:: Saturday, May 30, 2009 ::
A Doomsayers Postscript
Posted by Edward Cline at 10:30 AM
This is in reply to some readers of “The Doomsayers.”
IMH: Yes, “global-cooling” was the sky-is-falling mania back in the 1970’s and I guess the mid-1980’s, before the alarmists discovered that no one was listening or buying it; so they switched to “global-warming” and ramped up their propaganda efforts, using the same but tweaked gossamer computer data. Which is why I wrote “a little over a decade ago.” It seems like a century ago, given the current level of thinking (or non-thinking). I don’t wonder about the root motivation of climate alarmists, either, which must be the same species of man-hatred as that of Waxman, Obama and company.
Michael Smith: Thanks for the CEI (Competitive Enterprise Institute?) run-down on the House committee votes. Yes, I agree that Waxman’s and his ilk’s purpose, through their bill, is to compel Americans to commit economic suicide and reduce the survivors to rags and handouts from the government. They know that this would be the sole consequence, not as objective knowledge, but as the same kind of feral knowledge that Floyd Ferris exhibited in Atlas Shrugged. (They are practiced evaders of objective knowledge and of reality.) The worst thing anyone could do is what the Republicans did when they proposed the amendments to Waxman’s climate bill (which were predictably defeated), which was to assume that Waxman and his ilk have the best interests of the country at heart; thus the futility of proposing amendments to a piece of legislation they ought to know was authored by killers; all their amendments would have accomplished, had they been adopted, was to soften the blow and prolong the death-throes of this country.
Waxman and his ilk are not “misguided idealists.” They are killers posing as “public servants” in service to the “ideal” of non-existence. They know what they are doing. The Republicans and conservatives do not know what they are doing, because they are obsessed with concrete issues (such as vote-rigging, which I‘m certain Obama is guilty of through ACORN and George Soros and the Democratic National Committee), or God, or “traditional” values, or all three irrelevancies and so miss the whole point of such legislation. There is no one in either the House or Senate who understands the evil and who can call Waxman out on his malignancy and ulterior agenda. Or Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, et al.
And, we mustn’t forget the role that George Bush played in this on-going tragedy. John Lewis commented with his usual clarity on Bush’s responsibility for it on the Oactivists blog. Obama is simply his anxious, in-a-hurry successor to the very same policies that Bush initiated and endorsed for eight years. (Some years ago on Rule of Reason I called Bush a socialist.) Even some Democrats are noticing the similarities between Bush‘s rhetoric and actions and Obama‘s. If Obama had been president on 9/11, he would have committed the same treason as Bush’s, which was to not eradicate states that sponsor terrorism or ask Congress for a declaration of war against them, but to evade knowledge of the evil of our enemies, and commit American lives and treasure to a no-win “police” action against the Muslim “bad guys” and those who attacked this country.
Observe Obama‘s “patriotic” commitment of more troops to Afghanistan; do you really think he wants to defeat the Taliban, or is it to expend and sacrifice our military vitality and resources? I have never believed that his words and actions stem from ignorance or un-intelligence. He is a valueless man who seeks to destroy values. I curse every time I hear him “honor” our soldiers, and wish I could tell him he has no right to lay wreathes on their tombs or set foot on any American battlefield or even to visit Normandy. If any of the Marines or Secret Service assigned to his protection had an ounce of moral certitude, they should quit, rather than guard the life of this anti-American, anti-life president.
Note that Obama, like Bush, constantly harps on the necessity of “sacrifice,” not only of American civilians, but of our troops. Is or is not that the same code of altruism? What matters the Republican or Democratic label? And now that the United Nations and the European Union have taken Obama’s measure, they have become even more obviously our “drooling beasts.” They know he is one of them.
Note also that Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and other wealthy apologists for their wealth, and many other Obama supporters, as well, haven’t said much lately, because Obama and Congress have marked them for poverty, too. As far as Obama and other socialists are concerned, their past philanthropy won’t be enough to admit them to Marxist heaven; they must give and give and give until it really hurts. If I weren’t going to be affected by Obama’s “spread the wealth around” plans, I would say that is perfect justice for having supported the irrational from either conviction or from pragmatism and got this creature elected.
Jim Douthit’s analogy of Osama bin Laden as president who enacts policies designed to destroy this country is a brilliant piece of thinking (forwarded to me after I posted “The Doomsayers“) that ought to be sent to every member of Congress, and to the White House, as well, if only to put them all on notice that men of reason know what they’re up to (which may or may not stall them, probably not). So, we have every right, every justification, every piece of evidence, to dub Barack “Obama bin Laden.”
