We now learn that our "transparency" President signed an order 2-weeks ago to arm the Libyan rebels. Peter Kirsanow wonders if Obama even cares about who he is giving weapons to:
As Dan Foster notes below, we now learn that two to three weeks ago the president signed off on a finding authorizing covert support for the Libyan rebels, potentially including cash and weapons. Yet his Secretary of State concedes that precisely who the rebels are was still a mystery to the administration as late as yesterday.
The president — apparently taking his cue from Nancy Pelosi – believes that we have to arm the rebels so we can find out who they are.
This process clearly shows Obama's transition from "smart" diplomacy (how's that working out for you, Mr. President?) to "smart" war. The "smartness" of this war will become particularly evident if, as several have noted already, we are actually now in the business of arming Al Qaeda.
And, if our CIA on the ground find this to be true, will our "smart" President even care?
What do you suppose the next move from this hapless occupier of the Oval Office will be? "Smart" submission to Islamic jihad and sharia?
As usual, Wretchard has an excellent and interesting post; this time on the difference between 'thing-makers' and 'dream-merchants':
Bing’s approach highlights the war that Frum alluded to but never quite described: the eternal battle between the thing-makers and the dream-merchants. The contrary arguement to the belief that the UAW built Detroit’s prosperity was that Henry Ford built it — built it by faith in the reality of things. In that view wealth comes from the existence of things like cars, machines, buildings and such, and the intellectual and physical means to make them. In contrast, the alternative theory is that wealth arises from such things as collective bargaining agreements, laws, aspirations and rights. In a word, “if you build it, thy will come”. Mayor Bing’s plan to build developments recalls nothing so much as the South Seas cargo cults who believed all that was necessary to make the skies rain with goodies was to build a dirt airstrip and palm-leaf control tower to attract resupply flights from somewhere. “If you build it, they will come”.
Who “they” is remains unclear. But they are out there.
“Building” in this case doesn’t mean producing the actual product. “Building” means building the dream, constructing the appurtenances of the actual things, not the things. It means creating the “rights”, specifying the entitlements, winning the court cases to increase the population so all will be well.
Since the advent of capitalism, businessmen have been denounced for the corrupt actions of a few political profiteers. To help understand that there is a distinction, consider two characters in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged.” In the book, Rand describes two opposite kinds of businessmen – those she calls the “producers” and those she calls the “looters.”
The producers, such as Hank Rearden, inventor of a new metal stronger and cheaper than steel, work tirelessly to create products that improve human life. The looters are basically pseudobusinessmen, like the incompetent steel executive Orren Boyle, who get unearned riches by getting special favors from politicians. Their business isn’t business, but political pull.
It is the producers who make life possible: who keep grocery shelves stocked; who discover new lifesaving drugs; who make computers faster, buildings taller, and airplanes safer.
The looters, on the other hand, leech off the wealth created by producers.
The novel rejects the widespread notion that both the producer Reardens and the looter Boyles are fundamentally united by a desire for profit. Only the Reardens, she argues, deserve to be called profit-seekers, because they earn rewards through productive effort; the Boyles are antieffort parasites seeking unearned loot.
But it’s not only unearned wealth the looters want. In “Atlas Shrugged,” Boyle uses his influence to throttle Rearden with progressively harsher government controls and regulations, because he can’t survive except by hindering the competition.
Producers, however, don’t need special favors, only freedom: the freedom to produce, to trade voluntarily, and, if they succeed, to keep the profits. As a country becomes less free, it creates and unleashes more and more Boyles, who succeed at the expense of the Reardens.
The artificially high wages forced on the economy by compulsory unionism imposed economic hardships on other groups—particularly on non-union workers and on unskilled labor, which was being squeezed gradually out of the market. Today’s widespread unemployment is the result of organized labor’s privileges and of allied measures, such as minimum wage laws. For years, the unions supported these measures and sundry welfare legislation, apparently in the belief that the costs would be paid by taxes imposed on the rich. The growth of inflation has shown that the major victim of government spending and of taxation is the middle class. Organized labor is part of the middle class—and the actual value of labor’s forced “social gains” is now being wiped out.--“A Preview,” The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 23, 2
Nowhere is this more true than in unions for public employees who are paid by taxpayers, and who's unions translate their numbers into political clout to get more benefits and perks. That this is a rather obvious conflict of interest and not exactly ethical behavior seems to escape the attention of Democrats these days. Is it any wonder there is a large scale rebellion among the state and local governments who are going broke dealing with escalating benefits and retirement packages?
The unions are once class of "looter", but there is another who operate in much the same way as the public unions. This class of looters are those businesses that have learned to play the government's game to profit themselves at the expense of the taxpayer.
There is nothing illegal about lobbying or giving to charity. In fact, in our current system, it is hard for a capitalist to compete without “investing” in politics. The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world at 35 percent. And if GE did not have a Washington office dedicated to lobbying for benefits from the government, over the last five years it would have had to pay somewhere around $9.1 billion in taxes on its $26 billion in American profits alone. Instead it got a $4.1 billion benefit. That is a $13.2 billion payoff on a $200 million lobbying investment. What kind of capitalist could say no to that kind of return on investment?
When once-great exemplars of capitalism like GE are profiting more by investing in lawyers and lobbyists in Washington instead of engineers and innovators, our system is clearly broken. We can start to fix these incentives by reducing the corporate tax rate. But much broader reform of our tax and regulatory system is needed.
THIS IS HOW THE LOOTER MENTALITY GAINS A FOOTHOLD IN A CAPITALIST SYSTEM WITH AN EVER ENLARGING CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. PUBLIC UNIONS AND CRONY CAPITALISTS ARE THE DOUBLE WHAMMY THAT PROFIT OFF OF BIG GOVERNMENT; AND, IN RETURN, THEY FUND THE CANDIDATES AND PARTY HACKS WHO WILL PROMISE TO KEEP THEIR GRAVY TRAIN GOING.
You might not think that there is much to connect public unions with corrupt businesses whose 'capital' primarily comes from government handouts, bailouts, or favors; but there you have it: both have a looter mentality that refuses to acknowledge reality and expects entitlements and handouts to continue ad infinitum.
Both expect that unearned wealth (i.e., yours) will keep flowing into their coffers.
Perhaps they did not start out to be looters, leeching off the productive; but they learned to survive and thrive in the environment of pull and privilege that big, intrusive governments create. They learned to buy votes and favors; to get the big government contracts and the big government's protection of their 'special' status.
Most of these businesses and even the unions once produced products that were worth something of value.
For the businesses, once upon a time, they had to make a profit by convincing people like you and me to buy what they had to sell. Now they only need the sanction of the powerful people in Washington to make money; now they only have to convince congressmen and senators (and even presidents).
As for the unions, they once offered a product to workers that prevented them from being exploited and abused in the workplace. But they have now evolved into coercive organization who regularly exploit and abuse hard working taxpayers in order to optimize their extravagant entitlements; AND they have the sanction of the government to do it.
As noted in one of the quotes above, there is nothing illegal about lobbying or giving to charity. Nor is there anything illegal about workers voluntarily getting together to organize or ensure a decent and fair salary; or benefits and a safe workplace. But at some point in time, the psychology that stimulated these benign--and important-- endeavors crossed over into a full-blown looter frame of mind.
Now that they've had a taste of government(i.e., coercive) power; they find they like having power over others; and they're in it for whatever they can get (away with).
