September 20, 2013 9:30 PM
American Banana Republic
The decay of a free society doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there.
The CEO of Panera Bread, as some kind of do-gooder awareness-raising shtick, is currently attempting to live on food stamps, and not finding it easy. But being dependent on government handouts isn’t supposed to be easy. Instead of trying life at the bottom, why doesn’t he try life in the middle? In 2012, the top 10 percent were taking home 50.4 percent of the nation’s income. That’s an all-time record, beating out the 49 percent they were taking just before the 1929 market crash. With government redistributing more money than ever before, we’ve mysteriously wound up with greater income inequality than ever before. Across the country, “middle-class” Americans have accumulated a trillion dollars in college debt in order to live a less comfortable life than their high-school-educated parents and grandparents did in the Fifties and Sixties. That’s banana republic, too: no middle class, but only a government elite and its cronies, and a big dysfunctional mass underneath, with very little social mobility between the two.Like to change that? Maybe advocate for less government spending? Hey, Lois Lerner’s IRS has got an audit with your name on it. The tax collectors of the United States treat you differently according to your political beliefs. That’s pure banana republic, but no one seems to mind very much. This week it emerged that senior Treasury officials, up to and including Turbotax Timmy Geithner, knew what was going on at least as early as spring 2012. But no one seems to mind very much. In the words of an insouciant headline writer at Government Executive, “the magazine for senior federal bureaucrats” (seriously), back in May: “The Vast Majority of IRS Employees Aren’t Corrupt”So, if the vast majority aren’t, what proportion is corrupt? Thirty-eight percent? Thirty-three? Twenty-seven? And that’s the good news? The IRS is not only institutionally corrupt, it’s corrupt in the service of one political party. That’s Banana Republic 101.What comes next? Government officials present in Benghazi during last year’s slaughter have been warned not to make themselves available to congressional inquiry. CNN obtained one e-mail spelling out the stakes to CIA employees: “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”“That’s all very ominous,” wrote my colleague Jonah Goldberg the other day, perhaps a little too airily for my taste. I’d rank it somewhere north of “ominous.”“Banana republic” is an American coinage — by O. Henry, a century ago, for a series of stories set in the fictional tropical polity of Anchuria. But a banana republic doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a sensibility, and it’s difficult to mark the precise point at which a free society decays into something less respectable. Pace Obama, ever swelling debt, contracts for cronies, a self-enriching bureaucracy, a shrinking middle class preyed on by corrupt tax collectors, and thuggish threats against anyone who disagrees with you put you pretty far down the banana-strewn path.— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark SteynJuly 2, 2013
The Heady Vision of Control
Since the 18th century, the Left has made excuses for evil.When teenage thugs are called “troubled youth” by people on the political left, that tells us more about the mindset of the Left than about these young hoodlums.Seldom is there a speck of evidence that the thugs are troubled, and often there is ample evidence that they are in fact enjoying themselves, as they create trouble and dangers for others.Why then the built-in excuse, when juvenile hoodlums are called “troubled youth” and mass murderers are just assumed to be “insane”?At least as far back as the 18th century, the Left has struggled to avoid facing the plain fact of evil — that some people simply choose to do things that they know to be wrong when they do them. Every kind of excuse, from poverty to an unhappy childhood, is used by the Left to explain and excuse evil.All the people who have come out of poverty or unhappy childhoods, or both, and become decent and productive human beings, are ignored. So are the evils committed by people raised in wealth and privilege, including kings, conquerors, and slaveowners.Why has evil been such a hard concept for many on the left to accept? The basic agenda of the Left is to change external conditions. But what if the problem is internal? What if the real problem is the cussedness of human beings?Rousseau denied this in the 18th century and the Left has been denying it ever since. Why? Self-preservation.If the things that the Left wants to control — institutions and government policy — are not the most important factors in the world’s problems, then what role is there for the Left?What if things like the family, the culture, and traditions make a more positive difference than the bright new government “solutions” that the Left is constantly coming up with? What if seeking “the root causes of crime” is not nearly as effective as locking up criminals? The hard facts show that the murder rate was going down for decades under the old traditional practices so disdained by the left intelligentsia, before the bright new ideas of the Left went into effect in the 1960s — after which crime and violence skyrocketed.What happened when old-fashioned ideas about sex were replaced in the 1960s by the bright new ideas of the Left that were introduced into the schools as “sex education” that was supposed to reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases? Both teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases had been going down for years. But that trend suddenly reversed in the 1960s and hit new highs.One of the oldest and most dogmatic of the crusades of the Left has been disarmament, both of individuals and of nations. Again, the focus of the Left has been on the externals — the weapons in this case. If weapons were the problem, then gun-control laws at home and international-disarmament agreements abroad might be the answer. But if evil people who care no more for laws or treaties than they do for other people’s lives are the problem, then disarmament means making decent, law-abiding people more vulnerable to evil people.Since belief in disarmament has been a major feature of the Left since the 18th century in countries around the world, you might think that by now there would be lots of evidence to substantiate their beliefs. But evidence on whether gun-control laws actually reduce crime rates in general, or murder rates in particular, is seldom mentioned by gun-control advocates. It is just assumed in passing that of course tighter gun-control laws will reduce murders.But the hard facts do not back up that assumption. That is why it is the critics of gun control who rely heavily on empirical evidence, as in books like More Guns, Less Crime, by John Lott, and Guns and Violence, by Joyce Lee Malcolm.National disarmament has an even worse record. Both Britain and America neglected their military forces between the two World Wars, while Germany and Japan armed to the teeth. Many British and American soldiers paid with their lives for their countries initially inadequate military equipment in World War II.But what are mere facts compared with the heady vision of the Left?August 28, 2013
Obama and the Art of Phoniness
The president is more concerned about the effect of his words than their relation to fact.
Many years ago, I was a member of a committee that was recommending to whom grant money should be awarded. Since I knew one of the applicants, I asked if this meant that I should recuse myself from voting on his application.“No,” the chairman said. “I know him too — and he is one of the truly great phonies of our time.”The man was indeed a very talented phony. He could convince almost anybody of almost anything — provided that they were not already knowledgeable about the subject. He had once spoken to me very authoritatively about Marxian economics, apparently unaware that I was one of the few people who had read all three volumes of Marx’s Capital and had published articles on Marxian economics in scholarly journals. What our glib talker was saying might have seemed impressive to someone who had never read Capital, as most people have not. But it was complete nonsense to me.Incidentally, he did not get the grant he applied for.This episode came back to me recently, as I read an incisive column by Charles Krauthammer, citing some of the many gaffes in public statements by the president of the United States. One presidential gaffe in particular gives the flavor and suggests the reason for many others. It involved the Falkland Islands.Argentina has recently been demanding that Britain return the Falkland Islands, which have been occupied by Britons for nearly two centuries. In 1982, Argentina seized these islands by force, only to have British prime minister Margaret Thatcher take the islands back by force.With Argentina today beset by domestic problems, demanding the return of the Falklands is once again a way for Argentina’s government to distract the Argentine public’s attention from the country’s economic and other woes.Because the Argentines call these islands “the Malvinas,” rather than “the Falklands,” Barack Obama decided to use the Argentine term. But he referred to them as “the Maldives.” It so happens that the Maldives are thousands of miles away from the Malvinas. The former are in the Indian Ocean, while the latter are in the South Atlantic.Nor is this the only gross misstatement that President Obama has gotten away with, thanks to the mainstream media, which sees no evil, hears no evil, and speaks no evil when it comes to Obama.The presidential gaffe that struck me when I heard it was Barack Obama’s reference to a military corps as a military “corpse.” He is obviously a man who is used to sounding off about things he has paid little or no attention to in the past. His mispronunciation of a common military term was especially revealing to someone who was once in the Marine Corps, not Marine “corpse.”Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people — most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant. A talented con man or a slick politician does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.Back during Barack Obama’s first year in office, he kept repeating, with great apparent earnestness, that there were “shovel-ready” projects that would quickly provide many much-needed jobs, if only his spending plans were approved by Congress. He seemed very convincing — if you didn’t know how long it can take for any construction project to get started. Going through a bureaucratic maze of environmental-impact studies, zoning-commission rulings, and other procedures can delay even the smallest and simplest project for years.Only about a year or so after his big spending programs were approved by Congress, Barack Obama himself laughed at how slowly everything was going on his supposedly “shovel-ready” projects.One wonders how he will laugh when all his golden promises about Obamacare turn out to be false and a medical disaster. Or when his foreign-policy fiascoes in the Middle East are climaxed by a nuclear Iran.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc
July 24, 2013 12:00 AMYou may not have seen this — and you’re lucky if you didn’t — but a pro-abortion, or pro-choice, protester in Texas held up a sign that said, “JESUS isn’t a DICK; so keep him OUT of MY VAGINA!” (Nice semi-colon, by the way.)The protester is 14 years old. She explains herself, and her sign, in this article.There are a million things to say about this dear girl, and her sign, but one of them is this: What does that “vagina” business mean, exactly? I’m no anatomist, but don’t babies form in the womb? The thing is, a lot of these pro-choice folk regard abortion as a form of birth control, right?And it is, really: No baby, no birth.Ted Kennedy used to say that anti-abortion people were invading “our bedrooms.” I thought that was an interesting way of putting it. I have no doubt that Kennedy thought of abortion as birth control.Anyway — hope I haven’t ruined your day with this stuff.In a column last week, I spoke of Bob Filner, the “feisty liberal,” in the words of the Associated Press, who is mayor of San Diego. He is in hot water for sexual harassment.And the AP tells us in this article that “House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi won’t say if she thinks [Filner] should resign over allegations he has repeatedly groped women.” Nope. She “told reporters Friday she won’t make judgments about the accusations.”Of course not. But if the mayor were a conservative Republican, instead of a liberal Democrat: Would she “make judgments”?That’s the easiest question you’ll hear all day.A much better politician, than either Pelosi or Filner, is Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan. He’s the one who is tackling the problem — the gargantuan problem — of Detroit. Snyder is a new politician, a former venture capitalist and CEO.This article tells us a number of interesting things about him. He has “no known presidential aspirations,” it says. And it quotes him as saying, “I don’t spend time dwelling on my legacy. I just try to do my job well. That’s relentless positive action. No blame, no credit. Just simply solve the problem.”Snyder continues, “Here was a problem [meaning Detroit] 60 years in the making. The can was being kicked down the road for far too long. It was time to say enough was enough. Let’s stop, let’s stabilize, let’s grow.”Sounds good to me. Snyder is a Republican, and his opponent in the 2010 election was Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing. In this same article, he is quoted on Snyder.“It’s bold and decisive,” he says — referring to Snyder’s decision to take Detroit into bankruptcy. “You’ve got to give him credit, however late.” Bernero thinks that Snyder should have done this shortly after assuming office in 2011.“There was a sense of inevitability about this bankruptcy,” he says. “I would have moved quicker with an emergency manager. The ship couldn’t right itself. Why prolong the agony? Lance the boil and move on.”Well said. But would a Democrat have really — really and truly — acted this way, once in office? Would he have stood up to the forces that have to be stood up to? The race bullies and so on? I’m a little skeptical. Still, nice words.This article is of interest. I give you the first paragraph:The reigning valedictorian of the medical school at Israel’s Technion — the country’s oldest university, dating back to 1912 — is a Muslim-Arab woman from a Nazareth-area village who only became fluent in Hebrew after leaving home. 27 year old Mais Ali-Saleh, from the village of Yafa an-Naseriyye, considers herself both a feminist and a devout Muslim.But never forget that Israel is a racist state, an apartheid state. Never, ever forget it. Our leaders — particularly in academia, the media, and entertainment — tell us this constantly. So it must be true.I was reading about a Vietnamese dissident, and the persecution he is suffering. I thought of an encounter I had with Vietnam’s prime minister, some years ago. He is still prime minister — Nguyen Tan Dung. I met him at Davos, in 2007. He spoke to a small group of us journalists.He was smiling all the time. In fact, I wrote in my journal, “I don’t know how he can smile that long, and that broad. My face would hurt, simply as a physical matter.”Nguyen went on and on about how market-friendly and open Vietnam was. He got a little less smiley when I opened my mouth. Here are the relevant paragraphs from that journal:After hearing so much classical liberalism — I could be at the American Enterprise Institute — I am moved to ask the following: What elements of Communism still appeal to the ruling elites of Vietnam? And what about religious and press freedoms?On hearing my questions, Nguyen smiles just a little less. Before, he has been crisply confident, and now he is slightly hesitant. “May I reassure you,” he says, “that we are a socialist government, and that we continue to pursue the goal of socialism.” I love that “may I reassure you”! He says that “socialism in Vietnam can be characterized as follows: rich people in a strong country with a just, civilized, and advanced society.” He says that, “in Vietnam, the Communist party is the party to lead the country, and socialism is our purpose. This is the historic choice of the Vietnamese people. We have chosen this path on a voluntary basis.”I can’t help writing in my notes: “BIG LIE.”Oh, yes. One of the biggest.My apologies to all Ukrainians, but I enjoyed reading an article by David Blair, in the Telegraph. In 2000, he was in Sierra Leone, where there was a U.N. peacekeeping force. Different soldiers, from different countries, will have different characteristics. I’ll let Blair take over from here:I met their commander, who happened to be a British officer, and he told me about his little force. There was a bunch of Ukrainians, who typically rolled out of bed at noon, cracked open the vodka, and drank until dawn the next day, before going back to bed. The commander no longer bothered asking them to do anything.The list goes on. Fun stuff (even if your own country is knocked or analyzed, I think). Also deadly serious stuff.My fourth-grade teacher was a man from the Ukraine. (In those days, we always put the “the” before “Ukraine,” unless you were a conscientious supporter of Ukrainian nationalism and independence.) The things that those people endured from the Soviets . . .Longtime readers will recognize a complaint from me: Congressional bills should have neutral titles — numbers and whatnot. Not partisan titles, such as the “Make America Better” bill. (Support MAB now!)I thought of this complaint when reading this article. House Republicans have a bill they’re calling the “Student Success Act.” Democrats are retaliating by knocking the bill as the “Letting Students Down Act.” I say, slap a number on it — or some boring language — and proceed.Speaking of longstanding complaints: I have always objected to hissing. And, all of my life, the Left has hissed. They’ve hissed movies, plays, music, me — anything they don’t like. I’m sure that conservatives have hissed, along the way. Frankly, I have never been present for this.I wrote an essay on this subject in 2008: “‘A Perpetual Hissing’: Notes on an unfavorite practice.” (The quote — “a perpetual hissing” — is from the Book of Jeremiah.) I have nothing more to say on this subject, really.But I want to speak of a fresh instance. A friend of mine was attending a program of opera excerpts in San Francisco. On the program was a stretch from L’italiana in Algeri, the Rossini opera. At one point, Isabella says to Taddeo, “Meglio un Turco che un briccone” — which the surtitle in the house rendered “Better a Turk than a scoundrel.”And a woman behind my friend hissed.Now, we are talking about an opera written in 1813. And that particular line, of course, is “progressive”! Forward-thinking! “Multicultural”! “Better a Turk than a scoundrel.” But the woman in the audience could not help hissing. Because that’s what the Left does, or some of them do: hiss.Oh, what a disgusting, sinister practice. I could go on — but I did, in that essay.I want to end with a letter. It’s not too cheery, but it’s in keeping with my column today. (Sorry about that.) A reader writes,Jay,My girlfriend works at a retail clothing store in Chicago. She has recently had some issues with her manager (long stories, details don’t matter).Today, she was told by the manager, “Because you do such a good job selling, the other employees are intimidated. They are intimidated by your success. We want to move you to a fitting room [outta sight, outta mind], so other employees have a chance on the floor. I just want to have an environment where all people are equal and everybody does the same.”She has already found another job, and is leaving. By the way, the store called her into a meeting a few months ago and told her, “Employees said that, in the breakroom, you mentioned having a Bush-Cheney shirt. Some of them thought that was offensive, so we would like you not to speak of it at work.”We can accept this kind of country — just accept defeat, or a kind of dhimmitude. Or we can push back. Push back in myriad ways, at myriad turns.Jesse Jackson had — or has, I don’t know — his “Operation PUSH.” Here’s to an Operation Pushback.
July 9, 2013
Who Is Racist?
Progress in race relations isn’t achieved by having minority leaders.
I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white.Apparently other Americans also recognize that the sources of racism are different today from what they were in the past. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31 percent of blacks think that most blacks are racists, while 24 percent of blacks think that most whites are racist.he difference between these percentages is not great, but it is remarkable nevertheless. After all, generations of blacks fought the white racism from which they suffered for so long. If many blacks themselves now think that most other blacks are racist, that is startling.The moral claims advanced by generations of black leaders — claims that eventually touched the conscience of the nation and turned the tide toward civil rights for all — have now been cheapened by today’s generation of black “leaders,” who act as if it is all just a matter of whose ox is gored.Even in legal cases involving terrible crimes — the O.J. Simpson murder trial or the charges of gang rape against Duke University students — many black “leaders” and their followers have not waited for facts about who was guilty and who was not, but have immediately taken sides based on who was black and who was white.Among whites, according to the same Rasmussen poll, 38 percent consider most blacks racist and 10 percent consider most whites racist.Broken down by politics, the same poll showed that 49 percent of Republicans consider most blacks racist, as do 36 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats.Perhaps most disturbing of all, just 29 percent of Americans as a whole think race relations are getting better, while 32 percent think race relations are getting worse. The difference is too close to call, but the fact that it is so close is itself painful — and perhaps a warning sign for where we are heading.Is this what so many Americans, both black and white, struggled for over the decades and generations? To try to put the curse of racism behind us — only to reach a point where retrogression in race relations now seems at least equally likely as progress?What went wrong? Perhaps no single factor can be blamed for all the things that went wrong. Insurgent movements of all sorts, in countries around the world, have for centuries soured in the aftermath of their own success. “The revolution betrayed” is a theme that goes back at least as far as 18th-century France.The civil-rights movement in 20th-century America attracted many people who put everything on the line for the sake of fighting against racial oppression. But the eventual success of that movement attracted opportunists and even turned some idealists into opportunists.Over the generations, black leaders have ranged from noble souls to shameless charlatans. After the success of the civil-rights insurgency, the latter have come into their own, gaining money, power, and fame by promoting racial attitudes and actions that are counterproductive to the interests of those they lead.None of this is unique to blacks or to the United States. In various countries and times, leaders of groups that lagged behind, economically and educationally, have taught their followers to blame all their problems on other people — and to hate those other people.This was the history of anti-Semitic movements in Eastern Europe between the two World Wars, anti-Ibo movements in Nigeria in the 1960s, and anti-Tamil movements that turned Sri Lanka from a peaceful nation into a scene of lethal mob violence and then decades-long civil war, both marked by unspeakable atrocities.Groups that rose from poverty to prosperity seldom did so by having their own racial or ethnic leaders to follow. While most Americans can easily name a number of black leaders, current or past, how many can name Asian-American ethnic leaders or Jewish ethnic leaders?The time is long overdue to stop looking for progress through racial or ethnic leaders. Such leaders have too many incentives to promote polarizing attitudes and actions that are counterproductive for minorities and disastrous for the country.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc
July 30, 2013
How Liberalism Makes It Easier to Sin
Liberal politics provides cover for vice, while conservative sinners are called hypocrites.There are many liberals who lead thoroughly decent lives. And there are conservatives who do not.But that is not the whole issue.There is something about liberalism that is not nearly as true about conservatism. The further left one goes, the more one finds that the ideology provides moral cover for a life that is not moral. While many people left of center lead fine personal lives, many do not. And left-wing ideals enable a person to do that much more than conservative ideals do.There is an easy way to demonstrate this.If a married — or even unmarried — conservative congressman had texted sexual images of himself to young women he did not even know, he would have been called something Anthony Weiner has not been called: a hypocrite.Why? Because conservatives — secular conservatives, not only religious conservatives — are identified with moral values in the personal sphere, and liberals are not. Liberals rarely called Bill Clinton a hypocrite for his extramarital affair while president. George W. Bush would have been pilloried as such.Simply put, we do not generally judge personal conduct the same when it comes to liberals and conservatives.Both liberals and conservatives know this. As a result, as noted, liberal social positions can provide moral cover for immoral behavior in a way that conservative positions cannot.Though there are many sincere liberals, it is likely that this ability to provide moral cover for a less than moral life is one source of liberalism’s appeal.I first thought about this when I saw how the left-wing students at my graduate school, Columbia University, behaved. Aside from their closing down classes, taking over office buildings, and ransacking professors’ offices, I saw the way in which many of them conducted themselves in their personal lives. Most of them had little sense of personal decency, and lived lives of narcissistic hedonism. Women who were involved with leftist groups have told of how poorly they were treated. And one suspects that they would have been treated far better by conservative, let alone religious, men on campus.My sense was that the radicals’ commitment to “humanity,” to “peace,” and to “love” gave them license to feel good about themselves without having to lead a good life. Their vocal opposition to war and to racism provided them with all the moral self-esteem they wanted.Consider the example of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He had been expelled from college for paying someone to take his exams. His role in the death of a woman with whom he spent an evening would have sent almost anyone without his family name to prison — or would have at least resulted in prosecution for negligent homicide. And he spent decades using so many women in so public a way that stories about his sex life were routinely told in Washington. (Read the 9,000-word 1990 article in GQ by Michael Kelly, who a few years later became the editor of The New Republic.)When this unimpressive man started espousing liberal positions, speaking passionately about the downtrodden in society, it recalled the unimpressive students who marched on behalf of civil rights, peace, and love.It is quite likely that Ted Kennedy came to believe in the positions that he took. But I also suspect that he found espousing those positions invaluable to his self-image and to his public image: “Look at what a moral man I am after all.” And liberal positions were all that mattered to the Left and to the liberal media that largely ignored such lecherous behavior as the “waitress sandwich” he made in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with another prominent liberal, former senator Chris Dodd.In addition to knowing that liberal positions provide moral cover for immoral personal behavior, liberals know that their immoral behavior will be given much more of pass than exactly the same behavior would if engaged in by a conservative.Women’s groups provided Bill Clinton with enormous moral capital because he supported their feminist agenda. One leading feminist famously said she would be happy to get on her knees and pleasure Clinton thanks to his pro-choice position on abortion.Conservative politicians have the same sex drive as liberal politicians, the same marital problems, and the same ubiquitous temptations and opportunities. And some will therefore engage in extra-marital sex. But every conservative politician knows that, should he be caught, his positions on issues not only do not provide moral cover for his conduct, those very positions condemn it. There is no benefit to the conservative sinner in being a conservative. There is great benefit to the liberal sinner in being a liberal.— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.
June 18, 2013
The Loss of Trust
Every untruth damages the presidency, not just the president.Amid all the heated cross-currents of debate about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program, there is a growing distrust of the Obama administration that makes weighing the costs and benefits of the NSA program itself hard to assess.The belated recognition of this administration’s contempt for the truth, for the American people, and for the Constitution of the United States has been long overdue.But what if the NSA program has in fact thwarted terrorists and saved many American lives in ways that cannot be revealed publicly?Nothing is easier than saying that you still don’t want your telephone records collected by the government. But the first time you have to collect the remains of your loved ones, after they have been killed by terrorists, telephone records can suddenly seem like a small price to pay to prevent such things.The millions of records of phone calls collected every day virtually guarantee that nobody has the time to listen to them all, even if the NSA could get a judge to authorize listening to what is said in all these calls, instead of just keeping a record of who called whom.Moreover, congressional oversight by members of both political parties limits what Barack Obama or any other president can get away with.Are these safeguards foolproof? No. Nothing is ever foolproof.As Edmund Burke said, more than two centuries ago: “Constitute government how you please, infinitely the greater part of it must depend upon the exercise of the powers which are left at large to the prudence and uprightness of ministers of state.”In other words, we do not have a choice whether to trust or not to trust government officials. Unless we are willing to risk anarchy or terrorism, the most we can do is set up checks and balances within government — and be a lot more careful in the future than we have been in the past when deciding whom to elect.Anyone old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when President John F. Kennedy took this country to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, may remember that there was nothing like the distrust and backlash against later presidents, whose controversial decisions risked nothing approaching the cataclysm that President Kennedy’s decision could have led to.Even those of us who were not John F. Kennedy supporters, and who were not dazzled by the glitter and glamour of the Kennedy aura, nevertheless felt that the president of the United States was someone who knew much more than we did about the realities on which all our lives depended.Whatever happened to that feeling? Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon happened — and both were shameless liars. They destroyed not only their own credibility, but the credibility of the office.Even when Lyndon Johnson told us the truth at a crucial juncture during the Vietnam War — that the Communist offensive of 1968 was a defeat for them, even as the media depicted it as a defeat for us — we didn’t believe him.In later years, Communist leaders themselves admitted that they had been devastated on the battlefield. But by then it was too late. What the Communists lost militarily on the ground in Vietnam they won politically in the American media and in American public opinion.More than 50,000 Americans lost their lives winning battles on the ground in Vietnam, only to have the war lost politically back home. We seem to be having a similar scenario unfolding today in Iraq, where soldiers won the war, only to have politicians lose the peace, as Iraq now increasingly aligns itself with Iran.When Barack Obama squanders his own credibility with his glib lies, he is not just injuring himself during his time in office. He is inflicting a lasting wound on the country as a whole.But we the voters are not blameless. Having chosen an untested man to be president, on the basis of rhetoric, style, and symbolism, we have ourselves to blame if we now have only a choice between two potentially tragic fates — the loss of American lives to terrorism, or a further dismantling of our freedoms that has already led many people to ask, “Is this still America?”— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, IncJuly 23, 2013
Words of Wisdom
Thoughts from some attentive thinkers, relevant and timeless.“We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.”— F. A. Hayek“Many respectable writers agree that if a man reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant, he may stand his ground, and that, if he kills him, he has not exceeded the bounds of lawful self-defense. That has been the decision of this court.”— Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Brown v. United States, 1921“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”— John Adams“A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.”— Jean-François Revel“The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie.”— J. A. Schumpeter“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”— T. S. Eliot“The study of human institutions is always a search for the most tolerable imperfections.”— Richard A. Epstein“There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, decision, and steadiness on that belief.”— Edmund Burke“We do not live in the past, but the past in us.”— U. B. Phillips“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be to-morrow.”— James Madison“A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”— Milton Friedman“ . . . leniency toward criminals contrasted starkly with severity toward the law-abiding citizen’s right to defend himself or herself.”— Joyce Lee Malcolm“A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.”— John Stuart Mill“Criticism is easy; achievement is more difficult.”— Winston Churchill“Everybody has asked the question . . . ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us!”— Frederick Douglass“The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.”— Paul Johnson“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”— Calvin Coolidge— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc.May 1, 2013
Academia’s Unexamined Assumptions
There should be more debate and less denunciation.While it is not possible to answer all the e-mails and letters from readers, many are thought-provoking, whether those thoughts are positive or negative.An e-mail from one young man simply asked for the sources of some facts about gun control that I mentioned in a recent column. It is good to check out the facts — especially if you check out the facts on both sides of an issue.By contrast, another man simply denounced me because of what I said in that column. He did not ask for my sources but simply made contrary assertions, as if his assertions must be correct and therefore mine must be wrong.A moral monopoly is the antithesis of a marketplace of ideas. One sign of this sense of moral monopoly among the left intelligentsia is that the institutions most under their control — the schools, colleges, and universities — have far less freedom of speech than the rest of American society.While advocacy of homosexuality, for example, is common on college campuses, and listening to this advocacy is often obligatory during freshman orientation, criticism of homosexuality is called “hate speech” and is subject to punishment.While spokesmen for various racial or ethnic groups are free to vehemently denounce whites as a group for their past or present sins, real or otherwise, any white student who similarly denounces the sins or shortcomings of non-white groups can be virtually guaranteed to be punished, if not expelled.Even students who do not advocate anything may have to pay a price if they do not go along with classroom brainwashing. The student at Florida Atlantic University who recently declined to stomp on a paper with the word “Jesus” on it, as ordered by the professor, was scheduled for punishment by the university until the story became public and provoked an outcry from outside of academia.This professor’s action might be dismissed as an isolated extreme, but the university establishment’s initial solid backing for him, and its coming down hard on the student, shows that the moral dry rot goes far deeper than one brainwashing professor.The failure of our educational system goes beyond what they fail to teach. It includes what they do teach, or rather indoctrinate, and the graduates they send out into the world who are incapable of seriously weighing alternatives for themselves or for American society.— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
What About Truth, Liberty, and Justice For All? – Propaganda of the Liberal Media
As America is attacked from within, the public majority walks behind the Judas lamb to the destruction of all within the Framers’ original intention. Misguiding voters and enabling the corruption of the political process and system with lies and deceptions, the liberal media aids and abets the enemies of liberty and justice for all. Destroying all that made America great, raising their voice of tyranny and injustice, the propaganda of the liberal media is our worst enemy. With their assistance in removing truth from the awareness of the electorate, our enemies move against us with little resistance. Led by the personages of Obama, the Congress failing in its oath of office, and those at every level of government, public and private, from the corporate boardroom to city councils to school boards, many of our leaders lack the morality and integrity absolutely requisite for a successful and enduring republican democracy. We are moving steadily away from the economic and social structure based on and demanding truth as its foundation and bringing liberty and justice for all. Emaciating free and just competition, free enterprise rewarding work and sacrifice is taxed to bribe the undeserving and irresponsible for their vote. Tolerating injustices such as reverse discrimination, taxing without representation,failing as never before to defend America and Americans here and abroad, and rejecting the original intention of the Constitution particularly its Bill of Rights, those demanding acceptance of agendas and ideologies contrary to and repeatedly invalidated by science and history progressively deny us and our children the very freedoms that unprotected enable their treason. Taken fore granted and lacking defense from patriots motivated by truth, an America whose freedom was paid for in the blood and sacrifices of righteous Americans defending the original intention of the Constitution has had it freedoms insidiously and incrementally lost as our domestic traitors have brought and invited the economic implosion their communist mentors in education prescribed, opened our borders to drug traffickers and terrorists, and generally failed to fulfill nearly every requirement of the Constitution made explicit in the Preamble.
Whether giving voice to the intellectual historical moral bankruptcy of the Sharptons or Jacksons, the scientific void of global warming under human control, the political failure of violating their oath of office or the public trust, the ideological wasteland of false religion, and the list continues, the media spewing forth the untruths rejected by the Founders and Framers stand at the point of the attack on America. When there is an incessant unchallenged support provided for those that would demand a tolerance for their right to destructive dissent and beliefs lacking immutable truths invalidated and repudiated by science and history, a voice of truth must come forth and be heard. A call to arms has been repeatedly sounded and an army of righteousness and justice activated. That army “relying on divine Providence” must render impotent the voice of untruth; disarm, remove from every position of political power, and punish “enemies, foreign and domestic”. Only by defeating the unjust purposes and eliminating the political stranglehold of those in the congregations following doctrines of untruth and injustice who when tolerated turn and take the very freedoms that have enabled their errors to infect and debilitate those giving them freedoms without responsibility can true freedom be reclaimed and restored. Voices proclaiming scientific historic moral truths defined beyond mankind’s intention or capacity coming from leaders displaying courage and integrity unselfishly motivated to reclaim a heritage of liberty and justice for all must drown out the ranting and ravings of those willing to parasitize the work and sacrifices of others transmitted by the media at the front of the attack on America. Truth alone enables real freedom!
Joining the media of untruth and injustice in the attack on America are those at every level of the educational establishment who similarly corrupt, infect, and misdirect those in their charge with the same lies and deceptions. People are only motivated by what they believe to be truth. Inoculating those seeking truth and justice to guide their lives with imaginations and dreams rejected by reality is a crime against humanity. Moving beyond reason energized by ideologies borne of human arrogance and injustice, those rejecting truths confirmed by science and time having attained political power have carried forward the attack on America bringing us the political and economic crises now confronting us. Tolerance is the enemy of justice.
The following articles sustain the argument that our political choices have placed us where we are. Aided by the propaganda arm of those destroying the foundation of truth and justice, the liberal media’s lies and deceptions inoculate and infect a gullible irrational public leading them to self destruction.