Thursday, June 30, 2011
Our Future In the Streets
England and Greece show us the future of Obamanomics.
by John Hayward
England is dealing with a massive public union strike today, “the first in what unions say will be a wave of action against steps by the British government that will cut the value of public sector pensions,” according to a Reuters report. Thousands of strikers have clogged busy intersections, while 85 percent of British schools will be fully or partially shut down.
Striking primary school teacher Martin Pitcher grants us a look into the mind of the angry public union worker: "This country is being led by people who are privileged, people who earn too much money... The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger. We don't think it should be us who are made to suffer for it."
Another striker added, “We are here to protect our own pensions. We are also fighting for pensions and against overall government cuts generally.”
The same thing is happening in Greece, but with more exciting riots. The Greek parliament sought to battle the absolute and total financial meltdown of their government with crucial austerity measures yesterday. The UK Daily Mail tells us the result was bloody street battles between police and “demonstrators who were armed with petrol bombs, bricks, and sticks.” A member of Parliament who had promised to vote against the austerity package, but changed his mind and voted for it, was pelted with stones.
What you see happening in England and Greece today is the inevitable future of Obama-style economics. There is no escape from this destiny. It’s only a matter of time.
Government is force. It has only the money it takes by force. It enforces its will through the threat of punishment. Every government, from the smallest libertarian ideal to the bloated monstrosities dying in the streets of London and Athens, is nothing but an accumulation of compulsive force.
That sounds sinister, but it doesn’t have to be. There are righteous uses of force. If someone was trying to murder you, you would be very grateful if the police appeared and used an intense burst of force to protect your legal right to remain alive. In a just and orderly society, the government has a monopoly on the use of compulsion, and deploys a minimal amount of it against the population.
What happens when a large number of people depend upon the government for their livelihood, through public employment and welfare?
The government must naturally grow larger to provide for these people. It must seize more funding from the private sector, to pay the salaries and benefits of public employees, and finance welfare for the dependency class. It must hire more people to administer these vast new funds… and their salaries must be paid. As the State grows, it begins to crowd out the private sector, taking over functions that were once performed by free citizens, and it assumes control of goods that were once sold in the free market. Crony capitalism, unfunded mandates, micro-managing regulations, and outright nationalization lurk upon the expanding borders of the State.
Because government is force, there comes a point where it can only be influenced through force. As you can see in England and Greece, orderly democracy can only get public dependents so far. The beneficiaries of government force stand ready to compel the payment of further benefits, when democratic resistance from the diminished private sector grows too strong, and public money simply runs out.
Public employees and angry dependents of the government are all protesting against the same employer and benefactor. This results in solidarity, because the compulsive force they deploy through general strikes and riots is all directed at the same target. They believe this target cannot “go out of business,” an apprehension that sometimes restrains the worst excesses of private-sector unions. There is no point in making collective demands which destroy a private-sector employer, leaving the union with nothing. But where is the limit on demands made of public treasuries that can never be “empty?”
Remember what that British teacher said: “We are here to protect our own pensions. We are also fighting for pensions and against overall government cuts generally.” It doesn’t matter that the government has run out of money, or that the promises it made to buy votes in happier times were unsustainable. These people are not really declaring war on their government – they’re declaring war on the private sector. They want greater compulsive force deployed against those who have not yet been absorbed by the government, to seize more funding for their benefits. They know they will not face any organized mobs of angry taxpayers who deny them.
If such a mob of taxpayers appeared on the streets of Athens, they would be showered with stones and fire bombs.
Every government is either the ally, or the enemy, of law-abiding private citizens. The sole factor controlling that relationship is the size of the State. A large government will always become the enemy of its people, because those who depend on the government will eventually, and inevitably, insist upon it.
The path Barack Obama has set for America always ends with angry public employees and welfare dependents “fighting for pensions, and against overall government cuts generally.” The only detail left to be sorted out is their choice of weapons.
Posted by Brett at 9:19 AM
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Marriage Cannot Be Redefined
By Jeff Jacoby
SAME-SEX WEDLOCK became lawful in New York last week after the state legislature passed a bill recognizing "otherwise-valid marriages without regard to whether the parties are of the same or different sex." Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fervent proponent of gay marriage, signed the bill into law Friday night.
No one was a fervent proponent of gay marriage 44 years ago this month when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that laws barring whites and blacks from marrying were unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage wasn't even a fringe issue on June 12, 1967, the day the court handed down its landmark decision in Loving v. Virginia, invalidating anti-miscegenation statutes on the books in 16 states as "invidious racial discrimination . . . repugnant to the 14th Amendment." If anyone had suggested to Chief Justice Earl Warren or his colleagues that in refusing to allow Virginia to continue perverting its marriage laws out of racial bigotry they were pointing the way to gay and lesbian marriages, they would have found the claim unintelligible.
But that hasn't stopped same-sex marriage advocates from explicitly linking the two causes. Ted Olson and David Boies, the superlawyers leading the effort to overthrow California's Proposition 8, pay tribute in a new video to Mildred and Richard Loving, the interracial couple at the heart of the 1967 case. "Forty-four years later," they intone, "Loving v. Virginia still has a profound significance for another group of citizens who wish to marry, but are not allowed: gay and lesbian couples."
In a column for The Hill this month, the ACLU's Laura Murphy similarly laments that "the changes brought about" by Loving are incomplete, since same-sex marriage is forbidden in almost every state. And Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post makes the point (and promotes the Olson/Boies video) in a blog post headlined: "Loving v. Virginia gives hope for same-sex marriage."
By now, of course, the idea that same-sex couples should have the same freedom to marry as interracial couples has become a favorite gay-rights trump card. So has the view that opponents of gay marriage occupy the same moral and legal swamp as the segregationists who thought Mildred and Richard Loving's marriage should be a crime. Today those who insist that society retain the timeless definition of marriage as the union of male and female can expect to be excoriated as bigots and haters, and to be assured that history will revile them just as it reviles Bull Connor and Lester Maddox.
I'm not so sure.
There is no disputing the emotional power of linking the campaign for gay marriage today to the struggle over anti-miscegenation laws in the Civil Rights era. I agree that the two are connected. But not in the way same-sex marriage advocates think.
When the Supreme Court ruled in June 1967 that Virginia's law penalizing interracial marriage could not stand, it was not changing the fundamental and enduring meaning of marriage: It was affirming it. It was upholding the integrity of marriage by protecting it from irrelevant -- and unconstitutional -- racial manipulation. Virginia had interfered with the core elements of marriage in order to promote white supremacy, a value completely alien to marriage. Marriage is designed to bring men and women together; anti-miscegenation laws frustrated that design, and could not stand.
Same-sex marriage, too, interferes with the core elements of wedlock in order to advance an unrelated goal -- the dignity and equality of gays and lesbians. The fact that many decent people ardently embrace that goal doesn't change reality: The essential, public purpose of marriage is to unite male and female -- to bind men and women to each other and to the children that their sexual behavior may produce. It is rooted in the conviction that every child needs a mother and a father. Gay marriage, whether enacted by lawmakers or imposed by judges, disconnects marriage from its most basic idea. Ultimately, that isn't tenable either.
The old laws banning interracial marriage had a long run but they eventually collapsed. The new laws in New York and other states authorizing same-sex marriage may be destined for a long run as well, but I suspect they too will eventually collapse. Marriage -- male-female marriage -- is indispensable to human welfare. That is why it has existed in virtually every known human society. And why it cannot, and will not, be permanently redefined.
To read another article by Jeff Jacoby, click here.
Posted by Brett at 6:38 PM
Ohio House Bans Abortion… in a heartbeat!
posted at 1:53 pm on June 29, 2011 by Kevin McCullough
[ Abortion ]
Is Ohio becoming the most pro-life state in the union?
According to this report it seems darned certain to be trying. Reuters reports that the ban goes into place once a fetal heartbeat is detectable.
Fetal heartbeats have been detected as early as five weeks into a pregnancy, though most are consistently screened for at six weeks. In essence this ban eliminates any partial birth abortions, and of course that Satanic practice that President Obama voted in favor of FOUR TIMES in his home state called “Born Alive Abortions.” (In essence infanticide caused by neglect. You know babies dying in soiled utility closets and all…)
Compare the pro-life environment (all stemming from Ohio’s legislature actions) as opposed to the Planned Parenthood issues of Indiana and it might just be the new mid-west capital and champion for the lives of unborn children.
Critics point out that the Ohio legislation doesn’t include exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother.
And why should they?
Is it the child’s fault that he/she was created out of such horrific circumstances?
The bottom line is always about the HUMANNESS of the child, which always seem to somehow go unnoticed. We’re pretty good at understanding or stressing the “rights of the mother.”
And that always leaves me scratching my head wondering, who does protect the most innocent and vulnerable amongst us?
And as a conservative it pains me to admit that in this instance, it appears to be, the government… in the state of Ohio at least.
I’m Kevin McCullough, and that’s how I “Binge Think.”
Posted by Brett at 6:31 PM
AmeriCorps' Favorite Scandal-Plagued Mayor
By Michelle Malkin
A prominent Democratic politician who was banned from receiving federal aid three years ago over fraud charges is once again raking in government funds from the very same program he abused. It pays to be a FOTO -- Friend of the Obamas.
Our publicly subsidized con artist is Sacramento mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson. He donated the maximum individual amount to Obama for America, campaigned across the country for Obama in 2008, and bragged to California media during his mayoral run about his friendship and access to both Barack and Michelle Obama. The Obama administration's Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently bestowed Johnson's city with an AmeriCorps grant worth more than $650,000.
The money will flow into Sacramento's "Get Fit Now! Initiative," which will hire 124 AmeriCorps members "to teach fitness and nutrition education to children and offer adult fitness classes for their parents. They will also set up school-based gardens where children will learn how to grow fresh vegetables."
That's a lot of fertilizer-shovelers employed in the name of "public service." If the award smells funny, it should. For Johnson, AmeriCorps has indeed been all about service -- self-service, that is.
In 2008, the independent Inspector General overseeing AmeriCorps, Gerald Walpin, concluded that Johnson and aide Dana Gonzalez had squandered hundreds of thousands of a nearly million-dollar grant earmarked for his nonprofit youth organization, St. HOPE. Based on Walpin's investigation, AmeriCorps' parent organization (the aforementioned CNCS) suspended Johnson and Gonzalez's access to federal funds. Here's a refresher on their fraud and abuse that led to the ban:
-- Using AmeriCorps members to "recruit students for St. HOPE Academy."
-- Using AmeriCorps members for political activities in connection with the "Sacramento Board of Education election."
-- Assigning grant-funded AmeriCorps members to perform services for Johnson such as "driving (him) to personal appointments, washing (his) car, and running personal errands."
-- Improperly using AmeriCorps "members to perform non-AmeriCorps clerical and other services" that "were outside the scope of the grant and therefore were impermissible" for "the benefit of St. HOPE."
Johnson didn't get jail time. Instead, the Democratic U.S. Attorney in Sacramento cut a cozy settlement deal so Johnson could avoid criminal prosecution. The deal also allowed Johnson to repay just a fraction of the money he siphoned from AmeriCorps coffers for personal gain -- and it freed Johnson to receive federal Obama stimulus money for Sacramento. (My most recent check of the Recovery.gov website shows the city has taken in at least $32 million in stimulus cash.)
In keeping with this administration's brutal war on whistleblowers, Walpin was unceremoniously fired and smeared by Team Obama. The White House baselessly questioned the veteran watchdog's mental health and accused him of political interference. The first lady then installed her former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, in AmeriCorps' top management to ensure -- in Mrs. Obama's own words -- that they remained the program's "No. 1 cheerleaders."
Even more troubling, Johnson continues to reap government tax dollars for youth programs while he remains dogged by questions about his predatory behavior with teenage girls. A little-noticed section of the joint November 2009 report by GOP Sen. Charles Grassley and GOP Rep. Darrell Issa on Walpin's firing revealed that the AmeriCorps inspector general's investigator "became aware of allegations of inappropriate contact between Johnson and three female St. HOPE students." Their stories mirror a similar incident involving Johnson (then 29 and playing for the Phoenix Suns) and a 16-year-old girl dating back to 1995.
Johnson's attorney, Kevin Hiestand, approached at least one of the St. HOPE students describing himself only as "'a friend of Johnson's,'" and "basically asked me to keep quiet," according to the student. She had complained to St. HOPE officials that Johnson groped her sexually after instructing her to grade papers with him in her apartment. The report also highlighted what clearly looks like a hush-money and witness-tampering attempt: "According to her interview with OIG investigators, about one week later, Kevin Johnson offered her $1,000 a month until the end of the program, which she refused to accept."
Erik Jones, a teacher at St. HOPE, reported to the police that one of his students told him Johnson "started massaging her shoulders and then reached over and touched her breasts." Jones quit his job in protest over the seeming cover-up of Johnson's harassment and wrote in his resignation letter that "St. HOPE sought to intimidate the student through an illegal interrogation and even had the audacity to ask me to change my story."
Another student recounted for investigators how Johnson "kissed her cheek, brushed up against her" and touched her thigh on various occasions -- as well as flipping up her skirt on a St. HOPE-sponsored trip to Harlem. She didn't report the incidents to AmeriCorps officials at the time because she "feared she would be terminated."
Another St. HOPE official, Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, also left Johnson's nonprofit over the whitewash. Michelle Rhee, Johnson's fiancee and former D.C. schools chief, was a St. HOPE board member at the time. The Grassley-Issa report noted, "According to Wong-Hernandez, Rhee learned of the allegations and played the role of a fixer, doing 'damage control'" and vouching for Johnson's character.
He's a "good guy," Rhee told Walpin. Taxpayers -- and especially parents of teenage girls and AmeriCorps workers in Sacramento schools -- should beg to differ.
To read another article by Michelle Malkin, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:19 PM
Is Democracy Viable?
By Thomas Sowell
The media have recently been so preoccupied with a Congressman's photograph of himself in his underwear that there has been scant attention paid to the fact that Iran continues advancing toward creating a nuclear bomb, and nobody is doing anything that is likely to stop them.
Nuclear weapons in the hands of the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism might seem to be something that would sober up even the most giddy members of the chattering class. But that chilling prospect cannot seem to compete for attention with cheap behavior by an immature Congressman, infatuated with himself.
A society that cannot or will not focus on matters of life and death is a society whose survival as a free nation is at least questionable. Hard as it may be to conceive how the kind of world that one has been used to, and taken for granted, can come to an end, it can happen in the lifetime of today's generation.
Those who founded the United States of America were keenly aware that they were making a radical departure in the kinds of governments under which human beings had lived over the centuries -- and that its success was by no means guaranteed. Monarchies in Europe had lasted for centuries and the Chinese dynasties for thousands of years. But a democratic republic was something else.
While the convention that was writing the Constitution of the United States was still in session, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin what the delegation was creating. "A republic, madam," he said, "if you can keep it."
In the middle of the next century, Abraham Lincoln still posed it as a question whether "government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." Years earlier, Lincoln had warned of the dangers to a free society from its own designing power-seekers -- and how only the vigilance, wisdom and dedication of the public could preserve their freedom.
But, today, few people seem to see such dangers, either internally or internationally.
A recent poll showed that nearly half the American public believes that the government should redistribute wealth. That so many people are so willing to blithely put such an enormous and dangerous arbitrary power in the hands of politicians -- risking their own freedom, in hopes of getting what someone else has -- is a painful sign of how far many citizens and voters fall short of what is needed to preserve a democratic republic.
The ease with which people with wealth can ship it overseas electronically, or put it in tax shelters at home, means that raising the tax rate on wealthy people is not going to bring in the kind of tax revenue that would enable wealth redistribution to provide the bonanza that some people are expecting.
In other words, people who are willing to give government more arbitrary power can give up their birthright of freedom without even getting the mess of pottage. Worse yet, they can give up their children's and their grandchildren's birthright of freedom.
Free and democratic societies have existed for a relatively short time, as history is measured -- and their staying power has always been open to question. So much depends on the wisdom of the voters that the franchise was always limited, in one way or another, so that voting would be confined to those with a stake in the viability and progress of the country, and the knowledge to cast their vote intelligently.
