For season 2 of the 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen each weekday I juxtapose excerpts from book readings with a selection of the previous day’s headlines and noteworthy excerpts. The goal is to make fresh connections between the events of the day and the bigger picture of humanity’s place in the universe.
This week I’ve been naming my key foreign-policy influences and explained some of the most important themes in the writings. Monday was Michael Ledeen, an expert in political philosophy and Iran. Tuesday was Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor with an in-depth understanding of Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood. On Wednesday I named Barry Rubin as my guiding light for understanding the many competing interests in the Middle East. McCarthy, Rubin and Ledeen are each intellectual leaders in their fields.
But to understand the continuing chaos on the international stage there’s another malevolent actor one needs to understand: the United Nations. And PJ Media has long been the online home of the gifted journalist who does the best job of exposing it. Claudia Rosett has transformed my understanding of the United Nations, an institution I grew up, like all progressive Democrats, revering as humanity’s great hope for world peace and international prosperity.
For most of my life I embraced a delusion with its roots in Romanticism: human beings are basically good and pursuing a better life for themselves and their families, nobody wants wars, thus since all people’s interests are the same if we just come together and talk out our problems then eventually we’ll come to solutions and all the world’s problems can go away. Wars come from just misunderstandings, not evil men who think they can get away with evil acts. But as I wrote about on Monday in discussing Ledeen’s analysis of Machiavelli, this naive assumption about human nature isn’t true. Humans are more likely to do evil than good. And Claudia’s reporting and analysis of the perpetual scandals, corruptions, and disappointments of the United Nations reveals the real-world, contemporary truth of this assertion. The UN’s member states largely do not share liberal values and have no real interest in human rights or global peace. The UN has devolved into just a piggyback to fund the lavish lifestyle for global elitists and tyrants.
Make a point to check out Claudia’s article this week, excerpted below, revealing the failure of the UN’s much trumpeted Millennium Development Goals to have any impact on reducing poverty.
Tuesday Evening Book Reading:
An alternative to the UN? Consider the example of the world’s oldest continuously operating constitution. Massachusetts’s from 1780, written by John Adams, as discussed on page 122 of America 3.0 by James C. Bennett and Michale J. Lotus:
Wednesday Morning News Round Up:
Lead PJM Stories:
Nicholas Ballasy: HHS Official: Immigrants on Student Visas Will Be ‘Eligible’ for Obamacare Subsidies
Andrew C. McCarthy: Erdogan’s Ergenekon Farce Draws to a Close
Michael Walsh: RINOs in Wonderland
Claudia Rosett: The UN’s Millennium Development Flop
But broadly speaking, Friedman is highlighting data and questions that ought to be the subject of rapt attention and genuine debate at a UN that advertises itself as dedicated to helping the poor — and solicits billions of taxpayer dollars in the name of that cause. The MDGs have become one of the UN’s justifications for its ever-growing appetite for money. Meanwhile. the most highly visible and consistent beneficiaries of the UN Millennium Development Goals are not the poor. The clear beneficiaries are the first-class passengers on the UN gravy train — UN officials themselves, along with the constellations of well-paid consultants and jet-set conference-goers. The MDGs began with a huge New York summit for the signing of the Millennial Declaration, which Annan has since described as one of the highlights of his UN career. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has carried on in similar vein, touting and lauding the MDGs, and urging that member states pour resources into this UN campaign. The UN has held not only the initial 2000 Millennium Summit, but an MDG 2005 summit, a 2008 “High-Level Event,” a 2010 summit, countless conferences around the globe, and with the original MDG deadline of 2015 now getting near, there are plans afoot for a program of post-2015 MDGs.
The deeper problem here is that the MDGs, for all their lofty aims, amount in many ways to simply a UN-repackaged version of central planning. While we can all agree that it is profoundly desirable to end poverty, the real avenue to that goal is not a set of bureaucratically defined targets, but decent government, protecting a framework of law that leaves individuals free to choose for themselves the tradeoffs with which they try to improve their lives.
PJ Lifestyle Featured on PJ Home Page:
Kathy Shaidle: Sound Familiar? Rapist-Murderer Complains He’s Misunderstood
Paula Bolyard: Plain Dealer Editors: Trayvon Was Murdered
Walter Hudson: Learning from China’s Marriage Crisis
As previously discussed in light of the increasingly successful movement to recognize same-sex unions as marriage, defenders of tradition find themselves on shaky ground while trying to preserve marriage as defined in scripture, because scripture has long been abandoned as the basis for marriage. Birth control, the legalization of abortion, the degradation of gender roles — all have removed many of the practical incentives for a lifelong commitment to monogamy. Absent those practical supports, all that is left to bolster traditional marriage is scripture. And who takes that seriously anymore?
Well, we ought to. Advocates of tradition have little else to fall back upon, and perhaps that reveals God’s purpose in the marriage debate. After all the dueling studies and legal arguments, marriage continues to slip away both in definition and participation, leaving us with nothing but the authority of God to rest upon as our first and final argument. Like a rich man made poor, we can no longer rely upon ourselves and must turn to Him for salvation.
New at PJ Lifestyle:
Charlie Martin: The Tomato on My Desk is Ticking
I think I might start trying this Pomodoro technique myself…
Paula Bolyard: Cleveland House of Horrors Demolished
Walter Hudson: How ‘Monopoly’ Perpetuates Myths About Capitalism
Becky Graebner: Piper Chapman: Dislike-able Protagonist AND Future Heroine?
Becky hasn’t finished all of Orange is the New Black yet so I won’t spoil anything for her. It’s a good show on a superficial level — not a great one. It’s entertaining and has engaging characters. I’ll watch the second season when it’s released. Values and ideas-wise it’s of course a totally bankrupt romanticization of criminality (but no more so than The Sopranos); and the caricature of the Pro Life movement offered by the twelfth episode is too ridiculous to be taken as a serious insult.
Ed Driscoll: Pioneer Elite SC-75 Home Theater Receiver Review
I distinctly remember two mile markers on the road to my obsession with home theater. The first was a 1987 article inBillboard magazine exploring the continuing popularity, against all odds, of the 12-inch laser disc format with movie collectors. The article mentioned an obscure California firm called “The Criterion Collection” that was selling Blade Runnerand 2001: A Space Odyssey in something called a “letterboxed” format, which would allow seeing the entire frame of those magnificently photographed widescreen movies on a home television set, instead of the “panned and scanned” version, which cut off the sides of the frame. It also mentioned the superiority of the laser disc format compared to fuzzy VHS tapes, and that laser disc allowed for such ancillary items as directors’ commentaries on auxiliary audio channels, behind the scenes still photos, trailers, deleted scenes, and other fun pieces of memorabilia.
This sounded pretty darn awesome. Shortly thereafter, I purchased my first laser disc player, the predecessor to the DVD, which wouldn’t arrive in stores for another decade. At its best, the picture and sound quality of laser discs blew VHS away, and I was quickly hooked. Particularly when I stumbled over a nearby video store that rented laser discs.
The second mile maker arrived two years later. That’s when I walked out of the B. Dalton Bookstore in New Jersey’s Burlington Mall holding a copy of the second issue of Audio/Video Interiors, the magazine that put the words “home theater” on the map. It was essentially Architectural Digest meets Stereo Review, with photo layout after photo layout filled with sophisticated audio and video components beautifully photographed in stunning home settings, including some of the first dedicated home theaters that were designed to look like the classic movie palaces of the 1930s, such as Theo Kalomirakis’ Roxy Theater, a knockout design built in the basement of his Brooklyn Brownstone. (Kalomirakis would go on to make a living as a home theater designer, producing works for extremely well-heeled clients that make his initial Roxy look positively modest by comparison.)
Note to self: try and nudge Ed more to reveal more of the secrets of his home theatre set up….
Ed Driscoll: Death Wish: Mr. Bronson’s Planet
All films become inadvertent documentaries as they age. They reveal the mores and obsessions of the era in which they were crafted, and those films shot on location reveal how that era looked as well. Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant madeNorth by Northwest in 1959, only a decade and a half before Winner and Bronson took on Death Wish, and both films featured extensive location photography in Manhattan. But they exist almost on separate planets, so great is the gulf between the New York of 1959 and 1974. Visually, that can be seen in the endless shots of graffiti in the 1974 Bronson movie. Which was the manifestation of the city’s seeming abandonment of fighting crime. Or at least, the worldviews of the elites who controlled the city; around the time that Death Wish was playing in theaters, Pat Moynihan wrote, “Most liberals had ended the 1960s rather ashamed of the beliefs they had held at the beginning of the decade.”
A great piece from Ed.
New at the PJ Tatler on Wednesday:
Bridget Johnson: White House: Russia Repair in Hands of Kerry and Hagel
Bryan Preston: Four Questions Jay Leno Failed to Ask President Obama
Stephen Green: Charges Filed Against Benghazi Attackers
Bryan Preston: Democrat Filner’s Latest Accusers Say He Used a Group of Rape Victims as a Dating, Groping Pool
Bridget Johnson: Obama: Eid ‘Part of a Great Tapestry of America’s Many Traditions’
Bryan Preston: ‘Disaster!’ — Texas’ Controversial CSCOPE Curriculum Raises Its Head Again, But Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Has a Remedy
Stephen Kruiser: Kevyn Orr: Detroit Could Have Clean Balance Sheet In 14 Months
Stephen Kruiser: Politico: Cantor, Ryan Aboard Secret Koch Bilderberg Illuminati Dirigible And Stuff
Stephen Kruiser: East Coast Dem Sexual Harassment Open Thread
Is it just me or does each one of these Dem creepers look like the kind of guy who should set off warnings in any breathing being upon first glance?
Many Democrats hold their breath and perpetually give the benefit of the doubt because they assume most people are trying to be good. They dimiss and rationalize the little evils then scratch their heads when the big evils blow up in their face.
Also Around the Web Wednesday:
US President Barack Obama told comedy talk show host Jay Leno on Tuesday he was “disappointed” that Russia had granted temporary asylum to former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and said Moscow sometimes slipped into a “Cold War mentality”.
U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Tuesday that he would go to Russia this fall for a G20 summit but said he was “disappointed” that Russia granted temporary asylum to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Speaking on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with host Jay Leno, Obama said Moscow sometimes slipped into a Cold War mentality, despite being cooperative with the United States on some issues, including counterterrorism efforts in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Evan McMurry: Scarborough Goes Off On Republicans Too ‘Angry’ To ‘Win Elections’: ‘You’re Not A Conservative, You’re A Nihilist’
“Are you really that dumb? Are you really in that much need of being angry and resentful, that you just stop caring about winning elections? If so, you’re not a Republican. You’re not a conservative. You’re a nihilist. And you’ve got no place in our party. Take your stupid act somewhere else, because I, for one, am damn tired of losing, and having stupid people like you defining my party.”
Amanda Marcotte: Skepticism and Secularism Have a Serious Sexual Harassment Problem
At the Daily Mail:
Walking home to kill himself, the 13-year-old Brazilian boy who slaughtered his parents, grandmother and great aunt after ‘becoming obsessed with The Amityville Horror’
Franco said Pesseghini had told a friend he wanted to kill his parents and become a hitman.
‘He always told me he wanted to become a hired killer. He had a plan to kill his parents during the night, so that no one would notice and escape in the parents’ car and live in an abandoned place,’ police quoted the unidentified friend as saying.
Bikram yoga founder facing allegations of rape now accused of racism, misogyny, homophobia and running his company ‘like a cult’
They are also among at least eight female veterans and members of the National Women’s Veterans Association of America (NWVAA) in San Diego who have made accusations against the mayor. Almost all of the women were victims of sexual assault while they were in the military.
The women, like Fernandez, say the former chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee used his significant power and credentials to access military sexual assault survivors, who they say are less likely to complain.
Fernandez is a retired master sergeant from the Air Force. She served 23 years in the United States and was deployed to the Middle East after 9/11.
She said she was raped three times during her service. Like many victims of military sexual assault and rape, she suffered in silence, believing the system would never support her.
In civilian life, Fernandez now speaks openly about her assaults and is an active member of the NWVAA, which supports victims of military sexual assault.
Jonah Goldberg: The ‘Isolationist’ Myth
Meanwhile, countless leading liberals and Democrats embraced isolationism by name in the 1930s and deed after World War II. J. T. Flynn, the foremost spokesman for the America First Committee, for example, was a longtime columnist for the liberal New Republic.
The self-avowed isolationist movement died in the ashes of World War II. But while it lived it was a bipartisan cause, just like interventionism. Similarly, the competing impulses to engage the world and to draw back from it aren’t the exclusive provenance of a single party; rather, they run straight through the American heart. And neither impulse is always right for every challenge. Even most hawks preferred a cold war to a hot one with the Soviet Union. And most doves supported striking back against al-Qaeda after 9/11.
In my regular polemics against the ascent of the Ron Paul/Rand Paul faction I don’t like to use the word “isolationist.” The Paulastinians will get mad, insisting that they’re “non-interventionists.”
Steven Hayward: The NY Times: Start The Countdown Clock
Examining nearly a century of U.S. census reports, Ricketts found that between 1890 and 1950, blacks had higher marriage rates than whites. Until 1970, black women were more likely to get married than white women — and that was despite the high mortality rates among black men, leaving fewer available for marriage. In three of four decennial years between 1890 and 1920, black men out-married white men.
(You all really should read Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama. It’s chock-full of interesting facts like this.)
Whatever else may cause illegitimacy and its associated problems, it isn’t poverty, discrimination, lack of education, unemployment or slavery. Black Americans had all those handicaps — and yet they still had strong families and low crime rates from 1890 until the 1960s.
But in the ’60s, liberals decided it would be a great idea to start subsidizing illegitimacy.
Everyone knew — even FDR’s secretary of labor, Francis Perkins, knew — that granting widows’ benefits to unmarried women with illegitimate children would have disastrous consequences. An early 20th-century social welfare advocate, Homer Folks, warned back in 1914 that to grant pensions for “desertion or illegitimacy would, undoubtedly, have the effect of a premium upon these crimes against society.”
But under President Lyndon Johnson, that’s exactly what the government did. The “suitable home” requirements for welfare — such as having a husband — were jettisoned by liberal know-it-alls in the federal Bureau of Public Assistance. As a result, illegitimacy went through the roof, particularly among blacks, our most vulnerable fellow citizens.
In 1970, for the first time, the marriage rate for black women fell below 70 percent. But even then, a majority of black children were still living with both parents. By 2010, only 30.1 percent of blacks above the age of 15 were married, compared to 52.7 percent of whites.
Wednesday Morning Book Reading:
We must study military history to win the wars waged against us today. Excerpt from page 12 of The Father of Us All: War and History Ancient and Modern by Victor Davis Hanson.
See last month’s round-ups:
- Week One
- 1. Monday, July 8: “We Ought to Defeat Capitalism With Its Own Weapons, Comrades…“
- 2. Tuesday, July 9: Can We Just Fast Forward to 2040? Please?
- 3. Thursday, July 11: Researching the American Family’s War to Beat Death…
- Week Two
- 4. Monday, July 15: Turning On Mankind’s Magical Machines To Battle Mother Earth’s Cruel Monsters
- 5. Wednesday, July 17: ‘So, You Know How You Felt on 9/11? Yeah, That’s How We Feel When It Comes To Race.’
- 6. Thursday, July 18: ‘… And There We Can Still Maintain Our Mysterious and Dreadful Freedom.’
- 7. Friday, July 19: ‘Evil Always Takes Advantage of Ambiguity.’ – G.K. Chesterton
- Week Three
- 8. Monday, July 22: ‘His Father Urged Him to Study Marxism, But Valentin Preferred Science.’
- 9. Tuesday, July 23: ‘Perhaps The Final Secret of the Illuminati Is That You Don’t Know You’re A Member Until It’s Too Late to Get Out.’
- 10. Wednesday, July 24: Is Anthony Weiner a ‘Deviant’ or a ‘Normal’ Male?
- 11. Thursday, July 25: ‘The Most Ancient Conflict in Western Culture, Between Jew and Egyptian, Continues…’
- 12. Friday, July 26: Weiner’s Wild Women: Are Sydney Leathers and Huma Abedin His Succubi?
- Week Four
- 13. Monday, July 29: Malcolm X: ‘The Jew Cries Louder Than Anybody Else If Anybody Criticizes Him.’
- 14. Tuesday, July 30: ‘My Father Was a White Man.’ – Frederick Douglass, the Archetypal Anti-Slavery Republican
- 15. Wednesday, July 31: Why Is It Evil to Murder Unwanted Children?
- 16. Thursday, August 1: Nihilism Defined: ‘When You Realize Your Life Has as Much Meaning as Your Dog’s…’
- 17. Friday, August 2: Pastafarianism Is a Real Religion. Benghazi Is a ‘Phony Scandal.’ Hillary Will Be President.
- Week Five
- 18. Monday, August 5: ‘War, and Preparation for War, Are the Normal Conditions of Mankind, While Peace Is Extremely Rare.’ – Michael Ledeen
- 19. Tuesday, August 6: Muslim Brotherhood Operatives Have Infiltrated America’s Political and Cultural Institutions To Conquer Us From Within
- 20. Wednesday, August 7: First We Define Anti-Americanism, Then We Crush It Again Even Harder