Friday, January 28, 2011

Pursue excellence

(APPLES AND ORANGES, POTS AND KETTLES: Thoughts from several friends)

People who know me and who have read my columns over the last decade know that I was not ever a fan of "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush, who had a lot more in common with old-line "hawkish" liberals (Henry Wallace and Zbigniew Brzezinski come to mind) than with any sort of real conservative. I did (and do) defend him against people who portray him as an idiot, stupid, or incompetent. He made a lot of mistakes, but he did not usually deserve the venom expended on him - the ad hominem attacks. But it meant that no error of his could or would go unreported and uncondemned by the mainstream media.

Now we have who one friend calls "the First Citizen," in office now for 24 months - at the mid-point of his first term. There are lots of reasons that I am not a fan of the present incumbent of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Race is not one of them - I've served under black (and hispanic, and women) commanders - any one of which would have made a better president, regardless of their politics, than the current First Citizen. It is not because he was born (or not) in Hawai'i - Robert Kyosaki is also a son of Hawai'i - and would be (is) a good leader). It is not even because he claims Chicago as his hometown - I am sure that there are many good people who live in Chicago, even if I've not met any personally. It is not even because he is a lawyer (or at least played one in a college - I understand he is not licensed): I know almost a handful of lawyers whom I like, respect, and trust. It is not because he is a disciple of that hateful and hating advocate of black liberation theology, Jeremiah Wright; I've supported people of a wide range of denominations and sects for political office - including those who claim none.

No, I am not a fan of the First Citizen for very specific reasons which have nothing to do with his races or color, his adopted culture or hometown or alma mater, his religion, or all these other things. I am not a fan - and was not a fan when he was just another senator running for president - because of his upbringing, his experience, and his political beliefs and policies. Today, I must add to that list, his actions in the White House. He had demonstrated an incredible lack of qualifications - more than just birthplace. He has demonstrated all the traits that are wrong in any leader. Or for that matter, any manager.

He is both arrogant and subservient - and always to the wrong person at the wrong time. His is both a die-hard and a compromiser, again always at the wrong time and wrong place. He displays a memorable lack of knowledge, even about subjects which are officially within his area of expertise, such as the Constitution. He lies. He is both greedy and addicted to conspicuous consumption. His ego exceeds that of any past president - and they are, by and large, an egotistical lot.

If you believe that I am being unfairly critical of the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, answer these questions:

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had ordered the bust of Winston Churchill, a gift years ago from the United Kingdom, shipped back to the United Kingdom with no explanation, would you have thought it rude and ill-mannered?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes (and not because they were opposed to taxes), would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had stated that there were 57 states in the United States , would you have said that he is clueless?

If George W. Bush would have flown all the way to Denmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door in Texas, would you have thought he was a self important, conceded, egotistical jerk?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had misspelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoe as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had approved Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

If George W Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had told the nation that Democrats would have to ride in the back seat in bipartisan efforts to fix the economy, would you have cheered him on?

If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken decades to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved? If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He did this all in under a year (don't get me started on 2010) -- but don't worry, you still have two more years to come up with an answer.

George W. Bush was not a good president - his "conservative" credentials were tarnished from his first year in office. He did some good things, and a lot of bad things... in fact, many people understand that most (if not all) of the mistakes that the Obama administration has made in this 24 months since Obama took office are really the fault of George W. Bush: He made sure to point that out in the recent State of the Union address, reminding us that this economic crisis began ten years ago: January 20, 2001.

As a friend wrote a few months ago: "Of course, ... It's all George Bush's fault.

"George Bush, who doesn't have a vote in congress and who no longer occupies the White House, is to blame for it all.

"He broke Obama's promise to put all bills on the White House web site for five days before signing them.

"He broke Obama's promise to have the congressional health care negotiations broadcast live on C-SPAN.

"He broke Obama's promise to end earmarks.

"He broke Obama's promise to keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent.

"He broke Obama's promise to close the detention center at Guantanamo in the first year.

"He broke Obama's promise to make peace with direct, no precondition talks with America 's most hate-filled enemies during his first year in office, ushering in a new era of global cooperation.

"He broke Obama's promise to end the hiring of former lobbyists into high White House jobs.

"He broke Obama's promise to end no-compete contracts with the government.

"He broke Obama's promise to disclose the names of all attendees at closed White House meetings.

"He broke Obama's promise for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in all matters.

"He broke Obama's promise to have chosen a home church to attend Sunday services with his family by Easter of last year [2009].

"Yes. it's all George Bush's fault. President Obama is nothing more than a puppet in the never-ending, failed Bush administration.

"If only George Bush wasn't still in charge, all of President Obama's problems would be solved. His promises would have been kept, the economy would be back on track, Iran would have stopped its work on developing a nuclear bomb and would be negotiating a peace treaty with Israel . North Korea would have ended its tyrannical regime, and integrity would have been restored to the federal government. ...

"If only George Bush wasn't still in charge, we'd have real change by now.

"All the broken promises, all the failed legislation and delay (health care reform, immigration reform) is not President Obama's fault or the fault of the Democrat-controlled Congress. It's all George Bush's fault. ...

"Need more proof?

