Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Vanity of the Selfless

"There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless."
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bush Squanders Nazi Good Will

H.D.S. Greenaway takes away the idiotic sentence crown from James Carroll this week, ending his column with a dramatic question:
A young German [at Davos] said his grandfather had been a prisoner of war of the Americans, but remained staunchly pro-American all through his life. The young man asked: Would that be true of an Iraqi prisoner of war today?

Apparently Greenaway feels he doesn't need to answer this question; after all, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Halliburton, Bush Lied, etc.

I had to stop to untangle the logic here. First of all, there are no “prisoners of war” in Iraq because we’re not fighting an army in uniform. But overlooking that detail: Greenaway makes a comparison between American prisoners in World War II and Iraq. The former were Nazis, the latter are terrorists. Some Nazis were pro-American after the war, but the terrorists we catch trying to blow up our soldiers with roadside bombs don’t renounce Osama and become “pro-American.” Isn’t it obvious that AQI terrorists already hate America and will continue to hate us in captivity? Maybe if gave them seminars on George Washington and the invisible hand of capitalism instead of providing them with Korans?

Is the fact that terrorists captured by our military don't like us really a reason to feel bad about our country?

Obama:Politics as Usual

A friend sent me a video link to Obama's prebuttal of the State of the Union speech. My friend thinks Obama is a new JFK--with some MLK Jr. mixed in.

It wasn't a bad speech, but contrary to the charge that Obama only talks in vague generalities, he presented specific idea after specific idea--all of which I disagree with.

--He wants to withdraw troops from Iraq immediately; I could not disagree more.

--He claims that "we know it's just not true" that the surge is working (i.e., Bush and Gen. Patreus are lying) because the Iraqi government has failed some arbitrary standard of compromise that he and the news media have invented; I could not disagree more--the surge has been wildly successful in reducing violence in Iraq and turning the population against al Qaeda and to dismiss this is insulting to Gen. Patreus and our troops.

--He says George Bush's Washington let the banks run amok--haven't democrats been whining for years about banks' discriminatory lending practices?

--He wants nationalized health care; I think it would be a dismal failure.

--He thinks lobbyists are part of the problem; I think they are a necessary part of our system of government.

--He claims that Republicans demonize their enemies; I think that intolerance is far more prevalent on the left than the right.

--He thinks the Bush tax cuts took money from the poor and gave it to the rich; I think the Bush tax cuts are responsible for the economic gains of the last 6 years and we need more tax cuts not some Robin Hood program to soak the rich and big business and add to middle class entitlements.

How then is Obama going to be a President who leads all the people, not just half of the Congress? The only way this will happen is if everyone who disagrees with his liberal ideas gives up the debate and goes along with him. He's not about compromise at all--and presenting himself as above partisan politics is just more politics as usual.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Liberal Bias?

The cover of Newsweek this week announces: "The Party's Over: A dispirited GOP struggles to find its post-Bush path."

Dispirited? The [Republican] Party's Over?

What are they talking about? It's a Presidential election, and a Republican candidate has not been anointed after a handful of primaries. This is proof of the end of the GOP?

Only self-deluded liars can continue to pretend that (in Rushspeak) the MSM (mainstream media) is unbiased and anything but DNC (Democratic National Committee) media. Bought, owned and fully in the pocket of the Democrat party.

James Hansen silenced on national TV

After one of the coldest games in NFL history, CBS broadcast "The Age of Warming"--a transparent effort to make a few bucks by repeating the usual litany of Al Gore alarmism. The best was James Hansen in what must be his four-thousandth interview being given twenty minutes to make his case--in prime time Sunday night national television--whining about how he has been "silenced." I admit he has talent to be able to make this claim over and over without cracking up into uncontrollable laughter.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Christian Zionism?

James Carroll writes about the U.S. government’s “Christian Zionist dream of a God-sponsored Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean,” using the same language of the Hamas charter that denies Israel’s right to exist by claiming these same lands. In reality, the Bush administration’s roadmap has encouraged Israel to give up yet more land in a futile attempt to appease Hamas.

James Carroll writes about “the traditional American commitment...[to] the Christian Zionist vision of ultimate Jewish conversion to Jesus”; in reality, it is Islamofascists who are committed to conversion of infidels to their religion.

An American government full of Christian Zionists? It seems Mr Carroll is prey to psychological projection: “a defense mechanism in which one attributes to others one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts.” (Wikipedia)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Global Warming Stimulus Package

Hillary recently proposed that the government should relieve the pain of high gas prices by handing out money. Don’t environmentalists praise high gas prices as a market-based constraint on gasoline consumption? If the government subsidizes gasoline, won’t consumption increase, thus increasing CO2 emissions and putting the top of the Empire State Building under water?

SUV kills 2-year old chld

From the Associated Press: "A Longmeadow woman backing out of her driveway in a sport utility vehicle ran over her 2-year-old daughter and killed her."

Tragic, but was the SUV somehow responsible?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Put a hurting on foriegn oil!

Someone named boatmoter [sic] at's blog site posted these visionary words:
we can send men to the moon,we can harness the atom,we invented the automobile,the computor, the laser,xray, telephone, we can even do heart transplants, we ought to be able to build a engine that does not require fuel,a perpetual motion engine should not be unreachable. then we would not be dependant on foriegn oil,or drilling and polluting,sure,it would put a hurting on the oil companies,boo hoo. it would cause a lot of jobs to no longer be needed,but it would creat a lot more jobs..

Why invent non-carbon based fuel when you can think really big and build an engine that does not require fuel at all? Of course it probably already exists but a hit man from Exxon killed the inventor and has locked the technical drawings in a top-secret Exxon cave in Nevada.

Someone named Revolution Tex has an even better plan:

My suggestion is / though extremely contoversial and un-american, would be to take the example of Venezuela, and let the U.S. Govt. finally seize and Govern the Oil Companies and set a national price of purchase/ so working families and the poor, elderly can afford to get the fuel they need to survive, work, and meet the responsibilities they have.

What's a little seizure of private property so long as it benefits working families?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hail Britannia

The Wall Street Journal published the index of economic freedom this morning. Andrew Roberts and Mark Steyn have made this point before: of the ten most free economies, 8 are former British colonies, plus the United Kingdom itself. Number 8 is Chile, which owes its economic program to Milton Friedman and the Chicago boys (Americans). That leaves only Switzerland without British roots.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Going global

Lately I’ve been hearing a buzzword from the education business—something about “education for a global economy,” creating “global citizens” and preparing students for the new globalized world. Education consultants are recommending “global learning” be “infused” into the K-12 curriculum. According to a Japanese university website, globalization “has challenged the long-standing scholarly assumption that takes the nation-state as the key framework of analysis.” And therefore, ”since the 1990s Global Studies schools and programs have been founded at universities around the world.”

As with any new product from the teaching profession, you have to wonder what the agenda is. After all, if the sole purpose of global studies were to impart a greater understanding of global issues, why would we need a new discipline? Couldn’t teachers simply stress the importance of the existing curriculum in world history, foreign languages, comparative literature, international relations, economics, art history and many others?

The role of the globalized economy is often mentioned, and it may be that many of the new programs with “global” in their name want to train Wal-Mart purchasers who understand international supply chains in Tom Friedman’s flat world. Other global studies programs however seem less concerned with having their students participate in the global economy in the role of, for example, capitalist businessmen. Rather they are concerned with controlling the global economy; in other words, they are madrassas for bureaucrats in a future world government.

The School of Global Studies at Arizona State University claims to be “Transdisciplinary in Strategy, Transnational in Scope, Transformational in Purpose.” The repetition of “trans-“ is cute, and perhaps meaningful. Why not interdisciplinary, international and informational? International—meaning between nations is no longer valid if one has dismissed the validity of the nation-state. Transdisciplinary might have been thrown in to match the rhyming scheme, but it indicates a desire for total understanding, rather than respect for discrete fields of study--sort of an academic power play. And as for transformational—is it really the job of a college to transform its students by forcing a political agenda about the need for world government upon them? Shouldn’t an education give students knowledge so they can reach their own political viewpoints?

The School of Global Studies vision statement is clear about where it sees a problem that needs remedy: “The lack of comparable authoritative global institutions means that reaching such agreement among the peoples of the world is infinitely more difficult.”

And again:
In the absence of government and its taxation power the provision of global goods is severely limited. It follows that there is no routine coercive or non-coercive mechanism for the resolution of conflict in shared global space.

“Resolution of conflict” sounds like a high-minded goal, but keep your eye on the “coercive” part.

The case for one world government continues in the vision statement’s depiction of global problems. Number one on the list, naturally, is global warming:
Global climate change has the potential to radically transform the quality of life for everyone on the planet, but how can greenhouse gas emissions and pollution be regulated given current political realities in shared global space? Can a global agreement on reversing global warming be reached and enforced given the existing inequalities in contributions of emissions and the uneven consequences of inaction?

I suspect that the global part is of more interest to global studies than the warming part.

Second on the list is terrorism:
The growth of terrorism (be it secular or religious) creates a demand for heightened global security, but how can global security be attained in the absence of world government?

Perhaps we were too hasty in dismissing the John Birch Society as a bunch of kooks for alleging that the "Real nature of the UN is to build One World Government.” And I’m trying to decipher that parenthetical—secular or religious? What secular terrorism are they referring to? The Basques? Timothy McVeigh?

The description of terrorism concludes with a throwaway line to reassure future applicants of the program’s moral relativist bona fides:
Further, since one country’s terrorists are another’s freedom fighters, the very definition of terrorism is contested.
They wouldn’t want to give the impression that they disapprove of terrorism—they just want the world government to control it. Maybe a suicide bombing tax? IED offset credits?

Getting Beyond Politics

My friend (and editor-in-chief of the leading newspaper south of Shelburne and north of North Ferrisburg) commented that it was weird to think that I had left my liberal Democrat past to join what she called the “far right.” She was from the center, she said; she thought it was important to find some middle ground in this country or we’d be in big trouble. I prefer “neo-conservative intellectual” to “far right-wing nut job,” but never mind.

The call for a middle way has been made by several candidates for the Presidency, notably Barack Obama on the Democrat side and Mike Huckabee on the Republican. It is increasingly difficult to have a civil political discussion in this country. Mention at a dinner party in Cambridge, Massachusetts that you might vote for Rudy, or that you’re skeptical about Al Gore’s global warming alarmism and you might think you had been describing your interest in child pornography.

It is therefore appealing to imagine that compromise, bipartisanship and a centrist point of view will lead to more positive discussion and an end to “legislative logjams.” We need to “put ideological differences behind us” and “get beyond politics as usual.”

Certainly we can agree to avoid to rudeness of’s ad calling Four Star General David Petreus a traitor (“David Betray-us”). And the corresponding rude behavior on the far right… well, nothing comes to mind at the moment, but I’m sure letter-writers from the left side of the aisle can make suggestions. Respectfully disagreeing with our opponents is better than demonizing them, but is there really a substantive middle ground on the essential issues of the day?

For instance, if one side wants to pull American troops out of Iraq and the other side wants them to stay indefinitely, where is the middle ground? Taking a numerical average between zero and infinity is difficult.

One side believes that tax cuts favor the rich, that we need to raise taxes on the wealthy to give the less fortunate members of society a helping hand; the other believes that tax cuts stimulate the economy and benefit everyone. A compromise that rescinds part of the Bush tax cuts will satisfy neither side.

One side believes that immigrants deserve a shot at a better life; the other side believes that people who enter the country illegally have broken the law and should not be provided taxpayer funded services. Do we compromise by building only half of a border fence?

One side believes that global warming warrants the creation of a global legislative mechanism to control greenhouse gas emissions; the other believes that global warming is neither catastrophic nor man-made and that market forces should guide the creation of new energy sources. There’s no middle ground when a chasm separates the two sides.

One side believes that abortion is murder, the other believes it’s a woman’s right to choose. Any change in the current laws will be seen by abortion advocates as taking away their rights and the most implacable abortion opponents will argue that any abortion is murder.

It is possible of course to reach legislative compromise. The federal budget is always a compromise. Judicial appointments are often a compromise between what the executive will tolerate and the legislature will confirm. Immigration reform might punish illegal immigrants with criminal records but offer hard-working immigrants a “path to citizenship.”

But compromise involves ceding ground. A secondary definition of compromise is, “the acceptance of standards that are lower than is desirable.” It may be necessary to reach a solution, to break up that logjam, to “make things happen.” But compromise is not necessarily a positive thing. Passing a new law just to make things happen is good only if the law is sensible. It’s not like there’s any shortage of laws.

Jonah Goldberg’s new book describes “a “’Third Way’ between right and left where all good things go together and all hard choices are ‘false choices.’” This view itself, according to Goldberg, is an essentially liberal view; conservatives accept that there are hard choices to make and see the call for consensus as a call to shut down the debate. Too often when people advocate consensus, they expect that the other side will come over to their obviously superior side.

Personally, I enjoy the debate. Obviously I think my conservative positions are superior to the arguments of liberals, but I don’t want to shut liberals up. Monday morning without James Carroll’s moonbat columns in the Boston Globe just wouldn’t be as much fun.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What would Chairman Mao think?

The following was an internet resource on the website of an education non-profit whose mission is to “introduce global content,” and “change the way students learn.” Their motto is "Educating for Global Understanding."

This form of painting, which in the West would be categorized as folk or naive painting, became popular during the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976). Images depicting peoples' every day lives in the fields, performing productive agricultural and labor routines became a natural focus under the regime of Chairman Mao. Artists in places like Hu County in Shaanxi Province (near Xi'an), where these painting were made, were discovered and became popular.

Hu County is rich with painters working in this style. Think about skills and practices being passed down through generations of families living in a fertile art community.

While this art form gained broad acceptance in the late 1960s and 1970s, these paintings were done in the late 1990's. Are there any aspects of these Peasant Paintings that could be read as images that promote or represent Cultural Revolution ideals? How do these paintings differ in style from "traditional" Chinese painting? How are they similar? Would Mao Zedong like them? If so, what would he like about them?

My problem with the material is not what is taught. It’s nice to have students think about folk paintings from modern China. It’s what is not taught. To begin with, introducing the Cultural Revolution while studying art is likely to give the impression that Chairman Mao was concerned about improving his country’s arts and culture. Sadly, the Cultural Revolution’s main contribution to Chinese art was the destruction of countless priceless works of art because they represented “old ways of thinking.” I have been in Buddhist caves where ancient frescoes with thousands of Buddha faces were methodically scratched out by Red Guard soldiers.

Secondly, the passage gives the impression of wealth during the Cultural Revolution; agriculture is described as “productive”; Hu County is “a fertile art community,” “rich with painters.” Unsaid is the unfortunate fact that the Cultural Revolution and its predecessor, the Great Leap Forward, were times of enormous famine. Tens of millions of farmers were moved arbitrarily to work on industrial projects to force China’s Great Leap Forward into the industrial age, which led to massive starvation and widespread cannibalism--in many cases, parents eating their own children. Statistics are hard to verify, but estimates range as high as 30 million dead.

Consider this sentence again: "Images depicting peoples' every day lives in the fields, performing productive agricultural and labor routines became a natural focus under the regime of Chairman Mao." A natural focus? The author seems oblivious about the purpose of state-sponsored art in a totalitarian country: that it paints a completely unrealistic vision to cover up the horrors of terror and famine. This would be an interesting start of a discussion, to ask students if they believe the happy scenes depicted reflect life in Communist China.

In addition to famine, the Cultural Revolution was a time of brutal repression, with an additional 2-7 million murdered by execution or overwork in labor camps.

The total murdered by Mao comes to somewhere between 44-72 million people, with 20 million in labor camps over his 26 year reign.

Given these ghoulish statistics, it is perverse in the extreme to ask third graders questions like, “Are there any aspects of these Peasant Paintings that could be read as images that promote or represent Cultural Revolution ideals? Would Mao Zedong like them?”

Which ideals would those be? Cannibalism, famine and mass internment?

Would Mao Zedong approve of the paintings? Should we defer to the aesthetic judgment of a man who murdered 50 million people?

Imagine asking if the paintings promoted Nazi ideals, and whether Adolf Hitler (himself a painter) would like them, without any accompanying criticism of the Nazi regime.

This is what is called “global understanding”?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Winner of the idiotic sentence of the week, pro division

It’s only Monday, but this one from professional idiot James Carroll will be hard to surpass:

The American belief in the righteousness of mass killing for the sake of abstract values like "freedom" springs not from the Revolution, where the killing was relatively slight and the freedom limited to a merchant class, but from the Civil War, where a spirit of total killing was justified by a professed commitment to racial equality that simply did not exist.

It has it all: racism, pacifism, class warfare, anti-Americanism. Plus bonus points for these idiotic points:
--War = mass killing. Take that, D-Day veterans. (At least he's not trying to claim that he supports the troops.)
--Freedom is an “abstract value.” Explain this to the inmates of Treblinka.
--The American Revolution only benefited the merchant class.
--Lincoln’s sham Emancipation Proclamation was a cover for his mass murdering blood lust.

The breadth of idiocy packed into one sentence could only come from a pro.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Angkor Wat proves that Al Gore is right

On my way back from a carbon burning orgy weekend--seven hours of driving to carbon powered ski lifts, wearing petroleum-based clothing and swimming in a heated outdoor pool--I tuned into a National Geographic radio program on Angkor Wat. After some praise of the brilliance of the temple engineers, the Australian archeologist turned the discussion to, naturally, global warming. It appears that the decline of the Khmer kingdom in the 13th century was likely tied to the clear-cutting of the forests around the temples to build rice paddies, which led to a climate change--which, as we know, destroys empires. The parallels with the today's climate change are disturbing: these Khmer temple builders had put all their faith in a technology that led to their downfall, much like the modern western world's dependence on carbon-based technologies.

So the SUV of the 12th century Cambodia was the rice paddy. It all makes sense.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Talking about the weather, 2

Mark Twain once said, "Everyone's talking about the weather but nobody's doing anything about it."

It's funny because the idea of doing something about the weather used to be absurd. But that was before Al Gore started saying things like, “climate crisis…demands immediate action to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in order to turn down the world’s thermostat.”

Talking about the weather

Talking about the weather used to be the safest of safe conversation openers—a subject so dull and non-controversial because everyone shared the same experience and could hardly be expected to have a different interpretation (with the exception of the grouch who when asked to reply to, “Nice day,” answers, “What’s so nice about it?”)

One side effect of global warming hysteria is the politicization of talking about the weather. The most common word I hear these days is, “crazy.”

On a cold winter day:
“It’s so cold today.”
“It’s crazy.”

Or, on a seasonably warm day:
“Nice day.”
“I know, it’s crazy.”

In New England we used to say that if you don’t like the weather, wait a couple hours. Unusual weather was usual. If pushed, global warming alarmists will concede that weather isn’t the same as climate. One warm day doesn’t prove that the globe is warming. But in practice every weather condition is pressed into service to support the theory of wildly erratic weather.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Good Times, Bad Times

A story on the front page of the Globe today reports: “Greenhouse gas emissions from Northeast power plants were about 10 percent lower than predicted during the last two years…But the decrease may have some unanticipated consequences for efforts to combat global warming.”

Imagine the headlines if emissions had risen 10 percent.

In The God that Failed Arthur Koestler describes how his Communist Party leaders taught him to think dialectically, a useful strategy that allowed him to ignore obvious facts by placing them in the context of revolutionary class struggle. Once you have convinced yourself that you are on the right side of history, no mere fact can intrude. More emissions are bad for global warming. Less emissions are bad for global warming. Warmer weather is proof of global warming. Colder weather is proof of…climate change.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Markey: SUV's Cause Chikungunya

Letter to Globe:
It is surprising that Rep. Edward Markey continues to repeat the inaccurate statement from An Inconvenient Truth that "before climate change, mosquitoes were not present in Nairobi,”and that the Globe published it without the most elemental fact checking (“Bad microbes on the move, “1/1/08). The claim is easily refuted; a CDC report by Snow et. al. (1999), for instance, documents numerous malaria epidemics in Nairobi in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

Markey apparently repeats this fabrication indiscriminately as justification for global warming legislation. He is quoted again in your more balanced article, “Scientists tussle over link between global warming, disease.” (Globe, 12/5/07)

Your editorial reports that the disease chikungunya is spread by tiger mosquitoes, which exist “as far north as Germany in Europe.” It is unclear how global warming can be responsible for an outbreak in coastal Ravenna, Italy, 500 miles south of Germany.