Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swastika Carvings--Much Ado About Nothing?

My local newspaper has the Obama swastika story as a major front page news item, and the same story has dominated the news on most papers and TV shows for several days now. The lurid headlines refer to "An Act of Hatred," and everyone is falling all over themselves to express outrage at what they identify as "racism." Even the Secret Service and FBI are inspecting the carvings!

Are the politically correct commentators over-reacting to what could well be a schoolboy prank? No one knows why someone carved the word Obama and the ancient symbol into the grass on the 18th hole of the Lakeville golf course, but everyone is horrified. In this new age where words and symbols have taken on more significance than acts or deeds, one might well ask, 1)- is the angst over this presumed desecration justified, and, 2)- whether there is not more important news for the front pages of the papers? Is this very hyped and over-exposed incident another sympton of how the American media is so rapidly and steadily losing influence, readers and advertisers?

There is, after all, little useful discussion over the detail, history or meaning of the swastika. It may be useful to recognize that for thousands of years, the swastika has meant happy life and good luck. Today's schools and media appear ignorant about history and this is a good example, for they seem to only look at the Nazis who briefly (for about 15 years) used it to connote their idea of conquest and hate. But for buddhists and Hindus, as well as American Indians, the swastika has been a benign and religious symbol. There is in fact two completely opposite meanings for the symbol.

Furthermore, no one seems concerned about the direction of the swastika and whether the one carved in the grass was a clockwise swastika or the counter-clockwise sauvastika. Some people have tried to differentiate the two meanings of the swastika by varying its direction - trying to make the clockwise, Nazi version of the swastika mean hate and death while the counter-clockwise version would hold the ancient meaning of the symbol, life and good-luck. It is the counterclockwise presentation that was carved on the grass in Lakeville, so it is conceivable that the carver was attempting to associate good things with President Obama and should not be condemned but praised by the thought police trying to make news out of this event.

It is also conceivable that we as a people should pay more attention to actual deeds and results than the more insignificant world of utterances, promises, and statements of good intentions.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Follies of Woodrow Wilson--

An Intellectual in Search of An Abstraction

This site celebrates the wisdom of common people, and as we know, the positive forces that make a society prosperous always come from the bottom--its people, for they are the “Ultimate Natural Resource” of any nation. Conversely, we know that the most harmful decisions come from the top--from those people in governing elites who try and direct national energy in some “ideal” direction. That isn’t to say that common people don’t make mistakes--it’s just that any one individual’s mistake does not significantly impact society as a whole, whereas decisions at the top, mandated by governmental law and regulation, have wide and often unintended repercussions.

Barabara Tuchman’s excellent book “The March of Folly” provides an interesting recap of some of the worst cases of governmental folly during the past 3,000 years of societal history. Her survey identifies those times when decisions were made by leaders that did not advance the interests of their nation. She concentrates on cases where there was compelling evidence that the decision would be detrimental but the leaders still proceeded on a predictably doomed course of action.

Her examples provide proof, if any is needed, that sagacity, character, and an ability to admit error and change course are much better assets in a leader than high intellect. That is why common people make better leaders than intellectuals. For example, she cites the “best and brightest” men serving with President Kennedy in the early 1960’s : Although they were mostly demonstrably brilliant “Harvard” men, they displayed extraordinarily little evidence of sound decision-making during the three years they kept escalating the conflict in Vietnam.

Regarding the onset of WWI, Tuchman points to the folly of German leaders when they deliberately provoked America into entering the conflict. By 1916, both sides were nearly exhausted, and had sacrificed millions of lives at Verdun and the Somme. The allies saw no hope of winning unless America added its muscle with troops on the continent. German leaders, also faced with a probable stalemate, would not accept an end to hostilities unless they got the best of the settlement. Without American intervention, an eventual deadlock was fairly predictable.

Some German leaders saw their only hope lay in aggressive naval operations-- first to remove the blockade keeping food from reaching Germany, and secondly to help shut down supplies reaching England. But that meant using their submarines to sink American supply ships with the downside risk of bringing America into the war. In spite of many high level German ministers’ warnings, the decision was made to send out the U-Boats, and, as a result, America sent millions of troops to fight in Europe and Germany suffered an agonizing total defeat.

Tuchman indicates that the folly of the Germans was in not accepting the alternative-- “A better outcome could have been won” by accepting President Wilson’s offer to negotiate a peace, “knowing it would be a dead end, thus preventing or certainly postponing the addition of American strength to the enemy. Without America, the Allies could not have held out for victory and, as victory was probably beyond Germany’s power too, both sides would have slogged to an exhausted but more or less equal peace.”

