Everybody with at least a junior-high education has heard of “survival of the fittest.” It is a common way of expressing Charles Darwin’s proposition of the importance of competitive advantage in the survival of a species. In a nutshell, the theory holds that the way plant and animal groups spread out over the eons was to evolve better survival traits & mechanisms, such that they out-survived and displaced their older and/or less “fit” competitors.

Now, however, some scientists are questioning that supposition. (And, I’m not referring to proponents of Intelligent Design or creationism of any sort.)

Lizard drawing by Darwin while on H.M.S. Beagle voyage

Lizard drawing by Darwin while on H.M.S. Beagle voyage

Palaeontologist Mike Benton and colleagues at the University of Bristol have completed a recent project, which they claim is “the first numerical study investigating the link between tetrapod taxonomic and ecological diversity on a global scale.” As Benton had concluded in a more limited analysis published in 1996, this new study (published in Biology Letters) indicates that competitive pressures were not the main reason for radiation of the species. Rather, it was “expansion into new ecospace.” The team’s comprehensive analysis of data from around the world, and spanning more than 400 million years, revealed multiple lines of evidence leading to their conclusion. What was missing was evidence that “survival of the fittest” played more than a minor role for the spread of tetrapods. [Btw, I wrote about the oldest tetrapods here and here.]

Sarda Sahney, a PhD student working with Benton et al., summed it up this way on her blog:

[T]he rich biodiversity we see on Earth today has grown out of expansion, not competition. Darwin cited competition among animals, coined ‘survival of the fittest’, as a driver of evolution in his book, On the Origin of Species; since then competition has been considered key to having grown Earth’s biodiversity. But while competition has been observed on a small scale, (eg. between species), there is little evidence of competition guiding large-scale shifts in biodiversity, such as the dominance of mammals and birds over reptiles and amphibians in today’s world. Our new research supports the idea that animals diversified by expanding into empty ecological roles rather than by direct competition with each other.”

Dare we question the Great OZ — er, I mean, Charles Darwin?

The write-up in the BBC News was surprisingly candid, with the tagline: “Charles Darwin may have been wrong when he argued that competition was the major driving force of evolution.” The writer begins:

[Darwin] imagined a world in which organisms battled for supremacy and only the fittest survived. But new research identifies the availability of ‘living space’, rather than competition, as being of key importance for evolution. Findings question the old adage of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’…. [Instead,] really big evolutionary changes happen when animals move into empty areas of living space, not occupied by other animals…. This concept challenges the idea that intense competition for resources in overcrowded habitats is the major driving force of evolution.”

How did the Neo-Darwinian establishment react? Predictably. Steve Newton of the [Darwinist propaganda machine] National Center for Scientific Education (NCSE) wrote a piece called “Darwin Was Not Wrong–New Study Being Distorted”. The first target of his scorn was the BBC News report.

Science fares poorly in the media…. When scientific topics are reported, they are consistently misunderstood and spiced-up with such sensationalism that the original significance is contorted beyond all recognition. Such misreporting has happened again–this time involving Charles Darwin and evolution.”

And I agree wholeheartedly. It happens all the time, but the spin and/or sensationalism usually favors the Neo-Darwinian theory or conveniently omits the inconvenient questions raised by new evidence. The problem with Newton’s bringing it up in this case is that the person who wrote the article for BBC News is not your average columnist who was assigned the “science beat”. The piece was written by Howard Falcon-Lang, a professional scientist who has been widely published in peer-reviewed literature. Is someone like Falcon-Lang likely to sensationalize such a story? Or, did he just not understand it?

Charles Darwin statue at Natural History Museum

Charles Darwin statue at Natural History Museum

Newton goes on to say…

A press release for the paper noted that when examining large-scale changes in biodiversity, the data suggest: ‘Animals diversified by expanding into empty ecological roles rather than by direct competition with each other’. This paper does not argue that Darwin’s conception of small-scale competition within species is incorrect. It does not argue that new species arising out of accumulating changes is a flawed concept. It does not argue Darwin was wrong.”

Try again, Mr. Newton. As David Tyler of the Access Research Network (ARN) points out,

[The paper] sets out to identify factors relevant to biodiversification (the origin of species). It claims that competition between species, whether small-scale or large-scale, is not relevant to understanding the phenomenon. Darwin was not wrong to say that ‘small-scale competition within species’ is a real occurrence – but he was wrong to think this phenomenon helps explain the origin of species!”

