Archive for February, 2010

A Voting Proposal

February 28, 2010 1 comment

I have been following the health care issue with some interest. I think it’s clear that Obama and his corps (not “corpse,” regardless of what the Harvard educated may think) of allegedly bipartisan myrmidons will force the bill through under the rules of reconciliation. Aside from finding the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the republicans amusing, and finding the righteous hypocrisy of the democrats nauseating, it’s clear that bleating about reconciliation and filibusters is a tool of the out of power tools. Neither side refrains from using them; they only complain when they are used against their interests. Neither side really cares for compromise; they care only for victory, even if that requires the use of legislative WMDs.

Now, personally, I have no problems with ideologues. In fact, I believe them to be necessary. Obama claims to abhor them, yet he daily, by his actions, proclaims himself to be one. He demands that we solve the “health-care issue,” while decrying the ideological rigidity of those who oppose his plans. He imposes reconciliation on the process, while bemoaning the ability of congress to do meaningful work. But ideologues are the only ones, after all, who get anything done. Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Brown, Abraham Lincoln; ideologically driven all. JFK was driven by ideology when he made it a goal to put men on the moon.

The problem isn’t the true believers. The problem is the power-hungry who sell the appearance of ideals for the sake of their own beatitude. They are the ones who will give away the wealth of the nation to secure their own position. They are, indirectly, one of the reasons I follow the health care sideshow. I have friends and family members who claim to be un- or under- insured. They are big supporters of Obamacare; they know that it means that someone else will pay for their care. They try to convince anyone that will listen that they truly believe reduced cost or free insurance is a personal right. They are, in the lingo of my days in the Marine Corps, the sick, lame, and lazy who want something for nothing and cover it up with ideological rhetoric.

So I have thought, and thought, and thought some more, and have come up with a solution to the problems of the buyers and sellers of votes. Assume for a moment that you wish the Coca-Cola company would cease making products with Aspartame. You could write letters, organize demonstrations, and publicly remonstrate the company. All of which would be to no avail if Coca-Cola continued to deliver a profit to its shareholders. If, however, you wished a say in how the company were run, you would have to buy shares of stock in the company. That would entitle you to a voice in how the company was to be run.

Suppose we thought of the United States as a corporation of sorts. It requires investments of capital, whether it be cash, labor, intellect, or blood. It doesn’t necessarily provide a cash return on this investment, but it delivers instead roads, mail service, defense, etc. If we take the analogy a little further, who should have a voice in the management of the company? The shareholders, of course. And who are the shareholders? Quite simply, they are the people who pay taxes. I’m not talking about people who have money deducted from their paychecks but then get it all back and more. I mean the people who actually pay a part of their accumulated wealth into the federal coffers. Only investors should have a right to direct the running of the corporation.

Now, just like any other corporation, non-investors would be free to partake of the products of the company. They could send mail, drive on the interstate highways, etc. They just wouldn’t have a say in how the company was run. It would be considerably more difficult to buy votes if all one was doing was giving you back your own money. Now they buy the votes by giving your money to someone else. The details of such a plan would be fairly simple to work out; a constitutional amendment would be required, but easy enough to write. Of course the takers would be against such a plan, as would be the politicians who continually refill the troughs of their constituents. But in the end, it would restore a certain amount of sensibility to the economic processes of the country.

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Obama, the Anna Kournikova of politics

February 23, 2010 7 comments

Anna Kournikova, as most of you are probably aware, was the tennis sensation who was more famous for her looks than her tennis. Despite her failure to ever win a major event, there were almost daily pictures of her in the paper. In fact, the Chicago Tribune had a sports columnist who would find excuses to run a gratuitous Anna picture. She is largely forgotten now, too old for the short skirts and too poor a tennis player to serve as a role model.

Sort of like the anointed one. As his vice president Joe Biden would say, Obama is a well spoken, clean-cut black guy. The fact that he is largely politically, at least, impotent puts him right into the Kournikova camp.

Let’s look at the stimulus plan. One year in, and unemployment is at 10 percent, 17 percent among blacks. The anointed one claimed that the stimulus would create 3.3 million jobs. That doesn’t mean saved; Obama claimed those would be newly created jobs. Since the stimulus was passed, there has been a job loss of 3 million jobs. Obama’s much touted stimulus recovery has cost a net 6.3 million jobs. Who would be foolish enough to vote for more stimulus? I suppose only people who wanted 100 percent unemployment for anyone except government employees, who are the only people unaffected by the economic crash.

Obama now says that things would have been worse without the stimulus. As hard as that is to imagine, it is also unprovable. Specifically, the White House’s “proof” that the stimulus created jobs is an economic model that they programmed to assume that stimulus spending automatically creates jobs. The administration is ideologically committed to the belief that regardless of empiric evidence to the contrary, deficit spending must create jobs.

Additional Kournikovian failures would have to include health care. The democrats have decided that they will force Obama’s blueprint of health care through congress, regardless of the level of public opposition. They have signaled their willingness to do this without any republican support whatsoever.

Further, the president’s proposal is notable for taking every bad idea, and putting them into one convenient package. More taxes, more subsidies, less cost control, and an expanded bureaucracy are all hallmarks of the proposal. The democrats, seemingly ignoring election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, are determined to press ahead with a plan that the voters don’t want. Americans largely oppose these plans, and yet the Kournikovites are planning to give you what you don’t want.

Obama wants to create a new federal board that will have the ability to control prices in the health care market. Ignoring the fact the each state already has this mechanism, this federal board will have the power to reject any rate increase that is “unreasonable or unjustified.” If an insurer raises rates without prior approval, they would be forced to “lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable.”

The anointed one has failed to learn the lesson we all learned from Nixon and Ford; price controls are a bad idea. They cause supply shortages, demand reduction, and unemployment. And yet, price controls are always the first resort of national health care advocates. For example, Medicare’s administered prices for doctors and hospitals. This new White House proposal is a preview of Obama’s  planned medical economy, which will inevitably reduce choice and quality.

It is clear that the anointed one and democrats have no intention of listening to republican, or any other, ideas on health care. They know the public opposes the various plans that have been offered, and they don’t care. They have publicized their intention to use reconciliation to get their way, notwithstanding the magnitude of this issue. The Kournikovites have even driven some of their own away, e.g Evan Bayh, with their insistence on playing Chicago style machine politics.

So far, it seems all we have gotten is a pretty package, with not much there. Just like Anna.

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Race Or Culture? And What About Obama?

February 17, 2010 1 comment

Ever since the ascension of the anointed one, the country has been having a discussion about race. Most of this discussion has been accusations that anyone who objects to anything the anointed one does is guilty of being a racist. Putting aside the obvious logical difficulties of this position, it is tantamount to suggesting that anyone who votes for a white candidate is a white supremacist. Calling an opponent a racist is also a verbal nuclear weapon that shuts down rational discussion. Which, after all, is really the point. When someone unlimbers that word, what they’re saying is that they haven’t any good reasons to argue with, but they want to win so badly that ad hominem attacks are an acceptable weapon.

But after having given it years of thought, most of it before the anointed one’s election, I have come to a few conclusions about the state of race in this country. My first, and perhaps most important, conclusion is that the problems asserted to be about race seldom are. Which is not to say that there aren’t any. In any group of people, it has been my experience that there is always that ten per cent that is composed of intractable idiots. And there is a group of people that are stupid enough to judge others on what are irrelevant characteristics.

Leaving the obvious racists aside, I believe that the problems ascribed to racism are actually a reaction to cultural differences. Let me illustrate. Suppose you are given a choice of two places to live. One is a house that is neighbored by Barack Obama, Clarence Page, and Alan Keyes. The other is an identical house, except that this time your neighbors would be crips, bloods, and latin kings. Lets make it even more interesting. A third house is available, but your neighbors would be that droopy-drawered idiot Marshal Mathers, Gilbert Gotfried, and Ed Gein. Which house do you choose? Let’s face it, most of us would choose the first option. The answer says less about race than about culture.

Make no mistake, there is a culture in America and there has always been one. Americans have long considered ourselves as something unique in the world. We have prided ourselves on being a melting pot, where hard work and “fitting in” have been seen as pathways to success. We are all familiar with the stories of immigrant families who refused to speak their native tongue, preferring to learn English. At the same time, we all remember stories of anti-Irish, anti-German, and anti-Italian prejudice in years past.  Even Catholics, regardless of their race, were a target of the Klan. Yet all of those groups, except Catholics, who encompass all races, were white. Was the issue race? Clearly not. The issue was cultural. People were afraid that the prevailing American culture would be debased. As much as I hate to defend Joe Biden, he was mostly right when he suggested that Barack was “clean, bright, and articulate.” Those are some of the qualities that our culture values.

