4.30.2015

Democrat Problem, Republican Blame

Kevin D. Williamson points out, appropriately and correctly, that most large urban centers in the U.S. have been run by Democrats for the last 50 years at least.  The devastation of Hurricane Katrina was blamed on George W. Bush, but in reality, it was 50 years of corruption and misappropriation of funds by the Democrat Party machine in New Orleans that was responsible - that, and the hurricane, of course.

Detroit? Democrat Party machine since the '40s.  Baltimore?  Since the '60s.  Chicago? With one exception that I can recall, pretty much a Democrat city since the '20s.  Philadelphia? Democrat since the 1950s.  St. Louis? Democrat.  Washington, D.C.? Democrat.  Atlanta? Democrat. Los Angeles? Democrat.  You want a bright spot in America's large, urban centers?  New York - but for about 25 years, New York had Republicans in the mayor's office [NB: 20 years, actually: 1994-2013].  As Mr. Williamson puts it:
American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it?
If this is what happens at the local level when Democrats are in charge and able to implement their ideas, what would happen at the national level?  Well, have a look at California.  They are experiencing a drought and a severe water shortage.  No, it is not caused by global warming.  It is caused by systemic mismanagement of the state's water resources over decades - much of it at the behest of liberal environmentalists who are now complaining about the results of their folly.  California is also heavily in debt, losing population, and thus the taxpayers necessary to pay for all this silliness.  Or have a look at Illinois, another state nearly bankrupt because of Democrat policies and with a history of corruption that is about the only bipartisan aspect of the state's politics.

Or take a look at the mess created by Obamacare.

Liberalism doesn't work, and it doesn't work because it requires somewhere, somehow the government and society transcend original sin and human limitations.  Its basic premise is that there can be a person or persons not only able to know enough that he or they can manage the details of 350 million lives, but that he or they will be so righteous and moral that they can be trusted to do this.

This was Hayek's point (Road to Serfdom), one repeated in Thomas Sowell's Quest for Cosmic Justice.  No government official or committee or bureaucracy is capable of possessing, much less correctly interpreting and processing, the sheer volume of information necessary to do what liberalism requires government to do.  And even if they could, no individual, committee, or human organization has the moral character to be trusted with either the knowledge or the responsibility for it.

The results of putting this burden on government are always catastrophic.  The only thing that varies is the shape that catastrophe takes.  Sometimes it looks like Moscow in 1985.  Sometimes it looks like New Orleans in 2005.  And sometimes it looks like Baltimore in 2015.

Point this out, though, propose a better solution (penultimate, mind you) - as conservatives and Republicans have been doing for years - and you are instead blamed for the problem Democrats created.

4.28.2015

Liberals vs. Conservatives - Dream vs. Reality

Liberation Theology has always been known as a Marxist imposition on Christian orthodoxy.  In a fascinating little article, we find that it was a Marxist imposition on Christian orthodoxy by means of a Russian Orthodox clergyman who was also working for the KGB.  From first to last, it was a Communist effort to subvert Christianity - and a very successful one, too.

Elements of this Liberation Theology are evident in, for instance, the Belhar Confession - a Protestant confession from South Africa.  The Accra Confession of the World Council of Churches is shot through with it.  Throughout Western Christianity, one finds the assumption that the concern we ought to feel for the poor among us must be made manifest through state control of the economy and redistributionist policies.  It is the guiding assumption of the CRCNA's own Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action!

I have never understood why my faith in Jesus Christ should require that I place an equal faith in the government.  

Neither have I understood how liberals can see so clearly the depths of sin - greed, envy, jealousy, gluttony, wrath, etc. - in people who work outside of government, but cannot see that people who work inside government are equally sinful.  I have no problem believing, with my liberal friends, that conservatives can be venal, cynical, self-absorbed, and duplicitous.  I also happen to believe that liberals can be venal, cynical, self-absorbed, and duplicitous.  This seems beyond the range of my liberal friends and helps explain why conservatives can acquiesce in getting rid of a Nixon, but liberals cannot see the damage done to the system by a Bill Clinton.

