.

It was a good night for Cruz and Rubio; a bad night for Bush. But the biggest loser in Boulder wasn't a candidate: It was the media.



Hiring the enemy

One would think that those who benefited the most from the free enterprise system would be its most ardent defenders when in fact the opposite is often the case. It has been said that free enterprise never wins because when a person succeeds they give the credit to themselves and when they fail they blame it on, “the system.”

Worldwide, most of humanity has lived in abject poverty since the beginning of time. Capitalism is the system that created a middle class that lives better than kings and queens of the past could only have dreamed of and yet that system is singled out for unremitting attack from our culture and ironically from some of those who have benefited the most from it.

Take for instance founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. To those of us who admire the system, he is a hero. He started with nothing and created what is today one of the world’s largest online retailers, resulting in great wealth for himself and a great shopping experience for the rest of us. What does he do with that wealth?

For one thing he bought the left leaning Washington Post. The result being that the Post is possibly more left wing than it was before he bought it. It features daily attacks on the system that allowed Bezos to succeed while heaping praise on the Obama Administration that has turned this country into an economic basket case with half of our workforce either unemployed or underemployed and an international laughing stalk.

Then, he hires Jay Carney to run his Washington lobbying shop. From January 2011 to May 2014 Mr. Carney was the Press Secretary to Obama. Prior to that he was Press Secretary to Joe Biden and prior to that he was Washington Bureau Chief for Time Magazine.

Mr. Bezos is not alone in hiring the enemy. Mr. Carney’s predecessor as spokesmouth for Senator and then President Obama was Robert Gibbs. He is now the Executive Vice-President in charge of public relations for McDonald’s Restaurants. While McDonald’s pays Mr. Gibbs lavish amounts of money the Obama Administration’s appointees on the NLRB are giving a maximum regulatory effort to destroying McDonald’s franchise business model. Perhaps the thinking is that Mr. Gibbs will be great at handling the public relations for the restaurant chain’s bankruptcy.

Another enterprise much admired by free marketers is Uber, an innovative company that came out of nowhere to revolutionize an industry and make life easier for its customers and contractors. Like all innovation Uber is under attack by state, local, federal and international bureaucrats. Who do they hire to fight this? David Plouffe, a man who has spent his entire adult life supporting and advising politicians who despise Uber-like innovation. Mr. Plouffe was campaign manager to President Obama’s 2008 campaign and served as a Senior Adviser to the President from his first day in office up until January of 2013.

These companies and the people running them may think they are buying influence and access by hiring such people. In my view they are not. They are buying contempt from the political class who see through their cynicism and from their customers who do not understand why they would be hiring political arsonists to put out the very political fires they started.



The liberal war on women

Working women have gotten crushed under the weight of Obama policies

Now that Hillary Clinton has by default sewn up the Democratic nomination, expect Democrats to play the gender card for all it’s worth. Hillary recently lashed out at the Republican field for holding “extreme views about women, we expect from some of the terrorist groups but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States.”

So much for cleaning up the harsh partisan discourse in Washington.

Hillary’s “gender equity” agenda includes family leave legislation and a federal mandate requiring that women receive equal pay. This from a senator who from 2002 to 2008, paid her female staffers 72 cents for every dollar paid to males, or $15,708 less than the median salary for a man, according to an analysis of data from official Senate expenditure reports.

The strategy here is to try to continue to exploit the gender gap that widened in the past two presidential elections. In 2012 Barack Obama won 57 percent of the women’s vote. President Obama has done especially well with single women winning 66 percent in 2012.

But it may not work this time around and here’s why. Working women have gotten crushed under the weight of Obama policies. During Mr. Obama’s six and a half years in office women have suffered steeper declines in take home pay than men have. Women have also experienced sharper declines in employment and a faster rise in poverty. The financial squeeze has been especially severe for single women.

Last month the Census Bureau reported on income and poverty through 2014. It’s not a pretty picture. The median income household has lost nearly $1,300 in income after inflation under Obamanomics.

It’s worse for women. Since President Obama took office in 2009, median inflation-adjusted income for women has fallen by nearly 4 cents on the dollar, according to the Census data, versus slight gains for men.

On Mr. Obama’s watch, 2 million more women have slipped into poverty. Wait a minute. This is supposed to be an economic recovery. The poverty rate among women is now 16.1 percent — the highest level in 20 years.

The Great Recession was the main factor that plunged families into poverty, but poverty rates have failed to return to normal levels six years later. The poverty rate among single mothers of children under 18 (39.8 percent) is nearly double that of single fathers (22 percent) and that gap has widened under Mr. Obama’s reign.

It’s well known that labor force participation has fallen to its lowest level since 1978. What’s lesser known is that the biggest decline in employment has been among women. The female labor force participation rate is now 56.4 percent, the lowest in more than 25 years.

In the 1980s and ‘90s millions of women voluntarily entered the labor force and earned rising incomes. Over the last decade that progress has stalled out. An all-time high 57 million women over the age of 16 are out of the labor force today and not collecting a paycheck. All those Obama stimulus programs and more than $7 trillion of red ink added to the national debt, but hasn’t put women back to work.

Liberals counter that the gap between women’s wages and men’s wages has narrowed in the last five years. But the major explanation for this is that so many fewer women are in jobs now. Women who fall out of the workforce tend to be at the lower end of the income scale — so perversely, the gender gap appears to have fallen. This statistical illusion hides that for millions of women not able to find work under the Obama recovery, their earnings have fallen to zero.

There are a multitude of unforced policy errors that explain why the U.S. economy has pummeled workers. Mr. Obama has hobbled the economy with punitive tax rates, $7 trillion in new debt, minimum wage hikes, regulatory overreach, and Obamacare. Women have been the front-line victims of these failed policies.

What should give all of us pause — and especially women — is that if you listen closely to the policy ideas of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, they sound very much like they are promising four more years of all this. That really would be a war against women.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)