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Mind Your Manners

Discussions of race and intelligence. Plus: The SCHIP on taxpayers' shoulders. Viguerie and Reagan. LOST at sea. Plus much more.

10.31.07

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DELICATE MANNERS
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Race and Intelligence:

Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder miss a point: race-intelligent discussions (gender-intelligence stuff if you want to include Larry Summers in the mix along with James Watson and Arthur Jensen) belongs not in the arena of scientific debate, but in the constructions of Miss Manners. Private musings on the subject are constitutionally protected, of course, but any public expression is just plain rude.
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Science and political correctness are mutually antagonistic. Unless you are a communist. Or fascist. Or leftist. In which case, political correctness trumps science. PC: it's the new McCarthyism. Stalin and Mao, sit up and take notice!
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

I read Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder's article offering up their commentary and analysis of some comment or another made by Nobel laureate James Watson and shook my head in dismay. Theirs is the kind of illogic we see offered up by so much leftist pseudo-science. They begin with the truth they "know" is true, must be true, and then proceed to discredit the research and observations of a very credible scientist. Please do not misunderstand me. I do not defend racists and/or racism.

At the same time, what if the data led to the inescapable conclusion that one people group was "smarter" than another? Let's not get sidetracked talking about how one defines or measure intelligence or whether we are talking about different intelligences.) I think of that Harvard notable who dared suggest men were, on average, better at math than woman. I think of the global warming "debate." At every major turn of science, there has always been an establishment who thought for certain that the new theories were crazy until the evidence overwhelmed them. Thomas Kuhn's book on the subject makes for a good corrective on the common myths of how science is really done. And that is mainstream science. What if we freight the debate with the word "racism." What do you think is the likelihood that an open and honest debate of the subject might happen in an environment free from hysteria and name calling? I remember the book published in the late nineties called The Bell Curve and the furor that created.

Leftists are all good with science as long as it is upholding and justifying their basic core beliefs. Beliefs like: "There is no God" must find a "scientific" explanation for how the universe was created and life was formed. Evolution was a belief in search of evidentiary "proof;" not the other way around. Much of the social engineering that has taken place in the 20th and 21st centuries is rooted more in liberal belief systems than it is in hard science. Feminism and socialism with all their snobbish experts and high sounding language about equality have given us divorce, promiscuous female sexuality, abortion, the welfare mother, and a host of other ills as ideology is pursued with the supposed imprimatur of "scientific" attached to it. At the heart of so much of it is the mistaken belief that we are all born equal. Everyone, man, woman, people of differing races would all be equally fulfilled if we could somehow just throw off the institutional factors of discrimination that disadvantage and victimize people and prevent them from all enjoying the same success as every other person. After all, we are all equal, the like of thinking goes. If we all had the same shot at success we would all succeed.

But the truth is that we are not all equal. Some of us are smarter than others. Some of us are details people. Some of us are big picture people. Some of us are creative. Others of us are conscientious and mindful of the rules. Some of us are good at math. Some of us are good at reading people. Others of us are empathetic. Some of us are disciplined and motivated. Some of us are men. Some are women. And all of these things are without counting the unfortunate factors of bad parenting, divorce, and socio-economic disadvantage. It is likely that these factors will create a wide degree of difference among people.

If these differences exist in individuals, even discounting negative socio-economic factors, it is not that hard to take the next step and see that it is likely that differences among groups of people who share similar gender, cultures, geography, climate, history, and yes race will develop differently than others and will exhibit some generalized differences. It might be as well that when someone shares uncommon characteristics when compared to one's social and ethnic group that one will not really fit in among one's own people. There are always exceptions to the general rule.

And it is true that a brilliant physician is a brilliant physician no matter their skin color, religion or socio-economic upbringing. The same could be said of artists, teachers, mechanics, firefighters and even mathematicians. Yet I am not somehow shocked when most teachers and social workers today are women and most mechanics and mathematicians are men.

Why are we so terrified to examine the questions of racial differences? I will tell you why...our basic liberalized 21st century template is terrified that there might actually be some truth to it. We are also terrified of the specter of hyper-nationalism as in Nazi Germany and the evil that brought to the world. Six million murdered Jews seem like a good enough reason to never ask questions of racial and cultural difference.

But we will never know whether there is evidence of racial differences in areas like intelligence, at least not in today's social and intellectual climate because like global warming, our template will not allow any evidence to contradict what we already know: that all people and all peoples are equal. All cultures are equal. All races are equal. People who object to the notion that the earth is unnaturally warming and that human beings are the primary cause are called "deniers," and dismissed. In the same way people who suggest that there might be differing gifts, characteristics and abilities among differing ethnic or racial groups are labeled "racist" and dismissed.

Who needs a science that rigorously studies the world as it is alongside of an open and reasoned pursuit of the truth when we already know the right answer anyways? Throwing out the word "denier" and "racist" is easier than actually debating a truth we might not want to face. Who knows, perhaps an scientific debate will discover that we are all more or less the same as cultures and races and that all differences are personal. In today's intellectual climate, there is little hope we might find out one way or another.
-- Steve Baarda
London, Ontario

Nice try, Jackie. We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are, but the search for truth does not always result in pleasantness.

It matters very much. When the IQ of a continent is 70, there is no chance whatever that continent will ever join the eighteenth century. Raising questions about tests is only going to distract us away from any improvement in their situations. No test exists that does not show a substantial deficit in intelligence. My brother, who is married to a West African and has substantial experience there, unhappily confirms the truth of this.

I believe there is some passage in the New and Improved-Testament about the meek inheriting. You can certainly make a good case that we smart boys are going to wipe each other out. Nobody is going to be nuking Africa. I don't know if that represents an improvement for their station or not. Hard to say.
-- James Wilson

Mason and Felder wrote: "A basic tenet of the role science has in a free society is that the government does not direct science or instruct scientists where their quests must lead; that scientists are free to explore and search for truth, whether that truth is convenient, politically correct, contradicts government policy, or runs contrary to the sentiments of the day. Truth is truth, whether you like it or not and agree with its existence."

This is not the standard of the Bush administration on several issues.
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

THE CAMEL'S NOSEBLEED
Re: Peter Hannaford's The Camel's Nosebleed:

Forget the camel's nosebleed. How about my kid's nosebleed from the punch-in-the-face administered by the Democrats? You know, the one with broken cartilage that I cannot get fixed at the doctor's office because my wallet is empty from paying those higher taxes due to the costs of an expanded SCHIP program (yes, it will happen -- they can tax only so many long-term smokers).

First of all, President Bush gave the wrong reason for his initial veto (the high cost of $35B+). His reasoning should have been that there is no article or clause in the U.S. Constitution that allows the program. No matter that it was established by the Republicans in 1997; it should never have existed in the first place.

This program is called the "State" Children's Health Insurance Program. What part of the word "State" does Congress not understand? One would think that a program with the word "State" in the title would actually be run and funded by the "States", not the federal government. And even that smacks of nanny-statism to us libertarian-leaning individuals. Getting back on task, doesn't the 10th Amendment direct that the powers not given the fed will be reserved for the states and the people, respectively?

Lastly, when poor folks are defined as having income levels approaching $40,000, or even $61,900, or when "children" are defined as approaching the age of 25 years, doesn't the effort in question just smack as a vote-buying scheme. The Dems have only two goals for the next eight years: nationalize all aspects of our lives and retain or, better yet (to them), expand their power base in D.C.

Give me a hanky -- I'll take care of my kid's nose myself.
-- Owen H. Carneal
Yorktown, Virginia

NO RONALD REAGAN
Re: Richard Viguerie's letter (under "Conservatives and Roe") in Reader Mail's Richard Viguerie Weighs In:

Richard Viguerie should be one of the last people in the world to invoke the name of Ronald Reagan to bolster his case. Viguerie was a harsh and constant critic of President Reagan during his eight years in office. Gadfly Viguerie went so far as to compare the Gipper to Jimmy Carter!!!

It is not surprising that he disagrees with Jeffrey Lord when, like 2006, he was a major contributor to Democrat victory in 1986. Criticism of a conservative Republican President is nothing new for Richard Viguerie so his vitriol against President Bush that benefits Democrats is no surprise.

If Mrs. Bill Clinton finds herself undeservedly residing in the White House after the 2008 Presidential election she will owe Richard Viguerie and his type of "conservatives" a big thank you for their help. If individuals like Pat Buchanan and Richard Viguerie are the future of the conservative movement Democrats can rest easy as they appease terrorists, raise taxes and promote their radical social agenda.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Jeffrey Lord comments: "I do blame conservatives for walking into a general election voting booth ... knowing something as important as Roe v. Wade is at stake... and deliberately taking a pass because the GOP candidate is imperfect."