Newton’s seemingly knee-jerk reaction is somewhat typical of the high-priests of Darwin, whenever their dogma is being questioned. Whether through carelessness or disingenuousness, they immediately try to a) misrepresent the findings; b) spin the conclusions to seemingly support Neo-Darwinism; c) confuse the layman with lots of extraneous numbers & technical language; and/or d) cast aspersions on the integrity and/or competence of the researchers and/or any reporters who dare to not tow the Neo-Darwinian line. While I haven’t seen Newton’s full response, there do seem to be elements of “a” & “d”, in this case.

Why is this? I mean, I understand that a new theory should be well-tested and studies need to be reviewed by independent parties before being fully accepted. But, why so quick to pooh-pooh a new idea and attack anyone who supports it? Could it be that they don’t like their sacred cow being examined too closely? They can’t allow even a hint of doubt about their sacred scripture?

Ironically, I’m not sure Benton et al.’s conclusions do any real damage, ultimately, to the current theory. Darwinism has survived such tweaking before — witness the “Neo” prefix now preferred. Frankly, the NCSE has much bigger problems, when it comes to defending their materialistic “faith”, than the relative significance of competitive pressures in the historical radiation of species.

Advertisements
Pleiades constellation

Pleiades (taken from Las Brisas Observatory; not part of the competition)

Y’know, for some reason, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to blog about this weekend. Plus, today’s my birthday, so I have an excuse for loafing off, right?

Then I came across some awesome pictures from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I think they’re pretty amazing, so I decided to share ’em. (Not that they’re mine, but, uh, you know what I mean.)

Here’s the link to the top astronomy photographs.

Enjoy!

In his book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006), Larry F. Sternberg gives a bit of history, explaining how Jews in the late-18th & early-19th centuries came to think so highly of “socialism”. Unfortunately, they did not understand the true, basic tenets of the system, and it cost them and their descendants greatly.

Russia's Czar Alexander III

Russia's Czar Alexander III, who began the pogroms against the Jews after inheriting the throne in 1881

The link between Jews and socialism in modern times can be traced to the mass exodus that took place from Eastern Europe to the United States, beginning in 1881. Jews fleeing the tyranny of the czar followed the liberal cause, which was to liberate them from the ghettos. Liberal was a heroic term in Europe, and to break the czar’s rule, socialism was the doctrine most often preached as the way to a better life. Probably most Jews accepting socialism really were not aware of the dictionary definition: “Control by the state of all means of production and economic activity.” They knew only that anything was better than living under the czar, and socialism, with its veneer of brotherhood and charity and sharing, was appealing….

Socialism seemed to progress by pretending to be a liberal, revolutionary movement, freeing up the lives of its supporters, when in reality its basic doctrine is more state control over peoples’ lives. The Nazi Party was known as the National Socialist Party. Communism in Russia was identified as the International Socialist Movement. It was no coincidence that the word “socialist” appears prominently in both of these totalitarian regimes, which together practically decimated European Jewry. Still, there is little doubt that socialism continues to cast its enticing spell over many of our intellectuals today, some of whom have influential teaching positions in our leading universities.

The irony of it all is as [Elie] Koudurie writes [in his book The Jewish World], American Jews have long believed anti-Semitism was encouraged by the political right in America, with the right’s alleged ignoring of the social problems of poverty, prejudice, and its alleged practice of discrimination against Jews in business. Only recently are American Jews discovering that many of our problems emanate from the left with its affluence, permissiveness, wishful thinking, and its substitute of secular liberalism for their own Jewish religion.

What American Jews must always remember is that totalitarian regimes come to power by promising everything to everybody, and then remain in power through force and intimidation. And when things eventually go bad for them, there is always the need for a scapegoat, and who else fits that role but the Jew. Sidney Hook, a liberal for much of his life, is quoted as saying,

‘I was guilty of judging capitalism by its operations and socialism by its hopes and aspirations; capitalism by its works and socialism by its literature.’

Winston Churchill wrote,

‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.’

…I tend to believe that the socialist theory of life is not making that much headway among the baby boomers in America. Certainly, if one leans toward Judaism in practically any way, and if one does any studying of the history of socialism and its links to present day liberalism, one would have to reject following socialism in any of its forms.

Beyond all of this, there must be the realization that socialism, and its twin liberalism, by granting more and more power to the state, by looking to the state to solve all of our social, economic, and even personal problems, in effect makes the state the “God” whom all should worship. By elevating the state to this supreme position, socialism or liberalism by definition does thereby demote the eternal and One God to an inferior position. In so doing, these philosophies defy the Second Commandment, when God thundered to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai,

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'”

So, it seems that the first point here is the danger in latching onto a particular movement without fully understanding the doctrines/ideology behind it. The Jews have certainly paid the price, as they may again, but the lesson serves for all of us who value our freedom. I think the American “Progressives” and their agenda — particularly the secularist flavor — serve as the current example to beware of.

[On a lighter note, I keep thinking of the immortal words of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, who said to his companion, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”]

The second point is a warning against the subtle replacement of God with the State in people’s minds. Not that it is worshiped in quite the same way, of course. But, not all idolatry is directed at a divine being or a statue or icon of one.

<em><a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1589803833?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=sirrahc-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=1589803833″>Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals</a></em><img style=”border: none!important; margin: 0!important;” src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=sirrahc-20&amp;l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=1589803833&#8243; border=”0″ alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ /> (2001, rev. 2006)

Today, I would like to return to Larry F. Sternberg’s wonderful book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006). In fact, perhaps I should have made this the first post re the book, since it is where Sternberg lays out a framework of sorts for the rest of the book. I’ll let him explain:

If one were to list the principle reasons for this liberal political attitude of American Jews, it might include the following (I am indebted to Nathaniel Wyl’s The Jew in American Politics for several of these points).

1. Jews in America, having attained a superior financial status on the average, feel some guilt for their prosperous state. To assuage that guilty feeling, it becomes natural for them to support any policy that “helps the poor and less fortunate.”

2. Jews in America are still fearful of latent anti-Semitism, as represented in their minds by the Religious Right. Since this group appears to be predominantly conservative politically, they must be opposed.

3. Jews in America, becoming more secular and distant from their Orthodox origins, have substituted government assistance for their Jewish charitable institutions.

4. Jews in America desire to be thought of as not that different from their Christian fellow Americans, and thus are easy prey for all of those “feel good” programs which promise to solve the nation’s problems.

5. Jews in America are concerned that if they express too independent a thought, such as school choice or welfare elimination, they will be categorized with those who are “hard hearted,” a category Jews abhor.

Milton Friedman in contemplative pose

Milton Friedman, the great (Jewish, conservative) economist

6. Jews in America, in spite of their extensive scholarship and academic achievements, still do not really understand the workings of the free market or the miraculous results this free market has accomplished in the country.

7. Jews in America still believe that government contains certain miraculous powers, which if used correctly can bring about the nirvana right here at home. As Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote recently in his book, America’s Real War, there is something within the Jewish make-up that demands action to bring about desired results. Since the liberals believe that only by using the force of government can these results be swiftly achieved, Jews flock to this philosophy, while ignoring the results that invariably are the opposite of those that were intended.

8. Jews in America, although somewhat of an elite group, are still fearful of standing out too much from the crowd. Thus they ignore their Jewish belief of individual freedom, and what their thousands of years of struggle has been about. This was not always the case. Prior to the FDR regime, American Jews were fairly evenly divided between the Republican and Democratic parties. It has only been since FDR that Jews have gravitated en masse to the Democratic Party.

9. Jews in America have continued to select leaders of the major Jewish organizations who are confirmed liberals. These leaders present this liberal image to the country at large as the natural Jewish position with the corresponding following by the rank and file, with no real Jewish opposition other than a few Jewish public figures. The fact that today’s liberals resemble the socialists of past days somehow escapes their thinking. Unfortunately the majority of the rabbis, Reform and Conservative, tend to support those leaders. Only the Orthodox rabbis, a much smaller number, hold out for traditional Jewish values.

10. Jews in America simply don’t recognize who their true friends are, continue to be emotional about their politics to the detriment of not using their intellectual analysis, and thus remain political sheep to their liberal sheepdogs.

Jewish family (c. WWII)

Jewish family (ca. WWII)

11. Finally, Jews in America conveniently ignore the history of their people, which has been an everlasting search and struggle for individual freedom. Throughout their history, Jews have sought only to be left alone to live their lives as they chose and to worship as they believed. For thousands of years, they were denied this freedom, wandering from land to land until by the grace of God they landed in this free land of America. Jews must always guard this freedom from the oppression of government with all the strength they possess. As secular liberalism, with its corresponding growth of government, has attained more power in America, for no other reason Jews should reject today’s liberal philosophy and gravitate to the conservative or libertarian principles.

This last point, perhaps more important than any other, is the one that appears to be most overlooked…. Only in America, for over three hundred years, have Jews been accepted as full citizens with all the rights and freedoms as possessed by other citizens. Only in America have Jews been able to make their way without any government sponsored controls or discrimination. Therefore, Jews must be almost paranoid in their opposition to any meaningful increase in government powers. It has been largely the Democratic Party that has expanded the powers of the federal government, beginning mainly with the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933.

…The point is seldom if ever made by our Jewish leaders that every new law passed with its accompanying bureaucratic regulations, results in a diminution of our individual freedom to act as we choose. The taxes we pay, the multitude of rules and regulations that govern our everyday lives, all of this impinges upon our freedom to act, and this freedom is perhaps the most precious value that we must preserve for ourselves and our future generations.”

Well said, Mr. Sternberg.

If you’ve read the earlier posts (here, here, here, here), you probably recognize at least a couple of the above themes. My goal isn’t necessarily to hit every one, but I do have a few more I hope to touch upon briefly this month (e.g., socialism vs. capitalism, fear of standing out, anti-Semitism, etc.) In the end, I hope you are intrigued enough to pick up the book for yourself, regardless of your religious or political leanings.

Wind energy.

Electricity generated by the power of the wind.

It’s a cool idea. (Or, should I say “hot”?) Clean (i.e., no carbon emissions or other harmful waste products), natural and “renewable”. Presumably cheap, too. Yay! Every politician’s dream, especially those who are funded and/or pressured by the environmentalist lobbyists and other “green” groups. Of course, when you read or listen to those activists via the MSM, you don’t usually hear the other side of the equation, as it were.

Wind Farm -- The Braes O'Doune near Stirling Castle in Scotland

The Braes O'Doune Wind Farm near Stirling Castle, Scotland

Unreliability is a BIG concern. You just can’t rely on the wind to always be blowing, even when you build a wind farm in a normally windy place. Take Scotland, for instance, which has several wind farms responsible for producing 1588 megawatts (MW) of power. A recent study on the data from those farms from February through June of this year revealed some eye-opening facts.

  • While the wind turbines are supposed to operate at an average output of about 30% of their maximum installed capacity, they under-produced 80% of the time.
  • They were at less than 5% maximum output nearly a third of the time, sometimes for several days.
  • Only 9 times did they actually reach 30% efficiency for a full day.
  • In fact, average output for the 5-month period was only 17% of maximum — i.e., just over half of what is expected.

It’s not a serious issue, yet, but Helen McDade of the John Muir Trust expressed her worries about depending too much on the wind farms:

This raises serious concerns about security of supply…. What will the consequences be when we become more reliant on wind power, and switch off the other resources, such as the coal-fired power stations? I think vested interests and blind hope are the reasons we are careening down this route.”

To be fair, though, this study looked at just 5 months out of an admittedly unusually calm year. Plus, as Rosie Vetter of Scottish Renewables points out,

No single energy technology can meet all of our needs, which is why we need a mix of renewables and thermal generation in different locations linked by a strong grid, with enhanced capacity to store electricity so it can be released when it is needed.”

Nevertheless, I think this case study is sufficiently illustrative of the undependable nature of this particular energy source.

5 megawatt wind turbine under construction

5 megawatt wind turbine under construction

Let’s look at it from another perspective.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in the Pacific Northwest currently has 2780 MW generated from wind farms and is expected to more than double that amount by 2013. It has already integrated over 1000 turbines, 5 new substations, and 6 tap-lines to connect the new power sources into the electricity grid. The BPA has one of the highest ratios of wind power to overall load of any federal power marketing authority in the United States — closing in on 30%. As Todd Wynn and Eric Lowe of the Cascade Policy Institute recently reported, however, there are several issues related to integrating wind-generated energy into a region’s power grid.

Obviously, wind is unpredictable and inconsistent, creating a significant problem for BPA and electric utilities. The electricity grid must remain in perfect supply-and-demand equilibrium in order to guarantee that when a ratepayer flips a switch, a light turns on. To prevent brownouts or overloads on the grid, BPA must schedule energy production in advance. However, the ability to predict when and how hard the wind will blow is extremely limited (usually a two- or three-day window) and often inaccurate. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that BPA has to have a backup system, known as a balancing reserve capacity, equal to or greater than the wind power capacity utilized at any given time. Because wind power is so unpredictable, every MW of wind power must be backed up by an equal amount of reliable energy in reserve to replace the energy lost when the wind dies down. Otherwise, the grid becomes unreliable and service is interrupted. In Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest, hydroelectric dams currently serve as the balancing reserve. This means hydroelectric dams are turned on and off in order to respond to fluctuations in wind generation. [Not very efficient. More on this in a minute.]

…The argument that wind power can help to meet future energy demand is erroneous, since wind energy does not add capacity to the grid. Wind power merely trades off with existing sources of production, which functionally means shutting down hydroelectric dams and building additional back-up generation facilities (essentially building two power plants for the energy of one)…. [While research & analysis is underway to address these problems, solutions] are generally far off, or would fail to address the problem completely. Therefore, BPA eventually will be forced either to buy additional dispatchable generation capacity from third-party suppliers or to build additional back-up capacity. This leads to additional costs for BPA, the utilities which purchase power from BPA, and ultimately Oregon ratepayers.”

That bit I italicized is well worth remembering. Speaking of additional costs, here is some more info:

In 2009, BPA requested that the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) allow an electricity rate increase to reflect the costs of integrating wind. BPA proposed an increase of $2.79 per kilowatt-month, and the OPUC set the final rate increase at $1.29…. The new rate represents a doubling of wind integration costs, and this rate will continue to increase as more wind energy is added to the grid. These additional costs are eventually passed on to Oregon ratepayers.

Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon

Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon

In addition, President and CEO of Portland General Electric (PGE) Jim Piro sent an e-mail to ratepayers on February 16, 2010 explaining the utility’s plans to request a rate increase which would have to be approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. The rate increase proposed for 2011-2013 will raise the average household electricity bill $6.70 per month. According to Piro, these costs can be associated largely with state renewable energy mandates, such as finishing phase III of the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm.”

So much for energy savings from “renewable” power sources. But, we’re not done, yet. About those mandates Piro mentioned…

[O]ne of the main reasons why wind energy has expanded so quickly in Oregon is because the Oregon Legislature passed renewable energy mandates in 2007. These mandates force utilities, and ultimately ratepayers, to purchase a certain percentage of renewable power by a certain year. The main goal is to have 25% new renewable energy on the grid by 2025. This effectively creates artificial demand, and wind power developers must build wind farms to meet this demand. Additionally, subsidies for production, as well as lucrative state tax-incentives, create multiple levels of artificial support for wind power.”

Is it any wonder that oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, global warming activist Al Gore, speculator/investor & liberal activist George Soros, and others see a great opportunity to make new fortunes in the wind energy business? Of course, I’m not against making an honest buck when such an opportunity arises. My concern is with the reliability of the source and the viability of the technology to make it worthwhile to the end users — i.e., you and me. I also hate to see people tricked into thinking something is a “solution” or, at least, of much greater benefit than it really is. (Note: It seems Pickens has had some setbacks on this front and is shifting his focus to natural gas.)

Wynn and Lowe conclude that:

Forcing Oregonians to purchase an energy source with so many associated costs is unwise. At best, wind power simply replaces a clean, reliable and affordable source of energy: hydroelectricity. At worst, it invites increased price volatility, increased rates and the prospect of more greenhouse gas-emitting facilities. Ultimately, mandating increased wind generation leads to financial burdens on businesses and individuals across the state that ought to be considered carefully.”

If you don’t live in Oregon, you may be thinking this isn’t much of an issue for you. But, many (30?) states have issued or are considering similar mandates for their utilities. California, for example, will require that renewable energy sources produce 33% of its electrical power by 2020. Unfortunately, there is yet another wrinkle to impede this noble cause.

Remember how the predicted major reductions in carbon emissions was such a huge selling point for wind power? Well, several new studies have concluded that the actual reductions from wind-generated electricity will be rather negligible. As reported in the Wall Street Journal by the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce and written about in his new book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, the cycling up and down of conventional coal- or gas-fired generators to compensate for erratic winds is rather inefficient. These generators are designed for continuous operation, so intermittently powering them on & off increases both fuel consumption and carbon emissions. According to Bryce, the aforementioned, recent research strongly indicates that this effectively cancels out any projected reductions.

[The summary I read didn’t mention anything about hydroelectric dams, as in the Oregon example above, but I can’t imagine ramping them up and down any more than absolutely necessary is a good idea, either.]

Wind Farm in Palm Springs, California

Wind Farm in Palm Springs, California

The Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States commissioned Bentek Energy to analyze Colorado and Texas power plant records. Despite sizable investments, Bentek concluded, wind power “has had minimal, if any, impact on carbon dioxide” emissions. Thanks to the cycling of Colorado’s coal-fired plants in 2009, at least 94,000 more pounds of CO2 were generated because of the repeated cycling. In Texas, there was an estimated, relatively small reduction (~600 tons) of CO2 in 2008 and a slight increase (~1000 tons) of CO2 in 2009.

Some of you may remember that the Waxman-Markey energy bill, which narrowly passed the House last year, included the goal of eventually having 25% of the nation’s electricity produced by renewable energy sources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the best-case scenario is about 306 million tons less CO2 by 2030. With the estimated annual U.S. carbon emissions being roughly 6.2 billion tons that year, the expected reduction will only be around 4.9% of emissions nationwide. That’s only a fifth what the Waxman-Markey bill put forth. And it’s certainly not much when you consider that the Obama administration wants to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.

Frankly, I think the powers-that-be need to be much more realistic in their expectations, in terms of what can be done, by when, and how. (It would help if they weren’t being influenced/pressured by the climate change alarmists.) Granted, my knowledge on the subject is fairly limited. But, I still think it is safe to say that the more reliable, proven energy alternatives that should be focused on are natural gas, hydroelectric, clean coal, and definitely nuclear fission. If some billionaire gave me some money to invest in energy production, I would put it in one or more of those areas (after due diligence research, of course). No question.

Wind power? It might suffice for small, agrarian communities. But, for our modern, energy-ravenous society, it just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it “sucks”.

“[Maxine Waters] is one of the most self-serving, hate-filled, race-obsessed politicians in America. [And] the Democratic Party doesn’t just embrace her. It kneels at her feet.” — Michelle Malkin

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has been in the news of late, due to accusations of ethics violations being leveled against her and investigated by the House Ethics Committee. While formal charges have yet to be announced, she is accused of inappropriately using her influence to get favorable treatment (i.e., a $12 million bailout in TARP funds) for minority-owned OneUnited Bank, where she and her husband just happened to have substantial investments. (It seems that the bank had been heavily invested in Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, so it was hit REAL hard when the government “intervened” in those corporations in 2008.) What’s more, her husband was once on the bank’s board of directors.

This isn’t the first time Waters has aided businesses with links to her family, either, to their mutual benefit. A 2004 L.A. Times article claimed that her relatives — e.g., son Edward and daughter Karen — profited to the tune of over $1 million (over 8 years) from Maxine’s connections. She indignantly denies any wrongdoing in all cases, of course. (She even manages, in this latest case, to turn it around and imply racism by President Bush’s administration.) But, that’s not the focus of this post.

Maxine Waters speaking from a podiumI don’t know about you, but I didn’t really know much about Congresswoman Waters. Sure, I knew she is Black, quite liberal, outspoken, and influential. But, beyond that, she’s never really been on my radar before. Now she is, and I’ve found out a few things that give me a much better idea of who & what she is.

Before being elected to Congress in 1991, Ms. Waters served for 15 years in the California State Assembly. While there, she campaigned for divestment of state pension funds from the then-apartheid nation of South Africa. A noble cause. Since being elected to the House of Representatives for California’s 35th District, Waters has… well… not done much of benefit. Sure, as a good liberal, she fights for “social justice” and housing and education issues, etc. But many of the bills she tends to sponsor or vote for (e.g., Obamacare; the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009) and other things she gets in the news for (e.g. the debate over King Drew Medical Center; the current ethics hearings) do more damage, in my opinion, than good. (She was one of thirteen (i.e., one-third) Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members to vote against the DISCLOSE Act, but only because she/they couldn’t stomach the NRA exemption.)

Five years ago, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles honored Maxine Waters with the Martin Luther King Legacy Award. Are you kidding me?! Based on what I’ve read/seen of how Waters and her fellow race-baiters in “black leadership” (e.g., Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) have co-opted MLK’s name and twisted his dream, I daresay Rev. King shook his head in dismay & exasperation when he looked “down from above” on that award banquet.

In order to get a better feel for Representative Waters’ attitudes and positions, let me bring a few issues and events to your attention.

During the 1992 riots that devastated so much of the 35th District in South Central Los Angeles, the livelihoods of thousands of Waters’ constituents were ruined by looting and arson. Did Waters publicly condemn the violence or take the rioters to task? On the contrary, she tried to defend the criminals by renaming & reframing what happened.

If you call it a riot it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason. I maintain it was somewhat understandable, if not acceptable.” So, what did she call it? A “rebellion… a spontaneous reaction to a lot of injustice and a lot of alienation and frustration.”

In case that wasn’t enough justification, Waters added some pathos with statements such as:

There were mothers who took this as an opportunity to take some milk, to take some bread, to take some shoes. Maybe they shouldn’t have done it, but the atmosphere was such that they did it. They are not crooks.”

Look, I understand there’s something about getting caught up in a “mob mentality”, but people still have free will whether or not to participate. Does Ms. Waters believe that two wrongs can make a right? If so, then how does stealing TVs (or shoes), raiding liquor stores & local markets, setting fire to stores & cars, and other riot-related crimes help one “deal with”, let alone correct, injustice? Did any of it benefit Rodney King? Does the insertion of a “race factor” make it excusable? Why didn’t she stick up for the many Koreans whose shops were ransacked and/or destroyed by rioters? (Perhaps she did so later, but it obviously wasn’t her first instinct.) I don’t get it, but maybe it’s just that “progressive logic” I don’t understand….

Waters is also of the ilk that believe nefarious conspiracies have been perpetrated by certain governmental parties upon her “people”. For example, she believes that the drug epidemic in urban America can be blamed on the CIA who (apparently) created the problem by encouraging drug use in the inner cities. No matter that Blacks are not the only ones affected by the drug epidemic. (And make no mistake — being Black trumps all in Waters’ mind.) No matter that there is no rational explanation for why the CIA would do such a thing. No matter that this theory was exposed as a hoax by the Washington Post, L.A. Times, and New York Times, among many others. Waters still clings to this ridiculous theory because it fits with her philosophy of minorities (particularly Blacks) being forever victimized by the powerful and more privileged.

If I never do anything else in this career as a member of Congress,” she vowed, “I’m going to make somebody pay for what they’ve done to my community and to my people.”

Then, there is Waters’ support for escaped cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (aka Assata Olugbala Shakur), a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. Chesimard didn’t just shoot NJ State Trooper Werner Foerster once; she shot him again at point-blank range to finish the job. That was in 1973, and Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison for Foerster’s death, plus armed robbery and other felonies. She escaped in 1979 and eventually fled to Cuba, where Fidel Castro gave her political asylum. Congress passed a resolution urging her extradition to America. But, Rep. Waters took it upon herself to personally write Castro to plead for extended asylum for Chesimard. She even had the gall to compare Chesimard to Martin Luther King, claiming “She was persecuted as a result of her political beliefs and affiliations.”

No, Maxine! Chesimard is a dangerous militant who shot a man in cold blood (among other crimes). She deserves to be thrown back in an American high-security prison. Better yet, give her the death penalty. But, Castro took pity on poor, persecuted Ms. Chesimard, and she still lives in Cuba to this day. Meanwhile, there have been several extradition pleas, and in 2005 the FBI classified her a “domestic terrorist” and began offering $1 million for assistance in her capture. Sadly, she has become somewhat of a folk hero to the hip-hop community — partly because of her “cause,” partly because of her being the step-aunt of the late Tupac Shakur. But, I digress…

Maxine Waters speaks out

Maxine Waters speaks out (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oh, yeah. Is it any surprise that Rep. Waters thinks Castro is the bees knees, too?

Here is what Michelle Malkin wrote about Waters 10 years ago:

This is a woman who danced the electric slide with Crips and Bloods gang members, and then noted in her official biography that ‘Many young people, including those in the hip-hop music community, praise her for her fearless support and understanding of young people and their efforts at self-expression.’

This is a woman who visited the home of Damian Williams, the infamous thug who ‘expressed himself’ by hurling a chunk of concrete at white truck driver Reginald Denny and performing a victory dance over the innocent bystander.

This is a woman who rose to power by badmouthing the white ‘Establishment,’ and then shamelessly abused it to secure an ambassadorship to the Bahamas for her husband -– a former pro football player and car salesman whose main qualification was having traveled to the island for a vacation.

This is a woman who repeatedly excoriates ‘the white press’ whenever negative stories about black politicians appear.”

Not much has changed, apparently.

Of course, Waters includes many liberal/progressive causes in her repertoire, as well. She consistently votes for human embryonic stem-cell research and against anything that would ban or otherwise restrict any form of abortion. She is for anything that furthers the gay agenda. She never met a bailout or stimulus package she didn’t like. She supports any legislation backed by the climate change alarmists. She has an aversion to free-trade agreements. She loves gun control and the idea of suing makers & sellers of guns. Open borders and looser immigration policies are just fine by Ms. Waters. The AFL-CIO gives her a 100% pro-union voting record. Like many of her fellow “progressives”, Waters appears to have an affinity for socialistic policies, having expressed, for example, her desire to nationalize all U.S. oil companies. You get the picture, right?

Not surprisingly, Waters is also an outspoken anti-war critic. As chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus, she has been on the frontlines not only pushing for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq but making accusations against President Bush and trying to get V.P. Cheney impeached for supposed “false statements” about the war.

The president is a liar. Dick Cheney, the chief architect of the Big Lie, is not only a liar, he is a thief.”

What do the Beltway watchdogs think of Representative Waters? The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) listed her among the corrupt members of Congress in its 2005, 2006, & 2009 reports. She has an affinity for earmarks, too. The Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named her the June 2009 Porker of the Month. Why, specifically? Waters tried to get federal funds earmarked for the “Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center.”

Maxine Waters glares at someone

Glaring Maxine Waters (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Maxine Waters is a powerful player in Washington, with extremely few in her own party willing to take her on, particularly when there’s an opportunity for her to play the race card. Joe Lieberman tried it. He once expressed some “reservations about affirmative action” and gave “tentative support to school vouchers” (which would benefit minority children, by the way). Fairly moderate positions, all in all. When Lieberman got put on the 2000 Democratic ticket for V.P., Ms. Waters demanded to know why she hadn’t first been consulted on the matter and insisted that Lieberman “explain” himself before the black caucus of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). As a result, Lieberman effectively backed off from his earlier statements in order to get the support of Waters and her compatriots. That is, he was bullied into submission.

Whether Congresswoman Waters is found guilty of the current ethics charges or not, let’s be clear. This woman is the epitome of black racism & elitist progressivism in American politics. She has been peddling her race-baiting garbage and double standards in & from the House for nearly 20 years, and she needs to go.

Here is another excerpt from the terrific book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006) by Larry F. Sternberg. Specifically, we continue from the last post, in which Sternberg (with insights from Thomas Sowell and Judge Robert Bork) looked at the tendency of liberals to not only group people into classes but to set those classes in opposition against one another. Here, he/we examine this more particularly from the standpoint of Jewish tradition & values.

 The Ten Commandments on rounded stone tabletsAlthough Judaism is described frequently as a “community” religion — that is, we are each of us responsible for our brother — there exists a plethora of laws that command treatment be administered to Jews as individuals. “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16) The Ten Commandments are directed to us as individuals, not as classes or groups. Class envy can grow into coveting your neighbor’s possessions, which is expressly forbidden by the Tenth Commandment. We are to adhere to these Commandments on our own, regardless of what others may do.”

I had never connected the commandment against coveting with class envy/warfare, somehow, but it makes perfect sense.

To pit one class or group against another is contrary to Jewish law and should be strongly condemned by our Jewish leaders. When Hitler selected Jews as the supreme evil that must be destroyed, he did not evaluate each Jew as an individual, but instead, he took anyone who had the least amount of Jewish blood to be his victim. Jews as a group had to be extinguished. He succeeded with terminating the lives of two-thirds of European Jews, and if he had won the war, would probably have reached his goal. Of all people, Jews should reject any hint of judging individuals according to their class, whether it is economic, racial, religious, color, or any other type of grouping. At the same time, trying to pit one class against another is to violate the concept of loving one’s neighbor as thyself that is stressed throughout Judaism.”

The “Great Commandment” in Judaism is most clearly stated as “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18 (NASB)). Jesus referenced it in the New Testament, but He usually put it second in importance after loving God with all one’s being (e.g., Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-28). The Apostle Paul also referred to this principle in Romans 13:9 and Galatians 5:14.

The complaint by the liberals that the “rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer” should be answered by Jews, not with a nodding head, but with some affirmative statements. We should be replying that to solve this problem, if indeed it is a problem, we need to improve our educational system by giving parents choice of schools; expand our system of trade schools; improve our family structure; improve the ease of starting a business of your own; and remove those governmental restrictions that inhibit the formation and expansion of new businesses. These are the types of positive changes that are needed to solve the income disparity issues. In the end, each of us must fight his own battles. It would be hoped that those who are burdened from birth with handicaps would receive help from charitable institutions and from individuals, with very limited support from governmental agencies. Such help must always be granted on an individual basis and not by any group or class status.

The very call to action by class, as used by liberals, should be an affront to Jews. As a group that has been so abused throughout history because we were classified as members of an undesirable group, our hair should stand on end and our skin should tingle when such actions are advocated. Judaism preaches unity, brotherhood of all men, and waits for the day when all peoples will accept and worship the one God…. To divide people on the basis of their individual differences for political gain to achieve political power is simply not in keeping with our Jewish traditions and should be soundly rejected by American Jews.”

Sternberg proceeds to give the “latest” (as of 2000) example of using class warfare for attempted political gain. Namely, presidential candidate Al Gore “openly appealed to the voters’ class envy instincts by proclaiming himself as the champion of ‘working families’ against the ‘powerful.'” The latter were, of course, Big Oil, Big Drug Companies, Wall Street, etc. Sound familiar? It’s a recurring theme in national elections, as exemplified more recently by the Obama campaign and the ongoing rhetoric of the Obama administration and its comrades in Congress. I think it’s safe to say that Class Warfare has become a cornerstone of modern liberal/progressive political philosophy.

Yes, I used the word “comrades” precisely because of its association with communism and because the whole Class Envy tactic and the use of Class Warfare as a socio-political strategy so closely mirrors the Marxist/Leninist teachings that lead to authoritarian, communist states in Russia, China, and elsewhere. This is what America has historically fought AGAINST, because it is antithetical to what America stands for and what the majority of the people believe in. As Sternberg has pointed out, it is contrary to the Judeo-Christian values & principles that the United States was founded upon. And it sickens & angers me to see powerbrokers, legislators, activist judges, and our President take away our freedoms and independence, as they push us evermore Leftward.