Sunday, June 28, 2009

Out of darkness, let there be light!

"Pain's full kin - faith and hope awakening"

More from Terry and Madeleine Anderson's wonderful book, Den of Lions: Pamphlets detailing all of Iran's, Israel's, and America's arms for hostages dealings began to be distributed in Tehran's bazaar, then in Beirut by a pro-Syrian magazine. Then the story was picked up by the liberal American media, and no more American hostages would be released for nearly four years.

Madeleine made the shrewd observation that the captives' families were spending so much time criticizing our president in the media, that it played into the captors' hands. "They just had to keep the captives longer to keep the criticism going." The exact same thing we have witnessed since the beginning of the Iraq war. Before Bush was the designated devil and fool, the media had its Ronald Reagan.

Madeleine had a huge falling out with Terry's sister, Peggy, who was all over the media. Madeleine refused to speak with the media, not wanting to show the kidnappers how desperate she and others were to have their loved ones freed. Madeleine did send videos to all the Beirut television stations on every one of Terry's and Sulome's birthdays, in hopes Terry would see it.

At first Madeleine blamed God for all that had happened. "That made me feel more lonely than anything else." Both Terry and Madeleine fought against depression, anger, and frustration. finally she accepted the friendship of the wife of the new AP Middle East bureau chief, and started going to church with her, and no longer felt so alone.

Terry lived in enormous physical misery and often deep depression. The chains "were a very heavy emotional and psychological burden, as well as a physical one." He prays to God for strength, courage, and, above all, acceptance. Sometimes the acceptance comes, but then the "black misery" returns. "It's always there, in the background of my mind, waiting." One of his poems ends with these words: "I sit chained and trembling, full of pain, and pain's full kin - faith and hope awakening."


Terry Anderson writes in his book Den of Lions about the patience he had to learn in order to survive mentally seven years of ugly captivity at the hands of Islamic Jihad.
"Patience is not a virtue - it's a necessity, a survival trait, an ever-filling well from which I sip, or gulp, exhausted by the desert of this non-life. My faith surges and recedes; hope sometimes abandons me, leaving only patience. I kick and scream and flail inside my head; patience offers only soft resistance, washing gently at my rage. I know if I dive deeply, I will find patience, hope, and faith emerging from a single source, eternal and unchanging."

Marigolds like it here.

The pond

Obama is not the only president who says one thing and does another.

Terry Anderson writes inDen of Lions that President Reagan authorized arms for hostages negotiations, even though his secretaries of defense and state strongly objected. Reagan absorbed the emotions of the families of the hostages. Colonel Ollie North negotiated the deals. The market price of one American citizen? 300 antitank missiles, or 50 hawks and 200 antitank missiles. Finally, though, after Weinberger and Shultz made one last effort, and Reagan instructed McFarlane to tell the Iranians "the hostages had to come home, and not in exchange for missiles."

McFarlane did as he was told. The Iranian weapons dealer was furious. McFarlane was replaced within days as Reagan's national security adviser by Admiral John Poindexter. Father Jenco was released on July 26. The Iranians got their weapons and spare parts. The Contras in Nicaraugua also got weapons and supplies with the Iranian money.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"No shared view of God or man"

In his book Den of Lions Terry Anderson describes his captors as "hamsters." Tom Sutherland, a former professor at Colorado State University, was chained with Anderson for several years. The "hamsters" thought Sutherland was a spy, since they found in his briefcase a speech explaining the basic concepts of Islam. "Very academic, totally harmless," was Anderson's description of the document he finally got to read. Anderson and David Jacobson (another hostage, who later became the hospital administrator in Durango, Colorado when I lived there) were concerned that the rough treatment the hamsters were giving to their suspected spy, Sutherland, would be too much for Sutherland to take. Anderson offered to be taken down to the "horse stall" with Sutherland. The result was that Sutherland was brought in the room with Jacobson and Anderson, along with Father Jenko and Ben Weir. Five mattresses jammed into one 10 by 12 room, but "we need each other badly. At least I need them. Anything to keep my mind going, to keep me away from myself."

Terry writes this description of America versus the radical Islamists: "The logic is too different; mental language untranslatable. There is no shared view of God or man. Oppressor and oppressed, each sees the other a victim bound and blind."

Terry's faith in God was difficult to sustain. There was one occasion when he felt touched by God's love. But Terry realized his abduction and captivity were the work of men, not God. The hardest part, though, was accepting God's love, God's help, and to work out some way of understanding what was happening to himself; coming to terms with God, coming to terms with himself, "knowing what we expect of each other."

It was Madeleine's writing that evoked the most tears from me (almost every time she wrote). Terry had written her a letter in November, 1985. It was a wonderful love letter. He urged her to read the Song of Solomon Chapter 4, verses 1-15, and 7, 1-5. "They were written for you," he wrote to Madeleine.

