A good account of what’s wrong with the “settled science” of man-made global warming. We like the style of these simple cartoons with one painted figure cogently putting a well-informed argument to another in a comically monotonous voice .
Another brilliant Michael Ramirez cartoon from Investor’s Business Daily
The EU is a much prettier version of tyranny than rough Russia.
One might say it is the feminine version. It dresses nicely. It has its hair styled. It paints its nails. It smiles. It thinks it is alluring. It spends more than it has.
It is easy to understand why half the Ukrainians want to live with it. With her. Rather than with unshaven, violent, shabby, ill-mannered Daddy Russia.
Her corruption is prettily packaged. Her despotism has a gentle touch. It really is more pleasant to live with her than with him.
But it would be better for the Ukrainians if they just took off on their own.
Bruce Bawer offers that very advice. He writes at Front Page:
It’s in Europe, and it’s huge – after Russia and the top five EU members, it has Europe’s largest population, and twice as many inhabitants as all the Scandiavian countries put together – but Ukraine isn’t a nation we often think of in the West, except when, as in recent days, it’s in the midst of a crisis. It has spent most of its history being conquered and brutalized by its more powerful neighbors, and in the last century underwent one savage chapter after another: 1.5 million people died in the civil war that ended with its absorption into the USSR; millions more died in Stalin’s deliberately engineered famine in 1932-33; during World War II, Hitler slaughtered an additional three million in what was intended to be the first stage of a program of exterminating two-thirds of the country’s population and enslaving the rest.
Today, unsurprisingly, Ukraine is a basket case of a country, riddled with corruption and living in the shadows of its historic horrors. It’s also a linguistically and philosophically divided land, torn between a western chunk whose people speak Ukrainian and identify with Europe and an eastern chunk whose people speak Russian and still feel an attachment to their massive neighbor to the east.
Viktor Yahukovych, the corrupt, autocratic president who disappeared last weekend in the face of mounting public unrest, is a Russiophile whose fatal error was his decision to strengthen bonds with Moscow (which coveted Ukraine as a key ally in a new Eurasian Union) and to turn down a free-trade agreement with the EU; most of the rioters who sent him packing are Europe-oriented types, the majority of whom are eager to see Ukraine become a Western-style democracy free of Putin’s influence, but some of whom, it should be noted, are neo-Nazis who look westward to Germany for the least attractive of reasons.
Most of the Ukrainians who favor European ties also want to see their country join the EU – which, in their eyes, as one Swedish newspaper put it the other day, is “above all…a symbol of a society free of corruption”. Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who was sprung from prison on Saturday after Yahukovych took it on the lam – and whose own years in office (ending in 2010) were far from corruption-free – told the Kiev crowds shortly after her release that she’s “sure that Ukraine will be a member of the European Union in the near future and this will change everything”.
Change everything! What is it that makes presumably liberty-loving Eastern European politicians talk about the EU as if it were a magic freedom elixir, a miracle cure for former victims of tyranny?
I suppose part of the explanation is that these politicians travel to the great cities of Western Europe and take in the relative freedom, the relative prosperity, and the relative lack of corruption and thuggery, and assume that all this has something to do with the EU. And part of it, naturally, is the ceaseless stream of pro-EU propaganda poured out by the Western European media and, not least, by the Western European politicians whom the likes of Tymoshenko consort with when they visit the West.
Yet how odd that the superstate’s economic woes haven’t put a dent in the magic for people like Tymoshenko. How odd that even the merest glimpse of the way things work in Brussels – where corruption is, needless to say, very much alive and well, even though it doubtless falls far short of Ukrainian levels – doesn’t give them pause. And how odd that when they witness the arrogance that’s characteristic of virtually all Brussels bigwigs – their habit of responding to any reasonable criticism of the EU not with cogent arguments but with vicious ad hominem attacks – they don’t immediately recognize that they’re observing tyrants in the making, the sort of folks that you’d think they’d had more than enough of over the centuries, thank you very much.
Take European Council president Herman van Rompuy, that colorless, Politburo-style mediocrity, who in a 2011 speech blithely ignored the essentially undemocratic nature of the EU, describing it – outrageously – as “the fatherland, or the motherland of democracy”.
Or take European Commission president José Manuel Durrão Barroso, who started his political career as a Maoist, and who in 2012 argued that the EU’s democracy deficit isn’t a bug but a feature: “Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.”
What he says is not untrue (even democratically-elected governments are almost always wrong), but he is making an argument for despotism.
Or take halfwit EU Foreign Affairs honcho Catherine Ashton, whose 2011 Guardian article lecturing Hosni Mubarak on the need for democracy in Egypt was widely (and rightly) ridiculed as the work of someone who, as Brendan O’Neill neatly put it in the Telegraph,
… has never once bothered the ballot box, never once ventured into the rowdy arena of public opinion to win the masses’ backing, and who was elevated to her current position as the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs through backroom wheeling and dealing.
Noting Ashton’s enthusiasm, in her Guardian piece, for what she called “deep democracy”, O’Neill explained that “she doesn’t mean deep as in profound – she means bureaucracy, the grey and unaccountable sphere that she haunts, the removed realm of experts and unelected high representatives” – a phenomenon Ashton contrasted (favorably, of course) with mere “surface democracy”, the undesirable, old-fashioned sort of system in which elected officials actually seek (horrors!) to honor their constituents’ wishes.
Even a cursory look at the careers and pronouncements of these unelected demigods, these self-regarding technocratic hacks, is to recognize them as people who itch to rule an empire and who are, quite simply, outraged at anyone who dares to stand in their way for a moment. Given the transparency of their lust for monolithic power – a power, moreover, utterly liberated from any notion whatsoever of responsibility to an electorate – it’s baffling that so many observers can actually take the EU seriously as a formula for European peace rather than for European autocracy.
What Europe has in Barroso, Ashton, & co., after all, is a pack of men and women who have done their level best to impoverish real political debate, to blunt its impact, and to make it seem obsolescent, counterproductive, and in every way undesirable.
Former Czech president and staunch EU critic Václav Klaus asked in his 2011 book Europe: The Shattering of Illusions:
Do we have real politics in Europe today – the political conflict of opinions – or have real politics been in fact eliminated by reducing the weight and importance of the nation states and by the self-confessed apolitical ways of Brussels?
Which is another way of saying that Brussels isn’t a city of politicians who have different political philosophies and who come together to debate ideas and hammer out compromises; it’s a city of technocrats who share an ideology and who work together as a team to translate that ideology into policy – never mind what the rabble think. (Or, as Klaus put it even more bluntly: “the European Union is no longer the symbol of democracy it pretends to be.”)
Klaus has coined the term “Europeism”. It’s a useful word, because it places the unreflecting, reality-defying enthusiasm for Europe in the category it belongs to, along with other, earlier European-isms. Among much else, Europeism views the free market as uncivilized and anarchic, places collective rights above individual rights, and strives, as Klaus excellently puts it, “for a homogenized, ‘decaffeinated’ world (with no flavour, aroma, and smell)”.
Europeists, he writes,
… do not believe in spontaneous, unregulated and uncontrolled human activity. They trust the chosen ones (not the elected ones), they trust themselves or those who are chosen by themselves. They believe in a vertically structured and hierarchized human society … They want to mastermind, plan, regulate, administer the others, because some (they themselves) do know and others do not. They do not want to rely on spontaneity of human behavior and on the outcomes resulting from this spontaneity because they think that rationalistic human design is always better than an unplanned result of interactions between free citizens, constructed and commanded by nobody. Even though we thought that after the collapse of communism all this was a matter of the past, it is not so. It is around us again. Europeism is a new utopism and, I add, it is an extremely naive and romantic utopism.
Above all, writes Klaus, Europeism “is based on the idea that states, more precisely the nation states, represent the Evil – because they were once the cause of wars among other things – while the supranational, continental and global entities represent the Good, because they – according to eurocrats – eliminate all forms of nationalist bickering once and for all”. This understanding of things, he adds, “is obviously childish, yet it is generally accepted in Europe”. Yes, it’s accepted because millions of today’s Europeans have been brainwashed into thinking that national feeling – patriotism – was the root of all of the worst things that happened to the continent in the twentieth century. No, ideology was the root – ideology in the form of Nazism, fascism, and Communism. And Europeism – which, by the way, has multiculturalism and fanatical environmentalism built into it – is the twenty-first-century heir of those wretched systems of thought.
Which brings us back to the latest developments in Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s speech on Saturday night was followed on Sunday by the news that the EU – notwithstanding its own massive financial difficulties – is now ready to hand over bushels of cash to the newly Europe-friendly government in Kiev. …
Note to Ukrainians: accepting the EU’s money is one thing. Go for it. But why this longing, on the part of Tymoshenko or anyone else in your country, to board the Superstate Express? Set aside, if you wish, the economic downside of the whole project, the looming disaster that is the eurozone, and just ask yourselves this: after spending most of your history taking orders from far-off imperial capitals, most of the twentieth century living under the nightmare of Communism, and most of the greater part of the generation that followed under the gravitational pull of post-Soviet Kremlin despotism, why be so desperate to subordinate yourselves to yet another set of haughty, high-handed foreign rulers? Why slip away from being under one thumb only to voluntarily place yourself under another?
Ukraine, here’s one simple piece of unsolicited advice: vote for sovereignty. Vote for freedom. Take the money and run.
Stay out of the EU.
On the political left, fair is foul and foul is fair.
The left likes to use words to mean their opposites. Communist dictatorships like to call themselves “democratic” republics. It’s a cynical tease, because it shows that they know democracy is better than dictatorship.
A cynical lefty euphemism much in use in America is “diversity”. It should mean “variety”, but what it has come to mean in practice is its opposite - “orthodoxy”: a strict doctrinal uniformity of opinion.
The doctrine has achieved enormous success in the universities, which are no longer open to new ideas, no longer allow free debate, no longer question fixed assumptions. That’s what they once existed for. Now they are temples of political correctness, safes for the secure locking up of leftist doctrine.They want a sterile mix of ethnicities and of as many genders as semantic ingenuity can invent, but not a fertile mix of ideas. They recognize only one set of ideas as correct. To question it is heresy.
Steps towards enforcing this kind of “diversity” in the news media have been proposed by the Obama administration. Charles Krauthammer deplores the move in this video clip:
Here the doctrine of diversity is examined by Victor Davis Hanson:
Diversity has become corporatized on American campuses, with scores of bureaucrats and administrators accentuating different pedigrees and ancestries. That’s odd, because diversity does not mean any more “variety” or “points of difference,” at least as it used to be defined.
Instead, diversity has become … synonymous with orthodoxy and intolerance, especially of political thought.
When campuses sloganeer “celebrate diversity,” that does not mean encouraging all sorts of political views. …
Do colleges routinely invite graduation speakers who are skeptical of man-made global warming, and have reservations about present abortion laws, gay marriage or illegal immigration – if only for the sake of ensuring diverse views?
Nor does diversity mean consistently ensuring that institutions should reflect “what America looks like.” …
Do we really want all institutions to weigh diversity rather than merit so that coveted spots reflect the race and gender percentages of American society? …
Gender disparity is absolutely stunning on American campuses. Women now earn about 61 percent of all associate degrees and 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. With such disproportionate gender representation, do we need outreach offices on campus to weigh maleness in admissions? Should college presidents investigate whether the campus has become an insidiously hostile place for men? …
If ethnic, rather than class, pedigrees provide an edge, how do we ascertain them in today’s melting-pot culture? Does the one-quarter Latino student, the recent arrival from Jamaica or the fourth-generation Japanese-American deserve special consideration as “diverse”? And if so, over whom? The Punjabi-American? The Arab-American? The gay rich kid? The coal miner’s daughter? Or the generic American who chooses not to broadcast his profile?
Does Diversity Inc. rely on genetic testing, family documents, general appearance, accented names, trilled pronunciation or just personal assurance to pass judgment on who should be advantaged in any measurement of diversity?
In such an illiberal, tribally obsessed and ideologically based value system, it is not hard to see why and how careerists such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and activist Ward Churchill were able to fabricate helpful Native American ancestries.
Diversity came into vogue after affirmative action became unworkable in the 1980s. Given the multiplicity of ethnicities, huge influxes of new immigrants and a growing rate of intermarriage, it became almost impossible to adjudicate historical grievances and dole out legal remedies. So just creating “diversity” – without much worry over how to define it – avoided the contradictions.
But diversity is not only incoherent; it is also ironic. On a campus short of resources, the industry of diversity and related “studies” classes that focus on gender or racial differences and grievances crowd out exactly the sort of disciplines that provide the skills – mastery of languages, literature, science, engineering, business and math – that best prep non-traditional graduates for a shot at well-compensated careers.
And here Jonah Goldberg writes on the same subject:
Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we’re going to be shuttering the political science, religion and pre-law departments too. We’ll keep some of the English and history folks on for a while longer, but they should probably keep their resumes handy.
Because, you see, they are of no use anymore. We have the answers to the big questions, so why keep pretending there’s anything left to discuss?
At least that’s where Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, seems to be coming down. Her school invited a famous [or infamous - ed] left-wing Princeton professor, Cornel West, and a famous right-wing Princeton professor, Robert George, to have a debate. The two men are friends, and by all accounts they had an utterly civil exchange of ideas. But that only made the whole thing even more outrageous.
“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,” Ching told the Daily Gazette, the school’s newspaper. “I don’t think we should be tolerating [George's] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.”
Swarthmore must be so proud.
Over at Harvard, another young lady has similar views. Harvard Crimson editorial writer Sandra Y.L. Korn recently called for getting rid of academic freedom in favor of something called “academic justice”.
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?” Korn asks.
Helpfully, she answers her own question: “When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.”
One could easily dismiss these students as part of that long and glorious American tradition of smart young people saying stupid things. As Oscar Wilde remarked, “In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”
But we all know that this nonsense didn’t spring ex nihilo from their imaginations … These ideas are taught.
Indeed, we are now up to our knees in this Orwellian bilge. Diversity means conformity. …
To want “diversity” – the writer sums up – means to listen only to “people who agree with me” and that means people who are left wing.
[For] the sages of Swarthmore and Harvard … if the conversation heads in a direction where [they] smell “oppression” – as defined solely by the left – then it must not be “put up with”.
Diversity demands that diversity of opinion not be tolerated anymore.
George Will, at the Washington Post, sees the civil conflict in the Ukraine as the last battle – or “final episode” – of the Cold War.
How pathetic is the plight of the Ukrainians. Their choice is between membership of the corrupt, socialist, failing EU (which is what the people want), or - worse, far worse – domination by Russia (which is what the government wants). Under the Russian boot they would not be much better off than they were when Russia was called the USSR.
So the EU is a haven for them. Rather like sheltering from a volcanic eruption in a cave full of vipers.
The bodies of Ukrainian protestors laid out on the street – sleeping or dead?
Picture from PowerLine, where you can find more.
Socialism is inherently evil. There is no way it can be put into practice that will make it good.
Professor Walter Williams clearly explains why.
Evil acts are given an aura of moral legitimacy by noble-sounding socialistic expressions, such as spreading the wealth, income redistribution, caring for the less fortunate, and the will of the majority. Let’s have a thought experiment to consider just how much Americans sanction evil.
Imagine there are several elderly widows in your neighborhood. They have neither the strength to mow their lawns, clean their windows and perform other household tasks nor the financial means to hire someone to help them. Here’s a question that I’m almost afraid to ask: Would you support a government mandate that forces you or one of your neighbors to mow these elderly widows’ lawns, clean their windows and perform other household tasks? Moreover, if the person so ordered failed to obey the government mandate, would you approve of some sort of sanction, such as fines, property confiscation or imprisonment? I’m hoping, and I believe, that most of my fellow Americans would condemn such a mandate. They’d agree that it would be a form of slavery — namely, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.
Would there be the same condemnation if, instead of forcing you or your neighbor to actually perform weekly household tasks for the elderly widows, the government forced you or your neighbor to give one of the widows $50 of your weekly earnings? That way, she could hire someone to mow her lawn or clean her windows. Would such a mandate differ from one under which you are forced to actually perform the household task? I’d answer that there is little difference between the two mandates except the mechanism for the servitude. In either case, one person is being forcibly used to serve the purposes of another.
I’m guessing that most Americans would want to help these elderly ladies in need but they’d find anything that openly smacks of servitude or slavery deeply offensive. They might have a clearer conscience if all the neighbors were forced (taxed) to put money into a government pot. A government agency would then send the widows $50 to hire someone to mow their lawns and perform other household tasks. This collective mechanism makes the particular victim invisible, but it doesn’t change the fact that a person is being forcibly used to serve the purposes of others. Putting the money into a government pot simply conceals an act that would otherwise be deemed morally depraved.
This is why socialism is evil. It employs evil means, confiscation and intimidation, to accomplish what are often seen as noble goals — namely, helping one’s fellow man.
We rather think of that claimed objective as a pretext by which the imposers of socialism try to cover their real motivation – a lust for power.
Helping one’s fellow man in need by reaching into one’s own pockets to do so is [might be - ed] laudable and praiseworthy. Helping one’s fellow man through coercion and reaching into another’s pockets is evil and worthy of condemnation. Tragically, most teachings, from the church on down, support government use of one person to serve the purposes of another; the advocates cringe from calling it such and prefer to call it charity or duty.
The church began the idea. Christianity introduced the notion that charity is a duty and the highest form of morality.
… The bottom line is that we’ve betrayed much of the moral vision of our Founding Fathers. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who had fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison rose on the floor of the House of Representatives to object, saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” Tragically, today’s Americans — Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative — would hold such a position in contempt and run a politician like Madison out of town on a rail.
Here is a video clip of the NBC puff for Russia, describing 70+ years of Bolshevik terror and enslavement as a “pivotal experiment”, which we wrote about yesterday.
Disgraceful, insulting, grandiose hogwash.
