Friday, December 30, 2005

Prescription Drug Costs...

I often hear it discussed of how ridiculously high prescription drugs cost in the US vs. the socialized health systems of other nations like Canada and the UK. Want to know why there's a disparity? Well, there are actually a few reasons. Let's explore them.

Many pharmaceutical companies exist in the highly-regulated world of the FDA. This, first, is a giant cost to business. The FDA, and usually rightly so, is draconian in its oversight of these companies and their product lines. Operating in such an environment is not cheap; something usually overlooked in the argument about drug costs.

Next, there's the small matter of R&D. Competition to develop new and better medicines is fierce. Such research is often very expensive and consumes a significant portion of every pharmaceutical company's profits. If you want the next cure for the next big disease to come down the pike, someone has to foot the bill, and in that case it is the consumers of these companies' product.

Let's not forget one of the biggest contributors to high prices on U.S. pharmaceuticals, though. This is one you'll never see the dots connected on in any major media outlet. The reason you won't see it is because it's highly damaging to their argument that pharmaceutical companies are just greedy money-grubbers who charge more here in the U.S. because Republicans want them to. Oh, and they drown puppies and cute kittens for sport. At least that's what MSNBC said. *joke* Sorry, the propoganda machine got to me for a second.

Let's look at this in the form of an economics lesson. U.S. drug manufacturers are often forced to charge outrageous rates on their products precisely because so many other nations have set price controls on what they can charge in their own countries. These are the countries often lauded by the Left as socialized medicine success stories. When all their other arguments for socialized medicine show as abysmal failures in places like Canada and Great Britain (long waits, doctor shortages, lack of basic medical diagnostic equipment), they can always fall back on the argument "Well, at least you can get drugs cheap there". Ever wonder why? Price controls is the easiest answer. Now on to the econ lesson.

Say you run a pharmaceutical company that makes a drug. It costs you $30 to make that drug. Your scientists and board of directors tell you that in order to fund other projects like researching that new cancer drug they're looking into or AIDS vaccine, expanding the company, increasing your workers'salaries, charity and welfare in the form of free product for those too poor to pay for all their drugs, and yes even giving yourself a little bonus for being such great bosses, will cost you an extra $20 per unit of drug to keep a healthy bottom line. Anything less and you have to start cutting. So, now you have to charge $50 per unit of the drug. Kind of pricy, but people can afford it and the insurance companies don't balk. Now say that Socialist Nation A & B, we'll call them Canada and Great Britain, feel you're charging too much and slap a price control on you. They tell you you can only sell your drug there for $35 equivalent. Keeping it simple and saying that they each account for a third of your sales, you're now shy $15 per unit profit on 2/3 of your sales. What to do. Well, you can do nothing and watch your bottom line shrink, your projects go unfunded, welfare get cut off to poor patients and your best and brightest leave because you can't pay them more, which likely will eventually force you to close your doors or sell to a competitor, or you can raise prices in the remaining markets. In this case, your US market would have to make up the difference. So the $15 from both thirds of your market share you aren't making have to be tacked on to your US market, making the $50 drug now $80. Bingo, outrageous drug costs are yours.

How many people know why you did this? In the world we live in, not many. Companies like Lilly and Roche, two local big pharmaceutical companies, have to deal with this as a business reality, but until I was involved with them, I never heard of this issue. Yet, it's fairly common sense when you think about it. Granted, my example above is vastly simplified, but it touches pretty closely on the realities companies who want to do this kind of business have to deal with. So much for the vaunted panacea of socialized medicine.

So the next time you're watching "The Constant Gardener" or just listening to someone like Kenneth Olbermann badmouth some drug company because Rush Limbaugh hasn't said anything juicy that week, please consider that in almost every case there's another side to that story and you'll likely never hear it from the Left.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Is it Moral?

That's the question that is often asked when the funding of stem cell research is discussed. This is the issue it comes down to for many. Is it moral to take embryonic stem cells instead of adult stem cells and use them for research? In this debate, I find the descriptor adjective "embryonic" is often left off, perhaps for brevity perhaps to help spin the point. That's really just a side note, though. Because of where these cells come from, discarded or purposefully created embryos, the moral issue comes to play, should these humans or potential humans be sacrificed in the name of research?

Keeping in mind that embryonic stem cell research has promised much and delivered nothing, while the slightly more ethical adult stem cell research has promised little and delivered a little more, you could also see the forming of the crowds who populate both sides of this argument.

Here's where I weigh in on the issue. The whole question is moot. The issue isn't legitimate. I've heard the most well-meaning and intelligent individuals ask how people against embryonic stem cell research could be "against life" and I've heard those individuals against the research ask those same intellectuals how they could be such wanton butchers. This IS a moral argument, not a government one, much like abortion. It's not up to the government to decide in these matters and therefore I don't care what either's sides opinion is. I have mine and people want to hear it about as much as they want to hear everyone elses', which is to say not at all.

Whenever you hear this argument, remember what it's actually about. It's not about whether people like President George W. Bush don't like embryonic stem cell research. It's about funding; the Almighty Dollar.
And those who are the loudest on the pro-embryonic stem cell research front believe that we should spend our tax dollars to fund what so far has proven to be junk science. We do enough of that already and much to most taxpayers' chagrin. I and many others see no need to add another cause celebre to the list.

If embryonic stem cell research is as promising as its loudest proponents admit, then a pharmaceutical company will pick it up, as many have, dump the money into it for R & D, and determine whether or not its viable. That begs the subject of prescription drug prices to be brought up, but we'll save that for tomorrow. If it's not viable, then they'll have suffered the cost in a business venture, as it should be in a free market system.

If it is viable, cures will be developed and they will get rich. That's the American way. If cures are developed with federal taxpayer money, those same companies will still get rich, but we will have footed the bill and if nothing comes of it, we will have to pick up the tab for their failure instead of their own bottom line. Let those who are so vehemently against corporate welfare and for embryonic stem cell research weasel their way out of that little contradiction.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Quick Solution to An Age Old Problem

Many undoubtedly have heard of Judge John E. Jones III's ruling that Intelligent Design should not be taught alongside evolution in classrooms. Speaking from a geology and anthropology background, I understand the argument against evolution not being able to explain everything. The fossil record is more frequently changed and poorly understood now than perhaps it is have ever been. At the same time, I understand (although don't agree with) the secularist battle to eliminate any trace of what could be perceived as religion from the Public Square, and most especially public schools.

In the libertarian vein, though, I will have to side with Cal Thomas and ask that those who think public schools indoctrinate their children in beliefs other than those of the parents to remove their children from those institutions at once. Home school them or have them taught in private schools where they can learn what you want them to. The public system is too overrun by Left-leaning secularism to be won back and perhaps it shouldn't be.