Madeleine wrote, "The year ended with me in bed, with my daughter in my arms and only my tears protecting us from the loneliness surrounding us."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Faith is what you feel when you are alone and find you're not."

(More on the incredible journey of Terry and Madeleine Anderson as written in their book Den of Lions)

On June 7, 1985 Madeleine gave birth to Sulome. Hezbollah terrorists hijacked a TWA airliner. Hopes were raised. Despite President Reagan's often-repeated pledges not to negotiate with terrorists, he extracted Israel's agreement to release several hundred of the Lebanese Shiites it was holding without charges, and the Amal shiites agreed to free the TWA hostages Hezbollah had kidnapped. Reagan had told members of the family of one of Anderson's fellow hostages that "all" the hostages were being released. The seven original hostages were still missing when the 40 Americans on TWA were bussed to freedom.

I remember Peggy Say's indefatigable campaign to get her brother Terry and his fellow hostages released. She wrote a book about it, entitled, Forgotten. In it she writes, "They make deals in private, deny them in public, and then renege on the whole thing; they sit there in their suits or caftans and lie to your face. These are the people running the world. Where do you go to find somebody you can believe, someone you can trust?"

President Reagan "was interested to the point of obsession in gaining release of the American hostages in Lebanon," writes Terry. This led to Iran-Contra and arms-for-hostages in July, 1985.

Anderson, like most journalists, was a liberal democrat, and had lived his life accordingly. He took advantage of an opportunity to confess his sins to fellow hostage Father Martin Jenko. Then, he writes this line in his book: "Faith's what you feel when you're alone and find you're not."

"Suffering the consequences"

Terry and Madeleine Anderson have written a deeply spiritual book, Den of Lions. It is spiritual because after Terry's abduction by Hezbollah thugs, both he and Madeleine wrestle with spiritual questions daily during his seven years in captivity. Both fight internal battles with depression, anger and frustration. Terry does so much introspection. It is a fascinating read. Amazingly, their love for each other just grows and grows. Sometimes I think it is easier for love to grow when people are forced to be apart than it is when people are together! Not that there was anything easy about what Terry and Madeleine experienced.

On March 15, 1985 Anderson was kidnapped. For endless weeks he was chained, blindfolded, and told not to move. "Each small movement brought a curse, a threat, a blow." Often the "vultures gathered around to poke and prod with talon, stick or gun," but Anderson knew that "no thief throws away his booty." He was never to look at his kidnappers: "you see, you dead." "Silly, I'd already seen. Typical militiamen - small, thin, scruffy beard, sharp Arab nose, black hair: completely inseparable from a thousand, ten thousand others."

The terrorists' plan was to swap Anderson for terrorists imprisoned in Kuwait. They dictated letters for Anderson to write, to get Washington to make the deal for the terrorists in Kuwait. Madeleine writes that she had always thought that the American government had the power to find out anything it wanted, and to do anything it wanted. "I learned quickly that we were dealing not only with Lebanese terrorists who were ignorant of the western world, but with Americans who were equally ignorant of Lebanon, and Terry and I and our families were suffering the consequences."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wash your bags!

People who use reusable bags at grocery stores are so proud of themselves for not using plastic bags. Vince Carroll writes in the June 17 Denver Post, though, that two independent labs recently did a microbiological study which revealed that the reusable bags contained "high levels of bacterial, yeast, mold, and coliform counts, raising worries of food poisoning, skin infections and allergic reactions." Wash your bags people!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Last night's sunset

Will Obama's shrewdness be put to work on behalf of the best interests of our country?

In 1983 the atmosphere in Lebanon, which had been friendly to journalists, was changing. Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran, and poured money to Shiites in Lebanon. Marines had been walking patrols through the Shia-inhabited area daily, with unloaded weapons! Then, in April, 1983 63 people were killed after a man in a black pickup truck drove through a light wooden gate at the U.S. Embassy, and detonated his cargo of explosives as he slammed into the building. Included among those murdered were six CIA officials who comprised "virtually the entire Middle East section of the CIA, wiping out our intelligence-gathering capabilities," writes Terry Anderson in Den of Lions.

Then, on October 23, 1983 another suicidal truck bomber "smiled as he drove his truck right into the entrance of the main barracks" for the 1200-man Marine and Navy unit. Anderson, who had served six years in the Marines, became overcome with horror as he rushed to the scene. The attacker was a member of the new coalition of mullahs funded by Iran - Hezbollah - the party of God. Many of its operatives were trained by Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization. You remember Yasser Arafat, the man who guested at the Clinton White House more than any other person? Anderson writes, "Time and again the Palestinians worst enemy was not Israel, but themselves, and their fellow Arabs."

