Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did fighting immigration "reform" really hurt the GOP?

I really don't think so.

Over at On Tap, they reviewed the Bush presidency about a month ago, laying out several observations of what was good and (mostly) what was bad over the last 8 years. In their assessment of his domestic reforms, they claim that the Republican's scuttling of the McCain-Kennedy immigration "reform" bill (a.k.a. amnesty 2008) quite possibly did lasting damage to the GOP. I strongly disagreed, and left the following comment explaining why.
[F]ighting immigration reform is one of the few actions the GOP got right in 2008. It reminded Americans that the US is an actual country with an actual ability to regulate its borders. Advocates for the McCain-Kennedy bill say that the GOP has to embrace effectively untrammeled immigration if it's to survive. America is browning (thanks, in large part, to illegal immigration) and the GOP has to get brown to survive. But this is nonsense.

The idea of a racially diverse GOP -- as long as the GOP remains a conservative (and not in the Bush sense) party -- is a chimera. The idea that, by letting in millions of people every year from countries who have absolutely no record of limited government but who do have a long memory of dependence on the state is somehow going to help a major party committed to limited government is, quite frankly, absurd. Historically, only one culture has had any real appreciation for limited government: White, Anglo-Saxon culture. Consequently, England (until WWI) and America (until the New Deal) were really the only countries with strong traditions of limited government. America incorporated foreigners from places that lacked that commitment, but Americans of the past understood that their ability to assimilate such foreigners wasn't unlimited, and they more or less cut off immigration for a generation to give the new arrivals time to assimilate and the country time to acculturate them. At first, the foreigners were stalwart Democrats (just like most of today's immigrants), but as time went on and they assimilated, many of them came to appreciate the Anglo-Saxon tradition of limited government. This was only possible because there weren't any more immigrants coming in, however.

Now McCain-Kennedy would have made sure that the kind of assimilation that the last massive wave of immigrants (1900-1920) went through wouldn't happen. It would have allowed today's immigrants -- who often tend to conspicuously lack the urge to assimilate that previous waves of immigrants had -- to continue coming and would have made a mockery of immigration enforcement regimes with its work permit provisions. It, not the 2008 GOP's rejection of it, would have permanently destroyed the Republican Party. It would have made Republicans obsolete, or it would have morphed the GOP into something very like the Democrats of today (which would have effectively been the same thing).

How to sum up the Bush presidency in one sentence

Daniel Larison does a pretty good job.

A Principled Man

Followers fall
blinded by kings
lost in the lie of the land.
Are you the one
sworn to be true?
Are you a principled man?

-- Steve Taylor, A Principled Man

Geert Wilders is one of the bravest men I know of in Europe today. He's a Dutch politician, founder of the Freedom Party, and the most famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) critic of Islam in the West today. His short film about Islam, Fitna, caused considerable controversy (though he did little more than allow the Koran and Muslims to speak for themselves regarding the nature and goals of Islam) and has led to his indictment in the Netherlands.

For over 4 years, Wilders has lived under guard. As a visible critic of Islam, his life is constantly in jeopardy from followers of the "religion of peace" who have repeatedly demonstrated that they will kill people who criticize their religion. In Europe, however, most of the establishment seems committed to ignoring this very prominent characteristic of their growing Muslim populations. They are are so committed to this delusion that they are trying to arrest Wilders for challenging it.

The irony is amazing, actually. The self-proclaimed forces of tolerance -- claiming to act in the interests of truth and non-discrimination -- are using the threat of force to try to silence the free speech of a Dutch citizen for the crime of not lying, all in service to probably the most violent and intolerant religion in the world. Unfortunately, there's no joke here. The Netherlands (and the UK, which refused Wilders entry to make a speech about Fitna at Parliament, ostensibly because he'd incite hatred among Muslims) have effectively ruled that criticism of Islam is illegal. For those of us who thought such laws were limited to nations like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, this is a very troubling development. It's a capitulation, actually. It's the culmination of the self-hatred and denegration of the West that's characterized Western Liberalism (especially in Europe) over the past 50 years. And it will destroy us, if we don't stop it.

Wilders recently visited New York City (and, thanks to the freedom of speech we still enjoy here in America, he was allowed in) where he gave a speech about Islam and his struggles to speak truthfully about it. The speech is masterful: impassioned (but not desperate), forceful, self-confident. The words are those of a man at peace with himself, even in the midst of terrible struggles (and under 24/7 security protection, effectively denying him the enjoyment of a normal life).

I've included some excerpts below, but you should really read the speech in its entirety.

As you might know, I will be prosecuted, because of my film Fitna, my remarks regarding Islam, and my view concerning what some call a ‘religion of peace’. A few years from now, I might be a criminal.

Whether or not I end up in jail is not the most pressing issue; I gave up my freedom four years ago. I am under full-time police protection ever since. The real question is: will free speech be put behind bars? And the larger question for the West is: will we leave Europe’s children the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem, or the values of Mecca, Teheran and Gaza?

This is what video blogger Pat Condell said in one of his latest you tube appearances. He says: “If I talked about Muslims the way their holy book talks about me, I’d be arrested for hate speech.” Now, Mr Condell is a stand-up comedian, but in the video he is dead serious and the joke is on us.


Today, I come before you to warn of a great threat. It is called Islam. It poses as a religion, but its goals are very worldly: world domination, holy war, sharia law, the end of the separation of church and state, slavery of women, the end of democracy. It is not a religion, it is a political ideology. It demands your respect, but has no respect for you.

There might be moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. [Emphasis mine. -- PHG] Islam will never change, because it is built on two rocks that are forever, two fundamental beliefs that will never change, and will never alter. First, there is the Quran, Allah’s personal word, uncreated, forever, with orders that need to be fulfilled regardless of place or time. And second, there is al-insal al-kamil, the perfect man, Muhammad the role model, whose deeds are to be imitated by all Muslims. And since Muhammad was a warlord and a conqueror we know what to expect. Islam means submission, so there cannot be any mistake about it’s goal. That’s a given. It’s fact.


This all culminates in a third coming-together: [neither] the left nor Islam is in favor of criticism. In fact, given the opportunity, they would simply outlaw it.

Multiculturalism is the left’s pet project. It is actually their religion. Their love of it is so great, if you oppose it, it must be hate. And if you say it, it is labeled hate speech. Now here is something the [left and] Islam can agree on.

This is the essence of my short introduction today: where the left and Islam come together, freedom will suffer. [Emphasis mine. -- PHG]

My friends, make no mistake, my prosecution is a full-fledged attack by the left on freedom of speech in order to please Muslims.


I suggest to defend freedom in general and freedom of speech in particular. I propose the withdrawal of all hate speech legislation in Europe. I propose a European First Amendment. In Europe we should defend freedom of speech like you Americans do. In Europe freedom of speech should be extended, instead of restricted. ... As George Orwell once said: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.


Our enemies should know: we will never apologize for being free men, we will never bow for the combined forces of Mecca and the left. And we will never surrender. We stand on the shoulders of giants. There is no stronger power than the force of free men fighting for the great cause of liberty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My niece, the 4-year old sage.

My niece, Kyra, is 4 years old. Like most 4-year olds, she says all kinds of hilarious things. A couple weeks ago, though, she said something that wasn't just funny, but (unintentionally) perceptive.

Talking with her mother, she declared: "I don't want to be a girl anymore. I want to be a boy."

"You want to be a boy?" her mother (my sister-in-law) replied. "Why do you want to be a boy?"

And Kyra said, "Because I don't want to have any babies."

After she finished laughing, my sister-in-law explained to her that she didn't have to have babies if she didn't want to. The story's cute, but it also struck me as somewhat profound: my 4-year old niece had summed up the essence of modern feminism in less than 25 words.

Feminism as it started out, in the late 19th century all the way through the mid-960s, was about treating women as human beings on par with men. It's hard to argue with that. Women are not the same as men, of course, and the differences between them can lead to one being better at certain responsibilities than the other, but as human beings they are equal in their inherent dignity. Thus, women sought their rights to participate in civil society (through voting) and insisted on being allowed to take advantages of opportunities for which they were well-qualified (in universities or on the job). That was what legitimate feminism was once about.

Modern feminism, however -- feminism since the late '60s -- has been about pretty much anything else BUT that. It's been, in fact, a modern case study for Pedagogy of the Oppressed (not that Paolo Friere would ever want to include it, of course). Feminists have come to hate men so much and for so long that their minds have become twisted, they've forgotten what goals of their own they ever had, and the only goals they can recognize anymore are the goals of their "oppressors" (i.e. men).

Thus, most modern feminists denigrate domestic moms and lionize working moms. Moms who stay at home are wasting themselves on their children, according to most modern feminists, and need to get out into the workplace where they can achieve true self-actualization. But finding one's self-worth in work has been a distinctively male trait. It's why, for example, when women want to talk about a problem, their husbands'/boyfriends' first instinct is to find a solution to the problem, not to validate their wives/girlfriends by just listening to the problem. A man who stays home and isn't working often battles feelings of inadequacy, because for millennia men have been the ones who go out of the home and "do things" like hunt big game, or fight big wars, or (eventually) work long hours. Women stayed at home and did things, like raise children, tend the home, and (especially on the frontier) protect their homes from predators. Women tend to value stability where men prefer excitement; prefer safety where men more easily tolerate risk (which is why there are so few women oil rig workers or garbage collectors); and prize consensus where men value competition.

The rigors of the workplace tend to favor male tendencies; the rigors of the home tend to favor female tendencies. Most feminists will denounce this assessment as sexist, but they implicitly accept the truth of it by admonishing women for being so passive (by staying at home) and encouraging them to be more aggressive in the workplace -- to work longer hours, to identify with their company's success, and especially to delay (or completely forgo) having children. These are all male activities. Men don't have to forgo having children to work long hours, because they don't have to bear them -- women do. And modern feminists wish they could be like men.

Modern feminism has also adopted male-style views on sexual matters, prizing lesbianism, unlimited sexual gratification, and abortion on demand. Like men, many feminists now prize having sex with women. Or, if they have sex with men, they often don't get into committed relationships with them so they won't get "tied down". This "rutting male" style of sexual conquest stands in stark contrast to the way women have viewed sexual matters for all of recorded history, and would be abhorrent to women in just about any other time (i.e. when women still focused on acting like women). The reason that "rutting males" can act this way, though, is that they don't have babies -- women do. And modern feminists wish they could be like men. Thus, they encourage women to kill their babies (in the "unfortunate" incident that they become pregnant) by aborting them, which -- short of having preemptive hysterectomies -- is the best way for them to have carefree, casual sex like men can.