This arises, I think, from a fundamental tenet of faith and it is why Liberation Theology continues to be so tempting.  Liberals - including liberal Christians like those who run the CRC's Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action! - believe that some measure of perfection, some form of the Kingdom of God, is attainable on this earth.  You see it in position statements like Neal Plantinga's "Educating for Shalom" over on Calvin College's web site - an essay shot through with the notion that getting a Christian education at Calvin College will help to usher in a new heaven and a new earth.  Somehow, if we just get the right laws, the right regulations, the right education, the right institutional structure, the right.....  

It's all poppycock, of course.  And it's why liberalism and socialism ultimately fail, even in places like Sweden and Denmark and Norway.  They all run smack-dab into the reality that human beings are deeply flawed, limited, sinful.  The genius of the U.S. Constitution - and the miracle of free markets - is that they work on the assumption that people are flawed, limited, and sinful.  They acknowledge that any order in this world is at best penultimate.  The ultimate must wait for the world to come.

Conservatism, for that reason, is also a harder sell.  It is reality-based.  Things aren't perfect and they aren't going to be.  The best we can hope for is not the best, but merely the better.  No matter what governments or individuals do, there will still be suffering in this world.  

Liberalism is not bound by reality.  It offers heaven now and promises that the dream can be attained if only we try harder or pass this next law.  The harder they work, though, the further away heaven seems to be, and thus the more desperate they become.  The problem is not that the dream is unattainable, but that evil, wicked people don't believe in the dream and need to be stomped out, which leads to the kinds of fascist, tyrannical acts of the left that we are starting to see here in the U.S. - the 2 minutes of hate directed at dissenters, the cops barging into homes in the dead of the night because somebody signed a petition, the effort to govern by presidential diktat, the abuse of the IRS, the EPA, the DHS, and other federal agencies, and so on.

That is, after all, what the Gulag Archipelago and the Laogai and the "re-education" camps, and all the similar camps that dot the tragic landscape of Communist countries are intended to do.  This is what campus speech codes, and the shaming of climate change dissenters, and "check your privilege," and the nonsense about "triggers" are all intended to do, too.  And it was also the point behind KGB-sponsored Liberation Theology.

But it won't work.  It can't.  Because the dream is unattainable and it is unattainable because liberals are just as wicked as conservatives.  The grandiose visionaries are every bit as evil as those who do not dream so grandiloquently.

4.27.2015

We Are Not Victims

I've been reading a book by David Reynolds - The Long Shadow - and one of the things he discusses in terms of the way the First World War is remembered is how the ordinary soldiers became, in the eyes of later generations, victims of a war foisted on them by the elites.  It is incompetent generals and incompetent politicians who blundered their way into a war for no particular purpose in which millions were gunned down in a vain attempt to create a justification for the general stupidity of the leaders.

This was rife through most European interpretations of the war and it has seeped into quite a bit of writing about war in general.

For the U.S., this was not our experience.  In the first place, our participation in that war was minimal - war was not declared until April 1917, significant U.S. troop formations were not committed to battle until near the end of that year, and the war was over in November 1918.  World War 2 was not, therefore, colored by this depressing view of the First World War in U.S. eyes and, in large part, our leadership did well and did not waste lives needlessly.

But this view of war did become commonplace in Vietnam.  The bumbling idiot at the top whose folly spilled the blood of the poor, noble, common man victim at the bottom is a recurring theme of U.S. interpretations of that latter war and has become a part of our view of soldiers and war now, too.  The TV series M*A*S*H* made this a pretty common theme through much of its early run - Lt. Col. Blake couldn't run a lemonade stand, but the noble, common man Cpl O'Reilly fixed everything up.  Generals, admirals, politicians - all come in for mockery in the series but the lowest ranking doctors (Pierce & MacIntyre), the nurses (except the head nurse), and the enlisted personnel always save the day.

Yes, it's comedy.  But this theme is also evident in histories of the war - especially the Vietnam war - and the press reports, and movies made since.  The grunt is a victim.  The victimizers are the higher echelons of military brass, the politicians, and the elites of society who are safely away from the fighting.

But it's not true.  The leadership in Korea was actually quite good - the best of the second tier from the World War 2 and our generals, admirals, and politicians during that war were also, on the whole, very good.  Similarly, it was not the bumbling of the elites that caused the pointless loss of blood in Vietnam.  It was the misunderstanding - at times deliberate misunderstanding - of both war in general and the particular war that was being fought in Southeast Asia on the part of those responsible for reporting it.  On the whole, our military leadership in Vietnam was also quite good.  And the same could be said with regards to our military leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You could make a case that the conscript armies that fought in Korea and Vietnam victimized at least some of those conscripts, but there was, on the whole, a willingness even on the part of draftees to do their duty.  They tended to see themselves as warriors and as workmen tasked with a dangerous, unpleasant job, but a job that had to be done.

My real problem with this "soldier=victim" interpretation of war lies with this current war.  We do not have a conscript army.  Everybody in the U.S. military is a volunteer and everyone of those currently serving has volunteered knowing we are at war.  I know there are those serving who were in the military before 2001, but all of them have had an opportunity to part ways with the military since then and have chosen to remain.  We may be many things, we veterans of the muslim wars, but one thing we most definitely are not is victims.  We chose, and we accept responsibility for our choice.  For some, it has been a most costly choice - but it is a cost they knew full well they might pay and yet still went willingly to battle.

We must care for those who have born the burden of battle, but do not disgrace their sacrifice by turning them into mindless thralls who had no options and who were victimized by foolish leaders.  They are warriors, patriots, veterans, but not victims.

4.23.2015

Don't Panic

This report should not be seen as granting a license to off-shore oil well owners to skimp on safety and protection, but it is appropriate to point out that the wide-scale panic, the efforts to paint oil as inherently evil, and the notion that we're all going to die if we don't stop driving cars - in other words, the general, day-to-day hysteria promoted by the worshipers of Gaia and climate change - is absurd.

There is no need to panic.

Five years ago, a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had half the country ready to panic.  Today, traces of the damage that oil spill caused are hard to find.  None of the epic destruction foretold has come to be.  Granted, some 100,000 human beings, 6,500 vessels, various other equipment, dispersants, and other products of human engineering were deployed at a cost of more than $14 billion to assist the natural processes the article also describes.  We should not discount that and assert nothing should have been done as "mother nature" would have taken care of it.  Mother nature may eventually take care of the fast food bag you're inclined to throw out the window, too.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't have trash cans or try to clean up the messes we make.  Given the scope of the spill, it was appropriate to work that hard to clean it up.

And I've got no problem with fining or suing BP for damages caused by their negligence in maintaining appropriate safety features on their oil rig.  To be sure, new ones have since been devised to help prevent such an eventuality in future, but there were plenty of standard best practices in place at the time that BP employees ignored or discounted which contributed to the magnitude of the problem.  I've got no problem with fining people for littering rather than using the provided trash cans, either.

But there was still no need to panic then, nor is there now.

People have been preaching imminent catastrophe, demanding that we panic and hand over our liberty for the last 50 years.  None of the gloomy forecasts have come to be.  The ozone layer isn't destroyed, global warming isn't happening, neither did we see an ice age resurgent, and we have plenty of food for the still-expanding global population.

So don't panic.  We have time to think things through.  We are not on the verge of global destruction.  But if we do panic, we could very well be on the verge of eliminating freedom.

4.22.2015

Liberal Fascists in America

The two articles to which I am linking here are breathtaking - and sadly accurate.

The behavior of liberal fascists in Wisconsin throughout this process is certainly shameful and - for anyone who thinks the Constitutional protections against unwarranted search and seizure, for freedom of speech and association, and everything else in the Bill of Rights are still the law - criminal.  Such tactics should be roundly criticized by all leftists with a shred of conscience.  They must not be tolerated.

The police who conducted these raids should also be ashamed of themselves.  That they meekly followed such obscene orders, no matter how distasteful some of them may have found it, is also unconscionable.  Every cop tasked with these raids should have simply handed in his badge, from the chief of police on down.  Yes, that is a sacrifice and I am well aware of it, but it is nothing compared to the sacrifice of liberty, conscience, morality, and decency that carrying out these orders entailed.  This is not what the police in the United States are here for.

That these acts were countenanced by liberal organizations - even encouraged - is equally galling, but not surprising.  Our current president and his Attorney General have been equally ready to use the police power of the state, whether through the EPA, the IRS, the Department of (in)Justice, or DHS, to intimidate and criminalize legitimate political disagreement.  The soon-to-retire Democrat leader in the US Senate has intentionally spread lies, accusing opponents of violating laws when he knew full well they had done no such thing, and seeking almost daily to silence private citizens lawfully exercising their free speech rights.  He and the Democrats in the senate have even attempted to repeal the first amendment with regards to political speech - the very sort of speech that amendment exists to protect.

There is a pattern, and I go back to what I have said before.

In 1974, an American president - a Republican - violated his oath of office and sought to use the police power of the state to intimidate political opponents.  Republicans stood up and said this must not be and supported those Democrats arguing for impeachment.  That president was forced to resign.

In 1994, an American president - a Democrat - violated his oath of office and sought to use the power of the state to intimidate political opponents.  In 2014, another American president - also a Democrat - is doing the same thing.

Not one, single, solitary Democrat with any authority in government or persuasive power in the press is saying this must not be and that people acting in this way cannot be trusted with the power of the state.  Not one.

If you have the stomach to read about jack-booted liberals engaged in fascist tactics to silence political opponents, then here are the two articles:

Wisconsin's Shame and Politicized Prosecution

4.20.2015

South Dakota Ad Campaign: "Hey, At Least It's Better than Mars"

According to the Argus Leader (scroll almost to the bottom for the video), a new advertising campaign is being proposed to entice young people to move to South Dakota.  The central message is: "Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota."

The ad also says South Dakota is "...progressive, productive, and abundant in oxygen."

Supposedly this is "hip" because a bunch of idiots are volunteering to colonize Mars.

I suspect that it will come off as, "South Dakota - at least it's not as bad as Mars."  I realize they're trying to be funny and ironic and all that, but it doesn't quite hit that sweet spot of good comedy.  Mostly it just comes off as dumb.

Then there's the problem with truthfulness.  Given the condition of South Dakota's Democrat Party, I'm not sure it's accurate to label the state "progressive."  I'm even less certain of that quality being a selling point, even if it were true.  If I wanted mismanaged resources, heavy debt, a bloated bureaucracy, hyper-regulation, racial tension, lousy schools, high crime, and an exorbitant cost of living, I'd live in a progressive city like Chicago.

If I were to push an ad campaign for our state, I'd show a picture of a traffic jam in Chicago, then show a pickup on the loop through the Badlands waiting for the bighorn sheep to cross and call it a "traffic jam" in South Dakota.  Show a picture of a crime scene in Detroit - "a killing in Detroit" - and then show a picture of a hunter with his buck - "a killing in South Dakota."  Then show a major show at the Washington Pavilion, a shot of a beerfest, Sturgis, a fine restaurant, an art gallery, etc.  Cap it all off with: "South Dakota - big enough you can always find something to do, not so big you'll be afraid to do it."  

Or skip the "killing" contrast and instead show some prices for dining out or what not in a place like Manhattan (the "Cowboy Burger" at Applebee's on W. 50th St., NYC is $17) and the price of dining out in Sioux Falls (same burger at Applebee's on E. 10th St. Sioux Falls is $10).  "South Dakota - not only is there plenty to do, but you can afford to do it."

Out of my patriotic service to the state, I offer these suggestions gratis.

4.15.2015

Are There People That Dumb?

I look through my spam file once a day, just in case some legit emails got funneled there - about once a week I find something that shouldn't have gone to spam.  The actual spam tends to fall into roughly 4 types.  

First, there are the emails from various legitimate businesses that are of the same sort I get in my snail-mail box - coupons, sales flyers, etc.  A lot of these start coming when I order from a particular business and they insist on having me "open an account."  It's as if Best Buy will only sell you a new HDMI cable if you agree to read every advertisement they produce for the next 50 years.  It's irksome, but it's pretty much standard-issue junk mail that businesses have been sending out as long as there have been businesses and postal systems.

Then there are three other types.

1. Emails offering products to enhance my sexual performance and/or appearance - I include in these the various promises to regrow the hair on my head, effortlessly remove excess weight, increase stamina, enlarge both the male and female forward protrusions (one below, the others above the abdomen), and increase "vitality."

2. Emails claiming to be some government agency, foreign individual, or the UN, offering to send me money if I will convey to them my bank routing and account information still make up a large chunk of spam email traffic.

3. And then there are the emails claiming to be women who can't wait to cheat on husbands or boyfriends, who are desperate to make love to a balding, overweight man above 40 years old, or in some way, shape, or form, promise to provide a version of muslim heaven without waiting for the afterlife - a version, I say, for I highly doubt the proposed 72 women in these emails are anything close to virginal.

As I scan through the subject headers, looking for misplaced legit emails, I see these others and I cannot help but wonder.  Are there really people sufficiently competent to use a computer, and yet sufficiently dumb to believe these things might just possibly be true and check out the e-mails?  And do they exist in sufficient numbers to justify the trouble of spamming with them?  I've never opened one, so I can't say what they actually contain, but if somebody seriously thinks a hot, young Russian babe is desperate to make love to an obese, balding man over 40, aging, obesity, and hair loss are the least of his problems.

And to think, we'll let guys that dumb vote.

4.14.2015

I Wish Presidential Campaigns Could Wait Until After the Summer

We do demand rather a lot of our presidential candidates, don't we?  On the one hand, they have to be plain ol' regular people.  On the other hand, they have to be brilliant economists, stunning diplomats, and highly educated, well-read, near-geniuses.  We want really rich middle-class people to be president, too.

I'm sure Mrs. Clinton does not normally eat at Chipotle's and really doesn't care much for the burrito bowl she ordered.  It's okay, sure, but if she wanted a burrito, she'd rather have one of her chefs prepare it.  It really is rather a humiliating spectacle to see the press going hog wild over the fact that Mrs. Clinton ordered lunch at a fast-food joint.

Rest assured, it was all staged and quite carefully so.

Of course, the press did not treat the first President Bush with such tender care when he visited a grocery store and expressed interest in the scanning technology he was being shown.  When Mrs. Clinton orders lunch at a fast-food joint, it's an adventure.  When President Bush is polite to an employee at a grocery store, it's proof he lacks understanding of how normal people live.

But that was years ago and, at this point, what difference does it make?

The press would support Clinton anyway - as long as there isn't somebody else in the race.  Elizabeth Warren steps in and Clinton is yesterday's news in 20 seconds or less.  Joe Biden steps in and the press would be schizophrenic - they prefer Clinton to Biden, but Biden is Obama's man and they have to support Obama...  What a problem that would be for them!

Meanwhile, we get sycophantic celebrations of Clinton's adventures in fast food.

I'm with Mr. Brennan. It's going to be a long 19 months.

4.08.2015

The Damage Done By Media Lies

As is now well-known, several recent media-induced hysterias have been based largely on falsities.

The massive riots and protests in Ferguson, MO with their "Hands Up Don't Shoot" mantras were based on a lie.  Michael Brown was no gentle giant, did not have his hands up, never said "don't shoot," and there is every evidence that Officer Wilson acted properly in his own defense when he shot Brown.

But we can't let facts get in the way of the narrative.