If bin Laden’s purpose on 9/11 was to plunge the country into economic and political chaos as a prelude to its downfall and takeover by an Islam-friendly dictator -- one who is also friendly with other America-haters, such as Hugo Chavez and the Saudis, to name a few -- Obama is accomplishing that very same purpose; but Bush, as John Lewis emphasized, was there first. Waxman and his ilk have been and continue to be only their accessories to the crime-in-progress.
13 Comments ::
:: Thursday, May 28, 2009 ::
Posted by Edward Cline at 1:16 PM
President Barack Obama has implied more than once that the current system of “capitalism“ is doomed in the face of his intended “reorganization“ of American society -- oblivious to the fact that full-scale, unregulated capitalism has never existed in this country or anywhere else in the world. “Capitalism” was blamed for the financial debacle of last fall; spokesmen for government policies and the news media deftly shifted the blame for it from those policies to the private sector with the swiftness of a card sharp.
Watching these spokesmen and the news media discuss the crisis, one has the unique experience of watching men identify the causes -- such as the government extorting the cooperation of banks and other loan institutions to accept bad loans tied to discounted mortgage obligations, or bribing them with the carrot of federal guarantees, yet refuse to acknowledge the fact that it was, and continues to be, government interference that is the root of the problem -- and then call for more of the same or greater intervention as a solution.
This is not evidence of stupidity. The phenomenon is a demonstration of evasion of the facts of reality, a decision to disconnect from reason, and an overriding urge to make reality conform to an ulterior agenda, an urge driven by a hatred of freedom, prosperity, and man.
It is the same policy of craven evasion and dishonesty that accounts for the phenomenon of little over a decade ago, when climate alarmists, moved by a panic and “concern” that seemed like scientific certainty, disseminated computer models that predicted catastrophic, man-caused global cooling that would cause falling sea levels, galloping glaciers crushing everything in their path, mass extinctions of animal species, a “nuclear winter," and the deaths of millions. Those predictions had the substance of gossamer, because none of those things occurred.
Now, when the average “global” temperature has fallen by one or a fraction of a degree, indicating -- but not predicting -- a cooling trend, the same alarmists are predicting catastrophic, man-caused global warming leading to melting icecaps, rising sea levels, retreating glaciers, mass extinctions of animal species, a “greenhouse summer“ of indefinite length, and the deaths of millions. (Hollywood, always loyal to fantasy and fallacy, did its bit to propagate apocalyptic doom with disaster movies such as “Soylent Green” and “The Day After Tomorrow.“) The evidence is that these predictions likewise are not coming to pass, and have also been proven to be made of gossamer. Politicians and anti-industrial groups resist or ignore the scientific evidence. The facts do not fit their wishes or their agenda.
Such mental stonewalling underscores the religious character of the global warming movement, a character reminiscent of the heyday of the Catholic Church (or, today, of Islam) when it had the power to punish those of little or no faith. Anyone who questions the “proofs” and pseudo-science of the creed is branded a skeptic, a heretic, or an unbeliever, is granted few or no chances of rebuttal, and is punished in a multitude of ways, such as professional ostracism or excommunication.
As reported in an earlier commentary, British scientist Lord Christopher Monckton was disinvited by Henry Waxman and his House energy and commerce committee to testify with former vice president Al “the debate is closed” Gore, lest Monckton’s testimony embarrass Gore and burn their ears and incinerate their premises. While the truth will free many men, it can deflate liars, charlatans, and politicians. Truth is a prison that will not allow them to fantasize and enact an alternative universe. They hate the truth-sayers as much as they hate the truth.
But, Obama and Gore are not the only doomsayers. There are others.
On May 23 the Townhall site published one of its very few articles that did not parenthetically sabotage its reasoning and allegiance to truth by citing, faith, God or religion, “Climate Change ‘morality,'” by Paul Driessen, an apostate from the Sierra Club and Zero Population Growth and a prolific champion of free enterprise and the truth. Not a wrinkle of mysticism taints it. His article excoriates the whole premise of anthropogenic global warming and in addition cites the projected catastrophic costs of the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which, if ever enacted and enforced, would guarantee this country’s economic collapse and the impoverishment of Americans who would be expected to shut up and put up.