Compare that to cultural practices we generally object to. We object to clitorectomies, for example, regardless of the race that practices it. We object to the beheading of infidels, As a matter of fact, we generally object to the idea of infidels. We would object even if they were practiced by Europeans. Closer to home, we object to keeping chickens in the front yards of city homes, selling drugs on street corners, drive by shootings, and songs glorifying the debasement of women. When I say we, of course, I mean those of us who believe that we are the heirs to a cultural paradigm that reflects the undeniable dignity of each and every individual.

Having said all that, I believe that the election of Obama had little to do with race. Obama’s race was a factor for that idiotic ten percent, certainly. But for the rest of us, his race was only important as a reminder of the things that are important, and the things that are not. Regardless of his skin color, the anointed one shares some of the cultural values of the majority of us. This allowed the large majority of people to focus on his policies, or lack thereof. His race was largely irrelevant in the face of his cultural similarities.

I also believe that America needs to focus on our shared cultural heritage and insist, as is the right of any group, that we all accept and adapt ourselves to that heritage.

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Masters or Servants?

I’m sorry to do this, but I need to mention a local issue here. It has bigger implications, so bear with me for a while. I live next to Kendall County, Illinois. I can almost throw a stone from my front yard and have it land in the next county, so I pay attention to what happens over there.

Recently, there was a public hearing on the county’s plan for a new landfill. The board president, Ann Vickery, is a grandmotherly woman, replete with silver hair and too much makeup. At the hearing, Ann Vickery decided that public comments would be limited to three minutes per citizen. Obviously dismayed with having to listen to the great unwashed, she watched her stopwatch during comments. At the two-minute mark, she would interrupt the speaker with a reminder that they were almost out of time. At the three-minute mark, she would cut them off mid-word.

Now, to be fair, there were eight people who wanted to speak. If they each spoke for five minutes, Ann Vickery might have missed “Murder She Wrote,” or “Matlock.” Or perhaps she wanted to rush home for her nightly Metamucil and nap.

Some of the citizens at the meeting took exception to her heavy-handed management style and made mention of their displeasure. Let me take this time to remind you that the citizens are Ann Vickery’s employer. She works at their pleasure, and is ultimately responsible to them for her position. So the citizens objected, and the board adjourned in the middle of a speaker’s sentence. Now comes the interesting part.

Ann Vickery, when asked about it, responded that she wasn’t going to let the “lunatics” run the asylum. She also said that the board was always concerned about transparency regardless of what those “idiots” have to say. She also said she felt physically threatened, which another board member claimed was an over-reaction. Vickery said she wished there had been a sheriff’s deputy there because people could have gotten “difficult.” Let me make it clear: the lunatics and idiots and difficult people she’s talking about are you. Your county board president thinks about and treats you contemptibly. The funny thing is, the same issue of the newspaper that reported her tirade printed a letter from her thanking you for electing her yet again, and promising to serve us to the best of her ability. I pray that I don’t have to point out the irony here.

Of course, at least one other board member backed Vickery’s putsch, claiming that “you can’t let the masses run the meeting…you will never get control back.”

Difficult masses of lunatic idiots. My, my, my. How wonderful our government officials are. The other day I wrote about how Obama doesn’t love the people, now I get to write about how our local elected leaders actually detest us.

I am curious if King George III’s tax collectors, judges, and assorted functionaries also felt the need for protection from the citizenry. Perhaps they complained to the King that the “lunatic idiots” were getting angry. Thirty years ago I suggested that ballots were no longer effective in ridding us of the parasitic remora that feed on the carcass of the hard-working Americans. How much longer will it take before people wake up to the fact that people like Vickery aren’t our friends? They don’t even think of themselves as public servants anymore. They now complain about the need to be accountable to the “masses.” From top to bottom, alderman to president, politicians have come to think of themselves as our masters, and not our servants. THAT has to change, and soon.

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Obama’s Loyalty Failure

After much reflection, I have figured out the real problem that plagues the anointed one. For those of you that are new here, I mean Barack Obama. I was watching a movie the other day about Geronimo. Robert Duvall plays an Army scout, who is adamantly dedicated to protecting the settlers. One of the Army officers is ambivalent about the mission, and Duvall’s character takes him to task for it. Duvall tells him, “Your problem is that you don’t love the people you’re fighting for, and you don’t hate the people you’re fighting against.” And that, in a pithy nutshell, is Obama’s problem.

Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, won’t use the word “terrorism,” preferring the Orwellian “man-made disasters.” Unless, of course, she is referring to returning vets. The administration rushes in to Mirandize terrorists, and insists they be given civilian trials. Nidal Hasan is explained away as depressed or bipolar. It took months of hectoring before Obama would use the word “war” to describe our position on terrorism. How many remember that Obama declared that the U.S. is not a Christian nation? And his infamous malaprop that in terms of raw number, the U.S. was the second largest muslim country in the world.

Now comes Harry Knox. Knox, a sodomy rights activist, has claimed that the Pope hurts people in the name of Jesus. This is in response to the Pope’s call for responsible morality to battle the AIDS crisis in Africa. The irony is that Knox is a member of Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. One can only hope that Obama picked him for his belief in neighborhoods, because his virulent anti-Catholicism makes me wonder about the faith-based part.

Add to that the continuing dispute over Dawn Johnsen, the anointed one’s pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel. Johnsen is a staunchly pro-abortion activist. Among the most extreme cases of Johnsen’s legal advocacy for abortion involved her crusade to strip the U.S. Catholic Church of tax-exempt status over its pro-life activism. United States Catholic Conference v. Abortion Rights Mobilization went to the Supreme Court, where the Catholic bishops won their case. Johnsen, however, was then hired by NARAL to be their legal director.

The issue is really this: Barack Obama detests western Christendom and the civilization sprung from it. Western European civilization is responsible for America. It is, after all, out of England that we are sprung. But not just England; France, Spain, Italy, Germany, all the European countries that played a part in developing universities, hospitals, orphanages, and public education. The peoples that gave the world chivalry, courtly love, and the rights of man.  We look as far back as ancient Greece for the inspiration for our government. All of western civilization is aimed at one thing: the dignity of the individual, and his capacity for self-governance.

He, however, is a cheerleader for Islam. In his address at Cairo, he said, “partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” As we can see by his appointments of Knox and Johnsen, his responsibility to fight against negative stereotypes doesn’t cover Catholicism. He went on to say, “So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”

One is first struck by his demand for a partnership between America and Islam. Islam is a religion; well, actually a politico-religious movement. America is a country. How does one partner a country and a religion? And where are the loud separationists demanding no entanglement between the two?

Secondly, I was perplexed by his statement that fighting negatives stereotypes was the president’s responsibility. I searched and searched the constitution of the U.S. and couldn’t find this anywhere. And yet, the anointed one was a “constitutional law professor!”

I was also curious about his insistence that “islam is a part of America.” In an era that continues to demonize Catholic participation in politics, I pray for the day Obama makes the same assertion for Christianity, a religion practiced by the overwhelming majority of Americans.

From his anti-catholic appointments, to his insistence that we are too stupid to understand his policies, Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t love the people he’s fighting for, and he doesn’t hate the people he’s fighting against.

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A Niggardly Column on Words

There was an op-ed piece in this morning’s Chicago Tribune about words. The columnist was all atwitter about her choice of words regarding a real estate salesman. She was afraid she had given some offense or committed some PC faux pas. She had used the term “shyster” to refer to the salesman and was concerned that Jews might be offended. Oddly enough, she felt that the fact she was a minority herself should have given her some special insight into the incautious use of words. Aside from the racist attitude she displayed by that suggestion, she wrote an interesting, albeit misguided, column.

In addition to “shyster,” she was concerned with “niggardly” and “renege.” To give her credit, she did some linguistic research, and discovered, mirabile dictu, that these words are bereft of any negative racial or ethnic connotations. Shyster coming from the German “scheiss,” or shit; “niggardly” is an adjective meaning “stingy” or “miserly”, perhaps related to the Old Norse verb nigla, “to fuss about small matters”.  It is cognate with “niggling,” meaning “petty” or “unimportant,” as in “the niggling details.” Renege, of course, comes from Medieval Latin renegre, to deny. It is also the root for the word “renegade.” In all that research, she failed to realize that “shyster” is actually a slur directed at lawyers. Being a lawyer myself, I feel compelled to guard our slurs avariciously.

Having sussed all this out, she then goes on to suggest that we should, perhaps, refrain from using these words anyway. This to prevent giving unintended offense to those among us who are ignorant of the language.  I believe it was the historian Arthur Schlesinger who suggested that anytime someone wrote a public piece, they should make it a goal to send their readers to the dictionary at least once. After the controversies with the word niggardly, and now apparently renege and shyster, I am tempted to agree.  I refuse to kowtow to the homnymically fearful.

Isn’t it our responsibility, as professional users of the language, to educate those who are ignorant? It is also a corporal work of mercy to educate the ignorant. If we give in to fear mongers, and debase our language to assuage imaginary slights, then we will have lost a linguistic heritage that is the envy of the world.

None of which is to suggest that we go around looking for opportunities to offend; that would be simply wrong. But English is a versatile language, capable of scalpel-like precision or sledgehammer brutality. Let us not remove tools from our toolkit simply because of some hypersensitive race-baiters.

P.S. Will someone please point out my blog to Dennis Byrne at the Tribune? He’s been a day or two late on occasion.

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If Illinois Wants to Save Money

I have been giving some thought to economics lately, specifically the state of Illinois’ budget. Once again, the government is running, like the feds, a deficit. One again, like the feds, Illinois has an unemployment problem. So after a great deal of thought, I have come up with a plan to decrease one, and increase the other.
First, the budget. In order to balance a budget that is in deficit, one must reduce expenditures or increase income. There is only one way for the state to increase revenues, and that is by increasing taxes. Even when the state tries to camouflage them as users fees, the electorate is smart enough to recognize them as taxes and voice their objections. Right now in Illinois, talk about raising taxes is considered politically very risky. So I propose we reduce expenditures.
Illinois, like most states, has a bicameral legislature. That is, it has both a house of representatives and a senate. I could be mistaken, but I believe that only Pennsylvania has a unicameral legislature. Most states elected to copy the bicameral model used by the federal government. However, most states didn’t understand the reason for the federal system, and consequently we have an excess of government at the state level.
The federal system was a compromise, in fact the Connecticut Compromise, between the large states and the smaller states. Each state, as a sovereign body, had its interests represented in the senate. The individual people, based on population, were represented in, mirabili dictu, the house of representatives. This compromise balanced power between the states and the people.
An individual state, however, has no competing interests. There are no subordinate sovereign entities, and only the people need to be represented in the statehouse. Therefore, I propose that the state constitution be amended to eliminate the state senate, and ensure a unicameral legislature. This would immediately save the taxpayers the cost of the state senate, which, when you add in all the supporting infrastructure of the body, must be enormous.
There are those who will object to such a plan for a variety of reasons. However, the only reasons that would matter is whether it would reduce the people’s control over the government, or whether it would be ineffective. Any other concern is pointless. And to those  two reasons, we can point to the example of Pennsylvania, which has neither of those problems. The main objections, I’ll bet, come from the entrenched little piggies who will worry about being cut off from the feeding trough of the public pocket.
The other proposal to cut expenditures is to eliminate townships. I don’t know about other states, but Illinois has, in addition to incorporated towns and villages, counties and townships. Counties are, well, counties, and Illinois has them. They perform the same functions they do elsewhere, I suppose. They are the seat of local government, and provide police and judicial functions, as well as some welfare activities. Now, in Illinois, there are also townships, which are not subdivisions of counties. They are a subdivision of the state that runs concurrently with counties, although their boundaries are different. The township provides different services than counties, although some are complimentary. For example, some roads are maintained by the county, some by the township. Both the county and the township have some for of eldercare services.
The real problem is that both the township and the county have their own government. We elect county hacks and township hacks, in addition to the state hacks. So I propose we eliminate townships. There is no function, other than sucking up our money, that the township provides, that can’t be provided for at the county level. This would save a significant amount of money for the taxpayer each year.

This is where the problem of unemployment comes in. By eliminating these redundant levels of government, we would be putting hundreds, if not thousands, of politicians out of work. These changes would moderately increase the unemployment rate.
Granted, this would require amending the state constitution. And you can be sure that the politicians in power, and those who aspire to be, will be dead set against it. They will tell you all sorts of horror stories about the calamities that will befall Illinois should we make these changes. They’ll put up roadblocks to make it harder to change. They will tell any lie, make any bribe, or twist any arm to keep their place at the trough. But think about it. If it makes a politician worried, isn’t that alone a good thing?
And that squealing you hear? It’s just the little piggies worried about their next meal.

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