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Archive for May, 2010

Rich versus Poor, the Democrat’s Canard

I have an acquaintance, a gentleman I used to work with, who occasionally takes time to make observations on my blog. He is also fond of occasionally posting a news item on his Facebook page. Recently, he posted one about the wealthiest people in the Chicago area. To that, he appended a comment about how they must all be republicans. The gist of his post was that republicans were richer, therefore less virtuous, than democrats. When I asked him about it, he was gracious and honest enough to admit it was an assumption on his part, but that he would bet he was right. That got me thinking, and then researching, to see if a judgement could be reached about the politics of the rich, or perhaps the wealth of the politicals.

There are really two subtextual ideas involved in my friend’s assertion. The first is that republicans favor the rich, and that therefore the rich become republicans out of self-interest. The second is that, for some reason, wealth is bad and poverty is morally superior.

First off, I have been unable to find any definitive answers about whether democrats or republicans are wealthier. There are reams of information on wealthy politicians, and who represents wealthy districts, but little data indicating which political party contains wealthier people. That being said, let’s look at some numbers.

For example, more and more Democrats represent areas with a high concentration of wealthy households. Using Internal Revenue Service data, the Heritage Foundation identified two categories of taxpayers – single filers with incomes of more than $100,000 and married filers with incomes of more than $200,000 – and combined them to discern where the wealthiest Americans live and who represents them.

Democrats now control the majority of the nation’s wealthiest congressional jurisdictions. More than half of the wealthiest households are concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats control both Senate seats. This new political demography holds true in the House of Representatives, where the leadership of each party hails from different worlds. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, represents one of America’s wealthiest regions. Her San Francisco district has more than 43,700 high-end households. Fewer than 7,000 households in the western Ohio district of House Republican John Boehner enjoy this level of affluence.

Democrats do well in areas of concentrated wealth even in Republican states such as Georgia, Kansas and Utah. Liberal congressman John Lewis represents more than 27,500 high-income households in his Atlanta district. The trend achieves perfect symmetry in Iowa. There, the three wealthiest districts send Democrats to Washington; the two poorest are safe Republican seats.

So it would seem that the wealthiest areas vote democrat more that the poorer people do. It would also seem that the poorest areas vote republican more than democrat. While this data doesn’t necessarily correlate perfectly, it does seem to suggest that the democrats are more closely the party of the rich than the republicans.

Let’s check another indicator, the Forbes richest 400 list. Out of the top ten names, who are left and who are right. The top ten are: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, four Waltons, Michael Bloomberg, and the Koch brothers. The three top names are all democrats. Three out of four Waltons could fairly be labeled republican, as could the Koch brothers. Mayor Bloomberg, definitely democrat, the final Walton probably so. So based on publicity and some educated guesswork, I call it an even split.

Politicians are even easier. The richest? John Kerry, democrat. Hollywood wealthy? Do we need even ask? Wall Street? Sixty percent of Wall street campaign money went to democrats. Hell, Chelsea Clinton works for a major Wall Street hedge fund.

So it seems that class warfare may not be a safe strategy for democrats anymore. More and more they are, or are becoming, the party of the rich. But surely that’s not a bad thing, is it? Is wealth bad? Not when the compassionate party of the democrats has it, right? That brings up the data for the second question. Is wealth bad, or is it a question of who is more compassionate with how their money is used? Let’s see.

You may recall a flap during the 2000 election campaign when the fact came out that Al Gore donated a smaller percentage of his income to charity than the national average. That was perfectly consistent with his liberalism. People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.

It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families. Most of the states that voted for John Kerry during the 2004 election donated a lower percentage of their incomes to charity than the states that voted for George W. Bush.

Conservatives not only donate more money to charity than liberals do, conservatives volunteer more time as well. More conservatives than liberals also donate blood. The left exalts the young especially as idealists while the more conservative vision warns against the narrowness and shallowness of the inexperienced. This study found young liberals to make the least charitable contributions of all, whether in money, time or blood. Idealism in words is not idealism in deeds.

