The View From 1776

§ American Traditions

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§ Decline of Western Civilization: a Snapshot

§ Books to Read


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Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscars’ Secular Standard

Hollywood’s “nuanced sensitivity” would would bring civil rights action by the ACLU if homosexuals or blacks had been the target.

A Reuters report headlined Edgy Chris Rock Brings New Tone to Oscars begins: 

“Sit your asses down!”

“With those four words, comedian Chris Rock brought a new tone to the Oscars that network executives and sponsors of the Academy Awards hope will lure back a bigger, younger TV audience to Hollywood’s biggest night.”

Later Mr. Rock belittled Mel Gibson’s movie about the final hours in the life of Jesus, “The Passion of the Christ.”  “I saw ‘Passion of the Christ.’ Not that funny, really,” he joked.

Mr. Rock’s flippancy was an affront to the Son of God and to the Christian community, the world’s largest body of religious believers. 

Needless to say, Hollywood’s secular, anti-American crowd loved it.  Unfortunately, Chris Rock is not an isolated aberration, but an accurate reflection of the secular mindset pervading the entertainment business and most of the so-called mainstream media.

When Harvard’s president Lawrence Summers speculates whether there are fundamental difference between men and women, tough-as-nails feminists are felled by the vapors and go into hysterics.  But they don’t bat an eye at obscene gestures to Jesus Christ or the very real historical nature of Christianity.

During the Oscar ceremonies, a tribute to the late Johnny Carson was aired.  With unintended irony, the commentator was sewer-mouth comedian Whoopi Goldberg.  Miss Goldberg’s crudity with the names of George Bush and Dick Cheney during the recent Presidential campaign at a Radio City fund-raiser prompted socialist and apostate Catholic Senator John Kerry fulsomely to declare that the entertainers who spoke at the rally reflected the ?heart and soul of our country.?

For anyone who remembers the nature of TV comedy during Mr. Carson’s heyday, the contrast with Miss Goldberg was startling.  Johnny Carson, along with all the other prime-time comedians of his era, made people laugh with clever dialog and funny situations.  Their sophisticated comedy didn’t require the crutch of four-letter words or presume that the audience were barely literate cretans.  Today’s comics, like Miss Goldberg and Chris Rock, too easily descend to the shock-value of foul language, crude allusions to bodily functions, and character attacks as their approach to comedy.

As if they had no choice, entertainment executives like Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein defend obscenities like Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911” by saying that they are merely giving audiences what they want. Regrettably, after 35 years of decadence in public education under liberal-socialism, theirs may be a correct assessment.

Christians and religious Jews should pray that God will bring a return to morality in education and induce a change of heart in entertainment and media executives.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Transatlantic Nursery School

Keeping a bunch of neurotic, self-centered socialists happy is not a foreign policy.

Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial titled In Reagan’s Footsteps, summarizes the view repeatedly expressed in this blog.

“In each case, fundamental U.S. strategic interests—the security of Taiwan and Israel; the sovereignty of Iraq; naval supremacy in the Persian Gulf—stand at odds either with European commercial interests or ideological hobbyhorses (the French infatuation with “multipolarity”). If smoother diplomacy, both public and private, can avert another Iraq-style eruption without compromising U.S. interests, so much the better.

“Then again, if Europe continues to demand a high price for its political favors, the Bush Administration would do well to shop for partners and ad hoc coalitions elsewhere. America’s cultural links to Europe may be precious, but there is no law of nature or history that requires both sides of the Atlantic to act in concert. To the extent that Europeans continue to value the relationship, it is up to them to demonstrate it, chiefly by not acting as freelancers or spoilers in areas of vital U.S. concern.”

The UN and dedication to keeping European nations happy, as the foundations of the foreign policy of the United States, are outgrowths of the decrepit socialist theory that global redistribution of economic wealth, at the expense of wealthy individuals and wealthy nations, would eliminate war.  In the 1960s we heard it in Herbert Marcuse’s version of “Make Love, Not War.”  We still hear its echoes in the excremental regurgitation of academics like Noam Chomsky or Ward Churchill and self-promoters like Michael Moore.  The Harvard faculty clearly includes this doctrine in its daily catechism of worship at the altar of its secular religion.

But it’s time to look at this mindset in full daylight and to see it for what it is: a wormy, pestilential piece of abject ignorance that only a socialist academic could continue to believe.  Real people in the real world can no longer afford to be poisoned by it.

First, assuming that keeping European nations (always excluding Great Britain, with whom we do have common strategic interests) happy is a necessary policy objective is analogous to saying that General Motors should have a policy of keeping Toyota, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Honda, and other auto manufacturers happy.  Don’t offend them gratuitously, but don’t forget that all of them have competing interest to sell their products to consumers around the world.  Making Honda happy is unlikely to add income to GM’s bottom line.  Misunderstanding Alliances explored this aspect in detail.

Second, there is nothing moral or high-toned about valuing the good will of degenerate socialistic nations over the legitimate interests of American citizens or over true moral principles emanating from our Judeo-Christian heritage.  In fact, it is profoundly immoral to surrender the freedom of the United States to pursue policies conforming to a higher moral law that recognizes God as the Creator and Ruler of the universe.  Yet this is precisely the policy advocated by liberal-socialists like Senators Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry when they demand that we take no foreign policy moves without the UN’s approval, and when they posit the approval of France and Germany as essential to our foreign policy.

America’s great naval theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan explained the matter thus, as I wrote in Once More: Why Are We In Iraq?:

“Mahan?s great work had emphasized that, in the final analysis, international relations have always been struggles for power of one sort or another, over one dimension or another.? Many people challenged this, in light of the so-called scientific doctrines of the day.? Mahan responded in a series of essays, the main points of which were the following:

(1)  Mahan first restated the postulate , upon which the Declaration and the Constitution were based, that there is a fundamental, natural law of morality to which all peoples and all nations are subject.

(2)  When conflict arises between moral law and positive (i.e., statute) law, moral law must prevail.? Our Civil War was a good example.

(3)  Arbitration under international law, in a forum such as the UN, may be acceptable when no moral issue is involved.? But any regimen under which a nation is obligated to resort to such arbitration on all international disputes is unacceptable, because it might force a nation to compromise on matters of morality.? The evils of war, he said, are less than the moral evil of compromise with wrong.? The great danger of undiscriminating advocacy of arbitration (e.g., resort to the UN for approval of all international actions) is that it may lead men to tamper with equity, to compromise with unrighteousness, and to soothe their consciences with the belief that war is always so entirely wrong that beside it toleration of any evil is preferable (does any of this sound familiar from the likes of Jacques Chirac, Al Gore, and Peanut Carter?).

(4)  Pacifists who crusade against war, demanding that international law be substituted, forget that man-made law is no more than regulated force.? If international law is to be effective, there must be a powerful military police to enforce it.? So long as evil exists, force must be available to meet it.? (Not, of course, according to Jacques Chirac and American academics and liberal politicians).

(5)  Instead of utopian ideas about the brotherhood of man and scientific planning, Mahan preferred what he called the equilibrium of natural forces in the society of nations.? The trouble with international law is that, being artificial, it is too often inapplicable to specific situations.? Far better is prudent judgment tailored to specific problems.? In contrast, the natural play of countervailing forces will always reach a better solution that conforms to actual conditions.

(6)  Mahan harmonized the concept of the equilibrium of natural forces with moral law.? He saw our Monroe doctrine as an example.? There existed no legal basis, no precedent in international relations for the United States to declare that European nations would not be permitted to expand their hegemony among Western hemisphere nations by force.? It was a moral judgment, but one based upon the potential threat of real power.? (Similarly, there was no precedent for preemptive action against Iraq.? It was a moral judgment responding to the specific conditions confronting us).

(7)  Of singular importance was Mahan?s relating the concept of the equilibrium of international powers to the concept of individual liberty and individual development.? Our American ethos demanded a government of limited powers that left the individual maximum personal liberty.? In the same way, each nation should be free to develop itself without the superposition of an international regulatory body like the UN.

(8)  To the objection that his doctrine was no more than might-makes-right, he pointed out that might is a product of efficiency and hard work, both qualities in full agreement with moral rectitude.? Returning to his beginning principle, Mahan said that might is not the right to wield unlimited power over other nations.? It carries always with it the obligation to prefer natural law morality to evil.”

Social(ist) Security

The welfare state functions as Bismarck intended.  It enslaves the citizenry by making them wards of the political state.

Mark Alexander, Executive Editor and Publisher of The Federalist Patriot, gives us a brief, but useful, summary of the unconstitutional imposition of Social Security in 1935, as a pillar of the socialist welfare state.  In What Social Security Crisis?, he reminds us that the people who wrote the Constitution understood clearly that it would be illegal for the Federal government to engage in spending the public’s money for charitable purposes. 

As Mr. Alexander writes: “James Madison, who said, most eloquently, ‘I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents….’ Madison further noted, ‘If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.’ ”

James Madison was by general agreement the most influential and encyclopedically informed single delegate at the 1787 Philadelphia convention that wrote the Constitution. 

In How Socialists Stole Liberalism I summarized the socialistic and totalitarian impulse inherent in the welfare state and the necessity to redistribute, by force, income from productive members of society to unproductive members who have not provided for their own maintenance:

“In a nut shell, Progressives, now called liberals, sincerely want to perfect society and improve the lot of every citizen.? But that requires us to give up individual liberties so that they can organize society properly.?

“As Mr. [Herbert] Croly [founding editor of The New Republic] put it, ?The Promise of American life is to be fulfilled - not merely by a maximum amount of economic freedom, but by a certain measure of discipline; not merely by the abundant satisfaction of individual desires, but by a large measure of individual subordination and self-denial…..In becoming responsible for the subordination of the individual to the demand of a dominant and constructive national purpose, the American state will in effect be making itself responsible for a morally and socially desirable distribution of wealth.?

Mr. Croly was merely following the path laid out by Otto von Bismarck, the head of government in the German Empire of the latter half of the 19th century.  Bismarck instituted the world’s first welfare state, as he candidly told the Reichstag, in order to make the German people dependent upon the Kaiser’s political state, thereby making it possible to herd them like cattle.

President Franklin Roosevelt understood this clearly.  By destroying the web of private and church charity organizations existing in 1935, Mr. Roosevelt made the people wards of the Democratic Party, while encouraging them not to save for their own futures. 

Keynesian socialistic economics, the new state-planning orthodoxy, preached that the Depression was caused by people saving too much and not spending enough.  What better way to buy votes?  Remove the citizens’ private charitable support groups by forcing them to pay Social Security taxes, then encourage the people to spend on consumer goods and forego savings.  In the end, under this socialistic regime, the politician who promises the biggest handouts, at the expense of “the wealthy,” will be almost impossible to defeat at election time.

Destructive aspects of the welfare state, and of Social Security in particular, have also been covered in:
Socialism’s French Labor Pains,
Poetic Justice for French Social Justice,
Should Big Brother be the Source of Charity?,
Only the Feds Can Help the Unfortunate?,
Worship the Secular State Whence All Blessings Flow?, and
Our Most Important Constitutional Right.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Nitty-Gritty Reality of Foreign Relations

Public statements may not reflect what’s actually going on.

A recent posting, Diplomacy is Not a Popularity Contest, stated that:

European nations will respond favorably to President Bush?s upcoming visit only to the extent that their foreign policy objectives and ours coincide….. Beyond the normal courtesies of discourse, pleasing the Europeans is important only in so far as our foreign policy objectives are achieved….. In assessing the President?s visit, keep in mind that effective diplomacy is hard-headed, secret negotiations, not the Academy Awards for Best Actor.? What counts is subsequent actions, not public perceptions manipulated by liberal-socialist media.

This theme is echoed and enlarged upon in Friction May Be EU-U.S. Norm: Flap Over China Arms Embargo Typifies Post-Cold War Divergence, appearing in The Wall Street Journal, February?22,?2005;?Page?A12.

Reporter Marc Champion writes:

“Easing the strains caused by the U.S.-led war in Iraq is the central goal of Mr. Bush’s fence-mending tour of European capitals. But success is likely to depend as much on the hard shovel work done to resolve gritty issues such as the China arms embargo as on the change in atmospherics that Mr. Bush’s high-level diplomacy can bring…...

“The real test of Mr. Bush’s efforts in Europe “will come in the months after the president returns to the White House,” said Robin Niblett, director of the European Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. The EU’s plan to lift the China embargo and any breakdown in EU negotiations with Iran, he said, “could again set trans-Atlantic relations on edge.”

Reporter Champion describes the realities underlying the Bush administration’s objections to a recent EU decision to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo on China.  On our side of the argument, there is good reason to fear that enhancing China’s military capabilities with European weapons technology will lead China to become more aggressive in its dealings with Taiwan.  In that case, it is entirely the United States, not EU nations, that will bear the military burden of defending Taiwan.

On the European side, the argument is that lifting the embargo is merely symbolic, since much of the arms technology is already outside the embargo restrictions, because it has dual civilian/military uses.  France’s Defense Minister rationalizes lifting the embargo by suggesting that selling arms to the Chinese might prevent them from developing their own arms technology.

Lurking in the background is the reality that the EU nations, apart from Great Britain, have no real military capability outside NATO, and lack both the will and the financial strength to build up their own military forces to a level that would make a reality of President Jacques Chirac’s goal to make the EU a counter-weight to the United States in world diplomacy.

One may speculate that the EU intends to be a free rider, counting on the United States once again to come to Europe’s rescue in the event of major war, but meanwhile hoping to appease China, just as they did Saddam Hussein, by selling illicit arms.  One must not forget, also, that France and Germany are declining economies facing socialist welfare benefits obligations for which they lack the financial capacity to deliver.  Why not a little arms-dealing to enrich French and German companies, politicians, and their economies? 

After all, for liberal-socialists, there is no such thing as right or wrong.  The secular philosophy of pragmatism teaches that all that counts is what works for you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Dennis Prager on Judeo-Christian Values: Part VI

The liberal-socialist illusion of social betterment.

Dennis Prager, in Liberal Feeling vs Judeo-Christian Values: Part VI, delineates the lack of substance in the so-called values of liberal-socialism.  Social justice sounds worthy to callow youth and to adult worshippers at the altar of secular socialism, but there is no there there.  It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Mr. Prager is a Jewish theologian, but as he has pointed out several times in earlier essays, while the United States was founded as a Christian nation, its founding moral principles are common to religious Jews and Christians alike. 

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1831-32 when he travelled throughout the United States that the great difference between the representative democracy of this nation and the theoretical freedoms of socialist France was religion.  France was officially secular, while the Americans were more religious than any other nation on earth.  The practical effect was that American citizens started from a personal moral stance that led them, in their daily lives, to temper self-interest with charitable duties to others and, in political life, to restraint of central authority and preservation of personal and economic liberty.  In France, with no official obeisance to religion or morality, the collectivized government was unrestrained in its powers, while the public was willing to tolerate any degree of despotism, so long as citizens received their handouts from the government.

Tocqueville concluded that, for a people to hold political liberty, it was necessary for them to be religious and moral; without religion they were fitted only to be slaves. 

Today, after seventy years of socialism imposed by New Deal state-planning, we have become a nation of slaves to Federal benefits programs, in direct ratio to the spread of secular socialism in our educational system.  Most Americans alive today have never lived in a free society of the sort created by the Constitution in 1787.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Education: Methodology or Content?

This article was published in today’s Republican Voices Newsletter.

Are students supposed to learn something, or just to feel good about themselves?

Schools’ emphasis on “self-esteem” is by now a commonplace, as is the assertion that students should “learn to think,” not be able to pass tests.

Whence come these ideas?  Are they constructive, or destructive?

As with most evils in the Western world today, they are doctrines of secular socialism, designed to condition students for the liberal faith that the collectivized national state is the only source of people’s welfare.  The student whose “self-esteem” depends upon the collective apparatus of government has no substantive existence apart from the collective state.  As surely as a welfare dependent, he is a chattel of the politicians.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 “?mile” laid the doctrinal foundation, and John Dewey’s Progressive education in the early 20th century began the implementation. 

Rousseau’s educational theories reflected his mythical conception of human nature, which we see today also in attitudes toward criminal behavior.  Admitting that he had absolutely no factual basis for his thesis, Rousseau nonetheless taught that humans had been benevolent and had lived in perfect harmony in the State of Nature.  But, when someone introduced the idea of private property, that idyllic state was replaced with greed, avariciousness, selfishness, aggression, crime, and wars.

Thus, criminals are really victims of a society that permits private property ownership.  To counter the evils of a society based upon Judeo-Christian individuality, personal moral responsibility, and private property, socialist theory requires insulating young students from all bodies of formal instruction and recreating as much as possible the idyllic simplicity of the original State of Nature. 

Students, said Rousseau, know instinctively what they need to learn, and the teacher’s job is to provide a series of “experiences” from which the student will draw whatever lessons his instincts suggest.  Teaching specific subject matter interferes with this “learning to think” and may inflict harm on the student’s psyche.

We saw this writ large in the student activist movements at Columbia University, Cal-Berkeley, and other colleges during the late 1960s and 1970s.  Callow student anarchists demanded “relevant’ subjects.  And, needless to say, they were confident that they knew better than their elders what was “relevant.”  Their Noble-Savage instincts from Rousseau’s State of Nature would be more infallible guides than any of the traditions of Western civilization, which after all were thoroughly corrupted by individuality and private property.

John Dewey’s Progressive education had paved the road to this youthful hubris.  Emulating Rousseau, Dewey believed that history, for example, was a “dead” subject.  Nor should students’ minds be cluttered with ignorant ideas about morality and religion.  Students should be trained for the morally relativistic, secular, and materialistic socialist society in which they would take their places as adults.  Progressive education’s classroom “experiences” were to inculcate collective, communal modes of thinking. 