What Mr. Lord is criticizing is actually a moral stand. Unlike Liberalism, conservatism is not a religion. Protestantism and Catholicism are. If both main candidates are unchristian in their outlook then a vote for either of them will rightly be seen by psephologists as an endorsement of liberal politics. The terms "Democrat" and "Republican" do not come into it.

The best way of seeing this -- other than following the obvious logic of conscience -- is to observe the zeal with which liberals operate. Has the Democratic Party budged an inch on Roe v. Wade, despite losing control of all three branches of the government at one time or another since 1973?

One would have thought that atheists would have had more reason to be "pragmatic," since they have relatively little time to make a change. Instead, they have an almost millenarian confidence in the "progress" of American society from Christianity to Liberalism, and their commitment shows. This is why John Kerry could authentically proclaim in his 2004 concession speech: "America always moves forward" (i.e. towards what conservatives recognize as total moral and political corruption).

Liberalism wins because it has the patience and belief that it will do so. Ironically, the Godless appear to have more faith than the "faithful."
-- Kevin O'Neill
London, England

LOSING AT SEA
Re: Doug Bandow's Make Way for a Second UN:

Mr. Bandow presented a very clear analysis of LOST. Unfortunately, no matter how bad the treaty is for the U.S., the Senate will ratify it. Why? Because it is socialism at its finest and as they have proven in the past, our federal government in general, and the Senate in particular, loves socialism. That the senators are more akin to communists, being an oligarchy that staunchly supports special privileges for itself at the expense of the masses, than pure socialists is irrelevant. NAFTA, LOST, the push for a North American Union, it all adds up to the same thing: socialists are thriving in this country.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Like the treaty that the article addresses, I am lost. I know that this will drive Michael Tomlinson completely round the bend, he of the Bush walks on water school of thought, but where does the Bush clan get its globalist, one world commitment? Is this something that is endemic with all that matriculate at Yale Univ., or is it a tenet of New England patricians, or what?

The number of policies and principles of Ronald Reagan that his ungrateful Vice President reversed or ignored is legion. What in the name of Heaven was so appealing to Bush 41 about this monstrosity of a treaty. Bush 41's resurrection of this makes no more sense to me than did his sponsorship of the grand new entitlement, the Americans With Disabilities Act, or his caving to the Congress and raising personal taxes after campaigning on a promise not to do so. I am sure that he is a nice man, but he is no conservative leader.

Then we have the current Bush. He is absolutely determined to throw open the doors of our country to the entire population of Mexico and give them American citizenship. He is determined to advance the grand union of America with Mexico and Canada in a big clone of the European Union. His administration tried to slip control of our ports to Dubai when we were not looking.

Unfortunately they got caught at it. He is pushing for this globalist, one world, socialist LOST monstrosity. If there is a proposal that gives away more of our sovereignty to an international globalist body, he is for it. George Soros hates Bush, but Bush is almost as big a globalist as Soros, just not as big a socialist, to the extent that the two can be separated.

I suppose that our only hope is that the citizenry will rise up and scare the pants off the Senators like we did with the immigration amnesty that Bush and the Dems wanted. The downside is that it is hard to get the American populace to participate in defeating what most will see as an arcane international treaty. The only hope, as I see it, is to convince the public that we are giving away our sovereignty AND that it will cost us all another big chunk of taxes, which it certainly will. You know dang well that good old Uncle Sam will be expected to meet the lion's share of the budget to run the international bureaucracy associated with this fiasco.

Well, I just hope for a miracle, and that somehow this very bad treaty somehow gets derailed on its way to passage.
-- Ken Shreve
An American citizen, NOT a world citizen

I HEART CORAZON
Re: Paul Nelson's (under "Here's Really Why") in Reader Mail's Dishwasher Gate:

Mr. Nelson, you started your letter by saying that you do not know of Bhutto, Walesa or Havel. Maybe you should add Corazon Aquino to your list. Here's really, really why:

Her maiden name is Corazon Cojuangco, not the "Cojanco" that you wrote. She's not of the "coconut Cojangos" -- the Cojuangcos made their money in sugarcane. Cory (her nickname) was indeed a housewife when she married Ninoy Aquino. Despite her inherited wealth, by all accounts, she was never a prominent figure in politics, business and not even in high society before and during her marriage. She literally wrote "housewife" to describe her profession when she filled in her candidacy form during the 1985 presidential elections.

As to her land reform program, I grant that it may be debatable whether it was indeed good for the country. It may likewise be debatable if large landowners did get a fair market price for their land or if Cory used her influence to shelter the Cojuangco estates from the program. But one thing should be unarguable: she had no need to buy the poor's vote -- as you claimed -- when the program was enacted into law in 1988. At that time, she was at the height of her popularity and the economy had just made a fantastic rebound from the depradations of Marcos. Local and congressional elections had already been held in the prior year -- her party won landslide victories all over the place -- and she had already declared that she wouldn't run in the next presidential elections scheduled for 1992. If there's anybody that Cory had to "buy", it would be power-hungry soldiers. But that's another story and land reform has never been high anyway in the Philippine military's wishlist.

But what really galls me in your letter is your sweeping declaration that Corazon Aquino "did essentially nothing when she achieved power." The country today remains in a chronic political mess but there's one thing that the Philippines hasn't done -- it has not reverted to the wanton, unchecked 20-year reign of greed and terror that was the Marcos dictatorship. This is due in no insignificant part to the legacy of Cory Aquino -- her leadership in a successful bloodless uprising against an entrenched dictator, her reestablishment of democratic rule of law, her principled resistance to then-powerful elements that think that what the country needs is benevolent authoritarianism and finally, the inspiration that she still evokes when she gracefully turned over power to a democratically-elected successor at the hour that her term expired. Many can say a lot of bad things about how well she had governed but not even her worst critic could say that she served herself before serving her people. And she did promise only one thing when she ran for president -- to end the Marcos dictatorship and return the country to democracy. That she did. And that's good enough for me.
-- Mike Gotera
A Proud Veteran of the 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution

STATE AND PROTECTION
Re: Jay Homnick's reply (under "Armed and Defended") in Reader Mail's Richard Viguerie Weighs In:

Mr. Homnick there is NO "providing" about it, period! Your "conditions" A through B that have to be met prior to being "allowed" to defend self reminds me of the armorer's during the attack on Pearl Harbor who refused to hand out ammunition as the Japanese planes were attacking because the soldiers and sailors did not have the proper paperwork filled out. Typical Statist.

The "State" has via the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no one has the right to expect individual protection from the State. Only a general application of the concept of "protection" is required to be met. The State is more than happy to see dead victims that were civilized enough to die quietly so that a gentle investigation could be conducted after ward, so as not to disrupt potential victims who just might begin thinking about their own "duty" to die for the State and stop any free thought about what State platitudes are really worth. See all the slaughter at "Gun Free Zones" that have become happy hunting grounds for psychotics. A free "man" has the right absolute to provide for his/her own defense without the State interfering in anyway. Any application of State power to disarm and by lack of action be complicit in the murder of such a victim as noted in your story is murder pure and simple. The fact that commentators are so wedded to the power and worship of the State with its history of absolute failure to back its empty promises of protection is an indication of disease not sanity. Any resistance by the State to self defense should in a correct world be met with force. And please no comments about the Wild West, Dodge City had fewer homicides per 1,000 in the 1860s than Washington, D.C. last year.
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle Washington

GREAT MAN, BETTER AMERICAN
Re: Ben Stein's Al's Ignoble Nobel:

I've never met Ben Stein. But over the years, I have gravitated to his wisdom on life. I consider Ben a genuine, lasting friend.

Now comes the "why." I am a 74-year-old vet who looks back on his service to country with great pride and humility. While my predominate career was "civilian," like Ben's, my values and my character put forth in that career were molded and etched into my very being during those five military years. Things you don't hear enough about today, like Honor and Duty to Country. I will never forget those times.

The beauty of Ben Stein is that he, too, unfailingly never forgets to comment on the sacrifice of the military in today's topsy-turvy world. In the military, one has many "brothers." Had Ben and I been somehow thrown together, he would instantly become a "my brother." I can only hope that the feeling would be mutual.

There is something I'd like to pass on to you, Ben. You don't have to have formally served in a military organization to qualify as a patriot. You know this, but I'd like you to hear it from me. You are the embodiment of a fine American patriot, because you are a 'brother" to all who served in the military.

God bless you for never forgetting the values that made this country great and for reminding us of what our real priorities in life should be -- never forgetting the contributions of our military men and women who gallantly serve this nation.
-- Lawrence D. Farrington
Payson, Arizona

THE ROOF IS ON FIRE
Re: Patrick J. Michaels's The Fires This Time:

Patrick J. Michaels did an excellent job of putting the current southern California fires into the context of annual weather variation. Also important to understanding California's recurring wildfires is the nature of the vegetation that is burning, known as chaparral in California. The wet-winter growing season, dry-summer regime he describes is know as "Mediterranean," and produces a shrub-dominated vegetation type that not only burns readily, but is evolved to do so periodically. The shrubs become decadent after a few decades without fire, and depend on fire to either cause vigorous resprouting from stem bases or to germinate dormant seeds, depending on shrub species. As is the case with all fire-dependent ecosystems, suppressing wildfires merely makes the problem worse; the accumulating biomass eventually will burn and when it does so, the artificially high fuel loads simply result in hotter, faster-moving fires. Not surprisingly, a high proportion of these fires occur under the conditions Michaels describes, after an above-annual rainfall winter that produces profuse herbaceous growth that adds abundant fine fuels to the fuel complex. The "problem," as Michaels points out, isn't the fires, it's the houses people persist in building in vegetation where fire is a matter of when, not if.
-- Dr. John Ortmann
Fire Ecologist

Patrick Michael's "Fire This Time" notes that Sen. Harry Reid blamed global warming for the rash of California fires. Other scientists like George Carlin and Jamie Lee Curtis have weighed in against overdevelopment as the cause. Since then we have learned that a number were set by deranged arsonists. Recalling how the Unabomber treasured his copy of Gore's alarmist Earth in the Balance, is it not likely that eco-terrorists obsessed by doom, and even inspired by Gore's Nobel Prize, may be incited to commit arson? If one truly believed overdevelopment was the menace to nature, why not set a canyon fire designed to consume hilltop homes? Why not set a trail of fires to convince the Infidels that global warming is a crisis now?
-- Tim O'Neill
Pompano Beach, Florida

KID NATION
Re: Christopher Orlet's Forever Young:

I, too, am concerned with the "kid-dult" phenomenon. But this article (and from the sounds of it, West's book) seems to equate extended adolescence with liberal politics, and maturity with traditional conservatism. Framing what's really a non-partisan political issue (the plague of immaturity is affecting just about everyone, as far as I can see) as an "us vs. them" battle of political affiliations is pretty juvenile itself, isn't it? Not every issue need be contorted into a discussion about who has the best politics -- and I'm the first to that admit liberals are just as good as conservatives at doing that.

Joseph Epstein's quoted piece, claiming that academic feminism and queer theory are best appreciated and propagated by "adolescent minds" is ludicrous. While even I, an avowed leftist, find the willful myopia of much academic theorizing to be enormously aggravating, it's not as if conservatives have a monopoly on common sense. Again, irrational idiocy exists right across the political spectrum.

Lastly, calling multiculturalism and cultural relativity a "values-free" "debilitating condition", as West does, is extraordinarily immature. A nuanced view of human societies and the relations between them requires, if anything, far more maturity than does a "clash of civilizations" mentality. To reconcile a thorough, empathetic, open-minded understanding of other cultures -- no matter how strange and seemingly hostile they may be -- with a steadfast belief in your society's own principals requires serious reflection and justification of said principals. Call it contemporary anthropology, if you will. Being able to step outside your own traditions long enough to understand them in the same historical context you understand another culture's requires a great deal of sophistication. Taking refuge in received wisdom and assumed superiority is...well, I don't think I need to explain that one any further.

But if you'd prefer, by all means, just keep warning us about the barbarians and heathens storming our fragile citadel of free-market democracy. It certainly is simpler.
-- Matthew Halliday

TOO GOOD FOR SENATE
Re: The Prowler's "Dream Candidate" item in Bartlett's Connections:

Ted Olson may not want to tarnish his reputation by joining that bunch of old fools and traveling salesmen who inhabit the U.S.Senate. Better that he serve in appointive office as Attorney General or Ambassador to the United Nations.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

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