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Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama's Iraq Problem

You know the situation on the ground in Iraq is rapidly improving when liberal pundits everywhere begin to grudgingly admit that we are winning. The latest is George Packer and his article Barack Obama's Iraq Problem. What is fascinating is the pretzel logic that folks like George Packer take to try and make Barack Obama's untennable position tennable.


In hindsight, it was a mistake—an understandable one, given the nature of the media and of Presidential politics today—for Obama to offer such a specific timetable. In matters of foreign policy, flexibility is a President’s primary defense against surprise. At the start of 2007, no one in Baghdad would have predicted that blood-soaked neighborhoods would begin returning to life within a year. The improved conditions can be attributed, in increasing order of importance, to President Bush’s surge, the change in military strategy under General David Petraeus, the turning of Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda, the Sadr militia’s unilateral ceasefire, and the great historical luck that brought them all together at the same moment. With the level of violence down, the Iraqi government and Army have begun to show signs of functioning in less sectarian ways. These developments may be temporary or cyclical; predicting the future in Iraq has been a losing game. Indeed, it was President Bush’s folly to ignore for years the shifting realities on the ground.


Of course, the mistake was offering a timetable at all. Wars aren't won by setting a deadline. No serious war policy includes timelines and deadlines. Obama's policy was purely political and in no way accounted for any military realities and that is the mistake, if you are kind enough to call it that. Obama turned a military strategy into a political calculation. That worked well politically as long as the current military strategy wasn't working. Now that it has, not only is his policy bad policy but bad politics.

Packer continues...


The politics of the issue is tricky, because acknowledging changed ideas in response to changed facts is considered a failing by the political class. Accordingly, Obama, on the night that he proclaimed himself the nominee, in St. Paul, made a familiar declaration: “Start leaving we must. It’s time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future.” His supporters claim that the polls are with Obama, that war fatigue will make Iraq a political winner for him in November. Yet, as exhausted as the public is with the war, a candidate who seems heedless of progress in Iraq will be vulnerable to the charge of defeatism, which John McCain’s campaign will connect to its broader theme of Obama’s inexperience in and weakness on national security. The relative success of the surge is one of the few issues going McCain’s way; we’ll be hearing about it more and more between now and November, and it might sway some centrist voters who have doubts about Obama.

Obama has shown, with his speech on race, that he has a talent for candor. One can imagine him speaking more honestly on Iraq. If pressed on his timetable for withdrawal, he could say, “That was always a goal, not a blueprint. When circumstances change, I don’t close my eyes—I adapt.” He could detail in his speeches the functions that American troops and diplomats can continue to perform even as our primary combat role recedes: training and advising, counterterrorism, brokering deals among Iraqi factions, checking their expansionist impulses, opening talks with our enemies in the region. He could promise to negotiate all this with Iraqi leaders, emphasizing the difference between a relationship that respects the wishes of the public in both countries and one in which Iraqis are coerced into co√∂peration. If Obama truly wants to be seen as a figure of change, he needs to talk less about the past and more about the future: not the war that should never have been fought but the war that he, alone of the two candidates, can find an honorable way to end.

Now, I would welcome Barack Obama coming around on Iraq policy and it would be a welcome change, however that is not going to take back the reality of the situation. Barack Obama has been against the surge from the beginning. He voted against funding the troops. He has consistently insisted on removing troops precipitously. He continues to be for a timetable despite the new reality. Barack Obama's problem is that he has been wrong on the surge from the beginning.

John McCain was one of the first politicians to come out against Rumsfeld's failed policies. He was one of the first politicians to stand up for the surge. Barack Obama's problem on Iraq is that his opponent has been right when everyone else has been silent. Barack Obama's problem is that his opponent has lead on the issue and lead in the right direction.

Barack Obama's Iraq problem is one of intransigence, and flexibility would help his Iraq policy. That said, nealy two years into a successful military operation is a little late to come to the proverbial ballgame, and far too late when your opponent got there right away.

Answering the Collectivist Argument on the 2nd Amendment

On a practical level, the Heller decision largely put to rest this debate. Whatever collectivists believe, the Supreme Court has spoken and it upheld the interpretation that the 2nd amendment is in fact a right of individuals to own and carry firearms.

That said, it won't necessarily end the philosophical debate among academics and pundits about the meaning of the second amendment. First, here is the amendment again.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now, the allusion to the militia combined with the use of the words "the people" has allowed gun control advocates to make the argument that the second amendment was meant only to protect organized state militias.

In my opinion, this is a nonsensical argument made cynically and disingenuously by folks with an agenda. I think the founding fathers used wording that none thought at the time would create controversy and yet more than two hundred years later we are still embroiled in controversy.

In response to the Heller decision, several editorial boards including my hometown Chicago Tribune and the New York Times used this very collectivist argument to argue against the decision.

I believe there are three very powerful ways to argue against the collectivist argument.

1) Take a look at the writings and quotations of any of the founding fathers and all, ALL, relating to the right to bear arms are in favor of an individual's right.

Here are some examples.

Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms

James Madison

The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly
armed

Alexander Hamilton

Here is the most important one which explains what the founding fathers
meant when they used the term militias.

Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.

Richard Henry Lee


Now, of course, the Supreme Court shouldn't necessarily use text outside the Constitution itself when trying to infer the intent of its authors, but in this case, it is overwhelming. Each and every single thought that the founding fathers had on the second amendment referred to it being one that protected individual's rights to bear arms. If the founding fathers meant this amendment to be collectivist they sure as heck hid it well because you will find no text anywhere that backs up that assertion.

2) On a practical level, none of the amendments to the Constitution are amendments that give rights to the government, but rather to the people. In order to believe that the second amendment is collectivist, you would need to believe that for unknown reasons the founding fathers wanted to enumerate rights to the government among in the second amendment, even though each and every other amendment enumerates rights to the people itself.

Of course, this belief goes against everything we know about the founding fathers. Each and every one of them feared a government too powerful. They wanted to give as many rights as possible to the citizenry and as few rights as possible to the government itself. Of course, this makes no sense. We would all assume that any government sponsored militia would be armed. I don't think they would use the second amendment they created just to make sure everyone knew the government could arm any militias they create.

3) The right of the people is found throughout the amendments and each and every other time it is used to give rights to individuals. Here is how the first amendment reads.

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

Now, if we are to take the collectivist argument to its logical conclusion, then people only have a right to speak freely in an organized group. Of course, I never hear that argument made. That's because that is a silly argument. It is no less silly to claim the second amendment is collectivist.

Memo to Democrats: Don't Question McCain's Military Record

Wesley Clark was on Face the Nation doing just that this weekend. I think this is the sort of thing that you can file under the old adage

with friends like these who needs enemies




Now, I suppose it is possible that Clark thought he had credibility to challenge McCain's military record because of his own distinguished record of service. While his own record is distinguished, it is of course no less obscene to challenge McCain's. Furthermore, it is possible that Clark thought he was being cute because he didn't technically challenge his record, but rather he tried to link his record to his qualifications as commander in chief.

Either way, this is the sort of stunt that I would advise the Democrats to stay away from. I was surprised to read this in the Politico today.

But farther to the left — and among some of McCain's conservative enemies as well — harsher attacks are circulating. Critics have accused McCain of war crimes for bombing targets in Hanoi in the 1960s.

A widely read liberal blog on Sunday accused McCain of "disloyalty" during his captivity in Vietnam for his coerced participation in propaganda films and interviews after he’d been tortured.

