Some Cartoons for January, 2009
This site is dedicated to providing moderate-right opinions, and information and articles that counter some of the nonsense being inculcated in our young people by public schools and by many colleges and universities. It rejects multiculturalism, embraces the melting pot and celebrates the idea of America. *Vi er all Dansk nu.*
In the summer of 2006, after Iran’s surrogate, Hezbollah, had repeatedly rained missiles into Israel from Lebanon – and then killed and kidnapped some Israeli soldiers, the world condemned Israel for retaliating to stop the missile attacks and recover her soldiers. Now again, after continuous provocation by the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, who sneak into Israel to plant bombs and kill people and who also hurl missiles daily into Israel, Israel is again being condemned by the anti-Semites of the world for defending herself.
If a country on our border, like Mexico, were to launch missiles into the United States, we would respond with overwhelming force. I have never understood how the Israelis could accept these constant, deadly attacks without launching a response designed to drive every Palestinian in Gaza into the desert or into the sea. The restraint shown by Israel is incredible, but seems to gain them little or nothing from those who instinctively hate them. Why do they continue to show such restraint?
Possibly one reason for Israel’s restraint may be the responses by Egypt and Jordan this time. They have had enough of the death and destruction which define the Palestinians:
Egypt: Hizbullah declared war on us
Dec. 28, 2008 THE JERUSALEM POST (Excerpts)
“In a press conference held on Monday afternoon in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded to criticism by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday, saying that "They have practically declared war on Egypt via several satellite stations. The Egyptian people reject and opposes this declaration."
"They want for there to be chaos in Egypt as there is in their country," Gheit said of Hizbullah….
In his televised speech on Sunday, Nasrallah attacked Arab nations - particularly Egypt and Jordan - and accused them of cooperation with Israel in its offensive in the Gaza Strip.
"There are some who speak of Arab silence, but this is wrong. There is full Arab cooperation, especially by those who have signed so-called peace agreements with Israel," he said.
The Hizbullah leader called on Arabs everywhere to go out into the streets and demonstrate, in order to force their governments to stop the Israeli offensive.
Nasrallah reprimanded Egypt for casting the responsibility of the condition in Gaza on Hamas.
He attacked the Egyptian foreign minister who in a Saturday press conference said that Hamas, which had been repeatedly warned by Egypt, must bear responsibility for the current situation in Gaza.” Jerusalem Post
“No deaths and few injuries. "Deeply disturbing." Hamas lacks the technology to aim its rockets. They're taking potshots. In response, the Israeli government launched air strikes that have now killed more than 280 Palestinians, injured hundreds beyond that, and further radicalized thousands in the Occupied Territories and millions in the region. The response will not come today, of course. It will come in months, or even in years, when an angry orphan detonates a belt filled with shrapnel, killing himself and 25 Israelis. At which point the Israelis will launch air strikes killing another 70 Palestinians, radicalizing thousands more, leading to more bombings, and so the cycle continues….
There is nothing proportionate in this response. No way to fit it into a larger strategy that leads towards eventual peace. No way to fool ourselves into believing that it will reduce bloodshed and stop terrorist attacks. It is simple vengeance. There's a saying in the Jewish community: "Israel, right or wrong." But sometimes Israel is simply wrong.” American Prospect
I was surprised to see a major FoxNews report on the Rosenberg trial the other day. Every once in a while, the treasons committed by notorius leftists such as Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs are exhumed, and some present-day leftists try to cast doubt on their guilt. One of the witnesses, who himself was a spy for the Soviets, recently recanted his 55 year old testimony against the Rosenbergs; and their sons, who spent their lifetimes arguing the innocence of their parents, have gone in the other direction. We should always remember that all communists, socialists and modern liberals lie whenever it suits them in order to advance their cause of collectivism.
We should also remember that the deaths and imprisonments of millions of innocent people indirectly resulted from the treason of the Rosenbergs. Hopefully, with the declaration by their children, we can lay this to rest for all time. Of course, the actions of the New York Times in revealing secret intelligence gathering techniques to those who are trying to kill us are no better than the Rosenbergs, and the activities of many anti-war activists like Valerie Plame approach the line of actual treason.
Rosenberg sons acknowledge their father was a spy
September 17, 2008 WTOP.com
NEW YORK (AP) - After years of professing their parents' innocence, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are acknowledging that their father was a spy.
The about-face came after their father's co-defendant, Morton Sobell, admitted for the first time that he and Julius Rosenberg stole nonatomic military and industrial secrets for the Soviet Union.
The Rosenbergs were executed in 1953 for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Since then, decoded Soviet cables have appeared to confirm that Julius was a spy, but doubts have remained about Ethel's involvement.
The 91-year-old Sobell, who was convicted with the Rosenbergs on espionage charges in 1951 and released from prison in 1969, had maintained his innocence until last week, when he told The New York Times he turned over military secrets to the Soviets during World War II.
"I don't have any reason to doubt Morty," the Rosenbergs' son Michael Meeropol told the Times in Wednesday's editions.
Michael was 10 years old when his parents were executed. His brother, Robert, was 6. After living with a series of relatives, the boys were eventually adopted.
As adults, they sued the government for documents relating to their parents' case and worked to establish their innocence.
In separate interviews with the Times since Sobell's confession, the brothers said they concluded they could no longer claim their father was innocent of an espionage conspiracy. They still say, however, that any atomic bomb information he gave the Russians was at best superfluous, that the case against their parents was flawed and that neither deserved the death penalty.
Along with Sobell and others, both brothers still have doubts about the government's case against their mother.
Sobell told the Times last week he believes Ethel Rosenberg was aware of espionage by her husband but didn't actively participate. "What was she guilty of? Of being Julius' wife," he said.
Michael Meeropol, an economics professor at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., told the paper he and his brother had believed their parents were framed but also were willing to follow the facts wherever they led.
"We believed they were innocent and we tried to prove them innocent," he said. "But I remember saying to myself in late 1975, maybe a little later, that whatever happens, it doesn't change me. We really meant it, that the truth is more important than our political position."
Robert Meeropol, a lawyer who runs the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which advocates on behalf of young people whose parents have suffered because of their progressive politics, said he, too, was willing to admit that he and his brother were wrong.
"I had considered that a real possibility for some time," Robert Meeropol said, "and this tips the balance."
The brothers were asked whether they felt betrayed by their parents, who had proclaimed their innocence until the very end.
"I don't feel that way," Robert told the paper. "I can understand that they didn't do the thing they were being killed for. The grand jury testimony taught me more about my parents' social circle. It's a description of a whole bunch of 20-somethings, people who came out of the Depression, not only survived but went to the top of their class and they thought they could change the world. They were going to do what they could to make their mark. Until it all came crashing down."
Labels: Liberals and Conservatives
At last a prominent liberal has admitted what most of us already knew: that liberals may love to have the government spend your money on their favorite causes, but they are tightwads when it comes to giving their own money – or even their own time to charities. Once again another study affirms that conservatives give more money and time to charitable causes than do liberals. This fact has become known despite the predilection of many Hollywood liberals to hire public relations staffs to publicize their “good deeds” in Sunday magazines like “Parade” and “USA Weekend”.
Now if only some prominent liberals would admit to the failure of so many liberal policies like: 1. forcing banks to give mortgages to people with no chance of paying and to deadbeats - causing a build-up and a collapse of the housing bubble, 2. affirmative action that cheapened the achievements of blacks, 3. forced school busing that destroyed American cities, 4. unlimited abortion and the killing of babies who survive abortions, 5. the destruction of families by Welfare, 6. fraudulent ‘man-made’ global warming and cap and trade carbon offsets, 7. the Great Society, 8. the destruction of our public education system, 9. the shutdown of drilling for oil and stopping the building of more nuclear plants, 10. dealing with Islamic terrorists in the criminal justice system, 11. Public housing and Section 8 housing where incredible rates of criminal behavior took place – such as murders, drug use and distribution, prostitution, and welfare fraud, 12, etc., etc. etc.
Perhaps it would be a good thing if these admissions could take place and take hold before the Obama people seek to impose some new or some recycled liberal solutions to the problems facing America and mankind – with similar disastrous effects.
Bleeding Heart Tightwads
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF December 21, 2008 New York Times
This holiday season is a time to examine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but I’m unhappy with my findings. The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.
Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.
Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.
Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.
The upshot is that Democrats, who speak passionately about the hungry and homeless, personally fork over less money to charity than Republicans — the ones who try to cut health insurance for children.
“When I started doing research on charity,” Mr. Brooks wrote, “I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”
Something similar is true internationally. European countries seem to show more compassion than America in providing safety nets for the poor, and they give far more humanitarian foreign aid per capita than the United States does. But as individuals, Europeans are far less charitable than Americans.
Americans give sums to charity equivalent to 1.67 percent of G.N.P., according to a terrific new book, “Philanthrocapitalism,” by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green. The British are second, with 0.73 percent, while the stingiest people on the list are the French, at 0.14 percent.
(Looking away from politics, there’s evidence that one of the most generous groups in America is gays. Researchers believe that is because they are less likely to have rapacious heirs pushing to keep wealth in the family.)
When liberals see the data on giving, they tend to protest that conservatives look good only because they shower dollars on churches — that a fair amount of that money isn’t helping the poor, but simply constructing lavish spires.
It’s true that religion is the essential reason conservatives give more, and religious liberals are as generous as religious conservatives. Among the stingiest of the stingy are secular conservatives.
According to Google’s figures, if donations to all religious organizations are excluded, liberals give slightly more to charity than conservatives do. But Mr. Brooks says that if measuring by the percentage of income given, conservatives are more generous than liberals even to secular causes.
In any case, if conservative donations often end up building extravagant churches, liberal donations frequently sustain art museums, symphonies, schools and universities that cater to the well-off. (It’s great to support the arts and education, but they’re not the same as charity for the needy. And some research suggests that donations to education actually increase inequality because they go mostly to elite institutions attended by the wealthy.)
Conservatives also appear to be more generous than liberals in nonfinancial ways. People in red states are considerably more likely to volunteer for good causes, and conservatives give blood more often. If liberals and moderates gave blood as often as conservatives, Mr. Brooks said, the American blood supply would increase by 45 percent.
So, you’ve guessed it! This column is a transparent attempt this holiday season to shame liberals into being more charitable. Since I often scold Republicans for being callous in their policies toward the needy, it seems only fair to reproach Democrats for being cheap in their private donations. What I want for Christmas is a healthy competition between left and right to see who actually does more for the neediest.
Of course, given the economic pinch these days, charity isn’t on the top of anyone’s agenda. Yet the financial ability to contribute to charity, and the willingness to do so, are strikingly unrelated. Amazingly, the working poor, who have the least resources, somehow manage to be more generous as a percentage of income than the middle class.
So, even in tough times, there are ways to help. Come on liberals, redeem yourselves, and put your wallets where your hearts are.
Labels: Liberals and Conservatives
Even the liberal Washington Post has a problem with the selection of Hillary Clinton as our Secretary of State. Not only does she have no credentials or qualifications for such a position, other than lying about being shot at in Tuzla, the fund-raising activities of her husband create conflicts of interest that are not repairable. She should be rejected and replaced by some one who knows what he’s doing and is not hindered by scores of conflicts of interest.
BILL'S PALS, HILL'S PROBLEMS
December 19, 2008 New York Post (Excerpt)
“Finally, Bill Clinton has made public the names of the fat cats, insiders, corporations and foreign govern ments who kicked in a half-billion dollars to his charitable foundation.
Not surprisingly, it's that last group that's raising eyebrows.
It turns out that, as widely rumored, the Clinton Foundation has gotten at least $46 million from foreign governments - Saudi Arabia, mostly, but also Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy, Norway and Jamaica.
Plus millions from foreign nationals - many with close ties to those same governments, and in some cases embarrassing ethical problems.
People like Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining exec who gave $30 million, personally and through his company.
In 2005, he flew Bill Clinton on his private jet to Kazakhstan, where they had dinner with the country's thuggish president. Before long, Giustra had a lucrative uranium contract from Kazakhstan - and the Clinton Foundation had its generous "donation.” New York Post
The Clinton Conflict
The former president's fundraising invites trouble.
Sunday, December 21, 2008 Washington Post (Excerpts)
“THERE IS no getting around the uniquely difficult issues posed by the dual roles of Hillary Rodham Clinton as future secretary of state and former president Bill Clinton as the head of a foundation that raises money from foreign governments…
The incoming administration secured the disclosure of past donors to the Clinton presidential library and foundation; this was an important and necessary step. Under the memorandum of understanding negotiated between the two camps, the names of future donors will also be released, albeit only on an annual basis, which seems a rather languorous schedule in this day and age. In addition, new donations from foreign governments will be scrutinized by government ethics officers. Countries that simply re-up existing pledges will be exempt from this review; only if a foreign country chooses to "increase materially its commitment" or a new country signs on will the foundation "share such countries and the circumstances of the anticipated contribution with the State Department designated agency ethics official for review."…
But however worthy the cause or uncontroversial the foreign government, it strikes us that such fundraising by the former president presents an unavoidable conflict. What is the standard for the ethics official to apply? Doesn't spurning a proffered donation from a foreign government risk creating its own diplomatic problems? What happens when Secretary Clinton, visiting Country X to press for, say, a climate change agreement, is informed by the prime minister that he's just written her husband a $10 million check for that cause? What about gifts from foreign governments seeking trade concessions or approval to purchase military equipment?
Even if Ms. Clinton is not influenced by gifts to her husband's charity, the appearance of a conflict is unavoidable. The better approach would be to allow existing commitments to go forward but to forswear any new ones.
Moreover, the memorandum of understanding does not appear to contemplate any prior review of contributions by foreign individuals or corporations, or by U.S. companies or individuals with overseas entanglements. So consider -- because it already happened -- the case of a wealthy investor who is seeking business opportunities in, say, Kazakhstan. He gives millions to the Clinton foundation, visits the country with the former president and obtains the sought-after contract. No one in the Obama administration will vet such a gift in advance; the public will learn of it only with the yearly disclosure. The new administration is buying itself a heap of potential trouble with this arrangement.”
My regular readers are well aware of my thoughts regarding Obama's fitness for the office of President of the United States, however he won the election and will take office facing a severe crisis affecting us all. Whether his tack to the center in making appointments is real or is a sham, we can not afford to destroy his effectiveness as president as the left has tried to do to President Bush these past eight years. Bill Kristol's article below offers some good advice to conservatives; we have to live with this situation for at least four years.
A President-Elect's Progress
From Rev. Wright to Rev. Warren
by William Kristol 12/29/2008 The Weekly Standard
Until last week, the most important and most famous man of the cloth with whom Barack Obama was associated was the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his longtime pastor from Chicago's South Side. Today, that distinction belongs to the Reverend Rick Warren, best-selling evangelical author (The Purpose Driven Life) and pastor of Saddleback Church, thanks to Obama's inviting him to deliver the invocation at the Inauguration. Talk about growing in office! Obama's growing even before he assumes office.
Is this smart politics on Obama's part? Sure. Does it mean Obama has studied the mistakes of his predecessors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton? Probably. Obama may have learned from their examples that, even though everyone says the economic crisis has put social issues on a far back burner, mishandling those issues can severely damage one's presidency: Recall gays in the military under Clinton and the IRS ruling on Christian schools under Carter.
If Obama's selection of Warren is smart politics, it's of a piece with four years of smart politics. In his 2004 Democratic Convention speech, with his statement that "We worship an awesome God in the blue states," Obama tried to reassure red-state awesome-God-worshipers about the Democratic party. Indeed, he has generally gone out of his way not to disparage social conservatives. He knows--better than many Republicans--that social conservatism is the strongest political force on the right.
So social conservatives may want to respond with some smart politics of their own. They might try taking Obama at his word. He's for overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell--but he's also concerned about the military's smooth functioning. Social conservatives could offer to join a bipartisan commission to study how the policy has been working and to consider alternatives--asking for assurances up front that Obama isn't dogmatically committed to the conclusion that there's nothing problematic about open gays serving anywhere and everywhere in the military.
Similarly, Obama has said he wants to reduce the number of abortions. Maybe pro-lifers should offer to work with him on this. He and the Democratic Congress are going to try to funnel gushers of money to Planned Parenthood. How about some money for crisis pregnancy centers? Obama says he's not hostile to faith-based initiatives. Social conservatives might offer to work with him to make sure his ACLU-type appointees don't inadvertently--contrary to Obama's wishes--shut down many of those fine programs.
No conservative should kid himself about what the Obama administration is going to be like. Many of its key policies will be anathema to social conservatives. But social conservatives need to persuade some social moderates, and social undecideds, and social conflicteds, and social uncertains of the reasonableness of conservative concerns, and the sincerity of conservatives' claims that they seek progress in these areas, not merely conflict. There will be plenty of occasions to draw lines with the Obama administration. For now, it might be a good idea to offer a few olive branches to Obama as well.
And the selection of Rick Warren may turn out to have significance beyond short-term political maneuvering. One can see this from the hysteria on the left and among gay activists. They sense that Obama isn't willing to sign on to their campaign to delegitimize, to cast out beyond the pale of polite society, anyone who opposes same-sex marriage--and in particular, anyone (like Warren) who supported Proposition 8 in California, the initiative that overturned the California Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.
The assault on Prop 8 supporters has been extraordinary in its mean-spiritedness and extremism--but the left knows what it's doing. The purpose has been to intimidate people with an opposing point of view from defending their position. To be against same-sex marriage, even against the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage, is to be a bigot. As one leftwinger said on CNN, Warren is a "hatemonger" comparable to "the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan." Or, as the Human Rights Campaign's Brad Luna told Byron York of National Review, dismissing the fact that the benediction will be delivered by the Reverend Joseph Lowery, who is more friendly to gay marriage: "I don't think any Jewish Americans would feel much comfort in knowing that an anti-Semite is starting the inauguration with an invocation, but we're going to end it with a rabbi." So the claim is, opposing same-sex marriage is tantamount to being a racist or an anti-Semite.
Making that charge is at the heart of the agenda of the gay lobby. They don't want to debate same-sex marriage. They want to demonize its opponents. Ironically, Lowery himself, who is a (somewhat equivocal) supporter of gay marriage, refuses to equate the gay rights and the civil rights movements: "Homosexuals as a people have never been enslaved because of their sexual orientation," he told the Associated Press. "They may have been scorned; they may have been discriminated against. But they've never been enslaved and declared less than human."
And, one could add, gender and sex are at least potentially morally relevant in a way a decent society will not allow skin color to be. Skin color is skin deep. Gender and sex are more complicated--which is why even in our "enlightened" age, all distinctions based on gender and sexual orientation haven't collapsed.
God knows, Obama isn't going to be out there defending such distinctions, or explaining which are reasonable and which aren't. And it's certain Obama is going to govern as a pro-abortion rights, not-particularly-pro-traditional-family, social liberal. But he at least seems open to a discussion of these issues. And that leaves some political space for social conservatives to continue making their case over the next few years.
Conservatives have to be ready to stand up for themselves--and for each other--if and when the left comes at them from the academy, Hollywood, and the media. Obama's invitation to Rick Warren doesn't mean his administration won't put a heavy thumb on the left side of the scale in our cultural conflicts. It doesn't even mean that organs of the federal government, over which Obama will of course be presiding, won't try to stifle nonconforming opinions. But the Warren invitation means that one can at least appeal to Obama's own precedent against suppressing out-of-favor views.
The left senses that the invitation to Rick Warren is a blow to their effort to establish a soft tyranny of "correct" opinion, to enforce society-wide political orthodoxy, on social issues. They're right. This isn't the time for conservatives to snipe at Obama's motives. It's time to welcome him into the American mainstream, to salute the president-elect's progress from Reverends Wright to Warren.
It has been a while since there has been a discussion here of the dangers to a free society posed by Muslims and their Sharia code of laws. Interest in this has faded a bit due to the incredible success of President Bush’s War on Terror. Many Islamic organizations masquerading as charitable groups, but actually supporting militant fanatics, have been disrupted and disbanded, and the turning of Iraq from a vicious enemy led by a murderous dictator laden with oil riches into a friendly, democratic ally of the United States has been momentous, not only in the long term, but with immediate consequences.
If you recall, discussions here championed President Bush’s efforts to ensure that peaceful American citizens who were Muslims were protected, but we also reluctantly concluded that the evidence was overwhelming that Muslims always attempt to impose their Sharia whenever they gain enough numerical strength to do so. They have done that in several European countries, they tried and failed in Canada, and they have somewhat succeeded in Great Britain. Because of this record, no further immigration of Muslims should be allowed into the United States.
