Friday, September 28, 2007

- The Problem with Western Civilization

OK, I don’t really think there is a problem with western civilization, but I wanted to stick to the trend in titles. The truth is, a good portion of the real problem is with what we have come to call multiculturalism. This, if I can paraphrase a little, is the idea that the act of putting a man on the moon and the act of putting a bone in your nose both contribute the same amount to a society. In effect it’s taking the view that the “prevalent institutions of a society cause more problems than they solve”, and turning it into a kind of cultural suicide pact. If you believe that going to an Episcopal church every Sunday makes you a bad person, that the Knights of Columbus and the Masons exist for the purpose of crushing the spirit, and that the Boy Scouts are nothing more than the American version of the Hitler youth, then you are probably a fan of multiculturalism.

So does anyone actually believe that? Well after living in Manhattan for 13 years, I’m convinced that there is no idea so insipid that there isn’t someone who has adopted it as their credo, and that they probably have at least a few followers. But in general terms I don’t think there is anyone out there who really embraces multiculturalism whole hog. And the reason for that is that the people who are most inclined to see the failings of our societal institutions are those who are by far the most dependent on them. Let me explain.

Liberals will tell you that conservatives are too closed-minded and not open enough to new experiences and new ideas. I think that’s true as far as it goes. Liberals don’t place nearly the same value on the wisdom handed down by past generations as Conservatives do, and always seem to believe that they have some “new idea” which will reinvent a better society from the ground up. But that’s a perspective with a very limited shelf life. So long as things are going well, and it’s easy to make your way in the world, then there is always room for a new idea. But in a survival situation, the only real way to get by is by sticking with a pattern of behavior that you know will be effective. There is no time for experimentation.

The best example of this is the “Grizzly Man”, the ironically named Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell loved the Alaskan Brown Bear and believed every bit of contemporary nonsense spouted by the most rabid animal rights groups. He believed that if he loved the bears enough, his feelings would be communicated to them across the firmament, and it would let them know that he meant them no harm. What Treadwell had was a new idea about how to deal with a large dangerous animal. He felt that if he rejected the biases of modern society, and communicated with the bears on their own natural level, then he would be as safe as a babe in Eden. He was a true multiculturalist who rejected not only western civilization, but all other civilization as well. Then one day, the Bears ate him.

Unlike most liberals, he had the courage to put his hide where his heart was, and go out among the bears, unarmed at a time when food was growing short for them, protected only by his faith in the ideas he thought had never been tried before. What he really needed to be safe around Bears, was the wisdom handed down through the generations about how to deal with them, and a rifle in about a .375 caliber.

Treadwell was an extreme case that met an extreme end. And that’s the thing about most of the people who advocate multiculturalism, they don’t really mean it. In effect, it was a sham from the start. Its advocates love to sit in their upper west side apartments and talk about the cultural importance of West African art. They will ramble on endlessly about their trip to 5 star Amanwanna and how the Indonesian villagers looked so quaint in their traditional houses built on stilts. They’ll argue at the UN how important it is to preserve the native practices of the third world and not “pollute it” with western modernity. But none of them has thought to ask the quaint looking villagers what they actually want.

The truth is, if you walked around much of sub Saharan Africa promising every quaint looking villager you see, free transportation to a nice safe Suburban NJ condo and a state civil service job with a pension, you could probably depopulate the continent. Give them the option of a life in the “culturally polluted west” where they can find clean water, affordable dental care and strong odds that their kids will live to a ripe old age, and they’ll abandon their stilt laden houses in an instant. And that’s because unlike the self-congratulatory upper west side liberals, they are in a real survival situation and will do what they know they must. The same as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no liberals in the wilderness; the bears have eaten them all.

Multiculturalism is the endpoint of the liberal mindset. What Thomas Sowell might call, a radically unconstrained vision. It’s what happens when the belief that “I know better than everyone who came before me.” evolves into an endeavor in narcissisms. And although it’s a branch of the intellectual tree that could use a little careful pruning right now, I don’t think we should lop it off altogether. You might be surprised to hear me say this, but in my opinion it’s one of the things that’s made Western civilization the dominant force on the planet. In the end it’s that line of thinking moderated by reason and with some prudent grounding in cause and effect, that’s the source of all new ideas in our culture. So it isn’t something we should be trying to purge entirely.

But the problem is that during periods of extended growth and continuous economic excess, it can tend quickly toward frivolity. I believe that’s a circumstance, which we have now, and the results of this are manifest in the percentage of people who put forth previously failed ideas as if they were new.

Marxism, the Jason Voohees of political systems, seems to be gaining ground again in Latin America, southeast Asia, and the English departments of the US university system. In spite of being rejected by every economics department on the planet, and the roughly 100 million innocent people it’s killed, there are still some who want to dredge it up for 1 more sequel. Wicca, that “noble” religious institution that has the rare distinction of being approved of by the far left, was replaced by Christianity because the latter was more effective at answering the spiritual needs of society. Even organic farming was replaced by its modern counterpart because it fed people better, cheaper, and with less pollution. And with modern transportation systems, it still does.

So I guess I really do mean that there is a problem with Western civilization, but I don’t know that it’s one we can “solve”. Because the chief advantage of the west over it’s counterparts is our embrace of reason as a source of truth, we are bound tightly to the introduction of new ideas and new thinking. We can’t just pack up all the liberals and ship them off to endlessly quaint “Backwardistan” for them to enjoy the multicultural typhoid and malaria, because in the end we need them every bit as much as they need us. But what we have to try to do is find a way to differentiate between those ideas that really are new, and those that are just a previous failure repackaged in a shiny new narcissistic wrapper.

To me, telling the difference between the thought process which give us a new microchip and one that give us the idea of letting dogs and cats vote, seems pretty straight forward. But things have been good now for more than a generation, so there is an awful lot of frivolity to go around.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

- Mark Steyn Comment from "The Corner"

I’m sure many of you know Mark Steyn. His book about the collapsing demographics of Europe was a big hit, and I'm a big fan of his writing. He posted this little blurb over in "The NRO Corner" and I think it’s worth repeating here:

Blowing smoke

Okay, Muslim foot-baths in Kansas City airport, gender-segregated swimming sessions at French municipal pools, banning pork from Aussie hospital menus, no eating donuts for Belgian cops during Ramadan, no seeing-eye dogs or alcohol in Minneapolis taxi cabs, fine, fine, fine. Must be sensitive and all that.

But this is an amazing victory. In Vancouver, infidels can't smoke but Muslims can:

Vancouver's hookah-parlour owners are celebrating after winning an exemption Thursday from a proposed new bylaw that will ban smoking on most sidewalks in commercial districts, in bus shelters and even in taxis passing through Vancouver.

In giving the bylaw unanimous approval-in-principle, Vancouver city council members bowed to arguments that hookah lounges provide an important cultural space for the city's Muslims and granted them a temporary exemption...

[Emad Yacoub] said hookah lounges are essential for immigrants from hookah-smoking cultures, because it helps them deal with the depression common for newcomers and gives them places like they have at home.

Where do the rest of us go to deal with depression? As Jay Currie asks, "What about my culture?"

By creating a special exemption for Muslims - who do seem to be the only immigrant group actively demanding these sorts of “cultural accommodations” we are basically declaring our Muslim citizens worthy of special treatment and, at the same time, unworthy of the health concerns which are purported to be the basis of general smoking bans.

The state, in other words, is prepared to treat Muslims as free-born adults who can weigh the "cultural value" (ie, the pleasures) of smoking against the health risks. But not the rest of us.

It’s the kind of thing to make you wish "Gee … if only I were born a Muslim, then maybe I could live in a free country too!"

Monday, September 24, 2007

- The Problem with America

In my part of the world, people will stand patiently in line to tell you what’s wrong with America. Bring it up, and Columbia University administrators, foreign diplomats, and homeless Bellevue escapees will all elbow each other aside to get the best place on the traffic island from which to scream at you. CBS News, ABC, NBC, CNN, and the New York Times editorial board are awash with one learned opinion or another that will describe at length the great global tragedy that is American exceptionalism.

And if you are so inclined, there are apparently many different and unrelated reasons to hate America. It’s like a continental restaurant of excuses and causes, where there is something for virtually everyone. Some say it’s the way we have treated the Native Americans, while others think it’s what we’re doing to the environment. It could be our lack of a government run health care system, or our continued political support of Zionist Israel. We are simultaneously accused of failing to embrace global communism, and being unwilling to respect the individual freedom of Americans to drive as fast as they like while high on peyote. Whatever your political pre-disposition, America has done something somewhere that you can hate it for.

And this is a particularly big week in the America hating business. One of the global leaders of the "He-man America hater’s" club, delusional Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be speaking at Columbia University, simultaneously reinforcing his own membership and that of his host. Columbia University, which had a big problem allowing military recruiters on campus, has absolutely no problem letting a guy speak who is actively doing all he can to blow up those same soldiers with IED’s. So I guess we can figure out which side Columbia is on in the global terrorism debate.

So what is it that makes so many otherwise seemingly rational people despise America? Our national motto isn’t “Global domination whatever the human cost”, so none of this can be on purpose. But have we accidentally dedicated our entire existence in the US to doing our level best to crush the spirit of the rest of the world? Are we really so driven by evil, and so blind to our own faults that we can’t see our own failure to live to our ideals? Are all the things that people say about us true, and we can’t see it because of our hubris? No, don’t be silly. While we may not be perfect, there is no culture in the world that has been more willing to honestly examine the potential of it’s own failure than America.

When it comes to the reason people hate America, we must hold steadfast to “Occam’s Razor” that more or less states "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one." In this case, the simplest explanation for all this anger at The Great Satan is envy.

The thing that America has done which causes such angst for so many people is it has proven monumentally successful at connecting people’s individual desires with their personal achievements. It has found a way to allow, and even encourage, the most unexceptional of it’s citizens to achieve the most extraordinary accomplishments. In America, even our poor people have color TV’s and air conditioning. It’s the only country in the world where being poverty stricken means that obesity is more likely to be a cause of health issues for you than starvation. Time and time and time again, to the great consternation of both our enemies and our friends, our way of life has proven so fantastically successful, that we have been continually accused of “exporting our culture”. Go to L.A., or Rome, or Moscow and the only way you can tell one 15 year old kid from another is their accent when they sing the American top 40.

When McDonalds opened in Paris, it was an instant success, and just as instantly it was decried as being part of an evil American plot. The intellectual elite of all of France sprang up in simultaneous protest. Well, not exactly simultaneous, since some of them were waiting in line to order their “Royale with cheese” they had to take turns, but you get my point. It was success of that American idea, even in France, that led to such vocal and bitter resentment.

And it’s the same thing everywhere that American hatred is most prominent. In American Universities, they are continually upset that they aren’t, by virtue of their self proclaimed superior intelligence, immediately put in charge of everything. But what they don’t get about the American system is that it rewards results, not theory. There may be thousands of people that thought of the steam engine before James Watt, but since he’s the guy who made the thing, he’s the one who is remembered.

And yes, I know he wasn’t an American. In fact, that’s my very point. What has become the American ideal, was a different sort of ideal before America embraced it. And in its time it has been carried up through the ages by every culture which has showed some success over it’s peers. And in every culture, there are some who embraced it more than others. That was the thing that America really did, we opened our doors to everyone, and let in all the people from every culture who were most likely to accomplish things. And in the process of strengthening our own hand, we weakened the tea of others.

All the same though, through the ages, many other cultures have taken their turn in the spotlight, and have since lost it for whatever reason. And in the fullness of time, America will probably do so too. Nothing lasts forever. And I’m sure that if the the current crop of University administrators, Democratic politicians, and minority group activists have their way it will turn out to be sooner rather than later.

But in the meantime, America will continue to succeed, and by it’s success, continue to incur the wrath of others. And their hatred of such a benign and otherwise benevolent system will continue to say far more about them than it does about us. When they proclaim that America is the problem, they are saying that they lack the character to succeed without politics, or a cousin in the business or whatever. They are saying that they think a level playing field is beneath them, and that the “right” system would let them be in charge without much labor or risk. They are bit players who want to be the lead, but are unwilling to do the work to get them there.

The next time someone tells you that all the worlds problems are caused by America, remember, you’re talking to a loser.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

- The UN "General Assemby / Peasant Roast"

When American conservatives talk about the UN, we typically end up sounding like Alec Guinness describing Mos Eisley spaceport: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”. It’s a place where all the world’s leaders can all have some voice regardless of whether they actually deserve it or not. If we’re going to face facts, most of the world’s leaders aren’t selfless laborers for the benefit of their people. In fact much of the worlds population lives under conditions, which are astoundingly un-free, and are under one form or another of tyrannical rule. The average government of this planet is corrupt, mis-managed, and cares far more for the well being of the people that run it than the people it’s supposed to be serving.

And I’m not talking about some subtle distinction between the French domestic socio-economic policies vs. those that have already been ratified by the European union, or whether federalism should have more of a role in US domestic policy. That sort of thing is just a tempest in a teapot for we of the strong political opinion. Any country where those things are what matter is more or less free by my current definition. In fact, the average western European semi-socialist democracy is so much more free than the average UN general assembly member that it’s difficult to draw comparisons.

As is usually the case, “average” is much worse than people realize, so what I’m talking is a level much lower than that. I’m talking about the “average” between something like free Canada and notoriously unfree Zimbabwe. One has debates about whether to cut or raise taxes to increase state revenue, and the other has dubiously written, militarily enforced, and otherwise uncontested edicts which forcibly seize the property of the most productive citizens in the country to give it to somebody’s brother in law. So where exactly is the middle ground between HRH Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and crazy as a loon, north Korean strongman Kim Jung Il? I’ll tell you where, it’s at the intersection of First avenue, and 42nd street.

We in the more or less “free” world tend to lose sight of just how bad things are in other places. Conservatives ranted and raved about how irresponsible Bill Clinton was when he was ignoring terrorism and concentrating on … other things. And liberals currently talk about how evil George Bush and his alleged cabal of oil hungry neo-con murderers are destroying the world. But both of these are frankly silly when taken in context of the UN general assembly. OK, George Bush has made some decisions which have turned out to be not terribly popular, but Idi Amin used to eat people. There really isn’t any comparison.

Next week, all the thugs, warlords, and kleptocratic tyrants that make up the UN general assembly will be in New York for something or other. They’ll be messing up traffic with their scoff law parking, leaving poor tips in all the restaurants, and keeping all the strip joints busy into the wee small hours. They’ll be parked three deep in front of Barney’s and Sachs in their effort to get some value from all those state funds they’ve been expropriating since the last general assembly meeting, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

In the case of unpronounceable Iranian nutjob president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he’s asked to have a look at “ground zero”, the former World Trade Center sight. The Bloomberg administration has sensibly denied this request, ostensibly for security reasons, but mostly because we could all do without president “what’s his name’s” speech from the hole in the ground about the brave efforts of the hijackers and the glory of Allah. Even New York City isn’t that far gone yet.

So why do we bother? Why do we put up with all this just to have them get together and tell us how much they hate America? The answer can be found in another classic movie, the Godfather. The mantra of “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” tells you everything you need to know about the cesspool of Turtle bay. If we disbanded the UN tomorrow, there would still be the same plotting and scheming but we wouldn’t be able to find out about it as easily. Thankfully, our enemies aren’t all that bright. And if we put them all in the same place, they are easier to watch.

So the next time you feel frustration about the UN, think of it as a way of sacrificing the culture of New York City, to save the rest of the country. For most conservatives that will probably be a pretty good trade off.

from Michelle Malkin's Website:

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested to visit Ground Zero during an upcoming trip to New York. That request was rejected Wednesday. But a source tells Eyewitness News that the decision may not stop him.

A law enforcement source says the Iranian mission to the United Nations has informed the Secret Service that the Iranian president intends to visit Ground Zero Monday at 10 a.m.

The source says regardless of the NYPD’s rejection of the request for a Ground Zero tour, Iran’s president and his entourage will be accompanied by a Secret Service protective detail, a detail provided to all heads of state when they visit the United States.

Monday, September 17, 2007

- The Problem with "Conservatives"

The New York Times editorial board has nothing but praise for activists, so long as the thing they’re complaining about involves getting the government to take on more of our responsibilities for us. They’ll go on and on when it comes time to glorify someone who is demanding that “the rich” be penalized for something or other. They’ll even send up a cheer for someone who is in favor of being left alone, so long as they want to be left alone to have sex with a 1958 Desoto, or to marry their couch.

But if what you want is to be allowed to raise your children to believe in god, or some other constitutionally protected bit of tradition, then you’re on your own so far as the mainstream media is concerned. They don’t have time for people who are only interested in the personal liberty to do things the way people have done them for millennia. But if what you want is to make LSD and oral sex a part of your religious liturgy, then they’ll defend you with all they’ve got.

That’s their perspective and their position. They are quietly against tradition, and loudly for replacing it with the latest fashionable idea no matter how silly or destructive that idea may turn out to be. And to tell you the truth, I don’t have a problem with that. In fact in this one way, I’m a bit of a free market purist. I don’t buy or read the New York Times, and I encourage everyone I know to do the same. Eventually, I think they’ll feel the pinch and mediate themselves, but it’s probably going to be a while before it happens, if at all.

With that said though, there is definitely a dichotomy between the way the media views those who are politically active on the left, and their equivalents on the right. The left are described as noble individualist standing up against institutions that are trying to keep them down. They are bravely facing off, “speaking truth to power” and sticking up for the little guy. And even when the things they are arguing for can be unequivocally proven to be contrary to the interests of the little guy, the media still defends them without fail. In those cases the talk all leads to their “noble intent” and how “well meaning” they are.

Conservatives on the other hand are almost always described as stupid, misguided, and evil, even when the things they argue for are demonstrably good for the little guy. Their intent is considered to be selfish, or cruel, even when it would be clear to anyone looking at the facts that it isn’t so. And the reason for that is that liberals in general aren’t particularly concerned with facts or results. It’s not what they use to make their decisions. The actual effect of a policy is a secondary concern to them, and if the person’s “heart is in the right place” then that’s what counts.

This leads to lots of interesting problems. One of my favorites is when you have liberal environmental groups that advocate policies that will not only be bad for people, but bad for the animals as well. Like the radically liberal HSUS’s unequivocal stance against hunting. Less self absorbed conservation groups like the World Wildlife Fund have embraced hunting as the best way to protect endangered species because it puts the financial incentives in place to have people protect animals instead of kill them as nuisances or pests. If someone will pay big bucks to kill the leopard for sport, then it’s worth the villager’s time to protect it and make sure it has a chance to breed, even if it costs them a few sheep. But as soon as you ban hunting you take away the incentive for them, and the Leopard becomes nothing but a liability. So the villagers do what any reasonable person would, they kill it in the dark of night, and dispose of the evidence and it's young.

The WWF has figured that out and now supports hunting because they really are concerned with the animal’s well being, while the more radically left wing HSUS is really only concerned with themselves. For them it’s all about how they feel about the animals, and how the animals fare in the real world is secondary. They would be perfectly happy if every leopard was killed off so long as they didn’t support a “barbaric” practice like hunting. They will feel better about themselves “making a moral stand”, and the actual fate of the species is an irrelevancy.

Anyway, the point is, that liberals are presented by the media as massive movements of “the people” who are nobly participating in the political process while conservative are all described as wicked, in spite of the fact that the policies that liberals advocate are pretty consistently on the wrong side of history. So why is that? Personally I believe the fault lies not with liberals or the New York Times editorial board but with conservatives themselves.

With a few notable exceptions like the Anti-Abortion activists, conservatives are largely constrained by their own lives. Liberals are often college kids without the real world wisdom of a conservative. They have never been forced to bear the costs of the frivolous demands they are always making of government, and beside that, they are also largely idle as well. They have little actual responsibility and therefore have lots of time to do the things traditionally done in political movements. Every time you hear a crowd in DC coming up with a new rhyme for “Hey hey, Ho ho”, there will no doubt be a bunch of college kids nearby.

But conservatives aren’t like that; we have lives. We have to take our kids to Karate, and walk the dog, get the oil changed, and work 80 hours a week at our jobs. We have to wait at home for the water heater repair guy to show up, and pick up the package which wasn’t delivered yesterday because no one was home. Then we have to feed the kids, give them baths, get their clothes out for school, help them with their homework, finish that report that the boss will need in the morning, do a draft of our speech for the conference we’re going to next month, clean up the dishes, walk the dog again, and maybe, just maybe, try and get a kiss on the cheek from the wife and a couple minutes of sleep.

It’s tedium, but it’s the stuff of life… someone has to do it. And we simply don’t have the spare time to put on our tie dye shirt, get in a bus with all the other stoner kids and haul ourselves 5 hours down to DC to shout rhyming slogans in the rain at the junior city desk writer for Washington Post. We just can’t… we have laundry to hang on the line. In the meantime, the NEA, the single largest and most powerful liberal group in the country, represents a group of government employees who don’t have the productivity demands that we in the private sector do, and only work 9 months a year anyway. They have plenty of time to go around agitating for the government to take over this responsibility or that. (Many colleges even teach classes in that very thing) So they seem like a movement of “the people” and we seem like the reporter’s parents. The very same parents they moved to New York City to rebel against in the first place.

And that is the real problem with conservatives if you ask me. In our political processes, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets greased, and most conservatives don’t have the time to squeak effectively. We’re too busy being the people that actually make western civilization work. We are the mortar in the bricks of our society and don’t have time to be the kind of activists that the media thinks are so noble. And it doesn’t look to me like that’s going to change anytime soon.

Of course I could be wrong. Maybe we’ll just join PAC’s like the NRA or the NJOA, which I wrote about here, and here, and let them speak for us. It wouldn’t be without its problems, but it would better than not being heard at all. And the truth is, our politicians have largely grown accustomed to ignoring those crowds unless there is something tangible in it for them, so it might not be worth the trouble after all. And while I have lots more to say on the subject, I can’t right now. I’ve got to go make breakfast for my daughter.

Friday, September 14, 2007

- Banning Hunting, Guns, and Goose liver

Autumn has arrived.

The temperature is dropping, and soon it will be that notable day in autumn when the dead rise from their graves and walk the earth… and vote. That’s right, Election Day is coming up fast, and right now there are probably Democratic operatives with shovels scouting out cemeteries all over the state in a “dig up the vote” drive. That’s one more thing we have in common with Chicago. And believe it or not, there have been some hints and allegations that there might be some corruption in New Jersey politics in the past. It's a rumor anyway.

What’s also going to turn out to be particularly fun in this year’s election is that the local sweetheart of the radical animal rights crowd, the Assemblyman for my district Michael Panter is up for reelection. Last time he won by roughly one cemetery, less than 100 votes. And since elected he’s been an absolute pillar of government thrift and responsibility. Just kidding. In reality he’s sponsored more frivolous, irresponsible, and poorly thought out legislation than any one politician I’ve ever heard of, even in New Jersey. And when you run with a crowd of larcenous liars, cheats, scam artists, frauds, panderers, grifters, and crooks like the New Jersey State Assembly, it takes a lot to stand out.

According to one supporter of his who left comments on one of my earlier essays, he’s found over a thousand ways to intrude into the lives of his constituents, and a few of them are real winners. Because he apparently believes that we simple plebeians are too stupid to manage our own diets, he’s introduced legislation to ban trans-fats, and goose liver. (Yes Really…)

He was also co sponsor of a bill to ban the practice of dual office holding (and dual pension collecting), which seems OK on the surface, but stinks to heaven if you look deeper. The bill was co-sponsored by ex Newark Mayor Sharpe James, himself a dual office holder, who was unable to attend the signing ceremony because he was busy dealing with his recent corruption charges. And since it’s a bill to protect cheese which was written by a mouse, my guess is that it probably won’t prevent as much as some might hope. This will no doubt come as a great relief to that seemingly endless throng of the voting public who so emphatically support dual office holding, and made it so hard for them to pass a law to prevent it in the first place.

Panter has also introduced a bill to ban any rifle larger than a .50 caliber because he believes they can be used to shoot down a 747. (This explains all those Afghan tribesmen stomping around the bush with their .78 caliber civil war era muzzleloaders.) And he’s introduced another bill that will make a backdoor change to the Fish and Game commission (the people who determine the length of the hunting seasons) so that it will allow the animal rights groups to take charge of it, and eliminate hunting and fishing in New Jersey altogether.

That’s quite a large collection of frivolity coming from a guy who’s been given a mandate of less than 100 votes, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. So you would think that a guy like him would be trying a little harder not to irritate anyone. You would think that with such a razor thin margin, he’d work at not gaining a reputation as little more than a useless vegetarian mouthpiece for the most laughable animal rights groups. You would think he’d hold the individual liberty of his constituents in higher esteem and not come up with over 1,000 ways to strip tiny portions of it away in his first term alone.

Well that’s not the way it’s worked out and he has irritated a few people, including the nearly 350,000 hunters and fishermen in New Jersey.

A new PAC has formed up recently called the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance. It’s a group of people interested in conservation of the outdoors and protecting the interests of hunters and fisherman in New Jersey. I don’t have any hard statistics to compare it to, but as far as its growth is concerned, it looks to me like it’s setting some kind of record for a local PAC. Money has been pouring into their coffers, and people have been signing up to volunteer from all over the state. And finally, at long last, the animal rights people are finally seeing some organized push back on their agenda. And the tools that they use to implement it, like Mike Panter, are the first thing that they’re going to work on.

So Election Day should be fun around here. It’s ways off yet, but I suspect that animal rights groups are in for a shock when they discover that they’re not just going to get their way without a struggle anymore, and that they may have to give up some of their most ridiculous nonsense entirely. For every fraudulent misrepresentation of the facts, and every hyperbolic rant about the feelings of the mud louse, someone will be there to counter with reasoned facts and evidence. For all their wild eyed radical visions on how to change the world and force other to act they way they want them to, someone will be there to carefully explain the costs, and remind politicians that we’re suppose to be a free society where we can decide for ourselves.

And you never know, Panter may end up winning again anyway. Most people in New Jersey don’t follow politics too closely so they don’t know what a condescending elitist hack he is. He has a lot more money to spend and that goes a long way in elections. And most of all it’s tough to get rid of an incumbent because it’s government that’s in charge of graves registration. But even if he is reelected, at least a few people will be pushing back now. So maybe we’ll be spared the worst of his usual legislative nonsense in a second term.

Or maybe one of those thousand pieces of legislation he's working on is a rule to protect his consituency by banning Republicans from owning shovels. It wouldn't suprise me. After all, this is New Jersey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

- Where were you on 9-11

Six years ago today I was at home in my house in Westchester, drinking my coffee and reading FreeRepublic. My startup company had run out of money, and I had been interviewing for jobs, but I had nothing set for that day. The Friday before, I had interviewed at an investment bank in the north tower of the World Trade Center for a senior job in their research department. The interview went well, and I was expecting a callback. I still have the security ID they would generate for you in the lobby with your photo printed on it. It clearly says, World Trade Center, September 7th, 2001.

When the first plane hit, everyone seemed to think it was an accident. I guess I expected that some little private plane had gotten out of control somehow. I got up from my desk, and went into the living room, where my mother in law had turned on CNN. I knew right away that no small plane could have made a gash in the building that size. When my wife came down the stairs holding our 16 month old daughter, she could only stand there with her mouth open. But when the second plane hit on live TV, she forgot herself for a minute and said “Holy S**T”. Our daughter immediately repeated her words, so the first and only time I’ve ever heard my daughter swear, was on September 11th, 2001, just after the second plane hit.

We stood there transfixed while the bodies started to fall from the broken windows. And by the time the towers crumbled into dust, we all knew it was Muslims. CNN had shown footage of the pentagon, and the Palestinian women ululating in delight over the death of so many innocent Americans. More than anything else, that’s the image that sticks with me today. Maybe I’ve blocked out the rest of the horror, but that image of the women dancing and celebrating because of the death of innocent people really got to me.

Everyone I had interviewed with just 4 days before was killed. A man I had known since high school was among them. He left a wife and three daughters, all under 10. He didn’t do anything to anyone that day except go to work. He didn’t sign up for the Jihad, he probably didn’t even know what it meant. He was just a guy trying to pay his mortgage, keep his wife from being angry with him, and still manage to squeeze in a round or two of golf every now and then. Now he was dead, and this woman on my TV was deliriously happy because of it. It takes an awful lot to fix a society that is as screwed up as all that.

As soon as they lifted the travel restriction and opened the city again I went straight downtown. I had worked near the Stock exchange for most of my career and used to commute through the trade center from Hoboken. In fact, it was then that I missed the first trade center bombing by ½ an hour. We've all heard what it was like after, with the photos on the church wall, and the wreckage everywhere. The dust in front of my old office at 1 Chase plaza was still six inches deep, and that was over 1/2 mile away. And that's the only thing I've never heard described well... the unbelievable scope of the destruction.

For those that had never been in or near them it’s difficult to describe what an overpowering sight the towers were. They weren’t like buildings they were like a mountain. Their base covered up acres, 50,000 people worked in them, and a million commuted through them every day. You could go indoors at the Church street subway, and not go outside again until you hit the Hudson River, nearly 3/4 a mile away. But when they were torn away, it was as if someone had come along and moved the Rocky Mountains east into the middle of Kansas leaving a big empty flat spot in Colorado where they used to be. It felt that big. and it still does.

The most chilling part for me now is that the PATH station which used to be in the sub-sub-basement of the worlds largest building has been totally rebuilt, exactly where it was. Only now, it has sunshine on it. As I said I had commuted through it for years, and to see it so complete but without the massive structure which used to be above it, always leaves me choked up. In a way, I think leaving the hole as it is would be the perfect monument. A reminder that no matter what we build, some 15th century psychotic can use our own civilization to tear it down, unless we stop them. The tools of their withered and dusty civilization could never have destroyed those building. They had to use our planes to do it.

I still maintain that the Arab world will eventually reform itself, but it will take a long time and probably require an enormous shock. And when the Iranians test their first nuclear weapon, they may very well get it. But in the end I think the western world has already won, it’s just a matter of how much pain we endure and how much we must inflict before it all comes to pass. Until then though, it’s that image of delirious joy because of innocent death that sticks with me. Because of the ideals of the western world we don’t enjoy killing, but sometimes view it as necessary. And until the same can be said of the Arab world, things don’t look like they’ll change to me.

In the meantime:

Monday, September 10, 2007

- Say "Cheese"

My man "John Derbyshire" posted this in the Corner over at National Review Online. The guy just cracks me up.

Friday, September 7, 2007

- In NJ, Even Our Crooks Are Incompetent

Yesterday 11 more officials from around the state were charged with corruption and hauled off in handcuffs and leg shackles. Their party affiliations aren’t mentioned, so we have to assume they are all Democrats, otherwise it would be described as 11 REPUBLICAN officials, in every paper in the country. But if you include the long list of Republicans who have also been nabbed, there have been over 100 officials convicted of corruption in New Jersey in just the last 5 years.

So what are we going to do about it? Not so much.

A few days ago, his majesty the governor signed a bill, which was described as preventing one of the more egregious mis-uses of government, the practice of “dual office holders”. It’s become common in New Jersey for a local public official to also be in the state assembly or some other office, and then to collect double pensions until he (or she) dies. The Democrats put forward a bill that they said would change that, but it was criticized as not doing enough by the Republicans.

But if you take a look at this picture of the signing ceremony, one of the key sponsors of the bill is strangely absent.

Ex Mayor of Newark, and State Assemblyman Sharpe James, himself a dual office holder who will also eventually be a collector of two pensions, was one of the main sponsors of the bill. Given it's ignominious beginnings and the pack of hacks, thieves and incompetent frivolous boobs who sponsored it, I'm guessing that the bill is a toothless wonder, and will do little to limit the practice, let alone corruption in the state.

Where was he? It’s my understanding that he was off working on his defense for the corruption charges recently brought against him by federal prosecutors.

< sigh > This is the point where I would put some clever little joke or riposte but I’m sorry, I just can’t top that.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

- Yes... I'm still not dead....

I’ve been really busy trying to earn a living for my wife, daughter, and the new 12 week old King Charles Spaniel puppy that came to live with us this past weekend. It’s been a really frantic time in the financial markets, but it’s also fraught with opportunity for those who can make the most of it, so I’m trying to make some hay while the sun is shining.

But I’m working on something for this coming weekend, to be published on Monday, so I’ll do like Mike Myers used to on Saturday night live when he was imitating his mother in law and feeling a bit “verklempt”…. (Just imagine a New York City accent sprinkled with Yiddish… and take my word for it, it would be funnier if you knew me)

“Conservatives search for truth by exploring “Reason” while Liberals only search for truth by exploring their own ego”

… discuss…

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

- I'm with Fred

Today is the day that Senator Fred Thompson throws his hat in the ring in the race for president. But because he’s the most conservative “big name” candidate in the race, the media will no doubt portray it as one more clown stepping out of the little car into the center ring of the circus. Personally, I don’t see it that way.

So far, even the Republican candidates for president have all been anti-gun. Sure, Rudy Giuliani did the federalists two step trying to get out from behind his past, but he wasn’t fooling anyone. Mitt Romney might be able to do a little dance and say that he was only in favor of an “guns that look similar to assault weapons” ban because it was the will of the people of Massachusetts, but Rudy went much further than that. Not only did he do everything he could to eliminate private firearms ownership in New York City, but he also was a vocal participant in a negligence lawsuit against gun manufacturers. The suit itself was highly dubious, and based upon the thinnest of legal arguments. In order for the complainants to win, we would have had to throw out several amendments of the US constitution, but also such legal bulk works as “the reasonable man’s standard”.

In other words, their goal was never to win, their goal was to make life expensive and difficult for several companies that were engaged in a perfectly legal activity but were unpopular with the New York City political elite. They were using the court system to advance a political agenda that they could have never gotten past the legislature, or the voters. And right up front, driving them all off the cliff was America’s mayor.

I’ve met Rudy, and the truth is, I like him. He comes across as a man who is going to get things done. He’s a sharp dynamic guy; an honest, no apologies street-smart ex-prosecutor who faced down the Brooklyn mob without a moment’s hesitation. He would be a great guy to have on your side in a fight. And if I could be sure he would be on my side, I’d probably vote for him for president (and I still might if he wins the primary after all). But in spite of what he says. He’s been brought up in New York City, and that has made him an anti-gun zealot. And I just don’t believe that he’ll leave me alone. I think when push comes to shove; he’ll sacrifice the gun issue in the name of “compromise” with the Democrats. And I don’t think we can afford that.

Fred Thompson is the only unambiguously pro second amendment candidate in the running, and if he wins, he’ll be forced to make deals with the devil like any other president. But I’m more confident that he’ll throw someone else’s baby overboard first. And for that reason alone, he’s getting my support.

In the next few months, the glaringly unconstitutional “DC gun ban” case is going to be working its way toward the US Supreme Court. When they hear it, it’s going to change everything. A favorable ruling by the court will allow us to reaffirm and redefine much of the individual liberty taken from us over the last few decades by the advocates of an all powerful state. You can’t tell a man with a gun in his hand to do anything he doesn’t want to do. Give us that, and we can take the rest. America is turning an important corner, and we’ll need someone in the Whitehouse who is really going to support us. For that main reason… I’m with Fred.