Thursday, June 29, 2006

62% Of All Statistics Are Made Up On The Spot

Or so the old saying goes. Although not entirely made up, many in the anti gun-rights crowd like to point to any general statistic, especially one involving "the children" as fodder for their arguments to further stigmatize those who own firearms. Take yet another In Touch "common man/woman" editorialist, Ruby Grosdidier, who in the Indianapolis Star this week reminded us that June 21st was National ASK Day, the day in which parents and kids are supposed to ask of their neighbors and their neighbors friends "who owns a gun"?

She highlights that this is an important question because, she quotes the statistic:

A study published in the September 2005 issue of Pediatrics found that about 1.7 million youths under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked guns. In addition, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2002, 4,303 children and teenagers were unintentionally injured or killed by gun.

Taking into account the massive numbers of guns versus her reported accidents, that in itself is a fairly small number for such a large quantity of loaded and untended firearms. That doesn't take into account for the over 200 million guns owned by 70 to 80 million Americans as well and still, we have only her 4,303 deaths a year with "children and teenagers" unintentionally injured or killed.

The gun and gun ownership numbers are fairly common and slightly old numbers - perhaps even lower than the current total, but how does the 4,303 number really break down? Well, first let's take a look at some numbers we do know, like these from GunSafe. Those numbers are a bit dated, though, so let's go right to the horse's mouth and look at the CDC statistics for 2002, where our writer allegedly got her statistics from.

Hmmm...on page 32 we see all ages show only 762 deaths by accidental discharge of firearms in the United States in 2002. That's from the very young to very old. Ok, let's focus down on the "under 20" range. Well, actually, the study only lets us look at under 24. It doesn't break it down again til 14 and under 24 there were 270, if I did my math correctly. Well, that's a sight lower than 4,303, but you know what they say about statistics, especially unsupported ones. Just look at this blog article's title.

Every death of a child is a tragedy, but to take the 60 deaths last year of kids under 14, assume they're all because of unlocked and accessible guns and real accidents with no other motive, then campaign that they are more horrible than any of the dozens of other just as serious types of deaths children face every year is disingenous at best and sick propaganda at worst. In fact, a quick Google check even for the number 4,303 produced nothing remotely like a statistic from the CDC, well, except of course Ms. Grosdidier's own blog entry.

There is also a wonderful write-up on the phenomenon of lumping all deaths for those under 21 as "little Jimmy shooting little Suzie with daddy's loaded gun". These usually include a large number of drug and gang-related shootings, as examined in this article on GunCite.

There is also the fact that many of these deaths are the end-result of a period of abuse that resulted in the death of a child. These are not accidents. They are parents who were allowed to harm or kill their children. We need only turn on the nightly news to see that creative murderers don't always need a gun to kill the weak or helpless, especially children.

I think her overall premise isn't terribly off base, albeit a bit busy-bodyish. If my child is playing at a friend's house, I most certainly want to know it's safe where she's playing. However, such "National Days" are not organized out of such common sense thoughts. They are organized by those who wish to catalog and stigmatize firearm owners starting with making children equate all firearms with danger or something bad. It's the same tool used to rewrite history in today's textbooks, the same tool to stigmatize smokers, fast food eaters and generally anyone the Left doesn't like as a group. Start with the kids.

Instead of asking my child to inform on anyone who might have a gun in their house, I've tried to educate her in responsible behavior and respect for such things and on what to do should she encounter a loaded weapon. And yes, I go so far as to keep such weapons safely secured and unloaded, because I know not all parents take such proactive measures. Fearing an inanimate piece of metal does no one any good and might actually cause harm. If anything, it is such fear that leads to misunderstanding, curiousity and true danger. Understanding that it is just a tool, albeit a dangerous one, empowers a child to know that their environment is not so frightening.

Rather than teaching your children to be fearful, overemotional, and knee-jerk little informants, teach them to be good, responsible citizens and there may yet be hope for our nation's future.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Upping The Ante

Things look to have taken a turn for the worse in the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade decided to fill in the world that it now has biological and chemical weapons. If these reports can be verified, then time to do a cup check, because the tension level in that little corner of the world jumped up several notches.

In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group, which belongs to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party, said the weapons were the result of a three-year effort.

I'm not an intel operator, but there's a sporting good chance these munitions were developed from the Iraqi stockpiles said to have made their way to Lebanon's fortified Bekaa Valley. It wouldn't be like the time frame didn't fit. Three years ago would have been about the time trucks and "humanitarian" flights left Baathist-controlled Iraq for Baathist-controlled Syria and it was a bit of an open secret that Syria used Bekaa as a sort of rear staging area and rally point for various terror groups like Hezbollah that operated out of Lebanon. That some of them would use specialists-for-hire and modify some of the old weapons-grade chemical and biological devices into more compact systems doesn't take that great of a leap in supposition.

Regardless, it drastically alters the balance of power in the region. The Israelis themselves had hidden from prying eyes a nuclear program that has likely produced several devices. If one side uses WMD's, you can bet the other will, and if history holds constant, it will be the Palestinians who take the suicide leap at the Israelis. Better to die in a blaze of glory, I imagine.

It would be folly, as well as unjust to demand that Israel show restraint if it is attacked with WMD's by any Palestinian terror organization. To force it to be led helplessly to the slaughter would make those who advocated such complicit in whatever deaths result. This also does not take a grand leap of logic. So, the insane among the Palestinians have pushed things a little closer to the brink. Are they insane enough to go all the way? The answer is more than likely they are. It would take a Herculean effort to prevent them from using such weapons, or God willing, they're bluffing. We can be sure of neither.

For those who consistently and pathologically support the Palestinians in such issues, I would remind them of something I heard repeated by Mark Shere in the In Touch section of Sunday's Indianapolis Star.

There is a saying that if the Palestinians ever put down their weapons, there will be no more fighting. If the Jews put down their weapons, there will be no more Jews.

Therein lies the key to understanding the whole conflict. Israelis have made it abundantly clear that they are willing to coexist side by side with a Palestinian state, and just as clearly the Palestinians have made it clear that they will see every Christian and Jew (oh, and homosexuals and atheists as well) subjugated or driven into the sea, preferably leaking from several bullet wounds. Until sanity catches on in Gaza and the West Bank, and there's not even a hint that it will, Israel will never be safe. They are, as they have always been, a small representation of what we will and are facing in this War and we'd do well to heed such events and their inevitable conclusions.

hat tip to RightWingNews for the story lead.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

This Is How The Left Fights High Crime?

For all the cries of "police states" and "fascism" should we dare elect anyone moderate or conservative to higher office, the Left sure is silent in the face of its own exercising that very power. Mayor Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin has asked his Democrat governor counterpart, Governor Kathleen Blanco, to help combat crime in a city still depopulated by Katrina by sending in the troops.

A projected total of 300 National Guard and 60 state police will and have entered the city to help attempt to restore law and order. The event was precipitated by the death of five teenagers last weekend in what was likely renewed gang violence. The gangs are returning with the citizenry to stake out their territories and as a result 52 New Orleans residents have fallen to homicide so far this year. It's being said that the city has just half of its former population, but all of its crime.

Is this all? No, not really. The police force of New Orleans is legendary for its corruption and the city machine that provides the infratstructure is equally as well known for incompetence and failed bureaucracy. In other words, it's exactly what you'd expect in a city and state run from top to bottom by leftist Democrats.

When New York was out of control, after the inept and completely unqualified David Dinkins was dumped from the mayoral position, the new mayor Rudy Giuliani, a former prosecutor made famous for breaking much of the mafia in New York, increased law enforcement presence, reduced corruption, and stiffened criminal deterrence and prosecutions in his city. New York, although not perfect, is a model of what good can come from a more honest police force that truly intends to protect and serve its citizenry.

New Orleans, a smaller city with much less of a population (especially post-Katrina) has rampant corruption, no real criminal deterrence or increased prosecution and the general impression of the citizenry and tourists that they are at the mercy of fate and cannot depend on their government for the most basic of

So what does the city do? Does it try to clean up its police force? Does it make prosecuting and deterring these recently arrived and returning criminal elements its highest priority? No. Unfortunately, it's well beyond that and mostly incapable of revitalizing its interal machinery. The people in power lack the will, the desire or the means, intellectually or otherwise, to restore order. All that's left is to establish a police state. The governor must send in armed troops to try and quell the gangs.

If ever there was a prime example of the failure of liberal policies in a "multicultural" environment that showed just how bad things could fall, and if ever there was a more telling example of what the Left will do when they feel they are cornered, with nowhere else to go without surrendering, it is New Orleans. Let it be the poster child for liberal ideas on crime prevention, punishment, and how NOT to run a city or a state for that matter.

The next time you hear someone cry that new policies of crime prevention or deterrence, more realistic policies where criminals are punished and the police are competent, remind them of New Orleans and remind them especially who was in charge when it all fell apart. This is not an example we should forget.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Enough Already!

In the tradition of the late propagandist Walter Duranty, the New York Times simply cannot help but provide support for anyone but the United States. Sometimes, though enough is enough. There is a point where you cross the line into the absurd.

In the past, I've refrained from commenting on the Times blatant Secrets for Pulitzer campaign Bill Keller seems determined to run. Many of the stories have been about partisan politics, so you're just batting for one side or the other. The NSA eavesdropping story was questionable, but so were the methods around the program's development. It really depended on which side of the political fence you fell on how that stood. Then there was the call records issue where several major phone companies had cooperated to provide records so that the NSA could run trends and monitor overall patterns of calls to find out who was calling where. That was even less spooky than the eavesdropping, but again it depended on who you asked. With partisan calls for and against it with feigned outrage by Congress persons who already knew about it, the whole issue seemed very paper and fake from the start.

Then there was the banking issue that the Times and others just recently ran. Even the New York and LA Times admitted there was nothing illegal about it. They just didn't trust the government to run a classified program that might help in the War on Terror, so they published pertinent and classified details about it. At this point, many are asking, exactly who's side are you on? Does this explain behaviors like why you won't return Duranty's Pulitzer, or are you just so consumed with hatred for the current administration, you don't care how many Americans you get killed? I suppose, as long as they don't live in the trendy circles that attend the same cocktail parties, "Hear No Evil, See No Evil", right?

Well, now comes the worst of it. The New York Times is publishing troop strength reports for US detachments in the war zone.

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007...

...General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity.

One wonders how we didn't see a Times headline in May of '44 saying "Calais a Feint, Normandy the Real Landing Site, Sources Say." You don't broadcast troop strengths deployments during a time of war, especially from a classified document. That's sort of one of the basics of common sense. If it's a classified briefing, it should have never seen the light of the New York Times' office, much less print. The individual or individuals divulging this information to the Times needs to be found and brought up on charges. At best, they are leaking classified information and at worst it is called treason.

There is no excuse for this one. There's not the "questionable legality" excuse as with the eavesdropping or the "inappropriate cooperation" excuse with the phone records. There's not even the bogus "public interest" excuse they used with the banking story. This is flat out inexcusable. I can't find the words to describe such a wanton disregard for national security. Is national security an overused term? Yes. In sixty years, I believe it's been used more to cover up things the public needed to know about than any other abuse the government has foisted upon us. Thus, I don't think anything should be done to the Times or its staff other than for people to stop subscribing to their rag. They're just opportunist partisans taking advantage of what juicy material they can get their hands on. The real leakers, the government employees, trusted at clearance levels to view these reports who leaked them to an organization that was guaranteed to run with them need to be flushed out and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There are rather stiff penalties for violating your security clearance, and it's about time these individuals were made to pay that price.

But to divulge classified military information, is wanton disregard for the soldiers on the line and their families and supporters here at home. How do you call yourself an American and still attack your own like that? I'm waiting next for the Times to start posting troop strengths and locations of forward bases. Perhaps they could publish maps of perimeter defenses at U.S. bases and maybe even our future ship deployments in the Pacific so that the Chinese and North Koreans could better target them. Where's the Theodore Roosevelt this week, Bill Keller? Beijing demands an update!

As a final comment, I would ask just to peruse some of the rather fitting graphics that have been made and posted on Michelle Malkin's site. I think they fit the "picture's worth 1000 words" saying quite well.

Hat tips to Michelle Malkin and LGF for the heads up on this story.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Magically Transforming Climate Into Politics

Remember the whole idea of a “Philosopher’s Stone”? In Medieval Times, it was thought of as an object that could magically transform materials, such as lead, to gold. In Al Gore’s latest attempt at staying relevant, his movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al highlights the magical transformation of Marxist Globalism and radical environmentalism (two none-too-dissimilar things) into a “scientific certainty”.

He does this by echoing the mantra of the “Humanity Sucks” crowd by saying the magic words “The debate in the science community is over.” But this, like many of the statements of the man who invented the Internet, is a bit of a lie. The debate has never been over. Science, for those who actually were trained in it (and two years of Seminary School doesn’t count as scientific training, Al) is about accepting that every theory put forth has the potential to be proven false. Saying “The debate is over” is an almost religious affirmation that your view can be the only view.

The debate most certainly is not over. Not when over 17,000 scientists have to date signed a petition that refutes claims that humanity is responsible for the current global warming phenomena. Not when individuals like Dr. William Gray, a man Discover Magazine notes is one of the “world’s most famous hurricane experts” says

"This human-induced global-warming thing... is grossly exaggerated... I'm not disputing there has been global warming. There was a lot of global warming in the 1930s and '40s, and then there was global cooling in the middle '40s to the early '70s. Nearly all of my colleagues who have been around 40 or 50 years are skeptical... about this global-warming thing. But no one asks us."

And most certainly not when men like James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies notes:

"The natural fluctuations of climate are still large—at least, the natural fluctuations of weather compared to long-term climate change."

Or Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center lists global warming, very succinctly, as “a hoax”.

Considering these individuals alone, how can the debate be over? Could it just be that the debate is over in the hallowed halls of NPR or in leftist partisan groups like Greenpeace of the Sierra Club. Such dissenting voices are not alone, though. The fact that most of the dissent doesn’t seem to make it onto network TV or NPR, though, gives the perception that Gore is smarter than he looks. Smarter, I have no idea. Any man that could get the Chinese military to cough up cash for his boss’ reelection has to have some brains. Apolitical concerned citizen of the Earth? I think I’m going to be sick.

One wonders, even, if Gore was so dedicated to the cause of environmentalism, why was he so lackluster in pushing that cause when he was Vice President? There is no significant environmental contribution he can point to, nor does he point to, from his eight years at the right hand of the Left’s Anointed One, Clinton. He’s even loathe to delve too deeply into discussing his famous contribution to the Kyoto Accords, mostly because of his own failings in helping craft it. The Accords exempted developing nations, two of which, India and China, are responsible for a growing and increasingly toxic pool of pollutants. The Kyoto Accords were also the clarion call for Western civilization to voluntary commit seppuku and allow the developing nations to be its second. For those unfamiliar, seppuku is a form of Japanese ritual suicide and the “second” in such instances is responsible for lopping off the individual’s head should the sword he used to shred his guts fail to finish him, so I feel it’s rather a good description of Kyoto.

His own habit of little things like still reaping profits from his family’s tobacco interests, years after he supposedly abandoned them due to his sister’s death from lung cancer and the sale of mineral rights on oil-rich lands in the American southwest also show a distinct lack of concern for “the environment”. It shows a typical “collectivism and deprivation for thee but not for me” mentality, last witnessed by the nomenklatura in the USSR.