“Global average temperatures stabilized in 1998 and have even cooled slightly, despite steadily rising CO2 levels. [Which can be attributed to what? An increasing world population that exhales CO2? The effects on the atmosphere of the emission of industrial “greenhouse“ gases cannot even be measured. A single volcanic eruption spews more “pollutants“ into the air than the total emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.] Except in its Western Peninsula, Antarctica is gaining ice. Arctic ice is seasonably normal. Land-based temperature data have been corrupted by air-conditioner exhausts and other heat sources.”
As for the computer models on which extortionate and confiscatory environmentalist legislation is based, Driessen notes that:
“Climate models are no more reliable than computer predictions of future Super Bowl winners and scores. Their Frankenstein scenarios are no more valid as a basis for law and policy than the special effects in The Day After Tomorrow or Jurassic Park.”
Driessen cites several studies that project costs to the economy and to taxpayers that rocket up to the billions and accomplish little or nothing except the redirection of industry to produce “green” energy sources such as thousands of wind turbines and hundreds of square miles of solar panels, aside from adding thousands of dollars to the average taxpayer’s cost of living. These projections have been made by the Congressional Budget Office, the Heritage Foundation, Harvard economists, and independent think tanks not suborned by federal study grants. The only catch, however -- although Driessen does not raise the issue, the logic must sit in the back of his mind -- is that these dire projections are based on the assumption that the economy and nation could survive such costs without plummeting us into civil strife, political and economic disintegration, and probable dictatorship.
“President Obama says the Bush administration ‘made decisions based upon fear, rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.’ He and his Democrat allies in Congress should take that critique to heart on global warming.”
Obama, Waxman, and their global warming card sharps are, in short, pots calling the kettle black.
Driessen ends his article with:
“As it stands, this Congress is rapidly shaping up to be the most unethical, immoral and dictatorial in history. When the people finally rebel, it won’t be a pretty sight.”
Driessen, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death (2003), also wrote another interesting article for The National Free Press, “Back To The ‘Good Old Days’” (May 1), in which he projects a regression in living standards back to 1905 or 1862. In 1905,
“Coal and wood heated homes. Few had telephones or electricity. AC units were handheld fans. Ice blocks cooled ice boxes. New York City collected 900,000 tons of vehicle emissions -- horse manure -- annually, and dumped it into local rivers. Lung and intestinal diseases were rampant. Life expectancy was 47.”
The facts Driessen cites for 1862 are even more horrendous. These facts are readily accessible to Obama, Waxman, Congress and anyone else who might value the truth. Yet facts and truth play no role in their decisions.
“None of this seems to matter to the Obama administration or liberal Democrats. The 648-page Waxman-Markey climate bill would compel an 80% CO2 reduction, by imposing punitive cap-and-tax restrictions on virtually every hydrocarbon-using business, motorist and family.”
Later on in his hard-hitting article, Driessen notes that the alarmists’ computer models
“…cannot accurately replicate last year’s regional climate shifts or predict changes even one year in the future. They ignore Earth’s history of repeated climate changes and failed to anticipate the slowly declining global temperatures of 1995-2008.”
“Failed to anticipate” them, or deliberately discounted them, because they did not fit?
Driessen writes that
“President Obama says cap-and-trade will ‘raise’ $656 billion over the next decade. The National Economic Council and other analysts put the tax bite at $1.3 to $3.0 trillion.”
Presumably that does not take into account the hyper-inflated cost of living and of doing business. Again, the scenario is predicated on a functioning, productive economy and a civil society that could pay the tax, which is aside from the trillions of dollars in Medicare and Social Security entitlements and other programs to be funded also by a surviving but crippled private sector, not to mention the trillions spent on government pork barrel projects and government subsidies to maintain the “infrastructure.”
How can any rational person claim that the “computer model” of a regulated, nationalized, fascist economy has more credibility than any gossamer-woven climate forecast and which would last any measurable length of time? It is expecting that the hydraulic press of government force, fraud and deception can continue to squeeze blood from a rock and that the rock will not crack and explode under the pressure. The Tea Parties of March and April were cracks appearing in that rock.
No rational person would vouch for such a computer model. But career looters and enemies of freedom, such as Representative Henry Waxman of California, would. To him, men in the private sector are just so many serfs who will automatically keep creating wealth and values to tax and regulate for the government and its dependents to consume. And should the serfs realize that they have been indentured to a life of sacrifice, service and toil for the sake of the elderly, the lame and the halt, for the environment and what-not, and show signs of rebellion, Waxman and his ilk would prefer they not be able to do anything about it. During an interview on MSNBC in 2001, Waxman stated:
“If someone is so fearful that they’re going to start using their weapons to protect their rights, [it] makes me very nervous that these people have these weapons at all.”
Why would Americans protecting and asserting their rights make Waxman nervous? Does or does not the Second Amendment of the Constitution recognize that our government can become an enemy of the citizenry and that the citizenry had the right to form militias in self-defense? Did or did not the Founders mean that it was the federal and state governments that could become hostile to the citizenry?
Is he suggesting that his record in Congress, for example, in which he has voted for every proposed extension of federal power, and voted against every proposed limit on that power, has justifiably caused worry among the citizenry that the federal government is squeezing it dry, and that he, Henry Waxman, is in prominent, enabling and culpable company responsible for those encroachments? What doom does he wish to delay?
Just as climate alarmists ignore facts which do not fit into or which contradict their doomsday global warming scenarios, Waxman and his ilk ignore the facts stated in the Bill of Rights which do not fit into or which contradict their collectivist, and fundamentally man-hating vision of America.
Waxman’s offensively imperious and arrogant attitude is that of a privileged oligarch who believes he has first title to the lives, productive work and futures of Americans. Like Obama, like Nancy Pelosi, like Harry Reid, like the majority of Democrats and Republicans, he does not concede that Americans are the owners of their own lives. But his expression of fear is an invaluable clue to his deepest premises and outlook. One does not fear what one knows cannot harm or destroy one. That kind of man secretly fears retribution or justice, and so hates it and the prospect of it. He would prefer to dispense with the fear by emasculating the power of the citizenry to question and oppose him and his policies, so he can get on with further “public service.” Other men, after all, he believes, have mastered reality, and so they must be mastered in turn, necessarily with lies, whips, and government guns.
He would rather such rebellious Americans did not exist at all, so he could effortlessly lord it over a nation of selfless, obedient, dependent serfs, and thus postpone his own doom and that of the nation. He would hate the idea and fear the chance that Americans would say “no” to his power-grubbing, and so necessarily hate them. Ultimately, in the final analysis, he would rather they just shut up, or go away -- or die.
That is what Ayn Rand called the death premise. It is the core death-worshipping nature of such men which the Paul Driessens and other advocates of the paramount role of reason and facts in man’s existence must first grasp in order to understand why their arguments fall on so many deaf ears and have no effect on so many self-induced, comatose minds. It is the death premise that renders such minds in such men impervious to any presentation of reality and of the destructive consequences of their actions and policies.
Such men understand and know that if their wishes and fantasies cannot be “realized” in reality, then their chosen fate is to perish with those whom they have sentenced to certain death. When the champions of reason and man compel such men to face the nature of their hatred, as Driessen noted, that will not be a pretty sight, either.
But that will be a first step in freeing ourselves from them and their morality of death.
5 Comments ::
:: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 ::
Obama the “Empath”
Posted by Edward Cline at 9:39 AM
One of the most bizarre characters in the huge menagerie of odd creatures in the “Star Trek” corpus is Deanna Troi, counselor on the starship Enterprise in the “Next Generation” series. She is a half-alien “empath” and telepath who can not only “feel” what others are feeling, but read minds, as well. These talents saved Captain Picard and his ship and crew a number of times, and have also solved more mundane episodes of angst and dementia on the Enterprise. She was even able to “sense” the presence of another psychic on a hostile warship from thousands of miles away, somehow allowing the Enterprise to spot and target it for a photon hit. She was a combination séance medium and crystal ball reader.
Believe it or not, the Pentagon’s Darpa division is investigating the feasibility of employing telepathy on the battlefield; to date, the cost has reached $8 million. That is a measure of the state of the culture. It is no longer inconceivable that West Point and the Naval Academy will include tarot card reading and horoscopes in their war-fighting curricula.
Back in the real world, or what he perceives is the real world, President Barack Obama wants to investigate the feasibility of appointing an empath to the Supreme Court. That is, he would like to see someone, preferably from a “minority” (gender optional), team up with the other liberals on that bench to find more often in favor of those whose injured feelings and tort-worthy pain are a consequence of an unjust society governed by a code of laws that allegedly favors the rich and oppresses the poor. He wishes to install someone who, like him, regards empathy more important than facts or the sanctity of contracts or personal responsibility.
Empathy is included in the “traits he admires in a Supreme Court justice…intellect, integrity, respect for the Constitution and the law.” These attributes, however, are just semantic eye-candy spoken by a man who does not embody either intellect or integrity, and who has shown no evidence, given his actions during his first one hundred days in office, that he respects the Constitution or the law. In the real world, in practice, “empathy” in a person would contradict and negate any intellect, integrity and respect for the Constitution and the law he might have, provided he even developed them.
