April 25, 2012

The Death Panel's Loving Embrace


Daren Jonescu

(This article first appeared at American Thinker.

The House Republicans' vote to repeal ObamaCare's Independent Payment Advisory Board played nicely into the Democrats' health care shell game by implying that the law's "death panel" provision is a detachable appendage, when in truth death panels are of the essence of government-controlled health care. For a core principle of socialized medicine, whether in its advanced or incipient form, is, and must be, the rationing of human life.

The fundamental distinction between private and government-controlled health care is a difference in the decision-making interests driving the two systems. In a private system, consumer demand drives the provision of services. The patient -- either directly, or, if necessary, through his family -- delivers his requirements to the market, and service-providers compete for the privilege and profit of satisfying his needs to the best of their ability. If they serve him well, they make more money. The individual patient's interest in his own self-preservation is thus the initial motivating factor.

In a government-controlled system, the situation is reversed. The service provider's interests are primary, and those interests, since they are unencumbered by profit concerns, need not take into account the interests of any individual patient. Furthermore, since the argument for government-controlled health care is always a variation on the theme that health care is too important to be provided on the basis of the patients' ability to pay, such systems begin with a bias towards treating all patients "equally" -- i.e., generically.

The difference between the motives driving the two types of medicine becomes clear in so-called "end-of-life" situations -- i.e., situations wherein life-threatening illnesses appear incurable. In a private system, the hospital would have a vested interest in preserving the patient's life as long as possible, by whatever means the patient or his family is prepared to pursue.

In a "public" system, these situations, which, taken collectively, constitute the bulk of health care expenses, run up against budgetary concerns. And the system's budget is inextricably connected to political considerations involving tax rates, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and so on. Add to this the fact that a socialized, generic program systemically detaches medical professionals from any vested interest in the survival of individual patients, and you have a recipe for pragmatic cost-shaving at the level of life-preserving services provided to Grandma. In short, "death panels" become the essential pressure-release valve of such a system.

Some American advocates of socialized medicine are refreshingly honest about this inevitability. (Witness Robert Reich and Bill Gates, for example.) Those currently in political office, however, are quick to express outrage and indignation at these "death panel" accusations. And their protestations sound almost reasonable, as long as we envision the end-of-life budget bureaucracy as a cabal of Mengele-like demons, chuckling coldly as they crunch the numbers on this week's list of disposables.

In truth, the death panel is less an embodied reality than an underlying argument: government-funded health care must cut costs; inordinately high costs are incurred in treating patients nearing the end of life; therefore, such patients must be hurried along somehow, in order to save money. This argument, a tad too brutal for modern sentiments, requires a corresponding rationalization. Necessity is the mother of invention, however. Thus, the need created by the economics of socialized medicine has given rise to the invention of an appropriate, and appropriately Orwellian, rationalization, by way of the new specialty, "end-of-life care."

Modern "hospice care" was founded in Britain during the 1960s by Dame Cicely Mary Saunders. "Ideally," Saunders said, "the doctor should remain the center of a team who work together to relieve where they cannot heal." (Leave aside, for the moment, the loaded words "cannot" and "relieve" in that statement.) Central to the founding idea, typical of British medicine, was that this service should be "free" to everyone -- all well and good, as long as Dame Saunders' project was being funded primarily through private donations.

From this seemingly noble, innocent origin -- symptom relief for the dying -- hospice care developed into "palliative care," a name invented in 1973 by Canadian Balfour Mount. Alongside this evolution, often at odds with it, arose an increasingly bold faction of "death with dignity" and euthanasia advocates.

Gradually, the new specialization was swept up in the fiscal realities of government-funded health care, until the bureaucratic number-crunchers, with support from the new academic cottage industry called "bioethics," contrived to turn palliative care into a primary mechanism of cost-reduction in socialized health care -- while providing sufficient rationalization to convince decent humans to perform this function in good conscience. Palliative care today provides moral and political cover for those who are not prepared to promote active euthanasia, but who nevertheless feel that it can be objectively determined at what point a person has run out of reasons to live (aka social value) and can therefore be hustled out "with dignity" -- i.e., efficiently. In short, palliative care becomes a de facto death panel.

Predictably, the most "advanced" palliative care programs exist in nations with the most advanced socialized health care systems, the exceptions being those less sentimental socialist nations in which more aggressive forms of "palliation" are practiced openly. Among developed nations, a recent report on palliative care singled out three countries for criticism as having "inadequately" developed programs: America and Singapore, which have the most market-related (i.e., patient-driven) health care systems, and Japan, which has the world's longest life expectancy. Go figure.

How does this sentimentalized cost-cutting mechanism work? I offer, as a case study, the example of an elderly relative of mine, who died in a Canadian Catholic hospital several years ago. As it happens, her hospital was a few blocks from my home, so I was privileged to be with her several hours a day during her final weeks, and I can therefore recount the nature of her care very specifically. (Any honest observer who has lived in a socialized health care system has seen many variations of this case, but let's keep it simple.)

This patient was an 85-year-old widow suffering from kidney failure, along with other chronic problems. She was mobile, and mentally sound. One day, while she was still undergoing active treatment, she was paid a visit by a pleasant and professional lady dressed in a Hillary-style pantsuit. This was the palliative care doctor. She seemed very keen to have the patient's relatives present at this meeting, and she gave every indication of wanting to help the entire family through the coming days.

Her message, delivered very carefully and deliberately, was twofold: first, to the patient, she politely conveyed that in order to receive the necessary care, returning home ("to die" is the unspoken completion of that phrase) was not an option. Pain relief, alleviation of distress, and so on were available only if the patient remained at the hospital.

Secondly, and with the finesse of a surgeon, the doctor reassured the family that she wished to guarantee that the patient was in control of her own pain-control regimen until the last. This, she explained, required that the family accept that, henceforth, all decisions must be made by the patient in conjunction with the palliative care doctor. This exclusion of the family from the decision-making process was explained with the tenderest reasoning. Because we loved the patient, and did not wish to lose her, we had a vested interest in keeping her alive and conscious at all costs. But this might cause us to act against the best interests of the suffering patient. Thus, in order to spare her unnecessary pain, we must be willing to give up our self-interested desire to have a say in her care. That's right: Dylan Thomas' plea to his father to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" is now dismissed by right-thinking liberalism as the cry of petty self-interest.

Subsequently, the patient was moved across the hall to a palliative care room, where her "end-of-life care" began in earnest. Several times each day, nurses came in to ask her whether she was in pain. Each time, she said "no," and each time the nurses tried to persuade her to avail herself of the powerful medication the doctor had put on standing order for her -- even though she was experiencing no pain. It was obvious that the nurses were under instructions to get the patient onto an aggressive pain-relief regimen as quickly as possible, regardless of need. A patient on increasing doses of such medication is quicker to lose mental focus and the will to eat, both of which results are triggers for taking the "palliative" measures to the next level.

The patient, who happened to have been a nurse herself, at this very hospital, understood the game all too well, and she requested the precise identity and purpose of every pill she was given. The nurses actually managed to coax her into submitting to a dose of the unwanted pain medication on a couple of occasions when no family members were present. The effects were severe. As a result, she became increasingly insistent on having someone with her each time a nurse or doctor visited. In fact, apart from the fear of death, which this woman handled with a courage I can only envy, her main worry in her final days concerned what the nurses were trying to push on her on an hourly basis.

As the days passed into weeks (weeks spent talking with family, trying to solve old problems, and praying -- think of what those weeks would mean to you), it was clear that the professionals were becoming increasingly perturbed about the occupancy of this bed, which would be needed by other "end-of-life" patients soon. They were also frustrated by the incessant presence in the room of family members -- interested observers throw a wrench in the works. (The immediately previous occupants of this "end-of-life" room had had few visitors -- and had died quickly, as they were "supposed to.")

When she had taken a sleeping pill, or was feeling particularly weak, the nurses would come in regularly to test her alertness. As soon as she demonstrated some loss of mental faculties, you see, the palliative care team would, according to the arrangement, take over her "pain relief" directly.

On the patient's final night, my wife and I were with her. Kidney failure had weakened her terribly, and her mind was slipping. She frequently faded in and out of contact with her surroundings. Knowing her wishes, we hoped against hope that somehow the nurses would fail to notice her deterioration, and she would be allowed to complete her journey on her own terms. Unable to stay focused, she said silly things, in the manner of one half-dreaming.

We tried to rouse her near the time the nurse was due to arrive with the evening's medication, but we couldn't keep her alert. The nurse came, and began aggressively testing for signs of confusion. By some extraordinary act of will, the patient sat upright and answered the nurse's questions correctly, as well as volunteering a detailed description of the dosage of medicine her doctor had permitted her. As the nurse left, somewhat bemused, it was clear that our beloved patient knew exactly what she had just done -- what her brilliant performance had won her.

Two hours later, on her terms, she died. She had outwitted the death panel. Would that everyone could be so lucky. Would that everyone could be spared the indignity of being herded prematurely into "death with dignity." Would that everyone could be spared socialized medicine, and its inhuman cost-benefit analysis.

In the report cited above, Tony Nash, a leading palliative care advocate, and author of the international "Quality of Death Index," criticizes U.S. health care this way:

The focus is on curative care, where doctors focus on curing patients at all costs; the U.S. is an extreme example of that.

Not extreme enough, I fear. The 2012 election is literally a matter of life and death. In socialized medicine, the death panel comes disguised as a loving embrace.

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The folly of E15 anti-hydrocarbon policies

Paul Driessen

EPA’s E-15 ethanol plan is bad for our pocketbooks, environment and energy policy

The Obama Administration’s anti-hydrocarbon ideology and "renewable” energy mythology continues to subsidize crony capitalists and the politicians they help keep in office – on the backs of American taxpayers, ratepayers and motorists. The latest chapter in the sorry ethanol saga is a perfect example.

Bowing to pressure from ADM, Cargill, Growth Energy and other Big Ethanol lobbyists, Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency has decided to allow ethanol manufacturers to register as suppliers of E15 gasoline. E15 contains 15% ethanol, rather than currently mandated 10% blends.

The next lobbying effort will focus on getting E15 registered as a fuel in individual states and persuading oil companies to offer it at service stations. But according to the Associated Press and Washington Post, Team Obama already plans to provide taxpayer-financed grants, loans and loan guarantees to "help station owners install 10,000 blender pumps over the next five years” and promote the use of biofuels.

Pummeled by Obama policies that have helped send regular gasoline prices skyrocketing from $1.85 a gallon when he took office to $4.00 today – many motorists will welcome any perceived "bargain gas.” E15 will likely reduce their obvious pump pain by several cents a gallon, thus persuading people to fill up their cars, trucks and maybe even boats, lawnmowers and other equipment with the new blends.

That would be a huge mistake.

E15 gasoline will be cheaper because we already paid for it with decades of taxpayer subsidies that the Congressional Budget Office says cost taxpayers $1.78 every time a gallon of ethanol replaced a gallon of gasoline. Ethanol blends get fewer miles per tank than gasoline. More ethanol means even worse mileage. People may save at the pump, but cost per mile will increase, as will car maintenance and repair costs.

Ethanol collects water, which can cause engine stalls. It corrodes plastic, rubber and soft metal parts. Pre-2001 car engines, parts and systems may not be able to handle E15, which could also increase emissions and adversely affect engine, fuel pump and sensor durability. Older cars and motorcycles mistakenly (or for price or convenience) fueled with E15 could conk out on congested highways or in the middle of nowhere, boat engines could die miles from land or in the face of a thunderstorm, and snowmobiles could sputter to a stop in a frigid wilderness.

Homeowners and yard care professionals have voiced concerns that E15’s corrosive qualities could damage their gasoline-powered equipment. Because it burns hotter than gasoline, high ethanol gasoline engines could burn users or cause lawnmowers, chainsaws, trimmers, blowers and other outdoor power equipment to start inadvertently or catch fire, they worry.

As several trade associations have noted in a lawsuit, the Clean Air Act says EPA may grant a waiver for a new fuel additive or fuel blend only if it has demonstrated that the new fuel will not damage the emissions control devices of "any” engine in the existing inventory. E15 has not yet met this requirement. EPA should not have moved forward on E15 and should not have ignored studies that indicate serious potential problems with this high-ethanol fuel blend.

Largely because of corn-based ethanol, US corn prices shot up from an annual average of $1.96 per bushel in 2005 to $6.01 in 2011. This year we will make ethanol from 5 billion bushels of corn grown on an area the size of Iowa. E15 fuels will worsen the problem, especially if corn crops fall below expectations.

Ethanol mandates mean more revenues and profits for corn growers and ethanol makers. However, skyrocketing corn prices mean beef, pork, poultry, egg and fish producers pay more for corn-based feed; grocery manufacturers pay more for corn, meat, fish and corn syrup; and families see prices soar for almost everything on their dinner table.

Farmers like pork producer Jim A were hammered hard. Over a 20-year period, Jim became a part owner in a Texas operation and planned to buy out the other shareholders. But when corn and ethanol subsidies went into effect, the cost of feed corn shot from $2.80 per bushel in 2005 to "over $7.00” a bushel in 2008. "We went from treading water and making payments, to losing $100,000 a month,” he told me.

His farm was threatened with foreclosure and the ominous prospect of having to make up the difference in a short sale. After "never missing a single payment to anybody” in his life, he almost lost everything. Fortunately, at the eleventh hour, a large pork producer leased the property, the bank refinanced his loans and Jim arranged a five-year lease. But thanks to ethanol he almost lost everything he’d ever worked for.

Even worse, the price of tortillas and tamales also skyrocketed, leaving countless poor Latin American families even more destitute. Soaring corn and wheat prices have also made it far harder for the USAID and World Food Organization to feed the world’s malnourished, destitute children.

Simply put, corn ethanol is wasteful and immoral. And yet E15 advocates want to go even further.

"For 40 years we have been addicted to foreign oil,” says Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. "Our nation needs E15 to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, keep gas prices down at the pump, and end the extreme fluctuations in gas prices caused by our reliance on fuel from unstable parts of the world.”

That’s nonsense. America is blessed with centuries of untapped petroleum resources that antediluvian Deep Ecologists, ideology-driven politicians and EPA officials, and subsidy-obsessed renewable energy lobbyists seem intent on keeping locked up, regardless of the negative consequences.

These oil and gas deposits cannot be developed overnight. However, 40 years is not overnight. Yet that’s how long America has kept Alaska’s ANWR coastal plain, most of our Outer Continental Shelf, and most of our western states’ public lands and resources off limits to leasing, exploration and drilling.

If we had started the process twenty, ten or even five years ago, we’d have enough oil flowing to slash imports and cut world crude and US pump prices significantly. If President Obama had approved the Keystone XL pipeline, within two years over 800,000 barrels of Canadian, Montana and North Dakota crude would be flowing daily to Texas refineries – with similar effects on imports and prices.

Developing these resources would also generate hundreds of thousands of jobs – and billions of dollars in lease bonuses and rents, production royalties, and corporate and personal taxes.

America’s surging natural gas production has already driven that fuel’s price from $8 to barely $2.00 per thousand cubic feet (or million Btus). That alone will persuade auto makers to build nat-gas-powered cars and trucks (and consumers to buy them), without massive new subsidy programs as advocated by T. Boone Pickens and assorted politicians. Natural gas can even be converted into ethanol (and diesel).

It will happen, unless Congress interferes – or EPA tries to regulate horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing ("fracking”) into oblivion, and send natural gas prices back into the stratosphere.

Right now, we are burning our own – and the world’s – food, to fuel cars and trucks. And to grow corn, convert it into 14 billion gallons of ethanol, and ship it by truck or train, we are consuming one-third of America’s entire corn crop – and using millions of pounds of insecticides, billions of pounds of fertilizer, vast amounts of energy (all petroleum-based), and trillions of gallons of water.

Just imagine how those numbers will soar, if E15 is adopted nationwide – or if Big Ethanol’s big dream becomes reality, and motorists begin to burn "cheap” corn-based E85 in flex-fuel vehicles.

Will President Obama, Democrats and extreme environmentalists ever end their hatred of hydrocarbons, and their obsession with biofuels – and start embracing reliable, affordable energy that actually works?


Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.cfact.org) and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

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Not Besties; A Boycott of CAIR Loving Bestbuy

Jack Kemp forwards this:

RadicalIslam.org has posted a petition which calls on people to boycott "Best Buy" for financially supporting CAIR (Council of American Islamic Relations).

CAIR was labeled by the federal government as an "unindicted co-conspirator” in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a "charity” shut down for serving as a fundraising arm for the Hamas terrorist group.
Click here to SIGN THE PETITION http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/bestbuy and let Best Buy know that you won't stand to have profits from your purchase used to promote radical Islamic causes.

After you have signed the petition, make sure to "LIKE" the petition page and send a link to it to your friends.

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April 24, 2012

The Last Days of AGW at American Thinker

Timothy Birdnow

The Last Days of Global Warming Theory at American Thinker.

When James Lovelock gives up the ghost, it's serious!

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James Lovelock Retreats on AGW Theory

Timothy Birdnow

The Global Warming Policy Foundation forwards this MSNBC article in which James Lovelock, father of the Gaia hypothesis and the Greenest of the Gang Green, has done an about-face, admitting he was wrong.

This is rather like the Pope saying Christ is a myth! An astonishing development!

Here it is:


Ian Johnston, msnbc.com

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his "Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being "alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

British environmental guru James Lovelock, seen on March 17, 2009 in Paris, admits he was "alarmist" about climate change in the past.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared.

He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that "before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been "extrapolating too far."

End excerpt.

I had predicted the scientific community would begin walking this thing back, and I have been proven spectacularly correct!

Read the whole astonishing thing!

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Is Zimmerman America's Dreyfus?

Dana Mathewson

I received this from "Friend Eddie."


by Anthony Wile

I've been tracking the George Zimmerman case and it does seem to have some surface parallels to the infamous Dreyfus Affair.

For those of you who may not know, Dreyfus was a Jew who was accused of passing French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. He was declared guilty and sent to Devil's Island in French Guiana where he spent almost five years.

In 1896, evidence was unearthed that a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy may have been the one passing information but that evidence was suppressed and Dreyfus's conviction was sustained.

It took many more years but Dreyfus was eventually set free. He was reinstated as a major in the French Army and served throughout World War I, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Regardless of whether Esterhazy was an agent of a greater power or whether the affair itself was orchestrated, the controversy surrounding Dreyfus was surely indicative of larger issues surrounding France at the time.

The issue then was anti-Semitism. And while modern France has in a sense moved on, it remains a society riven by class conflicts and economic inequalities that are either glossed over or sanctioned by law.

The French Revolution itself stands athwart the American revolution that was fought somewhat within a republican ambit, thanks to the framing of thinkers and visionaries like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson.

The American Revolution's espoused aim was individual freedom. Unfortunately, the French Revolution was evidently influenced by the Age of Enlightenment and the Rousseau-like vision that humankind could be perfected by the proper application of logic and scientific thought.

The medium that was to provide this transformative grace was the government itself, in this the case a "republican" government that was created out of the terror of the Revolution and the busy bloodletting of the guillotine.

French society, in my view, has never entirely recovered from the Age of Enlightenment and still habitually looks to government to provide both solutions and economic succor.

In fact, they're apparently about to elect another socialist to the presidency and that's not going to end well, either. History continues.

And it continues in America, too, which began as a republic but is now surely turning into something else. The alphabet soup of American spy agencies as well as Draconian, authoritarian legislation now issuing out of Washington, DC, tells us that the formal US legislative process has gone badly wrong.

The US is surely an authoritarian state these days. There are millions on the government payroll, thousands of government spies and US official institutions are growing more and more frightened of their own people. The US Department of Homeland Security recently placed an order for hundreds of millions of hollow-point bullets. Homeland Security is a DOMESTIC agency.

Empire was achieved after World War II, but all empires eventually oppress their own citizens as well as those in other countries. That seems to be what's happening today.

Empires by their nature are pathological societies. Fear is a paramount signature of empires, along with corruption at the top, public shows of immorality and a general, evolutionary breakdown of civil society.

This is because empires substitute the rule of law for the discipline of private markets. Societies often begin anarchically, with private law and private morality enforced by the culture itself.

But over time, the private nature of society is gradually replaced by "law" and government mandates. What was once voluntary becomes coercive and people's behaviors become regulated by bureaucracies rather than by internal codes of behavior.

Within this context, society itself becomes increasingly unmoored. Once moral values have evolved into legal codicils, social mores become public passion plays. This is what's happening now with the Zimmerman mess.

Just as with the Dreyfus Affair, individual acts are being imbued with larger, societal characteristics. This can only happen in a society where the government has grown so large and intrusive that people are used to projecting their own problems and prejudices onto public events.

Once the private has become the public, it is relatively easy for government-controlled media to imbue almost any incident with moral and cultural power. In fact, in a healthier society such transformative conversations would not be possible. People would not put up with it.

But in a society where the power elite has worked relentlessly to make government the arbiter, such a trick is much easier to pull off. People have been trained to look to government for moral and legal insights.

In such societies, people no longer look inward – they've lost the habit of introspection. Instead, government itself sets the parameters of behavior and creates the larger societal conversation as well.

I would argue this is what's happening in the Zimmerman case. People are projecting their own prejudices and belief systems onto the case.

If Zimmerman is guilty, it's because he saw a young black man, assumed he was up to no good and shot him. If he is innocent, it's because he was attacked by the young man and shot him in self-defense.

I won't speculate on Zimmerman's guilt or innocence here. My point is only that the amount of attention being paid to the case and the heightened emotions it arouses may tell us more about the current state of the US union than about Zimmerman himself, or his actions.

The US is a pretty miserable place right now with unemployment between 20 and 30 percent and food stamp usage soaring well beyond 40 million. People are looking for outlets for their frustration, and the Zimmerman affair provides one.

In this sense, it is perhaps a window into the collective psyche of the American people. The mechanism itself – this too-public dialogue about an issue that in another place and time would have been localized – is discouraging.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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The Film Industry's Selective Bravery

Jack Kemp

(This ran first at American Thinker http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/04/the_film_industrys_selective_bravery.html)

In Brooke Goldstein's and Aaron Meyer's book "Lawfare: the war against free speech," there is a reference concerning perceived Islamist pressure on the motion picture industry that lead to a significant case of self-censorship.

Goldstein and Meyer quoted The Guardian, which stated in 2009 that:


He blew up the Empire State Building and the White House in Independence Day, sent a giant monster careering through the heart of Manhattan in Godzilla and destroyed the famous Hollywood sign in The Day After Tomorrow. But it seems there are places even Roland Emmerich will not go - the German film-maker has revealed he abandoned plans to obliterate Islam's holiest site on the big screen for fear of attracting a fatwa.

For his latest disaster movie, 2012, the 53-year-old director had wanted to demolish the Kaaba, the iconic cube-shaped structure in the Grand Mosque in Mecca that Muslims the world over turn towards every day when they pray and which they circle seven times during the hajj pilgrimage.

But after some consideration, he decided it might not be such a smart idea, after all.

"I wanted to do that, I have to admit," Emmerich told scifiwire.com. "But my co-writer Harald [Kloser] said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right.

The Huffington Post's Popeater website also quoted Emmerlich as saying:


Fans of disaster movies shouldn't fear that Emmerich is losing his edge. The director, who did include a destruction shot of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, pushed plenty of other buttons. "Because I'm against organized religion," Emmerich explained.

"The whole Vatican kind of tips and kind of rolls over the people. It said something, because in the story, some people ... believe in praying and prayer, and they pray in front of the church, and it's probably the wrong thing, what they would do in that situation."


So the next time someone from the motion picture industry - or one of their fans (be they from the media or just a movie buff) - talks about how brave, edgy and willing to "push the envelope" major film makers are, tell them about "2012" versus itself or "Independence Day." Ask them why Roland Emmerich refused to show a scene where the Kaaba was destroyed while he had no problem with showing the famous statue in Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero being destroyed. I'm fairly sure you will be in for a convoluted explanation of religious tolerance - which is really a mask to cover an example of unwillingness to "push the envelope" in the face of a perceived violent intolerance of differing opinions. It is almost formulaic: the more the film industry is willing to insult Christianity and Judaism, the less willing it is to insult Islam. Guess who the film industry winds up supporting, in at least a de facto manner?

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Richard Viguerie quotes the Wisdom of Phyllis Schlafly

Jack Kemp


As Phyllis noted, last year 41 percent of all babies born in the U.S. (including 53 percent of babies born to women under 30) were born outside of marriage. "It is obvious,” said Schlafly, "that when the mother of these children has no husband to support her and her babies, she calls on Big Brother Government.”

You and I then pay the bills for welfare, after school programs, Head Start and a host of other expensive and largely unsuccessful federal efforts to replace the nuclear family.

"It's not poverty that causes broken families; it's the absence of marriage that causes poverty and puts kids below the designated poverty line. Social issues cause fiscal expenses,” concludes Schlafly.


Establishment Republicans don’t want to talk about it either. It all sounds so icky and judgmental around the bar at the country club. Besides, establishment Republicans, especially those running the Mitt Romney campaign, are infected with what might be called "Goldwater Syndrome.” They suffer from a form of dementia in which they are forever stuck on Election Day 1964. This syndrome causes them to prefer to run content-free campaigns and ignore the fact that by running on the social issues Republicans have won seven of the past eleven presidential elections

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April 23, 2012

A Ruse by Any Other Name at Canada Free Press

Timothy Birdnow

Was Obama's slip of the tongue in Colombia really just a mistake, or was there a sinister motive behind his calling the Falkland Islands not just the Malvinas but the Maldives? Making such a mistake so close to Earth Day got me to thinking...

Read all about it at Canada Free Press.

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Timothy Birdnow

Lord Monckton goes through the Aristotilian fallacies of the Global Warming movement. A masterful piece of work - don't miss it!


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Coming Maunder?

The Asahi Shimbun

Timothy Birdnow

You'll never be lacking a barber on the Sun, if this Japanese research is true:


Apparently the Sun is soon to have four poles rather than two, the result of an enfeebled condition.

From the article:

"Officials of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation said on April 19 that the activity of sunspots appeared to resemble a 70-year period in the 17th century in which London’s Thames froze over and cherry blossoms bloomed later than usual in Kyoto.

In that era, known as the Maunder Minimum, temperatures are estimated to have been about 2.5 degrees lower than in the second half of the 20th century.

The Japanese study found that the trend of current sunspot activity is similar to records from that period.

The researchers also found signs of unusual magnetic changes in the sun. Normally, the sun’s magnetic field flips about once every 11 years. In 2001, the sun’s magnetic north pole, which was in the northern hemisphere, flipped to the south.

While scientists had predicted that the next flip would begin from May 2013, the solar observation satellite Hinode found that the north pole of the sun had started flipping about a year earlier than expected. There was no noticeable change in the south pole.

If that trend continues, the north pole could complete its flip in May 2012 but create a four-pole magnetic structure in the sun, with two new poles created in the vicinity of the equator of our closest star."

End excerpt.

So we may be entering another Maunder Minimum! Maunder coincided with the "Little Ice Age", a period of unusual cold. This was critical in many ways; the Mayans saw their civilization decline during the LIA, and the Mound Builders in the Midwest civilization collapsed with the coming of the LIA. Europe's colonization of the world was spurred on by the deprivations of this period, and the subsequent decline of many aboriginal civilizations as they were no longer able to adequately feed themselves due to the cooling climate. It was a hard time.

Maybe we need a little Global Warming after all?

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 08:28 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Stealer of Souls

Timothy Birdnow

What is government? We speak endlessly about government, yet fail to give any real thought as to what exactly we are discussing, and so our arguments often flounder about with no real sense of what it is that government is or what it should do. Through most of human history Man has accepted government as a divinity, a substitute for God, and even some conservatives - and even libertarians - often fall into the trap of seeing government as an entity to impose will. A review is in order.

In Federalist 51 James Madison observed that if Man were as angels there would be no need of government. What did he mean by that? He meant that angels govern themselves and Men do not. This failure is what Christians call Original Sin; God gave one command to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and they were expected to obey it not out of fear of reprisal but because they knew they should. They understood that God wasn't trying to act as killjoy but rather that eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would lead to something very bad happening to them, yet they failed to govern themselves and disobeyed the one order given them. It was at this moment that human government saw it's genesis; Man refused to govern himself and had to have an outside force impose proper behavior on Him.

This rebellion followed on the heels of an angelic rebellion in which (so says the Bible) a third of all angels turned to sin. Angels, however, are smarter than Man, smart enough to understand the full implications of what they did, and so there was no plan of salvation for them; they became not just the governors of their own spirits but the lawgivers as well. As a result, angels do not have government in the fashion that human beings require it. But Man was different, because He didn't think well enough to keep in mind what he is supposed to do, so other men had to act to restrain him.

Thus the Fall of Man and the birth of government go hand-in-hand, and what James Madison was acknowledging was that Man must be governed to some degree by forces outside himself.

The first government was Adam and Eve over their children, or, if you prefer, the establishment of the family. Family authority is the first form of rule because it is the authority of the parents that teaches and informs the children, giving them the principles of self-government and teaching them how to control their passions. Man is an animal, with animal lusts, but He also has a divine spirit, a soul, that remains in His care, and he alone among the beasts can sense the Natural Law. Other animals act according to their natures, being driven by their emotions and needs, but Man can act against those instinctual desires, can starve to death in the midst of plenty if the need should arise. An animal will eat it's fellow, even it's mother, if it grows hungry enough. A human being knows this is wrong. But human beings also overshoot their own temperament, so they are not even governed by instinctive wants and needs. We all know the stories; Andrew Carnegie was said to have stiffed the waitress on the day he sold U.S. Steel, because he could never find satisfaction in however much he attained. Human beings tend toward excess of appetite. That is why the 7 deadly sins are enumerated; Man has an out-of-control instinct, even while he knows right from wrong. The philosophers of the 18th century were convinced in the concept of Natural Law, of a law that is written in the fabric of the Universe itself rather than simply a man-made construct. The American experiment is predicated on truths that "are self-evident" meaning they can be ascertained by any person who is really willing to take the time and trouble. But Man is a twisted, contrary creature who ignores those laws because of the joy of rebellion, or the joy of lust, or the joy of selfishness.

In short, the Liberal view that Man is inherently good is a crock; Man falls horrible short of meeting the basics of Natural Law. Someone who knows what to do but fails to do it is morally culpable. In short, Man is inherently evil.

Which means he must be governed from an outside authority to some degree. That degree is determined by how much the individual disobeys Natural Law i.e. the Divine Law.

So government, like charity, starts at home. It can be viewed as a series of concentric circles, with ever expanding layers. First there is self-government, then familial government, beyond that there are numerous human communities designed to assist in governance; the Church, schools, circles of friends, the local community, on to the state governments, then the national government. (There are many who now seek to create a world government that would be over everything.) Each of these forms of government SHOULD be of lessening authority over the individual; self government is how Nature and Nature's God intended it to be.

Or look at it from the perspective of philosopher John Locke; Locke's view of property was that it exists in a state of nature, a wilderness, and becomes private property when a person acts to improve it i.e. take it out of a state of nature. In other words, the person extends his personal government to a piece of property, and it becomes an extension of his personal governance. Groups of property owners create towns, create cities, counties, states, and nations. As each larger entity is created it is done so by taking a small share of the original right to self-govern that the individual has surrendered for the greater good. It is for that reason that John Locke believed a government derived it's right from the consent of the governed; they are the ones who gave it it's existence and who surrendered some of their autonomy to empower it.

If Locke is right, indeed, if my analysis is right, then government should grow progressively weaker the larger it gets, or it is a tyrant.

Tyrant. There is the word we are looking for.

As in all human endeavors, something went wrong with government. The Bible says government was given "the power of the sword...to punish evildoers" and it's primary function is to govern those who are incapable or unwilling to govern themselves. But it has rarely seen this as it's primary function through history, as individuals of unscrupulous character have always managed to ensconce themselves in the halls of power and use this power of the sword to punish the righteous and to glorify themselves. Governments have been historically the private tools of the powerful. Consider the pyramids; elaborate tombs build by slave labor and by the money taken involuntarily from Egyptians through taxation, solely to to aggrandize the Pharoahs. They could force their subjects to do this because they had the power to kill them if they refused. Standing armies were always necessary to protect against rogue groups and aggressive states, but they have all too often been for the aggrandizement of the kings who used them to steal territory, plunder, and force their worship on others. Think of the wars of the 17th, 18th, and 19yh centuries as Europe battled endlessly over colonial possessions, trade, and political sovereignty. The populace had to pay for these endless wars, and had to provide soldiers to die for King and Country, a King who cared nary a wit about the lives or welfare of his citizens. Government was purely a tool to advance the glory of the king.

And yet Mankind continues to believe in the efficacy of government. With the receding tide of Christendom the West in particular has found itself without an object of worship, and so throughout the 20th century a new god was promoted, the god of the sword. The Progressive era saw the rise of a particular viewpoint that believed everything was possible with the proper exercise of governemntal power, and Benito Mussolini was not an aberration when he created the concept of "totalitarianism" in the 1920's with his stock phrase:

"All within the state, none outside the state, none against the state.”

Mussolini believed that Man and State should not be seperate entities but one, a gestalt in which the state is intimately involved in all aspects of the individual's life.

Mussolini described it in these terms:

"The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....".

But he was only following in the footsteps of Marx, who saw the purpose of government as being to revolutionize human economic conditions through coercive use of power. Marx put economic activity at the top of the human pyramid, because he lived in an era with a large disparity between rich and poor, but he failed to understand that that disparity was the failure of Man to govern himself, and government became a tool to enrich those who already possessed much. Essentially Marx promised a utopia, a world free of grasping greed, of deprivation, of inequity by imposing grasping greed, deprivation, and inequity by force of arms. He failed to see that it was the very growth of statist power that made these things possible.

History would prove Marx to be spectacularly wrong, and while Hitler tarnished the term "Fascist" the fascistic vision was really part and parcel with the Progressive Movement. Modern Liberalism deified the State as surely as did Marx, and every effort made by the modern Left is designed to advance the power of said State over the individual.

That is why Liberals will labor to remove social constraints on bad behavior while writing new laws to control that very behavior; they want to remove the competitors to centralization of power. They make it impossible for teachers and school administrators to correct students, they make it impossible for parents to discipline their own children, they make it impossible for even punish criminals, or for law-abiding citizens to take up arms against assailants, then when crime runs rampant they propose to solve it at the national level with new laws that restrict the self-governing of the individual. All power must devolve to the larger institutions, where power can be exercised by a few self-anointed rulers. Always they seek to impose the power of the sword over the fundamental right and duty of self-government.

Most people in the modern world agree with this, too. They may want to take things slower, but they are happy to have a "social safety net" which really has no business as a government program because it owes it's existence to a form of pseudo-charity imposed by force of arms. Yes, there are people who benefit, and who may find life quite difficult without, say, social security, but this is something that should be done on a local level; charity begins at home. And that is real charity, too, not government forcibly taking from Peter to pay Paul. But several generations have grown up with the idea of government serving this function, of a society that guarantees not just basic rights but social rights. In point of fact, most recently written constitutions around the world incorporate a positivist bill of rights, ordering governments to care for individuals as if they were babies. The U.S. is unusual. And make no mistake; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg bemoaned this very "failing" in the U.S. Constitution while in Egypt, suggesting they do no emulate the American approach.

Why do people agree with empowering the State? Because it relieves them of the responsibility of governing themselves, freeing them to act as rashly, irresponsibly, as badly as they wish. In other words, it frees them to SIN. It's far easier to abdicate one's responsibilities, to outsource what you should do to an outside entity. That is not to say that all people who believe in strong government are sinners or bad people, but they have accepted this fundamental error in thinking, that government should act as god.

Governements are so much more powerful today than they used to be because they have the benefits of an explosion of technology. Caligula, Nero, Ghenghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, were all pikers as tyrants go, because they lacked the tools of modern societies. How could Ivan spy on his people when they could sit inside their homes and talk? Now we have x-ray trucks actually cruising the streets checking people out. We have internet spying, with things people say being open to the government. We have a leviathan of statist tentacles squeezing the public in ways never dreamt of by the worst tyrants of history. And modern medical science grants the power of life to the state, where before the tyrant had only the power of death. Government run healthcare means the tyrants own the souls of the public.

It's not going to change any time soon, either; too few understand the proper role of government, and too many are happy to accept the intrusion of the State. As I have said, the State has taken over where the church left off, with Almighty God being replaced by Almighty Bureacrat. Where once men put their trust in a beneficient God they now put their trust in a capricious State, which can produce the miracles they seek in a more open fashion. One does not see the Hand of God directly when praying for money to pay your electric bill, but the hand of the government is clearly evident, embossed on the assistance check.

The most grievous sin of the modern era is idolatry; we are all worshippers of Caesar now.

While the Lord may Giveth and Taketh Away, Caesar will assuredly taketh away a-plenty. And Caesar steals the fundamental role of government, that of Man over his own soul.

That is why everything seems to be spinning out of control, why chaos reigns. Caesar is not God, but the usurper. Just as the first angel sought to replace the Most High, so too does government seek to glorify itself uber alles. Our modern governements are the spiritual progeny of Lucifer.

We MUST get back to the original constitutional view of society or all is lost. Sadly, few seem to grasp this.

Why do people agree with empowering the State? Because it relieves them of the responsibility of governing themselves, freeing them to act as rashly, irresponsibly, as badly as they wish. In other words, it frees them to SIN. It's far easier to abdicate one's responsibilities, to outsource what you should do to an outside entity. That is not to say that all people who believe in strong government are sinners or bad people, but they have accepted this fundamental error in thinking, that government should act as god.

Governments are so much more powerful today than they used to be because they have the benefits of an explosion of technology. Caligula, Nero, Genghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, were all pikers as tyrants go, because they lacked the tools of modern societies. How could Ivan spy on his people when they could sit inside their homes and talk? Now we have x-ray trucks actually cruising the streets checking people out. We have internet spying, with things people say being open to the government. We have a leviathan of statist tentacles squeezing the public in ways never dreamt of by the worst tyrants of history. And modern medical science grants the power of life to the state, where before the tyrant had only the power of death. Government run healthcare means the tyrants own the souls of the public.

It's not going to change any time soon, either; too few understand the proper role of government, and too many are happy to accept the intrusion of the State. As I have said, the State has taken over where the church left off, with Almighty God being replaced by Almighty Bureaucrat. Where once men put their trust in a beneficent God they now put their trust in a capricious State, which can produce the miracles they seek in a more open fashion. One does not see the Hand of God directly when praying for money to pay your electric bill, but the hand of the government is clearly evident, embossed on the assistance check.

The most grievous sin of the modern era is idolatry; we are all worshippers of Caesar now.

While the Lord may Giveth and Taketh Away, Caesar will assuredly taketh away a-plenty. And Caesar steals the fundamental role of government, that of Man over his own soul.

That is why everything seems to be spinning out of control, why chaos reigns. Caesar is not God, but the usurper. Just as the first angel sought to replace the Most High, so too does government seek to glorify itself uber alles. Our modern governments are the spiritual progeny of Lucifer.

We MUST get back to the original constitutional view of society or all is lost. Sadly, few seem to grasp this


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April 22, 2012

Blamer in Chief

By Alan Caruba

We teach children to acknowledge and accept blame when they do something wrong. It is an important and useful trait in life. Those who do not learn this remain emotionally stunted children their entire life. I am, of course, speaking of President Barack Hussein Obama and I shudder to think of the continued damage he can do to the nation during his remaining months in office.

As Fox News’ Doug McKelway wrote in August 2011, "Obama has suggested that blame for the stagnant U.S. economy lies in places other than the Oval office. The latest example occurred Monday when the President said, "There will always be economic factors that we can’t control, earthquakes, spikes in oil prices, slowdowns in other parts of the world.”

The greatest slowdown has been at home, the national economy, is the only one of concern to Americans. Three and a half years into his first (and hopefully last term), Obama is still blaming it on former President Bush.

As recently as April 18, Obama returned to his favorite theme. Urging a tax increase on millionaires, Obama said that tax cuts enacted "eight years before I took office” had contributed to a "global economic crisis.”

It is worth recalling the financial crisis occurred in September 2008 in the final months of Bush’s second term.

At the time:
The Dow Jones closed at 12,621.77
The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
The Unemployment rate was 4.6%

George W. Bush's economic policies set a record of 52 straight months of job growth. So, Obama is not only trying to distract voters from the actual facts, but lying about them as well.

In point of fact the Democrats had taken control of Congress on January 3, 2007, at the start of the 110th Congress

In December 2011, Investors Business Daily opined that Obama was "no longer content to blame President Bush for the country’s economic ills” but was accusing "his Democratic predecessor of being a co-conspirator.” That would be former President Clinton!

In a "Sixty Minutes” segment, Obama had said the economy was suffering from "structural problems that have been building up for two decades.” Most observers concede that both Clinton and Bush43 did a good job in guiding the economy during their terms, but not Obama.

The segment also included his prediction that "If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” The likelihood that Obama can be reelected with 8.6% unemployment, $4 gas at the pump, massive housing loan foreclosures, and a still stagnant economy grows smaller by the week.

Consider the many ways this President has found everyone else to blame for his failures. Oil prices were blamed on the "uncertainty about what’s going on in Iran and the Middle East”, but prices stayed moderate during all the years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite the horrid waste of taxpayer’s money on the various green energy firms that keep failing, Obama blamed the Solyndra debacle on the Chinese who "were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn’t compete.” That was well known before the Solyndra half billion dollar loan guarantee was made, followed by still more to other solar companies.

Even the deficits that have grown under his administration weren’t his fault. In November 2011, he said "Obviously, this (reducing government waste) is even more important given the deficits that we’ve inherited and that have grown as a consequence of the recession.”

The key word here is "inherited.”

Of course it was inherited and Obama knew that as he campaigned to be the President who would solve the financial crisis. In February 2010 he said "If we had taken office during ordinary times, we would have started bringing down these deficits immediately.” Instead, his stimulus program tripled the national deficit in his first year in office

Regarding the debt, Obama in March 2011 said, "I inherited a big debt.”

In April 2011 he said, "much of it I inherited when I showed up.”

In August 2011 he said "I inherited a big debt.”

The message, repeated ceaselessly, is that the increase is not his fault.

No matter what the problem is, it is NEVER his fault.. This isn’t just habitual. It’s pathological. And it bodes ill if he is reelected.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

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John Goodman shows us the Big Government War on Women

Jack Kemp

Although most readers here tend to be conservative, what John Goodman uncovered in his Townhall.com article today on how the U.S. Federal Tax Code hurts most women no matter what their political viewpoint. This is most particularly true for single women and married women working part time. This article is a real eye opener for everyone no matter one's political affiliation or gender. Frankly, I was shocked by what he revealed and would assume a woman would be more shocked, as it directly effects her personal tax bill.

If Romney took the lead on advocating reform of these tax statues, he could get a lot of women's votes, end an injustice, and contribute to sending Obama home to live in Chicago this coming January.

Below is the link and a few of the author's major findings.


How Mitt Romney Can Erase the Gender Gap
John C. Goodman...Is there any way Romney can turn things around and win the women back? Yes...


Outdated Laws. Our public policy institutions have not kept pace with these remarkable changes, however. Tax law, labor law and a host of other institutions are still designed from top-to-bottom on the assumption that husbands will be full-time workers, while wives will mainly stay at home. As a result, the highest tax rates in our economy are paid by women wage earners. In fact, women earning only modest incomes can pay taxes at rates that are twice those paid by such billionaires as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. Consider that:

• When a woman leaves the home and enters the labor market, she will be taxed at her husband's tax rate, even if she earns only the minimum wage. When all taxes and all costs are considered (including the cost of child care and other services she was previously providing as a homemaker), a woman in a middle-income household working a full-time minimum wage job can expect to keep only about 32 cents out of each dollar she earns.

• If the woman's husband dies prematurely, Social Security will provide a modest benefit as long as she stays home and takes care of children; but if she works, the combined effect of direct taxes plus loss of benefits will create a marginal tax rate of 75 percent — leaving her with only 25 cents out of each extra dollar she earns.


• If the woman receives government assistance, she will confront a newly reformed system that is supposed to encourage work; however, when explicit taxes are combined with loss of benefits, her marginal tax rate will be about 72 percent — leaving her with only 28 cents out of each dollar of wage income.


• Because Social Security taxes are levied on all earnings until capped at a high income level, dual-earner households generally pay considerably more in taxes than single-earner households, but they will get only a minimal increase in Social Security benefits.

• Because women live longer than men, they will be more burdened by the income taxes paid on Social Security benefits, which will cause many middle-income seniors to forfeit more than half of their private pension income and IRA withdrawals.


Couples with two full-time working adults are disadvantaged in other ways. They often find that they must accept unnecessary, duplicate sets of employee benefits, say, because the wife is unable to opt for higher wages if she forgoes health insurance from her own employer when she is already covered on her husband's employer's plan.

A Better Way. Many changes are needed to bring aging institutions into sync with the way people are living their lives in the 21st century. Here are a few suggestions:

• We need a fairer tax system for two-earner couples, ideally a system that taxes all income at one low rate.

• Employee benefits law should permit flexibility, making it easier for dual-earner couples to obtain higher wages rather than unneeded, duplicate benefits and for part-time workers to accept lower wages in return for more valuable health and retirement benefits.


• We need a fairer system for providing tax relief for health insurance — especially for single parents who leave the workforce for extended periods of time and for others who must purchase health insurance on their own.


This is some of the wisest advice I've ever seen in politics. And a businessman like Mitt Romney can easily understand the math here - as well as the Swing State Electoral Math. I don't mean to sound opportunistic, although it is hard not to do so months before a Presidential Election. I think these reforms are worth advocating in any year, but in an election year there are more Americans willing to listen to a "boring" tax subject, particularly if the reforms suggested help them and their families. Yet whatever happens this November, this is an issue (or set of issues) that should get wide publicity and be taken up by many in the coming year(s), particularly by women impacted by the current IRS tax code.

Go for it, Mr. Romney. Mr. Goodman has handed you - and the women of America - a gift of an issue.

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Obama Announcement

Jack Kemp

Obama at the microphone for an announcement:

Now some of you folks who come from Indonesia or Asia like the taste of dog. We are pleased to announce that our school lunch program will now have delicious dog meat on the menu in every school lunch program across the country. And the FDA will also be approving the sale of dog in your favorite supermarket. And the Commodities Trading authorities will also be approving the trading of dog meat future contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade. And if I'm reelected, I've got a pleasant surprise for you muskrat lovers as well.

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Obama's sings my ver. of Doggie in the Window

Jack Kemp

My version of Obama's singing "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?"as originally sung by Patti Page:

How much is that doggie in the window? Arf! Arf!
I'd sure like to eat him with kale
How much is that doggie in the window? Arf! Arf!
I do hope that doggie's not stale

I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If she has a dog, she won't worry
Where she will find a soup bone

How much is that doggie in the window? Arf! Arf!
I'd sure like to munch on the tail
How much is that doggie in the window? Arf! Arf!
I hope he fits in my lunch pail

I read in the paper there are robbers Woof! Woof!
With flashlights that shine in the dark
That never did concern me
A doggie never stopped a narc

I don't want a bunny or a kitty
Their meat is to tough to digest
I don't want a bowl of little fishies
There's no meat on their chest

How much is that doggie in the window? Arf! Arf!
I'd sure like to eat him with kale
How much is that doggie in the window? Arf! Arf!
I hope I can get it wholesale

I hope I can get it wholesale

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Palin Gas Plan on Fox

Jack Kemp forwards this video. Sarah Palin has a terrific plan to lower gas prices - one the GOP should embrace


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Food for Thought

Jack Kemp

Memo to all Obama Fundraisers
from the Democratic National Committee:

When selling tickets to an Obama Fundraising Dinner, do not say,
"Obama will be putting on the dog for you."

Here is an interesting site with more on Man bites Dog:


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April 21, 2012

Allan Bloom: Remembering the Teacher

Daren Jonescu

(This article first appeared at American Thinker.

Allan Bloom was a great teacher. A great teacher is a man whose manner of framing the important questions continues to inform his students' thoughts long after they have left the teacher behind. A great teacher's lasting impression is not his "personality," that collection of idiosyncrasies which make him memorable in the way of a good vacation, but his mind -- the way his reasoning sheds light on new and indelible colors in what would otherwise have been a less nuanced palette of experience.

Bloom was just such a teacher. The proof of this is that he had the true teacher's lasting effect on many students, including this one, who never met him, but knew him only through his written works.

This spring marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of Bloom's best-selling philosophical polemic, The Closing of the American Mind. And as Simon & Schuster is celebrating the event with a new edition, Bloom's most famous book will receive renewed attention this spring, along with many thoughtful reappraisals. Andrew Ferguson has already taken a worthy stab at this at The Weekly Standard.

The book's glory lies in its explicit espousal of a Socratic, dialectical tone, and its resulting power to corner an open-minded reader in places he might never have gone willingly, without the guidance of a skillful "pimp and midwife" (as Bloom puts it) -- i.e., without a true teacher. That is, the beauty of this book is its ability to tempt the reader out of the closed-mindedness (sold today as "openness" by the left) that Bloom diagnoses as the fundamental threat to the republican form of government. Bloom, like the Platonic Socrates he so admired, was a genius at challenging people to rethink what they thought they knew, and to question their society -- and themselves -- precisely in those areas that are most tender and painful.

However, any book of civilizational critique that sells a million copies is bound to have attracted many readers who were more curious than serious about its content, and who were more likely to glom onto particular paragraphs or bons mots that seemed to buttress their own opinions than to allow themselves to be shaken from long-held prejudices. The practice of reading great books in search of support for one's own opinions -- or in search of justifications for one's bias against the author's presumed position -- is always dangerous. In Bloom's case, it has led to many conservatives cherry-picking his book for anti-leftist arguments, while others have cherry-picked it for evidence of anti-Americanism. Some readers have accused Bloom, a homosexual and an atheist, of being a "homophobic" representative of the religious right; others, in spite of his profound critique of postmodern philosophy, have dismissed him as a European-style elitist with no respect for American culture.

What is lost in the cherry-picking approach, regardless of whether it comes out for or against Bloom, is his book's ability to stir in the reader that uncomfortable feeling, inspired by Bloom as by Socrates, that one is missing something -- that there is more to life than one has hitherto admitted. In other words, using Bloom to attack others is all well and good, as his teachings can help us to win some important intellectual arguments; but Bloom's greatest value is in his attack on you. To feel self-satisfied after reading The Closing of the American Mind is to have missed the point, not to mention missing the opportunity of a lifetime -- the opportunity for self-discovery.

Even Ferguson's fine tribute shows hints of this problem. Noting Bloom's assault on today's popular philosophical lexicon -- "lifestyle," "values," "creativity," and so on -- which constitutes the book's transitional step from the discussion of popular "culture" (another word on Bloom's hit-list) to the analysis of its philosophical roots, Ferguson somewhat casually observes that these concepts "are now so deeply embedded in everyday speech that no amount of reason or ridicule will dislodge them."

But Bloom was not merely trying to excise empty catchwords from our language. He was coaxing us to think through the most basic premises of modern thought. As he shows, the lexical shift from "virtue" to "values," for example, is much more than a loss of conceptual concreteness. It bespeaks the victory of Nietzsche's moral perspectivism, in which subjective emotional assessments take the place of moral definitions grounded in an understanding of human nature. These cheerful English translations of powerful German philosophical abstractions spell the utter corruption of the Western traditions that made political freedom possible. To concede defeat on this score is to concede everything.

This is even more urgently true with regard to the most famous, and most controversial, part of Bloom's book: his discussion of today's popular music. It has become the norm for even his defenders to downplay the importance of this chapter, or at best to reduce it to an older man's rejection of the irrational excesses of modern "youth culture." In fact, to dismiss or skim lightly over his critique of rock music is to avoid the teaching essence of the book -- amely, its Socratic power to challenge the reader's most deeply ingrained attachments.

At the core of Bloom's project is his battle to reclaim the true ancient Greek conception of eros from its post-Freudian pseudo-scientific trivialization. Following Plato and Aristotle, Bloom identifies the erotic element of the soul as the source of its intellectual and moral growth, and hence the careful nurturing of the erotic impulses of the young as the very definition of education. He punctuates this point vividly, describing as his goal the figurative cries of "Oh, yes!" that he elicits from his students when teaching Hegel or Shakespeare. The desire for sex, as he explains, is one and the same with the desire for completion, which ultimately means the desire for wisdom.

The overt sexuality of today's popular music is dangerous, he argues persuasively, not because it enlivens the passions, but rather because it deadens and belittles them by freezing the soul's erotic nature at its most banal, literal level, thus preventing the proper advance of the erotic youth into full adulthood -- i.e., into a rationally informed desire for beauty, knowledge, and freedom. Modern popular music, he suggests, is the arch-nemesis of liberal education, as it blocks the soul's natural progression into a perspective that transcends the pubescent fixation on self and moment. The importance Bloom placed on the near-universal obsession with this music is expressed in his judgment that "future civilizations will wonder at this and find it as incomprehensible as we do the caste system, witch-burning, harems, cannibalism and gladiatorial combats" (p. 75). In other words, those future judges will wonder how a civilized people could have become so irrationally dehumanized.

I was one of the exceedingly fortunate, as Bloom's great book happened to appear just when I needed a true teacher, as I entered university. It challenged me, partly with its dizzying tour of the philosophical universe, but even more with its hard questions about modern popular culture and its meaning. Bloom's questions seemed aimed directly at me, and luckily I was young and innocent enough to be attracted by his challenges, rather than repelled by them, in the same way that so many Athenian youths lined up eagerly for the chance to be shamed into self-improvement by Socrates.

I have grown to disagree with important aspects of Bloom's philosophy. On a theoretical level, Bloom, as a pupil of Leo Strauss, shares the general Straussian propensity to regard the great philosophers' metaphysical theories as merely a cover story for their political agendas, a view on display in his most important scholarly work, his interpretation of Plato's Republic, and one which I reject. On a practical level, as a father of American neo-conservatism, Bloom, like his "offspring," shows too little respect for the U.S. Constitution's explicit limits on government's capacity to effect positive change.

I won't bore you with the rest of my disagreements with Bloom. My point in mentioning them is merely this: my own thinking on these issues, even where I disagree with Bloom's answers, was and is informed by my understanding of what the questions are -- an understanding that I, like so many others, owe in large part to the good fortune of encountering Allan Bloom when my mind was still open enough to be touched by his teaching.

Small men reveal their personalities in their books. Great men, precisely because they have the humility of the great (the awareness that so much of what they are is small), conceal their petty selves in the folds of their noblest, and most ennobling, ideas. In so doing, they give their readers a rare opportunity to enjoy the purest form of education; we participate directly in the life of the mind, without the intellectual obstacles presented by everyday human banalities. Bloom concludes his book with the observation that "men may live more truly and fully in reading Plato and Shakespeare than at any other time, because then they are participating in essential being and are forgetting their accidental lives" (p. 380). His own work aspires to such purity, and though perhaps it does not achieve this, the effort itself offers us a glimmer of what is possible, even in today's distraction-strewn times.

Saul Bellow's fictionalized biography of Bloom, Ravelstein, has helped to foster a more "closed-minded" approach to Bloom's great book. Bellow tells us, through his own fictional alter-ego, that "Ravelstein" asked the novelist to write this account of his personal life. This merely reveals Bloom's human, all too human weakness. Having brilliantly concealed his inconsequential "self" in favor of his grand, universal teaching, he was ultimately unable to accept the harshest and most beautiful reality of the teacher's life: that his mind lives on through his students, but his idiosyncratic identity does not -- that universal truths survive, but particularity must inevitably be forgotten.

Sadly, Ravelstein the man threatens to displace Bloom the teacher in the minds of some readers. But Ravelstein, a pretty bland novel apart from its gossip value, will be long forgotten when Americans -- if there still is an America then -- return to contemplate The Closing of the American Mind upon its hundredth anniversary.

In the meantime, we ought to envy those university freshmen of today who are about to have their first encounter with a wonderful teacher, thanks to the new edition of Bloom's great book.


Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 02:44 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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A Passion Play

Timothy Birdnow

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Dr. Martin Luther King

Recently I received a chain e-mail detailing the horrific rape and murder of a young Knoxville couple in 2007. Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were carjacked by a group of black thugs, repeatedly gang-raped, sexually tortured, urinated on, and eventually murdered (after several days of torment). The story received no national attention, and is only now coming to light as it makes it's way through the internet in response to the hysteria over the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Needless to say, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the New Black Panthers, and the others who are so indignant about the killing of Martin (with little evidence) seem unconcerned about an horrific act of barbarism perpetrated on a white couple.

According to Knoxnews.com:


"In the early morning hours of Jan. 7, 2007, Christopher Newsom and his girlfriend Channon Christian were carjacked and held captive in a house on Chipman Street in Knoxville. Both were raped, tortured and killed. Newsom's body was discovered in the vicinity that afternoon burning alongside railroad tracks. Christian's body was found stuffed in a trashcan inside the house a couple of days later. Five people were arrested in connection with the crime . Eric Boyd was convicted in federal court of aiding the alleged ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson, after the carjacking and murders and is serving an 18-year prison sentence. The first defendant to be tried in Knox County Criminal Court, Letalvis Cobbins, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in August 2009. His brother, Davidsion, was tried next and was sentenced to death by lethal injection in October 2009. In December 2009, George Thomas was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Vanessa Coleman was acquitted of first-degree murder in May in the deaths but was convicted of facilitating the death of Christian. She is awaiting sentencing on July 30."

End excerpt

The race of the perpetrators should be immaterial to any moral judgment here, as should be the race of the victims, but this case illustrates perfectly the hypocrisy of the national news media and the professional race-hustling class; there is little concern for these "privileged" white kids.

There is a narrative, a passion-play, if you will, which permeates the media and the elite Left. Persons of color cannot be anything but victims, this narrative states, and if any perpetrate some monstrous act, why, it's simply an acting out of natural anger and must be dismissed as the result of white injustice. In this narrative the white person is always the guilty party, guilty by virtue of some perceived privilege, a privilege that was obtained through repression, through theft, through evil domination of persons of color, through racism. That is why they jumped on the Trayvon Martin case; they saw a story that they thought would fit their narrative. Ditto the Duke Lacrosse case. The best thing they can do to reinforce this narrative is to ignore stories like the Christian/Newsom murders, because it not only does not buttress their argument that white males are evil but it actually turns hearts and minds against their template. One sours on this "people of color are always good" narrative after being victimized.

This is part of the reason the Left is so quick to embrace Muslims; they are people of color, whose understandable anger is the byproduct of Western white racism and oppression. That Muslims have behaved this way since the Prophet Muhammad, that at the peak of their power they still engaged in terrorist attacks, in kidnappings, in enslavement, is forgotten or just not that important to the Liberals; what matters is that they are not white, Christian, Westerners. These liberals can ignore the fact that the Crusades were sparked in part by the murder of over 2000 Christian pilgrims peaceably traveling to Jerusalem, and they focus on the fact that the Christians attacked the Islamic world - when the Islamic world was only Islamic because of military conquest. It is the reason why the media carefully reported about the Fort Hood shooting, trying to say that Nidal Malik Hasan suffered from stress at being called up while ignoring that he had become increasingly radical and shouted Aluha Ahkbar! when he fired at the soldiers. We cannot give the pea-brained white Christian Right-wing hillbillies the idea that a man of color committed an atrocity, lest they rampage and lynch innocents.

For example, the left-wing blog site Crooks and Liars had this to say immediately after the Hasan shootings:


"No sooner was the identity of the Fort Hood shooter released -- a man with the Arab name Nadal Malik Hasan -- than the wingnuts sprang into predictable action: Of course he was a jihadi embarking on a murderous terrorism spree!"


"Then Shepard Smith interviewed Hasan's cousin, and we found out that this was all so much tripe:

-- Hasan was American born and educated, but raised Muslim. He was not a convert.

-- He had never previously been deployed to Iraq or anywhere overseas, for that matter. So much for the theories he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

-- He was regularly abused by his colleagues in the military for being Muslim -- called a "raghead" and other such terms -- and had been seeking to get out of the military because the environment had become so hostile.

Another interview, on just before this one, that Smith had with a former colleague of Hasan's indicated that Hasan was prone to making outrageous remarks about Muslims "defending themselves," particularly in reference to last summer's shooting of two military recruiters in Arkansas by a Muslim convert.

There are also reports that he had recently been the victim of a hate crime: His car was vandalized, with the word "Allah" scratched into the paint, and he was reportedly extremely upset by it."

End excerpt

But Crooks and Liars was spectacularly wrong, as evidence would clearly show. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/07/us/07forthood.html?partner=rss&emc=rss The Army knew it, too, knew about Hasan's involvement with radicals in Yemen and yet failed to act against him because of the narrative. But the important point to observe is that Crooks and Liars kneejerk reaction was to absolve Hasan of guilt; how can he be guilty? He's a person of color, and clearly a de-facto victim.

In typical fashion, the mainstream media was slow to call this an act of terrorism. The New York Times, for instance, quoted Administration officials who tried to claim it was a matter of combat stress, even though Hasan had never been in combat.

So the Left is quick to defend persons of color, and have been nearly apoplectic in their defense of Trayvon Martin and their insistence that his killer, George Zimmerman (a man they mistakenly identified as white and now call a "white hispanic") face the full fury of the law is only natural to their worldview.

Liberalism is a destructive force. It is about tearing down, about dismantling the edifice that has been built here in the West. Western culture was built upon the bedrock of Judaism and the Greco-Roman culture, and Christianity refined that culture and kept building, creating a cathedral of cultural heritage. The core of Liberalism is hatred for that system, hatred of the Church, hatred of the traditions and heritage that made our society. Western civilization had it's faults - many of them - but the fact remains it was superior to any other culture Man has ever employed. Concepts of charity, of justice, of kindness, were largely alien in the rest of the world. Ars Gratia Artist, art for art's sake, is a Western concept. So is knowledge for knowledge sake. So is participatory government. The list goes on and on.

But Liberalism fanned the flames of discontent, of hatred of God and Church, of rebellion. The Liberals were fortunate, as their movement came on the heels of the Protestant Reformation and they learned what worked for the Protestants. They had the printing press. They had a framework of educational institutions. They were uniquely poised to spread their misanthropy. And their philosophy of rebellion has come to dominate the modern Western world.

That philosophy has created the monsters who raped and murdered the young couple in Knoxville. And it continues to foster and nurture the same conditions that made this heinous act possible.

It was the sexual revolution and the Great Society that destroyed the black family, leading to innumerable children being poorly raised by overworked and stressed-out single mothers. It was the relaxation of disciplinary policies in the schools that made these unruly children feel untouchable, able to do anything. It was the failure of this same educational system that made it impossible for them to learn. It was the liberal notion of nonjudgementalism that made it impossible for even strangers to correct bad behavior. It was the liberal view that punishment should not be meted out when children are bad - or when adults perform evil acts - and these thugs learned early that they would receive lots of attention by acting up and would face no real consequence. It was the liberals who encouraged drug use, which has become an epidemic, particularly in black neighborhoods. The barbarism that we witness today in America's streets is entirely a creation of the Left.

And the fruits of this permissiveness coupled with restraint of those who would take action are ubiquitous. The Knockout Game in St. Louis is but one example of young males acting out because they can.

The Left has systematically dismantled the centuries-old system designed to channel the courser portions of human nature into less destructive directions, and many are then surprised that the system is breaking down. (Actually, the hard Left knew full well it would break down, which is why they did it; their purpose is revolution, and that can only come when the hated culture loses it's grip.) Gun control is, of course, a big part of it; as long as there is an armed citizenry there is a defense se against the barbarians. The goal is to make the average person defenseless before evil, then they will cry out to the State. But there are many soft-headed liberals who really believed their way would improve things, completely ignoring history. History shows that Man is depraved and requires a system of levees and barricades to channel his passions. As James Madison pointed out in Federalist 51, if Men were angels they would have no need of government. Men are not angels.

But by government we mean more than just the formal institution of the State, we mean the entire sphere of culture and tradition. We mean the churches. We mean custom. We mean public pressures. We mean a man should be able to correct an unruly child without fear of reprisal. We mean school officials who will take action against a bad child who is disruptive in class; one bad apple does indeed spoil the barrel. Ask any school teacher about the power of one unruly child in corrupting the whole educational environment.

But first and foremost we mean a man should govern himself. That is the first, most primal, form of governing. Without that we are left to govern at the point of a sword, or allow barbarism to reign.

Liberals think that freedom means not being subject to any sort of discipline. They have dismantled every guardrail. That human beings need these guardrails to give them guidance never occurs to the Liberal; he sees only the focus of his own selfish desire to hold unlimited license. "Who are we to judge?”, they demand of us. A whole generation has grown up under the delusional viewpoint that nobody can tell anybody how to live because there is no right to judge. We would not raise a dog in such a fashion, yet children are allowed, nay, forced to invent their entire system of morality. Human nature is debased, according to the Bible. Liberals may not believe that, preferring to think Man is inherently good, but history shows little goodness in the undisciplined person. These thugs who committed this heinous act should be proof of that last statement.

The Left's answer is more of the same, more empowering of government at the expense of the people who are actually in the trenches. Free Man from every sin by simply denying there is such a thing! Excuse, dismiss, embolden, all the while restraining those who would act as a force for civilization. We are busily creating the barbarians who will bring our civilization down.

And so the liberals in the media go ballistic when a young black man is killed by a frightened non-black antagonist, while dismissing as unimportant one of the most hideous acts of pure evil imaginable because the perpetrators are persons of color. This dismissal is simply because the murders in Knoxville do not fit their paradigm, do not advance the passion-play morality lesson they wish to advance. Oh, and a passion play was often designed to inflame passions in the audience; many Jews were killed in the Middle Ages after such events. The modern media version serves much the same purpose.

The Fourth Estate has become nothing but a parliament of social revolutionaries.

Trayvon Martin may or may not have been murdered by a "white-hispanic", but these men murdered this young couple in cold blood. They deserve better than a yawn from the press.

(Hat tip to Dana Mathewson and Jack Kemp for several concepts in this work.)

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 07:50 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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