"You might recall that when Scott Brown won ... election to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts , capturing 'the Ted Kennedy seat,' President Obama said that Brown's victory was the result of the same voter anger that propelled Obama into office in 2008. People were still angry about George Bush and the policies of the past 10 years. and they wanted change. Yes, according to the president, the voter rebellion in Massachusetts ... was George Bush's fault. Therefore, in retaliation, they elected a Republican to the Ted Kennedy seat, ending a half-century of domination by Democrats.
It is all George Bush's fault.

"Will the failed administration of George Bush ever end, and the time for hope and change ever arrive?"

Well, here it is, the first month of 2011, and now the pundits are telling us that the current occupant is still the front-runner in the election of 2012, and getting more popular all the time. Two well-delivered and well-written speeches and he is suddenly the best thing since Ronald Reagan... For some of us. For some of US. What now?

A tattle-tale society filled with panicked people

A couple of friends shared this with me - I've left off their names because I don't want them associated with this site: they are in enough trouble already!

Report of armed man leads to lockdown at Wal-Mart:

Kirksville, Mo. — A report of an armed man acting erratically in the
Wal-Mart parking lot Wednesday led to the store being temporarily locked
down before Kirksville Police responded to and defused the situation
with no injuries.

According to Kirksville Police Chief Jim Hughes, a passerby stopped a
Kirksville Police officer and said they had seen an individual acting
erratically in a truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot shortly before 2:30
p.m. The passerby believed the individual had a gun to his head.

As readers already know, Wal-Mart has recently publicly teamed up with the US Department of Homeland Security to encourage their customers, associates, and building-dwellers to be on the lookout for terrorists and other evil scum.

Person A wondered if this was the first-fruits of that partnership.

Person B responded: Probably not - just a nosy parker walking by. But it might make Wal-Mart think twice about the wisdom of teaming up with DHS.

Reminds me of a whole bunch of people in XXXXX who reported to the cops that they saw a "young man walking down the sidewalk wearing a holster" (empty holster) within a block of a school - led to an afternoon's lockdown on the school and terrorizing of an entire neighborhood as they searched for this "dangerous person."

And that in turn reminds me of the silly "dependent wife" (using the term specifically as a putdown, instead of the now preferred "family member: spouse) in a Fort XXXXXX housing area who called, hysterically, to the Post Engineer's work order desk demanding that someone come down to her housing area and immediately get rid of the horrible snake what was out in the middle of the street before one of the wife's children, or some other child, went to play with it and got bitten and turned purple and died. The work order clerk tried to calm her, and said that she could just keep the children away from that part of the street for a few minutes and the snake would go ahead and slither across the street and disappear into the woods, and nothing would happen and no one needed to come down to deal with it. "But you don't understand!" the wife wailed. "The snake is DEAD. It won't go away!!!"

Today, our society has become such a web of snitches, informants, tattletales, and "dependent" people who can't and won't do anything for themselves that we are incredibly lucky that we don't just turn into Brave New World voluntarily. (Some would say we are doing so right now.) We convince ourselves that nothing - and everything - is our business. We see our neighbor's patio on fire and we don't go over there with our water house: we call 9-1-1. We see a kid spraying graffiti on a church building and we don't try and stop him; we wait until we get home and call 9-1-1. We don't like the fact that our neighbor hasn't mowed his lawn in a month and instead of going over to visit (and, heaven forbid, offer to help), we call the code enforcement office. The list can go on and on: we are now conditioned to let government do everything possible for us. But we then complain about taxes and how we get in trouble. What a society!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

$50 Lesson

The folks down the street came walking by a few days ago with their seven-year-old daughter and stopped to say 'Hi'.

During small talk chat I asked the little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, 'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do? '

She replied, 'I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people.'

Her parents beamed with pride.

'Wow...what a worthy goal.' I told her, 'But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house. '

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, ' Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50? '

I said, 'Welcome to the Libertarian Party.'

Her parents are no longer speaking to me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Canadian View of President Obama - Answered!

This was sent to me by a friend, and I just have to share it with everyone.

Anyone with an active e-mail correspondence periodically gets one of these: a letter forwarded by a friend from a friend from a friend... Often, the ones that come from outside the US are supporting one or another political view of events here in the US, and this one is no different. But sometimes, the forwarded document is so blatantly wrong that it demands a response. This is such a one. I've removed any names or references that could identify anyone in the chain, and then put my own response in italics after each paragraph or section.

Sometimes, it takes an astute outside observer to show people what they are doing to themselves. This was forwarded from a Canadian friend ...
I just received this last night from a dear friend. Why is it that the rest of the world can see what is happening in the US, but people here are so blind? I thought this was well worth sending on to all of you.
With love, XXXX

America - He's your President for Goodness Sake!
By William Thomas
Posted: Friday, October 1st, 2010

There was a time not so long ago when Americans, regardless of their political stripes, rallied round their president. Once elected, the man who won the White House was no longer viewed as a Republican or Democrat, but the President of the United States. The oath of office was taken, the wagons were circled around the country’s borders and it was America versus the rest of the world with the president of all the people at the helm.

Suddenly President Barack Obama, with the potential to become an exceptional president has become the glaring exception to that unwritten, patriotic rule.

How incredible that Mr. Thomas sees Mr. Obama "with the potential to become an exceptional president" - exceptional in what way? In his "preparation?" In his "past experience?" In his writings? In his management skills? In his military background?
Not only that, but exactly how is Mr. Obama "the glaring exception?"

Four days before President Obama’s inauguration, before he officially took charge of the American government, Rush Limbaugh boasted publicly that he hoped the president would fail. Of course, when the president fails the country flounders. Wishing harm upon your country in order to further your own narrow political views is selfish, sinister and a tad treasonous as well.

Clearly Mr. Thomas did not bother to listen to Limbaugh's actual words (readily available on-line in many places) or to Limbaugh's explanation of what he said (which has never changed since that January 16th, 2009 broadcast). Nor is it appropriate to call it "boasting." Limbaugh explained that the President-elect's campaign platform, his political appointments, his actions before inauguration (no other president in the history of the United States has EVER created an organization the size of the "Office of the President-Elect" (much less a seal for a podium with that boastful phrase) before he took office), and Mr. Obama's own writings made it clear that he intended to transform America into a new entity little resembling that America of the past, and for that reason he hoped that he failed. Mr. Williams seems to have bought the line of the likes of Ed Schulz and other far-left, transnational-progressives. As for "when the president fails the country flounders," I have to make two comments. First, the country was already floundering in January 2009, and had been for a year or more. Second, American history has continually demonstrated that the "failure" of a president has always in the past been easily overcome and the Union has continued: whether we are talking the first Harrison, the first Johnson, Grant, Wilson, Harding, Hoover, Nixon, Ford, or even Clinton. Even though Mr. Williams may not agree with Limbaugh's views, he should (and could have) surely recognized that in Limbaugh's own eyes, his political views ARE for the good (not harm) of the country - his "sinister" and "a tad treasonous" is just adding insult to injury.

Subsequently, during his State of the Union address, which is pretty much a pep rally for America, an unknown congressional representative from South Carolina, later identified as Joe Wilson, stopped the show when he called the President of the United States a liar. The president showed great restraint in ignoring this unprecedented insult and carried on with his speech. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so stunned by the slur, she forgot to jump to her feet while clapping wildly, 30 or 40 times after that.

Sadly, Mr. Thomas understands neither the United States Constitution nor its customs nor the value we place on honesty. The "State of the Union" address is a MANDATORY Constitutional obligation of the President to report to the Congress. It is NOT a "pep rally" and it is NOT the Queen's Speech to Parliament, NOR is the President a monarch by grace of God. Would that more Congressmen had had the guts and honesty to stand up not just at this speech but many others! Of course, Mr. Williams has to insult Rep. Wilson, branding him as "unknown," as if ANY M.C. is "unknown." Of course, the last sentence of this paragraph makes me wonder if Mr. Williams is actually being incredibly sarcastic.

Last spring, President Obama took his wife Michelle to see a play in New York City and republicans attacked him over the cost of security for the excursion. The president can’t take his wife out to dinner and a show without being scrutinized by the political opposition? As history has proven, a president in a theatre without adequate security is a tragically bad idea.
Remember: “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

Once more, Mr. Thomas twists the comments for the sake of making his argument. The attack by the GOP (and others) was not about "security" costs but about the total cost of that little excursion. Abe did not take Mary to the play by having the government hire a train to and from NYC, and the regiment of troops that was used to protect him on the road. And as a result, Mr. Williams misses the entire point (maybe he is so much a Monarchist that he believes that Barack and Michelle need to be treated as if they WERE Elizabeth and Phillip), that Mr. Obama has acted more like Nero or Caligula or Louis XVI than the elected leader of a free and republican nation.

At some point, the treatment of President Obama went from offensive to ugly and then to downright dangerous.

Of course, this may have been more because of how Mr. Obama's treatment of the American people and his political opponents (whom as I recall he calls "enemies") went from disdainful and condescending to arrogant and overbearing and even dictatorial.

The health-care debate, which looked more like extreme fighting in a mud pit than a national dialogue, revealed a very vulgar side of America. President Obama’s face appeared on protest signs white-faced and blood-mouthed in a satanic clown image. In other tasteless portrayals, people who disagreed with his position distorted his face to look like Hitler complete with mustache and swastika.

Again, Mr. Thomas seems to forget the long tradition of American politics and political lampooning - and especially the fact that Mr. Obama's immediate predecessor was treated exactly the same way (of course, the "satanic clown" image was taken from Heath Ledger's protrayal of the Joker in a movie that came out in July 2008 - else portrayal of GWB would have used the Joker imagery far more than they have. Hitler? Actually, I think virtually EVERY American president since FDR has been called Hitler by someone at some time. When your policies and your attitudes bear some resemblance to National Socialism or its tactics or its cult of personality, this should be no surprise..

Odd, that burning the flag makes Americans crazy, but depicting the president as a clown and a maniacal fascist is accepted as part of the new rude America.

Distasteful as the GOP, the Tea Party activists, and many Libertarians doing this is to me, I have to again point out - it is not the FIRST president to be so treated, and if Mr. Thomas thinks we are rude now, he would go into shock if he had seen how Americans behaved during (to name just a few) the election contest of Jackson vs. Adams in 1828, Jackson vs. Clay in 1832, the four-way race in 1860, or the three-way race of Wilson, Taft, and Roosevelt in 1912. But Mr. Jackson apparently thinks that America should follow the Roman system of making our head of state and government into a deified god.

Maligning the image of the leader of the free world is one thing, putting the president’s life in peril is quite another. More than once, men with guns were videotaped at the health-care rallies where the president spoke. Again, history shows that letting men with guns get within range of a president has not served America well in the past.

Oh, please, Mr. Thomas, how foolish can you be? For every man who ever fired or attempted to fire a shot at a president of the United States, there have been literally HUNDREDS of thousands of men and women carrying firearms within range of a serving (or do you prefer "reigning," Mr. Williams) president. Indeed, the presence of peaceful free citizens bearing arms in defense of themselves and others actually probably makes the president safer. Your blue nose is showing, Mr. Williams; remember, Canadians were once free subjects of Her Majesty with a Englishman's traditional (and God-given) right of self-defense by bearing arms, but that was in the past.

And still the “birthers” are out there claiming Barack Obama was not born in the United States, although public documentation proves otherwise. Hawaii is definitely part of the United States, but the Panama Canal Zone where his electoral opponent Senator John McCain was born? Nobody’s sure.

I now see that not only is Mr. Thomas unfamiliar (or willing to ignore) even common basic law (law which we share with Canadian provinces), but he is willing to not just twist but ignore the truth. Whether or not Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii as he claims or not, what is a matter of public record is that HE has taken action, through various means, to prevent the release of this "public documentation" Mr. Williams refers to - while attempting to foist off a variety of other documentation which has been demonstrated to be meaningless. This is entirely Mr. Obama's fault - he could have completely undercut the "birthers" by simply releasing his REAL birth certificate or authorizing the State of Hawaii office to do. (Assuming, of course, that he WAS born where he and his handlers say he was.) As for Senator McCain and the Panama Canal Zone, I cannot believe that Mr. Williams does not know that the PCZ issue WAS raised even before Senator McCain won the nomination and that he DID release a real birth certificate issed by Gorgas Army General Hospital and that the courts have repeatedly determined that the PCZ was as much a part of the United States at McCain's birth as was the Territory of Hawaii, Territory of Alaska, or District of Columbia. [Indeed, MOREso - because the US not only bought the PCZ from Columbia AND from the new Republic of Panama, but they bought every square inch from a private landowner as well. The Congress didn't pay Maryland a dime for what is now the District of Columbia.]

Last month, a 44-year-old woman in Buffalo was quite taken by President Obama when she met him in a chicken wing restaurant called Duff’s. Did she say something about a pleasure and an honour to meet the man or utter encouraging words for the difficult job he is doing? No. Quote: “You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body.”
Lady, that was the President of the United States you were addressing, not one of the Jonas Brothers! He’s your president for goodness sakes, not the guy driving the Zamboni at “Monster Trucks On Ice.” Maybe next it’ll be, “Take Your President To A Topless Bar Day.”

Well, Mr. Thomas, you really can't blame the entire nation - or even a large section of it - for a woman who is either a flat-out liar or has really, really bad taste. Her inappropriate words remain her responsibility, and perhaps to some degree blame can be laid at the feet of her parents and the popular (check-out stand) media. But she obviously assumed that the president would accept her "compliment" based on his own actions - his "beer summits" and his comments about various people (including comments made on popular cable shows) and the mere fact that he was at a place called "Duff's" in a town like Buffalo. (Not that New Yorkers are exactly polite, but Buffalo has the misfortune of being both in New York AND very, very close to Canada.)

In President Barack Obama, Americans have a charismatic leader with a good and honest heart. Unlike his predecessor, he’s a very intelligent leader. And unlike that president’s predecessor, he’s a highly moral man.

At this point, words fail me. Charismatic Mr. Obama is - he is an accomplished demagogue (at least when he has a teleprompter available). But his actions both before his term began and since that term began lends very strong evidence that his heart is neither good or honest. Volumes have been written about his lies - and not including his "misstatements." His mastery of Chicago politics, and his adherence to the political philosophy of progressivism, are strong arguments that it is a vile slander to call him "good." If a man is judged by his companions, his allies, and his supporters, this characterization is even more at odds with his real character: from ACORN and the SEIU to Raum Emmanual, Jesse Jackson, Wright, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, he is known by the company he keeps. As for whether he is more intelligent than George W. Bush, well, we don't really know, do we? Bush's scholastic and military records we can see and review; Mr. Obama has made sure that his school and college records are sealed, and of course, he HAS no military records. As for whether he is more "moral" than William Jefferson Clinton - well, I shall leave that to the Lord to decide, but I have my suspicions.

In President Obama, Americans have the real deal, the whole package and a leader that citizens of almost every country around the world look to with great envy. Given the opportunity, Canadians would trade our leader, hell, most of our leaders for Obama in a heartbeat.

Oh please, BE MY GUEST. I've known a few Canadian leaders, and I think I'd even be willing to accept Pierre Elliott Trudeau, much less a McDonald or a Harper. I've certainly not seen (at least not since the election of 2008) the mass appeal of Mr. Obama in the UK (which he has insulted repeatedly), Germany, France, and certainly not Korea, China or Japan. Indonesia does seem to like him, but then, he was one of them for a while; Kenya seems to really take after him - for the same reason, I guess. The fact that Canadians (according to Mr. Thomas - many of my friends in Canada would not agree) would trade for him demonstrates more of the shortcomings of the Canadian electorate (and political leadership) than the merits of Mr. Obama.

What America has in Obama is a head of state with vitality and insight and youth. Think about it, Barack Obama is a young Nelson Mandela. Mandela was the face of change and charity for all of Africa but he was too old to make it happen. The great things Obama might do for America and the world could go on for decades after he’s out of office.