“Obama, preparing to nominate a successor to Justice David H. Souter, has often said that the best judges take note of the real world. By making empathy a core qualification, he is uniting his own eclectic experience as a community organizer and constitutional-law professor while demanding what he has called ‘a broader vision of what America should be.’”
“Six months after he was elected on a promise to change the country’s direction, Obama will be the first Democrat since 1994 to name a new justice. His choice will be informed by his conviction that the United States has become a meaner, less fair society and his belief that the court should play a ‘special role.’”
But, what is the “real world” to Obama? What is his “broader vision“ of America? And what “special role” should the court play? Should it help change the country’s direction, or simply act as a passive imprimatur of the administration‘s collectivist policies?
The answer to all of these questions is easy: It is a Democratic version of a “kinder, gentler America” that is his agenda, or, in other words, an essentially fascist/socialist one whose legal dice are loaded in favor of whoever can claim victimhood, social inequality, need or any other imagined inequity. A society in which no incompetent, parasite or mediocrity is left behind. Not even pirates or enemy combatants or foreign terrorists who attack Americans here or abroad. All may become litigants in the pursuit of “social justice.”
In fact, the whole character of his administration to date -- and there is no reason to think it will ever change -- has been marked by “empathy” for everything but individual rights, reason and freedom, and certainly not for the Constitution or for any objective, reason-based law. He wishes Justice to remove her blindfold, discard her scales, and become a be-robed grief counselor to anyone who can demonstrate his hostility or indifference to individual rights, reason and freedom, or who can itemize all the ways he has suffered because of them.
One of the leading candidates to replace Souter is Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Apparently she does not believe in blindfolds or scales, either. She
“…gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge ‘may and will make a difference in our judging.’ In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion -- often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor -- that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.
“’I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life…’”
Race and gender are the determining -- and supposedly deterministic -- ingredients that govern her thinking. I say “supposedly deterministic” because that is what she chooses to allow into her thinking.
She’s no Judge Judy. And certainly no Justice Clarence Thomas. The New York Times wrote:
“This month…a video surfaced of Judge Sotomayor asserting in 2005 [during a panel discussion for law students] that a ‘court of appeals is where policy is made.’ She then immediately adds: ‘And I know -- I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. Okay. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m -- you know.’”
No, I don’t know. I doubt if any of the other panelists or any of the law students knew, either. But one doesn’t need to be a mind reader or an empath to make an educated guess. Sotomayor makes it clear what she knows:
“…[H]er remarks at Berkeley, which were published by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, went further, asserting that judges’ identities will affect legal outcomes.
“’Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultures differences,’ she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, ‘our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.’”
She and Obama are on the same pragmatist page. Wrote the Washington Post on May 13 about Obama‘s years as a lecturer on constitutional law:
“Former colleagues and students say he incorporated the real world into his legal approach by asking how rulings would affect people. He explored the Supreme Court’s power, along with its limits.
“’He didn’t seem to really want to talk theory in the classes,’ said onetime student David Franklin….’He wanted to talk about what worked and what the real-world testing of those theories had yielded.’”
Later the Post observes:
“After Souter’s plans to retire became public, Obama spoke of empathy as ‘an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.’ He said he would look for someone ‘who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory.’”
He did not need to look far. Sotomayor is a legacy of President George H.W. Bush, who appointed her to a federal district court in 1991, and of President Bill Clinton, who raised her to the appeals court in 1997. Now she is Obama’s first choice to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
And if anyone doubted that Obama is not only not intellectual, but anti-intellectual, that disdain for “abstract legal theory,” which the Founders absorbed and mastered in order to write a Constitution which Obama swore to protect in his oath of office (but is not protecting), ought to alert anyone that his intentions are not only bad, but intentionally bad.
Understanding others is “at the heart of my moral code,” he wrote in his second book The Audacity of Hope. It is his smiley faced, soft-shoe version of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s, “God damn America.” Obama may have publicly distanced himself from his controversial (and retired) pastor, but morally he is still in that minister‘s congregation. At the hearts of their moral codes, their empathy or “understanding” is symphonious. In the person of Barack Obama, Wright is enacting his hatred of America and his vengeance on it by proxy in his protégé’s march to the same “broader vision of what America should be.”
What do the Republicans and conservatives think of Sotomayor and her telegraphed intention to indulge in judicial activism and gender- and race-flaunting in the highest court in the land?
“Republicans have signaled that they intend to put the eventual nominee under a microscope, and they say they were put on guard by Mr. Obama’s statement that judges should have ‘empathy,’ a word they suggest could be code for injecting liberal ideology into the law.”
It is much too late to worry about injecting liberal ideology into the law. One did not need to exert much effort to “decode” Obama’s disingenuous campaign rhetoric, and one certainly doesn’t need to decipher his statements now, now that Obama is in the White House and has made his ideology all too obvious. American law on all levels of government and the judiciary is top-heavy with liberal collectivist ideology -- how else to account, for example, for the welfare state and the ten thousand commandments of regulatory law? -- much of which the Republicans proposed and helped the liberals make possible over the decades. On philosophical and ideological levels, the Republicans have more “empathy” with Obama and the Democrats than either group will concede. It is the Republicans’ own moral premises which they ought to examine under a microscope.
The Republicans, too, lack any intellect or integrity. If they had any, they would not waste time attacking Speaker Nancy Pelosi for lying about the intelligence community or bothering with any of the administration’s and Congress’s other scandals and peccadilloes, and instead ruthlessly attack their moral philosophy root and branch.
That would require a consistent philosophy of reason, one absolutely and without exception anchored in the real world, but that is what the Republicans disdain and reject, as well, in the name of God and pragmatism. They are the buffoonish Witch Doctor to Obama’s Attila.
6 Comments ::
:: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 ::
Posted by Edward Cline at 11:38 PM
I have emphasized in the past why the Republicans and conservatives are becoming irrelevant, chiefly because they dare not challenge the political philosophy and political agenda of the Democrats, for the philosophy and agenda are fundamentally their own, as well, but in watered-down form. In morality, it is altruism; in politics, collectivism. The Democrats brazenly advocate socialism (under the euphemism of “progressivism”), fascism in various newly-instituted government-business “partnerships,” and involuntary servitude, and rush through Congress bailouts, more controls, and expropriating legislation. The Republicans clamor that such tactics will not work and will lead to collapse and disaster. Their solution, under the cloak of moderation, is to creep up on the same things using different labels, and then they will work.
The Democrats, being consistent pragmatists, claim neither omnipotence nor omniscience; they simply hope their policies and actions will work. They have often said so. They are the “brave” pragmatists. The Republicans and conservatives do not challenge the Democrats on that score; instead, they protest the policies of the Democrats on the issues of speed and scale. They are the “moderate” pragmatists. Individual rights, capitalism, freedom of speech -- these issues do not exist in either camp.
In his May 2 article “National Service: Now Bigger than Ever,” Carl Horowitz questions, for example, the speed and scale of the AmeriCorps volunteer service legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 21. He does not question the idea that young Americans ought to serve.
“Who could argue with so noble an idea as ’national service’? On the surface, the idea is irresistible.”
Who could? Individuals who value their freedom would find the idea not only iniquitous, but ignoble, and condemn it as slavery. Horowitz, however, questions only the cost and scope of the bill and suspects that Obama and the Democrats are preparing the way for compulsory national service, with which he is uncomfortable.
“Underlying such noble intentions…is the reality that the track record of service programs has been less than stellar. And more problematic, ‘voluntary’ service, as supporters themselves have admitted over the years in unguarded moments, contains more than a whiff of compulsion. That’s why, if fully realized, national service programs would capture an enormous portion of the entry-level labor market and, worse, militarize our national identity.”
Yes, that might happen. He does not understand that, to the Obamacrats and their allies in and out of Congress, the term “compulsion” is synonymous with “obligation” vis-à-vis “giving back,” the latter being their preferred term. The mental gymnastics of collectivists does not view paying a “debt” to society as a matter of force or extortion. “Society” is the master unit, the individual its indebted but often ungrateful servant. After all, runs the patter, if it were not for the existence of society, where would the individual be? Society makes his life tolerable and comfortable; it is only fair that he “give back” something.
The bill signed by Obama is the Senate version, called the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The House version was called the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE). I leave to the reader to decide which name is more objectionable.
“…The law would more than triple the number of available AmeriCorps volunteer slots from the current 75,000 to 250,000 by fiscal year 2017, with 50 percent or more of these positions eventually being full time. The measure would also tie college tuition aid to demonstrated favorable community impacts….”
Horowitz discusses throughout his article the history of “volunteerism” and asserts that the trend towards federally mandated compulsion is impractical, and cites the “volunteerism” possible through private programs as being more effective and practical. He concludes:
“…The line between service and servility is often blurred. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act would blur it further.”
He does not see that the blurring is intentional. People drilled all throughout their lives that “service” is their natural duty will not regard it as servitude. The advocates of compulsory service understand this, if he does not.
There was the War on Poverty, followed by wars on smoking, obesity, salt-consumption, ability, ageism, sexism, homophobia, and “harmful“ speech and whatever else the social engineers frowned upon. In the course of reprising the political history of “volunteerism” in this country, including the Peace Corps, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the role of the Clinton-inspired Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Horowitz at least credits the intellectual inspiration for these fascist programs: American philosopher William James (1842-1910) and his seminal essay, published in 1910, “The Moral Equivalent of War” (adapted from his 1906 address at Stanford University).
James, a pragmatist with strong subjectivist, religious and deterministic elements in his world view, argues that, lacking a cause, such as war, that would unify a nation and instill it with altruist vigor, a policy of civilian conscription should be implemented. Without such a program, he argues, a nation cannot help but grow soft, degenerate, and distracted by materialism. James could be deemed the father of American fascism.
The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia offers a general description of National Socialism, or Nazism.
“It had its roots in the tradition of Prussian militarism and discipline and German Romanticism, which celebrated a mythic past and proclaimed the rights of the exceptional individual over all rules and laws. Its ideology was shaped by Hitler’s beliefs in German superiority and the dangers of communism and need for an enemy.”*
James advocated compulsory servitude -- but to oppose what enemy? He also claimed that the nation needed an enemy to rouse its citizens from the spiritual laxness of industrial civilization. Men, he said, had a natural instinct for war. James was a pacifist and abhorred war. But at the same time he asserted that the fear of being conquered could unite citizens as nothing else could in terms of being imbued with the spirit of a “peaceful” common cause. If making war was in man’s nature, he asked, why not direct that instinct to more constructive purposes?
“If now -- and this is my idea -- there were, instead of military conscription, a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against Nature, the injustice would tend to be evened out, and numerous other goods to the commonwealth would remain blind as the luxurious classes now are blind, to man’s relations to the globe he lives on, and to the permanently sour and hard foundations of his higher life. To coal and iron mines, to freight trains, to fishing fleets in December, to dishwashing, clothes washing, and window washing, to road-building and tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke-holes, and to the frames of skyscrapers, would our gilded youths be drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas. They would have paid their blood-tax….”
What injustices would be “evened out”? James mentions that the rich are rich through no credit of their own, and the poor are poor for no fault of their own. A nationalistic spirit would level everything out; the rich would not mind paying taxes to defeat an enemy; the poor would find a better purpose in life. James conceded, even in the early twentieth century, before the income tax and central banking were legislated in this country, that the country was on a path to socialism. What might help make it work would be to instill a militaristic, self-sacrificing ethic in Americans.
“All the qualities of a man acquire dignity when he knows that the service of the collectivity that owns him needs him. If proud of the collectivity, his own pride rises in proportion. No collectivity is like an army for nourishing such pride; but it has to be confessed that the only sentiment which the image of pacific cosmopolitan industrialism is capable of arousing in countless worthy breasts is shame at the idea of belonging to such a collectivity. It is obvious that the United States of America as they exist today impress a mind…as so much human blubber. Where is the sharpness and precipitousness, the contempt for life, whether one’s own or another’s? Where is the savage ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ the unconditional duty? Where is the conscription? Where is the blood-tax? Where is anything that one feels honored by belonging to?”
Substitute “race“ for “collectivity” and “Germany” for “the United States,” and one would discern little difference between James’s rhetoric and any one of Hitler’s public harangues to a rally of the Nazi converted. Remember that James uttered these words in 1906, when Hitler was just a “troubled teen“ and Mussolini was a twenty-something feeling his socialist oats. Indeed, as Leonard Peikoff points out, Mussolini credited James with much of his corporatist/fascist ideology. (The ultimate credit, as Peikoff points out in The Ominous Parallels, goes to Immanuel Kant and G.F. Hegel.) James wrote glowingly of what he considered to be adult sobriety:
“Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built….”
These are some of the “healthier sympathies” and “soberer ideas” already being taught in American schools and absorbed by countless children, who have always been treated as the “rock” upon which statism is built.
James’s proposal is as far from the animating ideas of the Founders as one can go without falling off the edge of comprehension. And his notion of waging war against “nature” has been substituted with waging war against man himself. As Jon Roland of the Constitution Society notes in his introduction to James’s essay:
“This concept is regarded by some as the origin of the idea of organized national service. The line of descent can be traced directly from this address to the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, to the Peace Corps, VISTA, and AmeriCorps. Though some phrases grate upon modern ears, particularly the assumption that only males can perform such service, several racially-biased comments, and the now discredited notion that ‘nature’ should be treated as an enemy, it still sounds a rallying cry for services in the interests of the individual and the nation….The solution to the problem remains an open question, now that ‘nature’ is not to be regarded as an ‘enemy.’ The real ‘enemy’ is our own darker human nature….”
The “green revolution” and the anti-industrial movement have supplanted James’s “warfare against nature,” which means warfare against man. To the pragmatist open to the vociferous moral proposals of others (so long as they “work“), reason and reality can be dismissed as the subjectivist leanings of others and disregarded. Man is destroying the planet, those others claim, so something must be done about it, even if that means compulsion. For example, the Democrats would rather not hear the testimony of Britain’s Lord Christopher Monckton which would have shredded former Vice President Al Gore’s assertions about man-caused climate change in his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and retracted the invitation to Monckton to appear with Gore before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
This was more than just politicians wishing to save Gore the “climate authority” the humiliation of being trounced in a debate about climate change by a genuine scientist and consequently creating doubt about the efficacy of environmentalist legislation. If they do not hear the truth, then it can’t be real and can be ignored. (Recall Mr. Thompson’s first response after hearing Galt’s speech in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged -- “It wasn’t real, was it?”) Monckton has his assertions, the politicians have theirs, they think, but the politicians’ assertions carry more weight because they have the power and the guns and dubious opinion polls and a pliable news media, and all that comprises the “truth.” Reality is what the political elite make it. They are willing to bet the lives, fortunes and property of Americans on it.
While he is only the latest in a line of presidents and politicians who have advocated national service, Barack Obama wants to enact his own version of a “blood-tax.”
“…We need to create opportunities to serve. I’ll ask more young people to serve in uniform and expand the size of our military. And I’ll increase AmeriCorps -- our network of local, state and national service programs -- from 75,000 slots to 250,000.…That service should be directed toward pressing national challenges. We need more Americans to teach and an Energy Corps to help develop renewable and efficient energy….We need to invest in grass-roots ideas, because the ‘next great innovation’ usually doesn’t come from government [Never, in fact, but from unconquered minds and the freedom to act]. So I’ll create a Social Investment Fund Network and bring together faith-based organizations and foundations to expand successful programs across the country….We need to integrate service into education. We should help schools develop service programs outside the classroom….”
So, instead of being sent to coal and iron mines and the frames of skyscrapers, young Americans will be sent to assemble solar panels and windmills and hybrid plug-in cars, in addition to mentoring children of the poor and cleaning up public spaces and keeping the elderly company -- many of them lured by the carrot of college tuition, others by the prospect of wielding the stick themselves. Instead of adopting James’s bombastic “manly virtues,” Americans will be expected to become humble servants of society and believers in causes “higher than themselves,” especially the one that demands that restitution and reparations be paid to a despoiled planet. And if not enough Americans “volunteer” to serve, they can be made to. Obama’s and the Democrats’ “blood-tax” can take two forms: direct conscription, or a special tax on the recalcitrant and the non-volunteers to fund the $5.7 billion national service price tag of the bill Obama signed.
This also means drafting business and industry into the “army” by, among other measures, restricting CEO pay, taxing “unpatriotic“ offshore wealth, strong-arming solvent banks into participating in inflationary and risky “recovery” programs, and regulating industries and power companies to reduce “greenhouse” emissions. William James would be impressed. A whole nation has been put on a war footing -- to commit suicide.
Commenting on why Americans fell for the pragmatists’ assurances that they offered a way to live on earth, Leonard Peikoff observed that:
“…Americans…believed that they were joining a battle to advance their essential view of reality and of life. They did not know that they were being marched in the opposite direction, that the battle had been calculated for a diametrically opposite purpose, or that the enemy they were being pushed to destroy was: themselves.”**
The task before the advocates of reason and individual rights is to inform Americans and our political leaders in no uncertain terms that a volte-face is needed, beginning with the repeal of the administration’s blood-tax, before the destruction is too advanced to stop.
*See Chapter 3: Hitler’s War Against Reason, and Chapter 6: Kant Versus America, in Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America (Stein & Day, 1982) for a more thorough discussion of James’s contribution to the philosophical and political underpinnings of American statism.
**Op. cit. Chapter 6: Kant Versus America, pp. 137-138.
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