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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ever Hear of Our Inalienable Rights

Keith Ellison is a recently elected Congressman from Minnesota who is a Muslim. Powerline examined his life closely before the election. Ellison denied it but the record shows he has been an active member of the Black Muslim headed by Louis Farrakan. It was also reported that he had close ties to major Muslim groups that may have links to terrorism funding. (Here is a Powerline link).

During the election, after Powerline exposed his background, Ellison claimed that he had discarded that facet of his life long ago. He also disavowed the blatant Anti-Semitism of the group. His message was accepted by the public as he won election.

Ellison has created a minor scandal by refusing to swear his oath of loyalty to the Constitution and this country as a Congressman upon a Bible. He claims it conflicts with his Muslim religion. He will swear upon the Koran.

Dennis Prager recently criticized Ellison for this. Wrote Prager:

Of course, Ellison's defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either. Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.

Naturally, the multi-culti Left has pilloried Prager for insisting on our time-honored tradition. Prager today defends himself from the harsh (invective-laden) critics. While any given individual Founder may have had his own brand of religious beliefs, that is not the issue. the issue ios upon what principles this country was founded.

Writes Prager:

America derives its laws from the Constitution. It derives its values from the Bible. We don't get inalienable rights from the Constitution; we get them from God. Which is exactly what the signers of the Declaration of Independence wrote: We are endowed with inalienable rights by our Creator, not by government and not by any man-made document.

This is what the critics do not understand. This is what so many of our government-loving citizens do not understand.

We have granted the government limited powers over us. We can only offer what we personally possess. We have never been able to grant government power over the natural rights of others. We do not possess their personal rights. No matter how popular or even necessary it appears, we cannot cede the rights of others to the government.

That is why the Constitution expresses its powers so explicitly. Activist judges for over a century have denied this concept. That is how they can take people's property from them in eminent domain without the specific public purpose as stated under the Constitution. This is how they usurp legislative power to decide issues that are not theirs to decide. This is how the government secularists (their religion) are so wrong fundamentally.

Is it a right of Ellson's to not be forced to swear his oath of fealty to the country and its Constitution on a symbol of the moral principles under-pinning the subjects? No. He has a right to practice his own religion and to not have to follow a religion established by the country. But this is a traditional oath of fealty. And out of tradition he should follow it.

Unless he truly feels to loyalty to the Constitution.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Power Corrupts In Nano-Seconds

The WSJ publishes a letter from liberal Congressmen John Rockerfeller, Olympia Snow and other signatories to Exxon.

Has anyone read this over the top attack on Exxon by the Senate? Considering liberals are the party of open debate and tolerance, this really makes one question their intellectual integrity. Or is this mere power used to silence opponents. It can't be since they are the tolerant party. Our fears of what life would be like should the Democrats assume power may have been a gross under-estimate.

Here is an excerpt:

In light of the adverse impacts still resulting from your corporations activities, we must request that ExxonMobil end any further financial assistance or other support to groups or individuals whose public advocacy has contributed to the small, but unfortunately effective, climate change denial myth. Further, we believe ExxonMobil should take additional steps to improve the public debate, and consequently the reputation of the United States. We would recommend that ExxonMobil publicly acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it. Second, ExxonMobil should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history. Finally, we believe that there would be a benefit to the United States if one of the world's largest carbon emitters headquartered here devoted at least some of the money it has invested in climate change denial pseudo-science to global remediation efforts. We believe this would be especially important in the developing world, where the disastrous effects of global climate change are likely to have their most immediate and calamitous impacts.

Who does not think they will abuse their power to shake down Exxon?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Who Are We Helping?

Another loss with the passing of Milton Friedman is missing his “right to the heart of the matter” answers on social-economic issues in interviews. He spoke to Bill Steigerwald back in March of 2001 where he said the following on public education:

Friedman: Why should government run the schools of the country? There's no more reason for government to run the schools then there is for government to produce the automobile. And the schools are low quality on the average, just as automobiles would be of low quality if government produced them.

Q: You could probably talk for the rest of the day about what is wrong with public education. But what is most wrong about it today and how will choice fix that?

Friedman: Well, there's no doubt what's most wrong about public education, and that is that it's a monopoly. The customer has no say. Schools are financed by the government but they're actually run by the teachers unions and education bureaucracy. And the schools pick the students, the students don't pick the schools, in general. What you need is competition.

Q: I'm sure you're familiar with the home-school movement, which has arisen over the last 10 years as form of competition to schools.

Friedman: It is. And the fact that it is a form of competition shows how bad our schools are. Can you think of any other sophisticated product in which the home-made product is superior to the factory-made product?

No doubt certain someones are very nervous about competition proving Friedman’s comments were accurate.

And on social security, consider this:

I don't understand why the government should tell me how much money I should save for the future, but not tell me how much of my money I can spend for food. And I believe that the current Social Security system is in certain ways fundamentally unjust. Take the most obvious example, in the current hysteria about AIDS: Here's a young man, a man of 35 or 40 who has AIDS and is told that he has got five or 10 years to live at the most. And the government comes along and says, "You've got to put aside 13 percent or something like that of your income to save for your old age." That seems to me to be cruel and unjust.

That was in 2001. Today, government is moving towards dictating the foods we may eat. Of course, it is to assist us in living healthier lives. And if it just saves one person's life...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You...

Here is the actual Friedman comment (from Capitalism and Freedom) on JFK's famous inaugural statement:

"President Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.'.... Neither half of that statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society."

Me and Bobbie McGee says "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose". Maybe to a Marxist. I say it means everything worth having. Not as poetic but closer again to the truth.

Friedman Taught The Humaneness Of The Free Market

While I waited for my daughter to finish her class at hebrew School, I mentioned the death of Milton Friedman to 2 other waiting parents. Both recognized the name and his occupation-economics.

I said that besides the assumed cold subject of economics, I thought Friedman’s contribution was as great in allowing us to recognize the prosperity that flows from freedom. I then told them about how floored I was upon reading Friedman’s criticism of the famous JFK bromide “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. Friedman found that the statement failed in both sections as it relates to liberty. In essence, we are not vassals of the state to do its bidding. As well, we should not expect much from the state. I think Katrina showed us what dependence upon government is worth.

I then brought up the benefits we gain from the self-interest of the baker. We never have to worry about how or if the bread will make it to the bakery. We just know it will be there.

The woman was aghast that in a waiting room of a temple I would show such esteem for self-interest and the profit motive. She felt what I had said was not supportive of a supposed Torahic decree towards charity.

I responded that the Torah looks to ethical actions. Where, I asked, was the voluntary giving in a government forcing me through taxation to support some cause the politician found beneficial to the community. From my view, I would like to decide whether I contribute towards a bridge to some uninhabited Alaskan island rather than be forced to by a politician’s fiat.

What I also should have stated was, getting back to the baker, would she prefer to buy her daily bread from a profit-seeking baker or a government-run bakery. No doubt the breads may be as good (though even that is questionable) but which business is most likely to always be open early enough for the breakfast customers. Which business is more likely to be open at 6:00 A.M.? Which one may not always be open by 8:00 A.M.? Which business will be cleaner and have better inventory? The one with the owner who wants to please his customers and make lots of money or the one that cares not about what the revenue and profits are?

That is what I think about as I consider the economic process. And Milton Friedman taught me directly through his writings or through the writings of the generations of students (such as Thomas Sowell). Economics is not solely numbers. And the correct policy, such as having the lowest taxes so that money remains in the hands of those bakers, and clothiers and dentists and insurance agents and developers and Big Oil executives means more people are employed, fed, clothed and housed than through government’s or charity’s good graces.

Friedman showed me that the proper free market approach to trade and personal relations is the most humane. And it is more fun to learn these concepts knowing that it is the fairest system to bring about such goodness. Thank you Milton Friedman.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Friedman On The Drug War

Milton Friedman's letter to Bill Bennett on the "War on Drugs" (Thanks to NRO Corner)

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve. Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault. Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

Remember this when you are outlawing smoking cigarettes. Remember this when you are dictating what foods can be eaten. Remember this when you decide what cars we can drive. Remember this when you decide the appropriate square footage of houses we can own. Remember this when you ban anything and everything.

Monday, November 13, 2006

All The Wrong Post-Election Moves

While Mark Steyn sees the US election debalce as indication of the US as a sufferer of ADHD that was correctly assessed by Al Qaeda, the solution has always been “small lean efficient government at home and muscular assertiveness abroad.”

Daniel Pipes holds that the goal should have been less ambitious (and unfortunately remains so):

Had the U.S.-led coalition pitched its ambitions lower, aspiring only to a decent government and economy while working much more slowly toward democracy, Iraq’s progress over the past four years would be more apparent. The occupying forces should have sponsored a democratically minded strongmanto secure the country and eventually move it toward an open political process…The basic coalition message to Iraqis should have been: You are adults, here is your country back, good luck.

Richard Miniter sees replacing Rumsfeld with a realpolitick steward like Robert Gtaes bodes real disaster and even worse would be the replacement of our Iraq ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad:

His rumored replacement is Ryan Crocker, a State Department lifer now serving as ambassador to Pakistan. On his watch, Pakistan made a series of peace agreements with the Taliban and al Qaeda, essentially offering them safe haven to launch attacks on American and allied forces in Afghanistan. He also stood by as Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf released some 2,500 al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners this year. Will he smile on similar deals with terrorists in Iraq?

Giving into the tired drumbeat of the Left and the MSM is not going to improve our security. Will we discover this too late?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Good For Dems, Good For Iran

Reuters reports:

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush's defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.

I guess I wasn't the only one who concluded that.

Mike Responds

Pray tell me, liberal friend, how will government "work" better under Democratic control?

I really need to have specifics from you on this one as my premise is that the level of government spending has no relation to the general welfare. The recent Republicans have managed to create even MORE government in these United States and it ain't "working".

Will there be some change in mechanism that suddenly makes large government expenditures beneficial to the economy and the people overall? Is there some sort of magic pixie dust that Democrats possess that makes their version of government "work"?

What I "get" is that after 50 years of Great Society spending... the proportion of people living below the poverty line hasn't changed one iota. In 1968 the official poverty level was 12.8%... in 2005 it was 12.6%. I expect a lot more for my trillions of tax dollars, don't you?

I find this to be prima facie evidence that government doesn't "work" for below average Americans. Perhaps you, my liberal friend, have a different idea of how government works. My surmise, however, is that higher government spending levels makes you feel as if something good is happening.

I am sorry, but when it comes to taking trillions of dollars from working families I need something more tangible than a feeling that government "works". The facts surrounding what government can and can't do are pretty clear to anyone willing to put aside their feelings and look at evidence. There is little that the Federal government can do efficiently, and bureaucrats prove it everyday.

As for Social Security: there is nothing that is going to make 2+2 equal 5... no matter if Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself told us that during a fireside chat. We are kidding ourselves that SS will not run out of money under the present scheme. The program was designed from the get-go as a "take from the current taxpayer and give to the elderly" and when it turns out that the elderly outnumber the taxpayers.. the system will go bust.

It will take a crisis for Congress to act, and that crisis is coming... just about the time I am set to retire. GWB was right, it's easier to fix now than later. But who in Washington will sacrifice
his/her popularity among senior voters in order to preserve future seniors? No one.

Just because a solution is politically unpopular doesn't make the problem go away.

While I am looking at history, I would remind our liberal friend that the majority party's losses on Tuesday are not far from the norm for 6th year losses for the party holding the White House. That has happened to White House occupants from either party. I believe that the Democrats were born Monday on third base... and on Wednesday they're congratulating themselves for hitting a home run. I say again, let the dog have its day.

As I made clear in my post, if we had lost 14 House seats and 5 Senate seats REPUBLICANS would be crowing... with as little reason as the Democrats are doing today. Politicians on both sides of the aisle celebrate victories and ascribe to themselves mandates they didn't earn.

The proof is in how you execute once you've won... by 500 votes in Florida or by 3,000 votes in Montana and Virginia.

However, perhaps our liberal friend is concerned that I am "name calling" with my dog and queen references. I infer this from the "polarization" reference. If you think that Republicans are polarized, I would refer you to Democrat comments from any time in their history.

(My over-riding theory about how Democrats operate remains the same. Their policies are not successful and what makes them successful is their talent for calling the opposition evil...and driving that feeling home early and repeatedly. It works for them.)

I would point out that no President since Lincoln has been called more vile names than the current President. "Incompetent", "loser", "racist" are just a few of the epithets hurled at a sitting President by Speaker Pelosi (D) and Leader Reid (D). My light joking about San Francisco queens and dogs having their day is extraordinarily mild in comparison to what Democrats have called GWB, Cheney and our uniformed troops.

To Dick Durbin (D), our troops guarding terrorists are akin to "Nazis.. Pol Pot...the Soviet gulag...". If anyone needs an historical reference, those were regimes that committed mass murder on a scale that is unimaginable to civilized societies. Where were these outlandish statements made? Not on the campaign hustings but the floor of the US Senate, that famous "cooling saucer" where calmer heads are said to prevail. And where was this speech reported and analyzed in the famous NY Times? Answer: nowhere... it didn't rate even a single line of type in that paper.

In contrast...how many of us knew what "macaca" meant before the press educated us? That obscure word generated close to a dozen front page headlines in the Washington Post. I wonder what dictionary they had to consult to define this single word uttered by a Republican. I doubt that ANYONE in the room, including George Allen (R) knew it was an insult. But according to the Washington Post, it was proof that a Republican is just another name for a throwback racist slaveowner.

And whether John Kerry (D) meant it or not, he insulted the troops. He compounded the problem by assuming a "I will not be Swift-boated" stance the next day because someone told him he needed to be tough. What he needed to do was be less insulting... to troops or the President.

So long, Johnny. We really have come to know ye, that's why your quest for the Presidency is now irretrievably lost.

I invite comments from our liberal friend. I would especially invite the introduction of even more facts that contrast or compare to the arguments I put forth.

If it were a fact that liberal policies "work" I'd be a liberal. But as it stands the facts are on the side of the free market and conservative policies. What started out with Ronald Reagan so many years ago as one thing has been perverted into another thing that conservatives won't support in elections.

I truly believe Reagan's statement on his inauguration:

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price."

These words remain true today.


I will also quote from John Adams, a favorite of Think Tanker Skip March. Let it be the basis for our discussions among liberals and conservatives:


"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence".

I look forward to the debate. It's what has made this country great, the competition of ideas.


-- MTT

Save The Haloes For Angels

Conversation with a liberal:

Liberal:

Neal, does your friend MTT on ettu still not get it? People want a govt that works - not this "queen of SF" and "let the dog have its day" stuff. That polarization was a reason why the election was lost in the first place. Sure looked like people voted centrist, ie Casey over Santorum, a two term incumbent.

Neal -
I think it is primarily the Abramoff thing coupled with the hypocrisy of claiming to be for small govt and spending like drunken sailors. When a majority of Americans poll that they are for smaller govt, they will not reward big spenders. Good to clean them out. If Dems go there, no luck in 2008.

Liberal:
Smaller govt yes, but people still want SS i.e. No congressman would touch the "reform" issue after Bush's road show on the personal/private account dialogue. People know the deficit spending that's gone on really jeopardizes the program viability. Reality is SS may be tempered, but will never truly go away. Just not enough votes out there. Tell MTT he needs to compromise a tad bit!

Neal:
Economic literates should be aware of the basic failing of the program. But maybe it continues due to an over-riding belief in the benificence of government---at least your party's.

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