The moral dry-rot of the Left

From Thomas Sowell:

The proposed mosque near where the World Trade Center was attacked and destroyed, along with thousands of American lives, would be a 15-story middle finger to America.

It takes a high IQ to evade the obvious, so it is not surprising that the intelligentsia are out in force, decrying those who criticize this calculated insult.

What may surprise some people is that the American taxpayer is currently financing a trip to the Middle East by the imam who is pushing this project, so that he can raise the money to build it. The State Department is subsidizing his travel.

The big talking point is that this is an issue about “religious freedom” and that Muslims have a “right” to build a mosque where they choose. But those who oppose this project are not claiming that there is no legal right to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.

If anybody did, it would be a matter for the courts to decide — and they would undoubtedly say that it is not illegal to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center attack.

The intelligentsia and others who are wrapping themselves in the Constitution are fighting a phony war against a straw man. Why create a false issue, except to evade the real issue?

Our betters are telling us that we need to be more “tolerant” and more “sensitive” to the feelings of Muslims. But if we are supposed to be sensitive to Muslims, why are Muslims not supposed to be sensitive to the feelings of millions of Americans, for whom 9/11 was the biggest national trauma since Pearl Harbor?

It would not be illegal for Japanese Americans to build a massive shinto shrine next to Pearl Harbor. But, in all these years, they have never sought to do it.

When Catholic authorities in Poland were planning to build an institution for nuns, years ago, and someone pointed out that it would be near the site of a concentration camp that carried out genocide, the Pope intervened to stop it.

He didn’t say that the Catholic Church had a legal right to build there, as it undoubtedly did. Instead, he respected the painful feelings of other people. And he certainly did not denounce those who called attention to the concentration camp.

There is no question that Muslims have a right to build a mosque where they chose to. The real question is why they chose that particular location, in a country that covers more than 3 million square miles.

If we all did everything that we have a legal right to do, we could not even survive as individuals, much less as a society. So the question is whether those who are planning a Ground Zero mosque want to be part of American society or just to see how much they can get away with in American society?

Can anyone in his right mind believe that this was intended to show solidarity with Americans, rather than solidarity with those who attacked America? Does anyone imagine that the Middle East nations, including Iran, from whom financial contributions will be solicited, want to promote reconciliation between Americans and Muslims?

That the President of the United States has joined the chorus of those calling the Ground Zero mosque a religious freedom issue tells us a lot about the moral dry rot that is undermining this country from within.

In this, as in other things, Barack Obama is not so much the cause of our decline but the culmination of it. He had many predecessors and many contemporaries who represent the same mindset and the same malaise.

There are people for whom moral preening has become a way of life. They are out in force denouncing critics of the Ground Zero mosque.
There are others for whom a citizen of the world affectation puts them one-up on those of us who are grateful to be Americans, and to enjoy a freedom that is all too rare in other countries around the world, even at this late date in human history.

They think the United States is somehow on trial, and needs to prove itself to others by bending over backwards. But bending over backwards does not win friends. It loses respect, including self-respect.

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The vision of the anointed

Explained flawlessly by Dr. Krauthammer:

Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed. Just yesterday it was all hope and change and returning power to the people. But the people have proved so disappointing. Their recalcitrance has, in only 19 months, turned the predicted 40-year liberal ascendancy (James Carville) into a full retreat. Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the “bitter” people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging “to guns or religion or” — this part is less remembered — “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”

That’s a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

● Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness, and debt, as represented by the tea-party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

● Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

● Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

● Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Now we know why the country has become “ungovernable,” last year’s excuse for the Democrats’ failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?

Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities — often lopsided majorities — oppose President Obama’s social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage, and reject a Ground Zero mosque.

What’s a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument. The most venerable of these trumps is, of course, the race card. When the tea party arose, a spontaneous, leaderless, and perfectly natural (and traditionally American) reaction to the vast expansion of government intrinsic to the president’s proudly proclaimed transformational agenda, the liberal commentariat cast it as a mob of angry white yahoos disguising their antipathy to a black president by cleverly speaking in economic terms.

Then came Arizona and SB 1070. It seems impossible for the Left to believe that people of good will could hold that: (a) Illegal immigration should be illegal; (b) the federal government should not hold border enforcement hostage to comprehensive reform, i.e., amnesty; and (c) every country has the right to determine the composition of its immigrant population.

As for Proposition 8, is it so hard to see why people might believe that a single judge overturning the will of 7 million voters is an affront to democracy? And that seeing merit in retaining the structure of the most ancient and fundamental of all social institutions is something other than an alleged hatred of gays — particularly since the opposite-gender requirement has characterized virtually every society in all the millennia until just a few years ago?

And now the Ground Zero mosque. The intelligentsia is near unanimous that the only possible ground for opposition is bigotry toward Muslims. This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence of a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam, a proposition that dovetails perfectly with the Obama administration’s pretense that we are at war with nothing more than “violent extremists” of inscrutable motive and indiscernible belief. Those who reject this as both ridiculous and politically correct (an admitted redundancy) are declared Islamophobes, the ad hominem du jour.

It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms). Indeed, how can one reason with a nation of pitchfork-wielding mobs brimming with “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them” — blacks, Hispanics, gays, and Muslims — a nation that is, as Michelle Obama once put it succinctly, “just downright mean”?

The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama overread his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.

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Bureaucratese

Dr. Daniels writes, and observes, like no other:

No crisis should ever be allowed to slip by without calls for greater public expenditure of doubtful worth, and the Gulf oil spill crisis is no exception to this golden rule of bureaucratic opportunism.

In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine for 11 August, titled “Moving Mental Health into the Disaster-Preparedness Spotlight [1],” Drs Yun, Lurie and Hughes (the latter a lawyer, it seems) write:

Surveillance systems for mental health and substance abuse must be strengthened through broader intellectual investment in a conceptual framework and technical requirements.

Long experience of bureaucracies has taught me to mistrust language such as this. There is a lot of connotation in it without much denotation: intellectual investments, conceptual frameworks and technical requirements escape from verbiage generators like oil from defective wells, and end up being even more expensive. Personally I am not sure that technical investments, intellectual frameworks and conceptual requirements would not be at least as good, if not better.

Fortunately for modern bureaucracies, connotation — compassion, caring and the like — is a more powerful generator of funds than (say) likelihood of success. The authors say:

Early action to help with the disaster’s emotional impact may decrease long-term behavioral health problems.

On the other hand, it may not, especially as the long-term behavioral health problems (assuming that behavioral health is itself a defensible concept) are themselves only tentatively known: they may be this, according to the writers of the editorial, or that may be that.

They insinuate ideas like any good advertising copywriter. They talk of “psychological first aid,” for example. What is psychological first aid? Bandages for damaged thoughts, for example? A list leaves us little the wiser. It:

… addresses emotional distress, builds coping skills, connects people with support services, and promotes a return to normal routines.

What is it exactly, to address emotional distress? Emotional distress, I conjure thee to depart this body? It sounds to me either like witchcraft or a kind of wallowing in other people’s dismay.

The authors are keen on building. They want to build coping skills, as I built model cranes with engineering sets when I was a little boy. Another thing they want to build is community resilience. One might have supposed that resilience isn’t the kind of thing that is built. I think it is time a sense of humor, or at least of the ridiculous, was built.

Then there is our old friend cultural sensitivity. It seems that the Vietnamese refugees on the Gulf Coast do not have any counselors. They didn’t have many in Vietnam either, where they suffered things a thousand times worse than the oil disaster, but nevertheless seem to have thrived wherever they have been allowed to build a new life for themselves (to use for a moment the authors’ intellectual framework — or is it their technical requirement?).

Here I could not help but be reminded of a patient of mine who said he suffered terrible whiplash and a severe loss of confidence after a car went into his rear at about five miles an hour. He was too frightened now, and in too great pain, ever to leave the house.

As it happens he was Syrian by origin. “What did you do there in Syria?” I asked. “I was in the army,” he replied. “Any particular branch?” I asked.

In short he was a torturer. Unfortunately he fell foul of his senior officers and ended up at the receiving end of his former activities. But it was the impact of the car behind him at five miles an hour that really ruined his life and turned him into a living wreck.

Oh compensation, what crimes are committed in thy name!

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Point of no return

From Thomas Sowell:

How did we get to the point where many people feel that the America they have known is being replaced by a very different kind of country, with not only different kinds of policies but also very different values and ways of governing?

Something of this magnitude does not happen all at once or in just one administration in Washington. What we are seeing is the culmination of many trends in many aspects of American life that go back for years.

Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the institutions set up by the Constitution are enough to ensure the continuance of a free, self-governing nation. When Benjamin Franklin was asked what members of the Constitutional Convention were creating, he replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

In other words, a constitutional government does not depend on the Constitution but on us. To the extent that we allow clever people to circumvent the Constitution while dazzling us with rhetoric, the Constitution becomes just a meaningless piece of paper as our freedoms are stolen from us, much as a pick-pocket might steal our wallet while we were distracted by other things.

It is not just evil people who would dismantle America. Many people who have no desire to destroy our freedoms simply have agendas of their own that are singly or collectively incompatible with the survival of freedom.

Someone once said that a democratic society cannot survive for long after 51 percent of the people decide that they want to live off the other 49 percent. Yet that is the direction in which we are being pushed by those who are promoting envy under its more high-toned alias, “social justice.”

Those who construct moral melodramas — starring themselves on the side of the angels against the forces of evil — are ready to disregard the constitutional rights of those they demonize, and to overstep the limits that the Constitution puts on the powers of the federal government.

The outcries of protest in the media, in academia, and in politics when the Supreme Court ruled this year that people in corporations have the same free-speech rights as other Americans were a painful reminder of how vulnerable even the most basic rights are to the attacks of ideological zealots. Pres. Barack Obama said that the Court’s decision would “open the floodgates for special interests” — as if all you have to do to take away people’s free-speech rights is call them special interests.

It is not just particular segments of the population that are under attack. More fundamentally under attack are the very principles and values of American society as a whole. The history of this country is taught in many schools and colleges as the history of grievances and victimhood, often with the mantra of “race, class, and gender.” Television and the movies often do the same.

When there are not enough current grievances for them, they mine the past for grievances and call it history. Sins and shortcomings common to the human race around the world are spoken of as failures of “our society.” But American achievements get far less attention — and sometimes none at all.

Our “educators,” who cannot educate our children to the level of math or science achieved in most other comparable countries, have time to poison their minds against America.

Why? Partly, if not mostly, it is because that is the vogue. It shows you are “with it” when you reject your own country and exalt other countries.

Abraham Lincoln warned of people whose ambitions can only be fulfilled by dismantling the institutions of this country because no comparable renown is available to them by supporting those institutions. He said this 25 years before the Gettysburg Address, and he was speaking of political leaders with hubris, whom he regarded as a greater danger than enemy nations. But such hubris is far more widespread today than just among political leaders.

Those with such hubris — in the media and in education, as well as in politics — have for years eroded both respect for the country and the social cohesion of its people. This erosion is what has set the stage for today’s dismantling of America, which is now approaching the point of no return.

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The 9th upholds Proposition 8

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tells Judge Vaughn R. Walker that, at least until December, he cannot play philosopher king:

A federal appeals court put same-sex weddings in California on hold indefinitely Monday while it considers the constitutionality of the state’s gay marriage ban.

The decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, trumps a lower court judge’s order that would have allowed county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday.

Lawyers for the two gay couples that challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel’s decision on the stay to the Supreme Court.

In its two-page order granting the stay, the 9th Circuit agreed to expedite its consideration of the Proposition 8 case. The court plans to hear the case during the week of Dec. 6 after moving up deadlines for both sides to file their written arguments by Nov. 1.

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Proposition 8:

Section I. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”
Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution. to read:
Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

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Hallowed ground

From Charles Krauthammer:

A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).

When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there — and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.

That’s why Disney’s 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War (and that was wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place; it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

[...]

Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history — perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.

Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi — yet despite contemporary Germany’s innocence, no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.

Which makes you wonder about the goodwill behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, “I’m not a politician. . . . The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.”

America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero.

Build it anywhere but there.

The governor of New York offered to help find land to build the mosque elsewhere. A mosque really seeking to build bridges, Rauf’s ostensible hope for the structure, would accept the offer.

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James Caan bursts from the political closet

Nice to have him on our side.

From Fox News:

Veteran actor James Caan let people in on a little secret last week. After 46 successful years among Hollywood’s most outspoken liberal stars, he’s speaking up about breaking the mold.

“I’m an ultra conservative,” he said at Moet & Chandon’s 6th Annual Hollyshorts Film Festival Opening Night Celebration in Los Angeles.

“I’m not a G** damn Hollywood liberal, I’m not,” he said, adding he only watches Fox News.

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HT: Moonbattery

Bigots

big•ot•ed
adjective
obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions

— New Oxford American Dictionary

Based on this definition, it seems that the vast majority of bigots in this country are on the Left — bigoted toward those not on the Left.

From VDH:

Anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-black — it is hard to keep track of all the recent charges of alleged bigotry.

State representatives in Arizona overwhelmingly passed an immigration law to popular acclaim — which the Obama administration for now has successfully blocked in federal court. Arizonans simply wanted the federal government to enforce its own laws. And yet they were quickly dubbed bigots and racists — more worried about profiling Hispanics than curtailing illegal immigration.

In California, a federal judge has just overturned Proposition 8 ensuring traditional marriage. Voters in November 2008 had amended the California constitution to recognize marriage only between a man and woman, while allowing civil unions between partners of the same sex.

Californians took that step in response to the state Supreme Court’s voiding of Proposition 22, a similar referendum on traditional marriage that California voters passed in 2000. Apparently, a stubborn majority of Californians still sees traditional marriage as it has been followed in some 2,500 years of Western custom and practice. In contrast, gay groups have framed the issue as one of civil rights, often charging prejudice on the part of their opponents.

Another controversy is brewing a mere 600 feet from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, site of the 9/11 attacks, where a Muslim group wishes to build a $100 million, 13-story mosque. Opponents feel this is hardly a way to build bridges across religious divides, but instead a provocative act that tarnishes the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists.

New York state residents poll in opposition to the project. Their unease reflects legitimate questions over the nature of the foreign funding for the project, and the disturbing writings and statements of the chief proponent of the plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf. They also worry that radical Islamists will use the mosque’s construction (it will probably rise before the World Trade Center complex is rebuilt) as a propaganda tool.

In response, once again the majority has been dubbed bigoted and prejudiced, this time against Muslims for asking for a more appropriate location, farther away from Ground Zero.

[...]

We live in a complex, multiracial and religiously diverse society. A majority of black voters in California opposed gay marriage. Most Muslims probably concurred. Some 70 percent of Americans expressed support for the Arizona law, an overwhelming figure that would have to include some Asians, blacks and Hispanics. White and Hispanic congressional officials have faced ethics charges, often more serous than those leveled against Rangel and Waters.

In other words, there is no simple ideological, racial or religious divide between a monolithic “us” and “them.” Instead, we have devolved to the point where promiscuously crying “Bigot!” and “Racist!” signals a failure to persuade 51 percent of the people of the merits of an argument.

It is too often that simple — and that sad.

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The Democrats’ unmistakable message

From Michael P. Fleischer:

With unemployment just under 10% and companies sitting on their cash, you would think that sooner or later job growth would take off. I think it’s going to be later—much later. Here’s why.

Meet Sally (not her real name; details changed to preserve privacy). Sally is a terrific employee, and she happens to be the median person in terms of base pay among the 83 people at my little company in New Jersey, where we provide audio systems for use in educational, commercial and industrial settings. She’s been with us for over 15 years. She’s a high school graduate with some specialized training. She makes $59,000 a year—on paper. In reality, she makes only $44,000 a year because $15,000 is taken from her thanks to various deductions and taxes, all of which form the steep, sad slope between gross and net pay.

Before that money hits her bank, it is reduced by the $2,376 she pays as her share of the medical and dental insurance that my company provides. And then the government takes its due. She pays $126 for state unemployment insurance, $149 for disability insurance and $856 for Medicare. That’s the small stuff. New Jersey takes $1,893 in income taxes. The federal government gets $3,661 for Social Security and another $6,250 for income tax withholding. The roughly $13,000 taken from her by various government entities means that some 22% of her gross pay goes to Washington or Trenton. She’s lucky she doesn’t live in New York City, where the toll would be even higher.

Employing Sally costs plenty too. My company has to write checks for $74,000 so Sally can receive her nominal $59,000 in base pay. Health insurance is a big, added cost: While Sally pays nearly $2,400 for coverage, my company pays the rest—$9,561 for employee/spouse medical and dental. We also provide company-paid life and other insurance premiums amounting to $153. Altogether, company-paid benefits add $9,714 to the cost of employing Sally.

Then the federal and state governments want a little something extra. They take $56 for federal unemployment coverage, $149 for disability insurance, $300 for workers’ comp and $505 for state unemployment insurance. Finally, the feds make me pay $856 for Sally’s Medicare and $3,661 for her Social Security.

When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally’s pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits. Bottom line: Governments impose a 33% surtax on Sally’s job each year.

Employing Sally costs plenty too. My company has to write checks for $74,000 so Sally can receive her nominal $59,000 in base pay. Health insurance is a big, added cost: While Sally pays nearly $2,400 for coverage, my company pays the rest—$9,561 for employee/spouse medical and dental. We also provide company-paid life and other insurance premiums amounting to $153. Altogether, company-paid benefits add $9,714 to the cost of employing Sally.

Then the federal and state governments want a little something extra. They take $56 for federal unemployment coverage, $149 for disability insurance, $300 for workers’ comp and $505 for state unemployment insurance. Finally, the feds make me pay $856 for Sally’s Medicare and $3,661 for her Social Security.

When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally’s pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits. Bottom line: Governments impose a 33% surtax on Sally’s job each year.

[...]

To offset tax increases and steepening rises in health-insurance premiums, my company needs sustainably higher profits and sales—something unlikely in this “summer of recovery.” We can’t pass the additional costs onto our customers, because the market is too tight and we’d lose sales. Only governments can raise prices repeatedly and pretend there will be no consequences.

And even if the economic outlook were more encouraging, increasing revenues is always uncertain and expensive. As much as I might want to hire new salespeople, engineers and marketing staff in an effort to grow, I would be increasing my company’s vulnerability to government decisions to raise taxes, to policies that make health insurance more expensive, and to the difficulties of this economic environment.

A life in business is filled with uncertainties, but I can be quite sure that every time I hire someone my obligations to the government go up. From where I sit, the government’s message is unmistakable: Creating a new job carries a punishing price.

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