A birth to celebrate on December 25 4

December 25 is a date that should be celebrated as the birthday of one of the greatest men who ever lived.  

Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642. He died on March 20, 1727.

The date of his birthday changed to January 4, 1643, when England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, twenty-five years after Newton’s death.

As he celebrated his birthday on December 25, we do too.

The arms of Sir Isaac Newton

Posted under History, Science by Jillian Becker on Friday, December 21, 2012

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Innocence of Muslim-Lovers (a script for a video trailer) 9

The following scene is fictitious. Any resemblance between the characters, or the events they refer to, and real people or real events, is purely coincidental.

*

A stretch of wasteground, deserted but for two figures approaching each other from opposite sides. No buildings in sight.  No road, no passing traffic or pedestrians. Both figures, one elderly female (Hillary), one elderly male (Tom), are muffled up to the ears and have hats with brims pulled down over their faces. Both look nervously about them to make sure they’re not being followed or observed.

When they’re close to each other Tom speaks.

Tom: Hi Hillary. So what is it you need to see me urgently and secretly about?

Hillary: It’s the Benghazi thing. We managed to keep it off the front pages, but you know what happened. I got Susan to stick her neck out trying to spread the video story. Told her I’d definitely tell Barack that she was the one to have my job at State when I retire if she’d do that little thing for me. But then some people may they rot in hell let out part of the truth about what really happened, and we just didn’t manage to make the video story stick, and now the Republicans are trying to make a scandal of it.

Tom: So where do I come in?

Hillary: I told Barack we must set up an official inquiry that can take some weeks so it only comes out when we’re safely over the election, and while its going on we won’t have to answer any questions  – we can say we don’t want to anticipate the findings. With luck by the time the inquiry’s finished the whole thing will be forgotten or at least seem very stale news.

Tom: And you want me to head this inquiry – right?

Hillary: It has to be you, Tom. You know the area. You know the people. You know how Barack feels about them. The same way you do.

Tom: But why the secrecy? You’ll be making a public announcement that I’ll be heading it, won’t you?

Hillary:  Of course. But we have to talk about what your inquiry will find out.

Tom: I get you. Okay, tell me what you want me to hide.

Hillary: Well, its really, really important to Barack to have everyone believe he’s defeated al-Qaeda. You know?

Tom: Sure, I understand that. Though I personally always thought that bin Laden guy was a fine looking fellow. Good at what he did too. Bit of a shame that he had to go. I understand Valerie nearly got Barack to leave him be, but the navy people just wouldn’t stop pushing once they’d found out where he was and they knew they could do it.

Hillary:  Thing is, the vast right wing conspiracy has found out that there may have been some al-Qaeda people among the mob who killed Chris.

Tom: Chris?

Hillary: Stevens. Our ambassador to Libya.

Tom: And you want that kept that out of my findings?

Hillary: Well, it’s out now so you may not be able to. They’ve even picked up leads to our weapons transfers.

Tom: Weapons transfers?

Hillary: Yeah – guns and stuff. Stuff left over from when we supplied the rebels against Gaddafi. Stingers – whatever they are. Chris was organizing their transfer through Turkey to the rebels in Syria.

Tom: Good. I mean – bad if anyone found out about that, eh?  By the way, who are these Syrian rebels, d’you know?

Hillary: Well, that could be even more embarrassing. Some of them are also al-Qaeda.

Tom: Okay. Okay. Sure. Fine.

Hillary: We don’t want that to come out in the inquiry. And certain other things that you’ll come across will have to be …. you get me?

Tom: Suppressed. Of course. So let me ask you this. What can come out in my report?

Hillary: You can find that Chris didn’t get enough protection. Everyone knows that much by now. But you mustn’t blame me or Barack. You mustn’t find his policies at fault. And Barack himself mustn’t  come into it at all. Or me.

Tom:  Okay. I see. Fine.

Hillary: Without actually naming names you can hold some of my underlings responsible for refusing protection. I mean, everyone knows we refused more protection when Chris asked for it so there’s no point in trying to hush that up.

Tom: You want anyone in particular named?

Hillary: No. No names. You can say that nothing anyone did is a firing offense. I mean, I might fire a few people anyway just to make it look as if I’m so angry with them that I’m ready to go beyond your recommendations.  Zeal.  I’ll show zeal.

Tom: And what about Chris himself? Can we put some of the blame on him?

Hillary: Sure.

Tom:  He asked  for too much?

Hillary: Er – rather  he didn’t make his needs clear enough.

Tom: They might call that “blaming the victim”.

Hillary: Well don’t make too much of that. What you can make as much as you like of is the Republicans in the House not voting us enough money for the proper protection of our embassies and diplomats.

Tom: Is it true?

Hillary: True enough. There’s a grain of truth …  and it’s  something people will believe. Above all, keep me out of the picture. Me and Barack.

Tom: Didn’t you make a public statement that you accepted responsibility?

Hillary: Yep. I thought that was a good move. Made me sound courageous. And honest. Didn’t it?

Tom: Sure it did.

Hillary: I was rather hoping it would  be enough and I wouldn’t have to do anything more.

Tom: Doesn’t the House want you to answer some questions?

Hillary: Yep.  That’s bad. They’ve got film of me saying it was all because of the video when Barack and I met the coffins coming home. I even told one of the dead guys’ father that we would punish the disgusting little man who made the video. But I think I can get out of having to testify. I have important engagements abroad. A wine-tasting in Australia, as a matter of fact. And after that – well maybe I’ll fall sick or something. Bang my head and lose my memory if the worst comes to the worst. I’ll think of something.