This Dewey labeled “Education for Democracy.”

Dewey’s influence was given new impetus in the mid-1960s under President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, for the first time, authorized Federal funding for general education.  Local school boards now had to follow Federal guidelines based on socialist theory. 

If teachers are not expected to, and in many cases are incompetent to, teach real subject matter, it is hardly surprising that they concentrate upon providing “experiences” that promote “self-esteem.” 

Students are not to be subjected to the “damaging” effect of being graded on their work.  Nor should they be forced to learn how to calculate correct mathematical solutions without calculators, how to write grammatical sentences in English, or to learn historical dates and events that give them a framework for correlating and understanding a broad swath of issues. Instead, stage a fun project.  Have them dress in colonial costumes and act in a play that depicts early American society as barbaric, and contrasts that ethos to the “caring,” socialistic “values” of today’s welfare state.  As adults, they can learn “history” from Oliver Stone’s movies and Michael Moore’s “documentaries.”

From this perspective, it is easy to understand teacher unions’ hysterical opposition to being judged on academic results and to screening teachers on the basis of their knowledge of subject matter.  It is equally easy to understand multi-culturalism, bi-lingual education, and political correctness as socialistic methodologies to eradicate the founding traditions of 1776.  Outlawing all elements of religion and moral instruction is to the same purpose.

This sort of cultural conditioning is called “learning to think.”  But, of course, what is “thought” is the collective ideology of socialism, a cultural ethos in which the actual work and effectiveness of individuals is unimportant, since the ideal is “from each according to ability, to each according to need.”  Students are taught that individuality must be subordinated to the best interests of the group, and nothing is more anti-socially individualistic than academic excellence. 

Some readers, no doubt, will vehemently deny that today’s education is as depicted above.  Maybe it isn’t uniformly so, but it’s undeniable that the teachers’ unions and Columbia University Teachers College, the source of most “progressive” educational theories, are so oriented.  One has only to read “Left Back: A Century of Failed Education Reforms,” by Diane Ravitch, one of the grand panjandrums of Columbia Teachers College and a self-described liberal.

Does it matter? 

Until the 1960s, the United States had an educational system generally regarded as the world’s best.  Our students were at the leading edge of science, and we collected a disproportionate share of Nobel prizes in the “hard” subjects, such as mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, and sub-atomic particle physics.  Today our students rank near the bottom in world competitions.  Few of them even attempt the rigors of the “hard’ subjects, opting instead for education, social work, politics, and legal activism. 

Students now are primed to go out and “change the world” in accordance with a concept of social justice that equates hedonistic license with liberty.  They are instructed to despise the individualism and self-reliance of the 1776 Judeo-Christian ethic of morality, hard work, self-restraint, and sacrifice for the future of their children.

Posted by Thomas E. Brewton on 02/21 at 02:39 PM
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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Maybe We Can’t Stop “Progress,” But We Should

The idea of Progress, as understood since the 19th century, is one of the most insidious and poisonous doctrines in world history.

Beginning with the French Revolutionary philosophers in the mid-18th century, the ideology of secular materialism began to supplant the spiritual foundation of Western civilization.  This ideology crystallized early in the 19th century as socialism.  One of its principle tenets was the idea of Progress.

The doctrine of Progress has many manifestations.  Its core is the belief that all of life is merely evolution based on random events, which nonetheless cumulatively carry life forms and social institutions to ever higher forms, approaching earthly perfection.

This view most prominently is displayed in the pseudo-scientific hypothesis of Darwinian evolution, which posits that there is no design or purpose inherent in life on earth.  There is merely whatever exists at the moment, whatever happens to be.

Paradoxically, this biological thesis exists side by side, in the minds of intellectuals, with the contradictory idea that intellectuals can foresee the the inherent course of history and, by exercising dictatorial political and social control, can direct and channel the random forces of undesigned nature into patterns of social and political perfection.

In Karl Marx’s version of socialism, the predicted “inevitable” course of history was economic evolution into capitalistic monopolies that would increasingly oppress the workers of the world, causing them to rise up in bloody revolution.  The orgy of revolution would constitute a purifying and cleansing experience that would transform human nature.  It would create the socialist man, who would take only what he needed from collectivized society, while working to the fullest extent of his abilities and energies, selflessly for the benefit of the collective whole.  Thus savagery of Revolution would be a form of Progress.

What is to be noted about the doctrine of Progress is that it is both a destructive process and a totalitarian one.  For Progress to occur, existing social organization, spiritual beliefs, and constitutional government must be destroyed or transformed into something different.  And in order for that to transpire, political power must be collectivized in the hand of a small intellectual cohort who understand what constitutes Progress and are willing to exert whatever degree of coercion may be needed, as they say, “for the good of humanity.” 

Thus the French Revolutionaries, proclaiming the Reign of Terror, declared that democratic freedom necessitated the suspension of democracy and the eventual execution of more than 70,000 French citizens.  Lenin declared that socialist social justice emanated from the business-end of a gun barrel, hence the dictatorship of the proletariat and the 20 million or so Russians liquidated in the name of Progress.  In the United States, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal socialism created a Federal regulatory apparatus that has grown exponentially and now invades every aspect of every individual’s daily life.  Even personal thoughts are controlled by Hate Crime laws.

The insidious side of Progress has manifested itself particularly in education.  In England , two works of great negative consequence appeared in 1859: John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty,” and Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” 

Mill was a Utilitarian and strong sympathizer with socialism, as manifested in Auguste Comte’s Religion of Humanity.  In “On Liberty,” he declared that society is diminished whenever any idea or life style is suppressed by public opinion or existing custom or religion.  As a Utilitarian, Mill believed that the material factors of government regulation could be structured by intellectuals so as to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  Religion and morality were not part of the process.  The problem was that “good” was conceived primarily in terms of material factors of well-being.  “On Liberty” in effect promoted the idea that there should be no community standards of religious morality, that anything goes and every idea has equal validity.  Mill’s famous essay is universal fare in American school anthologies today, as well as gospel for socialist editorial boards at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other “mainstream” media.  Freedom of speech, since Roosevelt’s New Deal, trumps all other parts of the Bill of Rights.

Darwin’s hypothesis is pseudo-science, because there is not a single proof of its validity.  All arguments to support it involve evolutionary changes within a single species, or merely inferential, “might have been” apparent resemblances of some organs from one species to another.  The important point in connection with the doctrine of Progress is that Darwin admitted that he started, not with data from which he drew conclusions, but from a fervent desire to discredit what he called the “damnable doctrine” of Christianity.  After many years of dead-end speculative theories, he finally worked out his evolutionary hypothesis to “debunk” the Bible’s Book of Genesis.

Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s “bulldog,” became the public debater pushing evolution.  Huxley declared that religion, morality, and sin were ignorant fictions, that human life was nothing more than the struggle for survival, in which the only test was might makes right.  This notoriety occurred just eleven years after publication of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” and eight years before “Das Kapital.”  Marxian socialists delightedly joined the chorus praising evolution, declaring it to be proof of socialistic doctrines of historical progress.

By the first decade of the 20th century, John Dewey in this country had incorporated Darwin’s evolution and the idea of Progress into his philosophy of Pragmatism and his concept of Progressive education.  Pragmatism taught that there is no right or wrong, merely actions that work, or fail to work, for the individual; the desired ends justify the necessary means.  This, said Dewey, was proved by Darwin’s evolution, which postulated that everything is continually in flux, with the result there there can be no timeless principles of moral conduct.  This, of course, is the present-day liberal-socialist justification for judicial activism: the so-called evolving Constitution.  What the Constitution means today is what public opinion will accept; the views and reasons of 1776 are irrelevant.

All of these aspects of Progress have by now permeated American public education.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Diplomacy is Not a Popularity Contest

European nations will respond favorably to President Bush’s upcoming visit only to the extent that their foreign policy objectives and ours coincide.

Clive Crook’s National Journal article, Are American and Europe Now Friends? Maybe Not For Long, presents a good summary of the issues and attitudes that will shape the President’s discussions.

News media are describing President Bush’s upcoming visit to Europe as a second chance to win favor with European nations.  This is a straw man erected to declare his mission a failure, in the expectation that European liberal-socialist mobs will mount their usual demonstrations in the streets.

Beyond the normal courtesies of discourse, pleasing the Europeans is important only in so far as our foreign policy objectives are achieved.  No matter how much Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder despise George W. Bush, they will support his policy initiatives whenever they further European policy objectives.  No matter how well liked and charming a President may be, other nations will be superficially polite, but in reality ignore or actively oppose American foreign policies that don’t coincide with their policy objectives or local political platforms.

In assessing the President’s visit, keep in mind that effective diplomacy is hard-headed, secret negotiations, not the Academy Awards for Best Actor.  What counts is subsequent actions, not public perceptions manipulated by liberal-socialist media.

The “mainstream” media loved the carefully orchestrated “candid” video shots of President Clinton playing an African drum in his hotel during a visit to Africa.  This symbolic display went over well with the general public, here and abroad, but amounted to zero where the rubber meets the road.  President Clinton, with great fanfare, declared that the United States was guilty in not having acted to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Africans in tribal warfare.  Of course, neither the UN nor the United States did anything to stop the mass murders, but the liberal media swooned at Clinton’s public blubbering about compassion.  What a great guy! how empathetic can you be! not only the saxophone, but the African drum as well!

This is the much bruited “sensitivity” and “nuance” demanded by socialists like Senators Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, and Charles Schumer.

One of President Woodrow Wilson’s ill-advised Fourteen Points at the Paris conference ending World War I was opposition to secret diplomatic agreements.  He preferred open conferences at which the agendas were announced beforehand and all agreements and discussions publicly revealed afterwards.  His work product, the League of Nations, in practice, was an abject failure, all public display and no action.

So-called summit meetings were a product of World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill met on several occasions to confer on strategic war objectives. This cooperative approach went big-time after the war with the San Francisco conference that produced the ill begot United Nations.

After World War II, President Eisenhower wisely shied away from summit meetings with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.  Such meetings were reduced to publicity stunts that had little to do with conducting foreign affairs.  In a celebrated instance, Khrushchev publicly embarrassed President Eisenhower by announcing that an American U-2 spy plane had been shot down and that American pilot Gary Powers was being held for public trial as a spy.  Shortly after his election, President John F. Kennedy was cowed by a belligerent Khrushchev at a Vienna summit meeting.  This PR coup led Premier Khrushchev to believe that he could get away with basing long-range, nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba to blackmail the United States.

Public diplomacy, in the full glare of the world news media, is another example of the pernicious effect of public opinion, which is generally uninformed, therefore wrong, on foreign policy.  When the European mobs and anti-American students and liberal-socialist agitators here were clamoring against American military action in Iraq, they were ignorantly unaware that France opposed the Iraq invasion because it vitiated France’s contracts to develop Iraqui oil fields, cut off large-scale illegal weapons sales to Iraq, and stopped multi-million dollar, under-the-table payments to French companies and government officials in the blood-money-for-oil scandal administered by Kofi “Coverup” Annan.

The fact is that, when political leaders take public diplomatic stands, playing to their voting constituencies, opposing political leaders are compelled to respond with public pronouncements to satisfy the opinions of their voters, made ignorant by the liberal media.  Diplomacy has far better odds of success when negotiations are kept secret, and negotiators can openly discuss their real points of disagreement or mutual interest.

Teachers’ Unions and Speech Police Are Poisoning Our Future

Emphasis on PC in education leaves the United States unprepared to compete and to defend itself in the 21st century.

One catastrophic result of the swing in education toward anti-American liberal-socialism is dumbing-down students.  Teachers’ unions and far too many parents have rejected the idea that hard work and discipline, aimed at mastery of subject matter, should be at the core of public education.  They speak glibly about wanting children to “learn to think,” and not to pass tests. 

The implicit theory is that one can not think if he has facts at his command, that thinking is a process of undisciplined free-association.  From this we get Ebonics as a language, the idea that correct answers to math problems are unimportant, that sentence structure and correct use of words don’t really matter, that social justice and environmental concerns, along with other paganisms, are the proper ground of education.  Unearned and undeserved self-esteem become the objective of liberal-socialist educational theory.

Unfortunately, the United States is going to learn the hard way over coming decades that our students’ self-esteem counts for nothing in global competition, commercially or militarily.  In the real world, only truth (which includes morality) and competence count.

Hillsdale College’s website carries the lead article from its monthly publication Imprimis,  K-12 Establishment is Putting America’s Industrial Leadership at Risk, the text of a recent speech.

In his address at the college, Robert J. Herbold, a member of the President?s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, presented alarming specifics about the issue of American education’s failure to graduate students competent in math and the hard sciences:

“There are some very worrisome trends in the United States with respect to our global share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics expertise. Our share of this expertise is decreasing significantly, both at the bachelor?s and at the Ph.D. levels….among 24-year-olds in the year 2001 who had a B.S. or B.A. degree, only five percent in the U.S. were engineers, compared to 39 percent in China and 19 percent or more in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. If you look at the actual number of engineers, Figure 1 shows that China is producing three times more than the United States. Figure 2 shows that the U.S. again comes out very low ? even compared to European countries in terms of the percentage of bachelor?s degrees awarded in the fields of engineering and science…...

“Another disturbing trend is in the numbers of individuals receiving a Ph.D. in physical science and engineering. In 1987, 4,700 U.S. citizens received these degrees, compared to 5,600 Asians. In 2001, the U.S. figure had dropped slightly to 4,400 and the number of Asians had risen to 24,900. That is a dramatic shift. We should also note that the percentage of Asians getting science and engineering Ph.D.s at U.S. universities is declining. Indeed, 25 percent fewer Asians got such degrees at U.S. universities in 2001 than in 1996.

“This data relating to physical science and engineering Ph.D.s was assembled by Professor R.E. Smalley, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist from Rice University. His disturbing conclusion: ?By 2010, 90 percent of all Ph.D. physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asian living in Asia.?

“Why are these figures important? Traditionally, it has been our technical human talent that has driven our industrial success. Basic science, technology, engineering and mathematics knowledge is vitally important in the business world. For perspective, over 50 percent of the CEOs of our Fortune 100 companies come from a technical background. In addition, physical science and engineering capabilities at the Ph.D. level typically drive the kind of highly prized innovations that lead to the emergence of new industries. With expertise in these fields declining in the U.S. while rising in other parts of the world, we risk seeing our industrial leadership weaken.

“One of the main reasons why U.S. production of science and engineering talent in universities is low in comparison to other countries is that U.S. K-12 math and science skill levels are quite weak.”

Some of the same concerns were explored earlier in Education vs Outsourcing

Followup - Education vs Outsourcing

and Liberal-socialist Micromanagement vs Science.

Posted by Thomas E. Brewton on 02/19 at 01:34 AM
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Friday, February 18, 2005

The Treasury Can Keep Its Hat On

Until Europe and Japan get their economic houses in order, the United States Treasury doesn’t need to bow and scrape, hat-in-hand, to sell its notes and bonds.

In New York Times Editorialists Wrong As Usual, the argument was made that:

“SECOND, let?s examine the editorial?s assertion, ?Each day, the United States must borrow billions of dollars from abroad to finance its enormous budget and trade deficits. Without a steady stream of huge loans, the country would face rising interest rates, higher inflation, a dropping dollar and slower economic growth.?

“As noted above, there is no correlation between interest rates and inflation, on the one hand, and budget and trade deficits.

“More importantly, the United States does not each day ?borrow billions of dollars from abroad to finance its enormous budget and trade deficits.?  Nobody compels foreign central banks to hold dollars as their main reserve currency.? Why do they hold dollars?? First, because no other currency, including the Euro, is strong enough and available in large enough amounts to handle the volume of dollars flowing each day in international money markets.? Second, the United States has the highest credit rating and the lowest political risks in the world.? Third, our economy is, with the exception of China?s, the strongest in the world.? Our economic growth rate is almost twice that of Europe or Japan.? Other nations, not being able to grow at home, have to export to the United States to avoid economic recession.

“The total of budget and trade deficits is slightly over a trillion dollars.? Of that, more than 60 percent, $618 billion, is the trade deficit.? The Times leads you to believe that the Treasury sends somebody overseas, hat in hand, to borrow money.? What actually happens is that foreign countries export goods and services to the United States and are paid $618 billion.? If they decide not to accept payment in dollars, they can?t export to the United States.? Even France and Germany aren?t stupid enough to stop exporting to the U.S.? They aren?t lending money to the United States, they are financing their own exports.”

Today’s Wall Street Journal in Long-Term Rates Have a Logic, Even if Fed Appears Confused notes the following:

“But for many investors, the historically low level of long-term interest rates around the world stems from a host of real factors supporting prices, even with six Fed rate increases since last June.

“Chief among them is the desire for yield in what remains an environment of low global returns, a search that is being juiced by pension reforms. Against a backdrop of quiescent global inflation, owning a 10-year Treasury note yielding 4.18% or a 3.56% German bund let alone a 1.41% Japanese government bond isn’t perilous.

“Only when inflation is back on the radar screens will long-term fixed-rate bonds become a poor investment as investors inject a greater risk premium into their yields. Such is the demand for long-dated debt, even at current low yield levels, that France is expected to announce today whether it will issue a 50-year bond.

“From a fundamental perspective, long-dated global bond yields also seem close to fair value. Japan is revisiting recession status, and the euro zone is limping along, with a strong currency relative to the dollar, effectively amounting to tighter monetary policy. The recent performance of the U.S. economy has delivered reasonable growth marked by tepid job creation, which in turn has reinforced low inflation expectations.”

Posted by Thomas E. Brewton on 02/18 at 10:18 PM
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