A Further Perspective

A Further Perspective

Mizzou’s Very Real Political Football

By 11.10.15

Activists at the University of Missouri just won themselves a trophy Monday. After weeks of protests against the president of the University of Missouri System, Tim Wolfe — and, most importantly, after the Mizzou football team threatened to boycott games until Wolfe quit — the administrator caved. “It is my belief we stopped listening to each other. We have to respect each other enough to stop yelling at each other and start listening and quit intimidating each other,” said the clearly intimidated Wolfe.

The New York Times attributed student and faculty demands that Wolfe resign to “racial tensions.” Black students report being called the N-word. In October, someone used feces to draw a swastika in the university’s Gateway Hall. Activists formed the group Concerned Student 1950, named after the year the University of Missouri first admitted African-Americans.

A Further Perspective

The Ben Carson Flaps

By 11.10.15

Dr. Ben Carson’s whole life has been very unusual, so perhaps we should not be surprised to see the latest twist — the media going ballistic over discrepancies in a few things he said.

Years ago, when I was writing some autobiographical sketches, I dug up old letters, to check out things that I remembered — and was surprised more than once to discover that my memory was not always exactly the same as the way things had happened and were recorded at the time.

In the current flap over some things that Dr. Carson said, the biggest discrepancy has been between the furor in the media and the irrelevance of his statements to any political issue.

For example, in a video that someone dug up, Dr. Carson said to an audience that his “theory” about the Pyramids is that they were used as storage facilities. He was smiling as he said this, so it is not clear whether he was using this theory just to illustrate some point. But, in any case, he was not claiming this as a fact.

More important, the Pyramids are not an issue in today’s American political campaign, except as a “gotcha” gimmick.

A Further Perspective

Gluttons for Punishment

By 11.5.15

Like a parrot in a pet store, the Bernie Sanders faithful have the same refrain for the suggestion that America can’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a socialist country. In many ways, they say, “it already is. Bok!”

While we are plenty removed from pure socialism (and pure capitalism for that matter), the statement isn’t altogether untrue. Like most complex political arguments there is a fair bit of semantics involved, but there is also little denying that some of America’s costliest programs are about as socialist in nature as America gets. 

It seems the debate regarding Mr. Sanders’ philosophy provides that rare case in which both sides are right: America is definitely somewhat socialist, and it definitely shouldn’t be.

Uncle Sam’s forays into leftist economic principles have generally been popular, precisely because they have become, to borrow Marx’s phrase, the opiate of the masses—habit forming, expensive measures more designed for short-term political highs than long-term solvency.

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The Soiled Shoes of the Fisherman

By 11.4.15

Romanticizing his reckless heterodox activism, Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to make a “mess” — an exhortation he himself observes almost weekly. “Mission accomplished,” quipped Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island in 2014.

This week’s papal messes began with reports that Eugenio Scalfari, the atheistic ex-Catholic journalist whom Francis treats as his Boswell, had been told by the pontiff that all adulterers are welcome at Communion.

Francis is so enamored with Scalfari as his Boswell that he had their disgraceful interview earlier in his papacy--in which the Holy Father flirted with moral and religious relativism by encouraging atheists to cleave to their “conception of the good” in order to attain a salvation they don’t even want — published in book form under the direction of the Vatican’s publishing house. If a future pope ever revives the Index of Forbidden Books, that book will appear on the list. Many of Francis’s answers to Scalfari’s self-indulgent questions aren’t worthy of a priest, much less a pope.

A Further Perspective

Time We Took the Debates Back

By 11.1.15

For the longest time conservatives have distrusted the mainstream media, and for good reason. For decades we have seen the journalistic double standard in Washington and elsewhere that favored Democrats and liberals and dinged Republicans and conservatives. Why else would Fox News’ “fair and balanced” motto resonate the way it does? The CNBC debate last week should have neither surprised nor outraged most folks. It was par for the course in most ways. The difference is some candidates on the stage were willing to call the moderators on it.

Yet why is it that Republicans always seem to feel they were sucker punched in situations like the debates? The RNC said on Friday that CNBC’s actions were a “betrayal.” Really? As opposed to what? The performances of the debate moderators that were so sterling in 2012? Or ’08? Or ’96?

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The Last Conservative in the Anglosphere Gone

By 10.30.15

When the conservative Liberal Party’s Tony Abbott was elected prime minister of Australia two years ago, I wrote a piece for TAS (“A Winner Heard Round the World”) hailing the fact that one English-speaking country at least was now led by a conservative who meant it.

It makes painful reading today. Not because Abbott disappointed — he was overly slow about some reforms, but he was steadily putting the building-blocks in the right places, scrapping the idiotic carbon tax and the tax on mining (Australia’s chief source of foreign income), concluding important trade agreements, and halting the flood of so-called “asylum seekers.” I would unsay no word of my portrait of him now.

He has been deposed — viciously, just four days before he completed two years as prime minister, thus just missing out on a prime minister’s pension.

His political assassin, Malcolm Turnbull, who has spent the last two years gathering numbers in the Party room, is a millionaire lawyer and merchant banker on the far left of the Liberal Party.

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The Biggest Loser

By 10.29.15

I agree in large measure with Scott McKay's fine analysis of last night's debate but wanted to offer a few thoughts of my own including my conclusion that the biggest winner and biggest loser of the night were not on the stage.

First, a very brief summary of each candidate's performance:

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The Pope’s Caricaturing of Conservatives

By 10.28.15

The scandalous synod on the family skidded to a stop last weekend in Rome but not before Pope Francis got in a few more licks at conservatives, whom he caricatured in his final remarks as heartless.

The speech was notable for its nastiness, displaying the very lack of charity he routinely assigns to conservatives. The synod, he said, had exposed “closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”

He continued: “It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”

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Netanyahu, the Mufti, and the Slaughter of Jews

By 10.27.15

When Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the Palestinian Grand Mufti’s role in the destruction of Europe’s Jews, he exaggerated the Mufti’s role but not the Mufti’s sentiments, nor his agreement with Hitler’s evil intentions, or his promise to eliminate the Jews of the Arab world with German help. He spoke of these sentiments to Hitler when they met in Berlin on November 28, 1941.

Lost in the discussion about how much the Mufti influenced Hitler is the inescapable fact that the Mufti and the Führer shared the same goal, the destruction of the Jews.

Hitler and Nazi Party philosopher Alfred Rosenberg were focused on eliminating the Jews of Europe. Haj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti, was focused on eliminating the Jews of the Arab world.

How much the Mufti had to do with Hitler’s Final Solution of the Jewish Question is unfortunately a diversion from the basic issue. The Mufti then, like Palestinians today, sought to slaughter Jews.

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Politicians’ Words

By 10.21.15

At the recent televised debate among candidates for the Democrats’ nomination for president, Hillary Clinton declared that “the wealthy pay too little” in taxes and “the middle class pays too much.”

Some people might wish to argue about whether that is true or not, but no rational argument can be made on either side of this issue, because the words used are completely undefined. Nor is Hillary Clinton the only one who talks this way.

It is one of the many signs of the mindlessness of our times that all sorts of people declare that “the rich” are not paying their “fair share” in taxes, without telling us concretely what they mean by either “the rich” or “fair share.”

Whether in politics or in the media, words are increasingly used, not to convey facts or even allegations of facts, but simply to arouse emotions. Undefined words are a big handicap in logic, but they are a big plus in politics, where the goal is not clarity but victory — and the votes of gullible people count just as much as the votes of people who have common sense.