Tom: Is there anything else you should tell me now? I mean, what other cats are already out of the bag?

Hillary: Let me see. They may make a lot of noise about us paying local militias to guard our installations.

Tom: You hired Arabs to guard them? Armed?

Hillary:  Of course armed.

Tom: Trained to use arms?

Hllary: They knew how to use them. They were militants. No point in …

Tom: Hold it right there a moment. Let me get this straight. You’re saying that you hired terrorists to guard our people in Libya?

Hillary: Don’t use that word!  You know Barack won’t allow it.

Tom: (Whistles) I didn’t realize he’d gone as far as that. Didn’t you tell him it would be dangerous? I mean, I know what he’s aiming at, but I thought he was better at the art of throwing dust in people’s eyes than that.  I think we should suppress that.

Hillary: It’s already known.

Tom: Already known? (Whistles again)

Hillary: Stop doing that, Tom. It’s not that bad. I don’t want it to be that bad.

Tom: This ain’t gonna be easy, sister. Anything else that could be an impeachable offense? Better you tell me now …

Hillary: Well, there was a secret CIA operation going on. Taking prisoners. Interrogations.

Tom: (Taking a deep breath) I don’t know if I can do this, Hillary. An illegal operation?

Hillary: I don’t know. Honestly, Tom, I don’t know anything about that.  I – I – . It wasn’t  my idea. I’ll have to get Petraeus to fill you in about that.

Tom: Speaking of Petraeus – he seems to resent Susan putting the blame on the info his people gave her. He seems to be wanting to tell the truth – I mean the real truth. Out loud. In public.

Hillary: Don’t worry about him. I promise you, we’ve got him where we want him.

Tom:  You have? I see. I see. But now tell me. What’s the real story why we didn’t send anyone to help them. Our people in Benghazi. Why didn’t we? Don’t worry, you know what you tell me here will go no further. But to satisfy my own curisity. After all, we could have, couldn’t we? We even got a plane from Italy to within a couple of hours from Benghazi. What happened then?

Hillary: I told them … I mean we told them … I mean, Barack said … At least, Valerie said … Jeez Tom, you expect me to know? You can ask Leon. But whatever he tells you, remember what I’m telling you now. Nothing that would be bad for Barack – or me  …

Tom: So let me be clear what you want from me. Bottom line – you’re asking for a whitewash?

Hillary: Well yes, of course. But it mustn’t seem like a whitewash. You know?   You must make it seem really, really tough. I want them to use words like “scathing”.

Tom: A scathing report. Yep. Sounds right.

Hillary: And make recommendations for how we should  get our act together and improve the way we deal with protecting our people abroad. That sort of thing. A whole lot of recommendations. And make them sound … draconian. Make it sound as though we take the whole thing to be a teaching moment and we really want to learn from it going forward.

Tom: Draconian.

Hillary: Yes. But  not so draconian that I can’t say I accept them. I need to say I accept them all. It will make me sound …

Tom: You’re setting me quite a challenge here.

Hillary: I know you’re up to it, Tom. Will you do it? For the cause. You know what I mean?

Tom: Okay, Hillary. I’ll do it. I’ll do my best … but  you understand it might not work?

Hillary: Just do it. We’ll make it work. Me and Barack. Between the two of us we can’t fail. I’m very experienced, you know, in getting out of tight corners. And Barack is incredibly –

Both together: LUCKY.

They laugh.

End

Judge Robert Bork 3

Judge Robert Bork has died at the age of 85.

From Wikipedia:

Bork was best known for his theory that the only way to reconcile the role of the judiciary in the U.S. government against what he terms the “Madisonian” or “counter-majoritarian” dilemma of the judiciary making law without popular approval is for constitutional adjudication to be guided bythe framers’ original understanding of the United States Constitution. Reiterating that it is a court’s task to adjudicate and not to “legislate from the bench,” he has advocated that judges exercise restraint in deciding cases, emphasizing that the role of the courts is to frame “neutral principles” … and not simply ad hoc pronouncements or subjective value judgments. …

He has written, “We are increasingly governed not by law or elected representatives but by an unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own.”

Roger Kimball writes at PJ Media:

Judge Robert H. Bork, one of the the greatest jurists this country has ever produced, died early this morning from heart complications in a Virginia hospital near his home. …

Bork was a national celebrity. … [His] celebrity was only partly conferred upon him by brilliant legal work and his service as solicitor general and then acting attorney general in the tumultuous Watergate years of the Nixon administration. … By far the most important fuel for fame was the riveting, not to say obscene, attack upon his candidacy for the Supreme Court in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan.

The vicious campaign waged against Judge Bork set a new low—possibly never exceeded—in the exhibition of unbridled leftist venom, indeed hate. Reporters combed through the Borks trash hoping to find compromising tidbits; they inspected his movie rentals, and were disgusted to find the films of John Wayne liberally represented. So hysterical was the campaign against Judge Bork that a new transitive verb entered our political vocabulary: “To Bork,” scruple at nothing in order to discredit and defeat a political figure. Monsieur Guillotine gave his name to that means of execution; “progressives,” those leftists haters of America who have so disfigured our national life since the 1960s, gave us the this new form of character assassination.

The so-called “Lion of the Senate,” Ted Kennedy, surely one of the most despicable men ever to hold high public office in the United States (yes, that’s saying something), stood on the Senate floor and emitted a series of calumnious lies designed not simply to prevent Judge Bork from being appointed to the Supreme Court but to soil his character irretrievably.

“Robert Bork’s America,” quoth Kennedy – “is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of democracy.”

A breathtaking congeries of falsehoods  …  In The Tempting of America, Judge Bork recounts his incredulity at this tissue of malign fabrication. “It had simply never occurred to me that anybody could misrepresent my career and views as Kennedy did.” At the time, he notes, many people thought that Kennedy had blundered by emitting so flagrant, and flagrantly untrue, an attack. They were wrong. His “calculated personal assault, . . . more violent than any against a judicial nominee in our country’s history,” did the job (with a little help from Joe Biden and Arlen Specter. Not only was Kennedy instrumental in preventing a great jurist from taking his place on the Supreme Court, he also contributed immeasurably to the cheapening of American political discourse.

In a way, Robert Bork had the last laugh. Ted Kennedy went to his grave a rancid, lumbering, pathetic laughing stock. Bork went from intellectual triumph to intellectual triumph, contributing now-classic studies to the library of legal understanding and penning two of the most important works of social criticism of the last several decades, the aforementioned Tempting of America and Slouching Toward Gemorrah.  

And this is from Commentary, by John Podhoretz:

Nothing like the campaign to deny Bork the Supreme Court had ever been seen before. It was a systematic campaign of personal destruction undertaken by liberal interest groups who had come to see the growing conservatism of the Reagan-era judiciary as an existential threat to them. Only a year earlier, Antonin Scalia had been affirmed by a 98-0 vote in the Senate, but in the interim, Democrats had taken hold of the body in the 1986 elections and the stage was set for a new era of personal destruction in the pursuit of a supposedly higher good.

Bob Bork became a sacrificial lamb for, among others, Ted Kennedy, who libeled him with the preposterous allegation that Bork wanted to return America to the days in which women got abortions with coat hangers. Why? For the crime of arguing, honestly and correctly, that Roe v. Wade, which somehow found a right to abortion in the language of a document that never mentioned abortion, was a travesty. …

Almost a quarter century after his “Borking,” the judicial transformation his character assassination was designed to help prevent has happened anyway. In a brilliant article we published a few months ago, called Bork Won, Adam J. White lays out the enduring legacy of this remarkable and complicated man, who was left on the far shore but got to watch as the people who followed him crossed the river and took his journey forward.

We would very much like to believe that Bork won. But we find it hard. Remembering that the Obama appointees Judges Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court; and considering that “conservative” Chief Justice John Roberts rescued Obamacare from the oblivion it deserves; and observing that judges increasingly apply sharia in preference to US Constitutional law; and noticing the probability that Obama, re-elected for another four disastrous years, may have the opportunity to appoint another progressive judge or two, we fear that justice itself is more than likely to be “Borked”.

Forward to the past 5

Thomas Sowell writes at Investor’s Business Daily:

The political slogan “Forward” served Barack Obama well during this year’s election campaign. It said that he was for going forward, while Republicans were for “going back to the failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

It was great political rhetoric and great political theater. Moreover, the Republicans did virtually nothing to challenge its shaky assumptions with a few hard facts that could have made those assumptions collapse like a house of cards.

The Republicans did virtually nothing to challenge any of the assumptions – or the lies, or the deeds – of  the Democrats.

More is involved than this year’s political battles. The word “forward” has been a political battle cry on the left for more than a century. It has been almost as widely used as the left’s other favorite word, “equality,” which goes back more than two centuries.

The seductive notion of economic equality has appealed to many people. The pilgrims started out with the idea of equal sharing. The colony of Georgia began with very similar ideas. In the Midwest, Britain’s Robert Owen — who coined the term “socialism” — set up colonies based on communal living and economic equality.

What these idealistic experiments all had in common was that they failed.

They learned the hard way that people would not do as much for the common good as they would do for their own good. The pilgrims nearly starved learning that lesson. But they learned it. Land that had been common property was turned into private property, which produced a lot more food.

Similar experiments were tried on a larger scale in other countries around the world. In the biggest of these experiments — the Soviet Union under Stalin and Communist China under Mao — people literally starved to death by the millions.

In the Soviet Union, at least 6 million people starved to death in the 1930s, in a country with some of the most fertile land on the continent of Europe, a country that had once been a major exporter of food. In China, tens of millions of people starved to death under Mao.

Despite what the left seems to believe, private property rights do not exist simply for the sake of people who own property. Americans who do not own a single acre of land have abundant food available because land is still private property in the United States, even though the left is doing its best to restrict property rights in both the countryside and in the cities.

The other big feature of the egalitarian left is promotion of a huge inequality of power, while deploring economic inequality.

It is no coincidence that those who are going ballistic over the economic inequality between the top 1% or 2% and the rest of us are promoting a far more dangerous concentration of political power in Washington — where far less than 1% of the population increasingly tell 300 million Americans what they can and cannot do, on everything from their light bulbs and toilets to their medical care.

This movement in the direction of central planning, under the name of “forward,” is in fact going back to a system that has failed in countries around the world — under both democratic and dictatorial governments and among peoples of virtually every race, color, creed and nationality.

It is one thing when conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan in America and Margaret Thatcher in Britain declared central planning a failure. But what really puts the nails in the coffin is that, before the end of the 20th century, both socialist and communist governments around the world began abandoning central planning.

India and China are the biggest examples. In both countries, cutbacks on government control of the economy were followed by dramatically increased economic growth rates, lifting millions of people out of poverty in both countries. …

We are going “forward” to a repeatedly failed past, following a charismatic leader, after a 20th century in which charismatic leaders led countries into unprecedented catastrophes.

Obama, however weak his grasp of economic theory, must surely have noticed that socialism sooner or later brings nations to a drab and stagnant equality of misery. Even he must have some notion that centrally planned economies do no good for the wealth, the might, or the progress of the country. What’s hard ( it seems) for many voters  to accept, though it’s manifestly the case, is that Obama does not want a prosperous America. He wants power. He wants to be a central planner, not preside over a prosperous, strong, innovative nation. For him socialism is just the ticket.

Carrying high his banner with “Forward!” blazoned on it, he leads America back to the past – not its own past, but via welfare Greece, Mao’s China, Soviet Russia … towards (look! – millions of Americans trailing after him, their eyes bright with expectation) … towards just such another graveyard of hope. 

Can the Left be defeated? 42

Why was Obama, the Islam-loving communist, twice  voted into the presidency of the capitalist, Islam-attacked United States?

Why do most Americans “think” that Obama is doing a good job – though they know the economy is bad, millions are unemployed, businesses are overburdened with regulations, travelers are manhandled and humiliated at airports, an American ambassador is killed abroad with impunity, the Taliban is back in business in Afghanistan, the Middle East is in flames since Obama assisted the displacement of allied rulers with Islamic fundamentalists … and so on and on?

Why do millions of Americans “think” that economic equality is morally desirable?

Why are tens of millions content to live on state support without attempting to improve their standard of living by their own efforts?

Why do millions of university students in America admire intellectuals who hate America, such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and why do they make an icon out of the sadistic mass-murderer Che Guevara?

The broad general answer is simple. They’ve been told to. They’ve been told that good people do and “think” these things. They want to be good. They believe what they’ve been taught. This is so obvious that the statement “they believe it because they’ve been taught it” could be dismissed as a truism.

It is why Muslim women believe they must put up with being sexually mutilated and enslaved to men. Why multitudes the world over believe that there was a nation called Palestinians who were driven off their land by aggressive usurping Jews. Why Christians believe that a man who once lived and died lives on as one part of a three-part god. Why Muslims and Christians imagine that when you are dead you are still alive in another place. Why Jews believe that their benign and omnipotent God has some unguessable but just purpose in having six million of them enslaved, starved, tortured and murdered by Germans.

They believe it because they were taught it. It was drummed into them. They were raised to know that that is how it is.

Yet few if any ideas are easy to spread. To get an idea accepted by large numbers of people takes patience, persistence, conviction, tireless energy on the part of those who want to spread it. The idea need not make good sense, be reasonable, come with proofs that it will work as its advocates say it will. It doesn’t even have to appeal strongly to the emotions. It just needs to become what “everybody” accepts. How?

If you want your idea to prevail over others, this is what it takes. First the conviction that it is right and everyone should know it. Next, a decision to spread it. Then it takes energy, persistence, patience, time, repetition – and eventually force.

What made Christianity catch on? It wasn’t the life-style –  poor, austere, hard, humble. Even the promise of eternal life was not a reliable recommendation as anyone’s eternity could as easily be endless agony as endless bliss (it was a 50-50 tossup). The theology was so hard to make sense of that the Church itself to this day has not settled it. And the morality it demanded was against human nature. So what made it succeed? Energy, persistence, patience, time, repetition, force.

Look how long it took. From the time St Paul invented “Jesus Christ” to the time the emperor of Rome accepted the new god and the doctrines that had accreted to him, thus making it fashionable to be Christian (just a few decades before force was applied and it became compulsory), nearly three hundred years had passed. Three hundred years of persistent, patient, energetic proselytizing.  Even then, it was not securely implanted in the minds of the subjects. One Emperor – Julian – came along and actually tried to reverse the trend by suppressing Christianity and re-instating paganism. He didn’t have enough time. He died in battle, his successors went back to favoring Christianity, and finally the Emperor Theodosius decreed that Christianity was to be the religion of the state. With him the last phase of force arrived.

Marxist Communism took less time to get a real grip on the minds of multitudes. Means of communications had speeded up considerably between the 4th and the 19th centuries, but still it took half a century (if one arbitrarily dates it from the first publication of Marx’s Das Kapital in 1867 to the success of the Bolshevik revolution  in 1917). And still the same method had to be employed: energetic, patient, persistent, repetitous proselytizing. The fever of enthusiasm had to be caught by two generations of intellectuals before the infection became a pandemic.

The creed must become the norm. So pervasive must the doctrine be that anybody who does not subscribe to it wholeheartedly will appear egregious; an oddball, a rebel, a danger to everyone else and even to himself. The orthodoxy must be accepted without question as good, so anyone who opposes it is ipso facto a bad person.

By the late 20th century communications had become even faster, so  the New Left could achieve irreversible success in Europe in less than thirty years, in America in forty (1968 to 2008). It started as a weak revolutionary movement which brought nothing good with it to Western Europe and America, but much that was bad: recreational drugs, AIDS, terrorism as self-expression. New Leftists complained that they had too much freedom, too much choice, that tolerance of their politics was repressive. (That’s what Leftist theorists mean by “the dialectic” – every concept is also its own opposite.) And this irrational case was widely accepted, even while, on the other side of the iron curtain, a young man burnt himself to death to protest against the lack of freedom, choice, and tolerance.

The New Left movement was ignorant, blind, puerile, unreasonable, sadistic – yet it became, it has become, the prevailing belief-system of the greater part of the Western world, and at present in almost all “free” countries the standard ideology (or religion) of the state, no matter what political party is in power. How?

The plan was made. The plan was put into execution. Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist Party, proposed the strategy: “The Long March through the Institutions”.  It wasn’t enough that the New Left should protest, should threaten and carry out violent attacks, should shout and write and publish, should display their slogans, should bomb their native cities and maim and kill their neighbors. They must take over the institutions of power, every one of them, by achieving a majority of votes in them: from the smallest citizens’ groupings – such as library committees – to town councils, news media, boards of education, the schools, the universities, the civil service, the publishing industry, the legal profession, the law courts, a major political party, the country’s legislative body, and eventually prime-ministerships and presidencies. Police forces and the military were formidable challenges. The tactic with them was first to discredit them, then pressure them from outside by means of public opinion guided by the converted press, then to infiltrate them, and finally to bend them from within to conform to the doctrine and so advance the cause.

Books, films, articles, lessons, lectures, systems of reward, prizes must all promote the cause. It took the three or four decades, but it succeeded.

How otherwise could the free Western world, whose policies and armies opposed the oppressing, enslaving Communist Eastern world, have been successfully converted to the very doctrine that in the East oppressed, enslaved, tortured and mass murdered? The idea itself was no more innately and manifestly true and good than the idea of Christianity. But as in the case of Christianity, it took conviction, decision, planning, energy, persistence, repetition, and finally (now even  in America, under the Obama administration) force.

Only Lefist doctrine – government control of the economy, government provision of welfare, confiscatory and punitive taxation – is politically correct now in America. Collectivist thinking is the norm. Good people vote left. (When, in 2008, a Californian woman came upon a stall set up on a main street to canvass votes for the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, she called the police, and was astonished to learn that to solicit public support for the Republican Party was not illegal.) Again, as with Christianity, the allegiance to the doctrine has little or nothing to do with the innate worth of the ideas themselves. Most adherents to either Christianity or Leftism could not explain what the ideas are. But they know that good people find them good, that good people vote for them. And that is all they need to know. Who doesn’t want to think of himself as a good person?

But the question of how did this become the case has not been fully answered. There is another aspect to the story. In order for one doctrine to succeed, it is necessary for counter doctrines to fail. If the ancient world had had enough confidence in paganism, enough enthusiasm for it, hadn’t taken it for granted, hadn’t become bored with it, hadn’t ignored the Christian missionaries with their crazy talk, could the weird, obscure, muddled, sorrowful, other-worldly new religion of Christianity have conquered it?

And the success of Leftism now – would it have happened if the conservative Right had been paying attention? The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and the Right  was not being vigilant. It took little notice of the Long March. It didn’t bother to argue against political correctness. It disregarded the cynical shenanigans going on in the United Nations as if it were nothing but a zoo housing many clamorous beasts who were safely confined and could in no way threaten American life, liberty or happiness. If the Right was made to feel now and then the bullying, deceitful, sly, sometimes violent tactics of the Left, it shrugged them off. Conservatives went on being civil when the world’s mood had changed to favoring crassness, vulgarity and abuse. They put their confidence in the fact that America had been founded as the political embodiment of the idea of personal freedom; had demonstrated to the world  – forever, they believed – that freedom brought prosperity and might and stunning innovation. They assumed that the rightness of individual liberty, the capitalist system, and government by the people had been established forever. So strong and free a country could afford to be tolerant. Let some wild, immature, misguided persons preach despotism (Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Greenism, Feminism, whatever), the system was strong enough to be hospitable to alien ideas, and to allow dissent or even rebellion. Tested, it would prove itself inviolable. It could not only withstand opposition, it could absorb it and dissolve it. No special effort was required. American history was on the side of those who would defend freedom and the Constitution. The separation of powers would protect them. The free press would dilute propaganda. Open enquiry in the academies would ensure that all points of view were argued and the most rational, the most humane, would persuade serious scholars.  But they were wrong.

In their complacency they did not even notice the Long March. They could not mark its stations of success. Only now, late in 2012, the Republican Party has woken up with a shock on discovering, in the November presidential election, that most of America likes collectivism; that it doesn’t object to electoral fraud; that it has no objection to a failing economy; that it would rather live on government handouts than become rich; that being rich has become a bad thing; that it’s okay for foreign powers to develop weapons that could kill vast numbers of Americans; that the press does not report what is happening in the world but only what it wants to happen; that courts of law are willing to apply foreign laws; that it doesn’t matter if American representatives abroad are attacked and murdered; that the concept of personal freedom is worthy only of derision; that American history is a trail of shame; that aggressive Islam is being protected by the government.

How did this happen? It happened because people patiently, energetically, persistently planned it and made it happen.

What can we do about it? What needs to be done to change the minds of the people?