The prevailing mentality of those who preach “sustainability” and eco-harmony all seems to fall back on neo-Marxism. Neo-Marxists are globalists who feel the nation-state is in its twilight and that NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and the UN will likely dominate the future culture of this planet. They also see socialism and collectivism as the natural tools of these organizations to dictate policy and the future of mankind. Modern-day radical environmentalism, like we see from Al Gore, relies heavily on these concepts. It’s not just a matter of industrial controls and regulations by governments or population or emissions controls that we’re talking about. There are also serious proposals being batted around by such groups calling for taxes on “all wealth” of the Earth, like gold and other mineral resources, oil and energy production, even land ownership to be redistributed to those “less fortunate” so that we may all share in the riches of Earth. That’s Marx 101. From each according to what he has to each we can claim to help by fleecing the living daylights out of the former.

Not only is Gore showing his true colors as a devoted Marxist and collectivist, he also shows his contempt for the U.S. and Western civilization by openly advocating our demise while ignoring those (like China) who don’t even show a fraction of the environmental protection that the U.S. rather abundantly shows. Gore lives in a fantasy world of his own creation, a world where he is our Savior from greedy corporatists and capitalists, from oil magnates and robber barons, while ignoring the reality that most of these entities are already either regulated into or voluntarily complying in the fight to protect the environment. Being an environmental polluter, you see, is bad for business. Being a communist nation that massively pollutes the environment, like China, is just the cost of doing business. Gore should stop ignoring the other players in the world and most importantly bury the “everyone’s cool but the U.S.” mentality he seems to have developed. Not only does it wreak with the stench of blatant hypocrisy, but it also exhibits the odor of a belief in the failed ideas of Marx as the salvation for an issue that humanity can’t demonstrably impact, global warming.

This planet warms and cools itself on its own schedule. It takes a giant leap of arrogance to look at less than 150 years of climate records out of the past 4.5 billion years of history, even the last few million, and assume we have the slightest to do with how the Earth behaves and what climatic path it pursues. But, that’s our Al Gore.

Hat tip to The Federalist for some of the information and quotes

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Anti-Incumbency In Action...Will There Be More?

I just got a chance to read John Hawkins' interview on RightWingNews with John Jacob, the man who is challening incumbent Chris Cannon for Utah's 3rd District seat in the Republican primary. The results thus far of the race have been telling.

From the looks of it, a week out of the primary the two candidates are extremely close with the undecided voters the ones who will swing it one way or another. The issue that seems to be burning this incumbent is immigration. Though he's been in 10 years, which normally would almost guarantee a reelection, he has openly and flauntingly expressed his support for illegal immigration, even for them to come to work in the fast food restaurants and landscaping companies of his own district. Take this quote that Hawkins turned up from 2002 from Cannon:

“We love immigrants in Utah. And we don't make the distinction very often between legal and illegal.”

Utah could easily be defined as one of the more conservative states in the Union and illegal immigration is certainly a key issue for such voters. As Jacob rightly notes, illegal immigration is not just one issue. It affects health services, crime, social services, education, almost every aspect of our daily lives. When you live in a semi-socialist nanny state, which much of the U.S. is, the benefits offered are highly desirable and highly exploitable by those who do not pay into the system and illegals most certainly don't pay.

The heartening sign of this race is that if Jacob wins in Utah, he'll not only send a very clear message to Washington on the weak immigration reform attempts, he'll send a strong message that incumbents aren't always safe just because they're incumbents. The 535 temp workers in the Capitol Building need to be reminded of that from time to time. I wish Jacob the best. He represents what I've been wanting to see for months, strong challengers to incumbents who are more in line with what the people they represent want to see in Congress.

Perhaps hot-button issues like this are the key to actually lighting a fire under incumbents. They can get behind any idea in an election year, but with the advent of the new media and online archives, no one is safe from their past words or deeds anymore. Some may have enough money to whitewash their former positions, but others should really beware, and are they really going to want to spend all that money in the primary before they meet their challenger from the other party (parties)? It doesn't make good sense, but neither does the majority of standing incumbents' complete disconnect from their constituency.

When elected representatives spend years living in the metro enclave of Washington D.C. and its surrounding suburbs, they basically become citizens of Washington D.C. Their homes in other states become almost vacation homes, places to go and remember fond memories of what it was like to once be a citizen of that state and to marvel that at one time they actually shared much of the same beliefs as those who voted them into office. It's also a chance for them to polish their platforms, speeches, and one-of-the-folks attitude so that they can pay enough lip service to get reelected. Certainly, that's not every member of Congress, but it's a good percentage, mostly any that have been there over 10 years. To think these people will remain static and as unchanging in their views with us as they were the day they went off to Washington is naive at best. We should do well to remember that as we vote each Primary and each November.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Eminent Domain Story With A Twist

Those in the politically active circles and news junkies (like the kind of people who read blogs) have doubtless heard about the story slowly coming to a close after several years of court battles, the "urban farm" reclamation of a 14 acre plot in Los Angeles.

The fight became a celebrity cause, not surprisingly, drawing out the usual environmental types like Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen and Joan Baez. It centered around a plot of land that had been claimed by Los Angeles through eminent domain. The owner was at the time paid for the land by Los Angeles in the understanding that they had plans for the parcel. Those plans fell through, though and the land was turned over to a group that allowed locals to farm small plots for their personal use.

An important note to consider here is, the land was not at any time turned over to these people, but most began exclusively cultivating small parcels, most about the size of a typical backyard garden, as their very own. There was no rotation or transfer of plots to make it truly "community". There was simply a small group of people who used it for their own ends free of charge.

Well, apparently the property reverted back to its owner, Ralph Horowitz, in 2003, as LA couldn't seem to get their act together regarding it. This is fairly typical in slack eminent domain cases such as this. The owner requested that the "urban gardens" be vacated, as he wanted to develop the land. The locals who had taken over parts of it asked for time to harvest their crops, but actually spent it shopping for a lawyer to sue him for the right to the land. Yes, they sued him for his own land, on the assumption that they worked it, therefore they owned it. How very Marxist.

Apparently, the legal defense of the owner's property has cost him over $1 million, but it appears to be finally over and despite the best efforts of the Hollywood Left, the protestors of the hour, and a band of squatters, he has his land back.

The amusing note to this is, he offered to sell the land if the community and its non-profit organization wanted to purchase it. The tag was a hefty $16 million, but LA land isn't cheap, especially 14 acres in a warehouse district. For all the celebrities they were able to collect, none I imagine were quite willing to put up the scratch necessary to complete the purchase. Most opted out, because of course, they're not going to spend THEIR money on such a project. The only proper source for such funding in the minds of such individuals is you and me, the average taxpayer. That or they assume the greedy corporatists should just donate the land, as was apparently the assumption in this case.

Although in the interview I heard, Horowitz indicated they never reached a purchase price, the net articles seem to indicate he wouldn't sell because of anti-semitic remarks and other acts of "civil disobedience" (like putting a rattle snake in his yard) were conducted against him. In the interview, he said he was willing to forgive such acts, but I think at this point he just wanted to develop the land.

Call him heartless or cruel, it was his land and he had a right to do with it what he wanted. Had he been negotiated with civilly, who knows? He may have sold. But everyone has limits and I think I can understand his, especially the way he was demonized through this campaign.

The story provides an interesting lesson in the feelings of the Left regarding eminent domain. To the majority of the Left, apparently, it is perfectly acceptable for land to be "taken away" from the rightful owners if the proletariat finds a better use for the land, especially if immigrants (who I'm sure are all here legally) make it their own through such quaint uses as an urban farm.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that something was able to be done with the land that made it productive, but I don't think a select few, who treated the property as their OWN land and not some commune to be used by anyone who wanted and who would have bankrupted the average owner with such a legal stunt should be able to simply take away someone else's land because they farmed it. If that's the case, there's this sweet little plot that's being turned into a subdivision not far from here. Perhaps if I can get a few rows of corn and tomato plants in, I'll have a case.

Sounds about as moronic as what was done in LA, but I suppose it isn't fair to break down the weak argument of the neighborhood and celeb types so simply and so easily discredit their case, or perhaps it is. Sometimes issues like this aren't as complicated as we would be led to believe. Sometimes simple crime is just crime and everytime a person's property is THEIR property, regardless of which side you perceive is "good" and "just" and which side is "greedy" and "evil".

Monday, June 19, 2006

Don't Be So Sure Of Yourselves

The American Left has had it far too easy for far too long in this country. The agenda of the reformed and very socialist-leaning Democrat Party of the 1930’s has largely been implemented. Government has grown into a massive behemoth, riddled with programs, assistance and safety nets at all levels for most all people (except white males by and large). Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are sacred cows that gain weight every year. Government money is in just about everything and government has used that money repeatedly to cow everything from organizations to companies to States to comply with federal mandates. Given that this has largely followed the liberal or leftist agenda, there’s not been much carping by those same figures against such an intrusive and bullying attitude on the part of the federal government.

I suppose that’s why when the mechanism of government is turned on them, when responsibility for their actions or accountability for the spending of federal funds is demanded, you hear an almost universal cry of outrage from that same Left. While the Left’s had no trouble seeing the States bullied over things like speed limits and drinking age laws (both, if I’m not mistaken clearly identified as federal powers in the Constitution) at the risk of losing highway funds, and it certainly saw no trouble with Prohibition or the current ongoing wars against cigarettes, fast or high calorie food and guns, there are other issues, just as valid where it has screamed bloody murder.

Take Katrina and the bloated federal response to it. That’s right, I said bloated federal response. $5.8 billion could only be described by a Leftist as a pittance. Now that we discover up to 16% of the claims were fraudulent and that funds were used to purchase all sorts of luxury items one could hardly defend as survival aid or subsistence goods (electronic equipment such as TV’s and DVD’s, alcohol, massages, etc.), there is a question of accountability. First, we see that we were naïve and a bit ahead of ourselves to throw money to people who would naturally abuse it. Why, there are court cases still in the works about “refugees” from Katrina fighting to keep the federal government paying for their expensive hotel rooms.

Yes, a lot of people lost it all and still more lost a significant amount of their holdings. But what of those with insurance, which every homeowner is required to have? Aren’t they already reimbursed? And what of those who just rented? Shouldn’t they have had renter’s insurance? Is it our fault if they were too short-sighted to get it? Must we pay for their dereliction? Is it our responsibility as fellow Americans to give them new homes, thousands of dollars (no questions asked) and pay for their vices? Again, only a Leftist would think that was so. Naturally, there was the added bonus of many of the displaced and affected being minorities in one of the old-style Democrat bastions of the South and corruption, New Orleans. Combine the guilt of a federal government who didn’t want to be seen as racist with the skills of some of the best criminals in the country and a willing and gullible press and Democrat leadership in the area and the money flowed.

Now, we demand an accounting, for those people from top to bottom to take responsibility for their actions or inactions. You’ll only hear charges of racism or some hatred for those less fortunate than us or how those of us closer to the libertarian and conservative philosophy aren’t true Christians. I’m still looking for the passage where Jesus said “And Caesar should take what he needs from those able and give to those less fortunate, by threat of the sword if needed”. Oh wait, that wasn’t Jesus. It was Marx & Lenin. Guess it depends on who you worship, eh?

It doesn’t end there. The Welfare Reform Act and other attempts to curb out of control federal spending (including the aborted attempt to reform Social Security) continue to meet with calls that old people, widows and orphans will eat dog food or nothing at all and be cast into the street if we question how much is doled out or what is done with it. Should we dare question how grant money doled out by the National Endowment for the Arts or the Department of Education/National Education Association is spent? Should we dare question what is considered art or what is taught in our schools? The courts, for the moment packed with Left-leaning judges, seem to think we haven’t that right, that such monies are guaranteed, again somewhere in the Constitution although I’ve yet to find where. Perhaps it was written in with crayon during the 70’s.

When it comes to the Boy Scouts using a public school or a church wanting to use a park or meeting house for any function, though, expect the Left will want a full accounting and eviction of such dangerous entities. This, also has been the norm. It’s nothing new, though. When you exist in a philosophical vacuum of the theoretical as do many on the Left, no one has the right to question you. Your theories are your religion and they are sacrosanct. David Limbaugh perhaps said it best as he defended Ann Coulter from the current round of attacks (which had the sole effect, by the way, of causing her book to go to #1 on the NTY Bestseller list) when he called those on the Left members of “a Cult”. Indeed, a group that so religiously believes themselves right and all others wrong to the point of wishing to destroy those others would classify as a cult. Perhaps why, in David Horowitz’s book, Unholy Alliance , he was able to so closely link radical Islam and the Modern American Left. They have much in common in their belief structure and their ultimate agenda. As they say, though, politics makes strange bedfellows.

In a nutshell, the American Left in this country, by becoming engorged with success over the last few decades has assumed that they have the moral mandate to lead and develop their gains into a “new America” and can fully expunge the old, right after they defeat those pesky conservatives who are trying to spoil their plans of collectivism and Marxist America. Their clinging to the truths they developed over the last 40 years as self-evident, they will tell you, trumps the previous 160 years of truths, but such is they way of fascists and such is the way of the American Left. Consider this a lesson in knowing thy enemy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why We Need Term Limits In Congress

In every system, there is the possibility of abuse and Congress is no exception. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) was the previous record holder for abuse of the lack of a limit on how many times one can run for Senate. The sometimes-former Klan member, Robert Byrd (D-KKK) has just surpassed him with nearly 48 years in the Senate or to date 17,327 days. To top it off, he’s planning a run for a record ninth term; a run he’s likely to win due to his mastery of bringing home the pork to his home state of West Virginia.

Byrd, almost jokingly referred to as the “Conscience of the Senate”, could easily have retired years ago. In fact, given his lack of apology for his participation in establishing a major chapter of the Klan in West Virginia, one wonders how this man not only has the moral authority to be Senator, but how his fellow Senators can tolerate his presence. Given the accolades they showered him with for being the FDR of the Senate, one has to wonder at the sorts of individuals they are to be so accepting of a man who clearly does not represent the majority of his constituents, and I would hope, the Democratic Party. That they would line up with a known and unapologetic old-school dyed-in-the-wool racist is amusing for people who have no trouble labeling just about everyone who disagrees with them racists.

Strom Thurmond was certainly a racist himself, even going so far as to be a part of the Dixiecrat movement of the 1960’s. He did undergo a conversion and repented his previous racist ideology, leaving the Democratic Party for the Republican Party, but Byrd has not show the same penitence, nor has he shown the desire to do as Thurmond did and retire. Thurmond definitely overstayed his Senate seat, but a man like Byrd seems power-drunk enough that one can only imagine he wouldn’t be able to survive without his seat on the Appropriations Committee.

Also, considering that this man practically defined pork-barreling in his day (see Dictionary: under pork barrel there’s a picture of Bobbie), and given the recent but brief flirtation with policing such giveaways in Congress, you’d think more pressure would have come on Byrd to resign or at the very least curtail his giveaways to West Virginia. Byrd seems to share with Clinton a Teflon exterior, though, and somehow avoids any and all mentions from the antique media or his own Congressional body that he might not only have overstayed his welcome, but that he might embody the corruption of everything that is wrong with Congress. How a man like him survives, I can only imagine is by the grace of some pact with Lucifer himself. Perhaps if, when he does eventually die, bloviating and pontificating on some budget cut to the “Robert Byrd/William LaPetomaine Memorial Throughway”, should he spontaneously combust right there on the Senate floor, we’ll have our answer on that one.

Until then, why not write your Senator and ask him or her what he or she thinks of this icon of the Senate remaining after all these years. Ask them what they think about a man who embodies hatred, corruption, and everything that is wrong with the Senate and see what their reaction is. Or if you’re up to it, send a letter to Methuselah himself and ask him if he has any shame or dignity left as a human being and if he does why doesn’t he exercise it and vacate the office for someone who's a little closer to the age of at least the average West Virginia retiree (should've seen my first comparison). I’m curious what sort of form letter that might generate. Why not drop them a line and find out?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Battle For Free Speech

In the United States, we are seeing the continued onslaught regarding free speech and the 1st Amendment, the right to express our opinions without fear of government reprisal. The biggest perpetrators these days are on our college campuses in the form of speech codes and of course there is the ongoing attempt to define and legislate "hate speech".

Truly, though, things are not as bad as they could be, as they are in Old Europe. Oriana Fallaci, the Italian accused by her own country of vilipendio, for daring to state the obvious regarding the spread of Islam in Europe and the weak response of the self-loathing European Left at the cultural assault gives a good interview in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed authored by Tunku Varadarajan.

I won't bore you with the reproduction, but consider her case carefully. While what is happening to her, a charge against her so-called inflammatory speech against Islam, is a result of no real speech freedom enshrined in the annals of Old Europe's governments, and not possible in the current state of affairs in the United States, it gives a chilling window of what can happen if such freedoms are sacrificed at the altars of multiculturalism and cultural relativism.

Her crime is stated thusly:

In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah."

And so it is. Lenient immigration policies for a continent starved for lower-wage workers brought Islamic immigrants in droves and the socialist cultural relativist attitudes of the European governments ensured that those immigrants would not have to assimilate. They were not Turks or Moroccans or Egyptians who had become French or German or Italian. They were Turks, Moroccans and Egyptians living separately and still with their national and cultural identities in a decadent and failing land. To this end, they have begun exploiting it, with honor killings, riots and murder of those critical of Islam a reality.

That such people as Fallaci dare to speak out against it, but are threatened with such immense punishment in the form of legal retribution, uncovers just how sick the society of Europe has become. Hers is a lesson from which we would do well to learn and the lessons of Old Europe should be heeded no less. Although they are not directly applicable to our government or our current crises, they provide eerie clues as to "what may be", which seems to be a popular series of supposition these days.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Sound of Silence?

Jonathan Chait, columnist for the LA Times, yesterday penned a nasty editorial covering his gloating over a supposed dispelling of the conservative mantra of lowering taxes equaling less government. First, I myself had never heard of or subscribed to this particular equation. I had heard of a dual approach of lowering government spending while at the same time cutting taxes, but again, sometimes logic flies in the face of a good liberal gloat.

Chait’s current column seems to focus on the lack of a significant response to his previous column highlighting the Cato Institute’s William Niskanen and his paper indicating that with the periods of tax cuts came increases in federal spending. This is supposedly some smoking gun that shows one causes the other. Again, we find, liberals assume all arguments exist in a vacuum. There is no possible interfering factor, unless it helps prove their case. Such is the case with Niskanen’s paper.

While I agree, historically it is decidedly easy to see that at times where there were attempts to cut spending, recently Reagan’s capital gains cut and Bush’s broader tax cut package, there have been massive boosts in government spending, that the tax cut was responsible for the spending is a ridiculous and juvenile argument. Niskanen perhaps was attempting to prove that our hope that by cutting the amount of money available to the federal behemoth, we might force fiscal restraint on our legislators proved a naïve hope. That’s the most significant part of his finding. To assume his finding shows a cause and effect, well, I’m not seeing it.

Let’s have a look, though, at why Chait seems to think raising taxes is what really allows healthy spending cuts and see why he so giddily assumes that we are all insane. First, his reasoning…

…I argued that Democrats are willing to inflict pain on constituents in the form of spending cuts in order to balance the budget but not in order to give tax cuts to the rich. So, when Republicans agree to raise taxes, large numbers of Democrats will join them to cut spending. This happened in 1982, '83 and '90. Democrats did it themselves in '93.

But when Republicans cut taxes, Democrats refuse to give them cover to make politically unpopular spending cuts. Republicans feel obliged to prove to voters that tax cuts aren't hurting their cherished programs. The latest case in point: the Bush tax cuts resulted in a Bush spending boom.

Chait seems to forget that nasty little thing called the Cold War. It was at its absolute height in the 80's and defense spending was geared towards trying to win that war as well as rebuild a shattered military left ragged and in tatters by the Carter administration. Spending went up through the 80's and didn't slow down militarily until Clinton came to power. Not so surprisingly, the man who loathed the military (enough that his written letters to the fact still can be found very readily on the 'Net) worked to gut the military to exploit the "peace dividend" and claim he had made "cuts".

No cuts were made in any of the pet social programs of the Left, nor have any been made. Let's examine, Department of Education, no cuts, Medicare/Medicaid, no cuts. In fact, they like many other federal agencies have seen drastic outlays and increases to their budgets. Some minor attempts to cut the rate of growth have met with stiff resistance from a Congress and President who seem to believe strongly in the benevolence of the Roosevelt and Johnson administrations.

Although one could argue that Bush understands, as Reagan did (and Clinton didn't) that the tax money is fundamentally the property of the citizens who send it and should be taken in smaller amounts than it has in the past and that such a reduction could generate more revenue (see: Laffer Curve), he and the Congressional Republicans have not grasped the need to curtail the bloated overburden that is the federal government. He has indeed expanded a wide variety of social programs as well as military spending. I can guarantee you, his social programs will bury our economy long before any military prograrm will.

In short, the Bush tax cuts didn't cause the Bush spending boom. The Bush tax cuts could have happened independently of the spending boom. The spending was going to happen. That there was a thought that the regular citizenry should get some of their money back, and a hope that Laffer would keep the coffers flush, was a beneficent side effect and one that was promised in the Republican campaign promises. I would argue that their slavish devotion to spending isn't an attempt to placate their "constituents". Only in the sense if Chait means their constituents are lobbyists on the Hill, including the "Grey Lobby", the group of organizations dedicated to expanding the engorged socialized medical system we already have in place to provide still more benefits to the newly rising power of the Baby Boomer Grey Hairs.

And I have to touch on this gem, one of his responses to the National Review's limp attempt at responding to his editorial.

...they argue that tax cuts might "cause spending cuts after a few years." For example, they posit that Ronald Reagan's tax cuts may have "helped doom Bill Clinton's" healthcare plan.

This might be persuasive if the Reagan deficits had stopped Clinton from trying to reform healthcare. But that's the opposite of the truth — Clinton pursued healthcare in part because of the deficits. Reform was an attempt to contain rising healthcare costs that were bankrupting government. And it failed not because of tax cuts and deficit pressure but because healthcare providers opposed it and helped convince the public that it would threaten their care.

I'm not personally sure that Reagan's cuts had anything to do with Clinton's attempts to "reform" healthcare. The Clintons (because it truly was a joint endeavor) had in mind to bring the multi-billion dollar health industry under their thumb and the government's. They assumed that it was just greedy health care companies that had been raising rates all those years, mostly coming out of the misnamed "Decade of Greed".

Rates had been rising, though, just as they had on college campuses, because the federal subsidy had tossed the competitive free market of health care completely on its ear and as a result shortages started occurring due to overuse of health care for frivilous reasons by people who were getting the government to pay for it. The logical conclusion of socialized medicine and its failure is seen in the "welfare lines" of Canada and Europe, where services are guaranteed, but in extremely short supply and sometimes taking longer to get than the affected person can realistically wait. This is what the Clintons wanted for the United States and they didn't want it because Reagan cut the capital gains rate. They wanted it because, simply, they were socialists and assumed that there's had to be the correct model. They would have gone after it if Reagan had been successful in cutting the rate or not.

In short, Chait's opinions are flawed, entirely one-sided in their view of history and downright myopic when it comes to considering outside influences on his model of cuts and spending. Perhaps he should consider that before so boastfully challenging people to come and take a swing at him. There's such a thing as being careful wh at you wish for.

Hat tip to RightWingNews for the story lead.

Friday, June 09, 2006

If You Google Hypocrisy, You Get Google

Ah, don’t you just love when the truly self-righteous turn out to be just as hypocritical as everyone else. I know I’m no exception. I catch myself being a hypocrite at times and vow to do better, but my blunders don’t quite reach up to the scale of Google’s.

See, I’ve never collaborated with a totalitarian regime before to restrict information flow and the free speech of its citizens. Google’s done that. I’ve never taken money from a totalitarian communist regime in order to facilitate said infringements on the country’s own citizens’ basic freedoms (not that they had them to begin with). Google did that. And I’ve never self-righteously claimed to poke a sharp stick in the eye of my own government when it asked for my help in counterterrorism operations while knowingly cooperating with a hostile and most certainly totalitarian regime. You guessed it. Google did that.

If the hypocrisy were anymore thick, you could use it as insulation in your home this winter. Noel Sheppard on Newsbusters details a short piece from the Associated Press, Google co-founder Sergey Brin fessed up that the megainfo company had “compromised its principles to accommodate Chinese censorship demands”.

The article also had this to say about some of the particulars of the arrangement.

“Google's China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism from human rights groups.”

Wouldn’t want any nasty facts about how oppressive the government of China is to its own citizens, now would we? The beautiful part of this is, most of the population of China probably has this seared into their collective conscious than any in the Western world. Google must be technospeak for Pravda.

Even better, this goes against the vaunted Google principles, the “Ten things Google has found to be true”, most specifically, “You can make money without doing evil”. But in all fairness, I’d imagine Brin and company don’t see China as truly evil. They only see its citizens as misguided, I’m sure. It’s obvious by their heavy-handed stance against cooperating with the United States government and their “take it up the tailpipe” stance with China, they’re following the traditional Marxist-Leninist formula of communist totalitarians = good, free republic = bad. So, I suppose in the literal sense, they likely don’t believe they’ve violated their sacred tenets of faith.

Sheppard does us the service of covering Brin's response to see if we can verify that hypothesis.

“’Perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense,’ Brin said.”… “‘It's perfectly reasonable to do something different, to say, 'Look, we're going to stand by the principle against censorship and we won't actually operate there.' That's an alternate path,’ Brin said. ‘It's not where we chose to go right now, but I can sort of see how people came to different conclusions about doing the right thing.’"

And, really, it does depend on what the definition of “is” is. Clinton would be proud, but so would Mao. When caught in their own hypocrisy, they get tangled up in their own words and trip over themselves saying…nothing. They can’t explain themselves because there is no explanation. They got caught with their hands in the yuan jar and now they can reap the whirlwind, which admittedly won't be much. But at least now they can have the indignity of every little phrase they utter in the name of “free speech” and against government “censorship” ringing hollow and sounding like the worthless rhetoric it is. Well done, guys. You’re as vapid and vacuous as the rest of the self-righteous holier-than-thou elitists you hang with.

And On a Personal Note…

Burn in Hell, Zarqawi. In the end, what you got wasn’t in the least as much as what you deserved. Hope you like Mesquite flavoring...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Dreaded “C” Word

No, I don’t mean that one. Anything associated with the word Christian seems to draw suspicion and ire from many on the Left. The last group I knew to so adamantly oppose religion was the Soviets, but as we’ve seen before, much of the Left claims ideological kinship to that mentality.

The recent cause for panic among local lefties is the announcement that “Choose Life” license plates will be available in Indiana through our BMV this year. The real bur in their saddle is that money from the sale of the plates will go to the Indiana Association of Pregnancy Centers, a group founded by Christian ministers as an alternative for pregnant women to the money machine that is Planned Parenthood. Our wonderful local weekly of the Left, NUVO, offered an impressively outraged article on the subject.

Now, anyone who has lived in Indiana for some length of time knows that “specialty plates” like this are easily acquired. All you have to get is 500 signatures of people who promise to buy the plate and boom you have your own special interest plate. It’s a great way to make money for any organization or school and it’s been a boon to the BMV. What I think really sticks in the craw of the Leftists opposing the plate is that approximately $3 million will go to pro-Life organizations due to a little bit of free enterprise, and there’s not a lot they can do about it.

The article spends several paragraphs going over the history of the Crisis Pregnance Centers, the visible arm of the IAPC, noting how they required that board members, directors and volunteers “are expected to know Christ as their Savior and Lord”. So a religious organization wants its employees to feel the same way? SCANDALOUS! How do we let this stand in such a secularly perfect society as the People’s Republic of…wait, no this is still the United States and companies can (for the most part) hire who they want and expect what they want out of employees. The article continues to note how the agency has guidelines designed to push their point of view (again, what nerve) regarding abortion as an abomination.

Where does this pathological hatred for a Christian organization come from? Well, my guess would be in childhood. Maybe they had to spend too much time sitting in church or got their knuckles whacked by a nun or just have a beef with their Creator, perhaps don’t even believe they have a Creator. Who knows and normally I’d say who cares? If you want to play the “I hate Christians and all they stand for game”, fine. Waste your time.

I wouldn’t even usually give time of day to such a hit piece, but NUVO can’t help but trumpet the idea that litigation will and needs to follow such an egregious act as a new specialty license plate. It seems that attorneys like Howard Bashman of thinks such plates provide a “bully pulpit” (no pun intended) and thus constitute government endorsement of speech. Amazingly, the ACLU, also quoted in the article, gets it right by noting that no one has a right to stifle this group’s speech as long as the opposing viewpoint isn’t squashed.

Naturally, no Planned Parenthood plate is currently forthcoming. NUVO notes the saintly organization is “focusing [their] time and energy on helping women receive accurate and available reproductive health care”. It’s such a shame they ran out of column inches to point out, after their lengthy hit piece of the Christian group that Planned Parenthood is a for-profit organization that is in the business of promoting abortion, because that’s what butters their bread. Nor have I ever seen NUVO note that the founders of Planned Parenthood, by the admission of one of their very own, manufactured out of whole cloth many of the statistics and data that led to the very bad case law of Roe v. Wade. But they’re not in the business of hit pieces on their friends, regardless of how morally repulsive they are.

Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again for the knee-jerks. I have my own opinion on abortion. I’m sure you do too. It’s hard not to these days. Most don’t like it. Some think it’s essential to have at least a little bit. Some want to be able to kill the baby in or out of the womb. That’s an argument for the legislatures of the country should they ever get around to dumping that worthless case law. However, I don’t like demonizing sloppy hit pieces like this NUVO’s, just because many of the Left think everything Christian = EVIL. And there’s no reason I can’t hit a little back. Maybe their argument will be a little snappier next time and not so bigoted. Yes, NUVO, you’re a bigot-rich publication. Enjoy.

Maybe a few people will have a more considered opinion of the issue if they’re able to separate simple bigotry towards Christian groups like this article from the facts and maybe we can have an honest debate on this issue rather than just assuming the other side has nothing to say. Maybe, but if articles like this serve and survive as the only source of information for one side or the other, I doubt it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Misjudging Kansas

Mark Parkinson, the Republican-turn-Democrat who wrote the 2004 liberal query “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” was the subject of a commentary by DeWayne Wickham in yesterday’s USA Today. Not so unusually for USA Today, the piece is a bit of a love fest implying that long-term Republicans, mostly the treasured “moderates” and mavericks the antiques like so much, are deserting the Republicans in drove and predicts they will possibly start swinging traditionally red states to the blue category.

That makes sense, because, you know, there’s nothing a Republican wants to do more than vote for a Democrat. I wonder sometimes how columnists with USA Today get their jobs, if they just come out of Cracker Jack boxes or if you turn in so many cereal box tops you get a columnist job. Hard to say. What is more likely, and what people like Wickham fail to grasp typically, is that usually the votes are more often on conservative and liberal lines anymore at the higher levels.

My first concern is his use of the 2002 gubernatorial run of Kathleen Sebelius, a “moderate” Democrat, whatever moderates are these days (for either party). Using gubernatorial elections as predictors for national trends or even state trends has never been that good of an indicator of the people’s voting habits. Indiana had Democrat governors from 1988 to 2004 and this state never went to a Democrat in any Presidential election. It’s not unique in that respect either. Local politics and national politics are two very different animals. Take Florida for instance. In the panhandle, in the old swamp counties, locals would rather shoot their dog than vote for a local Republican in many cases. They won’t hesitate to vote for a Republican governor or President, though. It’s politics of scale and Mr. Wickham might want to consider learning a bit about American politics before writing such a flawed editorial again.

Then there’s the matter of what Wickham makes of Parkinson’s defection to the Democrats. He notes that for Parkinson, the abandonment of economic development, education and limiting of government in people’s lives has been sacrificed for cultural warfare. I would argue that Parkinson is only partially correct.

While the Republicans may not be the small government types they used to claim they were, Democrats are by no means small government types and NEVER claimed to be. As for education, the Republicans and other parties like Libertarians have pushed for more reform versus more money (and lately that’s been more Libertarians). Democrats want to continue the money chute for failed programs like HEAD START and increased “social programs” and thus bureaucracy. So Parkinson’s argument in that area is disingenuous at worst and naïve at best. The Republicans also have strayed in limited impact on individual liberty, but the Democrats have made it quite clear they’ll seek a renewal and raising of taxes across the board, which one might argue is an even greater intrusion than the NSA wire-tapping terror suspects. It must've slipped his mind that CARNIVORE and ECHELON were implemented most heavily under the Democrat’s watch.

Then of course he mentions a slew of Republicans from other states who've defected to the Democrat side, most I would imagine RINO's to begin with. To assume that it's some big coup that a liberal would choose the more liberal party is again a bit short-sighted. No mention is present, of course, of the vast array of conservative Democrats over the past decade that have switched over to the Republican Party. This sort of thing happens. Some politicos on both sides of the fence do it to make sure they get a few more votes in the next election as well. That's yet another old game in politics.

What possibly disturbs me most about such speculative pieces as this is they ignore the historical fact that this happens just about every election and has for a lot longer than any of us have been around. When it benefits the agenda of the writer, and USA Today is typically a fairly strong liberal organ, then it's treated as some sort of new development rather than an ancient trend. History gives way to expediency of purpose, and the purpose today is to use the typical red state like Kansas as an example of how the Republicans are dieing and implying that the Democrats, the "party of the people" (whoo...hang on, had to stop the gut wrenching laughter before I could proceed) will be the Party ascendant. If they do, it will only be by simple osmotic inertia. Where one Party falls back, the other oozes in to fill the void like the primordial sludge the Parties are.

So what's wrong with Kansas? That they think old school liberalism, that very set of policies which led us into high crime, double digit inflation, a massive deficit (I dare anyone to say conservative or libertarian policies cause deficits), the burden of leviathan social welfare programs and a national economic malaise, will somehow be accepted and work again now that the antique media and RINO converts like Parkinson have spent the last few years demonizing any policy to the right of Mao. We'll see how much the voters have swallowed come November, though.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Drawing Conclusions

It often amazes me how people can look at the same data and draw wholly different conclusions. This is the miracle of the thought process and I’m forever fascinated by it.

Take NUVO for example, our weekly alternative freezine. They comment on a number of topics each week, usually major topics of the day and usually from their own extremely far Left point of view. It makes for good reading, I think, because it certainly shows you how the other side feels about issues of the day and occasionally even gives you an insight into why they feel the way they do.

Last week was a perfect example. NUVO has made no secret of its disfavor for conservative tampering with the beloved and woefully inefficient public school system. They will address that not enough is spent by the state on the local school system, IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools). They will also address that townships are unfairly compensated by IPS, but rarely will they comment on the fact that our former federal judge, S. Hugh Dillin, some years ago, “desegregated” Indianapolis schools and instituted a Byzantine busing system that sent kids from IPS to the townships. IPS was required to reimburse the townships for the extra expense, thus created a poor inner city school system and a burgeoning township system. The population quickly shifted to follow that course with those with the means moving out of the inner city with its higher taxes and failing schools to the townships.

Whose fault is this? It would seem greedy, heartless Republicans are if you read NUVO regularly. Whenever a Republican mayor or more recently governor has been in power, they have blamed them and not the tyrant of a federal judiciary that forced the system on Indianapolis and thus doomed it to the fate of many other major cities. One might say they were a bit blinded by their own hatred in that instance.

This last week, they carried that hatred for all things Republican and their own beliefs as to the failings of the public schools a little further. Their regular cartoon, Gadfly (although the one in question's a bit hard to find), showed kids getting medication to control them, security guards for the schools and a lack of studying the fundamentals in school (or the “three R’s” as they so nostalgically put it) and suffering a 50% dropout rate in high school. The fault of this horror bestowed upon our children? Why Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” plan and the new Republican governor Mitch Daniels are the obvious sources of all evil.

Never mind that the schools have been deteriorating steadily since the 70’s, that the greatest of the inner city schools suffered closures and then limited reopenings, that the bureaucracy of IPS has swelled as its teacher and student base have shrunk. It’s not budgetary mismanagement or an improper federal judiciary order. It’s the Republicans! Never mind that there is a national crisis in education that closely mimics Indianapolis’ problems. It’s mere coincidence. Under Democrats, there were no problems, at least none the Left was willing to admit needed anything more than more money.

Now, it may surprise those at NUVO and elsewhere to know that I agree with them on the existence of several of these problems. Kids are often overmedicated by parents who don’t have the time, energy or possibly inclination to raise them right. Maybe there’s just one parent working multiple jobs. Maybe the parents don’t care. Maybe they’re welfare kids. Whatever the reason, they’re growing up with problems that family or a church or someone with more moral legitimacy than a school should have to address. As a result, schools are trying to become social influences on the kids, drawing money and precious teaching time away from the “three R’s” of which NUVO waxes so eloquently.

I also agree that kids shouldn’t have to deal with metal detectors and security guards, but again, society has failed them. The Great Society was anything but and children are now paying for the government attempting to replace family and moral structure. It is in the neighborhoods, the churches, and the families that things must be built from scratch all over again to attempt to rectify this problem. Government and the schools have had 40 years to fail at this task and don’t deserve more time and money.

And then there’s ISTEP. Standardized testing is such the boogeyman for the Left. In fact, Gadfly and NUVO seem to think standardized testing is what’s causing teachers to fail at teaching kids enough to graduate. Maybe it’s the oversized bureaucracy, ridiculous lesson plans and lack of teaching the “three R’s” versus social engineering that are the cause of these kids’ problems in school regarding their dropout rate more than it’s the problem that we’ve had a Republican governor for a year or a Republican president for six. The problems certainly existed long before them, through eight years of a Democrat president and 16 years of Democrat governors. They existed before even them.

But obviously, if your point of view says it’s the Republicans’ fault, well at least it gives you some focus for your hate to keep you warm on those cold Indiana nights. I suppose it’s preferable to some to focus on winning the next election versus solving real problems. That at least appears to be a viewpoint that enjoys bipartisan support, yes?