Anderson and Fisk took off for the ancient city of Baalbek, where Hezbollah's leader was headquartered. They interviewed the leader, Mussawi. Anderson realized Mussawi "was evil incarnate, with an almost palpable force of intolerance and fanatacism." Anderson's name and address, from his passport, were entered into the database Iran was funding on all westerners in Lebanon.

The Reagan government in Washington capitulated to the Shia and Druse militiamen who had driven the Lebanese Army out of West Beirut. The remaining Marines were pulled out immediately. "The green flag of Islam was hoisted on the same pole that had, minutes before, carried The Stars and Stripes."

We conservatives venerate Ronald Reagan, but this was anything but his finest moment. We love to criticize Barack Obama, but we should never doubt Obama's shrewdness. I saw how he toppled Queen Hillary. Let's pray that God will grant Obama the wisdom to know how to act in our country's best interests when dealing with the leaders of Iran and North Korea.

Personal Experiences: How Valuable Are they?

In Terry and Madeleine Anderson's book Den of Lions, Madeleine writes about falling in love with Terry. They began planning a life together. She became pregnant. It would be the second marriage for both. Their wonderful dream ended on March 16, 1985, when Terry was kidnapped by Islamic thugs.

"They robbed us of our happiness. They took everything in a blink of an eye, and planted hate instead of love in my heart," writes Madeleine. She knew it was because of her that Terry had requested to be assigned by the AP to Lebanon. Three weeks after his abduction Madeleine was entering her eighth month of pregnancy, and she realized that she had to leave Lebanon. She flew to New York to live with Terry's sister Peggy See, in Batavia, Terry's hometown.

Terry had gone to Lebanon shortly after it was invaded by Israel in 1982. He soon became utterly fascinated by the place. He likens his work there to the high-wire-artist, trying to keep his balance, "risking his life to please the crowd, for fame, the thrill of danger, and the pleasure of performing feats that few can do."

Despite the fact that the "fascination never faded," Anderson was not immune to the pain of others. For him it was the dark, deep eyes of Palestinian and Lebanese children," and the sight of "doctors operating on grievously wounded people." He had enormous respect for the correspondent from the London Times, Robert Fisk, who told him, "There are no good guys (in Lebanon). The gunmen are little fury creatures with yellow teeth and small brains and guns."

Terry writes, "Over strong protests from both the U.S. Embassy and the Marine command, the Reagan administration shifted from peacekeeping to "support of the legitimate government." The problem with that was that the Gemayal government had little to claim to legitimacy and less to governing."

Conservatives have been criticizing President Obama for not supporting Iranians who are protesting the recent election "results." They cite Ronald Reagan's stance in support of Polish workers. It was Reagan's experience as President of the Screen Actors Guild that led him to thoroughly know and understand communists who were attempting to infiltrate the actors' union. He developed convictions, which led to his marvelous stands against communism.

Unfortunately Reagan had no personal experience with the complex world of the Middle East, and he was, therefore, not nearly as competent in dealing with that region of the world. I am having trouble jumping on the knee-jerk conservative bandwagon criticizing Obama for being too cautious. Like Reagan and the communists, Obama does have some personal experience with the Muslim world. Most of the rest of us do not.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Jon did a great job listening to the judge's instructions at the county fair "pre-fair goat show." But, when it came time to award the ribbons, guess who won the blue ribbon? Jon was not happy about it, but he probably should get used to it, because little sister has some physical gifts that will enable her to excell at many sports.


Here are some photos of the powerful clouds we saw for two weeks straight, followed by some more serene sunsets in the past few days.

"Some kind of monster was being born."

The Goodwill Store is a great place to find books that you missed, but would like to read. With all the news about Iran, I could not pass up Den of Lions, former AP Middle East Chief Terry Anderson's memoirs of seven years in prison, written in 1993.

Terry's fiance, Madeleine, was six months pregnant when he was captured by Shiite gunmen. Were they wasted years? "Not quite," writes Anderson. "No years are empty in a life; and wasted - that depends on what is made of them, and after."

He was released at night in December, 1991. The first thing that hit him was the beauty of the stars, which he had not seen in seven years. Then, in the ambassador's residence in Damascus, Syria, he was brought in to embrace his fiance, whom he had not seen in 2,454 days.

It was March 16, 1985 in Beirut, Lebanon when the thugs kidnapped Mr. Anderson. Anderson was helpless, "a toy these young men were using to play out their fantasies." Anderson writes about his experiences. Madeleine does, too. She gives us this background:
"The fundamentalists in Iran were sending money and mullahs to preach revolution and hatred of the West to the Shiites. Shiites were the largest sect in Lebanon, making up more than half of the population of 3 to 4 million people. They were mostly poor and originally laborers, who had become angry and radicalized."

