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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Obama abdicates

Last week our illustrious president held a press conference in order to try to push his compromise on the extension of the Bush tax cuts (somewhat misnamed as these have been the tax rates for the last 10 years, so it's really an extension of the current rates not a tax cut.)
Facing a revolt in his own party, Barack Obama decided to call in the big guns — former President William Jefferson Clinton.
And then he ducked out of his own press conference to go to a Christmas party.
You read that right — just a couple of minutes into the press conference he called to try to mollify his base the president, the leader of his party, his country and the free world — ceded leadership to one of his predecessors.
It's pretty sad when the president cannot even rally his own party behind a proposal.
It's even sadder when he ducks out of the press conference he called because "he's been keeping the first lady waiting for 30 minutes."
So we were then treated to the spectacle of Bill Clinton, once again with the presidential seal behind him, handling the press as masterfully as ever.
I'm no fan of Bill Clinton. I could was poetic for hours about the failings, both political and moral, of Bill Clinton. I certainly didn't agree with most of what he had to say in the presser. Everyone who has read my column knows where I stand on taxes.
However, Clinton at least exhibited leadership.
It's becoming painfully obvious even to members of his own party. Even to the people who most strongly supported him, that Barack Obama is exactly what we on the right said he was — an inexperienced, lightweight, ideologue.
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but before the election everyone on the right was scratching their head trying to figure out why a junior senator who had been in office less than two years was even running.
Then we scratched our heads trying to figure out how he got nominated.
Then we were duct taping our heads back together when he got elected.
We saw this coming.
We knew what he was.
If this seems a bit like "I told you so," perhaps it is.
But any joy we on the right take in saying "I told you so," is more than offset by the horror we feel at what he's doing to this country.
We prayed that whatever his personal ideology, he would realize that in order to govern effectively he would have to compromise.
And then he proceeded to jam unpopular bill after unpopular bill down our throats. He alienated our closest allies while trying to cozy up to our enemies in the theory that if we were just nice to them they would like us. They simply snickered behind their hands and ramped up their opposition to us.
The man who is supposed to be the leader of the free world has been unable to deliver anything internationally. Not at the G20, not at Copenhagen. He couldn't even get the Olympics in Chicago.
The Founders wisely created an executive branch. No committee, and that's what congress is, can exercise power. Someone, ultimately, has to be in charge. The problem now is no one seems to be.
As a result our nation is floundering. Obama seems now to be blown by the wind.
Steven Green over at the blog Vodkapundit suggested over the weekend that perhaps it's time to invoke section four of the 25th Amendment.
The 25th Amendment was ratified in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination to clarify what happens when the president is unable to perform his duties, but is still alive.
Section four is a rather frightening section which allows for the president to have his power removed without a formal impeachment.
It reads in part: "Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. "
I would agree with Mr. Green except that doing so would give us Acting President Joe Biden, who is even less a leader than the man currently occupying the oval office.
Someone, however, is going to have to step up and lead this nation. Perhaps that will be Speaker-elect John Boehner or someone else within Congress — I don't know.
What I do know is that there will be no true economic recovery, let alone a renaissance of this nation without leadership.
All IMHO, of course.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tax increases still hanging fire

So as I write this, everyone in the country who has a job — and granted that's not many of us it seems — is set to take a pay cut on January 1.
A pay cut you say? Yes, sir.
The tax cuts signed into law by then-President George W. Bush which cut taxes for every American with a job are set to expire Jan. 1. President Barack Obama announced Monday night he had reached a deal with Republicans which would extend the cuts for another two years, add over a year of unemployment benefits and several other things here and there.
The Democrats are not happy, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to sign off on it as of press time.
The Democrats keep saying they want "tax-relief" for the middle class, and try to imply that extending the tax cuts for income earners under $200,000 is somehow a tax cut.
Now I'm not certain how keeping tax rates at their current level constitutes a tax cut or "relief" in any shape, form or fashion.
But then, over the years I've several times tried to put myself in the mind of a liberal and the mental gymnastics required have always left me with a sprained brain.
So let's look at this from a logical stand point.
The liberals call extending the cuts (and keep in mind these aren't really cuts, these are tax rates which have been in effect for 10 years now, so in reality this is a tax hike) for any individual who makes more than $200,000 a year and families who make more than $250,000 "irresponsible," and "welfare for the rich."
I generally wouldn't look at someone who makes that sort of salary as "rich." Comfortable perhaps, but not rich.
Most of us know someone or have a relative who makes that sort of money, and they're often struggling just as much as anyone else. Moreover, that class of folks generally includes most small business owners. You know, the people who do most of the hiring?
Moreover, that's gross income, not net.
As an example, I was once a small business owner myself. Little sole proprietorship. My best year, before the tanking economy put me out of business more than $100,000 passed through my hands. Key here — passed through. I was lucky to get to keep around $20,000 of that — and in point of fact it was quite a bit less after cost of inventory, fuel costs, repairs and all the rest.
But all of it counted as personal income, regardless of how much I actually kept.
This is often the case with small businesses.
Then of course there's the uncertainty factor. Among the reasons employers have not been hiring is they don't know what the tax rates will be after the first of the year. When business owners are uncertain about what's coming they tend to sit on their money.
If we want them to start hiring, then we need to provide some stability — something the administration does not seem to understand.
In addition, we need to keep in mind our economy is in many ways a service economy — in other words, for there to be economic growth people need to be spending money.
Again it's the uncertainty factor. If I don't know what my pay check is going to look like after the first of they year, then I'm unlikely to spend money.
Also, and this theory is sound, has worked every time it's been tried, if you let people keep more of their money, they will spend it. Then the economy grows, then revenues to the federal government go up. If you don't believe me, look it up. Check first what happened when John F. Kennedy cut taxes, then check to see what happened when Ronald Reagan dropped the top rates.
To his credit, President Barack Obama seems to finally be realizing he got his head handed to him in November and that he's going to have to compromise. The problem is the liberals in Congress are still living in a world all their own and are trying to block extension.
I think some sort of compromise will be reached, probably tied to continuing unemployment benefits and it will likely happen this week.
Regardless, we've got to get away from the nutty policies we've had for the last two years and start doing some things to get the economy back on track. Extending the tax cuts is the first step.
All IMHO, of course.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nibbled to death by Lame Ducks

For those of us who wished to see a conservative ascendancy in Congress this last election it's easy to be euphoric about the overwhelming nature of the victory.
The problem is, all those new conservatives have yet to be seated — and the Congress is still in session, and the Democrats are still the majority.
The lame-duck session is considering several pieces of legislation and if we're not careful we may find ourselves nibbled to death by lame ducks.
The Republicans are pushing hard to get the Bush tax cuts made permanent before the end of the year and we all take a pay cut.
Now, the Dems are trying to tell us that they don't want to raise taxes and that they're pushing for a middle-class tax cut.
None of that is true.
Should the Bush tax cuts expire, we'll all see the largest tax-hike in American history, you can't call it anything else when taxes go UP.
What the Dems say they're trying to do is extend only those portions they like. Mostly middle class tax rates.
But this is not, despite what they say, a tax-cut for the middle class. It means that the middle class just gets to keep paying what they have.
Harry Reid, (D-Nevada), the current Senate majority leader is currently pushing the DREAM act, which he's trying to attach to a defense authorization bill, which would allow illegal immigrants who came here under the age of 16, who spend two years in the military or college to apply for legal status. Amnesty by the back route anyone?
Now the first part of that I actually have no problem with. Certain foreign nationals are already allowed to serve in the military — there are a lot of Jamaicans in the Marine Corps for instance — and it seems to me if you want to serve the country you ought to be rewarded for it. The second part I have big issues with. Two years at the local junior college is not quite the same thing as a hitch in the Corps.
There's also a move to ratify a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, this is a bit of a problem in my mind.
First, while Russia is not currently a major strategic thread, Vladimir Putin is reminding me more and more of old Uncle Joe Stalin. Not in the "I'm a psychotic, sociopathic mass murderer," sort of way. But he does have a distinct flavor of the old Russian imperialism about him. It is entirely possible that Russia could again be a strategic threat within a few years — especially if we continue to allow ourselves to decline in the manner we have.
China is, and is likely to grow as a strategic threat. The Chinese are pushing hard to be a superpower and we must be able to counter that threat. The biggest problem with the new START treaty is it prohibits the modernization of our current stock of warheads.
While our current nuclear arsenal is sufficient to deter the strategic threats we currently face, it's a safe bet that as they age our capability will degrade as our opponents' improves.
There are several other bills pending in Congress and some confirmation hearings which would, just as an example, make a highly inexperienced and pro gun control ATF agent head of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Next week congress's Thanksgiving break will be over. Before then I suggest people educate themselves on the bills that are pending and start making some phone calls and writing a few letters.
Much of what the president would like to ram through while he still has the ability to do so are things which the latest election repudiated. Let's see if we can't stop him.
All IMHO, of course.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Orwellian language prevents communication

