06 December 2010

Bernanke's Assurances

I didn’t watch the program, but apparently Ben Bernanke appeared on 60 Minutes last night to assure the world that he knows what he is doing. He claimed “’100%’ confidence that he could prevent runaway inflation.”

And how will he do that?

“’We’ve been very, very clear that we will not allow inflation to rise above 2% or less,’ he said. ‘We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation, at the appropriate time.’”[1, emphasis mine.]

First of all, I don’t believe for an instant the Fed will stop printing money under any circumstances. But even if we take Bernanke at his word, I am astonished at how brazen and “very, very clear” he is about his use of force and whim to destroy any semblance of a free economy. How can any businessman develop a new product, expand manufacturing facilities, and plan for the future, when the monetary czar actually boasts of his power to impose dictatorial fiat to change the playing field “in fifteen minutes”?

Rational individuals in a free country pursue long-term goals, with the coming years and decades in focus. The economic "stimulus" engineered by Obama, Geithner, and Bernanke discourages anyone from thinking into the future more than a quarter of an hour. And these are the guys who claim to be driving economic recovery! How can anyone miss the inconsistency?

Either Ben Bernanke is insane for thinking this message is actually an assurance . . . or he is crafty enough to know that a perpetually gullible American public will swallow the message whole.


1. “Inflation Risk Is Low, Fed Says,” The Wall Street Journal, 6 Dec 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704493004576001792213292076.html.

19 November 2010

Yevgeny Kutic plays Franck Sonata in A Major

Violinist Yevgeny Kutic was a recent guest on WGBH's "Live from Fraser" program. He played one of my all-time favorite pieces: the Sonata in A Major by Cesar Franck.

The whole show is worth listening to, but since the audio program below lasts about an hour . . .

. . . you can get a taste of it with this video, in which Mr. Kutic plays the second movement of the Franck sonata.

04 November 2010

Rhoads, Hsieh, and Cushman on Midterm Elections

I came across three very good articles on the topic of Tuesday’s Republican victory (or to be more precise, I should call it Tuesday’s Democratic defeat).

In the first article, Jared Rhoads reported that he voted against Democrats across the board:

Since I am emphatically not a registered member of the Republican party, allow me briefly to explain.

My votes were cast with one goal in mind: to stem the tide toward statism and in so doing buy more time for rational ideas to take hold in the culture. On the surface, that means limited government, lower taxes, lower spending, and less regulation. More deeply, it means individual rights.[1]

In another article, Paul Hsieh advises the Republicans to understand what swept them into office. Their victory is decidedly not a mandate to compromise and deliver “ObamaLite”:

The 2010 vote was a powerful message from Americans rejecting the socialist policies of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid -- including the bailouts, the out-of-control federal spending, the higher taxes, and the nationalized health care scheme.

Voters elected Republicans to halt and reverse these policies -- not compromise to pass watered-down versions of those same bad ideas.[2]

Nor is the victory a green light to impose “social conservative” values:

The Republicans’ electoral rebound has been driven by millions of independent voters like the Colorado small businessman Ron Vaughn, who told the New York Times, “I want the Democrats out of my pocket and Republicans out of my bedroom.”[2]

Finally, at American Thinker, Charlotte Cushman urges the Republicans not to compromise with the Democrats to “find common ground” with policies that are disastrous for America:

We have been taught than compromising is a virtue, that in any conflict, we must concede things to the other side. . .

Finding common ground means that both sides agree on some fundamental principles. By compromising with Obama we would be saying that we agree with some aspects of Socialism. No we don’t. There is no common ground between an ideology of slavery and the ideology of freedom. Rush Limbaugh said the meaning of the election was “No, we don’t want to ‘work together,’ and the American people did not say they want to work with you. The American people said yesterday they want to stop you!”[3]

With an entirely secular meaning, I say, “Amen!”


1. Jared Rhoads, “A Republican voter . . . ,” 2 Nov 2010, http://lucidicus.org/editorials.php?nav=20101102a.

2. Paul Hsieh, “GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You,” 3 Nov 2010, http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/gop-dance-with-the-one-who-brung-you/?singlepage=true.