The civil war in Lebanon began in 1975 and continued for sixteen years. Madeleine was brought up in Beirut, a Marionite Catholic. "Some kind of monster was being born," she writes of the Shiites grabbing power through something that was being called "Islamic Jihad," which we are by now all too familiar with. Exascerbating things were the Palestinians kicked out of Jordan, who were waging war with Israel from Lebanese soil.

In the days ahead, as time permits, I will write more about this book, which I found utterly engrossing.

An Apology

I apologize for disappearing for over a week without an explanation. You may have heard about the tornadoes and electric storms that beseiged us here in Colorado earlier this month. One tornado came very near our house, resulting in power outages, and our computer modem was fried in the process.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Liberals Progressives

Liberals have a bad name. They don't want it any more. Now they want to be called "progressives." What is progressivism? Ronald Pestritto and William Atto have written in American Progressivism that "it is an argument to progress, or to move beyond, the political principles of the American founding. It is an argument to enlarge vastly the scope of national government. Criticism of the Constitution formed the background of the entire movement." Redistributing private property in the name of social justice was a key principle. Obviously, the Constitution stood in the way.

Our Constitution is all about upholding individual liberty and property. It makes clear that our individual rights were conferred upon us by our Creator, not by our society. Abraham Lincoln agreed, saying that Jefferson's Declaration was applicable to "all men at all times."

In the nineteenth century most Americans who wanted advanced degrees went to Europe to get one (mostly to Germany). In contrast to our Constitution, which limited our government by checks and balances, the Germans critiqued our ideas of individual rights and called for a sharp increase in governmental power.

Another obstacle in the way of progress was, in the minds of progressives, traditional Christianity. The state was to be worshipped as a god, given undivided attention. Instead of salvation in the next life, the Social Gospel, as promulgated by Walter Rauschenbusch the theologian of the Social Gospel, "man would now be judged by the degree to which he merged his life with the divine purposes of the kingdom of God on earth," write Pestritto and Atto. "We shall have to resocialize property," Rauschenbusch reasoned.

Jane Addams was the most prominent advocate of social justice. Prohibition, severe restrictions on new immigration, and forced sterilization of "mentally deficient" inmates in Indiana were among the accomplishments of the social reformers of the early 20th century.

State control and regulation was also pushed by educator/philosopher John Dewey. Dewey opposed any attempt to teach "transcendent" principles. The state essentially replaced the function of the church in education, with a new secular faith in democracy.

Herbert Croly "contrasted a government based on law to a government based on faith in the people's ability to rule themselves," write the authors. "The founders' Constitution, by contrast, elevated law - that is, legal protection for individual rights, even against the will of the majority."

Woodrow Wilson detested the separation of powers. The framers of the Constitution feared the tyranny of the majority. For progressives, the presidency became the agent of progress in national politics. The establishment of a substantial bureaucratic apparatus became a means of facilitating government by educated experts. Administration, as the founders envisioned, was to be confined to the executive branch. But the progressives wanted legislative and judicial activism as well, including the regulation of private business. Thus, the writers show how policymaking power shifted away from popular institutions and was given to educated elites by presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilsons, both progressives.

It appears to me that there are clearly similarities between progessives Roosevelt and Wilson on the one hand, and our current president, on the other. Wilson viewed the president as the originator of the national political agenda. Barack Obama appears to be in that mold. The 16th amendment, levying an income tax on American workers, was ratified during Wilson's presidency. Wilson also took measures to reorganize and regulate the banking system by signing the Federal Reserve Act.

In their foreign policies, Wilson and Roosevelt, although there were some clear differences, were both willing to intervene forcefully: Roosevelt to expand colonially, and Wilson to spread his vision of ideal government. After entering World War I Wilson called for "peace without victory,"a war to end all wars," and "to make the world safe for democracy."

So, you see, this progressivism thing is not new. There is history dating back to the late nineteenth century. Studying that history can be instructive, as we attempt to understand where our new president is leading us.

How our behavior affects our health

The CEO of Safeway wrote an interesting article on health-care in the June 12 WSJ. He points out that "70% of all health-care costs are the direct result of behavior. 74% of all health-care costs are confined to four chronic conditions (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity). Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is preventable, 60% of cancers are preventable, and more than 90% of obesity is preventable." Safeway has instituted health-care coverage based on how much progress its employees are making in each of the four above-mentioned disease categories. Employees save big bucks when they demonstrate progress.

Free Speech

David Harsanyi was at the top of his writing skills in his June 10 column in the Denver Post. He noted that President Obama does not want us to impose our values on other nations. One of our values is free speech. China now employs over 30,000 censors to block information to the 298 million internet users in that country. Their government is insisting that any company selling computers in China must agree to block out certain materials (porn, words like freedom and democracy, any mention of Tiananmen Square). Harsanyi concluded that the best thing we can do is sell the Chinese as many computers as possible, thus making it more difficult for the Chinese Communists to control the flow of information.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Out and About With Camera in Hand

The "new era of responsibility"

In Obama's new era of "responsibility" who will be held responsible? It appears that only groups disfavored by the Obama administration: business (tobacco, autos, Wall Street), and not the favored groups (trial lawyers, unions, ACORN, the government itself) must bear responsibility.

Dear Leader

So, what does "Dear Leader" of North Korea have planned for us next? More extortion? What will be our approach? More "Talks?" Will Obama push ahead with his ridiculous plan to cut funding for defending against long range missile attacks? The Dear Leader understands power and has no respect for what he perceives as weakness. Let's give him some of the former and none of the latter.

"Better to be a troublemaker than to pursue excellence"

One of my favorite American thinkers is Shelby Steele. He has coined some terms to help explain racial manipulations. One is the "bargainer." The bargainer is the minority person who grants the following deal to whites: "I will not "guilt" you with America's centuries of racism, if you will not hold my minority status aginst me."

Another term is the "challenger." "The challenger presumes that whites are racists until they prove otherwise by granting preferences of some kind to minorities." Steele, writing in the June 8 WSJ, says that "Judge Sotomayor is the archetypal challenger." "Challengers see the moral authority that comes from their group's historic grievance as an entitlement to immediate parity with whites - whether or not they earned the parity through development."

I believe Steele's concept of the challenger also applies to teens who try to manipulate their parents. Historic grievance is one thing; individual merit is another. As Steele writes, "and so a perverse incentive is created: weakness and victimization are rewarded over development. Better to be a troublemaker than to pursue excellence." Don't fall for it, parents.

Immigration policies and scientific progress

Did you know that more than half of the scientific researchers in the U.S. are foreigners, mostly from India and China? They earn 40% of the Ph.Ds in science and engineering and 65% of the computer science doctorates. Even so, foreign student enrollment is about 25% below what it would have been had pre-9/11 trends continued. These figures were cited in a WSJ column June 8 by Edward Alden.

The only statue with a smile on its face

The rotunda of the U.S. Capitol has a new statue. It is of Ronald Reagan, the only statue in the rotunda with a smile on its face. James Baker, Reagan's Secretary of the Treasury, called Reagan a "principled pragmatist, who would fight hard for the right, push hard, get the best deal possible, accept it at a crucial moment, declare victory and move on."

Long Lines

Long lines in Iran: tens of thousands of people forming a human chain 12 miles across Tehran in support of presidential candidate Hossein Mousavi (the election is tomorrow). Who will count the votes?

Long lines in Russia: a couple hundred miles of jammed traffic stretching from a small factory town of Pikalyovo, 130 miles from St. Petersburg. Putin is now the populist, scolding the oligarchs for not having proper social concerns as they operate their factories. Unemployment in Russia is now 14%. If oil prices soar once again, don't look to Russia to play an especially helpful role with Iran.

What should be the role of judges?

There is a really interesting column by Jeff Rowes in the June 6-7 WSJ. Rowes points out that conservatives and liberals actually agree on one central point: the government should almost always win in court disputes! It's called "judicial deference." "The practical result is that judges of both persuasions almost never enforce any constitutional limit on the power of government to regulate property and the economy." Because there is this liberal-conservative consensus, nomination fights usually focus on a few "culture war" issues like gay marriage or guns.

Rowe writes about the consequence of judicial deference. One example he cites is the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) enacted by Congress last fall. Hundreds of billions of dollars were "put at the discretion of the secretary of the Treasury, transforming the secretary into the most powerful unelected official in American history."

Courts also refuse to protect economic liberty. "America has become a patchwork quilt of laws serving special interests." Rowe summarizes, "Judges should be neither active nor passive, neither aggressive nor deferential. In a word, they should be engaged - engaged in protecting constitutional rights to property and economic liberty, because these areas of the law have the most impact on our daily lives."

Fathers Day

I believe Fathers Day is coming up sometime soon. I know, because I have heard the radio ads for GPS systems.

In 1940, 2% of babies were born out of wedlock in America. Today that figure is closer to 40%. Fathers are now expected to participate in the whole birthing process (I remember having to wait out in the hall during the birth of my first two daughters), but then they are allowed to skip out on the rearing of a child. The divorce rate doubled between 1940 and 1980. Divorce and fathering children out of wedlock are now common.

"Innovation, exuberance and prosperity that no government can centrally command into existence"

Claudia Rosett, a former WSJ reporter famous (to me) for her reporting on the U.N.'s Oil For food debacle, has written a fabulous column in the June 4 WSJ about what she saw in 1989 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. One gentleman asked her just a few days before the infamous crackdown, "I know what China is dreaming. What is America dreaming?" In other words, what happens after you get your dream of democracy?

Rosett goes on write, "Freedom, in the framework of a true democracy, allows individuals to weigh their own talents, skills, and ambitions, choose their won trade-offs, and chart their own dreams. That gives rise to innovation, exuberance and prosperity of a kind that no government can plan or centrally command into existence."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Price is Right

My first clue that this would be a crazy day was the threatening sky surrounding the store where I work as a cashier on the weekends. Hail and tornadoes were being predicted. Debris was flying as I walked into the store. I soon found that shoppers were nervous and in a hurry.

My very first customer was a woman with purple lipstick grotesquely outlined in purple lipliner. She and her husband proudly put down on the conveyor belt an entire display of toy cars. Since the display had no barcode to scan, I began scanning each of the toy cars. "No," she shouted, "We want the whole display!" I explained that the display had no barcode to scan, so that was the reason I was scanning each one individually. "Okay," the man said disgustedly, "then just scan five," (after he noticed that each car was scanning at $4.50).

Two of the five cars that I picked were alike. "No," screamed the woman with the purple lipliner, "those two are the same." So I put one back on the display and selected another one that was different from the other four.

The woman, who had been humming to herself the theme song from "The Price is Right" television show, was no longer happily humming. I sure hope they weren't hit by hail as they walked out to their car.

Take the Money and Run.

China launched its family planning policy in 1979. As of 2005 their census found that there are now 32 million more males than females. Many of these males are now reaching the age where they expect to marry. Families in rural areas have been scrimping and saving for years, because brides ask for money as part of the marriage agreement: an amount roughly of five years of family farm income! Many brides are becoming involved in scams, taking the money and running. The June 5 WSJ had a front page story about it.

What Ideas Brought Them Into Power?

Does Barack Obama understand Iran's totalitarian regime? Does he want to understand? Or, would such an understanding destroy some of his dearest illusions to which he is determined to cling? He made many positive comments in his Cairo speech about Islam, the Koran, and the history of the Middle Eastern countries. But, has he studied how a particular set of ideas has become victorious in Iran, and that victory has brought into power the most brutal and vicious elements, Ahmahdinejad and the mullahs?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Out and about with camera in hand

Tis the season for thunder and lightning. This mighty cloud appeared just as the sun went down behind the mountains.
After trampling through the pansies and eating a huge chunk of Bob's precious wildflowers, Spot lies down to rest.

Lucy thought she could elude the photographer if she hid under a pine tree.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Last Night's Sunset

Who is the Author of Our Freedom?

Mark Levin writes in his book Liberty and Tyranny that reason and science can explain a lot, but "Natural Law is the principle around which civilized American society would be organizxed." He writes that the founders of America "excelled at reason and subscribed to science, but worshipped neither." They believed that "our Creator was the origin of their existence and the source of their reason." God is the source of our rights and the author of the laws of nature under Natural Law.

"American courts sit today, as supreme secular councils, which, like Islam's supreme religious councils, dictate all manner of approved behavior respecting religion." Levin admires Barry Goldwater, who in his 1964 acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president, declared that "those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for Divine Will, and the Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom."

The Emergence of "The New Left"

Daniel J. Flynn writes in his book A Conservative History of the American Left that "The New Left emerged with the 1962 manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)." One of the facts I think is interesting about the 1960s is that it was a time of "Left vs. Left, Left vs. liberal, but rarely left vs. Right - until that decade passed into history, when it became almost entirely Left vs. Right." The New Left was a product of its times: the civil rights movement, the Great Society's anti-poverty programs, and the Vietnam War.

Students who joined SDS took their stand on race. An attempt to integrate the Albany, Georgia train station landed Michigander Tom Hayden in the Albany jail. "This one here is a nigger lover, boys," Hayden's jailer told the inmates in lockup, "take good care of him for us." Hayden had gone south to work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). "Getting jailed, beaten up, or otherwise abused radicalized blacks like SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael just as it radicalized whites such as Hayden," writes Flynn. "By 1966 SNCC banned whites from its organization and openly advocated violence. Carmichael traded the labels "colored" and "Negro" for black. He popularized the catchphrase "black power," and SNCC adopted a Black Panther as its symbol."

"That uncompromising spitit manifested itself in campus disputes between students and administrators." Activism became an end in itself. Berkeley's so-called Free Speech Movement was made up mainly of young, privileged, affluent young adults, who began to see themselves as an oppressed class. Borrowing more than rhetoric from the civil rights movement, on December 2, 1964 more than a thousand people, singing "We Shall Overcome," invaded the university's administration building, and staged a sit-in. The faculty and administration acquiesced to the Free Speech Movement's demands. Flynn writes, "The template sketched at Berkeley made its way to hundreds of campuses."

"By the end of the decade Communists devoted to Chairman Mao captured SDS from Communists devoted to Ho Chi Minh, and the organization was driven into obscurity."

"The 1950s intellectual meme became the 1960s lifestyle"

Daniel J. Flynn writes in A Conservative History of the American Left that "without the 1950s, there could not have been a 1960s." That seems obvious, but what he is writing about is the influence of 1950s intellectuals on the radicals of the 1960s. "Social science," which, of course, was anything but scientific, climbed to its highest reputation in the 1950s. Books like The Organization Man, The Affluent Society, and The Power Elite attacked American society. "Conservatives were to be diagnosed, rather than debated." That's still true today, isn't it?

In the 1950s a book entitled The Authoritarian Personality attacked people who believed in family, faith, freedom, and flag. Columbia University's C. Wright Mills wrote The Power Elite, which "put America on the couch and purported to discover its inner fascist" (even though it had been less than a decade since America helped put down Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo). David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd critiqued America for being too other-directed, not paying enough attention to their own feelings and aspirations.

Although Americans believed they had never had it so good, "social scientists" tried to convince them they had never had it so bad! William Whyte lectured Americans in The Organization Man that the high paying, secure, corporate jobs Americans generally desired, were not so desirable after all. Flynn writes, "Whyte observed that corporations stifled creativity, genius, and individuality, and rewarded sycophancy, obedience, and conformity. Whyte and others lamented the crushing bigness of corporations. The crushing bigness of the State escaped notice." Lewis Mumford sneered at the suburbs, where the Organization Man lived. Whyte even noted the worse phenomenon of all: "people from big, urban Democratic wards tend to become Republicans upon moving to the suburbs!"

President Dwight Eisenhower (who was loved by the American people) was ridiculed by the intellectual left, just like the way the left ridiculed Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Likewise, business executives were ridiculed: "If they read anything at all, they read mysteries, or books on management."

I remember an immensely popular book by Paul Goodman entitled, Growing Up Absurd. Goodman advocated more adolscent sex (maybe that's why I remember that book). Sigmund Freud said repression and neuroses were the price to pay for civilization and progress. One of Freud's star pupils, Wilhelm Reich, encouraged his patients to disrobe, touched them, then encouraged them to achieve orgasm in therapy. Herbert Marcuse wrote Eros and Civilization in 1955. It debunked work! Pleasure, unconstrained by civilization, should be pursued. The pleasure pursuit these authors wrote about, their readers acted out. The 1950s intellectual meme became a 1960s lifestyle.

Let's not forget Indiana University professor Alfred Kinsley. Kinsley wrote about the sexual peculiarities of his fellow Americans. He hid his own obscene perverse sexual practices. He manipulated data to show the abnormal as the normal. His "studies" claimed that most men had premarital and adulterous experiences, more than a third had explored gay sex, and a "not insignificant number took away the innocence of an animal. "He asserted that about one in two American women had premarital sex, one in four had sex outside of marriage, and one in eight had lesbian sex to the point of orgasm." Of course, the media dutifully reported all of this sensational b.s. All I can say is Kinsley's 1950s were not anything like the 1950s I experienced!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Cost of Admitting You are Wrong

Thomas Sowell writes in his book Economic Facts and Fallacies

"Whether moving people into government housing projects, giving them vouchers to subsidize their living in middle-class neighborhoods or moving large numbers of them from one city to another (New Orleans to Houston), the evidence is clear that changing people's location does not change their behavior. Yet the implicit assumption that it does continues to dominate social thought and government policy, both shaped by people who seldom live in the places to which problem people are moved, and who pay no price for being wrong. On the contrary, what would cost them dearly, in both personal and career terms, would be admitting they were wrong, that they had disrupted thousands of lives and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars."

What is government planning, according to Sowell? It is the "suppression of individual plans and the imposition of a politically or bureaucratically determined collective plan instead."

"The cloistered world of the campus"

In his book Economic Facts and Fallacies Thomas Sowell writes an absolutely devastating critique of academia. In a 36 page chapter entitled Academic Facts and Fallacies Sowell analyzes many facts and fallacies about faculty, teaching, educational quality, academic careers, choices for students, cost of college, academic finances, revenues, and discrimination. The education of students appears to be very low on the list of priorities of many American colleges and universities.

One area that interests me is the huge disparity in faculties between Democrats and Republicans. Sowell writes "It is not uncommon for the ratio of Democrats to Republicans to be dozens to one in some faculty departments, even though supporters of the two parties are relatively evenly divided in the country at large. Although the reasons for this situation may be ideological, the consequences are educational. Students who go through college without ever having confronted a vision of the world very different from that of a narrow band of views among their professors have little opportunity to develop their own ability to analyze conflicting arguments - as they will have to do after leaving the cloistered world of the campus."

Miscellaneous Facts and Quotes

Here are some facts and quotes that caught my eye this week:

Today in the United States there are 150 women enrolled in higher education for every 100 men. (Thomas Sowell)

Why do they call it common sense when it is so uncommon? (Fred Thompson)

While men are 54% of the labor force, they are 92% of the job-related deaths.
(Thomas Sowell)

The average American family spends 70% percent more on clothing for women and girls than on clothing for men and boys. (Sowell)

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting. (Richard Brookhiser)

While in the period from 2000 to 2005 most women were still holding jobs making less than the weekly median wages, women were also 1.7 million out of 1.9 million new workers earning above the median wage. (Sowell)

"Like a bat to a belfry"

I actually read something positive yesterday about Jimmy Carter! Holman Jenkins Jr. writes in the June 3 WSJ that if Obama had Carter's courage, our auto industry would not be in such a mess. He writes about how Carter persuaded Congress to "junk the regulatory apparatus that destroyed the railroads." Obama could have recognized that the CAFE standards have done the same thing to the auto industry. Instead, he "took to the CAFE fraud like a bat to a belfry," and "appropriated the fraud for his own careerist purposes."

Jenkins writes that it is "impossible to reconcile stiff fuel mileage mandates with gasoline prices set by the market, with a domestic labor monopoly, with a high degree of openness to international trade." Jenkins says, "you can have three, but not four of the above."

By the way, how smart were the Japanese to locate their auto plants in the solidly anti-union southern and border states in America?


There is legislation moving through the U.S. Senate that would require the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to regulate the tobacco industry. I was amused to read a full page ad in the June 2 WSJ by the Lorillard Tobacco Company. The ad opposed the legislation because tobacco is "an inherently dangerous product," and the FDA is "already overwhelmed in its mission to protect Americans." Now they tell us!

The ad goes on to decry the "huge profits" - and low penalties for arrest and conviction - of those who illicitly sell cigarettes on the black market. In fact, terrorist groups are finding the selling of cigarettes to be a lucrative source of funding, according to Lorillard.

The FDA, under this legislation, "would approve any new tobacco product that claims to lessen the risk from smoking before it could be marketed." Lorillard is afraid that would be a standard that could not be met, thereby assuring that no new products would ever come to market. Bo-hoo! The FDA might actually prevent the tobacco companies from lying to the public! Remember a few years back when the heads of the largest tobacco companies all testified before Congress that they were unaware of the addictive properties of nicotine?

Focus on the Middle East

Did you know that more than one-half of the 300 million people living in the Middle East are under 25 years of age? 65 million of them are illiterate, and two-thirds of them are women. More than 10 million Arab children between the ages of 6 and 15 are still not enrolled in any schooling. The above facts are in a June 3 WSJ column by the ruler of Dubai.

President Obama gives a speech in Cairo today to Muslims. Will he speak about the denial of equal rights to women and minorities? Will he remind the audience of the many times in the past 20 years when the U.S. put its men and women in harm's way to assist people suffering from tyranny or famine who happen to be Muslim (Somalia, Bosnia, Kuwait, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan)?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor, Struggles, and Racism

Thomas Sowell writes today over at Town Hall (in the sidebar) about Sonia Sotomayor, struggles, and racism. As usual, Sowell is a must-read. He knows a thing or two about struggles.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"Those who torment us for our own good, will do so without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

In his book Liberty and Tyranny Mark Levin points out that the word liberal is, in the classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarianism. Therefore, Levin suggests it is more accurate "to characterize the Modern Liberal as Statist." Statists are "constantly agitating for government action on behalf of an endless parade of "victims."

Statists build a culture of conformity and dependency. However, "when living freely and pursuing his own legitimate interests, the individual displays qualities that are antithetical to the Statist's - initiative, self-reliance, and independence." "The primary principle around which the Statist organizes can be summed up in one word - "equality," but the Statist misuses equality to pursue uniform economic and social outcomes." "The Statist wants Americans to see themselves as backwards, foolishly holding to their quaint notions of individual liberty, private property, family and faith, long diminished or jettisoned in other countries."

Levin continues, "The Statist relies on legions of academics to serve as his missionaries. The first cousin of the academics is Hollywood." The Statist is also assisted by the media whom Levin describes as "parasites of the Statist," and on whom the individual must rely inordinately for disseminating information. Because talk radio is generally hostile to the Statist, there are current efforts underway to "circumscribe the content of speech on talk radio." When economic hardship exists, often at the hand of the Statist, the media joins the Statist in condemning the free market and advocating for more government.

Levin quotes the writer-philosopher C.S. Lewis, who wrote, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupididy may sometimes be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."