Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Founding Principles Under Threat

Being a Constitutional Conservative, I am always looking for signs of a return to the principles of the Founding Fathers. While I recognize that they were a bunch of "old white guys" who were for the most part flawed personally, and holding divergent opinions on a number of fundamental principles; they were never the less able to come together at a critical time in this country's history. They were able to create a cohesive document of Founding principles, fight a successful war against the greatest empire in the world at the time, and create a form of government that had never been seen before in the history of Man. 

Perhaps this last was the most impressive, not because that form of government has survived for over two hundred years, when few Monarchies and empires of the past have surpassed that number. No, the more impressive fact is that after passing the Articles of Confederation, they were both smart and humble enough to recognize that their first attempt at constructing a form of government was doomed to eventual failure and were able to restructure those original principles into a much more cohesive and successful document to both define and limit their form of governing, the Constitution. 

 Not since the battles of Lexington and Concord have those principles been under such assault. Not since the heady days of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, or of the overbearing nature of the FDR dynasty (Presidency just isn't a strong enough term for that misguided period of American history), has that form of government been so close to failing in its support of those founding principles. 

The national government in the last year (and I include Bush II in this), has or is attempting to:
  • Turn over massive government funding and influence to a combined community organizing group and union, ACORN / SEIU
  • Nationalize the better part of the US auto industry
  • All but nationalized mortgage, mortgage insurance, and student loan industries
  • Is attempting to control take control of the banking industry
  • Is attempting to set salary levels at private corporations
  • Is attempting to take control of health care insurance and health care dispersal
  • Is considering subsidization of the newspaper industry, something which must inevitably signal the death of the free press in this country
And when, in the spirit of those Founding Fathers, citizens take up the right to speak out against these usurpations, what is the response of that government:
  • Demonize those assembling in Tea Parties as disaffected, racist, or corporate puppets
  • Refuse to investigate the ACORN/SEIU organization apparently guilty of a variety of offenses and seek instead to investigate two private individuals uncovered the nefarious deeds of this group (though they likewise sought to remove funding from this group)
  • Attack companies such as Humana Healthcare, whose very existence may be threatened by government pursuits, with investigation, fines, and sanctions if they do not stop disseminating the facts regarding the government's attempts.
  • Saturate the airwaves with non-stop government directed speeches in justification of such abuses
While I am encouraged by the grassroots efforts attempting to assert those Founding principles and do battle with this overwhelming government encroachment, I remain concerned with the increasing efforts of that government to exceed the limits placed on it by the Constitution. I am likewise alarmed by the apparent lack of regard by that government to the limits so placed upon it. 

Our founding principles are under the largest threat that they have been since being codified in the Declaration of Independence. Whether they, and the society that we are a part of survives may be up to the actions of individual citizens in opposition to that attack. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Foolish Pride

I found myself thinking on this subject throughout the weekend for some unaccountable reason. I shouldn't be all that surprised that my thoughts are able to turn to such, as Pride (about what I have yet to discover) is something that I am guilty of on a fairly regular basis. As for being foolish, well let's just say that this is more of a way of life for me, with examples far too heinous and numerous to mention in such a public forum as this. 

Perhaps such thoughts come from much of what is going on around me however. And while I should probably follow the old wise saying that "when you're up to neck in natural fertilizer (my term), you shouldn't open your mouth", I cannot help but shine a light on some of it. 

The Federal government insists on pursuing a path of health care reform legislation regardless of the the fact that the majority of voters favor waiting. Is it then foolish pride that finds them rushing through this process, in spite of the fact that the legislation currently under consideration would not take effect for three years? We likewise find this same government considering new taxes and regulation on energy production and usage at a time in the economy when we need to be doing as little as possible to stand in the way of that national economy improving. Is it foolish pride that such an agenda is being put forward to solve a problem that may not exist and that if passed will have little impact on the situation that it proposes to address? 

