Saturday, December 11, 2004
Thoughts to ponder
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
William J. Boetcke, often attributed to Abraham Lincoln
Funny thing is, a lot of utopian schemes for human society like to break one or more of these guidelines. And some like to break many. The worst of those end up like the Killing Fields in Cambodia. But most of the rest just manage to lessen the quality of life for large sections of their society. This, no doubt, is the reason why so many European countries are no richer per capita, than the bottom third of the American states. There are costs, fiscal and social, for bringing down the top or blaming one's problems on the other. Something to think about, why this works out this way so often.
Friday, December 10, 2004
The New Racism
The new ploy is becoming obvious. Racism isn't racism if it's done by the liberal press or commentators. Notice what Harry Reid said about one of the supreme court justices.
Armstrong Williams noticed and reports:
Has white liberal Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., no sense of decency?
His defamatory comments about Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as a prospective chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court support a corrupt racial universe, in which the best and brightest black thinkers are blacklisted by the white liberal elite because they threaten the power base of the liberal black establishment.
The evidence is voluminous. Without a dissenting peep from the high priests of blackness, white pundits indulge in racist calumnies against black conservative stars. Pat Oliphant and Garry Trudeau deride superstar secretary-of-State designate Condoleezza Rice as a parrot or as "brown sugar." Harry Belafonte maligns the gifted, courageous and accomplished Colin Powell as an "Uncle Tom." And now Reid, minority leader of the U.S. Senate, has sneered at Thomas' qualifications for chief justice because his conservative thinking does not follow the dogmas of the anachronistic black power structure or patronizing doctrines of its white liberal counterpart.
Reid was crystal clear in his interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press last Sunday. He said Thomas "has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice." In contrast, Reid praised conservative white Justice Antonin Scalia as eminently qualified for chief justice, although Scalia and Thomas sport similar judicial philosophies. The difference in Reid's calculation: Scalia as chief would strengthen the power of the white elite and set back the conservative black movement; Thomas as chief would do the opposite.
The United States now confronts a modern edition of Jim Crow. If you are born white, you may aspire to achieve greatness as a liberal, conservative, moderate, independent or otherwise. There are no intellectual no-go zones. But if you are born black, your ambitions will be crushed unless you ape black power brokers.
It can't be both ways. Freedom means freedom to be liberal or conservative. Intolerance is not just one sided. Like Nelson Polite in Lancaster, PA who wants to curtail freedom of political speech because his side didn't win and he doesn't want to see pictures of the sitting president, some people want to crush those in a awful wave of intolerance instead of saying, Hey, the American dream is real! Look at Condi Rice. Look at Gonzalez - look at all those people whose parents suffered under the old racism doing good.
Every time you turn your back on this reality, snickering, saying this person or that deserves it, you are creating a new Jim Crow that says if you don't share my viewpoint, I will do my best to disenfrancise you. And that destroys any claim to tolerance and acceptance you might be trying to make.
Terrorism, Ecology, And Successful Stragegy
The nation obviously has been focused very heavily on terrorism for the last three years. Unfortunately, the overwhelming attention paid to foreign terrorist threats has tended to make people complacent about homegrown, domestic terrorism. Those living in the Washington, DC area got a wake-up call on this last week, when an apparent group of environmental terrorists torched a housing development under construction in nearby Charles County, MD.
Law enforcement officials have not yet determined who the perpetrators were and it is conceivable that simple vandalism or other motives were at work.
But the evidence strongly suggests eco-terrorism. The development has been under attack by environmentalists for some time for allegedly disturbing a nearby wetland. Moreover, the arson-and there is no doubt that it was arson-fits a pattern of eco-terrorism that has been seen elsewhere.
The term eco-terrorism has been used to describe two similar yet separate groups of terrorists-those mainly concerned with animal rights and those primarily upset by despoiling of the land and air by technology and development. Both have been targeted by the FBI. Earlier this year, Philip Celestini, who heads up the bureau's eco-terrorism task force, said that ecological and animal rights extremists constitute our greatest domestic terrorist threat.
Of the two groups, the animal rights people are by far the more active and dangerous. They mainly target pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and their employees, because they often use animal testing to determine the safety and efficacy of new medicines. This is viewed as inhumane and unjustified even if it leads to cures for deadly diseases like AIDS.
Animal rights activists also target farmers and those who wear fur, even if the fur came from animals raised exclusively for this purpose. In some cases, however, their efforts have been counterproductive. Last year, for example, a few dimwits set 10,000 mink free from a farm in the state of Washington. Now without food, the mink began attacking various endangered species in the area and even devoured each other. Although most of the mink were recaptured, perhaps 1,000 died as a consequence.
Animal rights kooks have been especially active in Britain, where the government views them as a greater domestic threat than the Irish Republican Army. British pharmaceutical companies now spend $130 million per year on additional security to deal with the threat, and some estimates suggest that as much as $2 billion of investment has been discouraged. Unfortunately, those who die because of undiscovered medicines will never know that their deaths resulted because a few lunatics put animal lives ahead of theirs.
Other eco-terrorists have been stepping up their attacks on sport utility vehicles, which are viewed as gas-guzzlers, and land development for housing and recreation. One group known for advocating eco-violence is the Earth Liberation Front. Its members have taken credit for everything from spray-painting SUV's to burning down a $50 million condominium project in San Diego.
