Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/22/2008 (1:19 pm)

Why Climate Skepticism is Crucial

Imagine being accused of a mass murder that won’t come to pass until 50 years hence, rendering it impossible to clear one’s name.

The movie Minority Report posits a future in which precognitive teenagers are used to identify murders before they take place, and on the basis of their precognition, potential murderers are captured, sentenced, and cryogenically frozen before they’ve committed the crime, thus saving the life of the victim. The film explores the potential injustice of such a system, among other things.

Now imagine the futuristic scenario applied to our own culture, only instead of predicting murders about to occur, the system predicts murders to occur in the distant future, 50, 100, 200 years away — and demands we take action now, not only to prevent the murders, but to punish the perpetrators and dissenters.

Welcome to the world of human-caused climate change.

My blog is partisan, and so am I, but I work hard at being a fair-minded and scientifically grounded partisan. I have a point of view, but I attempt to allow facts to inform and modify that point of view. I make serious and sincere attempts to understand my opponents’ points of view, to represent them fairly, and to answer them, not with cheap polemics, but with substance. A point of view that cannot be defended honestly with substance is a point of view that does not deserve defending at all.

With that in mind, I want to posit that the climate change debate only masquerades as a scientific debate. There is a scientific debate about climate change, and scientists should continue that debate, but what our culture is facing is not the result of that debate. On the contrary, in the culture at large the debate has been stifled, distorted, and co-opted by political partisans in an attempt to obtain political power. We’re facing a political take-down, and need to address it as such.

I was reading one of my favorite science blogs, Anthony Watts’ “Watts Up With That,” when I happened across the excellent scientific critique of Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth written by one of Watts’ readers, Bob Edelman. It had somewhat more detail than most critiques I’ve read, seemed fair-minded, and was followed by a lengthy and helpful discussion among his readers.

Included in that discussion was this outstanding explanation of why we can’t treat the subject merely as a scientific issue, produced by a commenter calling himself Wes George. I’ve reproduced his lengthy comment below, expanding his use of the acronym “AIT” to the full title An Inconvenient Truth. “AGW” stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming, global warming caused by man. His comments about “Demonweed” refer to a series of comments produced by a reader calling himself that, an astonishing series of insults, politicizing, accusations, all posturing Demonweed as the only non-partisan, scientifically literate person in the discussion when it was obvious that the converse was true — he was a partisan surrounded by his scientific elders and betters. Wes George’s comments about “Mann” and “Hansen” refer to scientist Dr. Michael Mann, who produced the infamous “Hockey Stick” history of global temperatures, and to NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, famous for his vigorous advocacy of human-caused climate change. George’s previous comment that he refers to by saying “I’ve already posted my analysis of what could happen politically…” I reproduce below as well.

I’ll let Wes George take it from here:

Mr. Edelman’s critique of An Inconvenient Truth sticks to the science claims in the film. By demonstrating most of the film is less than undisputed scientific fact he has exposed An Inconvenient Truth as demagoguery.

Further parsing of the factoid details allows the real crimes of the film to slip by undocumented. By only debating … An Inconvenient Truth’s accuracy [Edelman] bestows a kind of legitimacy to the film, as if its purpose was to promote a free and healthy debate. In fact, An Inconvenient Truth is designed to shut down public debate and create an atmosphere in which skeptical dissent isn’t tolerated.

See Demonweed’s posts for a mild taste of how roughly rational skeptics are to be handled in an online discussion. Now imagine how one might fare on the floor of next year’s Democratic National Convention as an AGW skeptic.

Machiavellian politics, vengeance, mythology, intrigue, faith, mendacity, fear, violence–a whole range of human follies more commonly invoked in discussions about Shakespeare’s work are at the core of An Inconvenient Truth, the science part of the film is in the genre. It emulates a documentary. Facts are to An Inconvenient Truth what spice is to gruel.

Indeed, human passions and politics are what this discussion should be about, because that is what Gore’s film has brought to the table. While we’re at it, Hansen’s voluminous screeds and Mann’s remarkable hockey stick graph should be included in any discussion about the sociopolitical struggles of AGW science and myth.

Demonweed wants to keep the discussion at the tit for tat techno-slur level as a diversion from a deep analysis of Al Gore’s political motives, allies and techniques. He doesn’t want us to delve into the bigger picture of why a major American political actor made a strongly partisan film that takes ownership of the AGW moral high ground for one side of politics strategically against the other.

I’m from Australia. The message received here by the average An Inconvenient Truth viewer was that big American corporations enabled by their party hacks in Washington are guilty of a future global holocaust. Imagine being accused of a mass murder that won’t come to pass until 50 years hence, rendering it impossible to clear one’s name. More like a Hollywood sci-fi plot than fair-game politics in a democracy. In fact, it’s both. The one thing it is not is science.

Hansen, Mann and Gore have all predicted a modern apocalypse even though the facts for such a precipitous prediction are in deep dispute. They make no effort to hide their partisan leanings, their prophecies of doom come appended with accusations and blame.

They should be exposed and held to account. And this is one of the few places on the planet to expose them. The document trail starts here. The accounting will come much later.

It’s a mistake to play Demonweed’s make-believe that we are in a scientific debate of the facts, sprinkled with a few slurs. This is blood and guts politics, folks.

I’ve already posted my analysis of what could happen politically across the Western democracies. I would only add that while one side of the political spectrum has found a compelling and holistic new mythology to unite and rejuvenate itself, the other side has simply no idea of the fall from grace that awaits them like a bridge out ahead.

Al is a latecomer to the AGW debate, but what a clever idea to politicize the weather! Al Gore discovered Love Canal and invented the Internet; now he has appropriated the AGW apocalypse myth as his own. This time he seems to have gotten away with the theft. If every hail storm, every oil tanker beached by high seas, every collapsed bridge or tornado could be pinned to a political opponent…

Every storm, every drought, every cold or warm front is an opportunity to say the magic words on the evening news–climate change. Everyone talks about the weather and like pop music, everyone has expertise. Everyone thinks they know the weather trends in their area and to them that’s climate change. Now everyone has someone to blame the next time the SUV gets hail damage and it won’t be Mother Nature. Weather is local. So is politics.

