Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give Me Liberty or Give Me ObamaCare

During the 2008 election campaign, I was struck by how Barack Obama would describe someone's heartrending personal story, then leap immediately to suggesting a federal government solution. The assumption in between was that whatever unhappiness there is in life is the responsibility of the federal government to remedy. John Kerry did the same thing in 2004 because that is the way liberal Democrats think.

But that is not our system of government. Ours is what we call a "limited government." It is limited by the security of each one of us in our individual rights. They are rights against the power of government. Our government is limited also as to its ends. Its powers are enumerated and therefore delineated. We have established our government to accomplish specific tasks, and we have enumerated those tasks in the Constitution. That brings me to the third way that our government is limited. It is limited by law. Those who govern us govern only under law, ultimately a fundamental law we call the Constitution. Those who make the law must themselves submit to the laws they make.

If you judge Democrats not by what they say but by what they do, you can see that they don't believe in any of these features of limited government. Why should the enlightened class be limited in any way? To subject The People's Party to limitations of any sort is an act of hostility toward the people themselves. At any rate, that is how communist parties have reasoned for almost a hundred years, and that appears to be the way liberal Democrats think. And Barack Obama is a turbo-liberal Democrat.

Consider his plans for health insurance reform, plans in which he is in harmonious alliance with the "liberal bulls" in Congress. The fact that the scheme is baldly unconstitutional gives them no pause whatsoever. The suggestion that it is unconstitutional just means that they have to find a constitutional rationalization of some sort. After all, these people have long ago stopped caring what the Constitution actually says. If it is a "living constitution," then the challenge to those living under it is not to conform their legislative wishes to the Constitution, but by clever rhetoric and legal reasoning to conform the Constitution to the legislative wishes of the day. This is very opposite of the rule of law and of limited government.

As to the ends of government, people like Barack Obama cannot think of anything the federal government should not be doing. If there is suffering in the world, then the government is the most effective and most trustworthy agent to be addressing it. The broader the government, the more egalitarian the solution will be, and so the federal government is always the instrument of choice, whether directly or indirectly through its control of state and local governments. This may be a kind-hearted sentiment, but it is not a noble sentiment because it does not respect people's liberty. Even if Obama and all those in political alliance with him on this were entirely public spirited in their intentions (which any sober adult should admit is unlikely), their reforms would establish a structure for a less high-minded generation of elected and unelected government officials to lord it over a prostrate and helpless American people.

Blind to these dangers, however, and convinced of the self-evident moral superiority of their understanding, Obama's Democrats have launched themselves into the restructuring our health care system--one sixth of the American economy--expecting that the only opposition will come from selfish corporate interests, the Republican party which is the tool of those interests, and whatever rural simpletons and Christian fanatics the Republicans can deceive.

But opposition is coming from honest lovers of liberty and of the rule of law. Two such patriots are David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey, both of whom served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and Bush. In "Mandatory Insurance is Unconstitutional" (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2009), they make the case that it goes beyond the powers of the federal government to force people to buy something they don't wish to buy. "Congress...cannot regulate simply because it sees a problem to be fixed." Since the Progressive era began almost a hundred years ago, government activists have justified most federal regulatory powers on the interstate commerce clause. The federal government can act to regulate interstate commerce (Article I, section 8), but it cannot punish you simply for sitting in your living room not buying health insurance. Rivkin and Casey take you through the history, the current health care reform proposals, and the bearing of the Constitution on it all. It's good read, and you are sure to look very intelligent and well informed to your friends for having read it.

Because Obama's Democrats don't care about the spirit of our system of government which is the spirit of liberty, they will look for a way around that restriction. Because there are others in the country who love liberty and the Constitution that supports it, they will fight him to the highest court in the land.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Under the Loving Care of the Benevolent Obama

David brings back to these pages our concern for the resurgence of fascism and the fascist tendencies of modern democrats in his post directly below, Obama's Chavez Envy. Lord knows there is plenty of material out there. He asked for other examples besides the co-opting of the arts establishment, the threatenings of free speech in the Humana scandal, and the bizarre outreach to the Honduran Chavez wannabe. Here goes.

One of the things on the list of priorities for any political order is the education of the young, since they are its future citizens. The education is designed to create to the extent possible the ideal citizen, fit to defend and extend the values and principles of the founding of a given regime. For very young children, those ideals and values must be put into succinct, clear form, reduced to essentials in order to form the basis for their further reflection. Thus, in days past, elementary school included the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the elements of which, like the Lord's prayer in that other venue, generally escape them until they are older. Yet like memory verses in the bible, this early drill and memorization does give the basis for more mature reflection. In our free society, education has been guided, however tenuously, by the precepts and purposes established by the liberal arts of the classics--the main purpose being to produce freedom-loving citizens able to question their culture, society, and government. This questioning and challenging of authority is also a contribution from the Old Testament--many of the jeremiads of the prophets were against the kings and priests in authority over the Jews, a thing unknown and unthinkable to the pagan societies surrounding them, since for them there was no higher authority than their ruler, who was generally considered at least semi-divine.

Much as been made, and rightly so, of the deification of Obama, and his silent allowing of it. David sensibly asked once what kind of Christian allows himself to be equated with the Savior; to ask that question is to answer it. Thus, this most recent example of school children singing the praises of Obama, being instructed to give their allegiance not to the flag, nor the republic, nor the constitution; and not to venerate the office of the president but the president himself, is just another questionable exercise by those whose devotion to the charismatic leader reeks of past fascism.

Fascist regimes are not interested in criticism from informed individuals free to seek their own good--they want mass consciousness and blind devotion to the leader and the collective. Thus the recurrent technique of devotional songs to the virtues of the leader common to all collectivist regimes.

The charge of fascism has been so promiscuously (and illegitimately) thrown around (Bush=Hitler) that it is almost meaningless now that there is actually some basis for it (another technique pioneered by totalitarianism). The latest bit of indoctrination, which has absolutely no connection with the history or essentials of our uniquely formed polity, makes Obama the hero of American life, and subtly suggests that all that has gone before him has been wrong--kind of like the coming of a savior to a benighted nation. And note the sly co-optation of the Sunday school song--"red and yellow black and white, they are equal in his sight" the original of which only a very few of these children could be expected to know--maybe not even many of their parents. Whether they know the original or not, the effect is the same--Obama is somehow above everyone else, and is who we are to adore and look to for god-like beneficence.

This surreptitiously captured video comes out just after the president's ill-advised (and latterly revised) speech to the nation's school children. The teacher's guide that went out from the Ministry of Propaganda--I mean Department of Education--gives the lie to the claim that all the president was doing was encouraging good behavior and self reliance. (Rush Limbaugh acutely pointed out that Obama would never give that speech to the American people at large, since he is busy reducing risk-taking and self reliance by destroying capitalism and free government).

Compare this with the songs and indoctrination taught to the little would-be Nazis in the old videos from the Third Reich below, which expressly make Hitler the savior of Germany and the volk.

Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama

Song 2:
Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say "hooray!"

Hooray, Mr. President! You're number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country's economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we're really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue ---- Mr. President we know you'll do the trick
So here's a hearty hip-hooray ----

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

This video showcases the Norks', the Nazis', and the Stalinist's efforts at early indoctrination:

Just for the sake of overindulgence, here is a song reproduced in a slim volume that should be more widely known by Gene Edward Veith, Modern Fascism: The Liquidation of the Judeo-Christian Worldview, p 67:

We are the happy Hitler Youth
We have no need of Christian virtue;
For Adolph Hitler is our intercessor
And our redeemer.
No priest, no evil one
Can keep us
From feeling like Hitler's children.

Not Christ do we follow, but Horst Wessel!
Away with incense and holy water pots.
Singing we follow Hitler's banners;
Only then are we worthy of our ancestors.
I am no Christian and no Catholic
I go with the SA through thick and thin.
The Church can be stolen from me for all I care
The swastika makes me happy here on earth.
Him I will follow in marching step;
Baldur von Schirach, take me along.

Admittedly, we are not seeing this sort of unambiguous blasphemy, propaganda,and indoctrination, but what we have seen is way outside what a free society with an elective republican form of government should ever see. This strange and threatening departure from our traditional political values is part of what is angering so many people, and arousing them to action.

Vigilance is the price of freedom.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama's Chavez Envy

During the 2008 election campaign, Harold and I discerned fascist tendencies among the Obama people and in the candidate himself, even more than one normally does among Democrats. (Go to: "Radical Fascist Chic," "Foreshadowing Liberal Fascist Violence," "Just The Beginning," "(Not So) Distant Early Warning," "The Dark Night of Fascism," "Obama Youth Brigade Sings For Change," and the entire "Political Idolatry" collection.) Of course, the most noteworthy and thoroughly stated warning came in Jonah Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism.   Some people rebuked us for what they considered inflammatory language. And yet, buds of fascism are what we see. Keep your freedom-loving, vigilant eyes open for more signs like these. (Do you have any to add?)

The fascists commandeered the arts for state purposes. Andrew Klavan writes in City Journal ("The Art of Corruption") about the administration's abuse of the National Endowment for the Arts to promote Obama policies.

[T]he more areas of life are funded and regulated by government, the less free you are, and the more corrupt and servile you ultimately become. ... [This administration] seeks, as statist government always seeks to modify and control human behavior through the doling out and withholding of money and favor.

Notice also the vindictive response to health insurance company Humana Inc. by the Democrats when that company voiced a word of disagreement. Bloomberg News reports, "At Baucus’s request, Medicare officials are investigating letters in which Humana told customers that senior citizens may lose benefits under a health-care overhaul. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a Sept. 18 letter to Humana, ordered the health insurer to stop the mailings and remove the materials from its Web site."

Why this government wrath? Humana merely informed their aged customers of what may arguably result for them if current Congressional plans for health care insurance reform become law. In other words, they were uttering political speech with which Sen. Baucus disagrees and which he found politically disadvantageous to him and his party.
“It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject - particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health-care reform,” Baucus’s statement said.

Add the White House call for citizens to inform on any of their fellow citizens whom they discovered circulating “fishy” arguments against the health plan.

Then there is the administration's odd determination to return the leftist Chavez crony, Manuel Zelaya, to the Honduran presidency, despite a judgment by that country's Supreme Court that his removal from office was constitutionally justified and followed constitutional procedures. Mary Anastasia O'Grady's column, "Hillary's Honduran Obsession," points to America as the country with the thuggery problem in all of this.

But it may be that Americans should be even more concerned about the heavy-handedness, without legal justification, emanating from the executive branch in Washington. What does it say about Mr. Obama's respect for the separation of powers that he would instruct Mrs. Clinton to punish an independent court because it did not issue the ruling he wanted?...It seems that Mrs. Clinton is peeved with the court because it ruled that restoring Mr. Zelaya to power under a proposal drafted by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is unconstitutional. Thus, the State Department decided that in defense of the rule of law it would penalize the members of the Supreme Court for their interpretation of their constitution. Fourteen justices had their U.S. visas pulled.

And those are just the few things that come to mind.

One might object that this is hardly a coup d'etat. This is hardly the burning of the Reichstag. True, but it is evidence of an attitude toward the law and politics that is more at home in the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez than in the republic of American patriots.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dems Are Hunting Bulls To Extinction

It seems that the ruling Democrats are marshaling every arms of their power to neuter every expression American national virility--economic, financial, military, and diplomatic.

Here is the latest assault, this time to make sure that we never see another bull market.

[average wall street bonuses]Policies that set the pay for tens of thousands of bank employees nationwide would require approval from the Federal Reserve as part of a far-reaching proposal to rein in risk-taking at financial institutions. The Fed's plan would, for the first time, inject government regulators deep into compensation decisions traditionally reserved for the banks' corporate boards and executives.

Under the proposal, the Fed could reject any compensation policies it believes encourage bank employees -- from chief executives, to traders, to loan officers -- to take too much risk. Bureaucrats wouldn't set the pay of individuals, but would review and, if necessary, amend each bank's salary and bonus policies to make sure they don't create harmful incentives.

The plan under consideration "requires a vote by the central bank's board, but no congressional approval" ("Bankers Face Sweeping Curbs on Pay," Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2009).

Sen. Chris Dodd, that trustworthy steward of the public weal and co-author of the housing collapse, is taking up the task of combining the four banking agencies—the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Comptroller of the Currency—into one superagency. Ever larger and more powerful government agencies always result in greater liberty for citizens and efficiency in government, right? ("Leading Senator Pushes New Plan to Oversee Banks," New York Times, Sept. 19, 2009.

The Democrats are the party of risk aversion. Prosecuting the CIA discourages risk taking by agents for our national security. Discouraging risk taking on Wall Street dampens our general prosperity. Government health insurance is just another step toward removing risk from daily American life generally. This is what Franklin Roosevelt had in mind when he proposed in his Four Freedoms speech (1941) that the federal government should guarantee everyone "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear." Just months before dying in office, in his 1944 State of the Union Address to Congress, he called for "a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed." The first Bill of Rights was inadequate. These rights were to include:

  • "The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education."
 Roosevelt states his purpose in this clearly: "All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being." As FDR saw it, the purpose is government is not to allow for the "pursuit of happiness," as the Founders and the authors of the original Bill of Rights saw it, but to provide "happiness and well-being" itself.

Of course, government has a legitimate, natural, and divinely appointed role in securing those under its care from threats to life, health, and property. But the purpose in this is to secure people in the liberty to live adult lives with all the challenges involving success and failure which that entails.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Irving Kristol's Good Work Needs a Second Life

Irving Kristol died last week at age 89. He was the father of what is called neo-conservatism, but what James Q. Wilson in his Wall Street Journal obituary this morning says is better characterized as policy skepticism ("A Life in the Public Interest").

As the so-called "neo-cons" have come into a bad reputation recently as fanatical American imperialists, Wilson supplies us with a welcome reminder that neo-conservatism was a prudent response to the naively and hubristicly optimistic efforts of Johnson era liberals to build a beautiful world, a "Great Society," through centrally administered government programs. It is "[t]he view that we know less than we thought we knew about how to change the human condition."

Summarizing Kristol's thought, he writes:

Neoconservatism is not an ideology, but a "persuasion." That is, it is a way of thinking about politics rather than a set of principles and rules. If neoconservatism does have any principle, it is this one: the law of unintended consequences. Launch a big project and you will almost surely discover that you have created many things you did not intend to create. This is not an argument for doing nothing, but it is one, in my view, for doing things experimentally. Try your idea out in one place and see what happens before you inflict it on the whole country.

Irving Kristol's world transforming journal, The Public Interest, discontinued publication in 2005 after forty years of sober reflection on what actually works, i.e. on what is necessary for going beyond good intentions (and satisfying political constituencies) to promoting what is actually the public interest. As we now have an administration that is blithely appropriating vast regions of private life into the government sphere in the interests of "fairness" and "progress," an enterprise in social engineering that makes Lyndon Johnson look like Herbert Hoover, perhaps Kristol's journal needs to be fired up again with a new generation of bipartisan policy skeptics.

Update (Sept. 28,2009):
A reader informs us that there is a new journal in the tradition of The Public Interest, entitled National Affairs.

The website says this of the new periodical.

National Affairs is a quarterly journal of essays about domestic policy, political economy, society, culture, and political thought. It aims to help Americans think a little more clearly about our public life, and rise a little more ably to the challenge of self-government.

Each issue will feature lively yet serious essays on the range of domestic issues: from economics and health care to education and welfare; from the legal debates of the day to enduring dilemmas of society and culture. We will devote special attention to the deeper theoretical questions of American self-government—seeking to cut through the conventional wisdom, help you make sense of complex issues, offer concrete proposals, and illuminate the ideas that move our politics.

In doing so, we strive to walk in the footsteps of our intellectual and institutional predecessor, The Public Interest, a journal that for decades enriched our public life with its unparalleled clarity and wisdom. We hope to provide the same service to Americans addressing the problems of a new era, and to serve as a venue for a new generation of thinkers and writers seeking to influence the affairs of the nation.

Yuval Levin is the editor, and these distinguished scholars and sages comprise the publication committee: Gerard Alexander, James W. Ceaser, Eric Cohen, John J. DiIulio Jr., Nicholas Eberstadt, Martin Feldstein, Robert P. George, Michael W. Grebe, Roger Hertog, Kay Hymowitz, Leon R. Kass, Bruce Kovner, William Kristol, Jay Lefkowitz, Lawrence Lindsey, Wilfred M. McClay, James Piereson, Diana Schaub, Irwin M. Stelzer, and James Q. Wilson. You can see among them the living connections with The Public Interest.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Collision Over Christ

A year ago at this time, The King's College hosted a debate between Christopher Hitchens (Vanity Fair columnist and author of God Is Not Good) and Douglas Wilson (pastor, public intellectual, classical schooling advocate) on the existence of God and the truth of the gospel. The event, along with others like it, was raw material for Darren Doane's film, Collision, to be released in New York and Los Angeles on October 27.

Here is the trailer. Provost Marvin Olasky gets a little spot where he says something humorous and makes Hitch laugh at a Scripture allusion.

COLLISION - 13 min VIMEO Exclusive Sneak Peek from Collision Movie on Vimeo.

The website describes the film this way:

In May 2007, leading atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson began to argue the topic “Is Christianity Good for the World?” in a series of written exchanges published in Christianity Today. The rowdy literary bout piqued the interest of filmmaker Darren Doane, who sought out Hitchens and Wilson to pitch the idea of making a film around the debate.

In Fall 2008, Doane and crew accompanied Hitchens and Wilson on an east coast tour to promote the book compiled from their written debate titled creatively enough, Is Christianity Good for the World?. “I loved the idea of putting one of the beltway’s most respected public intellectuals together with an ultra-conservative pastor from Idaho that looks like a lumberjack”, says Doane. “You couldn’t write two characters more contrary. What’s more real and punk rock than a fight between two guys who are on complete opposite sides of the fence on the most divisive issue in the world? We were ready to make a movie about two intellectual warriors at the top of their game going one-on-one. I knew it would make an amazing film.”

In Christopher Hitchens, Doane found a celebrated prophet of atheism. Loud. Funny. Angry. Smart. Quick. An intimidating intellectual Goliath. Well-known for bullying and mocking believers into doubt and doubters into outright unbelief. In Douglas Wilson, Doane found the man who could provide a perfect intellectual, philosophical, and cinematic counterpoint to Hitchens' position and style. A trained philosopher and and deft debater. Big, bearded, and jolly. A pastor, a contrarian, a humorist--an unintimidated outsider, impossible to bully, capable of calling Hitchens a puritan (over a beer).

It was a collision of lives.

What Doane didn’t expect was how much Hitchens and Wilson would have in common and the respectful bond the new friend/foes would build through the course of the book tour. “These guys ended up at the bar laughing, joking, drinking. There were so many things that they had in common”, according to Doane. “Opinions on history and politics. Literature and poetry. They agreed on so many things. Except on the existence of God.”
In the debate here at The King's College, Wilson left Hitchens speechless. Unlike D'Souza, Wilson is a presuppositionalist in his apologetics. Where Hitchens asserted various moral principles such as, "Genocide is wrong!," Wilson pressed him for a foundation and found none. For his part, Wilson stood on Scripture without blushing or flinching, and showed himself not only man of grace and charm, but also Hitchens' equal in wit and his better in precision.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reason, Political Dissent, and Your Inner Racist

Is it possible to disagree with Barack Obama, even passionately, without becoming the object of McCarthyite slander attacks? Maureen Dowd has started it rolling in full gear: "Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it" ("Boy, Oh, Boy," New York Times, Sept. 12, 2009).

Seeing his opportunity to say what was on his mind, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) mused, "I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again, and riding through the countryside intimidating people." Here is the Congressman's complete statement.

Jimmy Carter is pleased that people are finally agreeing with him, so he gets out front in an interview. which a friend of a friend on Facebook (you understand) commented: "Jimmy Carter is like grandpa. You listen to him and laugh, but you don't really take him seriously, because you never really know if he knows where he is, or if he is wearing pants."

Democrats just don't know how to deal with people who have principled disagreement with them. On the one hand, they spent their college years shouting people into submission with incendiary name-calling. On the other hand, since they are entirely convinced that the progress of moral history culminates in whatever their sentiments happen to be at the time, everyone who stands in opposition to them constitutes an homogenous group of monsters that includes Vlad the Impaler, Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, and your grandmother.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Castrating the Wall Street Bull

King's College alum, Anthony Randazzo of the Reason Foundation, explains the proposals for reforming the way Wall Street is regulated in his report entitled, "Storming Wall Street." The Fulton County Independent Examiner highlights and summarizes it for us.

If you are more inclined to the oral tradition, Randazzo will summarize it for you himself.

The Wall Street bull will soon be forever a cow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dr. Obama Does Economic Heart Surgery

In his speech yesterday at Federal Hall in New York's financial district, President Obama, speaking on the financial crisis, proposed what he called "the most ambitious overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression." But if Wall Street is to the economy what the heart is to the body, this legislation is like open heart surgery. It is no work for mechanics or butchers, nor for herbalists and conjurers. Yet, he openly boasts that he is entrusting this task to the most anti-capitalist, anti-business, socialism-first-and-prosperity-second Congressional leadership this country has ever seen. It is for good reason that they are universally distrusted outside the hard-line, ideological left.

Here President Obama in his introductions before the speech draws special attention to one Congressman in the audience: "he is going to be helping to shape the agenda going forward to make sure that we have one of the strongest, most dynamic, and most innovative financial markets in the world for many years to come--and that's my good friend, Barney Frank."

If "Barney Frank" is how the President summarizes what he means by "strong, dynamic, and innovative financial markets," then we need an interpretive key like this for understanding his speeches: "War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength." Think of Democratic "health care" reform in that context.

Sen. Jim DeMint spoke at The King's College yesterday saying some of the things he says here regarding the socialistic direction of the administration's reforms. Watch his FoxNews interview here.

His book is Saving Freedom We Can Stop America's Slide Into Socialism.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Norman Borlaug, 1914-2009

Norman Borlaug died on September 12 at the age of 95. He was one of the nation's great Iowans (and there have been many). When the neo-Malthusians were warning us about a "small planet" and "limits to growth," Borlaug was engineering what became the Green Revolution which unlocked the wealth of the Creator's provision that lay yet untapped within what people of smaller spirit saw as our irremediable collective poverty.

In his obituary, Ronald Bailey provides us with the relevant quotations from Paul Ehrlich's 1968 prediction of impending global doom, The Population Bomb.

In the late 1960s, most experts were speaking of imminent global famines in which billions would perish. "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. "In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Ehrlich also said, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971." He insisted that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980."

Borlaug soon afterward proved him wrong, accomplishing precisely what Ehrlich said was impossible. Not only does the Lord provide, he has already provided more bountifully than we imagine or deserve.

The irony in the term "Green Revolution" is that the phrase has been re-embraced by the pusillanimous doom-and-gloomers who see the earth as a paltry and all too delicate resource, and human beings as the recklessly short-sighted and irresponsible tenants who will ruin and squander it if they are not soon placed under strict supervision. They act as though we live in a china teacup, when in fact God has placed us in a mansion which we find to be ever more sprawling with every new room and wing that we discover.

I don't know what Norman Borlaug thought of his creator, but I thank God for creating and cultivating this man who had such confidence in the goodness of God's earth and who set about so intelligently and industriously to unlock greater depths of its goodness. In his honor, I am re-posting what I wrote on October 26, 2007.

"No African Development Without Local Wisdom."

Everyone puzzles over Africa. Much of the world is enjoying runaway economic growth and increasingly widespread prosperity, but that huge and wealthy continent is left largely behind. It's a human tragedy. In today's Wall Street Journal, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and one of the fathers of the 1960s Green Revolution in world food production, Norman Borlaug lays out what is required to save Africa from its chronic development crisis ("A Green Revolution for Africa"). He emphasizes science and agriculture, but the subtext is a political challenge to the African leaders themselves.

He compares the Green Revolution in Asia to that of Africa. He says that small-holder agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa has been especially anemic. Unlike Asia which has a good road and rail network, "African farmlands are generally isolated from motorized transport systems." In addition, population growth "has resulted in progressive -- and now often dramatic -- degradation of the soil resource base, while fertilizer use has hardly increased at all, and is the lowest in the world." Whereas agricultural R&D in Asia has tripled over the last 20 years, in Africa is has grown by only 20%, and in half the countries it has actually declined. This is especially tragic given the "special production circumstances" that put Africa in particular need of research and development investment.

He recommends a "broad and more integrated perspective" that focuses on "transforming staple-food production" and giving greater attention to "post-production market linkages -- especially to grain markets and agro-industrial food processing that offer off-farm employment opportunities." Improvement also requires "[s]ubstantially greater investments in infrastructure -- roads, electrical power, water resources." Without this, "there is little hope for real progress in reversing the alarming food insecurity trends or in making agriculture an engine of economic growth."

Borlaug has been calling for an African Green Revolution for years (e.g. International Herald Tribune 1992; New York Times 2003). He did his great work in the 1960s. He is 93 and he is still beating the drum for this cause. So what's the hold up? There is a important political aspect to all this that Borlaug touches upon at several points, but does not emphasize. Perhaps he is being subtle. Perhaps he is leaving it to the multitude of political leaders, government and NGO officials, journalists and scholars to see the political point and make it explicit. Let me do my part.

These nations are governed by more or less sovereign governments. Implementing many of his recommendations presupposes governments that actually care about their people, i.e. that they are not tyrannies which sadly many of them are. In his opening paragraph, concerning Asia's Green Revolution and the global development agenda, Borlaug quietly underscores the critical role that wise political leadership must play: "Research and development, political courage, effective policies and good governance were the driving forces." African leaders are not known for their"political courage, effective policies and good governance."

One cannot help but wonder why "political courage" should be necessary, at least at the highest levels of power. Why shouldn't crass self-interest and naked ambition not suffice to bring the thug-tyrants of the African continent into line with this program? Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe comes first to mind. It is a marvel, especially in view of the enormous productive power that modern economic and political principles have made possible, that they see their personal security, prosperity, and glory in brutalizing their peoples whom they keep in heart-rending poverty, rather than in securing their peoples' property, enriching their nations' economies and establishing themselves as the fathers and protectors of these accomplishments.

John Locke argued this point, appealing to the shrewdness of every ruler, in his great Second Treatise on Civil Government (section 42):
This shews how much numbers of men are to be preferred to largeness of dominions; and that the increase of lands, and the right employing of them, is the great art of government: and that prince, who shall be so wise and godlike, as by established laws of liberty to secure protection and encouragement to the honest industry of mankind, against the oppression of power and narrowness of party, will quickly be too hard for his neighbours.
I am not an Africa specialist by any measure, but as a student of politics I find Africa a vivid illustration (all too often a sad one) of many political principles, and of course it draws my Christian concern. You might refer back to two of my previous posts on Africa.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wild Horses

We don't delve into pop culture much here, but occasionally something strikes a chord with one of us. I didn't pay much attention to the Susan Boyle phenomenon on the British talent show equivalent of American Idol, but enough to know she is a natural. She is now apparently coming to the States to do the one on this side of the pond, and has released a version of the Rolling Stone's Wild Horses. Is there anyone who does not like this song?

I've had this theory that one test of the quality of a rock song is how it fares when translated into a classical format. Many Beatles' songs pass muster here--they were simply brilliant, without knowing it (at least at first). Leonard Bernstein took particular joy in pointing out their native ability to write great music, thus showing that taste in music is not purely subjective. Ofra Harnoy, a Hungarian cellist, sat down with the Oxford String Quartet on Imagine and stuns with the beauty of the pieces. She is stunning as well. Other pop icons also have made it--Pink Floyd (The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays the Hits of Pink Floyd) have had their songs symphonically reproduced, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders sat down with a full symphony orchestra The Isle of View), and Led Zepplin's songs have gotten the treatment as well. (London Symphony Orchestra: Symphonic Led Zepplin). There are no doubt a few more I am unaware of.

Take a listen to this version of Wild Horses--it's well worth the time; she shows the quality of that song, and the song shows the quality of her voice.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Keynesian Economics and Government Math

If you are suspicious of the numbers Democrats throw around when promising us heaven on earth, you are not alone. Some patriotic citizen out there, equally suspicious, put pencil to paper on the Cash for Clunkers program hailed by all and sundry as such a rousing example of the beneficence of Keynesian pump-priming, to see just how marvelous a thing it was.

Cash for Clunkers is a tiny program by this administration's standards, so the following analysis, suitably scaled up for the other government spending horror shows coming this season, should serve to clarify our situation, vis-a-vis our government masters.

The two main rationales for the program were 1) replacing gas guzzlers with more efficient cars, while 2) goosing sales and thereby providing stimulus to the economy. My, how they must imagine old John Maynard beaming down from heaven at his acolytes' clever combination of his economic theory with the tenets of the Church of Green. Let's take a look:
A vehicle at 15 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 800 gallons a year of gasoline.
A vehicle at 25 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 480 gallons a year.

So, the average "Cash for Clunkers" transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.

They claim 700,000 vehicles – so that's 224 million gallons / year.

That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

5 million barrels of oil is about ¼ of one day's US consumption.

And, 5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $70/bbl.

So, in brilliant Keynesian fashion, the government (that is, you and I) spent $3 billion to save $350 million.

Hey, if you're going to save the earth, you have to spend some money. The extra $2.65 billion is what the carbon dioxide not spewed into the atmosphere by those clunkers cost us.