ELF's former spokesman, Craig Rosebraugh, recently wrote a book, "The Logic of Political Violence" (Arissa Media, 2004), in which he defends the use of violence in achieving the goals of animal rights and saving the environment from capitalist exploitation. He compares eco-terrorists to Jews resisting the Holocaust. When questioned about his views by the House Resources Committee in 2002, Mr. Rosebraugh took the Fifth Amendment on all but two questions, one being an admission that he is a U.S. citizen.
It is too easy just to say that Mr. Rosebaugh's theory is depraved and absurd. The real problem with using violence to achieve political goals is that it works very poorly as compared to nonviolent methods. Mahatma Gandhi 's efforts in achieving independence in India, Nelson Mandela's bringing down of apartheid in South Africa, and Martin Luther King's victory on civil rights here are testaments to the power of nonviolence to accomplish massive political and societal changes against enormous odds. Just in recent days, we have seen peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine bring about radical political changes in that country almost overnight.
By contrast, the 60-year campaign by murderous Palestinian terrorists against Israel has been a complete and total failure. The IRA's campaign of bombing and assassination in Northern Ireland has also achieved virtually nothing except death and destruction.
Of course, there have been revolutionary wars that were successful, not the least being our own. And sometimes war is needed to achieve necessary change, as in the case of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. But I cannot think of any case where the sort of random terrorist violence against innocent civilians, such as perpetrated by al-Qaida or eco-terrorists, has ever achieved its goal.
When one is pursuing a strategy that is not only immoral but also doesn't work, it might be time consider an alternative.
Some Problems with the Waxman Report
Last week, California Democrat Congressman Henry Waxman issued a report claiming that most federally funded abstinence-only programs teach "false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.".(some emphasis added)
Generally speaking, if any of Waxman's charges are true, the misinformation should stop. There are more than enough factual reasons to avoid promiscuous sex without resorting to embellishment or distortion.
But Waxman's specific allegation that "abstinence-only curricula contain false and misleading information about the risks of abortion" stinks from a mile away.
First, Waxman corroborates this sweeping statement – in a widely publicized document – by footnoting only one page from one abstinence book four times – page 157 of "Me, My World, My Future."
Waxman then incredibly dismisses hundreds, if not thousands, of studies that link abortion to infertility, premature births, tubal and cervical pregnancies, anxiety, grief, regret, guilt, depression and suicide as false claims.
* Three Waxman pro-abortion campaign contributors – the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America's research arm, the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
* "Williams Obstetrics, 21st Edition," an obstetrics textbook recommended by the pro-abortion American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
* Dr. Steven Gabbe, the former chairman of a medical school who required OB-GYN students to be trained in abortion.
Waxman is a pro-abortion extremist who maintains a 100 percent approval rating from PPFA, America's largest abortion provider.
Waxman has received campaign money from PPFA, NARAL, and these pro-abortion medical associations that also financially benefit from abortion: the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, among others.
But abortion providers and promoters can only make Waxman payoffs if our kids have promiscuous sex. If our kids don't have sex, their industries literally collapse.
Money the abortion industry makes off of abortion is only a portion of a portfolio that relies almost completely on illicit sexual activity to provide other "clinic services" such as contraceptive provision, pregnancy testing, and STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing and treatment.
PPFA reported an income of $766.6 million for fiscal year 2002-03. Of that, $288.2 million (37 percent) came from clinic income, $254.4 million (33 percent) came from government grants and contracts, and $228.1 million (30 percent) came from private contributions.
STOPP International estimated that only $91 million of PPFA's clinic income came from abortion (a reported 227,325 abortions multiplied by PPFA's stated average charge of $400 per). The rest came from promoting illicit sex and then preventing or repairing its consequences.
But the abstinence movement, and President Bush's support of it, has dealt a double blow to the abortion industry. Not only has some of its government funding been siphoned away, but premarital sexual activity is also being dissuaded.
The Guttmacher Institute stated that 83 percent of aborting mothers are unmarried and that only 25 percent of aborting mothers are over age 29.
Guttmacher also reported: "53 percent of women who have unintended pregnancies were using a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant, although usually not correctly every time."
How convenient it has been that up to now the very ones teaching our kids "responsible sex" have also been the ones selling them contraceptives and abortion, so they will continue performing "responsible sex" like rabbits, a fantastically hedonistic, money-making circle
I do admit that I am pro-life. But the reason I post this is because it is shows, if Ms. Stanek's allegations are true, a continuing willingness to mislead the public that the pro-abortion movement has had from the beginning (such as lying about how many women were dying from illegal abortions). I only make one statement, that cannot in reality be denied - that from the moment of conception, a person is a person. You may feel that until the person is able to breathe on his own, it's between the unborn and his mother. But I dicker with no other facts or figures to base my plea for the unborn on.
The other camp has a history of denying post -abortion depression, which leads many women into grief with no support.
There are some health issues with repeated abortion.
There is the reality of pain felt by unborn during later term abortions that has been swept under the rug because it would bother the mother to know.
Choosing what to do, what to believe and what action to take depends on true and accurate information.
Lieing about it, one way or the other, for political or economic gain is wrong and does no one, especially the mothers who are dealing with a crisis situation in their lives is wrong.
What does this have to do with the Waxman report? The answer deals with honest judgments about programs. If he is using biased data, how can we decide? Who benefits? Whether his conclusions were right or wrong, we have no way to judge, because he looked like he stacked the deck in his favor to prove a point.
And our young people will be impacted by this type of behavior. Their mental and physical well-being counts on good answers and correct data. Disinformation does no one good service here, and just hardens what ought to be a scientfic result into partisanship with perceived economic bias, and as a result, it is our children who bear the consequences.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
The Spirit of Scrooge
I’m not what you’d call a Christian in any strict denominational sense, but I like Christmas as much as anyone, complete with all of the familiar traditions and rituals. Beyond its religious significance, the holiday season has always been, for me, about spreading good cheer. Who wouldn’t want that?
Well, I’ll you who. It’s the misguided do-gooders and petty meddlers who seem to come out of the woodwork every year about this time preaching their demented brand of politically correct tolerance. It’s the ACLU and their minion of church-and-state paranoids. And it’s the plain old crabby nit-wits who find just about everything around them offensive in some way or another.
This latest trend of anti-Christmas sentiment has gotten me a little bewildered and distressed. For God’s sake, what’s the deal? Is it that “peace on Earth” thing? Maybe it’s that “good will towards men” that has these ninnies in such a winter snit. It’s gotten downright pathological.
Noelophobia is cropping up all over the world. In Canada, city officials in Toronto tried to rename their Christmas tree a “holiday tree.” The Royal Canadian Mint felt compelled to change a commercial featuring “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by changing the well known song to “The Twelve Days of Giving.” In Melbourn, several Australian kindergartens banned Santa Claus from their year-end Christmas parties because they feared they might offend someone. So they replaced Santa with a clown.
Here in the U.S., Scrooge’s syndrome is infecting the country in plague-like proportions. City employees in King County, Washington were forbidden to exchange Christmas and Hanukkah cards. Arizona Attorney General Gale Garriot issued an official ban on state employees exchanging anything with any religious significance. Who has that kind of time on their hands that they can run around conducting Christmas inspections? What’s next—Holiday goon squads confiscating Yuletide decorations and busting Christmas carolers?
In New Jersey, the South Orange School District has had a long-standing ban on Christmas songs with lyrics containing religious references. This year that just wasn’t enough. In an effort to make their school safe from the subtle and subversive influences of Christianity, they banned all instrumental music that might suggest religious content in its title. It’s a shame that our public schools have become such a popular target of the holiday vigilantes. In Grinch-like fashion they’re maniacally intent on removing all vestiges of Christmas. One can only wonder what sort of depraved thrill they get from picking on innocent children.
A Pennsylvania fourth-grader was prohibited from handing out Christmas cards to classmates. Two middle school students in Rochester, Minn., were disciplined for ending a skit by saying, “We hope you all have a merry Christmas.” A teacher in Illinois was told by her principal not to read a book about Christmas to her second-graders, even though the book came from their school library. The superintendent of the Silverton Ore. School District ordered students remove all religious holiday decorations from their lockers. Who can logically explain this kind of derangement? Well, you can’t. Such is the nature of Christmas anxiety disorder.
Many of our schools have become risky environments. Drugs, guns, and gang violence have compelled administrators to take preventative measures like security guards, metal detectors, and drug-sniffing dogs. Now you can add Christmas to the list of dangerous materials that threaten our schools. Soon we’ll likely see scenarios like this: “Hand over those drugs…and the knife. You’re not bringing that gun in here…hand it over…hey, the ammo too. Just a minute, where do you think you’re going? Leave that Christmas paraphernalia here.”
Holiday intolerance. Great examples of how the PC police want to establish total secularism anywhere outside of church.
I suspect the main thing saving the holiday season, even in its secular form is the fact that our economic system is so driven by year end spending.
The spirit of Scrooge be with you - oops! I forget! some schools think the Christmas Carol too religious a story to have at their schools.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
The Secular Inquisition
Christians are bad. Comrades are good. That is the lesson of the recently concluded parallel process by which the European Union Commission and the European Parliament accepted Laszlo Kovacs of Hungary as a European commissioner while vociferously rejecting Italy's European affairs minister, Rocco Buttiglione, for his views on marriage and homosexuality.
The media describe Laszlo Kovacs as a "socialist." In fact, he is a career communist with decades of totalitarian experience. Mr. Kovacs worked closely with the leadership of Janos Kadar's sinister regime, installed literally over the dead bodies of the Hungarian democracy activists killed by Soviet tanks after the 1956 popular uprising against the Communist Party's monopoly of power. Years before glasnost, Mr. Kovacs was one of the dictator's henchmen with the title of "Deputy Head of the Department of International Relations" of the Hungarian Communist Party's Central Committee.
Given that communist systems imprisoned, tortured and murdered millions of people, one might think Euro parliamentarians would be slightly concerned about how deeply Mr. Kovacs was involved in some of the darker aspects of Hungary's communist dictatorship.
Just as searching questions were rightly asked of former Nazi Party members seeking public office in postwar Germany, they might have queried speeches Mr. Kovacs gave in the 1980s, attacking Western institutions such as NATO and extolling the Soviet Union as the bedrock of Eastern Europe's "stability."
Instead, the Euro MPs confined themselves to grumbling about Mr. Kovacs' somewhat scanty knowledge of energy policy. Mr. Kovacs passed his confirmation hearings with flying colors and is now the EU taxation and customs commissioner.
Rocco Buttiglione never previously participated in a murderous regime. He is a worldly, mild-mannered, philosophy professor who can be defined as a classical liberal in the Acton-Tocqueville tradition. Yet Mr. Buttiglione was the focus of a tempest in the European Parliament. The same MPs who calmly evaluated the nomination of several ex-communists labeled Mr. Buttiglione a potential inquisitor, an intolerant zealot, and a stain on the political landscape. His views, they said, made him unfit for office.
All Professor Buttiglione did was articulate his beliefs and answer questions. A full reading of the confirmation hearings transcripts reveal a man with profound tolerance and a commitment to equality before the law and to the equal dignity of every individual. The transcripts also reveal his religious faith and his personal views on the family and homosexuality — views Mr. Buttiglione stressed would not affect his official duties. His opponents, however, began a public campaign and maliciously quoted the transcripts selectively to caricature Mr. Buttiglione as a homophobe who believes women should be in the home with children (ironically, Mr. Buttiglione's wife is a successful working professional).
The transcripts (available online at www.acton.org/rb) show Mr. Buttiglione blundered by assuming his questioners were open to a mature discussion of his views, including his opinion — which, incidentally, is also taught by Christianity — that not all sins should be treated as criminal offenses.
The Euro MPs were not interested in such a discussion. Mr. Buttiglione was a target. He was "Borked" because he was not afraid to provide truthful answers about his personal beliefs even though those beliefs would have no role in his work. Mr. Buttiglione was Borked because faith in Europe is only acceptable if it is politically correct. Believing Christians have no place in Europe's public square.
The breathtaking double standard of the past six weeks results from the rise of secularist fundamentalism. In the United States, secularist fundamentalism dominates academe, where speech codes are regularly used to harass any religious organization whose views on particular moral questions offend groups privileged by secular fundamentalism.
Secularist fundamentalism also rears its head in the political realm. For example, Attorney General John Ashcroft was the target of opposition for being a religious believer. The American Civil Liberties Union and a chorus of other opponents repeatedly told us Mr. Ashcroft would try to impose his religious beliefs or even seek a theocracy.
The secular fundamentalists do not care if the religious believer swears to uphold the law — all those with politically incorrect beliefs and faith must be persecuted and punished.
An example is Judge Bill Pryor, whose offense was admitting he is a practicing Catholic. Some religious views are not forbidden under secularist fundamentalism — provided the practitioners have solid left-wing credentials. Secular fundamentalists and their left-wing allies never complain about the involvement in public life of the Rev. Jesse Jackson or the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Europe and America both are witnessing a curious phenomenon of those who present themselves as guardians of tolerance committing terrible acts of intolerance in the name of tolerance. One need not be religious to regard this as a disturbing trend. The most effective way to combat the assault on religious liberty is through consistent public exposure and by rejecting the double standard. Anyone who desires genuine, open conversation in the public square should be on notice that secularist fundamentalism is rapidly infecting public life and that we sacrifice committed and worthy public servants if we allow witch hunts and Borking in the confirmation process.
Are We Doing Something right?
If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states. France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany have lower GDP per capita than all but four of the states in the United States. In fact, GDP per capita is lower in the vast majority of the EU-countries (EU 15) than in most of the individual American states. This puts Europeans at a level of prosperity on par with states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia. Only the miniscule country of Luxembourg has higher per capita GDP than the average state in the USA. The results of the new study represent a grave critique of European economic policy.
You can download a pdf of the study here
Joey Tartakovsky with the Claremont Institute says:
This means that poorer U.S. states enjoy affluence comparable to that of richer European states—Denmark is equivalent to Kentucky—whether measured in terms of home ownership, or number of microwaves and cars possessed. “Material prosperity,” the authors write of the U.S., “is high and not associated with the material standard of living which many people in Europe probably associate with poverty. Good economic development, in other words, results in even poor people being relatively well off.”
By the 1880s, the U.S. had become the world’s richest nation (measured in per capita GDP). In the 1990s, U.S. growth was twice that of Europe’s, and three times that of Japan’s. The U.S. per capita income is now 55% higher than the EU-15 average, and 50% higher than Japan’s.
Here’s the not-so-secret recipe for achieving European-style stagnation and decline. First, combine high unemployment and aging populations to ensure that welfare costs far exceed worker contributions. Then, stuff with generous entitlements, massive tax burdens, rigid labor markets, and regulation-mad bureaucracies. For flavor, add dashes of socialism and right-wing paternalism. Bake. (For additional recipe ideas, consult Joy of Administrating by Ted Kennedy, or English departments everywhere.)
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Free Speech, Free Country, and How One City Councilman Views it
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - David Stoltzfus says there’s only one reason he would take down the photos of President George W. Bush that he has displayed at his Central Market baked-goods stand.
Bush would have had to have lost the recent election. Instead, he beat Democratic challenger John Kerry to win a second term.
“If it were Kerry that won, he’d be up there,’’ says Stoltzfus, who operates the Upper Crust stand.
Doesn’t matter, says City Councilman Nelson Polite. “It should come down. This is a public market.”
Besides, says the Democrat, “Bush didn’t win here (in Lancaster City). It is like rubbing salt on a wound.”
Polite approached Stoltzfus on Nov. 12 and ask him to remove the pictures. The standholder has refused to do so, prompting Polite to say he will ask City Council to change the law so that all political items would be banned in public places.
Today, Stoltzfus pointed proudly to a photo of a smiling Bush, framed in green, that hangs above his stand.
