Articles and Posts by Tom Piatak:
Diversity Threatened in the NBA(0)
The Minnesota Timberwolves will be fielding a team this year that is only one third black. That means that the Timberwolves will have a much higher percentage of blacks than the general population, though a far lower percentage of blacks than any other team in the NBA. And this prospect is quite upsetting to Ron Edwards, identified in a Yahoo sports story as a “longtime Minneapolis civil rights advocate.” According to Edwards, the Timberwolves’ decision to field a team that has more white players than Edwards wants to see represents a “nullification of diversity and a reversal of history.” Which tells you all you really need to know about what “diversity” actually means.
How Does A Traditionalist Vote?(0)
Recently, Dan McCarthy of the American Conservative had a piece asking, “How Does A Traditionalist Vote?” I would submit that an answer to that question can be gleaned by viewing this ad for Barack Obama, brought to my attention by one of America’s leading traditionalist thinkers, Chris Kopff. In it, a tattoed college age woman implicitly compares voting for Barack Obama to sexual intercourse. This is what the Obama people think America wants, and this is what those voting for Obama are endorsing. The answer to McCarthy’s question is that no traditionalist could ever countenance voting for Obama, who has been the most leftist president in our history on social and cultural issues.
UPDATE: Apparently the woman featued in the Obama ad is a celebrity of some sort. I am happy to report that I had never heard of hear, and, if I am lucky, will never hear of her again.
FURTHER UPDATE: A friend sent along this revealing biographical information about the woman who made this appalling ad. According to Wikipedia, “Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter of ‘overtly sexualised pop art,’ and her mother, Laurie Simmons, is a photographer and designer who creates ‘disquieting domestic tableaux’ with dolls.”
An Island of Saints(0)
Today, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Mother Marianne Cope, the second canonized saint who worked at the leper settlement on the island of Molokai. Cope, who was born in Germany and grew up in New York, answered a call from the King of Hawaii to work with the sick in Hawaii and ended up succeeding the heroic Father Damien in Molokai. Shortly after Damien’s death, Robert Louis Stevenson visited the island. This visit caused Stevenson to write an essay defending the recently deceased Flemish priest from aspersions cast on him by a Presbyterian minister, Rev. Dr. Hyde, whom Stevenson had met inHonolulu. (Stevenson’s brilliant essay continues to impress; Pat Buchanan has described it as ”among the most passionate, brilliant, brutal, and beautiful polemics I have ever read. Cicero did not do to Cataline, nor Burke to Warren Hastings, what R. L. Stevenson did to the Rev. Dr. Hyde.”) Stevenson also wrote this following short poem about Mother Marianne, touching on issues of perennial importance:
To the Reverend Sister Marianne,
Matron of the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa.
To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.
He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breasts of pain!
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.
We would be fortunate indeed if we continue to produce women like Marianne Cope and writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, who was wise enough to be awed by true goodness.
Free Trade Still Doesn’t Work(0)
This morning the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an important opinion piece by Alan Tonelson of the redoubtable United States Business and Industry Council on manufacturing and the presidential election. (The piece appeared earlier in other Ohio papers). In his piece, Tonelson highlights the importance of Ohio in the election and the importance of manufacturing to Ohio. Tonelson also explains why neither President Obama’s policies nor Romney’s are likely to reverse the long decline of American manufacturing, a decline that began well before either Obama or Romney were on the scene. Two years ago, the USBIC published Ian Fletcher’s Free Trade Doesn’t Work, an excellent refutation of all the arguments made for free trade. In his book, Fletcher explains that the decisive event in the decline of American manufacturing was the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, when we began moving away from the tariff. Fletcher also proposes a solution, a national strategic tariff of 30% phased in over five years. Fletcher chose 30% as the tariff rate “because it is in the historic range of U. S. tariffs and close to the net disadvantage American goods currently face due to America’s lack of a VAT.” As Fletcher notes, “Protectionism is, in fact, the real American way,” a history ably summarized by Pat Buchanan in his masterful, beautifully written The Great Betrayal. Sadly, neither Obama nor Romney have read Fletcher or Buchanan. But the candidate who finally heeds what they say will both win the industrial Midwest and begin the process of reclaiming the manufacturing jobs our elites so foolishly tossed aside.
America’s Secular Party(0)
Yesterday’s Washington Post reported that, according to a recent Pew Center study, 19.6% of Americans now describe themselves as having no religious affiliation. They are the new foot soldiers of the Democratic Party: 68% of those with no religious affilation lean Democrat, a number that increases to 73% among self-described atheists and agnostics. According to the Post, the religiously unaffiliated are now the largest “faith constituency” in the Democratic Party. This is consistent with a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study of the two major parties, which showed that a majority of Democrats belong to one of two groups identified by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Urban Liberals” or the “Agnostic Left,” both of which are hostile to any religious influence in public life. Thus, the Obama Administration’s anti-Christian actions are a reflection of what many of today’s Democrats want, which is to use the federal government to make Christian organizations conform to the tenets of secular liberalism. The HHS contraceptive mandate, which Obama has refused to back away from in a tight election year, is likely only the beginning.
What’s Missing From This Picture?(0)
Yesterday’s New York Times carried a piece by Michael Shear and Ashley Parker stating that the Romney campaign was going to stop running a campaign focused solely on the economy: “Instead, Romney intends to hit the White House with a series of arguments–on energy, health care, taxes, spending and a more direct attack on Obama’s foreign policy record–in an effort to draw sharper distinctions between the candidates and to give voters a choice about who can best change Washington.”
Notably absent from this list is any mention of abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, affirmative action, or immigration, issues of vital importance for tens of millions of voters. Indeed, many voters support the Republican Party in presidential elections on the basis of those issues, in spite of skepticism about the hosannas to the free market that largely characterize Republican campaigns. The Obama Administration has been radical on all these issues. It has imposed, by administrative fiat, an amnesty for illegal immigrants; sought to entrench and expand affirmative action; endorsed gay marriage and refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, paving the way for a nationwide recognition of gay marriage, which would override the laws of the vast majority of the states; argued in court that there is no ministerial exemption to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an argument consistent with the view that churches that refuse to ordain women should be liable for employment discrimination; and enacted a regulation ordering religious employers to provide insurance for contraceptives, including contraceptives that can act as abortifacients, and employed arguments in support of that regulation that would apply equally to an order requiring employers to pay for surgical abortions. If the Romney campaign really wished to draw distinctions between the candidates, these issues would be a great place to start.
If Romney cannot even talk about these issues, why would anyone expect him to do anything about them? Indeed, Romney is already beginning to retreat on immigration, even though his relative hard line on illegal immigration helped him win the Republican nomination. The sheer awfulness of the Obama Administration makes a strong case for Romney, and it is likely that Romney would at least reverse course on some of Obama’s most radical actions, such as the HHS contraceptive mandate. But the Romney campaign’s palpable timidity does not bode well either for victory or the conduct of a Romney Administration.
Andy Williams, RIP(0)
Today brings news of the death of Andy Williams at the age of 84. I suspect most of those saddened by this news are near Williams’ own age, but I liked Williams’ singing and more generally have always enjoyed the American popular music that preceded and for a while coexisted with what became rock music. The obituaries rightly note Williams’ association with the great Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini song Moon River and the popularity of his Christmas specials and music. One of the Christmas albums my parents enjoyed playing when I was growing up was Williams’ 1974 Christmas Present, a lovely album featuring almost exclusively religious carols. But Williams sang much more worth listening to, such as a vocal version of Hugo Winterhalter’s hit from the ’50s, Canadian Sunset, itself reminiscent of the great Big Band music of the 1940s.
Today, of course, no one sings like Andy Williams, and no one writes songs like Moon River or Canadian Sunset. Which is a shame. The tsunami of rock has flattened all before it, obliterating music that is simply pleasant, as Williams’ was. Or perhaps drowned it out. Rock music is often liked because it is loud, and many of those who go to rock concerts have learned to bring earplugs with them, something that would have astounded all previous generations of concertgoers There’s a reason Spinal Tap wanted speakers that go to 11. What passes for popular music today, from rap to Lady Gaga, scarcely qualifies as music, and many of today’s top stars cannot sing and barely pretend to, relying instead on various forms of technical wizardry to transform their meager talent into something at least some people can listen to. Give me an Andy Williams any day over that.
Free Trade Is For Suckers(0)
Yesterday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer featured an interesting editorial by John Colm, the president of WIRE-Net, a local organization designed to promote manufacturing. As Colm noted, “China massively subsidizes [its] exports to the United States through currency manipulation, support to state-owned industries and other means” and “Most of the world has consumption or value-added taxes that . . .are rebated when companies export products and are charged to U. S. companies that export to those countries, like a tariff.” In other words, only the United States clings to the ideology of free trade, while other countries take the manufacturing jobs that used to be ours. Up to 97% of the jobs being created in the United States are in sectors of the economy not subject to foreign competition. As a result, America has gone from a country whose economy was based on Americans making products for other Americans to an economy that will increasingly be based on Americans emptying each others’ bedpans. (That’s what “service jobs” in “health care” means).
Colm also noted that “Germany and other countries focus on technical and manufacturing training geared toward their industry champions. Apprenticeships are used widely across industries and train high-quality workers beginning in high school.” It would indeed seem to make sense to have an educational system that provides technical training to the majority of students who should not go to college. But that’s not how the Obama Adminstration sees it, which instead is busily promoting the destructive fantasy of universal college education. It is easy to see why this fantasy is popular with such reliable Democratic constituencies as the professoriat and the college bureaucracy, since it will enable them to grow even richer. But it is much harder to see what it does for the students and their families who will end up going deep into debt to pay for a devalued college degree that, in an economy emptied of manufactruing jobs, will likely lead only to a low-wage service job, perhaps in the burgeoning bedpan emptying sector.
Yesterday brought the shocking news of the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, by a Moslem mob in Benghazi, Libya. The site of the murder is significant: Benghazi was the stronghold of the rebellion against Moammar Khadafy, a rebellion that succeeded only because of help from the United States. Stevens’ murder brought home a point that should have been evident far earlier: the United States should not be assisting the forces of the so-called Arab Spring. What possible sense does it make to arm and finance people who hate us and want to kill us?
Yesterday the AP had a very interesting story on newly declassified documents that support the view that FDR and Churchill knew that the Soviets were responsible for the massacre of over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war at the same time they were publicly following Stalin’s lead and blaming the massacre on the Nazis. Later on, of course, FDR and Churchill followed Stalin’s lead and consigned Poland to Soviet domination, even though Britain began the war fighting for Polish independence and benefited greatly from the Poles who fought for the Allies throughout the war, particulalry the Polish pilots who may have provided the balance of victory during the Battle of Britain.
This story will have no impact on public opinion, which sees World War II as an unambigous morality tale and has largely forgotten about the tens of millions of victims of Soviet Communism. It will have no impact on most professional historians, either, who have no more difficulty rationalizing the West’s alliance with Stalin than FDR and Churchill did. But it is still satisfying to see some more of the truth come out.