This Week’s Funny . . .

far-side-dogs tutored

 

“Ha ha ha, Biff.  Guess what?  After we go to the drugstore and the post office, I’m going to the vet’s to get tutored.”

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IMMIGRATION POLICY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED

 

Immigration 2

The Boston Marathon bombings show yet again the need for immigration reform.

Not the kind of reform now being discussed, reform which would eventually allow 11 million illegal aliens to gain citizenship, but reform which would keep America’s enemies out!

The two men responsible for the bombings are Chechens, Muslims from southern Russia.

The 19 men responsible for 9/11 were Muslims from Saudi Arabia.

The killings of 13 people at Ft. Hood were perpetrated by a second generation Jordanian Muslim; just as the London bombings in July, 2005, were committed by second generation Muslims, young men from an affluent background, so poverty was not the cause.  These attacks are significant because they show that some people born in western countries of immigrant parents may not assimilate.  Rather, they become radicalized, anti-American and extremist in their views.

It’s not too difficult to understand why.  America is built on a foundation of freedom.   Islam means submission, which is the exact opposite of freedom.  The two cannot be reconciled, no matter what the multiculturalists may say.  Of course, America’s concept of freedom is more like license today, as anything goes in the moral arena.  This is deeply offensive to conservative religions, including Islam.  At a time when most Americans are turning away from religion, Muslim immigrants and their children seem increasingly inclined to embrace strict religious beliefs.

Across the Islamic world people believe they are in a war with the “Christian” West, with America being the chief Christian nation.  Whereas western nations allow Muslims to immigrate, no Muslim nations allow Christians to move in.  Muslim countries are even driving out those Christians who have lived amongst them for centuries.

It’s not just Muslims who commit acts of violence.  In 2007 a South Korean immigrant killed almost forty people on the campus of Virginia Tech.

Ethnic violence is the norm throughout much of the world.  Ethnic conflict is often exacerbated by religious conflict.

Watch a good world news program any evening and you will see that these conflicts dominate the news.  On Monday, April 22nd, BBC News America led with developments that followed the Boston Marathon perpetrated by Muslim extremists, progressed through a report from Canada that the Canadian police had thwarted terrorist activity by foreign-born Muslims, Syria’s civil war (increasingly seen as a major conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims), Burma (anti-Muslim violence by Burmese nationals) and Israeli security concerns following attacks from Gaza.  There were only two other reports on non-Muslim related topics.

Before 1965, US immigration policy was discriminatory in an attempt to maintain the racial balance that already existed.  Change approved that year by the Johnson administration opened the doors to massive immigration from all countries, regardless of religion or ethnicity.   We can see the results today.  Clearly, many of those immigrants are not assimilating.

The change in the law has opened America up to the same ethnic and religious divisions that exist in many other parts of the world.

As a result, terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon are likely to become more common.  We are also likely to see more terrorism by white supremacist groups that resent the changes that have taken place.

US ECONOMY – GETTING IN DEEPER

unemployment-rate-2013

 

America needs a Margaret Thatcher!

Today is the day of her funeral.  It wasn’t broadcast on any of the main channels but I was able to watch it on the Wall Street Journal’s webpage, which I really appreciate.

If you are thinking that the US economy is improving, you should subscribe to the WSJ for the full picture.  It’s not a good one.

Mortimer Zuckerman, editor of US News and World Report and a wealthy real estate investor, wrote the following for the Journal recently:

“The present phase of our Great Recession might be called the Grand Illusion because all the happy talk and statistics that go with it, especially on the key indicator of jobs, give a rosier picture than the facts justify.  We are not really advancing.  We are, by comparison with earlier recessions, going backward.  We have a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.  And despite the most stimulative fiscal policy in our history and the most stimulative monetary policy, with a trillion-dollar expansion to our money supply, our economy over the last three years has been declining or stagnant.  From growth in annual GDP of 2.4 percent in 2010, we bumped down to only 1.8 percent in 2011 and were still down at 2.2 percent in 2012.  The cumulative growth for the last 12 quarters was just 6.2 percent, less than half the 15.2 percent average after previous recessions over a similar period of time.  It is the slowest growth rate of all the 11 post-World War II recessions.”  (“The Grand Illusion”, WSJ, 4/4/13).

What about jobs?  Isn’t the decline in the official unemployment figure a reflection of how much better things are?  Mr. Zuckerman continues:

“Still, can’t we take comfort in headlines celebrating the decline in unemployment to 7.7 percent?  Not really.  If you add in all the unique categories of people not included in that number, such as “discouraged workers” no longer looking for a job, involuntary part-time workers, and others who are “marginally attached” to the labor force, the real unemployment rate is somewhere between 14 and 15 percent.  No wonder it has been harder to find work during this recession than in previous downturns.