Those who would change this state of affairs must first be sure that they want the free republic the founders established; that they want to maintain free markets; that they don’t want a welfare state; that they do want to preserve national defenses; that they want to stop indoctrination in the schools; that they want to forbid the application of foreign law; that they do not want to go on funding  an institution – the UN – that consistently works against their interests; that Islam is inimical to their civilization. Then they must decide that their own political philosophy is right, uniquely right, and must be implemented at any and all costs. Then they must start teaching it with energy, persistence, patience and fiery enthusiasm. It will take time. Teach, preach, use every method of persuasion that works. Take back the institutions. Give up the idea that it’s better to be gentlemanly than sink to using the low methods of the opposition. The Left has made the fight low and dirty. Leftists will cheat, lie, turn dirty tricks. Will the Right, before it is to late, get down in the dirt and fight in the same way?

Have they – Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, the Tea Party – got the stomach for it? How badly does the conservative Right want to win power in America? How important is it to them that they should?

Are they prepared to shout down the shouters? Criticize and mock Islam? Make Communists feel passé and nasty? Tolerate only the tolerant and tolerable?

Will they start a process and persist with it, energetically and patiently? Or do they imagine that the innate rightness of their ideas, if politely explained, will win the electorate over to their side?

Will it be enough just to tell them?

Tell them that the free market is the only means of creating general prosperity, and why.  Tell them that central planning of an economy cannot work, and why. Tell them why competition is good for everyone, producers and consumers alike. Tell them what profit is and why it is essential for ensuring abundance. Tell them that only where people are free can there be discovery and innovation, improvement in everyone’s daily life, better technology, the advance of civilization. Explain why. Show them the proofs of history.

Tell them the truth about life in other countries. Not politically correct sentimental drivel, but the actual awful facts about life in most other countries.

Tell them why impartial justice is the only justice. Why all sane adult citizens must be treated equally by the law. That people must be judged by their actions, not their intentions or feelings.

Tell them why government should be kept small and its powers limited. Tell them what the essential tasks of government are: protection of the nation, of the individual, of the rule of law itself. And why government should not be allowed more powers and money than it needs to fulfill its few essential functions.

Will that do the trick?

No. It will not be enough just to tell them.

Just how low and dirty the fight will have to be, just how hard the task necessarily is, can be learnt from David Horowitz’s book Radicals*.  Here are a few indicators to be found in it:

Lenin “declared that the purpose of a political argument was not to refute one’s opponent but to wipe him off the face of the earth”.

Because the left is inspired by the fantasy of a future that can never be realized, it is never defeated by its defeats.”

Alinskyites [eg Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama] “will say anything (and pretend to be anything) to get what they want, which is power.”

Alinsky’s advice: “Advance your radical goals by camouflaging them.”

“[Lenin] was always engaged in a total war, which he used to justify every means he thought might advance his goals. These included summary executions, concentration camps that provided a model for Hitler, and the physical ‘liquidation’ of entire social classes. Lenin was the most dangerous kind of political fanatic – ready to resort to any means to get what he wanted, even if it meant pretending to be a democrat.”

“This is the art [Alinsky] taught to radicals trying to impose socialism on a country whose people understand that socialism destroys freedom: Don’t sell it as socialism. Sell it as ‘Progressivism’, ‘economic democracy’, ‘fairness’,  and ‘social justice’.”

“[I]dentify one’s political enemies as instruments of evil and thus … justify the total war against them.”

“[Alinsky explains] to idealistic radicals who think of themselves as creating  a world of perfect justice and harmony that the means they must use to achieve that world are dishonest, deceitful, and ruthless – and therefore indefensible by the moral standards they claim to be upholding. The radical organizer has no such standards … he ‘does not have a fixed truth – truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.’”  [Italics in the original.]

“[Alinsky writes;] ’To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process … he who fears corruption fears life.’”

Terrible, terrible! And of course immoral means pervert the ends.

The moral Right cannot do as the immoral Left does.

So how will the Left be defeated?

 

Jillian Becker   December 17, 2012

 

* Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passion by David Horowitz, Regnery,Washington D.C., 2012

 

 

On morality, crime, and justice 1

An all-powerful all-knowing good god was at work again recently when 26 people, 20 of them little children, were shot to death by a young man. God was busy saving some of the children, according to some whose children were not shot. And there are Christian priests and other liars and sentimentalists on TV talking about forgiveness. Forgiveness on behalf of the victims is an empty gesture, and the dead of course cannot forgive. Forgiveness is in any case part of the Christian doctrinal revolt against justice.

We won’t spend many moments considering such heartless nonsense. We will observe in passing, though, that if someone must believe in an all-powerful all-knowing god who controls the universe, it would make quite a bit more sense to believe he is evil. An evil god can be whimsical. He can decide not to do evil now and then. Believers could even ascribe good deeds to him without falling into a mess of inconsistency, since an evil god would enjoy confusing his creatures.

But enough bothering with idiotic beliefs. Let’s say how we view such human deeds. Throughout our lives we are continually and inevitably to a certain extent in the hands of other people. We should try not to do harm to one another. That is a very high standard of morality. We will not succeed, but we can and should try.

And what of those who deliberately do harm? Whenever possible they should be punished. He who has taken a life (and lives on) should have his life taken from him. If he has taken many lives, there is nothing more that can be done. Punishment of the mass-murderer cannot be commensurate with his crime. Justice is elusive. We cannot always, or often, achieve it. But again, we can and should try.

When someone kills 26 people, 20 of them little children, and then kills himself, so putting himself beyond even such justice as is within our power, all we can do is blame him and express – yes – our hatred not just of the deed but of the perpetrator. Hold him responsible. That is all we can do in such a case to uphold the principle of justice. To forgive him, even if only in theory, would be to commit another crime – and resign the principle.

As we say in our Articles of reason: Justice may be elusive, but judgment is inescapable.

Posted under Commentary, Crime, Ethics, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, December 16, 2012

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American state law and practice against atheism and atheists 1

This list comes from the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious, pages 69-71.

LAW

United States Law Arkansas constitution (Article 19, Section 1):

“No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.”

United States Law Maryland constitution (Article 37): “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God…”

United States Law Mississippi constitution (Article 14, Section 265): “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”

United States Law North Carolina constitution (Article 6, Section 8): “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

United States Law South Carolina constitution (Article 17, Section 4): “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”

United States Law Tennessee constitution (Article 9, Section 2): “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

United States Law Texas constitution (Article 1, Section 4): “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

United States Law In 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance was amended to add the phrase “under God,” so that it would read, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

United States Law In 1956, Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the country’s official motto. This phrase is posted on U.S. money and in courthouses at every level of government.

United States Law A 2006 law in Kentucky requires the state Office of Homeland Security to post plaques acknowledging that “Almighty God” has been integral to keeping the state safe. The penalty for breaking this law is up to 12 months in prison.

United States Law Miami-Dade Commission successfully reinstated prayer before its meetings.

CASES

United States Case 2/?/07 Newton Correctional Facility in Iowa conducts a state-funded Biblical program.

United States Case 5/?/11 Prisoners at Berkeley County DetentionCenter in South Carolina were denied all reading materials except for the Christian Bible.

United States Case 9/?/07 Atheist soldier Jeremy Hall faced legal and professional threats after filing a lawsuit alleging retaliation for refusing to attend an
overtly-Christian Thanksgiving service and convening meetings of atheist and other nonreligious soldiers at Camp Speicher in Iraq.

United States Case 11/?/11 A Marine Corps unit at Camp Pendleton, California, conducted a mandatory event raising a Christian cross as a war memorial. Subsequently, other units conduct mandatory marches to it, many including mandatory, command-led Christian prayer.

United States Case 11/?/11 A mandatory suicide-prevention presentation at the US Air Force base in Lakenheath, England, included material from Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. The presentation lauded religiously-motivated living “as the most beneficial, because if you love God (in a majority of world religions), you’ll love man and yourself.” It also equated atheism and naturalism with life under the totalitarian Soviet Union and argued that “Faith is Foremost.”

Posted under Atheism, Law, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, December 14, 2012

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Atheism a capital offense in 7 Islamic lands 4

On December 10, “Human Rights Day”, the International Humanist and Ethical Union published Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious, edited by Matt Cherry.

These quotations were selected by Hermant Mehta at the Friendly Atheist:

“This report shows that atheists, humanists and other nonreligious people are discriminated against by governments across the world. There are laws that deny atheists’ right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry, obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents.”

In Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan atheism is a capital crime. Most executions for the crime of atheism are carried out in Pakistan.

“In a range of other countries — such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait and Jordan — publication of atheist or humanist views on religion are totally banned or strictly limited under laws prohibiting ‘blasphemy’.

“In many of these countries, and others like Malaysia, citizens have to register as adherents of a small number officially-recognized religions — which normally include no more than Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.”

“Speaking of blasphemy,” Hermant Mehta writes, “the report includes a section on the sharp rise of blasphemy charges on social media …” :

“The trend of prosecuting ‘blasphemies’ shared through social media is most marked in Muslim-majority countries. For example, in addition to the tragic, but all too familiar, wave of blasphemy prosecutions in Pakistan, this year saw prosecutions for allegedly atheist comments on Facebook and Twitter in Bangladesh, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. In some of these cases, the governments even threatened to prosecute those who commented on, or ‘liked’, or re-tweeted, the offending comments. In May, the Pakistan government went so far as to block all access to Twitter in the country because of objections to ‘blasphemous’ content’. …

When 21st century technology collides with medieval blasphemy laws, it seems to be atheists who are getting hurt, as more of them go to prison for sharing their personal beliefs via social media… Across the world the reactionary impulse to punish new ideas, or in some cases the merest expression of disbelief, recurs again and again. We even have a case in Tunisia of a journalist arrested for daring to criticize a proposed blasphemy law!”

Max Fisher at the Washington Post provides this map of the countries where atheists are executed, imprisoned or discriminated against by law.

In his comments, Max Fisher points out that –

Restrictions against “religious incitement” …  are common in much of the world, including in atheist-friendly Western Europe.

Such laws are applied in many European countries to the critical examination of Islam. And if the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) – which includes a delegate or “special envoy” from the US, Obama appointee Rashad Hussain – has its way, criticism of Islam will be a punishable offense all over this Islam-diseased world. The Obama administration supported a UN resolution against “defamation of religion” in December 2011.

Freedom v Collectivism 2

To collectivists (progressives, socialists, statists, call them what you will) –

No man is an island. Every man is a traffic jam.

That perceptive summary comes from an article by Daniel Greenfield, from which we now happily quote more. Do yourself a favor and read it in full here.

The gun control debate, like all debates with the left, is reducible to the question of whether we are individuals who make our own decisions or a great squishy social mass that helplessly responds to stimuli. Do people kill with guns or does the availability of guns kill people? Do bad eating habits kill people or does the availability of junk food kill people?

To the left these are distinctions without a difference. If a thing is available then it is the cause of the problem. The individual cannot be held accountable for shooting someone if there are guns for sale. Individuals have no role to play because they are not moral actors, only members of a mob responding to stimuli. …

The clash that will define the future of America is this collision between the individual and the state, between disorganized freedom and organized compassion

The final failure of accountability for the left is a failure of moral organization, while for the right it is a failure of personal character. The right asks, “Why did you kill?” The left asks, “Who let him have a gun?”, “Who didn’t provide him with a job” and “Who neglected his self-esteem?” If you eat too much, it’s because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it’s because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem.

The defining American code is freedom. The defining liberal code is compassion. … On one side stands the individual with his rights and responsibilities. On the other side is the remorseless state machinery of supreme compassion. And there is no bridging this gap.

Liberal compassion is not the compassion of equals. It is a revolutionary pity that uses empathy as fuel for outrage. It is the sort of compassion practiced by people who like to be angry and who like to pretend that their anger makes them better people. It is the sort of compassion that eats like poison into the bones of a man or a society, even while swelling their egos with their own wonderfulness.

Compassion of this sort is outrage fuel. It is hatred toward people masquerading as love. And that hatred is a desire for power masquerading as outrage. Peel away the mask of compassion and all that is underneath is a terrible lust for power.

Freedom goes hand in hand with personal moral organization of the individual by the individual. Organized compassion, however, requires the moral organization of the society as a whole. A shooting is not a failure of the character of one man alone, or even his family and social circle; it is the total failure of our entire society and perhaps even the world, for not leveraging a sufficient level of moral organization that would have made such a crime impossible. No man is an island. Every man is a traffic jam.

Social accountability on this scale requires the nullification of the personhood and accountability of the individual, just as the moral organization that it mandates requires removing the freedom of choice of the individual, to assure a truly moral society. When compassion and morality are collective, then everyone and no one is moral and compassionate at the same time. And that is the society of the welfare state where compassion is administered by a salaried bureaucracy.

Choice is what makes us moral creatures and collective compassion leaves us less than human. …

This is the society that the left is creating; a place filled with as many social problems as there are people, where … freedom is the enemy of a system whose moral code derives from creating a perfect society by replacing the individual with the mass. It is a society where there is no accountability, only constant compulsion. It is a society where you are a social problem and there are highly paid experts working day and night to figure out how to solve you.

One of our constant themes is freedom versus collectivism. Obviously, we are on the side of freedom. We find it awkward, sometimes exasperating, that many (and in America most) of our fellow fighters for individual freedom are enslaved to one or another religious superstition: mostly Christianity, from which the sentimental, somewhat contemptuous, and inevitably hypocritical doctrine of love-and-compassion as a guiding principle of societal organization* – as also the leftist ideal of material equality** – derives. This makes it odd that the Christian Right in America is on the same side as we are in the political war. Odd that they don’t see the collectivist Left as their natural political home. But we soldier on with whatever allies present themselves, because individual freedom is the highest value, the condition of human existence that must be protected at any cost.

 

* See our post Tread on me: the making of Christian morality, December 22, 2011.

** eg. 2 Cor. 8:14: “But by an equality, [that] now at this time your abundance [may be a supply] for their want, that their abundance also may be [a supply] for your want: that there may be equality.”

The uses of poverty 2

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

– Benjamin Franklin.

It’s in the interest of the governing elite, the controllers, the socialists/progressives/liberals in power, to keep as many people as they can (outside of their own charmed circle), poor, illiterate, and dependent.

Has one liberal begun to understand this? At least the one we have in mind has seen that dependency is bad for the recipients of entitlements. If he were to see, and persuade his fellow liberals, that it is bad for the nation, America might be saved from the decline that sets in sooner or later on all welfare states.

These extracts are from an article by Nicholas D. Kristof at (excuse us) the New York Times:

This is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18. …

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I. (Supplemental Security Income), a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households.

About four decades ago, most of the children S.S.I. covered had severe physical handicaps or mental retardation that made it difficult for parents to hold jobs — about 1 percent of all poor children. But now 55 percent of the disabilities it covers are fuzzier intellectual disabilities short of mental retardation, where the diagnosis is less clear-cut. More than 1.2 million children across America — a full 8 percent of all low-income children — are now enrolled in S.S.I. as disabled, at an annual cost of more than $9 billion. 

That is a burden on taxpayers, of course, but it can be even worse for children whose families have a huge stake in their failing in school. Those kids may never recover: a 2009 study found that nearly two-thirds of these children make the transition at age 18 into S.S.I. for the adult disabled. They may never hold a job in their entire lives and are condemned to a life of poverty on the dole — and that’s the outcome of a program intended to fight poverty. 

THERE’S no doubt that some families with seriously disabled children receive a lifeline from S.S.I. But the bottom line is that we shouldn’t try to fight poverty with a program that sometimes perpetuates it.

I’m no expert on domestic poverty. But for me, a tentative lesson from the field is that while we need safety nets, the focus should be instead on creating opportunity — and, still more difficult, on creating an environment that leads people to seize opportunities.

Such as used to exist; when the United States was founded, and until well into the last century.

I don’t want to suggest that America’s antipoverty programs are a total failure. On the contrary, they are making a significant difference. Nearly all homes here in the Appalachian hill country now have electricity and running water, and people aren’t starving. …

Of American families living in poverty today, 8 out of 10 have air-conditioning, and a majority have a washing machine and dryer. Nearly all have microwave ovens. …

What the state is not giving them, writes Nicholas Kristof, is HOPE.

Obama promised that too. Though for what, he has never disclosed.

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