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Archive for February, 2010

The Impossible Dream?

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

– Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

 

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Our Mastication Mouth Print?

Thanks to my job, I was spared the potential coma from watching the alleged healthcare summit.

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Others were less fortunate, but we really should thank them for sitting through it for our benefit.  One of the better evaluations can be found here in the discussion between Hugh Hewitt and Mark Steyn.  And just for the record, at the bottom of this transcript where it says the two were “laughing,” they were not just laughing, they were hysterically pounding the desktop (yes, I heard it!) laughing so hard it took several moments for the two of them to get their breaths back!  It was quite amusing to listen to their amusement.  Sometimes, laughter is the best response to the stupidity of the other side.

Worth Dying For?

Part and parcel in today’s multicultural society is a stunning confusion when it comes to matters of defending oneself and one’s loved ones from harm.  I have already written at some length on this subject here and from the biblical perspective here.  A recent column by Mike Adams gives us one such despicable example in the form of a father who “would sooner lay my child to rest than succumb to the belief that the use of a gun for self-defense is somehow not in itself a gun crime.”  Those are his words, verbatim, and you will note he’d rather his own child die, not himself, than to use a gun in self-defense.  I agree with Dr. Adams when he says,

Morally speaking, I have no problem with anti-gun ideologues who wish to place themselves in peril by waiving their rights of self-defense. You almost have to respect someone who is willing to die for his beliefs.

But it is nothing but craven cowardice in my book to decide that others should die for his beliefs.  And speaking as a father, to be willing to sacrifice your own children on the altar of your ideology goes beyond the pale.  Dr. Adams identifies the underlying root cause in the liberal’s rationale.  The logic is simple (emphasis added):

It all goes back to ideology. Liberals refuse to believe in deterrence theory because to do so admits to the fallen nature of man. To them, man is inherently good, not evil. Moreover, he is perfectible. The liberal is willing to die to preserve his vision of himself and others. And he wants you to die for his vision, too.

So rejection of God and His revelation in the Bible creates this disconnect from reality in the liberal’s life.  This theology dictates his morality and if the theology is in error, the morality goes along for the ride.  (Oddly enough, such induhviduals usually also believe in the theory of evolution in which the survival of the fittest reigns supreme.  That “fitness” minimally requires the ability to kill in self-defense and frequently in offense.  Thus, were they consistent with their ideology, they would ensure their own extinction!  But I digress.)

In his attempts to perfect humanity, the liberal proponent of gun control ignores in typical liberal form all data that runs counter to his position.  Dr. Adams notes (emphases added):

Fortunately, we know the answer when it comes to concealed carry laws. Sixteen peer-reviewed studies show that allowing citizens to lawfully carry reduces violent crime rates. Ten peer-reviewed studies are inconclusive.  But there are, to date, no peer-reviewed studies reaching the opposite conclusion; namely that allowing citizens to lawfully carry increases violent crime rates.

The feckless multiculturalist who holds this position regarding personal self-defense will usually hold the same in the area of national defense.  Thus, in recent conflicts, their position stands as a very sharp contrast to the attitudes and actions of our military and, in multitudes of instances, the Iraqi people who have experienced tyranny and terror for decades.  Read any of the Milblogs over on my blogroll for any length of time, particularly those reporting from embeds with the military such as Michael Yon, and you will understand how a significant portion of Iraqi population just want to live their lives like you and me.  Given the obstacles they face, they have difficult choices to make of which we are all to often experientially ignorant.  David Bellavia has posted recently a must-read article about our victory in Iraq and what it means for the men and women who made it possible, and for the men and women of Iraq (HT:  BlackFive).  Mr. Bellavia observes:

What we achieved in the face of an implacable enemy, overcoming many in our own government willfully ignorant of our struggle, is what I believe to be the defining moment of my generation. The veteran today is the embodiment of what it means to be an American. Even when our valor was used for political sport, we continued to serve quietly.

This is truly without precedent.

One particularly riveting excerpt:

The bullets are flying.

My squad runs through the searing heat and forms a wall of flesh and Kevlar between the incoming fire and the citizens standing in line behind us. They’ve turned out in their finest clothes to wait for the opportunity to cast a vote. For most, this moment is a defining one in their lives. They’ve never had a voice before. This means something to them, and they have used the moment as an object lesson for their children. They appear nervous and take photos. The kids stand with them in line, viewing first hand this revolution in Iraqi civics.

As they came to line up earlier that morning, the men thanked us and clasped their hands over their heads, striking a triumphant pose. Some of the women cried. The kids were on their best behavior.

The gunfire began that afternoon. Insurgents started to shoot them. My unit ran to the road and formed a protective position between the killers and the citizens going to the polls. As we scanned the palm grove in front of us, bullets cracked and whined, then mortars start thumping around us. My squad pushed into the palm grove. I stayed on the road, overseeing their movement and coordinating the heavy fire from the Bradleys.

The firefight ebbs. The mortar fire ceases. A few last stray rounds streak past. A cry from behind causes me to turn. Lying in the road is a young Iraqi woman. I run over to help. She’s caught a round just below her temple. Her stunning beauty has been ruined forever.

She cries, “Paper! Paper” over and over until the ambulance arrives to take her away. An old lady emerges from the schoolhouse-turned voting site, sheets of blue paper in hand. She gives one to the wounded girl, who clutches it to her like a prized possession even as the ambulance carries her away.

The ballot was her voice. All she wanted was a chance to exercise it, just once, before she died.

Do you think that woman thought there was something beyond herself worth dying for?  Mr. Bellavia notes:

That young woman wanted nothing else than the chance to explore her newfound freedom. She didn’t beg for help, or plead for her life. Voting would become her final act. In that moment, she matched our own sacrifices.

Something worth dying for.  Which brings us back to our deluded liberal multiculturalist.  Shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings, Mark Steyn wrote (emphases added):

The ‘gun-free zone’ fraud isn’t just about banning firearms or even a symptom of academia’s distaste for an entire sensibility of which the Second Amendment is part and parcel but part of a deeper reluctance of critical segments of our culture to engage with reality. Michelle Malkin wrote a column a few days ago connecting the prohibition against physical self-defense with ‘the erosion of intellectual self-defense,’ and the retreat of college campuses into a smothering security blanket of speech codes and ‘safe spaces’ that’s the very opposite of the principles of honest enquiry and vigorous debate on which university life was founded. And so we ‘fear guns,’ and ‘verbal violence,’ and excessively realistic swashbuckling in the varsity production of ‘The Three Musketeers.’ What kind of functioning society can emerge from such a cocoon?

My conclusion then is the same and I would say this to the above alleged father:

The reality with which such a cocoon is refusing to engage is the reality of Evil in the world, and I mean that with the capital "E." As we have had repeatedly demonstrated for us, there are those who would go so far as to kill you if you stand in the way of their goals, and indeed, there are those that will do so no matter how good and kind and pleasant and appeasing you are, just for the sheer pleasure of killing you. We may, and indeed, should, recoil in horror at the existence of such sentiments, and fortunately, such individuals are in the great minority. But to deny their existence is a denial of reality that is tantamount to suicide.

Pardon me if I decline to subscribe to such delusional self destruction.

Obviously man-made…

 

Political Cartoon by Glenn Foden

The Injustice of “Fairness”

To describe “fairness” as anything other than an ideal for which to strive would seem to be an exercise in opposing goodness, Mom, and apple pie.  As is all too often the case, it all depends on your operational definition of “fairness.”  In a recent four part series, Thomas Sowell gives us an excellent overview of how the definition currently in use results in a woeful wrenching of reality that all to often yields consequences the exact opposite of those espoused by its proponents.

Calling the concept in its liberal definition a fallacy, Dr. Sowell gives the central reason for this identification in his Part I (emphasis added):

If by "fair" you mean everyone having the same odds for achieving success, then life has never been anywhere close to being fair, anywhere or at any time. If you stop and think about it (however old-fashioned that may seem), it is hard even to conceive of how life could possibly be fair in that sense.

Even within the same family, among children born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, the first-borns on average have higher IQs than their brothers and sisters, and usually achieve more in life.

Unfairness is often blamed on somebody, even if only on "society." But whose fault is it if you were not the first born? Since some groups have more children than others, a higher percentage of the next generation will be first-borns in groups that have smaller families, so such groups have an advantage over other groups.

When theory and reality do not coincide, the logical thing is to change the theory.  That is not the liberal strategy.  Pointing to what many on the left (and perhaps some on the right) refuse to acknowledge, Dr. Sowell continues (emphasis added):

Many people fail to see the fundamental difference between saying that a particular thing– whether a mental test or an institution– is conveying a difference that already exists or is creating a difference that would not exist otherwise.

Creating a difference that would not exist otherwise is discrimination, and something can be done about that. But, in recent times, virtually any disparity in outcomes is almost automatically blamed on discrimination, despite the incredible range of other reasons for disparities between individuals and groups.

Nature’s discrimination completely dwarfs man’s discrimination.

Differences exist and part of growing up involves learning to confront with courage, resolve, etc., the obstacles life throws at you.  Using a specific example in the field of education in Part II, Dr. Sowell reveals with clarity (i.e., in an unpolitically correct way, i.e., bluntly telling the truth) underlying root distortions lurking in the liberal methods employed to try to solve the problem but which, in reality, only make the problem worse (emphases added):

The point is to close educational gaps among groups, or at least go on record as trying. As with most equalization crusades, whether in education or in the economy, it is about equalizing downward, by lowering those at the top. "Fairness" strikes again!

In the language of the politically correct, achievement is equated with privilege. Such verbal sleight of hand evades the question whether individuals’ own priorities and efforts affect outcomes, whether in education or in other endeavors. No need to look at empirical evidence when a clever phrase can take that whole question off the table.

But, to some on the left, the very concept of achievement must be banished by all means necessary, regardless of the facts.

Achievement by overcoming obstacles is a special threat to the left’s vision of the world, and so must be magically transformed into privilege through rhetoric.

Those with that vision do not want to even discuss evidence that students from different groups spend different amounts of time on homework and different amounts of time on social activities. To admit that inputs affect outputs, whether in education, in the economy or in other areas, would be to undermine the vision and agenda of the left, and deprive those who believe in that vision of a moral melodrama, starring themselves as defenders of the oppressed and crusaders against the forces of evil.

And there we have part of the political reason for such methods, reasons having nothing to do with actually solving the problem.  Generally, when trying to solve a problem, one strives for methods that work and actually do solve the problem.  Useless methods are discarded quickly if they do not yield the desired results.

In Part III, he returns to the definition of “fairness” used by liberals and shows how the flaw that permeates their thinking is precisely their attempt to disconnect inputs and outputs.  Consequently, anything that provides criteria to distinguish amongst individuals becomes anathema to them.  The impact of this kind of thinking on various aspects of our culture and society is detrimental to the extreme (emphasis added):

Most of us want to be fair, in the sense of treating everyone equally. We want laws to be applied the same to everyone. We want educational, economic or other criteria for rewards to be the same as well. But this concept of fairness is not only different from prevailing ideas of fairness among many of the intelligentsia, it contradicts their idea of fairness.

Tests and other criteria which convey the realities of their existing capabilities, compared to that of others, can have what is called a "disparate impact," and are condemned not only in editorial offices but also in courts of law.

But criteria exist precisely to have a disparate impact on those who do not have what these criteria exist to measure. Track meets discriminate against those who are slow afoot. Tests in school discriminate against students who did not study.

Disregarding criteria in the interest of "fairness"– in the sense of outcomes independent of inputs– adds to the handicaps of those who already have other handicaps, by lying to them about the reasons for their situation and the things they need to do to make their situation better.

This series concludes in Part IV with a discussion of racial differences (note I did not say racial genetic differences) and how common they actually are despite what liberals, and even some conservatives, want to believe.

It is also a hard fact of history that some races had far more advanced technological, economic and other achievements than others at particular times and places. But those who were ahead in some centuries were often behind in other centuries–the Chinese and the Europeans having changed positions dramatically after Europe eventually caught up with China and then surpassed it within recent centuries. But there was no evidence of any dramatic changes in genetics among either the Chinese or the Europeans.

The conclusion of the matter for Dr. Sowell’s current treatise (emphasis added):

Fairness as equal treatment does not produce fairness as equal outcomes. The confusion between the two meanings of the same word has created enormous mischief, much of it at the expense of lagging groups, who have been distracted from the things that would enable them to catch up. And whole societies have been kept in a turmoil pursing a will o’ the wisp in the name of "fairness."

To expand upon Dr. Sowell’s analysis, because the current definition of “fairness” is a fallacy, it actually leads to injustice in theory and practice when trying to solve alleged problems of unfairness (thus the title of this post).  “Fairness” has its foundation on the subjective judgment and relativistic thinking of those seeking to implement it, not on an objective set of principles.  The laws of this country, and of our mother country, England, were grounded in the jurisprudence of the Christian Bible (despite what your liberal teacher may have told you).  Thus justice establishes guilt when God’s standards are violated.  “Fairness” tries to remove guilt by lowering the standards rather than establishing true guilt by comparison with an objective standard.  If we are truly guilty, we should confess our failures and plead for mercy, but this assumes personal responsibility to a “higher power,” another anathema to the liberal mind which acknowledges nothing greater than itself.  Thus, personal rights and justification of failure rule the day for those seeking “fairness.”

True justice is impartial, objective, and unemotional.  This is why the famous statue of Justice wears a blindfold.  Favoritism is not to be shown to the rich, but also not to the poor (see e.g., Exodus 23:2-3).  “Fairness” is subjective and based on arbitrary emotional considerations with appeals to those emotions leading to decisions that swing wildly away from justice.  As one example, justice allows an employer to be generous by giving extra to employees who might be in extra need.  “Fairness” says “not so!”  “Fairness” laws require employers to give each person in a given job classification the same pay, regardless of individual need (and all too often regardless of individual ability; see Matthew 20:1-15).

In the long run, justice provides an objective and unchanging yardstick by which to measure character and behavior flowing from that character, thus holding the individual responsible.  In sharp contrast, “fairness” generates humanistic laws that hold society guilty for an individual’s offense and helps to create the attitude of entitlement that ultimately will crush the spirit of a nation.

Let’s put some flesh to this discussion with a more concrete example:

  • A certain country has an economic system which allows some of its people to become and remain rich, while others in that country lived in poverty.  The leaders defended the system as being just.  Were they right?

If you answered “no,” you are thinking like a liberal.  Justice correctly answers “yes.”

Why is this system just?  Note that it is not said that the poor cannot achieve riches, nor does it limit the means of doing so.  Poverty is not a cause; it is an effect.  The right behaviors in a just system will lead to success whereas wrong behaviors will lead to failure.

To place this discussion into the context of the Christian worldview, poverty is an essential function in God’s larger purposes of training, chastening, directing, and rewarding.  Jesus said, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matthew 26:11).  God does not look upon the poor as being a permanent class of people but rather as being in transition.  This is important, because God ties poverty and riches without sorrow to obedience of His laws.  “…Observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day…and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow…”  (Deuteronomy 15:5-6).

God clearly states that He made the poor (cf. Proverbs 17:5), and that He gives power to get wealth (cf. Deuteronomy 8:18).  Thus an economic system is not a primary cause but only a resulting factor.  Those who condemn an economic system as being the primary cause of poverty both deny God His sovereignty and fail to grasp that the success or failure of any economic system is heavily dependent on the character of the individuals in that system and on the underlying assumptions made by those who craft the system.  Some of the causes of poverty include:

  • disobeying God’s laws (Deuteronomy 28:1-68)
  • get-rich-quick schemes (Proverbs 28:22)
  • gluttony and drunkenness (Proverbs 23:21)
  • stinginess (Proverbs 11:24)
  • immorality (Proverbs 5:10)
  • laziness (Proverbs 24:33-34)

Note that all these are based on personal character.  If you construct a system that has an incorrect view of human nature (cf., e.g., socialism and its humanistic assumptions), it will be a house built upon sand that will collapse when stress and trials come upon it (Matthew 7:24-27).

The Numbers Say It All

3,500,000
2,800,000
6,300,000
1,100,000
5,200,000
6%
7.7%
8%
9.7%
16.5%
334,000
47
10
$862,000,000,000
440
$6,400,000,000
$18,000,000

Go here to find out the metrics to which each of these numbers belong.

Not a pretty picture, yet it is reality.  And sorry, you can’t blame Bush!  (Well, actually, you can, but that only reveals your moronic bias and not the facts of the matter.)

(HT:  Teri O’Brien)

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Ah! Now I see…

 

Political Cartoon by Glenn McCoy