Thus, the German leaders unwisely chose the gamble, and lost--but although Tuchman, does not mention it, didn’t President Wilson display equal folly by taking up the challenge and sending millions of American men to die in France? If the alternative was to let both sides fight it out to an exhausted equal peace, should not any wise American leader have avoided entry? Many “isolationists” effectively argued that case. That we had little to gain and much to lose.
We could have continued a naval “war” and used the convoy system to continue helping Britain. The loss of shipping, no matter how severe, would have been a lot less than what we suffered by sending ground forces. Instead, we had to pursue Wilson’s abstract goal to “win the war to end all wars.”

Of course, Wilson's “vision” of world governance failed to end wars, and, it sent millions of young Americans to their death--just to swing the tide among nations that had been battling each other for a thousand years. So, could WWI also be called Wilson’s folly? And wasn’t it a bigger folly than the Germans? One can understand the authoritarian Prussian generals’ Machiavellian motivation, but Wilson led a democracy that had always honored the Monroe Doctrine of not interfering outside the Western Hemisphere. And we had little to gain!

Equally intriguing, is Tuchman’s suggestion that if the Europeans had been allowed to fight it out, the long-term consequences would have changed history for the better--”no victory, no reparations, no war guilt, no Hitler, possibly no second World War.”
After all, it was the total defeat of Germany that bred the seeds of WWII. The French diplomats at Versailles, having been rescued by America, demanded the most severe reparations and punitive actions against Germany, and these harsh measures sowed the seeds of vengeance that helped Hitler‘s rise to power. Thus Wilson’s entry into the war served no purpose except to create a fire within Europe sure to boil over in a greater conflagration than ever.

It is an interesting sidelight that the French diplomats took advantage of President Wilson’s obsession with the League of Nations to gain their ultimate revenge on Germany. Before the French would support Wilson’s League, he had to allow France to impose the severest penalties on Germany. Wilson knew that burying Germany under impossible reparations would breed future conflict, but he allowed the French to do that in order to gain their approval of his utopian dream-- the League of Nations.

As a former Ivy League professor, Woodrow Wilson was a predictable intellectual in the pursuit of an abstraction--the League of Nations was “designed” to ensure world peace and didn‘t. Indeed he “bought” its approval from French diplomats only by sowing the seeds for the next war! Wilson’s Follies compounded into three: 1.) leading America into its first foreign war, 2.) giving up on sensible peace terms to gain the League, and, 3.) allowing the French to dictate terms that were unbearable to Germans and led to WWII.

Then, to pay for it all, he gave us the IRS and the income tax.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Abortion-- Is it about "rights" or genetic controls ?

It appears that in the mind of at least one leading female liberal, abortion is not about women’s rights, but about eliminating the types of people that “we do not want to have too many of.” On July 12, 2009 a Newsmax posting describes an interview between NY Times writer Emily Bazelon, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. On the matter of abortion, Ginsburg said she had always assumed the Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion was intended to aid population control among lower-income Americans. Thus, from her point of view, the liberal mindset was focused more on eugenics and genetic engineering by government fiat than on any concern about freedom or the “right” to choose.

Ginsburg pointed out that many states had already legalized abortion prior to Roe v Wade so it was no longer a problem for women, at least those of some financial means, to obtain a legal abortion if they chose to have one. So, she admits, the pro-choice mantra was used for a more insidious purpose: to increase abortions “among those who we don’t want too many of.” And the activists goal was to 1.) have the taxpayers pay for everyone’s abortions, and, 2.) extend the practice to all states whether the state’s voters wanted such “freedom” of choice or not.

In the same interview, Ginsburg expressed her disappointment with the subsequent Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. McRae, the 1980 case that upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions for poor women. "Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of, so that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion." Clearly the goal was not just to allow abortions, but to bless them in every state and pay for them out of the government checkbooks--all to halt reproduction rates among the most undesirable populations.

Ginsburg admitted to the NY Times reporter her own state of confusion over the issue after the Harris v McRae case was decided. That case came out the wrong way for Ginsburg. The Supreme Court appear to be saying there could be choice, but no funding: “Then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong." Of course her perception wasn’t wrong--the activists wanted Government encouragement and payment for all abortions, but the Court just stopped short of giving them everything at once. After all, the majority of Americans were and remain against the wide-spread practice of abortion.

Ginsburg’s admission that she had been “altogether wrong” in her thinking is worth noting. Of course the mental processes of members of the liberal fringe have often appeared confused or contradictory. But, it may be she had reached a point where the logic of retirement was overwhelming, because there is really no confusion over the goals of the pro-life activists she supported.

Those fanatical activists will not settle for the simple right of a woman to have an abortion. Instead, the pro-life activists have continued to demand 1.) late-term abortions, teen age girls’ rights without parental notification, partial birth abortions, government funded abortions, teen counseling about their right to abort, and suppression of alternative solutions such as adoption, abstinence, and the personal responsibility of caring for the life created. If their concern was primarily over the right to choose, they would not demand such a broad advocacy of every abortion scenario. Their agenda is so sweeping that it can only indicate the desire to kill as many people as possible--especially those from the poor and other types that they “do not want to have too many of.” It is this type of racial Nazism, or fascism, that links the Far Left to all authoritarian systems of government.

Whether a system is labeled communism, socialism or fascism doesn’t matter to this new elite--as long as they can rule and dictate policy from the top without any input from the common people. Indeed, Ginsburg admits their goal is to create less “common” people.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Robert Burns (AP) had an interesting article shown on AOL News June, 14, 2009 which points out a little known "dirty little secret" about the real leaders of Islamic politics in the Middle East. Western media have paid little attention to the degree to which Islamic terrorism and anti-Israel policies are not simply cultural and political issues, but are the declared policy of many Muslim Clerics. Quite incorrectly, our media have regularly endorsed the Cleric's claim that they deplore violence and have nothing to do with the fanaticism of the terrorist organizations. And yet we know many of the Islamic schools throughout the Middle East, and especially in Saudi Arabia, teach their children to hate the West as "The Great Satan."

And, in dealing with Iranian news, American media have concentrated coverage on the supposed leader of Iran, but Burn's paints a very different picture: "Ahmadinejad is Iran's political face to the world, but the clerics and their military wing, known as the Revolutionary Guard, are the real masters of the country's destiny. They dictate every important policy and decide who is allowed to run for elected office."

Burns goes on to quote Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has been a close observer of the Iranian scene for decades. "Obama's advisers know the limits of change in Tehran as long as the country is ruled by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his supporting cast of theocrats. They realize that it is the supreme leader and those around him who shape any movement in terms of U.S.-Iranian relations," Cordesman said. "This was going to be true regardless of who was elected as Iranian president. I don't think anyone expected that in an election where four candidates were allowed to run — who all had to conform to the control of the supreme leader — the outcome was going to produce dramatic changes in Iran's nuclear posture or its relations with other states in the region."

The American war on Terrorism has been hampered by the apologists for Islam who insist that religion has nothing to do with terror. They regularly excuse the Moslem leaders for any part in the terror, even though many such clerics, even those in mosques within the United States, play a part in the recruitment, training and financing of terrorists. We must understand that we are dealing with theocracies, where religious leaders actually control policy, and political fanatacism is an expression of religious zeal. Otherwise we give a blank check to those groups that simply stay in the background and direct others to execute their policy.

Western nations found a way almost a thousand years ago to separate political and secular affairs from religious and spiritual matters. The strength of Western Civilization was enhanced ever since by applying Logic and practical Reason to matters of State, while preserving the personal benefits of Faith for their citizenry. And, the very diversity of Western religions, all available by free choice to religious people in the West, added further strength and spiritual sustenance to our culture. But only the uninformed will believe that the Muslim Faith is in any way comparable to Christianity-- Muslim policy, being an integral expression of their religion, will not be restrained by Reason and Logic, but will seek to prosletyze, convert, and conquer all unbelievers to further their Faith.

The failures of Clerical control in the Middle East has been demonstrated by the almost 1,000 year slide in their nations' economic and political standing. Their people have remained uneducated, unskilled, and taught only to obey their religious leaders. Ever since Al-Ghazali won the favor of clerics over his fellow Islamic scholar Averrhoes, in the twelfth century, Islamic nations have been in a tailspin. The clerical establishment liked Ghazali because he argued that all causal events simply represent the doings of God, and rejected Greek thought, opposed the Mutazilites' call for reform within Islam, and led the return to Fundamentalism in Islamic Society.

Averrhoes, a leading Islamic scholar in Moorish Spain, advocated the scientific method and separation of Reason and Faith, but he found no following in eastern Islamic cultures. Instead, his teachings were valued by Western Europeans who called for a separation of church and state and initiated modern scientific inquiry --the Domincan and Franciscan monks that manned most of the first European universities around 1200 AD. The result was progress for the Christian West, failure for the Islamic Middle East--and this pattern has persisted for 800 years! As scientific experiments go, 800 years of consistent results represents compelling evidence.

It is this ancient process of control over the masses by the clerical elites in the Middle East that lies at the heart of today's problems. Kudos to Robert Burns of the AP for making one small reference in the major media to this fundamental issue. It is ironic that many of the Far Left in America, who generally champion, or at least excuse the Islamic religion's role in terror, would be horried if our Religious Right could dictate American policy.