Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:33

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a website of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

The Philosophy of Mao and Mother Teresa?

The death of ten to twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of. --Mao Tse-tung
Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of this humanity. The right to life does not depend . . . on the pleasure of anyone else. --Mother Teresa

I recently wrote about the spectacle of New York's tallest building aglow in red and yellow to commemorate the founding of Mao Tse-tung's People's Republic of China. Oblivious New Yorkers basked in the glow of a leader and nation that killed more people more quickly than any leader or nation in history. Within its first two decades, Mao's Red China annihilated 60-70 million people, exceeding the combined death toll of World Wars I and II.

As I said, I'm not surprised by such horrible historical ignorance. This is what our education system, from K-12 to universities, has taught -- or failed to teach. Besides, Mao was idolized by many of the 1960s leftists who today pervade our culture and politics.

Well, behold another painful exhibit: President Obama's director of communications, Anita Dunn.

Speaking on June 5 at a high-school graduation ceremony at the National Cathedral, Dunn provided the youngsters with some nuggets of wisdom. She cited "two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse-tung and Mother Teresa."

I know that seems unbelievable. Yet, thanks to the advent of FOXNews, talk-radio, and the web, these things are no longer easily censored by the partisan mainstream media. You can look them up yourself.

Specifically, Dunn's comments were exposed by Glenn Beck on Fox. In response, liberals are attacking not Dunn but Beck. This is sadly predictable, as it has always been anti-Communism that upsets liberals.

It's maddening to have watched the children of the 1960s openly embrace Chairman Mao -- some for 40 years now -- and then, on a dime, cry foul (with the media's backing) when criticized. But so be it.

Dunn has since tried to argue that she was using "irony." Even more lamely, she claims to have borrowed from a comparison she heard from late Republican political strategist Lee Atwater.

In fact, if you actually watch and read Dunn's remarks -- CNN didn't quote them in full -- you'll see she was not being ironic. She was dead serious, going into precise detail on how Mao inspired her.

Almost as if she were describing a political squabble within the Democratic or Republican Party, Dunn spoke of "when Mao Tse-tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over." She added:

Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. They had the air force. They had everything on their side, and people said [to Mao], "How can you win? How can you do this?"

Therein was the core message in Dunn's parable: Inspiring the youngsters with the tale of Mao's triumph, Dunn said: "Against all the odds . . . Mao Tse-tung said, 'You fight your war, and I'll fight mine."'

Dunn told the graduates to "think about that for a second." As they so meditated, she prodded with this insight: Dunn told the teens that they "don't have to accept" others'definitions. They should not accept "external definitions." No, she told them, standing aside a crucifix, they must set their own definitions. "It is about your choices," Dunn instructed. "You figure out what's right for you."

She told the youngsters to establish their own definitions of what's right and wrong in following their own path.

To be sure, this was indeed Mao Tse-tung's philosophy: Right and wrong is not left to a single, universal authority -- to a Supreme Being -- but to oneself. Each and every human being is his or her own moral arbiter. This explains how Mao killed so many people without bothering his conscience. The Marxist-atheist created his own definitions. He decided it was right to let all those people die in order for him to follow his own path, according to his own definitions.

Of course, Anita Dunn obviously doesn't support killing 60-70 million people. But she does support a morally relativistic philosophy that is hurtful enough on its own. That philosophy, taken to its logical conclusion, allows for the kind of reckless madness advocated by Mao. This is a philosophy that, left to the wrong people -- to evil people like Mao -- can be extremely dangerous.

This is why moral relativism doesn't work, why it is nonsense, and why even its purported advocates rarely support it. (For a great book, see Greg Koukl's Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air) And it is why our schools shouldn't be inviting graduation speakers to deliver such inane messages to wide-eyed youngsters preparing to enter the world.

Alas, needless to say, none of this, from the moral relativism to Maoism, would have found approval from Mother Teresa. As the saintly nun from Calcutta put it, "There is only one God and He is God to all." We are not our own gods. There are external definitions of right and wrong -- set by God, not by ourselves.

That was Mother Teresa's philosophy, and it wasn't Mao's. When is America going to start equipping its youth with truth, both historical and moral? For now, we'll continue to reap what we've sown.

The Nobel Committee Dishonors Itself

Even CNN was shocked. Even the Obama White House was shocked.

"Only nine months into his presidency," reported a baffled CNN news anchor this morning. "President Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement made jaws drop even at the White House."

When I first heard the news, I thought it was a joke.

The announcement from the Nobel Committee defies belief, even as I've come to expect the inconceivable from the committee. I learned long ago not to take the Nobel Committee seriously. And yet, this gesture far exceeds any previous towering leap of incredulity by the committee.

To be sure, I knew the Nobel Committee would at some point award Barack Obama its hallowed prize. That was a given. But right now, only nine months into Obama's presidency, when Obama himself would surely agree that he cannot name a single foreign policy accomplishment?

Actually, the situation is worse than that: According to news reports, nominations took place eight months ago, only weeks into Obama's presidency.

How could that be? Does this make any sense at all?

It does when you consider what the Nobel Committee has become, and how it operates according to leftist political objectives. The committee has honored Barack Obama in order to make a political statement in support and encouragement of his foreign policy. The committee knows that its award has nothing to do with the absent foreign-policy accomplishments of a presidency not even a year old, or a diplomatic record that doesn't exist. Its purpose is to help Obama pursue the kind of foreign policy favored by the leftists who run the Nobel Committee.

The European-globalists on the committee agree fully with the leaders who heaped praise on Obama during the UN circus weeks ago. They agree with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that Obama has brought "hope" to the world. They agree with Fidel Castro's hailing Obama's lead on "climate change." They agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Obama agrees with him on America's past "ugly behavior." Like Moammar Kaddafi, they wish Obama could be president "forever."

This award is not a statement on what Obama has done but a rubber-stamp approval of his plans for America and the world. The committee wants to lend cover to Obama as he pursues a global course opposed by conservative Republicans back home and his generals and commanders abroad. To be sure, this is the kind of meddling in domestic politics that the Nobel Committee usually decries.

That said, I'm actually quite pleased with this action. Why? Because it further undermines the credibility of the Nobel Committee as an allegedly impartial organization. This further shows that the group is inherently political and unabashedly left-wing. In other words, this gesture has the noble effect of exposing the ignoble Nobel Committee for what it really is.

I would like to offer two quick examples from the very recent past:

In 2002, the Nobel Committee awarded President Jimmy Carter. Personally, I long supported recognizing Carter for negotiating the Camp David Accords, which was a great accomplishment in an otherwise disastrous presidency. And yet, the Nobel Committee waited over two decades to give Carter the prize. It awaited the presidency of George W. Bush, whose foreign policy these liberal Europeans doggedly opposed, as did a very vocal Jimmy Carter.

The committee's decision to finally commend Carter was motivated in large part by its desire to make a statement against Bush. It was a crass political move by the shamelessly partisan committee. It put a dark cloud over Carter's recognition; it stained the prize.

One more example: A decade before Carter, the Nobel Committee honored Mikhail Gorbachev.

Here, too, I think Gorbachev deserves accolades. I'm a conservative who credits Gorbachev for helping to peacefully end the Cold War. Unfortunately, the committee should have given Ronald Reagan a share in that prize. Instead, the committee specifically thanked Gorbachev for taking down the Berlin Wall, an action that Gorbachev had explicitly opposed from the outset -- thus prompting Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech. What a farce!

And now, in 2009, once again, the Nobel Committee has honored a leader in a blatantly political way -- and in a way that dishonors itself.

Frankly, Obama supporters should be angry. This award, based on transparent political interests, will not be taken seriously. Had the Nobel Committee done this later, Obama's advocates would have something to applaud.

Instead, they will find themselves trying to defend the nonsensical -- or, at least, the left-wing nonsense of the Nobel Committee. *

"[O]f those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1

We would like to thank the following people for their generous support of this journal (from 9/10/09-11/9/09): William D. Andrews, Ariel, David J. Bean, James L. Blilie, Robert M. Buchta, Franklin Buchta, Priscilla L. Buckley, Thomas M. Burt, Dino Casali, David Cole, Walter J. Costello, Maurie Daigneau, Dianne C. DeBoest, Arthur D. Dickson, Jeanne L. Dipaola, Don Dyslin, Irene M. Elkins, Jane F. Gelderman, Hollis J. Griffin, Joyce Griffin, Joyce Griffin, Alene D. Haines, Paul J. Hauser, Hohn H. Hearding, Bernhard Heersink, Jaren E. Hiller, Thomas E. Humphreys, David Ihle, Burleigh Jacobs, Marilyn P. Jaeger, Edgar Jordan, Margaret Kearney, Edward B. Kiolbasa, Rema MacDonald, Woodbridge C. Metcalf, Robert A. Moss, David Norris, Gary J. Pressley, Patrick L. Risch, Philip E. Rosine, Irene L. Schultz, Thomas E. Snee, Leif Solberg, Carl G. Stevenson, Norman Stewart, Robert D. Wells, John V. Westberg, Robert L. Wichterman, James P. Zaluba.

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:26

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a website of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

Saving Obama from Himself: The Machiavellian Thing vs. the Moral Thing on Healthcare

The late Republican political strategist, Lee Atwater, a brilliant Machiavellian, used to invoke what he called "The Napoleonic Maxim:" Never interfere with the enemy when he's in the process of destroying himself.

If Atwater were alive today, how would he advise conservative Republicans in responding to the "healthcare reform" being pushed by President Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Congress? Would he suggest they do the Machiavellian thing or the moral thing? I'm hearing both options.

Consider the Machiavellian thing: Conservatives, particularly on talk-radio, are in an all-out frenzy to rally Americans to halt "Obama-care," and for good reason. But what happens, politically, if they succeed?

If conservatives succeed in stopping this train-wreck, they may save Barack Obama from himself. They will untie the albatross that could sink his ability to win a second term; ditto for another term by this radical-left Congress. And if Obama is reelected, he can do countless other things they will consider likewise destructive, from taxes to social policy to the courts to foreign policy, often under the radar.

While the analogy isn't perfect, think about the election of the Republican Congress in 1994, which was propelled by President Bill Clinton's early leftward lurch, most evident in Hillary Clinton's 1993-94 attempts to socialize medicine. The public responded by electing the Gingrich Congress. Forced to moderate, a more centrist Bill Clinton emerged, and easily won reelection.

That more moderate second term had some benefits, even producing balanced budgets. But it was a second term that included some terrible things, from partial-birth abortion to court picks that made conservatives cringe, not to mention the sordid impeachment trial.

So, conservatives urging a halt to "Obama-care" should be careful what they wish for: Could they help produce four more years of President Obama? Would that be best for conservatism? Would it be best for America?

That brings me to the counter-argument, raised by several friends of The Center for Vision & Values. Call it the "moral thing:" If the Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan is as bad as it seems, then, indeed, the higher priority ought to be to stop the Europeanization of our healthcare system -- to avoid unnecessarily revolutionizing the world's best healthcare system.

Since 2003, Barack Obama has openly advocated a "single-payer universal healthcare program," repeatedly and explicitly, as have his liberal colleagues in the Congress. Such a system, such an ultimate end-goal, potentially begun by this current plan, would permanently bureaucratize the system.

Ronald Reagan once said that the closest we will ever get to eternal life on this planet is a government bureaucracy. He was right. And if you turn America's healthcare system into a single-payer government system, it would be extremely difficult to turn back. It would be like unscrambling eggs. And what's at stake?

I'm greatly concerned with a toxic combination of inevitable rationing and what's being termed end-of-life counseling, which some fear may be mandatory. As someone who has been in the pro-life movement for years, plus studied history, politics, and, before that, worked full-time in healthcare -- both as a hospital employee and reporter for healthcare publications -- I've closely observed the long march by liberal "progressives" from the eugenics of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger to euthanasia. They got their way on abortion -- which, according to the AP, is covered in the current government "healthcare" plan -- and God help us if the door to euthanasia is cracked.

It also doesn't help that likewise steaming down the track are the modern left's parallel obsessions with "people problems" like "overpopulation" and "climate change."

None of this is good. And these forces are coming together at a time, a perfect storm, when the left has finally achieved the political power it has craved. This is the "crisis" it needs, to borrow from Obama's chief of staff.

For years, the political left has groped for control of the nation's healthcare. Now, at long last, the prize is in sight, thanks to the way Americans voted in November 2008.

This is not to say we don't have problems in our healthcare system. No one is saying that. But for the radical progressive, that isn't the issue. These folks dream of federal power, of central planning, of literal management of lives. This is their long-awaited, glistening moment.

Reform healthcare with legitimate reform, addressing real issues, like the genuine problem of the minority of Americans who, for whatever reason, are not insured. Do the moral thing.

Gore Unhinged

"How can anyone take this man seriously?" writes Marilyn, a frequent reader of our Center for Vision & Values articles.

Attached to Marilyn's email was this headline, "Gore compares climate change fight to war against Nazis." As the accompanying article noted, Al Gore, speaking at the World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford, warned his audience -- mostly British -- of the imperative to confront climate change, as Britain and the Allies once battled Hitler.

"The former U.S. vice president said the world lacked the political will to act," reported the London Times, "and invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill by encouraging leaders to unite their nations to fight climate change."

Fancying himself a contemporary Churchill, Gore sounded the clarion call, declaring that the essential missing ingredient is courage and commitment. Like the brave Sir Winston in those ominous days of the Battle of Britain, Gore stoically exhorted: "We have everything we need, except political will."

As for those pusillanimous appeasers who cover their eyes to the need for urgent action? Presumably, they are modern Neville Chamberlains, appeasing the evil of global warming, just as history's Great Appeaser placated Hitler.

Predictably, Al Gore's extremist proclamations were largely ignored by the mainstream press that tragically serves as educator-in-chief to most Americans. This isn't the kind of headline deemed newsworthy by Katie Couric and CBS News.

That brings me back to Marilyn's email: How can anyone take this man seriously? Well, the fact is we've done just that for almost 20 years. Believe it or not, Gore stated precisely these things in his 1992 international bestseller Earth in the Balance. What Al Gore said in London last week is no different from what he has said -- and gotten away with -- for decades.

Consider some passages from Gore's 1992 manifesto: In one of the many deeply disturbing passages in a deeply disturbing book, Gore hailed ecological activists as "resistance fighters" and "people of conscience" engaging in a just war akin to the World War II resistance that fought the Nazis.

That thought alone is incredibly offensive, especially in what it implies of those who reject Gore's environmental prescriptions. In particular, however, the parallel is a grave injustice to those who suffered under the Nazis. Jews ought to be outraged. Gore's moral equivalency reveals a breathtaking lack of historical measure -- odd for a man who writes on the triumph of "reason."

Gore's Nazi metaphors are ubiquitous in Earth in the Balance. Warning of an "environmental holocaust," Gore exhorted: "Today the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin." Gore asserted that America's consumption of resources is reminiscent of Germany's descent into fascism.

As if his Nazi analogies weren't aggressive enough, the Nobel Peace Prize winner envisioned

. . . a kind of global civil war between those who refuse to consider the consequences of civilization's relentless advance and those who refuse to be silent partners in the destruction.

Yes, that's right: a "global civil war."

Consequently, Gore urged, the rescue of the environment must become the "central organizing principle" of all societies and modern civilization. This will require not just sacrifice and struggle but "a wrenching transformation of society."

Al Gore prophesied nothing short of environmental Armageddon, an apocalypse, and called for a crusade. The word crusade, in this case, had religious connotations, in contrast to when FDR, Eisenhower, or Reagan called for "crusades" for freedom.

Indeed, it is rarely recalled that Earth in the Balance carried the instructive subtitle, Ecology and the Human Spirit. This environmental manifesto was a sort of spiritual autobiography by Gore, his epistle to Mother Nature, his adoration of the Earth. This is evident in the chapter, "Environmentalism of the Spirit," where Gore insisted that the "environmental crisis" demands "a new faith in the future of life on earth."

So, in short, Al Gore's remarks in London are nothing new.

In a just world, or at least, in an America where "journalists" provided objective news coverage, these Al Gore absurdities would have been exposed long ago, and this man would have never gotten close to the vice presidency let alone the presidency. Of course, that's why journalists never touched them, in the hopes that Gore's scary statements would never see the light of day -- or of television cameras.

What's even scarier is that a majority of Americans took this man seriously enough to vote him president in 2000. We dodged that bullet, but Al Gore's dream lives on with sudden renewed vigor, as the most leftist president and Congress in American history stand poised to make it a reality. ("Cap-and-trade" is the first shot in their environmental salvo.)

At long last, Al Gore's "wrenching transformation" may be upon us, courtesy of Americans' choices at the voting booth. *

"If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. --George Burns

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