I sat down to watch George Orwell's 1984 the other night. I hadn't seen it in years and some masochistic impulse made me actually want to suffer through it again.
I say suffer through it, it's quite well done. Excellent cinematography, well acted, overall a great movie from that standpoint. Just a bit on the disturbing side and not a lot of fun to watch. Rather like the book which I also haven't read in years. One of those, "I'm glad I read it but I didn't enjoy it," types of novels.
I was struck, however, by a line early in the movie where one of main character Winston Smith's lunch companions remarks "the destruction of words is a beautiful thing."
This companion of Smith's is tasked with helping in the creation of newspeak, a language of sorts created by the government in order to control thought.
For instance within the book the "Ministry of Peace" concerns itself with war.
This seems funny until you realize that until after World War II we didn't have a Department of Defense we had a War Department.
Like the "Ministry of Peace" the DoD fights wars.
As a writer, and one who has occasionally been accused of diarrhea of the keyboard, I'm not at all fond of the idea of destroying words — or changing their meaning.
But that's precisely what the disease known as political correctness does.
In the name of "tolerance" or "inclusiveness" we have created a system in which certain things cannot be said.
We cannot have an honest discussion of race in this country. Anyone who tries is immediately labeled a racist.
A white person, for instance, cannot even try to discuss issues related to the destruction of the black family, or why so many more black men than white men are in prison. And if we cannot discuss them we most certainly cannot address them.
Moreover we have created more and more classes of hyphenated Americans. We are no longer Americans first. We are African-Americans, or Asian-Americans, or Hispanic-Americans.
As we more and more divide ourselves into smaller and smaller segments we are more and more alienated from each other. Language is a big part of how these divisions are created.
Language and the manipulation of it is a major tool of those who wish to also manipulate the populace.
We started with "global warming," then when things stopped warming it was changed to "climate change," then when it became clear that was a hoax as well it was changed yet again to "global climate disruption."
Words have power. The press, of which I am obviously a member, knows this all too well. Behind a guise of impartiality, it is all too easy to manipulate a story with the words used. Especially when relying heavily on "anonymous sources."
There's a backlash beginning against political correctness in all its pernicious forms.
Unfortunately, this Orwellian doublespeak may very well be too deeply entrenched into our language to every completely eradicate.
Which, by the by, is what the far-left actually wants. Keep in mind the idea of "politically correct speech and thought" are Soviet ideas. They understand all too well that if you control the language you can control both the way people think and the debate.
We have to stop trying to avoid offending anyone and realize that the only way to put this nation back on track is to have a series of very difficult, very un-PC conversations.
We have to stop letting the progressives on the left continue to divide us into ever smaller groups while using the language to control debate and keep us from actually talking to each other.
It's time for frank conversations about race, religion, sexual orientation and a number of other subjects — before the thought police make it impossible to have them.
All IMHO, of course.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Election was message to president

I was reluctant at first to write another piece dissecting the recent election. But then I figured everyone else is doing it so why not?

It was a fascinating night, the Republicans picked up 61 seats in the House of Representatives — a huge number not seen in decades — like about six of them. The last time there was a shift of this magnitude in the House was 1946.

The Senate, of course, did not change hands, and that to some degree is a blessing to Republicans in the House who can send legislation up, but when it does not pass the Senate can point to Democratic opposition.

It will prevent the Dems from blaming the Republicans if nothing gets done as Republicans can point to the Dem majority in the Senate and the Dem president.

One thing does concern me, however. I keep hearing Republicans talking about a “mandate.”

I hate to tell them this, but they don’t actually have a mandate.

With a few exceptions, and those were mostly Tea Party candidates like Rand Paul, the American people did not vote for Republicans, but rather against Democrats.

This election, as has so often been pointed out, was a referendum on the first two years of the Obama presidency. In no uncertain terms the American people told the president they were not happy.

This does not exactly translate into a mandate for the Republicans. This is more of a conditional approval.

The American electorate is as angry as I have ever seen them. The only mandate they have really given is “fix this and do it NOW!”

If there is no turn around in the next two years, at least a glimmer of things getting better. If large portions of the insanity that is Obamacare are not repealed, if taxes go up rather than down or at least remaining as they are now, the angry giant will likely slap the Republicans out of office just as hard and fast as it did the Democrats.

The American people are aware, I think, that without the presidency much can be stopped. And it is likely Obama will veto most of what is passed by the Republicans.

In which case he will find himself tossed out of office in 2012 and sitting outside the White House confused as to how he got there.

Which is, I guess, part of the problem. After the humiliation of Nov. 2, Obama went on TV to say the problem wasn’t his policies, but rather that he didn’t explain them well enough.

In other words, it wasn’t that he had stupid ideas, but rather that we were too stupid to understand them — proving he still doesn’t get it.

Mr. President, the American people have looked into the future socialist order you propose, and we didn’t like it. We told you to change direction through town hall meetings, and protests and polls.

You didn’t listen.

Now we’ve told you via an historic election.

Listen up, or we’ll tell you again.

All IMHO, of course.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Border continues to burn, time to put out the fire

We’ve all heard the tragic story of the woman whose husband was allegedly killed by Mexican drug cartel gunmen while jet skiing on a lake which straddles the Texas/Mexico border.
The woman, Tiffany Hartley is now begging President Barack Obama to do something about the cartels which killed her husband David.
So far as I know there has been zero response from the administration to her pleas.
In the mean time, apparent cartel gunmen invaded a rehab center in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, killing at least 10, and possibly as many as 13.
I have noted before that one of the reasons the Mexican government has failed to do anything about the cartels is that they have no real incentive to do so. Mexico simply makes too much money off the drug trade for it to be in their interest to stop it. Most of the violence is contained to the sparsely populated northern areas of the country, not the much wealthier heartlands to the south.
Unfortunately, that violence is spilling across our border with increasing frequency. Phoenix, Ariz., is now the kidnap capital of North America. Yes, you read that right. A major American city leads the hemisphere in kidnapping for profit.
At what point, exactly, do we begin to do something about this?
How much more violence do we have to tolerate before someone will step up and say “enough?”
This is intolerable. Entire areas of our border are no-go areas posted with signs telling American citizens to stay out of American territory because they might run into smugglers and get killed.
Now, apparently, Americans are unable to even enjoy a day on the lake without having to worry about getting shot.
The constant response to this sort of nonsense from the administration has been rhetoric, more rhetoric and lawsuits to prevent the implementation of laws which might actually help to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
Instead of actually doing his constitutional duty to enforce our borders what the president has done is admonish us, as if we were children, to not be “intolerant.” Others within his administration have gone so far as to call us “cowards,” and “racists,” for no better reason than our opposition to amnesty for illegals.
Meanwhile, people continue to die as the cartels war with the ineffectual, corrupt and mostly disinterested Mexican government and with each other.
It is time and past time for action.
In the 1990s the United States decided we had had enough of one Pablo Escobar and his MedellĂ­n cartel.
We sent multiple special forces teams to Columbia to train their police and to assist in finding and killing Escobar. In 1993 they succeeded in doing just that.
Please explain to me why we can’t do exactly the same thing here. These drug cartels are a danger to the United States and a danger to Mexico. The violence there is starting to spill into areas once considered safe. On Aug. 31 a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a night club in Cancun, killing eight.
We cannot afford a failed state on our southern border – and that is what we are facing if we do act.
All IMHO, of course.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Social security not so secure anymore

For the second straight year there will be no cost of living increase for seniors on Social Security. These increases are tied directly to interest rates which have not gone up enough in the last two years to force an increase in payments.
There are a number of factors at play as to why the rates haven’t gone up, but they all boil down to “the economy sucks.”
President Barack Obama’s solution to this little problem about two weeks from an election?
Why, we need to send everyone on social security a check for $250.
While I’m sure this would be welcome, I must admit to being just a hair dubious about the motivations.
Leaving aside the $250 might pay for the average senior’s medications for, say, a week — maybe. When you’re just a few weeks out of a midterm election, in which nearly the entire country has said they hate your party, and well, they’re not horribly fond of YOU either, one questions if you’re attempting to buy votes.
There are those who will liken this to the tax rebates by the Bush administration. I suppose the comparison is inevitable. However, those were not proposed right before an election. They were proposed and passed as a stimulus to a flagging economy.
It could be argued, I suppose, that those rebates artificially propped up the economy, however it was certainly more effective than the $787 billion “stimulus” bill Obama passed. We’re nearly two years into his administration and despite all that spending (and would someone please explain to me how giving money to schools was supposed to cause job growth) unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent.
Had Obama wished to help seniors there are certainly more effective ways to go about it.
A good place to start would be realizing that social security is broke.
It would also help to take a look around and realize that the same percentage of income invested in the stock market has historically yielded far better long-term returns than giving it to the government.
Additionally, Social Security, as currently extant is a giant ponzi scheme. You pay money in now, the government takes said money, pays benefits to people who are currently retired, and you get to hope there are enough people paying in when you retire that you’ll get your benefits.
Bernie Madoff anyone?
The problem we have at the federal level, and its’ been true on both sides of the aisle, is that the inmates are running the asylum. Economists have been warning for decades Social Security, in it’s current form, is unsustainable — as is the current level of spending.
When you borrow from Peter to pay Paul, sooner or later Peter’s broke.
The November elections are a mere two weeks away. It’s time to bring some sanity back to Washington. Let us all vote for solid fiscal conservatives. Let us hold their feet to the fire and require them to rein in federal spending.
The future of this nation as the last remaining superpower and a beacon of hope to the rest of the world rests on us getting our financial house in order. Will it be easy? No. We’re all going to have to have our personal sacred cows gored before this is over. It’s merely necessary.
All IMHO, of course.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Can we have a little leadership please?

As the election nears things of course start to get a little, well, sillier. They don’t call it silly season for nothing.
The Democrats, most of them anyway, are in full on panic mode — and should be. That Republicans will retake the House is something of a given at this point. There is a good possibility they will pick up the Senate as well, but that is nowhere near as certain.
One would think, then that the president would have long ago read the tea leaves and done what Clinton did when faced with this particular situation — run to the center.
We were told that this president is the consummate politician. He’s a genius. Most accomplished leader of his time. To quote Jerry Senifeld, “yadda, yadda, yadda.”
I’ve seen precious little leadership from this man.
He’s been president for nearly two years now, yet he continues to blame the Republicans, and most notably George W. Bush for the mess the economy is in.
Now, I will grant that prior to Barack Obama, it sure looked like the Republicans were not much different than the Democrats where spending was concerned — and then Obama quadrupled the national debt in the first six months of his administration.
I have major issues with some of the things Bush did.
However, we’re now more than 18 months into Obama’s administration and he was recently quoted saying “this hole the Republicans dug for us is really deep,” or words to that effect. He keeps blaming others for problems it’s his job to fix.
This isn’t leadership.
I therefore have some advice for Mr. Obama.
Mr. President, leaders lead. They take responsibility. They make decisions and they do so decisively.
You’re nearly two years into your term. Time to stop blaming the Republicans for every problem the nation faces. You’ve forced a great many unpopular ideas down the American people’s throats. And those ideas haven’t worked. Leaders admit when they make mistakes and then they correct them.
Leaders do not blame others for their problems. They take responsibility. Even if the problems are not their fault they do not whine. Leaders buckle down to work.
Leaders also do not blame their followers for their problems. Leaders do not berate their followers, either. It’s time to stop telling the American people they are simply to stupid to understand what you’re trying to do. We understand fine, we don’t like it.
Leaders also do not have to remind people who’s in charge. It’s obvious.
Mr. President, the American people love decisiveness and a can-do attitude. What they see from you is a weak man who wishes to avoid taking responsibility. A man who blames others for his problems and who is either so arrogant or simply so inflexible he cannot admit being wrong.
Mr. President, the American People will follow you, but only out of curiosity.
All IMHO, of course.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bad week for the mainstream media

It really has not been a good week for the mainstream media.

First, CNN host Rick Sanchez got himself fired for calling Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart a bigot on a radio interview and then compounded the problem by then implying that CNN and the media in general were run by the Jews.

Possibly not the most intelligent thing to say live on the air, but then Sanchez has always been noted more for his looks than his brains.

Like a lot of the TV talking heads he has a tendency to say stupid stuff, but hey, he sure looks good doing it!

I’ve been in the media most of my adult life and I’m here to tell you, there is no great conspiracy by anyone to run things. I kinda wish there were — maybe things would run a bit smoother.

Then a little later last week, one of CBS Radio’s top reporters, Howard Arenstein, was arrested with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. Arenstein is such a bright bulb that he and his wife had mature, eight-foot pot plants growing in their back yard in Washington D.C.

That might have something to do with why various outlets are trying to say the “One Nation” rally on the mall in Washington Saturday had twice the participants of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally back in August. I’ve seen the pictures. You’d have to be smoking something in order to come to that conclusion. A good friend of mine analyzed photos from both rallies and came to the conclusion the “One Nation” rally had about 10 or 15 percent of the participants Beck did. Maybe.

Overall, the MSM has been melting down for years. It has reached the point the National Enquirer has a better record of accuracy than the New York Times.

If you doubt me, consider this — it was the Enquirer which broke the John Edwards affair story, the Tiger Woods story and the Al Gore affair story.

I have some issues with the nature of the stories the Enquirer runs, but I have to give them credit for having a top-notch investigative staff.

You would think, given all this the MSM would wake up and look around.

They’re losing top staff left and right to two places — new media outlets like the blogs — and, well, papers like this one.

I like to nose around job boards from time to time, not because I'm looking for a job, but just to see what’s out there and to check trends.

What I find is the action these days is in new media and community papers. Rarely, if ever, do you see openings at major metro papers.

It’s sad, really, when I was a young reporter I dreamed of someday finding my way to one of the big city newsrooms.

Now? I wouldn’t take one of those jobs if it was offered to me on a silver platter. Those big papers are dying.

What’s interesting, is that while small community papers face challenges of their own, they remain fairly trusted outlets for news and information.

We are far from perfect, of course, but generally small papers at least try to get it right. The majors? Not so much.

The New York Times was once the “Paper of Record” with “All the News that’s Fit to Print.”

Now? More like “All the News that’s Printed to Fit.”

Journalism is a noble profession. One which reporters in other countries have found themselves jailed or murdered for. War correspondents like Daniel Pearl put their lives on the line for no better reason than it’s their job and go to combat zones armed only with pen and camera.

Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues have forgotten what it is they are supposed to do. They’ve forgotten why we are called to be objective. To try to leave personal bias at the door. To try to find all sides to a story. Worse, many of them think they are objective, even as they spout talking points and fail to even consider there may be another point of view.

We’ve lost credibility — and it’s going to be very difficult to get back.

Perhaps that’s why people are increasingly turning to the blogosphere for their national news. Bloggers on the left and right have their biases, and they are obvious. However, they generally make no bones about which side they are on — and you know that going in.

If you read the Huffington Post you know you’re going to get a liberal slant — Breitbart a conservative one.

And perhaps that’s OK.

There was a time when you knew exactly what you were going to get from various papers in a town.

Perhaps the national media should stop pretending to an objectivity which does not exist. If they came out and admitted they are in the tank for the left or the right at least we would be able to evaluate their stories from that angle.

All IMHO, of course.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fighting gays in the military a useless distraction

Last week the Republicans in the Senate had themselves a bit of a pyrrhic victory when they managed to send a defense authorization bill down in flames. A bill which contained among other things several amnesty provisions and a repeal of Bill Clinton’s rather idiotic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy.
I say pyrrhic because, like King Phyrrus said after he beat the the Romans, “one more victory like that and we’re dog food!”
Of course, the real reason the Republicans opposed the bill had more to do with Harry Reid’s amnesty provisions than the Don't Ask, Don’t Tell stupidity. But now Lady Gaga has spoken, the media has fawned and it’s really all about gays don’tcha know?
The Republicans manged to get themselves in a rather cleft stick. The Democrats managed to insert some provisions their opponents simply couldn’t live with and the Republicans were left with little choice but to filibuster a bill which under most circumstances they would have been more than happy to support -- thereby handing the Democrats several convenient clubs with with to beat them about the political head and shoulders. Now the Dems have the opportunity, aided and abetted by the dinosaur media (of which, by the by I’m a member), to scream that the Republicans don’t support the troops and hate gays.
They’ll of course leave out the niggling little detail about immigration, mostly because that’s a loser and they know it.
Opposing gays in the military, in my opinion, is pointless. First, they’re already there, they’ve always been there and they’re always going to BE there.
The argument that it’s conduct “prejudicial to good order and discipline,” is stupid as well. I can tell you first hand that the guys in any given unit know who the homosexuals are, and mostly don’t care so long as they do their jobs and don’t hit on a straight guy. Given that I’ve rarely met a gay guy who will hit on someone he knows isn’t interested and that any homosexual in the military is already aware that grabbing a Marine’s butt is a good way to lose a few teeth, not real sure where the complaint so far as discipline is concerned. Moreover, to the generation currently serving in the military someone’s sexual orientation isn’t a matter of any more concern than the color of someone’s skin is to my generation.
As for the moral consideration, well, a politician expounding on morals is rather like Jesse Jackson complaining about rampant racism in the Department of Justice.
I therefore have a simple proposal. Senate and House Republicans should gather on the Capitol steps tomorrow. They should hold a press conference and state; “While we have objections to the homosexual lifestyle, we do not believe that anyone who wishes to serve their country and is qualified to do so, should be barred from serving on the grounds of sexual orientation. To that end we are simultaneously introducing a bill in both House and Senate to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the United States Military. We invite our colleagues in the Democratic party to join us in passing this historic legislation.”
Not only would this take away a club the Dems and the media have been using for years, but it would also be utterly amusing as they scrambled to try to find a way to oppose the bill because “darn it those Republicans are just evil.”
Barney Frank’s head exploding would be fun too.
All IMHO, of course

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Global Cooling? Climate changes again

Ahhh fall is here.
I’ve always loved the cool crisp days of fall, it reminds me of home and days spent hunting pheasants and dove and quail with friends.
Given that fall and winter are my favorite seasons I noted with interest a story in the London, England, Telegraph that on the agenda for the 58th annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group was, among other things, “Global Cooling.”
Now the Bilderbergers, for those who are not familiar are a group of high-level politicians, academics, business leaders and such who meet once a year to discuss various world problems.
Now these guys tend to set off the conspiracy-nut fringe because their meetings are never made public. But I digress.
It’s notable however that in the 1970s everyone was screaming about the new ice age which was supposed to be coming.
By the 90s of course, it was “global warming.” Then it was “climate change.”
Now the administration has rebranded again and the term is “global climate disruption.”
According to a story by FoxNews.com, the White House prefers this new term to “global warming,” because global warming “oversimplifies the problem and makes it sound less dangerous than it really is.”
Seriously? “Climate disruption” sounds more serious than global warming?
Frankly, it sounds more like a lower bowel problem. “I’m having a climate disruption today!”
Someone seriously needs to let the White House know that when you start having to rebrand every six months you’ve got a problem that goes beyond name recognition.
The reality is, the global warming, excuse me, climate change — er — climate disruption kooks have a larger problem. No one’s listening anymore. Worldwide, people are looking at things like the “Climategate” emails at East Anglia University, in England where it was found researchers deliberately falsified data and the inconvenient reality behind Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” — namely that the so-called documentary had serious factual errors.
Gore was apparently too busy having his chakra’s released by massage therapists in five star hotels to fact check.
The more convenient truth?
Well, Earth’s climate is changing. It does that.
Last winter was one of the coldest on record in the northern hemisphere, while they had one of the hottest summers on record in the southern. This winter according to the National Climate Institute, the National Weather Service’s climate forecasting arm, is supposed to be a bit warmer and dryer than normal.
Does this mean man is affecting the climate?
No.
Does this even mean that the Earth is undergoing a massive climate change which will disrupt all our lives and screw things up for fair?
Nope. Not that either.
The dirty little secret is that we’ve been keeping records for only about 150 years, and many of those records are unreliable at best.
In other words, the climate change — excuse me, “disruption” — chicken littles are relying on suspect and statistically insignificant data to base their models and then ask the entire world to disrupt their economies based on those flawed models.
Should we just dump raw sewage in the ocean? Of course not. Go back to the days of leaded gas and no catalytic converters?
Also stupid. No one likes smog. No one likes dioxin in their water.
But we really have got to start injecting some common sense into the debate instead of wild-eyed the sky is falling rhetoric.
All IMHO of course.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We were all Americans, once

Nine years ago on September 11 I was not feeling very well and had slept in as I had a doctor’s appointment later that day.
I still vividly remember getting the call that woke me up to turn on the TV.
I will never forget the horror I felt as I watched the towers fall.
I will also never forget the pride I felt as I heard about the passengers of Flight 93 who decided they’d rather die on their feet fighting than let cowardly terrorists use them as a weapon.
Nor will I forget the anger which burned in my heart that day, and still burns today as I think about the people who died.
I remember the fierce pride in my country as I watched us all come together the next day. The frightening, wolfish smiles on the faces of my countrymen as President George W. Bush promised a crowd at ground zero that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
How soon we forget.
On Sept. 12 we were united as a country in a way that we had not been since Pearl Harbor. The sleeping giant that is the American people stirred, and lifted his head. And as they did on that terrible day in 1941 the tyrants and dictators and evil men suddenly wondered what exactly they had done and quailed from that glare.
And then, slowly, with complicity from certain elements of the government on both sides of the aisle, and the media, the giant was placated. Lullabies were sung, backs were rubbed and gently, gently, the giant returned to sleep.
As I write this on Sept. 13, 2010, our nation is divided as at no time since the Civil War. We refuse to so much as consider opposing view points.
In congress our “leaders” reflexively oppose anything the other party proposes.
The media demonizes average Americans who dare to stand up and ask “why?” Or suggest they don’t agree with something the president is doing.
An Imam wishes to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero, while nearly 10 years later the Twin Towers remain a hole in the ground.
In Florida, a pastor, in a move just as offensive, said he was going to burn the Quran on Sept. 11 unless the backers of the mosque back down.
So far, neither has happened.
I make no bones about my political leanings, I’m a common sense conservative and proud of it. I’m not a republican, however. I’m frankly done with both parties.
The direction I see the country going worries me, not so much the policies coming down from the top — although those are troubling — but the frightening division in this country.
We must find ways to come together. There are things we can all agree on — or at least I would hope so.
While I will not compromise my principles, I can agree with those on the left on a few things.
I want a cleaner environment. I want a good job. I want others to have good jobs and roofs over their heads.
While I may differ with the left on how those things might be accomplished, I would hope we could all agree those are things to strive for.
I have always thought, that if people of good intent find the places they agree, and sit down to discuss them they can usually find some common ground.
I want to pass this wonderful nation down to my children and grandchildren.
If we don’t start finding some common ground soon, I am very much afraid we’ll tear ourselves apart first.
Please folks, let’s try to get back to that unity we had on Sept. 12, 2001.
Let’s try to find that common ground.
There was a time when, whatever our political differences, we were all Americans first.
I pray we can find a way to be that again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The nature of conservatism

I recently had the opportunity to explain a little about conservatism to someone who's leanings are a bit more to the left.
The individual had honest questions about conservatives' positions and really wanted to know why it is conservatives believe what they believe.
The conversation went a little like this ...
"Why is it conservatives say they are against government regulation but then want to ban abortion and stem cell research."
My response was fairly simple, if you believe life begins at conception then abortion is murder -- and murder is illegal.
I also mentioned that even among conservatives there is much debate on the issue. There is no firm "conservative" position on the topic.
As to the stem cell debate, this is a complicated issue much demonized by the media as a convenient club with which to beat the right about the head and shoulders.
President George W. Bush did not and could not ban stem cell research. What he did do was restrict federal funding to already extant lines of embryonic stem cells and prohibited funding further lines of embryonic stem cells because at the time it was necessary to create a human embryo simply to destroy it in order to get the stem cells.
Bush could not and did not prohibit funding to adult stem cell research which has yielded several therapies -- which embryonic stem cell research has not.
He also did not prohibit private funding to embryonic stem cell research.
Moreover, scientists have since found a way to turn adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells so there is no longer a reason to create embryos simply to harvest the stem cells.
And once again there is no hard and fast "conservative" position on the subject.
The problem is that for most people things like this get boiled down to a 30 second sound bite -- which really doesn't work well on issues this complicated.
It's worse on the MSM talk shows.
You'll have a thoughtful, reasoned conservative who actually understands the issue on one side, and on the other a liberal who may or may not understand the issue, but who is there mostly to make the conservative look evil.
The poor conservative will try to explain the complicated issue, in a logical fashion and try to do it in 30 seconds or less. Half way through the liberal will start to rave and foam at the mouth.
"Why do you hate disabled people, don't you know this will save them!?!?! YOU HATE MICHAEL J. FOX!!! WHY DO YOU WANT HIM TO DIE!?!?!"
The conservative, being a reasoned individual will return to his calm tone of voice and try to explain that embryonic stem cells therapies haven't worked but there are some promising lines of inquiry in adult stem cells, only to be interrupted by a screech of "WHY DIDN'T YOU WANT CHRISTOPHER REEVES TO WALK AGAIN!?!?"
The moderator should, of course, step in at this point and get his guest under control.
What usually happens, however, is something more along the lines of, "yeah, why do you want Michael J. Fox to die?"
By the time this is all over the poor conservative is often reduced to gibbering madness and the poor viewer is left either more confused about the issue or believing all conservatives are idiots.
Fortunately we have blogs like this one and Pajamas Media and the rest of the blogosphere where reasoned people can find the truth.
I shudder to think where we would be as a nation right now without the New Media.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Looney left just gets loonier

Much has been said about the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. Proponents note it’s an “Islamic Community Center” which just happens to contain a mosque. They complain it’s not on Ground Zero, but two blocks away. And they frame it as a first amendment issue.

Even the president weighed in, saying they had a right to build there, but then walked his comments back saying “I wasn’t commenting on the wisdom of building there.”

To be clear, the president is right, they do have a right to build a mosque on private property — regardless of where that private property happens to be.

However, Americans are rightly seeing this as a slap in the face — and a deliberate one.

To erect this “community center” just 600 feet from the place where more than 3,000 innocents were murdered by their coreligionists cannot be seen as anything but an attempt to declare victory.

It’s also one more indication of how far out of touch with the American people the left is.

Seventy percent of the population is against the construction of this particular mosque — note that phrase well — they are not against building a mosque, just this mosque in this particular place.

So, while the public is up in arms, outraged about this affront to the memories of murder victims, what is the left doing?

Well, Obama refuses to say building it there is a bad idea. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to think it’s a capital idea and Speaker of the House and wicked witch of the west wannabe Nancy Pelosi wants to investigate the funding of groups who are opposed to the mosque.

Idiots.

It’s no wonder the democrats are in deep trouble in the polls.

Most people would look at polls suggesting you’re ticking people off and — change direction.

Not so the looney left. They look at polls which say the electorate is nearly apoplectic with them and think “These stupid peasants, who do they think they are? Don’t they know how much smarter than them we are?” And then continue on their merry way passing legislation a lobotomized squirrel could tell them wouldn’t work.

Meanwhile a vein continues to throb on the side of the collective head of America.

The thing that scares me about this political class is I’m not certain they will get the message even after November 2. This bunch, and I include most of the republicans in this as well, simply don’t live the same lives as the rest of us. They really believe it’s some sort of noblesse oblige to condescend to us peasants who are just not capable of taking care of ourselves.

Folks, November is coming, we have to send a message which cannot be mistaken. Pay attention to the candidates your local tea party is endorsing — then check them out yourself. Vote for the man, not the party. Find candidates who truly understand this country and do what you can to help them get elected.

This nation remains the last, best hope for freedom in the world. But as Abraham Lincoln said “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

This nation is more divided than at anytime since the Civil War. It’s time to start bringing it back together. That starts by getting those who would divide us along race, class, economic and political lines out of office.

All IMHO of course.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pragmatism or idealism?

Friday I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to a person I have admired greatly for some time -- Dennis Miller.
I've always found the gentleman uproariously funny, but I also got to watch his transformation from typical Hollywood lib to conservative commentator. And I was struck by the courage and intellectual honesty that took.
So when I had the opportunity to be interviewed by him on the air I naturally jumped at it.
He said something to me during the course of the interview which actually caused me to stop for a moment and think when I had a chance to listen to it later. He said he was a pragmatist, and this blog was "a pragmatists delight."
Now aside from the flattering nature of the statement and the enlargement of a head (mine) which many would suggest NEEDS no enlarging, I realized I had never thought of myself that way.
I would have said I was an idealist almost to the point of being an idealouge.
However, I see his point.
I suppose I am a pragmatist -- in that I have come to realize that one must temper one's ideals with a little pragmatism.
I am a firm believer we need to abolish all entitlement programs. Medicare, welfare, food stamps -- all of it. The costs of those liabilities are hamstringing our economy. At the same time I'm enough of a realist to know that is simply not going to happen. There are no politicians who are willing to commit suicide in order to get that done -- or at least not enough of them.
The reality is, we must all learn to be more pragmatic. Liberals especially, must come to understand that ideals must be sacrificed at times to what is possible.
Unfortunately, too many simply do not understand that.
Moreover, too many Americans are not able to understand what things actually are possible.
They have been taught the government can do anything, that government largess is unending.
Meanwhile, fewer and fewer of us actually pay the bills.
And that brings us right back to pragmatism.
Pragmatically, many of those who used to invest their money are now holding on to it, because they have no idea how much of it is going to be taxed away starting in just a few months. They don't know how much it's actually going to be worth. And we have a government which is out of control.
Why start a business when the government can step in and destroy it through taxation or regulation.
Why provide health insurance for your employees when if you don't the government will force them to pay for it?
Business owners, much like nations, do not look at things necessarily in terms of right or wrong, but what's in their best interest.
This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Employers who are smart tend to spend money on their employees. Happy employees tend to be productive employees. This is why a benefits package is an important part of compensation. This is why they offer paid vacations and things like bonuses. If you keep your people happy they will be productive. If they are productive then you make more money. This allows you to increase wages, hire more people, expand all the things that keep the economy moving forward.
These are done generally not because it's the right thing, but because it is in the best interest of the business.
The problem we have as a nation is we've stopped looking at things that way.
We need to return to that pragmatic approach.
We need to stop trying to do what's best for the world, and do what's best for the United States.
We are the largest economy in the world. Trust me, if we do what's best for us, it will benefit everyone.
And in the end, isn't that what's RIGHT as well?
All IMHO, of course.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life ain't fair... deal

“It’s not fair!!!”
How many times have you heard your kids whine that in a voice that just sets your teeth on edge?
This idea of fairness has permeated our society and I for one am simply sick of it.
At least, the idea that: A. everything simply MUST be fair, and: B. the idea that fairness means an equality of outcomes.
This idea, that everything must be fair, and everyone must be equal is a sickness of western, and in particular American culture.
We prize fair play and fair dealing. This is a good thing so far as it goes. Playing by the rules and keeping your bargains and treating people fairly in business deals is in every one's best interest.
However, we do our children no favors when we teach them that life is “fair.”
It most manifestly is not fair.
I learned this early and hard when my father died when I was just a boy. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but it did teach me an important lesson — bad stuff happens.
We have, in the interests of fairness stopped taking score at ball games, handed out medals to all and sundry so no one feels left out, given “social promotions” to children who cannot read so their fragile egos won’t be hurt, stopped marking up papers in red ink for the same reason and created racial preferences which are the exact opposite of the so-decried Jim Crow laws of the early 20th century.
And so now, we have a generation of children growing up who expect to be paid $50,000 a year right out of college for doing nothing. Who get mortally offended and feel “disrespected” when their boss criticizes them. And continue, in their 20s and 30s to whine about “fairness.”
Welcome to real life. People are going to talk to you in ways you don’t like. You are sometimes going to get in trouble for things which are out of your control.
Is it fair? No, but it’s life.
Of course, the left plays off this (you didn’t think I’d go an entire column without talking politics did you?)
Much of this is a creation of the left stemming from social engineering theories and child rearing theories from the 60s.
Dr. Benjamin Scott argued that spanking was child abuse and not effective discipline, never mind a good spanking now and then when deserved had been an effective parenting tool for all of human history. Leftists of every stripe argued that racial policies must be used to “redress” past abuses.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not arguing that we should return to the days of segregation. Or even that perhaps affirmative action didn’t have it’s place at one time. However, in the quest to be “fair,” programs like affirmative action are being used to prevent certain groups from succeeding while promoting others.
Equality of outcomes is all fine and good as a theory. But, like so much else the left promotes, not so wonderful in the execution.
Equality of outcomes means no one loses, but no one really wins either. Equality of outcomes means equality of mediocrity — sad in a society in which merit has always meant more than birth.
We should strive for as much equality as we can, this is true. As much equality of opportunity as is possible. Equal justice before the law. Discrimination should be condemned no matter who is being discriminated against.
But we’re not all going to win. When the Yankees play the Royals there are an equal number of players on both teams. They both play on the same field. But most likely the Royals are going to get killed — and both sides know it going in.
There are always winners and losers. That’s life.
All IMHO, of course.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Destroying cartels not in Mexico's best interest

Tens of thousands of people have died in Mexico since the end of 2006 as the Mexican government supposedly tries to crack down on the drug cartels to which it has more or less ceded control of it’s northern states.
According to Fox News, nearly 30,000 people have been killed.
Last week, former Mexican President Vicente Fox criticized the military-led, U.S.-backed war on the cartels.
Instead, according to a report by AOL news, Fox said Mexico should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs.
"Legalizing in this sense doesn't mean that drugs are good or don't hurt those who consume. Rather, we have to see it as a strategy to strike and break the economic structure that allows the mafias to generate huge profits in their business," Fox wrote on his blog.
The dirty little secret here is that it is not in Mexico’s interest to end the drug trade any more that it is in its interest to end illegal immigration.
The billions of dollars generated each year by the cartels are a large part of Mexico’s economy — somewhere between $35 and $40 billion each year.
As intelligence firm STRATFOR pointed out earlier this year: “From Mexico’s point of view, interrupting the flow of drugs to the United States is not clearly in the national interest or in that of the economic elite. Observers often dwell on the warfare between smuggling organizations in the northern borderland but rarely on the flow of American money into Mexico. Certainly, that money could corrupt the Mexican state, but it also behaves as money does. It is accumulated and invested, where it generates wealth and jobs.
“For the Mexican government to become willing to shut off this flow of money, the violence would have to become far more geographically widespread. And given the difficulty of ending the traffic anyway — and that many in the state security and military apparatus benefit from it — an obvious conclusion can be drawn: Namely, it is difficult to foresee scenarios in which the Mexican government could or would stop the drug trade. Instead, Mexico will accept both the pain and the benefits of the drug trade.”
Mexico is cracking down on the cartels, not to end the trade, but to pare back organizations which pose a threat to the Mexican government. Also in order to be seen to be Doing Something by the American government.
It is possible as well, that Vicente Fox’s proposal is being seriously considered. Which would mean that the Mexican government is behaving as the other cartels do — namely attempting to take over the supply chain of the rival cartels.
This is to some degree likely. It’s well known the Mexican army is involved in drugs and human trafficking. Corruption is rampant within the Mexican military. One of the cartels — Los Zetas — started as a unit of the Mexican army, trained and equipped by American special forces.
In the mean time, swaths of American land are no go zones along the border. Border residents are murdered and the cartels are striking hundreds of miles north in major American cities like Phoenix, Ariz. where people have been killed and kidnapped.
The border remains aflame. The Mexican government is unlikely to take action which is not in it’s national interest.
There are no easy solutions to the problem, but closing the border is a first step it is long past time we take.
All IMHO of course.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Draining the swamp requires new blood

Another high-profile Democrat has been hit with ethics violations. Rep. Charlie Rangle, D-NY, was charged with 13 violations of House ethics rules last week.

