Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin on ANWR

Sarah Palin interview from last week on CNBC discussing ANWR. Get to know the Republican VP candidate, and learn about ANWR at the same time. Superb video.

Palin on ANWR

Nice dig on the Tweedledum and Tweedledee Democratic POTUS and VP candidates at the end, too.

Via Powerline

What Voters Want

I've been preparing this topic for some time, but the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for VP brings it more into focus.

The presidential campaigns have discussed many issues over the past year and half — energy policy, the Iraq War, Georgia, the economy and the mortgage 'crisis', and on and on.

Each side stakes out a position, often one that is nearly indistinguishable from the other as the campaign progresses and each tries to woo voters in the middle to his side. But at the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of voters are not fooled and they are not interested in policy statements. What voters want, on all points of the political compass, is a President who shares their core values.

That is as true of Democrats or so-called liberals as it is of Republicans and the broad spectrum of conservatives. (Note: I often use the qualifier "so-called" in front of "liberal" because I've yet to find an actual liberal commentator or politician in the past 40 years.) It is also true of Libertarians, Greens, and everyone else whether they even have a widely-recognized label (like me).

Voters recognize — as is proved by the frustration one can read on dozens of blogs 'Left', 'Right', or otherwise — that they are unlikely to find someone who reflects those values consistently.

The far Left becomes frustrated with Obama as he compromises to move to the 'center' and win swing states with lots of faux Independents, feeling-betrayed conservatives, blue-collar Democrats, and others.

Social conservatives show annoyance when McCain doesn't wear his religion on his sleeve and libertarians fret over his advocacy of carbon dioxide emissions legislation, abrogation of free speech in the form of McCain-Feingold, etc. Many Libertarians decry his support for the Iraq War.

But after all, how could a politician reflect those values consistently when they are so inconsistent within even those groups and often the individuals themselves, not least among them the politicians. That is why we see politicians so frequently trying to be all things to all people.

But for voters who fall under most of the bell curve, they are simply looking for someone who is like them in important ways. They want someone who would make the kind of choices they would make, were they in the absurdly powerful position of today's Chief Executive and Commander in Chief.

This is a reflection of many factors.

In part, it is simple human nature. We want things to be run our way. That can be good or bad depending on what "our way" means in given circumstances. But good or bad, it is an inescapable fact. Each wants his values to triumph when a choice has to be made.

In part, it is a reflection of the ominous political reality of America today, in which government is in a position to so easily decide things that ought to be outside their purview. For example, with the weakness of respect for property rights, each major side will want the government to decide what to do with natural resources — something that ought to be left entirely up to private hands. With so much at stake, and aware that the government is the ultimate arbiter, it's understandable that there is so much pressure group lobbying.

And, as you can see, I want the government to be shaped in the image of my values, insofar as I want them the hell out of the way on this and thousands of other things.

[None of this is to suggest that the issue is subjective, that each group or person is equally right or wrong, or that there is no such thing as objectively good or bad, true or false. Facts exist and don't depend on who recognizes them. Ethics is not a matter of opinion, not even mine.]

Yes, it's values that matter most.

That's why political experience does not carry the day.

Kennedy was green. Few cared that Carter or Clinton had been Governor of a small state, and not very competent ones at that. Obama has galvanized millions despite the fact that he has little more than a few months of national political experience, and didn't do much even during that period.

That's why policy does not matter very much.
  • Bush Sr. lurched from one crisis to the next sometimes taking the correct action sometimes not, but never with any kind of intellectual consistency. That could have easily been predicted from his past experience and he was elected anyway.

  • Clinton was given a pass on dozens of important issues, such as doing nothing about the bombing of the World Trade Center, giving missile technology to the Chinese, and grabbing many thousands of acres of land for the Feds in Colorado.

  • People were willing to overlook the fact, twice, that George Bush never has had any policies (apart from a tepid commitment to lower some taxes).
"Policy" would imply a conscious, principled view and few Presidents in the past 100 years have had that, and then only some of the time did it inform their actions.

But much as we might wish for elections to be more explicitly about basic political principles, and for the concrete issues of the day to be debated in terms of them, it is values that trump all. It has been so for at least the past 100 years, and I suspect longer than that.

Most voters know that, even when they don't consciously recognize it. They will vote for whichever candidate makes them believe that he more closely resembles them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Friends We Keep, But Try to Hide

Barack Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the domestic 60s terrorist group the Weathermen, is potentially the most damaging of his campaign.

In 1995, Obama chaired an educational organization with which Ayer's was intimately involved, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama's Illinois Senate campaign was first organized in Ayer's home, with the terrorist's co-conspirator wife present. [See here.]

Bad enough that Obama the Zero is floating the excuse that Ayer's actions were carried out when he was "8 years old" — ignoring that he was certainly older than that in 1995. (Obama is 46.) Worse that, while he musters enough outrage to condemn Ayer's youthful folly, he does not ask that Ayers be removed from the University of Chicago faculty. Admittedly pointless from a practical perspective, since the administration undoubtedly knows of Ayers' past, but morally relevant. But now, this Harvard Law grad and former Senior Lecturer on constitutional law at U of C wants to ignore the First Amendment.

Politico reports that, prompted by an AIP pro-McCain ad focused on this relationship, Obama is attempting to use the power of government to suppress the story. Apart from asking the DOJ to investigate possible violations of Federal election rules, his campaign has sent letters to TV stations, slyly intimating possible FCC guideline violations.

It's too early to tell whether the story — the facts of which have been widely known since the beginning of the Senator's campaign — will get traction. It's difficult to tell what will make the major news outlets feature it. Given their obvious desire to see Obama win the election, they will only do so if their readers begin to buzz.

But predicting what the majority of Americans will care about at any given moment is difficult, if not impossible. Obama already got a pass on spending 20 years listening in church to an avowed racist and socialist preacher. He's very likely to get a pass on this, too.

His apologists are already out in force arguing that it doesn't matter because Obama was a child when Ayers designed bombs for his wife and friends to toss into an Army dance. Or, that it doesn't matter because Ayers and crew only wanted to destroy property, not kill people. Or, in the biggest non-sequitur yet, that John McCain is just as bad because he (a) was involved in the Keating Five scandal (he was cleared of wrongdoing), or (b) supported Bush, a "war criminal."

But these creatures are clearly on the extreme Left fringe of sanity, and don't represent the majority of Democrats who, I still believe, have some ethical principles intact. Whether those centrist cousins who vote Democratic will exhibit outrage, we just won't know until we see it.

I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: For those interested in seeing the ad that has prompted Obama's campaign to initiate legal maneuvers to suppress it: American Issues Project ad

It isn't very good, but I can't see anything about it that could qualify as defamatory and AIP seems to be on pretty good legal ground in funding it's creation. Apart from that, campaign laws of the type that would restrict AIP from expressing its views should be abolished anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The "Are You a Socialist?" Test

I've devised a rough-and-ready test to determine whether a person is socialist-leaning, otherwise known as the "Do Something or Nothing" test.

If he is presented with a large-scale economic problem (poverty, mortgage crisis, health care costs, etc.) and advocates the government "do something," he is socialist-leaning. He (implicitly or inadvertently, at minimum) is suggesting that the State can do it better than the market, hence advocates socialism.

If, when presented with a threat to life or property (jihadist attack, urban crime, etc.), he says the government should "do nothing," he is socialist-leaning. He is committed to the view that it is not the government's job to protect the individual against predation, a classic anarchist-socialist fallback position.

I can think of a few contemporary issues that don't fit neatly into this partitioning scheme, the most obvious being the faux-problem of global warming. Here, those who believe this is a problem definitely advocate the governments do something, something big. Perhaps it doesn't fit because it's neither an economic problem, per se, nor an issue of self-defense.

It is an interesting idea, nonetheless. Hmmm... Maybe there are times it is better not to think out loud.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Terrorists Are Honest, Sort Of

One thing you can say about Adolf Hitler, he never made any secret of his revolting plans for Germany (or the rest of the world). Mein Kampf was published years before he came to power and his grotesque ideas were all laid out there quite plainly, if one looked closely.

Ditto the modern Fascists of the Islamic variety.

In an interview with likely about-to-be Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Habib, the same occasional honesty is forthrightly on display.

On the upcoming election:

"[A]ny change away from the criminal practices of the current administration is a good thing, and we would be happy with whatever candidate would put a stop to it."

Well, when it comes to criminal practices, this guy would know. The Muslim Brotherhood is the grandfather of most modern Islamic terrorist groups. Among other niceties, the members of the group assassinated Sadat in 1981 for signing a peace agreement with Israel. Osama Bin Laden's second-in-command, Zawahari, was involved. It hasn't changed much since then.

The interviewer then asks:

"What are the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood?"

The answer?
The Muslim Brotherhood has an Islamic, civilized, uplifting project that is based on the idea that Egypt needs to rise again to greatness, because in its rise it will uplift the entire Arab world with it.
Right. Let's skip over the contradiction between "Islamic" and "civilized" for now. As I recall, the last time Egypt was 'great' was when Pharaohs controlled every aspect of Egyptian life, with only the most visible aspect being the thousands of slaves who died while being forced to build large tombs for mystical, parasitic rulers.

He immediately follows his comment with this:
This of course requires the creation of a society that values justice, equality, and freedom, and what that entails in regards to respecting the will of the people in choosing their representatives or leaders.
I can't decide whether this is too funny to be revolting or too revolting to be funny. But it does lean against my thesis that jihadist supporters are honest.

I was still unable to decide when he said this:
We have a civilized project that is very interested in education, scientific research, and the use of technology as an important element in the uplifting of nations and people.
Yeah, have you noticed how interested Islamic jihadists and their supporters are in science and technology? (Other than to co-opt them for weapons of mass destruction, I mean.)

Then, in true taqiyyah fashion (the Islamic-approved doctrine of disguising one's beliefs), he deals with the organization's relationships to CAIR and Hamas, the jihad supporting groups in the U.S and Lebanon, respectively.
Who represents you in the US?

Mohamed Habib: Well, there are there those who do represent us, who do that role.

SM: But it’s not CAIR, right? The Council for American Islamic Relations?[...]

Mohamed Habib: Ehh, this is a sensitive subject, and it’s kind of problematic, especially after 9/11…

SM: For them to say that there is a relationship between you two?

Mohamed Habib: Yes. You can say that.

SM: Gotcha. What kind of relationship does the Muslim Brotherhood have with Hamas? Do you offer them support of any kind?

Mohamed Habib: Hamas, like any Muslim Brotherhood entity, is not related to the other entities. But we do support them. We support them with ideas. We support them with advice and vision.

Ok, I guess that isn't really taqiyyah, after all. It's honest. He admits they support terrorist-supporting groups. Just like the followers of Mein Kampf did, with "advice and vision." The bullets are never far behind.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

China: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

China has made considerable strides in moving toward a semi-free society. But lest we get too carried away congratulating them, they often remind us that they still have a ways to go on their long march to freedom.

It continues to suppress free speech, even before anyone starts speaking.
The women, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, had made five visits to the police this month in an effort to obtain permission to protest what they contended was inadequate compensation for the demolition of their homes in Beijing. During their final visit, on Monday, Public Security officials informed them that they had been given administrative sentences for "disturbing the public order," according to Li Xuehui, Wu's son.
Did you get that? The women weren't even protesting, just asking for permission to do so. Others have been dealt with even more harshly.
Gao Chuancai, a farmer from northeast China who was hoping to publicize government corruption, was forcibly escorted back to his hometown last week and remains in custody.

Relatives of Zhang Wei, a Beijing resident who was also seeking to protest the demolition of her home, were told she would be kept at a detention center for a month. Two rights advocates from southern China have not been heard from since they were seized at the Public Security Bureau's protest application office last week.
This shouldn't be too surprising. China is a country in transition and such pragmatic inconsistencies between clamping down and loosening up are characteristic of such societies.

Similar behavior was on display in the first few years after the Russian Revolution, as the USSR's dictators allowed some free trade, soon followed by tightening their grip on the way to complete totalitarian control. Later, as the Soviet Union crumbled, the Politburo relaxed the choke hold on citizens throats, followed by widespread pragmatist-driven corruption in government and semi-free trade. Now the country is on its way forward (or, more accurately, back) toward complete dictatorship.

The U.S., in not completely dissimilar fashion, is also in a transition phase, unable — taken as a statistical average — to decide whether to move back (or, more accurately, forward) to freedom or completely to embrace Swedish-style socialism. The pragmatist approach on both sides of the Congressional aisles to domestic energy policy is a perfect example. How that will turn out, it is too early to tell.

In China's case, their odds are good. That ancient land has a deep and historically long record of respect for science and mathematics, and learning in general. Its people are incredibly industrious and even sometimes highly creative. While the phrase was roundly mocked later after being uttered by Calvin Coolidge, it is true of that country, too, that the business of China is business.

It has wisely invested heavily in infrastructure, and embraced the "all of the above" approach to energy production, as evidenced by the Three Gorges Dam project, committing to building several nuclear power plants over the next 10 years, and putting up a new coal-fired electrical generating station every week. Unlike the U.S., the environmentalists have not succeeded in hobbling China, try as they might.

But they still have far to go in terms of understanding the value of individual freedom, a somewhat alien concept there as, sadly, it is becoming here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Global Poverty Bill

Republican politicians often do things that are foolish, spineless, and even wicked. One recent instance of that is the five idiots in the Senate who joined with their brethren across the aisle to try to sink any hope of freeing up producers to extract and market oil in the U.S.

But the Republicans are, as they have been for three generations now, pikers compared to the Democrats who are now openly opposed to everything fundamental to the American system — free speech, free enterprise, and freedom, period. The only thing free they are for is a free lunch for those who haven't earned one (to be paid for by anyone but themselves).

The latest example is a little known piece of legislation quietly making its way through Congress called the Global Poverty Bill. It is aptly named. While the title refers to the wish to provide a free lunch to the rest of the world, it will help create poverty in this country.

As Christine O'Donnell, the Republican contender for the Senate seat in Delaware currently being warmed by the lizard Joe Biden, explains:
Despite its seemingly innocuous title, the Global Poverty Act would force America to adopt the U.N.’s “Millennium Development Goals” as official U.S. policy. This means outsourcing to the United Nations all important decisions concerning the use of U.S. foreign aid dollars.

Not only that, but the fee for allowing the U.N. to play the “middle man” in our global war on poverty would be a tax of .7 percent of the U.S. Gross National Product. That’s right. Barack Obama and his liberal allies such as Senator Biden have signed on to a bill that would allow the U.N. to tax America (and Americans) an estimated $845 billion over the next 13 years.
The first paragraph may be hyperbole. But the second is grotesque fact combined with reasonable estimation of the damage.

Bad enough that New York offers a home to that loathsome display of dictator supporters, tyrannical regime lovers, and (often) outright crooks. Worse that the U.S. pays a big chunk of the bill. Worst of all that the U.S. agrees to participate in that decades-long farce that has consistently acted against American interests since its founding.

Now the American taxpayers are supposed to foot the bill and outsource coerced U.S. charity (that shouldn't exist in the first place)?

Lenin was right, but shortsighted. We will sell them the rope they use to hang us, but we'll give them the money to buy it from us, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Artificial Eye from Elastic Electronics

Technology comes in different types: "cool," "fantastic," and "world changing" (though, admittedly, there are shades in between). It would be difficult to know exactly where to put this one, but I lean toward the last.
[Researchers at] the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have taken artificial vision to the next level by designing a fully artificial eyeball, which could one day "plug in" to the optic nerve for a vision replacement or enhancement.

[Professors Huang, Cummings, and Rogers] teamed up to create a naturally curved array of silicon detectors and electronics that can make in essence a curved camera sensor, which mimics the human eye's design.
One critical challenge is that brittle semiconductor materials typically crack under the stress of curving. To overcome this Professor Rogers and Professor Huang created an array of electronics so tiny it was unaffected by the curvature.
Kudos to Drs Huang, Cummings, and Rogers and their grad students.

[Via Jason Mick at Daily Tech]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Levant Free Speech Case In Canada, When Winning is Losing

The Canadian Commissariat to Filter Free Speech recently... er, reboot. The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission recently settled the case against Ezra Levant in his favor. Sort of. As Levant himself says better than I could:
This censor approved what I wrote. His decision is not that I have freedom of speech. His decision is that I have his approval. I'm not interested in his approval. The only test of free speech is if I can write what he disapproves of with impunity. That's what freedom of speech is, to piss off some second-rate bureaucrat like Pardeep Gundara and know that you have the right to do so, because you're in Canada, not Saudi Arabia. [emphasis added]
And, to think, it took them a year and dozens of bureaucrats to decide this.

Sadly, Levant's view is not widespread in Canada, as is evidenced by the fact that this tribunal exists at all. Canada's government is apparently in favor of free speech, provided only that no noisy, hypersensitive constituency is offended. (In this case, the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities).

Gee, political Muslims, offended by unflattering cartoons. Who would have thought? The jihad against free speech, and every other form of individual liberty, continues.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Driving While Female (and Muslim)

Saudi Arabia has a long history of treating women as second class citizens. Honor killings are known in all Muslim countries, including that one. But the barbarity of Islam extends even to such relatively trivial things as driving.

In America, driving while black can get you hassled in some areas. In Saudi Arabia driving while female can get you thrown in jail.
Qatif, 12 August (AKI) - Saudi religious police have arrested a woman in the region of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia for driving a car.

The 47-year-old woman was spotted by agents from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice after other men reported the woman, said Saudi daily Okaz.

The woman was later released after her family posted bail, and will now be put on trial.
Oddly, and horrifically, jail is a possibility even though it is not illegal for females to drive there.
There is no law in Saudi Arabia that prevents women from driving. However, fatwas or religious edicts, have been issued by Wahhabi scholars saying it is sinful for women to drive.
But, then, perhaps it shouldn't be viewed as odd. The rule of law is, after all, incompatible with arbitrary Islamic dictates. Yet, other Islamic authorities contend there is nothing in Islam that forbids women from driving.
“In principle women driving is permitted in Islam,” said Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, a member of the Kingdom’s Council of Senior Islamic Scholars.

The ban, he said, has to do with the social complications rather than the act itself. As an example, the sheikh referred to a fatwa from former Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin-Baz that said it is permitted for women in rural areas to drive cars, but that they should be forbidden from driving in the cities where, as Al-Obaikan said, “youths (even) harass women accompanied by parents and drivers."
Ah... the veil begins to lift a bit, so to speak. It's those pesky men, from whom the ever-concerned officials have to protect the women. Like when they punish an uncle who kills his niece for having sex. Oh, wait, they didn't.

Still, there is hope on the horizon for the distaff sex in Saudi.
[The Sheikh] said if certain issues are resolved, such as the problem of men’s behavior and traffic safety, then he sees no religiously motivated conflict with women driving.
It's very good of the Sheikh to be concerned, don't you know. And it is awfully forward-thinking of him and others to be working so hard to solve the problem. Which they will probably do right around the time they stop funding madrassahs that teach students to join the global jihad. Sometime in the next century...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dhimmitude in Publishing

At least one American publisher continues to embrace a role akin to the dhimmi — though they have the decency to regret it.

[Note: "Dhimmi" means: "[From the Arabic] 'covenant of protection,' referring to special status given to non-Muslims under Islamic law, whereby they are given certain legal protections and obligations in exchange for a poll tax collected annually."]

In this context, the charge refers to the refusal of Random House to follow through on its contract to publish The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones. I haven't read the book (it hasn't been published), but the Wall Street Journal story makes it sound fairly innocuous, even complimentary, from the perspective of a Muslim.

According to the story, Jewel is "a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet [Mohammed's] harem." The author says of her book, "I wanted to honor Aisha and all the wives of Muhammad by giving voice to them, remarkable women whose crucial roles in the shaping of Islam have so often been ignored -- silenced -- by historians."

I didn't realize Muslims were offended by the idea that their chief religious figure had a sex life. Or, maybe they just dislike lurid romance novels in general and are outraged by one being written in which he's the major protagonist.

Or, Random House may just be exaggerating their risk. According to them:
[T]he company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."
Wouldn't that represent the perfect opportunity to publish not one, but a hundred such books? Not only would that, quite appropriately, stick a thumb in the eye of the censorship-loving jihadis, but dilute the risk to any one person in particular?

But, alas, publishing executives are on average no more courageous than those in any other field, and given the leftward bent of most of them in that business we could hardly expect otherwise.

A more stark villain of the piece is, not too surprisingly, not a radical foreign Islamist, but an American academic.
In April, looking for endorsements, Random House sent galleys to writers and scholars, including Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin. Ms. Jones put her on the list because she read Ms. Spellberg's book, "Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha Bint Abi Bakr."

But Ms. Spellberg wasn't a fan of Ms. Jones's book. On April 30, Shahed Amanullah, a guest lecturer in Ms. Spellberg's classes and the editor of a popular Muslim Web site, got a frantic call from her. "She was upset," Mr. Amanullah recalls. He says Ms. Spellberg told him the novel "made fun of Muslims and their history," and asked him to warn Muslims.

It is a commonplace observation that great civilizations fall less from outside conquest than inner decay. In the case of America, most of that rot originates in the universities, dominated as they are by every anti-reason, anti-individual, anti-freedom philosophy invented in the past 300 years.

Still, we have to throw Random House a few crumbs. Quoting the WSJ story:
Thomas Perry, deputy publisher at Random House Publishing Group, said that it "disturbs us that we feel we cannot publish it right now."
No doubt we will all feel very disturbed when the U.S. more closely resembles the UK of today, followed perhaps not too long after by more closely resembling Muslim Spain in the 10th century.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Not to Rape Is Racist" says Israeli Academic

Having spent several years in academia, I can confirm that even the most bizarre ideas touted in the news by politicians are tame by comparison to what one will find in a university. Worse, they are often taken seriously and discussed as if there was nothing odd about them. But even by that lax standard, this one outshines any I've ever heard. [From an Op-Ed by Steven Plaut, a professor at Haifa.]
Nitzan argues that abstaining from rape is just as inhumane and oppressive as "symptomatically raping" and in fact replaces it because it just serves to reinforce the intolerance felt toward Arabs by Jewish soldiers, who think of Arabs as so inferior and horrid that they do not even feel a compulsion to rape them.[emphasis added]

Really. While giving some shallow lip service to how the "question" of rape refusal is "very complex," Nitzan's own "answer" is quite simple and straightforward - it reflects Jewish racism against Arabs.

Israel, you see, is so racist and anti-Arab that abstaining from rape is part and parcel of its determination to enforce rigid "lines of division." She asserts that individual soldiers who refuse to rape represent an intentional policy of oppression roughly similar to when governments order mass rape, because in both cases the "policy" serves to subordinate and dehumanize the oppressed victim population.

The thesis draws its "scientific" conclusions from interviews with 25 reserve soldiers, ages 23-32, who served as combat troops in the "occupied territories" during the intifada. None of the comments by any of these soldiers supports or provides any confirmation, even the most indirect, to any of the lunatic conclusions reached by Nitzan.

Ok, so nutty statements by feminist graduate students in anthropology aren't so rare. Fine. But remember what I said above about them being taken seriously?
Facing a storm of public outrage, the president of Hebrew University, Prof. Menachem Magidor, and the Rector, Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch, jointly issued an announcement defending the student and dismissing those who expressed outrage over the contents of the thesis.
And you thought post-modern academics in the U.S. were loons.

To quote a line uttered by Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Little Big Man: "Sometimes, life is jus' too ridikolous ta be buhleeved."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Why I'm NOT a Leftist

Normally, I produce my own commentary, supplemented by or keyed off a quote or two from a publicly available news source. But this recent blog post by the brilliant Peter Cresswell of Not PC stands on its own and should be read in full. Any amplification I might add would only detract, not add. So, without further ado (reprinted by permission), and only a change of title:

What's Wrong With Socialism?

Fresh from his "people I hate" diatribe in last week's Sunday Star, in which "creators of wealth" and "makers of jobs" come in for particular opprobrium, local leftie Christopher Trotter now offers up as an antidote to that 'hate speech' a "things I believe in" column.

It's not because he's a Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist/Trotskyite that he's a leftie — 'I rejected that credo' long ago, he insists — it's all about need, you see. Here's the heart of it:

I believe [says Christopher] that human societies arise out of need. The need for food and shelter, the need for intimacy, the need for nurturing, and the need for protection – both from natural dangers, and the aggression of our own species. To secure these needs, human beings must work, individually or collectively, but always with the ultimate goal of keeping strong those innumerable threads that bind our communities in a functioning wholeness.

Did you see the sleight of hand? From whence emerged this "ultimate goal" of "keeping strong those innumerable threads that bind our communities in a functioning wholeness"? How does he jump from individual needs for things like food and shelter to the "ultimate goal" of the "binding" of communities? Of answer, there is none, and never can be.

And from whence, in the world of our Christopher, emerges the food, shelter and "protection from natural dangers" that all individuals seek? How do these things get here? Who produces them, and why? This is the economic rock upon which all the ships of Trotter's statist longings founder — indeed, it is the economic rock upon which all of Marxism/Leninism founders: explaining how the goods got here. Sheer need alone will not produce them, and no amount of verbal sleight of hand or "I believe" longings can conjure them out of thin air.

The Marxist's answer to how they're produced? Somehow! They observe only that the goods exist, and put their minds only to the job of taking them from those who somehow produced them — or to dreaming up sophisms to justify the theft.

This, to a Marxist (or a pseudo-non-Marxist like Trotter), is considered 'economic thinking' : It concerns itself not with how wealth is actually produced, a process which to them remains a mystery, but only with how it is to be 'redistributed.' From Christopher, as from every lapdog Marxist, there is no sign he even understands or wants to understand how production happens. To him the question is insignificant.

"Individuals and groups by superior strength or simple good fortune are endowed with wealth and influence" ... they were just standing in line at the right time ... "the possession by a fortunate few of social, political and economic privileges serves the community [are] ... privileges granted to them by the majority" ... they are granted by the majority, you see ... "As a social-democrat I look to the state ... to secure for all citizens a healthy and abundant life" ... all hail the state, the great expropriator ... "As a social-democrat I cannot countenance the arbitrary dispersal of the people’s resources..."

The people's resources, you say, Chris? 'What the hell did indolent fat cretins like him have to do with producing any bloody resources?' This is the question you might want to ask yourself as you read on.

According to the Trotter mantra, the likes of food, shelter, wealth, influence and resources are not produced by individual effort, or entrepreneurial ability, or the application of reason to existence — they arrive by "good fortune," they are granted as "privileges" by the majority — they fall, in other words, like manna from heaven, to be redistributed as one pleases. These are the sort of sophisms of which I spoke above.

To people like Labour candidate Jordan Carter, trade is immoral. To people like Labour cheerleader Christopher Trotter, production is irrelevant. To both of them, and to all their great social-democratic 'luminaries,' the State is simply a great engine of expropriation, a beneficent behemoth from which all good things apparently flow. "Those charged with governing our country," the Trotter confides, "hold in trust the resources – both natural and social – that are the common property of all our people."

What makes this property "common"? How do these resources come into the possession of the apparatchiks of the state? What right did they have to take them from those who produced them? Of answer to these questions there is none, but neither is there in all the pages of Marx, or Lenin, or Stalin — or of any of Trotter's present 'social democratic' heroes. The expectation is that need will inexorably arise, and just as inexorably expropriations will rise up to meet them.

Communities simply have rights to goods, according to the Marxist/social democrat, which the state must meet by expropriating them from those who (somehow) have been able to produce them.

What could be more ingenious? A whole social edifice based upon theft!

Thus we see how one man's need becomes the justification for theft by the state, how economic illiteracy becomes a justification for a morality of sacrifice and expropriation, and how the moral cannibalism of altruism underlies the engine of destruction that is the all-enveloping welfare state. To repeat, according to Trotter: "Those charged with governing our country, hold in trust the resources – both natural and social – that are the common property of all our people." When you understand that, in Trotter's view, those who (somehow) possess this magical ability to produce must be considered a resource, you can understand both why they must be enslaved - "they are the common property of all our people" — and why he hates, as he demonstrated in his revealing diatribe last week, these productive few who have been mysteriously endowed with an ability beyond his own.

And thus we come to the inevitable Marxist conclusion of Trotter's 'I believe,' the linking of ability to need through the enforced sacrifice of the welfare state — in the words of Karl Marx: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Trotter may resile from calling himself a Marxist these days, but it doesn't take too much poking around under the new veneer to see what's hidden beneath the easy sophisms, and that the same blood red flag is still flying.