It's not the 'rich' who are exploiting the middle class; it's the new looters and their government enablers.
Mark Steyn wonders if the London protestors seem to be agitating for a "human right" to suspend reality:
The “nice” people bussed in from the shires struck me as some of the most stupid people I’ve ever met anywhere on the planet. One elderly lady from Yorkshire told me she was there because her grandson’s university fees were likely to go up. I was in a cranky mood because I hadn’t had my coffee. “You can protest all you like,” I said. “But this country’s broke, so all you’re doing is postponing its reacquaintanceship with reality, and ensuring that your grandson and his contemporaries are going to be stuck with the tab because you guys spent their future.” I pointed out that in her part of the world – northern England – as in Wales and Northern Ireland, the state accounts for three-quarters of the economy. And it’s still not enough for the likes of her and her pals.
She stared at me blankly. “Well, I don’t want to argue,” she said politely. “I just think it’s a disgrace.”
Steyn is on to something here and its has been true about human beings since their creator endowed them with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Human nature tends to recoil against an unpalatble reality. That's why psychological defense mechanisms exist. They protect the 'self' and one's sense of identity from a world that tends to change (especially in the negative direction) too fast for many humans to adapt to it.
The problem is that adapt to it you must. Perhaps not instantly; but reality won't go away if you scream and whine and throw violent temper tantrums.
The little children who make up the left side of the political spectrum have never learned that reality exists separate from their own wants or desires. They still want what they want when they want it no matter what. And they are prepared to stage a temper tantrum if Mommy or Daddy--or Reality, in this case--say, "No!"
You can ignore reality, but reality will not ignore you.
The question is why are so many so determined to ignore the fiscal reality that is taking down nation after nation; state after state; individual after individual?
Why, is reality no longer something that exists outside one's wishes, whims or wants for some people?
David Solway has an idea origins of this notion; the notion that reality is somehow "a disgrace"; and it's an idea that I've been writing about frequently on this blog: it's called postmoderitis (h/t saturnus). Solway writes about this philosophical illness citing cultural relativism as a primary symptom:
....the left has extended its tolerance to various cultural enclaves within it own territory that live by a different code of conduct, one often at variance with and indeed hostile to the norms and usages that prevail among the heritage population. The aggressive program of these groups to infiltrate the mainstream and metastasize at their host’s expense is, for the left, how freedom and equality work. The invasion from within is to be encouraged under the rubric of “social justice.” In so doing, the left in its hortatory cluelessness is incrementally surrendering its own life, liberty and happiness to the depredations of an alien mindset and undermining the cultural foundations of its own taken-for-granted world. It has facilitated the wasting disease of deculturation, spurred in large measure by anthropological theories of so-called “critical advocacy.” (See Philip Carl Salzman’s Understanding Culture for a brief but valuable discussion of such theories.) Tolerating the intolerant, the postmodern left has, in effect, lapsed into a state of culture schlock, a condition which author Howard Rotberg in his book of that title has aptly labeled “tolerism.” “Postmodernitis” would be another name for it.
The hypocrisy is truly staggering. When a gay man is killed, a woman punished for being raped, a Christian firebombed or a Jew hunted down in some Islamic nation, the left has little or nothing to say.
But cultural relativism is only one symptom and not the root cause of the illness. Cultural relativism arises from a mindset that adamantly refuses to acknowledge external reality. The center of this dysfunction; the etiology of this break from objective reality is primarly due to the defects in epistemology and metaphysics that are an integral part of the postmodern philosophy of today's leftist "progressives".
Metaphysics and Epistemology are key branches of Philosophy. The first concerns itself with answering the question, "What is Existence?"; and the second with, "How do we know it?"
These are two of the most important questions in life; and almost all of the major controversies of our time boil down to one or the other. Postmodern philosopy says, Existence is anything you want it to be; and you will know it by what you feel.
Unfortunately, it is not only the Muslim/Arab world that happens to be infected with a major deficit in epistemology (thought they are in a more advanced stage of the disease); even western civilization--the bastion of reason and science-- has become horribly infested with philosophical insanities that pervert the very concepts of reality, truth, and knowledge.
Like the lady who thought reality was a "disgrace" because it didn't conform to her whims, today's progressives believe that it is perfectly appropriate to ignore reality when they don't like it.
In fact, they consider their determined opposition to reality as something courageous, as if it actually takes courage to maintain psychological denial in the face of facts; when all it takes is a profound lack of insight and a willingness to cling to magical thinking.
Postmodern philosophy, which holds that there is no objective reality--only that which resides inside your head at any given moment-- has become a lethal infection on the minds of people on the left. They no longer question their beliefs, and like immature, spoiled children, they throw a temper tantrum when they don't get their way.
They think that the gravy train will just keep on rollin' along if they protest loudly and long enough. They think that old fashioned ideas like reality, truth, and reason have nothing to do with winning the future; and that you can win the future by intensely believing in hope and change ; but for them, hope and change means more--much more--of the same. Hope and Change = Wishful Thinking and Inaction.
It's all a matter of basic philosophical principles....
Egypt Air, the largest airline in Egypt, has removed Israel from the map – literally. On its website, Ynet has learned, Jordan's land reaches the Mediterranean Sea.
The airline's subsidiary, Air Sinai, flies to Israel regularly, but customers seeking flights to Ben Gurion National Airport will have a hard time finding them. On the map are the names of the Mideast capitals – Amman, Beirut, and Damascus – but Israel is nowhere to be found.
This, of course, calls to mind Ahmadinejad's call to "wipe Israel from the map" back in 2005 when he spoke at a conference on "A World Without Zionism."
What is it that makes them emotionally unable to accept a successful, democratic and non-Muslim state in the middle of all their Muslim dysfunction and failure? In psychological terms, the answer to that question is that they suffer from a malignant and destructive paranoid style, fueled and fanned by Islamic fundamentalism.
Instead of coming to terms with the reason their societies and cultures are so dysfunctional and toxic; instead of facing a series of unpleasant truths about their backwardness and lack of achievement; or questioning the religion that keeps them that way; or the leadership that manipulates them and needs them to remain backward and willing to descend in barbarism on cue; they have allowed their society to regress to a concomitant primitve emotional level where a paranoid world view is all that stands between them and total psychological disintegration .
Under these poisonous circumstances, paranoia does not wax and wane. It must continually expand and try to incorporate and explain more and more data that documents their multiple failures as individuals; as a culture, as a religion. Rhetoric and behavior must always escalate to ward off the encroaching reality.
Thus, without ever having to question their own evil, they can psychologically project it onto the Jews, whose success in the face of Islam's failure is a shame too great to bear.
One of the hallmarks of the paranoid, and paranoia in general, is the ability to fixate (or obsess) on one particular point to the exclusion of all other reality and to select that point as the "evidence" of their predetermined delusion.
The paranoid is actually quite perceptive--rigidly so; and they focus their attention only on those details that give support and credence to their beliefs. The nation of Israel gave them a focus and a scapegoat onto which they could project their own cultural and religious failures.
If Israel did not exist, the Arab world would have to invent it, because without Israel to blame all their problems on (and, by extension, America), the nations of the Middle East would not be able live with their own shame.
David Frum suggested in an article titled, "Why is it Always About Israel?" that:
Might it not be closer to the truth to say that Arab radicalism is the cause of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute--not the result of it? There is no peace because Israel's neighbours--and too many of the world's Muslims--cannot accept the right of a non-Arab, non-Muslim minority to live unsubjugated in the Middle East. That is the true "core" of the dispute, and it cannot be fixed by negotiation.
Frum was correct in suggesting that the problem cannot be fixed by negotiation, but he is off the mark about the source of the problem. While it is true that Arab radicalism deliberately promotes the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and continually disrupts any possibility of resolving it, the cause of that dispute lies in the psychological dysfunction of the Arabs themselves, aided and abetted by the perversion and extension of all the worse elements within Islam.
Those who dwell in this paranoid culture have closed off their rational, thinking minds; and with the encouragement and justification of the most medieval aspects of their religion are operating on the basis of the most primitive and dysfunctional of unconscious needs and feelings.
They are indulging in group projection and paranoia--deliberately developed and encouraged by their dysfunctional leaders--in order to maintain their dysfunctional identity, as well as their dysfunctional political and pseudo-religous agenda.
Personally, I do not have much optimism that current events in the Middle East are going to lead to increase liberty and tolerance there. While I truly believe that there are many people there who yearn for freedom and who want to take themselves and their culture and religion move toward the 21st century (and since their starting point is psychologically in the 12th century, they have a huge task before them). But I fear these voices of reason will be subsumed into the collective paranoia of the Arab mind and fanned by ideology of Islam.
For too long that collective mind, marinating in Islamic fundamentalism, has been flying in the face of reality and willfully refusing to acknowledge it. Why? Because there are far too many unpleasant truths and painful self-knowledge that need to be faced about both their culture and their religon before thay can escape from the medieval rut they are in.
I would like to believe that all the recent upheavals in the region herald a psychological step forward....but then you read about the new, improved Egypt Air and you realize that the old paranoia and projection; the same old lack of insight and unwillingness to face reality still rules.
And, if you've forgotten about the Muslim Brotherhood in all the euphoria of hope and change, here's a little ditty that goes a lot like an old Tom Lehrer song:
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WEEK
Oh, the Shia hate the Sunni, And the Sunni hate the Shia. But to blow up you and me-a Is an old Quranic rule.
During Musim Brotherhood Week, Muslim Brotherhood Week, Egyptians and Syrians are dancing cheek to cheek. Musims love to fatwa-tize Any sects that they despise, And take turns burning down each other's mosques.
Oh, the Saudis hate Iranians; And Yemenis hate Jordanians; Muslim socialists hate Muslim fascists, But during this week they're all pacifists
Except that they can kill some Jews And count on making front page news! They do it with such great aplomb It's as Islamic as a suicide bomb!
During Muslim Brotherhood Week, Musim Brotherhood Week, Tehran makes nice with Riyadh cause it's oh so very chic. Kneel down and start to pray With someone you'd prefer to flay; You can be peaceful if you try.
Oh, Hamas will sleep with Fatah, Persian or Arab will no longer matteh They all have women they can batteh And everyone can hate the Jews!
And during Muslim Brotherhood Week, International Caliphate Week, It's everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week. Be nice to any Muslim who Allah's decreed inferior to you. It's only for a week, so have no fear. Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!
Okay, so Obama insists that we aren't world leaders anymore and that the U.S. is just one of many nations and nothing special. For this Administration, "American exceptionalism" is just an obsolete way of thinking.
BERKELEY, Ill. — Safoorah Khan had taught middle school math for only nine months in this tiny Chicago suburb when she made an unusual request. She wanted three weeks off for a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The school district, faced with losing its only math lab instructor during the critical end-of-semester marking period, said no. Khan, a devout Muslim, resigned and made the trip anyway.
Justice Department lawyers examined the same set of facts and reached a different conclusion: that the school district’s decision amounted to outright discrimination against Khan. They filed an unusual lawsuit, accusing the district of violating her civil rights by forcing her to choose between her job and her faith.
No, Jonah, they are not kidding. This is the new, improved idiocy of PC, Obama style. In fact, I think I'll be heading out for a pilgrimage to Rome shortly because I have a strong need to meet with Pope Benedict about some issues. I'm sure that the VA Hospital where I work will appreciate that I don't want to have to choose between my job and my faith....
At Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, we learn Canadian authorities and school officials don’t know quite what to do about a McGill University Muslim student who has written that he’d like to “shoot everyone in the room” at a conservative student organization, that the organization is a “secret Zionist convention” to which he “should have brought an M16,” and that — in response to the club’s showing of “Indoctrinate-U,” a documentary about political correctness on college campuses — “the jihad begins today.”
We further learn that a gay couple in the Netherlands is suing the mayor and police in Utrecht for failing to protect them from young Muslim immigrants (“Moroccan youths”) who repeatedly attacked their home and vandalized their car until the couple finally left town, the police having told the couple they were unable to take action against the aggressors. (The religion of peace holds that homosexuals should be killed — “in the worst, most severe way of killing,” says Ayatollah Ali Sistani, our country’s cherished ally in the new Iraqi “democracy.”)
When “youths” are aboard, even gay rights and “hate speech” codes have to ride in the back of the bus.
These incidents represent an interesting phenomenon of the leftist world that I described in a post about the "The Victimhood Heirarchy or, The Leftist Food Chain. There is a logic to that food chain; and a simple way to determine whose "victimhood" is considered a higher priority when there is a conflict of victims:
...[A] theoretically "oppressed" culture or religion's status as "victimized" allows (nay, it demands) the consequent suppression of any uppity victim classes subsumed within it (e.g., Women or Gays) who try to rise above their assigned place in the utopia to come.
From the perspective of the socialist utopian, what matters more than Women's rights or Gay rights, are the rights of the designated "oppressed culture." The dogma of multiculturalism trumps the lesser dogmas of feminism or gay pride. This is probably because for the socialist utopian, might makes right and the needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few--and the few better remember that fact, or else.
In the socialist utopia, there is no room for individuality or personal preference; or tolerance for differences. You always must subsume yourself to the collective; and the bigger the collective, then the more power victimization can be exploited.
For example, we know from our experience of watching the compassionate people of the left, that blacks, women and gays lose their cherished victim status if they dare to become Republicans (shocking, I know); and, to a lesser extent, if they choose to be Christian (except for most those radical dominations, who have seen the secular light--or, who preach against American imperialism, and the evils of capitalism, of course).
Being black trumps being a woman or gay (i.e., there is more "social justice" mileage to be squeezed out of the oppression of blacks, i.e., racism, than there is from the oppression of women (sexism) or even gays (homophobia). Just ask President Obama and his supporters.
The oppression of Jews is completely ignored because of the animus the "enlightened" have toward Israel; and anti-semitism, which in past times would have had a victimhood ranking up close to the level of dark-skinned people (probably because those who founded the Jewish state were dedicated socialists--unfortunately, they soon realized that in real life, Marxist ideology doesn't work too well); but anti-semitism no longer is a compelling issue for the socialists. In fact, they are among its worse practitioners as socialism has spread throughout the Middle East.
When you have created a society that is made up of an infinite number of agggrieved groups--all of whom see themselves as "oppressed" all the time, there has to be a way to prioritize, after all.
The political left is nothing if not consistent about squeezing the last drop of grievance and victimhood out of each and every situation--especially where there is power over the lives of others to be gained.
In McCarthy's first examples, the PC leftist academics are in a bind because of the homicidal rantings of a member of a very powerful and acclaimed victimhood group. Why, those academics stand the risk of being accused of being "Islamophobic" if they were to actually do something about the situation with the Muslim student. Likewise, the PC police and city authorities in the Netherlands example.
Islam and Muslims in general, have slowly but surely percolated to the top of the victimhood food chain and thus, accusations of Islamophobia are considered more heinous than pretty much anything else, even sexism or homophobia.
Then, of course, there is the not quite conscious fear factor in play here, on the part of many leftists.
You might recall Han Solo commenting to C3PO during the latter's chess game with Chewbacca--"Let the Wookie win." His reasoning: Wookies will pull your arm out of its socket if they lose. Make no mistake about it, part of the left's bizarre willingness to submit to Islam's constant, universal whining about being "oppressed" is because they are fearful of standing up to a religion that tends to do a bit more than pull your arm out of its socket if you oppose them. They can rationalize it any way they like, but they identify with this powerful aggressor and it makes sense to them to give deference while pretending they are simply standing up for the poor, helpless victims of the world.
Like the threatening and homicidal McGill student; or the homophobic "youths".
So, forget oppression against women; forget oppression against gays--their grievances pale in significance before real, or even imagined, oppression against Islam.
Melanie Phillips is being investigated because of what she wrote about the Israeli family that was slaughtered in Israel by a Palestinian terrorist:
A Melanie Phillips blogpost on the Spectator website which referred to the "moral depravity" of Arab "savages" is being investigated by the Press Complaints Commission.
The online comment piece, headlined "Armchair barbarism", focused on media coverage of the murder of five members of a Jewish family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar by Palestinian militants earlier this month.
"The moral depravity of the Arabs is finding a grotesque echo in the moral bankruptcy and worse of the British and American 'liberal' media," wrote Phillips.
"Overwhelmingly, the media have either ignored or downplayed the atrocity – or worse, effectively blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves, describing them as 'hard-line settlers' or extremists.
"To the New York Times, it's not the Arab massacre of a Jewish family which has jeopardised 'peace prospects' – because the Israelis will quite rightly never trust any agreement with such savages – but instead Israeli policy on building more homes, on land to which it is legally and morally entitled, which is responsible instead for making peace elusive. Twisted, and sick."
The column, which also referred to coverage of the murders by CNN, the BBC and the Guardian – part of the group that publishes MediaGuardian.co.uk – prompted two complaints to the press watchdog, one of them from Engage, a group promoting Muslim engagement in British society.
Phillips apparently forgot that we are not permitted, even in a free society, to say anything bad about Islam.
We are not permitted to question how peaceful Islam is--even when hordes of its adherents appear to believe that it is not only "OK" to kill innocents in the name of their vicious god, it is a moral imperative to do so.
Though it is written tongue-in-cheek in the language of human rights and of opposition to discrimination, thenonbinding U.N. Resolution 62/154, on "Combating defamation of religions," actually seeks to extend protection not to humans but to opinions and to ideas, granting only the latter immunity from being "offended." The preamble is jam-packed with hypocrisies that are hardly even laughable, as in this delicious paragraph, stating that the U.N. General Assembly:
Underlining the importance of increasing contacts at all levels in order to deepen dialogue and reinforce understanding among different cultures, religions, beliefs and civilizations, and welcoming in this regard the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Tehran on 3 and 4 September 2007.
Yes, I think we can see where we are going with that. (And I truly wish I had been able to attend that gathering and report more directly on its rich and varied and culturally diverse flavors, but I couldn't get a visa.) The stipulations that follow this turgid preamble are even more tendentious and become more so as the resolution unfolds. For example, Paragraph 5 "expresses its deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism," while Paragraph 6 "[n]otes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001."
You see how the trick is pulled? In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls' schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism.
The author of the above piece (Christopher Hitchens) goes on to note, "The useless and meaningless term Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success."
But the truth is that "Islamophobia" is not a phobia at all-- it is a completely rational fear of an insane and irrational force that seems to be sweeping the world. Being afraid of the so-called "religion of peace" after the innumerable acts of violence, terror and depravity committed in the name of Allah worldwide is not exaggerated; not inexplicable; and most certainly not illogical.
Being afraid of Islam as it undermines freedom of speech and thought, as well as and other critical values of Western civilization, is far from a phobia--it is a natural response to the sad reality Islam as it is practiced in much of the Middle East and around the world.
What the UN (and the Islamic world) would like to mandate is a sort of meta-Islamophobia--an Islamophobicphobia, to be precise; or, as I would define it, " an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of mere criticism of Islam, as well as a pathological reluctance to hold it to account for the actions and behavior of its followers."
There is much written both in the Middle East and in the West about the proposition that Islam is "under siege" and that hatred of Islam is a rising concern. Complaints agaiso nst individuals like Phillips are getting all too common. The delicate sensibilities of Muslims are tuned into any possible affront or mockery to their religion, that they appear to be unable to appreciate that killing people indiscriminantly in the name of Allah and for Islamic motives is becoming a real problem all over the world.
This has been happening frequently and those those who decry this reality, or prentend that it doesn't exist are not only reluctant to admit that the wave of terror and irrational hatred sweeping the world is specifically associated with the religion of Islam; they simultaneously blame the victims of the terror and the objects of the irrational hatred as the one's responsible for its existence.
Islam and its teachings are frequently given a free pass by both the left and the submissive media. Shouts of "God is Great" that precede each atrocity apparently have nothing to do with what is written in the Koran.
It is getting harder and harder to keep a straight face as the knee-jerk denial and sanctimonious utterings of organizations like CAIR and UN "human rights" committees fill the news media on a daily basis with their attacks on anyone who criticizes Islam, even as their own institutionalized anti-semitism becomes more and more blatant.
Islamophobia? Anyone who by now has not realized that Muslims, by reason of their deafening silence alone, have given carte blanche to the fanatics in their midst, is either completely out of touch with reality, or living on another planet (e.g., planet Hollywood, or planet Obama).
Muslims in Europe claim they are justified in rejecting Western society for a variety of reasons: (1) oppression; (2) poverty; (3) the Iraq War (and now the "Libya War" will undoubtedly produce the same result in the end); and/or (4) the institutionally "racist" culture of the West, which "forces" Muslims to accept the values of the countries they choose to imigrate to.
It is interesting to watch as Muslims seem to expect that those countries should be forced to abandon their own traditions and adopt Muslim values instead. Multiculturalism, of course, is on their side in this bizarre sense of entitlement....which is exactly why all of a sudden we are seeing multiculturalism being rejected in Europe for the leftist scam it is (see here and here for further discussion of how the left has aided and abetted Islamic fanatics by making it easy for them to undermine western values and institutions--hell, the left sees them as an important ally in that regard).
So, let me say for the record that I utterly reject being labeled as "Islamophobic". Rather, I have a healthy, rational fear of a religion that aggressively seeks either my submission or death.
I have a healthy fear of a religion that regularly inspires the decapitation of babies and hides behind children so they they can kill with impunity.
And, of course, I have a very healthy respect for people like Melanie Phillips and Mark Steyn (who can testify to the PC insanity as it is practiced by our neighbors to the north). Phillips' blogpost accurately highlights not only the barbarism and moral depravity of the heinous murders and their celebration by members of the "peaceful" religion in by Gaza residents; she also clearly denounces the timidity of the media in their reporting of the incident so as to downplay the Islamist depravity and emphasize the notion of how Israeli settler's "deserved" it.
In other words, Phillips captured the moral depravity of not only the Islamic terrorists who think murdering babies and children in their sleep is justified; she also captures the moral depravity of the left's apologists for their behavior.
Melanie Phillips is being persecuted for speaking truth.
The word "Islamophobia" is bandied around as if it were somehow a complementary concept for Muslims, similar to what "antisemitism" is for Jews.
This is objectively not the case.
There has been no wholesale exploitation or abuse of Muslims anywhere in the world--except by other Muslims (Saddam and the Taliban come to mind; as well as all the other oppressive regimes in the Middle East). There has been no genocide of Muslims--except by other Muslims (consider Darfur; consider what Al Qaeda did to Iraqi civilians; what the Taliban is now doing in Pakistan; what Shia are doing to Sunni and vice versa). There have been no systematic outrages perpetrated on the people of Islam--except by other people of Islam. Palestinians suffer (and have suffered) more at the hands of their "sympathetic" Muslim brothers in other countries of the Middle East--none of whom can be bothered to allow them to live in their own countries except in "camps" (several generations of Palestinians have now lived in sordid and primitive conditions in Lebanon and elsewhere because of the "generosity" and "support" of their Muslim brothers).
And further, if you are someone who believes Israel has oppressed the Palestinians; consider just for a moment the fact that the poor Palestinians would much rather kill Jews and each other than work to better their own lot in life--even after they have been finally given their own territory (see here also)
Let me be clear that I am not saying that real Islamophobic behavior cannot be the result of projection or paranoia on the part of some individuals or groups. For it is the case that ANY CONVENIENT GROUP MAY BE USED TO PROJECT ONE'S OWN UNACCEPTABLE FEELINGS ONTO. Historically, the Jews have been the recipients of such pathology fairly frequently; but they are hardly the only group that has had to deal with it.
The leaders of Islam, however, seem to be suffering from a case of "victim envy"; for all intents and purposes desirous of acquiring the label of victim even as they go around victimizing the rest of the world with their suicidal rage; and even as they plan the final solution for the demonized Jewish population.
Objectively, there is just no case at all to support the idea that other groups are systematically or institutionally "projecting" their own unacceptable feelings or acting out toward the muslim population at large; nor are the scant number of individual cases of prejudice very compelling either; despite the unbelievable rhetorical flourishes of the left and other Islamic radical apologists. On the contrary, there is much evidence to suggest that the world is trying its best (perhaps trying too hard) to be decent and give as much leeway to muslim anger as is possible; and is even bending over backwards to make sure muslims understand that they are being treated equally, or even more equally in some cases, with all other religions and groups.
When "Islamophobia" is used as a bludgeon to accuse and attack anyone who makes the mildest criticism of Islam--no matter how well-meaning that criticism may be--the attack becomes yet another psychological projection by Muslims that deflects their own sense of shame, humiliation and inferiority and helps them to believe that such feelings would go away if only they got some respect.
Unfortunately for them, their historical shame and humiliation; as well as their medieval cultural and religious backwardness must be confronted and their behavior must change before they can be an effective part of the modern world. If it were not for the fact that oil happens to be found in that part of the world, I seriously doubt that Islam or Arab culture would have any impact on the world today; and the rest of the world could comfortably watch as their culture continued on its rush toward primitivism and obsolescence.
In the end, both antisemitism and the accusations of Islamophobia are parallel symptoms of a single disease that is running rampant in Islamic countries and among those raised in a religion that thrives on hatred and violence, but somehow manages to believe in its heart that it is loving and peaceful and following the will of God.
As Phillips astutely observes, this is "twisted and sick" and no amount of PC sunshine can change that fact.
In "The Put-off, Postpone, and Procrastinate Generation" Victor Davis Hanson says that the "therapeutic generation of Americans loves to talk and worry about problems and then assumes that either someone else will solve them or they will go away on their own...."
But the problem with our Federal debt is that it will not disappear over time; in fact, it can only get worse.
The United States needs some Harry Truman-like plain speaking, instead of each administration putting off a national reckoning onto the next. Don't drill for oil and grow food — and the price for both goes up. Spend what you don't have, and later you will have to pay even more back. The generation that ran up the debt and was largely responsible for the Social Security crisis has a responsibility to make things right on its watch.
Such blunt talk is considered political suicide for candidates; in fact, anything less for the rest of us is national suicide.
The dilemma described above is an insoluble one for a politician whose only goal is re-election. Doing what's right in that case runs second to doing what's necessary to keep his job.
And the reality is that the public often wants to have its cake and eat it too--which is why polls are often so contradictory (and meaningless). With a rare amount of consistency, it seems that Americans really really want the debt to be decreased; but they also want taxes to be cut AND they refuse to part with their entitlements and pet projects.
Inconsistent? Certainly. But very human.
The question is why should they behave any differently? For decades, politicians of both parties have promised them the Moon, never telling them the potential cost in the long run. They have been led to believe that they can get "something for nothing" if only they elect candidate X. And, if they can't ignore reality and get something for nothing, it is because of the evil, money-grubbing capitalists whose only goal is to suck them dry.
Who hasn't heard a politician these days, especially from the Democratic Party, insist that the only real fiscal problem is that all those millionaires and billionaires and the rest of those "rich" people need to pay more to society?
The solution is always to "Tax the Rich!" and all will be well again.
But as Kevin Williamson argues, the only problem with that is there just aren't enough rich people to go around:
There are lots of liberal definitions of “rich.” When Pres. Barack Obama talks about the rich, he’s talking about people living in households with income of more than $250,000 or more, the rarefied caviar-shoveling stratum occupied by the likes of second-tier public-broadcasting executives, Boston cops, nurses, and the city manager of Lubbock, Texas (assuming somebody in her household earns the last $25,000 to carry her over the line). Club 250K isn’t all that exclusive, and most of its members aren’t the yachts-and-expensive-mistresses types.
Nonetheless, there aren’t that many of them. In fact, in 2006, the Census Bureau found only 2.2 million households earning more than $250,000. And most of those are closer to the Lubbock city manager than to Carlos Slim, income-wise. To jump from the 50th to the 51st percentile isn’t that tough; jumping from the 96th to the 97th takes a lot of schmundo. It’s lonely at the top.
But say we wanted to balance the budget by jacking up taxes on Club 250K. That’s a problem: The 2012 deficit is forecast to hit $1.1 trillion under Obama’s budget. (Thanks, Mr. President!) Spread that deficit over all the households in Club 250K and you have to jack up their taxes by an average of $500,000. Which you simply can’t do, since a lot of them don’t have $500,000 in income to seize: Most of them are making $250,000 to $450,000 and paying about half in taxes already. You can squeeze that goose all day, but that’s not going to make it push out a golden egg.
But it's the "golden egg" mentality that is driving the liberal mantra. Since liberals don't really understand where wealth comes from, you can watch them getting angrier and angrier when they are presented with facts like the one above. The only economic policy they know is to squeeze that goose. They have never considered that at some point the goose will be completely empty of eggs--and if you keep squeezing, it will certainly expire.
Margaret Thatcher, who was talking about the economic problems in her country in 1976and attributing it to the Labour Party policies, said:
I think they've made the biggest financial mess that any government's made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments do traditionally make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money.