3. Charlotte Cushman, “No More Goodie Two-Shoes,” 4 Nov 2010, http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/11/no_more_goodie_twoshoes.html.

03 November 2010

Democrat Drubbing

In the aftermath of last night’s evisceration of the Democrats, the biggest whopper I’ve seen so far comes from Tim Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman. Here is his explanation for the utter repudiation of the Obama agenda:

“Voters sent a message that change has not happened fast enough.”[1]

What? Change has not happened fast enough? That is what Kaine thinks the drubbing of his party means? Assuming the man is not joking, and giving him the benefit of the doubt that he is not simply a conniving liar trying to rally his pack of true-believers, I am left to conclude that he must be as innocent of facts, logic, and judgment as a new-born babe.

I hasten to add that I am not saying Kaine is stupid, of course. (Accusing public figures of stupidity is the refuge of the Left, which, being so bankrupt of ideas itself, resorts to ad hominem attacks as its primary form of argument.) On the contrary, I believe Tim Kaine is probably a pretty smart guy, and he certainly deserves to be in the company of other very smart people who are equally delusional--like, for instance, Paul Krugman, who thinks the recent expansion of government spending is a myth[2]; Ben Bernanke, who believes that government spending actually stimulates an economy; Harry Reid, who thinks paying income taxes in America is voluntary; and Nancy Pelosi, who thinks people who show up at Tea Party events are sponsored by large corporations.

To think that Democrats lost last night because they were not far enough to the left during the past two years is preposterous. Does Kaine think voters chose Tea Party candidates because they were angry at Democrats for being too “hands off”? Were Democrats kicked out of office because their President seized only General Motors instead of taking over the whole automobile industry like Hugo Chavez would have? Were supporters of Obamacare dumped because there was not enough bureaucracy, regulation, and redistribution of wealth built into the two-thousand-plus pages of the “health care” legislation? It’s completely absurd.

Barack Obama has, more than any politician in my memory, clarified the meaning of the so-called “liberal” agenda.[3] We owe the very existence of the Tea Party to that clarity; there is no way that such a spontaneous movement would have emerged if John McCain had won the election. Ordinary Americans talking about freedom versus socialism, reading Atlas Shrugged, and calling for sweeping cuts in government spending would not be nearly as widespread if there were a Republican in office, even though I think McCain is just about as horrendous a collectivist as Obama is.

The repudiation of the Democratic agenda is encouraging to me in the same limited manner as the Scott Brown election was earlier this year. I expect nothing good from the Republicans themselves--apart from some gridlock that will help retard the march toward statism, a march that has been accelerating alarmingly in the Bush-Obama era. However, I am pleased about the American spirit that the Democratic defeat signals. Evidently, there are still Americans not willing to let the government run their lives.

Hopefully, this will give us time to convince those Americans that they are right to live their own lives and seek their own happiness.


1. “G.O.P. Captures House, Not Senate,” New York Times, 3 Nov 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/us/politics/03elect.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all.

2. Paul Krugman, “Hey, Small Spender,” New York Times, 10 Oct 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/opinion/11krugman.html?_r=1&ref=paulkrugman.

3. See John David Lewis, “Obama’s Atomic Bomb: The Ideological Clarity of the Democratic Agenda,” The Objective Standard, Vol. 4, No. 3, http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2009-fall/obamas-atomic-bomb.asp.


I added the Reid and Pelosi examples to the fourth paragraph.

29 October 2010

Evelyn Glennie plays Ney Rosauro Marimba Concerto I

In this video, one of my favorite percussionists, Evelyn Glennie, demonstrates her stunning virtuosity playing Ney Rosauro's Marimba Concerto I.

Unfortunately, about halfway into the third movement, the video ends abruptly. However, I found another video (below), with Samuel Peruzzolo on marimba, that has just the third and fourth movements. I'm glad I stumbled upon this one because it is kind of interesting to hear it with only piano accompaniment instead of an orchestra. (The pianist is Liziane Venes.)

And finally, you can see the composer himself playing his concerto with an all-percussion group at Vic Firth's web site. Very, very cool!