So it seems that wealth is neither the sole purview of the right, nor an immediate guarantee of virtuous behavior. For years the left in this country have run on a platform of being the compassionate party, the party that wants to help. Except, apparently, when it comes time to actually do something that requires cost or effort. The party reviled as capitalist hoarders or uncaring fat-cats are the ones that spend more of their own time and money to actually help people. It’s been that way since Carnegie divested his wealth building libraries.

So to my friend, I bet you’re wrong. I bet the division on your list is roughly even. Outside of your list, it looks like democrats are now the fat-cats!

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Tribune Shoots Itself in Foot, Not With Handgun!

The Chicago Tribune has again weighed in on the ongoing “handguns in Chicago” debate. This time in an alleged news story. Last night, a veteran, armed with a handgun, shot and killed a vicious criminal. The criminal had fired first, twice, and the veteran returned fire, killing the miscreant with a single shot. The veteran is eighty years old. With a few more details thrown in, this makes up the bulk of the first four paragraphs of the story as reported in the Tribune. Paragraphs five through seven add nothing factual to the story, but are an op-ed piece in favor of gun control.

Paragraph five offers the writer’s opinion on the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on Chicago’s handgun ban. Paragraph six describes efforts by police to remove handguns from “the public,” saying they are the principal weapons used in murders, and used by gangs. Paragraph seven adds comments from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, along with statistics they produced. Both of the statistics they cite are irrelevant, and one is nonsensical.

It’s not until paragraph eighteen that we learn that the late criminal was on parole. In paragraph nineteen we learn he was pronounced dead at the scene, his blood spattered near the resident’s bedroom window. Paragraph 20 gives us the fact that the dead criminal had a 13 page rap sheet that includes “a number of drug and weapons convictions.”

Paragraphs twenty-one through twenty-three give us the story of a hard-working young man, with a mother who loved him and couldn’t believe that he’d do such a thing. He was taking an on-line class in carpentry, and had a job. How, oh how, could society have failed this poor young soul?

Here’s the problem with this whole morality play presented by the Tribune. It is just a piece of agit-prop, designed to encourage you to think one way about the incident. Suppose that story had been headlined, “career criminal killed during attempted murder.” Suppose the first few paragraphs went on to detail the 13 page rap sheet, not just mention drug and weapon charges. Weapon charges can mean any number of things, from possession of a knife to shooting a nun dead. What the charges are might make a difference in the reaction to the story, yes?

Suppose the story further went on to highlight the fact that the family had previously been victimized by criminals?

Then, suppose, in the interests of fairness, the Tribune gave equal time to a group on the other side of the issue from the ICAHV? Perhaps the NRA might have an equally valid view of the possession of handguns in the home.

Let’s look at what the ICAHV put on the table for this story. First, they say that handguns make up only one-third of all firearms owned in the US, but account for two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths. There are a couple of problems with that assertion that the newspaper doesn’t seem interested in. First, firearms owned by whom? Does that include law enforcement, national guard, and the military? Second, that proportion seems about right for the guns in my house. However, at least two of the non-handguns in my collection are display pieces, and cannot be fired safely. If I were of a mind to shoot someone, I’d do it with one of my handguns simply because more of them are readily available to me. Third, just what is a firearm related death? No one ever says. The paper just blindly prints what the ICAHV tells them. Hardly responsible journalism.

Secondly, ICAHV states that, “a gun in the home is four times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting.” Note that now they are talking about guns, not handguns. The real question I have is, four times more likely than what? The Tribune conveniently forgets to ask. The Tribune also fails to follow up with what should be an easy thing. How many unintentional shootings were there in Chicago, say, last year? And were there then only one-fourth of that number of intentional shootings?