In our own times, however, voting has been seen as just one of the many "rights" to which everyone is supposed to be entitled. The emphasis has been on the voter, rather than on the momentous consequences of elections for the nation today and for generations yet unborn.
To those who see voting as more or less just a matter of self-expression, almost a recreational activity, there is no need to inform themselves on both sides of the issues before voting, much less sit down and think beyond the rhetoric to the realities that the rhetoric conceals.
Careless voters may be easily swayed by charisma and rhetoric, oblivious to the monumental disasters created around the world by 20th century leaders with charisma and rhetoric, such as Hitler.
Voters like this represent a danger of terminal frivolity for freedom and democracy.
To read another article by Thomas Sowell, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:14 PM
Treating Children As Adults
By Ben Shapiro
This week, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that the state of California could not bar the sale of violent video games to minors. The majority opinion, written by quasi-originalist Justice Antonin Scalia, argued that the First Amendment requires that government not mandate that minors be controlled by their parents. Purer originalist Judge Clarence Thomas took the opposite view. "Although much has changed in this country since the Revolution," he wrote, "the notion that parents have authority over their children and that the law can support that authority persists today."
This is the debate that defines our time. The treatment of minors as tiny adults is a dangerous move that threatens the foundations of our society. Civilized societies have always recognized that parents must control their children until the kids reach maturity -- that's how we've historically passed along morals and information. If we left children to their own devices, there is little doubt that they would engage in every selfish pursuit they could -- kids aren't the naturally altruistic folks non-parents seem to think they are -- and hurt themselves in the process. They wouldn't go to school, they wouldn't go to church, and they certainly wouldn't embrace their parents' value systems.
But today's left, and many on the libertarian right, have embraced the concept of children making their own decisions. Paternalism has become a dirty word, even though parents are supposed to be paternal. New generations should not have to rediscover old truths -- reinventing the wheel takes time, effort and pain. They should be able to inherit the received wisdom of the past, glean from it, and then make their own decisions.
Historically, this has meant that parents control what their children see and hear. To a point, the more control parents have had, the better. There is a reason that unwed motherhood is the leading indicator of many of our most pressing social problems: Without a father in the home, children often run out of control and grow into irresponsible adults. Government should do its utmost to maintain enough respect for the family unit to allow adults to raise their children.
Now, however, we've moved into a brave new world in which children are thought to be adults who are far away. The left has pushed for lowered age of consent; they've pushed for children to be able to attain abortions without parental permission; they've pushed for heightened sex education, so children can make "informed" decisions without the input of their guardians.
This is not only scientifically inaccurate, but it's also morally incoherent. Children are children because they are not fully developed human beings. Science tells us that adolescents are biologically driven to embrace risky and stupid behavior. The part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which actually controls for risky behavior, isn't fully developed until children are fully grown. Leave children and adolescents to their own devices, and they will not make good decisions -- they will attack any boundaries and cross any lines.
What is government's role in all of this? Justice Scalia believes that government should not put more power in the hands of parents -- government should essentially be neutral between children and those who raise them. Justice Thomas believes that government should create a system wherein parents get the last word. In today's world, more than ever, it is important that children not be treated with libertarian casualness requiring parents to be all-knowing and all-seeing. Instead, government should place control firmly in the hands of parents, requiring children to go to their parents for advice and guidance.
Freedom and responsibility for actions go hand in hand; only adults can be held responsible for their actions and the actions of their children. Therefore, only adults should have the freedom to choose on behalf of their children. Any other moral system is a fundamental rejection of the superstructure of civilization in favor of a moral chimera.
To read another article by Ben Shapiro, click here.
Posted by Brett at 4:08 PM
Glenn Beck vs. The Mob
By Ann Coulter
Of all the details surrounding the liberal mob attack on Glenn Beck and his family in New York's Bryant Park last Monday night, one element stands out. "No, it won't be like that, Dad," his daughter said when Beck questioned the wisdom of attending a free, outdoor movie showing in a New York park.
People who have never been set upon by a mob of liberals have absolutely no idea what it's like to be a publicly recognizable conservative. Even your friends will constantly be telling you: "Oh, it will be fine. Don't worry. Nothing will happen. This place isn't like that."
Liberals are not like most Americans. They are the biggest pussies on Earth, city-bred weaklings who didn't play a sport and have never been in a fight in their entire lives. Their mothers made excuses for them when they threw tantrums and spent way too much time praising them during toilet training.
I could draw a mug shot of every one of Beck's tormentors, and I wasn't there.
Beck and his family would have been fine at an outdoor rap concert. They would have been fine at a sporting event. They would have been fine at any paid event, mostly because people who work for the government and live in rent-controlled apartments would be too cheap to attend.
Only a sad leftist with a crappy job could be so brimming with self-righteousness to harangue a complete stranger in public.
A liberal's idea of being a bad-ass is to say vicious things to a conservative public figure who can't afford to strike back. Getting in a stranger's face and hurling insults at him, knowing full well he has too much at risk to deck you, is like baiting a bear chained to a wall.
They are not only exploiting our lawsuit-mad culture, they are exploiting other people's manners. I know I'll be safe because this person has better manners than I do.
These brave-hearts know exactly what they can get away with. They assault a conservative only when it's a sucker-punch, they outnumber him, or he can't fight back for reasons of law or decorum.
Liberals don't get that when you're outnumbering the enemy 100-1, you're not brave.
But they're not even embarrassed. To the contrary, being part of the majority makes liberals feel great! Honey, wasn't I amazing? I stood in a crowd of liberals and called that conservative a c**t. Wasn't I awesome?
This is a liberal's idea of raw physical courage.
When someone does fight back, liberals transform from aggressor to victim in an instant, collapsing on the ground and screaming bloody murder. I've seen it happen in a nearly empty auditorium when there was quite obviously no other human within 5 feet of the gutless invertebrate.
People incapable of conforming to the demands of civilized society are frightening precisely because you never know what else such individuals are capable of. Sometimes -- a lot more often than you've heard about -- liberals do engage in physical violence against conservatives ... and then bravely run away.
That's why not one person stepped up to aid Beck and his family as they were being catcalled and having wine dumped on them at a nice outdoor gathering.
No one ever steps in. Never, not once, not ever. (Except at the University of Arizona, where college Republicans chased my assailant and broke his collarbone, God bless them.)
Most people are shocked into paralysis at the sight of sociopathic liberal behavior. The only ones who aren't are the conservative's bodyguards -- and they can't do anything without risking a lawsuit or an arrest.
My hero Tim Profitt is now facing charges for stopping a physical assault on Senate candidate Rand Paul by a crazed woman disguised in a wig.
But the disturbed liberal whose assault Profitt stopped faces no charges -- she instigated the entire confrontation and then instantly claimed victim status. In a better America, the cop would say, "Well, you provoked him."
Kentucky prosecutors must be very proud of how they so dutifully hew to the letter of the law (except in the case of Paul's assailant).
Maybe they wouldn't be such good little rules-followers if they ever, just once, had to face the liberal mob themselves. But if Beck's own daughter can't imagine the liberal mob, I suppose prosecutors can't be expected to, either.
Michael Moore and James Carville can stroll anywhere in America without risking the sort of behavior the Beck family experienced. But all recognizable conservatives are eternally trapped in David Dinkins' New York: Simply by virtue of leaving their homes, they assume a 20 percent chance of being assaulted.
Bullying is on the rise everywhere in America -- and not just because Obama decided to address it. It's because no one hits back. The message in our entire culture over the last two decades has been: DON'T FIGHT!
There were a lot fewer public confrontations when bullies got their faces smashed.
Maybe it's time for Beck to pony up some of those millions of dollars he's earned and hire people to rough up the liberal mob, or, at a minimum, to provide a legal defense to those like Profitt who do.
These liberal pukes have never taken a punch in their lives. A sock to the yap would be an eye-opening experience, and I believe it would do wonders.
They need to have their behavior corrected. It's a shame this job wasn't done by their parents. It won't be done by the police.
As long as liberals can't be normal and prosecutors can't be reasonable, how about a one-punch rule against anyone bothering a stranger in public? Then we'll see how brave these lactose-intolerant mama's boys are.
Believe me, liberal mobbings will stop very quickly after the first toilet-training champion takes his inaugural punch.