What happens and is happening in Great Britain, a country with traditions and values similar to ours, should be watched closely, and the mistakes they make should not be duplicated here.
Britain's No Sharia Campaign
By Deborah Weiss December 18, 2008 American Thinker
A campaign against Sharia law was launched last week in the UK. Titled "One Law for All", it commenced on the 60th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, drawing attention to the contrast between human rights and Sharia law (Islamic law). Organizers of the campaign believe that Sharia law runs counter to the principles of human rights, freedom, dignity and equality for all.
Approximately one year ago, the UK government began giving Sharia court judgments the backing of British civil law enforcement. Prior to that, Sharia courts were able to issue rulings, but they were not legally enforceable. They relied on the parties' voluntary adherence to the awards.
Then in 2007, Sheik Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi discovered that under a clause in the Arbitration Act of 1996, Sharia courts could be categorized as arbitral tribunals. Arbitral tribunals issue rulings that are binding by law so long as the parties involved consent to arbitration as the means of resolving their dispute. When they do, they waive their rights to have a British judge or jury hear their case. On the other hand, it can be a more efficient means of dispute resolution than courtroom litigation.
Siddiqi now heads up the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which runs five Sharia courts in the UK. Two more such courts are scheduled. From the time they were given the backing of the British civil courts, Sharia courts have heard over 100 cases, issuing legally enforceable rulings. Though they primarily hear cases on divorce, money or property disputes, Sharia courts are increasingly addressing "small criminal matters" such as domestic violence.
Never-the-less, providing British legal authority to Sharia judgments can be very problematic. First, evidence shows that many women in the Muslim community are pressured into submitting to Sharia courts by their families or the Islamic ummah (community). They are not really there on their own volition.
Second, Sharia courts treat men and women very unequally. For example, they typically award twice as much money to sons as they do daughters in inheritance cases. Additionally, they deem a woman's testimony to be worth half that of a man's. Therefore, two woman are required to testify in situations where one man would be sufficient.
Third, the UK has largely failed at assimilating Muslims into mainstream society. Sharia courts will make it more even more difficult for moderate Muslims to integrate into British life. It also makes it harder for Muslims to come to an understanding of Islam that is compatible with notions of tolerance and pluralism.
Some Muslims argue that because religious tribunals exist for Jews (Beth Din courts), Sharia courts must also be allowed. However, there are some important distinctions that should be noted. There is no evidence anywhere around the world that Jews are imposing their religious beliefs on others or adhering to a notion of Jewish supremacy. They do not preach their religion to non-Jews or attempt to persuade others to convert. Nor are they trying to supplant freedom with globalized Jewish law. On the contrary, they adhere to a rule which dictates that they must abide by the laws of the countries in which they live. Sharia law by contrast, does not separate mosque and state. It constitutes a way of life that merges the political with the spiritual. Though undoubtedly there are many freedom loving Muslims around the globe, there are also radical Islamist movements that seek to impose their political ideology wherever possible. Their ultimate goal is to supplant existing governments with Islamic theocracies. Their tactics are evidenced world-wide and take the form of terrorism, coercion, litigation, lobbying, and stifling free speech. Providing Sharia courts with the full force of British law is much more likely to be viewed by radicals as opening the door to achieving their ultimate goals, rather than as a final concession by the British government.
Many British politicians including Dominic Grieve, shadow home secretary, are deeply concerned about the creation of a parallel legal system vis-a-vis Sharia courts. Grieve has declared that it is imperative for British secular law to remain the absolute authority. He believes that backing Sharia rulings with British court enforcement is unlawful.
Even if Sharia courts are deemed permissible in civil cases, it is crucial that they not be allowed to rule on criminal matters. Civil cases are disputes between two or more private parties, often pertaining to torts or matters of money or property. The goal is to make the aggrieved party whole. Therefore, restitution is generally in order, and the remedy is usually financial compensation.
Crimes, however, are wrongs perpetrated upon the State. That is why in murder, theft, robbery or other crimes, no restitution to the victim is ordered. The penalty is imprisonment. The state holds the right to take away a convicted criminal's freedom, partly to punish him, but also to prevent him from committing further harm to society.
Therefore, if a man abuses his wife through domestic violence, he not only hurts her, but commits an affront to societal values. Sharia courts should not be allowed to divert authority away from the British criminal law system. Yet, when Sharia courts hear domestic violence disputes, they often merely order the husband to attend anger management classes and encourage the wife withdraw her police complaint. Sharia courts do not have the authority to jail criminals. However, their use in cases that would otherwise be deemed criminal, can dissuade victims of crime from utilizing the British criminal system.
Proponents of the No Sharia Campaign are requesting that the Arbitration Act of 1996 be amended to allow only one law for all -- a British secular law. They insist that it is inappropriate and undesirable for the British government to endorse any religious rulings by conferring upon them the power of British law enforcement.
The No Sharia Campaign is enthusiastically embraced by a wide range of renowned individuals as well as numerous human rights organizations. If the campaign achieves its goal, it will be a victory for human rights and the rights of Muslim women in Britain. It will also send the much needed message that Britain will not subordinate its values to Sharia law and refuses to incrementally relinquish its freedom.
The theme of modern liberalism is "no big deal".
Show pornography on prime-time TV? No big deal.
Broadcast vulgarity and obscenities over our airwaves? No big deal.
Honor singers who scream "shoot police", "kill the bitches"? No big deal.
Kill babies even after they are born? No big deal.
Try to destroy a lovely mother from Alaska with lies and filth? No big deal.
Give mortgages to millions who can't pay them back? No big deal.
Swindle billions from your friends? No big deal.
See any connections?
Gretchen Carlson Is Right
By Jeffrey Lord on 12.16.08 American Spectator
Gretchen Carlson is indignant.
Good for her.
It is all too easy to shrug one's shoulders at the cavalier treatment of Christmas by Washington state's governor, Christine Gregoire. With the spotlight switched on by Bill O'Reilly, Americans learned Gregoire was responsible for allowing the presence in the state's capitol of a sign denigrating Christianity and God, the sign not only present at one of the most sacred holidays in Western culture but provocatively placed next to a Christmas crèche. Among other things, the sign, created by the atheist "Freedom from Religion Foundation," rants in the typical atheist bromides that, among other things in a propaganda laundry list, "religion is but a myth and a superstition." The ensuing uproar sparked demands for other displays, including one for the fake "Festivus" holiday borne of the imagination of a Seinfeld writer.
Enter Ms. Carlson, the co-host of morning television's Fox and Friends alongside Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Seemingly startling her colleagues with her vehemence, Carlson made plain exactly what she thought of Gregoire's decision to effectively trash one of the most sacred holidays on the Christian calendar, a holiday celebrating the birth of Christ that is also a federal holiday. Her observations attracted attention from O'Reilly, where she tartly observed on his show that "Jesus is taking a back seat" at the celebration of His birth. She also revealed that she is the granddaughter of a minister, giving her outrage special force.
Carlson's criticism, and the passion with which she delivered it are right on the mark. She is but the latest to confront eye-rolling skepticism if not outright hostility as a defender of Christmas, joining both O'Reilly and Fox's John Gibson (the latter with a book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought).
It is fascinating if not laugh-out-loud funny to hear various quarters express outrage over the latest revelations swirling around Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Madoff, a longtime liberal Democrat and financial backer, and Blagojevich, the liberal Democrat from Chicago, stand accused respectively of stealing $50 billion (that's "billion" with a "b") in a massive Ponzi scheme and trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama for personal profit. The outraged make zero connection between these two disasters with the centrality -- yes, the sacredness- of the Judeo-Christian values that are at the heart of the creation of America itself.
Former Judge Robert Bork once noted that "religion is essential to the health of American culture and, perhaps, to the survival of our democratic institutions." Bork (who was defeated in a bitter fight for a seat on the United States Supreme Court for holding precisely views such as this) made this observation a decade ago, and certainly has not been alone in doing so. Long before Blagojevich's profanity-laced attempt to sell the Senate seat of the president-elect of the United States to the highest bidder. Long before Americans, already reeling from the fallout of Fannie Mae's greedy power plays that imploded the US economy along with the financial security of millions, learned the other day of the stunning $50 billion Madoff Ponzi scheme.
One wonders if the victims of the economic implosion and Madoff's alleged illegal -- and yes, immoral -- behavior -- are aware of the Washington state controversy at all. If they make any connection between Gretchen Carlson's outrage and their own shocking plight at the hands of Madoff.
The presence of that crèche in the Washington state capitol is a sacred reminder of the morality that is the foundation of the American idea itself. It is a morality encoded in the laws of Washington state, laws Governor Gregoire is sworn to uphold. It is a morality enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to mention carved in marble in one Washington, D.C. monument, memorial and office building after another.
Gretchen Carlson's larger point is not only plain to see for some of us, it is also plain to see that ignoring the point of what she has to say has very real world consequences.
The Judeo-Christian faith represented by that crèche includes principles -- and actually these principles are called "commandments." There are ten of them. Mr. Madoff stands accused of violating not just federal securities laws but laws specifically and deliberately based on one of these commandments: "Thou shall not steal." If this commandment is not only sacred and deserving of stand-alone presentation on a major public holiday in a state capitol, if it is just so much "superstition" and "myth" as the atheists' sign next to that crèche insists, what did Mr. Madoff do wrong?
Media reports shriek of very angry people distraught that their life savings have been plundered, of distraught investors radiating out from America and going literally around the globe. But if in fact that crèche is not sacred and is undeserving of the respectful treatment it is not receiving from Governor Gregoire, why all the upset? So Bernie Madoff stole lots of money. So he may have ruined the lives of untold numbers of people. So what? To follow the Gregoire logic, the Governor is enforcing laws that are in fact a fraud themselves, laws based on the superstition and myth discussed on the sign in her own state capitol. A sign which, by its mere presence at this time of year, implies parity with the values represented by that crèche.
Certainly we must view the fury over Governor Blagojevich in a new light as well if we are prepared to ignore what Gretchen Carlson is saying. So the guv tried to sell a seat in the U.S. Senate for personal profit? Who cares? What's to fuss? Let Blago be Blago!
For that matter, why the all the uproar over someone else in the news -- O.J. Simpson? Sure there are people all over the country who believe the ex-football great got away with the brutal murder of two people, one of them his wife. It seems this contributed to his recent conviction for trying to forcibly take back some memorabilia he believed belonged to him. (O.J. was angry that someone had STOLEN his stuff. Imagine that! Where did he ever get the idea stealing was wrong?) If that crèche in Washington state is just about superstition and myth, then O.J. (assuming he did it, of course) has been put through the ringer for years for…nothing. So he murdered two people. So what? Who cares? One cares if one believes and understands that Simpson violated not just the laws of California when he wielded that knife but a sacred value represented by that crèche in Washington state: "Thou shall not kill." That's the big deal.
Gretchen Carlson and millions of others of us -- imperfect human beings one and all -- understand instinctively the connection between the presence of that crèche as a stand-alone sacred image celebrating a sacred holiday and the bedrock of American values and law.
There is more than plenty of tolerance for debate and disagreement in our society. The First Amendment -- based on the same values Carlson is defending -- ensures this. Yet it is a fact that the sacred nature represented in the presence of that Washington crèche on the occasion of the celebration of the birth of Christ keeps us all, atheists included, protected as much as possible from the actions of a Bernard Madoff, a Rod Blagojevich or an O.J. Simpson. Not to mention a Hitler or a Stalin or a Saddam Hussein.
Ms. Carlson's outrage was right on target. She is exactly right to look into the cameras and call for the stand-alone display of that crèche. She understands perfectly what it represents, and that without the reverence and respect of those values we are all in serious trouble. If, as Governor Gregoire maintains by her own actions in this instance, that the values represented in this crèche are some sort of joke or are morally relative and no big deal, that they do not deserve to be treated with the reverence and respect millions give them, then why does Washington state need a governor at all?
After all, if it turns out some atheist investor in Washington has been robbed by Mr. Madoff, the real question from the rest of us should be: who cares?
One suspects that Gretchen Carlson knows the right answer to that question is decidedly not "who cares?" I'll bet her minister grandfather would know the answer too.
So, I'll bet, do many of the rest of us. Except, apparently, the proponents of political liberalism such as the likes of, well, Bernie Madoff and Governor Blagojevich.
And Governor Bag's fellow liberal -- Governor Christine Gregoire.
Dare I say it? Dare I write the words based on that crèche, words that some so hate?
What the heck.
Merry Christmas to Gretchen Carlson.
Labels: Liberals and Conservatives
It’s interesting, isn’t it, how all these nasty people swirl around Barack Obama without his being touched by or without his even knowing about their various despicable deeds? I wish this sorry son-of-a-bitch, Ayers, would just go away. It’s bad enough that he escaped prosecution on a technicality. It’s bad enough that our president-elect is pals with an America-hating terrorist. I can’t imagine how the families of his victims felt when they read Ayers' piece in the New York Times. Every few days the Times shows by example why it is the most hated publication in the United States. They just admitted that they are mortgaging their building to raise working capital due to the losses they are sustaining. I hope I live to see them go under.
Terrorist Bill Ayers Has His Say on Same Page McCain Was Refused
McCain's op-ed unworthy, but domestic terrorist Bill Ayers' op-ed is: "The Real Bill Ayers" falsely claims the Weather Underground nerver attacked people.
Posted by: Clay Waters 12/8/2008 Times Watch (Excerpt)
“During the 2008 campaign, John McCain's pro-Iraq War op-ed was judged by the Times editorial page as unworthy of publication (even though Barack Obama had penned a pro-withdrawal one for the paper just a week before).
But this weekend, one well-known personality from the campaign broke his silence and claimed that precious piece of journalistic real estate: 1960s domestic terrorist and Obama friend Bill Ayers wrote an op-ed for Saturday's edition, "The Real Bill Ayers," setting out his side of the story.
Ayers claimed not only that he never killed anyone (debatable, as the leader of a terrorist group that killed people) but told two falsehoods: that his group never attacked people; and that he regrets some of what he did then.” Times Watch
The Unreal Bill Ayers
Three Decades After the Weather Underground's End, He's Still Justifying Its Means
By Charles Lane December 11, 2008 Washington Post (Excerpt)
“Ayers won't let the issue die. He's got a book to sell and a misspent youth to rationalize.
In a Dec. 6 New York Times op-ed -- headlined "The Real Bill Ayers" -- Ayers cast himself as the victim of a "profoundly dishonest drama" in which he was branded an "unrepentant terrorist." He cops to "posturing" and "blind sectarianism" -- but insists that he never killed or hurt anyone and never intended to. His Weather Underground committed "symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed against monuments to war and racism" -- not terrorism. Its bombings were surgical strikes "meant to respect human life."
Some people might buy this, but not if they know the actual history -- as opposed to Ayers's selective version. Ayers omits the 1969 "Days of Rage" riot in Chicago, spearheaded by his Weatherman faction of Students for a Democratic Society. He kicked it off by helping to blow up a downtown police monument the night of Oct. 6, 1969; the blast showered rubble on a nearby expressway and shattered more than 100 windows.
If a warning to the public preceded this strike, Ayers doesn't mention it in his 2001 memoir, "Fugitive Days" -- nor does contemporaneous media coverage. In fact, a bus driver told police that his vehicle stalled near the statue a half-hour before the blast; he would have been a sitting duck 30 minutes later. Days afterward, Ayers and other club-wielding leftists fought and injured police officers and smashed storefronts and cars. A government attorney tried to tackle one of them and wound up paralyzed.
In his Times column, Ayers's chronology focuses on 1970, the year he co-founded the Weather Underground "after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village." But this wasn't some especially radicalizing furnace mishap. On March 6, 1970, three members of a Weatherman cell died when a bomb they were making blew up in their faces. Packed with nails for maximum lethality, it had been intended for a noncommissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix, N.J.
Only then did the Weatherman faction mutate into the Weather Underground -- and begin issuing pre-detonation warnings. Even so, it was still a matter of luck that there were no casualties.
As Todd Gitlin, a former '60s leftist and a historian of the period, put it: "They planned on being terrorists. Then their bomb blew up and killed several of them and they thought better of it. They were failed terrorists."” Washington Post
Homeowners re-defaulting after getting aid
Dec 8, 2008 Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Recent data suggests that many borrowers who received help with mortgage modifications earlier this year tended to re-default on their payments, a top U.S. banking regulator said on Monday.
"The results, I confess, were somewhat surprising, and not in a good way," said John Dugan, head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in prepared remarks for a U.S. housing forum.
"Put simply, it shows that over half of mortgage modifications seemed not to be working after six months," he said.
Dugan said based on data collected from some of the biggest U.S. institutions, like Bank of America, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, home foreclosure starts fell 2.6 percent in the three months ended in September.
However, data which is to be issued by the OCC and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) next week could throw cold water on a push by some U.S. policymakers for loan modifications as the key remedy for the ailing U.S. financial and economic crisis.
Dugan said recent data showed that after three months, nearly 36 percent of borrowers who received restructured mortgages in the first quarter re-defaulted.
The rate of re-default jumped to about 53 percent after six months and 58 percent after eight months, Dugan said, without providing an explanation for the trend.
Regulators speaking at an OTS-housing forum did not provide any explanations for the causes behind the data.
"We don't know the answers yet, but these are the types of questions that we have begun asking our servicers in detail," Dugan said.
Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, who has been pushing for fast and systematic loan modifications, said regulators need to examine re-default data more closely.
"I think it's very important to look at this data carefully and know what it says and what it doesn't say," Bair said.
Dugan said the third-quarter report will show many of the same disturbing trends as other recent mortgage reports, as credit quality continued to decline across the board and delinquencies rose for subprime, alt-A and prime mortgages.
He said the report will also show that the greatest delinquencies were in prime mortgages.
Labels: Society in General
From the perspective of southwest Florida in particular, the outlook for the economic health of the country looks grim. There are thousands of houses and condos for sale here, there is no housing construction seen anywhere, and very little of any other construction is under way. I recently rented a condo for my daughter for about ½ of what I would have expected to pay a couple of years ago. People who have lost their homes and their jobs are living in their cars or in tents in the woods, while others are arming themselves for protection against desperate people (and to anticipate anti-gun measures by Obama). Except for the fact that Norma and I do not want a mortgage at our age, we would probably be looking to buy a nicer condo for ourselves. The problem is, what do you do with what you have if no-one is buying.
As the president and as the man in charge, President Bush cannot escape the blame for this, although the real culprits are $145.00 oil and the collapse of the housing bubble due to sub-prime mortgages and excessive greed. To keep this in perspective, take another look at this campaign video for McCain, which lays out pretty well the story behind the housing collapse. When rules of conduct are ridiculed, as the rules that used to govern the granting of mortgages were, it’s very hard to swim against the tide. Banking and lending executives who were cautious were denounced by analysts and share-holders, and many were fined for not giving mortgages to deadbeats.
I don’t know why people are so critical of our automobile company CEO’s. They are building quality cars now, and have some of the most fuel-efficient models available. Their problems arise out of the enormous benefits prior management negotiated with the unions, and their inability to make a profit on small cars because of these contracts and because of incredibly stupid Congressional mandates. How could anyone predict what the price of gasoline was going to be in a few years, given the rise and fall we have witnessed recently? For the good of the country and of our national security the big three have to stay in business, but these union contracts have to be voided. If the unions will not cooperate, these companies should go into bankruptcy and restructure under Chapter 11.
If any good can come from an Obama presidency, maybe it can come here. The nation should listen to Bill Cosby, and tell the homosexual community to get lost.
An Enduring Crisis for the Black Family
By Kay Hymowitz December 6, 2008 Washington Post
In the nearly half-century in which we have gone from George Wallace to Barack Obama, America has another, less hopeful story to tell about racial progress, one that may be even harder to reverse.
In 1965, a young assistant secretary of labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan stumbled upon data that showed a rise in the number of black single mothers. As Moynihan wrote in a now-famous report for the Johnson administration, especially troubling was that the growth in illegitimacy, as it was universally called then, coincided with a decline in black male unemployment. Strangely, black men were joining the labor force more, but they were marrying -- and fathering -- less.
There were other puzzling facts. In 1950, at the height of the Jim Crow era and despite the shattering legacy of slavery, the great majority of black children -- an estimated 85 percent -- were born to their two married parents. Just 15 years later, there seemed to be no obvious reason that that would change. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, legal barriers to equality were falling. The black middle class had grown substantially, and the first five years of the 1960s had produced 7 million new jobs. Yet 24 percent of black mothers were then bypassing marriage.
Moynihan wrote later that he, like everyone else in the policy business, had assumed that "economic conditions determine social conditions." Now it seemed, "what everyone knew was evidently not so."
President Lyndon Johnson was deeply shaken by Moynihan's findings. Neither man was driven by sentimentality or religious conviction, but both believed that fatherlessness undermined the "basic socializing unit." Intent on sounding a public alarm, Johnson declared during a commencement address at Howard University: "When the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale, the community itself is crippled."
Unfortunately, those warnings were as prescient as they were reviled. Civil rights leaders, worried about reviving racist myths about black promiscuity, objected to what they viewed as blaming the victim. Feminists were inclined to look on the "strong black women" raising their children without men as a symbol of female autonomy. By the fall of 1965, when a White House conference on the black family was scheduled, the Moynihan report and the subject had disappeared.
But the silent treatment was the wrong medicine. Since 1965, through economic recessions and booms, the black family has unraveled in ways that have little parallel in human cultures. By 1980, black fatherlessness had doubled; 56 percent of black births were to single mothers. In inner-city neighborhoods, the number was closer to 66 percent. By the 1990s, even as the overall fertility of American women, including African Americans, was falling, the majority of black women who did bear children were unmarried. Today, 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. In some neighborhoods, two-parent families have vanished. In parts of Newark and Philadelphia, for example, it is common to find children who are not only growing up without their fathers but don't know anyone who is living with his or her biological father.
And what has this meant for racial progress? Fifty years after Jim Crow, black U.S. households have the lowest median income of any racial or ethnic group. Close to a third of black children are poor, and their chances of moving out of poverty are considerably lower than those of their white peers. The fractured black family is not the sole explanation for these gaps, but it is central. While half of all black children born to single mothers are poor, that is the case for only 12 percent of those born to married parents. At least three simulation studies "marrying off" single mothers to either the fathers of their children or to potential husbands of similar demographic characteristics concluded that child poverty would be dramatically lower had marriage rates remained what they were in 1970.
Black married couples make a median household income of $62,000, which is more than 80 percent of what white households earn and represents a gain of 13 percentage points since the 1960s. Yet overall, black household median income is only 62 percent that of white households, a mere six-point increase over the same period.
Merely walking down the aisle can't explain these differences. Rather, the institution of marriage appears to promote ideals of stability, order and fidelity that benefit children and adults alike. Those who pin their hopes for black progress on education tend to forget this. Numerous studies, when controlled for income and race, show that, on average, children growing up with single mothers are less likely to graduate from high school and go to college. And Moynihan's discovery of a negligible relationship between "economic conditions and social conditions" suggests that even increases in black male employment are not a certain cure.
Through the power of his own example, Obama presents a chance to revive what Lyndon Johnson called "the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights." Obama's memoir, "Dreams From My Father," conveys the economic, emotional and existential toll of growing up fatherless, and he has spoken movingly of his determination to ensure for his own children a different life. Yet tackling this issue won't be easy. When Obama gave a Father's Day speech lamenting "fathers . . . missing from too many lives and too many homes," Jesse Jackson was so incensed that he said he wanted to castrate Obama. Still, painful as the subject is, the alternative is far worse: racial inequality as far as the eye can see.
Kay Hymowitz, a contributing editor of City Journal, is author of "Marriage and Caste in America."
A priceless scene appears in the movie, “Expelled”, when Ben Stein asks the leading proponent of Darwinism and atheism, Richard Dawkins, how life began. After sputtering for a few moments, Dawkins offers the thought that some advanced creature from outer space may have seeded life on earth, exposing the fact that Darwinists, who have an answer for everything, have no answer for this most basic question.
Now that we know that every key relationship in the universe is based on six numbers (see note 1), that these relationships are crucial to life, and that there would be no life and no universe as we know it if any one of these six numbers was changed in the slightest degree, even the most committed atheists have had to admit that this can be no coincidence. They therefore have come up with an explanation that is so far-fetched and unprovable, we must just throw up our hands at the lengths they are willing to go to deny that this elegant design was, well, designed.
Their new invention is that there must be an infinite number of universes out there – with huge numbers of them resembling ours, but most of them far different from ours or extinct. Ours may be the only one that randomly inherited the extraordinary circumstances of these six key numbers (and other equally compelling phenomena). I’m sure Richard Dawkins approves of this new theory, and, given the number of scientists and academics who Ben Stein revealed have been blackballed for even allowing discussion of design in the fabric of life, I wonder how many of them support this theory with their fingers crossed behind their backs.
A Universe Built For Us
Tim Folger, Discovery Magazine December, 2008 (Excerpt)
“A sublime cosmic mystery unfolds on a mild summer afternoon in Palo Alto, California, where I've come to talk with the visionary physicist Andrei Linde. The day seems ordinary enough.
Cyclists maneuver through traffic, and orange poppies bloom on dry brown hills near Linde's office on the Stanford University campus. But everything here, right down to the photons lighting the scene after an eight-minute jaunt from the sun, bears witness to an extraordinary fact about the universe: Its basic properties are uncannily suited for life. Tweak the laws of physics in just about any way and - in this universe, anyway - life as we know it would not exist.
Consider just two possible changes. Atoms consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons. If those protons were just 0.2 percent more massive than they actually are, they would be unstable and would decay into simpler particles.
Atoms wouldn't exist; neither would we. If gravity were slightly more powerful, the consequences would 'be nearly as grave. A beefed-up gravitational force would compress stars more tightly, making them smaller, hotter, and denser. Rather than surviving for billions of years, stars would burn through their fuel in a few million years, sputtering out long before life had a chance to evolve. There are many such examples of the universe's life-friendly properties - so many, in fact, that physicists can't dismiss them all as mere accidents.
"We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible," Linde says
Physicists don't like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet to endure for a few fleeting ticks of the cosmic clock. In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us.
Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.
The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn't even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable nonreligious explanation for what is often called the "finetuning problem" - the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.
"For me the reality of many universes is a logical possibility," Linde says. “ Discovery Magazine
Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts
By Victor Davis Hanson November 24, 2008 RealClearPolitics
1. Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the 'role model' diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles's Antigone in Greek or Thucydides' dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies--indeed, anything "studies"-- were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.
2. Hollywood is going the way of Detroit. The actors are programmed and pretty rather than interesting looking and unique. They, of course, are overpaid (they do to films what Lehman Brothers' execs did to stocks), mediocre, and politicized. The producers and directors are rarely talented, mostly unoriginal--and likewise politicized. A pack-mentality rules. Do one movie on a comic superhero--and suddenly we get ten, all worse than the first. One noble lion cartoon movie earns us eagle, penguin and most of Noah's Arc sequels. Now see poorer remakes of movies that were never good to begin with. I doubt we will ever see again a Western like Shane, the Searchers, High Noon, or the Wild Bunch. If one wishes to see a fine film, they are now usually foreign, such as Das Boot or Breaker Morant. Watching any recent war movie (e.g., Iraq as the Rape of Nanking) is as if someone put uniforms on student protestors and told them to consult their professors for the impromptu script.
3. All the old media brands of our youth have been tarnished and all but discredited. No one picks up Harpers or Atlantic expecting to read a disinterested story on politics or culture. (I pass on their inane accounts of 'getaways' and food.) The New York Times and Washington Post are as likely to have op-eds as news stories on the front page. Newsweek and Time became organs for paint-by-numbers Obamism, teased with People Magazine-like gossip pieces (at least, their editors still cared enough to seem hurt when charged with overt bias). NBC, ABC, and CBS would now make a Chet Huntley or Eric Sevareid turn over in his grave. A Keith Olbermann would not have been allowed to do commercials in the 1950s. Strangely, the media has offered up fashionably liberal politics coupled with metrosexual elite tastes in fashions, clothes, housing, food, and the good life, as if there were no contradictions between the two. No wonder media is so enthralled with the cool Obama and his wife. Both embody the new nexus between Eurosocialism in the abstract and the hip aristocratic life in the concrete.
4. After the junk bond meltdown, the S&L debacle, and now the financial panic, in just a few years the financial community destroyed the ancient wisdom: deal in personal trust; your word is your bond; avoid extremes; treat the money you invest for others as something sacred; don't take any more perks than you would wish others to take; don't borrow what you couldn't suddenly pay back; imagine the worse case financial scenario and expect it very may well happen; the wealthier you become the more humble you should act. And for what did our new Jay Goulds do all this? A 20,000 square-foot mansion instead of the old 6,000 sq. ft. expansive house? A Gulfstream in lieu of first class commercial? You milk your company, cash in your stock bonuses, enjoy your $50 million cash pile, and then get what--a Rolex instead of a reliable Timex? A Maserati for a Mercedes, a gold bathroom spout in preference to brushed pewter? The extra splurge was marginal and hardly worth the stain of avarice on one's immortal soul.
5. California is now a valuable touchstone to the country, a warning of what not to do. Rarely has a single generation inherited so much natural wealth and bounty from the investment and hard work of those more noble now resting in our cemeteries--and squandered that gift within a generation. Compare the vast gulf from old Governor Pat Brown to Gray Davis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. We did not invest in many dams, canals, rails, and airports (though we use them all to excess); we sued each other rather than planned; wrote impact statements rather than left behind infrastructure; we redistributed, indulged, blamed, and so managed all at once to create a state with about the highest income and sales taxes and the worst schools, roads, hospitals, and airports. A walk through downtown San Francisco, a stroll up the Fresno downtown mall, a drive along highway 101 (yes, in many places it is still a four-lane, pot-holed highway), an afternoon at LAX, a glance at the catalogue of Cal State Monterey, a visit to the park in Parlier--all that would make our forefathers weep. We can't build a new nuclear plant; can't drill a new offshore oil well; can't build an all-weather road across the Sierra; can't build a few tracts of new affordable houses in the Bay Area; can't build a dam for a water-short state; and can't create even a mediocre passenger rail system. Everything else--well, we do that well.
6. Something has happened to the generic American male accent. Maybe it is urbanization; perhaps it is now an affectation to sound precise and caring with a patina of intellectual authority; perhaps it is the fashion culture of the metrosexual; maybe it is the influence of the gay community in arts and popular culture. Maybe the ubiquitous new intonation comes from the scarcity of salty old jobs in construction, farming, or fishing. But increasingly to meet a young American male about 25 is to hear a particular nasal stress, a much higher tone than one heard 40 years ago, and, to be frank, to listen to a precious voice often nearly indistinguishable from the female. How indeed could one make Westerns these days, when there simply is not anyone left who sounds like John Wayne, Richard Boone, Robert Duvall, or Gary Cooper much less a Struther Martin, Jack Palance, L.Q. Jones, or Ben Johnson? I watched the movie Twelve O'clock High the other day, and Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger sounded liked they were from another planet. I confess over the last year, I have been interviewed a half-dozen times on the phone, and had no idea at first whether a male or female was asking the questions. All this sounds absurd, but I think upon reflection readers my age (55) will attest they have had the same experience. In the old days, I remember only that I first heard a variant of this accent with the old Paul Lynde character actor in one of the Flubber movies; now young men sound closer to his camp than to a Jack Palance or Alan Ladd.
7. We have given political eccentricity a bad name. There used to be all sorts of classy individualists, liberal and conservative alike, like Everett Dirksen, J. William Fulbright, Margaret Chase Smith, or Sam Ervin; today we simply see the obnoxious who claim to be eccentric like a Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Barney Frank, or Harry Reid. The loss is detectable even in diction and manner; Dirksen was no angel, but he was witty, charming, insightful; Frank is no angel, but he merely rants and pontificates. Watch the You Tube exchange between Harvard Law Graduate Frank and Harvard Law Graduate Rains as they arrogantly dismiss their trillion-dollar Fannie/Freddie meltdown in the making. I suppose it is the difference between the Age of Belief and the Age of Nihilism.
8. Do not farm. There is only loss. To the degree that anyone makes money farming, it is a question of a vertically-integrated enterprise making more in shipping, marketing, selling, packing, and brokering than it loses on the other end in growing. No exceptions. Food prices stay high, commodity prices stay low. That is all ye need to know. Try it and see.
9. As I wrote earlier, the shrill Left is increasingly far more vicious these days than the conservative fringe, and about like the crude Right of the 1950s. Why? I am not exactly sure, other than the generic notion that utopians often believe that their anointed ends justify brutal means. Maybe it is that the Right already had its Reformation when Buckley and others purged the extremists--the Birchers, the neo-Confederates, racialists, the fluoride-in-the-water conspiracists, anti-Semites, and assorted nuts.--from the conservative ranks in a way the Left has never done with the 1960s radicals that now reappear in the form of Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, Cindy Sheehan, Moveon.org, the Daily Kos, etc. Not many Democrats excommunicated Moveon.org for its General Betray-Us ad. Most lined up to see the premier of Moore's mythodrama. Barack Obama could subsidize a Rev. Wright or email a post-9/11 Bill Ayers in a way no conservative would even dare speak to a David Duke or Timothy McVeigh--and what Wright said was not all that different from what Duke spouts. What separated Ayers from McVeigh was chance; had the stars aligned, the Weathermen would have killed hundreds as they planned.
10. The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is. An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy. This upcoming generation knows instead not to judge anyone by absolute standards (but not why so); to remember to say that its own Western culture is no different from, or indeed far worse than, the alternatives; that race, class, and gender are, well, important in some vague sense; that global warming is manmade and very soon will kill us all; that we must have hope and change of some undefined sort; that AIDs is no more a homosexual- than a heterosexual-prone disease; and that the following things and people for some reason must be bad, or at least must in public company be said to be bad (in no particular order): Wal-Mart, cowboys, the Vietnam War, oil companies, coal plants, nuclear power, George Bush, chemicals, leather, guns, states like Utah and Kansas, Sarah Palin, vans and SUVs.
Well, with that done--I feel much better.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.