The puritan Church of Sustainability 0

In  higher education today, sustainability is an ideology — not a proposition to be discussed, but a baseline assumption to be taken on authority. Dissent is harshly suppressed. Scientists who question climate change, for example, are branded 21st-century heretics. In the classroom, this doctrinaire approach undermines open inquiry and rational debate — the heart of liberal education’s mission.

We quote from an important article by Katherine Kersten at the Center of American Experiment. (We found it via PowerLine, where it is reproduced in full by Scott Johnson.)

Campus Sustainability: Going Green is Just Part of the Plot

It’s the new religion, and it’s the new home of the entire liberal agenda.

Sustainability now permeates campuses from the classroom to the dorm, dining hall, faculty lounge, physical plant and alumni office. …

Sustainability, it turns out, is the new battle cry in an old war. It’s a wraparound concept that links the old, familiar liberal causes of environmental activism, animosity toward free markets, and a progressive take on “social justice”.

But it repackages them and lends them urgency by maintaining that embrace of its ideological agenda is imperative to avoid a looming ecological and social catastrophe.

The campus sustainability movement’s mission is to transform our fundamental social, economic and political institutions, and to do so by manipulating, cajoling and browbeating a generation of college students into accepting the movement’s worldview and cultural norms. …

Sustainability is not an academic discipline but an ideological “lens” through which to view all of life, as the report makes clear. Today, 475 colleges in 65 states or Canadian provinces offer a total of 1,436 degree or certificate programs in sustainability, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. In addition, there are countless elective classes. Cornell University offers more than 400, ranging from “The Ethics of Eating” (“defend” or change your eating habits) to “Magnifying Small Spaces Studio,” where students learn to make do living in tiny spaces.

Beyond the classroom, students are pressured — often by paid student “eco-reps” — to conform the smallest details of their daily lives to the movement’s norms. This can mean tray-less cafeteria dining; shorter showers; “Meatless Mondays”; lectures on fossil fuel divestment; and films like “Food, Inc.” or “The Story of Bottled Water”, which depict the American economy as a tool of greedy, ruthless capitalists.

How is the sustainability movement playing out on Minnesota campuses? St. John’s University in Collegeville offers an example. SJU is committed to “incorporating the goals of sustainability into every aspect of life” and focusing students’ attention on the “triple bottom line: equity, economy and the environment.”

The university — which boasts of becoming “carbon-neutral” by 2035 by conserving, changing energy sources, and investing in alternative energy and carbon offsets — offers courses like “Food, Gender and Environment”; has two “eco-houses” for student living; distributes the “SJU Green Guide,” and employs 10 full-time equivalents for diversity and equity coordination.

SJU’s sustainability push begins at freshman orientation, where students use “corn utensils and recyclable plates” during meals. All freshmen and seniors take a Sustainability Literacy Assessment, so the school can measure how effectively its saturation campaign is changing students’ beliefs and attitudes.

The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus also bombards students with preachy exhortations on the gospel of sustainability. These include politically correct invocations about biking, transit, recycling and composting, and a “Welcome Week” during which every student has “the chance to engage with … hands-on learning activities and … to win prizes all while learning about sustainability.”

The U earns special “points” from a national sustainability rating organization because it provides “gender neutral housing” for “transgender and transitioning students” … as well as single-race housing for black men, Hmong students and other minorities.

The university’s Sustainability Studies office emphasizes the “heavy intersection” between “the issues of race relations and sustainability”. During last year’s riots in Ferguson, Mo., the office posted online resources demonstrating how “white folk can show support against police brutality,” and encouraged students to donate to “The Organization for Black Struggle” — fighting “the racist police state in Ferguson” — to help protesters with “basic needs, including food, water, gas masks and school supplies.” …

“Sustainability” is a doctrine – apodictic, unquestionable, like the doctrines of all religions:

In teaching and scientific research, it “shuts out certain questions and locks in certain answers”, as the NAS puts it. In decisionmaking about energy use and physical plant, it discourages honest analysis of costs and benefits.

In at least one university, devotees have to swear allegiance to the church and its teaching:

The movement’s “salute-and-shut-up” mind-set is reflected in the sustainability oath that students and employees at the University of Virginia are asked to take on matriculation and at graduation:

“I pledge to consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of my habits and to explore ways to foster a sustainable environment during my time here at U.Va. and beyond.”

The authoritarian impulse is also evident in the movement’s public-policy agenda. Its leaders call for vastly increasing state control over people and resources, and conferring power on government planners to distribute wealth and opportunity on the basis of skin color and socioeconomic status.

This sacrifice of individual economic, political and intellectual liberty is regarded as “the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations”, as the NAS [National Association of Scholars] observes.

Why are students attracted to the sustainability movement?

Answer: Romanticism: the fear of reality that sustains religious faith and all utopian dreams of transforming the world nearer to the dreamer’s desire:

Its appeal springs, in large measure, from its quasi-religious nature and message. In our increasingly secular age, a focus on transcendent meaning has largely vanished from campus. Sustainability can fill the resulting vacuum by offering young people a sense of purpose and meaning.

“Like its predecessor movements that excited student passions,” sustainability “invokes moralistic duties to repair and restructure the Earth”,  explains the NAS. It “rewards its followers with a sense of belonging to a community of the enlightened few, and endows the smallest actions with meaning and significance”. Recycling a plastic cup, for example, becomes “a noble sacrifice rewarded with laurels” that “contributes inexorably” toward saving the planet.

The Church of Sustainability derives many of its major themes from Judeo-Christianity. It teaches that the Earth — once a pristine Eden — is now fallen and polluted because of human sinfulness, and that an apocalyptic Judgment Day looms unless mankind repents. Absolution and salvation are possible if humans heed the enlightened saints and prophets who warn us of impending doom.

It is a fast growing religion:

As sustainability spreads beyond the campus, we increasingly see it touted in coffee shops, celebrated by major corporations and embraced by urban planners. For example, it’s the ideology driving “Thrive MSP 2040″, the Metropolitan Council’s new 30-year plan for development in the Twin Cities region, with its pervasive themes of top-down planning and rule by “experts”.

“Experts” are the new priesthood.

It’s ironic that college campuses are home base for the sustainability movement. For higher education is among the least sustainable of our contemporary institutions. Colleges and universities are caught in a death spiral of rising costs and declining benefits. Nevertheless, they obsess about recyclable napkins, solar panels and fossil-fuel divestment, and pour $3.2 billion annually — frequently without assessing effectiveness — into achieving their dreams of sustainability, according to the NAS.

Today, colleges and universities are charging students huge, unsustainable sums — often upward of $50,000 a year — for the privilege of (among other things) living out an elite, politically correct fad. Many emerge with a crushing load of debt, at a time when, as the NAS points out, more than 50 percent of recent graduates are either unemployed or underemployed.

For these young people, there’s no better guarantee of an unsustainable future.

More corn 3

Noah Rothman writes (in part) at Commentary:

As most of the nation is preparing to celebrate the 239th anniversary of its founding, the left is going about producing self-affirmations and reinforcing its narcissistic prejudices. …

In keeping with this president’s desire to see every holiday politicized and to foist upon exhausted families one of his true believers who will ceaselessly proselytize in favor of the president’s policies, the administration asked its devotees to praise and promote the Affordable Care Act over the Fourth of July weekend. In a blog post, the Department of Health and Human Services provided administration supporters a script that they can recite for the unbelievers in their midst. “With greater access to affordable, quality health insurance, the Affordable Care Act is helping individuals and strengthening our economy!” HHS invited its backers to exclaim,  “Now would you like more corn?”

At a time when Americans should be reflecting on the sacrifices of the Founders and those subsequent generations who sacrificed so much to preserve freedom and self-determination, the administration’s narcissists prefer that you revel in their own accomplishments. This sentiment is of a kind with that expressed by first lady Michelle Obama who remarked that she had never been prouder of the United States than when it appeared set to elect her husband to the presidency. Rather than reflect on the sacrifices of those Americans who toiled so that we might enjoy our present comfort and security, those like Matthews, the first lady, and this administration prefer the reflection in the mirror.

Most Americans still know that the Founders who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor were not merely penning a frat house oath; in revolt against the Crown, those things were truly in the balance. Most Americans do not pine for the legislative efficiency of dictatorial government; they have voted for a divided Washington consistently since 2010, and only the most arrogant would contend that the voters simply don’t know what they want.

Though in sympathy with the author’s drift, and being perplexed rather than arrogant, we ask – as an open, not a rhetorical question – what do they want?

Barak Obama was twice elected president of the United States. He has made America poorer, weaker, less free, less secure, much less respected, much more divided, even worse educated – in short, declining.

Was that what those who voted for him wanted?

In the year and a half remaining to him as president, he will do what he can to accelerate the decline: more debt, more poverty, more constraint, more terrorism, more empowerment of Islam, more concessions to enemies and betrayals of allies, more race-hustling, more indoctrination, more deception …

Now, who would like more … ?

Posted under Commentary, tyranny, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, July 3, 2015

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A clean, cool, beautiful, fertile planet – praised be mankind 12

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.

Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:

Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public.  It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes.  The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world.  He writes that

The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.

In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish.  But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.

It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009.  This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …

If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm.  But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever.  The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago.  In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.

On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged.  In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.

A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.

In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water.  Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge.  The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.

Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.

But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming.  “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”

Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent.  Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.

The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions.  But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.

According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”

If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world.  All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.

“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.

Time to blame the Third World – and bring back empires? 1

Countries trying to be nice help bad countries to do worse.

The people in Third World despotisms are victims for sure – but not victims of the First World. They are the victims of their own tyrants.

By accepting those who flee from them, the successful, prosperous, civilized West is allowing the tyrants to carry on as usual.

This is from an important editorial in Investor’s Business Daily:

At 60 million and rising, the global refugee population has never been larger. But instead of blaming the states that take in the refugees, isn’t it time to demand accountability of the nations that create their misery?

The UN’s refugee agency’s “Global Trends Report: World at War” got virtually no press when it was released Thursday, but it should have. Its stark data signal a global crisis of refugees and a great wrong in the established world order. Fifty-nine-and-a-half million people were driven from their homes in 2014 as a result of war, conflict and persecution, the highest number in history, as well as the biggest leap in a single year. A decade ago, refugees totaled 37.5 million. An average 42,500 are displaced each day, 1 out of every 122 people on earth, or, if placed together, a nation that ranks 24th among world populations.

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

Guterres rightly sees the scope of the problem, and as a global bureaucrat can be forgiven for his concern about “the response required”. But that focus on the response is precisely why the crummy Third World dictatorships, terrorist groups and corrupted democracies that create the refugees keep getting away with it.

Where is the scorn for the nations whose anti-free market, oligarchical and hostility-to-minority policies are the root of the problem?

It seems that the only criticism and attention that ever comes to refugee issues centers on whether the countries are able to take them in.

Southern Europe, for example, is being browbeaten by the UN, the Vatican and the European Union for not rolling out the welcome mat for the thousands of smugglers’ boats full of refugees from Syria, Niger, Chad, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere fleeing to their shores.

The same can be said of the United States, which is watching a stop-and-go border surge of Central Americans who insist they’re escaping gang violence in their home countries. Australian and Southeast Asian states have been berated by the same actors for not wanting to take in thousands of refugees sailing from Bangladesh and Burma.

The Dominican Republic is taking global brickbats for trying to preserve the integrity of its borders.

Are there any war-crimes tribunals in the works for captured Islamic State members whose terror is the No. 1 reason for refugee flight? Where’s the criticism of the government of Afghanistan, which makes corruption the priority over a livable homeland?

How about the governments of Chad, Niger and Somalia, or the leftist regimes in Central America, that actually encourage refugee outflows so they can live off their remittances instead of developing their economies through free markets?

Are any of these places being kicked out of international organizations for the misery they are responsible for? Has anyone ever been singled out for their failure to make their states livable? Not one.

Colombia was a creator of refugees a decade ago, but no longer. Why? It put itself under the wing of the US through Plan Colombia in 1998 and learned how to take control of its country and initiate free-market reforms.

Which brings up one idea that isn’t being discussed amid so much wretchedness: empire. In a 2014 article in the Atlantic Monthly, geography expert Robert D. Kaplan pointed out that empires are the foremost creators of stability and protectors of minorities. The topic is taboo. But in light of the growing failures of the international community to halt the refugee problem, it belongs on the table just as much as the UN’s solution — throwing more money at it.

With global refugees on the rise, it’s time to talk about the cause of the crisis as well as the cure.

Civil liberties versus national security 5

The Washington Post reports:

Senators left Capitol Hill early Saturday morning without taking action to extend or replace a controversial surveillance program set to expire at month’s end, paralyzed by a debate over the proper balance between civil liberties and national security.

Our tentative answer to the dilemma: As there’s an administration in power that believes government should control our lives, we would vote for civil liberties over national security; if there were an administration that knows it’s first duty is to protect our freedom, we would trust it not to overstep the mark, so we would vote for national security.

And yet …

Trouble is,  even if we were so lucky as to get a reasonably trustworthy administration, it could all too easily be replaced by another statist gang such as we have at present.

Readers are invited to give their own views on this difficult conundrum.

Posted under Commentary, government, Law, Leftism, liberty, Terrorism, Totalitarianism, tyranny, United States, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Saturday, May 23, 2015

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The Bolsheviks: bourgeois fascist utopians 1

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Today we re-discovered a 2012 essay, by the economist Steven Plaut, on the Bolsheviks who took power so disastrously in Russia in 1917.

The essay is titled: Just What Was Fundamentally Wrong with Bolshevism?

We choose these passages to quote, but the whole thing needs to be read here.

As great believers in Marxist theology, [the Bolsheviks] advocated the imposition by the “proletariat” of urban workers of “its” will upon the country, including upon the agricultural laborers who constituted the bulk of the population.  Even if the Bolshevik party could seriously be thought to represent the urban “proletariat,” they would still have constituted a movement representing only a very small portion of Russian society.  

The Bolsheviks represented a movement seeking to impose the interests of this minority “class” over the interests of the bulk of Russian society (and later over non-Russian populations in the Soviet empire).

The Bolsheviks … claimed to represent “the working class” of urban workers, but never considered it necessary to allow those same members of the “proletariat” a say in what they themselves considered their “class interests” to be.  The communist party leaders claimed to represent the proletariat automatically, supernaturally, by dint of their having studied Marx and Engels.  Under their theology they could automatically divine from the dusty 80 year old writings of Marx what served the interests of the Russian “working class,” without having to ask any actual workers, and in most cases without having to engage in actual work.  Party leaders, led by Lenin and Trotsky, lived bourgeois lives even in the most difficult days of the Russian Civil War, often living in luxurious royal apartments inside the Kremlin (which had been the royal residence before the Revolution).  Soviet leaders were attended by large numbers of servants, and Trotsky himself never went anywhere during the Civil War without both his large flock of servants and a 35-member military band.   Bolshevik leaders (Trotsky in particular) generally had never done a day of honest labor in their lives in any factory or farm; their entire “careers” consisting of political activism.

The Bolsheviks believed that they could divine the answers to what the “workers” collectively needed in much the same way that Church clergy could conjure up the agenda of God, by reading the holy scriptures.   And like other manifestations of theology, the Bolsheviks tended to bicker and break up into small factions over minor questions of belief.  Like in the Church, the factionalism was suppressed by means of the proclamation of official dogma approved by the party’s Pope.  It was the beginning of the thought police system, later perfected by Mao.

In the case of communists, these scriptures meant Marx and Engels, and later Lenin.  The problem of course was that Marx and Engels never spelled out the nitty gritty details of what “workers” would need, and basically had no understanding whatsoever of economics.  They can hardly be excused for this ignorance on grounds of writing before the advent of modern economic understanding, because it was already well on the course of development at that time.

As just one example of the problem, should the price of shoes in a “workers’ state” be high in order to benefit shoe workers producing shoes, or low to benefit workers who are consumers?  And if the representatives of the proletariat cannot make up their minds about the price of shoes, then how the Devil can they decide what constitutes “worker interest” in thousands of other dilemmas.  Asking the workers themselves what they wanted was quickly ruled out by the Bolsheviks as a counter-revolutionary nonstarter.

The solution of the early Soviet regime was essentially to suppress and terrorize urban workers, not just the peasants. …

In fact, the “alienation” of the “urban workers” by the party had occurred even earlier.  The Bolshevik coup and the storming of the Winter Palace were uprisings of the “working class” only in party mythology.  The bulk of those rising up in support of the Bolsheviks were soldiers in the Czarist or Kerenski armies, who supported the party because of the promise by Lenin to surrender to the Central powers and end all fighting and mobilization of troops.

The Bolshevik banner may have featured the hammer of the urban worker with the sickle of the peasant, but at the time of the Revolution it was little more than a party of disgruntled soldiers and sailors, most from rural background, reluctant to be sent back to the World War I front to defend Russia.  Their opportunistic support for the Bolsheviks largely vanished in thin air as soon as the party tried to mobilize them and send them out to fight the “whites” during the civil war.  Trotsky was forced to recruit ex-czarist officers to serve as commanders in the Red Army.

The main groups of soldiers supporting the party with enthusiasm were non-Russians desiring the end of Russian domination over their native lands, like the brigades of Latvian riflemen who served as Lenin’s praetorian guards.  By 1921, the same Kronstadt sailors who had been critical in bringing the Bolsheviks to power in 1917 were shooting them and organizing a massive mutiny, brutally suppressed by the communists.  The suppression of the rebellion led Whittaker Chambers to label bolshevism a form of fascism  

Bolshevik thinking in the early days carried strong features of theology.  The Bolsheviks believed that if they were to follow the precepts of Marx to the letter, and pronounce the correct incantations, then magic would take place and socialist revolutions would spring up all over the world like adorable leprechauns.  This voodoo Marxism eventually led to the rise of Stalin and totalitarian “socialism in one country”.  And an ice pick in the skull of Trotsky.

Most Bolshevik leaders had no skills or experience in government administration, management, business, or anything else.  Their only claim to legitimacy was their assertion that they understood the needs of the “proletariat”.  Trotsky believed in command control and central “planning” of the economy until his last breath, and he was hardly alone.  Within days of seizing power in their coup d’etat, the Bolshevik leaders were seeking to impose their “dictatorship of the proletariat”, by which they meant the dictatorship of those party officials, more often than not from middle class backgrounds, claiming to represent the proletariat.  The Russian economy imploded under their rule.  Output of Russian factories and mines in 1921 was only a seventh of what it had been under the Czar in 1913.

Their understanding of foreign powers and diplomacy was even more pathetic than their ignorance of economics, and was also dominated by belief in magic.  During the first years of the Soviet regime, its leaders quite seriously expected communist revolutions to break out all over Europe.  And they were truly surprised when none did, except pathetic attempts – quickly suppressed – to install bolshevism in Germany and Hungary.

Part of their problem was that Marx and Engels were themselves wrong with regard to just about everything.  They were wrong, first and foremost, with regard to the claim that there exists some sort of monolithic “working class” with some sort of uniform set of “class interests.”   Urban workers share no common interest, as the above example involving shoe prices illustrates.   Urban workers indeed were a “class” with a common interest only in the most tautological sense, only in the sense that all those assigned to any “class” would favor increases in the incomes and wealth for all members of that “class.”   By the same token, people with curly hair constitute a “class,” because any proposal to raise incomes for all those with curls would be supported by them.   But regarding any other issue that would arise, the curly headed would have no common interest.  Ditto for urban workers.  And in the exact same sense, there is no capitalist class.  An assembly of the “capitalist class” would similarly be incapable of agreeing over whether shoe prices should be high or low.