I would also ask the government at the same time to help out those parents by massively reducing their tax burden and defunding public schools, at least in large part. This would let kids go back to private, and competitive schooling. If public schools taught only reading, writing and arithmetic, I might have a harder time arguing this point, but public schools have become the social experimental laboratories of the Left over the course of this century. New ideas and new belief-systems, as long as they're not Christian, are field-tested daily on children who are treated no better than guinea pigs in a mascara plant. Even when I was in high school, it was the common perception that the public high schools were merely holding pens to keep kids off the streets until they could enter the low-wage work force. That idea, I think, has only germinated further.

Children don't learn the valuable lessons that might actually prepare them for the real world anymore. They learn little of American and world history. They stumble and fall in math. Combine a growing illiteracy rate among the poorest who attend public school, a system that is funded with greater and greater levels of cash even under the "stingy" Republicans, and I dare anyone to argue that the public school system is worth saving.

It failed. Pure and simple. Anywhere else, we would have written it off and come up with something better. But this is government and when things fail you just fund them more. The answer is always more money and new theories to make use of that cash. The problem is, when you have a system as badly broken as the public schools, it's worth shutting the bulk of it down. Think of the tax savings you could pass on back to the parents, not only in income tax, but in property tax. That money could then be used to send kids to private schools. The reduced tax burden might even lighten the load on some families and allow a parent to stay at home and home-school their children.

Will it work for everyone? No, and it would be asinine to say it will. But it will work for the majority and that's more than can be said for the current system. If you can think of a system that would work even better than this, I'm all ears. Step forward and ye shall be heard. Otherwise, you should start putting pressure on your legislators and your Congressmen to seriously consider the future of public education in America and do it fast. Our kids are only getting dumber while we procrastinate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Can We Talk About It Now?

Why can't we talk about Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid reform these days? Is it merely a partisan political issue, with both sides fighting over the position of champion of the people? Or is it a Holy Grail of socialism in the United States which, if proven a massive failure, might tear the whole "New Deal/Great Society" mentality of the Left down with it? What good is this political and economic time bomb to us if the Massive Entitlement, as I've come to know it, becomes insolvent? Will our leadership let it become insolvent?

These are questions that should've been answered when these programs were pitched, but the law of unintended consequences was written long before these programs were written into law. Their existence now, as a subsistence-level medical/retirement coverage for the poorest and even middle class has gone from a well-meaning, although horribly socialist salve to keep up the image of the "richest country in the world" to a boil, a pox on our economy and our social structure. When it bursts, will the U.S. economy hemorrhage out? Will the people who depended on it be the ones who suffer worst? Nothing good is going to come from that day, I guarantee it, and yet no one with any power to do anything is doing anything.

The media has gloated over the failure of Bush's attempt to "reform" Social Security, mostly I think out of a hatred for the President, but also I'm sure goaded by an inherent bias that such programs are fundamental and inalienable. They are, of course, not. His injection of fat into Medicare with the Prescription Drug Benefit has even been criticized by the Left as not being big enough. Ok, so Social Security reform is "not needed", as we hear whenever the issue is broached, and Medicare isn't "big enough". Then let's review the numbers and see if those sober anyone.

In the Tuesday 12/27 Indianapolis Star, the paper notes that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid accounted for over $1 TRILLION of a $2.2 TRILLION budget. Did you get those numbers? That's almost half of the federal budget. This Prescription Drug Benefit is due to add an estimated $724 billion over 10 years, and bear in mind federal cost estimates are almost universally lower than reality. $100 billion a year spending might even be a conservative number. We aren't taking into account that the first of the Baby Boomer generation, one of the largest segments of our society, is just turning 60. In five years, they will be collecting Medicare and Social Security. When such a group adds its political muscle and demand into the mix, this economy will falter and then collapse under the weight of their needs.

What will be done then? Increase middle class taxes? Increase upper class taxes? Reduce benefits? We're not talking a few percentage points here. Again, those conservative federal estimates, back in the day when anyone was even bothering to do them, were saying middle class taxes of over 50%, let alone the "rich". Things like the EIC and other altruistic initiatives would have to be sacrificed. The military, "education" spending, and pork projects would be pleasant spending diversions of a by-gone era. Many of those would go to a well-deserved grave, but the country's ability to protect itself and the people's ability to live without oppressive taxation will be done-in by the needs of our geriatric oligarchy.

Like the person who smokes until cancer consumes all his lung tissue, we continue to believe that the problem will heal itself. We do this at our peril, and like that cancer victim, we will be eaten alive by our own folly.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Time

I'm taking a little break to celebrate the holidays with my family. I didn't want to leave those here empty-handed for today, though. Enjoy this post from RightWingNews on why George Washington should be considered the Greatest American.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yes...In Our Back Yard...

The House the other day approved a new border control measure 239-182. The proposal included 700 miles of new fence to be constructed among several southern border states. To this, I say about time. As Ronald Reagan said, a nation cannot be called sovereign that cannot control its borders. On this issue I disagree with many of my Libertarian associates. Many of them call for open borders and present compelling, mostly economic, reasons.

Given the U.S.'s place in the world, though, and given who is crossing our borders, this is not feasible in any fashion, economic or otherwise. One person who happens to agree with an open border policy for the U.S. is Mexico's presidente, Vicente "Stop with the Kicking" Fox. He has gone so far as to criticize us for even considering such legislation. Just look at this story from the left-wing Guardian in the UK.
via Right Wing News.

"The Mexican government, angered by a U.S. proposal to extend a wall along the border to keep out migrants, pledged Tuesday to block the plan and organize an international campaign against it.

Facing a growing tide of anti-immigrant sentiment north of the border, the government has taken out ads urging Mexican workers to denounce rights violations in the United States. It also is hiring an American public relations firm to improve its image and counter growing U.S. concerns about immigration.

Mexican President Vicente Fox denounced the U.S. measures, passed by the House of Representatives Friday, as ``shameful.'' His foreign secretary, Luis Ernesto Derbez, echoed his complaints on Tuesday.
"Mexico is not going to bear, it is not going to permit, and it will not allow a stupid thing like this wall,'' Derbez said.

``What has to be done is to raise a storm of criticism, as is already happening, against this,'' he said, promising to turn the international community against the plan.

Mexicans are outraged by the proposed measures, especially the extension of the border wall, which many liken to the Berlin Wall. Some are urging their government to fight it fiercely.

``Our president should oppose that wall and make them stop it, at all costs,'' said Martin Vazquez, 26, at the Mexico City airport as he returned from his job as a hotel worker in Las Vegas. ``More than just insulting, it's terrible.''

First, that the Mexican government feels they even have a say in this is amusing. Granted they have a major economic investment in informally contracting out their citizens like slave labor to corporations in the US as they ILLEGALLY enter to work then send money back to the Motherland. So I understand their attempt to internationally bully the United States. Still, it's sort of like a toddler ordering around a 300 lb. linebacker.

Good luck on that "not going to permit" thing. Mexico can join the rest of the arrogant little Third World nations that think they have a shot at pushing the big boy on the block around. It would all be the height of comedy if it wasn't so pathetic.

To equate this with the Berlin Wall, a tool designed to keep oppressed peoples in, is also ignorant at best and disingenuous rhetoric at worst. The Wall was the symbol of an oppression that festered for almost half a century in the nations of Central and Eastern Europe. Best we not forget that.

As to quoting an ILLEGAL who is already basically a criminal as one of their justifications for the CON side of the argument, as it were, this piece reads more like it's from the Onion than the Guardian. Well, then again...
Setting this ludicrous story of Mexican impotence aside, consider the hypocrisy of ole' Vicente's statement. Anyone who has remotely examined Mexico knows they have their army posted all along their southern border with Guatemala. Guatemalans who try and cross the border illegally are handled very roughly and promptly dumped back across the border and the Mexican Army does routine sweeps of the border towns to clean out any Central Americans stupid enough to stay there and send them packing. You usually won't hear that from the "pro open-border" movement when they talk about Mexico. The only Central Americans the Mexican Army doesn't send back are ones they find trying to get through to the United States. Those they usually transport to their northern border and wish the best of luck to.

It should also be known that the border is not just crossed by Lupe and Consuela bringing their brood of kids over the border to start a new life in a country that isn't an economic socialist nightmare like Mexico. It is the primary conduit for illegal drug trafficking and criminals who wish to travel back and forth into both countries. According to Tom Tancredo, a Republican Representative from Colorado, the Mexican Army and Federales on the northern border are routinely employed by drug cartels to help facilitate their shipments across the border.

Congress is also aware of more than a dozen INCURSIONS by the Mexican Army across the border and into United States territory. These incursions ranged from diversions to draw off US Border Patrol agents while drug smugglers move across another section of the border to providing armed cover for criminals while they cross.

Congressmen Tancredo often relates a story from the Border Patrol about a drug truck that had been discovered after crossing the Rio Grande that tried to make a break back across the border. It got stuck in the mud in the river on the US side. As the Border Patrol agents moved in, a unit of Mexican Army troops closed and drew weapons on the U.S. agents, ordering them to leave the truck alone and that they were outgunned. The U.S. agents attempted to call a truck to tow the drug truck out of the river, but the Mexican Army unit brought in a Caterpillar bulldozer, crossed to the U.S. side and dragged the truck back into Mexico under their guns.

Am I the only one who would've seen something like that as an Act of War? A violation of our sovereign territory by a foreign military unit aiding a drug cartel and this isn't front page in every paper in the country? Couple this with the fact that many Mexican government officials refer to the southwestern United States as a "region" of Mexico, and even a blind man could see we have a hostile power on our southern border.

As troops are drawn down from Iraq and Afghanistan, especially the National Guard units, those units need to be rotated through our southern border for protection. One of the primary Constitutional functions of the federal government is to defend our territory and if this doesn't fit the bill I'm not sure what does. I wouldn't think it too extreme to eliminate such incursions as they attempted to cross as an example that we are not a "region" of Mexico, but their northern sovereign neighbor and supposed ally.

I've always considered one of Bush's biggest failures to be his border policy. He talks a good talk, but treats border control as an afterthought more than a priority. Now, for those steaming over how heartless and cruel I am and preparing their cut-n-paste "we were all immigrants once" paragraphs for their hate mail, consider this. I have a lot of sympathy for people trying to come here and make a better life for themselves and their families. Most of my family came over in the 1800's from Germany and Ireland and the rest came across the Bering Land Bridge several thousand years before that. This is the land of opportunity. This is the land where anybody can make a new start of it, even now with everything else happening. We are not the nation we were 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, but we still are the Shining City on the Hill and I encourage people to emigrate here if they wish to be a part of it, LEGALLY. Almost a million people enter our country legally every single year and if they're willing to learn the language, assimilate into our culture and work hard, God bless 'em. Good luck.

If you come here illegally though, you've already broken the law, and I'm sorry you can't start off as a criminal. It's not a minor crime. It's a serious crime and just as serious is the fact that you think you're better than the million or so who bust their hump to go through the hoops to get in legally. Get out and try again. If we catch you here illegally, then my opinion is you can then never become legal in this country. All that awaits illegals is to be a slave to those who would exploit them and their labor for their own selfish gain. Do I think it should be an easier process? Yes. But I also think we let almost a MILLION people in a year. Most countries, in fact the rest of the world, doesn't come close to a fraction of that. Because of it, we are one of the only mature First World nations that is actually showing a strong gain in population. That's good and bad. We have the room, but must have some sort of mechanism in place to accept all the new entrants, especially in a time of war.

So, to Mexico I say stick it. You have as much say in our affairs as Cuba or Venezuela, which is to say less than none. Fidel and Hugo called about having a pity party. You might want to look into it. To proponents of illegal immigration and making it easier for them to enter, I ask why you encourage potential new citizens to start off by violating one of the most basic laws in any country? Why start them out as criminals? Why, by your policy, encourage criminals (and worse) to exploit your "enlightened" view? This is why I advocate a controlled border and why you should as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Calling It For What It Is...

I usually don't defend the President in this blog. My opinion of him, I've felt, is not a matter I want to blog about. If he or another President significantly curtails my liberty doing something stupid like expanding the power and cost of government, I criticize him. If he does his Constitutional job which is to lead the defense of the nation, I support him. Recently, he's done something in the middle. The latest revelation of the NSA spying on citizens' communications with suspect nations leaves me with mixed feelings. I understand that the NSA does this. They've done it since they were created in 1952. Nothing in their charter prohibits domestic surveillance that I'm aware of.

However, Bush might have more thoroughly involved Congress. He kept them aware of the program, but sought little advice from what we can see thus far. I think, and now we see why, he was afraid of too many leaks. He also should have consulted the court set aside for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was created for this very activity. That he did not has only opened him up to real criticism. The Attorney General's office has brought up legitimate points that this is a purely Executive matter and the court's blessing could have helped put those questions to rest. Not that I like the courts deciding every little thing, but part of their job is to decide if everyone is operating within the law and that's what this court could've told the Executive and Legislative.

But see, I really hate hypocrisy. I mean I really hate it. I try not to be a hypocrite myself (although we all are from time to time, aren't we?), but when I see someone exercising that bovine behavior deliberately, I have to call them out. I believe when you exercise rank and wanton hypocrisy for your own political agenda, then everything you say is suspect and every word out of your mouth is, to quote one of my favorite (and deceased) comedians, Bill Hicks, like a turd falling into my drink.

Enter the New York Times. In Webster's, there's a little picture of the "Pinch" Sulzberger next to the word hypocrisy. It's not a rarity at the Times. It's tradition. So now that the Times has "exposed" an NSA operation, Congressmen and Senators, most who had full knowledge of the program since its inception, are coming out of the woodwork to score political points.

Let's take this point by point. First, this was a classified NSA operation. I've actually read the National Security Act of 1947 and several follow-on pieces of legislation. I had to for a paper on the Church and Rockefeller Commissions back in the 70's. Remember those? That was when the CIA was reading people's mail in US post offices. This wasn't completely viewed as a Fourth Amendment violation at the time. It was seen, rightly so, as a violation of the CIA's charter, which prohibited domestic surveillance. The FBI was the leading critic of the CIA at the time, because primarily that was their job and they didn't like their toes getting stepped on. And boy did they get burned for violating their charter.

The NSA, on the other hand, has a much looser and broader function. They have, since their inception in 1952, been perfecting the art of signals intelligence and counterintelligence. This operation is part of their function. Legally, if they have to monitor US nationals conversing with potential foreign agents in potential enemy preserves, they have and will. Their actions are usually also at a much higher security clearance level than the bulk of Americans will have and penalties come out of the National Security Act and several later-enacted Congressional pieces of legislation for the exposure of their operations.

Setting aside the "outting" of a CIA agent who hadn't been in covert status for years thanks to the spy-traitor Aldrich Ames as a pathetic shadow of a real crime, THIS is a federal crime. Not the kind of crime where you spend a few months in Club Fed for laundering money or swindling stocks. This is a "spend time in a Federal pound-you-in-the-ass prison" kind of crime. Shouldn't the Times, who was one of the loudest squealers regarding the Plame affair (and saw one of their journalists imprisoned for it), have had serious reservations about running with such a story instead of turning in the criminal who leaked it? Hypocrisy Number One.

Second, and this is public record stuff folks, the same technology was used by the FBI, which does need warrants, with no warrant-seeking of any kind in the 1990's at the behest of the Clinton White House. At the time, Echelon was used to gather economic and personal data on solely US citizens, many of which were guilty of no crime that is pubicly stated. It was known that this was a massive intrustion against citizens for no apparent reason, at least not a legal reason. The FBI was ordered to collect this information for what, we may never know and Clinton used the same executive authority Bush is using to invoke it. Always looking for the next Watergate at the Times? I guess only if a Republican is in the White House. Hypocrisy Number Two and Three.

The apparent timing of the news story also seems to coincide with two wonderfully coincidental benefits for the Times. One, they have a book on this coming out by their reporting staff, which they have every right to plug. However, sitting on a story for a year before releasing it, especially one as "explosive" as they are making it out to be, is about as suspect as if we'd found OJ standing over Nicole with the bloody knife. If the Times had wanted a book plug so badly, their own NYT Book Review routinely and fondly reviews Leftist hack drivel all the time. Why didn't they give a call over to that desk? And, of course, the election in Iraq threatened to send Bush's poll numbers back up. Can't have that if you're party to the Opposition and anyone who says the Times isn't a mouth organ for the Democrats needs to explain to me why they haven't endorsed a Republican for President since Ike. So, release a story, put the right spin on it, and pray his numbers go down to help your cause limp along a bit further. But now, perhaps I'm just indulging in conspiracy theory and we all know where that leads, conclusion without fact. But something can still be said for strong supposition. Hypocrisy Number Four and Five.

Even with all this, I'm not currently interested in debating the merits of Bush's Presidency. because the people who would want to debate it with me would never debate me on the merits (or lack thereof) of Clinton's Presidency. Left believes left and Right believes right. There's not much changing the real far-out members of either side. The soft middle needs to be educated on the little seemy underside, though, to help them decide which way to lean, and I saw no harm in pointing to the 800 lb. gorilla of the New York Times' ongoing and pathetic hypocrisy as they scream impartiality but lean so far left that Stalin's having to scoot over in his grave, if only to make room for Walter Duranty's Pulitzer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A vote was taken Monday on the Indianapolis City-County Council, Proposal 622,on whether to ban discrimination against gays or transgenders in any businesswith more than six employees and the housing market. Religious and somenon-profit groups would be exempt. It barely passed after having failed once before. Seems like a simple enough vote, right? Well, let's just step in it shall we?

This issue has obviously divided the community. Even religious leaders are heavily divided, some for the ban and some against. And let me say before this really gets underway that I personally don't care for people that discriminate in hiring or housing based on race, religion, or even sexual orientation. That's just my opinion. We all have our own moral opinions, and some of us are more close-minded than others, but overall I feel if someone can do a job or wants to move somewhere, let them do it. Excel and succeed if you can. It's the American way. I also have no problem with the government not discriminating in its hiring practices (although it does, usually under the guise affirmative action). The government represents and is responsible to the people and should therefore be accessible in employment to all the people.

Now let's really step in it. With all that said, I don't think it's any of the government's damn business who a business owner hires and for what reason. If the business doesn't take money from the government, the public really has no say in who they hire and fire. Equally, I don't think the government should have any right to say who a person can let live in their building, either. It's THEIR building, isn't it? Shouldn't the owners have the right to decide who they want to live there? The owner sets the rent at a certain level because they want a certain economic group to live there. If they're close-minded bigots, why shouldn't they have the right to wallow in their bigotry? Who exactly are they hurting? And don't give me the "they're hurting society" line, because that's Marxist crap and anyone who reads history knows it.

The esteemed Abdul Hakim-Shabazz on WXNT 1430AM's "Abdul in the Morning", who is personally for the discrimination ban, has stated that he knows at least one business and land owner who, if this ordinance doesn't pass, is going to fire all his straight employees and evict all his straight tenantsto show how stupid it is to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. The idea, obviously, is to reinforce that those with moral or simply prejudicial reservations are just backwards hilljacks who must be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era. Cuz that's government's job, right?If innocents get hurt in his desire to make a statement, then so be it! Well, I say let the jackass evict his straight tenants and fire his straight employees. Let him make a statement by causing even more misery. Then we can include him with others who practice discrimination and show him off for the slope-foreheaded moron that he really is. I defend his right to be completely retarded, just as I defend other's rights to be retarded against their own disliked groups.

The whole idea of "special protection" for minorities, or separate but inequal standards that must be set in order to give any minority a "fighting chance" has always rung hollow with me. Yes life can suck when you're in a group that's in the minority. Just think how Libertarians feel. But you just work harder and show how much better you really are regardless of being different than the majority. You show that even though they may find something in you is distateful, you're willing to prove that they haven't theslightest idea what they're saying and that you can be as good if not betterthan them. I've always seen being a minority as one of two things. We can all just get over it and accept that skin color, for example, is not a legitimate way to classify people. Or those who are discriminated against can show everyoneby rising above and being better. It's happened before without legislation. Why do we need it now? The fact that such legislation can be used to railroad employers or landlords who the offended party just wants to get back at isignored also, and that goes for just about every discrimination law. The consequences of such laws are rarely considered when they are debated, because then the law might never get passed.

And why the sudden need for this new set of laws? Are gays being hunted down in the streets and taken to concentration camps? Are they forced to use separate fountains? What about bis? Are they afforded half the protection? What about cross-dressers? If they're still straight, do they count? Now let's get a little ridiculous. What about polygamists, incest-cases or peds or beasty-boys and girls? They're people too. They have their own rights don't they? How do we define deviancy? Where do you draw the line? If you're going to protect one specific type of sexual orientation, why not the rest? Why does one get special treatment? See, boys and girls and those questioning, once you start down this path, there really is no end.

You can look at it from a moral, possibly even Christian (did he just say the Cword?) point of view and draw a line. That's what society has always done and how it's remained structured over the millenia. Or you can take the new amoral approach advocated by so many on the Left, and we can travel down this road. Allow private citizens to be private, to live their lives and discriminate or not discriminate. Legislate for them to do it and all you do is cause misery.

For many, it's also important to note that this is a matter of morality. There are many in this city and state who consider such behavior immoral and not genetic. The gay community sees them as backwards and unaccepting. These individuals see the gays as immoral and sinful. Which is right? For our entire history as a nation, the latter opinion prevailed. I've not seen good arguments for change. I've seen common sense people just wanting to live their lives and not be attacked for who they are. And I've seen people with defined agendas who want everyone else to believe as they do even if they have to legislate it. Again, how is legislating that such behavior is moral and worth protection any different than those who labelled it immoral and worth contempt trying to legislate against it? You can't really do it either way without sounding hypocritical.

Again, I ask those who advocate such legislation, if you don't trust the government to fight wars or to spend your tax dollars wisely, why are you trusting them to tell you who to associate with or how to run your private business? Where do you draw the line of trust with government? Either keep them confined to a certain set of duties, say with the Feds for example, those specifically delegated to them in the Constitution, or go George Orwell and let them run everything. Advocating an in-between stance is hypocrisy and such arguments hold about as much water as a sieve. Should it be the business of the city to tell its land and business owners who they can and cannot have on thatland? If you believe so, you're advocating a position identical to thosea dvocated by racists and bigots for centuries, only from the other side. Which one of you, then, is right? Which one of you is moral? Neither. Don't kid yourself.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Money Forgives All Sins

I'd been following the recent Supreme Court case that dealt with several universities attempting to ban military recruiters from their campuses. Their hatred for anything to do with the US military shows itself quite openly in their lecture halls and now in this court case. The stated excuse of universities like Harvard was they did not like the military's policy of not allowing admitted homosexuals to serve.

The Supreme Court's stance was remarkably simple. "If you don't want military recruiters on your campus, and you're upset that the federal govvernmment ties strings to its money, then don't take it". How remarkably ridden with common sense that statement was, and how the universities involved did howl even louder at the thought.

It could be that some universities weren't really concerned about the military's policy against gays so much as just a genuine hatred for the military, though. Recently, as noted in the Federalist, Saudi Prince Alwaleed binTala bin Adbulaziz al-Saud donated $20 million to Georgetown and Harvard with its own strings attached. It had to be used to promote Islamic Studies. The two universities wasted no time in carrying out that directive and funneling the money to said functions. Well, it is a donation and the Prince, as a donor, is certainly within his rights to request such a stipulation. Again, they could've always said no. However, given that the Saudi government, of which the Prince is a part, openly promotes the execution of homosexuals (a rather severe form of discrimination), it is rather hypocritical albeit typical for said universities to stash their "principles" and take the cash.

One note of irony comes to mind. When the federal government first started debating funding private universities, Harvard was one of the leading opponents of such an idea. They felt (at the time), it would tie indpenedent institutions of learning too closely to the government, and that wasn't such a good idea. Must've been some indviduals with a few more scruples running those institutions at the time. They certainly seemed to have more common sense. Wish we still had some of those around today.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Happy Belated Anniversary

I meant to post this yesterday, but better late than never. Yesterday, December 15 in 1791, the first 10 Amendments were officially ratified and added to the draft of the US Constitution. For those who've followed this blog, you know I've spoken often about the Bill of Rights and its relevance in our modern society. I've spoken of its importance to us and of the assault on it by those in power. This document, a document some at the time felt was unnecessary, still stands as a bulwark we can shield ourselves with as our freedoms are continuously assaulted. It is thought today by some on the Supreme Court and those who use the courts to further an agenda they cannot push through legislation to be more of an impediment, to be a relic of a past they would rather forget. Forgetting our history, I've often reminded you, is the surest way to building a new and very disturbing future.

As you go about your weekend, take a little time to reflect on the Bill of Rights and what they meant, and in their own way still mean to this country. Their meaning and the freedoms they guarantee have been attacked from all sides, never more so than within the last sixty years. Just for giggles, I'm also going to post all ten of the original Amendments to assist in that reflection. Read them as if you were a person bent on preserving freedom from government interference and not someone looking for how to skirt these same Amendments to curtail other freedoms.

For example, as Justice Scalia has noted, the First Amendment has been read to allow nude dancing, flag burning, pornography and even refusing to wear a necktie, but political speech is not so readily covered, according to the decision in McConnell vs. FEC. Which one of those do you think the Founding Fathers were considering trying to protect as they wrote it? I could go on with the perverted twistings... The Second Amendment being interpreted to ban private firearms possession, Fifth Amendment being interpreted to allow public seizure of private land for private interests, and the complete ignorance of the existence of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Enjoy.

The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Radio Chatter

I was listening to the radio the other day to one of the many conservative talk shows on the circuit. A caller was battling with the host about the cost of the Iraq War, now estimated at $6 billion dollars a month, and arguing that the money could go to a myriad of other uses rather than propping up a country half a world away. I've not tackled the war before now on this blog. I find that the word quagmire better fits the debate around the war than the war itself and this post will not add to that muck.

What I'm more interested in are the arguments of those opposed to the war, for at least the reason of its cost if not others. Those who are, I have noticed, are certainly no fiscal conservatives, unless they're aligned with the likes of Pat Buchanan. Most seem to feel that the money could be better spent on any number of pet projects. I've heard everything from AIDS cures to Third World Debt Relief for the international uses to education and welfare padding here stateside.

Of all I have heard, not a one is a field in which I would trust the federal government to spend the money anymore than I trust them to spend the billions they already waste in those fields. If you don't personally believe that the federal government is wise in restoring Iraq, Japan, Germany or even the former satellites of the old Soviet Union, what makes you so confident in their wisdom to spend the money on other projects? Is it because you think those that manage such programs are so much more capable and nobler? If so, go back to reading your Harry Potter or Noam Chomsky, because you are the very definition of living in a Fantasy Land.

The money the federal government collects primarily comes from the pockets of men and women who earned it. Some comes from tariffs, duties and user fees. Most comes, directly or indirectly, out of your and my pockets. It is then sent to the biggest lot of trough feeders and summer spenders the world has yet produced to go to pet projects of lobbyists and special interests who wine and dine the proper combination of porcine Congressmen and Senators. As you nod your head in approval thinking of your favorite hated Republican or Democrat, remember, your favorite party does it too, and perhaps does it more. Wake up from the little dream that all those in the Congress (or any part of the federal government) are there to help anyone but themselves. There are a few, a solitary few who are the true believers (like Ron Paul from Texas). I find them the most pitiable of all. But they have always been the exceptions rather than the rule.

So, academically speaking, assuming there was no war on, where could that $72 billion a year be better spent? Where could it be put to best use? In tax refund checks to those of us who paid income tax last year and the year before that and the year before that is where. I know how best to spend MY money as I'm sure you feel about the money you earn. The first thought of our elected officials whenever there is that extra dollar should be how can we get this back to the people without spending it ourselves. If you can admit that even though in the past you've thought education or welfare or social security or AIDS research or reparations was the best place to put extra money, then you have taken your first step of the Twelve Step Program to admitting you support Tax and Spend Government. Welcome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Tyrant, Same Convenient Payment Plan

So I see Mahmoud Abbas, the current leader of the Palestinian Authority, has codified payments to the families of murdering terrorist killers who blow up innocents in Israel. Apparently, if you're willing to strap on a bomb, it's no longer just for fun, it's also for profit. Abbas has guaranteed that those Palestinians who kill for the PA no longer need worry that Saddam Hussein isn't paying them anymore. The PA will pickup the check and cover the family and those living with the killer at the time he or she decides to blow themselves and as many innocents as possible up.

It's nice to see it's still business as usual within the territories of the West Bank and Gaza. I'm sure that Abbas' "moral authority" with the Western nations will not be eroded by this either. If nations like Germany and France, even the US, were willing to do business with a known and proven terrorist like Arafat, why will a little thing like subsidizing terror stop them?

This is yet further evidence in my eyes, though, that you cannot expect a nation like Israel, a nation besieged on all sides by its enemies, to negotiate with a rogue group of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers hanging like cancerous appendages on its borders. I have a lot of sympathy for the Palestinians living in dire poverty. I have sympathy for anyone stuck in that situation. But they are equal parts brainwashed and victims of their own choice of leaders. They allow themselves and their families to be sacrificed for an agenda of Arab nations that wouldn't give them a crust of rotted bread if they begged for it. Their leaders, willing puppets of this agenda, grow fat and wealthy off the misery of their people, like so many tyrants before them. And we're expected to negotiate with these types? We're expected to put pressure on Israel to cave in to the demands of these thugs? It would be laughable if not so tragic.

Now, don't get me wrong, Israel isn't perfect. They have a rogue Supreme Court that makes the US Supreme Court look downright ultra-conservative by comparison. Their democracy is flawed, their society perhaps not perfect. Is this reason enough to champion their eventual extermination, though? This cash for corpses scheme, though, is yet another cold dose of reality to throw in the face of those who perpetually cry for appeasement or who are retarded enough to blame Israel for all the trouble in the Middle East.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Will Work for Tuition

I noticed in the Indianapolis Star yesterday the Chicago Defender Editor, Roland Martin, was bemoaning the reduction in growth of spending for college education by the federal government. He cites the usual suspects, spending for the Iraq war and rebuilding and the evil tax cuts for the rich as the primary culprits. Bottom line, his concern seems to be that we're not spending enough and need to be spending more and anyone that says otherwise shouldn't even be in government. His focus also seems to be that the one that should be doing more spending is the federal government.

Now for the disclaimer. I received a Pell grant, a very modest one, to help me get through college. The rest of it, I paid for by working my way through school. I think it's a great thing that that money has been there to help so many people get through school. I also think it's hurt us more than any one thing by raising the cost of tuition out of the reach of families in the middle, the ones those like Martin claim to champion. In my case, my family was dirt poor. I mean dirt poor. That's how I even qualified, that and my great grades got me in. Had my parents not been disabled, I wouldn't have gotten even that money. I also was willing to pay back any loan I might get. How many loans in the history of federally-backed funding have gone into default and required the US government to bail out? I'd hazard a guess the number is rather large. The biggest bilkers seem to be those who benefit the most, law and medical students. Amusing, I know.

Take these things into consideration. The federal government has to pay more each year for two reasons, massive amounts of loan defaults, and rising tuition costs. The loan defaults I just addressed. The tuition raises have been covered very well by much smarter men than I economically. To sum up the argument, though, schools have no need to remain competitive when subsidized by the federal government. They can raise rates as needed to fund new projects or new administrative initiatives, secure that they will still have the same or more students wanting in because the Fed is filling their trough with an endless supply of cash for those students. So, you've taken the need for the schools to financially compete with each other, or at least have manageable tuition rates. The end result has been that students from the lower end of the economic spectrum have benefitted massively, while students at the upper end still go as they always have because their parents can afford it.

Those who suffer are the beleaguered middle class, the very group such programs were meant to help. But because the Fed cannot manage such a massive welfare program at the cost of us taxpayers without squeezing us for more money, they've restricted who can get aid and how much so that if you or your parents make even a scratch above bleak and utter poverty, you are ineligible. Thus parents at this level must mortgage the family home or worse sacrifice their retirement to educate their child. The solution that both sides seem to push is "MORE MONEY IS NEEDED". Are you kidding me? This leads to us becoming more dependent on government and more beholden to them all in one master stroke. I'd say it was genius if I thought someone meant to do it, and I do. It's a matter of those who had power and those who've sought to take it away from them. I'm assuming you, gentle reader, are smart enough to figure which is which.

Mr. Martin is typical of that establishment or blinded by them. He sees the solution as socking it to "the rich", which means those making slightly more than nothing and failing to address the realities of our modern world. All these little problems, like welfare, college aid, and social security, exist in a vacuum to their proponents. They argue as if nothing else in the world exists or matters than that one little issue until the next pet issue comes into play. These people should be seen for what they are, naive at best or first-rate hucksters shilling for the powers-that-be (and I don't mean the current President) to squeeze more out of our already thread-bare pockets.

What's the answer? Less money to education? That may be too late, given the damage that's been done. But more money most certainly is not the answer. Only in the fantasy of the left is a reduction in growth of a monster seen as a cut, though, and if we can't even slow down the growth of such welfare monsters without these sort of fights, we're as good as doomed.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Guns Guns Guns

Recent stories have focused on the left-leaning group Code Pink's protest of gun and war toys this Christmas season. Their suggestions range from putting surgeon general-type warning labels on such toys in stores to buying such toys then staging loud verbal protests in the return line about what a horrible thing they are to the employees of the company selling them.

Barring that this whole protest campaign borders on the infantile in behavior and barring that placing such labels on others' property is vandalism at best, anyone who purposely makes a return line longer than it should be by staging a ridiculous protest on the ills of war toys should be shot. Having stood in such lines around Christmas-time, I believe I can vouch for others in those lines that they will feel likewise. I didn't expect to have to go armed to Target or Wal-Mart this year to do returns, but it is the burden we bear to live in such times.

Yes, that's a joke...mostly. Save the hate mail. I hate to be the voice of practicality in such issues, but how is this going to advance their agenda? Do they think a few stickers or a loud shouting match or two will miraculously awaken parents out of some imagined slumber that guns are bad, ok?

War toys and toy guns and the like have been around a lot longer than any of us or even our grand parents. They are toys like any other, though they may sometimes represent darker parts of our culture (in the case of war). They are a natural outlet for creativity and play just as a puzzle or a Barbie Dream House is. They are neither good nor evil. They are toys.

Without barely knowing what a war was or a gun was for that matter, I and the kids in my neighborhood scrambled for Army men, WWII mountain playsets, Navy warship toys, cap guns and "spark" guns (remember the ones that looked like Thompson SMG's with a red plastic top over the barrel that showed the spark when you pulled the trigger?). Our frame of reference was at best Looney Toons or old WWII John Wayne movies. They were a natural outlet for us as boys and even some of the neighborhood girls. To the best of my knowledge, owning such toys did not raise us to be homocidal maniacs or depraved criminals. Nor did it do that for our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents. Kids today I see, especially those whose parents try to insulate them from guns, violence, and war, make guns from their fingers and shoot each other with these imaginary weapons. So, given that such reasoning is ludicrous, that toys like that caused violent behavior in kids or when they became adults, why hate them so?

Such groups as Code Pink have the neutering of our society as their primary agenda. They have their own opinions on how to raise our children and direct our society through "conflict resolution" therapies and anger management courses and other such psycho babble. Such people feel that if we all just had a coke and a smile we'd stop being so violent and the rest of the world would love us and/or follow suit. The world doesn't work that way. It never did. Humanity doesn't work that way. It's a noble aspiration, but one that is doomed by the reality of our existence, that there is still war and barbarity in this world and that it appears to be as natural to the human race as breathing. It started when the first man (or proto-man if you want to go there) picked up the first rock and bashed the first poor sod over the head who disagreed with him or her and it won't end until we're a lot different of a species than we are now.

Will banning war toys and vilifying guns take care of this or even help it? No. I've seen the attempts and I've seen them fail. They seem less to me attempts to make kids less violent as they do to shape society in the image of a few power-craving loons. Power flows out of more than just a barrel of a gun, as old Chairman Mao probably knew. It flows also from taking those guns away, and their like. Start with the toys, shape the culture, and soon you're as described by Dennis Leary in Demolition Man. A 37 year old virgin in his teddy-bear pajamas drinking a broccoli shake and singing "I'm an Oscar Meyer wiener".


Apologies for those who read this blog regularly. Although I have strived to keep up a semblance of a Monday to Friday Schedule, a combination of illness, foul weather, and a change of jobs has conspired to foil that plan, especially last week. I'm not entirely sure I will be able to maintain a day to day blog for at least the next few weeks, but I will strive to provide you with news and of course my opinions on that news, something I'm sure you all can't live without. :) Anyway, if you're still reading, thanks and I hope to see you back here soon. That said...Back to the Blogging.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Born Yesterday

In a followup to my posting on the US District Court ruling on the Indiana Legislature's opening prayer, I've had some interesting arguments hurled my way in favor of and understanding the judge's ruling and they're good arguments. The arguments, in general, only hold water if we were all born yesterday and if case law was manufactured out of whole cloth.

With that in mind, I had one commenter note that the judge was merely ruling on existing case law and that he had written a well-thought out opinion. Perhaps that's so, but it was not the point of my posting. The judge was, and granted this is my (and even some Supreme Court Justices') opinion, basing his ruling off bad case law. He really doesn't have much choice. At the District Court Level, you don't interpret much. You just base your ruling on what those higher than you say is the correct ruling in similar cases (where there is previous case law). Granted that doesn't stop judges with a more social justice frame of mind from writing their opinions into the law, but we're dealing with what judges at that level are supposed to do, and he apparently did it.

To reinforce and restate what I've said before, though, my argument was that the existing case law, some twenty years of it or so is not only flawed, but cannot and should not be considered equal or superior to the two hundred and twenty plus years of historical precedent. In Constitutional law, in the absence of case law, or good case law, it is traditional and essential that the Supreme Court refer back to the Founding Fathers, their documented remarks and correspondence and determine from that what their original intent was. It has to start somewhere, and in the case of the present twenty-something years of court precedent on religious issues, it was born out of a period of the court that has seen serious activism and reinterpretation based on modern (and usually left-leaning) perceptions. In such a situation, the mass volume of historical precedent should easily outweigh the bad case law, and when this case gets to the Supreme Court, it is my hope that they take it into consideration (although one never knows with our Supreme Court).

Consider these two examples from the well-researched online publication, The Federalist.

Our new nation's first official Thanksgiving Proclamation, issued by the revolutionary Continental Congress on 1 November 1777, expressed gratitude for the colonials' October victory over British General Burgoyne at Saratoga. Authored by Samuel Adams, the man the other Founders turned to for reasoned statements of liberties as God's blessings, it read in part: "Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to Him for benefits received...together with penitent confession of their sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor; and their humble and earnest supplications that it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of is therefore set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor...acknowledging with gratitude their obligations to Him for benefits received... To prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth 'in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost'."

On the Jefferson Memorial, is our third president's immutable admonition about the origin of liberty: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"

I've also had it said to me that such issues as prayer opening a legislative session was "not a big deal" in olden days and thus is why it was never addressed until 20 years ago. This is a weak argument. We have very clear-cut examples, fretted over and feared, like the issue of slavery, with which the Founding Fathers had to wrestle and put off to a later day. To assume that they would let something as important as the interpretation of the First Amendment be put off for future generations without uttering a word of their concern is a bit lazy. Establishment of a religious institution, including coerced funding by the public of religious institutions appear to have been their greatest concern and the First Amendment was at its time meant to protect the people AND THE STATES from the tyranny of the federal government in having to support or follow a religion the states or the people did not necessarily all share. It is only because of a dubious interpretation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause that this whole matter is even before a federal court, currently. Back to the actual argument that it was "not a big deal" in those days, though, is to say the Founding Fathers expected it might become a big deal at some point, but didn't see a need to worry about it or even write about it at the time. That is making precedent out of whole cloth and invalidates the whole point to the Constitution and its accompanying history.

Also, it perplexes me why I typically see such an issue only when Jesus is mentioned. Perhaps it is such an issue for two main reasons. One would be that just mentioning God in a prayer can allow you to front the not-so-genuine argument that you could be referring to any god and make it non-sectarian, and thus non-offensive (meeting the Supremes’ requirement). Would that include Mammon, Marduk, Zeus, Satan or Bob the God (points if you remember where that came from)? It doesn't, it's not the intent of the majority of ministers or imams or rabbis or Zen masters who offer up these prayers and it is blind hypocrisy or vain hopefulness to think it is. These holy men and women pray their prayers to a specific entity and in most cases it would be against the nature of who they are and what they believe to do otherwise. They are praying to their god, whichever that god is. We should still, as a society who Freely Exercises our religion, accept their prayer for what it is to them and to us. If they are invited to give the prayer at a session of our legislature, then whether they are our particular denomination or faith, we should and must accept them. Leftists do not have exclusivity on tolerance. If you invite a Catholic priest to give the invocation to open a legislative session and he prays to Mary, you're still going to offend Protestants. If you pray to any deity you're going to offend Atheists and Secular Humanists. If you pray to a vaguely Christian God you'll tick off the Wiccans and Satanists (at the least). So what do you do? Let's examine.

If you put restrictions on what can be said, two things happen. First, you'll still offend someone or everyone as well as inhibit and violate the Free Exercise of the individual(s) you're restricting and second you'll do exactly what the ICLU is allegedly fighting against, you'll create a LAW regarding the ESTABLISHMENT of a RELIGION! Does no one see this hypocrisy?

As to the other reason why it only seems to be Jesus making the papers, there is another line to consider. Why isn't an invocation of Allah or the Zen Masters going before the Court? Again, rank hypocrisy rules. These are minority religions and thus exempt in the social engineers' eyes, at least for now. Christianity is the majority religion and thus the one that gains the left's current ire in this regard. In this case, should a majority then be expected to restrict its Free Exercise of religion when minority religions are not expected to? You are still producing law, from the judicial bench ironically, that governs the establishment of religion, in this case, although rather than its promotion it governs its hindrance. How is that any more legal or correct? It is not.

For me, when I came to this conclusion, it was a "can't see the forest for the trees" moment. If the Supreme Court, and by consequence the lower courts, hinders the free expression of religion, even by individuals in a government forum, they are creating law regarding certain establishments. This is no stretch in reaching. It is the plain consequence of their actions. With this in mind, how did the ICLU's case have any merit?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Denying History

A federal judge has ruled that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution for the Indiana state legislature to open their session with a prayer invoking "any deity", in this case Jesus. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union led the charge to send Speaker of the House Brian Bosma's invitation of a reverend who mentioned Jesus straight to federal, not state, court to determine whether or not Bosma was improperly allowing an endorsement of a specific religion.

First, I tend to be an originalist when it comes to the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. I also believe that it is the job of the federal courts to interpret what the meaning of those rights were at the time of the Constitution’s creation and apply them in their decisions. I do not believe in a "Living Constitution", one that changes with the political or social wind, even if it only blows from the extreme left at times. You might as well not have a Constitution if you believe it should change that frequently. Law could be anything the most influential group wanted it to be. That is anarchy at worst, oligarchy at best. A representative republic, as we have, or any institution purporting itself to have roots based in democracy, must have a framework of rights that is inviolate.

If those rights are restricted, as the Bill of Rights often are, it must be by the established amendment process of the U.S. Constitution and not by judicial fiat. If a lone judge, a panel of judges, or nine judges in Washington can decide what our rights currently mean, perhaps differently than 20 years ago, and differently 20 years from now, then we have no inalienable rights. We have only what we are granted by this tyranny of the judiciary. Therefore, knowing the original intent of the Founding Fathers is critical. If we accept that these were good men who established for us a good government, then we accept what legacy they provided us in the Bill of Rights, not as our only freedoms, but ones that the federal government (and later dubiously through the 14th Amendment, the States) cannot alter or restrict or reinterpret at their whim. In the case of the First Amendment, traditionally, the Court will examine whether a government action violates the Establishment Clause. If it doesn't, it must determine whether it overly burdens an individual's right to adhere to his or her religious customs.

With all this in mind, the ICLU director today made comments regarding the case on the show "Abdul in the Morning" on WXNT 1430 that the Indiana legislature's actions flew in the face of "decades of precedent" and noted this was how the law had been interpreted for "20 years or more". Here in lies the flaw in the arguments of the Left in this country. Twenty years ago, big hair bands and parachute pants were in style. The arguments of the Left, in my opinion, don't even have that kind of longevity, despite their exhaustive attempts to jam them down the public's throat time and time again. This is the point of originalism. You're either right today and always or you're right based on the social engineers of the day and also subject to them.

What if, in ten years, we were to see a religious revival across the nation and the First Amendment were reinterpreted again to make Christianity the religion of the land. Well, that's a violation of the Establishment Clause, unless you have social engineers on the Courts that constructively write their opinions to say that in fact it isn't since we are fundamentally a Christian nation (again, at the time). Or, would you on the Left prefer the originalist Justice who would say "No, this is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause based on the historical writings and beliefs when the Amendment was written"? My guess is you would want the originalist, a wonderful hypocrisy, but one many on the Left will never grasp.

Historically, there has been a prayer invocation in legislatures going back to the First Congress. Many at the time of the writing of the Constitution invoked Jesus and a Christian God. This was expected and the norm and not seen as infringing on the rights of those including the "Enlightened" who did not subscribe to that theory of the time. Setting aside other religions like Judaism, those of the Age of Enlightenment who didn't hold to Christianity and who were loudest of all at the time said next to zero on this fact. Ok, one private letter from Thomas Jefferson (which amazingly folks does NOT qualify as law), but beyond that, there's next to nothing. Invocations mentioning Jesus were not viewed by the likes of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention to be an Establishment of Religion, and would likely more be viewed as a matter of Free Exercise. We are exercising our right to pray. If you don't wish to...don't. That's your free exercise. If we force you at gun point to pray our prayer, then we are "Establishing" religion.

Pretty straight-forward when you look at it that way and not through the distorted prism of nuances, emanation of penumbras, and coercive counseling, no?

This is how I see the issue, and frankly how most Americans see the issue. Our religion is our business and if our elected representatives want to freely exercise their religion in chambers, they are no different than us. Or do we say we deny them rights because they serve? Doesn't that touch on the whole "equal protection" thing the left is always up in arms about?