This is how NBC, at the start of the Olympic Games in Russia, describes the 70+ years of hell on earth that was the Soviet Union:
The towering presence, the empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint. The revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures. As a more reliable right to their collective heart. What they build in aspirations lifted by imagination. What they craft, through the wonder of every last detail. How magical the fusion of sound and movement can be. How much a glass of distilled perfection and an overflowing table can matter. Discover the Russian people through these indelible signatures. Discover what we share with them through the games that open here tonight.
It is seldom that words fail us, but all we could do as a first reaction was gasp at the monstrousness, the gobsmacking ignorance – or evil blatant lying – of NBC.
“An overflowing table”? Around 7 million people died in the famine that Stalin forced on the Ukraine. For instant information about it, go here, for instance. Volumes have been written about it.
Passion endures? Whose passion? For what? For the “pivotal experiment” of Communism?
The Encyclopedia Britannica records -
Western scholarly estimates of the total number of deaths in the Gulag in the period from 1918 to 1956 range from 15 to 30 million.
The Gulag was the system of imprisonment in Communist Russia in which millions of people were worked, starved, and beaten to death.
All Russians in the Soviet Union, and all the people in its empire, were slaves.
Starvation began under Communism years before Stalin decided to force famine on the Ukraine.
We quote from A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes:
By the spring of 1921 one-quarter of the peasantry in Soviet Russia were starving. … The famine was accompanied by typhus and cholera which killed hundreds of thousands of people already weakened by hunger. The worst affected regions were on the Volga steppe. In Samara province nearly two million people (three quarters of the population) were said to be dying of hunger by the autumn of 1921 … Throughout the Volga region hungry peasants resorted to eating grass, weeds, leaves, moss, tree bark, roof thatch and flour made from acorns, sawdust, clay and horse manure. They … hunted rodents, cats and dogs. In the villages there was a deathly silence. Skeletons of people, children with their bellies bloated, lay down quietly like dogs to die. …
Hunger turned some people into cannibals. … In the Bashkir region and on the steppelands around Ougachev and Buzuluk, where the famine was at its worst, thousands of cases were reported. It is also clear that most of the cannibalism went unreported. … Mothers, desperate to feed their children, cut off limbs from corpses and boiled the flesh … People ate their own relatives – often their young children … In some villages the peasants refused to bury their dead but stored the corpses … The stealing of corpses from cemeteries became so common that in many regions armed guards had to be posted on their gates. Hunting and killing people for their flesh was also a common phenomenon. …
And those are only glimpses of parts of the tragedy that NBC praises as a “pivotal experiment”.
Failing to draw the right conclusions from the experiment, the Left aims to repeat it over and over again.
NBC, along with the Left in general in these times, spits on man-made human suffering.
“Everything brought forward in favor of Socialism during the last hundred years, in thousands of writings and speeches, all the blood which has been spilt by the supporters of Socialism, cannot make Socialism workable.” – Ludwig von Mises, 1922.
Socialism/Communism is sweetly attractive to certain minds and temperaments. It is also fatally poisonous.
The quotation from the great Austrian School economist von Mises occurs in an article by Jean Kaufman at her website Neo-Neocon. Her article makes the point that Socialism/Communism can never be destroyed as a temptation to some people. But the arguments against it must be unremittingly pursued. Better that it be understood through reason than suffered in experience.
Communism/Socialism is an idea whose time has always come, ever-fresh and ever-new. It keeps rearing its ugly head wearing a new mask, like some vampire who keeps returning in a new guise. But can’t we finally drive a stake through its wretched heart? …
The rhetoric of Socialism/Communism has intrinsic appeal to certain groups of people and some members of each group are always likely to fall under its spell: the guilt-ridden wealthy and/or their even-more-guilt-ridden spawn, the poor who feel they’ve been screwed by society, the politically and economically naive intelligentsia who feel they know better than others, the religious and/or idealistic who want everyone to be loving and good and selfless, and those who just like the idea of power and control over others and plan to be the ones in charge.
Combine all that natural appeal with the undeniable propagandist skill of the left — including their willingness to lie in the most brazen manner — and you have an even greater effect. And then combine all of that with ignorance of history and economics, our culture’s reluctance to teach the young our good points and its eagerness to harp on our bad ones, and the fact that people only tend to really learn something through bitter and personal experience.
The wonder is that more people don’t believe that Socialism/Commmunism is the answer to the world’s prayers, not that so many succumb to it in the first place. Never imagine that the fight, especially in the intellectual and educational and propaganda spheres, can be over. It would be too bad if each generation had to learn the lesson through personal suffering rather than in the realm of ideas.
Post Script: In an earlier guise, the sweet poisonous idea was called Christianity. It has often been pointed out that Communism/Marxism is a Christian heresy.