The issue here isn’t really about gun control. I have guns, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, so you know where I stand on this issue. In a few months, we’ll know where the Supreme Court stands on the issue, although I can make an educated guess. The issue is the unabashedly partisan attitude of the Chicago Tribune, and not just on the editorial page. Even the news articles carry propaganda that favors their viewpoint, as does every other paper as far as I can tell. And then they wonder why readership keeps dropping? Report the news, and just the news. I know where to find editorial commentary.

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Obama’s Mexican Standoff…with Arizona

Barack Obama has once again drawn a line in the sand, and taken a firm stand on an issue. The problem is, that his stand is against Americans and for mexicans. By now it’s old news that Obama has sided with the Felipe “reconquista” Calderon and taken umbrage at the United States citizens who oppose criminal activity. After admitting that he had not read the law in question, the former lecturer on constitutional law took a firm position of against. But he’s not alone. Eric “we don’t prosecute Black Panthers” Holder and Janet Napolitano have both admitted to not reading the bill and yet holding a firm opinion against it.

As you are no doubt aware, the bill is only a few pages long. Stripped of the sections on technical corrections to unrelated matters, it is less than two pages long. A far cry from the War and Peace of Obamacare, yet the most vocal critics haven’t even read it. By now, no one should be surprised that the administration never lets facts interfere with their policy making.

More telling though, is what this imbroglio says about the current occupant of the, dare I say it, White House. One can be for something, against something, and in rare cases, neutral about something. In the realm of crime, it is easy to be against it, harder to be for it, and morally indefensible to be neutral about it. Yet the Obama administration has made it clear that they are in favor of it. Obama stood foursquare with Calderon and said he opposed the Arizona law that attempts to enforce Federal law against being in this country illegally. Since he refuses to accede to the requests and entreaties of the people of Arizona to help them, and opposes their helping themselves, it must be that he is in favor of illegal immigration continuing unabated. One could, I suppose, be charitable and suggest that he is merely unconcerned or neutral about the issue. While that might be possible for the average Joe, it is not possible for the man who swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. He has also, time and time again, claimed that defending America is part of his mandated duties. Unless, of course, one needs protection from armed and violent mexican animals.

Calderon, meanwhile, comes to this country and makes big barking noises about how horrible the Arizonans are for refusing to allow themselves to be abused. Were this to come from Raoul Wallenberg, Mother Teresa, or even, god forbid, Desmond Tutu, one might make the case for their qualities to teach us. When it comes from a third world petty thug who runs a country that people die trying to escape, his opinion or his standing to educate us are slightly less than irrelevant. Mexico regularly practices a brutality against illegal immigrants that would make the KGB proud. If the illegals entering Mexico are not jailed then deported summarily, they are shot out of hand and dumped in a convenient hole. Calderon, predictably, has not apologized to any of his southern neighbors for his hubris in denying them their “human rights” to a better life.

Calderon, it should be noted, presides over a country ravaged by greed, corruption, and drug cartels. Since 2006, when Calderón began his crackdown on Mexico’s drug cartels, nearly 19,000 people have been killed in the ensuing violence, particularly in border cities like Ciudad Juarez, where three people linked to the U.S. Consulate were killed. The sharp increase in homicides has dramatically affected the country’s tourism industry, but the ratio of deaths per inhabitants is still, ironically, less than that of Washington, D.C. What is perhaps worse is the nature of the deaths themselves (beheadings, dismemberments, faces removed and stitched onto soccer balls), made particularly grisly to strike fear in the hearts of law enforcement officials, citizens in the region, and, of course, rival gangs. This from the Utopia where the head thug presumes to lecture us.

There’s really one topic that the Mexican government would like an answer on: the issue of giving Mexican trucks access to US roads. Despite the 1993 NAFTA agreement that did just that (among many other provisions), Congress has blocked Mexican long-haul trucking into the U.S. last year, saying that Mexico must first guarantee the safety of its trucks and drivers. Not an unreasonable request, considering that Mexican trucks need not adhere to the same safety standards as trucks registered in America. Which, given the propensity to ship jobs out to third world hell-holes, is probably what trucking companies are itching for. Use Mexican trucks, and save a fortune in safety standards. In the meantime, Mexico has responded to the truck shut-out by slapping taxes on $2.4 billion worth of U.S. Goods.

Mexico is not our friend. Henry Kissinger taught us years ago that nations do not have friends, they have interests. In this case, it may be in our interest to slap our neighbors to the south around a little and see if we can’t bring some stability to their side of the border, and some peace and quiet to our side.

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McCain Mangles Miranda, Leiberman Abets

I stand second to no-one in their admiration for the sacrifices made for America by her veterans. That includes both democrats like the good Kerrey, the one from Nebraska, and republicans like John McCain. However, the qualities that I admire in them for their sacrifices do not always translate into the qualities that make a good legislator. Witness the second abhominable piece of legislation that McCain has put his name on, the first being, of course, the campaign reform act he sponsored with Senator Feingold.

This new legislation would prohibit the reading of Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects and grant the government power to detain indefinitely anyone it perceives as a threat. The Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010 allows the indefinite detention of those whom the military classifies as a potential threat to the US or the military, or as a member of Al Qaeda or a terrorist group affiliated with them.

There is something ironic about a man who spent time in a POW camp being tortured introducing legislation that would allow indefinite detention of enemy belligerents.

The scary part of this legislation, however, is the absolute power it gives to the military and the President. It allows detentions based on “the potential intelligence value of the individual,” or “such other matters as the President considers appropriate.” Under this legislation, if the military or the President dislike someone, all they need do is classify that person as a “potential” threat to the US or the military. The operative wording here is potential. There are conditions and situations under which I can visualize myself being a threat to the US.

The other scary part is the phrase “as the President considers appropriate.” A defining characteristic of a police state is the absolute discretion of authority to imprison and criminalize any behavior it desires. This bill gives the president just this authority. It also gives similar authority to the US Military. Which brings up a couple of distinct problems.

The first is the concept of Posse Comitatus. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the US Military from being used to enforce civilian law inside the United States. The text of the relevant legislation is as follows:

18 U.S.C. § 1385. Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

The legislation proposed by Leiberman/McCain would essentially do away with one of our basic protections.

The second problem is Habeus Corpus. Habeus Corpus is Latin for “produce the body.” It is a writ(order) directed at whoever has a person in custody, ordering him to produce the prisoner, so that the court can determine whether he is being held legally. McCain/Leiberman’s bill appears to want to do away with this mainstay of our law.

The third is that the issue of Miranda warnings is settled constitutional law. Anyone interrogated without being informed of these rights, cannot have statements made by them introduced as evidence against them. Further, any evidence the police develop as a result of these “non-Mirandized” statements is also excluded. A mere statute cannot overturn Constitutional guarantees like Miranda. Thus, the outcome of not providing Miranda warnings to terrorism suspects is that any statements or evidence they provide will be inadmissible in court.

McCain and Lieberman seek to avoid this issue in a particularly Gordian way. Their answer: Why bother with trials? The bill would grant the military the power to indefinitely detain high-value detainees “without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported.”

Holy Crap! When Arizona said we’re going to check the immigration status of criminals, the left went nuts claiming the end of civilization! When two Senators propose eliminating Habeus Corpus, Posse Comitatus, the US Constitution, and two hundred and thirty-four years of American jurisprudence, we hear nary a peep. All we hear is what an idiot McCain is, wanting to do away with Miranda. I’ll grant that. The real problem is that people are more interested in scoring partisan points than defending the constitution. Everybody should be yelling at all of our representatives to stop this ill-advised bill before it is too late.

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Fannie and Freddie and Barack and Chris(Dodd)

Conveniently lost amidst the oil spill news,  the Kagan nomination to the Supreme Court, and the US guarantee to the IMF to bail out Greece was the news that Freddie Mac and Fannie  Mae were asking for more money from the U.S. Government. Freddie wants 11 billion more dollars, while Fannie wants a mere 8.5 billion more. That’s on top of the 127 billion already plowed into the failing companies. According to Timothy Geithner, “The government expects to suffer ‘very substantial losses’ on its investments in the lenders, with recent estimates ranging around a minimum  of $85 billion….” Mr. Geithner is the guy  who lifted the $400 billion bailout limit on Fannie and Freddie last Christmas Eve. And now they want more.

And Obama and his crew will hand it to them. Why? A number of reasons. First, between 1989 and 2008, Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd and Barack Obama received more campaign funds from these two companies than anyone else. Dodd got $165,000 and Barack got $126,000. Dodd, of course, has been leading the charge against reforming these two toxic assets. Yesterday, the ever alert senator declared,  “We all should have done a better job.” But not just yet, if he has his way.  He opposed Arizona Senator John McCain’s amendment to his financial regulatory-reform bill to shrink the mortgage giants, raise their underwriting and capital standards, cap the taxpayer losses (now $145 billion and counting) and eventually shut down the failed enterprises.

Instead, the heavily subsidized Dodd floated a plan to authorize Geithner to conduct a study. What has Treasury been doing for the last 17 months? Now Mr. Dodd promises that this will be “a tough study.” I suppose if Mr. Dodd wants to keep raking in the cash, it won’t be too tough.

Second,  Democrats in Congress have sought to preserve the quasi-governmental status of the mortgage giants, seeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as places to locate former top Democratic Party operatives, where they have earned millions in compensation, despite a continuing series of financial scandals. Enron-like accounting manipulation, for example, boosted earnings to a level at which massive executive bonuses could be paid.

In the aftermath of the U.S. government takeover, attention has focused on three Democrats: Franklin Raines, former Clinton administration budget director; James Johnson, former aide to Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale; and Jamie Gorelick, former Clinton administration deputy attorney general. All three executives earned millions in compensation from Fannie Mae.

Johnson earned $21 million in just his last year serving as Fannie Mae CEO from 1991 to 1998; Raines earned $90 million in his five years as Fannie Mae CEO, from 1999 to 2004; and Gorelick earned an estimated $26 million serving as vice chair of Fannie Mae from 1998 to 2003, according to author David Frum, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. And yet there was no outcry about excessive executive compensation at these companies. Only at the private ones, like GM and Exxon.

And, lest you think that’s all in the past, after the government took over the companies, salaries remained high. For the CEOs, annual compensation consists of a base salary of $900,000, deferred base salary of $3.1 million and incentive pay of as much as $2 million. When Mr. Haldeman was hired by Freddie in July, the company set his base pay at $900,000 and said his additional “incentive” pay would depend on a decision by the regulator. At Fannie, Mr. Williams was chief operating officer until he was promoted in April to CEO. As COO, his base salary was $676,000. He also had annual deferred pay of $2.3 million and a long-term incentive award of as much as $1.5 million. And this is all funded by you and me, in the form of TARP payments.

And more importantly, it is funded by people who received campaign contributions from the company they’re bailing out. Yet, mirabile dictu, nary a word in the press. We have seen McCain-Feingold upheld by the Supreme Court when it comes to issue advocacy,  and people hailed it as some sort of victory for free speech. Here we have Fannie and Freddie giving money to Dodd and Obama, and now Dodd and Obama are prepared to hand them 20 billion additional dollars, bringing the grand total to almost 150 billion. What we need is a law that prevents anyone who receives federal money from contributing to any federal candidate’s campaign. Freddie and Fannie shouldn’t be allowed to buy 150 billion dollars for 300,000 dollars in campaign contributions.

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Islam Versus The West

New York City dodged a bullet the other day. An alert T-shirt vendor notified police of a suspicious SUV, the area was cleared, and the SUV disarmed. An amateurish car bomb failed to go off, and three men were taken off an Emirate Airlines plane bound for Dubai. The nation’s anti-terrorism system seemed to work flawlessly in this case.

Attorney General Holder suggested authorities may be searching for more suspects, saying, “We will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.” While one can appreciate and even applaud the sentiment, I don’t believe it can be done. First of all, the man most directly responsible has been dead for 1400 years. Secondly, we don’t have the political will to take the steps necessary to really protect ourselves from this multi-national threat.

The first responsible party is, of course, Mohammed. He wrote a text that purports to be a religious writing, but is really a manual for violent political conquest. We can’t bring him to justice; that has already been done. That is, if you believe in an after-life. However, we can protect ourselves from adherents of his “religion.”

First and foremost, we must recognize that Islam in incompatible with America. Islam seeks a domination of the world under Islamic law, a law that is fundamentally opposed to American ideals and practice. And this is not a new development for America. We’ve been at it for over 200 years.

In 1786 Thomas Jefferson, then US ambassador to France, and John Adams, then US Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Dey of Algiers’ ambassador to Britain. The “Dey of Algiers” was an Ottoman Islamist warlord ruling Algeria. The two future Presidents later reported the reasons for the Muslims’ hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

“…that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

It wasn’t until secularist Turkish rebels in 1923 overthrew the last Islamic Caliphate, destroying the pinnacle of Islamist power and ending a line of succession allegedly reaching back to Mohammed, that the Islamic threat to the west abated.  Since WWII, however, the threat has resurfaced, in most cases with a deadly vengeance.

When one interleaves the life of Mohammed with the historical progression of the Koran, one sees that the Koran is a history of Mohammed’s military campaigns, written to justify Mohammed’s behavior  towards those he conquered. For example, take the following passage:

Koran 59:5 Allah gave you permission to cut down some palm trees and leave others intact so as to shame the wicked [the Jews]. After Allah gave the spoils to His Messenger, you made no move with horses or camels to capture them [the Jews], but Allah gives His messengers power over what He chooses. Allah is all-powerful.

If you are reading a Koran organized by larger then smaller surahs, this verse just jumps out at you without any context. Why is Allah suddenly talking about palm trees? The answer is that Mohammed attacked the Jews and part of his jihad was to destroy their economy by cutting down their date palm plantations. When Mohammed’s life is integrated into it, the Koran becomes an epic story that ends with the triumph of political Islam.

We can’t afford to be complacent or to ignore the problem in our own midst. Hell, even the  muslims will agree. Remember Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood terrorist? What did his imam in Virginia have to say about him? This: “Nidal Hassan is a hero.” Or this: “In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.”

We are in a war.  A dangerous, deadly war, where everyone from artists like Theo VanGogh, to cartoonists like the South Park crew are at risk. And like in any war, we need to take drastic measures to keep Americans safe. What can be done?

Simple. Eject muslims from America. Make being muslim a disqualifying factor for citizenship or visas to enter the U.S. In their own words, they have declared an Islamic jihad against America. It is foolish to give them a safe haven inside our country from which to attack us. Anwar al-Awlaki, the imam of Nidal Hasan, also said: “The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community. Increasingly they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation.”

Why should we bear the burden of that decision? If they betray islam, they incur a violent fatwah from the Islamic clergy. If they betray their nation(America), then we become the target of car-bombs and suicide bombings. Either way, America becomes the target of Islamic violence. More? OK. Al-Awlaki again: “No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right -rather the duty- to fight against American tyranny.” This from a man who lives under the very freedoms that America provides him.

Make no mistake. This is a fight to the death. It’s been going on for 1400 years, and it won’t stop until one side is completely eliminated. Until we recognize it as such, we handicap ourselves. There is no room in a fight for our very survival for the squeamish or the timid. The time has come to take serious action. We can either continue to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that good intentions will lead to a resolution, or wake up and take steps to protect not only ourselves, but all of western civilization.

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Obama Misses the Point – Twice

Barack Obama, constitutional law professor, State Senator, President of the US, has goofed again. Not about anything terribly important, like foreign policy or oil spills, just about the fundamental nature of government, specifically ours. In a speech to the graduates of the University of Michigan, Obama took time to lecture the new bachelors about government. Problem is, he got it all wrong.

During the speech, he used the word “democracy” to describe our form of government fifteen times. Even after relating the story about Benjamin Franklin, he continued to mischaracterize our government fourteen more times. For those of you who don’t remember, the story is as follows: On the last day of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was famously asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” And Franklin gave an answer that’s been quoted for ages: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Apparently, the anointed one’s hubris knows no bounds when even Benjamin Franklin cannot teach him. I assume that at some point, even Obama has said the Pledge of Allegiance.  We all remember the part that goes,  “and to the Republic, for which it stands.” I can state firmly, without fear of contradiction, that the government of the US is a republic, and not a democracy. Aristotle taught us years ago that a democracy was nothing but a corrupted republic. God willing, we haven’t reached that point yet, and never will.  Although there is at least one constitutional lawyer that won’t recognize it if we do.

We are, however often beset by demagogues like Huey Long, and in some people’s opinion the current occupant of the White House. They are the people who claim that more and more government is the answer, as long as they are the government. Point in case, Obama’s speech to the graduates. He said at one point, “But what troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad.” And I suppose that is what troubles me the most. The problem is that government is inherently bad. When government acts, it only acts to restrict someone’s freedom. Government is essentially a liberty limiting structure.

Which is not to say that it is not necessary. In a perfect world, where everyone acted perfectly, there would be no need for government. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a world. We live in a world of criminals and conmen, opportunists and politicians. Government is necessary, but it remains a necessary evil. Which is why our founding fathers gave us a republic and not a democracy. It is easier to keep a republic in check than a mob, which is what a democracy is: rule by mob, from the Greek demos, or mob.

What more needs to be said than two government actions this past week.  First, in a move that only Kafka could really love, the Santa Clara, California county supervisors banned the distribution of Happy Meal toys. “This ordinance does not attack toys. Obviously, toys, in and of themselves, do not make children obese,” said county Supervisor Ken Yeager, who pushed for the ban. “But it is unfair to parents and children to use toys to capture the tastes of children when they are young to get them hooked on eating high-sugar, high-fat foods early in life.” The ban, which faces a final vote next month, would prohibit restaurants from giving away an incentive item, like a toy, with a meal that contains more than 485 calories, more than 600 milligrams of sodium and excessive amounts of fat and sugars.

The supervisors apparently believe that parents are incapable of raising their own children, and they can do a better job of it. They must also believe that they are nutritional scientists, seeing as how they manage to come up with caloric guidelines that they deem suitable. Yeager said the aim is to help direct parents to more healthy choices. Thank god government is looking out for us! Yet to do it, they limit liberty, which is the natural and unavoidable concomitant of regulation.

The other action that was in the news was the introduction of a bill by a New York assemblyman. He wants his state to become the first in the nation to pass laws that would presume people want to donate their organs unless they specifically say otherwise. In other words, when you get a driver’s license, the state says you have agreed to donate your organs. The state would make a presumption that they have an interest in the disposition of your body. You would be forced to fight the state if you didn’t want your body disposed of by bureaucrats. Now, organ donation is a fine and noble thing, but when the government makes a presumption about your bodily integrity it limits your liberty. It also makes me wonder about who actually owns my body.

The upshot is, no matter what Obama says, that we are not a democracy but a republic. And again, his opinion notwithstanding, government is evil, albeit necessary. If Barack needs an explanation, I’ll be glad to offer him one.

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