Monday, June 05, 2006

If You Know What’s Good For You…

Then the government would be out of a job. The recent rash of cigarette ordinances, seatbelt enforcement zones and the ever popular sobriety checkpoints just go to show that local government isn’t much different than federal government in its belief that it needs to be your nanny.

We know, for example, that such things only open the floodgates for more control of behavior. Isn’t it extraordinary, in a day where the Left clamors for abortion on demand, freedom to marry whatever gender or possibly species you so choose, the right to illegally enter the country and then suffer no consequences, or basically just the right to do whatever you want to do to make yourself feel good (be it drugs, sexual preference, scientology, voting for Democrats, whatever…), that same “freedom-loving” Left is leading the charge to put a clamp on behaviors it doesn’t like? Isn’t it even more extraordinary that they have become so radical on both ends as the years progress? Moderation seems to be lost in the polarization of these issues. Instead, the gulf between opposing viewpoints has become far less compromising and far more vicious.

It is not at all uncommon for the Left to scream “Hypocrites!” when someone from the Right evinces an alternate point of view, possibly even a more traditional or “old-fashioned” point of view. They will argue that those on the Right oppose abortion, but favor capital punishment or oppose euthanasia but favor gun rights. Of course, that they are for the exact opposite seems to escape that they themselves would share the hypocrisy moniker in such an instance, but why let reality get in the way of a good argument?

So what we face now, the increased polarization of issues and pundits and the idea of individual moralities facing off as to what is “right” and what is “wrong” is an almost overwhelming affair for the average citizen. Where to start? How do we prioritize or even take a tolerant or moderate position if most of the information sources are so one-sided and volatile? Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a solution forthcoming in that area.

Politics is compromise it is often said, and in Congress and the state legislatures that certainly is still the case, but our personal viewpoints we don’t like to compromise. For those who have a firm footing in religion, moral discipline and/or a very strong integrity and will, it is easy to see things in terms of individual responsibility, a faith in the Almighty and the natural rights He has granted us, and to assume that more freedom with a greater degree of personal accountability and responsibility are the norm. For those who have cast aside or never had much grounding in religion (or take a more liberal view of the institution), who have faith in government-granted rights and the benevolence of the State versus corporate or local entities (even the individual) as well as a more collectivist view of the world, such concerns of basic morality are passé and such belief systems are obsolete. The assumption that the latter doesn’t come with its own set of rules and restrictions for the masses is somewhat naïve in its own right, though. They’re just different.

Both the conservative and liberal points of view (for lack of better terms, sometimes it’s just easier to describe arguments as conservative/liberal) deal with issues that define the structure of society and the standard rules of behavior that society expects for normal, healthy functioning members. The difference comes in basic interpretation and execution of those beliefs. While conservatives largely believe in free will tempered by moral discipline, they accept that people will have shortfalls and that the community must be there if it is needed. However, and yes extremes can cause this model to fail, it is assumed that it’s up to the individual to make his or her own choices. They can succeed or fail on their own and must pay for the mistakes they make along the way.

Liberals along the same vein also believe heavily in free will, but believe the governing reason of traditional religious morality can improperly restrain the passion and zest for life that free will offers. They also believe that society should be there should someone stumble because of their choices, but they believe such a social net is mandatory and that the rest of society must pay for the individual’s mistake. The morality of the majority becomes more important than basic religious morality. Extremes also cause basic failures in this system as well, and as liberalism tends to dominate the power structure these days, it is the burden we feel more. Smoking bans, seatbelt laws, sobriety checkpoints, squirt guns, and environmental restrictions on the use of property are all examples of how the liberal philosophy of the nanny state has been abused and how it actually works to impede the freedoms of the rest of the citizenry for the “common good”.

I dare say we saw a lot of the former, conservative government, before Hoover. Since then, we have seen a liberal application of government here and abroad (most of Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, and now South America). Levels of severity of course change from nation to nation and in our country state to state (sometimes even city to city). But it is still there and I dare say the abuses of the liberal way of doing things have been more pronounced and more severe over the past 100 years than the conservative way was for the 100 years or so before that.

In any instance of having a church scold me, and worrying about my relationship with my Maker, and having the State scold me and worrying about my continued health and welfare (in the more traditional use of the terms), I’ll take trying to work it out with my Maker any day. Humans are fallible and tend to selfish reasoning and so governments they create to enforce laws can be equally fallible. If we operate under this belief, there will always be tyranny of law and tyranny of the mind. A belief in a higher power, a perfect God that granted us inalienable rights allows us to still be flawed, frail creatures, but lets us aspire to be better and to sacrifice so that others can be better, doing so of our own free will. To me, the latter is far more noble than the former could ever hope to be and why I tend to put all my eggs in that basket.

Rather heavy handedly, what I’m saying is controlling our behavior through such small and petty things as laws and checkpoints “for our own good” is only done based on what other people think is “for our own good” and thus is subject to the whim of power and control. Those who have power and control will change that whim. Historically, we know that for a fact, and liberalism allows them that mechanism. Fast food, smoking, guns, free speech, free assembly, a free and politically diverse press are all things that have, are and will be under attack because some person or groups of persons doesn’t like them. If we allow that to continue, we allow our own oppression to slowly grow. If we nip these little nuisances in the bud now, we have made a small sacrifice for the future of us all.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nothing To See Here

Undoubtedly, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Fantasyland), is wishing he hadn't said what he said. Perhaps he's even wishing he hadn't been such a hypocritical schmuck when it came to criticizing other people for taking perks and gifts when he's lousy with them, but that could be wishing for a little too much.

If you'll recall, back in the beginning of the Jack Abramoff scandal, when politicos left and right (literally) were scrambling to return money from his fellow lobbyists, Reid not only refused to give back money that was openly from Abramoff's associates and denied he'd done anything improper (a dubious denial), he insisted it had nothing to do with Abramoff and that it was a REPUBLICAN problem! Well, it certainly was a Republican problem. It was also a horrendous Democrat problem, but sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. I digress.

Recently, good ole' "Give 'em Hell" Harry has been caught with his hand firmly planted in the proverbial cookie jar and his head lodged up some other orifice. It would seem the good senator took front row tickets to boxing matches courtesy of the Nevada Athletic Commission; tickets in some cases worth several thousand dollars, while his committee was reviewing law regarding federalizing boxing commissions. Now, obviously this couldn't have influenced any decision he might've made, especially since he was not only a boxer but a boxing judge before becoming a Senator. No conflict of interest there. Even John McCain, a slippery soul if there ever was one, paid for tickets he received as gifts, understanding there might be some impropriety to such a transaction.

Was Senator Reid humbled, repentant or contrite when this was thrust in his face? Not really. Instead, he implied he DESERVED such gifts because he was doing the people's business. Politics does a lot of things, but surely one of them is to grow wheelbarrow-sized brass pairs on the likes of Senator Reid.

Apparently, they shrunk back a little, though, as most people seemed not willing to swallow his arrogant excuses. He's begun damage control with the standard non-apology apology by saying although he didn't do anything wrong, he won't do it again. Well, I certainly believe him. I don't know about you.

I believe he'll be a lot more subtle the next time he takes a gift meant to influence or "bribe" him. I know a lot of his fellow Senators and Representatives are thinking the same thing, specifically, the bulk of the ones who do just as he does, just in different amounts. They're perhaps slowly coming to realize that the public has turned its miasmic eye, at least for the time being, on the ill-gotten gains of the Congressional patronage system. At least for a time, they might start paying more attention to the ethical considerations and questions such bribes raise. They won't do this out of any true ethical concern so much as a concern for not providing any ammunition to their opponents come November.

After the election, possibly even before, this will likely go away again. It's nice to get a small glimpse into the mentality of these particular Congressmen and women and perhaps because it's reached mainstream, maybe more of the public will remember this a little as well. I can dream can't I?