To read anothet article by Ann Coulter, click here.
Posted by Brett at 3:59 PM
John Lennon … Reagan Republican?
posted at 2:00 pm on June 29, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Second look at John Lennon? If his last personal assistant is to be believed, we may have to imagine John Lennon as a Reaganite. Fred Seaman told a filmmaker compiling anecdotes about the four Beatles that the former radical had begun debating people on the Left and soured on Jimmy Carter:
In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.
He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.
“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event… Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that… He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.["]
Lennon met Reagan on Monday Night Football, actually, as Frank Gifford recalled. This would have taken place a few years (December 1974, farther back than Giffords’ recollection) before Seaman started working for Lennon. I read an account about this meeting in another book, which described the interaction as friendly and gracious on the part of both men. That telling squares with the account at this site, although the post there offers no supporting citations.
While I’m a fan of the music of the Beatles, I found Lennon’s solo career to be too preachy for my taste. I especially didn’t care for “Imagine,” a treacly pseudo-philosophical nihilist rant dressed up as a ballad. According to Seaman, I wasn’t alone in that assessment:
“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naivete.”
Even so, I have trouble imagining Lennon as a Reagan Republican, but it’s certainly interesting to try. I suspect that there’s a more nuanced explanation for this;
Lennon was always an iconoclast, and he may have just been contrarian in that period for the sake of being contrarian. The tragedy is, of course, that Lennon isn’t still around for us to debate and for him to entertain, regardless of his politics.
Update (AP): C’mon. Wasn’t it obvious?
Posted by Brett at 12:50 PM
Next Step: Persecuting Churches?
By Terry Jeffrey
When the New York legislature passed a law last Friday legalizing same-sex marriage, all of New York's Roman Catholic bishops signed a statement warning that they now expect efforts to enact laws attacking churches that defend the truth.
"We strongly uphold the Catholic Church's clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love," said the bishops.
"But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves," they said. "This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths."
The bishops are wrong -- about the timing. Efforts to sanction churches for defending the truth will not be starting now, they have already started.
America's liberal establishment has already shown how it can flout the Constitution and use government to force churches to act against their own moral teachings.
As I wrote in my book "Control Freaks," the 2004 case of Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. the Superior Court of Sacramento County demonstrated this.
In the Catholic Charities case, a six-to-one majority of the California Supreme Court upheld a law enacted by the California legislature that required Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations to provide prescription contraception coverage for their employees if they purchased any prescription drug coverage for their employees at all.
It did not matter to the majority in California's legislature, who passed the law, and then Gov. Gray Davis, who signed it, that employees of Catholic organizations were free to buy any kind of contraceptives they wanted -- with their own money. These politicians wanted to force the Catholic Church to buy contraceptives against its teaching.
The Catholic Church argued that it deeply believed and clearly taught that artificial contraception was wrong. The church also said it believed it had a moral obligation -- as part of its duty to treat workers justly -- to provide prescription drug coverage for its employees.
The liberals behind California's contraceptive law no doubt relished putting the Catholic Church in this box: force Catholic authorities to choose between upholding their church's teaching on artificial contraception or upholding their church's view of the just treatment of workers.
They wanted to force the Catholic Church to choose one wrong or another. It is hard to imagine an uglier or more tyrannical impulse in a politician.
The church resisted. Catholic Charities of Sacramento sued the state, seeking to protect its own and everyone else's freedom of religion.
"This lawsuit has very little to do with health insurance and everything to do with our fundamental rights as Americans," Roman Catholic Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento explained at the time. "It boils down to a very simple question. Under the Constitution, does the state of California have the right to tell its citizens how to practice their religion?"
Three Protestant churches - -including the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Worldwide Church of God -- joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in filing an amicus brief supporting Catholic Charities.
"The state proposes a rule of law that forces a church institution, in violation of its own self-identity and constitution, to pay for something in its own workplace that the institution holds and teaches to be sinful," the churches said in this brief.
"Today's case is about contraceptives," they said. "Tomorrow's will present some other issue that elicits public division, such as abortion, assisted suicide, cloning, or some issue of self-governance, such as the use of resources for evangelization or who a religious agency may hire to do ministry work."
The California Supreme Court's decision was bold and simple. It conceded that the California law demanded that the Catholic Church act against its own teachings.
"We do not doubt Catholic Charities' assertion that to offer insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives to its employees would be religiously unacceptable," said the court.
But it concluded that the state's interest in eliminating "gender discrimination" trumped the Catholic Church's freedom of religion.
"Assuming for the sake of argument the (law) substantially burdens a religious belief or practice, the law nevertheless serves a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest," said the court. "The (law) serves the compelling state interest of eliminating gender discrimination."
Catholic Charities appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court refused to take the case up, letting California's law stand.
Apologists for New York's same-sex marriage law argue that it includes a religious exemption that protects churches from having to officiate over same-sex marriages and protects them in "taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained" -- including in its employment practices.
That is, of course, until the same kind of ideologues who are now pushing same-sex marriage laws begin suing churches in states where same-sex marriage is a "right" because, they argue, the churches have made them victims of "gender discrimination."
Then Anthony Kennedy gets to decide.
Posted by Brett at 12:46 PM
Obama Presser: Another Interminable Exercise in Blame and Evasion
By Guy Benson
In case you missed it, Katie offers a fairly comprehensive recap of President Obama's press conference below. As is often the case, his performance was rather frustrating to watch, and seemed interminable. A few initial reactions:
Debt Ceiling: The president called on Republicans to back off their "stubborn" refusal to compromise on their "sacred cow" (no tax hikes), asserting that everyone else at the table has displayed a willingness to do so. This is news to me, as Democrats have consistently refused to deal seriously with entitlements, and have shamelessly demagogued republican reform efforts. One could also argue that Democrats' true sacred cow in this debate is their insistence on raising taxes, a stance from which they have not backed down. Obama employed one of his favorite rhetorical maneuvers, citing the "consensus" of unnamed economists from across the political spectrum ("every single observer...who's not a politician") that a "balanced approach" to deficit refuction (ie, tax increases) is required to accomplish that task. I can think of at least 150 economists who might beg to differ. NRO's Daniel Foster also dug up a useful video clip on this front. The president also mentioned his debt commission -- which is rich, considering that he ignored all of its major recommendations in crafting his mammouth failure of a 2012 budget. Plus, would tax hikes really right the ship? Over to you, Jim Pethokoukis (once again).
In an obvious class warfare gambit, Obama took aim at tax breaks for private jet owners. His point, presumably, was to highlight an unpopular tax provision Republicans are "protecting" through their blanket refusal to entertain any tax increases. Say, where'd those evil private jet tax breaks come from, anyway? Clue: The answer may involve an infamous bill that zero House Republicans supported, and that Barack Obama signed into law. Oops.
Libya: President Obama defended his administration's legally dubious stance on Libya and the War Powers Act. He recapitulated all the talking points we've come to expect: Our mission is time- and scope-limited. The non-hostilities are unlikely to expand. NATO. Congress has been briefed, etc. Congressional briefings are substantively and legally separate from Congressional authorization, of course, but no matter. Taking a cue from his Secretary of State, Obama also implied that critics of his Libya policy are kinda sorta emboldening and abetting Mommar Gaddafi."Nobody should want to defend" the Libyan dictator, he scowled. No one does. That's not the point, and he knows it. Political scientist Larry Sabato was decidedly unimpressed with Obama's evasive and dishonest answer.
Gay marriage: Asked if gay marriage is constitutional, the president recited a litany of his administration's pro-gay rights accomplishments -- from repealing DADT to ceasing to defend DOMA in court. He also applauded New York's recent decision to legalize gay marriage. Pressed on whether he himself supports gay marriage (his stated position is that he does not), Obama smiled and said he wasn't going to "make news" on that issue "today." To me, this reinforces a reality that has been manifestly obvious for some time: Barack Obama very much supports gay marriage, but he doesn't want to say so explicitly until after he asks millions of religious Americans -- including many blacks and hispanics -- for their votes in 2012. Principle!
Congress: Obama reserved much of his indignance and hectoring for Congress, which he largely blamed for the debt debate impasse (this from a guy who has punted these tough questions to multiple commissions -- a ploy he ridiculed as a candidate). He said Congress should stay in the nation's capital and buckle down, rather than taking frequent recesses. "I've been here!" he asserted, though some cynics may point out that he's actually been jetting to mulitple fundraisers and squeezing in quite a few rounds of golf. Nonetheless, Obama demanded that legislators "do their job" on the debt crisis. Um, Mr. President, the Republican-controlled House did its job on the debt. It passed Paul Ryan's budget, which reduces the debt by four trillion dollars, reforms the tax code, and saves the social safety net by distrupting its inexorable march toward insolvency. The Democrat-held Senate has not done its job. 791 days have passed since Harry Reid's caucus even introduced a budget. Oddly, the president failed to mention these salient facts. He did, however, demande that Congress make "tough choices." Is he referring to the brand of politically risky leadership he's deliberately avoided?
Fear-mongering: "I am the President of the United States, and I want to make sure I'm not engaged in fear-mongering." Republicans should file this quote away and resurrect it whenever the president feeds his insatiable appetite for precisely the practice he claims to reject. In fact, he fear-mongered at this press conference. Absent tax increases, he warned, children could go without scholarships, food safety measures could be loosened, and medical research could dry up, etc, etc. It's fat-cat corporate jet-setters vs. the children, you see. I'd try to accumulate Obama's greatest fear-mongering hits, but that task could consume my entire afternoon. Here's a start.
Posted by Brett at 12:28 PM
Rule of Lawlessness
By John H. Fund from the June 2011 issue
Is the Age of Obama ushering in an Era of Thuggery by his left-wing supporters?
Barack Obama has made clear his admiration of Saul Alinsky, the radical "father" of community organizing. Peter Slevin of the Washington Post wrote in 2007 that "Obama embraced many of Alinsky's tactics and recently said his years as an organizer gave him the best education of his life."
Alinsky, who died in 1971, was known for his belief that revolutionaries must stir up the downtrodden to become angry enough at their condition to demand its betterment. In his famous book Rules for Radicals, Alinsky acknowledged his debt to Lucifer, "the very first radical," who "rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom."
When it came to the best way to achieve revolution, Alinsky explictly argued for moral relativism in fighting the establishment: "In war the end justifies almost any means." Specifically, "the practical revolutionary will understand… [that] in action, one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one's individual conscience and the good of mankind."
It appears that the left has decided to throw conscience aside and put the raw exercise of political power first. Consider three separate news stories that developed within the same week in late April:
• When Attorney General Eric Holder decided to no longer uphold the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the U.S. House hired the Atlanta-based law firm of King and Spalding to defend it in court. The law defines marriage as between a man and a woman and says states aren't obliged to honor gay marriages recognized in other states.
But within days of being hired the firm dropped the House as a client, claiming the firm had failed in properly "vetting" the issue. Former Bush solicitor general Paul Clement, who had brought the case to King and Spalding, resigned from the firm in protest.
The real reason the case was dropped was the campaign launched by the Human Rights Campaign to "educate" (read: intimidate) the firm's clients about "King and Spalding's decision to promote discrimination." Never mind that like 84 other senators Vice President Joe Biden had voted for the bill. Or that Holder's old boss Bill Clinton signed it. Anyone who now touched the issue was to be branded a bigot. "Gay rights activists argue that DOMA is unconstitutional," notes San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders. "If they're so sure, why are they trying to prevent good lawyers from defending it?"
• California Democratic leaders, frustrated by the refusal of Republican state legislators to go along with tax increases to close the state's $15.4 billion deficit, are threatening to focus budget cuts on the districts those Republicans represent.
"You don't want to pay for government, well then, you get less of it," Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters in late April. Steinberg echoed comments made by Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who told reporters that budget cuts should be targeted at the districts of lawmakers who oppose putting $11 billion in tax increases before the state's voters in a referendum.
"When it comes to kids or the vulnerable, I wouldn't want to make distinctions between who lives in a Democratic district and who lives in a Republican district, but when it comes to sort of basic services, convenience services that affect adults...I have an open mind," Steinberg told reporters.
A spokeswoman for Bob Dutton, the Senate's Republican leader, reacted quickly to the bully-boy tactics. "It only means Democrats are unwilling to stand up to public employee unions," said Jann Taber. "They'd rather cut services to Californians than fix bloated public employee pension systems. Clearly this isn't an attempt to craft a true bipartisan budget solution."
Local officials in districts represented by Republicans called the tactic completely counterproductive.
"That is shameless extortion," Butte County supervisor Larry Wahl told the Sacramento Bee.
"He's trying to get me to call [Assemblyman Dan] Logue and [state Sen.] Doug LaMalfa and say 'Raise our taxes.' I'm not going to do that."
But Democrats aren't backing down from their threat. "It's really a simple concept," said Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar. "If we have to adopt an all-cuts budget because voters aren't even given the chance to decide the tax issue, then we engage in another democratic process. The folks who want less government get less government. It's not vindictive, it's democracy in action."
Actually, there's another name for it. Targeting the constituents of elected representatives for budget cuts is a tactic worthy of a banana republic, which California is in danger of resembling as it refuses to deal with its budget realities in a serious way.
• Some bitter Wisconsin public employees, thwarted in their attempt to defeat a conservative Supreme Court justice last April as part of their campaign to derail GOP governor Scott Walker's collective bargaining reforms, are endorsing vandalism against companies that contributed to Mr. Walker's campaign.
On May 1, anonymous liberal activists demanded that defamatory stickers be placed on consumer products produced by companies that have donated to Mr. Walker. Internet websites have posted stickers that single out Angel Soft tissue paper ("Wiping your [expletive] on Wisconsin workers"), Johnsonville Sausage ("These Brats Bust Unions") and Coors ("Labor Rights Flow Away Like A Mountain Stream"). No doubt for purposes of encouragement, a "Stick It To Walker" website displayed photographs of actual vandalized Angel Soft tissue packages in a New York supermarket.
More locally, AFSCME's Wisconsin Local 24 has circulated letters to businesses in the state that have declined to display signs in their windows backing the union's anti-Walker political agenda. The letter was clear that neutrality in the battle between Governor Walker and the unions would not be tolerated. "Failure to do so will leave us no choice but [to] do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means 'no' to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members." The only thing missing in the letter from the Wisconsin union was the old organized crime line: "Nice business you have there. Would be a shame if something happened to it."
IN HIS EPIC 1960s poem The Incredible Bread Machine, R. W. Grant described an entrepreneur named Tom Smith who ran afoul of jealous competitors and a power-seeking Justice Department. When Smith appears before the judge, he asks plaintively why he has been singled out. The judge looks down on him and intones: "In complex times the Rule of Law has proved itself deficient. We much prefer the Rule of Men, it's vastly more efficient."
It appears that more and more people on the left have decided that the Rule of Law will have to give way to their version of the Rule of Men.
Posted by Brett at 12:17 PM
By G. Tracy Mehan, III on 6.29.11 @ 6:06AM
A trip home to St. Louis, for my dear mother's 90th birthday, was my first opportunity to visit the new Busch Stadium, the third stadium, so named, in which I have had the pleasure of watching the Redbirds play the great American game.
Toronto won it in the top of the ninth, adding to a St. Louis slump due to erratic play and now an injury to Albert Pujols, who has not quite played up to his normally high standards this season. The heir to Stan Musial, an outstanding humanitarian in his own right, may also be distracted by pending contract negotiations.
But the virtue of Cardinal baseball, the serenity of being a fan of this most venerable franchise, comes from the certain knowledge that, while losses happen, and entire seasons do turn sour, the Birds will, inevitably, be back strong, always in contention for the Pennant and, from time to time, the World Series. This has been the case for decades and decades. What a team. What an organization. As the hometown saying goes, "How 'bout those Redbirds!" This is a statement about excellence over time. There is no question mark at the end of that sentence.
I have had the great privilege of seeing the Cardinals play in two of the World Series in which they played, most recently the 1982 match up with the Brewers. Both times were 7th games that they won. I can't imagine the complete lack of gratification which, say, the Cubs fans put up with. Their loyalty is truly wondrous.
"I grew up in Champaign, IL, midway between Chicago and St. Louis," said the political columnists George Will. "At an age too tender for life-shaping decisions, I made one. While all my friends were becoming Cardinal fans, I became a Cub fan."
"My friends, happily rooting for Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst and other great Redbirds, grew up cheerfully convinced that the world is a benign place, so of course, they became liberals," said Will. "Rooting for the Cubs in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I became a gloomy, pessimistic, morose, dyspeptic and conservative…. Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be Cub fans."
I am no liberal, but I plead to being an insufferable, cheerful Cards fan. Hope always springs eternal in Busch Stadium. Sorry, George.
Thanks to my father's generosity, my brother and I were able to attend the final and seventh game of the 1964 World Series between the Cardinals and the Yankees, the two most successful organizations in the history of baseball. While he and my mother attended an earlier game, I cannot imagine the sacrifice of giving his two sons the tickets to game seven. I still carry a picture of them in my wallet, both dressed up, my father in a sport coat and tie, my mother in a fall dress, heading into the stadium, looking jaunty, expectant and happy. I will always remember them that way.
The '64 Series was played at the old Sportsman's Park on North Grand, where the St. Louis Browns, now the Baltimore Orioles, used to play. It was renamed Busch Stadium in 1953, having expanded from 8,000 seats in 1902 to 30,500.
I had several great aunts who lived close enough for parking the family car and walking to the stadium. When my grandfather, a physician, native of Cincinnati and diehard Reds fan, took us to a game, he always had a local police officer, one of his many Irish-American patients, waiting to park his Cadillac -- right next to the main entrance of the ballpark where it remained, free from any harm or vandalism, compliments of St. Louis's finest. My brother and I thought that was pretty neat -- but for the fact that our beloved grandfather, a massive, distinguished man in his sixties, would wildly cheer for the Redlegs, causing us to slink down into our seats from embarrassment given the cold stares from the hometown crowd.
At the final game of the Series, my brother and I witnessed the ultimate St. Louis victory over a legendary team including Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Clete Boyer who played third base, opposite his brother Ken Boyer, playing the same position for the Redbirds. Whitey Ford played in the series, but Mel Stottlemyre was the starter in this final clash of the titans.
Bob Gibson pitched all nine innings for the Cardinals. Lou Brock, along with Boyer, homered. St. Louis won, 7-5.
"I never considered taking him [Gibson] out. I had a commitment to his heart," said Cardinal Manager Johnny Keane.
I still harbor the hope, no, the prayer, that one day, before I die, the Cardinals and the Yankees will face off in another World Series, going the full seven games.
To read an article about St. Louis Cardinal great Stan Musial, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:10 PM
Teacher of the Year
By Sean Higgins on 6.29.11 @ 6:10AM
Last year, education reformers had high hopes for a documentary film called Waiting for "Superman." With impeccable liberal credentials -- it was made by the same people behind Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth -- the film mercilessly highlighted failures of the American public school system.
It also systematically demolished the argument that the problem was underfunding and instead pointed the finger at government bureaucracy and the control teachers' unions have over the system.
Hopes that the film would do Fahrenheit 9/11 numbers, though, were in vain. It pulled in about $6 million at the box office. That's good for a documentary, but far less than the average horror flick or rom-com.
Then, shortly after the film's release, the filmmakers got a lesson in how little impact their documentary had. Its nominal star, D.C.'s public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, was obliged to step down. Her patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his bid for re-election mainly because teachers unions spent massively to elect his Democratic primary opponent, Vincent Gray.
The teachers unions did it solely to get the crusading reformer Rhee fired and make an example of her to anyone else who dared cross them. (Meanwhile, it took only two months for Gray's administration to become embroiled in a variety of corruption scandals.)
But where thoughtful, sober-minded commentary failed, savage mockery might succeed. Another film has hit the theaters and this one may have a far more potent effect on the education debate.
Bad Teacher took in $32 million last weekend and is certain to become a one of the summer's biggest hits. That's very bad news for defenders of the educational status quo like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. This black comedy is the most scabrous portrayal of public education ever put to celluloid.
Cameron Diaz stars as Elisabeth Halsey, a public middle school teacher who literally does not care for students at all. When we first see her, she's just marking time until she can land a rich husband and not have to work at all. When her fiancé calls off their engagement she's forced back into teaching and her dislike of molding young minds curdles into outright loathing.
She doesn't bother to teach the kids at all, regularly shows up to class hungover, solicits bribes from parents in exchange for good grades, embezzles money from school fundraisers and tells the one go-getter in her class to give up her dreams of becoming president in exchange for something more realistic, "like a masseuse."
"When I first started teaching, I thought that I was doing it for all the right reasons: Shorter hours, summers off, no accountability ..." she explains.
The last part is key: No matter how big a train wreck Halsey is, she is never in any danger of losing her job or even being disciplined. When a rival teacher confronts the principal with the (accurate) charge that Halsey is using drugs on school property, he balks at probing the matter, fearful of what the unions will do to him.
There is nothing that can be done about her, so the authorities pretend not to notice. This, the film suggests, is routine.
Later in the film (Spoiler alert!), Halsey does buckle down and start teaching her students -- but only because she discovers that a big financial reward goes to the teacher whose students do best on a statewide test and she wants the money to get a boob job. (Merit pay, anyone?) Her methods include pelting her students with basketballs until they give the correct answers.
Even this turns out to be short-lived when she realizes the students aren't doing well enough, so she instead engages in an elaborate scam to cheat the test. When her rival tries to expose her fraud, Halsey has her -- a teacher who actually does inspire students -- framed for drug possession and bounced out of the school. And that's the happy ending.
It is a tribute to the talents of the Diaz and the filmmakers that they actually manage to get you rooting for this horrible person. But the fact that the public is ready to accept such a portrayal no doubt played a part as well.
Just a few years ago portraying a teacher in a major studio film as anything other than an uplifting hero would have been unthinkable. (One of Bad Teacher's running gags is that Halsey's classes consist mainly of her showing such films like Lean On Me or Dangerous Minds.) But the stench of failure emanating from the nation's public school system has become impossible for even Hollywood liberals to ignore. Something has to explain why the schools are so rotten.
Bad Teacher suggests the problem may be the teachers themselves and the union-controlled system that protects them at the expense of the students. Tens of millions of people are likely to get that message this summer.
If I were American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, I'd stay out of the multiplex for the next few months.
Posted by Brett at 12:03 PM
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Where the Jobs Are
By Rachel Marsden
Walking around the world's largest air show, I've discovered that there is no economic crisis if one is willing to look hard enough to escape it. The Paris Air Show should be dubbed "The World Capitalism Festival," because what I witnessed here was unfettered capitalism and free-market competition at its finest. I was so deeply moved that I nearly burst into tears in front of an Aster 30 missile, in all its phallic splendor.
Here, there's no need for any politician to waterboard companies with the green Kool-Aid. The hottest item at this year's show is Airbus' A320 NEO, a "green" plane that netted a record 730 orders for a total of $72.2 billion. If America's Boeing hopes to compete and move beyond its $22 billion in orders, it'll have to catch up and produce something similar. The NEO's big attraction is that it's 15 percent more fuel-efficient than a classic A320. With fuel costs representing one-third of airline expenses, no government official has to legislate this plane into existence.
From free-market success also comes employment explosion. Among the 2,100 exhibitors, nearly all those with whom I spoke said they were hiring. Specifically, they're in desperate need of workers with technical skills -- engineers, builders, producers -- and they couldn't find enough people to fill these positions. Several were recruiting on-site.
These are highly skilled jobs you can't fake. The negative consequences of faking one's abilities in manufacturing a plane or defense system should be obvious. It's therefore highly unlikely that jobs in this field will be snapped up by some hombre fresh off of jumping the southern border. They're mostly globalization-proof.
So where are all our workers in this field? This is the West's top-tier manufacturing base, in which democracies are outperforming oppressive regimes such as China and Russia. Malaysia's AirAsia, for example, bought $18.2 billion worth of Airbuses, not a Chinese or Russian brand. This is the playing field on which we are beating our ideological enemy.
The fact that companies can't fill these jobs suggests a serious systemic problem in Western society: economic deindustrialization. According to the American Prospect, manufacturing represented only 11.5 percent of America's economic output in 2008, compared with 28 percent in 1959.
Meanwhile, our young people have never been better educated. I'd suggest that's actually a big part of the problem. Rather than going to college to learn engineering, math and applicable scientific skills, many Western students are encouraged by their parents to strive for law school, business school or some Ivy League flake-o liberal arts degree. The result is that when kids aren't being educated way beyond their intelligence, then they're being educated on the most useless topics imaginable. While schools are raking in money by convincing students to collect one useless degree after another, students are being spit out into the workforce dead broke and unskilled.
One might also blame this phenomenon on the feminization of society in general. Why aren't most men going into engineering and manufacturing anymore or being encouraged to do so? As a woman who graduated from a university with a degree in hard sciences, I briefly considered a career in engineering -- until I realized that I could never spend all day, every day, crunching numbers. But I'm a woman, not to mention a heterosexual one. I don't do oil changes or follow baseball statistics. And, statistically speaking, as a woman, my left inferior parietal lobe -- the brain's math center, where Albert Einstein was abnormally well-endowed -- is markedly smaller than a man's. Unless I'm some kind of mutant, I can't escape that biological reality.
Still, I grew up playing with dump trucks rather than dolls. If a Barbie doll ever crossed my path, it ended up as cargo in the back of my dump truck, along with any of her accessories. I can only conclude that my biological brain structure ultimately overrode my environment and upbringing, despite my parents' best efforts. I excelled at math, physics and calculus but didn't enjoy it enough to make a career out of it. Granted, I still love studying airplanes and military weaponry, but only in their greater strategic context. I'd lose my mind if I had to immerse myself in the intricacies of building them. I worked hard at it, but it didn't come naturally -- much like I excelled at gymnastics as a kid but was constantly struggling not to injure some part of my much-too-tall frame. Not that there aren't women with a genuine affinity for engineering careers -- and perhaps that difference is ultimately biological/structural.
So I can logically, albeit somewhat politically incorrectly, answer the question of why I'm not cut out for the manufacturing industry. But the fact that men who are fully equipped for it aren't gravitating to this wide-open job market is baffling and problematic. They can't all have tiny left inferior parietal lobes!
Because so many parents are encouraging their sons to enter management positions -- and laughably expecting them to land in the executive suite of a major corporation right after getting their MBA -- perhaps it would be a good strategy for high-tech manufacturing companies to attract skilled workers by offering them a meritocratic career path to management up front.
If America and the West have any hope for rebuilding our manufacturing base and crushing China someday while not letting go of our values, these are the kinds of questions we need to address.
Posted by Brett at 4:11 PM
New York's Marriage Scam
By Bill Murchison
Marriage in New York State, by act of its legislature, and in spite of everything you've always heard, is for everybody, and every combination of everybodies.
Except, you know what -- it's not. And, what's more, won't ever be.
For all the legislature's grandeur and power, and the fervent encouragement of The New York Times, no aggregation of human beings enjoys the power to redefine marriage.
What New York has done, amid much trumpeting and self-congratulation, is create a secular-political institution and give it, spuriously, the name of marriage, according to whose regulations two men may join themselves to each other as may two women.
It's a sad and shabby charade, with consequences that will likely prove proportionate to New York's size, population and megalomania.
New York's lawmakers have taken upon themselves an authority that all previous generations ascribed to God. The legislature's calculation was that the 21st century has needs beyond the comprehension of generations that failed to see gay marriage as a matter of social justice. After last week's vote, The New York Times quoted Gov. Andrew Cuomo as thus compressing the matter. "Their love" -- that is, the love of gay couples -- "is worth the same as your love. Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue."
Yes, indeed -- the issue driving the decision to set up a whole new institution and label it "marriage." New York State's decision enjoys standing and respect in the eyes of all who think Reality is a concept politicians can rejigger to their own satisfaction. No one else has any obligation to pay the New York megalomaniacs the slightest heed.
The normative understanding of marriage is rooted not in political pressure and horse-trading, but in what might quaintly be called the natural law: the law of that's-how-things-are.
We ourselves are male and female. Male and female are different. So are they complementary. Brought together, they make up a whole. The marriage that's in our bones, culturally speaking and religiously speaking, is the institution that perfects and maintains wholeness for the good of the couple and for the creation and projection of new life.
Formerly New York State understood this truth. Formerly all states did -- all societies, all entities pretending to the attributes of civilization. Political entities no more than ratified and regulated what God and Nature were believed to have put firmly in place. The political fraternity had a certain becoming modesty in days of old.
What happened? A lot of things did, but the clamor that arose in the 1960s for individual autonomy (a/k/a "What I Say Goes!") is a convenient starting point for examination.
An intellectually sloppy and devitalized era that valued Self more than it esteemed some-ol'-God-out-there-in-space couldn't think of a single reason that people who clamored for "justice" shouldn't have it. Same-sex marriage came under that heading once the political power of the gay lobby waxed and that of the religious community waned. Bring on the politicians! -- the vote-seekers, the money-raisers, the Cuomos, the New York lawmakers in whose hungry mouths butter refused to melt as they pretended to reinvent marriage.
Thus, for the first time in history, two institutions, both known to their practitioners as marriage, lie oddly alongside each other: in New York and a growing if still gratifyingly small number of states. The institution that brings unity out of difference is of course the real one, rooted in Nature. The other is phonier than a Bernie Madoff cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die.
In the end, reality trumps fantasy, which is why New York's experiment in moral Madoff-ism will shrivel and die. But how long before it does? And after what number of disasters in the lives of real human beings looking to their culture for guidance?
Playing with real people's real lives and offering cheap and transitory satisfactions for the sake of political gain is more the mark of fascism than of American democracy. Or at least it once was.
To read more about the fall of the American Family, click here.
Posted by Brett at 3:31 PM
10 Ways Conservatives Should Give Liberals Exactly What They Want (Part 2)
By John Hawkins
In the immortal words of the President of the United States,
The American story has never been about things coming easy. It has been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard. About rejecting panicked division for purposeful unity. About seeing a mountaintop from the deepest valley. That is why we remember that some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American came from a president who took office in a time of turmoil: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
I agree entirely!
Both conservatives and liberals need to come together, in purposeful unity, to join hands, sing Kumbaya, and help our left-wing brethren live under the laws and principles that they hold dear.
Some of you may say, "Impossible, it can't be done!" Maybe you're right.
Maybe the suggestions from the 10 Ways Conservatives Should Give Liberals Exactly What They Say They Want column from last week and the ones you’re going to read this week just aren't realistic. But, before you give up, I'd once again like to off up more words of wisdom from our Commander-In-Chief,
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people. Yes we can.
Can we give liberals 10 more things that they say they want for everyone else? Yes, we can!
1)Obviously America has a problem creating jobs right now because of greedy businessmen, but there's an easy remedy. We confiscate the homes of all the liberals who supported Kelo, pay them whatever government officials think is a "fair" rate, and then give the land away to homeless people so they can start their own businesses. Hello, prosperity!
2)Since liberals believe fossil fuels are ruining the planet, they shouldn't be able to drive oil powered cars. But, never fear! As always, the government will come to the rescue by providing each of them with a free bike!
3) As we all know, criminals are just victims of society, while the police are the real problem! It would be tempting to make liberal cities police-free zones, but perhaps that goes a bit too far. So, from now on, police won't be allowed to have guns or use any sort of force in left-wing cities. Instead, the police can just use the power of reasoning to talk it out with the criminals and convince them to do the right thing!
4)Liberal students with good grades in college should have points taken off their test scores and given to students who haven't done quite as well. After all, successful students shouldn't begrudge sharing their success with those who've been less fortunate.
5) When a liberal stands before a judge, that judge should be allowed to put him in prison, let him go, bankrupt him, or do anything he wants based on nothing more than his whims. Why? I got two words for you: "Living Constitution."
6) As Al Gore noted recently (despite his four children), we need a lot more "fertility management" to keep the population down and save Mother Gaia! Liberals can lead the way by being forced to adopt China's "one child" policy. Of course, if they make a "mistake" and get pregnant, then they’ll have to "choose" to have an abortion.
7) Every liberal in America should have to get Canadian citizenship and then, when a Republican wins, all of them should have to move there until a Democrat President is re-elected -- well, if a Democrat President were ever re-elected.
8) As we've learned from the patriotic millionaires, wealthy liberals want to pay higher taxes. So, we should indulge them. Wealthy liberals should pay the same tax rates we had under Jimmy Carter, while other rich people should continue on under the current tax rates.
9) If illegal aliens are just undocumented Americans looking for a better life, then burglars are just undocumented houseguests looking for a better life. That's why every liberal home should be an unlocked "sanctuary city" for any burglar, homeless person, or crazy-eyed drifter who just needs a place to crash for a little while!
10) Since corporations and the rich get ahead by taking advantage of society, liberals should only be allowed to work for poor people. That might reduce the size of their job market a bit, but their lives would become much more virtuous!
To read another article by John Hawkins, click here.
Posted by Brett at 2:32 PM
Sex at Work?
By Frank Turek
Are you supposed to have sex at work? I guess it depends on your profession, but for most of us the answer is “no.” Why then is corporate America obsessed with training about sex?
As described in several recent columns by Mike Adams, I was fired as a vendor by Cisco for my conservative beliefs about sex and marriage even though my beliefs were never expressed on the job. When a homosexual manager found out on the Internet that I had authored a book giving evidence that maintaining our current marriage laws would be best for society, he couldn’t tolerate me and requested I be fired. An HR executive canned me within hours without ever speaking to me. This happened despite the fact that the leadership and teambuilding programs I led always received high marks (even from the homosexual manager!).
How could an experienced HR professional commit such a blatant act of discrimination unless the Cisco culture was decidedly tilted left? Why didn’t Cisco’s relentless emphasis and training on “inclusion and diversity” serve to prevent this? Maybe it’s because “inclusion and diversity” means something different to corporate elites than to normal Americans. That’s why their training didn’t prevent the problem but actually created an environment of intolerance that led to the problem.
Cisco’s chief “Inclusion and Diversity” officer, Ms. Marilyn Nagel, had trouble on the phone defining what “inclusion and diversity” actually means at Cisco, so she sent me several links from the Cisco website. As in our conversation, I found no specific definition on the website but plenty of platitudes, such as Cisco is committed to “valuing and encouraging different perspectives, styles, thoughts, and ideas.”
If that’s the case, then why not value my “perspectives, styles, thoughts and ideas?”
Because only certain perspectives, styles, thoughts and ideas are approved, you see. “Inclusion and diversity” to corporate elites actually means exclusion for those that don’t agree with the approved views. Whoops, there goes “diversity.”
Shouldn’t the real intent of Cisco’s value of “inclusion and diversity” be to ensure that people in that diverse workforce work together cordially and professionally even when they inevitably disagree on certain political, moral or religious questions? It would seem so. In a large multicultural workforce, people need to work together despite political or religious differences. That’s a noble and necessary goal. It’s totalitarian, however, to subject people to “diversity” training and corporate sponsorships that go beyond teaching respect for people to advocacy of what they do in bed.
All employees should treat one another with kindness and respect because they are fellow human beings, not because of their sexual behavior. If people are to be respected simply on the basis of their behavior, then none of us qualify for respect because we have all behaved badly on occasion.
So instead of trying to force all employees to accept any sexual behavior—especially something as controversial as homosexuality—the inclusion and diversity police should be urging us to treat all people with respect simply because we are human beings. That’s all you need to be productive at work anyway.
But as soon as you start telling people from different religious and cultural backgrounds what they must think about homosexuality, you will offend and create conflict andr resentment. As a Christian, I am commanded to respect all people. That’s what I was doing at Cisco. But don’t tell me that I have to respect and celebrate what people do in bed. Don’t tell me that I must violate my conscience or my God in order to make widgets. That’s not only immoral and un-American; it’s manipulative and stupid. How does accepting homosexual behavior have anything to do with job productivity? Are we supposed to have sex at work?
There simply is no business reason to judge my beliefs about sexual behavior or anyone else’s. And even if some corporate nanny could dream up a reason, it would not justify the assault on an employee’s conscience or religion.
Notice that Cisco did not have a problem with my behavior. My job performance was deemed excellent, and I was “inclusive and diverse” by working in a respectful manner with people of all moral, religious and political views.
Cisco had a problem with my thoughts. Although I certainly accepted homosexuals, I committed the thought crime of disagreeing with homosexual behavior and homosexual political goals. So despite all their talk about “inclusion and diversity,” Cisco deemed my thoughts about something irrelevant to the workplace as grounds for immediate exclusion. Do you think they would have excluded me if I had pro-same-sex marriage thoughts? Of course not—that’s an approved view that Cisco actually sponsors (even though they deny it).
But people who don’t accept homosexual behavior don’t have to work at Cisco then!
True, they don’t. But if Cisco or any other company wants to make it a requirement that every employee and vendor personally accept the behavior of homosexuality or homosexual political goals such as same-sex marriage, then tell us directly. Broadcast it to the world. Cisco can’t and won’t because such a requirement would be a clear violation of the religious protections codified in the Civil Rights Act, and it would result in a mass exodus of employees and customers.
Instead, they create an oppressive culture of political correctness under the false banner of “inclusion and diversity” to achieve the same ends. They tell the world that they value and encourage “different perspectives, styles, thoughts, and ideas” while they punish or intimidate into silence people who have “different perspectives, styles, thoughts, and ideas.” While Cisco executives would never admit this, their actions reveal this twisted truth: Cisco values homosexual behavior more than honesty, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.
Is it the same at your workplace? Are you tired of having to hide your conservative or religious beliefs as if you live in a totalitarian state rather than America? If you continue to cower in silence before an intolerant militant minority, it will only get worse. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.” It’s time to do something—speak up.
To read another article by Frank Turek, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:32 PM
Why Obama Must Raise Taxes
By John Ransom
There is only one way out of the budget mess that the Obama finds him in.
He must successfully raise taxes.
After gaining the majority on fiscal issues and then losing the majority on fiscal issues, Democrats in Congress can’t afford to concede the field to Republicans on spending but neither can they afford to raise taxes.
Obama has vowed to fight budget cuts, saying we need a scalpel not a machete.
But right now, it’s every Congress-tron for themselves.
By agreeing to cut spending without an increase in taxes, Obama will cut the ground out from underneath the progressive wing of his party saying, in a paraphrase of Otter from Animal House, “You messed up. You trusted us.”
Forget about liberals’ preoccupation with redistributing wealth.
Sure, they want to do that.
But the tax hike is oh-so-very necessary because without it, they lose.
Without a tax hike, Obama will have to admit that it’s been his poor handling of the budget that’s led to the largest deficit ever. Without a tax hike, he’ll have to admit that his stewardship of the economy has been a lot of sound, but the only fury created has come from fleeced taxpayers.
Without a tax hike, 65 million Americans will be wearing t-shirts that say “I voted for Obama and all I got was a debt increase.”
Without a tax increase, Obama has nothing to run on but a bunch of unpopular regulatory and spending measures that have done nothing demonstrable to help America grow stronger.
That’s why it’s not just ideologically sound for Republicans to reject a tax increase, but politically sound as well.
At least one GOP leader seems to understand this.
“Throwing more tax revenue into the mix is simply not going to produce a desirable result,” said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on This Week, “and it won't pass. I mean, putting aside the fact that Republicans don't like to raise taxes, Democrats don't like to either.”
Obama is hoping he can peel off a few GOPers to side with him on tax increases, creating another “Read my lips, no new taxes” moment amongst Republicans and keep them divided.
Forgetting the whys and wherefores of how a tax increase would affect the actual budget, Obama needs a divided GOP, because he’s never going to unify the Democrats around the concept of raising taxes. And when Obama can’t unify, he inevitably tries to divide.
“I think we've gotten to the point where we ought to put aside our talking points and get down to what can actually pass,” McConnell said on Sunday “[T]he whole business of raising taxes, regardless of how you go about it, is something that this Congress is not likely to do.”
And if Congress resists the temptation to raise taxes, all of a sudden the field of GOP candidates trying to replace Obama looks deep enough to beat him. It won’t matter whether he uses a scalpel or a machete on the budget.
Because a little lie that falls from your lips on taxes or spending becomes a pretty big thing when running for reelection.
To read another article by John Ransom, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:27 PM