Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Wading through the verbiage of educrats is like taking a bath in an ink-filled sandbox. That’s my take on the articles the North County Times recently published in its Sunday Perspective section (Dec. 2) about the achievement gap that separates white and minority students in California.

Most prominent were the pieces by state superintendent Jack O’Connell and Vista Unified superintendent Joyce Bales. Here’s a sample of edu-speak from Dr. Bales:

“Our challenge is that VUSD has the most schools on ‘Priority Improvement,’ the lowest NCLB [No Child Left Behind] ranking. Of the 31 schools in North County with that label, 11 are in VUSD . . . The expectation for the past five years has been for 25 percent of the students to achieve proficiency. Beginning in 2007, the goal was for 35% of the students to meet the NCLB goals.”

The superintendent moves from edu-jargon to nearly plain English with her next sentence: “Vista Unified’s goal is that 100 percent of its students achieve grade level requirements every year.” Yes, one would think so. But extrapolating from the rate of improvement previously noted, that common sense goal would be formalized around 2040.

Superintendent O’Connell’s proficiency in oblique-speak is illustrated by this sentence: “While arguments have been made that the range of poverty within the classification ‘socioeconomically disadvantaged’ is broad and that white students tend to be at the higher end of that range, myriad data—from SAT scores to distribution of qualified teachers to dropout rates—lead to the unavoidable conclusion that the race of a student is likely to affect how that student is served by our educational system.”

Put succinctly, even minority students from more affluent and stable households don’t do as well, academically, as their white counterparts. I suspect the superintendent’s linguistic opaqueness stems from a reluctance to clearly articulate the observation made some time ago by John McWhorter, an African-American linguist and social commentator, that many black groups disparage academic achievement as “acting white.”

The clearest article was the one by state Board of Education president Ken Noonan, who advocated putting funds and responsibility squarely in the hands of principals and teachers in local schools. The former Oceanside superintendent also noted, however, that the state still lacks “a statewide database system for tracking the performance of every public school student.”

Such a database, I would think, might help determine exactly how many students have dropped out of the system altogether—a number that, incredibly, education bureaucrats can’t specify with confidence. But then again, based on the Byzantine Academic Performance Index that was constructed to bury true performance indicators (like the National Assessment of Educational Progress) under a blizzard of improvement indices, a clear presentation of the status quo doesn’t seem to be a high priority.

Other education critics have clearly noted that a major problem, as indicated by SAT and GRE scores, is the quality of the education work force—a problem exacerbated by tenure rules that make firing teachers almost impossible. I observe, more bluntly, that systems designed primarily for job security abhor competition and require obfuscation.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


It seems that traditional service organizations now have perpetual bulls-eyes pasted on them. If it’s not the Boy Scouts being evicted from Balboa Park for defying the creed of political correctness, it’s the Salvation Army facing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit for requiring employees to speak English on the job.

The suit against the bell-ringing charity was filed in March of this year and concerns a thrift store in Framingham, Massachusetts that fired two employees for violating an English-only policy. The EEOC sued the organization even though the employees had been given a year’s notice and despite a ruling four years earlier by a federal judge in Boston that upheld the group’s English-only policy—a rule the court found promoted “workplace harmony.”

(North County business owners might like to know that the EEOC filed over 200 anti-English-only suits last year and that exemptions are granted based on the agency’s standard for “compelling business necessity.” Apparently, the ability to understand what employees are saying about their employer or other employees isn’t “compelling” in the eyes of EEOC mandarins.)

In order to save businesses from this innovative bureaucratic interpretation of “civil rights” law, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation that protects employers with English-only policies from EEOC lawsuits. The provision passed both the Senate (75-19) and the House (218-186) but was killed when the House Hispanic Caucus threatened to derail critical tax legislation if Speaker Pelosi allowed the Alexander amendment (which was attached to a huge appropriations bill) to survive in committee.

So as things now stand, thanks to Caucus Chair Joe Baca (D-Calif.), the EEOC can bring employers to court for their English-only policies, and those businesses will either have to kowtow to bureaucrat lawyers or face litigation costs.

Meanwhile, as a recent Rasmussen poll indicates, Americans overwhelming support (77% to 14%) an employer’s right to set English-only standards in the workplace. (Seventy-seven, by the way, is also the percentage of Americans that oppose giving drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants—an electoral consensus that recently turned the political heads of Sen. Hillary Clinton and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and that, in 2003, helped depose Gov. Gray Davis.)

Another Rasmussen poll found 87% of Americans agreeing that it is “very important” to speak English in the United States. Indeed, that sentiment is so widespread among Latinos that TV Azteca, Mexico’s second largest network, has scheduled a 60-hour series of English classes for its U.S. affiliates. Apparently the network doesn’t see English proficiency as a racist stalking horse but rather, as anchor Jose Samano asserts, a tool by which immigrants can increase their incomes by 50% or more.

Nevertheless, the EEOC, some Hispanic groups, and a persistent bi-lingual education lobby in California seem determined to undermine those cultural forces that have helped to integrate newcomers into American society. After all, for interest groups that profit from keeping Latinos in manageable barrios, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s advice to immigrants to immerse themselves in English amounts to political poison.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


When was the last time you heard the phrase “scarce resources” used to describe the allocation of government funds or even to characterize a general state of affairs (apparently persistent) within the most affluent country the world has ever known?

This ubiquitous idiom for intellectually challenged journalists wasn’t employed much, if at all, during the recent wildfire relief efforts. Evidence of affluence and of the willingness of individuals to help each other was so obvious that even the media couldn’t put a dour spin on this outpouring of altruism.

The centerpiece of this display was Qualcomm Stadium, which was regularly portrayed as the anti-Superdome. Far from simply providing food and shelter, this San Diego venue boasted live music, massage therapy, Starbucks coffee, television, toys, pizza, magazines, and a Hyatt-catered buffet that included artichoke hearts, jambalaya, and shredded-beef empanadas.

An estimated 10,000 people at “the Q” received help from about as many volunteers—and much, if not all, of the materials and services at the stadium came from private citizens and corporations that were glad to part with their “scarce resources.” Indeed, this relief station accumulated so many items that an announcement was made asking folks to stop bringing donations to the site.

As 9/11 demonstrated, disasters put things in perspective—illuminating the difference between what is petty, what is important, and what is absolutely necessary. Among the things that are absolutely necessary is taking care of each other. And in the process of doing this, surplus wealth becomes as obvious as a garage jammed with yesterday’s stuff.

Beyond donating things, however, people also need to engage in activities of support—to extend helping hands that create a sense of community and family. This person-to-person aspect of charity is largely missing when assistance becomes an entitlement.

In the entitlement system, bureaucrats calculate whether clients qualify for aid dispensed from “resources” that have been taken, under penalty of law, from faceless taxpayers. No wonder the term “charity” (from the Latin word for “love”) has acquired, in recent decades, a negative connotation. Compassion that is compelled is no longer compassion. And gifts that are not freely given, aren’t gifts.

The community outpouring of benevolence during the San Diego wildfires shows that people are eager to assist when it is clear that their aid is going to provide tangible benefits to those in need. While government can provide resources on a scale that often (not always) dwarfs private efforts, one should keep in mind that most folks don’t pay taxes cheerfully. Nor are government funds distributed with a spirit of generosity and camaraderie—since distributors are doling out benefits coerced from others.

Bottom line: The more individuals are allowed to give of themselves and of their “abundant resources,” the better off we’ll all be—both those who give and those who receive. When this is the case, journalists and bureaucrats won’t need to employ that hackneyed phrase, “scarce resources,” that should be reserved for settings where the concept actually fits.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

TEN TORTURED WORDS by Stephen Mansfield

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That’s the Constitutional clause around which Stephen Mansfield’s book, Ten Tortured Words, revolves. Specifically, the author explores what this succinct first amendment prohibition meant to its creators and how, in 1947, it came to mean something the Founders never envisioned—a radical rejection of religious expression in the public square.

Mansfield’s analysis begins by describing a stridently secular revolution that venerated a scantily clad goddess of Reason, seized church property, and compelled priests to swear allegiance to the new regime. That revolution (much to the chagrin of secularists in the U.S.) wasn’t the American Revolution. It was, instead, the French Revolution—shortly before the Reign of Terror. American attitudes toward religion were quite different. In the colonies clergymen bolstered revolutionary resistance to England and constituted a “black regiment” that struck fear in the heart of George III. Accordingly, a decade later Congress's Northwest Ordinance of 1787 linked “religion, morality, and knowledge” to the establishment of schools that were needed for “good government” in the Ohio territory.

With this background, Mansfield considers first amendment church-state proposals that were put forward in the Congress of 1789—proposals whose words belie revisionist portraits of Founders intent on creating a purely secular state. Indeed, Mansfield notes that two days before the House of Representatives approved its final “establishment of religion” language, it enacted a statute to compensate chaplains. And the day after approving its wording, the House passed a resolution recommending “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” to acknowledge “the many signal favors of Almighty God”—a resolution that President Washington eagerly accepted. In light of such evidence, Mansfield concludes that only the ignorant or intellectually dishonest could construe the first amendment words of these legislators as “a ban on government support for religion in general.”

The phrase that’s been superimposed over the Constitution’s establishment language is “separation of church and state”—or, more accurately, “a wall of separation between church and state.” These words, Mansfield observes, were part of a personal letter written twelve years after Congress debated the first amendment’s wording—and were penned by an individual, Thomas Jefferson, who was an ambassador in France when the debate was occurring. Moreover, Mansfield emphasizes, Jefferson never suggests in this letter to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut that his political metaphor applied to the states or demanded a national government devoid of religious expression.

Besides signed legislation supporting Christian missionary efforts among America’s tribal peoples, there is more tangible evidence of President Jefferson’s church-state position—namely, his faithful attendance at the Christian worship services that were held in the Capitol building during his presidency. Indeed, Mansfield notes that Jefferson first attended those services (which continued regularly from 1795 to 1866) only two days after writing his “wall of separation” letter.

Why a single phrase from an obscure Presidential letter should become a prominent standard for Constitutional interpretation is the focus of Mansfield’s third chapter, the central figure of which is Alabama’s Hugo Black. Mansfield’s sketch of the future Supreme Court Justice begins in 1921 with Black’s successful defense of the Reverend Edwin Stephenson for killing a Catholic priest. (Stephenson was incensed because the priest had married the reverend’s daughter to a Spanish suitor.) During the trial Black played to his Klan-packed jury by portraying the Spaniard as a Negro. And less than a year after the trial, Black himself joined the KKK, a move he renounced two years before his successful senatorial campaign in 1926. Eleven years later the loyal New-Dealer was nominated by FDR to the Supreme Court.

Mansfield observes that Black’s Supreme Court opinions were initially so embarrassing that Justice Harlan Stone asked Harvard’s Felix Frankfurter to tutor the new Justice. Yet even after Black found “his stride,” grave inconsistencies (possibly related his racist past) plagued Black’s judicial performance. Nowhere are those inconsistencies more apparent than in Everson v. Board of Education, “the single case upon which the role of religion in American public life turns.”

Decided in 1947, Everson challenged a New Jersey law by which the state paid for student transportation to religious schools. Writing the majority opinion in this case, Black cited Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists and observed that the Constitution erects a “high and impregnable” wall between church and state—a wall that does not admit “the slightest breach.” Based on this unprecedented reading of the establishment clause, the obvious conclusion would have been that New Jersey could not provide transportation to religious schools.

Black, however, ended his opinion by contradicting the entire thrust of his judicial reasoning. New Jersey’s funding of transportation to religious schools, Black ruled, did not violate the “high and impregnable” standard just posited. One practical reason for this about-face was the vast number of monuments and instances of religious expression that would have to be revised, dismantled or suspended if Black followed the logic of his reasoning. As Mansfield observes summarily, “the ruling is almost incomprehensible.”

The logical step that Black declined to take in 1947, was taken over the next decades by courts that found public invocations, crèches on public property, and even schoolchildren praying out loud over meals violated the Constitutional prohibition against Congress establishing a national church. In 1985, Justice William Rehnquist in his Wallace v. Jaffree dissent, responded to the Court’s capricious application of the Everson standard. This opinion, often called “The Anti-Everson” is included in Mansfield’s extensive appendix of cited documents. Rehnquist concludes as follows: “The ‘wall of separation between church and state’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.”

Far from being abandoned, however, the Everson standard continues to spawn an army of litigants eager to employ Black’s metaphor to purge all traces of religious expression from public life. The foremost litigant in “Everson’s army” is the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization whose founder, Roger Baldwin, is discussed at some length by Mansfield. Not surprisingly, given the ideology of its founder, the ACLU’s goals in church-state litigation have more in common with the Soviet Constitution of 1947 (which actually calls for a separation of church and state) than with the aims of the Founding Fathers. Other members of Everson’s brigade that are highlighted by Mansfield include People for the American Way (founded by Hollywood producer and ACLU officer, Norman Lear), the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Perversely, this secular army is regularly funded by taxpayers, thanks to the court’s bestowing public attorney status on litigants whose “rights” have been violated by public subsidies to Boy Scouts or by crosses employed as war memorials. Moreover, this “loser pay” arrangement, instituted to protect the civil rights of poor minorities, has become a mechanism by which the far-from-poor ACLU intimidates cash-strapped school districts and municipalities with the following dilemma: Either remove offending religious objects and practices or risk million-dollar litigation costs—both yours and ours. These rules of engagement, Mansfield notes, weight the law “in favor of secularism.”

In 1954, Senator Lyndon Johnson added a final legal burden to the free exercise of religion in the United States. That year the first-term Senator from Texas altered Internal Revenue Code language in order to deny tax-exempt status to organizations engaged in direct political activity. LBJ had in mind specific groups that opposed his reelection, but his 501 (c) (3) wording applied to all tax-exempt organizations—including churches. Based on this regulation, churches can now be stripped of their tax-exempt status for articulating their beliefs too explicitly in the political arena. As Mansfield illustrates, this law transforms both liberal and conservative religious groups into dissemblers and puts groups like Barry Lynn’s Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in charge of monitoring religious speech throughout the country.

Mansfield concludes his analysis by discussing Congressional proposals designed to lift the political restrictions now placed on religious speech and to restrict the federal courts from ruling on establishment clause cases. Sooner or later, the author suggests, the illegitimate and destructive wall that currently separates religion and politics—like the wall separating East and West Berlin—should fall, making possible “a nation that separates the institutions of religion and government but welcomes the riches of faith into the public square.”

Overall, Ten Tortured Words is a succinct tutorial on church-state jurisprudence and a handy resource for related documents. The book elucidates how the Court came, circuitously, to an understanding of the Constitution that is at odds with the history of the Republic and the intentions of the Founders. It also provides a moving example, in the persons of the Dorchester chaplains, of the way religion should influence public life.

In that tragic case, memorialized on windows at West Point and the Pentagon, four chaplains (two Protestant, one Catholic, and one Jewish) joined arms and together recited words of comfort from the three faiths to sailors who were struggling to survive a torpedo attack in the North Atlantic. The four continued their ecumenical ministry for twenty-seven minutes until the doomed ship “slipped beneath the waves.” “Private First Class William Bednar . . . later said, ‘Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.’”

Such heroic episodes, enshrined from the nation’s past, will only be part of its future if Mansfield’s “tear down this wall” legal message is taken to heart by the country and its leaders.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Useful Hollywood idiots. The Venezuelan dictator replaces the leftist love for the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Had I been living in Poway, as I was in October of 2003, the recent wildfires would have been déjà vu all over again. In 2003 I evacuated the neighborhood where I lived and watched hour after hour of television coverage, frustrated beyond words by the lack of specific information in the occasional references to “Poway” that newscasters added to their running commentary about flames racing through Scripps Ranch.

I felt the same way that Escondido evacuee Dale Delmege felt about electronic coverage of the recent fire disaster. As Mr. Delmege observed in his community forum piece last week, what viewers need to know, “again and again is exactly where the fire is now and exactly what direction it is moving.” Also of importance to folks separated from their homes is as precise a description of affected areas as possible.

Obviously TV journalists can’t provide comprehensive lists of burned residences, like those published in this newspaper a day or two later. But one would think that in a spreading disaster, emphasis would be given (as in real estate decisions) to location, location, and location.

Instead, television coverage emphasized, as usual, pictures, pictures, and pictures. The video pièce de résistance of this “Gee whiz journalism” was the burned out home—live flames adding a dramatic touch to the breathless description of “incredible” sights provided by twenty-something girls in goggles.

Over the course of two hours this disaster template became as tiresome as it was unenlightening. Youngsters in yellow gushed effusively--visions of Emmys dancing in their heads. Meanwhile, the important questions languished: Where exactly is the fire? Where is it headed?

Throughout the coverage, tape-loops ran repeatedly as “live” coverage was juxtaposed with fire footage from who-knows-where and who-knows-when. Meanwhile, anchors approached the event as yet another exercise in competitive compassion—apparently ignorant of the fact that disasters don’t need dramatic embellishment. What they need is perspective and precision.

Folks can only absorb so many “oohs and aahs” and so many “burn to the ocean” scenarios before they shut down like a bug-eyed epicure who’s offered a chocolate éclair after having consumed a quart of rocky road.

The usually over-the-top KUSI weatherman, John Coleman, was one of the few broadcasters providing some directional perspective—pointing out that fires move where the wind takes them and that on-shore breezes pose a severe problem for “burn to the ocean” news-hype.

After a while anchors began to employ Thomas Brothers maps to shed a bit of geographical light on things, but by and large TV news did what it does best: emote and dramatize. Indeed, they dramatized so well that some folks outside the state thought all Southern California was ablaze.

Those who get most of their news from a business that mixes eye-candy and life-and-death information should ponder the implications of that volatile cocktail. If TV journalism can’t provide vital information about a disaster happening in its backyard, is it likely to provide a reasonable portrait of political and social complexities throughout the world?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Here's a "Heartland" presentation countering Al Gore hucksterism.

Click on the title above: AL GORE: SNOW JOB.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Was John Monti Nifonged? Or perhaps one should ask if John Monti is being Nifonged?

Mike Nifong was the District Attorney who rabidly pursued bogus rape charges against three Duke lacrosse players in order to bolster his political fortunes among African-Americans in North Carolina’s Durham County. Nifong won the race for reelection but later lost his job and law license when evidence of prosecutorial misconduct became overwhelming.