The problem is, lies get in the way of the narrative, too.  There's a story out of South Carolina in which a White police officer stopped a Black man for a faulty brake light and ended up shooting the man in the back as he was running away. [NB: I had this earlier as North Carolina, but it occurred in North Charleston of South Carolina.  I apologize for the error - PNR]

Of course, the police officer has been arrested and charged with murder, so it's not quite the perfect story - the perfect story for the political left and the race-baiters would have the police department defending their officer.  Still, White cop, minor infraction, dead Black man - if ever one needed a story to suggest the cop was way out of line and likely motivated by irrational racial views, this would be it.

Where's Al Sharpton now?  Jesse?  Holder?  Not a word.  Apparently Black lives only matter to them when they can be used to gin up cash and/or votes.  The community of North Charleston, SC - where this happened - is somewhat shocked and no doubt plenty of the citizens are outraged, but there is no mass protest, no riot.  I haven't seen the story go viral, even though there is a video of the officer shooting this man in the back.  The lies surrounding Michael Brown and Officer Wilson have taken the wind out of the sails, I think.

There is also the story of a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia trumpeted in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine.  The idea was to "prove" there is a "rape culture" on our college campuses centered in fraternity binge parties where such gang rapes are supposed to be part of the routine initiation process.  Neither the story nor the "rape culture" accusations against college fraternities is true.  The whole thing was ginned up to make men on college campuses presumptively guilty and to remove the crime of rape from the criminal justice system where, albeit imperfectly, facts still matter.  No, these activists think, the facts of a particular case don't matter because men are, by definition, rapists.

Rolling Stone has been forced to retract the story.  Their reporter and the magazine face potential lawsuits from the fraternity they slandered, as they should.

But worse still, the blind and foolish activism which led the magazine, the reporter, and the media in general to force a false story on a public not quite as gullible as they thought - all in the name of strengthening the authoritarian hand - will also make it a little less likely a genuine rape victim will be believed.  Cry wolf when there is no wolf and eventually you aren't believed when the wolf is actually there.

Truth will set us free.  Lies enslave.  However noble one might feel the cause to be, lies are not excused.  Indeed, the more noble the cause, the worse the lies are for they debase the cause, dragging its nobility into the gutter.

4.01.2015

Leftist Bullies - Dishonest, Vulgar, Hypocritical, and Wrong

Warning to all businesses, especially in Indiana: Do not answer any questions related to any topic concerning religious liberty when posed by the press.  Do not answer any questions related to any topic concerning homosexuals when posed by the press.

The press is not interested in the truth.  They are interested in advocacy.  They are themselves a religious group as firmly embedded in their own sense of morals and faith as any Spanish Inquisitor of years gone by.

Their object is to find some excuse to pillory someone in the name of their religious beliefs - a human sacrifice to their version of Molech.

The press reporting on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act mirror law passed in Indiana earlier is so grotesquely, obscenely dishonest as to make a mockery of the word "reporting".

Take the governor of Connecticut promising to boycott Indiana over its RFRA law.  Is he aware that, uh, Connecticut has such a law on the books?  Apparently not.  Illinois also has such a law - Barrack Hussein Obama voted for it when he was a state senator.  Such bastions of conservatism as Missouri and Pennsylvania do as well.

The law does not allow for, much less entail, a return to Jim Crow.  It doesn't do anything other than establish the type of guidelines the courts must follow.  A law may restrict religious freedom, but it had better be over something gosh-darned important and it should restrict religious freedom as little as possible.  That's all the RFRA does - it makes the courts ask two questions.  Does the state have a compelling interest that is being met through this law or regulation? (Is it really important, in other words.)  And is this the least restrictive way of achieving the end in view?

Almost anything else you read about the law - the hoary scenarios of misogynists paying women less on the basis of some misguided reading of the Bible, or KKK business owners refusing Blacks, or similar such monsters from under the New York Times' bewitched bed - have little to no basis in the actual text of the law or the case law that has accompanied similar such laws in the 19 other states that have them.

This is just leftist bullying and it is scandalous.