“Though last month we theoretically added 236,000 jobs, these numbers are misleading, too, because so many of the jobs are in the part-time, low-wage category.  So the backdrop to the most recent job numbers is the fact that multiple job-holders are up by 340,000 to 7.26 million.  In essence then, all of the “new” positions are going to people who already are working, mostly part time.  It is clearly more important to create jobs for people who aren’t.  Other aspects of the jobs picture deteriorated, too.  The pool of people unemployed for six months or longer went up by 89,000 to a total of 4.8 million, and the average duration of unemployment rose to 36.9 weeks, up from 35.3 weeks.

“Moreover, the decline in the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent is shaky.  It reflects the departure from the workforce of some 130,000 individuals.  A change in the denominator makes the unemployment numbers look better than they are.  The labor force participation rate, which measures the number of people in the workforce, also dropped to around 63.5 percent, the lowest in more than 30 years.  The workweek remains short at 34.5 hours.  Quite simply, employers are shortening the workweek or asking employees to take unpaid leave in unprecedented numbers, and these people are not included in the unemployment numbers.”

So, where is the US headed?

“State and local governments owe $7.3 trillion in promises they’ve made that were never approved by taxpayers”, wrote Steven Malanga in the WSJ, March 29th.  The title of the article was “The debt bomb that taxpayers won’t see coming.”  As Mr. Malanga points out, taxpayers “will ultimately bear the burden of the officials’ misdeeds.”  Most of the problem is unfunded commitments to state employees in pensions and healthcare.

Further signs of a deteriorating economy are reflected in another WSJ headline:  “Use of food stamps swells even as economy improves” (March 27th; article by Damian Paletta and Caroline Porter).  Enrollment in the free food program has soared 70% since the 2008 recession began.  Now, 47.8 million people are food stamp recipients.  Waiting in line at supermarket check-outs, the government issued light orange EBT credit card is now as common as other cards.  Another noticeable trend at the check-out line is the increasing number of people using cash, afraid of over spending on credit cards when they may lose their job next week or take a big pay cut.

Still another sign is the continuing housing crisis.  In our own county, Michigan’s Eaton County, foreclosures are at an all time high, meaning the economy is definitely not improving where we are.  “Eaton County sees record high foreclosures” ran the headline on the WLNS, channel 6 website April 10th.  This figure also disguises the fact that many more people are underwater, where they owe far more on their home than the house is worth.

The above are good reasons for needing a Margaret Thatcher, somebody willing to take unpopular measures to reduce government spending, lower taxes and boost the economy.  Instead, the United States is headed in the opposite direction.

DOWNTON ABBEY AND OUR GRANDSON

Master Aubren
Master Aubren

Our thirteen-month-old grandson sometimes makes me think of the Granthams in Downton Abbey!

Lord and Lady Grantham are central characters of the highly successful British drama.  They own and live in Downton Abbey, a fictional stately home in Yorkshire.  (The actual home is Highclere Castle, close to London.)

Lord and Lady Grantham have many servants, as was common a hundred years ago – in fact, right up until World War II (the series has now reached the 1920’s) and the advent of socialism.  In those days, over three million people in the UK were “in service.”  Today, the number is less than 100,000 with roughly three million unemployed!  (Actually, that’s not accurate any more, but it was some years ago.)  Don’t think it was any different in the United States – most middle class families had a servant or two a century ago.  Noah Webster defined a family as a husband and wife, their children and servants living under one roof.

Anyway, the Granthams order their servants to do this, that and the other and they do.

Far more fearsome is the Dowager Countess of Grantham, the widowed mother of Lord Grantham, who remembers being at Balmoral in 1860, when Queen Victoria was the hostess.  The Dowager Countess is played by the irascible Maggie Smith, who is now 78.  I think all would agree that Maggie steals the show.

So why does our grandson remind me of the Dowager Countess?

The reason is that, in Aubren’s mind, everybody else is his servant.  He commands and expects an immediate response, just like the Countess.

When the weather is nice, I take him out for a walk.  When he’s ready, he gives me a commanding look that says, as would the Dowager Countess, “You can get my carriage ready now, Rhodes.”  The usual response is “Yes, my lady!”  You can no more refuse Aubren than you can the Dowager Countess.

Once he’s in the carriage and we are out walking, I can’t stop to look at anything or talk to anybody.  He insists on constant movement.  He makes no allowance for the fact that I’m not into constant movement any more!

If the sun, a rare sight nowadays, gets in his eyes, he lets me know right away that he needs me to adjust his stroller so that he isn’t blinded.

He also lets me know when he needs his diaper changed, his nose wiped or a drink!

Like the Dowager, he gives no thought to me, or my needs!  In his mind, my sole reason for existence is to serve him.

It reminds me of what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 20:27,  “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave!”

In the family context, the father, as the biblical head of the family, is the chief servant.  His sole reason for existence is to serve his family.  Grandfathers are no different – I’m still a father, but now also a grandfather.  So now I have three or four times as many people to serve, just within the family.  Aubren is demanding, but, when I next visit Indianapolis and the sun is shining, I will be walking his twin boy cousins, Ethan and Evan, who will no doubt be the same.  Leeson, Aubren’s younger brother, is also inclining towards being rather imperious.

Grandchildren can be very demanding, but, I have to tell you, I love it.  I enjoy being a servant, just as the servants in Downton Abbey seem to enjoy their lives.  Like them, I know my place in the great scheme of things.

And there is one glaring difference between Aubren and the Dowager Countess – Aubren is cute!

AMERICA’S FIRST CIVIL WAR

REV WAR

What was America’s worst war?

I mean in the sense of numbers of people killed as a percentage of the total population.

Many would say the Civil War (1861-65), when 2% of the population died.

In fact, three times as many people, proportionately, died in the Revolutionary War, sometimes called America’s First Civil War, which took place almost a century earlier.

6% of the population died in the earlier conflict and tens of thousands fled the country when the war was over.  As with the later conflict, families were divided, brother fought brother and there were intense feelings on both sides.

Both wanted freedom.  The Patriots (or Rebels) wanted to free the thirteen colonies from British rule; the Loyalists (Tories) were convinced that, without a king, there would be anarchy.  They referred to their opponents as the “sons of anarchy.”

Gordon Wood, an American historian who has written a number of books on the Revolutionary War and the events that surrounded it, brought out in one of his books that England was then the freest country in the world and that the people in England’s colonies were even more free; so why did some colonists want even more freedom?

It’s a good question.

There were legitimate grievances just as there are against any government, but the American Revolution is different from all other revolutions in that the people revolting were not the poor and dispossessed.  They were, in fact, the aristocrats of the colonies.   They were actually better off than the people they were revolting against.

It’s no wonder then that this was not a popular uprising as movies have sometimes suggested.  The country was very divided.  By some estimates, the division was a third, a third and a third – a third in favor of the revolution, a third who were loyal to the crown and a third that were largely indifferent.

Tired of war after six years of fighting, on the eve of the final battle, the number of people who were supportive of remaining under the Crown was higher than those who wanted to sever the tie and build a completely independent republic.

That final battle, the Battle of Yorktown in October 1781, was to be decisive.

In their latest novel (2012), “Victory at Yorktown,” Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen are fair to both sides, until near the end when it is clear where their loyalties lie.

They bring out that, immediately prior to the battle, many in Congress wanted to negotiate with London on British terms.  Russia’s Catherine the Great had offered her services as mediator.  The proposal was that the new United States of America should remain within the British Empire but would maintain its newly created federation.  A total amnesty was proposed for those involved in the rebellion.

Washington had to persuade them to wait, to see first how the battle went.   If the battle was lost to the Continental Army, then a peace treaty would have been signed in Britain’s favor and the US would have remained within the Empire, under the Crown, similar to the way Canada is today.

If the sole combatants had been Washington’s Continental Army and British regulars, the British would have won.  But the French came in and made a big difference.  The British lost and their army surrendered.

Even then, the British could have simply sent another military force to continue the war.  Britain was the greatest military power on earth at the time but the parliament in London voted against further funds for the prosecution of the war.  The subsequent Treaty of Paris in 1783 recognized the new United States of America as a sovereign nation, albeit one without a sovereign!

The French paid dearly for their support of the rebel forces.  The country’s finances were in trouble as a result of the conflict and before the decade was out they had their own revolution, exacerbated by radical ideas brought back from America by French soldiers.

Following Washington’s victory at Yorktown, about 100,000 loyalists fled the country, mostly to Canada.  That was roughly 10% of the country.  Many loyalists remained – far more than left.  Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson came from an Anglophile, East Coast family that always toasted the king on his birthday, right up until after World War II (“Picking up the Reins” by Norman Moss, 2002, page 65).

In reading the book “Victory at Yorktown,” you realize how easily the battle could have gone the other way.  It’s too easy to say it was won because the French Navy was there.

There is also a biblical explanation.

Genesis 48 tells us that the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, were to become “a multitude of nations” and a “great” nation.

Many people in Victorian times and the early part of the twentieth century believed this prophecy was fulfilled in the British Empire and the United States.  The British Empire comprised dozens of different countries, each different from the other.  They were all united by a common loyalty to the Crown.

If the US had lost the battle of Yorktown and remained within the empire, it would have been a part of the multitude of nations.  It had to be separated from the Crown even though, arguably, most did not want that separation in 1781.

The country went on to become what Winston Churchill called “The Great Republic.”

At the same time, the loyalists that moved to Canada made Canada the great Dominion of the British Empire, which it became.

The Battle of Yorktown was likely a foregone conclusion!

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill