Wednesday, November 29, 2006


37% of all children born in the United States are “illegitimate.” I use the now-banished term to emphasize the coincidence of our kinder, gentler linguistic habits and the devastating increase in “out-of-wedlock” births.

In 2005, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 1.5 million of the 4.1 million births in this country were to unmarried women—most in their 20s. Fifty years ago, when “illegitimacy” still existed as a social stigma, the number of children born without the benefit of married parents was about 5%. Apparently the progressive policy of social sensitivity hasn’t been a boon to those children for whom it was supposedly instituted.

Despite the rationalizations of 60s and 70s sociologists, it eventually became clear that what ails most children with one parent isn’t a social stigma, but rather the fact that they have only one parent—usually a mom. Unfortunately, our post-Murphy Brown society now casually accepts even the actions of terminally selfish women who deliberately deprive their children of a father—just as it casually ignores the consequences.

One study, for example, found that 90% of the rise in violent crime between 1973 and 1995 could be related to out-of-wedlock births. Another found that cohabitation is 10 times more prevalent now than in 1980, and that kids in these homes are twice as likely to see mom and dad split up than children whose parents have that “meaningless scrap of paper”—a marriage certificate. Indeed, fewer than half of cohabiting couples stay together more than five years—the typical duration being 18 months. Most depressingly, kids in these “test drive families” are vastly more likely to be abused. (See data at and at

As these statistics show, the destigmatizing of America has coincided with the demoralization of America. Indeed, one has to tune in Dr. Laura to get a taste of the phrases most folks would have employed fifty years ago—“shack-up honey,” “unpaid whore,” and “do it for the kids.” (The last statement is perhaps the one that’s most despised today.)

It isn’t unusual for irresponsibility and selfishness to parade around in respectable linguistic garments. I’m confident that most of the effort to destigmatize illegitimacy arose not from a deep concern for the welfare of children but rather from an unstated desire to normalize promiscuity. The latter goal was quickly accomplished by substituting the term “sexually active” for the p-word and by illustrating, ad nauseam, the pain-free joys of extramarital sex on the boob tube.

No more does our tolerant culture make individuals feel bad about doing bad things. We’re more “mature” than our judgmental grandparents. Ignored is the other side of the equation—including the millions of unlucky kids whose egg- and sperm-donors take parenthood less seriously than driving an automobile. The latter activity, at least, requires a license.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


James Joyce once remarked that Rome reminded him of a man who made his living “by exhibiting to travelers his grandmother’s corpse.” It strikes me that this observation applies more aptly to the commercial exploitation of President Kennedy’s assassination. After more than four decades, no scrap of evidence is immune from being dislodged, mutilated, and reconstructed so as to fit more securely into the imaginative web of an aspiring conspiracy theorist.

Did Oswald act alone? Was there a gunman on the grassy knoll? Did the doctors at Parkland Hospital alter their autopsy report? Was Kennedy’s body transferred to another coffin? Was the assassination a military coup d’etet “with Lyndon Johnson waiting in the wings”?

This last theory—concocted by Oliver Stone for the movie JFK—surpasses all previous efforts in combining ideological rigidity, factual manipulation, and commercial exploitation. The truthfulness of this assessment is open to any reader willing to peruse the writings of lawyer David Belin (Final Disclosure), writer Gerald Posner (Case Closed), and Brandeis Professor Jacob Cohen (“Yes, Oswald Alone Killed Kennedy,” June, 1992, Commentary).

The sad fact is that the dead president has entered the marketplace as a salable item. His death is not a question of historical interest but an exploitable commodity that may be packaged with impunity. Is it really a desire to get at the truth that motivates the never-ending publication of conspiracy books and the periodic production of television specials commemorating that fateful November day?

Why—if the media are really interested in the truth—are most Americans ignorant of even rudimentary facts about the case? When, for example, can you remember any prominent member of the Fourth Estate mentioning these critical facts: Oswald worked at the book depository; eyewitnesses actually saw someone shoot at the motorcade from the sixth floor of the building; a witness 110 feet from the window provided police a description that fit Oswald quite well; no one else was with Oswald at the time of the shooting; most aural witnesses heard three shots; Oswald brought some “curtain rods” wrapped in brown paper to work with him that morning; that brown paper, three cartridge cases, and a recently fired rifle were all found on the sixth floor of the depository; this rifle had been mail-ordered by Oswald a few months earlier; Oswald alone left the building after the assassination and later murdered a police officer in front of several eyewitness; Oswald kept an “Historic Diary” that made clear his radical political views and mental instability.

I could go on and on. I mention only a few highlights from the mountain of evidence that convinced three government committees that Oswald alone killed the president. The sad conclusion to which I must come is that most people involved in the mass dissemination of information are not really interested in these facts. They want an angle.

In George Orwell’s 1984, the Ministry of Information constantly rewrote history to fit the party’s ideological requirements. Our reality is more crass. History today has become a victim of the marketplace. Truth and decency are the casualties. In such a society, lusting for scandal, some people are obviously slain in perpetuity.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The third annual Liberty Film Festival opened Friday, November 10, with a minor galaxy of Hollywood conservatives in attendance. Comedy producer David Zucker and 24’s Joel Surnow began the festivities with an hilarious screening of a pilot that may actually become the right-wing alternative to The Daily Show. In this slick Oval Office skit, the deficit-size laughs attending President Rush Limbaugh were only topped at the entrance of Vice-President Ann Coulter. If the pilot is picked up, it would constitute a huge comedic counterattack in the media wars.

Following this opening, festival directors Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murry noted that LFF was now sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and that together they constitute “the premier conservative film and cultural organization in America.” Some weeks ago Apuzzo gave substance to that impressive description by distributing early copies of Cyrus Nowrasteh’s The Path to 9/11 to conservative talk radio hosts—a move that allowed them to preempt and counter leftist demands of ABC to pull or heavily edit the film. Bill Clinton’s Fox-News meltdown and Madeline Albright’s recent disappearing act are evidence for the success of Apuzzo’s strategy and for the impact achieved by films that are seen by millions of people.

In tribute to ABC’s refusal to crack under withering political pressure, the Liberty Film Festival presented a Freedom of Expression Award to the production team of The Path to 9/11—the honors being done by Frank Price, former Chairman of both Columbia and Universal Pictures. Nowrasteh, who was present to accept the award, noted in an interview with Human Events that, because of his work on The Path to 9/11 the Los Angeles Times had done hit pieces on him and that defamatory misinformation about him had even been disseminated on Wikipedia. The two-time Pen Award winner downplayed, however, possible threats to his life—which in view of his Iranian heritage and Muslim roots, can’t be taken lightly.

Opening night also saw the screening of the documentary that won the LFF award for best feature film—Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration. Co-produced by Kevin Knoblock and David Bossie (the same duo that collaborated on Celsius 41.11) this documentary approaches the border issue by focusing on, in Knoblock’s words, “interesting characters.” While the film covers aspects of the immigration debate one would never see on PBS, it doesn’t provide any easy answers. In interviews, both Bossie and director Knoblock concurred on that score.

Compared to Knoblock, Bossie is the new kid on the block. The former Watergate investigator and Congressional aide has a handful of documentaries under his belt, including another festival entry, ACLU: At War With America. As this title shows, Bossie isn’t afraid to deliver a very unnuanced conservative message. That approach shouldn’t change with his next subject—Hillary Clinton. Assisting in that effort will be the man who ranks as the Clintons’ most prominent nemesis—Dick Morris.

Also in attendance at the festival, which had over 3,500 admissions, was producer-director Pierre Rehov, whose From the River to the Sea won honors for best film under 60 minutes. This documentary focuses on Palestinian refugees whose obsession with a “right of return” has been exploited both by Arab governments and by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Rehov’s other festival film, Suicide Killers, provides chilling footage of “martyrs” in training and of the proud mothers of suicide bombers.

Rehov, a French-Algerian Jew, told Human Events he didn’t feel threatened while making these documentaries since he was viewed as French. He also offered the opinion that “love” (as distorted by a sexually repressive society) is the ultimate motivation for suicide bombers. Given this belief, most conservatives won’t be sorry to learn that Rehov describes himself as an “independent.” Nor will they be surprised by the slew of psychoanalytic explanations in his films.

The festival award for best film under 30 minutes went to Cynthia Graner’s The Manual, a story that devotes loving visual attention to military funeral rites and to the notification procedure for soldiers killed in action. Like another festival film, Rex Pratt’s Between Iraq & A Hard Place, this work focuses on the psychological vulnerabilities of men in uniform rather than on courage and dedication to noble ideals.

Another media luminary, Michael Medved, moderated a Sunday panel discussion on “Hollywood, Israel, and the Middle-East” that included Frank Price, David Zucker, and the Emmy award winning screewriter Robert Avrech. In a subsequent interview, Medved was eager to slam Pat Buchanan as “a disgrace”—in spite of the fact that he “personally like(s) Pat.” Medved also called Michael Savage a “phony,” citing as evidence the latter’s political contributions to now California Attorney-General elect, Jerry Brown. Neither Buchanan nor Savage attended the festival.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Two things set Mark Steyn apart from dystopian naysayers like Paul Ehrlich and Al Gore. First, Steyn is an irrepressible bon vivant—an odd trait in a journalist touting “the end of the world as we know it.” Linguistically, no turn of phrase is too banal, risqué, or obscure to be included in Steyn’s repertoire of fin de siecle ripostes. If Western civilization is going down the tubes, Steyn will at least get in a few bon vins, bonbons, and bon mots before the Eiffel Tower becomes the world’s most prominent minaret.

Second, Steyn has a drawer-full of hard data at his disposal—not cherry-picked computer models whose calculations are amazingly dependent on the speculative formulas fed into them. On an LP sold contemporaneously with Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, the late comedian Don Adams mimics an incompetent defense attorney who protests how easy it is for the prosecutor to accuse his client of murder. After all, “He’s got proof. All I have are trickery and deceit.” Ehrlich and Gore may have imaginary numbers up their sleeves, but like the comic’s legal adversary, Steyn has a briefcase of persuasive exhibits: moribund European birth rates, unsustainable social welfare systems, growing Muslim immigration, high Muslim birth rates, the murder of Theo van Gogh, deadly bombings in London and Madrid, the nightly torching of Renaults and Citroens by French “youths,” craven acts of multi-culti cowardice in the face of sharia demands, and a future-be-damned philosophy that coincides perfectly with plunging birth rates.

For Europe, Steyn notes, this is “The Gelded Age”—with Spanish women reproducing at a rate that will halve the nation’s population in a generation or so. Almost as dire, demographically, is the 1.3 births per woman ratio that prevails in Greece—a figure that belies the image of fecundity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Indeed, it seems that uptight red-state Protestants are doing a better job of being fruitful than Italians who, if current trends continue, will live in a nation where 60 percent of them “have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, (and) no uncles.” Dinner tables filled with pasta and relatives will be replaced by pizza for one.

This population bust spells disaster for Ponzi-shaped welfare schemes that depend on young bodies to support generational transfers to oldsters who neglected the primary task of regeneration. Greece’s pension liabilities, for example, are projected to reach 25% of GDP by 2040. More immigration from people-rich Muslim nations is the clear “solution” to this demographic vacuum—a solution that’s already altered the habits of women in Amsterdam and London who “cover up” to avoid jeers in increasingly Muslim neighborhoods. Such examples show how, in Western Europe, assimilation has come to mean (as Kofi Annan implied when commenting on the Danish cartoon violence) a nation adjusting its ways to accommodate new arrivals.

Steyn’s term, “Eurabia,” suggests the future he foresees for a continent flirting with a “demographic death spiral” and brooding in the lounge of that “old ennui.” Rotterdam, where the Muslim population is 40%, may presage the shape of things by 2050—or sooner if “white-flight” out of “Eutopia” accelerates. In such an environment, “Pre-modern Islam beats post-modern Christianity.” Put more dramatically, it’s unlikely that “Pornistan” will peacefully co-exist with “the Islamic Republic of Holland.” And in the struggle between those two, the strong horse doesn’t belong to those who take pride in the fact that they aren’t prepared to die for anything.

To fend off charges of Islamophobia, Steyn issues periodic caveats that acknowledge what “of course” everyone knows—that most Muslims aren’t Wahhabists, that many have assimilated to Western ways, and that not every baby named Mohammad (the most popular boy’s name in Belgium) is destined to strap explosives to his chest and blow up a Brussels bus. Still, the author makes a convincing case that neither demographics nor cultural clout favor the continued existence of Europe as we know it. In the meantime, Western women in the EU are producing an average of 1.4 children while the Muslim EU rate is 3.5. At least one North African tyrant is on record predicting that the “Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.” The official number of Muslims now living in Europe is 20 million. Colonel Gaddafi’s figure is 50 million. If Muammar isn’t right today, he soon will be.

Unlike native Europeans, the birth rate in the United States is still at replacement level, 2.1—1.85 among whites. And while the nation has its immigration issues, those problems don’t involve large percentages of Muslims or the gradual introduction of sharia. Still, many Europhiles find the continent’s dance-macabre enchanting. And, like elites on the other side of the pond, these blue-state sophisticates despise their “self-righteous, gun-totin’, military-lovin’, sister-marryin’, abortion-hatin’, gay-loathin’, non-passport ownin’” redneck cousins. Steyn observes, however, that these pejoratives can be translated more positively as “culturally confident, self-reliant, patriotic, procreative, [and] religious.” And judging from census figures, such traits are more productive of a viable culture than the infantilizing statism to which Europeans have become addicted. “Over there” servile selfishness has spawned a continent of non-spawners.

Unfortunately, Steyn laments, the United States hasn’t exported self-reliance and limited government half as well as Terminator movies and Madonna concerts. If it had, some viable national partners would be standing alongside it. Instead, America subsidized social irresponsibility after World War II by taking upon itself more than the lion’s share of Western Europe’s defense. Simultaneously, America lessened its political influence by puffing up international institutions like the United Nations. This diplomatic courtesy didn’t win America the support of nations to whom it graciously ceded bits and chunks of power. It’s now time, Steyn avers, for the U.S. to speak with a voice commensurate with its strength and to tout its best cultural ideals. If it doesn’t, the only thing the rest of the world will associate with America will be cheeseburgers, tawdry films, and weak knees.

Steyn also devotes attention to two other major nations, Japan and Russia. The former is entering a period of population decline but doesn’t face the identity crisis that arises with mass immigration. Russia, by contrast, appears to be a basket case—with a per woman birth rate of 1.2, a male life span of 59 years, and an abortion rate of 70%. That’s a demographic trifecta whose winners will be the new Islamic countries on Russia’s southern border and (in the Siberian East) China. While China has its own demographic challenges, with 19% more boys than girls, that nation still numbers well over a billion and might provide a pool of frustrated males to rectify the Y-chromosome dearth in (what is now) Russia. The bottom line for Russia is this: “the world’s largest country is dying, and the question is how violent its death throes will be.”

The title of Steyn’s final chapter, The Falling Camel, refers to the weakness that, in an Arab proverb, “attracts many knives.” This maxim is cited to deplore the multicultural rituals regularly performed by Western leaders after terrorist attacks. Instead of these craven antics, what is needed in our civilizational war is “more will.” And the key to victory in that struggle is reforming Islam. This objective, Steyn concedes, is ultimately up to Muslims. America can, however, facilitate change by supporting free Islamic societies, by transforming the energy industry and defunding oil dictatorships, by ending the Iranian regime, and by “strik[ing] militarily when the opportunity presents itself.”

At least two things are unclear about this multi-pronged strategy. First, where will the resolve come from to accomplish these daunting tasks? Second, why should growing, confident Muslim cultures alter their ways based on advice, threats, and bombs from foreigners who aren’t even keen on reproduction? With respect to American fortitude, the most plausible motivator that Steyn notes involves falling European camels. If the knives that appear during their descent don’t open eyes and stiffen backbones, nothing will.

So much for Mr. Bon Vivant.