Here in Ohio we are considering additional taxes to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by a sagging economy. Governments always seem to want to consider adding to taxes even when there is a great deal that could be considered in the way cost reductions. Is it foolish pride to do so knowing that it will both chase away anyone forced to pay these new taxes and keep those who might otherwise wish to come to the state from doing so? 

Our leaders make many of the same mistakes here in Toledo for the same reasons. The city spends money that it doesn't have on things it doesn't need (As my friend Jim Harpen pointed out in his TFP column this weekend. Can you say new trash trucks?) while seemingly ignoring its immediate budget problems and setting aside the even larger future issues of revenue vs. spending. Is it then foolish pride to continue to do so, or to expect to be re-elected once having done so? 

I suspect that in each case (including my own unfortunately) the answer is yes. For we find over and over again what Benjamin Franklin once told us: "Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other." Perhaps however, we should try to learn just a bit more quickly and from a far older source. For isn't it the Bible in Proverbs 16:18 that tells us: "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before the fall."


Friday, September 25, 2009

TFP Column: Why The Media IgnoresTea Parties

Once again, the Toledo Free Press has placed their editorial standards at risk by publishing my piece this week on the Tea Party phenomenon going on today. 

After last week's Don Burnard piece however, I felt that a different take on them might be in order. I likewise urge everyone to read some of the letters to the editor in response to that column. 

Mssrs. Pounds and Miller do their normal stellar work and Jim Harpen has an interesting response to the 18% voter turnout in the recent primary election. Aw, what the heck. Take the time to go through the whole darn edition. I know you will find it as worthwhile this week as I did.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Deserting A Sinking ACORN

For those of you who have been stranded on a desert island for the last year or so, there is an community organizing group that the president has had fairly close ties to over the years known as ACORN (the Association for Community Organization for Reform Now)This organization has come under increasing scrutiny that I feel no real need to go into (lest it be assumed that I know enough to be called in to testify at some impending judicial case)

In spite of a lack of serious mainstream media attention and under serious fire at this point from all sides their ship rather than having sailed, appears to be slipping loudly beneath the waves. True to form, some of those riding the waves now appear to be looking for alternate travel arrangements.
  • The Census Bureau recently announced that it was no longer going to use ACORN as part of the latest ongoing census.
  • The House and Senate have separately voted to remove any and all government funding to ACORN for any projects.
  • The IRS has just announced that it has dropped ACORN from a program to provide tax assistance for low income households.
We have all heard the expression pertaining to "rats deserting a sinking ship", but this is the first time that I have ever heard of them deserting a similarly sinking ACORN.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An End To Nation Building

We often talk about our overseas troop deployments as "Nation Building", an attempt to bring the freedom that we enjoy to countries around the world. In Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan we have diligently applied outside influence to create what we hope will be another democracy in the world like the United States with little apparent success. 

 What utter nonsense! 

The United States (Colonies) of America came about when those colonies themselves decided to seek independence and freedom. Defining the goals that they sought in the Declaration of Independence, they went on to seek that freedom through separation from Great Britain. Fighting a war of rebellion against the British crown, they finally achieved that freedom in 1783. 

 This is not to say that these United Colonies did not receive help in their efforts. There is little doubt that independence could have been achieved without the help of the French, who were traditional enemies of the British and therefore served their own interests simultaneously. The French however, did not embark upon a nation building effort in coming to our aid. In fact it was many years after declaring our freedom before and entering into war against what was at the time the greatest army and navy in the world that any significant aid was forthcoming from these allies, and that was achieved only as a result of the extensive efforts of such colonial luminaries as Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. 

We have to ask ourselves therefore, what right do we think we have to interfere in the governance of other nations? What hubris is it to believe that we can force what for us was an internal revolution on other parts of the world by the application of external force? 

Looking at the success rate that we have achieved in the past, what makes us continue a practice that has proved a dismal failure time and time again? In saying this, I cast no aspersions on the men and women of our armed forces. I have family currently overseas, many who served in past conflicts, and have nothing but the greatest respect for their service to this country. These people serve bravely and honorably around the world, performing whatever and wherever they are asked, and sacrificing on a level that few of us can understand. 

Their goal however is winning however, something that cannot be said of the political leaders who expect them to succeed while tying both their hands and feet with so-called political necessities and rules of engagement. This insanity goes far beyond political parties, as Democrat and Republican Administrations share in the blame for these overseas excursions, and usually for equally nonsensical causes. 

We go to war to prevent Communism in Korea and Viet Nam, only to have it appear in our backyard in Cuba. We battle to prevent evil regimes in Kuwait and Panama from reeking harm only to watch it flourish in Venezuela. We attempt to build democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, while watching it begin to crumble once again in Bosnia after over 13 years of effort. 

Perhaps it's time that we learn that we can neither create nor impose a democracy on any country from the outside. While we should deny no country the help that we once ourselves required to achieve our independence, we should make it clear that we will do so only once those people have worked towards it themselves. We should learn that as it happened here in America, the movement towards freedom and democracy is one that must be made from within, and put an end to nation building. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jay Leno Is Back & Television Is Saved?

This week, Jay Leno premiered his new prime time show on NBC. I would like to tell that having announced this, I can now say that television is saved ... but I can't. 

I'm not saying that the new Leno show is bad, as quite frankly, I haven't watched it. Then again, I hadn't watched Leno on his previous effort "The Tonight Show" for many years. As a consequence, when he turned that venue with great fanfare over to Conan O'Brien, it went pretty much without notice in my home. When he debuted this week with interviews of Jerry Seinfeld (another person who's show I didn't watch when it was on) and Kanye West (someone who I had barely heard of), it was fairly easy to pass up watching.  

Quite frankly, most of television today falls within the bounds of something fairly easy to ignore, as I have written before. Recently in fact, it has reached astonishing new lows with such things as a series about people whose house has become filled with filth because they can't throw anything away, another that sees entertainment in showing an addict's intervention, and an increasing number of shows featuring dysfunctional members of the Kardashian family doing whatever it is that they do. 

They even ruined my crab fisherman show "The Deadliest Catch" by adding one in which swordfish and tuna are caught (unless "Charlie the Tuna" gets caught, not so much); and the networks may finally kill the "CSI" shows in the same way that they did the "Law and Order" series for me, with the addition of yet another (CSI, CSI Miami, CSI NY, NCIS, and now NCIS LA)

And don't even get me started on the overabundance of talent shows with their and incipient cast of talentless judges. I mean come on people! I know that creativity pretty much died in movies and network television years ago, but the rabid level of crap currently being broadcast ought to qualify as abuse of the air waves. 

Quite frankly, I can't tell these days whether Armageddon is upon us because of all of the shows on the subject on the History Channel, or if I should simply be convinced that it is already here from looking at the new fall line up on TV. 

Thank goodness for a good bit of the talk radio being broadcast and a great deal of the literature out there. As for radio, while some of the national programming can only be taken in small doses, due to the constant self-promotion and non-stop pontificating and bloviating of the hosts; the local stuff here in Toledo continues to provide something well worth the effort of listening. 

As for the written word, it has always provided a great deal of knowledge, insight, and solace to me (especially when it's not my poor efforts). As well as my continued attempts to read both novels and original reference material, I always enjoy falling back on blogs when I have the chance. With the current state of mainstream media news, they my be the future of news in this country. 

So thanks Jay Leno for coming back to television! You may not have saved it from the dismal state that it has been reduced to, but you have proved that entertainers and audiences alike may not know when a good thing has gone bad or when to walk away from the tube. (Hey, maybe on one of your upcoming shows you could interview Bret Favre, and compare notes on knowing when to step away from the game.)


Friday, September 18, 2009

TFP Column: Congressional Apology

Somehow this week I once again managed to throw a column together for the Toledo Free Press, this time giving my take on the breach of decorum that occurred during the President's speech to a joint session of Congress on health care reform. While I cannot promise any real insight into the affair, I do hope to put a little historical perspective on the matter. 

There are a number of interesting pieces in the Opinion section this week, including some that I find myself at odd with (but I'll let you read them and guess which ones). Tom Pounds and Michael Miller once again have some well chosen words worth reading, election results are recapped and evaluated, and for those less politically minded there is a great deal going on in the Arts, Community, and Sports sections to keep anyone interested. 

 Toledo is looking to be blessed with yet another beautiful weekend, and spending a bit of it reading the Toledo Free Press will make it even better.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Women Rule?

Politico cited a study on 9/15 performed by Stanford University and the University of Chicago that reached the conclusion that women legislators are better than men. I'm not sure that I disagree with this conclusion, though I fear that my judgment is based more on instinct than on scientifically gathered data. 

While I believe that the study comes to the correct conclusion, I believe that they do it in spite of using an improper measurement however. I say this because the criteria used for their judgment, as noted in the Politico posting, is that these women legislators are better because they introduce more bills and bring more money home to their districts than their male predecessors. 

Now if I were to fall back on the chauvinism that many of my gender were guilty of in the days of my youth, I would say something like: "Why of course ladies introduce more bills! That's like talking, and we all know how women do love to talk. And as for bringing more money back to their districts, that's just spending. Now as a man who's been married twice, let me tell you that I know more than a little bit about how women can spend money, so why should we be surprised to find out that they can do it when we elect them." (Please note that I would in fact never actually say anything like this. Besides knowing this statement to be completely false, I know that if I intend to live a long and happy life, making such comments would substantially reduce my potential for reaching my goal.) 

As a Constitutional Conservative however, my objection to this measure of success is quite simple and rather strong. Quite frankly, I believe that we have far too many laws already (and far too much government along with it). Anyone, man or woman, who in any way adds to the already onerous burden of laws on the books is quite the opposite of success as I measure it. In fact, I would consider a legislator who never proposed legislation (unless it was legislation which either took other legislation off of the books or simplified any existing laws) to be far more successful than one who added to the ponderous pile of nonsense that make up the body of laws in this country. 

As for being a legislator who brought more of the federal largess back to their district being used as a measure of success, again I would strongly disagree. We all know that government spends far too much as it is today, having long since passed drunken sailors in this ability. I would rather consider a legislator a success who not only didn't bring much money back to the home district, but who likewise championed less spending in every district in the country. 

Give me such a champion of fiscal responsibility, who is above burying their face in the public trough as their measure of true success. Give me someone who is able to convince other legislators of such responsible spending, and I will show you someone who garners my admiration. 

Does this study therefore prove that women legislators are not as good as men? I don't believe so. What I believe that it proves instead is that women are far better at playing the game of US politics than the men who set up those rules in the first place. Quite frankly, it's my opinion that women are better at many of these "labors of men" and have long proved it. I would prefer however, that rather than proving their worth by playing better at such childish rules than their male counterparts; that they instead change them and used their natural advantages to improve the system. 

It was Timothy Leary, one of the counter culture gurus of my generation, who stated it very clearly: "Women who seek to be the equal of men lack ambition."


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Health Care Reform Doesn't Say

To say that I watched with interest the President's speech to a joint session of Congress last week would be stretching a point (OK, it would be flat out lying). In fact, the only bits of it that I managed to catch were in the process of channel surfing in order to see if it was over yet. 

You see, political speeches are for the most part well choreographed pieces of water ballet. They can be beautiful if viewed from the proper angle. They can even be exhibitions of athletic prowess when performed by professionals (as the President is). They are in the end however, performances that for the most part contain about as much intelligence and importance as a Marx Brother's movie in which Zeppo sings. 

This is no offense to the speechwriters, carefully crafting phrases to stir patriotism, fervor, and zeal among the faithful (and sometimes even among those not so faithful), after running each word and phrase through spin groups of various ages and ethnicity, and just as carefully tracking the results. This is no offense either to the actors/politicians who attempt to bring out the nuances of each written word and every pregnant pause, read them to their audience with the proper reverence, and hopefully manage to play their role in the piece with proper respect and without laughing at the insanity of it all. 

No matter how well crafted the speech however, or skilled the performance; in the end it's never what is said in these speeches that is important, but what is not. For example, in spite of the furor over the Joe Wilson "liar" remark, it was at least stated in the speech that illegals would not be provided care under the latest plan. What was of more importance however was that it was not said that no one was going to check those asking for treatment if they were a citizen (but there's no need to look behind that curtain). Likewise, what no one talked about and no pundits questioned in the later analysis was who wasn't going to be forced to participate under the plan.
  • No one for example, asked if the President or the members of Congress, blessed with some of the best medical plans that money can buy, were going to be forced to give up those plans and participate ... they aren't.
  • No one asked if an ever-growing number of union government employees at the federal, state, and local levels, who are the fastest growing number of workers in Washington DC (and the fastest growing percentage of union workers in many parts of the country ) were going to give up the health plans carefully negotiated by their union leaders and participate ... they aren't.
  • No one even asked if workers at auto manufacturers who had just received government bailouts and have reorganized in such a way that the union workers had received substantial cash and stock to pay for retirement and health plans for current and retired workers were going to give up that money and stock and sign on to this government plan ... they aren't.
So while once more we were presented with a great deal of pomp and circumstance, while we are provided with information that is likely to change faster than the weather, and while we were presented with facts and figures that are subject to more dispute than the basis of many religious conflicts, in the end what we were given a piece of prose that would make the former writers of the episodes of "The West Wing" proud (and be almost as full of carefully crafted fiction). What we were left once again were far too many questions unasked and far too much left unsaid. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Civic Duty Completed

Update: Concerned that I didn't have a current utility bill, I made sure that I had plenty of valid ID with me when going up to the poling place. I find it interesting (and curious) that a valid passport is not considered proper ID, but a Social Security card or Driver's License with a Social Security number was. 


By the time that most of you read this and in spite of my diminished physical condition (yeah I know, mental too...), I expect to have been able to make it a couple of blocks down the road to my local poling place in order to perform my civic duty and vote in the Toledo primary. 

I will not bore you with the choices that I intend to make, as I am a great believer in the sanctity of the secret ballot. Besides, I normally close my eyes in the voting booth to prevent revealing such choices even to myself. (This is more commonly known as the "pin the tail on the jackasses" voting method.) 

Those of you recalling my shady upbringing in Chicago may likewise be surprised to discover that in spite of what might be considered a questionable electoral heritage, I nevertheless pledge to restrict myself to doing so only once. Likewise I vow to restrain myself from the almost overwhelming desire to vote for a Toledo resident now deceased. (I guess you just can't go home again.) 

I urge each of you here in Toledo to likewise perform such duty in a renewed spirit of hope and change. (Excuse me, that last one is making me feel rather ill.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Random Nonsense

"The loneliest time that I have ever spent was waiting for inspiration." 

This little bit of insight came to me some time ago, and as I once again sit in front of a keyboard with nothing coming out it, I am somehow reminded how difficult it can be to come up with something worth sharing. Since that appears to be beyond my grasp this weekend and in the true spirit of "Just Blowing Smoke", I thought that instead I would share some random and disjointed thoughts with you.
  • Is anyone else offended by the president taking the commemoration of the anniversary of 9/11 and co-opting it as a "National Day of Service"?
  • Is anyone else amused by the concept that the day after the President announces this first ever "National Day of Service" by the government, that thousands of people have gone to the very seat of power to protest at being "over-served" by that same government?
  • Three days before the primary election in Toledo, I wonder how many of those longing for hope and change a little more than a year ago will show up at the polls this Tuesday?
  • The Marina District development on the east side of the Maumee River is in trouble once again. The EPA says that there might be toxic chemicals still in the ground there and has told the city to get it (or at least it's paperwork) cleaned up. Meanwhile, Larry Dillin still has not delivered the promised funds to the city for the land (and with this hanging, who would blame him). Eventually this will of all get clear up of course, but my question is: Who is going to want to pay big bucks for a luxury home site or condo on a former toxic waste area to view a river that could also still use a good bit of clean up itself?
  • One of our mayoral candidates is touting an economic plan that calls for eliminating the city income tax by increasing property taxes and adding a city sales tax, a plan that supposedly will bring residents and businesses back to Toledo. Now, setting aside that some or all of this may not be possible or even legal, isn't this like putting out a house fire by throwing in Molotov cocktails?
  • Speaking of mayors, Toledo Mayor Carlton S. Finkbeiner has 113 days left in office according to my count. Has anyone else started counting down to the celebration?
  • Toledo has a recently built baseball stadium and is about to open a new state-of-the-art Arena for hockey, arena football, and music events of every kind. Let us hope that 'Field of Dreams' was right and, "... If you build it, they will come."
OK, now that I've got all of that off my chest, I can go back to the serious business of taking a nap before going to bed this evening Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2009


While feeling in no way capable of expressing the sentiments required as we once again remember the events that occurred eight years ago today, I discovered a couple of interesting bits of trivia that I felt might be worth sharing:
  • The twin towers of the World Trade Center were actually designed to survive being struck by an airplane, but only one the size of the Boeing 707, which was the largest commercial aircraft in service at the time that the towers were constructed.
  • After the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City.
  • The Empire State Building was itself struck by an airplane on July 28, 1945. The plane was a B-25 bomber, which crashed into the 79th floor.
Trivial Pursuits

TFP Column: The Space Between

I know that I have been a little lacking in postings this week, but I hope to make it up to you in some part with the column that I have written this week for the Toledo Free Press. 

I apologize for that, but simply couldn't seem to put two coherent thoughts together to do so. (I know, I know, that's never stopped me before.) 

While being a little more esoteric than my normal offerings (look it up, I had to), I think that "The Space Between" may be one of the better ones that I have written for Mr. Miller. 

 With the primaries coming up in just a couple of days however, I feel sure that there is more than a little that you will need to catch up on. I urge you, in spite of the phenomenal weather that we are experiencing, to do so in preparation for that vote.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The time is fast approaching for President Obama's health care speech to a joint session of Congress. I have no intention of listening to another speech either by the president, or by anyone on health care in this country again this week. 

 As a consequence the search for available options was on. Surfing around my limited cable service, I noticed that one of the alternatives was a movie on American Movie Classics (AMC). It is an old Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Byrne film from 1999, "The End of Days". I know that the movie played over the holiday weekend on this same channel, but I have to ask: "Could the timing of a showing a movie about the end of the world playing at the same time as the president's speech to Congress be a coincidence?" 

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Hysteric Channel

My convalescence has afforded me far too much time to sample some of the offerings of cable television. While I find that I would actually rather be back at my normal duties, if I have to be spending time at home, I would much rather be doing it reading (and I try to)

Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep after a couple of pages and this makes for a rather laborious literary process. As a consequence, I have at least been trying to watch things that are educational (you know, the Discovery channel, the History Channel, and reruns of NCIS)

I have discovered however, that the History channel is no longer what it used to be. In years past, this offering was often known as the "Hitler Channel", as most of its offerings had to do with the history of World War II and the well documented ravings of the leader of the German people at the time. Today however, it might well be better known as the "Hysteric Channel". 

Acting as an electronic prophet of Armageddon, it seems today that the predominance of their programming is either presenting bizarre interpretations of existing facts (as I write this, there is speculation that aliens might have left us coded messages in the Bible) or predicting the potential end of the world through various planetary disasters as predicted by the Incas, the Mayans, the Aztecs, or the prophecies of Nostradamus. Giant comets or meteors striking the planet, "Son of Krakatoa" or the giant caldera in Yosemite exploding in violent volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts, plagues, and locusts all take their place on the list of things that 'could' or 'might' happen. 

Not to be left out of the propaganda disbursement, we also of course have a smattering of warnings of the potential of either global warming or cooling looming just over the horizon (take your pick, it's still climate change). And if none of those events happen to occur, these guys have covered all the bases, pointing out that in a couple of billion years or so (just a hop and a skip on the galactic calendar) the sun is going to go nova, leaving the earth a burned out cinder. 

Recognizing that these cheery images were not the product of the medication that I am taking, I sought to decipher what meaning might be discovered behind these visions of the Apocalypse on the airwaves. Television from my youth however soon provided a ready answer. 

Aliens have taken control of the History Channel in an effort to scare the living crap out of us (and have a good laugh doing it)

I came upon this simple solution by taking a page out of an old scifi television show popular before cable existed: "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all you see and hear. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the "Outer Limits". 

See, mystery solved! Therefore even if the History Channel is correct and the end is near, we can all take heart from the fact that these same aliens will undoubtedly rescue us in the nick of time. And why, you ask? The answer points to an episode of a competing scifi show from these dark ages of television. I refer of course, to the Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man". Have a great Holiday...  

In the spirit of full disclosure, it has likewise come to my attention that CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC might be likewise controlled by aliens. (How else do you explain Keith Olbermann?) To date, I have been able to neither prove, nor disprove this theory. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Public Option?

When did we ever get to just try a government program? 

 I have been reading a lot of US History lately, and in none of it can I discover the answer to this question. Oh there have been bad laws passed by Congress that have been repealed, Supreme Court decisions which have been made and later reversed, there was even the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) which was later overturned with the passage of the 21st Amendment. There has never however, been a government program that once begun has not been continued, no matter how much money it cost or how great a failure that it proved. Take for example:
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Social Security
  • Medicare / Medicaid
  • The War on Poverty
  • The War on Drugs
Federal Income Tax is now costing the government more in enforcement than it brought in during its first year, with a legal code numbering in the ten of thousands of pages. No one likes it, no one (including the IRS) understands it, and no one thinks that it's fair; but we keep it going. Social Security is for all intents and purposes bankrupt. It will not provide the support it was intended to, has been expanded into areas that it was never intended for, and is almost universally hated by those it was intended to aid. As for Medicare and Medicaid, they have simply proved that what the government doesn't know about supporting its poor and aged is only equaled by what they don't know about their medical care, which I guess can be assumed to be alright, since this program is also currently bankrupt.  

As for the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty; not since the War of 1812, where the US lost almost every battle of the war (except for the Battle of New Orleans which was technically fought after the war was officially over) and had the capital captured and burned has such a fight proved so disastrous. Not only did we fail to achieve the objective, but the billions of dollars squandered in the process without achieving any level of victory is almost treasonous when compared to comparably costing military campaigns.

And yet, as we're standing on the threshold of asking the government to take on the entire burden of medical care for the citizens of this country, we seem to expect a different result. Looking back on consistent and overwhelming failure on the part of the federal government in projects of such scope and importance, we seem prepared to try again. Recognizing throughout history that once this road has been started down, we will never be able to turn back, we appear almost eager to begin the journey.  

This proposal is not an experiment. If the federal government once establishes a bureaucracy to take on the burden of national health care, it will never relinquish control of either the money or the power that will come to the petty bureaucrats that assume it. No matter how it fails or what the cost in money, happiness, or human life; we will never be able to stem this tide.

And so I ask that if nothing else, before we allow ourselves to be bullied into yet another government failure, before we place not just our health, but our very lives in the hands of self-serving government officials who will not participate in the very program that they demand that we do, before we allow yet another government travesty to be perpetrated upon us, that we at least realize what we do. Once we commit ourselves to this program, there will be little left to us but the Public Option.

TFP Column: Mayor Needs To Make Way For Class Of 2009

Sometimes giving up the attention that you think you are entitled to is extremely difficult. It happens with an oldest child, and with mayor's who often act like children as well.

That certainly seems to be the case with the inestimable Carlton S Finkbeiner, who can't seem to "Make Way for the Class of 2009", they being the candidates from which one will take office.  Instead of allowing the city to look to a brighter future, our Mayor Carty wants us all to be a part of his non-stop pity party.

If you'd like to turn your invitation to that gathering down, I'm sure that you can find more than enough things to gain your interest by spending just a bit of your weekend with the Toledo Free Press. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Separate But Equal

History has the strangest way of abusing the most innocent of concepts. For example, anyone reading the above listed title from my generation undoubtedly had thoughts of the the racial practices finally ended during the fifties and sixties. At that time, "Separate but Equal" was used for things like facilities that were considered acceptable (even legally) for such things as public restrooms and public schools, even in many cases by those who would not be considered racist. 

Few growing up today would understand that people of any color would accept such practices or that people of different colors sought such a world.
I was not looking at the racial issue in thinking about this concept however. Most of the history that I read these days is more likely to concern the 1760's or the 1860's than the 1960's. As such, Separate but Equal means something entirely different to me.

You see, the 1st Continental Congress, convened in 1774 did so as separate but equal colonies. By the time that the 2nd Continental Congress met in 1775, these colonies were already at war with Great Britain, and when they issued the Declaration of Independence one year later, they did so as "The unanimous Declaration of thirteen united States of America". (Note in the text of this document that the term united is not capitalized, but State is.) 

The Continental Congress gave way to the Congress of Confederation in 1781 and passed the Articles of Confederation, ratified once again by the States. This Congress was finally replaced when the Articles were replaced in 1789 with the United States Congress and the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.

Each of these documents; the Declaration, the Articles, and the Constitution were ratified with the approval not of the citizens, but of the States. Even today, when modification of the Constitution is attempted (more commonly known as an Amendment), such modification is not considered ratified even when gaining a 2/3 majority in both Houses of Congress, but must further be ratified by 3/4 of the States in order to become the law of the land. 

From this, it should be abundantly clear that the Founding Fathers considered the government of those States to be separate from the federal government and equal in responsibility. In fact, the Constitution clearly spells this out in the 10th Amendment stating: "The power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Even the design of the Congress can be shown to illustrate this principle. While representation in the House is determined by population, it is equally distributed in the Senate, with each State having 2 Senators. That this equal representation can see to be important is likewise obvious in the longer terms of office and the fact that it is the Senate which: approves treaties, confirms cabinet appointments and federal judges, approves military promotions, and has the power to impeach federal officials. It should also be noted that until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1911, that Senators were in fact appointed by State legislatures rather than by popular election.
This concept of separate but equal united States changed forever in 1860 however, when some of those States attempted to assert that sovereignty and secede from the Union. This was not the first time that States considered such secession, with many of the New England States considering the possibility twice in the early 1800's. Both the New England States and later those of the South, cited language from the Declaration of Independence to justify such separation, considering that the abuses committed by the federal government at the time were similar to those committed by King George leading up to the original secession from the government of Great Britain. President Lincoln however, considered such secession as an act of insurrection and called up federal troops to put it down. Thus began a Civil War which was to redefine the roles of federal and State governments, a redefinition that we are still attempting to come to grips with today.
And as the federal government today assumes an even larger role in our everyday lives, often replacing freedom with government sponsored limitation, as Statism continues to subvert the role of the States through the extortion of withholding federal funds or outright usurpation of power by assuming control specifically denied it under the 10th Amendment, I have to wonder. As discussion by some States of the principle of secession becomes a topic of discussion by Governors and State Legislatures, it will be interesting indeed to see how this principle of "Separate but Equal" is today interpreted.