And my 4-year old niece managed to sum up all that in less than 25 words. It took me over 550. Truly, my niece is a sage.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'll take the under on this one.

I watched the Oscars with my wife and her folks. The show was good. I'm not usually a fan of the Oscars, but the format changes they made, combined with Hugh Jackman's talented singing and dancing, and his low-key MC style, made for a very enjoyable experience.

I did think it was funny, though, to hear from the now-Oscar winning writer of Milk (the movie about Harvey Milk, the openly homosexual San Francisco politician from the '70s), whose name I forget (and am too lazy to google), and Sean Penn (who won the Best Actor Oscar for portraying Harvey Milk) concerning same-sex marriage. Both talked about how they were in favor of "equal rights" for homosexuals to marry. (Nevermind that "gay" marriage is a contradiction in terms, like "square circle" or "crooked straight line". Marriage has not always been monogamous, but it has always and everywhere been heterosexual.)

Sean Penn even went so far as to effectively call those in favor of traditional marriage hateful for their successful campaign to exclusively affirm traditional marriage in California through Proposition 8. (Which is also amusing, given the Stalinist-style tactics and shamelessly relentless moral bullying engaged in by enraged Prop. 8 opponents. If anything about Prop. 8 has been hateful, it's been Prop. 8 opponents' relentless efforts to punish people for having the temerity to successfully oppose them.) Had there been a recipient expressing remotely conservative or traditionalist opinions, I can all but guarantee that we would see a flood of articles online and in the papers tomorrow condemning the recipient for using the Oscars as a platform to push his own politics or partisan agenda.

What do you think the over/under should on how many articles we'll see about Dustin Lance Black's (the Milk screenwriter -- I overcame my laziness and googled his name) or Sean Penn's editorializing about same-sex marriage or homosexual rights? Hmmm ... How about zero? That sounds fair.

I think I'll take the under on this one.

Lamenting The Faithful Departed

My wife and I are Catholic converts. (Strictly speaking, of course, we didn't "convert" to Catholicism. We were already believing Christians when we came into full communion with the Catholic Church.) We each joined the Church in our mid-20s, after becoming convinced that the Catholic Church is the one true Church that Christ instituted while He was still on Earth. As converts are wont to do, we take our faith very seriously. This can be a problem as a Catholic in modern America, given both the indifference to their faith felt by many American Catholics (who sometimes view our insistence on orthodox Catholic teaching as weird or even offensive) and the hostility to the Catholic Church engendered (at least in part) by the priest sexual abuse scandals.

I've recently been reading Philip Lawler's account of the causes and results of those abuse scandals, called The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture. It focuses on Boston's Catholic culture, which Lawler sees as emblematic of what's happened in the rest of America (and, to a lesser extent, the world). It's truly depressing stuff. Lawler's basic point, backed up by very well-documented evidence, is that the root cause of this collapse and this crisis is the abdication of responsibility by the American bishops, who came to view themselves as regional directors of Catholic Church, Inc. -- a secular institution that runs on public support -- and not as shepherds of the souls of faithful Christians -- a spiritual community that runs on the grace of God. This emphasis on running the institution of the Church led the bishops further and further from doing their real jobs, demoralizing faithful Catholics and delighting heterodox or apostate Catholics. As a result, the latter group of Catholics has largely taken over the American Church over the past 40 years.

I'm about halfway done with the book, but there's one (extended) passage that I felt compelled to put up here, since it sums up the process by which the corrosion and collapse of the American Catholic Church took place.

A bishop, Vatican II had taught (Lumen Gentium 23), is the "visible source and foundation of unity" in his diocese. American bishops fulfilled this role in a very odd way: not by restoring unity, but by declaring it. Since the bishop had announced that the local Church was one happy family, anyone who pointed out divisions was offending against that unity, fomenting discord, and subverting the bishop's authority at the same time. The greatest threat to the integrity of the Catholic faith was not someone who denied fundamental Church teaching, but someone who called attention to that denial, thereby fracturing the facade of unity. The bishops had found a foolproof way to blame the messenger for bringing bad news.

Dissent from Church teaching was not a new development. What is unique about the period of Vatican II is that doctrinal dissent entered the mainstream, and the vigorous defense of Church doctrine was marginalized. Pastors who encouraged married couples to ignore the Catholic teaching on birth control were not disciplined but praised for their "pastoral" approach. Priests who clung to the traditional teaching, exhorting their parishioners to do the same, were declared too "rigid" to handle larger assignments.

In the field of economics, the principle known as Gresham's Law dictates that bad money will drive out good money. When two different currencies are available, one inflated and the other holding its value, people will always choose to pay their bills with the less valuable currency, until the better money gradually disappears from circulation. Since the late 1960s the same genera principle has been at work in the Catholic Church: lax pastoral practice has driven out sound spiritual formation. Yes, the Church still bans the use of contraceptives. But for the past forty years, at least, a married Catholic has rarely had difficulty finding a priest who would tell him that in his particular case, the use of contraceptives could be morally justified. Similarly, a Catholic who was troubled by the Church's teaching on divorce or on regular Mass attendance has generally been able to find a sympathetic cleric who would salve his conscience. In practice Catholics have found that it is possible to flout Catholic teachings, with the tacit blessing of someone who represents the Church.

This odd dynamic has a demoralizing effect on any priest who honestly wishes to uphold Church teaching. If he demands that an engaged couple live apart until their marriage, they are likely to find another priest who will ignore the fact that they have the same mailing address. If he says that teenagers much attend Sunday Mass regularly in order to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, the youngsters may drop out of his religion-education program. If he preaches unpopular truths in his regular homilies, families may switch to another, "friendlier" approach.

If he refuses to compromise, the stalwart pastor may soon find himself with a smaller congregation to pay the parish bills. He may then acquire a reputation as a poor fundraiser and an inefficient manager to go along with complaints about his harsh and inflexible attitudes. He will never be popular with his fellow priests (since his rigor is an implicit rebuke to their sloth), now will he be considered for larger assignments. If he does compromise, on the other hand -- if he ignores the fact that a young woman has already moved in with the man she intends to marry; if he promotes students through the grades of religious-education program without giving tests that might expose their ignorance -- the young priest will reap a harvest of earthly rewards. His own life will be easier, unburdened of the frustrations that come from knowing that his advice has been rejected. He will gain a reputation for flexibility and pastoral judgment. He will be more popular with other priests, and probably with parishioners as well. He will be considered for plum parish assignments and might even be considered as a potential future bishop.

In short, the system rewards clerics who learn to dodge controversial issues and paper over serious problems. And watching the system work, ordinary Americans conclude, quite reasonably, that the Church is not really serious about those problems. If 80 percent of Catholic married couples are using contraceptives, and bishops do not treat that issue as a matter of urgency, they cannot really believe that birth control is gravely sinful, can they? If a pastor can maintain a friendly relationship with a parishioner, yet never admonish him for routinely skipping Sunday Mass, he must not really think that the man's eternal soul is in danger.

-from The Faithful Departed (2008 hardcover), pp. 125-127

In a particularly damning assessment at the end of the chapter from which the section above was taken, Lawler concludes that there is no more radically contrary proposition for the contemporary leadership of the American Church than Augustine's famous declaration, "God does not need my lie."

For a faithful Catholic, the diagnosis that Lawler lays out is painful and deeply, deeply saddening. I find myself enraged by the lowly state to which Catholicism has been allowed to fall in America. And not just in America. Focus on success on Earth -- political success, material success, and success in popular opinion -- has infected the Church worldwide. Lawler recounts an episode talking with Catholics from Latin America (I forget which country), where they say, in effect, "If you want to form a labor union, talk with a priest. If you want spiritual advice and counseling, talk with a Protestant pastor."

I'm reminded of the many Catholics I know who could really care less about the high rate of divorce or contraception among Catholics -- or for so many Catholics' support for abortion (and for candidates, like Obama, who are on record as literally favoring infanticide) -- but who become irate about their parish's failure to use Fair Trade coffee in the fellowship hall. The Fair Trade issue may be important, but it pales in comparison to the unmitigated slaughter of millions of innocent children annually, to the deaths of so many marriages annually, and to the ubiquitous and monstrous separation of procreation from sexual intimacy.

The problem is, however, that most of the energized and influential lay Catholics are socially and theologically Liberal, are firmly convinced of the Marxist conception of reality (that the only good in helping people is in helping them materially), and tend to be hostile to any limitations on sexual freedom or expression. They also have huge problems with Church authority -- which is a problem, since acknowledging and submitting to the authority of the Church in the areas of faith and morals is a sine qua non of the Catholic faith.

These are the people who run most parishes, who tend to be in charge of groups like Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (although there are many faithful Catholics in those organizations, too). They have also been in charge of the religious education of young Catholic children for the past 40 years. They -- and the failed bishops who've enabled them -- have been a scourge on the American Church that we will take at least a generation to recover from. The recovery has started, but it will be long in coming -- if it ever happens. God is always faithful, but we aren't. If we don't see this process through, the Church in America will wither and die the way others have in the past.

So that's the task we have before us. We, American Catholics, with the grace and power of God, must renew the Catholic Church in America. We have no time to waste.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Holder's speech

I'd spend a while picking it apart and pointing out how much it gives the lie to claims that electing Obama will bring America past the "race issue", but Lawrence Auster does it much better than I could.

If I were to take the Attorney General's words about American's cowardice at face value, I'd think that he was implicating "people of color" as well as us white folk (since it's fairly common for black and Hispanic neighborhoods to be as racially pure as "white bread" suburban towns). The rest of his speech, however, makes it clear that the only cowards he sees have white skin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The perniciousness of economic "growth"

Dr. Patrick Deneen has a very thought-provoking post on his blog about the terrible costs of our modern (as in, post-Enlightenment) focus on economic growth as the sunum bonum (the greatest good) of our society. It's long, but I highly recommend it.

My favorite quote of 2009 (so far)

"We live in an amazing, amazing world. And it's wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In case you thought Bush wasn't an absolutely horrible president ...

... we've recently learned that, as part of of the initial bailout package, the Treasury Department in late 2008 paid $78 billion dollars more for bank stock than it was worth. That's $78,000,000,000. I have big problems with the Obama administration, but I'll say this for our current president: he's not George W. Bush.

Have we had a worse president? Seriously, this guy's administration has got to rank among the worst there is. Wilson was obviously worse. (Cheney could only dream of haveing the dictatorial domestic surveillance powers Wilson rammed through with the Sedition and Espionage Acts; Bush went out of his way to make his cabinet multiracial, while Wilson re-segregated the civil service; and Bush didn't invade Latin America once, while Wilson did 14 or 15 times.)

He got the judiciary right (appointing excellent candidates in the federal circuit and district courts, and the Supreme Court), the Mexico City policy right, and pretty much everything else wrong. He ruined the conservative brand, allowed his VP to run wild over the Constitution (setting pretty terrible precedents in the process), tarnished our image and reputation abroad through torture policies, massively increased the size and scope of the federal government and its powers, ran up deficits that we and our children will be paying for the rest of our lives, antagonized allies in favor of ideological (and flawed) democracy promotion abroad, and bogged our military down in a completely unnecessary war.

And he used almost 80 billion more dollars of our money to pay for bank stock than he should have. That would make his administration incompetent AND corrupt.

Good riddance.

File this under "Camel's nose under the tent"

The new government of Pakistan has caved in to Taliban demands to impose sharia law in northwest Pakistan. I predict that this will not be the end of such demands in Pakistan, and that within 4 or 5 years, Pakistan will be mostly, or entirely, under sharia law.

The Taliban is expressly motivated by the desire to see sharia imposed everywhere. Their success in getting what they want will only embolden them to demand more, and the government doesn't appear to have the resolve to refuse their demands. Neither, it seems, do most of the people. A teacher quoted in the article sums it up best: "We just want to see an end to this bloody fighting. We do not mind what way it comes. It is no problem if it comes through the Islamic system." Those were the exact same sentiments that helped bring the Taliban to power in Afghanistan.

Mark it: in 4 or 5 years, Pakistan will be pretty much what Afghanistan was 9 years ago.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jeremiah Wright 2.0

You might know him as Otis Moss, Jr. -- the new head of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.

Different name, same style: Leftist, race-obsessed, and (in terms of his inordinate focus on politics and power as the means of salvation) Marxist.

How the media can make a headless woman disappear

Muzzammil Hasan is the owner of a Muslim cable station in upstate NY. He founded his network, Bridges TV (so named because it was meant to build bridges of understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims) to much media fanfare 4 years ago. Recently, he beheaded his wife, Aasiya, to considerably less media fanfare.

In fact, given the sensationally gruesome nature of the crime -- and the media's very well established record of covering anything remotely sensational or gruesome ("If it bleeds, it leads," after all) -- the media silence around this killing is highly suspicious. The few accounts of the murder are sparse in the extreme. I don't believe that the media is trying to be sensitive to the family because of the heinousness of beheading. They usually don't try to act like decent human beings when something like this happens: they're usually in the families' faces with microphones shouting questions. My guess is there's something more at work here.

I'm wondering if the media don't want to publicize a Muslim acting in a manner consistent with the behavior of so many Muslims in the Middle East (or, increasingly, Europe). They fell over themselves to report on the beginning of Bridges TV, an event that a limited number of people are probably interested in. They've largely ignored Aasiya Hasan's beheading, an event that most people who watch news would be interested in. It's sad that so many more people would be interested in a gruesome murder than would be interested in someone trying to bring harmony and understanding to different groups of people, but it's the reality of original sin. It's to this reality that media coverage is heavily skewed, and I can't think of a non-ideological reason for them to not report on this.

Maybe their ideology -- the aversion to portraying Muslims in negative ways -- gives them magical powers: their non-reporting has made the headless Aasiya Hasan disappear. If the event goes unreported, most people don't know about it, and the few who do don't have anyone to talk about it with. In 6 months, you probably won't hear anything about Aasiya Hasan, her murdering husband Muzzammil, or the fact that both of them were Muslims.

Where Muslims (faithful, orthodox Muslims, that is) live in large numbers in the West, there you start to see beheadings, honor killings, and other acts of violence called for under sharia law. This observation is increasingly hard to deny, especially given the daily accounts of such behavior coming from Europe, where Muslims have moved in large numbers. Not all, or even most, Muslims act this way, of course. Many do, however, and most of those who don't consistently fail to condemn or try to stop those who do. This is partly because the majority who don't act this way are afraid of those who do, and partly because both the majority and the minority see that the minority's behavior is often commanded by the Koran.

It was said of the Roman empire that it made a desert and called it "peace". Islam means "submission," and we hear that Islam is a religion of peace. Given the uniquely violent history of Islam, however, as well as the behavior of Muslims in Europe and, increasingly, in the US (check out the folks washing their feet in the sinks of public restrooms in places like Michigan, for example), it seems that Islam is peaceful in the same way the Roman empire was.

Update: The media appears to be doing their best to discourage people from viewing this murder as an honor killing.

There are two statements in the linked article that are particularly revealing.

First, there's the obligatory Islamic scriptures didn't really motivate this crime quote:
"All religions have texts that can be misinterpreted. Good people, regardless of faith, would never do something like this."

Well, that would seem to imply that there are a lot of bad people in the Muslim world, wouldn't it? But that seems simplistic. Muslims who kill their wives and daughters for bringing dishonor on their families are not necessarily evil people. They are just people who take their faith very seriously. Calling them "bad" or "evil" obfuscates the fact that the one undeniable common factor that they all share is their religion.

Islam is a religion steeped in violence. It is violent in a way that literally no other major religion is. Take away the violence from Muslim history and you wouldn't have many Muslims, because Islam was spread by the sword for the first 1,000 years of its history. Violent conquest was the primary way that Muslims proselytized for well over a millennium. This is a fact. That legacy matters for Muslims today. Honor killings are hardly uncommon in the Muslim world, and are increasingly common in Western nations with large Muslim populations.

Second, there's the closely related This crime isn't really related to Islam quote:
"Calling [this beheading] an honor killing, it sort of takes it out of mainstream conversation and makes it a conversation about those people from over there from those backwards countries. In fact, in this country and in mainstream society there are many cases where domestic violence escalates to the point where a woman is killed."

Well, it's true that woman are tragically killed in episodes of domestic violence in America. It's also completely irrelevant. If Muzzammil had shot his wife, or even stabbed her with a butcher's knife, you might be able to call it simple domestic violence. (I'd still be skeptical, given the circumstances, but I'd have much less justification for skepticism.) That's not what happened, though. Muzzammil cut off his wife's head less than a week after she served him with divorce papers -- an act that's horribly dishonoring to traditional Muslims. Given the documented prevelance of decapitation as a means for honor killings among Muslims in the Middle East and Africa, this man's actions stand out as something more than garden variety domestic violence.

Making the claim in the above quote makes would be like saying that the lynching of a black man 100 years ago wasn't related to racism, since lynching has been a common method of killing people for centuries. Only someone who'd predetermined that racism didn't, as a rule, lead whites to lynch blacks back then could look at such a crime and say that the ideology and the action were basically unrelated.

Likewise, only someone who'd predetermined that Islam doesn't, as a rule, lead men to kill their wives through honor killings today could look at Muzzammil Hasan's beheading of his wife Aasiya and say that it was basically unrelated to his religion.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How massive immigration will destroy America

One of the best articles I've read on this subject, by the American philosopher, Lawrence Auster. He published it over 14 years ago. In the intervening years, the problem has only become worse, yet I haven't read as concise a diagnosis of the problem, as well as an explanation of why it's a problem. It's worth your time to read it, and read it carefully.

Selling our birthright for a mess of porridge

I forwarded my post about the attempts to roll back welfare reform on the sly through the stimulus bill to a group of folks that I discuss politics with pretty often. One of them replied:
"IMHO, libertarianism is at best a platonistic abstraction of a widespread belief/tradition/common wisdom most visible in the 19th-century US -- perhaps the premier laboratory of representative democracy at the time. Whether welfare is practically more prone to abuse than defense, policing and courts is one question (think military-industrial complex, police state and Robespierre before you get completely sure)."
I responded, and in doing so managed to crystallize my thinking on one aspect of political philosophy better than I have in the past. (I'm an extrovert, so I think better by talking and writing and bouncing my ideas off of people. I've been writing a lot about this before I finally managed to get out what I'd been thinking for a while, though.)
[W]orries about military-industrial complexes, police states, or reigns of terror, (not to mention massive subsidies, agricultural or otherwise) wouldn't exist without the big government we're currently discussing.

Without the Progressives, there would be no imperialist American foreign policy (colonies in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, interventions in Latin America, and a foreign policy tradition that led to Korea, Vietnam, and the current Iraq War), nor would there probably have been a New Deal (since, as we know from Liberal Fascism, most New Dealers were just Progressive retreads waiting to get back into the limelight). Without those two, there would never have been a military-industrial complex, because there would have been no massive post-WWII military build-up to justify it. (We often forget that the modern bloated military was a creature of the Korean War, not WWII. Truman, drawing from Wilson's rhetoric, decided that the US needed to be big enough to take care of the world's problems.) True, modern water sanitation and sewage systems would probably have come along later than they did, but I'd call that a fair trade any day.

Modern Liberal political philosophy (Liberalism since the Progressives) has bequeathed more suffering and oppression to mankind than just about anything else in human history. It was the original driving force behind America's imperialist foreign policy. It gave rise to the vast majority of 20th century tyrants (like Wilson, Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Il), while robbing people of most of their freedoms (except, of course, their sexual freedom, which is the only freedom to have noticeably increased under Liberalism), their self-determination (by subjecting more and more of society to the rule of "experts" or regulators instead of the people themselves or their elected representatives), their self-respect (through massive welfare states which encourage people to live idle, meaningless lives), their productivity (through increasingly higher taxes), and their safety (through increasingly lax treatment of criminals).

In return it gave them sanitized water systems, functioning sewage systems, and trains that ran on time. You can even throw in the dismantling of systems like Jim Crow, although that wasn't something central to Liberalism so much as something central to liberalism (the concept of limited government and individual rights that undergirds Western civilization, not the Progressives' love affair with the redemptive powers of the state). Talk about selling your birthright for a mess of porridge. Some day, if our society is not so far gone that it can't recover and it lasts long enough afterwards, historians will look back on the late 19th, the 20th, and the 21st centuries as a shameful era where Progressive thought robbed people of the better part of their humanity, while treating them like livestock that was fit for nothing else than being ruled and spending their days rutting in the fields.

No free speech in Britain for people talking about Islam

Now they've refused Geert Wilders, the controversial Dutch MP, the right to speak about Islam in Parliament because Muslims in Britain have threatened to riot and kill people if he did.

If Wilders was a sexual contortionist who used explicit positions to express his political views, I'm guessing the British government would fall all over itself in its eagerness to make sure he could be heard. Instead, he's the one voice of reason in the debate over Islam in Europe -- about Islam's violent nature, and about the threat that the Muslims in Europe pose to the nations of Europe -- so European politicians are going out of their way to try to silence him.

The irony, of course, is that all the death threats and thuggery only continue to prove Wilders' point, which is that Islam doesn't allow faithful Muslims to coexist peacefully with native Europeans, but requires them to transform European society into a Muslim society (by force if necessary).

Obama and the Dems: Liars who try to change America through stealth

Micky Kaus over at has a scary post up about the provisions in the stimulus bill that essentially undo most of the welfare reform of the '90s.

The key provisions in the porkulus -- er, stimulus -- bill concern the caseload reduction mandated by PRWORA (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a.k.a. welfare reform). Under PRWORA, states had to make sure that 50% of the people on welfare were engaged in a "work activity" -- BUT they could count folks who got off welfare towards that 50% in the form of a "caseload reduction credit". Because welfare rolls collapsed in the late '90s and (contrary to the doomsayers who were convinced that the caseloads would swell once a recession hit) the the aughts ('00s), states basically didn't have to engage people in work activity because the caseload reduction credit allowed them to fulfill their work requirement mandates without doing anything. So far so good: people are getting off welfare, and states don't have to do anything more about it.

Now, however, the Democrats want to encourage states to put people back on welfare, essentially undoing welfare reform -- one of Bill Clinton's only good domestic accomplishments as president. They're too smart to do it out in the open, however. They know that Americans were incensed at allowing able-bodied people to not work when they otherwise could or should (which is one reason why welfare disappeared as a culture wars topic 2 seconds after PRWORA was implemented). So they've decided to make this change -- along with a host of others -- through a massive "stimulus" bill, where they know people won't pay attention.

What they're doing is basically allowing states to apply their caseload reduction numbers from 2007 and 2008 to their caseloads in 2009 and beyond, regardless of whether their caseloads decline. This would be like the IRS allowing someone to us his income as a college student working a minimum wage job part-time as the basis for his tax returns after he's graduated college and found a job paying $60,000 a year. (Just assume he was an engineering student; they can find jobs that pay like that out of school.) It's encouraging the states to cheat and expand their welfare rolls.

That's bad. That's very bad. It goes against American culture and American character. Work, in America, is what we do. In this, America is unlike Europe where there's a cultural understanding that it's okay to live off the state. That's not the case in America. Liberals, who largely want America to become like Europe, are obviously not pleased with this aspect of America's character. For about 30 years, they had their wish. (Yes, old AFDC-style welfare was started in the '30s, but it didn't become a blight on American culture until the mid-'60s. The Supreme Court ruled that welfare was property under the Due Process clause, which led people to come up with the idea of people having rights to welfare. At that point, the dam burst open and the welfare rolls swelled full of people with no intention or motivation to ever leave welfare.) This led to massive generational poverty (something Liberals ironically blame on Conservative racism, much like the English blaming the Spanish for killing Jews when it was really the English Inquisition that did that), huge spikes in urban crime, and accelerated white flight.

In 1996, the federal government finally decided to heed the wishes of Americans and radically overhauled welfare, replacing AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, an open-ended program of unlimited aid) with TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families, a time-limited program with limited funding). It was no coincidence that 1998 was the first major election in 30 years where welfare wasn't an issue just about anywhere in the country. Welfare rolls had dropped dramatically (partially in response to the economy, partially out of fear of the law, and partially in response to the law passing), and most of the folks on welfare could only be on for 5 years or so. The program was in line with American culture -- which doesn't despise giving aid to the truly needy, but which does despise giving aid to people who don't really need it.

Naturally, Liberals hated it. They've railed against it for over 10 years -- despite the fact that it's demonstrably improved the economic lot of most folks on welfare, and given those who merely broke even with it their dignity back. Now they see their chance to undo it and bring the system back into line with their own un-American vision for American culture, and they've wasted no time doing it in just about the most illegitimate fashion imaginable.

As an aside, let me say how much it angered me when President Obama in his news conference this week irately contradicted people who said that the stimulus bill is laden with pet projects by claiming over and over again that there were no earmarks in the bill. His statement was literally true, but he was still lying. Saying that there are no earmarks is not the same as saying that there are no pet projects. An earmark is a specific request by a lawmaker to include a pet project in a bill; the request is then voted on by the rest of the lawmakers present. If the same pet project is included in the original language of the bill, however, it isn't an earmark; it's still a piece of pork, though. To say otherwise is to lie.

It reminds me of the way the Justice Department under Bush was instructed to reply to people whose phones were tapped when they asked their phone company if their phones were tapped. The phone company would inform the Justice Department of the question, the Justice Department would take the tap off the phone, and then the phone company would tell their customers "No, your phone isn't being tapped." After the person hung up, the feds would put the tap back on the phone. The phone company was being literally truthful: the phones weren't being tapped at the moment when they said so. They were still lying, though.

Just like Obama. He and the Democrats lied about the pork-laden nature of this stimulus bill, and are doing their best to keep people in the dark about the massive changes their making -- to the health care system, to immigration enforcement, to the welfare system, etc. -- through it.

Update: Kaus goes into a little more detail about what this change to welfare would mean politically and socially.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Energy crisis? Let's do nothing. Yeah ... that'll work.

This video, from a recent session of the US Senate, shows Sen. Mitch McConnell repeatedly proposing benchmarks that would trigger a grant of permission to drill for oil on US soil (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Gulf of Mexico, etc.). At ever step, Sen. McConnell is thwarted by then-Sen. Salazar (now the Secretary of the Interior), who objects to Sen. McConnell's ever-increasing gas price benchmarks: $4.50/gallon, $5/gallon, $7.50/gallon, and $10/gallon. Even at $10/gallon, Ken Salazar objects.

Now, granted that the oil we have won't solve our foreign oil addiction, and granted that whatever we pump up will take months or years to hit the market. We should do absolutely nothing about this? We should absolutely refuse to use the oil we have an can easily extract? Are drilling and pursuing alternative energy sources somehow mutually exclusive? The level of environmental degradation caused by drilling would be minor -- probably not much more, I'd guess, than the level caused by creating a new parking lot for a Super-Target or a Whole Foods. And given that this is oil we can use and easily extract, what non-ideological reasons can folks like Ken Salazar give for not trying to take it out and use it?

This reads like something out of the Liberal Fascism playbook

The overhaul of the US healthcare system represented in the "stimulus" bill is truly breathtaking. It's not a total overhaul -- yet -- but it certainly lays the foundations for one by stealth. It does more than that.

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration's health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. "If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it," he said. "The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol."

When the Bush administration made changes to the PATRIOT Act or the warrantless wiretapping regime by stealth, behind closed doors, folks on the Left (rightly) howled. I wonder what they'll do now, when the government is making massive (and almost certainly unpopular -- see the parts about emulating the British health system's tendency to refuse aid to the elderly) changes to the healthcare system behind closed doors?

In his excellent book on the history of fascism, Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg details how political leaders throughout the 20th century used crises as an excuse to make massive policy changes in very short time and without public input. From Wilson, to Mussolini, to Hitler, to FDR, to JFK, to LBJ, to George W. Bush, Goldberg details how the cry of, "This crisis calls for swift action! We don't have time to debate how to act, we need to act now!" has panicked societies into ceding all kinds of power and freedom without much reflection.

It's looking like you can add Obama to that list. The amount of change wrought through this stimulus -- change that the people who crafted it are at pains to pass without debate or reflection -- is breathtaking. Over and over again the president has told us that we can't wait to make this change, that we can't bicker over "politics". It sounds ominously like another way of saying, "Don't think about this and don't ask us what we're doing. Just shut up and let us do it. The last thing we need here is for you people to put your thinking caps on." At least we know that Tom Daschle would agree.

The unpalatable truth about non-discrimination laws

As this story makes plain, the zealots who actively push non-discrimination will not be swayed by appeals to reason or moderation. They will push the law to the full limits of their ideology.

In this story, two British grandparents were stripped of their rights to raise their grandchildren because the town council wanted to allow a homosexual couple to adopt them. Four times the council had sued to force the grandparents to give up their grandchildren (the justification being that the couple — aged 59 and 46 — were too old to care for the kids). Each time the courts sided with the grandparents. Finally, when the council apparently threatened to bankrupt the couple through protracted litigation, the couple finally relented, ignorant of the fact that the town intended to place their grandchildren with a homosexual couple — something they strongly opposed. When they went public with their opposition, the town stripped them of their rights to ever see their grandchildren again.

Remember — these acts are all done in the name of non-discrimination and tolerance.

I've written about this issue before, and the lesson remains the same: This kind of situation is potentially the end result of any non-discrimination law which applies to private citizens. Nothing stops the laws from being pushed to the absolute limits we see them being pushed to in Britain except the temporary scruples of the public. Those often change over time, however, and can be cast aside by ideologues intent on bringing the law completely into harmony with the absolute dictates non-discrimination.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Paying wardens less to watch inmates doesn't make us any safer.

That's Jason Zweig's final analysis of Obama's pay cap for Wall St. "senior executives". The pay cap made great PR, but it probably won't do anything to address the problem it's supposed to stop: Wall St. firms rewarding themselves for failure.

What's worse, the pay cap may only help the firms come up with more creative ways to waste tax dollars given to them Uncle Sam. A key detail laying out how the law of unintended consequences will likely undermine the pay cap comes near the end of the article:
[T]he new rules from the Treasury Department permit Wall Street's "senior executives" to get incentive pay in the form of preferred stock that can't be cashed in until the taxpayers get their money back. But there s no rule yet against cashing all of it in at that point -- what compensation experts call cliff-vesting.

Thus, managers may be tempted to take greater risks in hopes of speeding up their preferred-stock payoff. If the risks go bad, Uncle Sam will eat the losses. "It's the classic trader's option," says George Wilbanks, a managing director at executive recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates: "Heads I win, tails you lose." He adds, "That's my biggest fear: that people are going to swing for the fences to get to the cliff-vest faster."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Psst! Don't look up and you won't see the sword of Damocles.

Little by little, on "an ad hoc basis", the federal government is pushing its influence over the financial institutions it's bailed out to their logical limits: total control. The linked story, a WSJ account of the extent to which Treasury and the Fed effectively forced Bank of America to fully merge with Merrill Lynch, is evidence that the government has wasted little time in realizing (or, what's worse, only beginning to realize) the potential of its power.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Maybe everyone isn't like us.

My latest article, on the belief that all cultures are equally compatible with democratic self-government: