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Belmont Club

The Problem of the Dead

July 3rd, 2014 - 6:59 pm

In his famous short story The Sound of Thunder, Ray Bradbury argued the present stood perched on the past. At birth, our parents, the hospital delivery room, the light bulb screwed into the ceiling — the crib itself — all had to precede our arrival there. Someone or something had to set them out beforehand — or they wouldn’t be there. In his famous story time-traveling fictional dinosaur hunters are admonished to stay on the anti-gravity path and disturb nothing, save only the beast who was already known to have died in the next minute by the agency falling of a gigantic tree branch. They are strictly warned against changing anything in the past, lest they alter the future unpredictably.

“We don’t want to change the Future. We don’t belong here in the Past. The government doesn’t like us here. We have to pay big graft to keep our franchise. A Time Machine is finicky business. Not knowing it, we might kill an important animal, a small bird, a roach, a flower even, thus destroying an important link in a growing species.”

“That’s not clear,” said Eckels.

“All right,” Travis continued, “say we accidentally kill one mouse here. That means all the future families of this one particular mouse are destroyed, right? … And all the families of the families of the families of that one mouse! With a stamp of your foot, you annihilate first one, then a dozen, then a thousand, a million, a billion possible mice!”

“So they’re dead,” said Eckels. “So what?”

“So what?” Travis snorted quietly. “Well, what about the foxes that’ll need those mice to survive? For want of ten mice, a fox dies. For want of ten foxes a lion starves. For want of a lion, all manner of insects, vultures, infinite billions of life forms are thrown into chaos and destruction. Eventually it all boils down to this: fifty-nine million years later, a caveman, one of a dozen on the entire world, goes hunting wild boar or saber-toothed tiger for food. But you, friend, have stepped on all the tigers in that region. By stepping on one single mouse. So the caveman starves. And the caveman, please note, is not just any expendable man … with the death of that one caveman, a billion others yet unborn are throttled in the womb. Perhaps Rome never rises on its seven hills. Perhaps Europe is forever a dark forest, and only Asia waxes healthy and teeming. Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity. Queen Elizabeth might never be born, Washington might not cross the Delaware, there might never be a United States at all. So be careful. Stay on the Path. Never step off!”

Since Bradbury’s day changing the past — or at least charging for it — has become a modern obsession.  Caroline Glick recently reviewed Ari Shavit’s bestselling book, My Promised Land. In it she argues that one of its principal attractions is it presents the opportunity for American Jews to redeem the past.  The book describes an Israel born in original sin and in need of salvation.

Like Exodus, Shavit’s My Promised Land has been a runaway success … unlike Exodus, Shavit’s tale of Israel is not one of heroism, determination, faith and gumption. Rather, Israel’s tale is morally ambiguous. Israel is a country born in sin and its subsequent history has been immiserated by tribalism, fanaticism, displacement, and war crimes. …

By portraying Israel as a country that is morally deficient, Shavit gave the American Jewish community two gifts. First he gave them a way to feel morally superior, and therefore patronizing towards Israel. Israel, they can say, committed a massacre – and did so because its founding ideology is poisonous. American Jews would never do such a thing. But out of the kindness of their hearts, like Shavit, they will continue to love this unworthy cousin.

The second gift Shavit gave the American Jewish community was the ability to feel comfortable refusing to be inconvenienced for Israel.

In this connection it is also interesting to read Peter Beinart’s article, U.S. Jews must save their people’s honor, which Israel is putting at stake. In this type of storyline Israel’s past has saddled it with a debt to Arab Muslims. What Arabs owe the Jews or each other is less clear. Let’s leave this issue for now, except to note the problem is not particular to Israel. America was also born in original sin, something which the press emphasizes every day. Are there thousands of Central Americans on the southern border? It’s only the result of Columbus’ original sin.  Nile Gardiner argues that president Obama has made a career out of apologizing for America’s past.

No leader in American history has gone to greater lengths than Barack Obama to make amends for his own country. From condemnation of American “arrogance” in a speech in Strasbourg to acknowledging U.S. “mistakes” before millions of Muslims on Arab television, Obama has rarely missed an opportunity to apologise for the actions of the American people.

President Obama has elevated the art of national self-loathing to new heights, and seems to delight in prostrating the most powerful nation on the face of the earth before its critics and rivals, especially on foreign soil. The Obama worldview revolves around the central premise that the United States must be humble and “engage” and work with its enemies through the application of “smart power”. There is nothing smart, however, in appeasing rogue states such as North Korea or Iran.

And that’s a land office business. But it’s not just Israel and America that are working off a debt. The panorama of ethnic conflict roiling the world is sustained by a mountain of grievance. The Sunnis seek justice from the Shi’ites as do the Shi’ites from the Sunnis. The Kurds have their complaints, as the do Copts, Armenians, the Tutsi and the Hutu.  Everyone owes everyone. And in trying to collect they are killing each other at a rate of knots. Once we go down the road of remaking the past we may find there is altogether too much original sin to ever set to rights.

Which really raises the question of how novel the insights of Shavit and Beinart are. For how is the charge of “Palestinian killer” any different from the discredited accusation of  ”Christ killer” except that it swaps the name of one victim for another?  To posit the existence of a “special debt” you first have to answer, ‘who is special’?

Brook Wilensky-Lanford has an interesting article in the New Republic which basically says America was not only born in sin but in a lie.

According to Ray Raphael’s Founding Myths, a collection of primary-source documents assembled to counter the too-simple stories found in elementary and secondary school textbooks, we have the American Revolution wrong literally from beginning to end—mistakes that reveal a lot about American attitudes toward radicalism and military intervention. …

Where Founding Myths is meant as a broad corrective to the historical record, Matthew Stewart’s Nature’s God: The Heretical Foundations of the American Republic bets all its chips on a founding myth that, studies by the Public Religion Research Institute have shown, more than half of Tea Party members believe: that our Founding Fathers were religious men, and that America is therefore a “Christian nation.” … Many founding documents are, to be sure, dressed up in Christian language. …

[But it's not true] … It’s a fight that matters. Since 1997, the right has been making a coordinated and persistent effort to pass varieties of a species of law that redefines the term “religious liberty” in a way that is directly contradictory to this understanding of the founders’ intentions. …

Before the Hobby Lobby ruling, perhaps the most salient example of this redefinition was in Texas in 2010, where the Pat Robertson–founded American Center for Law and Justice defended a municipal bus driver who sued the government on civil rights charges when he was forced to resign after refusing to drop off a woman at Planned Parenthood, on his scheduled route, because he claimed it violated his religious beliefs as a “Christian minister.” The founders purposely relegated religion to the private sphere, as every individual’s natural right to freedom of mind would compel. But by diligent effort, the right has effectively translated “religious liberty” as “the right of conservative Christians to impose their private religion on the public discourse.” Now, the Supreme Court has handed the right a huge victory for this understanding of the term.

So after all these years of thinking you knew who your parents were, along comes the Left to say: those aren’t your parents.  The truth is you’re a bastard. No, it’s worse than that. If only the Founders could speak they would mandate abortifacients under Obamacare. Like Darth Vader in the movie the Left strings you out on a limb then offers a gauntleted hand saying “Luke, I am your father.”

The past is too complicated to untangle. Probably realizing this, Jefferson argued that men are not bound by the dead. “The earth belongs in usufruct to the living … the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.” This is a tremendously liberating idea because it frees us to live according to the facts as we find them. The key word in Jefferson is usufruct ”under which it is a subordinate real right (or in rem right) (ius in re aliena) of limited duration, usually for a person’s lifetime.”

Then no man can by natural right oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the payment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be reverse of our principle.

Jefferson’s great insight is that all decisions in this world are marginal cost decisions; and if we feel free to heap deficit spending on the future to remember the children will also be free to repudiate it. The paramount question we should be concerned with is not whether slavery was evil, but whether a black man living in America today can make a better life than in the Congo; whether Israel is better replaced by the Palestinian authority. For we cannot change the past; it is useless to try and even more useless to make a career of it. Even if it were possible to change the past, Bradbury argues there is no guarantee that the resulting alternative future would be any better.

Our task must to leave the world better than we found it, not to remake it from the foundations. That doesn’t mean the past is gone, but it lacks the special quality of activity. The dead are already costed into the present. They’ve set out the crib, screwed in the lightbulb, defeated Hitler; they were present at our birth and will always be more influential than we can ever know. Moreover they still whisper to us through the agency of written history, which as GK Chesterton points out in his essay Orthodoxy,  can counsel us wisely.

Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.

Still the dead are ghosts, gathered unto the hand of the Father. The earth belongs to the living, to either bring to fruition or screw up. And then they too shall be ghosts and their part in the tale ended though the road goes ever on.  A combat veteran of the Great War once wrote:

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. … All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

Note to the dinosaurs. Always look out for falling tree branches.


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Top Rated Comments   
I take issue with the concept that nothing is owed to the past. It is a debt, but it is a debt of honor of a type being deliberately forgotten in our culture.

On a wall in the corner of my living room are pictures of my parents and grandparents. They are above a shelf that just happens to be sized for offerings and incense on certain Chinese holidays. There is a picture of my father and stepmother. My father came here as a child, alone, not speaking English, from China at a time when Chinese were legally not human beings here. He learned English, learned a trade, and earned his citizenship with the unit of Patton's Third Army that went the farthest east in the European Theater of Operations. And he raised me, no simple task that, as a single parent. It is my obligation to live my life in such a way as to not dishonor and waste his sacrifices. There are pictures of my paternal grandparents, who were smart enough to realize that they did not have the land to give each son enough land to support a family, so they worked to send my father to America to seek his fortune. So my obligation extends to them. And the chain of debt, and honor, extends back in an unbroken, if not totally understood, pattern.

I have tried to raise my children to understand that no one "owes" them a thing. That they owe those who went before them; sacrificed, and whose lives put them where they are. They owe them lives that do not waste what those who went before did for them. They live their own lives, but they must do it with honor. It is a lesson that seems to have taken. I am well pleased with my children and how they have turned out. I don't have grandchildren yet, but I look forward to teaching the first of that generation how to make offerings in honor of their great, and great-great grandparents and to help my children teach the same lesson to them.

If we paid our debts thus incurred to the past, our lives would be better here in the present, and there would be hope for the future.

Subotai Bahadur
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3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard wrote "...whether a black man living in America today can make a better life than in the Congo"
Thank you for posing that. I once had a project in apartheid South Africa, with twelve black men working for me. Only the lead could read or write, but they all spoke 4 to 6 languages, and only the lead was from South Africa. All the rest were from surrounding countries. I asked one of them where he was from, did he have family back home, and why was working far from home?
He told me he was working in South Africa because he could make more money there than back home in Malawi. At the time, back in America, the union scale for an ironworker was about $9.00 per hour, a general laborer about $4.00.
My Malawian was happy to be making 17.5 cents per hour, and his feet were sticking out through the blown out sides of his shoes.
Americans, black or whatever color, have no idea how good they have it here unless they've travelled a bit, perhaps seen real, primitive, filthy poverty.
IMHO, the descendants of slaves here in America should not even mention reparations, but instead thank God Almighty their ancestors escaped Africa, survived slavery, were freed by hundreds of thousands of white men who died doing it, and that they are now free citizens of God blessed America.
Make the most of that blessing, or shut up.
3 weeks ago
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"The Earth belongs in usufruct to the living". While you are trying to say that ten times without swallowing your teeth, it is time to wish all Americans a happy July 4th from Canada. (Well from this Canadian anyway).

It is also time to remember that America belongs to the living. In this time of disappointment and frustration it is up to those who live American lives and know exactly what an American life should be, to take their country back from the charlatans and mountebanks who are trying to wreck the joint.
3 weeks ago
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Is this going to turn into an event similar in effect to the "Boston Massacre," I wonder? OldSalt, I'd double the look outs and greet the day cleared for action...

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Texas/2014/07/06/SOURCE-FEDS-To-Bring-in-Riot-Squad-Against-Illegal-Immigration-Protesters

3 weeks ago
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Old Salt:

Yesterday I had lunch with someone who is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people alive on the Cold Civil War, and its flashpoints. We ended up talking for 2 1/2 hours. Actually, more accurately, I mostly listened and tried to remember what he was saying.

There have already been several events in the last few months that were definitely Federal provocations which were only avoided by cool heads amongst the Patriot movement. Cool heads cannot indefinitely forestall reactions to increasing provocations. The Federales are desperate for violence and bloodshed to justify their actions.

Observe and report, if possible.

True and reliable information is a weapon that we desperately need.

Subotai Bahadur
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Fertile Legal Fields For Our Practitioner of the Wizrdry of Cloward-Piven:

The Bush Era Law that Obama Has Exploited [http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/analysis-whats-the-real-reason-behind-central-american-immigrant-wave-u-s-law/]

Unaccompanied minors fall under the bipartisan law, William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

That law says the children cannot be sent back. They must instead be held humanely by the Department of Health and Human Services until the courts release them to a “suitable family member” in this country.

The child “shall be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child,” the law stipulates. “Placement of child trafficking victims may include placement in an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program … if a suitable family member is not available to provide care.”

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sources say more than 80 percent of these children will find permanent homes in the U.S., with either family or foster homes and not be sent back to Central America.

---
William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008
http://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/113178.htm

It is my understanding (from reading elsewhere) that this mumbo jumbo states that since Central Americans come from countries that are not contiguous to the USA, they cannot be deported in the same manner as Mexicans (and Canadians)

Searching for “contiguous” takes you to the appropriate section of the law, although I cannot fathom it’s depths.

---

Obama’s bid to deport children complicates immigration reform effort

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-immigration-reform-20140630-story.html#page=1

“But the administration’s proposal to undo part of the 2008 law that provided specific protections for minors from countries with noncontiguous borders — all but Mexico and Canada — has already raised alarms, especially from the president’s Democratic allies.

Under current law, children from Central American countries are afforded an immigration or asylum hearing, a process that smugglers, or coyotes, portray to immigrants as a permiso — permission to remain in the U.S.”

(They must promise to appear, most never do.)

---

Obama Pushing California Back Into GOP Camp

http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/20426#comments
3 weeks ago
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IOW, we are to believe that BHO wants the law to be changed to make it easier to deport Central Americans even as this admin does everything it can to ease their way across our open border.
3 weeks ago
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Will be in Murrieta today, by coincidence. This could get interesting.
3 weeks ago
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9-pDSYPrio

A song you could take with you. Iris Dement --"Our Town".
3 weeks ago
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"Why do you think there is no-one teaching intelligent design at UCLA?

Ans:
You're not allowed to.

We can teach anything we want!
"

- Gail E Kennedy, Associate Professor, UCLA
3 weeks ago
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Laudably, the USC Professor displays a facial tick as he spews.
3 weeks ago
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Large swaths of America have become a legion of the lowest ingrates. Most, but not all, are Democrats. The worst of the ingrates is now called President of the United States.

O'REILLY: "Mr. President, why do you feel it's necessary to fundamentally transform the nation that has afforded you so much opportunity and success?"

OBAMA: I don't think we have to fundamentally transform the nation...

Ingrate. And liar...


3 weeks ago
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It surprises me that in over two days no one on this thread has even mentioned James Joyce's "The Dead." Do we know our own past? Do we know anyone else's? If we don't know their past then how can we understand their present? If we are trapped by the past then how can we have a future?

America was a land where each person could create themselves free of the tyranny of the dead. Maybe we only thought we could. While the masses flooding in from the Third World may be ill educated by our standards most of them are very well educated regarding what they claim as their pasts. They may be wrong in their beliefs but they have narratives. Their dead may be as much what holds them back from being productive intellectually commercially and socially as their lack of technical skills. The two impediments reinforce each other. The peasant lacks creativity and social tolerance and other skills that support a capitalist diverse society. Their past, their belief, their dead, reinforce their isolation from modernity.

One hundred and sixty years ago America faced down the cultures of entrenched ignorance and dead obligations both domestic and foreign. We broke for a time the control of appeals to a false utopia and created an incubator for growth and inclusion.

Domestically the Know Nothings showed the same narrow bigoted rejection of change as the English Luddites had or Jefferson's vision in opposition to Hamilton, which would have kept America a land of large and small agriculturalists. That vision undergirds the elitism of the current Democrats, and has ever since the days of Dixie. It is a model that unites the slave masters and the urban machine bosses.

At the same time the great wave of immigrants were brought in and assimilated by rejecting any appeal to their old allegiances. They were by the millions ruthlessly Americanized. Their dead were in the old country. They could sponsor relatives to bring over but those were held to the same expectation of assimilation, and entry was on America's terms. The dread Inspectors at Ellis Island turned back any found unfit.
3 weeks ago
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The Bay Area’s 1 Percenters [http://www.nationalreview.com/article/361828/bay-areas-1-percenters-victor-davis-hanson]

If you’re hip and liberal, your kids don’t have to go to school with the gardener’s kids.

"Ask a Silicon Valley liberal whether he is for amnesty, open borders, and multicultural curricula, and he assents; ask him next whether he is for new low-income and diverse housing construction a few minutes from Menlo Park or Atherton, and he is aghast.

I think the average Bay Area liberal believes his nanny flies home to Oaxaca each evening and is back by the next morning at the Hillsborough doorstep.

In crude terms, would a Google executive really wish his child’s hard-driving college-prep curriculum or enlightened social calendar altered somewhat to accommodate second-language teenagers whose parents recently arrived illegally from Oaxaca?

Something similar happened in the Deep South in the 1960s, when court-mandated integration brought black students into formerly all-white enclaves, spurring a white flight to private academies. Upscale hip whites and Asians in Northern California, of course, do not have southern twangs and in theory are multiculturalists to the core. But they are no more invested in a truly diverse public-school experience for their children than southern separatists of the past.

When I suggest to my Silicon Valley friends that their fixation on academic achievement is misplaced and that the academic peer and institutional pressure that my own children might have lost out on by going to the almost exclusively Mexican and Mexican-American public schools of southern Fresno County was balanced by the “life experiences” of dealing with those of all classes, races, and attitudes, they think I am unhinged. Diversity, in other words, is a cosmic ideal of voting for Barack Obama, not a cross that a Stanford-bound kindergartener must bear in the here and now..."
3 weeks ago
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Two Californias

"Abandoned farms, Third World living conditions, pervasive public assistance -- welcome to the once-thriving Central Valley.

In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when “food stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons). But I did not see any relationship between the use of the card and poverty as we once knew it: The electrical appurtenances owned by the user and the car into which the groceries were loaded were indistinguishable from those of the upper middle class.

By that I mean that most consumers drove late-model Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought everything in the store with public-assistance credit. This seemed a world apart from the trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I don’t editorialize here on the logic or morality of any of this, but I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?

Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic — there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites. We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices. An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens.

We hear about the tough small-business regulations that have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my unscientific observations these past weeks, it seems rather easy to open a small business in California without any oversight at all, or at least what I might call a “counter business.” I counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants. There are no “facilities” such as toilets or washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks apparently have simply opened their draining tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love them; they can be seen from a distance mysteriously occupied in the middle of the road.

In fact, trash piles are commonplace out here — composed of everything from half-empty paint cans and children’s plastic toys to diapers and moldy food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a litterer, or witnessed state EPA workers cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the environment is taking a much harder beating down here in central California than it is in the Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation water to the west side of the valley, we might invest some green dollars into cleaning up the unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that now litters the outskirts of our rural communities.

http://www.nationalreview.com/node/255320/print
VDH
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
The big lie Obama and his swinish generation and ideology perpetrate is that their favored nations never threw the dice. The big lie is they never played the game. The truth is they played and lost. Never enslaved. The Palestinian Arabs want their poker chips back, so does anyone who identifies with the Aztec empire. Every last place nag and also-ran wants to go back to square one. Every failed or now marginalized colonialist wants to whine about Crusaders.

Ironically, it is the very human rights oriented cultures that defeated them that are now giving them the chance to play, and play by their rules, but pretend they are playing by ours. Suddenly winning isn't noble, but immoral. Losing is moral and noble. Our Constitution is nothing but a useful idiot to such people.

Put a moratorium on all immigration right now, and shut off the tap that enables this rabble rousing whining. All nations are founded on violence. Pretending only some are because some failed is moronic.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well said. And the illegals who are coming here now are cultural refugees. They did not get blown out of their homes by a tornado or flooded out by a hurricane. Their culture does not measure up, but they refuse to recognize that.

As someone put it, the explorers from Spain and those from England arrived in the New World at about the same time. The ones from Spain had the advantages of far more investment, but were burdened by a culture that emphasized the State over the individual. The ones from England arrived with little or no support from the old country but with a belief in themselves. The results of those two experiments are now in

In contrast to the waves if illegals crossing the border, an old friend of mine just came back from Mexico, his timeshare in Cabo; and in contrast to the illegals he designs rocket motors. Of course he may not be going back down there again; it seems the Govt of Mexico has seized that complex for some reason or another. And they wonder why people want to leave.

3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
We all owe everything to those who went before us. When you are sitting in an airplane climbing out of your nearest airport, in the dark and in rain with the clouds at five hundred feet you are at a pinnacle of technology and civilization that stands on the shoulders of millions who have invented everything from the computer with its millions of lines of code that keeps the plane in the air to the man or woman who invented the clothes pin that is holding the pilot's trousers together.

What we don't owe is political apologies for the decisions made by people unrelated to us for actions they took, mostly legal and morally acceptable at the time.

The sight of the councillors of a major city being persuaded to apologize for the head tax levied on Chinese workers in the early nineteen hundreds by a councillor of Chinese descent is both ironic and disturbing. Many of the Chinese who came thrived and, indeed, many of the businessmen from that community today are proud to claim those immigrants as their heritage.

And here is an even greater irony. Many from both that and other communities in our city are amongst the most vociferous complainers that we have too many 'foreign' temporary workers coming to our country so the "Temporary Workers Immigration Charge" (Head tax) has this week been raised from $275 to $1,000 and new, much lower, quotas imposed.

Leaving aside the economic values or the moral ones, both of which we could debate forever, what really bothers me is that we elected such people to govern our city. I can't decide who is worse, the politicians for their lack of spine and obeisance to political correctness or us for electing these bums.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doesn't have the panache of Zaphrod Beetlebrox but this discussion of when is it appropriate for a people to break the bands of an existing government is interesting. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jerrybowyer/2014/07/04/the-july-4th-question-238-years-after-the-first-revolution-is-it-time-for-a-second/

From the article:
"There are certain ideas which are self-evidently true. One of those ideas is that we are created without legal primacy or inferiority with regard to one another. Another idea, which is just obviously true to people whose rational faculties are operating properly, is that the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of a prosperous life (which is what the word ‘happiness’ meant in 1776) are not alienable, that is they cannot have a lien placed on them by any other persons, not even representatives of the state.

Not only is government denied the authority to put a lien on and repossess those rights, but it is further required to protect those rights. And in fact, the protecting of those rights is the only reason that government should exist in the first place! And not only is it necessary for government to protect these rights, but its use of power to do so is still only just if it also involves the consent of the people whose freedom and property are being protected. Further (and this is shocking, even to modern ears), when governments move from protecting those rights to injuring those rights, the people are allowed to erase the authority of the government."
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This is, of course, a paraphrase of the Declaration of Independence:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. ...
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