Don’t like this year’s weather? Vote now to change the Earth’s climate. Legislation will be introduced to outlaw the rising waves of the oceans.

And the oceans will be calmed.

“And the oceans will be calmed.” I believe Barack Obama actually said this in one of his campaign speeches: “This is the moment when the planet starts healing!”

Wes George’s previous comment went like this, in part (with a minor spelling error corrected):

The political Left, after having their theories of economics and socio-political organization so thoroughly discredited over the course of the last century, is now clutching the theory of AGW as the last great hope to halt the zeitgeist of global capitalism. Finally, the chance for that long hoped for socialist victory of the proletariat over their capitalist masters is nigh. Never mind that the paradigm of class warfare is so outdated as to be meaningless, nostalgia is a foundation of all extremism, left or right.

What a great boon for the unreconstructed Left: Hansen, Mann, et al have confirmed the Left’s deepest held beliefs. Capitalism is destroying the planet! The consensus rules! Damn the statistical details, the ends justify the mean. Scientific Method must be modified to meet political objectives since they have a bloody planet to save! Can there be any moral high ground higher than Saving The Planet From Capitalist Destruction? Forget the peer reviews and reproducible results; there is so little time left!

What we need is a zero-growth economy and we need it now. Of course, such an economy will have to be centrally controlled by a bureaucracy of right-thinking technocrats. And, of course, democracy as we know it today, will have to be curbed since it gives too much freedom to wrong-thinking people who would use their freedom in ways not conducive to Saving The Planet. Ultimately, a strong dictatorship, only for the immediate transition, you see, would be the most efficient way to confront AGW. Someone like a latter day Stalin, Mao or even an Ataturk would do. A Christ to drive the moneychangers from the temple. A Five Year Plan with mandatory targets.

If the above seems unimaginably goofy, then take a look at the newspapers of 1907 and recall how unimaginably silly the subsequent history of the 20 th century would appear to the pundits of the day.

Fight this like it’s a political battle, not like it’s a scientific one.

06/16/2008 (5:45 pm)

Radical Obama: the Middle Years

Back in February, I posted a collection of observations about Barack Obama’s upbringing that established a radical influence at every major stage of his early life, right up through his early work as a community organizer with the Gamaliel Foundation. However, my observation at the time was that the radical connections went silent about that point.

A handful of articles that appeared over the last few weeks helped me fill in the gap between his earlier organizing activity and his current position as Senator from Illinois, and I’m presenting them here for your consideration.

The first was a discussion by Stanley Kurtz at the National Review that explained Obama’s early association with ACORN, the radical voter organizing group. Obama has been associated with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — ACORN — since the early 1990s, teaches their leadership training seminar every year on the subject of power, and began his legislative career in the Illinois State House by introducing measures that coincide with ACORN’s core issues, which are a high, state minimum wage (which they call “living wage”), expansion of the welfare rolls, and banking oversight to ensure favorable loans for poor neighborhoods. For this reason, it’s not surprising that Obama staffed his first campaign primarily from ACORN volunteers. Kurtz goes so far as to identify Obama in his early State House career as the “Senator from ACORN.”

A representative of ACORN, Toni Foulks, explains how the relationship got started in her article in the progressive journal, Social Policy:

…ACORN noticed him when he was organizing on the far south side of the city with the Developing Communities Project. He was a very good organizer. When he returned from law school, we asked him to help us with a lawsuit to challenge the state of Illinois’ refusal to abide by the National Voting Rights Act, also known as motor voter… Obama took the case, known as ACORN vs. Edgar (the name of the Republican governor at the time) and we won. Obama then went on to run a voter registration project with Project VOTE in 1992 that made it possible for Carol Moseley Braun to win the Senate that year. Project VOTE delivered 50,000 newly registered voters in that campaign (ACORN delivered about 5000 of them).

Since then, we have invited Obama to our leadership training sessions to run the session on power every year, and, as a result, many of our newly developing leaders got to know him before he ever ran for office. Thus, it was natural for many of us to be active volunteers in his first campaign for State Senate and then his failed bid for U.S. Congress in 1996. By the time he ran for U.S. Senate, we were old friends.

ACORN goes to great lengths to mask how radical an organization they are, because they receive federal funds for their “non-partisan” voter registration function. However, their own literature marks them as neo-Marxists, attempting to institute progressive social policies by any means necessary, including demonstrations and threats. They had their start in the 1960s as the National Welfare Rights Organization, a hard-left attempt to destroy capitalism and usher in socialism by increasing the size of the welfare rolls to unmanageable proportions. The organization succeeded in expanding welfare dramatically, but the result was only the enslavement of a larger number of people to the government dole and the destruction of the work ethic in large stretches of the black community. Having failed to produce revolution, the organization reformulated itself in its current form and set out to produce radical change by working inside the system, applying a systematic approach to their aims. Sol Stern, in a landmark article in the quarterly publication City Journal in 2003, explains ACORN’s roots and strategy at length. Says Stern:

ACORN’s bedrock assumption remains the ultra-Left’s familiar anti-capitalist redistributionism. “We are the majority, forged from all the minorities,” reads the group’s “People’s Platform,” whose prose Orwell would have derided as pure commissar-speak. “We will continue our fight . . . until we have shared the wealth, until we have won our freedom . . . . We have nothing to show for the work of our hand, the tax of our labor”—claptrap that not only falsifies the relative comfort of the poor in America but that also is a classic example of chutzpah, given ACORN’s origins in a movement that undermined the work ethic of the poor. But never mind—ACORN claims that it “stands virtually alone in its dedication to organizing the poor and powerless.” It organizes them to push for ever more government control of the economy…

…and, of course, nothing in ACORN’s strategy even acknowledges, let alone addresses, the matters of individual responsibility that are the almost universal cause of poverty in America, such things as teenage pregnancy and crime. They focus instead on corporate irresponsibility, as they’re certain that all poverty is the result of oppression by capitalists.

Michelle Malkin has noted the number of times ACORN has been identified with voter fraud schemes, and how they manage to get their intensely partisan efforts funded as “non-partisan” voter drives. This is the organization Barack Obama defended in court, helped train, worked among, and called on to staff his first campaign.

A second article was an essay at Right Wing Nuthouse regarding Obama’s connection to the New Party, a Marxist coalition founded in 1992 to elect hard-left candidates by selecting candidates already on the ballot (usually Democrats) and running them as their own, third-party candidate. They would then add together the ballots from both parties — a tactic called “fusion” and legal in several states until around 1997. The New Party, which identified itself as an attempt to drag the Democratic party as far to the left as possible (a reaction to what they considered the too-centrist policies of President Clinton), had a committee approve a potential candidate’s platform and required candidates to sign a contract to maintain their association with the New Party. Obama apparently sought out the New Party as a tactic to obtain his State House seat in 1996, had his agenda approved by their committee, and signed their contract. Erick at Red State explained the New Party, its tactics, and its association with Obama at great length, after Publius, also at Red State, connected Obama to the New Party in an earlier post.

Erick and Kurtz go to great lengths to observe that these associations do not prove that Obama is, himself, a radical. I disagree with them wholeheartedly. Given the fact of his His radical upbringing, radical campus politics, and radical community organizing, his association with ACORN, the New Party, and other elements of the New Left clearly mark him as a radical with politics that satisfy those groups. These are as far left as organizations get in the United States, and Obama has his roots among them. His associations with the Reverend Wright. Father Phleger, and Trinity United Church of Christ, with radicals Ayers, Dohrn, and Khalidi, his wife’s association with radical points of view about race and American exceptionalism, and the near-universal favor all international radical organizations show toward Obama, make sense in the light of his unbroken connection with radicals from the moment he was born until he was nominated for the Senate.

Barack Obama is a hard leftist. I’m convinced. An Obama candidacy and presidency will be limited by what he can accomplish politically, and that means he will not be able to establish full socialism. However, I’m fairly well convinced that that’s what he’d establish if he did not have those limits. The American public should know that they’re being asked to elect the American equivalent of Hugo Chavez to occupy the White House.

06/11/2008 (10:48 am)

Canada Rewards Gay Rights Fascism

That’s a provocative title, I know, but I’m afraid it’s accurate.

The Volokh Conspiracy, my favorite legal geeks, reported this morning on an Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission ruling in Lund v Boissoin that a Christian ministry organization, Concerned Christian Coalition, must refrain from saying anything at all derogatory about gays. They were also restrained from saying derogatory things about the plaintiff, were ordered to purge all offensive material from their web site, apologize in writing, post the decision in their newsletter, and pay a stiff fine.

From the decision:

That Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further, they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about Dr. Lund or Dr. Lund’s witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further, all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current web sites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.

The decision prohibits disparaging speech. Not false speech, not damaging speech: disparaging speech. Presumably, this includes comments like “homosexuality is sin.” This is a disturbingly broad interpretation of a Canadian statute that was already pretty disturbing. Professor Volokh points out that the Canadian Supreme Court had upheld the statute in question because its applicability was very narrow, and not likely to be used in the way the Alberta Commission is using it here:

[T]he phrase ‘hatred or contempt’, are sufficiently precise and narrow to limit its impact to those expressive activities which are repugnant to Parliament’s objective. The phrase ‘hatred or contempt’ in the context of s. 13(1) refers only to unusually strong and deep‑felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification and, as long as human rights tribunals continue to be well aware of the purpose of s. 13(1) and pay heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in that phrase, there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section.

It seems that the Canadian Supreme Court was wrong, and that yet another Slippery Slope argument against social progressivism has been vindicated.

This comes on the heels of another disturbing scene in Canada, the Kangaroo Court prosecution of columnist Mark Steyn for his accurate reporting about radical Islam. Rich Lowery writes about it in yesterday’s New York Post, and Sister Toldjah has a decent collection of links to background material. Pajamas Media also has a pretty good spread about Steyn’s “trial” today. Social progressives are bringing free speech to an end in Canada, and they will continue to attempt to do the same here in the US.

Even more frightening to me as a layman than the clear free speech restrictions, is the portion of the decision announcing that this is not a criminal case, and the goal of the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission is not punishment, per se, but rather an attempt…

“…to ameliorate the effects of the discrimination insofar as is possible and to denunciate the actions which were the subject of the complaint with a view to educate and hopefully prevent actions of this nature in future.” (Decision, section 9)

They then proceeded to publicly humiliate Mr. Boissoin, requiring him to publish their decision in his newspaper and to publicly apologize to Lund, and to fine him $5,000 and make him pay $2,000 of expenses for one of the witnesses.

Some attorney with more detailed knowledge of jurisprudence and the Canadian system should correct me here, but it seems to me that the Human Rights Commission has carved out for itself a parental function somewhere between torts and criminal law. This is not a tort, so the plaintiff does not have to demonstrate actual harm. This is not a crime, so the defendant does not have any specific rights. No… this is “an attempt to educate.” With a stiff fine.

I would have assumed that I don’t understand Canadian law and left it alone, except we’ve seen something similar here in the States regarding parental rights. State-run Child Protective Services organizations all over the country are ruling regarding the rights of parents to even see their children, let alone raise them as they see fit, in a para-court setting in which parents have no specific rights.

Is Canada doing the same here? and if so, are we all entering a Soviet-Union-like era of state-endorsed “medical care” in which enemies of the state get treated for mental illness, pumped full of psychotropic drugs, and kept in state hospitals as drug-numbed zombies? I ask, because when the Court says “This isn’t a crime, and we’re not punishing,” but then proscribes behavior as though it were a crime and punishes it as though it were a crime, that’s the slippery slope onto which I see us strolling.

Stephen Boissoin’s letter to the editor that prompted Lund’s complaint to Alberta’s Human Rights Commission can be found here. It’s rabid. It’s agitated. However, it’s free of any call to violence, and it’s clearly aimed at political advocacy and action. In America, it would be protected speech — so far. Canada apparently does not have a Free Speech protection in its Constitution.

Take a lesson, folks. “Hate speech” legislation leads to restrictions on free speech, no matter how loudly its proponents say it will not.

05/15/2008 (7:27 am)

Capitalism for Dummies

The author of Future News Blog, who calls him- or herself merely “fnb,” left a comment on my article about Obama and the Jews with a link to this excellent bit of dancing on Saul Alinsky’s grave. The satire actually had me going for a while, until I realized they weren’t talking about an actual book, but lampooning him with an article from the future. Very clever stuff.

For those of you not familiar, Saul Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals back in 1971, a cookbook of vicious guerrilla tactics for undermining legitimate business and government. Most radicals from the 60s and 70s, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, studied his suggestions. The strategy of leftists to use the good will of America as a weapon against itself was spelled out among his tactics. It’s hardly surprising, given that, that Alinsky pays tribute to the character he terms “the first radical”:

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.

…and they’ve been emulating him ever since. They even produce similar kingdoms whenever they win. See my comments from yesterday about the change we deserve.

From fnb’s fantasy:

In reality, Saul Alinsky hated socialism with a passion but believed it was easily sold to easily transfixed ne’er-do-wells who loved feeling better about themselves by feeling superior to others. Alinsky refers to Radical Socialism in his book as “Capitalism for Dummies” (a phrase way ahead of its time) with the following scolding:

“If you want to be miserable in life, become a radical socialist. A socialist isn’t much different from a capitalist, they’re both obsessed with money, but the capitalist learns to earn it while the socialist fights to extort it. The new socialist revolution is really just capitalism for dummies: they don’t have to know how to make business work, they just have to usurp power over it and then blame it on the executives when the business inevitably fails; they take other peoples’ money and become worshiped for spending it; they raise taxes on the wealthy by calling them names and never thank them for their already great contributions, and they won’t cut a tax in fear of never getting it back, considering it money lost.”

Enjoy.

04/25/2008 (9:41 am)

Terrorists and the Democratic Primaries

See-Dubya at michellemalkin.com produced this handy guide to Democratic candidates and their favorite terrorists:

I watched Sean Hannity’s incessant repetition of “I wouldn’t even shake hands with that man,” (speaking of former Weatherman Bill Ayers) and had to turn him off. Hannity doesn’t think deeply, and only sort of intuitively understands the reason Obama’s association with former Weathermen has any significance. It’s not that he’s been on panels with the guy; that doesn’t mean all that much. It’s that Obama has spent his life immersed in politics like those Ayers voices, so Ayers’ politics don’t strike him as anything remarkable. “He uses violence to achieve political ends? Why, yes, my mother and several of my mentors told me that might work sometimes, but I prefer an insider approach. What of it?” Ed Morrissey observes what would happen to a Republican with similar ties. (He doesn’t go far enough; note what’s happening to McCain just because he let an Evangelical pastor endorse him. Pathetic.)

Meanwhile, thanks to a press corps recently rescued from Clinton Catatonia by their new obsession with Rock Star Obama, Madame Clinton faces tough questions from Newsday about her own support for pardons to known, dangerous terrorists, lest she get away with pointing out this latest in an endless parade of chinks in Obama’s Messianic Armor. Read Newsday’s story with this in mind: where was this sort of analysis back when the Clintons occupied the White House? Recall the Clintons laughably claiming “bureaucratic snafu” to avoid inquiry into dozens of scandals, and invoking vast, right-wing conspiracies to destroy the President. Recall the press dutifully chanting their excuses like glazed-eyed cultists. If the press had been doing its job during the 1990s, we wouldn’t be threatened by another possible Clinton presidency now, and the Clintons might be in jail where they belong. Michelle Malkin snorts appropriately about Hillary’s characteristic attempt to lie her way out of a clear contridiction: “I didn’t know anything…” Sure you didn’t, Hillary. Of course you didn’t.

There are still Democrats in America, but the core of the party whose primaries we’re watching these days is actually more Marxist-Socialist than it is Democratic. Their apparent comfort with the violence of radical activists illustrates the point. It’s worth understanding in the current political climate. The liberals of an earlier era would never have accepted these candidates. (For that matter, the liberals of an earlier era are all called “conservatives” today. There are very few old-fashioned conservatives left — I don’t think we should pay them much attention — and the core of the left is now occupied by socialists and neo-Marxists.)

Malkin also has a pretty good collection of discussions regarding Obama’s Weather Underground connection, if you want some more detail.

This is not a non-issue, and it will not go away, nor should it.

04/14/2008 (9:56 am)

Rich White Snots for Obama

I’ve been laying off Barack Obama because I’ve pretty much decided that I know who he is, and don’t need to flog a dead horse, even if he’s riding one to the White House. However, Friday’s speech in which he slipped up and displayed his contempt for middle America has pried me back out of the closet.

In case you missed any of the furor over Obama’s gaffe last Friday, cruise over to Lou Minatti’s blog for a fascinating photo essay on Obama in his own words, beginning with this lively headline to the right.

We’ve seen this sort of contempt exposed in public before. Recall the string of sting operations staged by TV news journals to expose the supposed bigotry of middle America at NASCAR events and convenience stores. Or recall John Kerry’s woefully inaccurate observation about how a failed education can get you stuck in Iraq. Or Bill Clinton claiming that the government must keep its surpluses because the people “won’t spend it right.”

As a young liberal in high school and college, I held plenty of all-night gab fests with friends solving the problems of the world, and I continued to engage them as I was going through my religious and intellectual transformation. It was only in retrospect, late in the transformation, that I spotted the core belief that eventually came up in every discussion. It went like this:

“The average person in the street has not the faintest idea how to run his life…”

Because I’d said similar things, and because I knew the context of this statement, I also knew the unstated final clause to the sentence: “…but I do.”

The central belief of American liberalism, then and now, is that the liberal knows so much better than the average person what that person needs to do to make his or her life meaningful and safe for the planet that liberals must be given the means to control those men and women, and to instruct their children to reject their parents’ backwards, unthinking, religious instruction. The core of liberalism is hubris. It’s not an occasional flaw in the character of most liberals; it’s the core of their religion.

I should not have to point out how completely contrary this notion is to the spirit of the American Republic, in which every citizen is free to live according to his or her own conscience. The core belief of the religion that produced our nation’s Constitution was that every man, woman, and child owes his or her conscience to God alone. Ultimately, the foundation stone of American liberty is the Priesthood of the Believer.

One need not necessarily be a Christian to agree with the principles embodied in the Constitution, although frankly, it helps. However, I think it’s clear that one cannot believe “the average person needs someone like ME to tell them how to live” and still uphold universal suffrage and individual rights as guiding ideals. They may think of those as nice ideas, but will sacrifice them every time for their real, core issues. By virtue of the things most leading Democrats believe in their guts, Democrats will always, always favor tyranny over liberty.

Obama’s comment comes as a result of a curious dichotomy in his public persona. Obama’s public persona is carefully crafted to hide his true beliefs, as we’ve seen throughout this campaign. What he believes appears to be as close to hard-left ideology as one gets in America. However, his rhetorical power as a speaker comes from the sense he gives the audience that he’s speaking from the heart. That’s difficult to put on; he probably accomplishes it by speaking about things he really does believe, which would explain why his effort to hide his beliefs would require that his speeches remain unspecific. This means that in every speech, he’s taking the risk that his genuineness might expose something most people can’t swallow. Every now and then, he screws up. That’s what happened this Friday.

I wish there were a way to get this message across to the rank-and-file of the Democratic party, the average Democrat in the street who swallows and echoes the sound bites fed to them by their cynical leadership: “They don’t believe a word they’re saying to you, and they’re laughing at you for believing it.”

A hat tip to The Anchoress for pointing me to Lou Minatti’s photo essay, and for some thoughtful exposition on the topic herself. Also, pay attention to Ed Morrissey as he draws attention to how the press will try to divert attention from the core of arrogance, which at some level they have to know is their true Achilles’ heel.

Snob poster from Obi’s Sister, who took it from My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, who got it from Michelle Malkin, who got it from a reader of hers called “Tennyson.” The word “incestuous” comes unfortunately to mind.


Update: Amused Cynic has a very funny collection of reactions to Obama’s comments entitled “Nothing makes an angry liberal angrier than being laughed at,” including a spoof on NPR human interest stories and a mock news story involving Hillary Clinton emptying 300 rounds into a human-shaped target. Snort-worthy for the bitterest small-town white…

03/25/2008 (3:39 pm)

Tibet and Palestine

Dennis Prager today makes a fascinating comparison between the plight of the beleaguered Tibetans and that of the Palestinians, and poses the excellent question: why do the Palestinians get so much more attention?

Prager’s answers are sound — he mentions terror, oil, Israel, China, leftism, the UN, and the news media — but I think he’s spreading the guilt farther than it needs to go. His thoughts about China, leftism, the UN, and the news all rest on the same, insidious bias: world Marxism, which has an inordinate influence on American thought and discussion.

Paul Weyrich noted back in 2006 that the Soviet Union spent millions planting agents within the US news and entertainment industries, and that they’re still there despite the fall of the Soviet Union. The simple fact is that defending Tibet requires criticizing China, which is a Marxist state, whereas defending Palestinians requires criticizing Israel, which is a free republic and a capitalist state. There’s enough of a Marxist influence in American thinking, and in American news media, to deliberately divert attention away from Marxist states and toward any capitalist state.

The unfortunate tendency to engage in what looks like “hate America first” rhetoric is not actually due to hatred of America, per se — it’s a hatred of capitalism. Listen carefully to the people who speak this way, and you’ll notice that they’re particularly harsh with corporate America and anything influenced by profit motive; the original Marxist notions of “bourgeoisie” and “ruling class” have morphed into the modern, neo-Marxist notions of “evil corporations” and “the wealthy.” The people who speak this way would be happy to be American, and would support American policy, if America were ruled by leaders in a manner that cooperated with world Marxism, that renounced free capitalism and enforced the Utopian vision of radical egalitarianism by way of socialist control.

Read Prager’s assessment and see what you think. Note, especially, how dire is the predicament of the Tibetans, and how we’ve ignored them. And then apply Prager’s assessment, and mine, to the American press’ selection of world issues on which to focus, and note the pattern of what’s a crisis in their eyes, and what does not deserve attention.

03/22/2008 (12:45 pm)

Politicking Tibet's Misery: A Reflection on Moral Authority

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi continued a fairly disgusting practice Friday of playing politics with the misery of others as she met with the Dalai Lama in Tibet to denounce China’s actions. The nugget that the press has been repeating is this:

If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world.

Dryly, I note that if Speaker Pelosi has a coherent notion of what constitutes moral authority or whence it comes, she’s hidden it very well among her many partisan cheap shots and patronage jobs. That the above is one of those, a cheap shot at President Bush, gets amplified by the thoroughly disingenuous (but hardly unexpected) headline on the New York Times story, “Bush Silent, But Others Speak Out on Tibet.” The truth is that the Bush administration has long since made appropriate public statements condemning the crackdown and calling for an end to the violence, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has contacted her Chinese counterpart to urge restraint.

The further truth is that no fundamental relationships in world politics are going to change as a result of these troubles in Tibet, more’s the pity.

At the root of the current unrest is a dispute over governance of Tibet. The People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1951 under the guise of liberating Tibetan serfs from domination by Tibetan nobles, claiming Tibet as an historical region of China and redistributing the land according to Communist Chinese doctrine. Tibet rebelled in 1956, but the Chinese military crushed the rebellion by 1959. Tibetans claim that Communist Chinese interference in Tibet’s affairs have resulted in the deaths of more than a million Tibetans since 1951, and while the invasion and the Cultural Revolution certainly resulted in extensive killing, China disputes the number, and there is no good way to verify it.

The current wave of violence began as a commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the unsuccessful rebellion. The Christian Science Monitor has the best coverage I’ve found:

The unrest this week was triggered Monday by the arrest of monks who had marched from Drepung monastery in western Lhasa toward the Potala Palace, home of the exiled Dalai Llama, to commemorate the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule. By Tuesday, ordinary Tibetans had joined a street protest outside Sera monastery, demanding that the monks be released. Thursday, reports from Lhasa said Chinese troops were surrounding major monasteries, forcing the monks inside, and by Friday, the protests turned violent. [PBB notes: the article from which this was taken was published 3/15, so “Monday,” above, is actually March 10, nearly 2 weeks ago.]

Historically, Tibet has been a football tossed among the conquering rulers of the east, with parts of Tibet alternately belonging to Monguls, Russians, Ghurkas (from Nepal), Chinese, and Indians since the 16th century. Tibet has also practiced a sort of self-rule for part of that time, with Dalai Lamas acting as spiritual leader and more or less of a governmental spokesman for the Tibetan people. (The first Dalai Lama was appointed by Mongolian monarch in 1578; “dalai,” a Mongol word meaning “ocean,” was a translation of the Buddhist lama’s own Tibetan title.) British military attaches, of course, got their hands in the area during the 19th and early 20th centuries, forcing trade agreements with Tibet in order to keep Russian influences out of the region, and acknowledging Chinese suzerainty over Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in India since 1959, has objected to what he calls “cultural genocide,” meaning in effect that China is eradicating traditional Tibetan culture with its efforts at modernization. This sets up an ironic juxtaposition: China is practicing an old-world tradition of imperialistic expansion, and using it to enforce new-world cultural changes. Meanwhile, Tibet is objecting in new-world human rights terms, claiming a right to independence in order to protect its old-world ways.

So — moral authority, anyone?

First, let’s note that the current unrest is not going to result in an independent Tibet. China has shown its willingness to enforce the public order with violence, and they’ve got the manpower to do it effectively. Western journalists can’t even get into the region to report the story first-hand; they’re being prevented by the Chinese military. Realpolitik demands that we acknowledge the fact of an occupied Tibet inside an economically robust but politically oppressive China. We’re not going to war to free Tibet, and neither is anybody else. Consequently, what Speaker Pelosi is calling for is an ineffective international gesture of disapproval, something that’s already pretty evident. Her goal was apparently nothing more tangible than another public claim of superior Democratic moral authority, for the consumption of the American newspaper-reading public.

Next, let’s note that what’s occurring is largely ethnic violence. Tibetan rioters are attacking Han Chinese citizens and shops. We’re not watching an organized, armed rebellion against Chinese authority. Rather, we’re watching an angry mob objecting to all things Chinese. However much we would like to support Tibetan freedom, ethnic mob violence is an ugly thing that we need to denounce.

There’s the complicating factor of the summer Olympics scheduled in Beijing for September 2008. Democrats may want to encourage a replay of the US boycott of the 1980 winter Olympics in Moscow, which President Carter announced as an objection to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Pretty much the only people who were hurt by the boycott were western athletes; it was another ineffective gesture, whereas President Reagan’s support for the Afghani mujahaddin turned out to be more effective. President Bush has already said he regards the games as a sports event, not a political one, and intends for the US to participate in Beijing this summer. Expect Democratic posturing on the subject in September, as part of the Presidential election season.

If the US were going to take a moral stance against oppression in China, the time would have been the early 1970s, when President Nixon was negotiating trade relations with China. Prior to Nixon, the US recognized only Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, regarding Communist China as a rogue state. The US role in denouncing world Marxism and standing for the oppressed peoples was compromised by Nixon’s realpolitik, further compromised by Carter’s relinquishing the US’ control of the Panama Canal Zone to China, and essentially erased as a possibility by Clinton’s offer of Most Favored Nation trading status with China (not to mention whatever nefarious actions led to China’s nuclear ICBM capability). If the Democrats wanted to support oppressed peoples in opposition to Maoist China, they should have used the reins of power to do so when they held them.

Moral authority is problematic in the modern world. Vanderbilt philosophy professor Alisdair MacIntyre, in his insightful but arcanely-written analysis After Virtue (University of Notre Dame Press, Indiana, 1981) argues that since the Enlightenment, the West’s attempts to define a source of moral authority, even to define morality itself, have all failed, with the result that modern moral authority is pretty much a matter of emotion, and gets settled by who shames whom in the loudest voice. The language we use to express moral authority comes from an earlier era, but our culture no longer retains any of the meanings of the relevant terms — justice, fortitude, compassion, etc. For myself, I find moral authority in the Christian scriptures and in the character of God, but not in a form that I can apply easily to the acts of nations; what I know for certain applies pretty much to how I conduct myself, and how individuals should conduct themselves with respect to others, leaving the question of how this applies to nations more a matter of personal opinion.

I’m not inclined to take seriously Nancy Pelosi’s invocation of moral authority; at best, she’s expressing an emotion, not a declaration from a coherent moral philosophy, and she certainly does not speak for me. Still, I do stand against political oppression, and will add my support to whatever effective action might be taken to weaken the hold of imperialist, Maoist China on the free people of Tibet. That support, however, does not extend to ethnic hatred.

Map of Tibet from www.nepalhiking.com/images/tibet_map.gif. Photos from The Times of London, original sources noted.

03/21/2008 (8:43 am)

Racialist Marxism, and Flight From the Wright

My reaction to Barack Obama’s “flight from the Wright” speech provoked a fairly strong rebuke from a decent, Christian friend of mine, who did not understand why I would use a tiny, introductory remark as a key to associating Obama’s point of view with that of his long-time pastor. I explained in a comment on that post, but I want to reproduce the explanation here, because I think it’s important.

My objection to the Reverend Wright is not just “he’s a racist,” but that Wright and his church represent the racialist expression of Marxism. Pure Marxism sees history as wealthy capitalists stealing life and prosperity from the worker; racialist Marxism sees the wealthy capitalists as white slave-owners and the workers as poor blacks. Marxism in all its forms is an angry, overbearing system that turns a culture against its most productive citizens and thus destroys its own ability to function, while justifying horrible oppressions in the name of “justice.”

The problem with racialist Marxism is not that there’s never been such a thing as racism, nor that racism isn’t a bad thing. The problem is that it makes that particular fact the central issue. Like any heresy, there’s more danger in elevating a lesser truth to a central role than there is in telling outright falsehoods; it’s a lot easier to dispute a falsehood. The man whose rage over racism makes him see the entire world in racial terms is a dangerous, distorted man, capable of hugely destructive acts based on his rage over what might, in fact, be a very real part of his experience.

I offer an example from the world of radical feminism. There’s a particular, radical feminist I won’t name, who I can guess has been treated horribly by several very bad men, just by looking at her face; she’s troubled, self-destructive, and furious, and it’s plain in her words and her demeanor. The problem is, this particular woman now sees the entire world through the lens of her experience, and believes that all men are like the men who abused her, and therefore all men deserve her wrath. This doesn’t mean she’s wrong about every detail, nor that her experiences weren’t horrible; it does illustrate, though, how elevating a particular set of instances into a general rule can distort a person’s view of the entire world and everything in it.

Reverend Wright’s racialist Marxism appears to be just this sort of distortion. The question at hand is, does Obama’s Marxist upbringing jibe with Wright’s racialist Marxism in a way that suggests they’re expressing harmonious views? Keep in mind, here, that my main objection to Obama is that a large number of radical Marxist influences in his formation suggest that he’s fundamentally a closet Marxist, himself.

The beginning of Obama’s speech makes the very specific error of racialist Marxism, that of elevating racism to a central focus in the American experiment in self-government. I don’t think that this is a mere, passing reference to introduce the topic of racism. Obama’s speaking skills are prodigious, there’s nothing sloppy or haphazard about his speech preparation. He said it that way because he sees it that way.

Imagine Ronald Reagan making the same speech on Obama’s behalf; do you doubt that Reagan’s high regard for the remarkable innovation of American self-government would have come through loud and clear at the beginning? And then, around paragraph two, he might have continued “but there were flaws in the vision, and one of those flaws allowed the horror of human slavery to survive 80 years longer than it should have.” That’s how a traditional American view might have introduced the topic.

Obama simply posited that the innovation of the American Constitution was democracy (a misunderstanding on his part, democracy was not an innovation at all, and certainly not the crowning innovation of the US Constitution) and that it was stained by racism. And that’s the central error of Wright’s point of view — positing that the central fact of the American experience is racism, in a Marxian framework. So, while the rest of the speech sounds soothing in a way that it absolutely had to sound soothing (for which reason the content MUST be ignored, he literally could not have said anything else) his introduction tells us that off-line, while preparing for the speech and thinking about the issues, Barack Obama thinks about racial issues the way Wright does, right at the heart of the heresy. It’s not that he acknowledges that racism exists (it certainly does); it’s that he interprets American history in racialist terms.

And yes, I think the error made in seeing America through the lens of racialist Marxism includes pretending that slavery and Jim Crow racism is still THE driving force in American culture, when in fact those things are long in the past. So I’m not just taking cheap shots when I say “Have you noticed that what you’re complaining about vanished 150 years ago?” I’m addressing the central error of that point of view. And yes, I think that particular error deserves a great deal deeper ridicule than I’m giving it, because it’s just so incredibly wrong.

Obama’s speeches are unusually good. That doesn’t make him “presidential,” whatever the heck that means. A speech is a tool for public relations. He’s got a great grip on that particular tool. However, Obama never, ever does press conferences, because he’s bloody awful with that tool; he makes verbal gaffes that make him sound uninformed. Personally, I think the latter gives us a better read on the real Barack Obama than the former; I think he’s an ill-informed beginner who gives amazingly good speeches.

More to the point, though, Obama is a neo-Marxist who seems to hear echoes of his own beliefs in the racialist-Marxist rantings of a preacher whom he’s befriended. I don’t think we’re engaging in guilt-by-association when we infer from his recent speech that he’s of a mind with the Reverend Wright; I think the speech gave us the evidence we need that they’re on the same page.

02/27/2008 (11:30 am)

Barack Obama: Communist???

A Communist??? What is this, 1953? Are we the Un-American Activities Committee? First he was a Muslim, now he’s a Communist? I know, I know, but please, bear with me…

I just naturally tend toward extremes, so I deliberately temper myself when I see something that strikes me as alarming. Consequently, I didn’t say a word when Hot Air posted the picture from a Fox News broadcast that showed one of Barack Obama’s campaign offices with a Cuban flag on the wall, with a stenciled image of revolutionary murderer Che` Guevara on it. Remember this?

I just figured that office would be getting a call from the Mother Ship sometime soon. Not that Obama would be all that irritated by it, but I didn’t figure it meant much besides some hard lefties were working for Obama.

I also pretty much ignored it when Politico reported that Obama had sat down with 60s radicals Bernadine Dohrn and William Ayers in a local Chicago political meeting. Those are two very scary, unrepentant terrorists, but it was 1995, he met with them once, they actually had clout in the neighborhood (both teach at the University of Chicago now), and I figured there was not going to be any serious fallout to the Obama campaign. Yes, if it had been McCain and Rev. Bob Jones it would have been front-page news on the Times for 3 days at least, but the press flacks for the Democrats, we all know it, and that’s that.

