The Right Slant 2012
The Zimmerman Conspiracy: Did the prosecution file a charge it can't prove just to satisfy a public cry for Zimmerman's head? (503)
Obama is no Ron Paul: Obama's campaign thinks it can lure Ron Paul's supporters in the general election. (499)
The Santorum Conundrum: Rick Santorum becomes the latest "conservative alternative" to Mitt Romney. Can he last? (491)
What will the next American Revolution look like?
August 11, 2012
Threats against liberty are as old as liberty itself, and all too common. Sometimes the menace is a foreign invader bent on conquest. Such are easily identifiable and opposed. The more nefarious threats exist within our borders, arising from the very institutions established to secure our rights. Such hazards inevitably generate rumors of secret concentration camps, domestic wiretaps, and black helicopters. However, just because basic dangers to liberty can foster eccentric conspiracies doesn't mean the basic threats aren't genuine.
Government flows toward tyranny with the natural ease that rivers flow to the sea. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, and just about any head of state on the African continent. Each one held dictatorial power over their societies. Furthermore, let's not forget how tyranny once reared its head -- dressed in the British crown -- on American soil. Even today it's hard to refute the notion that central control is waxing.
Freedom demands a healthy suspicion of government in all its manifestations: the elected politician, the appointed dignitary, the hired bureaucrat. Patrick Henry warned, "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel." And according to Thomas Paine, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
That's revolutionary talk from true revolutionaries. Suppose a second American Revolution is on the horizon; will it resemble the one our Founding Fathers pursued? There has been no shortage of theories concerning such a struggle, or about who will oppose whom.
Some people believe the battle will be drawn along racial lines; that white and black Americans will someday clash. Others prophesy a class struggle where the poor but worthy proletariat casts off the shackles of the oppressive and aristocratic rich. More likely, any fissure in national unity will arise between the productive and the unproductive, which isn't invariably determined by wealth or poverty.
Productive people can earn incomes ranging from Bill Gates to the local grocery store clerk. Wealth and status notwithstanding, a common thread exists between these people. They are the horses hitched to the entitlement wagon, which is overladen with people who are unconcerned with self-reliance. Productive people naturally oppose government growth because government taxes their efforts to benefit their unproductive neighbors. The unproductive predictably support government growth because it grants them benefits without effort. But the battle lines there aren't as simple as they seem. Fomenters of revolution exist on both sides.
The left's most vocal revolutionaries wear the anarchist badge. Anarchists, it's assumed, oppose government in all its forms. That's just not reality. Leftwing anarchists don't resist government; they resist responsibility. Welfare programs, healthcare subsidies, student loans, and environmental cronyism belie the anarchist's anti-government image. Few demand more from government than do leftwing anarchists.
The right demands less government, except when it demands more. Farm subsidies generate great support from otherwise small government Republicans. Conservatives are totally committed to pouring millions of dollars into a war on drugs that's produced little success. And anyone who suggests trimming even the slightest fat from the military budget is accused of granting aid and comfort to foreign enemies.
Where are we to turn amidst such duplicity? If public disgust were kindling the United States would be a tinderbox. Faith in our processes and institutions is dwindling and there are few kind words for the central government. Democrats are angry because America isn't one big commune. Republicans criticize a federal government that has overflowed its banks while they themselves do little to stem the flood. All we need is a spark, and there are myriad commentators who, spurred by the romanticism of popular revolt, are striking flint against steel. But a second American Revolution won't likely resemble the first, nor would it produce a workable solution.
There are no British troops marching into town these days, no Redcoats to snipe from the cover of a rock wall or valiantly confront at the nearest bridge. Guns and force won't secure liberty the next time around, and it won't keep the peace even if a victory is possible.
Bear in mind, I'm not disparaging the Second Amendment. Bearing arms is a free people's inalienable right and liberty's last defense. But 80 million private Americans hold roughly 250 million small arms, far outnumbering the three million or so our government possesses. Government weapons can be perilous to liberty. But they aren't the prime danger; words, dependency, and fear are.
A substantial number of our 80 million-strong citizen militia benefits from the federal government's encroachment on liberty. Do we truly believe Americans can form a concerted effort to bear arms against the hand that feeds them? I don't. What's more, such a public fight would be the central government's best friend. Participants in an active rebellion, no matter their reasons or political attitudes, would be easily demonized as "enemies of the State," "kooks," and "fringe lunatics." Under such circumstances most Americans would quickly and happily surrender all liberty for the government's promise of security.
The first American Revolution began with pens and speeches before consummating with muskets. Our Founders had to convince the people to throw off British rule before armed resistance became practical. The next American Revolution will begin in like manner, but it needn't finish that way. Like our Founders, we must convince our countrymen to choose liberty over servitude. Unlike our Founders, we needn't enforce our independence with the gun; we can still do it with the ballot. Should we fail at the first task an armed revolt won't force freedom on a population hostile to the concept. But should we succeed, armed rebellion is unnecessary.
The tree of liberty can be refreshed with the metaphorical blood of politicians and bureaucrats just as satisfactorily as with the physical blood of tyrants and patriots. The Founders would appreciate that approach. But they would keep their powder dry, just in case.
Message to Chick-fil-A: Chicago has enough clucks
July 29, 2012
Why did the chicken cross the road? In Chicago, it was to get to Logan Square. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Alderman "Joe" Moreno are turning the area into the city's first chicken sanctuary. In case you spent last week on the dark side of the moon, let me explain: Chicago's rulers are resisting Chick-fil-A's plans for a new restaurant due to its corporate opposition to homosexual marriage.
Moreno vowed to keep Chick-fil-A out of his district. Emmanuel was a bit more reserved, content to say the company doesn't measure up to "Chicago values." Now, let's remember that Rahm is trumpeting the values of the nation's most corrupt political city. How can Chick-fil-A reflect "Chicago values", provide free sandwiches to every Chicagoan who rises from the grave on Election Day?
All kidding aside, Emmanuel and Moreno are perfect examples of what's wrong with the political culture. Good government doesn't force businesses to check corporate beliefs at the city limits. Their attitude should serve as a warning to all businesses; if you want access to Chicago's marketplace you must adopt approved positions on social issues. It sounds like bullying because it is bullying, and the politicians practicing it are unworthy of the public trust.
Let's get one thing straight; Chick-fil-A is discriminating against no one. The company serves and hires both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Emmanuel and Moreno are the true bigots. Their opposition to Chick-fil-A isn't based on anything but the company leadership's personal beliefs, beliefs that electoral results suggest are mainstream.
Suppose another city adopted Chicago's policy in reverse, refusing to allow companies that support homosexual marriage -- like Nike, Levi's, and Microsoft -- to conduct business in their municipalities? Would Emmanuel and Moreno support that decision? Please! They'd be tripping over each other in a mad rush to condemn that city's abuse of government power.
Emmanuel says Chick-fil-A's proposed restaurant would be a "bad investment" because "it would be empty." If he really believed his rhetoric he would put Chick-fil-A's building permits on the fast track. Politicians love being right, and Emmanuel would look like a prophet if Chick-fil-A was forced to close the restaurant due to a dearth of customers. Of course, as much as politicians love being right they fear being wrong even more. And evidence suggests that Emmanuel doesn't know what he's talking about.
2011 was the 44th consecutive year Chick-fil-A's sales increased, reaching $4.1 billion and marking a 13-percent rise over 2010. The company operates more than 1600 stores and will open another 77 during 2012. Since Chick-fil-A restaurants aren't sitting empty elsewhere it's unlikely they'll sit empty in Chicago.
If Emmanuel and Moreno prefer political correctness to private enterprise, fine. There are plenty of places -- like the Chicago suburb of Lombard -- that would welcome Chick-fil-A with open arms. The company should take its restaurant plans, and resulting tax revenues, there. Besides, with leaders like Emmanuel and Moreno, Chicago has enough clucks.
There's no explanation for senseless violence
July 24, 2012
It can be argued that mankind is nature's perfect contradiction. We seldom consider issues for which there are logical conclusions. Yet when confronted with senseless violence we'll make vain attempts to rationalize irrationality. But no matter how hard we work, satisfactory results are unachievable. Explaining the unexplainable is like pushing breakers back into the ocean. So it goes in the aftermath of the Aurora massacre, as pundit after pundit blames firearms and the Second Amendment for the carnage.
While some people might gain momentary peace from blaming guns, or the Constitution, for deranged criminality, it is the ultimate nonsense. Firearms are no more responsible for violent crimes than Food Network is for gluttony. Guns are inanimate. They can't act of their own volition, determine right from wrong, or differentiate between just and unjust persons. Like knives, axes, and other tools, guns perform at their user's discretion.
True, a madman with a firearm can inflict more immediate casualties than one armed with a knife or an axe. But capability doesn't change the basic nature of a tool. Since tools are incapable of distinguishing good and evil, we must examine the operator. This simple truth forces humanity to face an unpleasant reality. Evil exists not in the objects we create -- guns, knives, axes, nuclear missiles, etc. -- but in us. Evil will survive as long as mankind survives.
Even so, there's no shortage of kneejerk responses from shortsighted and self-serving politicians who manipulate tragedy to enhance their power and that of the State. Those calls are thus far falling on deaf ears, which is quite refreshing.
Yes, the Aurora murderer used guns for an evil purpose. But thousands, perhaps millions, of like firearms are used for legitimate reasons, or not used at all, every day of the year. Privately held arms are intrinsic to liberty, their value far outweighing the evil found in the random lunatic. However, the peaceful use or nonuse of arms generates neither media headlines nor political opportunities. Those who offer vain explanations for senseless violence are hoping the country will favor their emotionalism over common logic.
Evil acts begin in an evil heart. Firearms, knives, axes, and clubs are just tools for expressing the evil within. Since one man expressed his evil with a gun, and many people died quickly because of it, it's easy to blame the tool. However, many people have died slowly, over time, at the hands of serial killers who used no gun. Those crimes are just as bewildering, the victims just as dead, and the perpetrators just as evil as if the crimes were committed with a firearm.
There's nothing defeatist in recognizing that evil won't be eradicated or fully understood this side of the Pearly Gates. To accept that fact is to choose reason over emotion and liberty over servitude. In Aurora's wake the fact that reason has thus far trumped emotion is about the best result we can hope for.
Tragedy of tragedies and no Shakespeare in sight
July 22, 2012
Any debate centered on the greatest tragedy writer in literary history will invariably include William Shakespeare. Tragic theatrical literature is as integral to the Elizabethan Englishman's legacy as stately political analysis is to Thomas Jefferson's. However, while tragedy is a favored tool of adept playwrights, it's downright indispensable for political tyrants.
Playwrights benefit from weaving suspense into their scenes. Tyrants benefit from weaving dependence into the law. Of course, the playwright's and the tyrant's motives are as different as night and day. But their base tactic is analogous. Tragedy creates empathy, and empathy captivates an audience. The scene plays frequently on today's political stage. Emotional stories generate compassion among a sympathetic but uncritical audience.
Ohio was the stage for a recent installment of this perpetual drama, where President Obama received tearful praise for enacting the Affordable Care Act. The emotional appeal came from a young woman whose sister succumbed to colon cancer four years ago. No one can argue that the scene isn't sad, even tragic, or that it's repeated far too often. But then life is filled with tragedy, and with people willing to use another's suffering for personal gain.
Admittedly, it seems crass to think a woman's death would be manipulated for political purposes. Yet the very nature of contemporary political discourse compels us to question scenes such as the one in Ohio. Was it genuine or fictional? Either way, it makes for prime political theatre.
Anyone who questions the scene's authenticity is quickly dismissed as the worst villain since Iago. What kind of person would suspect another of lending the death of a sibling to a political agenda? Only a cold-hearted boor could conceive such a conspiracy. However, the Ohio woman herself needn't be the actor for her tragic story to become an unintended performance.
Remember Henrietta Hughes, a woman of unemployment, homelessness, and assorted woe? Oh, how the sympathy did flow. Hers was a supreme tragedy, with the leading politician -- President Obama -- basking in the spotlight. Right on cue, Obama promised to alleviate Henrietta's suffering. On stage he played the hero. Behind the curtain he did nothing to alleviate Hughes' problem. Hughes herself was but a role player, a dispensable character in an endless political tragedy. The same can be said for Cindy Sheehan, the late Rodney King, and everyone who has "fainted" during an Obama speech. Each and every one became part of the political script.
Stephanie Miller, the aforementioned Ohio woman, is now on stage. Whether she's a plant or a heartbroken sister grieving for a lost sibling is material only to her. On the grand stage Miller plays a bit role. Yet she's indispensable to the overall drama, which serves to enhance the State's image. Presenting Ms. Miller's grief to government's leading man promotes a relationship between personal suffering and government relief. The public's allegiance to the State builds upon such tragedy.
Ms. Miller believes she wouldn't be grieving today had the Affordable Care Act been in force when her sister fell ill. But Miller's dialogue contradicts the confidence she, or anyone else, should have in government healthcare delivery. Ms. Miller's sister, upon diagnosis, applied for Medicaid. Guess what? Her request was denied. And what is Medicaid if not a government healthcare program? Thus the gut-wrenching scene of a weeping woman thanking a politician for expanding the State's bureaucracy even after the existing State bureaucracy had failed the prior need. It's like taking a second dose of poison and expecting to be cured.
I believe Ms. Miller's grief is legitimate. But a politician's empathy is not. She is the latest in a long line of role players whose real life dramas fertilize the State's growth. Just as playwrights achieve success through the staged suffering of their characters, tyrants also capitalize on tragedy to enhance their stature.
British statesman Edmund Burke said, "The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion." Tragedy, or its perception, is the most effective delusion available to political tyrants. Tragedy, often of the tyrants own making, dissolves personal responsibility and undermines liberty, resulting in a population becoming more dependent on the State to meet its basic needs.
How shall we be secure from mortgage foreclosure and monetary devaluation if not for government bank regulation? Where will we find jobs if government doesn't subsidize industry? Will we be fed, housed, and clothed if not for entitlements? Can we receive medical care without a government bureaucracy? Political playwrights have spun these scenes into individual tragedies, thereby focusing the audience's attention on government solutions. No matter what happens to the supporting characters tyranny grows and the State is empowered.
Liberty necessarily declines when personal sovereignty submits to political rhetoric. Yet an increasing number of Americans are submitting to political tyrants who promise more of an increasingly insolvent bureaucracy. We are active players in an epic political tragedy, one Shakespeare himself couldn't have written better.
The preceeding article was first published at American Thinker.
Dropping the "i-word" ignores reality
March 28, 2012
A simple strategy for winning a political debate is to ignore evidence and blur reason. Denial and obfuscation often frustrates an opponent into surrendering. The "Drop the I-Word" campaign has adopted this technique, apparently believing it offers the best defense for illegal immigration. However, while dropping the "i-word" in reference to illegal immigrants is long on rhetoric, it is short on good sense.
According to Drop the I-Word activists, referring to an illegal immigrant as illegal is racist, dehumanizing, contrary to accepted law, and detrimental to reasoned debate on the immigration issue. However, if there were but one hurdle to logical discourse on immigration, it would be this kind of nonsense. Illegal doesn't indict an alien's character; it identifies their status.
Illegal means contrary to law or statute, or forbidden by same. Collins Dictionary defines illegal as a person who has entered a country illegally. Under these terms, anyone of any race, religion, ethnicity, or background can illegally immigrate, thereby becoming an illegal immigrant.
Genuine racial epithets identify persons or peoples according to skin color or heritage, not actions. For example, the "n-word" is a derogatory phrase used exclusively toward black Americans without regard to their character or status. The same can be said for the "c-word" in regard to Asians and the "s-word" for Hispanics. Each term identifies and denigrates based on nothing more than skin tone or ethnic heritage.
Illegal describes a person who has violated accepted legal procedures, nothing more. Thus illegal in terms of citizenship identifies someone whose immigration has violated the law. I'll go as far as saying "illegal" is completely race-neutral. Germans, Chinese, Kuwaitis, Mexicans, and Americans can all become illegals simply by moving from one country to another without navigating the appropriate bureaucratic red tape. Since the word can be equally applied to any race, heritage, or ethnicity based on their status, how can it be racist?
Actually, we have killed two birds with one stone. Since illegal describes the status of the immigrant whereas immigrant, or alien, describes the person, illegal is neither racist nor dehumanizing. The only time racism and dehumanization can be equated with immigration status is when someone with an axe to grind does so for political purposes.
Another issue Drop the I-Word raises is the legal accuracy of illegal. This, too, is misleading. We're not determining guilt in a civil or criminal sense, but in the court of public opinion where the burden of proof is miniscule. Even so, does illegal pronounce guilt without trial, or inhibit a person's ability to defend their rights? We can answer an unequivocal "no" to the first question and a conditional "yes" to the second.
I can't recall a single instance of widespread deportation without the benefit of a hearing. The closest example I can cite is the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Even then, Japanese-Americans weren't deported. Now, I'll admit that an illegal immigrant might have difficulty protecting basic liberties, such as reporting crimes committed against them. But the situation isn't unique to illegal immigrants; the same can be said of anyone engaged in an illegal activity. Such people naturally fly under the radar. Why? Because their actions are illegal, they recognize that fact, and they fear discovery.
If illegal is a slur, how should we identify immigrants who ignore both our borders and immigration laws? According to the campaign, "unauthorized" and "undocumented" are acceptable alternatives. But for how long? If the definition of illegal can be transformed into a racial, subhuman epithet, you can bet the farm the "u-words" won't be far behind.
Understand that Drop the I-Word isn't presently seeking a legislated speech code whereby offenders are held civilly or criminally accountable. Their goal is to convince journalists to drop the "i-word" from their lexicon. And frankly, the journalism community possesses the right to determine what words and phrases are acceptable in their writings and publications. But opponents of using "illegal" to describe illegal behavior should be intellectually honest about their attempt to change the word's definition to fit their political stance.
Dropping the "i-word" allows journalists to feel warm and fuzzy about their tolerance and open-mindedness. But they're ignoring the elephant in the room. If journalists won't admit the obvious fact that illegal immigrants have immigrated illegally, they have little to contribute toward solving the issue.
The preceeding column was first published in the print and online edition of Creative Loafing.
Congress threw a wild pitch
June 29, 2012
Roger Clemens' trail is over and he has been cleared of all steroids and perjury charges. The verdict opens the door for the "Rocket's" detractors to cry foul while his defenders validate his storied career. So it goes with celebrity trials. Each side remains convinced of their rightness no matter the evidence or the jury's decision.
The Clemens debate will turn to his place in baseball history. Has the seven-time Cy Young winner been irreparably tarnished? Is his name honored or disgraced? Will he enter the Hall of Fame or set-up shop at the Cooperstown city limit with Pete Rose? If Clemens is enshrined what happens to other tainted players from his era: Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, and Palmeiro? It'll make for interesting hot stove discussions next winter. But the Clemens trial raised a far more important issue than a ballplayer's legacy.
Clemens landed in hot water because he allegedly lied to Congress about allegedly using allegedly banned substances. That's a lot of alleging, especially since the jury's verdict proves Congress possessed no convincing evidence for their allegations. Maybe that's why the public trusts and supports Roger Clemens more than it does Congress.
Rasmussen polling finds only 20-percent of Americans would bar Roger Clemens from the Hall of Fame, which means 80-percent see no issue with him entering Cooperstown or simply don't care. Conversely, only 7-percent approve of Congress' performance while 63-percent disapprove and 68-percent would like to throw the bums out. Make what you will of those numbers; it's quite clear that Roger Clemens is more trusted than Congress, and with good reason.
Would the same jury that found no convincing evidence that Clemens lied to Congress find ample evidence to convict Congress of lying to us? I think so. Despite taking an oath to "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution, Congress has a long history of passing legislation that conflicts with that pledge, and then lying about it.
When passed, the Social Security Act included no adjustment criterion for future income or inflation variations and capped payroll deductions at 3-percent of the first $3000 in annual income. Today's employees pay 6.2-percent on all income, and their employers' "match" is actually part of the employee's earned income that's never seen. The central government's authority to withhold taxes from payroll was initiated during World War II as part of the Victory Tax. The war ended 67 years ago, yet taxes are still withheld. The Great Society promised to alleviate poverty and strengthen families. In reality, it spawned dependence on government above family and coincides with a 50-year rise in illegitimate births. Congress argues that healthcare "reform" isn't a tax and then hails the Supreme Court for upholding the law as part of Congress' taxing authority.
Roger Clemens threw 143 wild pitches during his career. But if government lies were scored as wild pitches, Washington has far outpaced Clemens. So, will taxpayers continue tolerating such legislative "chin music?" Or will we "charge the mound" come November?
Hopefully, the Obama camp is right about Romney
June 11, 2012
Obama's latest campaign strategy, outlined by White House advisor David Plouffe, is rather baffling. The goal is to depict Mitt Romney as the Republican Party's most conservative nominee since Barry Goldwater. Apparently, the Obama camp has forgotten Ronald Reagan. That's especially ironic considering that Democrats gave Reagan's conservatism its greatest confirmation. What better proof of a man's conservative credentials can exist than for leftists to call him a racist warmonger who hates the poor? Liberals called Reagan all of that and more.
In all fairness to President Obama, he has expended so much energy attempting to rewrite and co-opt Reagan's legacy that he may not recognize the real "Gipper." That's the problem with political spin; you eventually lose sight of the actual truth. It may be debated whether the Obama camp believes its nonsense or is just tossing about a ridiculous premise in hope of hitting upon a political advantage. But there's no question they've missed the point of Reagan's presidency and the reason for his popularity.
Reagan's ease behind the microphone is legendary. His title of "Great Communicator" wasn't bestowed; it was earned. But Reagan's oratorical skills weren't rooted in intellectual superlatives. That's today's political trend, where speakers adopt incomprehensible positions on every conceivable issue until it's impossible to determine what they actually believe about anything. Reagan didn't have that problem, although he was well-versed on intricate domestic and foreign policy issues. Reagan succeeded because he presented a clear message that resonated with his audience.
Ronald Reagan refused to complicate the simple. Rather he stayed committed to three key themes: economic growth, America's image, and opposing communism. He never struggled with his message because he spoke from those core convictions, which recognized his audience's desires above his own.
Reagan wanted America to regain its economic confidence, which produces growth. He accomplished that goal. Yet he was no magician; he didn't rely on sleight of hand and favorable media coverage to create jobs and boost the GDP. Reagan didn't worry about convincing the media or his Washington colleagues that he was right; he convinced the American people that he believed we were right. He developed a rapport with the public that forced even ardent political adversaries to coalesce to some extent. Reagan bet on the entrepreneurial spirit rather than on the political manure. It was a winning hand . . . twice.
Reagan recognized and appreciated America's desire for national pride. The Vietnam War, a deteriorating military preparedness, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and a long economic malaise had taken a toll on America's confidence and prestige. His military initiatives represented an approach to national defense that everyone, friend and foe, could understand. Reagan's "peace through strength" doctrine allowed him to take a stand when necessary and walk away when practical.
Communism is invariably immoral and wholly incompatible with liberty. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the Soviet Union, which Reagan rightly recognized as the evil empire. Simply put, communism is political bullying, and years of backing down to Soviet bullying had weakened America. The Soviet leaders soon learned that Reagan differed from his predecessors. He was determined to prove to the USSR, the world, and America itself that endless supplication was no longer an option.
That's not to say that Reagan was a stubborn mule. But he saw no reason to hamstring America with one-sided arms treaties that banned our revolutionary defense systems while requiring the Russians to abandon only their obsolete technologies. Moscow threatened war over plans to deploy Pershing missiles in Europe. Reagan called their bluff. The Soviets huffed, puffed, and snarled, then folded their hand. Their harsh façade was irreparably compromised.
You'll seldom find me supporting an Obama initiative. But he has, albeit unwittingly, given Mitt Romney a solid campaign strategy. Conservatives should hope the Obama camp is 100-percent correct and Mitt Romney is the most conservative Republican presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater. Mitt can determine his own three core themes. But sincere conservatism carried Reagan to two landside victories. There's no reason it won't work for Romney, too, if he's willing to embrace it.
The odds are against John Edwards' rehabilitation
June 9, 2012
The justice system is apparently through with John Edwards. But according to the former Senator and presidential candidate, God isn't. If the Almighty needs a helping hand, Edwards -- the legal albatross removed from his neck -- is ready to help. He began rehabilitating his image the minute his trial concluded, vowing his devotion to selfless charity on behalf of the children. And then there's the one about Little Red Riding Hood.
I'm not saying Edwards is beyond redemption. Numerous people with checkered histories have undergone radical transformations. Norma McCorvey comes to mind, as does Shelley Lubben. Neither woman may come up for sainthood. However, their behavioral change is exemplified in their actions. John Edwards is just shoveling the same manure that liberals shovel each time they need a public relations boost: God, children, and poverty. In the aftermath of his acquittal, Edwards seems determined to confirm everyone's worst suspicions about him.
Frankly, trying John Edwards for corruption was a redundancy. No sworn witness or jury conviction was necessary to understand this man. We needed no testimony from the equally corrupt Andrew Young. John Edwards' entire political career confirms his turpitude.
Edwards entered the political scene with a "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific" coiffure and a smile worthy of the seediest used-car salesman. He built his platform on a "Two Americas" class envy theme so seasoned with nanny state hogwash that it would've made Lyndon Johnson barf. Edwards presented himself as a "stand by your woman" man. Yet he used his wife and her illness to gain public sympathy, and its related contributions, for his presidential bid. Behind the scenes he was committing the "Big A" with campaign staffer Rielle Hunter. He then blamed Rielle's pregnancy on an associate whose moral compass was no more dependable than his own. Oh, and he conned a naive old hag into paying his hush money.
Edwards is corrupt whether he broke the law or not. Anyone who failed to recognize his lack of character must've spent the last decade with their eyes closed. Edwards is a world class narcissist and first rate con artist. But alas, so are many politicians. Retrying him would prove as wasteful of time and resources as it is uninteresting.
However, it will be interesting to see how far "progressive" media hacks will go to aid Edward's rehabilitation. You have to know they'll feign and fawn over this swine at the first opportunity. Let Edwards hand a lollipop to one poor child while blaming Republicans for defunding the federal free lollipop program and we'll be inundated with stories about how this charlatan has reformed his image. In typical liberal fashion, Edwards will seek redemption in phony charitableness while contributing nothing of his own.
God might indeed mend John Edwards. They say He moves in mysterious ways. But politicians move in predictable ways. I'll wager that John Edwards remains more concerned with cultivating a persona that plays well in the media than stabilizing his personal integrity. Place your bets.
The lynching of George Zimmerman
June 5, 2012
George Zimmerman's public image took a blow when a judge revoked his bond, alleging that Zimmerman willfully misled the court concerning his financial situation. The fact that he's back in jail makes him appear guilty in the publics' eye, and that's what matters. Whether or not Zimmerman mislead the court is immaterial. In fact, his guilt or innocence is immaterial. His trial has transcended justice; it's now about capitalizing on opportunity.
Zimmerman has maintained since day one that Trayvon Martin instigated their fatal confrontation. Zimmerman's various injuries coupled with autopsy results revealing Martin's injured knuckles tend to support his story. That evidence might be the reason he wasn't charged immediately after the shooting. Yet he remains guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of many, including the federal government and national media.
Could there be an orchestrated campaign between government and media entities to see this man imprisoned, or even executed? While Florida pursues the former, the federal government engages the later, all while the media circus cheers them on. Despite the physical evidence of which we're aware, an apparent lack of credible witnesses on either side of the case, and expert legal opinion belittling Florida's case against Zimmerman, the FBI has launched a hate crime investigation against him. And it could stick.
We might logically believe the Fifth Amendment's protection against double jeopardy would compel the Justice Department to abandon the case if Zimmerman is acquitted. Not necessarily. According to Cleveland State Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich, Supreme Court precedent has established a narrow threshold for claiming double jeopardy. "The double jeopardy clause would not prohibit a federal prosecution of Mr. Zimmerman, even if he were acquitted in Florida state court," Prof. Rich states, although he believes the likelihood of federal prosecution following a state acquittal is small.
However, FBI involvement means Department of Justice involvement, which in turn means Eric Holder involvement. Mr. Holder's idea of judicial impartiality is, shall we say, conflicted.
Under Holder's management the Justice Department engaged in a gun-running operation that if done privately would've sent all involved parties to the darkest of prisons. Imagine you or I being caught smuggling weapons to Mexican drug lords and coercing legitimate domestic firearms dealers to participate. And Holder's disregard for justice doesn't end there, nor does the media's capitulation.
Not content to simply ignore the New Black Panther's voter intimidation efforts, Holder closed the ongoing investigation. Neither he nor his predecessor investigated a hate crime when five blacks kidnapped, raped, tortured, murdered, and mutilated Channon Christian and Christopher Newsome. There was no national outrage and no political speechifying. Their brutal deaths barely registered with the national media.
For example, a search for "Channon Christian" on the New York Times website returned only 53 results, just three of which addressed the murdered woman. Two of those stories were duplicates and the third a synopsis of a television show that reviewed the crime. In other words, the New York Times ignored Channon Christian's death. Conversely, a "Trayvon Martin" search yields more than 4000 results.
A black mob attacked two white reporters in Norfolk, Virginia. Again, neither Holder nor the media showed interest. Not even the newspaper where the reporters worked reported the story. Four "minorities" beat a soldier in Tampa, Florida and the result is deafening silence. The Justice Department hasn't launched a hate crimes investigation and no civil rights leader has scheduled a march.
What benefit exists in practicing selective justice and biased reporting? Why is black-on-white crime, like the Christian-Newsome murders, largely ignored while white-on-black crime is overhyped? It's no mere oversight. Since the "progressive" solution to every problem is more government, we can expect bureaucrats and leftist politicians to demagogue racial issues. The sympathetic press corps is content with being their cheerleaders.
The odds of Zimmerman's exoneration are fading even as the evidence suggests his possible innocence. The Florida prosecutor may have intended to lose this case from the start. But the hate crime investigation and selective reporting from the national media serve to steer public opinion toward Zimmerman's guilt. If you dare question the prosecution or media reports, well, you're just a racist.
Whether or not Florida has overstated its case against George Zimmerman is still undetermined. He may be guilty as sin. But the federal government and its media lapdogs have engaged an agenda that transcends guilt or innocence. They've become co-conspirators in a quasi-lynching, which serves to affect not only the lynched party but anyone who questions the lynching or its motive. This trial is no longer about George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, or even about justice. The goal is to create distrust and animosity along racial, philosophical, and ideological lines.
No matter how Zimmerman's trial plays out, whether he's convicted or acquitted, the left has achieved tactical victories. They've sown doubt regarding the right of an individual to protect life and limb. Each state's authority to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes occurring within its borders is compromised, which concentrates power in the central government. Racial tension and division increases, too, which invariably leads to less liberty.
The purpose of a lynching isn't to punish the accused ne'er-do-well. It's to intimidate anyone who shares characteristics or attitudes with the victim. George Zimmerman has been lynched no matter how his case is adjudicated. But the message behind the lynching isn't for him; it's for the rest of us.
Will she or won't she?
May 23, 2012
According to the savvy political observers, President Obama will dump Joe Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton. On the surface it seems a plausible strategy. Biden has all the flair of the Ford Pinto: pointless, ignorable, and prone to explode at inopportune times. He's a gaffe-a-minute sideshow who provides the Obama administration with all the style of a leisure suit. Hillary is the name brand; the erstwhile queen in waiting who could breathe life into a lackluster campaign.
If you'll recall, we heard similar speculation in 2004 concerning the Bush-Cheney ticket. It was all swirl eight years ago, just media-generated spin intended to create news where none existed. Likely as not, the "Dump Biden" theory is also spin. The probability of Hillary joining the Obama ticket can be assayed with a few simple questions. Is a change practical? Will it help the campaign? Would Hillary accept the position?
It sounds cliché, but when horses were the primary source of transportation it was considered imprudent to change mounts in midstream. If a change was necessary it was made before entering the river. Had Biden been removed from the ticket early in the race it might have been workable. Not now. Effective campaigns must present confidence. To shake-up the ticket at this point would undermine confidence. In fact, with the Republican challenger all but announced, a change on the Obama ticket would convey desperation.
The Vice President serves little purpose other than to make the presidential candidate look good. As long as Biden remains Biden, the "teleprompter President" can maintain his image as a comparatively great orator, a reasoned voice amid Biden's nuttiness. Therefore, from a strategic viewpoint, dumping Biden seems both senseless and impractical.
Adding Hillary to the ticket might solidify Obama's image with feminist voters, but few others. Ms. Clinton is only slightly right of Obama if not his equal. Let's not waste time recounting Hillary's youthful activism and questionable acquaintances. Most everyone has some embarrassing associations they can claim to have disavowed. Besides, we needn't revert to the Woodstock era to uncover Clinton's ideology. As First Lady, Ms. Clinton was a driving force for nationalized healthcare. She's an open proponent of wealth redistribution, especially when the raided coffers belong to the hated "Big Oil." Therefore, to say Hillary Clinton would moderate the Obama ticket is utter nonsense.
I'm not sold on this "Hillary is the world's smartest woman" bit, but she's no fool. The last thing she needs is to be linked to the scandal and ineptitude common to presidential second terms. There'll be no Democrat incumbent in the 2016 election. So, although Clinton will be 69 by then, she'll have the inside track to the nomination if she chooses to run. Being linked to a four-year disaster will sully her image and ruin her electability.
The obvious drawbacks of an Obama-Clinton ticket outweigh the perceived benefits. So, will she or won't she? She won't; not for all of the socialism in Western Europe.
Time cover reveals more than a nursing mom
May 21, 2012
Time magazine was once a driving force in world opinion. Today it resorts to stunts to boost circulation. Thus we have a story about "extreme parenting" with a cover photo of a young mother breastfeeding a three-year-old boy. While the Time cover photo has been analyzed from myriad viewpoints, one aspect has been overlooked. The cover introduces us to more than just attachment parenting, it exposes a contemporary, in-your-face brand of breastfeeding that would make grandma hide in the closet.
"People have to realize this is biologically normal," the Time cover model said. "The more people see it, the more it'll become normal in our culture. That's what I'm hoping. I want people to see it."
This particular mother has adopted the militant's aggressive brand of activism. There's no room for civil discourse, debate, or even hostile argument. There's only room for her agenda, which desensitizes society until it conforms to her views. She represents the unbelievable, the radicalization of breastfeeding. Lactivists, as they're called, are transforming breastfeeding into a public spectacle on par with an anti-war protest or a Jesse Jackson march. Not content to nurse their children according to their own consciences, lactivist moms demand not only acceptance of their decision to breastfeed but also public approval to nurse anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances.
Lactivist outrage is expressed through "nurse-ins" aimed at businesses and public accommodations that ask them to cover their breasts, nurse discreetly, or remove to less conspicuous areas. Lactivists find such requests an infringement on their rights. For instance, lactivists staged a nurse-in at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum after staff asked a mother to exercise modesty while nursing her child. Upset over restrictions that prohibit exposed breasts on Facebook, nurse-ins targeted the social media giant's offices in various cities across the country.
More examples of breastfeeding militancy are readily available. But lactivism can be summarized in Katie Hamilton's attitude. When staff at a Los Angeles museum, acting on another patron's request, asked Katie to cover her breast she responded, "It doesn't matter. That patron can look away. I have rights." That's not the attitude of maternal tenderness; it's selfish, irresponsible, and confrontational.
Before the next nurse-in occurs in my front yard, let me state that I'm in favor of breastfeeding. I was breastfed, as were my two children. Mother's milk contains the requisite vitamins and proteins for proper infant development. It's non-allergenic, and since the mother's antibodies are transferred through the milk it protects infants against various diseases and infections. Breastfeeding is also believed to reduce the risk of certain cancers in both the mother and infant. What's more, breastfeeding makes diaper changes more tolerable. There's no doubt that nursing is a natural and wise choice for feeding a baby.
However, lactating moms should realize that public places aren't their sole domain. There are other people in the public sphere as well, and they also have rights. Decorum remains relevant despite modernity's best efforts to antiquate it. Mothers who want their children to enjoy the benefits of breast milk can accomplish that task without a combative attitude. There's no reason children can't be nursed discreetly with respect to cultural modesty.
Mothers know when they'll be in public places for extended periods and enjoy several options for providing breast milk to their children. Electric breast pumps can be bought for under $50. Fill a few bottles and store them. Breast milk remains fresh for up to eight hours at room temperature and 24 hours in a cooler bag, and it's easily warmed. Does it really burden mom to heat the bottle under warm tap water? And why not use a nursing blanket? While lactivists accurately describe nursing as an intimate act between mother and child, intimacy demands privacy above openness. It's unlikely that most people will have a problem with tasteful public nursing. But those same people just might take issue with the hooray-for-me-and-to-hell-with-you lactivist.
The nature of any protest prompts the curious mind to question the activists' fundamental motives. In the lactivists' case it is apparent that the activism outweighs all other factors. Lactivism isn't about nursing babies, for there are many ways to breastfeed babies in public without drawing attention to the activity. Lactivists have co-opted the natural and wholly inoffensive act of breastfeeding to garner attention for their alleged cause. It's a case study in militancy.
I have no qualm with women who modestly nurse their babies in public. Exploitation is the issue. Lactivist moms at public nurse-ins expose far more than their breasts; they expose a self-promoting agenda. The attitude driving militant lactivism brings greater dishonor to breastfeeding than the occasional exposed mammary can produce prudish offence.
I-95 runs both ways, Mayor Bloomberg
May 17, 2012
During a commencement speech at UNC-Chapel Hill, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a shot at North Carolina voters for having passed Amendment One, which amended the state's constitution to recognize marriage as a male-female relationship. Bloomberg believes North Carolina singlehandedly proved how many a mile the civil rights march has yet to trudge. But it was Bloomberg who displayed a level of ignorance exceeded only by his colossal hypocrisy.
Considering that Newsweek recently created our first gay president from whole cloth, Bloomberg might have been trying to score political points with the media. But he scored no points for integrity. If Bloomberg truly believes North Carolina voters dealt civil rights a setback, he would've condemned voters in 39 other states for previously passing similar laws and constitutional amendments. That list includes traditionally leftist states like Illinois, Hawaii, and Michigan. Even California voters twice passed laws preventing state recognition of same-sex marriage.
It's more likely Bloomberg was preaching to the ignorant hayseeds, hillbillies, and assorted bumpkins who call this allegedly backward Southern state their home. Being from New York City, he just couldn't resist telling the rednecks how things are done "up North." However, rather than displaying his intellect and tolerance, Bloomberg unveiled his utter contempt for the concepts of a constitutional republic.
In a perfect world, marriage would be the religious community's exclusive territory, free from government in all forms. But we don't live in a perfect world. So defining marriage is left to the best available option. Under that premise, marriage law is a state's rights issues. The U.S. Constitution delegates no authority over marriage to the central government, nor does it prohibit states from assuming that authority. Therefore, the Tenth Amendment reserves any government involvement in marriage to the states and the people.
Each state can unilaterally address homosexual marriage as its voters see fit, either through ballot referendum or their representative bodies. That's the beauty of a constitutional republic, wherein powers are decentralized and states enjoy wide autonomy in determining their own governance. If someone finds the statutory climate in their current state unbearable they're free to move to another state where their values are more accurately reflected.
Bloomberg also faces conflict on another front. While the U.S. Constitution is totally silent on marriage, it's far from silent on the right to bear arms. In fact, the restriction on restricting access to firearms isn't limited to Congress alone; the Second Amendment is uninfringeable at any level. Yet Bloomberg, a man professing concern for civil rights, is one of the most vehement anti-gun politicians on the North American continent.
Michael Bloomberg is a man fully consumed with his own importance. As such, he fails to realize that North Carolina's voters really don't care what he thinks about their state's business or how he does things "up North." As the old Southern adage holds, I-95 funs both ways, Mike. Find the on-ramp nearest you, and good riddance.
All corporations aren't created equal
May 12, 2012
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." What about corporations? Apparently, some corporations are more equal than others, or perhaps some are "people" whereas others aren't. It depends on how an individual corporation's political twig is bent.
A federal judge recently issued an injunction against a Texas law that barred public funding of clinics that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood is a chief plaintiff in the case, which only makes sense. According to Planned Parenthood's figures, the federation performed 329,445 abortions in 2010, an increase of 25,135 over 2007 and an average of 902 per day. In all, 56-percent of the unintended pregnancies the organization claims to have prevented in 2010 ended on the abortion table. Planned Parenthood clinics, it would certainly seem, run afoul of the Texas law's funding restrictions.
However, abortion isn't the issue for this column. The eight clinics involved in the lawsuit do not perform abortions, at least not on site. The issue is Planned Parenthood's legal argument against the Texas law. The organization alleges that its free speech has been abridged, and there can be no more perfect example of modern liberalism. Isn't it the left that decries corporate free speech and personhood?
You might recall the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. When the Court ruled that corporations are legally protected under the First Amendment's free speech provision the left cut flips. It represented a gross violation of justice to define corporations as "people" capable of exercising free political speech, or free speech in general. Where is that anger now? The left isn't criticizing Planned Parenthood for asserting its corporate citizenship and free speech rights.
What is Planned Parenthood if not a corporation? Search Planned Parenthood's websites; you'll find the federation repeatedly identified as "incorporated." Articles of incorporation for Planned Parenthood regional affiliates are available online. There's no questioning Planned Parenthood's incorporated status, just as there's no questioning its liberal political alignment. Yet we're to believe liberals can't abide the thought of corporations exercising free speech. As is common to liberalism, we have a contradiction.
If this were an isolated incident we might let it slide. But Planned Parenthood isn't alone. Colleges and universities, among the most liberal of all institutions, incorporate for various purposes. Stanford University formed a corporation to manage its on-campus faculty housing. Harvard University operates a financial investment corporation that manages funds to satisfy research and educational necessities. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros are all party to numerous corporations. Not one of those people or institutions can be called conservative.
Apparently, liberals don't view all corporations as created equal. Some corporations are capable of exercising free speech, determining their own expenditures, and behaving in an approved way. But acceptable corporate personhood is based not on equal protection but ideological alignment. Now we're left with one lingering question: do liberals suffer from "corporaphobia," or are they just being two-faced?
Dealing with racial slurs the NHL way
May 9, 2012
Most people look to the South whenever a case of racial intolerance makes headlines. While that stereotype isn't unfounded, the days when black Southerners -- and black Americans overall -- were legally relegated to second-class status are gone. Our black countrymen can come and go as they please, even attending NASCAR races at Talladega, Alabama. But what about hockey games in Boston, Massachusetts?
Admittedly, ice hockey isn't the toughest sports ticket in the black community, yet there are black hockey fans. So it's likely that some black fans were inside the Boston Garden for Game Seven between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins. No problem, right? Right, until a black Capitals player netted the series-winning goal. The racial slurs then flowed like mint juleps on an antebellum Old South plantation.
To say that some Bruins fans didn't gracefully accept their team's early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs is an understatement. In fact, disgruntled Boston fans transformed Twitter into a cesspool of boorish commentary. Now, a few sore losers don't mean all Bostonians are card-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan. However, the presence of racial slurs in Boston, a stronghold of liberalism, does prove that bigotry doesn't come with a "Made in Dixie" label.
The question isn't whether racial slurs are still part of the national lexicon, or in what part of the country they're most common. The question is what type of response racial slurs demand? Are more hate-crime laws the answer? Should the First Amendment be sacrificed to bureaucratic speech police? Maybe we should just emulate Joel Ward?
Who is Joel Ward? He's the black player who scored the Capitals winning goal. He bore the wrath of immature Boston fans. He's also my favorite hockey player, even though I'd never heard of him before this incident unfolded and know nothing about ice hockey. To me, a hockey broadcast makes as much sense as the evening news from the dark side of the moon. Joel Ward, conversely, makes perfect sense.
Ward was initially stunned by the demeaning tweets, which is understandable. But he didn't book a performance of the Jackson and Sharpton Three-ring Civil Rights Circus. He didn't blame history, slavery, or the daily stress of being a black player in a mostly white sport, a feeling with which white NBA players can certainly empathize. Instead, Ward simply said, "It has no effect on me whatsoever."
A single statement can't fully define Joel Ward's character. It doesn't divulge his politics, his devotion to family, his charitableness, or if he eats all of his vegetables. It can, however, define his courage and confidence. Joel Ward refused to let a few thoughtless blowhards determine his worth. He dealt with their ignorance in an exemplary manner; a manner that people of all races should adopt as their own.
Successful bigotry -- an oxymoron, I know -- hinges on the ability to diminish another person's pride and self-confidence. When bigoted remarks prompt anger or offense, the bigot has gained the advantage. For instance, had Ward reacted rashly, or threatened retaliation, he would've granted Boston's bigots the sense of accomplishment they sought. Effective defamation demands its victims respond in equal thoughtlessness and hostility. When Ward dismissed the racial slurs he denied his antagonists the satisfaction of having provoked his ire. Here's the score: Joel Ward 1 Boston Bigots 0.
Joel Ward's words were simple, but the lesson within them is profound. When we yield to bigoted opinion we grant power to the bigot. Rather than reacting with anger or hurt feelings we should dismiss baseless accusations, thereby relegating our detractors to an inferior intellectual status. That's what Joel Ward did. He refused to empower his antagonists, proving that their views of him and his racial heritage meant nothing.
We'll never rid the world of bigotry and its associated slurs. That's a pipe dream reserved for Utopian fantasizers. But if all races dismissed racial slurs with the same confidence Joel Ward exhibited we could reduce their effectiveness and frequency. We might even "form a more perfect union."
The Zimmerman Conspiracy
April 28, 2012
So George Zimmerman is going to trial, where a jury will decide what actually happened between him and Trayvon Martin. Until the trial is finished mulish minds on both sides will cling to their predetermined versions of the truth. Such devout passions deserve their own conspiracy.
Generally, conspiracy theories represent easy explanations for otherwise unexplainable events, or they promote a political agenda. Thus we have "Truthers," "Birthers," and tyrannical secret societies propagated by the Illuminati. However, just because most conspiracies are built on fluff rather than substance doesn't entirely discount the reality of conspiracies. We're witnessing one in Sanford, Florida.
Trayvon Martin's life was unquestionably squandered, whether Zimmerman is innocent or guilty. That's the singular point upon which all sides should agree; after that the facts are muddled. So let's focus on the conspiracy rather than on rehashing divergent and unsubstantiated opinions. Doesn't it seem odd for a prosecutor to file a second-degree murder charge after the initial investigation produced no such evidence? Why would an experienced prosecutor take such a stance?
Bear in mind that I'm not raising this question; it's the question respected legal experts have asked since photographic evidence was revealed that supports Zimmerman's story. What did the prosecution know concerning those photos prior to filing the murder charge?
According to Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman is "so thin it won't make it past a judge . . . everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense." Dershowitz also said the prosecution committed a "grave ethical violation" if the photos were known prior to filing the affidavit.
Mr. Dershowitz continued, "The whole country is watching. What do they benefit from having half-truths in an affidavit?"
I won't pretend to instruct Mr. Dershowitz on the finer points of law. However, I will argue politics to a certain degree. And politics has forged public opinion about George Zimmerman from the outset. Therefore the State benefits greatly from filing a second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman . . . if the evidence confirms he acted in self-defense.
Consider what a powder keg this case has been since day one. Zimmerman and his family have been threatened. Race hustlers accused the Sanford Police Department of a quasi-lynching and subsequent cover-up. Protesters demanded not only Zimmerman's arrest but his conviction. The New Black Panthers placed a bounty on Zimmerman and the pros and cons of self-defense and gun control laws have been argued. The product of these variables is division and potential civil unrest, which truly benefits no one.
The prosecution found itself in a tight spot. There was a need to placate the mob mentality and avoid potential riots while also protecting the rights of the accused and of self-defense. What could be a better solution than filing a tough-on-crime charge that can't produce a conviction? The mob's call for justice is answered without taking a chance on imprisoning an innocent defendant or compromising the right of self-defense.
It's a tidy conspiracy. Any takers?
Minister Farrakhan, the human conch shell
April 23, 2012
Most people believe you can hear the ocean roar if you place a conch shell to your ear. I've always thought the sound was more like a steady and annoying wind, the kind that blows endlessly in no particular direction. When you think about it in that light, Louis Farrakhan is quite like a conch shell. If you placed his head to your ear you'd likely hear the same sound.
Farrakhan, never a stranger to controversy, created quite a stir with his recent ramblings about people killing their leaders, about Jesus, David, and Solomon -- all Hebrews -- being African, and about Jesus himself being a Muslim despite having preceding Mohammad by six centuries. It's rhetorical flamboyance extraordinaire, but coming from Farrakhan it's not surprising. For him to utter an odd word here and there is more the rule than the exception. However, even Farrakhan can exceed his own high standard for balderdash, and this is one of those times.
Sure, Farrakhan's remarks warranted a certain amount of outrage. However, his greatest offense was his ignorance of, or absolute disregard for, reality. While defending his claim that Jesus was a black man -- Jesus was a Jew and neither white nor black -- Farrakhan said, "You are not trained to accept wisdom from a black person, no matter how wise that black person is."
Oh Louis, how can you, a single man, be so wrong?
There are people who readily accept wisdom from black people. We call them conservatives. In fact, I would argue that a conservative's pursuit of wisdom transcends the racial and ethnic spectrum. However, there's a catch. Since the goal is to gain understanding, conservatives will ignore fools, henceforth defined as anyone who makes Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton appear levelheaded. Mr. Farrakhan does just that, which is why he's routinely dismissed as a certified nutcase.
How can Farrakhan lodge such a charge when he himself ignores wise individuals who share his racial heritage but shun his divisive political ideology? For example, does Farrakhan accept wisdom from syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams? Does he read Thomas Sowell, a black man whose wisdom propels him to write editorials, scholarly essays, and books as easily as most of us tie our shoes? Does Farrakhan seek the wisdom of former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts, or Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or Shelby Steele, or Kevin Jackson, or Star Parker?
While Farrakhan undeniably harbors delusions of intellectual grandeur and fancies himself a serious contributor to public discourse, his charge is as laughable as it is false. Maybe this tirade resulted from Farrakhan's jealousy of black men and women who impart genuine wisdom with relative ease. But most likely his rhetoric results from a mind that exists in a vacuum, where the only sound is the steady and annoying wind that blows endlessly in no particular direction.
The real story behind "Hilary Rosen-gate"
April 18, 2012
Hilary Rosen's feud with Ann Romney is over. Yet we've seen once again how quick a proponent of a woman's right to choose will turn on another woman whose choice differs from liberal orthodoxy. Had Romney chosen to abort her five kids she'd have been Rosen's heroine rather than her target. The same can be said if Ann had shunned family for a career.
Rosen has since apologized, but not before receiving her own share of "scorn" for belittling Romney's family devotion. While liberal talking heads were spinning Rosen's inanity into a spoof of Republicans, Democrat strategists ran from her like she'd arrived at the Baptist picnic toting a bottle of Jack Daniels. Yet Rosen's offense wasn't her assessment of Ann Romney. Her actual faux pas arose when she said of the "Republican War on Women":
Well, first, can we just get rid of this word, "war on women"? The Obama campaign does not use it, President Obama does not use it-this is something that the Republicans are accusing people of using, but they're actually the ones spreading it.
Unintentional error is excusable. But Rosen's false and illogical opinions weren't unintentional. No rational person believes Republicans would sabotage their standing with female voters by wrongly accusing themselves of waging war on women. To accept Rosen's accusation as fact, one must also accept that Emily's List and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) are members of some vast, right-wing cabal.
Emily's List has issued an endless stream of emails accusing "ultra-conservatives" of "attacking" the organization's preferred candidates, predominantly females. In a message dated March 23, 2012 Emily's List supported electing women to "stop the Republican War on Women in its tracks." On April 12 Emily's List claimed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had "taken the Republican War on Women and made it his personal crusade." The DCCC's director, Kathy Ward, issued a short message that mentioned "war on women" four times, concluding with, "Let's make Republicans regret they ever launched a War on Women." Even Vice President Biden, certainly a part of the Obama campaign, said, "I think the 'war on women' is real."
Sorry Hilary; Republicans didn't create the "War on Women" theme and everyone knows it, including you.
So the real issue in "Hilary Rosen-gate" wasn't Rosen's opinion of Ann Romney, as the pontificators have pontificated. It was her blatant lie. Why would she issue a statement so nonsensical, so fabricated, so refutable? There's a method to her madness. Rosen knows that large numbers of liberal voters will accept her story as the unmitigated gospel, never bothering to recognize or research the truth. Rosen was publicly pandering to a segment of her party's base.
It only appeared the Democrat Party had tossed Hilary Rosen under the bus. In baseball terminology she took one for the team. When the heat's off the Democrat hierarchy will reward her loyalty.
Factual error clouds the Zimmerman verdict
April 13, 2012
Factual error sounds like an oxymoron, similar to deafening silence, dark lamp, or definite maybe. However, a factual error isn't so much a matter of linguistic construction as of personal perception. Once error is accepted as fact there's little chance that evidence will change public opinion. Subsequent conclusions are then based on accounts that may or may not be accurate.
The George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin saga produced the perfect storm for factual error. An overzealous neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, pursued and killed an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman uttered a racial slur and based his assumptions of Martin's criminal intent on the youth's race. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law condones vigilante murder and Martin's hoodie made him a thug.
But each aforementioned fact contains a startling array of error. And each error could've been avoided simply by waiting for the story to fully develop.
NBC's creative editing of 911 tapes portrayed Zimmerman in a false light, and he apparently used no racial epithets to describe Martin. Wearing a hoodie in the warm Florida climate might be odd but doesn't necessarily convey dubious intent on Martin's part. "Stand Your Ground" laws recognize the basic right to counter an imminent threat, even with deadly force. Yet "Stand Your Ground" conveys no right, expressed or implied, to pursue or provoke someone who appears suspicious. Depending on who ultimately attacked whom, either Martin or Zimmerman could argue self-defense.
If Trayvon was innocent, then Zimmerman assailed, and eventually took, Martin's right to life, to liberty, and to pursue happiness. Would Trayvon not be correct in defending those rights? However, if Trayvon assaulted Zimmerman, as some accounts claim, then Zimmerman had every right to protect his life. At this point the public has just enough fact and just enough error to substantiate an emotional response, not to render a life-changing verdict.
I'm not suggesting the protests are baseless. In fact, they would be commendable if the intent was to prompt a more thorough investigation of Trayvon's death. But are the marches geared toward a verdict based on evidence, one way or the other? Not at all; their demand is George Zimmerman's conviction. Therefore the justice marches are undeniably conflicted. While angry that Zimmerman allegedly denied Trayvon Martin his right to life and liberty without due cause, they're demanding George Zimmerman be treated likewise, convicted regardless the evidence. Protestors are practicing mob rule, which has no place in legitimate jurisprudence.
Zimmerman has now been charged. If the evidence warrants, convict him. But he shouldn't be arrested, much less convicted, because street mobs have predetermined his guilt. He shouldn't be prosecuted to appease Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. He shouldn't be imprisoned because racists seek retribution on their own terms. Zimmerman is assumed innocent until the State proves his guilt; Zimmerman himself needn't prove a thing.
Trayvon's supporters have made a trustworthy verdict improbable, perhaps unattainable. Due to reliance on factual error the case against Zimmerman has been so politicized that no one will be satisfied with its conclusion. Seating an impartial jury of Zimmerman's peers will prove difficult at best, and confidence in the subsequent proceedings will be minimal. The possibility of a fair trial is in doubt, as is the probability that the mobs will accept Zimmerman's possible exoneration.
No one knows what happened between Zimmerman and Martin. Perhaps an overzealous Zimmerman doggedly pursued an imaginary problem in Martin, belying his self-defense claim. Maybe Martin assaulted Zimmerman, posing an imminent threat to his life and limb, which places Zimmerman in the right. Had cooler heads prevailed from the outset we might have hard evidence on whether Zimmerman acted defensively, and thus correctly, or offensively, and thus criminally. Instead we have a situation where the end result, whatever it may be, will prove nothing. If Zimmerman is convicted it will appear that he was sacrificed to placate the mob mentality and subsequent unrest it portends. Should Zimmerman be acquitted, institutional racism will be blamed for exonerating an innocent black teenager's murderer.
There is one certainty in all this uncertainty. Zimmerman's trial will produce neither racial unity nor cohesion. It'll only fuel the people who profit from inflaming racial tensions, as have previous cases. We could've avoided this circus had we refrained from forming initial judgments based on factual errors. We're in good position to gain wisdom that will help us better address such future situations. But chances are we'll just end up offended.
Racism with a side of fries
April 9, 2012
Ever wonder how a post-racial America might look? Well, keep wondering. Not only is racism a perpetual human flaw common to all races, but some people will find it when it needn't be sought. They'll look where it's least expected, where no normal person would notice, where Burger King filmed a commercial with Mary J. Blige.
Burger King hired Blige to hawk their chicken tenders, and judging from the hostile reception the ad received you'd have thought the script called for Blige to sing Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground. The indignation flowed like honey mustard.
Madame Noire, a website dedicated to black women, called the ad "unsettling" and stereotypical buffoonery. One pundit charged Burger King with manipulating a black woman to sell chicken: "Because God knows black folk won't buy anything unless there's a song, and preferably a dance, attached to it." Another wrote, "To see her (Blige) sing for chicken is jarring."
The second claim is utter nonsense. Only an idiot would believe Mary J. Blige sang for chicken. I'll bet she sang for money, and lots of it. Good for her. But the "unsettling" affect, the stereotyping, the idea of "black folk" shunning any product not tied to a song or dance, that's a little trickier.
Granted, the comment about singing and dancing was offered in sarcasm, which I can appreciate to a point. But the days when a blackface minstrel chowing on chicken and watermelon was considered an accurate portrayal of the average black person are long gone. While BK's ad was silly, silliness isn't racism. The only thing the BK-Blige combo should insult is our intelligence.
Had Mary uttered a line such as, "Dis' here chicken sho' do taste mighty fine," the outrage among Madame Noire bloggers might be understandable. But for Pete's sake, take a walk on the real side. Today's black Americans are multi-millionaire athletes, actors and actresses, and performers of various kinds, like Mary J. Blige. They're business leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and -- dare I say? -- President. Blige simply used her status and stardom to make a buck. Big deal! Why, in 21st Century America, can't a black woman advertise chicken, or anything else, without self-serving hacks taking umbrage?
Not all Madam Noire bloggers found offense in the ad. Yet the ad remained racist. Just the anticipation of racism, it would seem, causes fear of racism among blacks. But if merely anticipating the possibility of racism constitutes racism, how then can any person interact with another race? Whatever is said or done becomes racism if an aggrieved party perceives it so. Harmony can't exist under such circumstances. But resentment can, and it will.
Both Burger King and Blige have since apologized for the ad, which Burger King has pulled. But the people who should apologize are those who created this issue from nothing. Racial divisiveness won't end as long as publicity hogs profit from stirring up strife.
Government isn't the Creator of rights
April 5, 2012
Whether a politician's words constitute a flagrant faux pas or innocent slip of the tongue often depends on the offender's party affiliation. Democrats can commit untimely gaffes with relative impunity. But for Republicans to utter supposed misstatements is proof-positive that conservatives are knuckle-draggers. By some opinions Rick Santorum committed such a verbal error while countering claims that government mandated healthcare is a fundamental right.
"Rights come from our creator," Santorum declared. "They are protected by the Constitution of this country. Rights should not and cannot be created by a government because any time a government creates a right, they can take that right away."
Think what you will about Rick Santorum, his record, and his future prospects. But his transgression wasn't inaccuracy. His sin was daring to challenge the fundamental leftist idea that rights originate in government.
To assume human liberties, defined as rights, are products of government is illogical. Since government produces nothing of its own accord, and therefore possesses nothing, it can only distribute what it first takes. Government can bestow retractable privileges but not inalienable rights. For example, governments issue the driver's license, which is considered a privilege. As such, governments can disperse the driver's license on their terms, according to their will, or revoke the privilege altogether. A veritable right is quite different.
Genuine rights are inalienable and self-evident. A right exists without government permission and no expert translation is necessary to understand its presence. Rational people instinctively understand their rights and how government incursions weaken their liberties. So to recognize the Creator as the source of liberty is entirely sensible. What a Creator has granted no government can retract. Government may ignore a right, a too common occurrence, but the right still exists for those who will undergo the fatigues of supporting it.
The media is government's willing accomplice in undermining rights and liberties. In fact, the two are working overtime to subvert our natural right to determine our own happiness, and they're rewriting our foundational history in the process. In the news story on Santorum's supposed misstatement, the reporter promotes the idea that government can bestow rights, claiming that men placed our rights in our Constitution. That reporter is either ignorant or an ideological puppet.
The Founders never claimed to have invented or granted the rights in the Constitution; they wrote so as to recognize preexisting rights and to protect them from government abuse. The Constitution's purpose wasn't to enumerate each individual liberty common to free people. Rather it was to restrain government from trampling not only identified rights but any others that naturally exist. In order to establish a workable government while maintaining inalienable rights and liberties, the Founders had to recognize the source of rights as beyond government's ability.
While big government advocates often belittle the idea that rights are natural, dismissing it as the theocratic ramblings of Christian fundamentalists, their argument is not with our Creator alone. It's also with the Founding Fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson. The man most credited with resisting an American theocracy also believed rights emanated from a higher source than human government. In his most obvious reference, found in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson readily acknowledged the Creator's work in mankind's inalienable rights. Furthermore, and equally damaging to big government proponents, Jefferson recognized this truth as "self-evident." He obviously believed basic rights originated outside of human government and were recognizable without its bureaucratic analysis. And lest we assume Jefferson's positions in the Declaration were isolated, he left other references to confirm his view.
In A View on the Rights of British America Jefferson again declared rights as self-evident and outside the so-called generosity of governments. Jefferson knew that a free people would recognize rights as coming from nature's laws, "and not as the gift of their chief magistrate." As in the Declaration, Jefferson confirmed his belief that the principles of right and wrong were obvious to any reasonable observer: "to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors."
Jefferson believed people instinctively understood their rights and the roots thereof. However, to remove any lingering concerns about government's authority to grant or revoke rights let's again seek guidance from Rights: "The God, who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."
Possessing our rights is as natural as taking our next breaths. To have life is to possess rights. Government, Jefferson's "hand of force", can refuse to acknowledge our rights even to the point of destroying both us and our ability to exercise liberty. But it cannot separate one from the other; life and liberty are mutually inclusive. To take one is to take both.
Rights exist whether or not a standing government is sympathetic to their presence. Santorum's critics should then save their breath. The idea of a Creator granting our liberty is radical only in the minds of tyrants and slaves. It is, however, well within the Founding Father's thoughts on the relationship between life and liberty, between citizens and governments.
Supreme Incompetency on the High Court
April 5, 2012
A Supreme Court justice should present an image of intelligence, competence, and wisdom. Such qualities identify sound judgment and inspire public trust. But two of SCOTUS's "progressive" purists have sullied that image. In fact, we might wonder if a grasp on reality remains requisite for a seat on the high bench.
During ObamaCare arguments Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, "What's wrong with leaving this in the hands of those who should be fixing it?"
Were Sotomayor referring to the free market, which has been all but removed from the healthcare industry, we could admire her insight. But when we understand that she's referring to Congress, we must question her loyalty to, and understanding of, our Constitution. We might even question her sanity.
The U.S. Constitution doesn't grant Congress the power to force citizens to purchase anything, including health insurance. Such federal power is neither expressed nor implied, therefore it doesn't exist. But even if Congress were authorized to provide, manage, or mandate health insurance, who in their right mind would defer to Congress' wisdom?
The Congress that passed ObamaCare, to which Sotomayor would defer, was under Nancy Pelosi's direction, and Pelosi is contradiction personified. She recently told reporters that her Congress "wrote our bill [the Affordable Care Act] in a way that was Constitutional." That's beyond unbelievable, coming from the person who said ObamaCare must pass so we could discover what the bill contained. It's even more unbelievable when we consider that this same Nancy Pelosi piously dismissed a reporter's concern about Congress' constitutional authority to enact ObamaCare. And yet Sotomayor trusts Congress, which has proven inept at nearly every subject it addresses, to correct problems within the healthcare industry? That's psychotic.
If Sotomayor's views were isolated, or represented a worst case example of judicial reasoning, we might dismiss them out of hand. But her opinions are neither isolated nor a worst case scenario. Justice Elena Kagan upped the ante. One of the key arguments against ObamaCare is its coercive nature, to which Kagan responded, "Why is a big gift from the federal government a matter of coercion?"
Kagan possesses, at best, a warped appreciation for giving. A gift is, by definition, free. ObamaCare isn't free. The cost may be reflected in mandates, fines, or coverage for the uninsured, but ObamaCare carries an unavoidable price. State governments, insurers, medical professionals, and individuals must absorb the cost of Obama's supposed gift while navigating the regulatory maze the requisite bureaucracy will create. A gift with such strings attached is better left unwrapped.
Because Sotomayor and Kagan are Supreme Court justices their opinions, however incredulous, are granted credibility. It needn't be so. Ronald Reagan warned us, "Don't be afraid to see what you see." While both Sotomayor and Kagan are educated, education doesn't invariably grant wisdom to its possessor. When we hear Sotomayor and Kagan speak on ObamaCare's constitutionality and benefit, let us not be afraid to see their incompetency and the threat to liberty it represents.
Lights, camera, Sharpton!
March 29, 2012
The classic image of the Hollywood movie set features a gruff director -- wearing a beret and chomping a cigar -- bellowing, "Lights, camera, action!" The actors then perform their roles. In Sanford, Florida the director might shout, "Lights, camera, Sharpton!"
Although Al Sharpton is a devout blowhard, let's give the devil his due. Whenever there's race to hustle or cameras to hog, he never misses his cue. In the wake of Trayvon Martin's untimely demise, Sharpton delivered a timeless line to the teen's parents: "they will try to make your son a junkie, thief, assaulter, everything else before this is over."
It's theatrical history, Mr. Sharpton starring in a role for which he's uniquely qualified, dividing public opinion. His concern over that fateful night when one life ended and another was forever altered is purely professional. Sharpton is an actor, a caped civil rights crusader manipulating Trayvon's death to build his own street cred. It's a role he's played many times over.
Remember the Duke Lacrosse case, when white lacrosse players were accused of raping Crystal Mangum, a black stripper? Al Sharpton declared the accused guilty without a shred of substantiating evidence. Rich, powerful, white men had abused a vulnerable black woman, as if the scene had played out on an 18th Century southern plantation. Anyone who questioned Mangum's story was racist, sexist, and probably a few other things.
There was only one problem. Mangum wasn't a victim; she was a lying fraud. Ensuing scenes found her convicted of child abuse and charged with the stabbing death of her boyfriend. But before Mangum's story reached its ugly climax Sharpton had long since left the stage.
Sharpton played a similar role in Louisiana's Jena Six case. The script reverberated with racial injustice when Mychal Bell was arrested for beating a white classmate. The cameras rolled and Al delivered in all his demagogic glory. Sharpton's dramatic monologues declared Bell the victim of blatant racism at a racist high school in a racist southern town. However, Mychal Bell turned out to be everything his critics had said, and Jena's systemic racism was pure hype. When the scene ended and the set fell dark, Bell remained in jail and Sharpton had disappeared quicker than September snow.
Since Al Sharpton claims the title of reverend, it's fitting for his marquee to come directly from biblical text, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." Al plays the role of the sympathetic civil rights crusader. Inwardly he's a publicity hog, Kim Kardashian without the buxom figure.
Evidence to date can neither exonerate nor convict George Zimmerman for Trayvon's death. Jumping to either conclusion is foolishly immature. But identifying Al Sharpton as a race-hustler is verifiable. He flawlessly performs the black leader's role, only to vanish without a trace just prior to the scene's climax. Keep a close eye on Sanford, Florida. Al Sharpton's latest performance is can't-miss theatre.
Pity the poor working chump
March 24, 2012
Fifty years' worth of war on poverty has produced little benefit, save for a few valuable lessons. For instance, we've learned about the valiant struggle the disadvantaged wage against capitalist oppression. The homeless, the hungry, and the downtrodden are victims of free market greed. But there's one participant in Washington's war on poverty who's routinely ignored, one whose plight the pointy-headed elites never champion: the working chump.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, a working chump isn't identified by their intellectual prowess but by their productivity. Their status ranges from the professional to the tradesman, the rich to the poor. Such people are driven to meet their own needs and become agitated when others shun that responsibility. While such productive people represent a declining socioeconomic class, they are indispensable. The entitlement wagon is overloaded with passengers who favor the free ride. Did someone not pull that wagon, it would stall. No one would get what they need, much less what they want. Working chumps are the mules who pull the wagon.
Leftists promote entitlement programs as necessary to meeting essential human needs, and there's an element of truth in their position, for there are essential human needs. However, leftists omit a key fact. There exists no right to receive life's essentials at another person's expense.
Voluntarily contributing to a neighbor's well-being is charitable. Being forced to provide for another's needs is a form of servitude. How else can we describe someone who is forced to relinquish their property -- expressed as the return on their labor -- for their neighbor's personal benefit? Just as charity isn't a vice, forced contribution isn't charity, even when the needs of the "entitled" are life's necessities. How much more when entitlement extends from essentials to convenience?
Perhaps you've heard of Assurance Wireless? If not, it's a program that provides clients with 250 minutes of free cellular service each month. More talkative Assurance customers can receive 500 minutes for $5 a month, and 1000 voice minutes plus 1000 text messages for $20 a month. But there's a flaw: Assurance isn't free. Someone must subsidize the free or reduced rates. That someone is the working chump.
Assurance is funded through the federal Universal Service Fund (USF). Basically, the USF is a tax that appears on phone and wireless bills. In theory, this tax is collected from communications companies to ensure affordable telecommunications services in remote or high-cost areas. In reality, customers pay the USF. Therefore, the working chump who pays the USF tax is subsidizing yet another welfare program.
Now, labeling Assurance Wireless a welfare program is a stern accusation, one in need of substantiation. Fortunately, confirming evidence is readily available. Qualifying for Assurance is as simple as participating in an approved entitlement program: Medicaid, food stamps, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, public housing, free school lunch, or low income energy assistance programs. To coin an old phrase, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Likewise, when a program's qualifying criteria is participation in a welfare program, and the program's cost is covered or subsidized through government imposed taxes or fees, it's a welfare program.
The economy isn't technically in recession, but it's far from robust, causing many productive families to trim their budgets. One way to stretch their dollars is through no contract, or prepaid, cellular plans. While prepaid cellular options are sometimes limited, they are affordable. However, prepaid cellular customers work not only to maintain their limited services but also to provide the entitlement class with better cellular plans than they themselves can afford. Productive people are being played for chumps, working chumps. Count me in their number.
Successful cultures aren't built upon a premise where unproductive people have the right to necessity or convenience at another's expense. But more and more Americans perceive themselves entitled. Whether it's necessities like food and shelter or luxuries like cellular phones, working chumps continue to meet the demands of an ungrateful entitlement class.
The government, media, and intelligentsia are quick to defend those who ride in the entitlement wagon. Yet no one defends the working chump, whose productivity keeps that wagon rolling. But they can't pull the load forever. Someday the weight will become too great, and both the wagon and its riders will be left sitting by the side of the road.
Obama is no Ron Paul
March 15, 2012
The Republican presidential nomination process is more than half complete, meaning Ron Paul's supporters must face a hard fact. Their candidate won't be the nominee. His delegate count is one-tenth that of Mitt Romney and only Maine has awarded Paul double-digit delegates. Even when Paul wins, he loses.
That's not to say Rep. Paul in inconsequential; he's not. But he has as much chance of winning the Republican nomination as do the Pittsburgh Pirates of winning the 2012 World Series. So, where will Paul's supporters turn in the general election? Believe it or not, the Obama campaign believes it can court alienated Paulites, citing common ground on budget issues and foreign policy.
Whatever the Obama campaign is smoking must be good stuff. Had it been available at Haight-Ashbury, the Summer of Love would've lasted a decade. Give the President's advisors an "A" in spin, but the idea of Paul's supporters voting Obama is pure fantasy.
Rep. Paul pledged to cut $1 trillion from federal spending immediately upon taking office. He'd like to repeal the 16th Amendment and abolish inheritance and capital gains taxes. Ron Paul might settle for auditing the Federal Reserve, but he'd prefer to eliminate it outright. And voters attracted to these fiscal positions will back Obama's reelection? Fat chance, Barry!
It's true that Candidate Obama preached fiscal restraint, criticized Bush's "unpatriotic" deficit spending, and promised budgetary discipline. His campaign rhetoric left spendthrift Republicans little room to criticize tax and spend liberalism. But President Obama is accumulating debt at a rate that makes "W" appear cautious. Three years into Obama's presidency we've increased debt from $10 trillion to $15.5 trillion, give or take a hundred billion. Trillion dollar annual deficits are the new normal. Welfare and food stamp participation has risen, and Washington has seized control of the healthcare industry.
Obama and Paul are as far apart fiscally as the East is from the West. And the notion that Obama's foreign policies will appeal to Paul's base is even more far-fetched.
Ron Paul is non-interventionist to the point of being isolationist. On Paul's ideal plane there would be no appreciable U.S. military presence in the Middle East, Asia, or Europe. And we certainly wouldn't commit forces to wars that Washington exhibits no apparent interest in winning. For right or wrong Ron Paul would bring home the troops.
Obama is following the nation-building war strategy he once condemned. Yes, we've withdrawn from Iraq, but on a timetable determined before Obama took office. The mission in Afghanistan is muddled, American aircraft are bombing targets inside Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen, and the administration seems content to subvert congressional authority and seek permission from NATO and the UN to intervene in Syria.
In terms of governing philosophy, Barack Obama is to Ron Paul what Karl Marx is to Thomas Jefferson. Only epic absurdity could prompt Obama's campaign to believe it can woo supporters from a man who is the President's ideological polar opposite.
Litigation is risky for Sandra Fluke
March 8, 2012
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is one versatile individual. He proved his mastery of psychoanalysis when he diagnosed TEA Partiers as products of dysfunctional families. He's now issuing free legal advice to Sandra Fluke, urging her to sue Rush Limbaugh for "slander, libel, and whatever else might be involved."
A dangerous precedent is established when politicians openly promote lawsuits between citizens. Such misuse of governmental influence belies a key concept of American liberty, wherein government is compelled to consider everyone equally before the law. Hoyer's attitude drives an unnecessary wedge between the populace. While he's legally entitled to support Fluke, he's not ethically entitled to encourage civil litigation. He has compromised his office's integrity, violated the public's trust, and possibly led Sandra Fluke astray.
Hoyer's disregard for his responsibilities as a Congressman doesn't mean a defamation suit against Limbaugh has no merit. A libel attorney can highlight two reasons why Sandra is on solid legal ground. For starters, she's a private citizen victimized publicly by a powerful figure. Also, Limbaugh's disparaging remarks about her sex life established false statements of fact. But there are also flaws in this reasoning that could make litigation a risky path for Ms. Fluke.
Is Sandra indeed a private citizen? When an activist publicly presents their opinions as expert testimony before Congress in an attempt to influence a particular legislative outcome, that person has entered the public forum Rush Limbaugh. But her public activism renders her a public figure of sorts. Therefore, hiding from criticism behind libel law is in question.
What about the insults? Establishing Sandra as a public figure doesn't open the season for character assassination.
That's true enough. However, a libel suit could be Sandra Fluke's undoing. Instigating legal action entails arguing the case before a judge and jury. Settling out of court for a cool million from the well-heeled Limbaugh would be a smart move. But taking the case to civil court, where sworn testimony is presented, opens a can of worms that's best left closed. Sandra Fluke's background becomes fair game in court, including her sex life. Don't think the Limbaugh defense team wouldn't try to prove Sandra the biggest tramp since Mata Hari.
Limbaugh can afford the highest flying legal eagles money can buy. They'll peek in every closet and look under every rock. Fluke's classmates, friends, and lovers -- from high school until now -- will be interviewed. The most damaging associates will be subpoenaed as witnesses for the defense. If Sandra Fluke is the least bit promiscuous we'll learn every intimate detail, right down to her favorite acts and preferred positions.
Public opinion favors Sandra today. But the goodwill goes out the window if court testimony proves her everything Limbaugh said she was. Her lawsuit will be lost, the potential windfall of an out-of-court settlement gone, and her public reputation legitimately besmirched.
That's the risk Sandra Fluke runs if she follows Steny Hoyer's advice. If she sues Limbaugh for libel and loses she'll appear even worse than Rush portrayed her. Maybe she should then sue Hoyer for bad legal counsel, and for attempting to build his political capitol at her expense.
End of the line for "Maha Rushie"?
March 6, 2012
Public figures are bound to offend from time to time. Occasionally they'll stick their foot so far in their mouth they'll develop athlete's tongue. Enter Rush Limbaugh, who might need to brush his teeth with fast-acting Tinactin. If you missed it, Rush called Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke some unflattering names after she practically begged congressional Democrats to force Georgetown to meet her contraceptive demands.
The villain is, predictably, anyone who criticizes Sandra Fluke. But keep in mind that Fluke is no innocent bystander; she's a feminine activist. She knew full well that Georgetown didn't include contraceptives in student insurance plans before she enrolled. Sandra's an operative who used her private life to affect public policy, thus inviting criticism. Frankly, Ms. Fluke is symptomatic of the entitlement attitude that has infected our nation. She demands a benefit at someone else's expense and is willing to grovel at government's feet to get it. A freedom fighter she's not.
However, we don't really know Ms. Fluke's personal affairs, and not all women who use contraception work at the corner brothel. Rush should've chosen his words with more care. He since apologized, leaving everyone to decide for themselves whether he did so sincerely or to stem the advertising exodus from the EIB network. But if anyone thinks this is the end of the line for the Rush Limbaugh Show, they're jumping the gun.
Conservatives support Rush because he publicly articulates their views on culture and government. As the fallout continues and they see advertisers, and a few radio stations, withdraw from the king of daytime radio a sense of panic on their part is normal. Despite Rush's apology the firestorm hasn't relented, prompting grave concern about Limbaugh's survival among his supporters.
Liberals, conversely, have indulged more fantasies about Limbaugh's demise than have teenage boys about Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. He's arrogant and uninformed, a colossal blowhard who must be silenced at all cost. In wake of his Fluke rebuke, leftwing forums and message boards are joyously singing funeral dirges to the despised Rush Limbaugh.
Whichever side of that fence you're on, you're reacting prematurely. Controversy isn't new to Rush Limbaugh. He has faced it before and emerged stronger each time. Remember Donovan McNabb, and the phony soldiers? It turned out Rush was right on both topics. He survived drug addiction, hearing loss, the great Viagra airport bust, and failed marriages. Each was said to be his undoing. But he's still there, coast to coast, weekdays from noon to three Eastern Time.
Leftwing personalities have uttered far worse slurs toward conservatives than what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke. Bill Maher hosted two loons who fantasized about raping Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachman. Oh, what a laugh that was. Michael Moore produces nefarious propaganda on par with Leni Riefenstahl and wins an Oscar for his documentary. Al Franken became a Senator!
So, love him or hate him, get used to him. Limbaugh isn't going away.
Time to bury the birther theories
March 3, 2012
Once a conspiracy theory takes root nothing deters its adherents. Evidence contrary to the speculation is summarily dismissed as another brick in the conspirer's wall of secrecy. Thus, the plot thickens.
Now that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has released details questioning the birth certificate Obama produced last year, birthers could become revitalized. While Arpaio's findings aren't unique; they are fuel for smoldering embers. When Obama released his birth record, after excessive and suspicious stonewalling, the birther's questioned its authenticity. You knew it was coming. Computer images are easily doctored, thus birthers were wise to the cover-up, as they are now.
Leftists will satirize Arpaio's investigation as the mindless rants of a rightwing loon. However, since many prominent lefties still believe 9/11 was an inside job and that the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore we can dismiss their ridicule out of hand. But that doesn't meant Arpaio's investigation will boot Obama from office ahead of schedule.
At this point it doesn't matter what Sheriff Joe learns. He can produce irrefutable proof that Barack Obama was born on the dark side of the moon and it won't matter. No one within the political structure -- conservative, liberal, Republican, or Democrat -- will touch this matter with a ten-foot pole, even if merited.
Imagine the fallout from finding that a sitting President isn't the President after all. Every bill Obama has signed, every executive order he has issued, would instantly be invalidated. Anyone incarcerated according to laws enacted under Obama's administration, or prosecuted by its Justice department, would have to be released. Every fine, fee, or hardship an individual or business has encountered must be compensated. Think any politicians would be willing to absorb that cost?
What's more, every act of foreign policy, including war, would result in an investigation of Obama. Since he wouldn't be Commander-in-Chief, his role in the Libya War and support for the Arab Spring would be illegal. His orders to kill Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki would amount to hired hits. Obama would instantly become an international war criminal based on his fraudulent assumption of Executive war powers. If that isn't enough, Barack Obama, lacking the authority to command troops, would be criminally accountable for every military casualty to have occurred on his watch, both friend and enemy.
We haven't even touched on the social aspects. You think racism charges against Obama's opponents are rampant now? Just wait until he's removed from office and charged with crimes punishable by death, based on the birther argument.
I'm no fan of Obama. But it's time we buried the birther movement. First, it's no more of a constitutional crisis than Washington's daily operations. Second, our political structure hasn't even the guts to reform the bankrupt entitlement system. Who could believe it will act on evidence Arpaio's investigation unearths, even if it's unassailable? Besides, it's better to beat Obama in November than rely on a conspiracy that's going nowhere.
Obama and the audacity of fairness
March 2, 2012
Genuine fairness conveys nothing more than the opportunity to use one's talents and ideas unhindered by legalized oppression. But that notion of fairness has changed. In fact, "fairness" has become one of the English language's most corrupt words.
Contemporary fairness is measured not in equality before the law, the opportunity to better oneself, or the absence of government persecution. It's determined in manipulated outcomes, income egalitarianism, and political correctness. We might say that fairness has evolved into a one-word oxymoron, especially when used by politicians like our current President.
For example, President Obama promised, "We can build a nation where . . . everybody plays by the same rules."
Well, what could be fairer? Who could oppose a society wherein everyone plays by the same rules, where there's no preferential treatment based on wealth, status, heritage, or the lack thereof? One of the key elements of a free society is the right of each citizen to pursue their happiness. This is possible only when a culture is based on the rule of natural law. But does President Obama support such a traditional version of fairness, where the law applies equally to everyone? Or does he have something else in mind.
The latter is most likely. As Jesus of Nazareth said, "by their fruits you shall know them." When it comes to everyone playing by the same rules, President Obama's fruit belies his rhetoric.
Shouldn't citizens of a representative republic enjoy access to their polling places free from racial or ethnic intimidation? They would if everyone played by the same rules. But under the Obama administration the subject of voter intimidation is selective. Obama's Justice Department would fully prosecute Ku Klux Klan members who position themselves outside a polling station, and rightly so. But when New Black Panther Party members Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson employed bully tactics and brandished weapons outside a polling place no judicial review was warranted. In fact, the pending case against them was summarily dismissed.
Obama can't cite the equal application of justice to support his vision of a "nation where everybody plays by the same rules." He shouldn't look to energy either. While the administration has blocked the Keystone pipeline project it has poured taxpayer's money down several green energy rat holes. Rat holes like Solyndra and the Chevrolet Volt, where taxpayer dollars have gone up in smoke faster than a torpedo in a Cheech and Chong movie. What's more, a portion of those taxpayer funds came from traditional energy and auto producers and their employees, who were forced to subsidize failing competitors. Where's the fairness?
Economic regulation is another dead end for Obama's fairness doctrine. Certainly Boeing, Inc. wasn't treated like a company operating in a "nation where everybody plays by the same rules." Boeing built a factory in Charleston, SC to aid production of their 787 Dreamliner. But a political "unfairness" existed. South Carolina is a right-to-work state whereas Washington, Boeing's main facility, favors unionization. The National Labor Relations Board brought unfair labor complaints against Boeing, charges that were eventually dropped amid heavy criticism. Yet it's quite plain that the government's intent was to benefit organized labor, which is wholeheartedly in the tank for the Obama administration. Is that just a coincidence, or another example of the administration's fairness doctrine?
Productive Americans shouldn't expect fair treatment from Obama either. The administration continues to sing the tired refrain about "the rich" not paying their "fair share." In reality, productive people of all income levels bear the burden of a fundamental unfairness. Families who earned adjusted gross incomes of $32,306 and up in 2009 accounted for 98-percent of all income taxes paid. The "one-percenters" pay 36-percent of all collected income taxes. Yet an alarming number of our countrymen have become net beneficiaries of government's insatiable spending. When the productive subsidize the unproductive, how can the productive believe they live in a "nation where everybody plays by the same rules"?
Rather than a fortress of fairness, Barack Obama's administration has been, at best, a bag of dirty tricks. However, the administration's tactics are no real surprise. Obama's call for fairness perfectly fits the template common among collectivist politicians. Sell the notion that everyone will play according to the same rules and an uninformed populace will accept your doctrine without a shred of supporting evidence. Anyone who dares oppose the administration's dogma is summarily dismissed as selfish, heartless, and yes, unfair.
Barack Obama is unquestionably an audacious individual. But his isn't an audacity of hope; it's an audacity of fairness. Judging from the fruit Obama has borne to date, only the naïve and uninformed could expect to live in a nation where everybody plays by the same rules.
So now we're banning toy guns
February 26, 2012
Gun control activists built their anti-liberty agenda around a simple theme: Guns kill. Never mind that firearms -- like any weapon or tool -- can accomplish neither good nor evil without an operator. Firearms are so evil that children shouldn't even play with toy replicas. But banning toy guns is ridiculous, isn't it? Not so fast.
In Michigan, toy guns have apparently replaced the so-called assault rifle as the criminal's weapon of choice. Republican Senator Rick Jones explained, "People are taking imitation guns that look real, cutting off the orange end and then threatening people." But do criminal acts with toy mock-ups warrant a ban? Quite the contrary, it would seem a reason to further liberalize right-to-carry laws. Toy gun toting gangbangers will think twice before pointing airsoft pistols at people who might be sporting the genuine article.
Gun control advocates will argue that armed citizens prompt criminals to use real guns, escalating the danger. Yet criminals already have that option. So why do they choose toy guns? Modifying toy guns is cheaper than obtaining real ones, and using them carries a lesser sentence upon conviction.
If S.B. 779 becomes law, brandishing a modified toy gun would be punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Why only 18 months, and why aren't such offenders treated as armed criminals now? The perpetrator who misrepresents a toy gun as the real McCoy is selling the threat, not the gun. Since the intimidating affect is real to the victim, the threat is the same as if a real gun were used. And should the victim unlimber their own firearm and kill the perpetrator their act would be just as much self-defense as if the perpetrator's gun were genuine. What's more, the aggressor would be just as dead.
Such a law is ambiguous, too. Jacksonville, FL police killed a robber who confronted them with a modified toy gun. But San Jose, CA officers appear to have overreacted when faced with a toy gun. Regardless the situation, no one finds joy in wounding or killing another person. But does either shooting validate criminalizing the possession of a modified toy? In the first example the robber received exactly what he requested. Thinning the herd, it's called. Why shed tears on his behalf? In the second incident, officers perceived a danger. But the gun wasn't presented in a threatening manner. Why should the wounded man face charges?
Rather than criminalizing toy guns for lacking orange muzzles we should recognize violent behavior for what it is and treat it accordingly. The last thing we need is another impotent gun law.
When one person threatens another the real crime isn't the presence of a gun, whether genuine or imitation. The crime is the aggressor's attempt to gain advantage through the threat of bodily harm, or even death. The criminal is telling the victim that their right to life and property exists only at the criminal's discretion. Isn't that crime's true nature?
Has everyone gone "Lin-sane?"
February 21, 2012
How can a single innocuous phrase land one ESPN employee a 30-day suspension, cause another employee's termination, and prompt a national rant about racism? In a bygone day, when common sense trumped banal emotionalism, we'd have laughed at the possibility. But it's today's reality and we're all worse for our so-called enlightenment.
ESPN's broadcast and electronic media employed the phrase "Chink in the armor" in reference to New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin's first subpar performance. Lin is of Asian heritage. The offending parties became instant racists, and the comments pronouncing their guilt are as innumerable as they are mindless. My question is, quite honestly, has everyone lost their minds?
Only someone seeking offense, or wholly ignorant of what "chink in the armor" means, could consider the term an affront to Asians. The phrase dates to the 1400s and has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It identifies a vulnerability or weakness. Since Lin had experienced his first bad game as a Knicks starter, the phrase was wholly appropriate for questioning a perceived flaw in his game that future opponents might exploit. Had the headline read "Chink blows Knicks' winning streak," the outrage would be understandable. But even Lin dismissed any racial intent. That should've ended it.
The mere presence of a word that can be used as a derisive term isn't in itself racism. We might consider the ESPN employees naïve for not anticipating reprisals for their choice of terms. However, intentionally interpreting a word or phrase out of context is equally foolish, if not downright stupid. If only this were the first time speech manipulators had twisted words to propagate racial strife. It's not.
ESPN took the coward's way out. The network could've defended their employees without offending anyone of Oriental heritage. All ESPN needed do was present the true definition of "chink in the armor." But ESPN chose to toss their people overboard, reflecting a longstanding tradition of irrational reactions at ESPN and their partner, ABC Sports.
Remember the Rush Limbaugh-Donovan McNabb controversy? Limbaugh said nothing that demeaned McNabb as an athlete or as a man. Yet he resigned from ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown for political reasons. Limbaugh's not alone. ABC dismissed Howard Cosell for saying of Washington Redskins' wide receiver Alvin Garrett, "that little monkey gets open, doesn't he?" As obnoxious as Cosell was, no one cognizant of his history could've considered him racist. Cosell was an avid defender of black athletes. Yet out the door he went.
Cowardly judgments concerning race and offense aren't unique to ABC and ESPN. In fact, they are culturally systemic. Either ignorance is hailed as enlightenment, or people eager to prove their tolerance intentionally take words and phrases out of context. The culture has become so saturated with politically correct censorship that every speaker and writer must guard their words to avoid being labeled a racist goon. Free speech can't exist, let alone thrive, is so hostile an environment.
Raising children of the State
February 21, 2012
King Solomon wrote in his Proverbs: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Solomon intended for parents to base their children's future on the Creator's morals and integrity. A child's mind is a sponge. Filling those sponges with worthwhile attributes -- responsibility, trustworthiness, honesty, and faithfulness -- lays the proper foundation for adulthood.
However, training children is a two-way street. When children are introduced to an authoritarian state at an early age they learn to accept authoritarianism as the norm. Rather than seeing government and bureaucracy as contrary to liberty, children view them as the conveyors of freedom. Where better for the State to plant that seed than in preschool, and what better time than the present?
Government affiliated inspectors are hard at work sowing the fields at West Hoke (NC) Elementary School. At first consideration one might wonder why this is a big deal. Inspectors performing proper tasks can have positive effects. No one wants unsafe, substandard schools. No one wants their son or daughter educated for twelve years only to graduate functionally illiterate. However, what type of message do children receive when the State is poking around in their lunchboxes? That's the kind of inspection conducted at West Hoke.
State authorized inspectors disapproved the homemade lunches students brought to school. Foods like turkey, cheese, fruits, and juices just don't satisfy the USDA's nutritional standards. Children who packed such lunches were given supplemental meals that met the State's guidelines. We should then recognize that the State's guidelines aren't guidelines at all. Guidelines provide information to assist people in determining their own best path. What happened at Hoke wasn't a recommendation, but a State dictate.
Questions have arisen concerning exactly who was involved with inspecting the lunchboxes and providing the supplemental meals, prompting officials to deny any role in lunchroom policing. Yet it matters not which government entity instigated the inspections. The fact remains that a government contractor, employee, or bureaucrat searched children's lunches. Youthful minds receive the impression that the State possesses unlimited right to search anything, and for any reason.
In some circles, my views on cafeteria checkpoints will brand me a pilot of black helicopters who wears a tinfoil flight helmet. However, who can reasonably deny that lunchbox inspections elevate the State above the home and, most notably, the parent? It was the homemade lunches that were deemed insufficient. It was homemade lunches that caused West Hoke to receive a poor grade in meeting student's nutritional needs. The home and the parent are portrayed as uncaring and irresponsible while the State becomes the child's advocate and provider. That is the message presented to the students at West Hoke. In fact, children are being conformed to the State's superiority through varying methods all across this country.
The simple solution is to dismiss "Lunchgate" as silly and ineffective. After all, the homemade lunches weren't confiscated. But that's also a serf's solution. A State authority figure invariably has an intimidating effect on small children. One little girl was so frightened that she didn't eat the lunch her mother had prepared. What lesson did that child, and all children subjected to the lunch inspections, learn? They are taught to respect State authority and provision over that of their parents. A free society cannot survive when the family unit yields to the State.
Children should certainly learn to respect properly exercised authority, like a teacher's authority over the classroom. But shouldn't we be at least equally jealous when government inserts its will between the child and the home?
The State is laying a foundation whereupon each future generation is easier controlled than the previous one. Today's children are taught at a tender age that the State is the foremost authority in their lives. Homemade lunches, homemade values, and homemade relationships are invariably inferior to what the State promotes, condones, or mandates. When today's children become tomorrow's adults they will rely on the State for their needs rather than on their individual skills and character. Tomorrow's adults will then breed another generation even more comfortable with State control. And the beat goes on.
As Solomon observed, children raised in the way they should go will build their adult lives from a solid foundation. But the reverse is equally true. The State is doing a thorough job of training children to revere government above family and choose dependence over liberty. Children are being trained in a way they should not go. When they are old, will they be able to depart from it?
King Obama's contraception deception
February 15, 2012
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law its critics warned of undesirable consequences hidden within the monstrous and confusing bill. Naysayers then, they've become prophets. ObamaCare forces every health plan provider to include free coverage for contraceptive and abortive services.
But there's a catch. Religious organizations also provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Since ObamaCare offers no religious exemption, church affiliates are required to provide services that conflict with ecclesiastical doctrines. The outcry was immediate, as organizations and charities across the religious spectrum vowed resistance on the grounds that a contraception mandate violates First Amendment freedoms. Therefore, King Obama is compelled to reform his decree, at least in part. He'll order the insurers behind the religious entities to provide free contraception instead.
Didn't the wise King Obama foresee this vehement opposition? You bet he did!
The church is falling for the old bait and switch. Obama picked a fight with the church community over religious freedoms. When the church fought back Obama deftly switched tactics and focused his dictatorial efforts on insurance companies, which have been his main targets from the outset.
The White House knew the firestorm that would result from forcing church-affiliated organizations to pay for their employee's condoms, birth control pills, and abortifacients. But the administration also believes it can weather the storm, appear fair for crafting a compromise, and then target the private sector with relative impunity.
Divide and conquer is an effective tactic, one that goes hand-in-hand with the bait and switch. Obama's edict upon the religious community inspired fear, panic, and anger among the faithful. Bishops and cardinals, ministers and evangelists, priests and rabbis all pledged to defend their religious liberties no matter the cost. They took the bait. As Obama switches the burden to private insurers the religious community appears to be off the hook. The church, according to King Obama's reasoning, will lose their zeal for opposing ObamaCare's tyrannies once it's exempt from the contraception mandate.
The religious community and the commercial insurers should remain united toward repealing ObamaCare's birth control mandate, in fact the ACA in its entirety. But Obama's stratagem -- politically astute but morally repugnant -- will eventually divide opponents with common grievances into separate camps. When the church's government imposed duty to fund abortion and contraception is gone, its interest in defending liberty will also wane. Private insurers must then stand alone.
Who'll cry foul when "evil" insurers are subject to Obama's dictatorial edicts? The public will empathize with the loss of religious liberties much easier than with the loss of economic liberties, although both are diminished when one is compromised.
King Obama used the contraception mandate to bait a vehement reaction from the church, planning all the while to switch his target to the private sector. Once the diversion is complete and the opposition is divided, the private sector will be open to immediate conquest. Subjugating the church can wait for another day.
No Nazis in the Corp
February 14, 2012
When I served in the United States Navy I participated in the natural inter-service rivalry with the Marine Corps. "Jarheads" they were. And that was on a good day. At other times we referred to the "junior branch" in terms unfit for family reading. But the rivalry was more brotherly than adversarial. Let someone outside the family insult or assault a "jarhead" and we "squids" would defend them tooth and nail. This is one of those times.
Unless you've spent the last week chasing wooly mammoths across the Siberian tundra you've seen the photo of a Marine sniper unit posed beside a "Nazi" flag. The "SS" certainly resembles the insignia made infamous in the German Gestapo, the secret police loyal to no one but Hitler, the murderers of millions of Jews who were guilty of nothing more than being born Jewish. Obviously this sniper squad did a poor job of researching their logo choice, thus creating a public relations nightmare. But, does anyone really believe these Marines intentionally posed with a Nazi symbol? You might be surprised.
There are people who not only believe the Marines realized the implications in their symbol beforehand, but actively embrace the evil it once represented. Sen. Dick Durbin would certainly agree that the Marines in question avow Nazism, since he once compared American soldiers directly to Nazis.
Friends, this isn't the first time a slanted "SS" has shown up in a public place. Anyone remember KISS? Yes, that KISS, in all of their costumed, blood-puking, skyrocket shooting, overblown, and choreographed infamy. The KISS that wrote one song, recorded it a hundred times and became multi-millionaires. Look at their logo, the basics of which have remained largely unchanged for 35 years. Notice any similarities between the "SS" in KISS and the "SS" on the Marine flag, or on the Gestapo uniform? Certainly KISS generated their share of detractors. But I can't recall their being accused of headlining the Ravensbrück Rock Reunion at the Auschwitz Amphitheatre.
It's one thing to question war, the reasons behind it, and the strategies involved. It's something else to demean our soldiers for innocuous acts. Besides, the U.S. military bends over backwards to investigate alleged misconduct. Eight Marines were prosecuted for their roles in the so-called Haditha Massacre. The result was a single conviction and no jail time. We treated Abu Ghraib like the worst atrocity in human history even while our enemies were beheading civilian contractors and reporters. That's not to say that all American troops are Sgt. York and Audie Murphy. War is a collection of horrors and some soldiers snap under combat pressure. But we have policed our military reasonably well.
Covert racism undoubtedly exists across all racial, ethnic, and cultural lines. That's still no excuse for ignoring or tolerating overt racism within the military, no matter its origin or target. If said sniper unit has an established pattern of Nazism that's one thing. But a bad choice in unit insignias isn't racism and shouldn't be treated as such.
The American left sees the U.S. military as the world's preeminent force for evil and will pounce on any opportunity to demonize our troops. Thus they've seized on this flag fiasco to paint Marine snipers as Nazi death squads. But where's the evidence to support the notion that these Marines have pledged allegiance to der Fuhrer, aside from an errant choice of insignia? Aren't Marines innocent until proven guilty? What's more, they've earned the benefit of the doubt.
The Santorum Conundrum
February 11, 2012
Mitt Romney has withstood every challenge to date, remaining the only constant in the Republican nomination race. There are legitimate reasons for his consistency. Romney is photogenic, has proven business skills, can manage a budget, and heads a campaign flush with cash. The sum total of these assets is the demise of everyone, thus far, who has challenged him.
However, conservatives haven't warmed to Romney, as last week's caucuses confirm. So Rick Santorum becomes the latest, and perhaps strongest, "conservative alternative" the "anyone but Romney" camp has long sought.
Santorum is solidly conservative on many issues. He's pro-life and dedicated to the time-tested family unit. Santorum opposed TARP, Obama's "stimulus" slush fund, and both the auto and Freddie/Fannie bailouts. He's a proven proponent of entitlement reform, recognizing the entitlement system as a budgetary and economic albatross around the nation's neck. He also voted to end direct farm subsidies, and still he won the Iowa Caucuses.
Yet Santorum's silver lining contains a dark cloud. In fact, his résumé includes glaring inconsistencies. His 2005 vote to subsidize milk production contradicts his efforts to end farm subsidies. While Santorum was fiscally disciplined during the 90s, he fell in line with the "compassionate conservatism" of the Bush era, supporting Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and a highway bill rich in earmarks, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. Santorum opposed ethanol subsidies prior to 9/11, changed his mind due to security concerns afterwards, and then voted to end them altogether just a few years later.
Santorum didn't contest Maine, so those results are irrelevant to his momentum. However, before elevating him to savior status we might also consider that he lost his Senate reelection bid by a wide margin. He seems equally comfortable on either side of an issue, depending on whether he's supporting his party or preaching against the opposition. Let's also consider that he received no delegates for his Missouri victory and awarded delegates in Colorado aren't necessarily bound to him. Furthermore, Newt Gingrich -- the other "anti-Romney" -- bypassed those caucuses. Where might Santorum have finished had the anti-Romney voters been split between he and Newt, especially in Colorado?
Also, Romney's money and political organization remain formidable. The Mitt Machine was quite thorough in highlighting Gingrich's flaws and we witnessed an associated tumble in Newt's standing. Romney's guns weren't then trained on Santorum. But, with last week's results, Rick becomes an intrusion that warrants a full salvo from Romney's battlewagon. Santorum should expect to take fire from here forward, and not only from Romney. Gingrich isn't the type to fade gracefully into the background, either.
Maybe Rick Santorum is the conservative's best option. He does present solid credentials. However, no candidate is perfect, including Santorum. He bears the dead weight of personal and policy contradictions and inconsistencies. The question is: Can Santorum survive the Romney camp's predictable assault long enough to become the legitimate "anti-Mitt?"
Two buses traveling the same direction
February 9, 2012
Imagine we're standing on a highway overpass, watching vehicles of various sizes, configurations, and speeds approach, pass, and disappear over the crest of a distant hill. Off in the distance we notice a large bus approaching.
The bus is traveling well above the posted speed limit. It tailgates slower vehicles, sways violently as it cuts in and out of traffic, and swerves from one side of the highway to the other. The one constant is the driver's reckless disregard for the well-being of his fellow motorists, who are forced into radical evasive tactics to avoid a collision.
We might expect to see a crazed maniac behind the wheel, perhaps a drunkard. But when the bus passes under the bridge, we see that the driver is well-dressed, fully composed, and gripping the steering wheel with both hands. The driver looks like the consummate professional, not a wild-eyed kook. What's more, the passengers aren't the least bit disheveled, nor are they or upset with the driver's erratic maneuvers. They're reading, listening to music, or sleeping, blissfully unaware of the danger in which their driver is placing them.
The bus rockets beneath the underpass, runs two more vehicles into the median, and careens over the crest.
After a silent prayer for the bus' occupants, we turn our eyes back to the oncoming traffic. Of all horrors, another bus is approaching. But this one is different. The second bus is cruising at an appropriate speed. When it approaches a slower vehicle, the driver signals and the bus moves smoothly into the next lane, passes the slower vehicle, signals again and reenters the original lane.
When the bus reaches the overpass we again note the driver's mannerisms, driving techniques, and personal appearance. Everything is the same as with the first driver, maybe better. These passengers also ride peacefully, trusting their driver's ability to avoid danger. The second bus passes smoothly beneath the bridge and over the distant crest at a steady speed.
The contrasts between the buses are obvious. At one wheel is a dangerous radical whose professional façade belies his wanton disregard for his passengers and fellow travelers. His recklessness is rivaled only by his passengers' obliviousness. The second driver is cautious, concerned, and traditional. He is almost sedate, as are the passengers on his bus. However, the buses share a similarity that's more striking than the differences. Both buses are traveling the same direction. If neither changes course, they will ultimately reach the same destination.
The first bus represents the Democrat Party. Its terminus is an all-powerful State, a goal Democrats pursue with reckless abandon. Any harm caused along the route is dismissed as inconsequential. For the Democrat left the end justifies the means, with said end being a Marxist based society steeped with cradle-to-grave collectivism.
The Republican Party drives the second bus, and it follows the same route as the first. As the GOP bus cruises along it encounters mileposts similar to those seen from the Democrat bus: increased federal spending, burgeoning deficits, debilitating debt, and waning liberty. It travels that road a little slower, a little safer, and reaches the destination later. But the second bus will ultimately park in the same station as the first.
Certainly there are differences between the Democrat Party and the Republican Party. But the differences have become more evident in the driving style than in the direction of travel. No matter which bus we board, we'll be riding toward the same destination, that being a manipulative and controlling central government. If we continue riding one of those two buses and expect to arrive at a different station we are defining insanity.
The Democrat Party is so entwined in collectivism that redirection is impossible. Reforming the Democrats would require a course correction so radical that the rehabilitated product would bear no resemblance to the current one. As the number of people beholden to the Democrats' collectivist policies increases, the number of people who ignore their reckless driving and board their bus will also increase.
Conversely, the Republican course may yet be altered. But if changing that direction remains possible, it's only so for a season, and the season is quickly passing. Republican strategists, ever mindful of the electorate's increasing dependence on the State, are driving the party in the same direction as their Democrat counterparts, albeit at a slower pace. Any Republican who promotes a different agenda -- say one in which government actually shrinks -- will earn a commission in the tinfoil hat brigade.
The Founding Fathers foresaw these natural flaws in political parties. Like government, political parties are more interested in attaining power than defending liberty. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist #1, "Nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties." George Washington also warned us about the dangers inherent to political party agendas. The founders weren't suggesting that parties were intolerable. But anyone brandishing a healthy distrust for government's motivations should carry a similar distrust for a political party's motivations.
Preserving our liberty compels us to recognize the self-serving nature common to political parties. Party loyalty shouldn't blind us to the fact that both major parties are driving our country in the same direction. It may not be time to abandon the Republican bus just yet. But can we at least consider that another bus, traveling a different direction, might someday become necessary?
One fine day on the tarmac
February 3, 2012
Air Force One sparkled beneath the brilliant Arizona sun as President Obama and Governor Jan Brewer met one fine day on the tarmac. Then, for no reason, Brewer spat on Obama's foot. Oh, she didn't? Then she asked him for a shoeshine. No? Did her dog mark Air Force One's tires? Wrong again? So what was the big deal?
While both parties appeared terse during their recent meeting, they didn't seem on the verge of blows. Obama was apparently displeased with how Brewer's new book portrayed him while Brewer didn't appreciate Obama's condescending attitude. Fine, there was a mild rift. The situation ended with Brewer inviting Obama to a formal meeting, which a White House spokesman indicated was accepted, and Obama referring to the incident as "overblown" and "not a big deal at all."
Neither participant considered the "confrontation" more than a common disagreement between divergent political persuasions. But the fact that the two alleged combatants let the situation pass didn't prevent the spin machine from going full throttle.
Robert Paul Reyes wrote of Gov. Brewer as if she'd worn a white sheet and hood to meet Obama. According to Reyes, Brewer's a racist for wagging her finger under the President's nose. Disagree and you're a bigot, too. Reyes has made two unsubstantiated assumptions and one inexplicable statement. He assumes Brewer would've treated a white president differently under like circumstances and that anyone who defends Brewer is equally bigoted. Furthermore, he states that the presidency always warrants respect.
It's not improper to respect the presidency. But has Reyes practiced what he now preaches? Was he outraged when Bush was branded a war criminal? Or when a film depicting Bush's assassination received critical praise? Did Reyes demand respect for the presidency when our media cheered an Iraqi reporter who tossed a shoe at Bush? No? What a surprise.
Reyes is all too typical of contemporary punditry. He issued a declarative statement based on unsubstantiated opinion. The only fact pertinent to his racism charge is that Brewer is white and Obama black. Then, in an attempt to dissuade dissention, he paints all opposition as racist, too. However, two can play this game. Suppose we reverse the roles?
President Obama abused his powerful position to scold Brewer, a mere woman. It should be obvious to everyone that Obama is an unabashed sexist. Brewer has succeeded in politics, which is a man's profession, and thus threatens Obama's chauvinistic goal of a world filled with June Cleavers. So he slapped her down. Anyone taking the President's side is excusing Obama's overt sexism, meaning they are as bigoted as he. Women are approved only when powerless, barefoot, pregnant, and lacking suffrage.
Is Obama sexist? No more than Brewer is racist. Funny how easily spin on a female governor becomes spin on a male President. Welcome to politics, where racism and sexism aren't defined by ethnicity and gender but by the political advantage each can yield.
There's no off-season for the professionally offended
January 26, 2012
A professional athlete, no matter the sport, enjoys a certain time of year called the off-season. Off-seasons allow athletes to clear their minds and heal their bodies. As an added benefit, off-seasons prevent fans from becoming bored with the sport. Professional offense-takers should follow that example. Maybe their minds wouldn't be so cloudy and the rest of us wouldn't grow so sick of them.
Feminists head the herd when it comes to taking offense. They can find affront at the drop of a hat. Feminists have taken umbrage at everything from Victoria's Secret to My Little Pony. Anything that fails to promote feminism's "strong" woman -- the bra-burning, gruff, nagging, sea hag -- renders women doting airheads suitable for serving the patriarchal society.
Okay, same song; men are pigs. What's new?
Well, something is new. The venerable LEGO is marketing the latest indoctrination tool for a chauvinistic society bent on creating an entire generation of models for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Specifically, the LEGO Friends line of toys. According to offended feminists, LEGO Friends "limits creativity and healthy role development" and encourages "damaging gender stereotypes."
That sounds serious. But have no fear; the offended will arise to save little girls from childhood fun. In fact, the offended are petitioning LEGO to pull the toys from distribution. The petition's initiator -- Carolyn Costin, MFT (the "T" stands for tyrant, you can decide what the "MF" represents) -- said, "Presenting slimmer, more fashion oriented LEGO people for girls falls right into the pervasive cultural messages for them to focus solely on their appearance and being thin."
Really? Are we supposed to believe that playing with LEGOs will cause a generation of young girls to want to look like their LEGOs? Children of the 70s -- I am one -- played with green army soldiers, Evel Knievel stunt cycles, and cap guns. How many of us wanted to turn green when we grew up, or jump Caesar's Palace, or become a gunslinger?
In fairness, the LEGO Friends collection is rather sugary. Girls can choose from sets such as Olivia's Tree House, the Butterfly Beauty Shop, and Stephanie's Cool Convertible, complete with a puppy for the back seat. Sickening? Infinitely! The LEGO Friends are more nauseating than shotgunning a keg of corn syrup. But for Pete's sake, they're toys!
Even if Carolyn Costin (the MFT) is correct and these toys do cause kids to desire a slimmer figure, is that automatically a problem? We're inundated with stories about what fat slobs Americans have become, even those who grew up idolizing Barbie. Another "thin is in" message might be a godsend. Anyway, what would Carolyn consider a suitable image-building toy: Roseanne Barr's Tub-O-Lard Doughnut Shop, or Gloria Steinem's Chopemoff Vasectomy Clinic?
Still, give Carolyn her due. She's quite the pro at poking her nose into other people's business; a genuine Buttinski Hall of Famer. If only there was an off-season.
Containing Iran and maintaining peace
January 25, 2012
No serious person can perceive Iran as anything but an enemy. From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the Ayatollahs' vision of a world without America, Iran habitually provokes the United States. Recent events aren't likely to warm the relationship. In fact, the Persian Gulf is simmering toward a boil.
Naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, routine events under normal circumstances, have escalated into threats against Western powers if further economic sanctions are imposed. Iran is testing missiles and issuing warnings to U.S. warships concerning navigation in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has even threatened to blockade that strategic passage, claiming it can accomplish the task with relative ease. Toss in Iran's nuclear research and the match is as close as it's ever been to the Middle East's fuse.
The question isn't whether Iran is an enemy or an ally; she's obviously an enemy. The question is how U.S. interests are best served: confrontation, sanctions, or bombing Iran to the Stone Age. Many adherents to the new age of Republican conservatism prefer the latter option. However, it may not be the best course.
First, this rather hawkish writer is weary of Washington's nation-building combat strategies, which send our troops into battle without the political will to achieve a decisive victory. Nation-building is a poor reason for military deployment. In fact, it's impossible until the enemy loses its will to resist. Only after the enemy's surrender did America help Germany and Japan rebuild.
Since World War II our nation has been more concerned with approval in the court of world opinion than with winning wars. Our troops won the battles in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, only to be denied their ultimate victory. Half of Korea and all of Vietnam fell to communism. The Taliban survives in Pakistan, ready to again infiltrate Afghanistan once our troops are withdrawn. We removed Hussein from Iraq, which was warranted. But we also helped install a Shiite power base -- Shia also drives the Iranian regime -- and a Sharia-based constitution. Did we engage the Taliban and Iraq to further entrench the theology that prompted 9/11?
What about the Iranian people? The Ayatollahs aren't highly esteemed on Tehran's streets. Iranians live oppressed lives based on the tyranny of a self-anointed few. Yet they indulge Western culture whenever possible, far more often than the imams and theocrats would like to believe. Western music, movies, videos, and bikini-clad Barbie dolls are so popular they've been subject to government crackdowns. The West has potential allies among the Iranian population. Attacking Iran would damage that affinity.
Besides, destroying Iran's nuclear program won't be easy. It's difficult to believe Iran learned nothing from Israel's bombing of Iraqi and Syrian reactors. Their facilities aren't likely to be standing in open desert with bulls-eyes painted around them. If Iran has developed a nuclear weapon, or is progressing toward that end, their laboratories are surely shielded from air assault. Furthermore, public support for attacking Iran is tepid at best. How long before it soured completely, especially if a ground war ensued?
The benefits in bombing Iran are mitigated by the detriments. We might strike a fortified facility we can't destroy. What if we bomb a non-weapons facility -- say an aspirin factory -- or inflict collateral damage that poisons the pro-Western sentiments among Iran's youth?
Sanctions won't derail Iran's nuclear ambitions either. Tyrannical regimes routinely prefer military development over citizen comforts, meaning economic sanctions will harm Iranians while having little effect on Iran's rulers. This scenario is unfolding even now in North Korea. The "people's army" holds grandiose military parades in Pyongyang while North Koreans themselves lack food and electricity. However, you'll notice Kim Jong Ill didn't starve to death in a dark room.
Even while recognizing Iran as an enemy, we might legitimately question whether a nuclear Iran poses a substantially greater threat to the United States than have other nuclear countries. Consider the Soviet Union and Pakistan. Russia was an outright enemy and Pakistan is an uneasy ally ruled by unpredictable Islamic doctrines. Yet neither country launched a nuclear attack on us or on our allies, and we've never bombed their nuclear facilities.
We have lived with nuclear weapons in the hands of enemies, both secular communist and Islamic theocracies, for 60 years. So Iran is charting no new course; they're creating no new threat. The only way Iran would launch a nuclear weapon, or share atomic technology with terrorist organizations, is if they believe the United States wouldn't respond in kind.
To suggest a bilateral summit with Iran constitutes blasphemy in today's conservatism. But two-party talks might prove the best option. A summit of proper tone would satisfy everyone from the hawkish neo-con to the peace-through-surrender pacifist, and render military action more palatable if it becomes necessary.
America's history hasn't been to attack every potential source of danger. Yet Iran should face severe consequences for actual, not perceived, belligerence. Let us be blunt with Iran concerning America's position. Place the Ayatollahs on notice: if Iran's nuclear program adopts an offensive posture, or if there's the slightest hint their technology is being shared outside their borders, the United States will end the threat even if it means annihilating Iran. No further threats, warnings, resolutions, or sanctions will be necessary, just the response of our choosing delivered at our convenience.
The pacifists can be happy. There's no preemptive war with Iran. The hawks can be happy. Iran is on notice concerning their impending doom. Of greater benefit, we aren't further depleting our treasury and committing our troops to another war we're not determined to win.
Of course, this solution hinges on one key element; we must fulfill our threat if and when conditions warrant. Otherwise, we solidify the paper tiger perception, a perception that our politically calculated war policies in Afghanistan and Iraq have done little to dispense.
Iran's done nothing to warrant our trust. So, when the time comes for war I'll be as hawkish as General Patton. Let's join the battle with the full brunt and force the U.S. military can muster, and continue until resistance fails. But addressing possible threats with military force is a prescription for a permanent state of war, which is an unappealing proposal.
How does Romney remain the frontrunner?
January 19, 2012
How does Mitt Romney remain atop the Republican field? He's unpopular with fiscal conservatives. Despite his business-friendly reputation, conservatives perceive Romney as a statist wolf in free-market clothing; a classic northeastern moderate if not an outright liberal. He fares even worse with social conservatives. Even with his reformed positions on abortion and marriage, his checkered history on both issues breeds distrust among Republicans.
Since key elements of the GOP base are aligned against Romney there is opportunity for a reliable conservative with stamina for the long haul. Thus far no one has fit the bill.
Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry launched their campaigns with a flourish only to disappear like ice on an August sidewalk. Herman Cain briefly overtook Romney until the "9-9-9 Train" derailed amid a concocted sex scandal or Cain's own wandering eye, whichever you prefer to believe. The sometimes Reaganesque Newt Gingrich has more lives than a cat. But political and personal baggage has rendered him thoroughly inconsistent. Newt's campaign charged Iowa with swelling poll numbers, fell flat, and limped toward New Hampshire. He's ascending again, and yet another personal storm looms on the horizon. Rick Santorum, it turns out, won Iowa. However, the social conservative champion lags woefully behind Romney in ultraconservative South Carolina. Only Ron Paul has managed consistent numbers relative to Romney's. But Paul's polling numbers don't suggest he can overtake Mitt.
Each Republican challenger has charged the Romney beast and each has limped away licking their wounds. Why? You might point to pro-Romney attack ads or recite the media talking point about Romney being the only electable Republican. Another factor is Romney's universal support among the GOP establishment. But there's another reason Mitt Romney gained and maintains his apparent advantage, a reason having as much to do with his opponents as with him.
Romney's competition treats him like the favorite therefore he is the favorite. Each candidate is so determined to be the anti-Romney that their own message is being lost in the shuffle. Republicans are wasting their time, and ours, in labeling Mitt as an unreliable conservative; conservatives already see Mitt in that light.
In contrast, Romney behaves like a frontrunner. He portrays himself as the anti-Obama, as a candidate who has moved beyond his Republican challengers. Romney's camp realizes that a majority of the Republican base defines a successful 2012 as sending Obama home in time for the White Sox's 2013 home opener. While Romney capitalizes on the desire to defeat Obama the rest of the candidates are focused on beating him.
Republican candidates must develop a message other than "I'm not Romney" if they're to affect the race. With each solid primary finish, whether or not it's a victory, Romney solidifies his status as the nominee-in-waiting. Thus the odds increase that the Republican Party will counter Obama with a candidate in the vein of McCain, Bush, and Dole. Regardless of November's result, the ensuing four years could prove wholly unsatisfying.