As you probably know by now, the United States House of Representatives, under the misguided direction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed an inexcusably awful “stimulus” bill earlier this week by a wide margin: 244 - 188. Every Republican in the House opposed the bill along with eleven Democrats.
It would be bad enough if the Democrats’ bill were simply the result of an imprudent disregard of our economic ignorance. For we really do not know what will work, if anything. However, the bill is a Left wing pig roast; hand-greasing pork, federal socialist expansion, and gifts at tax payers’ expense to the Democrats’ special interest groups account for the vast majority of the loot.
Naturally, The Wall Street Journal features several informative articles on the stimulus; here is an overview: “House Passes Stimulus Package,” which includes following shocking fact:
Then there is the cost. The deficit, already in record territory, would likely reach between 10% and 12% of the gross domestic product in 2009 and 2010, roughly double the previous peacetime record, according to projections by Decision Economics Inc., a New York economic forecasting firm. That’s partly because of the sheer size of the package, but also the long-term nature of some of the programs.
Without fast action, federal debt levels could soon reach 100% of GDP, levels not seen since World War II, said Allan Sinai, chief economist at Decision Economics. That would put the U.S. in the same league as Italy, whose debt equals 104% of GDP.
Yet, why would officials elected to serve the common good worry about their harmful bankrupting of the nation when they can saturate their friends and donors with federal fat? You may decide for yourself if this is what you consider an appropriate use of $900,000,000,000.00 in public funds: “From Yachts to Textiles, Perks for Special Interests” and “Stimulus Bill Near $900 Billion.”
As I wrote in my “Redistributionism” post, liberal economic policy saves us from this sort of corruption. When people limit their government to narrow and defined areas of action, then there are less opportunities for self-serving folks to manipulate the power of the commonwealth for personal gain. A lean government is a more honest government. When the state interferes in everything, then clever fellows with criminal passions see public office and relations with those in public office as paths to riches and advantages. Consider the growth of the federal government since the New Deal, and note the similar increase in the power and activity of K Street lobbyists. Only a fool would wonder about the continuous expansion of wealthy residential developments around the Beltway.
Do you really want to know what is in this grab bag? Consider the nausea-inducing Journal article, “A 40-Year Wish List”:
“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.”
So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic “stimulus,” but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm’s point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.
We’ve looked it over, and even we can’t quite believe it. There’s $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn’t turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There’s even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.
In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make “dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy.” Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There’s another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.
Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren’t likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President’s new budget director, told Congress a year ago, “even those [public works] that are ‘on the shelf’ generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy.”
Most of the rest of this project spending will go to such things as renewable energy funding ($8 billion) or mass transit ($6 billion) that have a low or negative return on investment. Most urban transit systems are so badly managed that their fares cover less than half of their costs. However, the people who operate these systems belong to public-employee unions that are campaign contributors to . . . guess which party?
Here’s another lu-lu: Congress wants to spend $600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles. Congress also wants to spend $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities. The Smithsonian is targeted to receive $150 million; we love the Smithsonian, too, but this is a job creator?
Another “stimulus” secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments—that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There’s $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don’t pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren’t job creators.
As for the promise of accountability, some $54 billion will go to federal programs that the Office of Management and Budget or the Government Accountability Office have already criticized as “ineffective” or unable to pass basic financial audits. These include the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, the 10 federal job training programs, and many more.
Oh, and don’t forget education, which would get $66 billion more. That’s more than the entire Education Department spent a mere 10 years ago and is on top of the doubling under President Bush. Some $6 billion of this will subsidize university building projects. If you think the intention here is to help kids learn, the House declares on page 257 that “No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools.” Horrors: Some money might go to nonunion teachers.
The larger fiscal issue here is whether this spending bonanza will become part of the annual “budget baseline” that Congress uses as the new floor when calculating how much to increase spending the following year, and into the future. Democrats insist that it will not. But it’s hard—no, impossible—to believe that Congress will cut spending next year on any of these programs from their new, higher levels. The likelihood is that this allegedly emergency spending will become a permanent addition to federal outlays—increasing pressure for tax increases in the bargain. Any Blue Dog Democrat who votes for this ought to turn in his “deficit hawk” credentials.
This is supposed to be a new era of bipartisanship, but this bill was written based on the wish list of every living—or dead—Democratic interest group. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, “We won the election. We wrote the bill.” So they did. Republicans should let them take all of the credit.
I do not find it shocking that Democrats have brazenly turned the stimulus bill into an orgy of socialist wastefulness. They have been buying the votes of the poor, government employees, and labor unions for decades with tax money from the other half of the nation. It would be less objectionable if our Populares would finance their own political ambitions. However, it is the tradition of demagogues to rob their cultural and class enemies to make them pay for their own destruction. The Chi-Coms charge the families of dissidents for their execution; our kinder, gentler Left finances the less painful and more gradual demographic and cultural extermination of their counter-revolutionaries.
I am not only blaming the Democrats’ for this hiddeous bill. Though perhaps well-intended, George W. Bush paved the way for this sort of irresponsibility with his administration’s attempt to stablize the credit market. Even with the nation caught up in messianic hysteria, I doubt that Obama could have been so ambitious without having had a Republican precedent. Moreover, the Republican majority that controlled Congress until A.D. 2006 was fiscally irresponsible. Their bad behavior provides the Democrats with a claim for impunity.
So, what should be done? No one knows, but we do have some historical precedents to guide us. Lowering taxes and easing the burdens on commerce that benefit no one but paper-pushing lawyers would likely do far more than the current carte blanche to the socialist Left. Alan Reynolds examines the futility and wastefulness of the bill and contrasts it to more promising policies in ”$646,214 Per Government Job”:
House Democrats propose to spend $550 billion of their two-year, $825 billion “stimulus bill” (the rest of it being tax cuts). Most of the spending is unlikely to be timely or temporary. Strangely, most of it is targeted toward sectors of the economy where unemployment is the lowest.
The December unemployment rate was only 2.3% for government workers and 3.8% in education and health. Unemployment rates in manufacturing and construction, by contrast, were 8.3% and 15.2% respectively. Yet 39% of the $550 billion in the bill would go to state and local governments. Another 17.3% would go to health and education—sectors where relatively secure government jobs are also prevalent.
If the intent of the plan is to alleviate unemployment, why spend over half of the money on sectors where unemployment is lowest? Another 22.5% of the $550 billion would go to social programs, such as expanding food stamps and extending benefits for the unemployed and subsidizing their health insurance.
After subtracting what House Democrats hope to spend on government payrolls, health, education and welfare, only a fifth of the original $550 billion is left for notoriously slow infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding highways and the electricity grid.
The Obama administration claims the stimulus bill will “create or save three or four million jobs over the next two years . . . with over 90% [of those jobs] in the private sector.” To prove it, they issued a report from Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Its key estimates, however, were simply lifted from an outdated paper by Mark Zandi of Moody’s economy.com.
Mr. Zandi’s current estimates have government employment growing by 330,400 over two years as a result of the House bill (compared with 244,000 in Bernstein-Romer paper). Yet even that updated figure still amounts to only 8.3% of total jobs added, even though state and local governments are to receive 39% of the funds ($214.5 billion). Spending $214.5 billion to create or save 330,400 government jobs implies that taxpayers are being asked to spend $646,214 per job.
Does that make sense?
Simulations with his macroeconomic model, according to Mr. Zandi, reveal that “every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates an estimated $1.63 in near-term GDP.” By contrast, such “multipliers” simulate that tax cuts for business or investors would add only 30-38 cents on the dollar.
But econometric models are parables, not facts. The big multipliers for transfer payments and tiny multipliers for capital taxes in Mr. Zandi’s model reveal more about the way the model was constructed than about the way the economy works. If model builders make Keynesian assumptions, their model will generate Keynesian results. Yet as Harvard economist Robert Barro recently pointed out on this page, contemporary academic economic research does not support the multipliers used to justify the House stimulus bill.
In the March 2006 IMF Research Bulletin, economist Giovanni Ganelli summarized recent International Monetary Fund research on fiscal policy. Several studies find that reductions in government spending “can have expansionary effects, since they can contribute to a consumption and investment boom owing to altered expectations regarding future taxation.”
A 2002 study of U.S. data by Roberto Perotti of Università Bocconi did find that the effect of debt-financed spending increases was somewhat positive, but the multiplier effect was much less than one. A 2004 IMF study of recessions in advanced economies likewise found that “multipliers are unlikely to exceed unity.” A 2006 study of U.S. data by IMF economist Magda Kandil found the effect of “fiscal expansion appears insignificant on aggregate demand and economic activity.”
In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research published “What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?” by Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago. “The best fiscal policy to stimulate the economy,” they report, “is a deficit-financed tax cut,” and “the long term costs of fiscal expansion through government spending are probably greater than the short term gains.”
That’s because “government spending shocks crowd out both residential and non-residential investment,” while “the [positive] response of consumption is small and only significantly different from zero on impact” (i.e., temporarily). But suppose all of these recent studies were mistaken, and the House Democrats’ spending spree worked as advertised. We’re still left with three million jobs added or saved at a cost of $825 billion—$275,000 per job.
In short, a growing body of evidence suggests that a dollar of extra spending is likely to lift nominal income by less than a dollar, arguably much less. Several studies suggest the multiplier may be less than zero after a couple of years, because private investment (including housing) eventually falls by more than government spending rises. Another $550 billion of deficit spending on top of a deficit already above $1 trillion is likely to prove more dangerous than helpful to an economy already overloaded with risky debt.
We have lived too long shielded from the consequences of our stupidity. I find it odd that wealth makes many people oblivious to the necessary conditions of continuous prosperity. As a civilization, the well fed and well rested West has squandered its ascendency. Maybe penury will re-instruct our people what we must do to survive in the hostile state of nature.
In my “Christianity’s Odd Place in the World” entry last week, I commented upon Metropolitan Jonah’s talk at vespers that centered upon a discussion of the human person. Indeed, the metropolitan’s pastoral message for the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and address at the March for Life used similar language.
Being Jesuit educated and having swum in Roman Catholic intellectual waters for some time, I am very familiar with the language of “the human person.” You can smell its traces everywhere—from university mission statements to Orthodox hierarchs’ homilies. I suppose that the features of such talk originates in Personalism, taught by French thinkers such as Emmanuel Mounier and Gabriel Marcel and made globally popular by Pope John Paul II. Such language has entered Orthodoxy through the French-Russian Orthodox axis, epitomized by L’Institut Saint-Serge in Paris. Metropolitan Jonah’s remarks have their genealogy in that post-war cross-pollination that figures so prominently in the Orthodox Church in America.
I do not know how to assess all of this talk on “the human person.” I do not detect anything wrong or heretical in such teachings, but the novelty of the language troubles me. To my knowledge, one cannot find such a fixation on the human person per se before the twentieth century. I grant that Christianity has always been the religion of love, where God wants all to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. We Orthodox Christians call Jesus Christ philanthropos—the lover of mankind. Moreover, all political and ethical thought obviously involves the human person. The ancient Greeks concerned themselves with the order of the soul. Christians some centuries later pondered the appropriate hierarchy of goods and loves, the disorder of which leads to lust and to all the trials of a fallen world. Early modern philosophers debated how best to deal with divergent wills in a human community. In all of these ages, the fundamental issues involved the question of man. Yet, one does not find therein an emphasis on each man’s being a man.
As I listened to the metropolitan’s talk at vespers, I wondered if the prophets and thinkers of our age were simply addressing the pressing problem of our time. For philosophy and theology are always largely reactive. Each age has its own set of necessary questions, and it is up to the minds of that age to provide the answers. Perhaps, with the advent of totalitarianism, mass culture, new technology, and the dehumanizing understanding of man in economics, biology, history, and art, what we have now is a veritable crisis of seeing man’s humanity. During the last two centuries, reductionist views of human beings with man as appetite, man as an economic being, man as the result of irrational chance, and man as will have become the air that we noetically breathe. Yet, to some extent, wasn’t it always so? Couldn’t we justly include Protagoras or Hobbes with Feuerbach, Marx, Darwin, and Nietzsche? Maybe the difference in the contemporary world is the widespread ascendancy of such reductionism in all domains of human life.
Andrew suggested that the recent genesis of Personalism may have to do with modernity’s obsession with individualism. If such is true, it would be highly ironic, as those who worry about the human person endlessly trouble themselves with the ills of individualism. Could it be that they are philosophical parricides?
The thirty-sixth March for Life in Washington passed with relatively beautiful weather and no troubles. The sky was clear and the sun shone. I do not know how warm it was, but, well layered, I had to take off my coat during the noon rally.
My brother brought many boys from his high school to D.C. for the march, and we spent the morning in the Capitol complex. I finally visited the finished Capitol Visitor Center. It is impressive, though I see now why certain legislators have problems with its Leftist interpretation of American history and government. See, for instance, Senator DeMint statement:
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement on the opening of the new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) in Washington, D.C. He recently fought to include prominent displays of our national motto, “In God We Trust,” and the Pledge of Allegiance within the CVC. The Architect of the Capitol has also been instructed to consider the rich faith heritage of our Nation when selecting the content of any future display.
“The Capitol Visitor Center is designed to tell the history and purpose of our nation’s Capitol, but it fails to appropriately honor our religious heritage that has been critical to America’s success,” said Senator DeMint. “While the Architect of the Capitol has pledged to include some references to faith, more needs to be done. You cannot accurately tell the history of America or its Capitol by ignoring the religious heritage of our Founders and the generations since who relied on their faith for strength and guidance. The millions of visitors that will visit the C.V.C. each year should get a true portrayal of the motivations and inspirations of those who have served in Congress since its establishment.
“The current C.V.C. displays are left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history. Exhibits portray the federal government as the fulfillment of human ambition and the answer to all of society’s problems. This is a clear departure from acknowledging that Americans’ rights ‘are endowed by their Creator’ and stem from ‘a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.’ Instead, the C.V.C.’s most prominent display proclaims faith not in God, but in government. Visitors will enter reading a large engraving that states, ‘We have built no temple but the Capitol. We consult no common oracle but the Constitution.’ This is an intentional misrepresentation of our nation’s real history, and an offensive refusal to honor America’s God-given blessings. As George Washington stated clearly in his first inaugural address:
‘…t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.’
“The fundamental principles of the freedom we enjoy in this country stem from our Founding Fathers’ beliefs in a higher power, beliefs put forth in the Declaration of Independence and manifest throughout our Constitution,” said Senator DeMint. “If we cease to acknowledge this fact, we may cease to enjoy some of the freedoms we take for granted. We must not censor historical references to God for the sake of political correctness. And we must truthfully represent the limited form of government the Constitution lays out so that our ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ So help us God.”
Sadly, Senator DeMint is in the minority, both politically and culturally. As Jay Nordlinger notes in “When up is down,” the Left has gained uncontested dominion in our society. A Leftist world view informs the government, the educational establishment, almost all international N.G.O.‘s, philanthropic trusts, the publishing world, the media in general, and more and more cultural pillars, including religious institutions. I am no Hegelian or Marxist, but modern history tempts me to consider the last centuries the inevitable logical-historical consequence of the so-called Enlightenment. I suspect that the only way out is the way of the Phoenix—after Western civilization self-destructs from having become insanely unfit for reality. What a pity!
The March for Life rebuffs my pessimism. Though a minority, there are millions of Americans left with their moral compass intact. As always, thousands upon thousands of prolife supporters came to Washington to forestall for our nation the fate of Gomorra.
Personally, the march is one of my favorite days in the year. Like the marvellous film La Vita è bella brilliantly depicts, there is no greater triumph of good over evil than to rob evil of its power to instill despair. Joy is the ultimate weapon in the divine arsenal. The Right to Life movement has turned one of the ugliest days in American history into a meekly defiant celebration of what the late Fr. Neuhaus called first things.
After I escorted my brother’s group to the Metro following the march, I returned to the Supreme Court to see the crowds dissipate. The Silent No More campaign had provided a forum in front of the high court for women who have had abortions to tell their stories. I cannot fathom their pain.
There were also four abortion rights supporters in front of the court with the familiar blue circle N.O.W. signs that read “Keep Abortion Legal.” Sardonically, I wondered in how many media reports would these four counter-protesters feature. A group of four is the larger, more newsworthy crowd in a sea of two hundred thousand when the media agree with their view. Anyway, I walked over to them to see how their martyrdom to folly was proceeding. I found an effeminate fellow with a N.O.W. sign chatting with a marcher holding a “We Vote Prolife” sign about football, which amused me greatly. Political differences end where the first down begins. I asked the abortion rights supporter how he had been treated today. He responded that most people were respectful, though he was shocked that so many people asked him questions, given that he was a man. I then knew that I would not engage him; for logos was not to be found in him. I also wondered if he realized how the reverse situation would be very different. You know how the satanic harpy hordes of N.O.W. would treat a few prolife counter-protesters. Isn’t it odd that the barren fig tree never notices its sterility?
Well, such is the human condition. Until next year, please remain active in resisting the new Democratic political stronghold’s attempts to embolden the culture of death. Write your congressmen to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act. More importantly, do what you can to cultivate the culture of life. Discuss the issues. Reason with folks. As Saint Paul orders us—walk as children of light.
The Tuesday of Doom came, but we have survived the first day of the Obama administration.
I decided neither to attend the inauguration nor to watch it. I did have a “blue ticket” but I gave it away to someone who would actually enjoy it. I could not stomach the secular-political religiosity of the crowd. Why have Americans—still (“small r”) republicans, the last I checked—morphed into fanatical subjects of a God-Emperor? Lawrence Auster has asked that question, and it deserves an answer. Anyway, when I read about the herd’s behavior—at a ceremony of the highest civic decorum in the land—I knew that I made the right decision. Besides, I am glad not to have been lectured by Joseph Lowery and his ilk.
It has been difficult enough to tolerate D.C. over the past weekend. The city is always a collection of shallow, selfish, hedonistic materialists. There is no shortage of every sort of societal ill here. However, like a flame for flies, the coronation celebration exacerbated the locals’ madness and attracted even more of them here from afar. The “Stuff White People Like” hordes from around the nation have joined their native colonists to hearken Obama’s inglorious ascension. They join the indigenous black population of our very own Chocolate City in their uncritical deification of Obama. It is embarrassing. On every corner, you can see youth culture posers with random buttons, signs, and body odors smothered over with patchouli oil and Axe spray. You know the slogans: “Guns don’t kill people. Prolifers kill people,” “End of an Error: January 20, 2009,” and the classic “Bush lied. Soldiers died.” One’s tolerance is tested in days like these. I saw a woman wearing a satchel that read, “I read banned books.” It took a lot of restraint not to greet her with, “Hey, I read the Bible, too!” She reads banned books!?! It’s embarrassing. These folks romanticize the subversive revolutionary so much that they cannot stand that they live in a land of freedom that denies them the ability to be dissidents. That is why they fantasize about Bush the fascist totalitarian. Of all the presidents in the last century, only Democrats like Wilson, Roosevelt, and Clinton exhibited fascist tendencies. Perhaps it is a slur against fascists to include Bill Clinton in their group. His abuses of power were not nearly as systematic or principled.
On a personal note, I must confess to a strange reaction toward this sickening adulation of Obama. It makes me more sympathetic to him. I cannot explain why. With Clinton, I despised the man but held no anger toward his supporters. For they knew not what they did. Obama, however, seems so much more sane and human than the masses that idolize him. I feel embarrassed for him. I do not know if he feels such embarrassment himself. He may simply consider them useful idiots, which they certainly are.
Anyway, our new president has been invited to attend the March for Life tomorrow. Since A.D. 1974, on the anniversary of Roe versus Wade, prolife supporters have come to Washington to call for an end to the current abortion regime. Of course, the media habitually ignore or diminish the march, but it is the largest annual political event in the city. There have been larger crowds—in better weather, of course—but they are always one time occurrences. Prolifers march faithfully, year after year, often in unpleasant weather. I have attended the march since elementary school. It is a wonderful experience. Of course, we brave the January air to send a signal to the federal government. Beyond that immediate reason, though, the march serves as a form of encouragement and fellowship for prolife people. It is heartening—and psychologically necessary—to see the thousands and thousands of folks, young and old, from all over the country, uniting together to reject the culture of death. For political and personal reasons, I highly recommend it to anyone who values the natural law.
I am disappointed to learn that the march’s beginning has been moved to Fourth Street, N.W. The march used to be a march . . . from the Ellipse to the Supreme Court. Then, it started on Fifteenth Street, N.W. For the last several years, it has begun at Seventh Street, NW. We lost another three blocks this year. I do not know who has decided this, but it is a terrible idea. With such a short distance, few people (relatively speaking) can march together. Plus, it is less impressive, both to observers and to participants. As a longtime marcher, there is something psychologically satisfying about the march as pilgrimage. The trip to D.C. (when I was young, at least) was an inconvenient and uncomfortable but important journey. The events surrounding the march fill out the experience. Yet, the high point of the event is the march itself. When the march took sixteen blocks, it felt fulfilling. The feds, D.C. government, or the march’s organizers are shortchanging the event by making it shorter.
Bush always addressed the crowd, and we wait to see what Obama will do. He is the most radical supporter of abortion “rights” ever to gain high office, and he promised Planned Parenthood and their allies that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. However, he is a shrewd politician who seems pragmatically oriented. He has already jettisoned many of his avowed positions as “campaign rhetoric.” I hope that his support of abortion throughout his political career was just another ruse to win over an influential Democratic constituency. He agreed to be interviewed by Rick Warren, and he has spoken respectfully about prolife supporters. He might just address the crowd, though it would probably be just a political ploy. Still, I would be impressed . . . not necessarily by his character, as I remain quite skeptical about his intentions, but certainly by his political skills. He is slick and extraordinary adept at demagogic manipulation. We are in for an interesting time—quite possibly horrifying and dismal—but unquestionably interesting.
There are many, many activities related to the March for Life around the city for the week—conferences, concerts, classes, seminars, meetings, film screenings, and such. Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant services happen throughout the city. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is probably the principle locus of the march’s religious observation. Many thousands of people will be there for services—and for accommodations—throughout the days surrounding the march. It is a sight to behold. Sleeping bags, thousands of kids, nuns, priests, baggies of Cheerios, around the clock prayer—it is rare to see the House of God look such like a house. It is like stepping into the Middle Ages. The Orthodox Church in America’s Saint Nicholas Cathedral also has a vespers service tonight led by their new primate, Metropolitan Jonah, which I’ll attend. The spirit is warm and welcoming at these gatherings. Christians from around the nation come for a cause. I suppose that the Leftists felt such yesterday in their celebration of their world view’s political triumph. For us, such consolation will have to wait. May it come—or rather, more personally, maranatha.
I wish everyone who is coming to D.C. for the march a safe journey! I’ll see you tomorrow.
We are at the end of the presidency of George W. Bush. You can find some of my reflections on the current president in “Letter to David Frum” and “As the 2008 Election Nears, a Personal Story.” Let me just say here that I think that Bush was an honest, principled, and good man who tried to steer a centrist course in unprecedented times. It is ironic that his popular image is so different from the real man. Related to such, Jay Nordlinger’s account of his meeting with Bush in December is an interesting read—“POTUS speaks” I am not sure how to estimate his administration, but I do know that he does not deserve the ingratitude and invective that he has received over the last eight years. I wonder if Americans will have the hindsight or the honesty to feel shame for their actions and words concerning him.
That said, Bush is somewhat responsible for the slander. As I have previously written, Bush has continuously allowed his enemies to “frame the narrative” of his presidency, to use Leftist lingo. By trying to compromise, by reaching out to Democrats, and by aiming for the middle, Bush garnered few friends and upset his supporters. It is funny that political analysts always tout the power of the “center”—yet, rarely does that sort of program lead to success. Centrist regimes get toppled in Banana Republics. In the United States, where we remain Anglo-Saxon enough—for the time being, at least—to limit coups to the media, centrist administrations simply tank in the polls.
Besides allowing the Left to define his presidency, thereby insuring the next administration, Bush had many other failures. He allowed rampant illegal immigration to continue, and he parroted the self-defeating rhetoric of the multiculturalists that would have the United States follow the Brazilian socio-ethnic model. He followed his predecessors in facilitating the deindustrialization of our economy, and he did not work to correct the unpardonable trade imbalances that impoverish our country. He betrayed conservative principles in his support of affirmative action, in his profligate public spending and public debt, in his unwillingness to veto Congressional pork spending, in his aggrandizement of the federal bureaucracy and its powers, and in his general social conservative but socialist “compassionate conservative” agenda and outlook. Moreover, the Harriet Miers fiasco was ridiculous, Katrina should have been managed better, and Bush should have reigned in his cabinet officials long before crisis mode set in. Perhaps most egregiously, he let his “ownership society” compassionate conservative rhetoric trump good sense and solid monetary policy.
Unlike most folks, however, I refuse to blame Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is too early to tell how successful Bush’s strategy will be, and armchair and hindsight strategies are not the luxuries of a sitting president. I agree that something had to be done, but I am not sure what the best, feasible path would have been. I cannot fairly state that Bush was mistaken or that anyone else would have chosen superior alternatives.
Anyway, I wish our president well. May he rest after eight tumultuous years. Let him know that many Americans are grateful for the good that he has accomplished. No one believed on September 12, A.D. 2001 that we would not have another terrorist attack in the United States before Bush left office. Bush appointed two stellar justices to the Supreme Court. He lowered taxes, at least temporarily. He tried—but failed—to reform Social Security and the health care financing establishment. Bush consistently defended the sanctity of human life and the importance of traditional cultural values. After the scandal-ridden, corrupt Clinton years, Bush cleaned up the White House and the executive branch. Unlike the crooks from Arkansas, he did not use political power for personal gain. He was no Reagan, and he certainly was no Coolidge, but he was better than most of our elected leaders.
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, many years and many blessings to you both!
As we come to the end of the Nativity season (on the Julian calendar), I would like to wish everyone a last Merry Christmas! Christ is born!
Well, yesterday, I received a letter from a young Latin friend that included the following passage:
I’ve also been thinking a great deal this week about omnipotence and what—if any—constraints there are upon the omnipotence of God. I understand and accept the argument that God cannot lay down his own divinity, but I’m stuck on the square-circle problem. I’m told that Augustine thought it was a ridiculous question unworthy of an answer, but it makes sense to me that God should not be bound by logical laws. After all, he is certainly not bound by physical or moral ones, of which he is the source. How are logical laws different?
The square circle problem is that God cannot make a square circle. Below is my response, which might interest you, though Andrew may find it distasteful that I am posting a letter online. But hey—it’s fascinating stuff and it’s Sunday . . . give me a break!
Well, I would like to add some two pence pieces to your theological question. I believe that you are quite right to consider the square circle problem with physical and moral laws in mind. Your difficulty, however, comes from your seeing God’s essence as a binding or a limitation on God rather than seeing God’s essence as God—as understood by God.
Reality is an expression of what God is . . . necessarily limited and imperfect—for it is not God but his image—but nonetheless it has its being from him. What reality is and that reality is depend radically and wholly on that which is beyond being—God.
Eastern Christians, following Platonic language, deny that God exists . . . rather, God is the source of all existence. God is not a being among beings, but the source of beings . . . i.e. God is “beyond being.”
Western Christians, since the late Middle Ages, have expressed this idea in more Aristotelian terms . . . God is being itself (esse), not a being (ens).
Beings (entes [plural of ens]) do not have being (esse) in their own right. Existence (existentia), or that something is, does not belong to their essence (essentia), or what they are.
The argument for this is pretty simple, though nominalism rejects it (wrongly, in my opinion). Take any particular thing—such as an apple. If the existence of an apple (that an apple is) is the same as the essence of an apple (what an apple is—its nature), then anything said to exist would have to be that apple. All that could exist would be that apple. For you equate the existence and the essence of the apple. This is obviously false, as existence is said of many things that are not apples—that is, things that have essences other than that of the apple. Thus, essence and existence are distinct in particular things.
For Western scholastics, this separation of essence and existence does not apply to God. What God is (God’s essence) is existence itself (God’s existence). All other things have existence because God imparts it to them.
I would not use that language, but it points to the same reality. Orthodox Christians would not call God’s essence existence . . . for God’s essence is unknowable, though God is the source of all essence and existence in creation. He supplies the beingness of all beings (and holds them in being . . . “watchmaker” deism is metaphysically quite foolish and infantile), and he supplies the essence—the whatness—of all that exists. Everything reflects the divine essence in its limited way. Rational beings—men—reflect God’s image in a special and privileged way, but all reality reflects God. There is nothing else to reflect . . . for God creates ex nihilo—and the reason, the “logos” of reality, comes from God himself. Being is God’s expression of himself.
The Greek word logos means both word and reason . . . and logical principle. The Fathers understood the second person of the Trinity as the divine logos, just as the scriptures state. Ponder the richness behind the doctrine of creation through the logos.
Anyway, you can see how Mohammedanism and Calvinism are similar departures from the Christian tradition and from reason. For they hold that God creates arbitrary things arbitrarily. They separate the divine will from the divine reason and the divine essence, and by doing so, they rob God and the world that he makes of reason—their deity and their cosmos are mindless, just like that mechanistic pagan philosophers of old that Socrates attacks (and the mechanistic scientists today who reduce the world to atoms swirling in the void). It requires such a theological position to hold that God could will good to be bad and bad to be good . . . for it makes God’s will arbitrary and incomprehensible—even to God himself. It makes God a being . . . a limited, imperfect being in time, subject to change—divided and irrational. In short, it makes God worse than a good man. Therein, you can see how unenlightened piety can result in terrible blasphemy. For the Mohammedans, like the nominalists and the Calvinists who came later, posited what they did from a sense of piety . . . how can God be constrained? Yet, they understood not what they did, and the consequences have been disastrous.
With this understood, your theological knot unravels. For the metaphysical, logical, moral, and physical laws are not arbitrary matters but rather expressions of what God is, albeit mere glimmers and shadows of the really real. They are not constraints upon God but reflections of God. God “cannot” break them because “breaking” them has no meaning. There is nothing besides God and his creation. God acts . . . God does not do nothing, to use an odd expression. God can do anything that can be done, but ideas and actions that violate reason are not real ideas or actions. That is why God cannot do evil . . . because evil is nothing, and, so, evil cannot be done. We speak casually about evil and irrationality as if they were real beings, but strictly speaking, they are unintelligible nothings . . . placeholders in our language that we use to describe the state of things when it is not as it should be.
For instance, demons qua demons do not exist. Yet, we speak of demons as being real. What we really mean is that there are angels who are real who forsake and fall short of what they are. We say that certain acts are vicious. As acts, they have reality, but as vice, they are bastardizations of moral action . . . lacking some sense of being and intelligibility.
Thus, God cannot make a square circle because a square circle is meaningless. It is nothing. That is not an indictment of God’s power but a description of being. It is not in the order of reality—that which reflects God’s own divine order—to allow a square circle. That we can say a square circle is equivalent to babble . . . for it has no meaning. If it had meaning, then God could make it and certainly has made it—for it would exist in our mind, and nothing could exist in our mind which was not eternally in the mind of God. All possibilities are present to him. A square circle is not a possibility.
Note, however, that the limitations of our reason do not limit God. For our reason is but an image of the divine reason. Yet, what we intend when we think of a square and what we intend when we think of a circle are pretty exhaustively known to human reason. Even as men, we can see that they are incompatible. Yet, there are many things that might be rational to God that seem perplexing to us, due to our limitations, but obvious contradiction cannot be one of them. Otherwise, our reason is meaningless and useless. Pietists are happy to say that, but they don’t really reflect upon the logical consequences of their stated opinions. Again, piety can lead to blasphemy.
Many blessings to all, and, for the last time, Merry Christmas!
The National Right to Life Committee sent the “New Study Examines Familial Context of Choice to Abort” article by Wanda Franz to their members this past Thursday. It contains some interesting—and sobering—figures. Here is a selection:
The results of the study indicated that the most important factors in determining the women’s choice to abort a second pregnancy were those associated with the father’s inability or unwillingness to provide assistance in rearing the first child. Women were significantly more likely to abort if they reported that the father of the child cannot be trusted to “watch the child for a week,” “take good care of the child,” “watch the child when the mothers needs to do things,” “does not support the mother’s way of raising the child,” “does not respect the schedule and rules” for the child, etc. In addition, it was found that mothers who were married to the father were significantly more likely to deliver the baby.
What is especially interesting are the variables that did not appear to influence the choice of abortion vs. delivery. For example, the difficulty of raising the child, based on poor temperament of the child or the need for frequent medical intervention, did not affect the choice to abort. In addition, financial considerations were not important in the decision. Employment and income did not predict the decision to abort. Surprisingly, aggression directed toward the mother by the father was not a factor in the choice to abort. On the other hand, women who chose to abort the second baby, demonstrated more substance abuse following the abortion; and they were more apt to be physically abused by the father.
The results of this study are counter to the prevailing opinion that women abort because of poverty and financial considerations. Instead, these mothers were more apt to make the decision based on whether or not they would be supported in their role as a mother by a father who had already demonstrated an ability to care for one of his children. Furthermore, marriage was a protective factor in determining the parents’ decision to keep and raise their child.
This study supports the idea that abortion occurs in the context of a family. It requires both a committed mother and father to assure the choice to deliver and care for a child. Fathers are, not only important, but possibly decisive in the choice to have an abortion.
Though emasculated de jure with regard to the fate of their unborn offspring, de facto men have enormous influence in the abortion decision. How many realize this? How many care?
If you have not yet heard about the amazing airplane incident today in New York, allow me to introduce you to an American hero—Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger. United States Air Force Academy graduate, United States Air Force fighter pilot, veteran pilot for US Airways since A.D. 1980, founder and C.E.O. of his own company, a visiting professor at U.C. Berkeley, and a member and consultant for several aviation and safety organizations and task forces, Mr. Sullenberger has an extraordinarily accomplished record. You can visit his company’s website, Safety Reliability Methods, Inc., where you can see his impressive curriculum vitae.
The city of New York and the whole nation celebrate today this man, who reminds us what a real hero is. If you wish to express your admiration, you can e-mail him at the address available on his C.V. I wrote the following short note to Mr. Sullenberger: “Thank you for saving people’s lives today and for showing a nation what character, a cool head, and solid training can do. You are a hero and a role model. The U.S.A.F., the Academy, U.S. Airways, and your family must be very proud.” Indeed, they are. Frankly, I am surprised that U.S. Airways has such pilots in its fleet. Given my rather unpleasant experiences with their luggage crews and flight delays and cancellations, I did not have a good impression of the company. Mr. Sullenberger alters my views a bit. I hope that they throw him a big party; he is the best p.r. that the company has had in some time.
You can read about the pilot’s admirable actions at the following: N.B.C. New York’s “Miracle on the Hudson,” Michelle Malkin’s “Flight 1549 pilot: God bless Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger!” and “Plane down: U.S. Airways disaster miracle in Hudson River; Update: All survived? Passenger: ‘Everyone prayed,’” the Times’ “Veteran pilot Chesley B. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III a hero after splashdown saved every life on board,” WCBS New York’s “All Safe after Jet Ditches in NYC Hudson River,” and the Smoking Gun’s “The Hero of Flight 1549.”
Let us also not forget the valiant efforts of the flight crew, the rescue teams, and the passengers. It is a fine day when a disaster becomes an opportunity for heroism, competence, and success. Kudos to everyone involved!
Unfortunately, I followed a link this morning on Ann Coulter’s site to a video that showed her appearance on The View earlier this week. Horrified but not surprised, I was moved to dedicate a post to misogyny. Nothing incurs misogynistic thoughts like a coven of irrational wenches posing as if they had an insight—a sensible view—about the world.
Beforehand, though, I wish to explain the title. I refer to myself as having questionable misogyny—it is debatable whether or not I truly embrace a certain though refined hatred of women. I claim such misogyny for myself, but then I wonder if I am simply posing as something that I am not, like the women of The View posing as intellectuals.
I have a tendency quite opposite to that of Mormons when it comes to external relations in the realm of beliefs and ideas. Mormons seem to be bred or well trained to appear similar to whatever you espouse. They regularly exhibit an image quite akin to whatever you say so that you come to see their religion as recognizably familiar to your own. I have even coined the verb, “to mormon” someone, which means to trick others into thinking that one is similar to them when one is quite different. Perhaps, Mormons developed this behavior as a survival mechanism, which then became useful as a missionary tool. Besides a smile, a well-groomed Mormon kid’s chief artillery consists in, “We, too.” That is how the children of Lehi reel in the wary, and then they keep them in the tent with healthy family and community lifestyles: L.D.S. Strategy 101.
Unlike the genial Mormons, I prefer to present myself in the starkest contrast to potential intellectual interlocutors. I have found such a posture not only entertaining but also useful in sifting out folks on whom I do not wish to waste my time. For people of good taste and sensible ideas who are turned off, I could add nothing to them, anyway. For the thoughtless who cannot rise above what I described in another post as phrase thinking, there is no point to engaging them. They are invincibly ignorant. That leaves the open-minded or at least the oddly curious who might just be able to think past the script.
So, why do I describe myself as a misogynist—and why do I have reasons to doubt the accuracy of that label? As exhibit A, consider this post’s catalyst:
I would like to believe that The View causes anyone who watches it pain and disgust. Yet, it is popular with—you guessed it—estrogenized Americans. I have the good fortune to have only seen the show in a few online segments. Folks who believe in false propriety might argue that I have not had enough exposure to judge it. I believe that I have seen quite enough. Rational argument does not have a place on the program. Facts, syllogisms, and common sense must make way for fallacies and trendy stupidities. The bovine obtuseness of the female mind is on gruesome display with most of the panel “opiners.” The only person that I find interesting is Whoopi Goldberg—not because she defies the moronic mold of her colleagues but because she inconsistently escapes it. It is strange to listen to her; she makes sober, intelligent comments, but then she follows such with bizarre and ridiculous nonsense. A consistent twit like Joy Behar is intelligible—not in her opinions but as a fact of reality—but Whoopi Goldberg defies explanation. She is like an autistic version of a pundit—advanced enough in some areas, while inexplicably retarded in others.
Anyway, The View recapitulates everything that I find objectionable about women. Now, I know that an American television show is not an accurate depiction of all women. However, I do think that it approximates the bulk around the bell curve’s mean. Generalizations hold for most but not all. Nonetheless, they still hold for most. What, then, are these dislikable female tendencies?
I know that it seems trite, but the stereotype is rooted in truth: women generally are emotionally driven creatures. Most women seem capable of rational thought, but they pay little heed to it in their decision making. Logos does not drive their actions.
If reason does not command, then what leads in its place? I am not sure about this theory, but I believe that emotion itself is a human response to situations that are interpreted through our view of the world. A person with a Roman Catholic world view will have different emotional reactions and impulses to certain situations than a Wahhabist fundamentalist. Consider how a mother in the former set would react to her child’s going on a “suicide mission” as opposed to the reaction of a mother in the latter group. People who allow their emotions to direct their actions actually allow their conditioning to control them. Of course, some folks have no discernible world view or developed beliefs; they might float from one principle of action to another, depending on the day. However, most people do have influential, though not always consistent, world views. Therefore, to be emotionally driven means, for most people, to be driven by one’s conditioning. This conditioning is usually from one’s upbringing, but it also could be from a successful though irrationally caused supplanting of one’s inherited world view by other values. I suspect that women generally allow such world views to determine their actions in that they rarely submit such actions or their world views to critical reassessments.
If this is correct, women are inherently more conservative than men. They are more likely to stay with the status quo—they are the instinctual defenders of tradition. However, such an idea appears to contradict the Western political experience of recent generations. How can we explain the “feminist” movement, if women are naturally conservative? Was it simply the case that some bourgeois women traded one orthodoxy for another, and once adopted, proved (and prove) impervious to reason? Such an answer may work, but what caused the great initial shift? I have no idea; the counter-evidence to my proposal demands an answer that I cannot give.
Yet, it remains the case that women appear more temperamentally conservative as a whole. That stance toward the world is very useful in sensibly arranged societies, but it is maddening in a dysfunctional, decaying civilization. Babushkas’ regulating Russian life and maintaining order exemplify the former, while The View depicts the latter. For someone of a Socratic bent, I see such conservatism as good for a good society while always bad for potential philosophers. The thinker must rise above convention, and few women do—or possibly can.
Furthermore, most women have severe limitations on their sense of humor. I remember reading somewhere that women typically process humor in the part of the brain that handles social morés. Hence, socially unacceptable humor appeals to men generally while offending most women. We see therein yet another example of female conservatism. The exceptions to this general rule, though, are riotous exceptions—Lisa Lampanelli comes to mind. While entertaining wit and silliness seem to be in the domain of men, female comediennes—the women who are actually funny—are delightfully hilarious. No man could be funny in the same way as Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Dorothy Parker, or Ellen DeGeneres. Their humor is distinctive.
Ironically, the blogroll for this weblog features a sizable number of female voices. As with any bell curve and generalization, there will always be outliers. Among philosophers and writers, Elizabeth Anscombe, Simone Weil, George Eliot, Edith Stein, Flannery O’Connor, and Hannah Arendt are women who certainly hold their own intellectual ground. Among lesser but nonetheless impressive realms of discourse upon important matters, Camille Paglia, Peggy Noonan, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Ann Coulter, Florence King, and many others enrich the discussion as well as—or more than—their male peers. Even Martha Nussbaum, as wrong as she is, is wrong respectably—as an erring philosopher.
I wonder, then, why I—with my misogyny on trial here—particularly like female thinkers—when they are thinkers? When one of my professors was graduate student, her mentor told her that she thought like a man. She was not sure whether to be flattered or insulted. If by thinking like a man, one means logical, critical, and able to see the forest as well as the trees, perhaps a better expression would be thinking like a truly rational being. Indeed, most men fail at thinking like “men,” though not as many as women. So, given that few men and fewer women are capable of this level of thought, I wonder if those fewer women have something special to add. I suspect so.
If the Abrahamic religions are correct, then we should expect some sort of complementarity between men and women beyond the division of labor that evolution and millennia of experience produced. Traditional and contemporary Christian thought on sexuality, from Augustine to John Paul II, stresses the wonderful, complementary differences between men and women. In my fits of misogyny, I scoff at such complementarity as I ponder how unfit women tend to be for mankind’s most noblest activity. However, when I behold rational women, I stand somewhat in awe. For they do offer something that seems alien but true—I do not mean pink stained syllogisms but rather a certain sensibility to universally accessible truth that nonetheless is perceived only by them. I am not endorsing any crazy notion of menstrual logic or Gaia wisdom as exists in “Womyn’s Studies” departments, but I do think that there is a truth that such nonsense attempts to reach. I cannot explain it except to say that it radiates an intelligible otherness. The French love to exclaim, “vive la différence,” but here is where such an expression applies to that which is highest in human beings. To speak in images, one sees therein the mark of Eve upon the path to wisdom.
So, it is unclear to me whether I truly am a misogynist. Regardless, I shall probably continue to embrace the word, perhaps doing violence to the language comparable to the so-called feminists’ misuse of their own word. For how does it make sense that a supporter of femina—woman—should busy herself with celebrating sterility, child killing, and the cult of ugliness? Such “feminists” do not deserve their word. Maybe, I do not deserve mine.
My post from yesterday—“Gaza and Jew Hatred”—dealt with the recent spike in anti-Jewish outbursts in the West. For today’s related post, I refer you to Ilana Mercer’s recent entry at VDARE—“Paleos Must Defend the West . . . And That Means Israel, Too”—where she considers how the European paleoconservatives differ from their American counterparts regarding the state of Israel. She notes that the notoriously anti-Semitic European Right has been generally quite supportive of Israel in its fight against Hamas, while American paleoconservatives have been rather critical of Israel. I suppose that she means Patrick Buchanan; I do not know who else might represent traditionalist conservatives who also complains about Israel’s supposed war mongering. Her article is worth considering.
Mercer holds that Europe’s “blood and soil” conservatives have a better instinctual appreciation for Israel’s struggle to survive, while she argues that American paleocons criticize Israel from parochial concerns. I think that she is correct. Buchanan’s annoyance at Israel originates not in anti-Semitism, as his enemies frequently claim, but in his belief that America’s influential Jewish community pressures American foreign policy to do what is not in America’s best interests—for the sake of Israel. He thinks that America’s neoconservative agenda has entangled us in other peoples’ problems. Yet, Mercer argues that it is in the self-interest of the West to support Israel as a fellow Western nation on the frontlines of Mohammedan terror. The European Right fears the creeping tide of sharia in their midst, while American paleoconservatives believe that the oceans and energy independence will keep the barbarians from the gates.
I agree with Mercer, as I am hopelessly lost to the clash of civilizations thesis. I think that the evidence is clear, but I confess that I am a sucker for the epic. I tire of the West’s technocratic babbling about managing risks and population intervention and the rest of that soul crushing social science jargon. We cannot even say crusade? What would Washington, Lee, or Patton think about our political and cultural leaders, curdled in cowardly paralysis?
At the basic level, we must admit a certain incompatibility between the West and the Mujahideen. Our thoughts are not their thoughts; their ways are not ours. The Anglican archbishop’s advice notwithstanding, our legal system cannot operate alongside sharia. If we value our own side and our own ways—if we wish for them to continue to exist—we cannot accommodate the banner carriers of Mohammedanism. There are several options available to us.
We could isolate the breeding grounds of jihadists, limiting them to the areas where the scimitar has already conquered the Dar al-Harb. Of course, this offers no hope to the oppressed dhimmis under the infidel yoke. Moreover, this plan would require a post-petroleum economy, and the West is not technologically advanced enough to sever those poisonous pipelines without having to suffer significant economic hardships. In the land of mammon, few are willing to forgo material benefits for long-term civilizational survival.
We could follow the Projet Coulter: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” When Ann Coulter published those words on September 13, A.D. 2001, the entire political spectrum denounced her. Yet, it is obvious that it is a winning strategy. Of course, the West no longer breeds men such as Cecil Rhodes and Horatio Herbert Kitchener. We no longer have the stomach for unpleasant necessities. Besides, I, myself, find the attacks on Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki reprehensible. I disagree with the Left about waging “politically correct” war, but morality has a place even in battle.
We could also set a middle passage and allow some trade, study, and cultural intermingling with very strict provisions. This route is the most realistic but, if taken, the most likely to devolve back into the current mess. Without active resistance, one’s guard relaxes, and then the barbarians storm.
With these options and others, allies are needed and useful. It is difficult to see how, on a per capita basis, at least, we could have a better ally in this fight than the state of Israel.