Then, I noticed this addition from Hot Air. See-Dubya there received links from readers: one showing a conference in 2002, where Obama and Ayers spoke together as two members on a panel discussing “Intellectuals in a Time of Crisis,” the other showing Obama joining the Weatherman duo giving testimonials for Rashid Khalidi, an Israel-hating Columbia professor, in 2005. And Craig Kincaid at Accuracy In Media reports that Obama and Ayers both serve on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago.

Showing up on the same panels a few times doesn’t make Obama and the Weathermen friends or associates, though the Woods Fund contact suggests they’re at least acquaintances. Sitting on the same panels does, however, suggest that Obama thinks like those two on more than one issue, which is why their paths are crossing. (I suppose it’s not theoretically impossible that Obama was called to balance other views, but balance isn’t often among the stated values of gatherings that invite ex-Weathermen, so I regard this as unlikely.)

I detest two, contradictory things: sleaze attacks and dishonest politicians. They’re contradictory because you have to read and study sleaze attacks to find dishonest politicians. When I receive a report of some background dishonesty, I research it, and if it’s false (most of them are), I get angry and write nasty letters back to the source. I’ve rejected several baleful mailings about Obama’s past that were manifestly sleazy, not to mention provably false.

But in the light of the incidents above, I’m now paying closer attention to several articles I’ve run across, which appear to be both accurate and relevant:

Lisa Schiffren at National Review discusses the phenomenon of “red diaper babies” (that is, 60s children of Communist activists,) and the likelihood that Barack Obama is one of them. She does not make the case, she just describes the phenomenon: communist activists in the late 50s and early 60s choosing to marry cross-race as an attack on bourgeois society. It’s not implausible, as Barack’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a radical activist at the University of Hawaii, having been stimulated in high school by two teachers who were reputed to have been Communists (the students referred to the hallway between their rooms as “anarchist ally”), and by a Unitarian church that sported liberal theology. See these two snippets from Tim Jones of the Chicago Tribune (here and here), that dance around the question, calling Dunham a “free thinker” and the two teachers that influenced her “members on the staff that encouraged us to think about a lot of things.” This article from the same author fills in detail, pegging the teachers as radical for the times, although by modern standards they seem like run-of-the-mill leftists.

Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media describes an important mentor of Obama’s teenage years, who was a well-known Communist poet. Obama, in his book Dreams From My Father, writes about “a poet named Frank,” who visited them in Hawaii, read poetry, and was full of “hard-earned knowledge” and advice. Frank Marshall Davis, identified as a member of the CPUSA by the 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii, appears to have mentored young Barry from 1971 – 1979, when he left Hawaii for college. Davis’ biographer D. Kathryn Takara cites Davis’ “acute sense of race relations and class struggle throughout America and the world” and how he held forth on American imperialism, colonialism and exploitation. Professor Gerald Horne, contributing editor to the Marxist publication Political Affairs, muses about how future generations will note the significance of the relationship between Davis and Obama.

I’m particularly interested in Obama’s period of community activism in Chicago in the 1980s. His employer was the Gamaliel Foundation. Gamaliel, an activist organization strangely merging the teachings of Marxist strategist Saul Alinsky with those of the Apostle Paul, operates with that same sense of religious destiny that we’ve noticed in both Barack and Michelle Obama’s speeches. Alinsky counseled tapping anger as a motivator for radical change; Gamaliel’s Greg Golluzzo notes Obama’s energy in applying this tactic:

Barack was in the community… talking to the people, sensing their passion, their anger and he wanted to create an opportunity for them to express that anger and resolve the problem.”

Ryan Lizza in The New Republic, cites another of Obama’s mentors, radical organizer Mike Kruglic, admiring Obama’s skill at this sort of manipulation:

He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better.

Kincaid also discusses Obama’s ties with international Socialist organizations. While Obama is not a member of any of these, he accepts the backing of Democratic Socialists of America and backs initiatives championed by Socialist International. These contacts, along with those of the Party of European Socialists, lurk behind the Democratic party’s eagerness to make the United States “become good citizens of the world community.” Invariably this means for the US to cooperate with neo-Marxist initiatives as put forward in the UN. This explains Obama’s sponsoring of the Global Poverty Act, which, based on the UN’s Millennium Declaration, forces the US to commit .7% of its GNP toward foreign aid. (The US, alone among the world’s nations, may already come close to this through private charity, a phenomenon ignored by the UN’s radicals.) This will likely do for the world’s poor what Johnson’s War on Poverty did for the poor of the US — enslave them to the dole, enrich the bureaucrats who administer the programs, and waste an unimaginable amount of money, making the problem worse while driving taxation through the roof.

Where does this leave us? If all the facts cited here are accurate, here’s the complete picture:

Barack Obama was born of Communist activists, mentored by Communist writer and activist, spent his college days hanging around radical activists (this from Obama’s own book), worked as a radical community organizer learning the radical tactics of Alinsky, kept contact with radicals through the years, and today lends his political skill to the international goals of radical activists, and has radicals working on for his campaign. Oh, and he believes opposition to the aims of radical activists will fail because the radicals embody the will of God.

I’m beginning to wonder whether simply pointing to the National Journal’s assessment of Obama’s voting record as the most liberal in the US Senate is strong enough. It appears to me that Mr. Obama embodies the fondest dreams of radical socialist organizers over the years — that someday, a candidate with enough broad, personal appeal would rise to lead the United States away from its defense of individual liberty, and into whole-hearted support of World Socialism. It’s even plausible — not proved here, certainly, but plausible — that Obama has trained his entire life for this role, and that he’s literally a plant from within the world of radical Marxism to help achieve their goal of world domination by removing the opposition of Marxism’s only effective enemy — the libertarian instincts of the United States.

A fairly thorough but concise history of Obama’s political synthesis can be found here.


Update: A companion piece showing Obama’s radical connections from his community organizer days until his run for the Senate can be found here.

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