And just why were urban “workers” even considered to be politically superior to everyone else in society?  Marx, Engels and the Soviet leadership had great difficulty conceiving of anyone doing productive work unless they were making “things”.  And heavy “things” were more valuable, important, and productive than light “things”.  Certainly producing services was not understood by them as productive labor, explaining why the quality of services of all sorts in the Soviet block remained abysmal all the way down to the fall of communism.

But just what was a “worker”?   Do not bankers and teachers and dentists and engineers and pharmacists work?   In many cases, they work longer hours than factory workers.  Marx and Engels had insisted that urban factory workers must seize political control of society, and they must do so by means of a dictatorship by the party claiming to speak in their name.  In any case, Marx and Engels were pretty sure that peasants did not really provide important “work”.  After all, they just produce food.  So they need not really be part of any revolutionary regime.

Peasant reluctance to deliver food products to the urban “masses” without getting paid was “counter-revolutionary” and could be resolved by starving them to death, terrorizing them, and locking them up in non-productive collective farms.  There food production would prove too low even to feed the peasants themselves, let alone export food to the cities. …

At least in the early stages of the “Revolution”, [the Bolsheviks] were truly captivated by utopian delusions.  The problem of all utopians is that they advocate systems and ideas that can only work with imaginary idyllic humans, but never with real human beings.  When they discover that real human beings refuse to knuckle under and behave according to utopian expectations, the utopianists respond with violent rage.  The greatest strength of capitalism is that it actually works with real human beings, people who are lazy, base, narcissistic, self-indulgent, foul-smelling, mean-spirited, and unsophisticated.  Capitalism does not require idyllic fictional humans in order for it to work.

The most violent terrorists and oppressors of others have always been the utopians.  The French Revolution turned violent and the guillotine was introduced to attempt to terrorize actual humans into behaving according to the expectations of the utopianists.  The leaders of the Soviet Revolution were no slower or more squeamish in following the same route.

Criminal offense 2

In the video below, Pat Condell, our fellow atheist, speaks eloquently about the many ways in which Islam is offensive.

The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Ed Miliband, says he will ban and punish “Islamophobia” if he becomes Prime Minister, which he very well might if his socialist party wins the forthcoming general election. He is saying this in order to woo Muslim voters. Most Muslim votes go to the Labour Party, but some Muslims say that voting at all is wrong because only Allah must govern mankind. Also, Ed Miliband is Jewish. Are the Muslims who go to the polls likely to cast their votes for a Jewish leader?

If he gets into 10 Downing Street and has his Party make it a crime to criticize Islam, what will happen to Pat Condell? We are pretty certain he won’t stop making his videos, speaking freely, and expressing loud and clear the highly moral loathing and fully justified contempt he has for the criminal religion of Muhammad.

 

The principles of politics 4

This quotation from the Dear Leader has just caught our eye:

“Consistency is the hobgoblin of narrow minds.”

Obama expressed this opinion yesterday – April 11, 2015.

Now under our recent post An informed choice (April 10, 2015), a commenter who names himself/herself “Non-ideologue” recommends that each separate political issue should be considered on its own merits.

But consistency is absolutely vital. A politics that is not consistent is simply unprincipled.

If one values freedom, one will judge policies in the light of whether they preserve or abridge freedom. One will judge the agendas of political parties according to those criteria too.

Political parties are formed round, or arise out of, shared interests and aims. Their values are embodied in their principles, and their principles guide their policies.

If one puts security above liberty, or thinks justice is the same thing as economic equality, then one is a socialist, whether one sticks the word on one’s forehead or not. The only way there can be that sort of equality (entirely different from equality under the law) is for a central agency with a monopoly of force – ie. a government – to impose it. Government alone can force those who have property to give it up, can forcibly divide it, and forcibly bestow it as it chooses. That is one big powerful government. It  can bestow benefits on you – and it can withhold them. It has power over every aspect of your life. Its thousands of government-obedient bureaucrats will decide what is good for you, regardless of what you want for yourself. It is also called statism, and collectivism. It is plainly tyranny. If you are a voter, it is necessary to recognize that the party in the US which stands for these values and so will enact such policies as are consistent with them, is the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party, disappointing as it is, at least in theory stands now for the great idea on which the United States of America was founded. At present there are Republicans who would like to make the Party live up to its principles. Those principles are individual freedom, small government, low taxes, a free market economy – all CONSISTENT with each other. If those are your principles, you will prefer the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. You will try to keep the Republicans true to their values and principles. And you will be right to call yourself a conservative. (The fact that there are conservatives who hold the same principles and are also religious, makes no difference to your adherence to them if you are not religious. No compelling logic sticks religion on to them.)

Obama often makes statements that contradict each other or are contradicted by his actions. He says you can keep your doctor under Obamacare, when you cannot. He says his administration will be the most transparent in history, when in fact it is the least transparent in history. He says that Iran must not be allowed to have nukes, and then he makes it easy for Iran to have nukes. There are many more examples we could give, but those will do to prove the case. He may see this as “inconsistency” and think only hobgoblin-haunted minds can object to it.  But in fact it is lying and deception. His entire presidency is a lie and a deception. He is ostensibly the leader of the US; leader of a government whose first duty is to protect Americans from tyranny at home and enemies abroad. In fact his agenda has been and continues ever more blatantly to be against the interests of this country.

Obama is not unprincipled, it’s just that his principles are opposed to those which have inspired and sustained the United States of America. He is not inconsistent; he is misleading. Throughout his presidency, no matter what he has said, he has consistently advanced the subversive agenda of the far Left, and the savage interests of Islam.

An informed choice 44

Obama’s courting of Castro, Putin, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and the King of Saudi Arabia; his appointment of  policy advisers who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood; his rude eviction of the bust of Churchill from the Oval Office, his bullying of the President of Israel, and his cold-shouldering of Canada over the Keystone oil pipeline are signs that he is – what? Could they be read as indications that he is biased towards Communism and Islam, and is not at all keen on the values and polities of the West?

They could not only be easily read as that; it would be difficult to interpret them any other way.

Yet half the voting population cannot see it. Or if they can see it, they must like it, since they twice voted him into power.

But what are we saying? Half the adult, literate, sane people of the United States of America prefer Communism and/or Islam to their own free republic? Surely that cannot be true?

So what else could account for what happened? Well, perhaps most of them simply paid no attention to Barack Obama’s ideologies – although they could easily have discovered them before his first election to the presidency – and voted him into power for the purely racist reason that he’s black and they wanted (paradoxically) to show they were against discrimination on the grounds of race? And didn’t that prove they were nice people?

Now they’ve seen what a terrible mistake it was not to take his ideas and affiliations into account, they won’t do anything like that again – will they? They won’t again choose a president for such an extremely poor “reason”? A candidate’s race, color, ethnicity, or gender will not be seen as a qualification in itself for supreme power?

And next time they’ll be sure to take a candidate’s ideology into account – right?

We quote from an article at Front Page titled The Arabian Candidate, by William Kilpatrick:

In The Manchurian Candidate, the son of a prominent right-wing politician is captured by the Soviets and brainwashed in a secret Manchurian location. His task is to assassinate a presidential candidate, thus ensuring the election of the demagogic vice-president. …

The film has several parallels to current events. The main difference is that in those days, Americans had to be brainwashed into serving enemy interests by psy-ops teams. Nowadays, they come self-brainwashed with some indoctrinative assist from the American educational system.

In the film, a scary lady with leftist sympathies who looks vaguely like Hillary Clinton manipulates her husband into high political office. In real life, a scary lady with leftist leanings [who is Hillary Clinton] … manipulates herself into high political office.

In her case, teams of brainwashers are not required, since she has brainwashed herself into believing that foreign governments are dumping truckloads of cash into her family foundation because she’s such a charming and intelligent woman. And also because Arab sovereigns like nothing better than to do their part to improve the lives of the poor, the hungry, the environmentally underserved, and kids who need braces — in short, the very causes for which the foundation was founded.

Another similarity is that in the film, the [scary lady] character has some sort of hypnotic power over her son, the unwitting assassin. Whenever it begins to dawn on him that something funny is going on, she flashes a Queen of Diamonds playing card and he falls into a catatonic state of complete obedience. In the present situation [Hillary Clinton] has merely to flash the gender card and, presto, skeptical voters fall back into line.

There are parallels to other movies as well. Today’s Queen of Diamonds has a secret server in her home so that her exchanges with foreign dono- I mean “diplomats” can’t be traced. I’m not sure if the server takes up only one room of the palatial house, or a whole suite of rooms. And who knows what’s in the cavern-like basement? It’s all faintly reminiscent of those James Bond thrillers in which the villain’s remote island estate sits atop a vast underground military-industrial complex.

At some point the analogy breaks down. You could still convince a sixties audience that leftists were willing to sell out the country. We, on the other hand, have convinced ourselves that we live in a brave new world where such things never happen — at least, not in modern Western societies. No one would dare to pull a fast one on us because we’re just too smart. … So if it were discovered that Arabs controlled the White House, we would shrug our shoulders and say, “At this point, what does it matter?”

The Clinton-Arab connection actually goes back to the time when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas and worked to secure a hefty Saudi contribution to a Middle-Eastern studies program at the University of Arkansas. But let’s skip all that and fast forward to relatively recent times when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed her longtime aide Huma Abedin as Deputy Chief of Staff at the State Department. When it was discovered that Abedin’s family was deeply involved in the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia, very few eyebrows were raised. After all, even President Obama had relatives in the Muslim Brotherhood. So it would have been silly to make something of it.

It’s probably just a coincidence that while working for the Clintons, Huma herself was the assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs which — you guessed it — is a Muslim Brotherhood journal. Before that, and while still interning at the White House, she was an executive board member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at George Washington University. The MSA was the first Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States and George Washington was the first Muslim president. Well, the latter hasn’t yet been firmly established, but it’s just a matter of time until those Saudi-funded Mid-East studies professors at the University of Arkansas and the Saudi-funded professors at Georgetown (Bill’s alma mater) discover the prayer rug in the attic at Mount Vernon. It’s also probably a coincidence that, like her boss, Huma conducted State Department business using her own personal e-mail address, connected, one supposes, to the same master server that served her master so well … er, mistress.

Abedin also worked until recently for the Clinton Foundation. Again, this is no doubt a pure coincidence and, as the old saying goes, it has nothing to do with Islam. … Today’s government officials seem curiously lacking in curiosity. In 2012, Michelle Bachmann and four other House members wrote letters to the Inspector Generals of several government agencies asking them to conduct an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the government. They were particularly concerned about Huma Abedin in view of her family connections and influential position. They noted thatthe Clinton State Department had “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests”.

The request was dismissed by numerous congressmen and senators as “offensive”, “insensitive,” and even “hurtful”. By that time the machinery of the “Islamophobia” industry was already in high gear and it was deemed prudent even by Republicans to defend Abedin and to damn her accusers …

Still, the case for an inquiry seemed strong. … Even if Abedin was innocent of any wrongdoing, the State Department’s own guidelines about foreign family connections would disqualify her for a security clearance for such a sensitive position.

But then, again, a lot of people in sensitive positions don’t seem to qualify for a security clearance. For example, if all your closest relatives were leftists or communists, if your chief mentors were, respectively, a member of the Communist Party and a radical left-wing preacher, and if you used to hang out with known terrorists, you probably couldn’t get a job as a night watchman at an auto parts warehouse. On the other hand, if someone with the same background throws his hat into the presidential ring, he can become Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and get to set foreign policy.

He also gets to appoint Secretaries of State. It shouldn’t be any surprise if they turn out to be the kind of people who can’t be bothered with security checks. Such people seem to live in an ethereal realm that puts them above suspicion and above conflicts of interest. Normally, when a Secretary of State receives tens of millions in donations from countries that support the spread of a radical ideology, it would be a sign that something is terribly wrong. For an analogy, ask yourself if you would keep someone on at your firm if she had access to sensitive trade secrets and yet received huge gifts from rival corporations while conducting company business on her private server.

You would probably get rid of her pronto. But that’s only if you apply the normal rules of logic — which apparently don’t apply to Secretaries of State appointed by President Obama.

Now comes a surprise – or at least, a surprise to us. We did not know that  John Kerry has family connections in Iran. How much does it explain?

If you applied such logic, you might also think there was something awkward about the fact that current Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter is married to an Iranian who has extensive family ties in Iran. …

The FBI usually won’t grant security clearance to “individuals who are married to nationals of an enemy nation or have family members living in that country, for fear of divided loyalties or, more simply, blackmail”.

Of course, you would have to be some kind of conspiracy nut to think that having vulnerable in-laws in Iran would in any way compromise Secretary Kerry’s negotiations with the representatives of a country whose leaders routinely indulge in “death to America” rhetoric.

Undoubtedly, the President consulted with his senior adviser Valerie Jarrett about the matter. Since Jarrett was born in Iran and spoke Persian as a child, she would, by current standards of expertise, be assumed to have deep insight into the Persian mind. She could have assured the president that “Great Satan” and “Death to America” are typical of the rhetorical exuberance that characterizes the rich and vibrant Iranian culture. Moreover, she could have allayed any concerns about blackmail. Anyone who has studied Cliff Notes on Islam knows that blackmail runs counter to the deeply held beliefs of the mullahs.

Jarretts’ family left Iran when she was five, but apparently those five years were enough to qualify her as an expert on Iranian affairs. According to Discover the Networks, it was revealed in 2012 that for several months, Jarrett “had been leading secret negotiations with representatives of Iran’s Supreme leader … in an effort to normalize relations between the U.S. and Iran”.

The mind spins at the – what’s the word? — the audacity of it all. But the curious thing is not that there are people in high places willing to put self-interest ahead of the national interest. Such people are always with us. The curious thing is that the American people and the American press accept it with such equanimity.

During the Obama-Clinton-Kerry-Jarrett-Abedin years, Russia seized the Crimea, ISIS seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, the Taliban re-established itself in Afghanistan, allies stopped trusting us, enemies were emboldened, the Middle East was set on fire, and the Army was drastically reduced. Oh, and the way was cleared for Iran to have nuclear bombs. Future generations — if there are any — will wonder what we were thinking.

What we were thinking, they may discover, goes something like this (in shorthand brain language): “Mustn’t think that! Mustn’t say that! Not nice! What will people think!” You’d have to go back to the Victorian era to find another society with so much concern for propriety of thought and speech. … A sort of suicidal etiquette that chokes off common sense has grown up in our society. Under the rules of the new etiquette, we aren’t allowed to say that the Emperor has no clothes. We dare not even point out that the Emperor and his ministers appear to be throwing open the gates to the enemy.

Let’s see: The people of the United States elect as president a man they know very little about. When it becomes obvious that he has deep leftist sympathies combined with deep Islamist sympathies, they elect him again. He, in turn, appoints one Secretary of State who is beholden to Arab largesse, and then, after she steps down, he replaces her with a man who … has close family ties with Iran.

This time at last, in the coming election year, the Republican candidates whose broadcast debates will have the attention of millions of voters must take advantage of their opportunity to break through the protective wall the mainstream media have put round the Obama administration and the Democratic candidates. They must make all this – the ideology, the motivation, and the practices of Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and the rest of the gang – so well known to the electorate that no one who can read, watch TV, listen to radio, attend a political rally, or receive news through any medium, will be able to avoid knowing it. Or avoid knowing how perilous it is to their freedom, their safety, and even their survival.

Then if most voters choose Hillary Clinton for president …

Libertarianism the wave of the future? 9

The Left likes to believe – as Obama and Harry Reid often iterate – that it is “on the side of history”.

Is history then stuck with those stale and failed ideas of a Marxian stamp propagated by the likes of Kenneth Galbraith, John Maynard Keynes, or the bone-headed strategies of Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Priven?

Or tending back to the Dark Ages with a resurgence of Islam?

Surely not. A civilization that has put a man on the moon; has invented the computer, the internet, the driverless car; that watches the expansion of the universe; that can replace a faulty human heart with a new one; that has used liberty to become rich, knowledgable, and ever more inventive, is not going to go back to communism or the law of the seventh century desert?

Quo vadis then?

The maliciously lefty and deeply nasty New York Times notices a rise in libertarian opinion in America.

Libertarianism has been touted as the wave of America’s political future for many years, generally with more enthusiasm than evidence. But there are some tangible signs that Americans’ attitudes are in fact moving in that direction.

The NYT goes on to substantiate its claim with figures and a chart.

It defines a libertarian, fairly enough, as “someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least”.

There have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

The Tea Party movement also has some lineage in libertarian thinking. Although polls suggest that many people who participate in the Tea Party movement have quite socially conservative views, the movement spends little time emphasizing those positions, as compared with economic issues.

The perception that the Tea Party – whose chief issue is the need for fiscal responsibility – has “some lineage in libertarian thinking” is remarkable for that newspaper. It seldom removes its red blindfold long enough to replace it for a short time with blinders. For it to see something that is actually there but not obvious is a lucky moment of illumination worth a cheer or two. The author of the article is Nate Silver. Perhaps he found some cunning way to let that uncongenial revelation slip past editorial oversight.

Or perhaps he and his editors think that libertarian thinking is bad anyway. If we didn’t know that to be the case already, there’s a hint of it in what comes later.

The libertarian opinions, revealed by a CNN poll and quoted in the article, are these:

Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008.

The author, apparently not happy to accept what the poll reveals, comments:

Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand …”

So a tolerance with which he has sympathy …

 … to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand …

So a skepticism he condemns  …

 … that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

How confusing for Nate Silver! Libertarians like some of the things he likes. But they also dislike things that he holds dear.

Well, actually, that is the case with us too.

We welcome the spread of libertarian sentiment.

We too see no reason why marijuana should be illegal.

As for same-sex marriage, we think it is an hilarious farce, but would on no account oppose it. A 12-year old boy once defined marriage for us as “a legal union between two or more things”.  Why not  more than two? Why not things or beasts as well as humans?  If – as the argument goes – they love each other? (Well, we said it’s a farce.)

Where we are strongly with libertarians is on the issue of economic freedom. As our contributing commenter Don L often recommends: accept that the Austrian School is right and allow no government interference whatsoever in economic activity – and abolish the Fed. We also advocate keeping taxes (flat-rated) very low. So low that they cannot sustain a government that does much more than it absolutely has to do – protect the liberty of the people, from outside enemies, and domestic criminals. And enforce the law of contract.

But we too have some quarrels with libertarians.

There are those among them who outrageously condone the corruption of children, even the use of them for pornography “as long as they are willing and are paid for their services”!*

Quite a large number of libertarians are historical revisionists, and some who ridiculously and with evil intent deny that the Holocaust ever happened.**

And most libertarians want America to take no notice of what’s going on in the world beyond its borders, except for trade and vacations. As if ignorance is a protection from a world full of expansionist tyrannies and ideologies.

No. None of that.

But a libertarianism that holds individual freedom as the highest value, and knows that it is only possible under the rule of law; and at the same time is committed to preserving the best of everything America has achieved in the past, is a libertarianism that we can – and do – embrace.

 

NOTES:

* We cannot link to articles that discuss this. Access to them is “forbidden”.

**Although the article we link to here does endorse what we say that some libertarians deny  the Holocaust, it goes too far in criticizing Reason and its sponsors.

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