Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The network new shows talk endlessly about our changing climate. On March 2-4, a huge group of scientists and public policy experts is gathering in New York for the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change to talk about what the networks leave out. The conference will present a counter to the global warming hysteria so prominent in our society.
Much of what we get on the networks is one big snow job. This year, I mean that literally. In China, they are having epic blizzards. Millions are stranded in train stations because of the snow. Now, any smart person will tell you that there is no connection between an individual weather event and long-term climate change.
Of course any smart person doesn’t necessarily work for the network news. Network stories on cold weather, which goes against the Al Gorean principles of climate change, merit no mention of global warming. Hot weather, however, earns a ridiculous 100-year prediction of disaster from CNN’s Tom Foreman as the network promoted its “Planet in Peril” report.
Sometimes climate change hysteria has its amusing side. The U.S. Senate held its global warming debate on a snowy day in December. NBC actually turned off its studio lights during a Sunday night football broadcast, as if turning off a few bulbs would detract from the millions of people powering their TVs. And last April’s Vanity Fair depicted an afterlife where “environmental sinners” go from global warming to a slightly hotter hereafter. Sort of out of the frying pan, well, you get the idea.
Unsurprisingly, Paradise had Al Gore and a Prius. And while The Washington Post didn’t deify the Jolly Green Giant, it called him "Al Gore, sexy man. The thinking girl's thoroughbred."
According to the December 12 Style section, part of Gore’s Nobel award included worship by a parade of demented pop stars. Scottish singer KT Tunstall gushed over Gore’s “expressive, arched, well-groomed” eyebrows. Actress Uma Thurman, who called him "adorable and sexy," said watching the “Inconvenient Truth” star “following his calling” was “like watching a beautiful racehorse run.”
OK, enough of Al Gore running. Thankfully we were saved from that. But Al Gore flying is another matter. Between climate summits and Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, Gore jetted from Bali to Stockholm and back.
Not to be outdone, network journalists adopted this strategy of flying around the globe to complain about people damaging the environment.
ABC’s “Good Morning America” gang celebrated their first anniversary together by highlighting how they had flown around the globe to “bring you the day’s most important stories,” said anchor Robin Roberts. That globetrotting included countless segments about everyone doing his or her part to curb the threat of global warming. “I tallied it up and we have circled the globe 12 times, 12 times in one year, 315,688 miles,” Roberts said.
Al Gore’s Climatecrisis.net Web site says just one person flying that much is equal to the entire carbon output of eight people for a whole year. And TV people rarely travel alone. They take crews and producers and everything but sherpas.
Apparently, the maxim “Do as I say, not as I do” is a guiding network principle.
NBC’s “Today” show was nearly as bad. First they gave us a week showing how environmentally conscious they were in a “going green” series, including carpooling and light bulb changing.
But when the Giants defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl, co-anchor Meredith Vieira made good on a bet she lost with Matt Lauer. Meredith paid to have a plane fly over New York with the banner: “Giants Rule, Meredith Drools.”
Network reporting can be summed up in their own words, not mine. CBS News posted a help wanted ad on a popular journalism Web site back in November looking for a reporter to cover the “eco beat.”
“CBS is expanding its coverage of the environment,” the ad read. The ideal candidate: “You are wicked smart, funny, irreverent and hip, oozing enthusiasm and creative energy.” But here’s the kicker. “Knowledge of the enviro beat is a big plus, but not a requirement.”
Based on an upcoming report from the Business & Media Institute, CBS is right – knowledge of the environmental beat is not a requirement for network coverage. That report found CBS the worst on climate change, stifling debate on the topic in 97 percent of its stories.
It’s amazing the ridiculous lengths the news media will go to so they can bully you into believing something scientists still debate. The International Conference on Climate Change is intended to keep that debate alive.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
By Michael Asher (Blog)
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.
No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.
Let's hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans -- and most of the crops and animals we depend on -- prefer a temperature closer to 70.
Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.
Update 2/27: The graph for HadCRUT (above), as well as the linked graphs for RSS and UAH are generated month-to-month; the temperature declines span a full 12 months of data. The linked GISS graph was graphed for the months of January only, due to a limitation in the plotting program. Anthony Watts, who kindly provided the graphics, otherwise has no connection with the column. The views and comments are those of the author only.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
It has almost become something of a joke when some "global warming" conference has to be cancelled because of a snowstorm or bitterly cold weather.
But stampedes and hysteria are no joke -- and creating stampedes and hysteria has become a major activity of those hyping a global warming "crisis."
They mobilize like-minded people from a variety of occupations, call them all "scientists" and then claim that "all" the experts agree on a global warming crisis.
Their biggest argument is that there is no argument.
A whole cottage industry has sprung up among people who get grants, government agencies who get appropriations, politicians who get publicity and the perpetually indignant who get something new to be indignant about. It gives teachers something to talk about in school instead of teaching.
Those who bother to check the facts often find that not all those who are called scientists are really scientists and not all of those who are scientists are specialists in climate. But who bothers to check facts these days?
A new and very different conference on global warming will be held in New York City, under the sponsorship of the Heartland Institute, on March 2nd to March 4th -- weather permitting.
It is called an "International Conference on Climate Change." Its subtitle is "Global Warming: Truth or Swindle?" Among those present will be professors of climatology, along with scientists in other fields and people from other professions.
They come from universities in England, Hungary, and Australia, as well as from the United States and Canada, and include among other dignitaries the president of the Czech Republic.
There will be 98 speakers and 400 participants.
The theme of the conference is that "there is no scientific consensus on the causes or likely consequences of global warming."
Many of the participants in this conference are people who have already expressed skepticism about either the prevailing explanations of current climate change or the dire predictions about future climate change.
These include authors of such books as "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years" by Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, and "Shattered Consensus," edited by Patrick J. Michaels.
This will be one of the rare opportunities for the media to hear the other side of the story -- for those old-fashioned journalists who still believe that their job is to inform the public, rather than promote an agenda.
The subtitle of the upcoming conference -- "Global Warming: Truth or Swindle?" -- is also the title of a British television program that is now available on DVD in the United States. It is a devastating debunking of the current "global warming" hysteria.
Nobody denies that there is such a thing as a greenhouse effect. If there were not, the side of the planet facing away from the sun would be freezing every night.
There is not even a lot of controversy over temperature readings. What is fundamentally at issue are the explanations, implications and extrapolations of these temperature readings.
The party line of those who say that we are heading for a global warming crisis of epic proportions is that human activities generating carbon dioxide are key factors responsible for the warming that has taken place in recent times.
The problem with this reasoning is that the temperatures rose first and then the carbon dioxide levels rose. Some scientists say that the warming created the increased carbon dioxide, rather than vice versa.
Many natural factors, including variations in the amount of heat put out by the sun, can cause the earth to heat or cool.
The bigger problem is that this has long since become a crusade rather than an exercise in evidence or logic. Too many people are too committed to risk it all on a roll of the dice, which is what turning to empirical evidence is.
Those who have a big stake in global warming hysteria are unlikely to show up at the conference in New York, and unfortunately that includes much of the media.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The argument one hears most often for not enforcing illegal immigration laws is that we can't deport the estimated 12 million people already in this country. It just isn't physically, tactically or politically possible, say people who think this way.
Maybe not, but authorities can start with people who not only broke laws to get here, but are breaking more laws now that they are here.
Virginia's Republican Attorney General, Robert McDonnell, is beginning the deportation process with a class of people not even the most vehemently pro-immigrant activist should defend. They are sex offenders and McDonnell, working in cooperation with the Virginia State Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, has identified 171 people who have been convicted of sex crimes. Some are illegal aliens, others have legal status, but their convictions violate the conditional terms of their residency and make them subject to deportation.
In a telephone interview from Richmond, McDonnell told me that because federal statutes have pre-empted what states can do on most immigration issues, Virginia had to look for ways to initiate deportation of criminal sex offenders while working with the federal government. Asked whether the targeting of illegal alien sex offenders is the first step toward going after other criminal aliens, McDonnell said, "We're planning to do all of them. My position is that criminal illegal aliens or criminal aliens have forfeited their right to be in the country. There is broad agreement, regardless of which side people are on in the illegal immigration debate, that the criminal alien should be detained and deported."
In addition to checking on the immigration status of everyone released from a Virginia prison, McDonnell says people convicted of crimes will now be investigated for their residency status before they are locked up, possibly allowing the federal government to deport them prior to their serving all of their sentence.
One northern Virginia jurisdiction with a high illegal alien population is the city of Manassas. In response to intense citizen complaints, the Manassas City Council has authorized local police to begin checking the immigration status of people they arrest for any crime. If they find the suspects are in the country illegally, they are now authorized to begin deportation proceedings. On March 3, neighboring Prince William County will begin implementing a similar program to crackdown on illegals. These two jurisdictions are in sync with what McDonnell is now doing statewide.
Immigrant rights leader Ricardo Juarez of Mexicans Without Borders (a name that tells you something about his goal) is quoted in The Washington Examiner newspaper as saying, "This policy will only make the situation worse and will drive people out." Precisely. That is the intent of the program; to drive criminal illegal aliens out, preferably back to where they came from and especially if they have twice violated our laws.
Not all of the Virginia sex offenders fit the demographic stereotype. Yes, most are from Mexico, or Central and South American countries, but quite a few are from other nations, including Ethiopia, India, Iran, Thailand, even Scotland. So this is not about ethnicity. It is about breaking the law.
The issue of illegal immigration and most especially that of criminal aliens should be a major issue in the presidential campaign. It is bad enough when immigration activists countenance the breaking of our laws and defend people who do it; it is something else when they attempt to defend sex offenders and others who have broken other laws while here.
There is no right to come to America, but there is an obligation to obey the same laws everyone else has to obey or suffer the consequences. Virginia and at least two of its jurisdictions are onto something. Other states and localities might wish to consider a similar approach.
The federal government seems to be getting the message. Perhaps shamed by Virginia, immigration officials, according to the Washington Post, are now actively "scouring jails and courts nationwide" to identify immigrants who qualify for deportation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports that in a 12-month period ending last Sept. 30, "it placed 164,000 criminals in deportation proceedings," an increase from the 64,000 the agency identified and placed in deportation proceedings the previous year. ICE "estimates the number will rise to 200,000 this year."
It's a start.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
When President George Bush leaves office, will America once again be liked by most of the world? Not necessarily, since most current problems are either already getting better or not our fault.
When the next president takes office in January 2009, he or she will be confronted by a world that either understandably appreciates America or for self-interested reasons will challenge it.
On the positive side, the new president will see a Middle East without the Taliban in charge in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein ruling Iraq. A stabilizing constitutional Iraq should result in a steadily diminishing American presence there.
In Europe, the French under Nicolas Sarkozy and the Germans under Angela Merkel will remain pro-American. But they will also expect continued American leadership. Both may talk grandly of the Atlantic Alliance, but in real terms they do little to help us in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
Most of Africa likewise is already friendly to the United States. And why not? President Bush extended more humanitarian aid to combat African hunger and disease than any president in our history.
But what of our enemies? Won't adversaries back off when the Christian cowboy George Bush rides back to Texas -- and we have a kinder, gentler commander-in-chief who offers hope, or at least change, to the world?
There are plenty of problems that both antedated George Bush and are likely to continue well after he's left office.
For starters, the next American president will have to deal with Vladimir Putin's Russia, which is proud and angry for reasons that go well beyond the Bush administration. Russia is flush with petrodollars, still smarting over lost empire and tired of lectures about human rights from impotent European states.
Iran, which repeatedly snubbed the efforts of the Clinton administration to normalize relations, will still want a bomb, will still intimidate neighbors and will still threaten Israel. Indeed, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Hitlerian fashion, has called the Jewish state "filthy bacteria" and promised to wipe it off the map. He didn't say these things because George Bush is president, and he won't stop when Bush is gone.
Sen. Barack Obama, who looks more and more every day like he'll be the Democratic presidential nominee, has said he'd be in favor of taking out "high-value terrorist targets" inside Pakistan on our own if the Pakistani government won't. But so far we haven't done that because Pakistan is nuclear and friendlier to jihadists than it is to us. That won't change, either.
Osama bin Laden's attacks on Americans also predated George Bush. The war on terror started only when we finally decided to strike back in 2001. And it will end only when we destroy the jihadists and alter the conditions that created them -- or give in and return to the earlier policy of inaction.
Long-term global challenges are bipartisan concerns -- neither caused by conservative Republicans nor solved by easy answers from liberal Democrats.
Should we guarantee the new independence of Muslim-dominated Kosovo, if Christian Serbia and its Russian patrons seek to get it back by force? If so, consider the chance of another bloody war inside Europe, and no appreciation for our help in Kosovo from the Muslim world.
Should we press China to clean up its trade practices and grant basic human rights to its own citizens? If so, be ready to see hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese-held U.S. government bonds sold off.
Should we extend formal diplomatic recognition to Iran and begin talks? If so, be prepared that, with even less worry, Tehran will accelerate efforts to get the bomb.
It is a cop-out to say George Bush caused all these problems. They loom large mostly for two reasons. One, the United States promotes global democratic capitalism, and our military ensures international free commerce in the air and on the seas. This bothers regional dictators and terrorists eager to carve out their own spheres of influence, regardless of who's sitting in the Oval Office.
Two, billions of people in India, Russia, China, Asia and Latin America, having copied American business and culture, are now doing better, and demand the same good lives we take for granted.
Our rivals suspect that we are played out, short of energy, long on debt, and hogging the world's resources. They see no reason to stop pushing just because of our past strength and reputation. They think the future is theirs, the past ours. And so all over the globe they will surely challenge the next president, however nice, to prove them wrong.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
People on the left often use other countries as examples of things that we should do. If other countries have a government-run medical system, then we should have one too, they say. If other countries control prices, then we should control prices -- or so the reasoning goes.
Almost never is there any suggestion that we should first find out whether the actual results of the policies we are supposed to imitate are better or worse than what we already have.
There is in fact a lot that we can learn from other countries if we look at the actual consequences of some of the things we are being urged to do, instead of just assuming that we should automatically imitate what others are doing.
Studies have already shown that the waiting time before being able to get surgery is several times as long in a number of countries with government-run medical systems as in the United States. Modern medical technology like MRIs and CAT scans are also rarer in such countries.
Venezuela is currently giving us a lesson on the consequences of price controls. The government of leftist President Hugo Chavez has imposed price controls -- and seems to be surprised that lower prices have lead to reduced supplies, even though price controls have led to reduced supplies in countries around the world and for thousands of years.
There were price controls back in the days of the Roman Empire, under the Pharaohs in Egypt, and in ancient Babylon. There is plenty of history to look at, if we bother.
Price controls under the Roman Emperor Diocletian led to a decline in the supply of goods. The same thing happened under President Richard Nixon's price controls in the 1970s. It has happened in Zimbabwe within the past year.
Rent control laws led to housing shortages in Cairo -- and in Berkeley, Hanoi, Paris, and other cities around the world.
When price controls in Venezuela led to food shortages, Hugo Chavez accused companies of "hoarding" food. The emperor Diocletian was similarly accusatory when his price controls reduced supplies, many centuries ago.
Political leaders always find someone else to blame for the bad consequences of their own policies.
Hugo Chavez has blamed foreign owned companies for Venezuela's food shortages and threatened to "nationalize" them. This too is an old political game that seldom does the people of the country any good.
What is remarkable is how little interest there is among the media and among the public in how often and how consistently this has happened in the wake of price controls.
When politicians today say that they are going to "bring down the cost of medical care" or make housing "affordable," what are they talking about other than price controls?
Do we want a shortage of medical care? Do you want to have to wait for months for surgery -- and suffer needlessly in the meantime, as people do in Canada and Britain?
Behind these wonderful-sounding political "solutions" to our problems is the notion that businesses are just ripping us off with arbitrarily set prices, and that the government can make them stop.
It makes a nice story and it can get votes for politicians who play the role of saviors. But it makes little economic sense. Why do so many businesses have losses, and even go bankrupt, if they can set their prices wherever they want to?
It is not uncommon for companies on the Fortune 500 list to operate in the red. Back during the days of the Great Depression of the 1930s, corporations as a whole operated in the red two years in a row.
They were trying to keep from going under while Franklin D. Roosevelt was denouncing them as "economic royalists." FDR knew how to win elections, even if he didn't know how to get the country out of the Great Depression.
That political lesson has been learned all too well, as much of the strident, anti-business political rhetoric of this election year demonstrates.
Now if only the media and the public had some interest in learning the economic lesson!
By Jonah Goldberg
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
“Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon.”
This excerpt from William Ayers’ memoir appeared in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001 — the day al-Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ayers, once a leader in the Weather Underground — the group that declared “war” on the U.S. government in 1970 — told the Times, “I don’t regret setting bombs,” and, “I feel we didn’t do enough.”
Ayers recently reappeared in the news because Politico.com reported Friday that Barack Obama has loose ties to him. Ayers, now a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is apparently a left-wing institution in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and Obama visited Ayers’ home as a rite of passage when launching his political career in the mid-1990s. The two also served on the board of the charitable Woods Fund of Chicago, which gave money to Northwestern University Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers’ wife (and former Weather Underground compatriot who glorified violence) Bernardine Dohrn is the director.
I don’t think Obama supports domestic terrorism, and I’m sure he can offer eloquent explanations for why he shouldn’t suffer any guilt by association. The Hillary Clinton campaign, however, did try to score a few political points, meekly linking to the Politico story on the campaign website’s blog. The campaign probably couldn’t be more aggressive without calling attention to how Bill Clinton pardoned Puerto Rican separatist terrorists — perceived to be a way to gain support for Hillary’s Senate bid from left-wing Puerto Ricans in New York.
What fascinates me is how light the baggage is when one travels from violent radicalism to liberalism. Chicago activist Sam Ackerman told Politico’s reporter that Ayers “is one of my heroes in life.” Cass Sunstein, a first-rank liberal intellectual, said, “I feel very uncomfortable with their past, but neither of them is thought of as horrible types now — so far as most of us know, they are legitimate members of the community.”
Why, exactly, can Ayers and Dohrn be seen as “legitimate members of the community”? How is it that they get prestigious university jobs when even the whisper of neocon tendencies is toxic in academia?
The question of why Ayers isn’t in jail is moot; he was never prosecuted for the Weather Underground’s bombing campaign. Still, Ayers is unrepentant about his years spent waging war against the United States. “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at,” Ayers was widely quoted as saying at the time.
Ayers is merely symptomatic. Academia, the arts, even business have readmitted one former (and a few not-so-former) violent radical after another. Thomas W. Jones, a leader in the armed takeover of Cornell University’s student union in 1969, rose to the top of Citigroup and once ran TIAA-CREF, the pension fund of some of the very academics he threatened.
Hillary Clinton had her own brush with violent radical leftists during her years at Yale Law. The New Haven, Conn., trial of Black Panthers — racist paramilitary criminals who had murdered police and civilians in cold blood — was a cause celebre for The Yale Review of Law and Social Action, the journal she helped edit. According to some accounts, Clinton volunteered to monitor the trial to aid Black Panther leader Bobby Seale’s defense, and one of Seale’s lawyers, a major radical, was sufficiently impressed to offer her an internship.
I don’t think such associations should necessarily cost people their careers or place in polite society, particularly if some sort of contrition is involved. But shouldn’t this baggage cost something?
Why is it only conservative “cranks” who think it’s relevant that Obama’s campaign headquarters in Houston had a Che Guevara-emblazoned Cuban flag hanging on the wall? Indeed, why is love of Che still radically chic at all? A murderer who believed that “the U.S. is the great enemy of mankind” shouldn’t be anyone’s hero, never mind a logo for a line of baby clothes. Why are Fidel Castro’s apologists progressive and enlightened but apologists for Augusto Pinochet frightening and authoritarian? Why was Sen. Trent Lott’s kindness to former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond a scandal but Obama’s acquaintance with an unrepentant terrorist a triviality?
I have my own answers to these questions. But I’m interested in theirs. In the weeks to come, maybe reporters can resist the temptation to repeat health care questions for the billionth time and instead ask America’s foremost liberal representatives why being a radical means never having to say you’re sorry.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Hillary Clinton opened fire on Barack Obama across an array of issues, but saved the really big guns for health care: "Of all our differences," said Hillary in Rhode Island (the forgotten primary state), "the one that is just inexplicable to me is his refusal to put forth a plan on universal health care and his continuing attacks on my plan to do so."
How hard can it be to offer a universal health care plan? "John Edwards had a plan, I had a plan, Chris Dodd had a plan, Dennis Kucinich had a plan, Bill Richardson had a plan. Because we're Democrats ..." Clinton said.
But Obama, in his Bob the Builder campaign designed to appeal to the toddler in every American, offers a plan that is all gain and no pain: subsidized health insurance for anyone who wants to buy it, whenever they want to buy it. More money, more choice, no cost. Gee, what's not to like?
Nothing, except that Hillary is correct. Obamacare can't possibly work, because it doesn't make sense to buy insurance when you are young and healthy if you are guaranteed access anyway when you are older and sicker.
And that's the problem.
The exchange between the two Democrats highlights the dirty little secret that not even Hillary will tell you about a universal government health insurance program. The problem with our current system that mandatory national health insurance will solve is not that people don't get health care -- it's that they don't pay for it.
Young healthy folks are more and more likely to go without health insurance. That means the pool of insured people is older and sicker and, therefore, more expensive to insure. Health insurance premiums rise, which makes health insurance an even worse deal for the relatively young and healthy, guaranteeing that more and more twentysomethings are uninsured, and health insurance costs for us middle-aged and older folks skyrocket.
What kind of people in the U.S. are uninsured? A whole lot of people like Brandy Coons, a 23-year-old Atlanta waitress highlighted on the front page of The New York Times as the new face of the "free rider" problem. Brandy admits she could probably afford a policy if she cut back on her gym membership and her photography hobby, but why should she do that?
"I'm young and in pretty good shape ... The insurance premium was more than what I would pay for my prescriptions, so I just decided not to deal with it," Coons said.
But even The New York Times cannot admit the real "free rider" problem here. It's not that the health care needs of uninsured twentysomethings like Brandy are bankrupting the system. It's that not enough twentysomethings like Brandy are paying for the health care of fortysomethings and older. That's the only way insurance makes sense: We pay into it when we are young and healthy, and we get something out of it when we are older and more likely to get sick.
But try running on that as your platform: Make the young people pay more!
Here's the other dirty little secret: National health insurance is going to cost Brandy and other taxpayers a whole lot more than either Hillary or Obama admits. Just ask Gov. Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, where just two years into operation, the state's mandatory health insurance plan is already costing $400 million more than budgeted.
Meanwhile we have a Medicare system that is going to go bankrupt.
Here's a question neither Hillary nor Barack will answer: How can we justify spending billions to insure the Brandys of the worlds, when we haven't yet secured the health care financing for our existing promises to senior citizens?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
It's all too predictable. A day after a gunman killed six people and wounded 18 others at Northern Illinois University, The New York Times criticized the U.S. Interior Department for preparing to rethink its ban on guns in national parks.
The editorial board wants "the 51 senators who like the thought of guns in the parks -- and everywhere else, it seems -- to realize that the innocence of Americans is better protected by carefully controlling guns than it is by arming everyone to the teeth."
As usual, the Times editors seem unaware of how silly their argument is. To them, the choice is between "carefully controlling guns" and "arming everyone to the teeth." But no one favors "arming everyone to the teeth" (whatever that means). Instead, gun advocates favor freedom, choice and self-responsibility. If someone wishes to be prepared to defend himself, he should be free to do so. No one has the right to deprive others of the means of effective self-defense, like a handgun.
As for the first option, "carefully controlling guns," how many shootings at schools or malls will it take before we understand that people who intend to kill are not deterred by gun laws? Last I checked, murder is against the law everywhere. No one intent on murder will be stopped by the prospect of committing a lesser crime like illegal possession of a firearm. The intellectuals and politicians who make pious declarations about controlling guns should explain how their gunless utopia is to be realized.
While they search for -- excuse me -- their magic bullet, innocent people are dying defenseless.
That's because laws that make it difficult or impossible to carry a concealed handgun do deter one group of people: law-abiding citizens who might have used a gun to stop crime. Gun laws are laws against self-defense.
Criminals have the initiative. They choose the time, place and manner of their crimes, and they tend to make choices that maximize their own, not their victims', success. So criminals don't attack people they know are armed, and anyone thinking of committing mass murder is likely to be attracted to a gun-free zone, such as schools and malls.
Government may promise to protect us from criminals, but it cannot deliver on that promise. This was neatly summed up in book title a few years ago: "Dial 911 and Die." If you are the target of a crime, only one other person besides the criminal is sure to be on the scene: you. There is no good substitute for self-responsibility.
How, then, does it make sense to create mandatory gun-free zones, which in reality are free-crime zones?
The usual suspects keep calling for more gun control laws. But this idea that gun control is crime control is just a myth. The National Academy of Sciences reviewed dozens of studies and could not find a single gun regulation that clearly led to reduced violent crime or murder. When Washington, D.C., passed its tough handgun ban years ago, gun violence rose.
The press ignores the fact that often guns save lives.
It's what happened in 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law. Hearing shots, two students went to their cars, got their guns and restrained the shooter until police arrested him.
Likewise, law professor Glen Reynolds writes, "Pearl, Miss., school shooter Luke Woodham was stopped when the school's vice principal took a .45 from his truck and ran to the scene. In (last) February's Utah mall shooting, it was an off-duty police officer who happened to be on the scene and carrying a gun".
It's impossible to know exactly how often guns stop criminals. Would-be victims don't usually report crimes that don't happen. But people use guns in self-defense every day. The Cato Institute's Tom Palmer says just showing his gun to muggers once saved his life.
"It equalizes unequals," Palmer told "20/20". "If someone gets into your house, which would you rather have, a handgun or a telephone? You can call the police if you want, and they'll get there, and they'll take a picture of your dead body. But they can't get there in time to save your life. The first line of defense is you."
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
If you believe big media, the economy is in trouble. If you worry about job layoffs and your inability to pay bills, you may be thinking about voting for Democrats this fall, which is the point of the negative media coverage. Every four years when a Republican is president, big media carry stories about economic gloom and doom. But is it true? It depends on the standard you use.
Last week, The Washington Post carried a story that is a metaphor for what ails us. It was about a Maryland couple whose mortgage lender took back what remained of a $95,000 home equity line of credit. The lender explained that the couple's home had fallen in value and it did not want to shoulder the risk that they might owe more than the house was worth. The couple was using the equity line to pay preschool tuition for their twins.
A good financial adviser might have helped them avoid this predicament, but we are immediately led to the supposedly bottomless well of the federal government. Politicians, especially Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, pledge to shoulder the responsibility of making sure that people whose mortgages are higher than they can reasonably afford and whose debts are larger than they should be get bailed out by the rest of us who made right financial decisions and practice living within our means. I know, this sounds cold, but only to those who live this way.
Lenders across the country are pulling the plug on equity lines and tightening credit after a lending spree to people for whom the housing market was their pot of gold.
Much of this economic "pain" is self-inflicted. Rather than purchasing homes they could not afford - or putting too much down, making them cash poor - they might have invested their equity in balanced mutual funds (the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 11.59 percent over a 10-year period). Such a path could have avoided the tight spot in which many now find themselves.
Some of the lust for bigger and better is human nature, but a lot is the result of consumerism. The Timex watch is no longer enough. We now must have a Rolex, though both accurately tell time. The adequate low-end automobile is insufficient. We must trade up to a luxury car with numbers and letters on the rear that mean nothing, but convey "status." And the house we are living in, which would have been more than adequate for our parents and certainly our grandparents, must be upgraded to larger digs in order to impress, if not growing families, than enlarged egos.
When none of this brings the promised happiness and fulfillment, we turn to drink, or pills, or counselors, or divorce court and seek significance in new things and relationships on what quickly becomes a personal boulevard of broken dreams.
We can't say we haven't been warned about this endless pursuit of stuff. The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. ŠAs goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?" (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)
When wants and needs are confused, desires become entitlements and politicians are afraid to tell people what they need to hear. Instead they tell them what they want to hear. Anger and envy result, as well as frustration with a political system that was not designed to indulge its citizens in their lusts or subsidize their greed.
Who will tell us that unending and expanding prosperity with home values constantly rising and a citizenry always able to afford them is a fantasy that is bound to end in heartache for those who buy into it?
The economy isn't bad. We are bad for believing that more is better and the most is best. We have an abundance of things, but a deficit of character. The economy is a false god, a golden calf. When this false god doesn't deliver, we complain to politicians who are happy to accept our faith in them to give us what we want - if we will only pledge to them our allegiance at election time.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The front page of the New York Times has increasingly become the home of editorials disguised as "news" stories. Too often it has become the home of hoaxes.
Going back some years, it was the Tawana Brawley hoax that she had been gang-raped by a bunch of white men. Just a couple of years ago, it was the Duke University "rape" hoax that they fell for.
In between there were the various hoaxes of New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who was kept on and promoted until too many people found out what he had been doing and the paper had to let him go.
Last month the New York Times created its own hoax with a long front page article about how war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were killing people back in the United States because of the stress they had gone through in combat.
That hoax was shot down two days later by the New York Post, which showed that the murder rate among returning war veterans was only one-fifth the murder rate among civilians in the same age brackets.
Undaunted, the New York Times has come up with its latest front-page sensation, the claim that some anonymous people either suspected an affair between Senator John McCain and a female lobbyist or tried to forestall an affair.
But apparently no one actually claimed that they knew there was an affair.
This did not even rise to the level of "he said, she said." Instead it was anonymous sources reporting their suspicions.
People who share the New York Times' political views are treated as "innocent until proven guilty." People with different views are condemned for "the appearance of impropriety," even if there is no hard evidence that they did anything wrong.
In this latest "news" story about Senator McCain, the standard seems to be that anonymous sources suspected him of "the appearance of impropriety."
Nothing is easier than to have suspicions. In my younger years, I was suspected of having an affair with more than one attractive woman when -- alas -- there was nothing happening.
At the time, however, I felt flattered by the insinuations.
In 1976, when President Ford nominated me to the Federal Trade Commission, someone anonymously told an FBI investigator that I was a Communist.
Not even the people opposed to my nomination believed it and it was not reported in the New York Times.
This was back in the days when the Times still had a reputation for integrity, before the Jayson Blair hoaxes, the gang-rape hoaxes and the general prostitution of the front page to politics masquerading as news.
Over the years, the New York Times has increasingly discredited itself.
Not only have critics repeatedly exposed their tendentious use of their "news" stories, even the Times' own "public editor" or ombudsman has now said that they should not have run the McCain insinuation story.
The declining credibility of the New York Times and of other tendentious media is, in one sense, a healthy thing. There has been too much public gullibility that has been cynically exploited by both the media and politicians.
In another sense, however, it is a sad day for the country as a whole that there are shrinking sources of reliable news and informed and honest commentary.
Hysteria has become the norm for too many once-serious publications, whether it has been hysteria for the purpose of hyping circulation or to advance some political agenda.
The rise of alternative media -- notably talk radio -- has limited how much the mainstream media can get away with.
Dan Rather's fake memo about President Bush's National Guard service might have gone unchallenged, and affected an election, back in the old days when the media consisted largely of like-minded colleagues who would not embarrass one of their own.
Bloggers and talk radio shot that one down. But it is doubtful if we have seen the last of the journalistic hoaxes. Not in an election year.
Even if Hillary Clinton comes back to win the Democratic nomination and then the presidency, there will be no Clinton Restoration in economics. The Democratic party is well to the left of where it was in the 1990s. For evidence, look no further than the dispute over the North American Free Trade Agreement developing in the state of Ohio. Barack Obama’s campaign has been alerting Ohioans to some good things Hillary Clinton is alleged to have said about the 14-year-old trade pact, which her husband urged Congress to pass in 1993. A defensive Hillary maintains that she always had problems with NAFTA, and Bill has even told supporters that, behind closed doors, she opposed this key part of his legacy.
Driving this debate is the unpopularity of NAFTA in Ohio. In 2006, Ohioans elected one of the most anti-trade politicians in America, Sherrod Brown, to the U.S. Senate. With these voters at stake, Obama denounced NAFTA (and Hillary’s alleged support for it) during a speech in Lorain Sunday afternoon. "One million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA, including nearly 50,000 jobs here in Ohio,” Obama claimed. “And yet, 10 years after NAFTA passed, Sen. Clinton said it was good for America. Well, I don't think NAFTA has been good for America — and I never have.”
But when asked later, Obama said he wouldn’t pull the U.S. out of NAFTA, because doing so “would actually result in more job loss . . . than job gains.” This is true, of course. Even a politician in full pander-mode can’t deny that NAFTA, like any free-trade agreement, created jobs as well as destroyed them. Free trade allows countries to shift resources to where they are most productive relative to the countries they are trading with. We hope that Barack Obama is familiar with the concept of comparative advantage. We hope (audaciously?) that the pursuit of votes rather than gross ignorance has led him into this wilderness of incoherence.
And Hillary? Her reaction to Obama’s attacks is an even more worrying sign that the Democratic party is growing more protectionist. Fearing the credulousness of Ohioans, she has not pushed back against Obama’s economic charlatanism. Indeed, putting her faith in the credulousness of Ohioans, she has called for a “time out” on new trade deals, as if our pending agreements with Colombia and South Korea would deal a staggering blow to Ohio’s economy.
The public is souring on trade. One recent poll indicated that even Republicans were growing more skeptical about the benefits of signing more trade agreements. But these fears are not supported by the facts, as the Cato Institute’s Dan Griswold amply explained in a recent study on trade and the economy. Unemployment has remained low since the advances in trade liberalization made during the 1990s. Many people blame trade for stagnant wages, but the real culprit is the rising cost of health care—and trade is not responsible for that. Trade has, indeed, helped: It has enabled the U.S. economy to shift more resources into high-paying jobs, and more people are prosperous today as a result.
The Republican nominee, John McCain, is a stalwart free trader. We hope he pushes back against the economic nonsense coming from the Democrats. He should also point out their geopolitical hypocrisy. Unilateralism has been one of the chief Democratic indictments of the Bush administration. Supposedly Republicans have alienated world opinion, and even our natural allies, with their high-handed ways. But the Democrats would reject trade deals with countries that need them and want to be our friends, and for the most parochial of reasons: the desire to win their party’s primaries.
The Democrats also claim to be the party that cares the most about the world’s poor. But their opposition to free trade would have the effect of shutting the richest market in the world to countries desperate to export their way out of poverty.
It’s too bad that the Democrats have lost their way on trade and now repudiate the successes of the 1990s. But the public will have a clear and distinct choice on the issue come November.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Americans may not agree on much between now and November, but we have reached a consensus about the importance of at least one issue: health care.
In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 76 percent of registered voters said that health care was very important to their vote. Democrats ranked health care their most important issue; Independents slotted it as their second most important issue. Republicans, meanwhile, positioned health care as more important than social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.
This public concern has prompted political action—or at least political posturing. It seems every politician has a plan to solve our health care woes. For Democrats, the silver bullet remains universal, government-funded coverage. Both Senators Obama and Clinton have proposed regulation and tax-heavy programs to offer cradle-to-grave health care for Americans.
Ironically, these proposals come at a time when some of our other entitlements—Social Security and Medicare—stand on the brink of collapse. For example, most experts agree that Social Security will be entirely bankrupt by 2041, and that the system will show serious financial strain as early as 2017. If a business faced such dire financial straits it would cut costs, but the government continues its perpetual spending spree.
Before we allow the government to burden us with another mammoth entitlement program, however, we might well consider the plight of countries currently employing socialized medicine. And we need not look very far for an example. Since the 1960s, Canada has operated a system of socialized medicine, while also forbidding the private sector from insuring medically necessary care.
The verdict: Canadians pay more for their health care and get less. That’s according to the Fraser Institute, an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Fraser’s recently released study, “Paying More, Getting Less: Measuring the Sustainability of Government Health Spending in Canada” calls our attention to the painful realities of government-funded health care.
How, exactly, do Canadians pay more for their health care? Taxes, naturally—and higher and higher ones at that, for there is no other way to maintain such an enormous entitlement. Consider that by 2035, six of 10 Canadian provinces will spend half of their taxpayer-generated revenue on health-related expenses.
In slow economic times, health spending tends to exceed revenue. The government responds by raising existing taxes or creating new ones; to do otherwise would lead to the neglect of other government programs like schools and roads.
By restricting the market, public health care programs create long waits for specialists and often prevent patients from pursuing new treatments. Indeed, the median wait times between a referral from a family or general doctor to a specialist for further treatment increased significantly in every Canadian province between 1997 and 2006. For many treatments and procedures, Canadians are forced to wait twice as long as doctors believe is medically advisable.
Canada’s restrictive policies have also reduced the number of various types of health professionals, limited the availability of advanced equipment and severely restricted the prescription drug choices. Consider that even after Health Canada certifies a new drug, it takes over a year for that drug to actually reach the patients who need it. Between 2004 and 2005, it took an average of 439 days for provinces to receive reimbursement for drugs, forcing patients to wait months for necessary medications.
The list could go on, but it need not. We get the picture. The question is: What are we going to do about it?
The answer lies in the marketplace. Among the more promising proposals currently before Congress is the Health Care Choice Act. The Act would allow individuals to compare and purchase health insurance across state lines. This is a very important, if often misunderstood, way of reducing health care costs. Here’s a quick primer: Because health care is primarily regulated at the state level, states can force providers to cover services and procedures (e.g., chiropractic care or fertility treatments) regardless of necessity or patient demand. Insurance companies then pass these higher costs along to every consumer, regardless of whether they want or need coverage for such procedures.
A more efficient system would allow individuals to select the health care plans of their choice. Such a plan recognizes that a 20 year old male typically has very different medical needs than a 60 year old woman. Freeing consumers to select a health care plan that meets their needs and budget, even if it is in a different state, is a common sense solution that would ease the budget crunch facing many American families. And, thankfully, the Health Care Choice Act is just one of many promising ways in which we can address our health care needs without burdening our children with another entitlement that we can’t afford.
In the end, our financial and medical futures are simply too important to be left exclusively to government control. Few people know this lesson better than Canadians themselves. Just ask the many pregnant Canadians who are forced to travel to the U.S. to deliver their children because their country has—wait for it—too few hospital beds.
Monday, February 25, 2008
After pondering the chasm that exists between liberals and conservatives, I’ve concluded that the differences must be determined by something as basic as their DNA. Just as some people are born left-handed, others, unfortunately, are born left-wingers.
Liberals, as proof that they’re the most intelligent people on the face of the earth, will often point to the fact that most liberal arts professors are leftists. The problem is that while there are undeniably very brainy men and women on university campuses, they are usually found teaching science, engineering and mathematics, not history, English and sociology. Being tenured in the liberal arts building is hardly an indication of brilliance. It merely suggests that one had an abnormal tolerance for being lectured to as a young man and an overwhelming urge to lecture others as an old man.
Liberals also suffer from the delusion that a modicum of talent trumps kindness, honesty and decency. One merely has to note the amount of respect that those on the left had for Hitler’s favorite moviemaker, Leni Riefenstahl, who produced the Nazi propaganda films, “Olympiad” and “Triumph of the Will.”
Or consider the fact that Norman Mailer and several other members of the New York literati used every bit of their considerable influence to spring Jack Henry Abbott, who was in jail for forgery and for killing a fellow inmate, for no better reason than that they’d thought his prison memoir, “In the Belly of the Beast,” was so marvelous. Six weeks after his release, Abbott stabbed 22-year-old Richard Adan to death in New York City. I doubt if anyone is too surprised that the older son of Hollywood lefties Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon was named Jack Henry Robbins in his honor. But even I was taken aback when I learned that young Robbins was born eight years after Abbott killed Mr. Adan.
In a more recent case, Jack Unterweger was a serial killer who left behind a pile of corpses in Austria and America. He, too, was a writer who was granted a pardon because left-wing Austrian intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner, Stalin sympathizer, Elfriede Jelinek, were so impressed by his prose style. Interestingly enough, Jelinek, a fervent feminist, was even willing to overlook the fact that Unterweger’s victims were all women.
Yet another sign of the left’s inability to think straight is their refusal to accept the importance of designating English as our official language. Instead of pushing to have Hispanic kids immersed in English, at the behest of the teachers unions they promote bi-lingual education. What’s more, they refuse to acknowledge that the present system hogties and frustrates young Hispanics, and helps explain why record numbers drop out of high school as soon as the law allows.
It’s not just the teachers, who have bonuses and promotions to consider, who are to blame. We also have congressmen such as Charles Gonzalez of Texas and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a couple of race hucksters who could give Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton a run for their money, claiming that the Salvation Army is a racist organization for insisting that their employees speak only English on the job.
Isn’t it odd that Europeans who have no intention of moving to America feel it’s beneficial to learn English, but millions of Latinos living here in the United States don’t? A recent poll disclosed that seventy-five percent of Hispanic immigrant parents have no command of English. That’s pathetic.
One might argue that in the case of most illegal immigrants, they were already adults when they decided to sneak across the border. But how is it that the major leagues are filled with Latinos whose one ambition since the age of eight or nine was to play baseball in this country but never even bothered learning how to say curve ball, slider or free agent, in English?
As you have surely noticed, it’s always the conservative politicians who support the idea of making English our official language, never the liberals. Frankly, I don’t think too many of us on the right were terribly surprised that when a Gallop poll recently asked people about the state of their mental health, 58% of Republicans said it was excellent, but just 43% of independents and only a scant 38% of Democrats.
Finally, I am getting awfully tired of Hillary’s trying to play it both ways. When she’s out there on the stump, surrounded by her fawning sycophants, she wants us to picture her staring down Islamic terrorists and Republican senators, but as soon as a political opponent utters a discouraging word, we’ve got her husband crying “Foul” and throwing a flag on the play, and we’ve got her pretending to be a tender young damsel being bullied by those big mean men.
So far as I’m concerned, the biggest surprise of this political season hasn’t been John McCain’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes, but the fact that in spite of the pummeling Sen. Clinton has received at the hands of Barack Obama, John Edwards and Ted Kennedy, she hasn’t once attributed it to a vast left-wing conspiracy.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
While not as troubled as George Bailey from “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Bill Gates is clearly in need of Clarence’s assistance. For those who did not catch the movie this past Christmas, Clarence was the angel who reminded George Bailey how much he contributed to the world. Bill Gate’s speech at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos shows just how little he appreciates all that he has done.
Bill Gates wants businesses to be more responsive to society’s greatest concerns. Mr. Gates faults capitalism for not caring about the world’s poor and disparages the “heartless” economic system that only serves the interests of the rich. His solution is to foster a system he calls “creative capitalism”. Creative capitalism would redirect the focus of corporations away from profits towards philanthropy. For those familiar with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement, Gates’ creative capitalism will sound hauntingly familiar – his arguments also parallel the 2008 Democratic Presidential platform, but that is the topic for another editorial.
Ironically, the life of Bill Gates exemplifies the potential of capitalism to transform the world, reduce poverty, and create wealth for hundreds of millions of people.
One of the keys to economic growth and development is productivity, or the ability to create more things with the same amount of effort. When productivity growth is strong, the economy grows faster, workers’ wages and standards of living rise faster, and the rate of job growth quickens. During the 1970’s, the U.S. economy’s productivity growth slowed. Due to the slowdown, the potential growth of the U.S. economy weakened.
The information technology (IT) revolution, of which Bill Gates and Microsoft were an integral part, helped to reverse the slowdown in productivity growth. The re-acceleration of productivity growth to its pre-1970’s levels beginning in the 1990’s is partly attributed to the full integration of the IT revolution. The U.S. economy subsequently became one of the few (if only) developed economies that is also a growth economy. Millions of jobs, wage gains, and improvements in our standards of living (for both rich and poor Americans) are directly attributed to both the IT revolution and the productivity gains that revolution created.
Microsoft’s direct economic impact is also impressive. The company directly: created hundreds of thousands of jobs; paid billions of dollars in wages; and, through direct investments, mutual funds, or pension retirement systems, helped secure the financial goals of millions of Americans.
The benefits of the IT revolution were not confined to America’s shores either. From computer manufacturing in Taiwan and the Philippines, to the growth of skilled IT jobs in India, the IT revolution has created unprecedented opportunities and economic development across the developing world. These opportunities have lifted millions of people out of poverty and arguably have done more for economic development than the World Bank or other development NGO’s combined, whose sole raison d’être is to create the types of economic opportunities that Microsoft et al created.
Microsoft the company recognizes the important role the IT sector in general, and Microsoft in particular, plays in society. In October 2007, Microsoft released a study that documented its global economic impact. The findings are astounding. The “Microsoft Ecosystem” of companies employs 42 percent of the global IT workforce of 35.4 million people. These companies will earn more than $400 billion and invest close to $100 billion in local economies. Governments benefit too. The study estimates that employees will pay $500 billion in taxes in 2007. The study also expects these contributions to continue in the future. Globally the IT sector is expected to add 7.1 million jobs in the next 4 years, with the most jobs being created in China and the United States. Putting the expected IT job growth into perspective, the expected IT job growth is three times the expected overall global job growth.
These real tangible benefits exemplify the creativity that is the core of capitalism. Like George Bailey, the world would certainly be a worse place if not for the efforts of Microsoft and Bill Gates. Before Bill decides to deride the ability of capitalism to help the world again, perhaps he should review his own past achievements and reflect on how much better off we all are (rich and poor) because of Bill Gates.
By Victor Davis Hanson
Friday, February 22, 2008
In the last few days, we’ve been reminded yet again that Europe’s radical secularism, atheism, socialism, multiculturalism, childlessness, and aging population make a fascinating but unstable mix — a lovely, fragile orchid in a thinly protected greenhouse.
Kosovo has just declared its independence from Serbia, and what follows could be nightmarish. An oil-rich, bellicose, and rearming Russia doesn’t much like the new breakaway state. But France, Germany, and most of the European Union — other than its Orthodox members and those in close proximity to Vladimir Putin — encouraged it. To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, “How many divisions does the EU have?”
Recently Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking on German soil, told cheering Turkish workers and Germans of Turkish ancestry that assimilation is "a crime against humanity" — in between demands that the European Union admit his increasingly Islamicized Turkey to full membership. The American press passed over Erdogan’s broadside, but it was a revolutionary, nationalist appeal to German residents of Turkish backgrounds, over the head of, and contrary to, the German government itself—eerily like, mutatis mutandis, Hitler’s appeal in the late 1930s to the supposedly oppressed Germans of Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile Norway is about to request 100,000 Turkish guest workers for its cash-rich but labor-poor economy. The French, however, are sighing ‘been there, done that,’ as police sweep public housing projects in the Paris suburbs looking for Muslim immigrants implicated in past riots.
The British press claims that Muslim immigrants committed over 17,000 acts of “honor” violence in Britain last year. Perhaps in response, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that imposition of a parallel system of sharia law in the United Kingdom might be “unavoidable.” Iran just warned Denmark to silence its newspapers, which once again are republishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
Meanwhile, many European NATO troops in Afghanistan rarely venture into combat zones, even as U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pleads in vain for Europe to send over a few more thousand from its nearly two-million-man standing army. A recent Pew poll revealed that in many European countries only about 30-40 percent of those surveyed have a positive opinion of the United States.
How do all these diverse narratives and agendas add up? The vaunted European multicultural, multilateral, utopian and pacifist worldview is now on its own and thus will get hammered as never before in the unrelenting forge of history. Very soon there will be no more George W. Bush to dump on, hide behind, and blame for the widening cracks in the Atlantic alliance. Instead Europeans may well have to call on the old pro, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, to lead them in negotiating sessions with jihadists, Iran, and Russia.
Consider Kosovo again. Europe is invested, quite rightly I think, in promoting its independence. But it is a Muslim country in a post-9/11 landscape, with a history of drawing not only Albanian but also Middle Eastern jihadists to its defense. Russia and Serbia together have the military wherewithal to invade it tomorrow — Serbia by land, Russia by air — and end its breakaway experiment — to the relief of some Eastern European and Orthodox European states, and to the humiliation of the EU. What stops them is not a few NATO peacekeepers but the commitment of the United States to use its vast resources to further the European agenda of stopping Serbian ethnic cleansing and aggression.
Yet consider our dilemma. Why would we intervene abroad in a third war when our allies have lectured us ad nauseam about the amorality of military intercession, have shown little interest in fighting jihadism in Afghanistan or Iraq, and have made clear that they want very little to do with the United States? And after 9/11, why would the United States rush to the aid of a Muslim country in a war whose earlier incarnation, under Bill Clinton, was never authorized by the U.S. Congress or the U.N.?
In short, I doubt the United States will “surge” anything in the Balkans. We will be quite happy to see a postmodern European solution to an essentially European problem. No doubt Sen. Harry Reid or Speaker Nancy Pelosi will remind the public that President Bill Clinton never got a formal congressional treaty authorization to deploy and station American troops in the former Yugoslavia.
The more labor that a secular, increasingly sterile European populace imports, the more social problems will accrue from unassimilated Muslim immigrants who like the economy and freedom of the West but are reluctant to relax any of their own religious and cultural views to participate fully in the postmodern society of their hosts. The resulting “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” is not a static situation, but one that will be resolved either in multicultural/appeasement fashion (grant de facto sharia law at home and seek friendly realignment with Middle Eastern dictatorships abroad) or with tough assimilationist and immigration policies, coupled with increasingly explicit distrust of expansionary Islam.
Europe is short on energy and depends on illiberal Russia and the Middle East for its fuel. Both these regions are sick and tired of Europe’s empty lectures about human rights and feel only disdain for its absence of military might to back up its sermonizing. But Europe is also anti-American, and now in a world of Ahmadinejihads, Putins, Chinese communist apparatchiks, and thuggish Latin American strongmen, it has more or less alienated the only reliable and capable resource it might have drawn on — the goodwill of the United States.
Europe is in a classic paradox. Emotionally and culturally, Europeans are invested in a leftist such as Obama who reflects their soft socialist values and fuzzy multilateralism. But given their inherent military weakness and rough neighborhood, they have grown to count on an antithetical America — religious, conservative, militarily strong — that is not afraid to use force to fulfill its obligations to preserve the shared Western globalized system from its constant multifarious challenges. I’m not sure they privately want a President Obama calling Sarkozy or Merkel and announcing, “I think we should co-chair a worldwide Islamic conference to hear out Iran’s grievances.” Much better it would be for the U.S. to ensure that Iran doesn’t get the bomb — at which point the French elite would trash America in Le Monde for being unilateral, cowboyish, and preemptive.
Our response to this Euro-neuroticism?
We are weary and tired of it. As our ancestors out West used to sing, “Yippy ti yi yo, get along little dogies, It's all your misfortune and none of my own…”
Thursday, February 21, 2008
You know the presidential race is in full rhetorical swing when candidates are rallying people against a dangerous enemy of America. It’s time to play on the most basic of voters’ instincts: fear and hate.
The enemy in question has a worldwide network with agents embedded deep in the United States. It gets money from oil. And it has a name that makes the media jump to attention.
Yes, the next president must save us from … Exxon.
You could substitute other Big Business names there, depending on the political climate, but this is the one today’s candidates are naming. In his February 12 speech, Barack Obama summoned voters to rise up against the Washington “game,” which allows this mighty enemy to triumph over the Little Guy and imperil the Earth.
“[I]t’s a game that ordinary Americans are losing,” he said. “It's a game where lobbyists write check after check and Exxon turns record profits, while you pay the price at the pump, and our planet is put at risk.”
Exxon is political gold, because it hits on several of voters’ key issues – the economy, energy, gas prices, even global warming. According to many politicians, Exxon and other oil companies are to blame for problems in all those areas – and thus, they must pay.
Hillary Clinton said earlier that she wanted to “take” oil companies’ profits. In a Valentine to her friends at Income Redistribution ’R’ Us, her February 14 press release declared: “In 2007, many of the largest oil companies recorded record profits. Exxon earned $40.6 billion, the highest profit for any U.S. company in history. Hillary believes it is time for oil companies to do their share in funding clean energy technologies.”
Labeling something someone’s “share” makes it sound only fair. And listen – the next line is that “She would give oil companies a choice.” What fairness! Except the choice is how to be taxed: “invest more in renewable energy technology or pay into a Strategic Energy Fund.”
Option No. 2 would fund “ethanol and other homegrown biofuels,” among other things – both strategies that have been debunked as viable, greenhouse-gas-reducing energy aids.
But when it’s not your money you’re throwing carelessly at something, who cares? It’s Big Oil’s money. Just ask NBC’s Brian Williams, who apparently wanted to see some pitchforks after Exxon announced its 2007 earnings.
“[J]ust common sense here, but I’m thinking $40 billion – that’s profit, that’s not what they made over the course of a year – might have something to do with what we’re paying per gallon,” Williams said on the February 1 “Nightly News.” “Why shouldn’t people be outraged to hear that?”
The major media have long fostered class warfare between the Big Companies and the Little Guys who are supposedly oppressed by the fact that we have profitable businesses in the United States.
Now the two Democratic contenders for president are running on that same warfare platform. Unfortunately, there’s a problem with their logic: you can’t help employees by burying employers.
The New York Times admitted this deep in a February 19 story about the candidates’ “populist appeals.”
“Ever since Mr. Clinton’s election as president in 1992, the Democratic Party has been divided over how to balance economic policy between initiatives intended to promote economic growth and those intended to help workers.”
That’s right – the anti-business brand of so-called “help” for workers is in opposition to economic growth. And it’s economic growth that builds new businesses and new jobs.
Take Exxon. It employs more than 82,000 people worldwide, with the biggest percentage of its workers in the United States. That includes administrative assistants, engineers, electricians, mechanics, janitors, accountants and IT staff – many of the same jobs offered at other companies. That’s important to note, because Exxon wouldn’t be the only company a “progressive” president would go after. Candidates have hinted at other targets, such as credit card companies, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Punishing a business ultimately punishes the people who rely on it. Multiply that punishment by many businesses, and you’re talking about the backbone of America.
In addition to those 82,000 employees, Exxon also has millions of others who rely on it for some income.
According to the February 2 New York Times, “Exxon also spent $35.6 billion for share buybacks and dividends last year, $3 billion more than in 2006.” This was the only passing acknowledgment of shareholders in that 1,102-word article about the company’s record 2007 profit.
Those employees and shareholders are the working men and women of America – the ones Clinton and Obama purport to help. As with many economic proposals, the media are failing to count the cost.
Friday, February 22, 2008
"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback." — Michelle Obama
Is that a surprising sentiment to hear from a woman who wants to be first lady? You might think so, until you realize that she is married to a man who doesn't hold his hand over his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance and makes a big deal out of not wearing a flag pin. Those two would make a great first couple -- of Cuba or maybe Venezuela. Granted they might be a little to the Left of the people in charge now, but if anybody needs empty feel-good speeches featuring lots of Sesame Street rhetoric about "change, "hope," and "unity," it's the citizens of Cuba and Venezuela.
But, since the Obamas’ patriotism is as thin as Barack's resume, maybe someone should take the time to explain to them why they should appreciate this country.
To begin with, we live in a Super Power with the greatest military and economy the world has ever seen. We're also the longest surviving democracy in the world and our example has inspired hundreds of millions of people across the world to seek freedom for themselves and their families -- and often we have helped them. We've done more to promote freedom and democracy in the world than any other dozen countries combined -- and we still do. We've expended immense amounts of blood and treasure to help keep 50 million Afghans and Iraqis free, our military ensures that there's peace in nations like Taiwan and South Korea, and if not for our support, Israel would probably long since have been annihilated by its genocidal neighbors. Then there's South Korea, El Salvador, Grenada -- you can go on and on with a list of nations whose freedom, in some form or fashion, that we've had a hand in.
We've also fought time and time again in the 20th century when the forces of darkness threatened to engulf the world. Our entry into WWI utterly changed the course of the war. In WWII, without our help, the Allies could not have defeated the Axis. Then there was the Cold War, where we prevented the Soviets from spreading their evil ideology across the planet.
Afterwards, it was just as Colin Powell said:
And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer? Did we say, "Okay, we defeated Germany. Now Germany belongs to us? We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us?” No. What did we do? We built them up. We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul. And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.
It is indeed the kind of nation we are because the American people, while not perfect, are fundamentally good, hard working, ambitious Christian folk who want to do the right thing, not just for our country, but for the world.
That’s why we are, have been, and will continue to be the nation that does the most to promote freedom, capitalism, and democracy around the world. It's why Americans give more than the citizens of any other country. It's why we're usually the first nation on the spot helping out after a major disaster in another country. It's why food grown by Americans feeds starving people all over the planet. It's why drugs, created and delivered by Americans, cure the sick across the world. It's why people all over the planet have been able to, with the help of Americans, raise themselves up out of grinding poverty and make better lives for their families.
The Barack Obamas of the world don't see this because as Machiavelli once said, they have "imagined for themselves republics and principalities that have never been seen or known to exist in reality," and they compare our nation to those fairy tale kingdoms. It's very easy to look at how we defeated the Indians and took their land, slavery, and the other assorted grievances that Barack's pals on the Left have with America and conclude that we're a terrible nation -- but, not if you compare us to other flesh and blood countries. When you do that, especially when we're talking about other Super Powers through history that have had responsibilities across the world, as opposed to Toy Poodle nations that make little difference in the world one way or another, you'll find that no other country has done nearly as much for humanity as the good ol’ U.S. of A.
And despite the howls of the anti-American Left, the "Muslim street," Socialist apparatchiks, and Western European snobs, the world knows this in their souls. That's why we're called the "land of opportunity." It's why we have tens of millions of immigrants waiting in line to move here. It's why the same nations that sneer at us when things are going well, run to us first for help when things turn bad.
America is a good country and Americans are a decent, patriotic people that deserve a leader who is as proud to be a part of this nation as they are. What they don't deserve is an unpatriotic empty suit who actually thinks that it takes a certain "audacity" to have hope in a great nation like this one.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Michelle Obama struck a raw nerve earlier this week when she suggested she had never been proud of her country until now. "For the first time in my adult lifetime," the 44-year-old wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told a Milwaukee crowd, "I'm really proud of my country."
Conservative pundits and bloggers were quick to criticize Mrs. Obama. And even Sen. John McCain's wife, Cindy, let it be known that she has never had any problem being proud of her country.
Most liberals, on the other hand, were willing to give Michelle Obama the benefit of the doubt. Of course, she's proud of the United States, they insisted. It's just that she's especially proud now because, as an Obama campaign spokeswoman explained, for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who've never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grass-roots movement for change. Her husband followed suit, saying that it wasn't our country that Michelle was not proud of, but politics as they've been practiced in recent years.
The flap might seem trivial, but it speaks to a much larger division between liberals and conservatives over the meaning of patriotism. Michelle Obama may consider herself a patriotic American. But her comments suggest that she sees the role of the patriot as critic: America needs perfecting, and until it conforms to her ideal, she won't be proud of it. She said her newfound pride in her country was "not just because Barack has done well, but because people are hungry for change." Mrs. Obama went on to say: "I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment."
It's a view her husband, Barack Obama, seems to share. Last fall, Sen. Obama stirred a similar controversy when he talked about his decision to quit wearing a flag lapel pin that he, like many members of Congress and others, had worn since the Sept. 11 attacks. He said that the pins had become "a substitute for … true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security." He added, "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism."
It is as if both Obamas are suggesting that America is somehow lacking, unless a President Obama can change it. It is a theme that seems to resonate with liberals: America could be a great nation -- if only liberals were in charge.
But most Americans already think their country is great -- no matter who occupies the White House. Patriotism isn't about loving your country when your party is in power. It isn't about liking its political leaders or even agreeing with all the nation's policies.
No matter how much we may have disliked Bill Clinton, conservatives didn't feel ashamed of our country or think it is any less great and noble a nation when he was in office. You can't imagine conservatives refusing to fly the flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance because Clinton raised taxes or misbehaved in the Oval Office.
Patriotism is a lot like the unconditional love of a parent for a child. A parent doesn't demand a child be perfect in order to love him. Nor does that love mean that a parent does not recognize a child's faults.
Conservatives seem to understand this almost intuitively, but liberals seem to struggle with it. Liberals' patriotism often seems grudging -- as if they believe it's the country's duty to win their love rather than their duty to love their country.
Our elected officials don't make America great, nor do temporal policies. America is great because of its people, its defining institutions and its freedoms. You would think a woman hoping to be the country's next first lady could take pride in that.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
By Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The rhetoric of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about the sad state of America is reminiscent of the suspect populism of John Edwards, the millionaire lawyer who recently dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.
Barack Obama may have gone to exclusive private schools. He and his wife may both be lawyers who between them have earned four expensive Ivy League degrees. They may make about a million dollars a year, live in an expensive home, and send their kids to prep school. But they are still apparently firsthand witnesses to how the American dream has gone sour. Two other Ivy League lawyers, Hillary and Bill, are multimillionaires who have found America to be a land of riches beyond most people’s imaginations. But Hillary also talks of the tragic lost dream of America.
In these gloom-and-doom narratives by the well-off, we less fortunate Americans are doing almost everything right, but still are not living as well as we deserve to be. The common culprit is a government that is not doing enough good for us, and corporations that do too much bad to us.
In the new pessimistic indictment, the home-mortgage meltdown has not occurred because too many speculative buyers were hoping to flip houses for quick profits. It had nothing to do with misguided attempts of government and lending institutions to put first-time buyers in homes through zero-down payments, interest-only loans, and subprime but adjustable mortgage rates — as part of liberal efforts to increase home-ownership rates.
And there apparently are few Americans who unwisely borrowed against their homes a second and third time to remodel or purchase big-ticket consumer items — on the belief that their equity would always be rising faster than their debts. Nor are we to look at this downturn as part of a historical boom-and-bust cycle in the housing industry — the present low prices and non-performing loans the natural counter-response to the overpriced real estate of the last five years.
Likewise, we’re told that students are failing to graduate from college because there are too few government-guaranteed student loans. We don’t hear that thousands enter public universities without basic reading and mathematical skills — or that their college problems might be due in part to their own misplaced priorities in high school, and in part to an educational system that is mostly therapeutic, offering fluffy courses and self-esteem training rather than rigorous math, science, literature, and history classes. Nor is there ever mention of teachers’ unions, the system of tenure, or a vapid, politically correct curriculum, as explanations for why our students are not competitive in the global marketplace.
We also hear that oil prices are sky high and our own automobile industry is failing due to windfall profits and corporate greed, but there’s no discussion of the fact that oil-rich autocracies like Russia, Venezuela, and the Gulf monarchies have obtained a stranglehold on the global petroleum supply.
For Hillary and Barack, our automobile manufacturing crisis is not the result of uniquely lavish union health and retirement packages for American autoworkers. The government is somehow mostly to blame for Detroit’s meltdown and the energy crisis, not Americans’ own tastes in the 1990s for large gas-guzzlers and big homes, and their concurrent opposition to nuclear power plants, oil drilling off the coasts and in Alaska, and conservation of resources.
Wal-Mart, free trade, and our debt to China also come in for blame. Neither Obama nor Clinton suggests that the middle classes of America have more purchasing power and have accumulated more consumer goods than any people in history. In reality, our acquisitiveness is a result not of corporate greed, but of our fondness for shopping at discounted warehouse mega-stores, whose goods are the result of hard work of hundreds of millions of low-paid Chinese. They not only toil long hours to make our cheap televisions and stereos, but their government lends us the money at low interest — through massive buying of U.S. government bonds — to buy their stuff in the first place.
To the extent that we have any social and legal problems from unchecked illegal immigration, it has nothing to do with the cynicism and corruption of the Mexican government that deliberately exports, exploits, and profits off its own people. The problem is not the fondness for low-paid, off-the-books illegal labor among the upper-middle classes, nor the disdain for the law of illegal immigrants themselves, who crowd to the front of the immigration line. Instead, America’s xenophobia, blame-casting, and insensitive government have made it needlessly rough on 11 million arrivals who otherwise did us a favor by coming.
As Sens. Obama and Clinton try to outdo each other in blaming government for our lack of individual responsibility and promising solutions by raising taxes to give us more government, they offer little change and less hope.
An NRO Q&A
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Europe is in a bad way. And as studly as he can be, Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t likely to save it from itself. So Bruce Thornton argues as he shines a bright light on suicidal tendencies across the pond. Thornton, a professor of classics and the humanities at the California State University at Fresno argues in his new book Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What was the first sign that Europe was suicidal?
Bruce Thornton: If we take just the period after World War II, I’d say the collaboration and support of Communism and the Soviet Union on the part of many European intellectuals and politicians, coupled with hysterical anti-Americanism, was an important sign that European civilization was intellectually and morally bankrupt. The failure to see the true nature of Communism — that it is an ideology diametrically opposed to all the ideals of liberal democracy Europeans touted and enjoyed — bespeaks a suicidal collapse of certainty in the rightness of Western Civilization’s achievements, particularly respect for the individual, human rights, and political freedom. More recently, the flacid response to jihadist terror and European Muslim aggression against those same ideals also signifies an exhausted civilization unwilling to defend itself, and resentful of those like the United States who will.
Lopez: What will be the last? How slow is this slow-motion suicide?
Thornton: The establishment of large swaths of European societies handed over to Muslim control and sharia law will be one sign. Increasing estrangment from the United States and its policies, and more active diplomatic efforts against the U.S. and its interests, will be another. Perhaps the most obvious sign will be the appeasing response to a terrorist attack against Europe on the scale of 9/11. If Europe repeats the shameful response of Spain after the Madrid train-bombing — blame America and give the jihadists what they demand — then you’ll know Europe is through.
The suicide is “slow motion” because the forces eroding European civilization are themselves slow-working, compared to the cataclysmic wars of the 20th century. The demographic crisis — Europe’s failure to reproduce — and the economic problems — sluggish economies burdened with expensive social welfare entitlements — and the immigrant problem — unassimilated, sullen, underemployed but fecund Muslims ripe for jihadist recruitment — will take some time to reach a crisis point. But it is likely to be a question of decades, not centuries.
Lopez: Is it overdramatic to say Europe has “abandoned God and country”?
Thornton: Certainly not, if one is speaking, as I do, of the European political and cultural elite. Refusing to acknowledge, in the European Constitution, the historical fact of Christianity’s role in creating Europe in the first place is pretty dramatic. So are the empty cathedrals across the continent. And the creation of the European Union, which requires the ceding of some national sovereignty, is a dramatic sign of the discrediting of the nation state and patriotism. Time will tell whether these attitudes reach beyond the E.U. elite into the mass of Europeans.
Lopez: What and where is “Eurabia”?
Thornton: Eurabia is a state of mind, as well as a set of policies pursued by some European nations. It represents a devil’s bargain with the Muslim Middle East, in which the abandonment of Israel and the acceptance of Islam’s cultural superiority were traded for immigrant labor, access to oil and markets for weapons, economic development in the Middle East, and protection from terrorism. In Europe, it is manifested by the refusal to demand that Muslims assimilate to Western political values and mores, and abandon those that clash with Western ideals. It is accompanied by a denigration of the West and an adulation of Islamic civilization. Thus Eurabia is another version of that peculiarly Western self-loathing and failure of nerve that make Europeans (and many Americans too) so eager to don the hair-shirt of colonial and imperial guilt and appease a culture that wants to destroy them.
Lopez: Is there a European view of free speech? How poisonous is it?
Thornton: Generally the European view of free speech is much more restricted than what we enjoy in the United States. Like politically correct American professors, many Europeans — certainly not all — are all for the freedom of speech that attacks the U.S. or Chritianity or Israel, but then they put out of bounds criticism of Islam or Muslims. Hypocritical double standards are always poisonous, for they undercut the authority of the principle in question. If we make an exception for one group, then other groups will agitate for the same privilege. But more important, the European sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities bespeaks not principle but fear: Hence it is another sign of suicidal appeasement.
Lopez: How damaging has the EU itself been to Europe?
Thornton: I think the E.U. has fostered the illusion that Europe can be a world power by ceding national authority to a faceless, undemocratic bureaucracy in Brussels, and so has fostered a dangerous illusion that humanity, or at least Europeans, have evolved beyond force and national rivalries into a utopia where political technicians solve all problems with rational discussion and international agreements. That idea is dangerous, for in a dangerous world, the credible threat of force will remain the key not just to defending ourselves, but to achieving aims such as the expansion of human rights, eradication of poverty, etc., as Europe to its humiliation learned in the ’90s with the Balkan crises — and may learn again, if Europe has to stand by, as she will, if Russia intervenes in Kosovo. More important, nothing suggests that people can take their sense of who they are from a bureaucracy rather than from a nation comprising people who live and speak like themselves. One response to the attempt to do so may be a nationalist resurgence that takes xenophobic or neo-fascist forms.
Lopez: Can Sarkozy save Europe?
Thornton: Sarkozy can’t even save France, any more than Angela Merkel could make the changes that could even begin to cure German economic sclerosis. Sarkozy’s approval ratings are abysmal, and he hasn’t really done anything yet other than express support for Israel, Europe’s Christian heritage, and the United States. If rhetoric has cost him so much support, imagine what real policy changes would do for him.
Lopez: Is Britain in the worst shape?
Thornton: Certainly in terms of its long appeasement of jihadists, and its willingness to indulge Muslim behavior and propaganda inimical to England’s own best interests. This tendency is most obvious in the silly pronouncements of Prince Charles about the superior glories of Islam, or the creation of “Islamophobia” as a “hate crime” that explains jihadist terror and Muslim discontent.
Lopez: Which countries can be most easily salvaged?
Thornton: Most recently the Danish have been the most aggressive in defending their principles and ideals against jihadist assault, and in attempting to tighten up on immigration. But Denmark or Switzerland aren’t the issue: France, England, and Germany are the big boys of Europe, and though they are doing a good job so far of keeping an eye on potential terrorists, not one of the three is really addressing the deep-seated problems that foster terrorism in the first place, the most important being an unwillingness to assert the superiority of Western Civilization and to demand that immigrants accept those ideals if they want to enjoy the freedom and prosperity of the West.
Lopez: What do you make of these latest riots in Denmark?
Thornton: You mean those vague “youths” who went on a rampage? We’ll see in the coming days whether my estimation of the Danish is correct. If we hear more blather about “root causes” and “anger over Iraq” and a “lack of economic opportunity,” then those riots will be one more sign of Europe’s weakness. What’s interesting about the riots, as with those in France a few years back, is the unwillingness of the government and media to say forthrightly that this mob violence reflects both the dysfunctional culture of Muslim immigrants and the poisonous combination of neglect and appeasement that defines much of European culture’s treatment of its immigrants.
Lopez: How responsible are the Green parties of Europe for this slow-motion suicide?
Thornton: They play an important role, one that will grow as the global-warming and anti-globalization cults increase in popularity. The neo-pagan nature-worship of the Greens opposes the foundations of Western civilization and the principles that have given freedom and prosperity to unprecedented numbers of ordinary people. If Green parties ever achieve enough political power to implement its policies, the Greens’ hatred of technology and capitalism, the proven engines of freedom and prosperity, will accelerate Europe’s demise.
Lopez: You point out the unpopularity of Tony Blair upon leaving office as a sign Europe can’t “stomach” fighting jihad. Are there any alternative signs? Beacons of hope for Western civilization?
Thornton: One gets glimpses here and there of ordinary Europeans who see what is happening and want to do something about it. Of course, they are demonized as “fascist” or “xenophobic.” Pym Fortun, the Dutch politician assassinated by an animal-rights fanatic, is a perfect example. Before his death he was excoriated as an extreme rightist merely for defending Danish culture against those who would destroy it. I hope that there are large numbers of Europeans who feel the same way and will in the coming years begin to demand that their governments fight for Europe’s values. But unfortunately, it may take a European 9/11, or something worse, to catalyze that kind of resistance.
Lopez: How might Europe get on a 12-step program to recovery? Who might lead it from the edge?
Thornton: Alas, I don’t think there is any program that can restore a civilization’s self-confidence and willingness to die and kill for its values, once these have been eroded. Particularly when life seems, for the moment, so good for many Europeans, and their security is underwritten by their boorish American cousins. I think the question is not “who” but “what” will bring Europe back to its senses. A serious economic crisis, or more and more terrorist attacks, might wake enough people up. The problem is, what sort of reaction would ensue? A violent fascist revival is not out of the question. Something else that might help is for the United States to stop enabling Europe’s delusions by giving Europeans a free security ride. The European dolce vita is subsidized by America, for Europe simply doesn’t spend the money on defense necessary for the West to police the world and allow the global economy that makes Europe rich flourish in the first place. An American withdrawal from NATO might concentrate the E.U. mind wonderfully and induce Europe to shoulder its fair share of the security bill.