Mandela is such a WONDERFUL role-model, isn't he? (Sarcasm intended.) Yes, Mr. Obama has youth, and he has physical vitality: his political vitality is just a wee bit enervated these days. As to insight, well, as Chicago politicians go, yes, he has insight. As far as REAL insight into anything: government, politics (outside Chicago and Democratic backrooms), the Constitution, economics, freedom, liberty, military affairs, foreign affairs, or how to treat people... I guess I'm from Missouri, Mr. Williams: Show me. As for his continuing "value" for decades after his out of office - well, we've learned from Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton just how painful THAT is; I don't think even many of Mr. Obama's supporters are looking forward to that.

America, you know not what you have.

Oh if that were only the case. But thanks to both his own machine, the Democratic Party, talk shows, the daily news, and bloggers, we know all too well what we have. Like I said, "be my guest." I'm sure that Ottawa will soon be trying to give him away to Bermuda or Jamaica or Kenya or someplace...

The man is being challenged unfairly, characterized with vulgarity and treated with the kind of deep disrespect to which no previous president was subjected. It’s like the day after electing the first black man to be president, thereby electrifying the world with hope and joy, Americans sobered up and decided the bad old days were better.

I agree, Mr. Thomas, that some of the challenges and characterizations are unfair, since Mr. Obama is reaping the lashing back of eight years of progressive/liberal and Democratic attacks on his predecessor: his opponents figure that they can use the same tactics used against one of their people. But you obviously were in isolation between 2001 and 2009 if you do not believe that previous presidents have never received this kind of treatment. To say nothing of your lack of knowledge of such presidents as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Richard Nixon.

President Obama may fail but it will not be a Richard Nixon default fraught with larceny and lies. President Obama, given a fair chance, will surely succeed but his triumph will never come with a Bill Clinton caveat – “if only he’d got control of that zipper.”

No, at least for now, what Mr. Obama and his minions are stealing is being done "in accordance with the law" - however immoral their actions might be. But the lie part is already there - a long list of usurpations and abuses is tied with outright lying and shading of the truth that resembles graffiti on a railroad car more than it does the tones on a pencil sketch or painting. And given the obvious size of Mr. Obama's ego, I'd not think you wise to place any bets on him NOT following in Clinton's steps.

Please. Give the man a fair, fighting chance. This incivility toward the leader who won over Americans and gave hope to billions of people around the world that their lives could be enhanced by his example, just naturally has to stop.

Mr. Thomas, it is clear that we are fighting Mr. Obama for the heart, the soul, and the future of America and our liberties; when the stakes are that high, to paraphrase that great American Bill Cosby, "we ain't gonna play fair, and we ain't gonna give 'em a fighting chance. You Brits wear red jackets and march in straight lines and wear shiny brass and fire in volleys; we'uns will wear buckskin and hide behind trees and sneak around in the dark and bushwack you with every dirty trick we'un can think of. So there." Ditto for a transnational progressive elitist. The hope of the billions of people of the world rests in liberty and freedom which leads to peace and prosperity and a future worth living in. And America won't help reach for that hope if Mr. Obama continues to pretend to be the leader of this nation and of the free world. If they follow HIS example, may the Lord have pity on them in their chains and poverty.

Believe me, when Americans drive by the White House and see a sign on the lawn that reads: “No shirt. No shoes. No service,” they’ll realize this new national rudeness has gone way, way too far.

I won't even be able to respond to this last sentence, because you just aren't making sense, Mr. Thomas. But then, looking back at your writing, you didn't really make that much sense from the start. I am glad that so many Canadians don't agree with you.


I do applaud Mr. William Thomas' willingness to sign his name to this strange little article. I assume, though, that there are enough William Thomases in the BC phonebook to give him that luxury. But don't worry, here in the United States we still have (for now) and still honor (for now) free speech. I understand you used to have that in Canada, too, another of those legacies of being Englishmen.

Here ends my friend's commentary. I have deleted his name and address, just as he did for his correspondents, because I know how much trouble he is in already and don't want him to get into more for speaking the truth about this American President and refuting the claims of this British Columbian writer.

Monday, December 06, 2010

MADD's Addictive Behavior - The Solution!

MADD for more than 25 years has demanded and received the passage of numerous draconian laws and a tyrannical enforcement of those same laws; today, a growing movement challenges their basic claims and their accomplishments, pointing out that not only did the harsh laws NOT solve the problems of drunk-driving deaths, but has actually aggravated other problems in society.

But if we get rid of the MADD solution which is no solution, what can we do about drunk driving, about the thousands killed and tens of thousands injured, many maimed, by alcohol abuse?

The libertarian solution is to hold parents responsible for their children, which today is defined as anyone under 18; and to hold anyone who is an "adult" responsible for the RESULTS of their actions as well as their actions.

While this might be done through various government actions (even in a minarchist society), history shows that it is best done through private, voluntary, society-wide actions. Indeed, the one good thing that MADD has done is to create a general condition in society that drinking and driving while intoxicated is wrong and that those who do so are shunned and punished voluntarily by their friends, families, and neighbors. It is a solution which has worked well in many other nations, and even in many elements of society and localities in the United States: consider Utah, tee-total Baptist and Christian communities, and indeed, many colleges. For these situations, the draconian federally-mandated laws about underage drinking often do serve only to weaken the society's own systems.

Failing that solution (which many will call utopian), there are many other alternatives to the current age-based strictures. Not all are libertarian, by any means, but offer advantages over the MADD-addictive behavior we now suffer.

One of the reason for high death rates in many areas in the pre-21 law era was the irresponsible behavior of those who lived near borders of states with lower drinking ages. For example, high death rates from alcohol-related accidents were a given in the 1970s and 1980s on US-85 between Greeley, Colorado (home of University of Northern Colorado) and Cheyenne, Wyoming; and US-287 between Fort Collins (home of Colorado State University) and Laramie, Wyoming (home of University of Wyoming). Wyoming was an 18-state, and Colorado a 21-state. It was NOT UW students or Air Force personnel from Cheyenne that were dying on those roads: it was 18-20 year-old Colorado college students who were going to Wyoming, getting drunk, and then driving 50-80 miles home that were killing and getting killed. Same thing in border college towns in South Dakota (next to Wyoming) and Kansas (next to Missouri). College students weren't being, and aren't being, held responsible for their actions.

I seriously doubt that fewer CSU and UNC students are drinking today (and drinking underage) - they are just doing it in their home town, instead of playing law games and doing it "legally" in another state. And so they are less likely to be driving, and not having to drive as far, while plastered. But they are, as the college presidents point out, growing used to ignoring, indeed scorning, the law and the breaking of the law just adds to the enticement of rebellion.

One size does NOT fit all - whether that size is measured in years of age or percentage of alcohol in the blood.

One (admittedly governmentally-based) solution is to allow only "responsible citizens" to drink. How do you define responsibility? It could be based on very easily measurable standards, like a high school diploma and a responsible job, degree from college, or completion of a first tour of duty in the military; or by more exact and not so easily determined standards, like supporting yourself withOUT government or parental grants and loans; or demonstrating maturity in some other way. (Those not demonstrating responsibility and competence might get "driving permits" which prohibit their driving during certain times of day, or which require additional safeguards like on-board testing of reflexes or breath.) But that will only work IF people are held accountable for their actions. If they demonstrate that despite their degree or their duty or their income-earning ability that they are NOT responsible, then they need to be treated accordingly: if they lose their right to drive, so too should their right to vote, their right to sign contracts, indeed, their right to be an adult, be removed.

The only real justification for prisons (as compared to restorative justice - paying back what is owed) is the same as for capital punishment: to protect society from someone who has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to not harm others. No, I am not advocating prison for drunk drivers; but I am saying that instead of treating all 18-20 year olds as criminals and the lowest dregs of society, let us treat ALL abusers of alcohol as children who must be prevented from harming themselves and the rest of us.

This of course has to be tied into an accurate identification of what constitutes "impaired" and "under the influence." People ARE NOT THE SAME. One person may be dead drunk at 0.12 but another at 0.15; one may have their reflexes and judgment seriously impaired at 0.08, another at 0.12, but a third at 0.06. But tests for content (breath or blood) are simple and mandated. What is needed is a test of results: a modern day version of walking the line and other sobriety checks. Frankly, some people couldn't pass a proper range of tests demonstrating they are capable of handling an automobile at high speeds if they were stone-cold sober since Nixon resigned - and shouldn't be allowed to drive any more than the woman who blew 0.41.

Whatever is done, we have to end once and for all the idea that government - whether "guided by" MADD or not - is the solution to every problem.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pearl Harbor 1941 - Lessons Learned

There are lessons to be learned from Pearl Harbor, 69 years later.

The North County (San Diego) Times published the usual “Pearl Harbor Day” piece this year for the 69th Anniversary of the attack that began WW2 for most Americans.

There are only nine members of the Survivor’s Association in North County left, and most of them spoke to the reporter. Here is some of what they said:

Walsh said, he still considers it an important duty to speak to schoolchildren, telling them about that day, its consequences and what lessons it holds for current and future generations.
"Particularly the high school kids," he added. "Half of them don't even know where the hell Pearl Harbor is ---- that was really startling."
He was referring to a visit several years ago to an Escondido high school, where he was compelled to find a globe to point out the vast span of the war in the Pacific.

Another survivor:

Michelle Leslie's daughter, Lauren, wanted to know: "Is there anything our generation could learn from your generation?"
"Always be prepared, always be on the lookout," answered Greenhouse, who was stationed at nearby Marine Corps Air Station Ewa on Oahu at the time of the attack. "Get your training today, because it will sure help in the future. We were caught by surprise; the main thing is, be prepared for whatever happens."

Today, there are still lessons, great and important lessons, to be learned from Pearl Harbor. Let us ignore the events and the duplicity and conspiracies which preceded it, and which led to it. Let us ignore the propaganda that demonizes one or both sides, the arguments about legality and provocation, and all the rest. Let us even ignore the consequences of the nearly four years of the Great Pacific War which followed.

The lessons we need to learn, in the United States and elsewhere, from that Sunday attack on a huge and unprepared naval base in the center of the Pacific, are the same lessons that need to be learned from battles and events around the world, from the Rape of Nanking to the Soviet-Russian attack on Poland to the invasion of the Falklands to the invasion of Kuwait to bloody Troubles of Northern Ireland and the subways of Madrid.

First, we forget our history, or at least most of us do. Those who remember are both blessed and cursed: blessed because they can see that the same things can and will happen again, and perhaps they can take some action, however small, to reduce the possibility that when these things happen again, that the outcome will be different. But the failure of so many to take any action will haunt them all their lives. Those who forget (or never learned) the history of peoples and nations and wars and technology, are to be pitied indeed: they will suffer more when those events are repeated, and they will drag millions with them into suffering and cruelty and untimely death and all the rest of the evils that man can do to other men. Especially in 2010, there are billions of people – especially in the West and China – who believe that we are in some bizarre era of “post-history” – that the wars and attacks and invasions and diseases and atrocities of the past will never repeat themselves. They are doomed, for that has not been the case for six thousand years, and man has not changed in the last 60 or 50 or 40 years.

Second, Greenhouse’s words are not “trite” or “pro forma” or “hackneyed.” The lesson, for young and old, for today and tomorrow – the lesson that too many will not learn, and that those who learn seem to forget – is to “be prepared, be on the lookout, and get your training now.” Wise words from a very old man: words that 99% of humanity ignore time and again, and ignore to their peril.

Be prepared: enemies change, but the dangers of tyranny, of the power mongers, the sociopaths and psychopaths, the liars and perveyors of evil. Slightly changed perhaps, but still present. The enemies are both internal and external to a nation: as they were in 1941, so they will be in 2011. The tactics and strategies will given new names or scents or colors, but still will be used: lies and promises, appeals to fear and patriotism and always, ALWAYS, twisting of good into evil. And people will still bleed, still scream, and still die. Prepare for the worst, and enjoy anything better. As part of being prepared, set your goals and your objectives. Is it security or liberty, long life or health or family? Events should not set aside your goals as a free man or woman, IF you are prepared.

Be on the lookout: eternal vigilance is necessary, whomever the enemy, whatever the cause, whatever the methods of attack and defense. Do not take first appearances, or “common knowledge” for the truth. Do not listen to any one side of anything. Question everything – especially authority. Understand that what appears to be a solution to one problem will cause other problems, and that opportunity exists for both the good and the evil. Above all, do not allow yourself to be blinded by wishes or ‘normalcy.’

Get your training now. Being prepared and being alert is nothing that you simply happen to do. Americans in the 1910s did not train for the manmade catastrophe of the Great War; Americans of the 1920s did not train for the Great Depression, and those of the 1930s did not train for the Second World War. Americans of the 1990s did not train for the events of the 2000s. Most did not, at least. The list of training to get is endless, but the objectives and the plan must be clear and set forth. Train to survive, with and without technology. Train to raise a family (which includes educating them and helping them survive). Train to create a community, and to identify the threats and dangers faced by a community and OF a community. Train to defend yourselves, your family, and your community against those threats and dangers. And above all, train yourself to do what is necessary so that you are prepared to reach your goals and accomplish your objectives. Such training is physical, economic, academic, political, and spiritual. Without it, no attempt to be prepared or be on the lookout will succeed.

And you will join the 99% of humanity who cannot and will not learn from history, including Pearl Harbor.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

MADD's Addictive Behavior - The Problem

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and its associated organizations (Students... Teachers... etc.) is one of the most prominent and active of the Nanny State's "non-governmental organization" (NGO) allies in remaking American society. Organized as an advocacy and lobbying group, they have more in common with ACORN than virtually any of their members or leaders is willing to admit, and have totally skewed the national scene regarding highway safety.

The referenced article (click on the headline) is a brief look from a politico-religious perspective (and one somewhat right-libertarian) on a growing movement to FIGHT MADD, and to repeal or at least revise the current nationwide ban on drinking under the age of 21.

The legal ban (hardly an absolute ban) on drinking for almost 1/4 of our nation's population is a product of the era of the end of federalism. It is an example of the nanny-state at its worst, and of the triumph of emotion and hype over reason. Passed in 1984 and signed into law by President Reagan in a betrayal of his principles of federalism, it was the product of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ( an organization which is the epitome of liberal AND conservative hypocrisy.

Although it was claimed (then and now) that forcing all states to treat thousands of its adult citizens as second-class would "end" the drunk driving menace on American highways, the evidence of the last two+ decades has shown otherwise. MADD claimed (and still does) that it was THE solution to drunk-driving fatalities in this continent, a steady stream of further attempts to solve the problem which supposedly has already been solved is impressive, and sickening: the zero-tolerance laws, the 0.08 blood-alcohol laws, and more. All done in violation of the Constitution and through a very nasty (and sadly effective) mechanism: withholding of highway user trust fund money from the states until they lick the boots of the Congress that supposedly works for them - a form of extortion, since the money being withheld was stolen from the people of the States to begin with.

Like anti-gun activists who push for "just one more" law - indeed, like the drunk who wants "just one more" for the road, MADD and their ilk are addicted to lobbying and laws, proven by the way that they continue to push for more and more laws, more and more punishment, more and more "enforcement" - claiming each time that THIS will once and for all solve the problem.

Like the gun-haters and the alcoholic, MADD is ever willing to lie to themselves and others to get their way. Even in the early 1980s, the majority of DUI deaths were not caused by the 18-20 year olds who have been turned into plebes by this law; far more were the result of older (if not "more mature") chronic drinkers who often are multiple offenders. But to read MADD's own propaganda you would think it is the 18-20 age group - until you study their own statistics very closely. (After all, old alcoholics and drunks make poor "poster children.")

In the same way, in one place they claim that 30,000 lives have been saved "each year" by the 21-law. But when you look at the chart on their home page (use "print screen" to look at it for more than 10 seconds), you find that almost 10,000 of the 30,000 per year drop that they claim happened BEFORE the 1984 law was passed. In fact, in 1986, drunk-driving deaths were back at pre-law levels. And it took a decade (and apparently a lot more laws) for the "30,000" drop to be reached. In fact, since about 1992, the number of drunk-driving fatalities has basically been frozen at just about 20,000 per year. Nor can they deny that (again, by their own claim) there are still 500,000 alcohol-related injuries on highways each year: some "final solution." Worse, they exaggerate about other highway fatalities increasing (claiming a 34% rise in 25 years) by ignoring the billions of miles more we drive each year, and the tens of millions more motorists on the roads in 2007 as compared to 1982. And they totally ignore the last half-decade of steadily dropping fatalities, in both real numbers and per miles driven.

The college presidents (135 of them as of December 2010) have some strong points (

A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.
Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.
Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.
By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.

Obviously, there are many pros and cons, but they are not calling for an outright change - merely an informed debate. MADD and the usual knee-jerk liberals who believe that NO one can control themselves, don't want to talk about it - except to slander and revile the people suggesting we talk about it.

Both sides are, to a degree, wrong. It is NOT government's place, and especially not the FEDERAL government's place, to regulate alcohol sales, except to prohibit states from collecting tariffs or duties on imports and exports from other states, as provided by the Constitution and the "Commerce Clause" when properly understood and applied. It is ESPECIALLY not government's place to tell people how to raise their children, and to take action which takes away the responsibilities of parents for their children.

In the next part, I’ll look at the solution to the problem.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Armed People are Polite People

"No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion."
-- James Burgh (1714-1775) was an English Whig politician
Source: "Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses" (London, 1774-1775)
A "kingdom" of course, means a nation, an "earthly kingdom." That kingdom may be part of a larger nation, and therefore a community, a neighborhood, a rural area, or a town, county or region.
History shows us that if only warriors (whose reason for existence is to defend the tribe, the vill, or whatever) are armed, their dedication to defense against external threats soon takes second place to bullying the very people that they supposedly are defending. As Burgh says, the unarmed man (or woman) "lives... at discretion." The discretion of the bully. This starts out as a kind of "parental" toleration which becomes contempt and disdain for the unarmed person - who is now somewhat "lower caste," and goes from there.

"A people armed and free forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition and is a bulwark for the nation against foreign invasion and domestic oppression."
-- James Madison
(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Notice that Madison speaks of both internal and external threats. The two are often (but not always) related. Foreign invasion is often triggered by the actions of the same government which is oppressing its people domestically: either because they are greedy and seek more power and more wealth that their own subjects can provide, or because they are willing to seek foreign adventures to distract their subjects from their condition.

But when we consider "domestic oppression" we need to remember that it is not just government that is a source of such oppression: it can be bandits and outlaws (as was often the case in England in the Middle Ages and in the United States in such places as "Bleeding Kansas" of the 1850s and strife-torn Missouri in the 1860s and the vicious gangs of pre-vigilante San Francisco and the mining camps of the 1850s), it can be landowners (such as some of the cattle ranchers of which Louis L'Amour writes) or corporations such as the railroad companies in Texas or the mining companies of Colorado in the 1910s.

Even the most vicious and nasty of thugs - whether hired guns or the owners or the foreman - tend to back down and be much more polite when the people they face are armed and able and ready to defend themselves.

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States."
-- Noah Webster

(1758-1843) American patriot and scholar, author of the 1806 edition of the dictionary that bears his name, the first dictionary of American English usage.
Defined the militia similarly as "the effective part of the people at large."
Source: An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, 1787
Sadly, this has changed from 1787 to 2010: the Federal Government found pretense to raise a massive band - bands - of "regular troops" - not so much the Regular Army, Army Reserves, and National Guard (which are concerned more with external duties - foreign occupation) but the massive numbers of police agencies and police officers of all types from the small local town forces to the oversized (and heavily armed) urban police forces and sheriffs' offices to the massive State Police and dozens of Federal "law-enforcement" agencies and branches of agencies which are an internal occupation force: THIS is the modern standing army which has taken away liberty.

At the same time, the disarming of American citizens NOT in one of these agencies has proceeded apace: more and more types of weapons considered "military" or (even worse) "law enforcement" in nature have been taken out of the hand of civilians on a variety of pretexts. Reduced to hunting weapons and semi-automatic weapons of small caliber and small capacity, without modern technology such as silencers and night-vision-scopes and specialized rounds, this makes possible the domination of the modern standing army.

And with this disarmament and rise of the standing army of police, the contempt and disdain for the civilian - relatively if not totally disarmed - grows more evident with each passing year. Witness the attitude of the TSA - perhaps not EVERY TSO, but certainly many including supervisors right up to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the White House. Witness the attitude and the evidence of corruption, of concealment of lawbreaking, and rejection of civilian control on anything but a pro forma basis of too many metropolitan and even state forces. As in Europe and Latin America in the past, the uniformed (and plain-clothed) police see no more need for true politeness: the words "sir" and "ma'am" in the mouths of too many police officers is nothing but rote mouthings. When spoken by a man or woman in uniform, one hand on the belt near their pistol, the other hand out for "papers" or on the key of a radio microphone connecting to back-up, the words are meaningless.

In a truly free society, politeness is a necessity because an offended person need not look to a "protector" for succor or assistance - the offended person is armed and capable of responding appropriately to the offense, regardless of age or size or sex or physical condition.