In addition Rep. Maxine Waters is probably looking at charges as well.

Of course that doesn’t even get into the federal indictment and conviction of former Louisiana Congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson who was nailed with $90,000 in cash in his freezer by the FBI back in 2005. He was eventually found guilty on 11 of 16 charges.

Republicans of course, are not clean by any stretch and have had their share of ethics violations over the years — to include former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who was reprimanded in the well of the House for his transgressions.

The point here is not to note chapter and verse of which party has been the most unethical. It is interesting to note however, that after current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised to “drain the swamp,” and Democrats made hay in the 2008 elections with the “culture of corruption,” in Washington we now have the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, perhaps the most powerful House committee, in deep ethical trouble.

The problem here, in my opinion, is that the culture in Washington is all too permissive of this sort of thing.

And it is not helped when the president continues to appoint people whose ethics are questionable at best to high positions.

The Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, was found to have cheated heavily on his taxes and proceeded to blame the tax preparation software he used for his troubles. In other words, the chief tax enforcement officer in the country can’t run TurboTax.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius, our own former governor also had to fix some tax issues before she could take office, and mercifully leave Kansas.

Most of Rangle’s problems are also tax related — mostly dodging them.

What it comes down to is the political class — on both sides of the isle have become what might best be described, as author Jerry Pournelle once put it, “a self perpetuating oligarchy.”

Rangle has been in the house for four decades, Waters for nearly 20.

Too often the politicians spend their entire adult lives in office, living lives that bear little or no resemblance to that of the average American.

They live in elegant homes in Washington DC, visiting their districts only rarely, with privileges generally reserved only for the very wealthy.

They have health care many times better than most of us, pensions and benefits most of us can only dream of.

They are rarely told no, have people treating them like royalty in order to curry their favor and vast sums of money put into their reelection campaigns. Money which they are allowed to keep after the campaign is over.

It is the rare politician indeed who doesn’t leave office much wealthier than he went in — usually with a cushy lobbyist position waiting for them when they get out of office.

There are a few — painfully few — legislators who see public service as that, service.

For most it seems to simply be an easy job where their own sense of self importance can be puffed up by the gaggle of yes-men with which they surround themselves.

Those who would actually be good at the job are more often in the private sector, where they can actually do something of importance.

As you vote in the primary today and especially in November, take a close look at the people asking for your vote. Look at their record. See if they return to their district regularly. See how large the entourage they surround themselves with is.

And then ask yourself, “does this person regard public service as a privilege, or does he look at me as a serf? Does he understand that he works for me, or does he think I work for him? Does he see government as an unfortunately necessary means to an end? Or as an end in itself?”

And then vote your conscience, not your party.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Right to be armed is right to be safe

In the wake of the United Sates Supreme Court ruling late last month, which struck down the Chicago gun ban as unconstitutional, Fox News now reports the Chicago City Council has had another stab at banning guns within the city limits.

According to Fox News, the policy would, among other things:

• Limit each person in each home to one “assembled and operable” firearm.

• Restrict residents from having firearms outside their home, even on their porch or in their backyard.

• Mandate training program attendance, and;

• Prohibit the sale of firearms inside city limits.

City leaders have apparently said the new ordinance was needed to “prevent gun violence from breaking out across Chicago.”

Right.

Because Chicago is such a safe city, never mind the murder rate is one of the highest in the nation.

Mayor Richard Daily is reported as saying the ordinance is a “reasonable and responsible ordinance.”

Lawsuits have already been filed against this new ordinance, and the National Rifle Association is already in the fight, pointing out it is impossible to get the training in Chicago since firing ranges are banned within the city.

“An individual right is no right at all if individuals can’t access it,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in a written statement, Fox reported.

Indeed.

The reality is, of course, that the gun banners aren’t really interested in facts. Like most liberals they have constructed a reality of their own and they like to live within that construction.

In their universe if we just disarmed everyone then there would be no murder or violence. Besides, those gun thingies are just icky.

Back on planet consensus reality we understand that there are evil people in the world. Evil people are, well, evil and the best way to deal with evil is to destroy it, before it destroys you.

In liberal la-la land, they look at tragedies like Columbine or Virginia Tech and, predictably blame the firearms — and, lack of regulation thereof.

Never mind that the Columbine shooters violated something like 80 separate state and federal firearms regulations.

In the real world we see those shootings as a tragedy as well. But we also realize that by creating “Gun-free School Zones,” we also created free-fire zones where animals like the Columbine and Va. Tech shooters didn’t have to worry about anyone shooting back.

In both of those cases, one armed teacher, or on Va. Tech one armed student could have ended the situation with less loss of life.

Logic doesn’t ever seem to enter into the head of these people either.

The late, great Colonel Jeff Cooper called these people “hoplophobes,” which he defined as an irrational fear of weapons.

Those of us who live in the real world understand that laws like the one Chicago proposes to pass only affect the law abiding. Criminals, being criminals, by definition do not obey the law and therefore don’t worry about petty annoyances like gun bans.

The hoplophobes, as Col. Cooper often pointed out, seem to think firearms have a will of their own. That anyone who picks one up instantly becomes a raving lunatic looking to kill anyone and anything that moves.

Of course, this is not true. A firearm is an object, it possesses no will of it’s own. It is but a tool and it is the use to which it is put that is good or evil.

Defending your life, your family or your property is inherently moral, ethical, and good. It is to these ends the second amendment was written.

No one has anything to fear from law abiding citizens with guns in their hands — unless they intend some evil.

Perhaps the government should take a look at that little bit of logic.

All IMHO of course.

Time for a return to the consent of the governed

While no fan of the Obama Regime (you’d already guessed that I know) I must say the ineptness, incompetence and corruption of the Obama Administration are the gift that just keeps on giving for a columnist.

From the revelation by J. Christian Adams that the Department of Justice is selectively enforcing the voting rights act, based on whether or not the alleged victims are black or white, to the administration’s refusal to enforce federal immigration law to the botched response to the BP oil spill, it would be amusing from the standpoint of a writer if it were all not so sad, and the consequences not so deadly to America.

This country was founded on the idea that no one, no single individual, had the right to tell another man how to live his life so long as he harmed no one else.

The idea that no government had the right to infringe upon natural god-given rights. That all government was by the consent of the governed, even despotic systems, and that the governed had the right to throw off a tyrant.

That idea, the consent of the governed, is a powerful one — and one the current administration doesn’t seem to understand.

We have in this nation a long history of respecting academics and academe.

The founders, and more particularly the framers of the constitution, it may be noted were such a group. Highly educated, intelligent men, with a firm grounding in what today would be called “the liberal arts.”

So to, are the group surrounding the president. Highly educated, most with advanced degrees from Ivy League colleges.

The difference between these academics and the ones who founded this nation could not be more stark — however.

Benjamin Franklin was a mostly self-educated man but undeniably a genius. He was also an intensely practical man who invented everything from bifocal glasses to the Franklin Stove, which was one of the first truly practical heating devices for the home.

John Adams, the second president of the United States, was like the current office holder a Harvard graduate and lawyer.

Adams was successful in private practice and a successful farmer as well.

Thomas Jefferson was as noted in his Wikipedia entry: “A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, political leader, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, musician, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia.“

All of these men had real world accomplishments to their names as well as their academic credentials.

What we have in the current batch is, well, less than stellar.

For all their learning and advanced degrees this group of academics are, well, academics.

They have run nothing, built nothing, designed nothing and administered nothing.

None of them have ever lived in the real world.

They have, nearly to a man, gone straight from the halls of academe straight to — the halls of academe or to government or to nonprofits which function often enough, much like the government.

We see this in their policies. Government by the consent of the governed becomes important when your realize that fully 60 percent of the American people want their new right to healthcare repealed. As much as 75 percent oppose the drilling moratorium in the gulf — despite the BP spill.

An overwhelming majority support the Arizona immigration law, and yet the administration is suing to block it anyway.

Most presidents would note that what they are doing is not making people happy with them and move in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, for the academics this simply means that we aren’t smart enough to understand what they’re trying to do.

In reality they simply don’t understand the real world.

And in trying to force a philosophy which demonstrably does not work in the real world down our throats they are destroying the nation.

November is coming folks, let’s send a message — and return America to government by the consent of the governed.

All IMHO of course.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

John Wayne still an inspiration to America

FOLKS: All my life I’ve felt privileged to have had good friends around me, privileged to have been able to do the kind of work I know and love the best, and to have been born in a country whose immense beauty and grandeur are matched only by the greatness of her people.

For a number of years I have tried to express a deep and profound love for these things; to be able to say what I feel in my heart. And, now ... I’ve had the chance to do so. I know most of you feel the same as I do about our country.

Now and then we gripe about some of her imperfections, but sometimes that’s good. Especially if it gets us working together to make things better.

It seems to me we often take too much for granted, and have a tendency to forget The Good Things About America.

My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for. May we nurture her strengths, and strengthen her weaknesses so she will be, that she will always be,

Land Of The Free, and Home Of The Brave.

Sincerely,

John Wayne


Ahhh the “Duke.”

As a child I was not a fan of John Wayne movies. My father loved them, though I could never quite figure out why. “Old movies,” I’d scoff, “boring.”

Then I grew up — or at least tried to.

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to truly enjoy his work. Found him to be a better actor than I ever realized or than he’s ever given credit for.

In movies like In Harm’s Way, or El Dorado, McClintock or The Shootist, I saw an actor with more depth than anyone was willing to admit while still saying “he just plays John Wayne.”

Certainly to some degree that was true, but in that I also began to see a businessman who was smart enough to realize his audience wanted to see something specific from him — and gave it to them.

In the process he became the biggest movie star the world has ever seen. For more than 40 years his name on the marquee guaranteed a hit.

There’s something else about the Duke worth reflecting on this July 6.

His intense patriotism.

He made The Green Berets at a time when the Vietnam War was not popular.

He remained a committed conservative at a time when Hollywood was turning increasingly to the left.

At the same time he remained a gracious man, who was willing to disagree without being disagreeable.

He often co-stared with Kirk Douglas, who was, and remains, a committed liberal, and yet while politically the two men could not have been further apart, they remained close friends throughout Wayne’s life.

Coming off an Independence Day when this country is as deeply divided as at anytime since the Civil War, it is perhaps important to remember that it is possible to disagree with an idea, without demonizing the man behind the idea.

We must begin to find the ideas with which we all agree, and start from that point.

We are all Americans, and that’s a place to start.

We all, I would hope, love freedom, and want our children and grand children to grow up in a nation which is free and prosperous.

Let us, this July, come together as Americans, not as democrats or republicans, liberals or conservatives — but as Americans and try to remember the things which made this country the freest nation the world has ever seen.

We were once the hope of the world.

We can be again — if we can come together.

This Independence Day, listening to the news, I found the words of Abraham Lincoln more prophetic than ever: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I fear the time is short to reunite that house, but we must find a way, so that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

All IMHO of course.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Court upholds the right of free people to stay free

Three years ago the Supreme Court of the United States in the case Heller v. District of Columbia held for the first time the second amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Monday, they extended that right to the entire country.

Despite the decision in Heller, the right to keep and bear arms had not passed the 14th amendment test which would extend that protection to the states.

That all changed Monday when in another 5-4 ruling with the liberal wing of the court predictably voting against the plain language of the constitution, the court struck down Chicago’s gun ban, noting they had already determined that citizens have a constitutional right to possess a firearm for purposes of self defense — and further noting Chicago‘s murder rate went up after the ban was enacted.

Moreover, Chicago’s arguments in the McDonald v. Chicago case were essentially, “if other countries don’t think they need this we shouldn’t either.”

“Municipal respondents’ ... arguments are at war with our central holding in Heller: that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home. Municipal respondents, in effect, ask us to treat the right recognized in Heller as a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees that we have incorporated into the Due Process Clause,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Municipal respondents’ main argument is nothing less than a plea to disregard 50 years of incorporation precedent and return (presumably for this case only) to a bygone era. Municipal respondents submit that the Due Process Clause protects only those rights “‘recognized by all temperate and civilized governments, from a deep and universal sense of [their] justice.’

“According to municipal respondents, if it is possible to imagine any civilized legal system that does not recognize a particular right, then the Due Process Clause does not make that right binding on the States.”

Alito goes on to point out that our bill of rights guarantees rights to criminal defendants which are all but unique to the United States.

By that standard, Alito says, the United States would be “the only civilized Nation in the world.”

Moreover, Alito points out “several of the countries that municipal respondents recognize as civilized have established state churches. If we were to adopt municipal respondents’ theory, all of this Court’s Establishment Clause precedents involving actions taken by state and local governments would go by the boards.”

Justice Antonin Scalia took it a step further, disparaging Justice John Paul Steven’s dissent directly.

“Justice Stevens has a different distinction in mind: Even though he does ‘not doubt for a moment that many Americans . . . see [firearms] as critical to their way of life as well as to their security,’ he pronounces that owning a handgun is not ‘critical to leading a life of autonomy, dignity, or political equality.’ Who says?” Scalia asked in his concurring opinion. “Deciding what is essential to an enlightened, liberty-filled life is an inherently political, moral judgment — the antithesis of an objective approach that reaches conclusions by applying neutral rules to verifiable evidence.”

We should all applaud this decision.

Finally the argument of whether or not the second amendment protects an individual right or a collective one has not only been settled but the question of if it applies to the states has been answered as well.

I look with interest at the fact the court, or at least the majority, notes that fewer firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens, does not a safer city make.

Again and again it has been shown, the best way to reduce crime is to make the criminals afraid of the average citizen.

Criminals are largely cowards. The look for the weak and undefended to prey upon. They will not willingly attack someone capable of defending themselves.

The police cannot protect us from home invasions or muggings on the street. Moreover, it’s not their job to do so. Their job is to investigate crime and arrest the perpetrators. It is only a happy accident when they are able to prevent a crime from happening.

Again and again we have heard “an armed society is a polite society.”

It seems the Supreme Court has finally acknowledged this basic fact.

This decision is particularly timely when we have a government which seems largely to be out of control.

Again and again the administration and the federal government ignores the constitution and it’s own laws. The second amendment was intended, and still serves as a final check on the government.

This is it’s most important and primary purpose — to prevent tyranny by reminding would-be tyrants the people have the power to reject them.

Do not misunderstand, the time when “the tree of liberty must be refreshed ... with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” has not yet come. I still hope for a renaissance in America which will return this nation to the greatness it so richly deserves — but the second amendment must stand as the final bulwark between the American people and a runaway government.

All IMHO of course.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No-go area highlights border problems

On June 17, Fox News reported approximately 3,500 acres of federal land in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona remains closed to taxpayers — four years after it was originally closed.

The area has been closed since Oct. 6, 2006 because of “a marked increase in violence along the border due to human and drug trafficking,” according a statement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Fox News reports there are signs posted which read, “Visitors may encounter armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed. Stay away from trash, clothing, backpacks and abandoned vehicles.”

In other words, the federal government has effectively ceded control of American soil to the Mexican drug cartels.

Our founders must be spinning in their graves.

Meanwhile on June 9 there was an armed standoff between American Border Patrol Agents and what were, depending upon who you talk to, either Mexican National Police or Mexican soldiers near El Paso, Texas, after the tragic shooting of a 15 year-old Mexican boy by the Border Patrol.

Then, of course, we have Phoenix, Ariz., which is the No. 1 place in America to go — provided you want to be kidnapped by the cartels. There were 366 people kidnapped by the cartels in Phoenix in 2008, the last year for which I was able to find complete numbers.

And it’s not just happening in Phoenix, other border states are finding the same problem, and it’s not just illegals which are being kidnapped. It’s American citizens as well.

So of course, the administration is responding to these outrageous violations of American sovereignty with dispatch.

Of course they are moving to secure the border and protect Americans.

Of course they are moving to punish the cartels which are operating with near impunity on American soil.

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps what the administration is actually doing is preparing to sue the state of Arizona over an immigration law which does nothing but insist the state enforce existing federal law.

Perhaps what the administration is actually doing is inviting Mexican President Felipe Calderon to speak to a joint session of Congress in order to chide us for immigration laws which are many times more liberal than Mexico’s.

To be fair Obama did send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border. Well, sort of to the border — the troops will be in mostly administrative positions — useful to be sure, but not boots on the ground securing the border.

Critics scream that sending the 6,000 troops senators John McCain and Jon Kyl have called for would set the border aflame.

The problem is the border is already aflame — on our side.

It’s time to take the gloves off. We need to take the cartels down and secure our border.

If that means sending special forces across the border to target and kill the cartels, so be it.

If that means sending combat troops to the border to interdict smuggling — again, so be it.

It is unbelievable to me that we have allowed this to continue for as long as we have. It is time it stopped.

All IMHO of course.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Risk not necessarily a bad thing

Recently 16-year-old Abby Sunderland’s attempt to solo sail around the world cake to it’s final end as she was picked up in the Indian Ocean by a French vessel after a storm carried away her mast and left her boat disabled.

Her father, a shipwright and sailing instructor from Los Angeles has come under heavy criticism for allowing her to attempt the voyage and both have been criticized for poor planning. This is winter in the Indian Ocean and apparently it’s a bad place to be this time of year.

Additionally, her father Laurence Sunderland has signed a contract to do a reality show about his family.

This was, obviously, a dangerous voyage, especially for a 16-year-old. However, her older brother briefly held the world record for the youngest solo sail around the world before an Australian girl, also 16, took the record earlier this year.

One can debate whether or not this was a good idea for a girl this young, or the wisdom of the route she chose or even if this was a publicity stunt or not.

However, it does point up a question worth reflecting on.

When, as a society did we become so risk averse?

More importantly, what does it say about us?

We are a nation which historically has been the haunt of bold adventurers. We sent pioneers across the continent when roughly 10 percent died on the way to Oregon. Lewis and Clark set out to explore the interior knowing there was a good chance they would never return.

In the 1960s astronauts strapped themselves atop missiles filled with high-explosives and built by the lowest bidder and blasted into space mostly because they could. Some of them didn’t come back.

Now?

The Space Shuttle, just as an example, has a remarkable safety record. There have been exactly two fatal accidents in over 100 flights. And yet in both instances we have shut the fleet down for years — and now there is no replacement on the horizon.

We took hundreds of thousands of casualties in World War II, but in Somalia the death of just a few soldiers forced us out — soldiers who knew and accepted the risks when they signed up.

We pass restrictive regulation after restrictive regulation, all in the name of safety.

“If it saves only one life,” the refrain goes.

The problem with this is two fold.

First, of course, is the restrictions to our freedom from seatbelt laws to helmet laws which take away the right of people to asses the risks and make informed decisions of their own what risks they’re willing to accept.

Second, is a society which is increasingly afraid of it’s own shadow.

No one wore bicycle helmets when I was a kid. Most of us, like 99.9 percent or more, did just fine thank you, no major injuries. Not one of us died, or suffered brain damage.

At 15 I learned to ride a motorcycle. My mother was worried, but said so long as I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCourse to learn how to ride as safely as possible she’d back me.

About a year later, at 16, I was on my way to work when a car turned left in front of me and I went over it’s hood.

I broke my wrist, and as soon as it healed up I was back on a motorcycle.

Life is risk. You can die getting out of the shower. Statistically, your house is the most dangerous place you are all day.

We must stop trying to eliminate all risk from the world. We do ourselves and our children no favors by trying to keep them safe at all costs.

Some things are worth fighting and aye, dying for.

Some things cannot be achieved without putting it all on the line.

In 1988 I read an essay in Cycle World Magazine titled “A Sense of Drama.”

Near the end of the essay the author said it far better than I ever could, and more than 20 years later the words still ring in my head.

“A motorcyclist, or a mountain climber or a sky diver holds his life in his hands, and in that sweet grasp he learns to love who he is, and even the limits which define him.”

Indeed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FTC report direct assualt on journalism

In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission began a project to “consider the challenges faced by journalism in the Internet age.”
A year later they've come back with their “draft recommendations,” which are “only for the purposes of discussion.”
Color me concerned.
“Journalism is moving through a significant transition in which business models are crumbling, innovative new forms of journalism are emerging, and consumer news habits are changing rapidly.”
The document reads in part, and points out that newspaper advertising revenue, which pays the majority of the costs of producing the paper, have dropped some 45% in the last 10 years as new media, such as this blog, talk radio and 24 hour news networks have cut into their funding.
The upshot is of course, many newspapers are failing, newsroom staffs are cut and cut some more – interestingly enough upper management and often middle management don't seem to take those cuts, just the “non revenue producing” folks who actually gather the news, which is why subscribers read the thing in the
first place.
In fact, it's mostly the large metro dailies which find themselves in trouble. Along with the huge media conglomerates which own them. Most are leveraged to the hilt and it's not declining advertising revenue which is killing them but unmanageable debt.
But I digress.
It's no surprise to anyone that old bastions of the business are failing. The New York Times is a long way from profitable. Many other major market papers are failing, The Seattle Post-Inteligencer cut its print product entirely and is now web only – and doing quite well as an aside.
All this is a bit concerning for some one like me who has spent most of his adult life in the print newspaper business and considers himself a journalist of the old school. I got into this business because I loved it, and I stay in it, because I love it.
What the FTC is proposing however concerns me far more.
It is nothing less than a government takeover of the Fourth Estate in the name of “saving it.”
The report suggests things such as:
Changes in law such as additional intellectual property rights to support claims against news aggregators.
Changes in copyright law to protect “hot news,” to protect the “underlying facts” of a story from use by others for a limited period of time.
Industry-wide licensing arrangements such as are used by record companies and the movie industry.
Fox News reported several others:
The creation of a "journalism" division of AmeriCorps, the federal program that places 75,000 people with local and national nonprofit groups annually.
Providing grants to universities to conduct investigative journalism.
Tax credits to news organizations for every journalist employed.
A 5 percent tax on consumer electronics, which would generate roughly $4 billion annually, to pay for increased public funding.
I'm certain the bean counters in the corporate offices of the New York Times would love to see some of these proposals pass.
So would many of the progressives in the Administration.
A free and unfettered press is essential to our experiment in freedom.
The things the FTC proposes would see that end.
Worse they would set the stage, if not create outright, the sort of state controlled media we used to decry in the Soviet bloc.
I realize in many ways we have that now in all but name, but there remains at present at least some hope my colleagues will wake up and realize what's become of them.
Fox News reports Jeff Jarvis, an associate professor at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, saying; “The problem with this is that the FTC is trying to set an agenda here, that some sort of government intervention is necessary. It's a power grab by the FTC and it's also an example of one old power structure circling its wagons around another."
Should the recommendations in this “draft proposal” come to pass it will be the death knell of journalism in America.
For all the bias of the current mainstream media, they at least do not get their paychecks from the government. They can and sometimes do, still actually do their job.
The few honest journalists left, the guys in the trenches like me. Overworked, underpaid professionals who just want to get the story right will not accept the restrictions that would come with this. We want to report the news – it's hard to do that when a federal bureaucrat is telling you what to write.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Second Holocaust all too possible

The year is 1945, and the allies have just liberated the German concentration camps, and found a horror of which the world had yet to even realize the scope.

Soon the world would realize the Nazis had systematically exterminated between 8 and 10 million people — 6 million of them Jews.

The cry rang out “Never again,” not just from Jews world wide but from the world.

By 1947 the Jews had their own state, in their ancestral homeland, and the saying “Next year in Jerusalem,” was finally possible.

Fast forward a bit more than 60 years and Israel is once again under siege — as it has been all too often in its history.

Terrorists within are trying to destroy the tiny nation. Surrounding countries from Syria to Iran are threatening to wipe them off the map, all for no better real reason than because they are Jews — the same reason Hitler, the Inquisition and numerous others have used over the centuries to try to destroy them.

So with the outrage of the Holocaust still within living memory the world has rallied to the defense of Israel, right?

Wrong.

Last week, the Turks, long an ally of Israel allowed a “relief convoy” to sail for Gaza. The Israelis declared a blockade of that port a couple of years ago to prevent weapons from getting to Hamas, which is a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

The blockade was completely legal under international law, and when the Israeli defense forces boarded one of those “relief” vessels their soldiers were attacked and forced to defend themselves — several of the crew died. Generally speaking, attacking armed men with boat hooks and pipes isn’t smart.

So did the world condemn the terrorists?

Of course not.

Israel has been roundly condemned every time they defend themselves.

Like the 1930s, anti-semitism is once again fashionable.

Of course, those who spout such garbage say they’re not anti semitic, just anti Israel. This is specious nonsense, you can’t be one without the other.

Helen Thomas, long considered the dean of the White House press corps, has gone into several anti-semitic rants in recent days calling the Israeli action a deliberate massacre, international crime, and called Israel a terrorist state, Bigjournalism.com reports.

In addition she’s been quoted as saying the Jews should go back to Germany and Poland.

Many called for her firing by Hearst Newspapers, and for her expulsion from the White House Press corps.

Yesterday she announced she would retire. But we also need to examine if it would really make any difference.

She’s not said anything that others haven’t said, or worse.

It’s sad to see our president snub and insult our only real ally in the region. The world turn a blind eye when nutjobs like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scream for the destruction of the tiny state and Europe once again stands silent, or worse — they condemn Israel beside terrorists like Ahmadinejad.

Who can blame the Israelis for having a siege mentality?

Who can blame them if they are perhaps a little too willing to shoot first and ask questions later? Which by the way, they did not do in this case.

Given their history the Israelis do not and should not trust any outside group for their security.

Every time they’ve done so in more than 4,000 years of history they have paid with the lives of their people.

It is time to change that history. It is time to stand with them.

We must stand up and again say “never again.” Or a second Holocaust will become a sad reality, and this time the blood will be on our hands.

All IMHO, of course.