Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Second Fifty

John T. Miller at NRO has been swamped with more suggestions for conservative themed rock songs, and he lists the latest recommendations here. The top fifty can be viewed here.

I think the second group may be even better than the first although I was disappointed that I didn't see Where Did Our Love Go by the Supremes or Cat's in the Cradle by Harry Chapin on the list. Maybe they don't qualify as classic rock.

Advice For Hugo

Lowell Ponte has an outstanding article at FrontPage Mag which lays out for the reader precisely what sort of man Hugo Chavez is and where he's taking Venezuela. After Iran, and perhaps North Korea, Venezuela under Chavez is perhaps the most troublesome country on the globe. Ponte explains why. His essay is an education. Here's a piece of it:

Democracy has ended in Venezuela, replaced by blatantly rigged elections and strong-armed Chavista mobs and spies in the streets. Venezuelans now face the presence in their midst of perhaps 20,000 of Castro's secret police and an epidemic of soaring violence and crime committed by keftist thugs who know the regime seldom makes arrests for the robbery and murder of bourgeois victims. Caracas, reports The Times of London, "now has the world's highest murder rate per capita."

Chavez has turned Venezuela into a police state in which the press is intimidated and vague new "Social Responsibility" sedition laws make it a crime to criticize the government. Those who speak out or sign petitions challenging Chavez's dictatorial rule and his "Bolivarian Revolution" are blacklisted and risk losing their jobs or becoming targets of government harassment and mob attacks.

Hugo Chavez now rules by decree and via a rubber stamp legislature and judiciary. He has indicated he might not step down when the Constitution's term limits would end his presidency. This May he said he might seek "indefinite" re-election, i.e., the de facto position of "dictator for life," through a referendum.

Like Napoleon, Chavez wants no other gods above himself. He has expelled Christian missionaries from Venezuela, putting Cuban "teachers" in their place to proselytize for the pagan religion of Marxism. In this predominantly Roman Catholic country he has called this church's leadership a "tumor." Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara accused Chavez of leading the country towards dictatorship.

But Catholic "Liberation Theologians" and others on the religious ultra-Left have treated socialist Chavez like "Saint Hugo." One poster popular with Chavistas depicts Hugo Chavez as a holy figure riding at the side of an approving Jesus Christ. And Chavez seems to delight in his Marxist "Cult of Personality."

This wouldn't threaten us as greatly if Hugo Chavez were imposing his egomaniacal Marxist dictatorship on a poor Third World nation. Venezuela, however, is the fifth largest oil producer in the world and a major supplier to the United States.

We have two words of advice for Mr. Chavez which we hope he'll take under advisement: Manuel Noriega.

Preserving the Progressive Vision

Thomas Sowell sets the record straight about the alleged glories of the sixties and explodes more than one progressive shibboleth about those pivotal years. The short version is that the fruits of the sixties were, despite the mythology clung to by those responsible for that chaotic decade, for the most part thoroughly rotten. Sowell's essay is worth reading in full:

In Shelby Steele's new book, "White Guilt," he mentions an encounter with a white liberal who fiercely defended the welfare state programs and policies of the 1960s. "Damn it, we saved this country!" he all but shouted. "This country was about to blow up. There were riots everywhere. You can stand there now in hindsight and criticize, but we had to keep the country together, my friend."

Before we turn to facts, we need to understand the vision. This is a vision of the world more precious than gold. To those who believe it, this vision is a treasure beyond price because it is also a wonderful vision of themselves -- and they are not likely to give it up for anything so mundane as grubby facts.

For those liberals who lived through the 1960s, that was often also the springtime of their youth, increasingly treasured as a memory, as the grim realities of old age settle down upon them today. It is expecting an awful lot to expect them to consider any alternative vision of the world, especially one that shatters the beautiful picture of themselves as wise and compassionate saviors of society. But what are the facts?

While liberals may think of the 1960s as the beginning of many "progressive" trends in American society, cold hard facts tell a very different story. The 1960s marked the end of many beneficial trends that had been going on for years -- and a complete reversal of those trends as programs, policies, and ideologies of the liberals took hold.

Teenage pregnancy had been going down for years. So had venereal disease. Rates of infection for syphilis in 1960 was half of what it had been in 1950. There were similar trends in crime. The total number of murders in the United States in 1960 was lower than in 1950, 1940, or 1930 -- even though the population was growing and two new states had been added. The murder rate, in proportion to population, in 1960 was half of what it had been in 1934.

Every one of these beneficial trends sharply reversed after liberal notions gained ascendancy during in the 1960s. By 1974, the murder rate had doubled. Even liberal icon Sargent Shriver, head of the agency directing the "war on poverty," admitted that "venereal disease has skyrocketed" even though "we have had more clinics, more pills, and more sex education than ever in history."

Liberals looking back on the 1960s take special pride in their role on racial issues, for civil rights laws and the advancement of blacks out of poverty. Those riots that threatened to tear the country apart were race riots -- and supposedly the liberals saved us all. But what do the facts show?

Both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had a higher percentage of Congressional Republicans voting for their enactment than the percentage of Congressional Democrats. You can check it out in The Congressional Record.

As for black economic advances, the most dramatic reduction in poverty among blacks occurred between 1940 and 1960, when the black poverty rate was cut almost in half, without any major government programs of the Great Society kind that began in the 1960s. Liberals love to point to the rise of blacks out of poverty since 1960 as proof of the benefits of liberal programs, as if the continuation of a trend that began decades earlier was proof of how liberals saved blacks.

As for saving the country from riots, the facts show the direct opposite. It was precisely when liberals were in power that riots rocked cities across the country. There were never as many riots during the two presidential terms of Ronald Reagan as during one term of Lyndon Johnson. Even during the 1960s, riots were far more common and deadly in liberal bastions like New York City than in Chicago, where the original Mayor Daley announced on television that he had given his police orders to "shoot to kill" if riots broke out.

Daley was demonized for saying such a thing, even though Chicago did not have the loss of life suffered in liberal cities where mayors pandered to grievance-mongers and pleaded for restraint. In other words, the net effect was that Daley saved lives while liberals saved their vision.

The hardest thing for a person to face is the truth that everything they've believed in their whole life is wrong. Liberals will never admit that so far from moving this country forward, their policies and prescriptions during the 1960s plunged us into a twenty year dark age from which we didn't begin to recover until Ronald Reagan became president in 1980. The period from JFK's assassination in 1962 to 1980 was, aside from the Civil War, perhaps the most socially destructive era in our history, and it was, not coincidentally, simultaneously the highwater mark of radical liberalism.

David Frum's book How We Got Here: The 70's: The Decade That Brought You Modern Life - For Better Or Worse is an excellent account of the devastating effects of the ideological commitments of the left during the latter half of the American dark ages.

Two Years Old

Recently I noticed that Viewpoint went online in May 2004 which makes last month our two year anniversary and I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our readers for continuing to visit our site.

The idea of Viewpoint was conceived one day as brother Dick and I sat with the rest of our siblings in a hospital waiting room while our mother was recovering from a surgical procedure. In a diversion from the weightier matters of the moment I suggested that a forum on the internet where intelligent commentary by him could be easily accessed was something to be considered.

I possessed the technical know-how to make the website happen and he possessed the ability to articulate the issues that confront us on a daily basis. And Viewpoint was born.

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that the success of Viewpoint is totally due to the tireless efforts of Dick who, without a support staff to gather relevant information, continues to publish timely, cogent, and articulate content that challenges the intellect of our viewers. Aside from my occasional rants, Viewpoint reflects our world and universe as Dick sees it. And I'm happy to have been a part of making that possible.

Thanks, bro.