It is unlikely that Monti, the bilingual East Los Angeles schoolteacher recently prosecuted for assaulting day-laborers in Rancho Penasquitos on November 18, 2006, will receive the same vindication as the lacrosse trio. Last month a jury found John Monti “not guilty” of charges brought against him by the office of San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre. But the nature of Monti’s case, though it smacks of political opportunism, makes it harder to prove that the camera-loving City Attorney pursued Monti to punish anti-illegal alien groups.

The incident in question began when Monti and some day laborers got into a scuffle over pictures that Monti was taking of them. Obviously, taking snapshots of folks who might be here illegally isn’t a way to make friends. But Monti says his efforts were motivated by his belief that young girls were being sexually abused in nearby migrant camps.

News reports of the fight that day suggested that Monti came out on the short end of the stick—a not surprising result if the he-them ratio was around eight to one. Cuts and bruises, however, were the only injuries Monti sustained.

The police report taken that day might have been the end of the matter had not Monti filed a grand jury complaint against the San Diego Police Department for failing to investigate human trafficking and child prostitution in McGonigle Canyon. That complaint was filed March 1, 2007. Four weeks later (and four months after the original incident) Aguirre’s office put out a press bulletin announcing in bold letters that charges were being filed “AGAINST A MEMBER OF THE MINUTEMAN PROJECT.”

Monti was not, in fact, a member of the Minutemen, though he was affiliated with the anti-illegal group, Save Our State. Still, by erroneously highlighting the Minutemen, Aguirre’s office bolstered the suspicion that impartial legal judgment wasn’t what informed its prosecutorial decision. What later become clear was that the case against Monti was actively promoted by Claudia Smith, an open border activist and Executive Director of California Rural Legal Assistance in Oceanside.

At trial some laborers testified that it was Monti who was attacked—a point of view echoed by four 9-1-1 calls that were played in court and later aired on Roger Hedgecock’s radio program. Monti’s photos also helped convince jurors that testimony against him sometimes failed to pass the smell test.

Having been declared “not guilty” by a jury, Monti now faces a civil suit brought by the same CRLA lawyer who appeared with Claudia Smith when she announced on Fox News what Aguirre was going to do, prosecutionwise—two weeks later.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Edmund Burke would not have been impressed with Jerry Sanders’ teary-eyed explanation for signing a City Council amicus brief in support of gay marriage. Individual feelings and clever slogans, the philosophical MP would have emphasized, do not constitute a compelling case for overturning enduring institutions whose wisdom often become apparent after they’ve been rashly abandoned.

The French Revolution was Burke’s premier case-in-point. Rationalists who were contemptuous of tradition and convinced of their ability to remake society in their own image engaged in an orgy of “reform” that ended, eventually, in a Reign of Terror followed by Napoleon’s autocracy. The opening pages of Stephen Mansfield’s book, “Ten Tortured Words,” captures the arrogant spirit of those times—a spirit quite alien to the conservative colonial rebellion in America.

As Burke notes, revolutionary “reason” is usually a surrogate for self-interest—providing glib arguments for ideas that partisans are predisposed to accept and vilifying voices that fail to echo their du jour versions of “liberty, equality, and fraternity.” Burke also observes that the job of rationally defending inherited institutions is a daunting task since causes and effects are often subtly interconnected and hard to see--especially if individuals are inclined to place their personal feelings ahead of traditions that have served well for centuries, or even for millennia.

In the case of marriage, folks who aren’t impressed with a child’s need to have both a male and a female parent, aren’t likely to be swayed by a few studies that imply what common sense would suggest—that the sexual activity of parents affects their children. Nor will ideologues who equate male-female marriage laws with racial segregation be persuaded by evidence showing that gay marriage has accompanied the near death of marriage in Scandinavian countries.

One can point out that gay sexual relationships are fundamentally different from male-female relationships because they have absolutely no procreative and familial significance. But for folks whose thoughts extend no further than their feelings, that fact makes no difference.

Only decades later will it be seen that gay marriage further undermines the crucial links between marriage, sexual responsibility, and child raising. Only after the fact will the psychological and social chaos wrought by presenting second graders with books entitled “King and King,” under the guidance of PC mentors, become obvious. (In this illustrated fairy tale, two princes marry, kiss, and live happily ever after—apparently to the satisfaction of the Democrat candidates for president who commented favorably on this pedagogical “reform.”)

Only after the interconnected threads of tradition have been severed will it become obvious to eyes-closed-tight ideologues that sexuality extends beyond the reaches of biology—a point that’s perfectly obvious to anyone familiar with man-boy relationships in ancient Greece.

What one will not hear from these individuals whose feelings and ideology blind them to the damage they’re doing, are teary-eyed apologies directed toward the millions of victims who’ll flail about haplessly in fatherless homes and sexual confusion thanks to the narcissism and moral indifference of their progenitors.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


“Why shouldn’t gays be allowed to marry?”

The question has a prima facie persuasiveness that’s akin to the popular rhetorical challenge, “Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?” Another trait these queries share is the likelihood that persons confronting them will be reduced to stammering incoherence. The main reason for this detour into dementia isn’t that opponents of gay marriage are idiots. It is rather that the case against same-sex unions requires more strenuous philosophical lifting than the case for it.

Rhetorical Challenges

Proponents of this radical domestic innovation possess a pocketful of bumper sticker appeals--including the aforementioned “Who’s to say” argument. “It’s not fair” and “It’s discrimination” are two other easily developed themes. Then there’s the protest that people who “love each other” should be encouraged, not discouraged, by society to commit themselves to their male-female, male-male, or female-female partners. Why, after all, should heterosexuals who decry the social damage caused by divorce be in the business of discouraging commitment among homosexual couples? Finally, there is that familiar prosecutorial standby, “How does it hurt you if someone else marries a person of the same sex?” In the 70s Phil Donahue and his talk-show clones touted sexual license by employing similar questions: “Why would you stand in the way of someone’s happiness?” So much nonsense is presupposed in these “beating-your-wife” challenges that no simple reply is possible.

Glibly articulated sound bites work well in mass media. By contrast, when one is obliged to defend an institution that has never been challenged and ideas that have almost always been taken for granted, the speaker faces a daunting task. Quickly! Why must women marry men? Who is hurt if you let people marry whomever they want? Who made you the marriage czar?

When Socrates, in Plato’s Republic, explored the nature of justice, he always searched for common ground between himself and his interlocutors. In book one of this extended dialogue, the impetuous Thrasymachus, after having been argued into a logical corner by his verbal sparring partner, rashly asserts that justice is bad and injustice good. This novel perspective, Socrates declares, makes his own philosophical task much more difficult. Most persons take for granted that justice is good and only argue over its proper definition. Socrates, however, is forced to demonstrate for his auditors something more fundamental--the superiority of justice to injustice.

Defending male-female marriage is akin to defending the value of justice over injustice. It’s seldom done, and the issues are so basic that people are inclined to fall silent. Certainly, no simple slogan serves as an adequate defense of this previously unquestioned proposition. Replying that “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” isn’t compelling--especially when addressed to secular audiences inclined to equate religious faith with stupidity.

As Socrates was forced to ponder the essence of justice and injustice in response to Thrasymachus’ assertion, so advocates for the traditional definition of marriage are faced with the task of explaining to short-attention-span Americans plausible reasons why male-female unions ought to remain the norm. Those explanations, however condensed, should presuppose an analysis of the essential nature of marriage itself.

Marriage: Procreation and Commitment

Marriage is a institution that ties procreation to commitment. This newly-minted but long-presupposed definition constitutes the heart of any defense of traditional marriage. For centuries marriage has revolved around pledges of loyalty made by husbands and wives to each other. “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer” are words familiar to all Americans. Until recently the phrase “as long as you both shall live” was part of most wedding ceremonies. These vows of commitment aren’t important simply as expressions of the love that two individuals have for each other. They are also significant because marriages are consummated. And those sexual unions produce babies. Marriage, therefore, not only links two people to vows of commitment, it also links commitment to family.

Not all marriages result in children, but marriages aren’t complete--according to law and language--apart from consummation. And acts of consummation produce, for most couples, the children which Roman Catholic theology has rightly linked to acts of intercourse. Indeed, this link between consummation and reproduction is so pronounced that husbands and wives go to considerable contraceptive lengths to frustrate it. With same-sex couples the situation is reversed--and more so. Not only are biological offspring never a result of sexual intimacy, the acquisition of children is an arduous process fraught with legal hurdles. No matter how committed the parties, same-sex unions can never be linked, via consummation, to the creation of a family.

Heretofore, marriage has provided a framework, rooted in vows of commitment, for the raising of children. Though imperfectly realized, that ideal has served to sublimate--to place within the bounds of exalted purpose--mere acts of propagation. Absent this larger framework, intercourse tends to assume the raw visage of animalian instinct. C. S. Lewis once observed that a single man’s desires, freely indulged, would soon suffice to populate a small village.[i] Traditional marriage restrains such impulses because it sets forth the expectation that father and mother will provide a home for the fruit of their passion.