Thatcher understood, too, that when Labour/Democrats/Liberals/Progressives/Marxists finally do run out of other people's money, they always fall back on the tried and true rationalization that it is simply MORE government spending; MORE taxing the rich; MORE central planning, and MORE control of people's everyday lives that's needed.
They NEVER imagine that the goose will stop laying the golden eggs for them to spen;, nor do they ever imagine that they will ever have to stop living life as a fairy tale and face reality.
Their primary concern is to maintain their power and control over others; and to that end, the political left have discovered that by ramping up the traditional Marxist "class warfare" rhetoric, they can deflect anger that might otherwise be directed towards their profligacy onto the usual convenient scapegoats.
We see the effectiveness of this tactic by merely perusing the posters carried by the Wisconsin union protesters; and also by listening to their leaders blame those who dare to be supportive of fiscal responsibility. The distortion and denial are incredible.
But, as they force, step by excruciating step, their states and finally the country off that fiscal cliff, they won't fully appreciate the suicidal path they are on until that final moment when their fall is broken by hitting the hard, unyielding surface of reality.
Plain speaking may indeed be political suicide; it's much easier to promise everyone what they want instead of showing real leadership and going against the polls; against the protests; and doing what is consistent with reality.
...then scientific shenanigans like the Berkeley Professor in the video below describes happen with surprising regularity. Listen to the 4 min clip, then watch the entire lecture for a real eye-opening experience: (h/t The Corner)
Back in 2005 I wrote a piece titled "Scientific Progress Goes Boink" (a title from oone of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon collections) in which an Islamic "scientist" explains how it had been "proven" (by Neil Armstrong, no less)that Mecca was the center of a unique and infinite radiation emanating from the earth. This "fact" (and several other astonishing "facts") make it clear that Mecca is special and important Allah be praised! Q.E.D.
Check it out and you will see that the whole discussion demonstrates a modus operandi not much different from that of the environmental "scientists". Gaia be praised!
That frequently happens when science is confused with, or used in the service of, dogma.
The four-month-old girl had been swept from her parents’ arms in the shattered village of Ishinomaki when the deadly wave crashed into the family home.
For three days, the child’s frantic family had believed she was lost to them for ever.
But yesterday, for a brief moment, the horrors of the disaster were brightened by one helpless baby’s story of survival. Soldiers from the Japanese Defence Force had been going from door to door pulling bodies from the devastated homes in Ishinomaki, a coastal town northeast of Sendai.
Most of the victims were elderly, unable to escape the destructive black tide.
But for this precious moment, at least, it was only the child who mattered to the team of civil defence troops who found her.
A terrorist infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Itamar, southeast of Nablus, early Saturday and stabbed five family members to death....
Paramedic Kabaha Muayua was among the first responders at the site and described the horrific scene he encountered.
“We could not help the first four stab victims. Following an inspection of the scene I spotted an infant of about three who still had a pulse. We engaged in lengthy resuscitation efforts but had to pronounce him dead,” he said. “The murder scene was shocking. Kids’ toys right next to pools of blood.”
The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder, steal, or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire of evils.
But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies, and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes toward children.
That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the Muslim world have done to the word “Jew.” To them, the Jew is not just sub-human, the Jew — and his or her children — is sub-animal.
Two babies; two precious miracles of life, separated by nation, culture, language and fate.
One survived the horrors and impassive devastation of Nature unscathed, and was reunited with family as an entire country celebrated life. The other did not survive the malignant evil of men, who were impassioned by hate and spurred by a dysfunctional religion; as an entire country celebrated death.
From The Mail we learn that Al Qaeda has launched a new women's magazine that combines beauty and fashion with tips on suicide bombing. Isn't that simply fabulous!
Dubbed 'Jihad Cosmo', the glossy magazine's front cover features the barrel of a sub-machine gun next to a picture a woman in a veil.
There are exclusive interviews with martyrs' wives, who praise their husbands' decisions to die in suicide attacks.
The slick, 31-page Al-Shamikha magazine - meaning The Majestic Woman - has advice for singletons on 'marrying a mujahideen'.
Readers are told it is their duty to raise children to be mujahideen ready for jihad.
And the 'beauty column' instructs women to stay indoors with their faces covered to keep a 'clear complexion'.
Al Qaeda is making great strides toward winning the future; and with this effort has catapulted itself into the 14th century at least!
Sometime back I wrote a piece about a new special edition Barbie doll that had come out, which made the toy even more mindless and sexualized (who knew that was even possible?) Burka Barbie had the distinction of being the absolute ultimate sex toy, in that it's very existence completely degrades womanhood in a way even Bimbo Barbie never could.
Now our Burka Barbie has a glossy magazine with helpful tips and hints to make her an even more invisible and unthreatening object to the pathetic males of the "mujahideen" (I think the literal tranlation of "mujahideen" must be "little big dick").
Welcome, to the wonderful world of Islamic Sharia!
Remember this news article about a young girl in Iran who was accused of "crimes against chastity" and executed? This is one of the many career options in store for the Burka Barbies under the vicious misogyny of Islam. Just imagine how many girls we don't read about or hear about, who suffer the same fate as that 16 year old in Iran? Or, yet another career path is the glorious, but sadly brief, career as a female suicide bomber.
You have to admit that for a woman living under Al Qaeda rule, dying could well be considered a reasonable alternative to the misery.
Back in 1997, a group called Aqua came out with a catchy little tune that I found amusing. The song was called "Barbie Girl" and it lampooned the mindless Barbie bimbos who seem to have no real existence or sense of self without a male in their life. Of course, if the Barbie doll lives in a free society, she can choose to function on the bimbo level; or she can choose to break free of the Barbie stereotype (like Elle Woods in the movie Legally Blonde).
Well, now we can imagine Burka Barbie Girl in an Islam World; reading the PC Al Qaeda version of Cosmopolitan, where the only way to "break free" is through death.
BARBIE AND KHALID IN AN ISLAM WORLD [- Hi Barbie! - Hi Khalid! - You shouldn't be talking to me, you know? - I know, Khalid! - Now you will have to die because you have deliberately aroused me and shamed your family. - Ha ha ha ha! ]
I'm a Muslim girl in an Islam world Life in hijab, simply so fab! You can't see my hair, you don't even know I'm there You must be caped, or you'll be raped
Just a glimpse of skin, drives our men to sin They're afraid, you see, of my sexuality
I'm a Muslim girl in an Islam world Life in hijab, simply so fab! You can't see my hair, you don't even know I'm there You must be caped, or you'll be raped
I'm a veiled ghostly girl in a fantasy world Made by men who are frightened by my sex. I'm a drudge, with no grudge, cause my feelings don't count I can't work, I can't drive, I can't even go out.
You can hide me away Cause it makes you feel so manly You can beat me at night So your honor works out just right
I'm a Muslim girl in an Islam world Life in hijab, simply so fab! You can't see my hair, you don't even know I'm there You must be caped, or you'll be raped
Let's be honest, why be modest? ha ha ha, yeah If I get hit, I provoked it-- oooh, oooh, ooh Let's be honest, why be modest? ha ha ha, yeah If you feel shame, I am to blame-- oooh, oooh, oooh
Make me hide, make me pray, do whatever you please I am worth half a man, that's what Allah decrees All I do is bring shame; I am always to blame If a man goes insane with desire
You can hide me away Cause it makes you feel so manly You can beat me at night So your honor works out just right
I'm a Muslim girl in an Islam world Life in hijab, simply so fab! You can't see my hair, you don't even know I'm there You must be caped, or you'll be raped
Let's be honest, why be modest? ha ha ha, yeah Men are leaders, girls are breeders-- oooh, oooh, ooh Let's be honest, why be modest? ha ha ha, yeah If you feel shame, I am to blame-- oooh, oooh, oooh
[- Oh, Khalid, I'm having so much fun! - Well, Barbie, you're alone with me and that makes you an evil temptress. - Oh, please, can I be a suicide bomber?]
I don't consider myself a "doom and gloom" sort of person; in fact, I tend to be irrationally exuberant at times. But there are two items that caught my attention recently that scare the hell out of me.
The first is this series of slides from Paul Ryan regarding the two futures which this country faces economically.Right now, Ryan, the Chair of the Budget Committee sees us facing three different challenges: a jobs deficit; a budget deficit; and a leadership deficit.
This slide shows our indebtedness to foreign powers and how that has grown:
And the two futures that Ryan is talking about can be seen clearly in these two graphs: (1) If we curb our spending versus if we don't
(2) If we get our debt under control versus if we don't
Go look at all the slides; and, as the Democrats like to say when they want to showcase how caring and compassionate they are compared to those evil Republicans who are pushing for fiscal restraint: "Think of the children...."
North Korea is developing a bomb that emits an electromagnetic field upon explosion and damages nearby electronic devices, a South Korean military source has revealed to the JoongAng Ilbo.
The source said North Korea has been working on the electromagnetic pulse bomb, or EMP bomb, since the mid-1990s, with help from Russian scientists, adding that the weapon may be near completion.
The EMP bomb produces a short but strong electromagnetic pulse that, if exploded 40 kilometers (25 miles) above ground, would affect equipment within a 700-kilometer radius, including exposed electrical conductors, such as wires.
According to Australia-based defense analyst Carlo Kopp and his paper at the GlobalSecurity.org Web site, the EMP effect can cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices, such as computers, radio and radar. He noted that EMP devices can render many modern military platforms useless because they are packed with electronic equipment.
What does this capability mean?
Detonating an NEMP high above North America would devastate not only power and communications but the economy (obliterating internet-based financial transactions and electronically stored financial data), transportation (disrupting electronic monitoring and control of everything from traffic signals to freight-train switching to commercial air traffic control), and even our military, much of which relies heavily on GPS navigation and site determination — though United States forces do still train extensively in low-tech navitation and warfare. The electromagnetic pulse would wash across the entire continental United States, plus the southern part of Canada and northern Mexico, like a tidal wave of voltage-lava, melting all the circuits in its path unless specially shielded. Such a strike would be utterly devastating, resulting in trillions of dollars in damages… and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths, both direct (from crashes) and indirect, from loss of medical records, the inability of emergency services to respond to life-or-death situations, utility and power shutdowns, and economic dislocation. Recovery would likely take decades. And there is absolutely nothing we can do at this time to prevent or even mitigate it; shielding every electrical circuit in the U.S. heavily enough to resist an NEMP would dwarf the cost of all natural disasters and terrorist attacks of the last century combined.
Can you imagine how the current leadership in the White House will respond to this potential threat? No, I can't either. In fact, it's pretty clear that our Dear Leader (the one in the US) will do pretty much what he has done for every national security crisis (or national budgetary crisis, for that matter): either do nothing; or do the worse possible thing for America's national interest in the matter.
I fear we live in very interesting times; and they just keep gettng more and more interesting.
We hear calls of legislators' lowing, voices carried on you tube, As they wander far from their state, avoiding tough choices. Others stop to smell the sage, but Walker signs the golden law, Does it feel good to be back home again?
To ignore the religious nature of the terrorist threat is to succumb to politically correct delusion. To ignore the homegrown religious nature of the terrorist threat is to succumb even further.
She is speaking, of course, about all the recent outrage and vitriol emanating from the political left and directed at Peter King (R, NY), the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, because he dares to have hearings in Congress about radicalization in the Muslim community:
To listen to King's critics, you would think he was urging modern-day internment camps for Muslim Americans. In a letter to King Monday, more than 50 progressive groups slammed him for "singling out a particular community for examination in what appears to be little more than a political show-trial."
She calls this attitude a "parody" of political correctness. I just would call it plain old simple and stupid political correctness in all its glorious idiocy.
In contrast to this idiocy and delusion, how about a little reality?
Or, give yourself a real politically incorrect treat and listen to this gentleman:
Wretchard has a fascinating look at some of the sad history of public housing and tosses this interesting intellectual tidbit at the end (read it all):
.... Yet if public housing projects are a solution to anything, the evidence is far from encouraging. Too many of them are sinkholes of human misery. In part, the problem lies in that planners and bureaucrats see housing, not as the consequence of lifestyle, but a cause of it. The slums they so heartily disapprove of are often better suited to the survival of their residents. Slums are often the way they are because they evolved according to definite environmental pressures. The horrible characteristics of a slum are in many cases, a feature, not a bug. Yet none of that will dampen the appetite for public dream-house....
The architectural terrain is a mere reflection of human terrain. Buildings are an expression of the economic, social and cultural conditions of the human beings they enclose. They are like the Picture of Dorian Gray, they show the soul within the man. The place to start isn’t by giving a man a house; it is by giving him an opportunity.
But most governments are convinced that the soul can be altered by a change of clothes. After all, politicians do it all the time. And public housing is popular with the construction industry and only costs the taxpayers a few dollars more.
In Theses on Feuerbach, Karl Marx wrote, ". . . the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations." By changing the "ensemble of social relations", Marx believed that you can change "the human essence."
He was incorrect.
In fact, he was incorrect in exactly the same way that the social engineers of today are incorrect--whether they are developing grandiose plans to save the environment from humans, or building the next housing project for the poor.
The internal landscape of the soul of any human being at any moment in time will be externalized and reflected in that human's behavior; or, how he presents himself to the world. Character and one's state of mind will find expression in the environment the human creates around himself and in which he chooses to live. It can also be found by examining those with whom he chooses to associate.
Observing the state of a person's home can provide valuable information on the internal state of that person. One of the techniques I learned in psychiatry, called "guided imagery", was to have a person close his eyes and imagine walking along a road until he comes to a house. He then is asked to describe the house outside and in. The idea being that he will describe a house that is a replica of his internal state of being.
Real personal pride (not the narcississtic cockiness or desperate faux superiority or bravado that is so commonly seen these days), will translate into an environment that expresses that pride. Conflicts in one's life find expression in one's possessions; or the state of one's room or home.
Pride of ownership and self-actualization cannot be bestowed on any individual or group, they must earn that pride with their own actions and behavior. When they achieve that sense internally, then the environment and landscape around them will reflect it.
Poverty does not have to translate chaos, crime, or ugliness--but sadly, it often does because those realities lurk inside the soul of many poor persons. They are nurtured within a culture of victimhood--a culture in which they are taught early that there are only two options in life: being a victim, or victimizing others.
Handouts and programs that are created with the "best" of intentions, including all those wonderful public housing programs for the poor--fail to take all this into account. All those do-gooders with the grandiose plans for the poor probably don't deliberately intend to make people feel like losers; but that is what is reinforced by all those government programs. Those who break out of the victimhood mentality do so because they grabbed the opportunities to make something of themselves and did not sit around waiting for the do-gooders to pat them on the head paternalistically so that the do-gooders could feel good about themselves.
As Wretchard says, instead of giving a person a house, you need to give them an opportunity. The former will only reinforce the victim/victimizer dialectic; the latter may actually help them to change within.
The landscape of the outer environment will then quite naturally alter to reflect the inner change.
Iowahawk writes, "Please pardon this brief departure from my normal folderol, but every so often a member of the chattering class issues a nugget of stupidity so egregious that no amount of mockery will suffice. Particularly when the issuer of said stupidity holds a Nobel Prize."; and then goes on to effectively and scientifically trash the intellectual moron and Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, for his use of make-believe data to make a rather deceitful point:
Case in point: Paul Krugman. The Times' staff economics blowhard recently typed, re the state of education in Texas:
And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.
Similarly, The Economist passes on what appears to be the cut-'n'-paste lefty factoid du jour:
Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:
South Carolina – 50th North Carolina – 49th Georgia – 48th Texas – 47th Virginia – 44th
If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country.
The point being, I suppose, is that unionized teachers stand as a thin chalk-stained line keeping Wisconsin from descending into the dystopian non-union educational hellscape of Texas. Interesting, if it wasn't complete bullshit.
Read the entire take-down, which is a priceless public service. In fact, as it turns out looking at real data, he summarizes thusly:
White and Hispanic Texas students indeed seem to dropout at a higher rate than their counterparts in Wisconsin, although in both cases (a) the difference is not statistically significant; and (b) in both cases, both states are significantly below the national average. Among black high school students, Texans have significantly lower dropout rates than their national cohort and Wisconsinites. Black high school students in Wisconsin have significantly higher dropout rates than national.
Your first question is probably, "why do the union teachers in Wisconsin hate black students?" Sorry, can't help you there, I'm stumped too.
Well, complete and utter bullshit is the hallmark of most of Professor Krugman's writings (and I have noted this before multiple times on my blog); but here is an astonishing take on the Krugman post that will leave you absolutely breathless with regard to the depth of idiocy, hatred and unbelievable psychological delusion that are evident to the most casual reader:
And what now when the Texas Miracle turned out to be a mirage and the state is suffering from serious budget problems? Education spending will be cut back.
I don't really need to tell anyone smart enough to read my blog that this is like the farmers eating the seed corn. There will be little to plant next year, which in terms of education means that the next generations will have few skills, will not be able to handle complex work tasks and will, in general, suffer from lower earnings and standards of living.
The conservatives sometimes buy the argument that we should spend some public funds to educate the children so that corporations in the future will have a better labor force. But we shouldn't stop at that pecuniary level. An educated society is a much nicer society for all of us to live in. An educated society means that an old conservative will be taken care of by skilled nurses and doctors, for example. An educated society has fewer desperate people, less poverty and less crime, all nice things for an elderly conservative wanting to rock on that front porch watching the sun set.
But mostly conservatives see children as the punishment their parents deserve for having dared to have sex. Nobody else should pay for them, they should be educated at home by their mothers and somehow a miracle is required that all this would provide the kind of educated society the conservatives would ultimately want. Without them having to pay anything. A Texas Miracle of sorts.
"Smart enough to read my blog"??? What kind of smarts do you need, honey? A kindergarden education, perhaps? Or, maybe all that's required is one of those trendy "adolescent" worldviews I wrote about recently?
I felt the urge to vigorously wash my eyes out with bactericidal soap after reading just those few imbecilic and hateful paragraphs. If this vitriolic rant is typical of the "superior intellect" leftists enjoy patting themselves on the back about, then it's no surprise their wondrous economic policies somehow just never work out in the real world.
Just imagine the amount of denial, projection and outright psychotic delusion that it takes to write something like that.
On the whole, Krugman is refreshingly and uncomplicatedly stupid by comparison.
We live in a therapeutic age, one in which the old tragic view of our ancestors has been replaced by prolonged adolescence. Adolescents hold adult notions of consumption: they understand the comfort of a pricey car; they appreciate the status conveyed by a particular sort of handbag or sunglasses; they sense how outward consumption and refined tastes can translate into popularity and envy; and they appreciate how a slogan or world view can win acceptance among peers without worry over its validity. But they have no adult sense of acquisition, themselves not paying taxes, balancing the family budget, or worrying about household insurance, maintenance, or debt. Theirs is a world view of today or tomorrow, not of next year —or even of next week.
So adolescents throw fits when denied a hip sweater or a trip to Disneyland, concluding that it is somehow “unfair” or “mean,” without concern about the funds available to grant their agendas. We see now just that adolescent mind in Wisconsin. “They” surely can come up with the money from someone (“the rich”) somehow to pay teachers and public servants what they deserve. And what they deserve is determined not by comparable rates in private enterprise, or by market value (if the DMV clerk loses a job, does another public bureau or private company inevitably seize the opportunity to hire such a valuable worker at comparable or improved wages?), or by results produced (improved test scores, more applicants processed in an office, overhead reduced, etc.), or by what the strapped state is able to provide, but by what is deemed to be necessary to ensure an upper-middle class lifestyle. That is altogether understandable and decent, but it is entirely adolescent in a globalized economy.
Those of us with teens in the household see the adolescent dynamic Hanson describes on a daily basis. My daughter and almost all of her friends fit the description at least part of the time. The few who have broken out of this mindset--i.e., accepted the responsibility of adulthood--are generally those who have had to do so by events; i.e., because of real world problems facing their families. It's tough to get a teen to "grow up" when life is so easy and they don't really have to be responsible. Often the goal is just to get them out of the house so they can begin to appreciate what the "real" world is actually like.
In a way, the childlike, irresponsible attitude of today's adolescents is a reflection of our attempts as parents to shield them from the real world; to give them a better life than we ourselves may have had; to limit the hardships and even the pain we might have experienced when we were their age. They are clueless about the real world because we have protected their childlike innocence. However flawed that attitude might be on our part, our hope is that once they do leave the nest, they will (hopefully) have learned everything necessary to be resilient enought to cope with the real world.
As they will have to--as long as we don't bail them out over and over again when they screw up (which they will).
I only wish we, the taxpayers, were dealing with real adolescents, instead of the grownup variety that seem to populate our political class--particularly on the Democratic side of the aisle.
At least then we might have some small modicum of hope that they might grow up when forced to face the real world.
Unfortunately, we are not dealing with innocent adolescents (although they are behaving as badly and irresponsibly); we are dealing with adolescent--or rather, INFANTILE--psychological defense mechanisms (e.g., denial) that are being used by individual ADULTS and and enabling political parties.
The adolescent-adults of our political class have little incentive to grow up, since they believe that "the rich" will always be there to rescue them from their own poor judgement and self-destructive behavior. All they have to do is tax those "rich" people more and more and more; and then they can overspend, overindulge, and party like there's no tomorrow.
Whenever the taxpayer loudly complains and says, "ENOUGH!", they become sullen and ungrateful, muttering darkly about how they're doing it "for the children" (which, when you think about it, they are since they ARE the children in this picture); or bringing up the old reliable Marxist class warfare scenario to justify their adolescent rantings.
These guys and gals are not just grownup, oversized adolescents; they are PERPETUALLY and ENTIRELY ADOSESCENT in their worldview and mindset.