Blog Archive


Monday, December 29, 2008
This writer in The Daily Telegraph discusses how 2008 was the year that global warming was disproved. Praise God! It's too bad that science had to get such a black eye, but maybe that's a good thing.
Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008








Monday, December 15, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This heart-breaking story of a Korean immigrant who lost his entire family to a military jet crash this week in San Diego is difficult to read, but the reaction of the widowed husband toward the pilot is awe-inspiring.
"Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident," a distraught Dong Yun Yoon told reporters gathered near the site of Monday's crash of an F/A-18D jet in San Diego's University City community.

"He is one of our treasures for the country," Yoon said in accented English punctuated by long pauses while he tried to maintain his composure.

"I don't blame him. I don't have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could," said Yoon, flanked by members of San Diego's Korean community, relatives and members from the family's church.
Dennis Prager said something interesting today during one of his radio hours (I'm sure he said something interesting during all three hours, but I only caught a part of one of them). It is his opinion that it is man's nature to celebrate or see what exists in his wife's character or personality while it is a woman's nature to notice what is missing in her husband's. Because of this (and other reasons), women are more likely to be unhappy than men when it comes to marriages. Now, obviously, he admits there are plenty of exceptions where some men only see what is missing in their wife, or wives who ignore their husbands' faults and only see the good, but this is not the natural inclination of either gender. On the flip side, he believes it's in a man's nature to want to stray while it is in a woman's nature to be monogamous.

Agree or disagree?
Friday, December 05, 2008

TIME magazine reprinted an article from Christmas 1940 on the suffering of Christians in Germany at the time. Very interesting and inspiring...
More than 80% of the prisoners in the concentration camps are not Jews but Christians, and the best tribute to the spirit of Germany's Christians comes from a Jew and agnostic — the world's most famous scientist, Albert Einstein. Says he:

"Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. . . .

"Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."
Said a Catholic news dispatch from Geneva last month: "It is generally anticipated that in the case of a victorious war the Nazi regime would no longer hesitate to wipe out all vestiges of Christianity in Germany and try to establish a 'national church' under Nazi supervision which would be entirely based on the pagan conceptions of 'blood and soil.' "
And one of Hitler's first acts as Chancellor was to declare: "In the two Christian creeds lie the most important factors for the preservation of the German people." Only in secret did he tell his confidant Hermann Rauschning: "The parsons will be made to dig their own graves. They will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes. ... I can guarantee that they will replace the cross with our swastika."
[Reichbishop] Kerrl's creed: "The primacy of the State over the Church must be recognized. . . . The question of the divinity of Christ is ridiculous and unessential. A new authority, Adolf Hitler, has arisen as to what Christ and Christianity really are." To Minister Kerrl, Adolf Hitler is "the Jesus Christ as well as the Holy Ghost of the Fatherland."
[F]rom his prison cell the Advent message that Martin Niemoller smuggled out last December reached the U. S. in time for another Christmas:

"There is one thing I want to ask of you all; that we give no place to weariness, to capitulation! There are those who would persuade us that the suffering of our Church is a sign that it follows a perverted way. To that we reply confidently that the Apostles have borne witness to the contrary. ... In their strength let us go forward on the way—in His footsteps—unconcerned with the censure of men, but with the peace of Christ in our hearts and with praise of God on our lips. So help us God!"
Sadly, history has forgotten the stand that Christians made against the Nazis while everyone else bowed to worship them. Another deadly idea, that Hitler was a Christian and used the Bible to support his evil plans, is much more likely to be heard in our universities than the fact that if it were not for Christians, Hitler's hate would have spread much more quickly and easily.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Thomas Sowell wrote an excellent piece this week on the new trend within college admissions committees to reject applicants who don't have any "community service" listed on their applications.
Most people on the left are not opposed to freedom. They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom.
One of the most innocent-sounding examples of the left's many impositions of its vision on others is the widespread requirement by schools and by college admissions committees that students do "community service."
The arrogance of commandeering young people's time, instead of leaving them and their parents free to decide for themselves how to use that time, is exceeded only by the arrogance of imposing your own notions as to what is or is not a service to the community.

Working in a homeless shelter is widely regarded as "community service"-- as if aiding and abetting vagrancy is necessarily a service, rather than a disservice, to the community.

Is a community better off with more people not working, hanging out on the streets, aggressively panhandling people on the sidewalks, urinating in the street, leaving narcotics needles in the parks where children play?

This is just one of the ways in which handing out various kinds of benefits to people who have not worked for them breaks the connection between productivity and reward, as far as they are concerned.

But that connection remains as unbreakable as ever for society as a whole. You can make anything an "entitlement" for individuals and groups but nothing is an entitlement for society as a whole, not even food or shelter, both of which have to be produced by somebody's work or they will not exist.
The most fundamental problem, however, is not which particular activities students are required to engage in under the title of "community service."

The most fundamental question is: What in the world qualifies teachers and members of college admissions committees to define what is good for society as a whole, or even for the students on whom they impose their arbitrary notions?

What expertise do they have that justifies overriding other people's freedom? What do their arbitrary impositions show, except that fools rush in where angels fear to tread?

What lessons do students get from this, except submission to arbitrary power?
I am sure those who favor "community service" requirements would understand the principle behind the objections to this if high school military exercises were required.

Indeed, many of those who promote compulsory "community service" activities are bitterly opposed to even voluntary military training in high schools or colleges, though many other people regard military training as more of a contribution to society than feeding people who refuse to work.

In other words, people on the left want the right to impose their idea of what is good for society on others-- a right that they vehemently deny to those whose idea of what is good for society differs from their own.

The essence of bigotry is refusing to others the rights that you demand for yourself. Such bigotry is inherently incompatible with freedom, even though many on the left would be shocked to be considered opposed to freedom.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Half the harm that is done in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't want to do harm-but the harm does not interest them... or they do not see it... because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves [or look well in the eyes of others].

- T.S. Eliot
Saturday, November 29, 2008

As most people know, the Indian city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) was rocked this week by just the latest in a recent string of terrorist attacks which have become increasingly more deadly. Mark Steyn wrote about it yesterday.
The Islamic imperialist project is a totalitarian ideology: It is at war with Hindus, Jews, Americans, Britons, everything that is other.

In the 10 months before this atrocity, Muslim terrorists killed more than 200 people in India, and no one paid much attention. Just business as usual, alas. In Mumbai the perpetrators were cannier. They launched a multiple indiscriminate assault on soft targets, and then in the confusion began singling out A-list prey: Not just wealthy Western tourists, but local orthodox Jews, and municipal law enforcement. They drew prominent officials to selected sites, and then gunned down the head of the antiterrorism squad and two of his most senior lieutenants. They attacked a hospital, the place you're supposed to take the victims to, thereby destabilizing the city's emergency-response system.

And, aside from dozens of corpses, they were rewarded with instant, tangible, economic damage to India: the Bombay Stock Exchange was still closed Friday...

What's relevant about the Mumbai model is that it would work in just about any second-tier city in any democratic state: Seize multiple soft targets, and overwhelm the municipal infrastructure to the point where any emergency plan will simply be swamped by the sheer scale of events. Try it in, say, Mayor Nagin's New Orleans. All you need is the manpower. Given the numbers of gunmen, clearly there was a significant local component. On the other hand, whether or not Pakistan's deeply sinister ISI had their fingerprints all over it, it would seem unlikely that there was no external involvement. After all, if you look at every jihad front from the London Tube bombings to the Iraqi insurgency, you'll find local lads and wily outsiders: That's pretty much a given.

But we're in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology.
The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It's not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That's what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the central Asian 'stans to Yorkshire, and co-opted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.
There was a photograph that appeared in many of the British papers, taken by a Reuters man and captioned by the news agency as follows: "A suspected gunman walks outside the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus railway station." The photo of the "suspected gunman" showed a man holding a gun. We don't know much about him – he might be Muslim or Episcopalian, he might be an impoverished uneducated victim of Western colonialist economic oppression or a former vice-president of Lehman Brothers embarking on an exciting midlife career change – but one thing we ought to be able to say for certain is that a man pointing a gun is not a "suspected gunman" but a gunman. "This kind of silly political correctness infects reporters and news services worldwide," wrote John Hinderaker of Powerline. "They think they're being scrupulous – the man hasn't been convicted of being a gunman yet! – when, in fact, they're just being foolish. But the irrational conviction that nothing can be known unless it has been determined by a court and jury isn't just silly, it's dangerous."

Just so. This isn't law enforcement but an ideological assault – and we're fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology's advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population's demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don't seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven't yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn't about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It's bigger than that. And if you don't have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you'll lose.

Whoops, my apologies. I mean "suspected ideology."
Friday, November 28, 2008
This is just awful:
A worker was killed in the crush Friday after a throng of shoppers eager for post-Thanksgiving bargains burst through the doors at a suburban Wal-Mart, authorities said.
"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," co-worker Jimmy Overby, 43, told the Daily News. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too. ... I literally had to fight people off my back."
Witnesses told the Daily News that before the store was closed, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the worker's life.
Is there any difference between that and this?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters:
"The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid 'dens of rime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices [and classrooms], by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice."
Monday, November 24, 2008
Western liberal elites have recently become increasingly prone to apologizing for the excesses of their white, "Christian" predecessors. Of course, most of them haven't the faintest idea for what they are apologizing, nor is there any particular point to such confessions, but it does allow the contrite person "to consider himself the moral superior of his predecessors," as Theodore Dalrymple said recently in a column about FAS (False Apology Syndrome). He continued:
On the other hand, he knows full well that he has absolutely no personal moral responsibility for whatever it is that he is apologizing for. In other words, his apology brings him all kudos and no pain.

This inevitably leads to the false supposition that the moral life can be lived without the pain of self-examination. The locus of moral concern becomes what others do or have done, not what one does oneself. And a good deed in the form of an apology in public for some heinous wrong in the distant past gives the person who makes it a kind of moral capital, at least in his own estimation, against which he can offset his expenditure of vice.

The habit of public apology for things for which one bears no personal responsibility changes the whole concept of a virtuous person, from one who exercises the discipline of virtue to one who expresses correct sentiment. The most virtuous person of all is he who expresses it loudest and to most people. This is a debasement of morality, not a refinement of it. The end result is likely to be self-satisfaction and ruthlessness accompanied by unctuous moralizing, rather than a determination to behave well.

The effect on some of the recipients of such apologies is likely to be very bad also, for similar though slightly different reasons. Let us take the demand for an apology for the Atlantic slave trade as an example.

I doubt whether anyone could be found nowadays who would mount a moral defense of that trade. That it was hideous and cruel beyond all description hardly needs saying...

[T]he supply of slaves depended crucially on the co-operation of African suppliers who captured slaves for sale. No apology from their descendents is required. The trade was abolished almost entirely through the efforts of white abolitionists. However discontented with their lot present-day American descendents of slaves may be, they are much better off than they would have been had their ancestors not been brought to America. Are they morally obliged, then, to offer up thanks to the slave traders who brought their ancestors to America?

Thus the demand for an apology for the Atlantic slave trade is a demand that people with no personal responsibility for it apologize to people who have suffered no personal wrong from it. From the point of view of morality, this is a very strange demand.

It isn’t very difficult to discern what lies behind it: money, and lots of it. Nor does it require extraordinary powers of prediction or foresight to know who would get the lion’s share of any such money that was forthcoming.

But even when money is not involved, there are deleterious effects on the recipients of what one might call class-action apologies. Just as those who give them become convinced of their own virtue, so do those who receive them. It is enough that they should be considered victims for them to conclude that they can do no wrong, or at any rate no wrong worth talking about. For what is a personal peccadillo to set beside a great historical wrong?

An apology of this kind, then, or even the supposition that such an apology ought to be forthcoming, exerts a liberating, that is to say loosening, effect upon personal morals. For what can I do wrong to compare with the wrongs that my ancestors suffered at the hands of your ancestors? How dare you even mention it, you hypocrite!

The neat division of populations into victims and perpetrators, oppressed and oppressors, sinners and saints, that public apologies for long-past wrongs both imply and strengthen means that all sense of human tragedy is lost. The situation of the Aborigines in Australia, however, was and is tragic, and would still be tragic even had the settlers behaved from the first in the best possible or morally ideal fashion.
But a blanket apology and the granting of group economic privileges is hardly the way to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility in a population now decimated by alcoholism and brutalized by family violence. Quite the contrary: psychologically, if not in strict logic, it will allow a man to beat his wife and blame history.

The False Apology Syndrome flourishes wherever there has been a shift in the traditional locus of moral concern. At one time, a man probably felt most morally responsible for his own actions. He was adjudged (and judged himself) good or bad by how he conducted himself toward those in his immediate circle. From its center rippled circles of ever-decreasing moral concern, of which he was also increasingly ignorant. Now, however, it is the other way round. Under the influence of the media of mass communication and the spread of sociological ways of thinking, a man is most likely to judge himself and others by the opinions he and they hold on political, social, and economic questions that are far distant from his immediate circle. A man may be an irresponsible father, but that is more than compensated for by his deep concern about global warming, or foreign policy, or the food situation in Africa.

A false apology is usually accompanied by bogus or insincere guilt, which is often confused with appropriate shame.
Guilt, by its very nature, ought to be connected to responsibility; it ought, moreover, to be in proportion to the wrongdoing that is its occasion. To assume a guilt greater than the responsibility warrants is actually a form of grandiosity or self-aggrandisement. The psychological mechanism seems to be something like this: “I feel very guilty, therefore I must be very important.”

In some case, it is a substitute for importance, or for a loss of importance. Europe (or at least its intellectual class) now feels more than ever responsible for Africa, precisely because its power over it has waned. If Europe cannot feel itself responsible any longer for all that is good and progressive in Africa, such as modern medicine, roads, railways, telephone, etc., it can at least feel responsible for all that is bad in it, such as starvation, civil wars, and so forth. For it is far better, from the point of view of self-esteem, to be responsible for great evil than to be completely or even relatively unimportant. If in the process of false apologizing the participants render Africans themselves inert and inanimate, responsible themselves for nothing, or nothing very much, that is a small price to pay.

False Apology Syndrome — which is not yet found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association or the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, tenth edition — is a therefore rich but poisonous mixture of self-importance, libertinism, condescension, bad faith, loose thinking, and indifference to the effects it has on those who are apologized to.

I am, of course, sorry if you disagree.
Sunday, November 23, 2008

For those who missed the college football game of the week last night on ABC, you missed a shellacking. My Crimson and Cream boys made those Red Raiders want to leave at halftime. Now, will the pollsters be impressed enough to jump the Sooners ahead of the Longhorns? We'll know in a few hours.
Friday, November 21, 2008
This story has stayed under the radar, but two days ago the Christian matchmaking website E-Harmony settled a lawsuit against them and agreed to begin matching homosexuals. It is a shame that people can use civil lawsuits to bully and oppress Christianity. It's only the beginning though; it's bound to get much worse.
The fundamental problem in the evangelical word is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music, and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to staunch the flow of blood that is spilling from its true wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I don't quite recall what sparked this thought in my head last week, but something occurred to me regarding the current narcissistic fad within the American Church which wants to continually question why there is HUMAN suffering in the world (notwithstanding the fact that the majority of "suffering" in the Western world is quite mild). The question usually goes like this: if God is so powerful and loves people so much, then why does He allow evil to exist when He could just wipe it out with a word? Or, taking that thought one step further, why did He even allow evil to come into being, since He has always been a sovereign God? Why didn't he just throw Satan in hell as soon as he rebelled? Perhaps He just doesn't care about human suffering, at least in comparison to His glory and honor.

Which leads me to my thought... God is not a detached supernatural being that doesn't fully understand human suffering. He has suffered as much or more than any person: He died on the cross. Sometimes we subconsciously forget that Jesus was God and that when He suffered and died on the cross, God suffered and died on the cross (that's not to say that God died, since two-thirds of the Trinity did not). And when Jesus the Son was suffering, God the Father's heart was breaking in sorrow. This is one place where the doctrine of the Trinity is so key; if the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all separate beings instead of One, then that could mean that the Father was punishing the Son while staying detached from the suffering of the Son. But since they are One, He must have felt the spiritual torture (and perhaps the physical suffering as well) which the Son was experiencing by being forsaken by the Father.

So God acutely knows what suffering is like, but since He IS all-powerful and all-wise, one would think that He would have chosen to avoid that suffering with a different plan. Yet, He chose to endure the cross and the shame of death "for the joy set before Him" of glorifying Himself, the Father, and us. He is not a God who knows not suffering.
As a perfect bookend to my recent post on liberal intolerance, Theodore Dalrymple wrote a short piece yesterday on the difference between conservatives and liberals as it pertains to manners and behavior.
The Sunday before the American election, the Observer in London published an assessment of President Bush’s legacy by several well-known American writers. One of them, Tobias Wolff, wrote: “When I see someone being rude to a waiter, or blocking the road in a Ford Expedition, or yakking loudly on a cell phone in a crowded elevator, I naturally assume they voted for George W. Bush.”

Now, President Bush’s credentials as a conservative might well be questioned; but I take it nevertheless that he was elected preponderantly by conservative voters. Is there, in fact, a connection between being a conservative and having the selfish thoughtlessness (of the kind with which we are all familiar) that Wolff describes?

My guess is that there is no such connection, but rather the reverse. Modern conservatives tend to see the locus of appropriate moral concern more in personal behavior than in social structure (I am not here concerned with whether they are right or wrong). They believe in personal responsibility rather than causation by abstract social forces. They do not believe in entitlement, their own or anyone else’s, or in an indefinite extension of rights. They do not believe in perfection, and they think that even improvement usually comes at a cost.

Modern liberals, by contrast, tend to focus their moral concern more distantly from themselves, on the more abstract political and economic sphere. For example, the personal sexual code does not concern or worry them much unless it is restrictive. They believe that bad behavior finds its origin in social forces rather than in man’s soul. They believe in everyone’s entitlements, which are never met quite sufficiently and need to be extended endlessly. For them, the perfect society will result in perfect people.

Which outlook is more conducive to good manners? It seems to me, a priori, the conservative rather than the liberal: for what can the daily personal conduct of a single man add to or subtract from the sum of human goodness or evil, happiness or misery?

Wolff himself supplies evidence in favor of my thesis. Acknowledging the meanness of what he is about to say, he writes, “When a tornado tears off a few roofs in Texas, I think, serves you right!” This reminded me of something I once heard from a man who organized international intellectual conferences in Amsterdam: the only people who ever complained to him about their lodgings were those who were most publicly concerned with social justice.

“That’s some of what the last seven years have done to this writer,” Wolff adds. So it’s not really his fault that he sees fit to express this ignoble thought to an audience of hundreds of thousands. It’s the last seven years that did it. If they had been fat instead of lean, he would have been sweetness and light, and would have taken the Texans to his heart.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chris Horner has come out with another book about global warming. Red Hot Lies debunks the global warming myths that liars like Gore and James Hansen from NASA keep perpetuating. I am looking forward to reading it.
It's time to mark the end of the Iraq War. This Saturday, people across this nation and Iraq will celebrate VI Day. The Iraqi cabinet signed a security pact on Sunday approving the full withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2011. The streets of Baghdad are safer than those in Detroit, Chicago, or even Gary, Indiana. The terrorists are vanquished.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This story from Britain is quite easily the most disgusting one I've read in a long time, but one that is, unfortunately, not that rare. The murderers are profiled here.
The picture painted of [the mother] in court was of a woman who was at best uninterested in her baby.

Her own father said she spent much of her time lying on the sofa smoking and complaining about how tired she was.
When she was awake, she spent much of her time on the internet, gossiping in chatrooms and playing online poker.

Her home was described as disgusting. When police searched it, they found dog mess and human faeces on the floor and rat holes burrowed into the walls. The bodies of dead chicks, mice and a dismembered rabbit were strewn around.
The 32-year-old [boyfriend] was an unemployed handyman who could neither read nor write.
Relatives said that as a child he tortured guinea pigs, once skinning one alive. He also snapped the legs off a frog.
He spent a lot of time alone with Baby P, which is when much of the abuse took place.

He kept a Rottweiler dog at the family home and it was suggested in court that some of Baby P's injuries might have been inflicted by the animal.

He was also said to have shaken and punched the little boy, swinging him around by his legs and spinning him round on a chair until he fell off.

If he was ever confronted about his treatment of the baby, he claimed he was trying to "toughen him up". He even tried to train the boy like his dog. When he clicked his fingers, Baby P would touch his forehead to the floor for fear of being punished.

On the day the baby died, paramedics said they found the boyfriend standing in the hallway of the house, apparently unconcerned.
It's telling that such depraved evil can occur on a frequent basis in England. The world is in significant decline where the supposedly civilized West is more barbaric than Mogadishu. The mother didn't care that her son was being slowly tortured to death by her sociopathic boyfriend while the social workers were more concerned with perpetuating their horribly inefficient bureaucracy than helping the least of these. Of course, the proposed solution will undoubtedly be MORE social service bureaucracy. All of this is largely the fault of the liberal intelligentsia, who falsely claimed, as Melanie Phillips wrote this week, "that all lifestyles must be considered equal and that no one has right to pass judgment on anyone else." Ms. Phillips continues:
Government policy, egged on by activist judges who deliberately voided family law of ‘moral judgments’ on the basis that there was no right or wrong in family life because it was always just too complicated to untangle, accordingly penalised marriage, rewarded adultery, further incentivised lone parenthood and systematically normalised irregular relationships.

The outcome is a shattered social landscape of lost and abandoned children, raised in households of gross emotional chaos and physical and moral squalor. Such is the breakdown of the basics of civilised life that some of these children have never used a knife and fork by the time they enrol at school; their earliest words are obscenities, and aggression and violence are their instinctive response whenever they are thwarted.

Neglect is routine; love, responsibility and discipline wholly absent; under-age sex or sex with relatives or step-relatives commonplace; drug abuse, crime and systematic dishonesty a way of life. And these massively damaged children grow up into massively damaged parents.
Those who warned of the individual harm and social catastrophe that would result were vilified as bigots. The only judgment to be permitted was that judgment of anyone’s lifestyle was wrong.
Under this monumental pressure, academic research into family life was systematically corrupted to claim falsely that no serious harm was done to children from the fracturing of the family.

The truth about family life was deliberately concealed. Research shows a vastly greater risk of violence and abuse by boyfriends or stepfathers than biological parents or married spouses. A recent American study says a child is 50 times more likely to be abused by a non-biological parent.

In Britain, however, official statistics years ago stopped distinguishing between married and unmarried households, so it became impossible to identify the risks from unmarried relationships. Instead, ‘progressives’ claimed falsely that husbands and fathers posed the greatest risk to women and children.
Here in America, there is a tendency to believe that we're safe from the results of such radical postmodernism; "that could never happen here in the land of opportunity and Judeo-Christian values." Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
So this is what the Left does to its opponents in the new America?

Monday, November 10, 2008
Mark Steyn wrote a quite insightful piece this week about the election.
My Republican friends are now saying, oh, not to worry, look at the exit polls, this is still a "center-right" country. Americans didn't vote to go left, they voted to go cool. It was a "Dancing With The Stars" election: Obama's a star, and everyone wants to dance with him. It doesn't mean they're suddenly gung-ho for left-wingery.

Up to a point.

Unlike those excitable countries where the peasants overrun the presidential palace, settled democratic societies rarely vote to "go left." Yet oddly enough that's where they've all gone. In its assumptions about the size of the state and the role of government, almost every advanced nation is more left than it was, and getting lefter.

Even in America, federal spending (in inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars) has gone from $600 billion in 1965 to $3 trillion today. The Heritage Foundation put it in a convenient graph: It's pretty much a straight line across four decades, up, up, up. Doesn't make any difference who controls Congress, who's in the White House. The government just grows and grows, remorselessly. Every two years, the voters walk out of their town halls and school gyms and tell the exit pollsters that three-quarters of them are "moderates" or "conservatives" (i.e, the center and the right) and barely 20 percent are "liberals." And then, regardless of how the vote went, big government just resumes its inexorable growth.

"The greatest dangers to liberty," wrote Justice Brandeis, "lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

Now who does that remind you of?

Ha! Trick question! Never mind Obama, it's John McCain. He encroached on our liberties with the constitutional abomination of McCain-Feingold. Well-meaning but without understanding, he proposed that the federal government buy up all these junk mortgages so that people would be able to stay in "their" homes. And this is the "center-right" candidate? It's hard for Republicans to hammer Obama as a socialist when their own party's nationalizing the banks and its presidential nominee is denouncing the private sector for putting profits before patriotism. That's why Joe the Plumber struck a chord: He briefly turned a one-and-a-half party election back into a two-party choice again.

If you went back to the end of the 19th century and suggested to, say, William McKinley that one day Americans would find themselves choosing between a candidate promising to guarantee your mortgage and a candidate promising to give "tax cuts" to millions of people who pay no taxes he would scoff at you for concocting some patently absurd H.G. Wells dystopian fantasy. Yet it happened. Slowly, remorselessly, government metastasized to the point where it now seems entirely normal for Peggy Joseph of Sarasota, Fla., to vote for Obama because "I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage."
I don't need Barack Obama's help to "spread the wealth around." I spread my wealth around every time I hire somebody, expand my business, or just go to the general store and buy a quart of milk and loaf of bread. As far as I know, only one bloated plutocrat declines to spread his wealth around, and that's Scrooge McDuck, whose principal activity in Disney cartoons was getting into his little bulldozer and plowing back and forth over a mountain of warehoused gold and silver coins. Don't know where he is these days. On the board at Halliburton, no doubt. But most of the beleaguered band of American capitalists do not warehouse their wealth in McDuck fashion. It's not a choice between hoarding and spreading, but a choice between who spreads it best: an individual free to make his own decisions about investment and spending, or Barney Frank. I don't find that a difficult question to answer. More to the point, put Barney & Co. in charge of the spreading, and there'll be a lot less to spread.

I disagree with my fellow conservatives who think the Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Frank liberal behemoth will so obviously screw up that they'll be routed in two or four years' time. The president-elect's so-called "tax cut" will absolve 48 percent of Americans from paying any federal income tax at all, while those who are left will pay more. Just under half the population will be, as Daniel Henninger pointed out in The Wall Street Journal, on the dole.

By 2012, it will be more than half on the dole, and this will be an electorate where the majority of the electorate will be able to vote itself more lollipops from the minority of their compatriots still dumb enough to prioritize self-reliance, dynamism and innovation over the sedating cocoon of the Nanny State. That is the death of the American idea – which, after all, began as an economic argument: "No taxation without representation" is a great rallying cry. "No representation without taxation" has less mass appeal. For how do you tell an electorate living high off the entitlement hog that it's unsustainable, and you've got to give some of it back?

At that point, America might as well apply for honorary membership in the European Union. It will be a nation at odds with the spirit of its founding, and embarking on decline from which there are few escape routes. In 2012, the least we deserve is a choice between the collectivist assumptions of the Democrats, and a candidate who stands for individual liberty – for economic dynamism not the sclerotic "managed capitalism" of Germany; for the First Amendment, not Canadian-style government regulation of approved opinion; for self-reliance and the Second Amendment, not the security state in which Britons are second only to North Koreans in the number of times they're photographed by government cameras in the course of going about their daily business.

In Forbes last week, Claudia Rosett issued a stirring defense of individual liberty. That it should require a stirring defense at all is a melancholy reflection on this election season. Live free – or die from a thousand beguiling caresses of Nanny State sirens.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Can much be more disturbing than this?
Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Good

  • The world was still here when I woke up this morning.
  • The end of political commercials for at least six months. I would favor a constitutional amendment to make their end permanent (or a stipend to all Americans so that they can buy their own DVRS so they can skip the commercials like I do).
  • The pro-traditional marriage amendment in California (and several other states) appears to have passed. This will ultimately protect the children in the public schools from state-mandated indoctrination.
  • Another pro-child law was passed in Arkansas which makes only married couples eligible for adoption or foster care. While I'm not sure I agree with the foster care part, that children will not be adopted by homosexuals or single parents is good news. Now Christians need to step up and fill that void and embody their convictions (as PB preached on Sunday).
  • Al Franken appears to have lost. Enough said.
  • The rest of the Hollywood celebrities can return to their addictions and debauched lifestyles and leave middle America in peace from their sanctimonious bloviating.
  • John McCain won't pull the Republican Party toward the Left on economic issues.

The Bad

  • While it will be nice to see them step back as a frothing mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, the mainstream media will go back to doing what it does best: making every personal tragedy an indictment of at least one Republican.
  • Anti-abortion propositions largely failed, including a parental notification law in California and an abortion ban (with rape and health exclusions, no less) in South Dakota. The latter is a grim indication where this country is at on this issue. Perhaps, as Dr. Moore said in his address last week, abortion is at the point of no return in this country on the legal end.
  • The vile Rep. Murtha won re-election in Pennsylvania (even after recently calling his constituents "racist" and "redneck").
  • 7 million self-identified white, born-again Christians and 12 million black Protestants voted for the most pro-abortion candidate in history. This is a moral tragedy.
  • Republicans could mistakenly see this election as a message to them that they have to "go liberal" to get elected.
  • SNL loses their best (and only funny) material.

The Best

  • God chose Obama to win, and God is sovereign.
  • The Gospel marches on.

Michael Gerson from the Washington Post wrote this touching tribute to our current President (George W. Bush, that is):
Election Day 2008 must have been filled with rueful paradoxes for the sitting president. Iraq -- the issue that dominated George W. Bush's presidency for 5 1/2 bitter, controversial years -- is on the verge of a miraculous peace. And yet this accomplishment did little to revive Bush's political standing -- or to prevent his party from relegating him to a silent role.
This seems to be Bush's current fate: Even success brings no praise.
Initial failures in Iraq acted like a solar eclipse, blocking the light on every other achievement. But those achievements, with the eclipse finally passing, are considerable by the measure of any presidency. Because of the passage of Medicare Part D, nearly 10 million low-income seniors are receiving prescription drugs at little or no cost. No Child Left Behind education reform has helped raise the average reading scores of fourth-graders to their highest level in 15 years, and narrowed the achievement gap between white and African American children. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has helped provide treatment for more than 1.7 million people and compassionate care for at least 2.7 million orphans and vulnerable children. And the decision to pursue the surge in Iraq will be studied as a model of presidential leadership.

These achievements, it is true, have limited constituencies to praise them. Many conservatives view Medicare, education reform and foreign assistance as heresies. Many liberals refuse to concede Bush's humanity, much less his achievements.

But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency -- a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.

Before the Group of Eight summit in 2005, the White House senior staff overwhelmingly opposed a new initiative to fight malaria in Africa for reasons of cost and ideology -- a measure designed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, mainly of children under 5. In the crucial policy meeting, one person supported it: the president of the United States, shutting off debate with a moral certitude that others have criticized. I saw how this moral framework led him to an immediate identification with the dying African child, the Chinese dissident, the Sudanese former slave, the Burmese women's advocate. It is one reason I will never be cynical about government -- or about President Bush.

For some, this image of Bush is so detached from their own conception that it must be rejected. That is, perhaps, understandable. But it means little to me. Because I have seen the decency of George W. Bush.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Last night, London experienced its first October snow in 30+ years, and its first snow cover since 1934. Wonder how many years before the politicians and celebrities catch up? Hollywood is always about three decades behind the curve, so maybe by 2035 someone will make a movie about the beginning of global cooling... right about the time we'll all be wishing that the global warm-mongers had been right.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This week, Lorne Gunter from the National Post wrote a short but very insightful piece on the fact that global warming as we know it is done and we are highly likely in for 30 years of cooling (which is a significantly more dangerous threat than warming ever was to humanity).

In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement.

Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.

On the same day (Sept. 5) that areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century, Brazilian meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart explained that extreme cold or snowfall events in his country have always been tied to "a negative PDO" or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs -- El Ninos -- produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones -- La Ninas -- produce below average ones.

Dr. Hackbart also pointed out that periods of solar inactivity known as "solar minimums" magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded -- none -- and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. "This is no coincidence," he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.
Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling," as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an "almost exact correlation" between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2."

An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, "Man-made global warming is junk science," explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year "equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration ... This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number."

Other international scientists have called the manmade warming theory a "hoax," a "fraud" and simply "not credible."

While not stooping to such name-calling, weather-satellite scientists David Douglass of the University of Rochester and John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville nonetheless dealt the True Believers a devastating blow last month.

For nearly 30 years, Professor Christy has been in charge of NASA's eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily around the globe. In a paper co-written with Dr. Douglass, he concludes that while manmade emissions may be having a slight impact, "variations in global temperatures since 1978 ... cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide."

Moreover, while the chart below was not produced by Douglass and Christy, it was produced using their data and it clearly shows that in the past four years -- the period corresponding to reduced solar activity -- all of the rise in global temperatures since 1979 has disappeared.

It may be that more global warming doubters are surfacing because there just isn't any global warming.
As always, truth wins out in the end.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Mark Steyn's piece in the OC Register is especially witty today.
There was His Serene Majesty President-designate Barack the Healer, working the crowd at some or other hick burg, and halfway down the rope up pops a plumber to express misgivings about the incoming regime's tax plans.

Supposedly, under the Obama tax plan, 95 percent of the American people will get a tax cut. You'd think that at this point the natural skepticism of any sentient being other than 6-week-old puppies might kick in, but apparently not. If you're wondering why Obama didn't simply announce that under his plan 112 percent of the American people will get a tax cut, well, they ran it past the focus groups who said that that was all very generous but they'd really like it if he could find a way to stick it to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and whatnot. So 95 percent it is.
Anyway, our Fact Check Unit ran the numbers on the Obama tax-cut plan and the number is correct: "95." It's the words "percent" immediately following that are wrong: that's a typing error accidentally left in from the first draft. It should read: Under the Obama plan, 95 of the American people will get a tax cut.

Joe the Plumber expressed his misgivings about the President-in-waiting's tax inclinations, and the O-Man smoothly reassured him: "It's not that I want to punish your success," he told the bloated plutocrat corporate toilet executive. "I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

In that sentence about you spreading the wealth around, there's another typing error: that "you" should read "I, Barack." "You" will have no say in it. Joe the Plumber might think he himself can spread it around just fine, but everyone knows "trickle-down economics" don't work. So President-presumptive Obama kindly explained the new exquisitely condescending "talking-down economics." Put that in your pipe and solder it.

Evidently the O-Mighty One was not happy after his encounter with Joe. He's still willing to talk to Ahmadinejad without preconditions. But never again will he talk to Joe the Plumber without preconditions. Outraged at the way the right-wing whackos were talking up Joe the Plumber as if he were an authentic regular Joe, like Joe Biden, the O-Bots of the media swung into action. Vast regiments of investigate reporters were redeployed from the Wasilla Holiday Inn back to the Lower 48.

"We need you down here checking out this Joe the Plumber," editors barked to journalists.

"But I'm this close to wrapping up the Wasilla Town Library banned-book investigation!"

"Forget it! The Atlantic Monthly is claiming Joe the Plumber is Trig's real father... Look, you went to Columbia School of Journalism. This is what we bold, courageous journalists do. We're the conscience of the nation. We speak truth to plumber."

"Er, shouldn't that be 'Speak truth to power'?"

"That's the old edition of the handbook. Now we speak truth to power-tool operators. Joe the Carpenter, Joe the Plasterer, Joe the Electrician … . When you're building utopia, you don't want any builders getting in the way."

Alas, as a result of this massive investment of journalistic resources, no investigative reporter will be free to investigate ACORN voter-registration fraud or Obama's ties to terrorist educator William Ayers until, oh, midway through his second term at least.

Under the headline "Is 'Joe The Plumber' A Plumber? That's Debatable," John Seewer of the Associated Press triumphantly revealed that Joe is not a "licensed" plumber. In fact, he doesn't need to be licensed for the residential plumbing he does, but isn't that just typical of Bush-McCain insane out-of-control deregulation? It wouldn't surprise me to discover that most of these subprime homeowners got Joe in to plumb their subprime bathrooms. Next thing you know, the entire global economy goes down the toilet. Coincidence?

Joe is now the most notorious plumber in American politics since the Watergate plumbers. And they weren't licensed, either. It turns out Joe doesn't even make 250 grand, and it's only the $250,000-a-year types who'll be paying more (please, no tittering) under Good King Barack. Joe Biden – that's Joe the Blue-collar Senator – said that he didn't know any $250,000 plumbers in his neighborhood, or even in the first-class club car on Amtrak he rides every night to demonstrate his blue-collar bona fides. On "Good Morning America," Diane Sawyer emphasized this point, anxious to give the apostate plumber one last chance to go with the flow:

"Well, I just want to ask you now about the issue that was raised, because it's been a little confusing to me as I try to sort it out here. To get straight here, you're not taking home $250,000 now, am I right?"

"No. No. Not even close," confessed Joe.

So what's he got to be worried about?

The heart of the American Dream is aspiration. That's why people came here from all over the world. Back in Eastern Europe, the Joe Bidens and Diane Sawyers of the day were telling Joe the Peasant: "Hey, look, man. You're a peasant in the 19th century, just like your forebears were peasants in the 12th century and your descendants will be peasants in the 26th century. So you're never gonna be earning 250 groats a year. Don't worry about it. Leave it to us. We know better." And Joe the Peasant eventually figured that one day he'd like to be able to afford the Premium Gruel with just a hint of arugula and got on the boat to Ellis Island. Because America is the land where a guy who doesn't have a 250-grand business today might just have one in five or 10 years' time.

I'm with Joe the Plumber, not Joe the Hair-Plugger. He's articulated the animating principles of America better than anyone on either side in this campaign. Which is why the O-Bots need to destroy him. As Obama's catchphrase goes:

"Joe the Plumber!

Can we fix him?

Joe the Plumber!

Yes, we can!"

For the record, I am not a government-licensed pundit. But I expect they'll fix that, too.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Today, Russell Moore, Dean of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, gave a prophetic chapel message which every Christian should hear.

Monday, October 13, 2008
Right on the heels of Tony Perkins' video on the Connecticut proposition comes this disturbing news item.
A public school in San Francisco bused 18 first-graders to City Hall yesterday, so the youngsters could scatter rose petals in celebration of their lesbian teacher's wedding.

The students, from Creative Arts Charter School, waited on the steps for their teacher with bags of pink rose petals, bottles of bubbles and, at least for some, with political buttons asking Californians to vote down Proposition 8, a ballot measure that seeks to define marriage in the state as a union between one man and one woman.

"She's a really nice teacher. She's the best," 6-year-old Chava Novogrodsky-Godt told the San Francisco Chronicle, wearing a "No on 8" button on her shirt. "I want her to have a good wedding."
I wonder if they ever went on a field trip to a heterosexual wedding.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Legislators get some perspective.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Dr. Dalrymple discussed the financial crisis this week, taking the opportunity to examine what it indicates about Western culture at large. As usual, his unique insight incites (how's that for a use of homophones) much thought and introspection.
Canvassing the opinion of friends and acquaintances as to the meaning of all this financial turmoil, I began to feel like a share in one of those vulnerable companies that would seesaw wildly in value on the stock exchange, according to the latest rumour, the day before it either collapsed completely or was rescued by one expedient or another. Some would say that the crisis was at most an epiphenomenon [secondary complication], and that the real economy, the one that baked bread and made nuts and bolts, would continue unaffected. Others would say that this was the beginning of the end, that we should all spend the rest of our lives struggling to make ends meet, eking out a bare subsistence, and that we should never feel secure and prosperous again.
By no means a financial wizard – my love affair with money has thus far remained unrequited – I could not help thinking that the episode, whether it prove fleeting or of limited duration and minor consequence, was not without an important cultural dimension. Everything that happens tells us something about the way we live now, even when what happens is not entirely without precedent...

Of course, one’s assessment of the cultural significance of events depends upon one’s understanding, whether true or false, of their causation. Therefore, in what follows, I am depending upon my no doubt somewhat schematic understanding of the turmoil on the Anglo-American markets. It is therefore only right that I should state what my understanding is, before launching out on my main observations. If my understanding is fundamentally wrong, then my other observations are null and void.

Large quantities of money result in easy credit, and easy credit inflates the value of assets such as houses. This in turn means that houses, whose prices appear to be rising effortlessly like a good souffle, become collateral to loans to people who would otherwise not merit loans.

The banks and mortgage companies, whose business, after all, is lending money, did not enquire too closely into the biographical record of their borrowers. Indeed, those who sold mortgages often had little connection to those who lent the money: rising prices would take care of any risk inherent in ignorance or fraud.
Now pyramid schemes of this nature work splendidly for a time, and those who get out before the denouement, or manage to extract enough from them before they collapse, make a fortune. That, of course, is why they recur through history: many lose in the end, but a few gain, and gain astronomically, in the meantime. Mankind is a herd to be fleeced, and luckily the wool always grows back.

Let us now consider some of the cultural implications of what has happened. A few words seem to sum it up: improvidence [lack of foresight] and lack of probity [honesty]. But whose, exactly, and in what proportion and with what implications?

The butcher and the baker, upon whose benevolence Adam Smith famously told us that we do not rely for the quality of our meat and bread, are kept in line by the evident and close connection between how they conduct themselves and the profit that they make. In other words, their self-interest guarantees their providence and probity; assuming they have no natural or unnatural monopoly, they would go out of business very quickly if they passed off measly pork and adulterated bread as the finest that money could supply.

But the connection between such virtues as providence and probity on the one hand, and reward on the other, is - it must be confessed - somewhat attenuated in the modern world of capitalism. There are so many steps between raw material and final product, or between the initiator of a productive process and the final consumer of whatever it is that is produced, that there is plenty of opportunity for the vices corresponding to providence and probity to operate and flourish, at least long enough for those who display them to line their nest with feathers of gold. This makes providence and probity all the more desirable, of course.

I don’t think there is much doubt that the banks, in my own country at any rate, have been improvident and lacking in probity. If I may descend for a moment from abstraction to anecdote, I will recount my experiences with my own bank over the years that illustrate a change not just in its attitude to credit, but in our culture.

Shortly after I opened an account there, forty years ago, I received a letter from the manager drawing my attention with some asperity to the fact that my account was almost $5 dollars overdrawn, and that he trusted that I would soon rectify the situation by the end of the week. Forty years later, when I was again overdrawn, I received a telephone call from the manager – the bank’s motto being ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ – asking to see me. Indeed, the manager said he would come to my house.

Gosh, I thought, now I’m in trouble. When he arrived, I told him that I was about to pay the amount by which I was overdrawn into my account. He looked extremely crestfallen.

‘You mean you don’t want to borrow more?’ he said. ‘I’ve come here to offer you more.’ A wasted journey, obviously.

A short time later, I went to my bank to borrow money to buy a house while I sold another. Within five minutes I was offered a sum the like of which I had never previously handled, and in excess of anything I needed. While it was smaller than my total nominal assets, as I enumerated them, the bank made absolutely no effort to verify that I was indeed the owner of these assets.

With a large loan outstanding, I continued to receive, about every month or so, offers of a further loan of $50,000, no questions asked and mine for the borrowing by mere telephone call, just in case there were any little extras or extravagances I happened to feel like treating myself to (but apply now, before next month’s offer of precisely the same thing!). The principal example given of the little extras or extravagances to which I might want to treat myself was the holiday of a lifetime.

Two considerations led me to turn down all these kind offers. The first is that my taste in holidays of a lifetime runs more to observing civil wars than to lolling in the lap of luxury, and while sometimes expensive to go to, civil wars offer little in the way of sybaritic possibilities (though there was a surprising availability of pink champagne during the Liberian civil war, even if it was difficult to chill).

The second consideration was the faintly puritanical belief, no doubt the psychological consequence of having been born only a few years after the end of the Second World War, that if one could not afford to pay cash on the nail for the holiday of a lifetime, one could not afford the holiday of a lifetime. One did not go deeply into debt for the sake of evanescent [fleeting] pleasures...

Even allowing for the change in my personal circumstances over the forty years, the irresponsibility of the bank (and other financial institutions) seemed to me – if one absented a knowledge of history, that is - astonishing. There is no doubt, however, that many people, in fact many millions of people, listened to the siren song of easy credit, of fritter now, pay later.

The interesting question for me, then, is not that of the foolishness or dishonesty of the financial institutions, but that of the population. At what point did the population come to believe that it was possible (to cite the advertising slogan of a new credit card launched in Britain in the 1970s) to ‘take the waiting out of wanting’?

Let us try to imagine what it is to be a sub-prime borrower, or indeed a borrower of any kind who over-extends himself and goes into debt for trifles light as air, for the procuring of what will predictably bring him no more than a few moments’ satisfaction, soon to be followed by a further fevered search for a few more moments’ satisfaction.

When I sought my large loan from the bank, I – who have by no means maximised my economic opportunities throughout my life, or behaved with squirrel-like wisdom and foresight, believing in my twenties, for example, that I would never survive to my present great age - considered such matters as to whether, in the event of not selling my other house, I should still be able to service my debt; whether I could find other means of paying the loan back; what happened if interest rates rose and my income fell; etc., etc. These did not seem to me to be terribly difficult thoughts, indeed they seemed rather obvious ones, almost coterminous with the decision to seek the loan, and certainly with the signing of the agreement. Yet it now appears that millions of people, in my own country and elsewhere, have not thought such thoughts, and this is really rather depressing. I suppose they thought they were getting something for nothing; the more sophisticated among them probably realised that, since they had no assets to speak of, they had nothing to lose. But I am not sure that mass lack of probity is much better than mass lack of providence (the question would make an interesting one for a student term paper).

Be that as it may, all these people are voters, who have the future direction of their country in their hands, at least in so far as a choice between candidates for office makes any difference to the direction their country takes. The future, it seems, depends upon the dishonest and the improvident. This is not altogether reassuring, at least in the abstract, until one considers the behaviour of the class from whom the candidates usually emerge. It takes a thief to elect a thief; and in the imperfect sublunary world, perhaps that is the best to which we can aspire. At any rate, I prefer it to the unrestricted reign of honest men.
As a side note, Dalrymple's new book just came out. Needless to say, I already have it in hand. :)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sharia law is now officially sanctioned in Britain.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
It's been awhile since a Mark Steyn sighting on this blog, but he has finally written something since a summer-long hiatus from public writing. This weekend, he chimed in on the Sarah Palin VP pick.

I am [happy] - for several reasons.

First, Governor Palin is not merely, as Jay describes her, "all-American", but hyper-American. What other country in the developed world produces beauty queens who hunt caribou and serve up a terrific moose stew? As an immigrant, I'm not saying I came to the United States purely to meet chicks like that, but it was certainly high on my list of priorities. And for the gun-totin' Miss Wasilla then to go on to become Governor while having five kids makes it an even more uniquely American story. Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.

Second, it can't be in Senator Obama's interest for the punditocracy to spends its time arguing about whether the Republicans' vice-presidential pick is "even more" inexperienced than the Democrats' presidential one.

Third, real people don't define "experience" as appearing on unwatched Sunday-morning talk shows every week for 35 years and having been around long enough to have got both the War on Terror and the Cold War wrong... Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are more or less the same age, but Governor Palin has run a state and a town and a commercial fishing operation, whereas (to reprise a famous line on the Rev Jackson) Senator Obama ain't run nothin' but his mouth. She's done the stuff he's merely a poseur about. Post-partisan? She took on her own party's corrupt political culture directly while Obama was sucking up to Wright and Ayers and being just another get-along Chicago machine pol (see his campaign's thuggish attempt to throttle Stanley Kurtz and Milt Rosenberg on WGN the other night).

Fourth, Governor Palin has what the British Labour Party politician Denis Healy likes to call a "hinterland" - a life beyond politics. Whenever Senator Obama attempts anything non-political (such as bowling), he comes over like a visiting dignitary to a foreign country getting shanghaied into some impenetrable local folk ritual. Sarah Palin isn't just on the right side of the issues intellectually. She won't need the usual stage-managed "hunting" trip to reassure gun owners: she's lived the Second Amendment all her life. Likewise, on abortion, we're often told it's easy to be against it in principle but what if you were a woman facing a difficult birth or a handicapped child? Been there, done that.

Fifth, she complicates all the laziest Democrat pieties. Energy? Unlike Biden and Obama, she's been to ANWR and, like most Alaskans, supports drilling there.
Friday, August 29, 2008
From first appearances, I am liking what I'm seeing of McCain's VP choice, Sarah Palin. She has taken on her own party when it was right (she cleaned up rampant corruption in Alaskan politics). She has followed the law even when it went against her personal beliefs. But most of all, she has lived her pro-life views out in her own personal life, as Kathryn Lopez points out in her piece today.
John McCain could save lives with his vice-presidential pick.

“I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection. Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?”

That’s Alaska’s Republican governor, Sarah Palin, talking about her infant son, Trig, born with Down Syndrome. When Todd and Sarah Palin learned last December that their baby would have Down Syndrome, they not only saved a life but made a decision that would touch the lives of families living with similar gifts across the country.
Not only are children with Down Syndrome people too, they inspire a deep love and enthusiastic appreciation. Especially in the face of a culture that wants to expunge them. According to a study cited in the New York Times last year, “About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.” (Emphasis added.) Most American women are given prenatal tests.

At 44, Governor Palin is a bit young and relatively new to the political scene yet. These are no small considerations when electing someone who could assume the role of president (Democrats: Check out your nominee with that reservation . . . ). But if the youngest life she and her husband care for can wake up a nation that’s blind to the eugenics in its midst, a routine part of medicine today, she and John McCain would be offering human rights and dignity a great, honorable service. In contrast to Barack Obama, who would let the survivors of botched abortion attempts be killed, the Palins could serve as a great clarifier for voters this fall — and an education.

Introducing your next Vice President... Sarah Palin.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Watch this video, it is priceless (no pun intended). Pelosi is such a hypocrite.

Thursday, August 21, 2008
The teachers in Dallas have come up with a BRILLIANT new plan: don't penalize students for late or poorly done homework!
[T]he new rules require teachers to accept late work and prevent them from penalizing students for missed deadlines. Homework grades that would drag down a student's overall average will be thrown out.
This is genius, why didn't we think of that before? After all, the real world operates just like that: you can turn your work in late and everything is hunky dory.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »