Sunday, May 31, 2009

Questions about science under Obama.

I don't know how I missed this. I'm not usually a fan of Derbyshire, but he asks some very pertinent questions.

Most people still think of human-science controversies in terms of nature/nurture. As a matter of real scientific dispute, that is all long gone. ... The dust of battle has pretty much settled now, in science departments if not in the popular press, and nature is the clear victor. ...

The younger generation of human-sciences enthusiasts trend conservative/libertarian, and Obama has them worried. For a glimpse of the kind of discussions that their fears generate, read through the recent thread on Gene Expression here. ...

About 45 percent of the way down that thread are two gems. First, population geneticist Henry Harpending posts a creepy invitation he got from the National Human Genome Research Institute (yes, that’s a “.gov” you see there in their web address), who are “planning a workshop to explore the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) raised by research on natural selection in humans.” The impetus for this meeting, they say, is “a growing need for more thoughtful deliberation by genomic researchers, ELSI researchers, science writers and science editors regarding the societal issues raised by natural selection research.” Get the picture? ...

A couple of items further on, science blogger Jason Malloy posts the transcript of an NPR discussion about The Bell Curve from October 1994, featuring “civil rights lawyer and writer” Barack Obama, who “lives in Chicago.” What did our young civil-rights lawyer and writer think of Herrnstein and Murray’s pop-psychometrics masterpiece? He no like.

Mr. Murray isn’t interested in prevention. He’s interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically, the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it’s artfully packaged …

We are about to find out whether our traditional devotion to free speech and free enquiry can survive real, incontrovertible results from the human sciences; and in particular, ... whether that devotion can survive under ... an administration much more interested in shoring up the soft totalitarianism of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” than in permitting the discovery of true facts about human nature.

My favorite part was the quote from a population science researcher who said, "The Democrats are really more anti-Darwinian than the fundamentalist Christians who deny the origin of species," because of the Dems' general unwillingness to even discuss the question of inherent population differences. Check out the whole article.

File this under "Man Bites Dog"

A major newspaper has run an intelligent, well written article that's highly critical of Hispanic immigration.

Lawrence Harrison, a self-described "lifelong Democrat ... [and] early and avid supporter of Obama", lays out a clear, persuasive case for why America needs to dramatically reduce the number of Latino immigrants it takes in.
The principal beneficiaries of our current immigration policy are affluent Americans who hire immigrants at substandard wages for low-end work. ... American workers lose $190 billion annually in depressed wages caused by the constant flooding of the labor market at the low-wage end.

The healthcare cost of the illegal workforce is especially burdensome, and is subsidized by taxpayers. ... This translates into reduced services, particularly for lower-income citizens.
He also adds this gem, which I found particularly fascinating. Speaking about Latinos generally persistent failure to assimilate in America, Harrison points to the indulgence so many in the US have given to exclusively Spanish speakers. "Language," he says, "is the conduit of culture."
Consider: There is no word in Spanish for "compromise" (compromiso means "commitment") nor for "accountability," a problem that is compounded by a verb structure that converts "I dropped (broke, forgot) something" into "it got dropped" ("broken," "forgotten").
These characteristics of the Spanish language are often reflected in the behavior of Hispanic people. (My wife is pursuing her Masters in teaching ESL. Her classes are full of examples of the ways in which a language not only reflects characteristics of a culture, but also helps shape the thoughts and behaviors of the members of that culture.)

Harrison concludes with a clear call for necessary and tough-minded changes to US immigration policy.
[We] should confront the challenges by enforcing immigration laws on employment to help end illegal immigration. We should calibrate legal immigration annually to (1) the needs of the economy ... and (2) past performance of immigrant groups with respect to acculturation.

We must declare our national language to be English and discourage the proliferation of Spanish- language media. We should limit citizenship by birth to the offspring of citizens. And we should provide immigrants with easy-to-access educational services that facilitate acculturation, including English language, citizenship, and American values.

Great, great stuff. Check out the whole article.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Clear thinking about the foundations of culture

A conversation over at View from the Right that gets right to the heart of cultural foundations, and what it means to live as an immigrant in another culture.

Here are some choice excerpts:
At bottom, all societies are institutions whereby people come together and agree--voluntarily--to be bound by certain laws and customs. This is true of Europeans in Americans, villages in China, tribes in Africa, English in Australia, etc. ...

All societies choose how to govern themselves, and it is entirely proper that those choices will reflect the preferences of those that established the society in the first place. In America, that is the Anglo Saxon, Protestant, Northern European culture. " ... The existing population built the society, wrote its laws, established its customs, and in many cases they (or their ancestors) fought and died in its wars. Who else has any right to decide how that society should be governed?

I firmly believe that people have a right to govern themselves as they see fit--and, to expect others who join their society to consent to be governed by their rules, no questions asked. ... Certainly anyone ... who comes here--for whatever reason--should be bound by our culture. That it is not to say America is only for White Europeans. But it is to say that America is only for people who are willing--without question or complaint--to live under laws written by White Europeans.
Having lived 2 years as an immigrant, I fully understand and accept this line of reasoning. My wife and I lived in South Korea for two years. Yes, there was a lot of English around, but most stuff was still written in Korean -- which we had to learn how to read and speak (since most folks spoke only rudimentary English). We had to learn a host of new customs and social niceties, since much of what passes for polite in the US often comes off as frosty or downright rude in Korea.

We were constantly conscious of being strangers in a strange land -- a land that welcomed us to work there, to be sure, but not our home. Korea as a country is of and for the Koreans. And that's okay. I loved my time there, but I couldn't live there long-term. I'm an American. And that's okay, too. We had friends who couldn't or didn't understand what it means to be an alien: it means just what Obama said: "To play on another man's court, by another man's rules." He seemed to believe that that's a bad thing. I disagree.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obama: the Trojan Horse

Well, he's a Trojan Horse for people who lack (or at least failed to use) the critical thinking skills to seriously analyze the man's actual record. He's a Trojan Horse for people who checked their brains at the Democratic door, got caught up in the vapidly meaningless rhetoric of "hope", and believed -- in the face of crystal clear proof to the contrary -- that Obama would lead us to a post-partisan, post-race-centered future. For these people, Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court is increasingly a cause for concern.

For rational, clear-thinking people, Sotomayor's nomination isn't at all surprising. She is one record as effectively saying that whites make worse judges than nonwhites. She explicitly refuses to believe in judicial impartiality as a goal. She is steeped in identity-politics. She is a true believer, a radical.

She's someone who's so blinded by her antipathy for The (White) Man that she voted for a farcical decision invalidating a civil service test explicitly because no blacks passed it. She's like a Bizarro Jim Crow -- favoring any law or policy that helps nonwhites because it helps nonwhites. It's a sign of how cowed and brainwashed white Americans are that they express no real outrage about -- or, incomprehensibly, openly support -- the opinions of anti-white, Leftist radicals like Sotomayor.

(And please don't say that I've never met this woman. I haven't. But she's a judge, not a regular citizen like me. She may be a very sweet and good person, and I might very well genuinely enjoy her company. But if I am to evaluate her as a judge, I must evaluate her on her decisions and her stated motivations -- and those I find exceedingly wanting. In fact, I find them exceedingly harmful, especially given her role as a judge.)

This -- for everyone who didn't (or refused to) pay attention to Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright, his work with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, his extreme Leftist voting records in the IL state senate and the US Senate -- represents who Obama is at his core. He's a radical Leftist. In the words of Jack Ross, "These are the facts, and they are indisputable."

Oh, he's certainly all about his own political success as well. This is why he's made a habit of throwing friends and allies under the bus, or stepping all over them on his way to the top (sort of like an anti-W.). But his vaguely centrists zigs and zags don't in any way preclude steps of a more radical sort in keeping with his Leftist values, as Sotomayor's nomination proves.

The lesson for all you viewers at home is this: as much as he practicably can, Obama will remake America in the image of Bill Ayers' twisted Marxist fantasies. For those who think otherwise, I strongly suggest you read the beginning of the The Aeneid. It will refresh their memories concerning what happens to people who accept Trojan Horses.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jobs Americans Will Do

More confirmation -- if any was necessary for people with common sense and an IQ over 70 -- that the whole Jobs American's Won't Do movement (which advocated for amnesty for illegal immigrants on the grounds that they do all the jobs that [small "n"] native Americans refuse to do) was a bunch of nonsense.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Who's to blame for the GOP malaise?

A lot of folks, really.

As Daniel Larison so trenchantly points out, however, the ones most to blame are also the ones receiving the least condemnation.
As the cliché goes, there are three main factions in the conservative movement: social conservatives, economic conservatives and national security conservatives. Each faction has received blame for the right’s electoral troubles in inverse proportion to its responsibility. ...

The faction most responsible for the GOP’s political failure is national security conservatives. Yet within the party, they remain unscathed, their assumptions about the use of American power largely unquestioned, and their gross errors in judgment forgotten or readily forgiven. Among the mainstream right, the foreign policy of the Bush administration is barely a subject of debate. Rather than reorienting Republican foreign policy towards a political center defined by realism, humility and restraint, the GOP’s leadership and activists have redoubled their commitment to Bush and Cheney’s hawkish stances and to a lock-step defense of the Bush administration’s policies.
Check out the whole piece here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Star Trek and Hell

No, I didn't think the new Star Trek was Hell. Actually, I thought it was really great and I intend to see it again soon.

No, what got me thinking of Hell was Eric Bana's character, Nero.

Nero's world is destroyed, and he is sucked through time to the past as a result of the tragedy that engulfed his world. (Yeah, it sounds dumb. It's a sci-fi flick -- what can I say? Well, one thing, I suppose: the time-travel shtick didn't bother me nearly as much as it otherwise would have because the casting and directing were so damn good they overcame a lame storyline and a terrible script.) He nurses his resentment for 25 years aboard a space mining vessel, then completely destroys the home world of the man who failed to save his planet from destruction. He's close to destroying Earth before his plan is thwarted and he's killed.

The parts that reminded me of Hell were Nero's stated motivation for destroying worlds and his response to an offer of mercy when his plan is thwarted and his life in jeopardy.

Midway through the film, Nero says that he destroys worlds so that everyone in the universe will share his pain. Hatred and bitterness have consumed him, and he has become their evangelist. This is the attitude of Hell: "If I can't have happiness, no one else can have it either."

But the part that really got me was at the end of the film. His plan thwarted, his spaceship's defenses and weapons disabled, Nero stands at the mercy of the crew of the Enterprise and Captain Kirk. As Nero's ship is being sucked into a black hole created by a truly lame plot device, Kirk offers to save Nero and beam him aboard the Enterprise. Nero responds that he would rather endure the most painful death and see his world destroyed 10,000 times before accepting Kirk's mercy. Kirk obliges him by obliterating his craft as it's sucked into the black hole a terrible script created.

Nero's response reminded me of C.S. Lewis's description of Hell as a place that is locked on the inside, filled with the remains of souls so committed to themselves that they refuse to be saved if salvation requires them to reach out to anyone at anytime.

His response is also terribly instructive, because one day God will do as Kirk did. He will let all those who've refused to accept His help be sucked into the abyss created by their own rebellion. As Lewis said in The Problem of Pain, there are only two groups of people in the world: those who say to God, "Thy will be done" and those to whom God says "Thy will be done."

Dreher gets it

He's not always on, but he is here.

Talking about the New York Times's ridiculous account of the would-be terrorists in the Bronx, Dreher says,
You read and you read, and not until after you've plowed through nine paragraphs and 476 words -- longer than most editorials -- do you come to the following sentence:
They are all Muslim, a law enforcement official said.

This is what is called "burying the lede." Some editor in that newsroom found this to be an inconvenient truth, and tried to hide it. You can practically hear the Times cringing when it has to disclose this fact, which most fair-minded readers would find rather pertinent. ...

Trust me on this, if you are depending on the mainstream American media to keep you informed about radical Islam in America, you are going to stay in the dark. Political correctness on this point is a powerful force.

Preach it, Brother Rod!

And later,
If these alleged terrorists were white supremacists, neither the New York Times nor the New York mayor would have trouble speaking plainly and directly about what this is. ... That these men were Muslims is not incidental to their alleged crime. ...

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists today are Muslims. You can't wish that fact away. We have to deal with it. Stop trying to make up this mythical horde of Christian abortion clinic bombers who in your minds balance out Muslim terrorists. These people barely exist.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Islam, the secular West, and radical evil

Spengler (a.k.a. David Goldman) has written an excellent article about what the torture debate tells us about ourselves and our enemies.

What Spengler calls "radical evil" -- evil acts committed for their own sake, instead of for a selfish motive (as in most rapes or thefts) -- differs qualitatively from regular evil in its effect on those fighting it. Resistance to radical evil must be correspondingly radical and unequivocal, which means that radical evil proves insidiously contagious to those fighting it. The only safeguard against being affected by this radical evil is to fully believe in the moral rightness of your fight against it.

This fact, says Spengler, spells doom for any secular society fighting radical evil. Unlike a religious society (or a society informed by religious morality), secular society has no frame of reference for understanding radical evil.
In the Second World War and the Cold War war, Americans could endure the actual or prospective horrors of war because they understood in theological terms that they were at war with radical evil. ...

Secular society, by contrast, has an inherent vulnerability to radical evil, which it has no means to understand. Secular philosophy cannot produce an ethics; much less can it account for radical evil. Marx’s economic man may pillage and Freud’s libidinous man may rape, but they do so for the sake of loot and pleasure. Evil that destroys for the sake of destruction, out of envy of the Good, lies outside the horizon of secular thought.
Spengler then goes on to lay out how America's secularization, combined with our intense aversion to admit that the "War on Terror" is actually a legitimate war against Muslim Fundamentalism, increasingly robs us of our ability to successfully fight the radical evil of radical Islam.
America was vulnerable to terror and horror during the Vietnam War, when its government failed to persuade the public that its adversary embodied an evil so great as to justify the use of terrible countermeasures. America is even more vulnerable today, when its government cannot even identify who and what the enemy might be. President Obama insists that America is not at war with Islam, but it surely is at war with an interpretation of Islam shared by tens and possibly hundreds of millions of people. By falsely representing the terrorists as an unrepresentative minority in the Muslim world, Western governments have left their people vulnerable to a profoundly demoralizing shock. ...

Nearly two hundred thousand Americans, military and civilian personnel, were exposed to Iraqi terrorist organizations that routinely employed suicide bombings in order to kill Americans and their supporters. Some of these organizations were supported by Iran, which employed waves of children as human minesweepers in its war with Iraq. These atrocities were motivated by a religion that permits a peaceful interpretation, but cannot refute the cruelest and most violent interpretation.
Read the whole thing. It's excellent.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dianne Sawyer and everyone on 20/20 are morons

A few weeks ago, there was a special on 20/20 called If I Only Had a Gun, the explicit purpose of which was to convince viewers that guns are bad and citizens should never use them to protect themselves.

Through misinformation, contradictory examples, and outright lies the crew of 20/20 went out of their way to create the impression that one can almost never use a gun responsibly in self-defense without putting your life (or the lives of innocent bystanders) in jeopardy. There was no hint that guns could be used by citizens to successfully prevent or deter crime. In fact, there was a 2-minute segment devoted explicitly to denying that such prevention or deterrence is possible.

This in the face of countless examples of how a firearm, used properly, can save the lives of many innocent people. Examples, that, if you listen to Dianne Sawyer and the other idiots on 20/20 don't exist.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bizarro Britain

The UK, which has already become a far Left, quasi-fascist PC regime, is also in the process of becoming a sharia state due to the massive influx of Muslims (who have lots of kids). The British government is very tolerant.

It won't refuse entry to folks from Eastern Europe or North Africa who put a drain on public finances (by living off the dole) or represent a clear and present security threat (by actively encouraging, or actually participating in, terrorism). It won't deport people who openly call for the murder of non-Muslims.

It will, however, bar political and social conservatives from coming to Britain. (To be fair, it will also bar certain stripes of legitimate hatemongers, like Fred Phelps.)

If this wasn't so pathetic, it would be comical. If I wrote a fictional story depicting something like this, no one would believe it because it would be too much of a PC Lefty caricature.

The funny thing is, I agree with British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's rational for barring people.
I think it's important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it's a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won't be welcome in this country ... Coming to this country is a privilege. If you can't live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country ... It's a privilege to come to this country. There are certain behaviours [sic] that mean you forfeit that privilege.
I'm fairly certain that if anyone wanted to apply those words along non-Liberal lines -- if, say, they wanted to bar followers of sharia -- because of the effect such people's presence would have on the country, Ms. Smith would be apoplectic. I couldn't express my feelings about immigration much better than she has, though.

Friday, May 1, 2009

World Bank: The Pope was right about how to fight AIDS

The World Bank's own reports admit that pro-promiscuity efforts to fight AIDS in Africa -- handing out condoms instead of educating people about abstinence -- are failures.

See for yourself.

The World Bank points to weak bureaucracies as the culprit for the programs' failure. Well, it's true that most African governments tend to be ineffectual and corrupt. It's also true that putting an abstinence education program in place doesn't really depend on government bureaucracies, however. You can circumvent them entirely, actually. This is probably news to those at the World Bank, of course, who largely tend to subscribe to the Liberal belief that if there's something good that can be done for society it should be done by the state.