Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Left’

Why most international organizations are useless

Posted by sanityinjection on February 5, 2010

One of the principal differences between the Right and Left in the area of foreign policy has to do with international organizations. The Left loves them, the Right hates them. Whether it be the UN, the World Court, or any of a hundred other organizations, the Left believes that international organizations are more moral actors than individual governments, and that we would all be better off if everything were decided by these groups rather than by individual nations acting to further their own selfish interests. The Right counters that these organizations, by their very multilateral nature, are inefficient and ineffective.

Case in point: Last May, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights issued a finding against the government of Kenya. The Commission found that that the Kenyan government violated international law by forcibly evicting members of the Endoroi tribe in order to turn their land into a wildlife park.  At a recent summit, the African Union, which groups together the heads of state of most of the nations of Africa, recently confirmed and endorsed that finding. The Left is hailing this decision as a “landmark decision that sets a precedent for recognizing the land rights of indigenous people in Africa.”

So what’s the problem? The evictions in question took place in the 1970s -over thirty years ago. That’s right, it took thirty years for African organizations to agree that booting native tribes off their land is bad. How much comfort do you think the Endoroi people will take from this “landmark decision”? You can rest assured there is a zero chance of any of them getting their land back.

By contrast, imagine if the United States, at the time of the expulsions, had acted unilaterally, without “consulting with our allies.” The US could have denounced the expulsions and warned the Kenyan government that if it did not reconsider its actions, all US aid to Kenya would be cut off. Given that Kenya was quite a bit poorer back then, such a threat would have carried a lot of weight.

As an analogy, imagine if there was a road delta near your home with grass that had become overgrown and needed to be cut. You could contact the Town and ask them to do it and be told that there isn’t enough funding. You could try to get a bunch of neighbors together to chip in to get it taken care of , only to find that half of them don’t care and some actually like the grass the way it is. Or you could take your lawnmower and just go do it.

I am not saying that all international organizations are without merit. It’s good to have venues where nations can communicate and talk about their issues. It’s good to have groups that can coordinate long-term initiatives like disease eradication and shared water usage. But when there is a need for timely and effective action to solve an immediate problem, such as a troublesome dictator developing nuclear weapons, international organizations by their very nature are basically useless.

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Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

And so it begins: If you’re Christian, you must be psychologically disturbed

Posted by sanityinjection on December 17, 2009

I have commented in this space previously about the ongoing war against religious faith generally, and Christian faith in particular, being waged by the Left in this country. Sadly, one of the chief battlegrounds has been our public schools, where the slightest mention or display by a student of anything like a Christian symbol or belief can be labeled “intolerance of diversity” and constitute grounds for discipline.

Worse news, though, is that the next phase of anti-Christianity has now begun. Unsatisfied with labeling Christians as bigots, the new logic goes like this: Belief in Jesus is irrational and therefore evidence of a psychological problem, which should of course be treated with therapy and drugs until the person becomes a happy, well-adjusted atheist.

If you think this is a wild exaggeration, consider the recent case of an 8-year old boy in Taunton, Massachusetts. In response to an instruction by his teacher to draw something that reminded him of the holiday season, the boy drew a stick figure of Christ on the cross. The teacher and the school administration decided that the appropriate reaction to this outrage was to send the child home from school immediately and force him to undergo a psychological evaluation  – which he passed – before allowing him to return.

The teacher apparently became upset because he or she felt the image was violent, being especially disturbed by the child’s drawing Xs where Jesus’ eyes would be (a common way of representing closed eyes.) The teacher claims the boy said he had drawn himself on the cross. You can judge for yourself how alarming and violent the image is here.

Even taking the teacher’s explanation at face value, I fail to see how a rational person would judge this 8 year old  boy to be a danger to himself or his classmates based on this drawing. If the teacher had concerns about the boy’s home situation, surely that did not require such immediate and drastic action. Needless to say, the poor kid does not understand what he did wrong and has been rather traumatized by the whole business. He will be transferring to another school at the request of his parents.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is the teacher rather than the student who should be undergoing a mandatory psychological evaluation. But don’t hold your breath.

Posted in Domestic News, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Left’s cult of intelligence

Posted by sanityinjection on October 1, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write about the high value bordering on worship that liberals place on the quality of intelligence for some time. Ironically, it was a recent London Times interview with virulent leftist and two-bit author/scriptwriter Gore Vidal that finally inspired me to do so.

Vidal, you see, is a perfect example of the phenonemon I’m talking about, both as subject and object. For the modern Left – and it makes no difference if you’re European or American – there is no higher virtue than that of intelligence. And more specifically, not the kind of savvy of a bootstrap millionaire or a populist preacher, but only of the bookish, intellectual, Ivy League variety. For the Left, people with this quality are the world’s elite. They, and only they, are qualified to lead.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in US presidential politics. The Democrats’ Mike Dukakis was seen as more intellectual and more intelligent than Republican George Bush Sr. Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry were similarly idolized by the Left for their alleged intelligence, while Republican Bush Jr. was widely insulted as “stupid”. The message was clear: Intelligence makes the best leaders.

At first this seems to make a certain amount of sense. Wouldn’t we all prefer a smart leader to a stupid one? But that’s not really the question. Would we prefer a  highly intelligent leader, whose other qualifications are scant, to one of average intelligence whose other qualifications are impressive? If so, we discount character, diligence, experience, courage and many other factors that most leaders throughout history have embodied. I would argue this was one of the dilemmas facing American voters in choosing between the highly intelligent but underqualified Barack Obama and the average intelligence but highly qualified John McCain. Granted, most voters did not cast their vote based on this criterion – but I would argue a majority of those on the Left, including my own family members, did so.

Back to Gore Vidal – The man is obviously intelligent and well educated. And he’s made a living out of it. We are supposed to give greater weight to his words, not because of his experience or wisdom, but because of qualifications he earned over 50 years ago. Meanwhile, his life has been one of economic privilege, sexual hedonism, and strident atheism.  For someone who has defiantly done exactly as he pleased and accepted no limitations on his own behavior, he delights in preaching to others.

And yet even Vidal, in his old age, seems to have become aware of the limits of intelligence alone. In the Times interview, Vidal speaks of his disappointment with President Obama: “He was the most intelligent person we’ve had in that position for a long time. But he’s inexperienced. He has a total inability to understand military matters….His problem is being over-educated.”

Keep in mind, Vidal was a supporter of Obama’s. He and his left-wing cohorts believed that Obama’s intelligence was exactly why he’d be the greatest President in recent memory. They certainly knew at the time that he was inexperienced, but that didn’t bother them. They were happy to be upgrading from “the stupidest man in the country, Mr. Bush.” Only now are they waking up to find that experience matters a lot more than they thought – something plenty of people of average intelligence could have told Vidal’s clique, if they had deigned to listen.

Vidal marries his worship of intelligence with an aggressive anti-Americanism: “Does anyone care what Americans think? They’re the worst-educated people in the First World. They don’t have any thoughts, they have emotional responses, which good advertisers know how to provoke.” America’s great successes must be a puzzlement to the brilliant Vidal.

But the true myopia lies in the fact that the Left is incapable of perceiving that the majority of Americans – or indeed people anywhere – do not share their all-encompassing worship of traditional intelligence. That’s why Dukakis and Gore and Kerry all lost, and why the Left remains baffled by the fact of it. They not only thought they were smarter than everyone else – they expected us to receive their commands like the word of God by virtue of their superior intelligence. Ronald Reagan was lampooned throughout his Presidency by the Left as an idiot -and yet today he is recognized around the world (and even by some of his more honest critics) as one of America’s greatest leaders. No one, including Reagan, would describe him as an intellectual genius. His academic career was undistinguished and his grasp of the minute details of public policy vague. But what Reagan did have was a visceral understanding of character and human nature along with a dedication to duty and a firm belief in American values. This allowed him to surround himself with highly competent advisors and assistants – many smarter than himself – who helped him to turn his vision for America, and indeed the world, into reality. Sitting across the table from foreign leaders, he could rely on staff to brief him on policy details, but his ability to accurately size up the men across the table could only come from himself.

Serendipitously, Roger Simon over at Politico seems to be groping at what I’ve expressed above, though he locates it more in the world of popular culture than politics. He misses the fact that this is a particularly liberal phenomenon, mainly because he is himself a liberal and is helplessly mired in the usual liberal misperception of their own ideas as universal. But Simon’s point is that intelligence does not imply virtue, and gives some good examples to the contrary.

Again, I am certainly not suggesting that intelligence is a bad thing. (That would be rather self-hating of me.) I am simply suggesting that to take this one good quality out of context and elevate it to the sole criterion on which to judge human potential and achievement – as the Left continually does – is pretty much insane. (Historians use the epithet “reductionist” to describe anyone who foolishly tries to explain human events by reducing everything to one overriding factor.) Let us admire and respect the intelligent, and learn from them when we can – but let us also ask if they are brave, perceptive, hardworking, wise, and trustworthy.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Senate’s other maverick seeks environmental compromise while others prefer conflict

Posted by sanityinjection on September 21, 2009

By the “other maverick” I am referring to independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Lieberman is a true believer when it comes to climate change. He feels it’s critical that the US pass some sort of climate bill before the next round of international negotations on carbon reduction efforts. In this respect, he is right in step with most in the Democratic Party.

Lieberman, however, is also a man who sees the world as it is, and not just as he wants it to be. He can see that much of America, and many of his colleagues in the Senate, are not at all sold on the cap-and-trade idea, and no amount of left-wing zealotry is going to convince them. So, he’s doing what a legislator is supposed to do – seeking compromise. His proposal is to make climate legislation more palatable to Republicans and conservative Democrats by including funding for “clean coal” and nuclear energy.

Of course, this is an outrage to the purists of the Left. But Lieberman may be calculating that the move would gain more votes in the middle than it would lose on the fringe. Not to mention, the far Left already hates Lieberman anyway so he has nothing to lose by pissing them off.

Can this strategy work? I’d bet it would pick up at least some votes in the coal states among “Blue Dog” Democrats. It may not be enough to sway too many Republicans, although it might persuade Lieberman’s friend John McCain who is known to be soft on climate issues.

Personally, I don’t think I could support a cap-and-trade bill under any circumstances. But that’s not the point. The point is that while the Democrat leaders point fingers and call names, and do nothing to help their cause, Lieberman is trying to find a way forward in the classic tradition of the Senate – through negotiation and compromise, leading to legislation that has bipartisan support. That shows you the difference between an effective legislator and a partisan hack.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another bad idea: Tax junk food and soda

Posted by sanityinjection on July 28, 2009

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, / If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat, / If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet. ” – George Harrison, “Taxman”, The Beatles’  Revolver, 1966

“I’d like to teach the world to sing / In perfect harmony

I’d like to buy the world a Coke / But the tax is too high for me.”

-adapted from “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, from the Coca-Cola “Hilltop” TV ad, 1971

In the context of the current debate over health care and how to pay for it, something sneaky is going on. First, a number of media outlets reported that obesity-related conditions account for a significant percentage of health care expenditures, with figures such as $147 billion and 9% of overall health spending thrown about. Then today, two major media outlets – CBS News and the LA Times – both “coincidentally” published blog entries on paying for health care by taxing items that cause obesity – sugary sodas and fattening foods, respectively. If you think it’s a coincidence that this drum is only being beaten after the attempt to soak the rich to pay for ObamaCare backfired, think again. The focus is now being turned from one group it’s OK to hate – the rich – to the only other one – the fat. (Disclosure: Sanity Injection is personally about 17 pounds overweight.)

To be sure, the media isn’t the prime mover behind this conspiracy, just a happy helper. The “data” is coming from think tanks and government agencies that are part of the ObamaCare advocacy team. The logic works like this: Evil junk food makes people fat, and fat people cost everybody money. So we should tax junk food, which will raise money to pay for fat people’s health care while also encouraging people to eat healthier and thus lose weight.

Anybody see a flaw here? How about this: Fat people aren’t fat just because they eat sugary or fatty foods. They’re fat because of their overall lifestyle, which includes diet and (lack of) exercise. Some have other medical conditions that contribute to obesity. So let’s say the tax works and everybody stops eating  junk food. No major revenue stream is generated, but fat people are still fat and we still have to pay for them. Alternatively, the tax doesn’t work and people still eat unhealthy foods, so a bunch of money is raised. How much do you want to bet that money gets raided by the government to pay for other things besides health care? Meanwhile the fat people have less of their income they can save to help pay for their own care.

Those are economic arguments, but how about the philosophical arguments? Is everyone who drinks a Coke contributing to obesity? Arguably not, if you’re eating healthy and getting exercise. Yet you’ll still have to pay the punitive tax. More fundamentally, what right does the government have to tax you in order to get you to live your life the way *they* want you to? If we believe that the obese should bear the responsbility for their extra health care expenses, then charge them higher premiums, or offer them lesser coverage due to their pre-existing condition. That’s the free market solution. Instead, the Democrats’ health care bill would force insurers to not only cover pre-existing conditions but at the same premium paid by healthy people!  And so the serpent of Leftism continues to gnaw on its own tail, planning an economy that is in inherent contradiction with itself and telling us all that it will work.

If this all sounds familiar, it should: we’ve been through the same nonsense with cigarette taxes. In fact, you could replace the words “fat people” and “obesity” with “smokers” and “smoking” above without any further alterations necessary. The result is a regressive tax that hits the poor hardest – precisely what the Left always says they don’t want.

Frankly, I am sick and tired of the search for scapegoats to blame America’s health care problems on and punish them with targeted taxes. With apologies to Martin Niemoller:

When they came for the smokers, I did not speak out, because I was not a smoker.

When they came for the rich, I did not speak out, because I was not rich.

When they came for the fatties, I did not speak out, because I was not a fatty.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »