Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Doing a job that Americans won't do


"Whittier area students from Pioneer, California and Whittier high schools walked out of classes to protest the proposed federal immigration bill March 27, 2006. The protestors put up the Mexican flag over the American flag flying upside down at Montebello High." (Leo Jarzomb/Staff photo)

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted two days ago to reward the Mexicans drunk on reconquista as follows (as reported by Numbers USA):
On March 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed by a 12-6 vote a McCain-Kennedy-style amnesty and temporary bill (no bill number). It may be amended into Sen. Bill Frist's (R-TN) bill, S 2454, as soon as March 28 on the Senate floor. The plan incorporates:

(1) a new "temporary" agricultural worker program (as proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]);

(2) another "guestworker" visa program "capped" at 400,000 per year (as proposed by Sen. Ted Kennedy [D-MA]); and

(3) an amnesty for illegal aliens who have worked in the United States for six years and who wait another five before applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence, provided the illegal alien pays $2,000 in fines, has a background check done, and demonstrates a working knowledge of English (as proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC]).

Other bad "reforms" include an amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to de-criminalize illegal presence and another by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to open up more visas for alien nurses as long as related shortages exist. Amendments to curb the overall impact of these visa and citizenship giveaways offered by Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) were defeated. The full Senate may have as much as two weeks to consider amendments on the floor.
Comment is superfluous.

Monday, March 27, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?


When I first saw this photo of the rally for illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, something about it nagged at me. Not the subject of the photo, but the photo itself. Lawrence Auster caught what was unconsciously bothering me about the picture: "A very impressive photo—but doesn’t it look more like a drawing than a photo?"

So it does: the buildings in particular remind me of an architectural rendering, or one of those painted exterior backgrounds in movies. It's far-fetched to imagine that the picture is actually drawn or painted, but given that the mainstream media are the public relations team for Los Illegals, you can wonder if the shot was digitally manipulated in some way: to make the day look soft and dreamy, inviting our emotional participation with the gathering? To increase the number of marchers?

Regardless, there were no doubt an impressive number of what our p.c. media delicately refer to as the "undocumented" at the Los Angeles rally and others. With a key vote coming up in the Senate, the Open Borders lobby clearly wanted a show of strength.

Both Auster and Gerard Van der Leun of American Digest have speculated that the intimidation-by-numbers strategy might actually bite the immigration evangelists on the ass. Even people who are normally inclined to minimize the significance of The Invasion, seeing pictures like the one above, might have their consciousness raised to a new understanding by hundreds of thousands demanding their "right" to annex large parts of the United States to the Third World. Perhaps they will finally get it that the illegal immigration problem isn't a matter of a few amiable Latino lawn cutters and burger wrappers, but an organized and calculated campaign of cultural and economic aggression against the United States on behalf of Mexico.

If El Presidente, the Chamber of Commerce, and their obedient servants of the media get their way and Congress votes for amnesty tarted up as a "guest worker program," or even just allows the current de facto open borders policy to carry on, then the United States is finished.

Oh, there will still be a country of that name; we'll keep up the pretense for a few generations, like the ancient Romans preserving the forms of their Republic after it fell to emperors ruling with the bottomless powers of Oriental potentates. But there will be nothing united about the United States, culturally, linguistically, or socially. It will be a balkanized collection of mutually suspicious and uncomprehending hyphenated-American enclaves, looking out for no good but their own, ungovernable except in the lowest sense of a series of temporary ethnic coalitions dealing out patronage along country-of-origin lines.

I have no doubt that most Americans, including many legal and established immigrants, would reject such a future if given the chance to. Unfortunately, El Presidente, majorities in both major parties, the academic leftists, and the '60s retards who control the media will do everything in their very considerable power to see that they never get that chance. There is every sign that the Senate is about to ignore it.

There's something wrong with that picture.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Britain shakes hands with the Devil

It's become so common, it almost passes without notice these days.

A lecturer at Leeds University in England has been suspended for expressing publicly what everyone in the field of intelligence testing knows -- that different ethnic groups score differently, on average. The results have been replicated any number of times, and many of the tests have taken into account sociological differences such as wealth versus poverty.

What the implications are is rightly debatable. Personally, I can't think of any discriminatory change -- certainly not in law -- that should ensue. For one thing, the IQ differences among races and ethnic groups are averages; they say nothing about any individual. I am sure there are Hottentots and Australian Aborigines who are brighter than certain people of Anglo-Saxon ancestry that I would go out of my way to avoid.

Regardless, if there is a dispute about the facts -- and to the best of my knowledge, there is none other than that based on politically correct ideology -- it should be settled in the court of scholarly and public opinion. That, however, is not how the ruling elites in Britain see it. They believe there are ideas that are "cursed," that must not be spoken. We have seen how Her Majesty's government has prosecuted people for opposing immigration; here, in a less dramatic but equally revealing example, it is evident that even a university lecturer, who presumably was hired on the basis of some qualifications, can be cast into outer darkness and denied his position for expressing an idea that is officially verboten.
... University secretary Roger Gair said in a statement that details of the disciplinary process "must remain a private matter" between employer and employee.

But he said three issues were being looked into.

  1. In publicising his personal views on race and other matters, Dr Ellis had acted in breach of the university's equality and diversity policy, "and in a way that is wholly at odds with our values".
  2. He had "recklessly jeopardised" the fulfilment of the university's obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.
  3. He had failed to comply with "reasonable requests" - for example, to apologise for the distress which his remarks on race and other matters have caused to many people, or to give an undertaking he would make no further public comments suggesting one racial group is inherently inferior (or superior) to another "unless there is no possibility whatsoever that anyone hearing or reading his comments might reasonably associate him with the University of Leeds".
"Equality and diversity policy." "Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000." "Reasonable requests 'to apologise.'"

Here are echoes of every totalitarian nation in modern history, from Soviet Russia to apartheid South Africa.

How long will it be before the U.K. not only demands a craven apology from any dissident from the enforced orthodoxy, but declares them insane and sends them to permanent residency in a "mental hospital," as in the Soviet Union?

So far, all the guardians of the party line can do is deprive people like Dr. Ellis of their position and livelihood for causing "distress" to anyone within hearing distance. So far.

But it's obvious that those who make the rules in today's Britain have no faith in the free market of ideas, no concept of intellectual give-and-take. All that matters is appeasing any groups that are primed to feel "distress" at any thoughts not to their liking.

It's the culmination of trends long in the making. There is probably no one under the age of 30 in the British Isles who can even remember a time when you could speak freely. They have been educated, if that's the word -- conditioned is more accurate -- to believe that there is no truth except what the State tells them, that no value exceeds "diversity," that offending any group is a thought crime, and that the only way to deal with thought criminals is to drop them down the oubliette.

Half a century ago, British people performed untold acts of heroism and duty -- often at the cost of their lives -- to safeguard freedom in their land. Today's Britain is making fools of them. It has chosen repression under the guise of diversity.

Everyone of my generation can remember a certain Rolling Stones song: "Pleased to meet you ... hope you guess my name."

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Road to Eleusis

I'm just back from a trip to Athens, Greece. Wait! Stay thy hand! Don't click away. This is not going to be a travel-bore posting on the lines of "Wednesday I visited the Parthenon, what a mess, when are they ever going to finish it? Wandered down to the Plaka where I got legless on ouzo in a quaint little taverna ... ."

In fact, it was a business trip, not a holiday, and I didn't even go to the bloody Parthenon. Want to make something of it? If you are interested in the artistic legacy of Greece, you are much better off at the National Archeological Museum. It's a bit away from the tourist trail, and you will have no crowds to compete with, except for the inevitable school groups. The exhibits are of a very high quality, and in some cases breathtaking.


There is, for example, a kore (female-figure sculpture from the pre-classical age) that I could hardly part from. The elegance of form, the innocent half-smile as if she were enjoying some private joke or delightful memory, the curtain-like braided hair were to wonder at. Even the designs on her clothing — flowers and geometrical accents — seemed perfectly in keeping with the mood evoked. (The colors of the paint were still faintly visible in places.) The artist or artists who created her more than 2,500 years ago had known what it was to love, I feel sure.

I awarded myself two days after I had concluded my work for sightseeing, which included, besides the archeological museum, several Byzantine and Greek Orthodox religious sites, including an 11th century monastery enfolded on the lower slope of Mount Hymettos. All were impressive, despite being (to contemporary eyes) remarkably small — remnants of a time before overpopulation encouraged gigantism in everything from airliners to shopping malls. In the Greek Orthodox churches, the lighting was dim and the old wood dark, which set out dramatically the intensely colored icons and gold and silver ornaments.

One such church was incongruously located in a city-center shopping precinct, surrounded by every allure that modern marketing can devise. These shops and boutiques are our religous sites, pilgrims in endless procession visiting them in search of baptism by glamour, salvation by ownership. A few people, almost all women — some, to my pleased surprise, as young as those queueing outside the Hard Rock Cafe — entered the church while I was there, made the sign of the cross, kissed the icons. The old rituals are not quite gone, not yet.

The rituals of Eleusis are gone. For two thousand years it was the scene of Mystery Rites that were, apparently, as close as the ancient Greeks and Romans came to mysticism in pre-Christian times, except perhaps in the Isis cult. Each year, many citizens of Athens, rich and poor, later augmented by visitors from the Roman Empire, celebrated the Eleusinian rites on nine days set aside for them. They walked from Athens to Eleusis on the Sacred Way.


Because the Mysteries were secret, no one knows precisely what happened during the ceremonies undergone by the initiates. There are many accounts, all speculative to a degree. It is generally agreed that the rites took their theme from the legend of Demeter and Persephone, although I suspect that was only their outermost aspect, which could be understood on some level by the masses. Those who were admitted into the innermost mysteries had a direct experience that enabled them to know death and rebirth.

The driver I hired to take me to the archeological site of Eleusis (located in Elefsina, a dreary modern Athenian suburb) said that in his dozen years of conveying tourists I was only the fourth who had asked to go there. The site was practically deserted, inhabited at the time by a ticket seller, a caretaker, and four or five dogs lounging where philosophers, emperors, and people of modest circumstances had sought knowledge of the Reality behind appearances. I saw two other visitors while I walked around.

Eleusis is a collection of ruins, but with the help of signs and a guidebook, you can get the general picture of what was where. It surprised me to learn how much the venue had been expanded and rebuilt by the Romans once they ruled Greece. Clearly it was an important place for many of them, including apparently the emperor Hadrian — known much more for his military and political interests than any religious beliefs.

I really hadn't expected much from Eleusis; it was just something I wanted to see for what it had been in ancient times. And I had no mystical experiences there (not that I'd expected any). Yet it did feel that I was in a place touched by eternity, although that may have been purely an intellectual response. I don't know if I would have felt the same if I hadn't known the locale's history. But it was oddly affecting to be walking on the ground from which had once risen the Telesterion, the large central building, where millennia ago the hierophants had led seekers to the most profound Knowledge.

It was cloudy and cool there that day. At times, though, the clouds shrank from the sun, and a bright, intense Mediterranean light revealed the world anew. Perhaps that was the only metaphor today's world could offer of what the Mysteries had once given to those who had walked the road to Eleusis.

"Blessed is he who has seen these things
before he goes beneath the earth;
for he understands the end of mortal life,
and the beginning (of a new life) given of God."
— Pindar

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ask the experts at Newsday: How to slant the "news" about illegal immigration

Newsday, an ultra-liberal paper serving (so to speak) Long Island's New York suburban counties, demonstrates how alleged journalists disguise their support for illegal immigration as news. Take this article headlined "Immigration Fracas."

The writers and editors involved do show a certain talent — as propagandists. Observe the technique:

1. What is the news here, in the sense of an actual event? A county official has gone to Washington "to ask for federal help with the burden he said undocumented immigrants impose on communities around the country, including Suffolk." Uh-oh, you don't (if you're a Newsday reporter) want that to be the story. It might lead some readers into thinking about the social costs of illegal immigration. Then there is some sort of conference, about which the reporting is so unprofessionally vague that you can't gather much except that controversial groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Numbers USA are involved.

So, if you write for Newsday, you turn the beat around. You ring up an immigrants-as-victims group spokesman to get a comment whose essence you already know before you've hit speed dial. Now you've found an acceptable narrative: critics who "knock" the executive for trafficking with "questionable" groups. The "news" is about the critics.

2. You reduce the issues to the simple-minded and personal. The writer, Bart Jones, wants you to get the message that the controversy has nothing to do with laws and law-breaking, or whether a culture is obliged to accept limitless numbers of unskilled, indigent opportunists. You'd never dream there were principles involved. For Mr. Jones and his masters at Newsday, the only question is whether you are "pro" immigrants (the heroes) or "anti" immigrants (the villains).

3. You carefully avoid using the words "illegal immigrants" until well into the piece. Until the fourth paragraph, it's "immigrants" and "undocumented immigrants." They aren't people who are in violation of the law — the sort of thing you or I might get arrested for — they're just "undocumented," like someone who has misplaced his library card.

4. You make sure that even before we hear from the the county official, the ostensible subject of the news, the "pro-immigrant" spokesman gets his licks in first with the serious and unsubstantiated accusation that FAIR and Numbers USA are "ideologically motivated hate group[s]." (Unlike purely disinterested "community organizations," of course.) Only five paragraphs later are the "hate groups" permitted to respond.

5. Desperate for more ammunition, you ring up the Southern Poverty Law Center. Southern? Poverty? Never mind, they're reliable for another quote bashing the "anti-immigrant" organizations. They don't "list" FAIR and Numbers USA as hate groups — probably just haven't gotten around to it yet, there are so many to list.

6. If you're a Newsday editor, make sure there's a "pro-immigrant" sidebar, like "Immigrants to Get Safety Gear." String section, let me hear you! "Many struggling Latino immigrants on Long Island don't have the money for a car, so they often rely on other means of transportation: they walk, take buses or ride bicycles. The problem is they place themselves in dangerous situations that sometimes result in accidents — some of them fatal." (It may be just as well for the legal residents of Long Island that the struggling Latino immigrants don't have cars: illegal immigrants are also especially prone to causing drunk driving accidents, some of them fatal.)

7. Also make sure there's a link to an immigration-pimp columnist like this one.

Only then do you give readers the other side with a story containing arguments by supporters of FAIR and Numbers USA like ... uh ... well, I'm sorry, I can't seem to find one on the Newsday site, but I'm sure they'll run one any decade now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The list, updated

I linked to the list for 2004 last November. The list for 2005 can be read here. Scroll down when the page loads.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cyndi Lauper, chanteuse

Cyndi Lauper's vocal career has brought her fame and fortune, but precious little respect. It wasn't a case of early success being hard to live up to, but the nature of that early success, which nearly ensured that she wouldn't be taken seriously afterward. Lauper caught a wave -- the 1980s New Wave -- with her first album, She's So Unusual, and she soon became as much an early-MTV icon as A Flock of Seagulls or Duran Duran. Once established, she herself didn't seem to know what to make of herself.

Natural selection in the pop-music business when Lauper was first knocking on the door did not ensure that the fittest, in a qualitative sense, survived. When every other teenager in America was fixated on being a rock star, the odds against being noticed by the producers who mattered was a few million to one. (It remains to be seen whether digital downloads and MP3 files are significantly changing that story.) To register with the recording industry, and then the public, a performer had to stand out dramatically from the background, and that usually meant creating an extreme persona. Talent was possibly an asset, though not sufficient.

cyndi lauper
A star is reborn

Cyndi Lauper beat the odds, but partly because she or her manager marketed her brilliantly as a flamboyant, unconventional character -- a kooky, wild cupcake, complete with the requisite two-tone hair. For all that, She's So Unusual was something of a pop masterpiece, with half a dozen highlights ranging from roof raisers like "Money Changes Everything" to the raunchy "She Bop" to the lovely ballads "Time After Time" and "All Through the Night." The arrangements were balanced perfectly between contemporary synth-and-drum-machine and a nostalgic, 1950s flavor.

For her follow-up, True Colors, Lauper wasn't so unusual; her next effort, A Night to Remember, was a disc to forget. Although a video I saw years ago of a concert she gave in Paris was startling evidence of the electricity she could bring to a live performance, I lost track of her as she seemed to be devolving into a faded celebrity destined for occasional guest spots on TV shows and parts in third-rate movies.

But in her 2003 disc At Last, which I discovered in the media section of my local public library, Lauper has tackled an ambitious project and carried it off with honors. This is a cabaret-influenced album of modern art songs. She's acting her age, not trying to appeal to the iPod generation, but rather to those of her original fans whose tastes have matured.

The material, mainly songs from the '40s through the '60s, is well suited to Lauper's directly communicative, post-novelty-act style: "Stay," "La Vie en Rose," "Unchained Melody," "If You Go Away" (Rod McKuen's English lyrics grafted onto Jacques Brel's heart-wrenching "Ne Me Quitte Pas"), and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me." Always a better singer than anybody noticed, she puts these and others across with verve and delicacy, as required. The voice has become surprisingly precise, full of interesting modulations of color, and alert to the emotional connotations of the words.

She even measures up to "Hymn to Love," not sounding foolish compared with Edith Piaf's famous version. But the English lyrics are not the ones that Piaf sang ("If you love me, really love me/And whatever happens I won't care" ) -- perhaps she felt that they were too corny for a modern audience. Her edition of the song also ends in a minor key, suggesting some doubt as to the all-conquering power of romantic love. Regardless, it's a memorable performance.

She takes only one serious mis-step, in her duet with Tony Bennett of "Makin' Whoopee." The cringe-making updated lyrics and her spoken asides, delivered in a Betty Boop-like accent, camp it up in a way that undercuts the disc's otherwise authentic spirit.

Still, for anyone who likes the Great American Songbook and '50s classics, this release should be more than satisfying. Even if you never cared for the mannerism of her early albums, don't write off At Last without giving it a listen. Cyndi Lauper has grown into an artiste, or perhaps the artiste that she was all along has finally been allowed to emerge.