26 October 2010

Bill Whittle on Wealth Creation

I extend a hat tip to Harry Binswanger for calling attention to this excellent video on his private list.

In the video, Bill Whittle of PJTV makes stunningly insightful observations about wealth creation, including the relationship of prosperity to freedom and the fact that in a free exchange all parties benefit. (I say "stunningly" because I am unaccustomed to hearing such things spoken of outside of Objectivist circles.)

As good as Whittle's video is, he does expose the Achilles heel that is typical of conservatives--namely, religiosity (though in this case it seems somewhat latent). No fewer than four times Whittle uses the word miracle to apply to the general progress and prosperity that freedom and capitalism make possible. This is a terrible mistake--and an inexplicable one too, considering that in every other respect Whittle is completely rational. Why bring superstition into it? There is nothing magic about political liberty leading to prosperity; this follows from facts, reason, and logic. It is possible that Whittle is trying to indicate something other than the strictly supernatural meaning of miracle; perhaps he means "awe-inspiring" as opposed to "inexplicable act of God." But if so, why use the word in the first place? Why be fuzzy instead of precise right at the moments that it is most important to be clear?

Despite this flaw, the video is well worth watching.

I fixed a typographical error.

25 October 2010

Orthodox Environmentalists Try to Pin Faith on “Deniers”

Leftists can scarcely contain their dismay that losses at the polls in November will likely obstruct their ability to foist meaningful “cap and trade” legislation upon Americans. A case in point: On Wednesday, New York Times reporter John M. Broder penned an article called “Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith”[1] that is bursting with desperation, frustration, and bitterness.

As one might guess from the title, Broder’s thesis is that a primary driver behind the “denial of global warming” is religious faith. Did you catch that? It is not “global warming” itself but its denial that requires faith! This is an astonishingly brazen position to take considering that environmentalism demonstrates every essential attribute of a religion.

The report (if such an undisguised and biased opinion piece can be called a “report”) quoted exactly three people representing Tea Party groups. Here is what those three had to say.

“It’s a flat-out lie. I read my Bible. He made this earth for us to utilize.”--Norman Dennison, a 50-year old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party

“This so-called climate science is just ridiculous . . . Some people same I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”--Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots

“They’re trying to use global warming against the people. It takes away our liberty. Being a strong Christian, I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us.”--Lisa Deaton, small-business owner who started We the People Indiana, a Tea Party affiliate.[1, emphasis mine in all quotes.]

With cherry-picked examples like these, Broder easily characterizes the “deniers” as religious nuts: Two people explicitly cite God as the motivation behind opposition to “cap and trade” legislation and another brings up the John Birch Society, an organization with the mission “[t]o bring about less government, more responsibility, and -- with God’s help -- a better world . . .”[2] This distortion is completely consistent with the leftist efforts to discredit the Tea Party movement. The media and most politicians cannot fathom (or at least they pretend to not understand) that many ordinary, clear-thinking Americans are alarmed by the catastrophic policies of our government.

The closest that Broder comes to stating the actual rational view of “deniers” is in this passage:

For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth. But all are wary of the Obama administration’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide, a ubiquitous gas, which is require the expansion of government authority into nearly every corner of the economy.[1]

With his suggestion of “conspiracy theories,” Broder does his best to make the non-religious positions seem nutty as well, but he has (perhaps inadvertently) neatly encapsulated the basic goal of “cap and trade.” There is no conspiracy about it; the goals to redistribute wealth and apply an increasingly consolidated and powerful regulatory government are explicit and entirely in the open to anyone who cares to listen and understand the meaning of policies.

Before closing, I must inject a word about the deceptive shorthand that is used by environmentalists. Notice how “global warming” is the term used to demonize the “deniers.” Lately, environmentalists have also been slipping in the term “climate change” instead of “global warming” because it covers all the bases--as in the title of the quoted Times article, for instance. “Climate change” is particularly convenient for those periods of cooling that will naturally occur; environmentalists won’t have to conceal or fudge the data anymore when facts do not cooperate with their policies. In any case, no rational person is denying that the climate is changing. The climate has been changing for four-and-a-half billion years. The earth gets hotter; the earth gets cooler. It always has and always will. What I deny is that even if any significant warming or cooling happens to be associated with human productivity--and that is a big “if” that would have be demonstrated with independent, privately-funded scientific data, not a self-proclaimed alleged “scientific consensus” published by government-funded agencies--it would still not call for a massive government power grab. The essential requirement for human life is freedom--and this is as true when the temperature is going up as it is when the temperature is going down.


1. John M. Broder, “Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith,” New York Times, 20 Oct 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/us/politics/21climate.html.

2. John Birch Society mission statement, http://www.jbs.org/about.

22 October 2010

Radiohead Covers

I love this arrangement and performance of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" by the piano duo Anderson and Roe. I had never heard of them until they appeared a few weeks ago on the Live at Fraser program on WGBH. Good stuff.

While we're on a roll with Radiohead, here is a good arrangement of "Karma Police" by Christopher O'Riley, the talented pianist and host of the wonderfully inspiring radio program From the Top.

19 October 2010

Fresh Agitprop From The DNC

About a month ago, I received an email from the Democratic National Committee with the subject line, “Can we send you a sticker?”[Note 1] The Democrats were showing off their new logo by giving away bumper stickers:

Friend --

So far, nearly 100,000 supporters from around the country have asked us to send them a Democrats sticker with our new look.

Soon, they’ll start turning up on the bumpers of cars and tractor trailers, on cubicle dividers and dorm room walls.

Image from email received from the Democratic National Committee.

The note presented numerous reminders that it is “our shared commitment to change that matters,” and that in electing Barack Obama, “Democrats made a choice to embrace the fight for change.” What such a message lacks in substance it makes up for in revealing the depth--which is to say, the shallowness--of the Democrats’ view of America.

What, according to Democrats, exactly is fundamental to our nation? Individual rights? The freedom to think and act according to one’s judgment? The liberty to live one’s life, keep the property one has earned, and pursue one’s happiness? No. “Change is the inescapable driver of history in the United States.”

In short, a change in the Democratic Party logo is intended to remind us of . . . well, change. To Democrats, it is “change that amplifies our focus on renewing the foundations that make this country great.”[Note 2, emphasis mine on all quotes.]

If Democrats had even the foggiest notion of the foundations that make this country great, there might be a hint of a positive sign in this last sentence, even with its vapid notion that change qua change is a magic tonic that will fix things by “amplifying focus.” (Evidently, about the half the voters of this country are placated by, and even enthusiastically applaud, such meaningless sentences.) But Democrats do not have any idea about what makes the United States great.[Note 3] It is with good reason that phrases like “the inescapable driver of history in the United States” roll naturally off their tongues. It reflects the Democrat's world view: the deterministic historical materialism of Marx and its collectivist notion that class conditions determine the content of human consciousness.

Democrats are driven by the so-called “progressive” ideals that emerged at the turn of the 20th century. (It is probably over-generous to say that modern Democrats are driven by ideas at all because thinking is not required by one who drifts obediently from one feeling to the next.) “Progressivism” is anathema to America. The single fundamental principle underpinning the United States is individual rights--the right to one’s life, liberty, and property. Recognizing that the biggest threat to Americans was not foreigners or criminals but the government itself, the Founders established a government charged with one responsibility: safeguarding individual rights. Democrats have turned this purpose of government on its head. They see the government as the caretaker of its citizens--the provider, the regulator, the leveler. Thus, the government has steadily been transformed from the institution that protects rights to the legal instrument of rights violations.

Image from GlobalResearch.ca.

The thing that is most surprising and disturbing to me about their new logo is the apparent confidence of Democrats that many Americans will swallow their message if it is undisguised. I would have guessed that if Democrats were interested in doing some “damage control” by presenting a new image, they would have tried to conceal their anti-American views by hiding behind a red-white-and-blue, American-as-apple-pie logo--something unambiguously patriotic. This is especially true in the face of a likely drubbing at the polls in November and the emergence of the Tea Party, which is itself the most promising mainstream indicator today that there still exist many Americans that are not yet willing to let the government run their lives.

Image from Wikipedia entry for “Portal: United Nations.

I am a little stunned to see the Democrats introduce a logo that boldly trumpets the light blue of capitulation and apology. It is the blue that adorns the helmet and beret of United Nations "peacekeepers." It is the blue of the 20-euro note, the blue of the $5 food stamp. It is the blue achieved by diluting the canton of the American flag with the white flag of surrender, a mixture favored by intellectuals. Even Barack Obama’s publicity team seemed to recognize the need to incorporate red, white, and blue into the President’s logo (though the blue is more United Nations blue than American-flag blue, and in my opinion, the design is more evocative of the agrarian, hammer-and-sickle idealism of a peasant or proletarian revolution than the American ideal of individual achievement).

Image from My.BarackObama.com.

Notwithstanding the insistence of intellectuals that try to pin the failures of Democrats on “public relations” problems[Note 4], it is the Democrats that are experts at manipulating public opinion. Indeed, because their ideas are utterly bankrupt, an appeal to envy and resentment is all they have. Leftists--progressives, modern liberals, socialists, and democrats--have a virtual monopoly in the universities and the media. I do not underestimate their ability to gauge public opinion, which is precisely why I am a little concerned not only that they would unveil a slick logo that looks like it would fit neatly on the armband of a new Civilian Service Corps uniform, but that they would think it is a good idea. I hope they are dreadfully wrong.


1. I have no idea how I originally got on the Democratic Party mailing list, but I keep it up for the maintenance of that wise saw, “Know thy enemy.” The same goes for the Republican National Committee.

2. All quotes are from an email chain from DNC Chariman Tim Kaine and Jen O’Malley Dillon. I believe Ms. O’Malley Dillon is the executive director of the DNC.

3. In order to not let Republicans off the hook, I will here repeat the point I have made many times. Republicans do not know what makes America great any more than Democrats do if they think the United States is “a Christian nation,” that American values are at root Judeo-Christian values, that God is the source of rights, or that the Ten Commandments inform truth, justice, and the American way.

4. Sara Robinson, “Building the Progressive Brand,” The New Republic, 10 Oct 2010, http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/78278/building-the-progressive-brand.

09 October 2010

Marc Faber - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I’ll have to listen to this excellent Marc Faber lecture at least once or twice more; there is a lot to digest.

The lecture is rather long, but I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. To motivate my readers (yes, both of you!) to do so, I’ll tease you with the fact that Faber makes some extremely sobering and significant points a little before the fifteen-minute mark and a few minutes after the one-hour point.

10 September 2010

Building Bridges

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a remarkable opinion piece by M. Zudhi Jasser, a doctor and former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander. Nine years after the September 11 atrocity, this is the first—that’s right, the first—significant defense of America by a Muslim man that I have heard.

Dr. Jasser wrote:

In relation to Ground Zero, I am an American first, a Muslim second, just as I would be at Concord, Gettysburg, Normandy Beach, Pearl Harbor or any other battlefield where my fellow countrymen lost their lives. . .

We Muslims should first separate mosque and state before lecturing Americans about church and state. [Note 1, emphasis mine.]

Because I am so accustomed to the euphemistic “bridge-building” talk of so-called “moderate” Muslims, my initial shock gave way to a wonder whether these were simply words calculated (as usual) to placate defenders of freedom. But I don’t think so. The article so piercingly identifies the need to subordinate religious sentiments to the rule of rights-respecting law, I think it is genuine.

There are some more gems in the essay. Dr. Jasser, who opposes building a mosque at Ground Zero wrote, “…it is not a right to make one’s religion a global political statement with a towering Islamic edifice that casts a shadow over the memorials of Ground Zero.”[Again, emphasis mine.] Also, he explicitly links the allegedly moderate political activities of Islamists with their militant goals. “Islamists in ‘moderate’ disguise are still Islamists.”

image from Wikipedia entry for “Corvus (weapon).”

During the Punic Wars, the ancient Romans had an indomitable army but their Carthaginian enemy was superior at sea. How does an army fight a navy? The Romans devised the boarding bridge as a means of fighting a ground war on the water. A Roman ship would pull alongside a Carthaginan vessel close enough to drop the bridge, which had a huge “tooth” or spike at the end, onto the enemy deck. This would bind the two ships together, permitting Roman soldiers to storm the Carthaginian vessel, thus turning the sea battle to their strength of land combat.

We do not need to “build bridges” between Islamists and the West, as Imam Rauf and self-loathing Western intellectuals would have us do. Metaphorically, the sort of “bridge” desired by Imam Rauf and others is the boarding bridge—the only purpose of which is to permit 9th century barbarians to storm a vessel populated by the descendents of Enlightenment thinkers. The only difference between the ancient Roman bridge and the modern Islamist bridge is that at least the Romans did not expect their enemy to build the contraption for them and meekly offer their throats for slaughter.

With the evidence of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the truth and justice of reason, liberty, and capitalism are plain for all to see. Muslims do not need a “bridge” to gain access to freedom; they simply have to want it and earn it—something only Dr. Jasser and perhaps a handful of others seem to understand. And we Americans, who on the whole have lost our compass and must struggle to right our own ship, certainly have nothing to gain from extending a “bridge” to Islamists who want to wipe individual rights out of existence.

I could hardly have expected a more encouraging sign than this article on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attack. If there are in fact many more Muslims like Dr. Jasser, they must have the courage to speak out now.


1. M. Zudhi Jasser, “Questions for Imam Rauf From an American Muslim,” Wall Street Journal, Friday, September 10, 2010, p. A17.

18 August 2010

Regulation Begets More Regulation

My jaw dropped when I read the second paragraph of a Wall Street Journal article today. The story paraphrased Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s pitch for the government to guarantee home mortgages: “The private sector’s ‘full retreat’ from the mortgage market over the past three years provides a ‘compelling illustration’ of what would happen without some government role, [Geithner] said.”[Note 1, emphasis mine.]

The collapse of the housing market illustrates what would happen without government involvement? How can anyone read this with a straight face?

The government caused the housing crisis. As Yaron Brook put it, “For decades, Washington promoted homeownership by people who couldn’t afford it; think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Community Reinvestment Act, tax incentives to buy homes, housing subsidies for the needy, among other programs.”[Note 2.]

It is true that Geithner grudgingly admitted in the press conference that “alongside broader failures,” (which he leaves unnamed), the government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played a part in the crisis by creating a “race to the bottom” with lax underwriting standards. But Geithner cannot even imagine a market that is not controlled by the government. With the most disgusting Obama-esque pretense of actually considering an iota of freedom, Geithner dismisses the idea that “[s]ome suggest that, as a government, we have provided too much support for housing,” with the bold executive decision, “It’s safe to say there’s no clear consensus yet on how best to design a new system.”[Note 3.]

Upon which Tim Geithner assumed that Tim Geithner is the best guy to design a new system.


1. “Geithner Makes Case for U.S. Role in Mortgages,” Wall Street Journal, 18 Aug 2010, p. A6.

2. Yaron Brook, “Atlas Shrugged and the Housing Crisis that Government Built,” published in Fusion Magazine, Vol. 4, Issue 8, March 2009, http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=24013.

3. “Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner Opening Remarks at the Conference on the Future of Housing Finance - As Prepared for Delivery,” US Treasury Department, 17 Aug 2010, http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/tg830.htm.

15 August 2010

The Carter-Bush-Obama Mosque

On Friday, President Obama finally threw his explicit support behind the building of the mosque at Ground Zero. Echoing George Bush and virtually every conservative and “liberal” politician, Mr. Obama reiterated the standard line: “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam––it’s a gross distortion of Islam.”

As one might expect, Obama couched this craven surrender in terms of defending freedom. He even had the gall to quote Thomas Jefferson and to invoke to old canard that the Founders were “deeply religious.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared, “This proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime, and I applaud President Obama’s clarion defense of the freedom of religion tonight”[1]––as if the Founders would have considered it an expression of “freedom of religion” to murder thousands of innocent workers, use airplanes to knock down their institutions of commerce and free trade, and install a house of worship on the blood-soaked holy site as a symbol of the conqueror stepping on the neck of the vanquished.

Incredibly, on top of it all, in a contrivance that would have seemed a gross exaggeration if it had appeared in a novel or movie, the occasion upon which the President chose to make this announcement was at the White House Iftar Dinner. The White House Iftar Dinner is, of course, part of the Executive Branch’s official promotion of the “Holy Month of Ramadan” in order to “reflect on the principles of a faith that is practiced by more than a billion women and men worldwide.”[2] In the Orwellian fantasy land of current political discourse (and the sheeplike acceptance of an unthinking public), this is what passes for “as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime.” Declared the President:

Here at the White House, we have a tradition of hosting iftars that goes back several years, just as we host Christmas parties and seders and Diwali celebrations. And these events celebrate the role of faith in the lives of the American people. They remind us of the basic truth that we are children of God, and we all draw strength and a sense of purpose from our beliefs.[3] [Emphasis mine.]

No, Mr. President, the fact that these events (apart from Christmas, which has happily substituted its religious meaning for a commercial one) occur in the White House at all indicates how far the federal government has become completely unmoored from its founding principles. The government has no business propping up any religion. To do so destroys, not reinforces, the wall of separation between church and state. And it is utterly obscene for the federal government to be acting in its official capacity to promote a religion that is openly an enemy of freedom, and to do so in the name of freedom.

Religious freedom is a subset of freedom in general––and freedom means one and only one fundamental thing: securing individual rights. A man certainly has the right to believe anything he wishes (including medieval superstitions), and he may act upon those beliefs as long as his actions harm no one else. A man does not have the right––nor do a billion men[4] have the right––to destroy a free country with a succession of murderous attacks and legal maneuvers.


I have been extremely troubled by the controversy surrounding the Ground Zero mosque. It is obviously an outrageous affront to America, to freedom, and to civilization. But what should the America government do about it now? Countless opportunities to do the right thing have gone by. (This is why I dubbed it the “Carter-Bush-Obama mosque.” The prospect of building a holy shrine of Islam’s victory over America in Manhattan is possible only after a generations-long chain of capitulations by our morally-bankrupt culture. Perhaps I should include Eisenhower in the title as well; he should have opposed the outrageous nationalization of Western property during the Suez crisis. But if Jimmy Carter had responded with immediate overwhelming force to the American embassy takeover by soldiers of the Islamist Revolution, there would have been no fatwa against Salman Rushdie a decade later; if George H. W. Bush had properly recognized the fatwa as an act of war and a mortal threat to all civilization, there would have been no September 11 atrocity; and if George W. Bush had not merely given lip service to destroying the nations that harbor terrorists and if Barack Obama were not a thorough multiculturalist, we would not now be threatened by Islamic totalitarianism and be on the doorstep of Sharia law in the United States. Sure, it sounds like a crazy and unreal exaggeration to say that Sharia law could take hold here––but then again, I used to think it impossible that the American government would ever take over car companies and the health care industry.)

The trouble I have with the Ground Zero mosque controversy is that because the United States government has placated the enemy for so long, it is difficult to sort out exactly what should be done by the government in this instance. It goes without saying that every private citizen and politician––every editorial, radio program, television commentary, and blog––should denounce the mosque from the rooftops in the most explicit terms. It is an outrage and a monstrosity. But if government force is used to block the mosque, exactly what form should that take? Should American soldiers storm the mosque after it is built? Should the CIA or FBI take it down covertly? Should New York City policemen padlock the door? Should bureaucrats wrap up the project in red tape and deny approval? On its face, every one of these seems wrong; American soldiers (or better yet, American aircraft) should be destroying the root of Islamic totalitarianism in Tehran before it does so in New York City.

Many excellent essays have been written on this topic by Ed Cline, Diana Hsieh, Amy Peikoff, Paul Hsieh, and others. I find myself in the most unusual of circumstances––seeing both sides of their arguments and having trouble identifying the correct application of principles. The problem amounts to this: Because of the past and present failings of the federal government, the only immediate way to stop or eliminate the Ground Zero mosque is to use government force in an abusive, non-objective fashion. The government ought to have eliminated the threat generations ago. But it didn’t. So, the only (apparent) solution remaining is to exert government force that I would ordinarily regard as violating rights. (By “ordinarily,” I mean outside of a declared state of war.) Naturally, every philosophical alarm bell in my head goes off at the prospect of such a compromise; it seems to contradict a principled defense of freedom and to open the door to untold future abuses of power. I habitually argue against this sort of support for the “lesser of two evils” because it concedes the basic premises of the argument to the irrational.

A comment in a private email list has put a fact in place to help me through the dilemma. Reflecting my own concerns, one post expressed the reasonable worry that the use of government measures that are either outside the law or exploit existing bad laws (such as non-objective regulatory or zoning laws) creates a dangerous precedent that threatens the rule of law itself. In reply, Ed Mazlish made an excellent point: The government has already assumed this power. It cannot be a precedent to block the building of a mosque with zoning laws when New York City already routinely blocks other types of building, “as evidenced by the fact that Walmart is not allowed to open any store in any of the 5 boroughs despite repeated attempts and petitions for permission. If the government has already arrogated to itself the power to ban Walmart from NYC, then the horse is completely out of the barn and allowing this mosque to be built does nothing to protect private property rights from arbitrary zoning powers.”[5]

This is a crucially important observation. If individual rights were being upheld in a reasonably consistent fashion in America, one might argue that the breach constituted by blocking the building of the mosque would threaten the rule of law itself. (Such a breach still might not compare to the threat of Islam, but the argument could be made.) However, this is not a case of “the cure being worse than the disease.” We already have the disease. The government seems to recognize no restraint on its powers to regulate and control our lives. Furthermore, in very broad and fundamental terms, if our government were the sort that consistently secured individual rights domestically, it would likely also have had the proper foreign policy, which would have eliminated this controversy altogether.

In light of this, my dilemma can be expressed more clearly: Given the past and present failings of the federal government, should it now apply an incremental evil of its own to stop a monstrous, civilization-threatening evil? In those terms, the answer in the affirmative is obvious.


The tenets of Islam are not secrets for those who care (or dare) to look, but it is easy to obscure and dismiss the nature of those ideas, especially when our morally bankrupt culture wants to pretend there is no problem.

In Modern Times, historian Paul Johnson cited a remarkably candid passage that rings true today. It is from a secret briefing issued by Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, in April of 1940, four days before the Nazis invaded Norway:

Up to now we have succeeded in leaving the enemy in the dark concerning Germany’s real goals, just as before 1932 our domestic foes never saw where we were going of that our oath of legality was just a trick. We wanted to come to power legally, but we did not want to use power legally . . . . They could have suppressed us. They could have arrested a couple of us in 1925 and that would have been that, the end. No, they let us through the danger zone. That’s exactly how it was in foreign policy too . . . . In 1933 a French premier ought to have said (and if I had been the French premier I would have said it): ‘The new Reich Chancellor is the man who wrote Mein Kampf, which says this and that. This man cannot be tolerated in our vicinity. Either he disappears or we march!’ But they didn’t do it. They left us alone and let us slip through the risky zone, and we were able to sail around all dangerous reefs. And when we were done, and well armed, better than they, then they started the war![6] [Emphasis in the original.]

The apparent strategy of the West is to keep mouthing the words “religion of peace” over and over until it somehow becomes true . . . or at least until the “religion of peace” silences us once and for all. Assuming civilization survives, we will someday look back at the words of President Bush, President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, and the many other politicians and intellectuals who apologized for Islamic totalitarianism, and marvel at the incredible moral cowardice, deceit, and naivete they exhibited.

1. “Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site,” New York TImes, 13 Aug 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/us/politics/14obama.html?hp.

2. Quote from Farah Anwar Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, in “Remarks at the Annual State Department Iftaar Dinner,” US Department of State, http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/09/129232.htm.

3. “President Obama’s Iftar Remarks,” distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State, http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2010/August/20100813211535yggep0.050237.html.

4. From Mr. Obama’s remarks: “To you, to Muslim Americans across our country, and to more than one billion Muslims around the world, I extend my best wishes on this holy month. Ramadan Kareem.”

5. I am grateful to Mr. Mazlish for permitting me to quote him.

6. Paul Johnson, Modern Times (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.,1983), p. 341.