Chapman’s News & Ideas

John Wohlstetter Address Economic Club of Boca Raton

John describes to a hushed audience in Boca Raton, Florida the likely and potential crises ahead for Pres. Obama’s final 22 months in office, from growing danger to the Baltic States if Putin decides to “protect” the Russian speaking populations of Latvia and Estonia to the coming executive agreement with Iran that threatens to begin new nuclear armament in the Sunni states. Just in those two matters alone–with NATO’s credibility and the validity of the NPT (nuclear treaty)–at stake, America’s post World War II foreign policy strategy is at risk. Then throw in cyber-war/EMP, Chinese expansionism, ISIS, and the downgrade of US defenses and you have reasons for serious alarm. The case for a major national foreign policy debate has Read More ›

Unsettling “Settled Science”

Stephen Moore has an article in the Washington Times that is worth the attention of skeptics of “settled science.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/15/stephen-moore-climate-change-not-settled-science/ Moore, long a staple of economics articles in the Wall Street Journal, describes the attempts of The National Geographic and other publications to marginalize critics of climate change theory. It’s the old story of argument from authority. What Moore does then is tear the argument apart. There are plenty of reasons to skeptical of “settled science.” The embryonic stem cell debate is a recent example that Moore doesn’t mention. The whole nexus of government research dollars and university science departs and left wing politics deserves book-length treatment. And don’t forget the shoddiest case of “settled science,” Darwinian evolution–and the social Read More ›

Catholics Honor Discovery Fellow Wesley J. Smith

The Cardinal John J. O’Connor award of Legatus, the national organization of lay Catholics, was given in Naples, Florida, on Saturday to Wesley J. Smith, Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute, for his tireless advocacy of “human exceptionalism” in bio-ethics, medical practice, and culture. I was honored to accompany him on behalf of Discovery Institute. The convention was attended by some seven hundred delegates.

John West Wins Documentary Award

A documentary film on The Biology of the Second Reich, directed by Discovery Senior Fellow John West (aided by Jens Jorgenson, and based largely on the research of Dr. Richard Weichart, scholar of German history and also a Discovery fellow) has won the “Best Short Documentary Award” of the Los Angeles Film Festival of Hollywood.

You can watch a video version of the film on YouTube for free.

Biology of the Second Reich

Most people now know the story of the Third Reich’s misuse of biology leading up to–and during–World War II. But few are aware that the Germans had prepared the way with a pernicious Darwinism before World War I that may be said to have begun with the writings of German biologist Ernst Haeckel. In the late 19th Century Haeckel was all too ready to admire the racism found in Darwin’s less known book, The Descent of Man. The next step for the German Empire was to apply these theories to the eradication of “inferior” people in Germany and to races in Africa that the Germans governed. Read More ›

Cyber War Concerns Will Not Go Away

How much danger, really, are we facing from foreign attacks on America’s electronic infrastructure? Some, like our senior fellow George Gilder, are skeptical. But another senior fellow, John Wohlstetter, is more concerned. Here is “Faust’s Networks,” his article today at American Spectator.

In 2015, Raise Up “The Men of Issachar”

Whatever you think of the times–and they are capable of varied interpretations, aren’t they?–there is one thing I bet that most of us can agree on: we need new political leadership right now. America is full of brilliant, accomplished and morally admirable men and women. And, yes, the Constitution of the United States does operate (as Prof. Harvey Mansfield of Harvard says) to “call leaders forth.” The nation therefore is blessed with a number of upright state legislators, governors, Congressmen and Senators these days. Mansfield recently mentioned the new senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, and the new senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse. But one could name many others.

But how will they assemble? Between now and 2016 how will some one leader of potential greatness emerge among them to match the great potential of America?

It’s often useful to turn to Biblical history for salutary examples, and so we see that the Book of 1 Chronicles 12:32 tells of a time in King David’s Israel when “the men of Issachar” arose to help steer the state. They were men “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do–200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.” It’s fine material for a sermon, not to mention a blog post! I commend, for example, this one. Read More ›

Disguised Income Redistribution

Income inequality supposedly is a major theme for the left–yesterday, today and (presuming Elizabeth Warren’s continuance) tomorrow. We know about the low skill workers who have trouble making a living, though it is amazing how little the left connects their difficulties to the wide acceptance of low wage immigrants. Even more surprising is the lack of political notice of the major shift in income distribution that is the result of artificially low interest rates decreed by government.

Sometimes a letter to the editor sticks in one’s mind, and so it is that as the year ends I recall one to the Wall Street Journal from back in October from a Gerald Betts of Camano Island, Washington. Let me quote it in its simple and profound entirety:

“Before the recession most seniors relied on a combination of Social Security reimbursement and interest on some savings for their basic income. As you know, fewer and fewer retired Americans are qualifying for private pensions. Interest rates fell from 5-6% in 2005-07 to 0.1-0.2% for the past five-plus years. Seniors involuntarily are subsidizing the economic recovery of America. The interest portion of most seniors’ income stream has almost disappeared.”

He’s right. It’s one reason so many seniors are working on and on. Read More ›

Conservatives and the Language of Politics

by Hans Zeiger (for John Jay Institute) http://www.centerforajustsociety.org/speaking-the-language-of-america/

When Maduro Can’t Pay the Police and Army

How bad is it in Venezuela now that oil has dropped from over $100–the prince the Chavistas needed to keep making government redistribution of profits to their political supporters–to only about $60? Actually, it is hard to find out. There are demonstrations, disturbances, open grumbling. Critics have been rounded up and jailed. An international scientific organization has been nationalized, its assets seized. So the government is prepared to make very short term gains and not worry about the huge losses that come with international pariah status.

It seems likely to me that until the state implodes, Maduro will keep sending oil to Cuba, propping it up, while Cuba dragoons doctors and intelligence agents to provide health care and keep the totalitarian state running. However, if matters reach the point that Maduro can’t pay the police (who are under attack by some forces in the countryside already), or even worse, the Army, there will be a revolution. Read More ›

Paradoxes at the End of Advent

Pope Francis’ already famous prophetic warnings to the Curia this week seem to some (maybe some in the Curia, for example) like a strange kind of season’s greeting. Some Christmas Party he gave them! Where’s the cheer? But if you remember that his message was preached while still in the Church season of Advent, not in the season of Christmas, you’ll see that it was appropriate, indeed.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve,and as one ponders the lessons of the four weeks of Advent, he remembers John the Baptist crying the in wilderness, “Make straight the path of the Lord.” The predictions of Isaiah. God’s promises to David. The Annunciation and the Magnificat of Mary. December, for the Church, is not the season of shopping, but of waiting, listening and reflecting. It is penitential, though maybe not as much as Lent. For liturgical Christians the joy of Christmas begins tomorrow night and lasts through Three Kings Day (the Epiphany), January 6.

What does Advent teach? Like so much of the Bible, the paradoxes are profound. The greatest, of course: The King of Kings is to born to a lowly maid. The Son of God arrives in a stable.

God has a way of giving his greatest gifts to those most humble, those thought unworthy by others. David was a mere shepherd boy, the least obvious of his brothers. How can that be? It’s none of your business. As in the parable of the vineyard workers, Jesus makes clear that God rewards according to his desires, not ours. And yet he will do right by us regardless if we trust his sovereignty.

Watch Amadeus, a wonderful film for Advent, and marvel at the proud but relatively untalented composer Salieri who (in the play and film telling, if not in actual history) is willing to do all that God wants if only God will bless him with great accomplishments. Salieri wants a deal with God. But God blesses instead the irrepressible, irresponsible and profane Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In a great scene, an indignant Salieri burns his crucifix in the fireplace. He goes on to lead a long embittered life, while the prodigious genius, Mozart, creates music for the ages, though his own time on Earth is short.

God doesn’t like the pride of Pharisees. But he also holds to account those he blesses greatly. The incomparable Moses doesn’t get to enter the Promised Land because of shortcomings. David is gravely humbled by God (through the prophet Nathan) because of his sins.

So, as Advent ends, we 21st century denizens also might do well to think of George Gilder and his Israel Test: how do you regard those more talented than yourself? Do you envy them and try to put them down? Or do you admire them and try to emulate and make common cause with them?

These are among the kinds of questions Pope Francis was posing to the Curia, warning of the “sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’.” He warns of “Martha-ism” (in the Gospel story of Mary and Martha, when Jesus visits their home), the sin of “excessive industriousness;…of those who immerse themselves in work” and neglect to sit at Jesus’ feet.” Remember to join your people, to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” Read More ›