Same-sex marriage, by its very nature, dismisses this link between marriage and propagation. Few heterosexual unions remain childless. All same-sex unions are barren. This biological fact of life renders the term “shotgun wedding” meaningless as regards an entire class of persons--individuals who say their marriages are based on the same principles as everyone else. Though hardly a happy image, this coercive practice (based on whatever stigma still attends out-of-wedlock birth) bears witness, alongside the term “illegitimate,” to the essential link between marriage and children.

Should marriage be forced to accommodate same-sex commitments, it is hard to believe that this revised institution will continue to be viewed as the ideal framework for raising the offspring that same-sex couples cannot, by themselves, produce. Marital unions will likely focus even more exclusively on the feelings that two people have for each other--and even less on the children that one class of married pairs can, and another can’t, produce. This intensified focus on feelings will expedite the delinkage of sex, marriage, and family that began in the sixties with the era of convenient birth control. Such marriages, lacking the substantive bond between feelings and family, are destined to be as short-lived as nuptials sealed with a vow to be faithful “as long as we both shall love.”[ii]

For some time it has been fashionable to disparage couples who look to maternity as a way to save their marriages. The problem with this desperate logic, however, is not that it is totally benighted. It is rather that this reasoning puts the child at the wrong end of the marital relationship--as glue to mend what is already broken. Ideally, children are mutually desired centers of affection that serve to strengthen existing bonds. The spilled-milk approach to parenthood recognizes, only belatedly, the ephemeral nature of feelings not tied to something as tangible and enduring as “our baby.”

Marriage and Child-Rearing

It is hard to fathom the gamesmanship needed to nullify what seems a prima facie argument on behalf of male-female marriage--that children, ideally, are raised within two-parent, male-female homes. Yet many individuals cite a handful of extremely limited and ambiguous studies in order to “prove” the opposite of what nature and common sense would suggest.[iii]

What is incontrovertible, however, even within the dubious world of social science, is that children raised by two parents (who, as of now, “happen to be” male and female) are more successful on measures of social, emotional, and educational welfare than children lacking one or the other parent due to divorce or abandonment. What I think is equally plain is that a definition of marriage that ignores male-female consummation, and thus the link between marriage and family, will open the door (or rather, the floodgates) to a view of sexual relations that ignores children altogether.

Same-sex unions need not worry about having and educating offspring--a fact that clearly contributes to the short-term character of most homosexual pairings.[iv] Until recently opposite sex couples were obliged by society to worry about such matters. Under a regime of same-sex marriage, men and women will doubtless think less about these duties than they do today. After all, so goes the self-interested logic, if “studies prove” that kids are OK with same-sex guardians, why shouldn’t they be OK in less controversial domestic arrangements that also fall short of a presumably discredited ideal?

Some homosexual advocates agree that, optimally, children should have two, married, male-female parents. They concede that it makes sense to prefer intimate role models of maleness, femaleness, and male-female domestic relations. But they deny that same-sex marriage undermines this ideal. This optimistic assessment seems implausible given the positive public attention already received by gay couples (and even gay singles) who go to great lengths to birth or adopt children. On the contrary, what seems to be emerging is a view of marriage that ignores not only the connection between marriage, procreation, and child-rearing but also the link between male-female parents and domestic training. This is precisely the scenario suggested by statistics following the institution of gay marriage in Scandinavian countries.

In Sweden, where gay unions were made legal in 1994, marriage rates hit an historic low in 1997.[v] Meanwhile, out-of-wedlock births in 2001 rose to a record high of 55%. In Norway, where elites foisted gay marriage upon a reluctant country in 1993, illegitimate births rose from 39% to 50% by the end of the decade. Finally, in Denmark, which provided for gay unions in 1989, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for first-born children has increased to 60%--a figure that indicates a growing wall of separation between marriage and procreation in the minds of young Danes.

These numbers provide convincing evidence that under a regime of same-sex marriage even more children than today will be raised in homes that have no intimate male-female model. We should not pretend, for the sake of tolerance, that such homes are “just as good,” psychologically speaking, as homes where children see mothers and fathers interacting almost every day. Children who grow up in fatherless or motherless homes know that something is missing. If it is missing because of an accident, that’s tragic. If it is missing due to divorce, that’s regrettable. But if it is missing by design, then that situation is a socially sanctioned form of child abuse.

People might argue, based on the preceding observation, that same-sex marriage should be legal just as divorce and single-parenthood are permitted. This comparison is misleading. The latter circumstances are not (at least not yet) viewed as ideals to be celebrated. Instead, they are concessions to weakness and occasions for grief. The same-sex equivalency argument would transform all these domestic arrangements into joyous states mirroring a bride-groom wedding. Only minds untouched by divorce, clouded by the rigors of single parenthood, or blinded by ideology could seriously entertain such an empirically unwarranted equation.

Furthermore, children actually reared within same-sex households are not only deprived of male-female domestic models, they are also deprived of a family within which reproductive desire is channeled into a framework of familial affection. After all, no homosexual union, within or without marriage, has reproductive significance. Consequently, children raised in these environments will almost certainly be less prepared for male-female relationships, less likely to view those relationships in the context of a family, and more likely to indulge the variety of impulses that constitute the erotic profile of most humans.

The Fish or Fowl Myth

Over the last two decades we have been given to understand that each person is “straight” or “gay” in the same way that people are born with blue or brown eyes. Sit-coms (the late 20th century’s preferred propaganda tool) assert this notion with a repetitive vengeance. Yet no body of evidence comes close to confirming this dogma. Meanwhile evidence for the malleability of sexual expression is right before our eyes--but ignored in the name of pop-cultural orthodoxy.

It is now fashionable for Hollywood types and Jerry Springer guests to declare themselves “bisexual”--a term that raises insuperable problems for devotees of the I’m-just-that-way school of thought. Also increasingly prevalent are stories about “gay” celebrities who later link up with members of the opposite sex. Ellen DeGeneres’ one-time partner, Anne Heche, is a prominent example. Diversity of this stripe leads individuals who embrace the fish or fowl dogma in disconcerting directions.

Is bisexuality genetic? If so, are bisexuals condemned by their chemistry to be promiscuous? Are threesomes and groups the next “progressive” innovations? (Those ideas, some of us recall, were tried and found wanting in the 70’s.) How does being “who I am, sexually” differ from wanton indulgence of whatever erotic urges happen to emerge from regions just south of the navel? Is self-restraint always verboten--or only sometimes? And how is one to know which impulses are “me” and which are gratuitous?

People more intent on being non-judgmental than on providing guidance for the next generation aren’t inclined to ponder these questions. They would rather blindly embrace what is politically palatable--that children’s sexual habits are inflexibly set--than confront the “lesbian chic” experimentation that already pervades college life. Cognitive dissonance is resolved by denying or ignoring evidence at hand.

Here’s the bottom line of this train of thought. The popular idea that boys and girls aren’t affected by their sexual environment is a myth. Even a recent study conducted by researchers sympathetic to the gay agenda now says as much. These sociologists admit, gingerly, what was previously denied because most folks would have found the conclusions highly objectionable. Today, however, in a society where “gay marriage” is promoted on a par with “straight marriage,” the aversion to homosexuality has been so minimized that the air-brushed truth can be told. Children raised by homosexual partners “seem to grow up to be more open to homeoerotic relations.”[vi]

Sex-Ed and Gay-Marriage

What is true for children raised in same-sex households is true to a lesser extent for all children--boys and girls who may soon be forced by avant-garde health teachers to ask themselves at the age of ten just which sex they think about marrying. That’s a perverse load to put on kids who have yet to reach puberty. Only ideological zealots, moral ostriches, and confirmed couch potatoes could possibly think a “freedom” of this sort is anything but an invitation to social chaos.

Progressive views of sex have taken us from an illegitimacy rate of 4% in 1950 to 33% today--and from under 20% to almost 70% among blacks. The idea that legitimizing homosexual marriage will staunch or reverse that trend requires a degree of self-deception that borders on the psychotic. Adolescents invited to explore their sexual identity will not sit quietly in the corner until they choose A or B -- especially not when “bisexual” or “polymorphous” are among the options that a society bereft moral backbone is putting on the table.

At a meeting of very tolerant church folks, I was discussing, as politely as possible, some of the off-putting and dangerous practices that are erotic norms among male homosexuals. (I invite readers to peruse the NARTH website.)[vii] The general reaction ranged from denial to disbelief. One commentator went so far as to assert that homosexual sex and gay marriage had nothing to do with each other--an assertion equivalent to denying that consummation is linked to marriage. Most of these people seemed to believe that same-sex intercourse involves no greater medical risks than heterosexual relations and that only a geographical accident caused AIDS to be vastly more prevalent among America’s homosexuals than among heterosexuals.

If putative adults are abysmally ignorant of the nature and medical consequences of male homosexuality, how much more are their media-molded children kept in the dark about the dangers of acts that constitute an open invitation to disease and death. The portraits that children constantly see and hear in the media falsely portray gay sex as a benign variation of heterosexual relations. About nothing are same-sex proponents so deceptive as the normal erotic practices of homosexuals. Any culture that puts a seal of approval on gay marriage is as much as inviting its children to engage in forms of sexual expression that are both sterile and dangerous--practices that have no natural connection to the creation of a family.

Arguing for Armageddon

The philosopher Edmund Burke would sympathize with those who face the task of painting a plausible portrait of a hypothetical future. There are so many subtle interconnections that one can hardly imagine the impact of even minor changes. Despite the assurances of pundits whose views are assiduously attuned to tenor of the Times, a change of the magnitude now contemplated will surely have enormous consequences--consequences that may dwarf even the devastating effects of the sixties sexual revolution.

Bumper-stickers can proclaim the onset of Armageddon, but they cannot make an argument for it. It is incumbent upon defenders of traditional marriage, therefore, to ponder realistically the shape of a culture that has rejected one of history’s most fundamental assumptions--an assumption rooted in the reproductive facts of life.

Marriage has been at the heart of our rise from savagery to civilization. I do not think that future generations will bless us for severing its already damaged root--the one linking propagation to commitment.


[i] Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 5, “Sexual Morality.”

[ii] William Bennett relates the story of a couple who pledged to stay together “as long as we both shall love.” His suggestion for a wedding gift was paper plates.

[iii] The tenuous and contradictory nature of these very limited studies can be seen in Professor Steven Nock’s analysis of the literature for a Canadian Superior Court in 2001.

[iv]McWhirter and Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, 1984). Gay authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen observed, “Alas, it turns out that, on this point, public myth is supported by fact. There is more promiscuity among gays...than among straights.” Even among committed partners, they observe, “the cheating ratio, given enough time, approaches 100%.” Cf. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's (Doubleday, 1989).

[v]All Scandinavian figures come from Stanley Kurtz, “The End of Marriage in Scandinavia,” The Weekly Standard, February 2, 2004.

[vi]Stacey and Biblarz, American Sociological Review, 2001.

[vii]National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, John R. Diggs Jr., “The Health Risks of Gay Sex.” Cf. also R.S. Hogg, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 26, No. 3, 657-661. “In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.”

Saturday, September 22, 2007


The city council of San Diego, a body not known for intellectual prowess or moral courage, recently voted 5 to 3 to send a brief to the state Supreme Court in support of gay marriage. Yes, the city that required four objecting firefighters to bottle their consciences and cruise in a Gay Pride parade is now giving the middle finger to the clear majority of municipal voters who seven years ago backed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in California as a male-female relationship.

There is some symmetry in having the group that created an unsustainable pension scheme endorse a domestic swindle that’s destined to go belly up after its promoters have cashed their lavish retirement checks and gone to their respective rewards.

The odds that the gang that can’t count straight took the time to review the relevant literature on gay marriage before following the winds of political correctness is next to zero. No matter, they wouldn’t have understood it anyway.

For folks who read and count—and who have a moral backbone—a detailed survey of same-sex parenting studies (the most important corollary of same-sex marriage) is contained in Dr. Steven Nock’s affidavit to the attorney general of Canada in 2001. In that analysis Professor Nock shows why “the literature on this topic does not constitute a solid body of scientific evidence” and why none of the articles he was asked to review “was conducted according to generally accepted standards of scientific research.”

Nock’s 80-page document for an Ontario Superior Court observes that almost all relevant studies are pathetically small in size—employing groups of twenty to fifty self-selected individuals. These tiny samples make it difficult to isolate statistically significant differences between groups—a weakness that’s a boon to agenda-driven researchers who zealously seek to find no differences. Moreover, when studies turn up significant but unwanted results (e.g. that the sexual practices of parents impact the sexual practices of their children) these same methodological flaws are employed to explain away the findings.

Most importantly, this literature is totally devoid of longitudinal studies that track large populations over time. Such is the character of the “science” that’s cited to overturn history’s most successful civilizing institution. No wonder sociologist Peter Berger defined his field of study as “an intrinsically debunking discipline that should be congenial to nihilists, cynics, and other fit subjects for police surveillance.”

It takes a willful suspension of disbelief to think that fathers or mothers are optional players in the child-rearing equation—that nature (viewed as sacrosanct when it comes to snail darters and kangaroo rats) is irrelevant when it comes to childrearing.

History makes it clear to honest observers that sexual practice isn’t simply a biological mandate. But our dishonest culture has a way of admitting some facts about ancient Greece (the prevalence of man-boy relationships) while censoring their obvious correlates (i.e. the social, not biological, roots of that practice). Thus, like the pension fund of San Diego, so go the families of California—toward bankruptcy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


9/11 anniversaries always bring to mind a poignant remark in Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”: “‘She would have been a good woman,’ the Misfit said, ‘if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.’” Even a self-absorbed grandmother, O’Connor observes, looks at things differently when eternity is staring her in the face.

By contrast, memorial services aren’t ideal times for ideologues to insist on keeping the public square as free of religious speech as from tobacco smoke. After all, when humans are quiet and their heads bowed, the tendency is for thoughts to drift toward words (like “God”) that embrace a meaning beyond what can be expressed by chemical reactions that occur during the process of decomposition.

Immediately after 9/11, so it seemed to me, the decades-long war on religion that ACLU-types have waged in this country went dormant. In truth, the war continued—but with somewhat less fanfare. The militantly secular organization founded by Communist- sympathizer, Roger Baldwin, continued to pursue cases that excluded religious expression from that ever-expanding segment of society labeled “governmental”—thus aping the Soviet Constitution of 1947 with its fervent separation of religion and state.

In San Diego the Boy Scouts of America were expelled from Balboa Park because their charter and pledge were too religious. In the process the ACLU pocketed 950,000 taxpayer dollars by utilizing a “fee shifting” rule instituted by Congress to aid poor victims of racial discrimination. That “funding” mechanism is now employed by the far-from-poor ACLU to intimidate municipalities that can’t afford to fight, much less lose, extended legal brawls over crosses, crèches, or invocations.

Other governmental agents simply go with the judicial flow—like the County of Los Angeles when it agreed, under ACLU pressure, to remove a tiny cross from its official seal (whose most prominent figure was the goddess Pomona). This same defensive mentality doubtless informed Poway school officials when they banned Bradley Johnson’s classroom display of possibly offensive “Judeo-Christian” banners like “In God We Trust” and “Endowed By Their Creator.”

Of course, the offensive nature of secular programs in various schools (from parent-circumventing health centers to gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender teach-ins) is never a legal problem. In the wisdom of our courts, one can never be too secular—even if that radical secularity is belied by memorials throughout the district where they deconstruct America’s past. That past, by the way, includes church services that were regularly held in the Capitol building until 1866.

In keeping with ACLU guidelines for government speech, 9/11 commemoration remarks by public officials might, to be safe, follow this religion-free template:

We gather today to remember what happened on September 11, 2001 of the Common Era. On that date the blindly benevolent process of natural selection acted via human agents to kill nearly three-thousand people—thus effecting a slight change in genetic ratios that, in the long run, will establish the viability of surviving species.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


“We are a nation of immigrants.” That statement has become a rhetorical staple in the current debate over immigration. The remark is often used to portray critics of open-border policies as hypocrites—folks who would deny to others the opportunities they themselves were afforded. That argument ignores several points.

First, the vast majority of Americans aren’t themselves immigrants. Rather, they are descendents of individuals who came to this country over a century ago. John Kennedy’s book, A Nation of Immigrants, put the number of those coming to America through the 1950s at 42 million.

Second, those immigrants overwhelmingly came to this country legally and were generally screened rigorously before being allowed to remain in the United States. Ellis Island stands as an historical testament to that process.

Third, prior to 1965, 95% of all immigrants came from European countries to a land to which (by virtue of the ocean they had crossed) they were making an irrevocable commitment. Large German, Jewish, Irish, and Italian communities sprang up in various cities—especially New York. But none of those discrete communities rivaled the larger Anglo-American culture of that metropolis. Indeed, the very fact that immigrants were from so many nations tended to make a lingua franca, English, a commercial and social necessity.

Immigration today is a different affair—with 36 million immigrants currently in the country (including an estimated 12 million illegals) and an annual legal influx exceeding a million persons. About 10 million of these foreign-born individuals are from Mexico—and 7 million from other Latin America countries. These massive numbers foster Hispanic concentrations in Los Angeles that far surpass in scope and influence the old ethnic neighborhoods of New York.

Moreover, Mexicans don’t have an ocean to cross to get back to their native country. What they do have are multi-billion dollar media corporations that link them closely to their culture and to the families to which, reportedly, 64% regularly send money. As Gov. Schwarzenegger indelicately noted, this cultural immersion hinders many of these individuals from developing skills in English.

One must add another factor to these unique qualities of contemporary immigration. Many Mexicans bear an historic grudge against the “Colossus to the North”—a grudge rooted in the belief that the American Southwest was stolen from their native country in 1848. Furthermore, this feeling of historical injustice is often connected with appeals to “racial” solidarity that, as history shows, have huge appeal.

Given the fact that American society no longer encourages assimilation the way it once did, it is likely that animosity will continue to grow between “la raza” and English-speaking, multi-generational Americans. Activist Enrique Morones’ recent denunciation of the proposed statue of Pete Wilson, which is to be placed on private land, provides an example of the language that is becoming common in bi-cultural California. Wilson is called a racist and his statue compared to one of Hitler.

For border-straddlers whose numbers dwarf prior immigrant groups, the urge to pledge allegiance to the U.S. isn’t what it was for Ukrainians in 1900.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Imagine a fire department chief ordering a crew to take part in a parade that promotes one side of the immigration-illegal alien issue. Imagine that the crew objected to being used as pawns in this political debate--a debate in which city employees should be engaged only on their own time. And suppose that the consequences of refusing this order ranged from lost wages to a significant reduction in promotion opportunities.

Such an order would constitute an outrageous misuse of city assets and personnel--directly involving employees in matters where even the improper use of stationery constitutes a breach of the wall that separates city business and partisan politics.

Add complaints about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, and you have a reasonable parallel to the order issued by a San Diego Fire Department official to four firemen with respect to the Gay Pride parade that took place in San Diego on July 21.

Despite their unanimous objections, a crew of four was ordered to represent the department in this event that Fire Chief Tracy Jarman later described as a “fun event.” Obviously the consciences and religious sensibilities of the firemen were not as important to Jarman and department officials as the need to show that the city backs an agenda that is, to say the least, controversial.

During this parade, according to complaints the firemen later submitted to city officials, the crew was subjected to gross sexual taunts and harassment--a result surprising only to individuals whose exposure to pride events are mediated by mainstream media sources that scrupulously edit out all scenes inconsistent with their family friendly spin. Near-nude sexual gyrations and come-hither vulgarities don’t grace TV portraits or most newspaper accounts of such festivities.

Chief Jarman, in response to these germinating lawsuits, has assured the public that she takes seriously any complaint about sexual harassment, no matter its origin. (Initial departmental response to these complainants, however, was hardly supportive.) Jarman, an open lesbian, has also assured the public that only volunteers will represent the department in future Pride parades. Moreover, to insure that such volunteers are forthcoming, overtime pay will be made available as a last-ditch incentive.

What is not addressed in this CYA response is why city employees have been involved at all for the last fifteen years with a politically-charged event. If that paragon of moral equivocation, Jerry Sanders, wants to attend, so be it. He’s an elected official. But there’s no reason taxpayers should be tapped to support an agenda many don’t support.

If Chief Jarman thinks it’s OK to promote her agenda with city assets, perhaps she’ll consider providing a fire engine and crew for a cause she doesn’t support—like a Protection of Marriage parade that honors the values embraced by those taxpaying stiffs who overwhelmingly passed Proposition 22 just seven years ago.

But maybe city funds and manpower are only available for PC causes. Presently, Christmas and crosses are too divisive for public support—but not gay lifestyles.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Freedomnomics is John Lott’s free market retort to the wildly popular book, Freakonomics—that pastiche of thin analysis that skims over topics as diverse as sumo wrestling, real estate rip-offs, used car prices, and children’s names.

In particular, Lott disputes the most explosive claim in Levitt and Dubner’s work—that Roe v. Wade was a major factor in the stunning drop in crime in the 1990s. That huge assertion, based on four pages of analysis that included the negative impact of Communist Romania’s no-abortion policy, could easily have been labeled “fewer blacks, less crime.”

Lott argues, by contrast, that the Supreme Court’s legislative fiat in 1973 actually increased crime by boosting out-of-wedlock births and single-parent households. These crime-correlated statistics exploded in the 1970s and 80s as social sanctions against extra-marital sex disappeared and as the legal but odious option of abortion was rejected by millions of now-pregnant unmarried women.

If abortion isn’t the life-saving procedure that Levitt and Dubner suggest it is, other factors must have caused crime rates to plummet during the last decade of the 20th century. Accordingly, Lott provides evidence that the reinstitution of capital punishment in the early 90s explains some of the drop—a conclusion that coincides with the findings of other analysts and confirms what most folks, including criminals and police officers, sense intuitively—that people go out of their way to avoid being killed. Stated otherwise: harsher penalties, less crime.

The incarceration of more criminals is Lott’s next explanation for lower crime rates. Only among academics, the author notes, would it seem strange that “more inmates” results in “less criminality.” Individuals who rob banks, Willie Sutton might have noted, can’t engage in that illicit activity when they don’t have access to the place where the money is kept.

Lott’s third explanation for the 90s crime recession is, not unexpectedly, more guns among law-abiding citizens—a proposition to which Lott devoted his well-known 1998 book. In this regard Lott notes that “for the first eight to nine years that concealed-carry laws are in effect, murder rates fall by an average of 1 to 1.5 percent per year, while robbery and rape rates decline by about 2 percentage points.”

The beefing up of municipal police forces also helped to reduce crime in the 90s—especially in places like New York City, where a precipitous decline in murders coincided with a 50% increase in police officers and improvements in the quality of recruits. These elevated recruitment standards, Lott notes, reversed the general degradation in force quality that was often associated with “affirmative action” hiring policies.

Concerning traditional economic topics, Lott is much more business friendly than his Freakonomics counterparts. While Levitt and Dubner compare real estate agents to Klan members (with inside information) and warn consumers that “many experts use their information to your detriment,” Lott emphasizes the economic value of reputation and provides data that contradicts or mitigates Levitt and Dubner’s unflattering assertions about used car prices and real estate agents. Lott even provides a plausible market-based explanation for high wine and liquor costs at restaurants.

Among other topics that Lott analyzes in 194 pages of text are the following: the 2000 Presidential vote in Florida (Bush wins!), the vote-depressing effect of measures that make voting (and voter fraud) easier, the left-bias of mainstream media, and the idea that a correlation exists between the cost of political campaigns and the size of government. With respect to the last point, the author notes that all the House, Senate, and Presidential candidates in 2004 spent a mere $2.17 billion for the privilege of dispensing a trough of 2.23 trillion federal dollars. Meanwhile, that same year, Proctor & Gamble spent 3.9 billion on advertising. The logic of this unwelcome campaign finance tale is simple: more government, more campaign dollars.

Another hornet-stirring correlation that Lott considers is one between female voting and big government—a linkage greatly attenuated by marriage and the responsibilities of parenthood. Lott also notes that felons, even more than unmarried and divorced women, vote overwhelmingly for Democrats—a fact that explains the ardor Democrat leaders are exhibiting to restore the “voting rights” of victimizers.

Perhaps the most revealing anecdote in Lott’s book occurs in the introduction. Here the author discusses the severe professional pressures that were brought to bear against him because of his work on behalf of a property tax elimination measure in Montana. The relevant correlations in this case involved more taxes, more money for government-funded educators, and more intimidation of professors who don’t go along with the program. Put succinctly: more state subsidies, less speech.

In sum, Freedomnomics is just the sort of product one would expect from an author whose book begins with the assertion, “The free market works,” and whose economic analysis starts with these words, “If something becomes more costly, people will do less of it.” Such frankness would have resonated with the late Merryle Rukeyser, a blunt talker who once repeated these no-nonsense definitions on his son’s popular financial program: “A liberal is someone who’s liberal with other people’s money, and a reactionary—that’s someone who can count.”

Friday, August 03, 2007


Here is an excerpt of a speech by Jerusalem Post columnist Jonathan Rosenblum on Darwinism's most obvious flaws. Where did DNA come from? Outer space? A parallel universe?

One wonders where Christopher Hitchens' "Ockham's razor" is when it comes to bio-speculative "explanations."

Monday, July 30, 2007


Everyone knows the tale about the emperor who was sold a bill of goods by a clever huckster because the king and his subjects wouldn’t admit that they didn’t see things the way “enlightened” folks do. At last a lad who trusted his lying eyes blurted out the truth about the king’s attire—an epiphany that gave other subjects permission to believe the obvious.

Today, political correctness forces politicians and businesses to pretend that kids raised by same-sex couples are just as well off as kids raised by married male-female couples. This proposition requires honest observers to admit that either mothers or fathers are optional and that step-parents generally do as well at child-rearing as bio-moms and dads.

In keeping with this point of secular faith, San Diego’s TV-journalists happily presented, without contradiction, a pair of females at the recent Gay Pride Parade who declared that their “marriage” would be no different from any other. This same message is encountered dozens of times every week in the mainstream media—so frequently, in fact, that it qualifies as the prime modern example of a proposition’s “truth” being established by sheer repetition.

Anyone who asks if the evidence for dismissing five thousand years of recorded history is compelling, will instantly be vilified by “human rights” advocates. No wonder the Padres go along meekly with the political left and blend Gay Pride promotions with family-centered events. After all, isn’t it clear that moms and dads don’t matter—that all kids need are two adults?

For anyone who can handle the truth, kids with step-moms and step-dads don’t do as well as kids with bio-moms and dads—a fact shown even by those manipulable “studies” that often turn common sense on its head.

Another clear fact is that kids don’t do nearly as well in single-parent homes—homes that usually have only a mom. The idea that two moms or two dads will overcome these deficiencies isn’t an argument supported by the data at hand. At least that’s the conclusion of the American College of Pediatricians.

Such studies as have been done on the topic of same-sex parents are few—and their reportage pitifully politicized, a point gingerly implied by USC sociologists Stacey and Biblarz in 2001. First the public is told that the sexuality of parents doesn’t affect kids. And when that deception is digested, we are told that it doesn’t matter if parental sexuality does affect kids.

Recently a local columnist put forward the popular dogma that sexuality is purely genetic—adjacent an observation about homosexuality’s prominence in ancient Greece. The fact that most folks don’t even notice this obvious contradiction shows how brainwashed they are—willing also to swallow the ruse that AIDS is an equal opportunity disease and not a malady transmitted overwhelmingly in the U.S. by sodomy and drug needles.

Nor will media lemmings see the Vancouver study that showed an 8- to 20-year reduction in lifespan among male homosexuals. Media indoctrination and political intimidation keep mouths closed and eyes shut.

Friday, July 20, 2007


The idiot promos for a new network game show, this one hosted by Drew Carey, at least contain one thought-provoking question: “What percentage of Americans said they would notify the police if they saw a Mexican citizen sneaking into the U.S.?”

As it happens, I suspect that a family near my residence, one sporting a Mexican flag in their window and exhibiting no proficiency in English, may be “undocumented.” But the truth of the matter is, I don’t know.

Moreover, I’d be reluctant to ring up the ICE hotline—even if such a number existed and I were confident that the adults lacked papers. After all, several young kids run around in the yard behind the wire fence that’s often employed as a clothesline.

Furthermore, it’s not like anyone is hiding in the bushes, fouling the water, or accosting unsuspecting travelers. Indeed, the vehicle that graces the driveway is a late-model SUV.
In short, even if these folks are “unauthorized,” they aren’t exactly skulking “in the shadows.” So one would think the authorities, if they were interested, could enforce the law. And if police are forbidden from enforcing immigration laws, why notify them?

A more revealing question for Carey’s show might be this one: “How many Americans said they would hire an illegal immigrant to do work for them?” The problem with this question, however, is that one usually doesn’t know who is and who isn’t illegal. The default policy for many householders (not business owners) thus becomes “Don’t ask, don’t tell”—or tacit amnesty.

One effect of this attitude is apparent when I’m walking around Oceanside’s Buddy Todd Park. On weekends the place is packed, and the sights are overwhelmingly those of young families or of groups of kids at birthday parties—pure Americana, but with piñatas and lots of Spanish voices and Mexican music.

This vision of happy domesticity prompted my recollection of a dour statement that William Bennett once made in defense of immigrants generally—namely, that he was more afraid of what America (via its pop-culture) might do to immigrants than what immigrants would do to America.

As is true of most true statements, Bennett’s comment addresses only half the story. The other half is that America has never had millions and millions of immigrants come to this country, illegally, from a neighboring country—a country with a different language that also harbors profound historical grievances against the U.S.

Moreover, this migration comes when many Americans (and most “rights” groups) are apt to view this country, with historian Howard Zinn, as a perpetrator of injustice and not as a beacon of liberty.

In such a setting, these assimilation questions posed by Pat Buchanan seem more urgent than Drew Carey’s law enforcement query: “How many Americans, forced to work in Mexico, would become loyal Mexicans in a decade rather than remain Americans in exile? Why do we think Mexicans are any less attached to the land of their birth?”

The key phrase here is “forced to work.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens think this question, typical of college or high school freshmen, is an unanswerable retort to all arguments from design. Michael Behe disposes of this purile, philosophically naive objection in short order.


Penn and Teller ruse. Ban water now! An example of environmental conscientiousness--not!


You've heard of the laughing-Buddha and the contemplative Buddha. Behold! The global warming Buddha!

Thursday, July 05, 2007


“My right to swing my fist ends at your nose.” That’s the level of ethical reflection typical of folks who’ve replaced inherited moral wisdom with vacuous clichés promulgated by TV airheads and political gurus.

Such an argument is regularly used to justify, quite selectively, smoking bans in public parks and, in a few cases, even on city sidewalks. I point to the recent anti-smoking ordinance passed in Belmont, California, and to the debates on less severe bans in Escondido and Oceanside.

The truth of the matter is that swinging my fist within two inches of your nose would constitute, under any reasonable-person criterion, sufficient grounds for holding me liable for schnoz-endangerment. I raise this pedantic point because it emphasizes the oft-ignored fact that no clear dividing line separates the private from the public sphere.

Indeed, it only takes a little mental effort to show how most practices have public ramifications. Three activities that currently appear on the do-gooder hit list include smoking (due to health care costs and the presumed effects of second hand smoke), driving SUVs (due to their mpg ratios and environmental impact), and selling trans fat foods (due to the medical impact of obesity).

Thanks to the global warming frenzy promulgated by Al Gore’s media lackeys, almost any product with a “carbon footprint” or possible climate link (from light bulbs to cow toots) has become subject to public regulation.

Significantly, other activities with clearer public implications are treated as if they take place in an imaginary Las Vegas—and stay there. These “private” acts are behaviors whose effects media elites and other political do-gooders have little desire to scrutinize. They include alcohol consumption (whose costs in terms of traffic accidents and abuse dwarf the impact of second hand smoke), recreational drug use, recreational sex, and a specific sex act that is overwhelmingly the means for spreading HIV.

If anyone seriously wants to consider how out-of-wedlock sex, for example, has damaged the lives of children, I’d be glad to do a calculation. We can start with parental neglect, move on to education deficits, and close the books (somewhat arbitrarily) with prison costs. But, of course, we all know that people’s sex lives are “private.” Just as we’ve been told that bong use among Hollywood dimwits hurts no one.

In short, what is considered “private behavior” is largely a social construct that depends on the winds of political fashion. The size of one’s family was once considered a personal matter. Then, under the influence of ZPG fanatics, large families became a subject of public concern—if not government regulation.

On the other hand, concern about public morals has almost disappeared over the last forty years—under the absurd media-spawned assumption that “private” immoral behavior and commercial images of the same affect no one beyond the “consenting adults” involved.

Today folks panic over a whiff of second hand smoke but yawn when corporate goons prostitute the souls of ten-year-olds. The latter, we’re told, is a family affair.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


“I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with them that do.” With that folksy caveat from a lifelong non-smoker, let me offer a few words that might warm the nicotine-restricted arteries of cancer-stick addicts.

California cities from Belmont in the Bay Area to Escondido and Oceanside in North County have been pondering bans on smoking in public spaces. The recently approved Belmont ban will apparently extend to all areas beyond single-family detached residences—including automobiles. Locally, Solana Beach, San Diego, and Del Mar have already passed no-smoking-on-the-beach ordinances.

The primary reason given for such bans has been the deadly effects of secondhand smoke—a toxin that allegedly causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Occasionally the litter impact of cigarettes is thrown in to “butt-ress” the case for public prohibition. And in some cases global warming is included in the grab bag of arguments.

What most folks don’t know, however, is that the aforementioned mortality estimate from a 1993 EPA “metastudy” (i.e. a study of other studies) was obtained by violating basic research protocols. Nor do they know that these “findings” were essentially declared bogus both by the Congressional Research Service and by a federal judge who reviewed the data. Indeed, if standard statistical methods had been used in the EPA study, the mortality impact of second hand smoke would have been judged insignificant.

The same disregard for statistical method applies to the World Health Organization study done in 1998—and to almost all secondhand smoke research. Still, those who find smoking obnoxious (which it is) and who have an overwhelming urge to regulate the habits of fellow citizens, don’t really care about scientific integrity. What they care about is their cause and that cough-inducing smoke.

Personally, since I have no stub in this ashtray, I could care less if smoking were banned. I am upset, however, at the way anti-smoking zealots often ignore more profound moral problems. It’s as though their health and environment passion compensates for looking the other way when it comes to the social depravity spread by pimps like Jerry Springer. Likewise, the trans fat crew get exercised over KFC’s food preparation methods but yawn when the musical mafia promote unspeakably vile lyrics via gangsta’ rap.

In 1993, the late Sen. Daniel Moynihan lamented how Americans were “Defining Deviancy Down”—accepting high illegitimacy and crime rates as par for the course. Shortly thereafter, columnist Charles Krauthammer noted a corresponding trend—“Defining Deviancy Up.” Under this scenario activities formerly considered gauche or stupid (e.g. making crude jokes) were being upgraded to criminal offenses (hate-crime harassment).

Combining these scholarly insights, I see today’s hysteria over secondhand smoke as a moral head-fake—an exaggerated cause that allows people to ignore more destructive behavior that hits closer to home. Better to feel morally exalted about pushing a smoking ban than to be labeled “judgmental” (a la Dr. Laura) for denouncing the narcissism that’s transformed the homes of countless children into tawdry love-shacks.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Here is a video production from the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Terrorism Awareness Project: http://www.terrorismawareness.org/what-really-happened/

It is a brief historical overview of the "Palestinian Conflict."

Friday, June 08, 2007


Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter notes on his official campaign website that the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill currently before the Senate calls for the construction of only 370 of the 854 miles of fence mandated by last year’s Secure Fence Act—and that only 11 miles have thus far been built. Meanwhile, former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan ponders the proposed legalization of 12 to 20 million aliens in this country and terms it “national suicide.”

Many Americans are familiar with arguments put forward on both sides of the immigration debate—the argument that illegals stimulate the economy by filling jobs that would otherwise go wanting, and the counter-argument that they depress wages for employees in labor-intensive industries.

They’ve heard that undocumented immigrants help support the Social Security system, and they’ve seen a recent Heritage Foundation calculation that puts the net entitlement cost per illegal household at $20,000. They know that PBS lauds the virtues of diversity and that Roger Hedgecock deplores a “press one for English” society.

They’ve listened to border control advocates who observe that most illegals don’t have high school diplomas—and to activists who tout the work ethic of folks who only want to support their families. They’ve been told that the pending Kennedy-McCain legislation will bring illegals “out of the shadows”—and that Z visas for folks who broke the rules will spawn a greater wave of illegal immigration in the future—as happened after the 1986 amnesty.

What is seldom pondered in this contentious debate, however, is why a nation would largely ignore its immigration laws in the first place—and thus invite the dissolution of its culture. That’s a question to which I’ve given a lot of thought.

Nations, I think, have few problems regulating immigration as long as they retain confidence in their heritage and feel deserving, to some degree, of the blessings they enjoy. On both those counts many Americans are now uncertain.

For almost five decades Michael Moore media types and humanities professors have tried to convince Americans that the U.S. is a nation not of brave patriots, but of racist robber barons. Indeed, the author of our most popular American history textbook, Howard Zinn, recently said in an interview with talk-show host Dennis Prager, that, on balance, his nation had done more bad than good.

One must add to this drumbeat of self-hatred the shame that rightly attends a society that’s sanctioned 45 million abortions and tolerates, or revels in, a vast cultural cesspool. Individuals bearing this moral burden find it hard to tell foreign laborers who earn a tenth of what low-wage Americans earn that they must follow the rules. In the moral scale of things, not getting in line to cross a border seems a lot less reprehensible than indulging and exporting a pop-culture that sexualizes kids, glorifies rule-breaking, and regularly ridicules flag-waving churchgoers.

In short, unless we reclaim our heritage and get our moral act together, the will to preserve our culture won’t be there—nor should it be.

Friday, June 01, 2007


God is not Great is yet another contribution to a popular series of anti-religion rants. This genre was initiated in 2004 by an undistinguished author named Sam Harris. His work, The End of Faith, apparently set other atheist minds to thinking, “If a Stanford graduate student can write a popular religion-bashing book, surely I can do better.”

One might have thought that the renowned biologist Richard Dawkins would improve on Harris’s anemic contribution to a debate whose philosophical luminaries include Antoine de Condorcet, Auguste Comte, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Such, however, wasn’t the case—as I noted last December in my review of The God Delusion. Unfortunately, most of the faults that attend Harris’s and Dawkins’s works also apply to Christopher Hitchens’s 286-page oeuvre.

Among other irritants, Hitchens’s chatty apologia for European secularism is peppered with insults directed toward intellectual adversaries. (C.S. Lewis’s writings are “dreary and absurd,” Malcolm Muggeridge is a “silly British evangelist,” and Intelligent Design arguments amount to “well-financed propaganda” on behalf of a “puerile tautology.” On the positive side, one can say that Hitchens is a better stylist than his skeptical competitors and that he utilizes a broader literary and cultural palate than Harris or Dawkins. Philosophically, however, God is not Great is as shallow as its predecessors.

This philosophical lassitude is exhibited, first of all, by Hitchens’s tendency to shift focus from his advertised thesis—that “religion poisons everything”—to the idea that there is no god, then to the idea that many religious claims are historically dubious. Moreover, the author seems to believe that a sound conclusion about the consistent effect of religion can be established via a list of particulars. Employing this standard, an advocate could “prove” (a word Hitchens uses more often than a Karl Popper disciple should) any proposition for which numerous examples can be adduced. Given the fact that Hitchens has 5000 years of history from which to cherry-pick, it would be astounding if he couldn’t assemble a long train of examples in favor of whatever thesis he cared to promote. Such logical gaffs indicate that Hitchens’s subtitle represents no more than a rhetorical flourish to generate market buzz.

Strictly speaking, what Hitchens wants to argue is that religion regularly makes things worse than they would be if most folks adopted his own perspective—that there is no god, that natural science provides the only philosophical answers rational folks require, that evolution (understood as a process of random change “directed” by nature’s survive or perish judgments) is the sole cause of human development, and that a morality consistent with the ideals of Jefferson and Franklin can rest on these materialist premises. Given this monumental task, it’s surprising that Hitchens devotes ten pages of his first substantive chapter to “proving” that bad religious dudes inhabit six cities that begin with the letter B. In this way the author “refutes” the idea put forward by talk-show host Dennis Prager that most folks would be glad to know that the strangers approaching them in a dark alley had just attended a bible class.

Other “proofs” Hitchens offers for the proposition that “religion poisons everything” are these: the case of child-evangelist, Marjoe (two pages); the dubious revelations of Latter-day Saints founder, Joseph Smith (eight pages); the Messianic pretensions and recantation of Sabbatai Sevi (four pages); a pastiche of alleged Old Testament barbarisms (eleven pages); and an anti-kosher chapter titled “Why Heaven Hates Ham” (five pages). This list of topics provides a sample of the gadfly journalist’s modus operandi. While genuine philosophical questions are occasionally posed, they are never analyzed rigorously and systematically. Witty remarks and tendentious put-downs constitute all the discussion Hitchens typically deems necessary to establish the truth of propositions he never seriously questions.

By contrast, a scholarly analysis of religion’s historical impact would acknowledge that societies prior to the twentieth century were suffused with religious belief—thus making it impossible to isolate religious from nonreligious effects. Consequently, the tacit assumption that Thomas Jefferson would embrace similar ideals, absent the Christian society in which he was raised, becomes sheer speculation. Indeed, the only way to test Hitchens’s religion thesis is to compare modern atheistic or secular regimes with their historical predecessors. Yet this is just the comparison Hitchens carefully avoids.

Far from conceding that fascism was a political byproduct of the loss of faith, Hitchens emphasizes that many religious individuals and institutions supported fascist regimes. He also notes, with satisfaction, that secular leftists opposed fascism more strenuously than religious leaders—neglecting to mention, of course, that this opposition was largely rooted in another monstrous ideology or that Stalin did far more than any religious leader to embolden Nazi Germany, thanks to Soviet leader’s pact with Hitler in 1939.

If these omissions aren’t enough to demonstrate Hitchens’s bad faith, the fact that he classifies communism as a religion of sorts should convince most objective readers of the author’s thumb-on-the-scales bias. (Sam Harris employs the same question-begging tactic vis-à-vis communism in The End of Faith.) With fascism and communism excluded from the secular camp, Hitchens hitches his atheist wagon to individuals like Einstein, A. J. Ayer, and Bertrand Russell. About the demographic death spiral currently confronting Europe or the abysmal decadence of post-modern culture, Hitchens has nothing to say—just as he uncritically assumes that a society educated to believe in a blind evolutionary process will produce at least as many altruists and democrats as a society that speaks of humans as “endowed by their Creator with…unalienable rights.”

Also unscrutinized by Hitchens is the ironic fact that his careless but still revered evolutionary process has produced an overwhelmingly religious species—suggesting that religion, even if untrue, passes the critical “survivor” test. Another unbroached irony involves Nietzsche’s assertion, partially seconded by Alfred North Whitehead, that science’s “will to truth” derives, ultimately, “from the flame which a faith thousands of years old has kindled: that Christian faith, which was also Plato’s faith, that God is truth, that truth is divine.”

In sum, Hitchens’s disjointed and disingenuous arguments put one in mind of the fellow who, criticized by a neighbor for returning a defective bucket, countered by claiming that the container had a hole in it when it was picked up, that the device was in perfect shape when returned, and that, finally, he’d never borrowed the stupid bucket.

One section of God is not Great did strike me as being different from all the rest. That segment (pages 151-153) concerned the dissolution of Hitchens’s own Trotskyite faith. The pathos of the disenchanted true believer is poignantly displayed in this confession: “There are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb.” Such wistful yearning for a place to stand is touching—provided one is able to separate Marxism (as Hitchens apparently can) from the scores of millions who died (and continue to die) because of the brutality of secular Marxist regimes.

In subsequent remarks Hitchens explicitly invites readers to jettison their dogmas, just as he did. The pain, he assures them, will subside in time. This lingering wound over lost faith probably accounts for the mean-spirited tenor of Hitchens’s work—and for the scarcely concealed contempt he displays toward those insignificant “mammals” who continue to indulge in the consolations of religious faith. Like an angry jilted lover, he wants everyone else to feel his pain.

In his book, Radical Son, David Horowitz describes, in greater detail than Hitchens, the dissolution of his Marxist faith—an enervating process that left a gaping hole where once stood an all-consuming purpose. Today, I suspect, that sense of loss still fuels Horowitz’s passionate desire to destroy his former ideology. By contrast, Hitchens’s spiritual vacuum has spawned a war on faith itself. And by putting himself in this faith-negating position, he achieves what Hegel termed “skeptical mastery”—a critical perspective that (in its Freudian version) reduces all other faiths to childish wishes and mass delusions. Only the skeptic’s convictions and habits are exempted from ridicule. (Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.)

There is certainly a place for skepticism in philosophy. Alfred North Whitehead offered his tribute to the activity via a memorable paean in Science and the Modern World:
“The common sense of the eighteenth century, its grasp of the obvious facts of human suffering and of the obvious demands of human nature, acted on the world like a bath of moral cleansing. Voltaire must have the credit, that he hated injustice, he hated cruelty, he hated senseless repression, and he hated hocus-pocus. Furthermore, when he saw them, he knew them. In these supreme virtues, he was typical of his century, on its better side.”

Whitehead concludes his comments, however, on a different note—one utterly foreign to Christopher Hitchens: “But if men cannot live on bread alone, still less can they do so on disinfectants.” One might charitably regard God is not Great as a mildly effective but largely obnoxious disinfectant.