The photo, attached to the stand portico with four brass screws, has hung there for nearly two years, since Stoltzfus and his wife, Nina, opened the market stand in March 2003.
They sell cakes, cookies and other baked items.
They also have a signed 8-by-10-inch photo of the president and first lady Laura Bush sitting on a shelf below, “right next to the pictures of my grandkids,’’ says Stoltzfus.
“I’m just trying to sell a few cakes and give honor to the president,’’ he says.
But Polite, a Democrat, says the photos should go.
When he approached Stoltzfus three weeks ago, he said the photo offended him and city Democrats.
Polite says he had received complaints from constituents who thought the photos were inappropriate, especially after the presidential election.
The market is public property and displaying political paraphernalia, no matter what the intent, says Polite, is inappropriate and divisive.
Stoltzfus is a Republican, but that hardly matters, he says. He displays the photo to honor the office, not the man.
Polite says political items do not belong in Central Market and if Stoltzfus refuses to take down the photos, he’ll take the matter before City Council to get the city law changed to ban all political items in public places.
“There should be rules,’’ says Polite.
Even if Kerry had won, he’d be asking Stoltzfus to take the photos down, says Polite.
A string of supporters, including Republican Mayor Charlie Smithgall and former Republican Mayor Art Morris, have made their way to the Upper Crust to offer their support to Stoltzfus.
“We have no regulations against it,” says Smithgall. “He is the president of the United States. If he wants to put a picture of (Democratic) Gov. Rendell up, that’s fine by me.”
Smithgall said Stoltzfus asked for a picture of him to hang up.
“I said, ‘Yeah, right.’”
Some of Stoltzfus’ fellow standholders are considering putting up photos of Bush in solidarity with Stoltzfus.
Kim Moyer, at the Lancaster Juice Company, says Polite was “out of line.”
“(Stoltzfus) has every right to put the pictures up. We pays rent here. Anyway, we’re in America.”
Market Master Ernie Thomas said there are no rules about hanging political items at market stands.
Even if there was, says Thomas, “That is our president, whether it is a Democrat or a Republican.”
Jim Zink, the owner of the Herb Shop stand, says he is a Democrat. But he’ll hang a photo of Bush to support Stoltzfus’ right to hang his.“He has every right to hang it,’’ Zink says of Stoltzfus. He says it doesn’t offend him as a Democrat to see Bush.
I think the councilman needs to rethink what he said. Ban political items in public spaces? That is sort of against the first amendment. There is something guaranteed in America called freedom of speech that included political views, too.
If you would like to let him know about how you think it looks like for an city official to try to curtail freedom of political speech, you can write him here:
Christmas Under Siege
Bill O'Reilley writes:
Christmas under siege — the big picture. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
All over the country, Christmas is taking flak. In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the holiday tree and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores, [that's] Macy's, have done away with the Christmas greeting, "Merry Christmas."
Now, all of this anti-Christian stuff is absurd, and may even be a bias situation. But the real reason it's happening has little to do with Christmas and everything to do with organized religion.
Secular progressives realize that America as it is now will never approve of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, legalized drugs, income redistribution through taxation, and many other progressive visions because of religious opposition.
But if the secularists can destroy religion in the public arena, the brave new progressive world is a possibility. That's what happened in Canada.
• In 1980, 79 percent of Canadians said that religion was important for the nation there. That number has now dropped to 61percent.
• In 1971, less than one percent of the Canadian population reported having no religion. That number has now risen to 16 percent.
The fall of religion in Canada has corresponded to the rise in progressive public policy. Most Canadians now favor gay marriage. The age of consent for sex is 14 years. That means if you're an adult and you have sex with a 15-year-old, that's fine.
Welfare's double what it is in the USA. And the Canadian military is almost non-existent.
Drug decriminalization is a reality, as is any kind of abortion. The Canadian model is what progressive Americans are shooting for. Thus, Christian displays like Christmas must be scaled back because the connection with Judeo-Christian beliefs is bad for the secular agenda.
Now most people, of course, love Christmas and want to keep its traditions, but the secular movement has influence in the media, among some judges and politicians. Americans will lose their country if they don't begin to take action. Any assault on Judeo-Christian philosophy should be fought.
"Talking Points" is convinced that the USA cannot defeat terrorism and any other evil without a strong, traditional foundation that clearly defines right from wrong. The struggle today is not about Christmas, but about the spirit of our country.
And that's "The Memo."
More on the the ills of Academia
Although conservatives complain loudly and often about liberal bias in the mass media, the truth is that one is far more likely to read a conservative perspective in The New York Times than hear it from a college professor. At least the Times publishes an occasional conservative on its op-ed page. At many universities, just finding a Republican anywhere on the faculty is problematic.
Two recent studies by Santa Clara University economist Daniel B. Klein prove my point. In one study, he looked at party registration of the faculty at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He found 7.7 registered Democrats for each Republican at the former and 9.9 Democrats per Republican at the latter.
In certain departments, Republicans are literally nonexistent. There are no Republicans in either the anthropology or sociology departments at Stanford or UC-Berkeley. At Berkeley, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 11 to one in the economics department and 14 to one in the political science department. Stanford is a model of intellectual diversity by contrast, with a Democrat/Republican ratio of seven to three in economics and nine to one in political science.
In a larger study, Klein looked at voting patterns from a survey of academics throughout the country. He found that in anthropology, there are more than 30 votes cast for Democratic candidates for each one cast for a Republican. In sociology, the ratio is 28 to one. Republicans do best among economists, who only vote Democratic by a three to one margin. In political science, the ratio is 6.7 to one. On average, across all departments, Democrats get 15 votes for every one going to Republicans.
Not surprisingly, the ideological orientation of college faculty skews heavily toward the left. According to a survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education, 47.9 percent of all professors at public universities consider themselves to be liberal, with another 6.2 percent classifying themselves as far left. Only 31.8 percent say that they are middle of the road, and just 13.8 percent are conservative.
Obviously, this puts the vast majority of professors far to the left of the population as a whole. But interestingly, they are even well to the left of their students. A survey of last year's incoming freshmen found only 24.2 percent calling themselves liberals and 2.8 percent classified as far left. More than half said they were middle of the road, and 21.1 percent were conservative.
Liberals pooh-pooh these data, sometimes implying that they result because conservatives aren't bright enough or sufficiently intellectual to make it as university professors. The truth is that it is very, very hard to get a tenured faculty position at a university. And the hiring process is unlike anything in a private business. In most cases, one needs a unanimous vote of professors in one's department to get tenure. This puts a high priority on intangibles like collegiality, which often translates into sharing the same politics and ideology.
Bias works in other ways, as well. It is extraordinarily difficult to get an article in a top academic journal or get a book published by a university press unless it slavishly parrots the liberal line. That is because such things must be peer-reviewed by experts in the field before they can be published. This makes it very easy for anonymous reviewers to blackball those with a conservative point of view, effectively killing the careers of those who must publish or perish.
Finally, it is essential these days to be taken under the wing of an established professor in your field and be mentored if you have any hope of getting a teaching position at a good school. With so few conservatives on the faculty -- and many of those hiding their politics to avoid retribution -- the deck is very heavily stacked against any conservative hoping for an academic career, no matter how qualified they may be.
Students pay a heavy price for this state of affairs. In certain fields like political science, it is simply impossible to receive a good education unless exposed to conservative thought. Nor are students likely to receive an adequate appreciation or understanding of the conservative perspective if it is only taught by those hostile to it. According to a new survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, almost half of students reported hearing only one side of political issues in their classrooms and that professors often use their positions to promote personal political views.
Unfortunately, fixing this problem will take a long time. It is certainly not amenable to a legislative fix, such as a quota for conservatives. The only thing that will help is to shame universities into treating intellectual diversity the way they now treat race and gender. But first they have to admit they have a problem. That hasn't happened yet.
Dr. Mike Adams on PC Double Standards
The other day I was sitting in my office, minding my own business, when I received a nasty email from UNCW student (name deleted). She was angry about one of my recent articles and said that people like me (read: conservatives) should not be allowed to reproduce. She sent me the nasty email using the university computing system. For future reference, her email address is (deleted)@uncw.edu.
But (name deleted) apparently decided that one email wasn’t sufficient to make her point. A couple of days later, when I went to check my mailbox, I found two condoms, each with the name “planned parenthood” printed on the wrapper. Apparently, this student really doesn’t want me to reproduce!
(Name deleted)’s use of Planned Parenthood condoms was especially offensive to me. As you may know, Planned Parenthood is viewed by some conservatives the same way that blacks view the KKK or that Jews view the Nazi Party. Of course, such comparisons are invalid, given that Planned Parenthood has murdered far more innocent people than the KKK and the Nazi Party combined.
After I tossed the condoms in the trash, I went back to my office only to discover that the phrase “Insensitive A**h**es” had been placed atop the “Men’s Resource Center” (MRC) sign on my office door. As you may know, in 2003, I designated my office as an MRC because I felt that men needed a safe place to hide from angry feminists who patrol our campus looking for someone to falsely accuse of rape or sexual harassment. Without this “safe zone” there would be no place for victims of feminist terrorism to get the love and support that they need, while working in a hostile environment.
To make matters worse, (name deleted) also appears to have posted an offensive missive next to the “Insensitive A**h**es” sign. The missive warns of a “psycho a**h**e” who is “cunning,” “manipulative,” and “dangerous.” It closes with a warning that the “psycho a**h**e must never be allowed to reproduce.” Too bad I tossed out those condoms.
Of course, when one considers the content of the email, the placement of the condoms in my mailbox, and both the sign and missive posted on my door, there can be little doubt that a hate crime has taken place. And, undoubtedly, (name deleted) is our principal suspect.
Unlike my feminist colleagues, who demand castration and death for first-time perpetrators of any “hate crime,” I want to give university officials a couple of options to help them deal with this unpleasant situation.
First, the university can handle the abusive email from (name deleted) by breaking into her email account to read some of her personal emails. Such a search can determine whether similar messages, which may have a) defamed me and, b) violated my constitutional right to feel comfortable at all times, were sent to others.
For those who are new to the Board of Trustees, that is the way the university dealt with me in 2001 after I sent an email to a student saying “The constitution protects your speech just as it has protected bigoted, unintelligent, and immature speech for many years.” The recipient of my message said that she was defamed and intimidated (read: made uncomfortable) by the message so the university took a peek into my email account. They wanted to see whether I had sent that same message to others. Now that I am feeling defamed and intimidated, I demand equal justice.
As for the sign and the missive, I have carefully stored them in a plastic bag to make sure that any fingerprints are preserved for police analysis. The state Bureau of Investigation (SBI) can come by the office to collect them any time. Then, they can “swatch” my office door to see if our suspect left any other fingerprints.
I know it sounds strange to the Board, but that is what the SBI did in 2002 when a professor accused me of spraying tear gas in her office. That false police report was classified as a “hate crime.” Since we obviously have another “hate crime” on our hands, I know that the authorities will conduct this investigation in a similar manner. Equal justice is really important here in our university community. That’s what I learned from the Director of Diversity.
If all of this seems like too much of a hassle, I have another option for the university that is much less time consuming. It simply involves issuing the following statement to the entire university community:
Hate speech is an elusive and fluid concept, which is difficult to define, and even more difficult to enforce within the university context. Universities cannot investigate and enforce every breech of the speech codes, which are enumerated in the student and faculty handbooks. The policies are simply too broad and vague for total enforcement. That is why universities opt for a policy of “selective application.”
When deciding which instances of hate speech to investigate, universities rely upon the demographics of the parties involved. Most liberal college administrators, whether aware of it or not, like to defend blacks because they consider them to be intellectually inferior to whites. They also like to defend feminists and gays, because they view them to be emotionally inferior to their male and heterosexual counterparts.
Of course, the school prefers to protect these special groups whenever the offender is conservative, Christian or, ideally, both.
The university recognizes that the speech codes themselves violate the First Amendment. The university also recognizes that “selective application” violates the Fourteenth Amendment. But, realistically, the university knows that students under their control are unlikely to challenge the university speech codes in a court of law. The mere threat of stigmatization as a racist, sexist, or homophobe is enough to produce the result that university officials deem best for the student, the university community, and society at large. That result is total capitulation by the accused.
Speech codes exert a chilling effect on free speech, even if no case is ever brought forward in the campus judicial system. That is why they are so effective. That is why universities have them, despite their obvious illegality.
So there are your options, Trustees. We can handle this case the easy way or we can handle it the hard way. But, either way, I eagerly await your response.
Dr. Mike S. Adams (www.DrAdams.org) occasionally uses the terms “hate speech” and “hate crimes” interchangeably. It is hard to know where one ends and the other begins. Several college administrators claim to know the difference, but, because it is classified information, will not share it with the general public.
Russian Research into Non-embryonic stem cells in treating spinal injuries
MOSCOW, December 6 (RIA Novosti) - It has been widely believed until recently that nerve cells cannot reproduce themselves, especially those of the spinal cord. But doctors at the Neurology Clinic of Russia's Blokhin Oncology Research Center have now challenged this belief by performing six successful surgical operations on patients with spine injuries. The patients, thought before the surgery to be bedridden for the rest of their lives, are now learning to walk again, the Trud newspaper reports.
It was Andrei Bryukhovetsky, Director General of the Neurology Clinic, who suggested performing the unprecedented operations, involving the transplantation of stem cells to the spinal cord. At first he was not sure where stem cells for nerve tissues should be taken from, but it soon occurred to him that the mucous membrane of the nose, with its many nerve endings, was the best source. Extracted neural stem cells are grown in tissue culture to be then injected into the damaged spine area, restoring the vertebrae one by one.
"No one has done anything like that before us," Bryukhovetsky says. He and his colleagues emphasize that the work is not about experimenting on humans. They have behind them years of experimentation on animals and rigid panel examinations by the Academy of Sciences and the Health Ministry.
On getting a signal about an organ's malfunction from the body's regulating systems, stem cells rush to the damaged area along blood vessels. They can repair almost any damage by transforming themselves into cells of the type needed by the body at this particular point in time and stimulating its inner reserves toward recovery. Their activity is comparable to that of an ambulance.
If implanted into a cardiac patient's body no later than six days after he/she suffered a heart attack, stem cells will fully restore the heart muscle, leaving no scars, says Vladimir Smirnov, Director of the Experimental Cardiology Institute at the Russian Health Ministry.
Stem cells are also effective in treating for diabetes, impaired joints, cancer, and neurological disorders, doctors say. In the future, stem cells could serve as building blocks in growing transplant organs. They are possible to extract from various sources, including the liver, the subcutaneous fat, the skeletal muscles, and the hair follicles.
In the past two years, scientists have been working to create a universal stem cell, one that could be grown in large numbers and transplanted to the human body without the risk of rejection. If such a cell is eventually created, stem cell preparations will be possible to buy at a pharmacy.
Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Testimonial from Russia: Spinal Cord Injuries ReversedThe Russian news agency Novosti reported Monday that Russian scientists have succeeded in treating six individuals bed-ridden with spinal cord damage using non-embryonic stem cells derived from the patient's own nasal tissues. All six are learning to walk again.
Scientists at the Neurology Clinic of Russia's Blokhin Oncology Research Center removed neural stem cells from the lining of the nose, which were then grown in tissue culture. The resulting cells were injected into damaged areas of the spine, re-growing damaged spinal segments one at a time.
"No one has done anything like that before us," Andrei Bryukhovetsky, Director General of the Neurology Clinic said.
Also, when implanted into damaged cardiac muscle after a heart-attack, stem cells can fully restore the muscles of the heart without any scar tissue, according to Vladimir Smirnov, Director of the Experimental Cardiology Institute at the Russian Health Ministry.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Tolerance for some ....
Annan Is a Symptom of the UN's Sickness
On Monday, the UN secretary general woke up to a Wall Street Journal column by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, publisher of the influential InstaPundit website, urging that he be replaced by Vaclav Havel, the much-admired former president of the Czech Republic.
In The New York Times, op-ed eminence William Safire reviewed the revelations that link the massive Oil-for-Food scandal to Annan's own family: Until this year, his son Kojo was getting monthly payments from a firm that had a major Oil-for-Food contract with the UN -- even though he'd left the company in 1998. The corruption enveloping the UN will not begin to dissipate, Safire wrote, until Annan resigns, "having, through initial ineptitude and final obstructionism, brought dishonor on the Secretariat of the United Nations."
Meanwhile, the latest National Review was out, with its cover photo of Annan and the headline, in large red letters: "You're Fired!" An editorial inside insisted that "Annan should either resign, if he is honorable, or be removed, if he is not," while an essay by Nile Gardiner, a former aide to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, explained why "Kofi's hour is up." With his record, Gardiner observed, "if Annan were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company . . . he would have been forced to resign months ago."
On Wednesday came another call for Annan's ouster, this one from the chairman of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which has amassed evidence that Saddam Hussein used stolen Oil-for-Food dollars to underwrite terrorism and suborn at least one senior UN official. It is "abundantly clear" that Kofi Annan should resign, Senator Norm Coleman said. "As long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks, and under-the-table payments that took place under the UN's collective nose."
But odds are the world won't much care about getting to the bottom of the latest UN scandal. UN scandals rarely provoke lasting outrage. There was no global uproar when the brutal regime in Libya was chosen to chair the UN's Human Rights Commission. Nothing happened to the UN after its troops allowed Serbs to slaughter 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the "safe haven" of Srebrenica. Sex scandals seem to erupt wherever the UN goes -- the latest involves charges of rape, child abuse, and prostitution by UN personnel in the Congo -- but they never cause heads to roll in Turtle Bay. Annan himself became secretary general despite his failure, when he headed the UN's peacekeeping operations, to pay attention to warnings of genocide in Rwanda.
Why should anything be different this time? Oil-for-Food may be the greatest international rip-off of modern times, it may have strengthened one of the world's bloodiest dictators, it may have deprived countless Iraqis of food and medicine, but if history is any guide, the scandal headlines will fade from view long before the secretary general does. By week's end, in fact, dozens of governments, including all the permanent members of the Security Council save the United States, had publicly rallied to Annan's support. Scandal or no scandal, he will almost certainly serve out the remaining two years of his term.
Which is just as well. Annan is merely a symptom of the UN's sickness, not the cause of it. His resignation would do nothing to reform the UN into the engine of peace and liberty its founders envisioned. Better that Annan remain in place as a symbol of UN fecklessness and failure, and a spur to those who can envision something better.
Jeff Jacoby writes:
The UN is a corrupt institution, one that long ago squandered whatever moral legitimacy it once had. The UN's founding documents venerate justice and human rights, but for the past 40 years, the organization has been dominated by a bloc of states -- essentially the Afro-Asian Third World -- most of whose governments routinely pervert justice and violate human rights.
Inside the United Nations, there is no difference between a dictatorship or a democracy: Each gets exactly one vote in the General Assembly. The reason the UN indulges vicious regimes like those in North Korea, Syria, and Cuba is that they are members in good standing, and most other governments lack the courage to cross them. The UN cannot be fixed unless that changes -- and that isn't going to change.
Cynicism, hypocrisy, bigotry -- these are the hallmarks of the modern UN. The free peoples of the world, and those yearning to breathe free, deserve better. And what would be better? I'll take up that question in a future column
Sunday, December 05, 2004
FRENCH WINE ELITE FURIOUS AT SURPRISE CINEMA HIT
Some of the finest noses in the French wine world are snorting into their decanters over a new film which claims they are complicit in the American-led homogenisation of world tastes and the steady destruction of France's centuries-old tradition of "terroir."
"Mondovino", a low-budget documentary by American sommelier-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, has been a surprise hit at the box-office since it opened last month -- pulling in some 200,000 viewers -- but the reaction among many in the wine-making establishment has been as sour as a corked bottle of chateau plonk.
"The most hacked off are the people with a great deal of power in the wine world: magazines that are hand-in-glove with the big Bordeaux dealers; multinationals with advertising and marketing clout. These people are very unhappy," according to Nossiter, who spent three years touring the world to make his two-and-a-quarter-hour sitrep on the state of the industry.
"There are some very powerful people who have done all that they can to censure the film. We have had a lot of libel threats -- which we are ignoring," he said in an interview.
Setting out to "take the pulse" of the international wine business, Nossiter uses it as a metaphor for larger issues of globalisation and the defence of local particularity against the standardisation wrought by mass commerce.
....The closest the film gets to a true villain is the renowned French consultant Michel Rolland, who is seen being chauffeur-driven around the Bordeaux vineyards offering the same advice over and again to anxious clients: "la micro-oxygenation."
Elsewhere the head of wine at the London auction house Christies notes how the classic Chateau Kirwan found overnight success when it hired Rolland's services to develop the wine. "Its taste became global. It's no more Margaux than (top-selling US wine) Opus One ... but it's selling. So what the hell can you say," Michael Broadbent exclaims.
The interesting thing here is how they are trying to hide the reality and point fingers. If terrior was that important, why did you compromise it and then blame us?
Hmmm...money talks, as they say...Why blame America when you are actively in it? Just another case of America being the scapegoat?