"A lot of people don't know ... that McCain made a propaganda video for the enemy while he was in captivity," wrote Americablog.com's John Aravosis. "Putting that bit of disloyalty aside, what exactly is McCain's military experience that prepares him for being commander in chief?"

"Getting shot down, tortured and then doing propaganda for the enemy is not command experience," Aravosis wrote in the blog post, titled "Honestly, besides being tortured, what did McCain do to excel in the military?"

...

The newsletter CounterPunch published this April an article by Doug Valentine headed "Meet the Real John McCain: North Vietnam's Go-To Collaborator."

Valentine suggested McCain contemplated suicide — something the candidate has written about, and attributed in part to his guilt at not withstanding torture — because he was a "war criminal" whose bombs fell on civilians.

...

"I wouldn't characterize anybody who fought in Vietnam as a war hero," said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the theatrical anti-war group Code Pink. "In 23 bombing sorties, there must have been civilians that were killed and there's no heroism to that."

"Anyone who can't look back and admit how wrong it was to be in Vietnam and be killing civilians deserves to be challenged," she said, though she stressed that her group is more focused on McCain's present support for the war in Iraq than on his past.

Benjamin said she had her doubts about whether criticism of McCain's record could catch on, and she's not the only skeptic. Even Valentine, the CounterPunch author, said McCain's wartime experience could only be questioned "off-Broadway."

...

"The questions could scarcely even be understood within the reigning intellectual and moral culture — though I don't doubt that much of thepopulation would understand," Chomsky said.

And Aravosis was unapologetic about his charge of "disloyalty," citing the similar charges levied at Kerry from the right in 2004. "McCain is running for president of the United States, not the student council.

He should stop feigning shock and outrage and start answering some very legitimate questions about his character and his experience," he said. "Well, the Republicans sported Band-Aids to mock John Kerry's medals from Vietnam. They mocked his injuries in war." "McCain isn't being mocked, he's being questioned," he said.

Of course, it goes without saying that most of the attacks have come from the loony fringes of the Democratic party and its allies. Though, Clark's attack follows another similar attack by Jay Rockefeller. Of course, it is up to each party to keep their fringes muzzled. These folks think they are helping. They think they are raising legitimate questions, but in fact, all they are doing is driving the debate to places that no Democrats wants them to go.

Of course, the Republicans also have their share of kooks that also hurt when they mean to help. For instance, James Dobson attempted to pick an existential debate with Barack Obama recently over the interpretation of scripture. The last thing the Republicans need is one of their surrogates inserting religion into the campaign lest the Republicans confirm the notion that they are beholden to religious zealots.

Of course, the Republicans couldn't ask for anything more than this election being a referendum on McCain's military service. While it would no doubt be painful and difficult, there is nothing more politically viable than McCain recounting his experience being tortured. Can you imagine significant portions of this campaign being spent having McCain recount again how he refused to be released unless his comrades went with him? Do the Democrats really need Americans reminded that McCain comes from a long line of patriots who each served their country during war? Furthermore, do they really want the country reminded just how bare Obama's own service is compared to McCain's?

Of course, these are pipe dreams for Republicans and this campaign will not be about McCain's service. Still, the Democrats need to minimize not maximize the amount of time the media spends discussing McCain's military service. This sort of strategy ranks right up there with a focus on the two candidates list of political accomplishments.

Finally, it should be noted that Obama did the classy and politically astute thing and distanced himself as far as possible from Clark...

"As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and of course he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark," Obama spokesman Bill Burton says in a statement.
That should put this incident to rest though it should also put to rest any talk of Clark being anywhere near Obama's administration.

Scare Tactics, Global Warming, and Socialism

The next time a liberal proclaims that the right will scare you about this or about that, just remember the global warming debate. If ever one side used scare tactics in order to affect change it is the left and global warming. If you listen to any supporter of global warming, then the planet is about to melt from overheating. Furthermore, every single natural disaster, change in weather pattern, or fire is always the result of global warming to many global warming supporters. After they are done scaring everyone in sight, they begin the long and painstaking process of demonizing anyone that still doesn't believe in the religion of global warming.

Furthermore, after many supporters are through blaming global warming for everything short of the Kennedy assassination, they begin their laundry list of solutions. All of these solutions are socialistic, government control, and full of new mandates and requirements. Of course, this is all natural. If the sky is literally about to fall and we are about to face a lifetime of melting heat, we can't wait for the free market to fix things. This is the nefarious game that alarmists play. I can't tell if they believe their own hype or if in fact, this is the only way they can revolutionize our society into a clone of Europe.

It's of course standard operating procedures for any debate. If you have the facts on your side, that's what you argue. If you don't, you attack and marginalize the other side. In the global warming debate, try is the proponents will, there is no consensus. If there is no consensus, then drastic action is not necessary. Thus, if your agenda is drastic action, you need to demonize and marginalize anyone that disagrees. That's exactly what an alarmist will do whenever they come across anyone that disagrees. Anyone that still doesn't believe in global warming is standing in the way of science. Any scientist that questions global warming is a kook and someone bought and paid for by the oil companies.

That's exactly what we have with this piece in Salon. Of course, it is appropriately entitled

Anti Science Conservatives Must Be Stopped

Here are some of the most relevant parts.


June 30, 2008 Conservatives put on a spectacular display of scientific ignorance this month in the U.S. Senate. During the debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which would regulate carbon dioxide by setting a cap on emissions and allowing emitters to trade carbon allowances, most Republican senators questioned the reality of human-caused climate change or ignored the climate threat entirely and repeated the talking point that the bill would raise gasoline and electricity prices. It was as if they had been locked in an isolation booth for the past decade. Let's go to the highlights.

Now, let's remember that Lieberman/Warner would have set up mandates to force companies to use more eco friendly energy sources. So, here again, we have the link between anyone that doesn't believe in global warming and socialistic government control solutions. The piece continues...


Conservatives sure are good at staying on message, even one that has no basis in fact. None of their scientific or technological claims is true and most of the economic claims are a wild exaggeration based on studies funded by fossil fuel companies. This may be a defining moment for humanity according to the world's increasingly desperate climate scientists, but to many conservatives it's apparently just another moment to score political points at the expense of future generations.

It's a terrifying thought. If the science of the last few years and the painful reality of a changing climate haven't persuaded the conservative movement of the dire nature of human-caused global warming, I can't imagine what chain of catastrophes would. We've already had record-breaking droughts, heat waves, wildfires, deluges, super storms and flooding at home and abroad -- just as climate science predicted. And we've had far more loss of ice from Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic Sea than anyone expected.

...

The global warming deniers and delayers managed to squash the Lieberman-Warner bill, although its authors promise it will be back next year. Even so, the policies needed to avert catastrophic climate change require so much effort and so much political consensus that conservatives can probably block them. The truth is, the bill would not have put the nation on a path to avert catastrophe. The science has already moved far past the legislation. We can no longer base our efforts to tackle climate change on hopes of reducing our own emissions at some point in the future or on letting others reduce emissions for us.

..

To avert disaster, we need to cut carbon emissions in the transportation sector some 60-80 percent by 2050. How high would the price of gasoline have to be? It would have to exceed $10 a gallon. Yet a serious price for a carbon emission allowance of even $400 per metric ton (which is three times the current price for carbon in the European Trading Scheme) would raise the price of gasoline only $1 a gallon. That price for carbon and that boost in gasoline prices is almost certainly a non-starter in this country.

...

But if we hold off today on government action, we will almost guarantee the need for extreme and intrusive government action in the future. Only Big Government can relocate tens of millions of citizens, build massive levees and mandate harsh and rapid reductions in certain kinds of energy. Peak oil prices, which we haven't prepared for, will make today's gas prices look like a Costco bargain. On a planet reeling from global warming and desertification, we will have billions more people to feed. We will be rationing food, all right. And water. And arable land. Most of our meaningless national political fights will be replaced by a very meaningful global fight for survival.

There you have it everyone. Long ago, the global warming debate stopped being about science. In fact, for as long as I have been familiar with it the global warming debate has been about the nature of our economic system. Those that believe in global warming as a religion also believe in socialism and government control as a solution. The rest of us feel the free market is equipped to handle whatever environmental problems our society has.

Beware of the global warming alarmist argument because you can be sure it will be followed immediately by centralized government, more mandates, and more regulations. After all if the planet is about to melt us all, we have no choice.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Barack Obama's Repackaged Income Redistribution

A lot of politics is about packaging. Present a policy or proposal with one word or phrase and it sounds great and gets great polling. Present the exact same policy with a different word or phrase and it polls poorly. For instance, Americans generally don't want socialized medicince, but polling on universal health care runs fairly strong in favor. Never mind that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between socialized medicine and universal health care. The Republicans say they are in favor of the free market, and the Democrats call it "on your own economy". Never mind that both parties are talking about the same thing.

Barack Obama's economic policies are full of income redistribution.

Income redistribution refers to a political policy intended to even the amount of income individuals are permitted to earn.[citation needed]The basic premise of the redistribution of income is that money should be distributed to benefit the poorer members of society, and that the rich should be obliged to assist the poor.[citation
needed
] Thus, money should be redistributed from the rich to the poor, creating a more financially egalitarian society.[citation needed] Proponents of redistribution often claim that the rich exploit the poor or otherwise gain unfair benefits. Therefore, redistributive practices are justified in order to redress the balance.

The latest Gallup poll has Americans 84-13The latest Gallup poll has Americans by 84-13% margin opposing income redistribution. Most polls have Americans overwhelming objecting to income redistribution. So, how does Barack Obama get Americans to buy into an economic policy full of income redistribution...repackaging.

Take a look at any of his economic policies and they are full of income redistribution. Let's start with taxes. Barack Obama wants to raise the income tax on the very wealthy (those earning over $250,000) and he wants make those same folks pay more in payroll taxes, the social security tax. Beyond that, he wants to re institute the inheritence tax and increase the capital gains tax, which he has mistakenly claimed is predominantly only for the wealthy. These new taxes with tax cuts for those making $75,000 and less. Now, when you create a tax increase on the wealthiest in order to pay for tax cuts for the middle class, that is called income redistribution.

Of course, Americans don't favor income redistribution. So, how does Barack Obama repackage income redistibution. Let's take a look at the language that Barack Obama uses in repackaging his income redistribution.

The Bush tax cuts give those who earn over $1 million dollars a tax cut nearly 160 times greater than that received by middle-income Americans. At the same time, this administration has refused to tackle health care, education and housing in a manner that benefits the middle class.

...

Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need. Obama will create a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.

...

It is true that I would roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, when I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed.


How does he explain the capital gains increase?

What I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. The top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year--$29 billion for 50 individuals. Those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That's not fair.

Income redistribution is a tool of class warfare and so you fight it like any other war of class. All your ideas are about fairness. Make the current situation seem as though it leaves the little guy behind and suddenly income redistribution is all about taking care of the middle class.

Even so called universal health care is income redistribution. Right now about 40 million Americans don't have health insurance. Barack Obama wants to give it to them. Well if they can't afford it and they will get it anyway, then it will be up to those that can to pay for it. So, how does Barack Obama repackage a free handout into something the public wants... repackaging of course...

Democrat Barack Obama is offering a sweeping plan that would provide every citizen a means to have health coverage and calls on government, businesses and consumers to share the costs of the program.

Obama said his plan could save the average consumer $2,500 a year and bring health care to all."The time has come for universal, affordable health care in America," Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday in Iowa City.

A copy of his remarks and documents describing the program were obtained by The Associated Press.

Obama's plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money into the system to pay for expanding coverage. It would also create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage.

Those who can't afford coverage would get a subsidy on a sliding scale depending on their income, and virtually all businesses would have to share in the cost of coverage for their workers. The plan that would be offered would be similar to the one covering members of Congress.

Fuzzy math is always key to selling any plan that counts on income redistribution. Barack Obama promises to not only bring health care to all, but save everyone $2500. Of course, this is impossible at least not for those stuck with the bill for those that can't afford it.

Furthermore, you use extravagant words like "bring health care to all" and "inject money into the system", and use consumers to replace those that can afford, and suddenly a plan to redistribute income turns into health care for all...and saving everyone $2500 on top of it.

Finally, Barack Obama plays on the natural envy of those that aren't as successful and turns income redistribution into a campaign pledge. Here is how Barack Obama put it.

The other: the U.S. becoming what he called a "winner-take-all" economy, where the gains from economic growth skew heavily toward the wealthy.

That sounds all well and good. Of course, if you are going to spread gains from economic growth more evenly, the only way to do it is through income redistribution.

Shakespeare once said "a rose by any other name is still a rose". Well, to Barack Obama, income redistribution by any other name is still income redistribution.

Habeas Corpus and Gun Control: More Hypocrisy from the Far Left

Smart aleck liberals sometimes ask me why I am a conservative. I tell them that I believe in smaller government, lower taxes and traditional values over secular progressivism. Furthermore, when government shrinks it focuses on its main duty, protecting its citizenry. As far as protecting its citizenry, the government should be as large as it needs to be to get the job done. This is the philosophy I take with most political issues, and I usually come to my conclusions based on those principles.

Sometimes, I wonder what philosophy drives certain ideologues because often times their belief systems have no consistency. I have already highlighted the inconsistent position that some liberals take toward abortion and gun control here. In much the same way, the far left's dual position on gun control and habeas rights for terrorists is equally hypocritical and inconsistent.

The far left was up in arms over the revelation that the Bush administration dared to hold terrorists at GITMO without giving them habeas rights. (in other words without charging them) When that program was overturned they cheered. Here is an example.



The Boumediene opinion that was published ten days ago, as you might imagine, has been a step back onto the road of Restoring Our Constitution. Much has been written about what Boumediene has to say about habeas corpus, and the geographical reach of Constitutional rights, and whether aspects of the ersatz system set up within the Executive Branch to respect those rights passes Constitutional muster.

In other words, folks on the far left see habeas corpus a fundamental CONSTITUTIONAL right. So much so they see it that they believe even terrorists deserve such rights. (Now, I am of the opinion that habeas is a right given to criminals not enemies in war but let's leave that for a minute.) In fact, in the mind of the far left, habeas is so fundamental that they would be willing to threaten national security in order to maintain it.

So, how do many of the same folks on the far left see the 2nd amendment? Here is an example.



A true originalist approach might look to the weapons preferred by the Founding generation to determine what is protected. That's not what the Court did, perhaps fearing the logical consequence that a handgun ban might be permitted in light of the Founding generation's preference for the more reliable and accurate long gun.

So what is protected and what is not protected? That is where the Second Amendment rubber hits the road. The real meaning of the Second Amendment is in what the Court reads that Amendment to prohibit or allow. But here the opinion does not provide tremendous guidance, failing to articulate a standard of review to help the lower courts soon to face numerous Second Amendment suits. More importantly, the guidance it does give is not grounded in original meaning at all.

The Court says that it is not calling into question longstanding prohibitions on possession by felons and the mentally incompetent, bans on guns in sensitive places, and restrictions on sales and purchase. In another passage, the Court suggests that "dangerous and unusual" weapons and concealed weapons can be banned. Why doesn't the Second Amendment call those laws into question?

The Court provides no answer other than that they are "longstanding." But this is not the same as "part of the original public meaning" of the Second Amendment. Indeed, many of these types of laws are modern inventions and - while reasonable and appropriate - had no analogy in the Founding era. The Founders didn't require background checks, require sellers to be licensed, or ban guns in schools. Mental incompetence was not even something recognized in the law until the 19th century. Meanwhile, the types of gun control laws the Framers did have would be unacceptable: requirements that all able-bodied men turn up for mandatory musters or that all gun owners take an oath of loyalty to the state.

Here is how kooky far left commentator sees the issue of habeas corpus and other anti terror measures...

They were seeking out terrorists, which is what they called the people in South Africa who actually lived there, who were the majority. The blacks in South Africa, who were trying to fight for their own civil rights, were called terrorists and the government was allowed to arrest them at will and interrogate them, no matter what they did, just on the suspicion. Very similar today to what we have in the United States, thanks to the Patriot Act."

...

What they did–what they did that was similar was, they threw out due process. They threw out the right to attorney."

O’Donnell: "Habeas corpus."

Robbins: "And they allowed the, the government and actually required people like this guy I play to torture people. And I’m, so, so what it does to the individual is it, it puts an incredible moral burden on the agent of the government, the, the soldier or the policeman–"

So, of course, one would expect Rosie to be totally behind the 2nd amendment because after all it is a Constitutional right. Wrong...

I think the horror of imagining six to thirteen-year-old girls handcuffed together and shot execution style, one by one, is perhaps enough to awaken the nation that maybe we need some stricter gun control laws."

To some folks, some rights are just more important than others.


So, many of the same folks that find habeas so sacrosanct that it even applies to terrorists themselves, see the 2nd amendment as something "evolving". In other words, there should plenty of limits placed on the second amendment even though it is right there in the Constitution. After all, in their view, guns are dangerous and thus that freedom ought to be curbed. Never mind that this freedom is right out of the Constitution. If Americans might be killed by guns, then we must curb that freedom.

So, on the one hand, habeas is a concept so sancrosanct it can never be curbed even if it threatens Americans' lives. On the other hand, guns are dangerous so even if their ownership is protected by the second amendment we should disregard it in the name of safety. How's that for consistency? As for me, I believe that Americans deserve both and terrorists neither. That's consistency.

The far left on the other hand...this is the sort of lack of consistency and hypocrisy that makes me wonder if these folks have a political philosophy.

Choice: Solutions for Education and Insurance

Imagine if our food choices only included fish, or meat, or only vegetarian foods. Of course, such a scenario is patently ridiculous. Our society encourages as much variety and choice within food as possible. We have so many varieties listing them here would take many blog posts. In fact, our society encourages variety and choice in almost every area of society. There are two glaring exceptions and in my opinion the lack of choice contributes to part of the problem in both.

In education, our government has in fact done everything it can to limit parent's choice as much as possible. Every innovation in education has been met with resistence and many times the government has even tried to put in roadblocks to choice. The failure of the public school system in most urban areas is no secret. Here in Chicago, we have over 600 public schools, and a handful, Whitney Young, Lake View, Lincoln Park, and a few others, can be considered anything but a total disaster. One of the beacons of hope in the Chicago public school system has been the emergence of charter schools. Charter schools operate outside the system in many ways. Their curriculum is freed from many of the chains that handcuff many traditional public schools. Furthermore, their teachers are not required to be part of the teacher's unions.

These very charter schools have given parents some much needed choice within the confines of the Chicago Public School system. So, what has the State government done to help charter schools flourish?

Legislators had plenty to keep them occupied this spring besides passing legislation. Distractions included primary races in new legislative districts, federal prosecutors who continued to tighten their circle around Gov. George Ryan's office and a budget crisis that grew worse as the session went on.

That didn't leave them much time or energy to deal with controversial issues, and the result was a fairly uneventful legislative session. The Chicago Board of Education got a bill through that limited student choice under the new federal No Child Left Behind law, but proposals to add more charter schools in Chicago and to tweak the Chicago School Reform Act to give teachers a greater leadership role in schools fizzled quietly.

The Chicago Teachers Union made surprising headway with its proposal to undo a section of the 1995 Chicago reform law that blocks the union from negotiating over class size, layoffs and other working conditions. It got Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to move from strong opposition to negotiation. Sources say a compromise version might come up for a vote in this fall's veto session.


Many times parents take matters into their own hands, and they home school their kids. So, what has government done to help home schooling flourish?

Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California’s home schooling families.Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation.

“This decision is a direct hit against every home schooler in California,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Sunland Christian School, which specializes in religious home schooling. “If the state Supreme Court does not reverse this . . . there will be nothing to prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California.”

The institute estimates there are as many as 166,000 California students who are home schooled. State Department of Education officials say there is no way to know the true number.Unlike at least 30 other states, home schooling is not specifically addressed in California law. Under the state education code, students must be enrolled in a public or private school, or can be taught at home by a credentialed tutor.


Finally, the third major tool of choice is vouchers. Vouchers allow parents to use credits to opt out of the public school system entirely and send their children to private schools. Yet, for the most part, vouchers have been resisted by politicians over the country.

Choice encourages competition. Competition encourages accountability, and it also eliminates those schools and programs that fail. When the government limits choice by placing undo restrictions on agents of change all it really does is encourage the status quo that has created a handful of public schools in Chicago being anything above a disaster out of over 600.

So, why is the government doing its damndest to discourage competition? The answer unfortunately lies only in nefarious reasons. Most agents of choice also challenge one of the most powerful lobbying groups in education, the teacher's union. Because much of government is more beholded to the teacher's union than to the kids, most of the agents of change that would expand choice within education oppose it. They oppose not because it is bad policy, but because their allegiance lie with the unions rather than good policy.

On health insurance the story is much the same. Much of the exploding costs of health insurance could be resolved if folks were given more choice. Of course, the way that health insurance is structured limits choice. Most people don't know this but health insurance providers enjoy limited immunity from the Sherman Anti Trust. Furthermore, it is illegal for folks of one state to buy health insurance from a provider located in another state. These two relatively unknown statutes combine to create regional monopolies within health insurace. As such Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas controls one third of the market in Texas. Since health care providers enjoy limitied immunity and it isn't allowed for folks in Texas to look out of the state for their insurance, BCBS enjoys a near monopoly in that state. In fact, most states face a similar monopolisitic force.

Monopolies drive up prices. They are a corrupting influence and they contribute to a lack of innovation. Yet, that's exactly what we have in health insurance, and once again, we have it because our politicians are beholden more to a special interest (health insurance providers) than they are to good policy. We could expand choice ten fold by simply reversing these two things. If health insurance providers were no longer given limited immunity from Sherman and folks could buy insurance from outside their home state, we would see competition expand ten fold. Competition would drive down costs. It was increase choice, and it would punish corrupt and failing health insurance providers. Because, in part at least, we have no choice in health insurance, here is an example of how Blue Cross/Blue Shield has corrupted the market in Texas..

Choice is such a simple concept. It makes life better in nearly every field and endeavor, and yet our government has gotten behind the concept of status quo in two very important fields, insurance and education, and unfortunately, they have done it because they have been corrupted by special interests looking to line their own pockets rather than make good policy.

On Energy Independence: If McCain = Cheney then Obama = Carter

Joe Conason continues the liberals full court press to make everything that John McCain has done nothing more than a Bush third term with this piece on energy.


On June 16 in Texas, McCain called for increased offshore oil drilling, although when he appeared a week later in California, the straight talker quickly added that issuing actual drilling licenses should be the sole prerogative of state governments. Addressing the same politically sensitive subject, the Cheney task force struck a reticent note, perhaps because the president's brother Jeb was then governor of Florida, where offshore exploration is deeply unpopular. In veiled language, the task force merely recommended that the president direct the secretaries of commerce and interior to "reexamine" federal laws and regulations to "determine if changes are needed regarding energy-related activities and the siting of energy facilities in the
coastal zone and on the Outer Continental Shelf." But everybody understood what was meant by the report's mush-mouthed phrasing: Prepare to drill offshore wherever we can get away with it -- which is essentially what McCain was urging in Houston, to the applause of oil executives.

...

Like Cheney, McCain is also a great enthusiast of "clean coal," a contradictory term usually referring to technologies that remove sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, rather than the carbon dioxide released by mining, processing and burning that abundant but highly toxic fuel. (Schemes to minimize or eliminate the greenhouse effects of coal-fired power plants are entirely theoretical.)

The vice president's task force too gave high priority to promoting "clean coal," specifically recommending that the federal government spend $2 billion between 2002 and 2012 to support research into clean-coal technology and to subsidize electricity produced from "biomass co-fired with coal." (Mentioning green-sounding "biomass" in the same sentence with coal was typical of the Cheney report's deceptive rhetorical style.)

...

Finally, McCain has vowed as president to practice what he preaches by requiring federal agencies (except the Pentagon) to purchase fuel-efficient fleets of cars -- a move that might drive up their cost, since consumer demand already outpaces supply. More broadly, McCain said he would propose "to put the purchasing power of the United States government on the side of green technology." The Cheney task force likewise paid lip service to green initiatives by federal agencies, and urged President Bush to command greater conservation efforts across the government.

Interestingly enough, Conason also displays what most liberals believe is the right way out of our energy crisis...


Where McCain may honestly differ with Cheney and Bush is in his attitude toward energy conservation. While the vice president openly mocked conservation as "a sign of personal virtue," the Arizona senator has at least recognized conservation as worthwhile in an era of global warming and insecure foreign fuel supply. Although he often pours scorn on the "failed policies" of the 1970s, McCain could have more in common with Jimmy Carter than he wishes to admit.

Of course, ironically enough, this is not the first time that Conason references Jimmy Carter...


If McCain is serious about fighting climate change and improving our security as well as our environment, he should stop imitating Cheney and pay more respect to Carter instead.

Now, the idea that someone uses Jimmy Carter as the model for energy policy in any way shape or form speaks for itself. Besides presiding over gas shortages it is unclear exactly what Jimmy Carter did for our environment, energy independence, and national security relating to energy independence. Yet, that is the model that folks like Conason use in determining energy policy.

The first problem with the comparison between Cheney and McCain is that most of Cheney's rhetoric didn't actually translate into policy. We have heard seven plus years of talk about drilling in all sorts of places and we've had absolutely no drilling. Coal and nuclear power have become nothing more than applause lines in speeches.

I have found that neither party has very many answers on energy. I find talk about so called "alternative energy" nothing more than talk. Neither has any good answers to control oil speculation. Neither party has any answers in containing the oligopoly that big oil has on gasoline. Neither has a policy on alternative energy that I think will work.

That said, McCain wants to drill. That will make substantive difference in the market for oil futures. Furthermore, whatevery flaws McCain's plan has, Obama's plan is non existent. The sum total of Obama's so called energy policy is encouraging people to use less of it (or forcing them through taxes and mandates), and taxing the oil companies even more and investing that in alternative energy. Of course, we have seen this policy once before, but more on that later.


Here is how McCain characterized Obama's energy policy.



The reality is that the sum total of Barack Obama's energy policy is a strong push for conservation. This is exactly what failed under Jimmy Carter's administration in the late '70's. Conservation is a lofty goal. It should be something the government encourages, though it should be something we all do without encouragement. That said, to make conservation the center piece of government policy is to explore past policy failures. What Barack Obama would have us do is the equivalent of putting on a sweater and turning off the air conditioning, and he will combine this with a big fat new "windfall profits" tax. Both of these are nothing more than a rehash of another President's failed policies...Jimmy Carter.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Surreal Life: Starring the Legislature

According to dictionary.com the meaning of the word surreal is


Having an oddly dreamlike quality.

The way I understand the word surreal is when you are witnessing something and it is so unbelievable that it just doesn't seem real. As I have witnessed this Congress for the last seven years, it all seems surreal. Whether they bury good sensible bills on committee or rush out to pass corrupt bills, it as though they are trying to make things worse and the whole thing is surreal.

I first started following the SAVE Act back last fall. At the time, it appeared to be a bill on the fast track to being law. After all, it was sponsored by Heath Shuler, a Democrat, supported by an eclectic and bi partisan group of politicians, activists and special interest groups. The SAVE Act is an enforcement only anti illegal immigration bill. It was an enforcement only bill and its focus was a verification system that all employers would eventually be able to use to verify the legal status of their employees. As we all saw last summer, the folks overwhelmingly want to enforce the border and this bill would go a long way toward that. Yet, after some fanfare and all sorts of political support, the bill is languishing in committee. The Speaker refuses to vote on the bill because Ms. Pelosi insists on adding some sort of amnesty to the bill. Of course, an amnesty provision would ruin a bill meant strictly to enforce the borders. The bill continues to need about thirty more signatures on something known as a discharge petition to force it to the floor. I suppose the bill made so much sense that it made too much sense to simply pass through our Legislature. (even though it would be supported by the overwhelming majority of the public)

The Broadcast Freedom Act would banish the Fairness Doctrine once and for all. The Fairness Doctrine would mandate that on any "controversial" topic there would be a mandated equal time for both sides of the issue. The Fairness Doctrine was abolished during the Reagan administration and not surprisingly Rush Limbaugh started a revolution on talk radio that has made that media a force it never was before. While Rush Limbaugh has lead an army of Conservative voices on radio, liberals have mostly failed on that medium like a lead zeppelin, as exemplified by Air America (short of Alan Colmes). The Fairness Doctrine is nothing more than an end run around the 1st amendment. By forcing radio stations so called "equal time" they will in reality simply be removing most voices from the media. The banishment of the Fairness Doctrine is an example of what happens when the free market is allowed to flourish and government stays out of the way. Had Reagan not been such an effective President his decision to remove the Fairness Doctrine would have been a bigger part of his legacy. The Broadcast Freedom Act is also languishing in committee. Its sponsor, Mike Pence, is also attempting to generate a discharge petition and is still twenty signatures short.

Meanwhile, the signature piece of legislation of this Congress in both 2007 and 2008 was their so called landmark Energy Bill. This bill was so full of mandates and subsidies for ethanol that farmers haven't been planting much of anything but corn to use for fuel. Never mind that most experts said that best case scenario ethanol would only fuel 15-20% of our vehicles, our legislators wanted to make sure that ethanol was given its due. I'm sure it is only coincidental that corn is found in plethora in the state of Iowa, the first to vote in the primaries. Whatever the reason, the only effect of this so called Energy Bill was its contribution to the explosion in food prices. Since farmers grew nothing but corn to go into cars, there wasn't anything left over for other crops. Then, supply and demand took over and food prices shot up.

Just so no one thinks this is some partisan hit job, let's remember that the incompetent Democratic lead Congress is only in power because the Republican lead Congress was equally as corrupt and incompetent. They came to power under the principle of fiscal discipline and yet each and every bill was so full of pork that their spending gave drunken sailors a bad name. Their excessive spending was epitomized by the Farm Bill and the so called bridge to nowhere, an earmark sponsored by Ted Stevens to build a bridge in Alaska. We learned only recently that among the many earmarks and pet projects in the farm bill was a special project for Speaker Hastert's district that wound up making the former Speaker quite the pretty penny. The Republicans were thrown out largely because they represented folks that valued fiscal responsibility. Yet, it appears no lessons were learned because these same Republicans mostly went along with another Farm Bill passed just last month full of nearly as much pork.

Of course, nothing has been as surreal as watching the Congress, on both sides, trying to fall over themselves to pass legislation in response the mortgage crisis. It all started with H.R. 3915. This was a punitive bill and its only effect would have been killing the mortgage broker industry. While that failed to get passed, what happened next was proposal after proposal that for larger and larger bailouts of troubled borrowers. The proposals started at one billion, then ten billion, thirty billion, and now the Dodd/Frank bill which is a mega $300 billion bailout. While this bill was sold as a bailout for struggling borrowers, the nefarious nature of the bill is that it will also bail out struggling banks holding onto mortgages for these so called struggling borrowers. The two main recepients of this bill will be Countrywide and Bank of America.

Nothing has been as surreal as watching the progression of the corrupt Dodd/Frank bill come to the edge of being law. In the last two weeks we have found out that Chris Dodd, its main sponsor, has received favorable treatment from Countrywide, received about $1000 a week for the last 18 months from Bank of America, and of course Bank of America was allowed to write major parts of the bill. The last piece of information was never meant for the public as it came from "proprietary" documents from the Congress. Now, given the obscene corruption going on behind this bill, one would think that legislators would be jumping over themselves to be the first to bring the corruption to light. Not these legislators. In fact, the bill overcame a filibuster attempt 83-9 with a majority of Republicans voting with EVERY SINGLE Democrat to move this bill toward a final vote. Even though we know that its chief sponsor has been totally and completely corrupted, the bill will likely not only pass but overwhelmingly.

According to the Hill, the bill's passage has earned a reprieve for now.

The Senate hit impasses over legislation aimed at helping struggling homeowners and a rewrite of spying laws, forcing Democratic leaders to push back consideration of those measures until next month.

...

On the housing legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said an amendment squabble pressed by Republicans this week was too difficult to overcome in the time lawmakers have left before the break.

...

Reid suggested Wednesday night that the housing bill could be delayed, but finally slammed the door on the possibility Thursday morning. Reid also said that when the Senate returns, he still will not allow Republican amendments that did not pertain to housing issues.

"There will be no amendments other than housing-related amendments," he said.


Neither Reid himself, nor the story, mentioned that this bill has been corrupted. It is as though it never happened, and the only problems with it are procedural. So while perfectly reasonable bills like the SAVE Act and the Broadcast Freedom Act languish in committee, the corrupt monstrocity known as Dodd/Frank is on the brink of being law. Its a pattern over the last eight years at least, and it is like the Congress is trying to pass bad bills and force good bills to languish. Like I said, the whole thing is surreal.

Obama's Housing Problem

According to a Boston Globe report, Barack Obama maybe involved in a growing scandal relating to a plethora of public housing contracts in the Illinois State Senate.




The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can't afford to live anywhere else.

But it's not safe to live here.

About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered
mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale - a
score so bad the buildings now face demolition.

...

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he
pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has
campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could
give developers an estimated $500 million a year.

But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies - including several hundred in Obama's
former district - deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama's close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama's constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.



The report details several public housing projects in Barack Obama's district when he was a State Senator that went to high profile real estate developers. The most prominent of which was a developer by the name of Tony Rezko. Other developers are a part of his current campaign for President.

This report raises several issues. The first is the issue of housing for the poor. What to do regarding housing for those that can't afford it has been an issue for decades. In Chicago, the city created such public housing complexes as Robert Taylor, Cabrini Green, and Rockwell Gardens. The main problem was that putting all those poor folks together also put together all sorts of seedy characters and criminals. Violence became a way of life in these parts and people were shot and killed for no reason all the time.

These public housing complexes became a living terror for those law abiding folks that wound up living there. Many of the most prominent public housing complexes like Cabrini and Rockwell Gardens have recently been closed down. With crime and poverty being so out of control, the city was left with no choice.

As such, Mayor Richard M.Daley tried a different route. He tried to create private low income housing by having developers receive grants and tax credits as incentive for the private sector to build them. Of course, public or private housing didn't fix the crux of the problem. If you put folks together that can't afford housing, you are als putting together a lot of criminals and other deviants.

The second issue, the one that has Obama in its net, is that if the government is going to dole out a bunch of public money to have the private sector build properties for low income folks, the government needs to maintain strict oversight. That way the government makes sure that the money hasn't been misused. Here, Barack Obama failed miserably. According to the piece, these buildings became so dilapadated that they became unlivable. Problems include roofs caving in, bad plumbing, no heat, no air condition, among all sorts of things that folks with money just wouldn't stand for. Within the story, Obama claims not to have known about the problems. That maybe so, however it is also beside the point.

It was Obama that pushed for private developers like Rezko to build low income housing using government dollars. Many of these complexes like Grove Parc were in his district. Poor folks are the most vulnerable and thus the easiest to exploit. They are a lot less likely to complain, and thus a private developer building housing for poor folks is in a much better position to exploit them. Of course, given that Rezko and other developers are so close to Obama politically, the implication is clear. While there is no evidence that Obama was in on any corruption in this case, again it is beside the point. He failed in his duty of oversight. Whether it was due to incompetence, laziness, or corruption, the bottom line is that he failed.

Barack Obama has been on record as backing more private developers building low income housing. This may or may not be a good idea in theory. In practice, if the government is unwilling or unable to perform the proper oversight, it will fail miserably. Here, Barack Obama clearly showed that he is unwilling to do the type of follow through to make it work.

For an updated summary of all the corruption and hypocrisy that Barack Obama has committed in real estate and mortgages, please click this link.

Liberal Lies, Misunderstandings and Misconceptions on Gay Marriage and More...

These two pieces have created quite a bit of discussion. As such, many of the same arguments I have heard regarding gay marriage have been re hashed by liberals and other misguided folks who think they are standing up for the less fortunate among us.

1)It isn't up to any of us to tell others who they can or can't spend the rest of their lives with and that includes gays.

I don't want to tell anyone how to spend the rest of their lives however marriage has always been defined as one man and one woman. There is a reason for that. One man and one woman is the best environment to raise children. While marriage has taken on many different roles in its history, its primary function is to define the proper family unit as one mother, one father, and children. The overwhelming majority of marriages lead to children. The two aren't separated, and including gays leads to entirely different function for marriage. That leads to all sorts of unintended consequences, and proponents of gay marriage are either oblivious to them or even worse they simply don't care about these unintended consequences.

2)Government shouldn't be in the business of marriage anyway. Marriage is a personal and religious institution and thus government should stay out.

This is sneaky debating point. On the one hand, marriage brings with it all sorts of government benefits. Whether it is property ownership (homestead rights and automatic joint tenancy), wills, hospital visits, or any number of other benefits, marriage carries all sorts of weight within the law. In fact, many gay marriage proponents are hoping that gay couples get many of these benefits. Thus, on the one hand, proponents want gays to get the same benefits and on the other hand, they say that government should stay out of marriage.

3) Not allowing gay marriage segregates portions of our society and denies them similar rights, benefits, and privileges.

Using terms like segregating certainly makes denying gay marriage sound very nefarious. First, the gay relationship is inherently unequal. There is no natural way to create children from a gay relationship. If one relationship leads naturally to children and another doesn't, how do both deserve the same rights, benefits and privileges?

4) The 9th Amendment gives gays the RIGHT to get married because anything not enumerated in the Constitution is left to the states.

The 9th Amendment gives the states the ability to make gay marriage legal. Of course, creating law is something elected officials are supposed to do. If a state legislature got enough votes to make gay marriage legal that is one thing, however the only time that gay marriage has been made legal is when a handful of unelected judges created law rather than interpreted it.

5) The United States Supreme Court, through various rulings, has made marriage a RIGHT and thus open to gays.

The Supreme Court doesn't create rights. The Constitution does. Congress creates laws and the Supreme Court interprets them. The Supreme Court cant' create anything. All the Supreme Court can do is interpret. An activist court may in fact have created something that wasn't there but in that case the court was stepping way out of the bounds of its duty. That said, the only rights we have are those enumerated in the Constitution. Once we start inventing rights that aren't in the Constitution, we increase the size of government, bureaucracy, and we increase the power of government.

6)You can't argue against gay marriage unless you are gay or you understand what it's like to be gay.

In that case, almost no one can argue for or against anything. Only military personnel can say anything about war policy. Only teachers can say anything about education policy. Only doctors can say anything about medical policy, and only lawyers can argue about the law. No one can with credibility then say anything about almost anything. Of course, that is a nonsensical argument.

7) There is no evidence that gay marriage will open up a Pandora's box to all sorts of other relationships like swingers, transvestites, and polygamists to get married and thus it is a red herring to argue that gay marriage would open up such a can of worms.

The reason folks like me believe this so called "red herring" is because the arguments for it lead naturally to such thoughts. If gay marriage is about equality, then why in the world would we stop at gay marriage. If this is about the 14th amendment, which means that all people are treated equally under the law, then gay marriage must lead naturally to open up marriage to any relationship. If marriage is about equality, then we must be equal to all relationships. If gay marriage should have equal standing to traditional marriage then all relationships must also be given equal rights under marriage as well.

8) So what if other alternative relationships are given equal treatment, there is nothing wrong with that.

There are all sorts of folks that are looking to make gay marriage legal and they all have different perspectives and agendas. Fortunately, the same folks that make argument seven aren't usually then making argument eight. Once again, proponents of gay marriage are NOT aware of the law of unintended consequences. If any relationship can be treated by the title of marriage, then the idea of marriage is cheapened. Furthermore, the proper family is redefined. What these folks want is a society that is secular in a manner that we have never seen before. I am liberatarian at heart however that doesn't mean I am willing to spin our society on its head in the name of liberatarianism.

9)Marriage is about love not family. If two people are in love, they should have the RIGHT to get married.

Marriage is not now and never has been merely about love. I know this because nearly all marriages have lead to children. This isn't merely a coincidence. It takes a mother and father to create the child, and so it is only natural that they raise the child. Marriage is the institution that defines the family unit that is best for raising children. If it is merely about love, what defines the proper family unit?

10) Families come in all shapes and sizes and one mother and one father is not the only way to raise children. Furthermore, there is no evidence that it is the best way.

I can usher out all sorts of statistics about one parent households, however I will just counter this argument with logic. If it takes a mother and father to create a child, isn't it only natural and best for one mother and one father to raise them.

If you enjoyed this piece, see how I counter other liberal misconceptions here and here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Civil Rights Vs. Gay Equality

Today, Michelle Obama said this about her husband's administration in relation to equality for gays and lesbians.

"Barack believes that we must fight for the world as it should be, a world where together we work to reverse discriminatory laws," she said at a Manhattan fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee's Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council.

Michelle Obama also drew a connection between the struggles for gay rights and civil rights.

"We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union," she said at the event, held days before the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots between gays and New York police, and the city's annual gay pride parade.

"The world as it is should be one that rejects discrimination of all kinds," she said.

Now, since I was born in the Soviet Union and I was abused for it all growing up in America, racism and bigotry are two things that really get under my skin. Still, comparing and equating the civil rights movement with equality for gays and lesbians is a dicey proposition that opens up all sorts of Pandora's boxes.

First, unlike women, African Americans and other minorities, homosexuality is a behavior. If that is protected, then I want protection for being loud, since I have that tendency. When someone says they want behavior to have equal protection, I ask under what circumstances.

The bottom line is that the homosexual lifestyle is inherently unequal. Children cannot be created through homosexual relationships, and this makes them inherently unequal. Generally, when someone says homosexuality equality they mean on marriage. Of course, you can't have equality on two lifestyles that are inherently unequal. Furthermore, if the gay lifestyle is treated equally, then it can also naturally lead to having it given equal treatment in education. It is this sort of political correctness that has spawned an explosion of schools that insist on teaching their students about the gay lifestyle equally.

Equality could also be applied to the workplace, lodging and in school. Laws like ENDA attempt to create such equality.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is a proposed U.S. federal law that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation

...

While the first bill on the subject of sexual orientation discrimination was introduced in Congress in 1974, the first bill using the current title of "Employment Non-Discrimination Act" was introduced in 1996, failing in the Senate by a 49-50 vote.[1]
The most recent version of the bill, introduced by Representative Frank, no longer includes language regarding protections for transgender people and has been protested by many LGBT rights organizations in the United States, with the exception of the Human Rights Campaign.[2]


Laws like ENDA are, in my opinion, well meaning and compassionate but also misguided. The reality is that sexuality is a private matter. It has no place in the workplace or any other public forum. It is no less appropriate for a heterosexual to flaunt their sexuality than it is for a homosexual to do it. A homosexual only needs protection if they are flaunting their sexuality inappropriately. Thus, protection to homosexuals in the workplace creates protections for publicizing a private act.

On many levels there are parallels between the bigotry that many minorities went through and the bigotry that homosexuals continue to go through. While I am sympathetic to their plight, I don't believe the answer is to legislate equality. Once behavior and especially sexuality is all given equal treatment, then we are ignoring the inherent inequality in the behavior. Furthermore, it opens up a Pandora's box to protect all sorts of behavior.

I think it is a noble goal to have a society where everyone is treated equally, no matter their sexual orientation, however when a politician makes equality of sexuality a platform, I am concerned by what specifically that means.

Barack Obama's Cynical and Disingenous Lurch to the Center

We all know how the game is played. In order to win the primary, candidates lurch to the edges and then they move to the middle once they win the primary and begin the general election campaign. On that level, no one should be surprised that Barack Obama has suddenly taken on a significantly more moderate tone. On many other levels, we should start to wonder why the man the National Journal called the most liberal Senator in 2007 is now taking on a much more moderate tone on issues relating to the economy, culture, and foreign policy. What we are witnessing is a disingenuous and cynical attempt to remake himself just in time to get votes in the general. It is even more cynical still since he constantly proclaims to be above such politics.

His transformation started with this advertisement. This ad attempts to drive home the perception of a regular guy with wholesome values.





Along with an image makeover, Barack Obama began a make over of his policy positions. The first salvo was his softening on free trade. Here is how he described it to Nina Easton.




In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he answered.


The so called "heated rhetoric" was actually Obama making his anti free trade position a central part of his campaign in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa. Obama painstakingly pointed out that if Hillary Clinton was going to take credit for her husband's successes in office that she should also be held accountable for NAFTA.



Furthermore, Barack Obama is on record as being against CAFTA. He is also against the free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea. In fact, he is on record as being for the nebulous concept of fair trade. Fair trade is NOT free trade. In fact, it isn't even close. Fair trade is free trade as long as all terms are in our favor. That doesn't happen in the real world and thus, fair trade is nothing more than protectionism in sheep's clothing. Thus, Obama's sudden discovery of the benefits of free trade is nothing more than a cynical attempt to win over voters in the general election.



Here is what Barack Obama recently said about free markets.




So? "There's a reason why the business community in Chicago as a whole has been very supportive of me," he says. "They know I am a pro-growth guy, and I'm a pro-market guy. And I always have been. What I do get frustrated with is an economy that is out of balance, that rewards a very few - with rewards that are all out of proportion to their actual success - while ordinary, hardworking Americans continue to get squeezed. Over the last decade or so, this economy grew substantially, and more than half of the total growth was captured by the top 1%."


Of course, he spent the entire primary campaign extolling the virtues of government action, regulations, taxes, and control. He is on record as wanting to socialize medicine. He has called for a new "regulatory framework". He wants to create a plethora of new regulations for mortgages. He wants to tax the rich, capital gains, and estates, and he wants to use those taxes to create new government spending. He wants to tax "windfall profits" and use that tax to have the government spend on alternative energies. Most importantly, he wants to move us away from the so called "winner take all economy" to one that spreads the wealth more evenly. Free markets are themselves winner take all. Free markets are all about competition and in competition there are no points for second place. Thus, his so called new found love of free markets is nothing more than a cynical attempt to move to the center again just in time to woo independent voters.



Then, there is Obama's new position on the second amendment. Obama's position on the 2nd amendment has run the gamut as he has been both in favor of an individual's right to bear arms and in favor of D.C.'s entire ban on handguns. In 1996, he answered a far left liberal advocacy group's questionnaire in a far left manner. At that time, according to the questionnaire, Barack Obama was in favor of a total ban on guns. Furthermore, the group did a follow up interview in which Barack Obama himself confirmed all of his answers to the group. As late as the later part of 2007, here is how Barack Obama viewed the D.C. gun ban.



think that local jurisdictions have the capacity to institute their own gun laws . . . the City of Chicago has gun laws, as does Washington, D.C... The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can’t initiate gun safety laws . . . isn’t borne out by our Constitution



So, how did Obama respond to yesterday's ruling affirming an individual's right to bear arms, AND, his own prior affirmation of D.C's gun ban (which was itself overturned by the decision)




ABC News' Teddy Davis and Alexa Ainsworth Report: With the Supreme Court poised to rule on Washington, D.C.'s, gun ban, the Obama campaign is disavowing what it calls an "inartful" statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as believing that the DC ban was constitutional.

"That statement was obviously an in artful attempt to explain the Senator's consistent position," Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.

The statement which Burton describes as an inaccurate representation of the senator's views was made to the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 20, 2007.


So, suddenly his liberal view is nothing more than an "in artful statement". In fact, Barack Obama came out in favor of the Heller decision. Wait a minute. Who voted for Heller and who voted against it? Judges voting for Heller included Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy. Judges voting against Heller were Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, and Stevens. Obama voted against both Alito and Roberts during their confirmation, and he is on record as saying that is he would appoint judges in the mold of Ginsberg, Breyer and Souter.



Furthermore, earlier in the week, the court handed down a decision that outlawed the death penalty for child rapists. How did Barack Obama respond to the ruling?

Democrat Barack Obama said there should be no blanket prohibition of the death penalty for the rape of children if states want to apply it in those cases.

Once again, though, the very judges he voted against confirmation of agreed with him and the very judges he says he wants to appoint to the court disagree with him. Talk about cynical. If Ginsberg, Breyer et al are the sort of judges he wants appointed to the court, why is he constantly in disagreement with them? If Alito and Roberts were unworthy of confirmation, why is he constantly agreeing with their decisions? Once again we have a cynical and disingenuous lurch to the middle that is nothing more than a well orchestrated show to make the independents believe he is moderate when in reality he is quite radical.

Finally, there is the issue of FISA and warrantless wiretapping. Throughout the primary campaign, Barack Obama made the centerpiece of his campaign his insistence that everything Bush has done on foreign policy and national security has failed. Among Bush's missteps, according to Obama, has been a misguided effort in Iraq, not enough attention paid to Iran, a lack of dialogue with our enemies, GITMO, and warrantless wiretapping. Now that we are in the general campaign, when Barack Obama was given the opportunity to opportunity to challenge the validity of warrantless wiretapping he folded like a lawn chair. (here is how previously ardent supporters at the Daily Kos felt about it)

We'll include Barack Obama in the mix of politicians that apparently think all you who were following the FISA debates are as dumb as day-old pill bugs, and it's depressing as hell to have to do so. He may be the Democratic nominee, but he can still write a milquetoast, self-congratulatory justification for choosing the easy way out with the best of them.

You know, I don't mind politicians not agreeing with me much of the time. Or most of the time. And at this point, I'm more than used to various parts of our Constitution being considered strictly optional, and being given away like beads at Mardi Gras.

But it does grate, immeasurably, when they feed us bull and tell us it's candy. I had hoped that, given the length of time it took Obama to come up with a statement, they were going to come up with something substantive. Instead, it appears they were using that time to come up with an assortment of logic-insulting bunk...

Here is how Obama spun the matter...

Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over.

Of course, this is nonsense. The very legislation that Obama now supports he vociferously opposed throughout the primary campaign. Even his articulate spin didn't sway those that find this issue of importance, mainly the nutroots.

So, we have issue after issue in which we have stunning turnaround from someone that was so far left that he captured the imagination of not only the media, the netroots, but students, over liberal icon Hillary Clinton. Now, this man that ran far enough to the left that all these groups became his allies during the primaries is now suddenly starting to sound much more like John Breaux. (moderate former Senator from Louisiana)

All of this is disingenuous and cynical. Barack Obama cut his teeth in among the most radically left places in the world, the South Side of Chicago. He was given title of the most liberal Senator in the Senate in 2007. His social policy is so far left that he favors killing the baby even if the abortion fails. His entire economic platform is socialistic policies of more taxes, more regulation and more government spending. His foreign policy includes a 9/10 mindset and giving more
recognition to our enemies than our allies. He may be the product of a traditional upbringing in Kansas, however his political teeth were cut in Hyde Park in Chicago and at Harvard, the nexus of liberalism so far left that it is radical. He can make an image makeover, and many will likely fall for it, but some of us at least will know the truth.