Now let's see what they can do with regulating and taxing the entire carbon-based energy sector. Should be a bargain along the lines shown above.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Revenge of the Left

The left is the left. I mean the baby-boomer, University of Woodstock left. They can't help it. They are creatures of their emotions--their Western, Christian civilization hating emotions. As such, they are all to predictable to those who know them.

Western Christian civilization culminates in American civilization which, for that reason, they hate. Accordingly, they hate American world power and every arm of it. Think of the discomfort the Clinton people felt at having uniformed military officers in the White House when they moved in back in 1993. Now in 2009, the Obama people go one better: they're making open war on the CIA.

In "Punishing Patriots," Ralph Peters is blunt: "in this administration's hard-left cosmos, the CIA is evil. For that matter, America is evil. Americans need to be punished and forced to face the evil our country has done." Hence, our President travels in foreign lands apologizing for his country the way German Chancellor Angela Merkel apologized for her country's behavior in Poland. This attitude is perfectly consistent with his twenty year discipleship under the pastoral care of Jeremiah Wright.

Fouad Ajami has compared Barack Obama's political style to that of a Third World dictator ("Obama and the Politics of Crowds" and "Obama's Summer of Discontent"). Peters draws his own parallels.

This is the sort of politicized retribution that prevails in backwater countries when regimes change. Our wise tradition has been for new administrations to accept that their predecessors did their best, however disagreeably, and move on. Gerald Ford sacrificed himself to that end, and even Jimmy Carter understood that presidencies are not for domestic revenge.

As ObamaCare, cap and trade, and union "card check" voting will destroy the American economy, this hunt for public enemies in the CIA will throw the door open for al Qaeda to destroy whatever is left of us. "You can't do useful intelligence work on a choke-chain. Yes, the intel community needs oversight and guidance." An editorial in last week's Wall Street Journal sounded a similar alarm over this castration of the faithful dog who patrols our perimeter. "The message that Mr. Holder's criminal probe will send to thousands of men and women is that they had better not do anything remotely controversial on behalf of American safety, even with a lawyer's permission" ("Prosecuting the CIA," August 29, 2009)

The genius of our republic is that its design soberly recognizes the complexity of human nature, and makes prudent account for its moral highs and lows. A wise national security policy does the same, a acknowledges that, "For the rest of us to live in peace, patriots must stand at the edge of darkness where our enemies dwell." For President Obama and the flower child fogies with whose resentments his heart resonates, the darkness is largely within our borders and national security is largely a matter of domestic reform.

By the way, Obama's emotional union with old leftists like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank helps to explain why he will not tack to the right, as David Brooks and Ed Gillespie have advised him, in response to public opposition and plummeting approval ratings. The other reason is that he wants to be a transformational President. So he will ram through whatever legislation it takes to change the American economy and way of thinking fundamentally, no matter what the political cost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Democrat's Cassandra

I suspect Camille Paglia, a teacher of classics at U Penn, is not long for the Democratic party, at least if it continues down its road to Stalinism. She said she proudly voted for Obama and is a proud Democrat; the only alternative is unpalatable because she probably cannot imagine getting on board with Chamber of Commerce types or fundamentalist Christians (she is a notorious pagan atheist) . She is however one of the few intellectually honest people on the left, so her reflections on her own party ought to be taken by them as a distant early warning. Actually, its pretty late, but this is still pretty cutting.

Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year's tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators? First of all, too many political analysts still think that network and cable TV chat shows are the central forums of national debate. But the truly transformative political energy is coming from talk radio and the Web -- both of which Democrat-sponsored proposals have threatened to stifle, in defiance of freedom of speech guarantees in the Bill of Rights. I rarely watch TV anymore except for cooking shows, history and science documentaries, old movies and football. Hence I was blissfully free from the retching overkill that followed the deaths of Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy -- I never saw a single minute of any of it. It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings. Hence I was alerted to the depth and intensity of national sentiment long before others who were simply watching staged, manipulated TV shows

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

How has "liberty" become the inspirational code word of conservatives rather than liberals? (A prominent example is radio host Mark Levin's book "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto," which was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly three months without receiving major reviews, including in the Times.) I always thought that the Democratic Party is the freedom party -- but I must be living in the nostalgic past. Remember Bob Dylan's 1964 song "Chimes of Freedom," made famous by the Byrds? And here's Richie Havens electrifying the audience at Woodstock with "Freedom! Freedom!" Even Linda Ronstadt, in the 1967 song "A Different Drum," with the Stone Ponys, provided a soaring motto for that decade: "All I'm saying is I'm not ready/ For any person, place or thing/ To try and pull the reins in on me."

But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clich├ęs that it's positively pickled.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Things to Keep in Mind

John Stossel, long employed in yeoman's work on behalf of the republic, brings his acute eye to the government-run health care about to be pressed down on us by our betters. You and everyone you know should hear this piece in order to accurately assess the President's last ditch attempt to keep the wheels on his rolling disaster. Only a massive push back is going to prevent the Canada-ization of our medical industry.

And just for fun, here Stossel confronts the useless idiot Michael Moore on his claims of Cuban superiority in health care. What a crock.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"To the Struggle Against World Terrorism"

Kicking around low budget things to do this weekend, my wife, the lovely and gracious Pamela, suggested we drive over to Bayonne. "Why Pamela", I said, "whatever for? Can anything good come out of Bayonne?"

She then proceeded to tell me what was good in Bayonne. Bayonne is directly across the harbor from Ground Zero, and in fact the piers and jetties there were used for receiving evacuees and as staging areas for rescuers after the attack. 13 of its citizens have been claimed by Islamist terrorism. One of Russia's premier artists, Zurab Tsereteli, on the day the Twin Towers fell, noted the outpouring of grief in Moscow as he walked the streets. A project formed in his mind: a monument featuring the common motif he was seeing among the crowd gathered in front of the American embassy--tears. He booked a flight to New York to visit ground zero and to search for a suitable place on the Jersey side for a memorial.

The "arts community" in Jersey City, where it was to be sited at first, raised a ruckus and made locating it there impossible. It would block views of the Hudson and the New York skyline they sniffed; its kitschiness was not just unpleasant but offensive; the artist was one of the world's most self-aggrandizing and pompous self-promoters; and so on.

Bayonne-- gritty, working class Bayonne, stepped up. They wanted a monument to the sorrow and loss that beautiful day in September. And so the deal was quickly struck. Out at the end of a man-made peninsula jutting into the harbor, right next to the Bayonne Dry Docks and site of the departure point for war materiel for every US military operation from WWII to Desert Storm known as the Military Ocean Terminal, is situated the only memorial the victims of 9/11 are likely to have. The entire area is being redeveloped into high end residential and commercial properties, and the memorial out at the end will act as an aesthetic and historical anchor for the place.

The drive out past the huge complex of largely abandoned warehouses and industrial buildings, looking like places Mafia hits are carried off, is a bit disconcerting. But the two acre park and memorial is well conceived and rendered, in bronze and flamed granite.
When we were there, only about 10 or 12 people were there with us. As I was gazing at the inscribed cobble stones donors are able to place to commemorate loved ones, a man asked if I were looking for any one in particular. Shifting out of my teary-eyed reverie, I said no. It turned out he was the caretaker, and surprised me with saying the plastic receptacle at the entrance gate for donation forms for those cobble stones, empty when we arrived, has to be refilled every day. It looked to me like the place was little known, and did not have that many visitors. But a recent email campaign has its profile being raised all over the country. In fact, that email campaign accounted for my presence and my wife's there today.

For reasons known only to them, the boys and girls of the press and their editors virtually ignored the ceremony opening the monument on September 11 2006, despite the presence of Bill Clinton, George Bush, Vladimir Putin, and an audience of two thousand. Do you know about this monument? Didn't think so. Neither does the vast majority of the country, thanks to the news blackout on things related to the terrorist bombing and murder of thousands of Americans on that day.

One thing that stands out when looking at the names of the fallen on the black granite base is the widely dispersed patrimony they represent--every European type of name, German, Irish, Italian, Polish, etc, but also Indian, Arabic, Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, and many others not discernible by me. Of course this is due to the cosmopolitan nature of New York City, but also, importantly, the openness of America which is also affirmed by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty hard by. The marking of those people's deaths, gathered together in that one sacred place, is silent but eloquent witness to the goodness of America.

And, surprisingly to me, the empathy of the Russian people, as well as the energy and heart of one artistic soul determined not to let the event pass unmemorialized. Zurab Tsereteli, after being rebuffed by Jersey City, payed for the monument himself, since Bayonne had only 40 thousand dollars to spend. The 12 million dollar monument is a gift from the artist and the people of Russia, much in the tradition of France's gift of Lady Liberty, just across the harbor.

"To The Struggle Against World Terrorism"

Humbling the One

Fouad Ajami has an eloquent and insightful account of Barack Obama's presidency so far. It builds on what he wrote last October in "Obama and the Politics of Crowds."

Here, in "Obama's Summer of Discontent," he repeats his point that, "His politics of charisma was reminiscent of of the Third World." The people invest all their hopes and all their authority in a charismatic leader who embodies them and who thus speaks and acts in their name without serious legal restraint. In fact it is just the sort of tyranny that grew out of the ancient democracies, and which the Founders of our republic resolved to avoid by means of the unique features of our liberal republic (federalism, representation, checks and balances, separation of powers).

But Obama and his most religiously devoted supporters have been disappointed with how difficult it has been for the President to realize all his beautiful hopes. Ajami explains that it because we are not a Third World "democracy."

American democracy has never been democracy by plebiscite, a process by which a leader is anointed, then the populace steps out of the way, and the anointed one puts his political program in place. In the American tradition, the "mandate of heaven" is gained and lost every day and people talk back to their leaders. They are not held in thrall by them. The leaders are not infallible or a breed apart. That way is the Third World way, the way it plays out in Arab and Latin American politics.

Barack Obama needs humbling, and the American people are just the ones to give it to him.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Obama, the Czars of Czars

I have recycled this PJTV video from Harold's addition below for a different application. (Good find, Harold. There is wisdom in many web surfers.)

The persistence of the "O," even in semi-official representations of the man by his party, is quite telling. I see no trace of the "O" on the White House website, but the those folks at Organize for America are clearly following the man, not the President.

It is not a substitute symbol, but a parallel one. What I find particularly troubling is the parallel structures that he is establishing. In addition to the seal, he has the "O." Through Organizing for America, he is mobilizing citizens not as President, but as Barack Obama, not under the flag but under the rising "O."

In addition to his cabinet, he has fifteen cabinet members and six appointees of cabinet rank, people like the director of OMB, the UN ambassador, and the EPA administrator. Alongside these are possibly thirty-one "czars" (Politico), depending on how you count, and soon perhaps as many as thirty-nine according to the PJTV video below. As these do not require Senate confirmation, they form a kind of parallel government--or the seeds of one--that is unaccountable within our system of checks and balances. Use of the word czar goes back as far as 1973. The name suggests extraordinary powers not subject to conventional democratic accountability. The fact that this President has multiplied them far beyond what anyone before him has ever contemplated is alarming in itself. Bruce Walker at American Thinker sums it up: "He is not appointing dozens of "czars." He is creating a party-state system of political commissars."

The Czar (or Tsar) was the Russian monarch, the title deriving from Caesar, of the Romans, as did the German "Kaiser." Thus, it means essentially "emperor." Since reigning over these many czars is the "O" himself, what dos that make Barack Obama?

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" - Wendell Phillips, speech in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 1852.


Since I posted this on Friday evening, President Obama's "Green Jobs Czar," Comrade Van Jones, resigned amidst controversy over his connection with Marxism and a few other embarrassments. Just when Obama wants to focus our attention on his Plan for Utopian Socialist Healthcare (PUSH), all eyes are turning toward the emerging Czarst American government, this communist that Obama recruited for his administration, and any other far-left ideological termites who are quietly eating away at our political and economic liberty from within Obama's commissariat.

Harold has drawn my attention to a Powerline post on this crack in the Obama castle wall. "Jones...signifies the soul of Obama's domestic policy as well as anyone in the administration."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Made in Obama's Image

In my previous posts on Obama art, I have drawn attention to the blend of religion and politics that the artists express, the religion centering on the political figure himself.

Michael J. Lewis makes the same connection in his essay, "The Art of Obama Worship" in Commentary (September 2009).

What is striking about these paintings is not their quality, about which the less said the better, but their consistent tone. They belong to that class of objects known as “devotional art.” Such objects are not only intended as votive offerings, to serve as the focus of veneration; the actual process of making them is itself an act of piety, a consideration that all but places them outside the realm of aesthetic judgment.

Lewis takes us through a recent history of the intersection of art with politics, from the Vietnam War through the art wars of the 1980s to Bush Baiting most recently. He then discusses Shepard Fairey, Ron English, and Shawn Barber, but dwells at length on the Fairey's career and the powerful effect of his Hope poster, recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

He concludes, saying, "...there is something unsettling about images that offer little more political commentary than an uncomplicated adulation that borders on power worship. By showing the subjects removed from all political context, and in a beatific reverie, such art produces images that are aesthetically indistinguishable from the “dear leader” effigies that delighted the dictators of the 1930s or of our own day."

Harold adds:

Great posts David; this is a hugely important and amazing development to watch unfold, with its undeniable connection with fascist and totalitarian propoganda techinques. The hard left has always leaned that way--they admire everything they know about Lenin, Stalin, Che, Castro, Chavez...all of whom knew (know) and exploit(ed) the power of iconic images in their propoganda.

Bill Whittle at PJTV has this video piece suggesting conservatives had better get with the program in understanding the importance of images...recall that Socrates said political philosophy has need of images, and in fact that he himself was "greedy" for images.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Government "Care"

A headline up on the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper marks yet another reason not to trust government health care. "Sentenced to death on the National Health Service" is a line that doesn't mince any words. Seems those programs put in place by state run health care systems, which commence with such concern for patients, health, and care, come soon to be seen as cost centers by administrators desperate to cut costs regardless of patients, health, or care. This is yet more evidence, if any were needed, that the end of life provisions the Democrats were attempting to include in their bills are indeed dangerous, no matter how neutral or anodyne the language. The trajectory is dark but predictable. The power over people's literal lives seems to be of a more intoxicating kind than just the power to make us recycle or pay huge portions of our earnings to the Treasury. The Dutch and the Swedes have also found that sending the old, the weak, and the terminal into that goodnight is a power doctors get a taste for, and one they soon begin using early and often, sometimes without even notifying the families. Especially when beds are scarce, budgets are strained, and the overwhelming directive from above is to cut costs.

"In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

"Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away. But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

"The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), was designed to reduce patient suffering in their final hours. Developed by Marie Curie, the cancer charity, in a Liverpool hospice it was initially developed for cancer patients but now includes other life threatening conditions.

"It was recommended as a model by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the Government’s health scrutiny body, in 2004.

"It has been gradually adopted nationwide and more than 300 hospitals, 130 hospices and 560 care homes in England currently use the system

Notice, to begin with, the Orwellian language tricks--euthanasia is the "pathway;" the government board--or death panel, in Palin's parlance--is NICE. Nice. These soft despots and coercive Utopians always set out with the thought that they are doing good, and doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Of course, a big part of the plan is to steadily increase that which we cannot do for ourselves, leaving more and more for the government experts to shoulder in their valiant lives of selfless public service.

The surface appearance of a tender hearted and sensitive government panel concerned to improve the public weal is soon belied by the reality under that appearance. People are not equal; there are less desirables among us, and it is government's duty to be hard nosed enough to recognize the fact, and act upon it in a way that maximizes utility for the rest of us. We are all "the rest of us" until we are the one on the gurney--but you know, everyone's number comes up eventually, and who better at discerning it than the government's expert numerologists?

The doctors blowing the whistle on this understand that palliative care is perhaps the portion that most needs to be individualized; that patients near the end or in desperate straits need closer attention from attending physicians, not another set of bureaucratic guidelines that allow thoughtless box checking by doctors who then agglomerate patients under preset parameters based on general symptoms or indicators.

[Dr Hargreaves] said: “I have been practising palliative medicine for more than 20 years and I am getting more concerned about this “death pathway” that is coming in. “It is supposed to let people die with dignity but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Patients who are allowed to become dehydrated and then become confused can be wrongly put on this pathway.” He added: “What they are trying to do is stop people being overtreated as they are dying.

“It is a very laudable idea. But the concern is that it is tick box medicine that stops people thinking.” He said that he had personally taken patients off the pathway who went on to live for “significant” amounts of time and warned that many doctors were not checking the progress of patients enough to notice improvement in their condition.

Prof Millard said that it was “worrying” that patients were being “terminally” sedated, using syringe drivers, which continually empty their contents into a patient over the course of 24 hours.

In 2007-08 16.5 per cent of deaths in Britain came about after continuous deep sedation, according to researchers at the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, twice as many as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

“If they are sedated it is much harder to see that a patient is getting better,” Prof Millard said.

But hey--aren't we all better off with that bed freed up for the next--probably more deserving--patient?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bringing Down the Political Class

Thomas Jefferson warned us that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure." (Letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787). We are far from the point where the political process is so exhausted and corrupted that love of liberty requires political bloodshed, but it is often healthy in a free republic to bring down, and even humiliate, those who have come to see themselves as the naturally ruling element.

Here is a U.S. Marine laying into a Congressman.

This Congressman is clearly a dweeb. The Marine kicks him in the groin repeatedly, then turns his back on him, leaving the Congressman standing there looking anything but a leader. Sadly, it is the people who epitomize the self-imagined naturally ruling element that deserve this treatment--people like Congressmen Barney Frank and Charles Rangel--but neither of those men would ever stand for this treatment. They are reprehensible in many ways, but they are not dweebs. Of course that is what makes it so difficult to dislodge the purported naturally ruling element.

It is encouraging news that Harry Reid is trailing in the polls behind his likely Republican challenger, former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian.