Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Breaking news: "Former U.S. President James Earl Carter sentenced to three years in jail"

That’s what the news headlines should say; instead newspapers are reporting Carter’s "negotiations" with the terrorist organization, Hamas. Following Carter’s negotiation with Hamas, perhaps we can expect that Carter will announce a peace deal has been
"Negotiated" with al-Qaeda; but that may be difficult from a jail cell where Carter belongs.

What law did Carter violate that should land him in jail; the Logan Act. The law has been on the books since January 30, 1799 [1 Stat. 613, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953 (2004)].

The Logan Act is a federal statute that makes it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.

Congress passed the Logan Act in 1799, less than one year after passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts (which unfortunately are no longer on the books).

The 1799 law was named after Dr. George Logan, a prominent Quaker physician from Pennsylvania. In the late 1790s, France embargoed trade from the United States and also jailed U.S. seamen. Quite naturally this created animosity between the two countries. As a Neville Chamberlain type, similar to Carter, Logan sailed to France in the hope of improving relations with the United States. The Federalists didn’t like the idea of an unauthorized person handling the country’s foreign policy so to prevent U.S. citizens from interfering with negotiations between the United States and foreign governments in the future, the John Adams administration introduced the bill that would become the Logan Act.

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects."

Grounds to enforce the Logan Act have occurred during many administrations but authorities have been reluctant to take action under the law, mainly for political reasons.

One example of the act's use as a threat of prosecution involved the Reverend Jesse Jackson. In 1984 Jackson took well-publicized trips to Cuba and Nicaragua. President Ronald Reagan suggested that Jackson's activities may have violated the law, but Jackson was not pursued beyond a threat.

Reagan was also incensed in 1987 and 1988, at what he felt was "intrusion" into the negotiations between Nicaragua's Sandinista government and the Contras for a cease-fire by House Speaker Jim Wright. The National Security Council considered using the Logan Act against Wright, but nothing ever came of that too.

In another case, U.S. citizen John D. Martin, a prisoner of war in North Korea, was brought before a court-martial for collaborating with North Korean authorities and conducting "re-education" classes in the prison camp where he was held. The case was dismissed for the technical reason that the court-martial had no jurisdiction over acts he committed after the expiration of his enlistment.

However, In United States v. Curtis-Wright Export Corp. (1936), Justice Sutherland wrote in the majority opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court:

"[T]he President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it."

Sutherland also noted in his opinion the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report to the Senate of February 15, 1816:

"The President is the constitutional representative of the United States with regard to foreign nations. He manages our concerns with foreign nations, and must necessarily be most competent to determine when, how, and upon what subjects negotiation may be urged with the greatest prospect of success. For his conduct, he is responsible to the Constitution."

It’s not as if congress was not warned about conduct in violation of the Logan Act, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored the admonition and held discussions with Middle East leaders. In a memorandum dated September 29, 2006, and entitled "MEMORANDUM FOR ALL MEMBERS AND OFFICERS", from the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the United States House of Representatives, regarding the subject of "Post-Employment and Related Restrictions for Members and Officers" members of the House were cautioned regarding activities that may implicate the Logan Act:

"Members should further be aware of a permanent federal statutory restriction that prohibits any U.S. citizen acting without authority of the United States from: ‘Directly or indirectly commencing or carrying on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government, or any officer or agent thereof, with the intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States."

In June 2007, Representative Steve King introduced legislation that would have prohibited Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from using federal funds to travel to foreign states which the U.S. deems to sponsor terrorism. King claimed that Pelosi's dialogue with the Syrian government violated the Logan Act but the legislation was not adopted.

In 1802, a Kentucky farmer wrote a newspaper article advocating that the western part of the U.S. form a new nation allied to France. A United States attorney (John Marshall's brother-in-law!) got an indictment against the farmer.

I agree with attorney Marty Lederman who in commenting on the 1802 case wrote "I think there's much to be said for the notion that insofar as actual U.S. communications with the outside world are concerned, the President is to be (in Marshall's famous words) the 'sole organ' by which U.S. policy is conveyed (consistent, again, with statutory direction). More broadly, as far as official U.S. execution of the law is concerned, Congress and its members and/or agents can have no role, once the process of bicameralism and presentment is completed."

The prohibition of this statute, read literally, has been constantly violated since its enactment, but that is unfortunate. Failure to apply the statute to those that seek to undermine the President’s sole authority to conduct foreign policy leads to such despicable actions as practiced by Carter in his negotiation with Hamas for the destruction of Israel.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Muslims and non Muslims don’t speak the same language

When two people speak together a useful exchange of views requires that both adopt the same language and recognize similar meanings of words; otherwise discourse is meaningless and neither will understand the other. This requirement unfortunately is the reason Muslims and non Muslims cannot achieve a rational common understanding of issues critical to their existence together.

Of all social concepts perhaps freedom, liberty and democracy are the most important. Freedom and liberty go together but democracy is in the eye of the beholder; which is to say to some democracy is a prelude to freedom and liberty and to others it is a way to impose, solidify and entrench their philosophy on a "democratic" population for all time. The Middle East and Communist states are prime examples of emplacement of unchangeable autocratic regimes short of a bloody revolution. Indeed, the American Civil War is also an example of a bloody revolution to ensure one philosophy prevailed over another, even in a presumed "Democracy".

But with Islam these truths take on global ramifications because Islamists believe and expect their philosophy to rule the world and freedom and liberty, as known in western civilization, is at risk for survival.

Islam is a way of life, not merely a unique religion, where the life in this world gets its prescribed share of importance. It is neither belittled nor denied or exhaulted as in other religions, nor is it accorded all the significance to the exclusion of the Hereafter as in secularism. The importance of this world is described by the Quranic supplication, "O our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire" (Qur’an, 2:201). This verse of the Qur’an describes the balance in life that has to be sought if Muslims, "the best of God’s creations," are to survive the "moral and spiritual crisis created by man’s ingratitude to his creator."

Islam as a complete code of life is seen by Muslims the only hope in the pathetic state of affairs that mankind finds itself today. Muslims believe they have heard God’s proclamation "This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion (way of life)" (Qur’an 5:3).

The Islamic Shariah is a complete scheme of life and an all-embracing social order where nothing is superfluous and nothing is lacking. Therefore there is no separation between state and church. This artificial separation, from an Islamic perspective, destroys the transcendence of all moral values. In Qur’anic words "those who forget God eventually forget themselves" (Qur'an 59:19) and their individual and communal personalities disintegrate. Thus, Islam is considered the religion in which, through voluntary submission to God, human beings find peace with themselves and their environment. A Muslim seeks God’s guidance in all matters all the time.

For Muslims there is no contradiction between the divine rights of the individual, as anchored in the Qur'an, and the core right as embodied in universal human rights declarations. Muslims believe in a way foreign to the thinking of non Muslims that they actually support fundamental human-rights, the rule of law, and division of power with accountability and transparency, universal suffrage and eligibility, freedom of speech and conscious, as long as these concepts are defined by Shariah law.

Islamic Shariah law commands its followers to observe the local legal order and participate fully in community matters on the principals of general welfare of humanity and seeking the common good. Muslims can live anywhere in the world, provided they can fulfill their fundamental religious duties, while also respecting and abiding by all the regulations of the land; and if this means using democracy to do that, so be it. After all, in sufficient numbers, Muslims can democratically vote themselves into power and then decree Shariah law will prevail.

Election and voting is approved in Islam from the way in which the first "Khalifa" (caliph), Abu Bakr(ra), and the third Khalifa, Uthman ibn ‘Affan(ra), were chosen or elected by the Muslims in Medina during the first century of Islam in the first Islamic state. There was a consensus, i.e. majority vote, which is found in authentic literature and is therefore an example of approval of voting as a part of Islamism.

To Muslims, forming ties of cooperation with non-Muslims in worldly affairs is permissible as long as that will bring benefits to Muslims and the wider community while also helping establishing their idea of justice and to avoid whatever Muslims consider unjust to them. Therefore, there is nothing wrong about Muslims' participating in elections run in non Muslim countries, especially when such participation accrues benefits to Muslims or wards off harm.

For those like me who were unaware, there is something called "the European Council for Fatwa and Research" and they issued a "Fatwa" to shed light on Muslims use of voting in democratic elections; it involves loyalty and religious cohesiveness.

The first is loyalty concerns religious matters. It refers to creedal loyalty, which lays in believing in Allah and shunning other beliefs that run counter to the "Oneness of Allah" (you probably have to be a Muslim to understand this one). According to the text, "Almighty Allah Says: ‘Your friend can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor due, and bow down (in prayer)’ (Surah Al-Ma’dah: 55)."

The second loyalty concerns worldly matters: This refers to transactions between people living in the same society or between different societies, regardless of distance and religion. It is permissible for Muslims to engage with non Muslims in commercial transactions, peace treaties and covenants according to the rules and conditions prevalent in those countries, but Muslims retain the right to abrogate any commitments to non Muslims if adherence to the words of Allah as announced by Mohammad in the Koran so require. Books of Islamic jurisprudence contain many references to such dealings.

The third admonition is the "Prophet's Response to Calls for Aid". Muslims believe "The humanitarian gestures of the Prophet towards the people of Mecca were not confined to the period he spent with them. This noble attitude continued even after he emigrated from Mecca to Medina and established the Islamic state there. He nevertheless rushed to lend the hand of support when calamities befell the people of Mecca.”One of the main goals of Islamic law is to achieve benefits and ward off harms to Muslims, whether at the individual level or the Muslim society as a whole. Muslims’ participation in elections is a religious duty. It is a type of mutual cooperation with those whom Muslims think as prospective candidates, will bring benefits for society in general and Muslims in particular.

Sheikh Abdul Muhsin al-Abbaad of Saudi Arabia was asked whether it is permissible for Muslim minorities to vote in local elections if they believe that one of the candidates can benefit Muslims and the community. He replied:

"There is no harm in voting for candidates who will be of more benefit to Muslims and the community more than the others. In this instance, voting for them is an example of doing the lesser of two evils to avoid the greater evil. The candidate who is less harmful to Muslims is better than the candidate whose harm is far greater.

I consider Muslim political participation, especially in a non-Muslim country, as a form of jihad. This is our country and it would be foolish not to participate in the political processes which eventually shape our future and that of Islam. I support marching in the streets to raise awareness about certain issues. However, if we really want to change the status-quo then we have to influence those who walk the corridors of power. Muslims need not only to vote but put forward Muslim candidates in all the mainstream and serious independent parties. We need to be represented or be present at the tables around which policies are discussed, made and agreed."

Looking at the situation of the Muslim community and their need to have their interests met, it is not unlike those of liberals and conservatives in that it becomes advisable for the Muslims to achieve this purpose through the available political system. Through voting, a person can be elected to office who sympathizes with the "Muslim cause." The problem is that the "Muslim cause" is antithetical to a free society and secular democracy. Muslims want the world to follow Shariah law and with it the subjugation of women, human rights, tolerance of all others and their right to believe as they wish; all of which are necessary foundations of freedom and liberty, and what we call, foolishly, Democracy.

We must recognize Islam for what it is, failure to do so will assure western civilization as we know it will not survive. Freedom and Islam cannot live together, regardless what too many believe. Liberty and justice for all are not part of the Islamic lexicon; it is not possible to communicate with someone who doesn’t use the same language.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

In St. Louis “crime is down, except for murder”

The Police Chief in St. Louis told the media he was proud that in St. Louis crime was down, “except for murder”; what a remarkable statement and what a strange thing to announce as an achievement.

This got me to think about crime in the United States so I did a little research.

First let’s consider who is in jail. As reported in the New York Times, the United States leads the world in prisoner production. There are 2.3 million people behind bars in our country. China, with four times as many people, has 1.6 million in prison. In terms of population, the United States has 751 people in prison for every 100,000, while the closest competitor in this regard is Russia with 627, the rate in Cuba is 531.

The recent trend is also amazing since most people jailed in the United States are due to drug laws. From 1925 to 1975, the rate of imprisonment was stable at 110, lower than the international average. But then it suddenly shot up in the 1980s; there were 30,000 people in jail for drugs in 1980, while today there are half a million.

Of course there are other crimes resulting in jail sentences because so much is criminalized in these modern times, including passing bad checks and the pettiest of thefts. Judges are under all sorts of minimum-sentencing requirements. Certainly it is necessary to jail some people. However when they are “doing time”, people in jail cost tax payers about $25,000 each, per year. It is expensive to house criminals; states alone spend $44 billion on prisons every year.

The modern prison system is also a relatively new phenomenon in history. Statistics show that we are mainly using the criminal system to enforce the drug war rather than punishing more serious crimes. This has become necessary because illegal drugs are now a $100 billion industry in the United States. The drug war itself cost taxpayers $19 billion.

The costs of running the justice system are skyrocketing; up 418% percent in 25 years. Ironically, the "crime" of drug use and distribution hasn't really been kept down; it has only gone further underground. It is also a major irony and commentary on the workability of prisons and our justice system that drug markets are very active in the world despite the huge enforcement efforts.

Personally I wonder what the cost of enforcing traffic laws is; surely this has become a thriving industry all by itself. For every one policeman looking for and apprehending real criminals, it seem so me there are a thousand on the roads looking for “traffic criminals”; (perhaps a slight exaggeration.)

Some social scientists say that all this is due to the lack of a "social safety net" in the United States but the United States has had such a porous net for a hundred years. I believe however that it is more likely the very presence of such a net creates a moral hazard so that people do not learn to be responsible for their own well being and that contributes to criminal behavior (all else being equal).

There are also those who attribute the increase to racial factors, given that the imprisoned population is disproportionately black and Hispanic, and noting the disparity in crime rates in places with low minority populations like Minnesota. One suggestion comes from liberal political analysts who observe the “politicization” of judicial appointments in the United States (meaning appointment of “law and order” judges). Another factor may be the lobbying power of the prison industry itself. The old rule is that if you subsidize something, you get more of it. And so it is with prisons and the prison-industrial complex. It’s not clear how large these industries are, but consider that they include construction firms, managers of private prisons, wardens, prison guards with a very strong union, food service providers, counselors, security services, and 100 other kinds of companies to build and manage these institutions. What kind of political influence do they have?

Also, remember that every law on the books, every regulation, every line in the government codebook, is ultimately enforced by prison. The jail cell is the symbol and ultimate end of social stability itself.

Robert Ingersoll wrote:

“The world has been filled with prisons and dungeons, with chains and whips, with crosses and gibbets, with thumb-screws and racks, with hangmen and headsmen — and yet these frightful means and instrumentalities and crimes have accomplished little for the preservation of property or life. It is safe to say that governments have committed far more crimes than they have prevented. As long as society bows and cringes before the great thieves (government and politicians), there will be little ones enough to fill the jails.”

What do you think; is Ingersoll right?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The federal government has overruled the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution

Amendment X to the Constitution of the United States of America states:

"The powers 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."

The wording on the delegation of powers between the federal and state governments is very clear but 200 years after the amendment was adopted federal law makers have succeeded in subverting the language and intent of the amendment.

Perhaps it was inevitable that those making our laws would succumb to the enormous power of office despite the clarity of vision demonstrated by the creators of the Constitution. This occurred when federal lawmakers discovered the tool to expand government control was the power of the purse. It is a process that began many years ago and is still continuing at the cost to the American taxpayer of billions of dollars, maybe even trillions, over the years. In a word, governmental power over the states is done by extortion.

It may be unclear just when federal lawmakers first realized they could use the federal budget to make states dependent on federal money to such a point that they could then extort from the states, the powers that the Constitution had specifically denied them, but learn it they did. Lawmakers are now well aware of how to usurp the powers of the states; it is a three step process.

The steps are “assistance”, “encumbrance” and out and out extortion.

Since there is no end to the “good” liberals can conjure, it is a natural thought process that leads to redistribution of wealth to achieve a balance of benefits among people in all states. It is considered unfair that wealthier states are able to spend more money on desirable goals than poorer states so the federal government must step in to right this wrong.

For example, wealthier states spend more on education than poorer states so in order to help equalize education, the federal government should provide assistance to all states. This is in done by giving federal tax dollars to all states according to their needs for equalization of outcome. What could be fairer than to have citizens of the wealthier states pay the largest proportion of this equalization by additional taxes which are then redistributed back to the states according to population figures. This makes perfect sense if you ignore the fact that there is no justification under the constitution for the federal government to redistribute wealth.

Another approach to extending federal control over states is to make state and local governments dependent on federal funding. When a state wants to build new schools or highways, they often vote bonds to fund the construction. The federal government gives the states money for many purposes and that money is worked into the state budget. For the buyers of the bonds it is important to know the state has the ability to repay the bonds. The value of the bonds to the investors who buy them is based upon what they believe is the ability of the state to repay the bonds which in turn is based on the expectation of continued receipt by the state of millions of dollars from the federal government over the period of the bonds. Thus, the state builds up significant debt relying upon the continuance of funding from the federal government. Naturally, no money comes from the federal government without strings attached so the state must necessarily follow the dictates of the federal government in order to continue to receive this money.

Once the states are sufficiently encumbered, it is no problem for federal lawmakers to extort the state to relinquish power it has under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. The federal government uses the newly acquired power to demand the state undertake various policies and the state has no choice but to comply. If the state does not do what the federal government requires, federal “assistance” funds are not provided. If the state does not receive the federal money, not only do they lose the “redistributed funds” from other states and their tax payers, their bond rating will drop thereby increasing the cost to the state for borrowing money for state needs. You can spin the process anyway you wish but in reality this is simple extortion.

Walter Williams, perhaps one of the clearest thinkers on the stage today, wrote:

“One response to federal encroachment is for state governments to declare federal laws that have no constitutional authority null and void, and refuse to enforce them. While the U.S. Constitution provides no specific provision for nullification, the case for nullification is found in the nature of compacts and agreements. Our constitution represents a compact between the states and the federal government. As with any compact, one party does not have a monopoly over its interpretation, nor can one party change it without the consent of the other. Additionally, no one has a moral obligation to obey unconstitutional laws. That's not to say there isn't a compelling case for obedience to unconstitutional laws: the brutal force of the federal government to coerce obedience.”

“In violation of both the letter and spirit, the federal government imposes unconstitutional and costly mandates covering the gamut from education and land usage to how much water can be used to flush toilets. I wonder when a governor and his state legislature will summon the courage to declare some of these federal laws null and void, and refuse to enforce them.”

Walter Williams gave just a few examples of the federal government intrusion on state’s rights, but there are many more. The federal government has used the prospect of withholding federal funds to coerce states into adoption of a huge number of federal policy dictates including, to mention just a few more, mandating highway speed limits, land use, mandatory minimum penalties for driving infractions and even the dumping of motor oil. Highway funds are or have been contingent on drug-free workplace laws, metric conversion and removing billboards from highways. Even the minimum drinking age has been mandated by the federal government to the states.

Such federal control prevents states from attempting their own ideas for effective governance. For example, if a state thinks there is a better way to monitor driver safety than a point system, they can’t use it without losing federal funds. If a state finds that something other than seat belts can provide better safety in an accident, they must still require seat belts or they will lose federal funds.The list goes on and on and on.

Of course federal leveraging by use of highway funds is not the only arrow in the federal quiver, we also see the federal money hand at work in education. Medicare and Medicaid socialized large segments of the health care industry and changed personal habits on the grounds that “risky or unhealthy behavior” could affect public expenditures for healthcare. Smoking, drinking, overeating, and lack of exercise are no longer considered as mere personal habits, but as unacceptable social behavior because they may cause higher Medicare and Medicaid costs and therefore should be officially discouraged along with “risky lifestyles”.

The judicial and executive branches of government have been complicit in the expansion of federal control by various practices of extortion upon the states. The government has used the threat of withholding federal funds from states to coerce the states to violate the rights of their citizens by passing and enforcing legislation without the consent of their citizens and without providing the funding to pay the costs thereof, while still collecting the taxes from their citizens which provide the funds they threaten to withhold – and we have allowed this to happen.

Thomas DiLorenzo, a Loyola University (Maryland) professor of economics, wrote a book entitled "The Real Lincoln" in which he presents evidence that most of the Founders took the right of state secession for granted. Of course, the Civil War settled this question but certainly what the Founders envisioned was that if the federal government did what is being done now, a dissatisfied state could just leave the union.

Since this can’t be done, do we allow the federal government to determine the scope of its own powers and accept whatever Congress, the White House and the courts say is constitutional? Alexander Hamilton thought otherwise. In Federalist Paper 28 Hamilton wrote, "The State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement continues to develop in secrecy

What do you do when the name of your pet program elicits loud criticism; you change its name of course. That’s what the leaders of Mexico, Canada and the United States did when the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement ran into unexpected opposition after details of SPP became known, notwithstanding efforts to keep it secret and away from public attention. The problem is that regardless what you call it, SPP is still bad news.

When Bush, Harper and Calderon met in New Orleans to continue their march toward a North American Union, the meeting was recast as a "North American Leaders Summit", the name was changed but the cast of characters and the plot remained the same. Behind the facade of a photo opportunity for President Bush, Mexico's President Felipe Caldron and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was another real effort of trilateral cooperation just like their previous SPP meetings.

Before the meeting, the White House issued a press release noting that Bush, Caldron and Harper will meet in New Orleans to "review progress and continued cooperation under the Security and Prosperity Partnership," but as in connection with each earlier SPP-related meeting, there was no report after the meeting about what the meeting accomplished or what transpired. What is known however is that the SPP gathering included a meeting of the North American Competitiveness Council, or “NACC”. The NACC is a group of 30 multi-national mega corporations handpicked by the chambers of commerce in the three countries who meet in closed-door sessions to develop advice for the 20 trilateral bureaucratic working groups assigned to "integrate" and "harmonize" North American regulations over a wide range of public policy areas.

One of the strange things about the April, 2008 New Orleans “Summit” as reported by WorldNet Daily is that “all the media attending the meeting were separated physically into different locations, with separate press advisories indicating which events were open to which country's media”; whereas in prior meetings the media shared a common press area. It is also interesting that none of the principal participants mentioned SPP by name in their various press briefings and public comments. Once again, this shows that despite the goals remaining the same, public criticism of SPP was to be avoided at all costs, but to paraphrase the Shakespearean caveat, “manure by any other name smells the same.”

Despite efforts to maintain secrecy, an internal memo from Canada's Foreign Affairs and Internal Trade ministry, obtained by World Net News under the Canadian Access to Information Act, discloses the agenda of the secret summit meeting of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in Montebello, Quebec, held on August 20-21, 2007. The main objective of that meeting was to find a way to get the American people to swallow the idea of the collaboration leading to the North American Union, and to squelch the growing criticism surrounding it. Also according to the memo as reported by natural news.com:

“The NACC issued no press releases disclosing specific recommendations made to them by the SPP trilateral working groups tasked with ‘integrating’ and ‘harmonizing’ administrative rules and regulations into a unified North American format. However, the memo documents that the NACC was urged to launch a public relations campaign to counter growing criticism of the trilateral cooperative that is seen by many as a major step toward the North American Union.”

As the meeting continued, the NACC members were urged to "assist in confronting and refuting critics of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America".

One portion of the memo indicates the public relations theme continued during the meeting. "In closing, all leaders expressed a desire for the NACC to play a role in articulating publicly the benefits of greater collaboration in North America", and further, "Leaders discussed some of the difficulties of the SPP, including the lack of popular support and the failure of the public to understand the competitive challenges confronting North America. Governments are faced with addressing the rapidly evolving competitive environment without fueling protectionism, when industry sectors face radical transformation."

The subsequent SPP meeting February 27-28, 2008 in Los Cabos, Mexico was also unreported in the U.S. and Canada but was disclosed in the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada. According to the newspaper, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez visited Mexico City prior to the Los Cabos meeting "to renegotiate NAFTA" by offering the information to Mexico that undisclosed U.S. corporations and the U.S. government are planning to place as much as $141 billion in new investments in Mexico under the Mexico National Infrastructure Project 2007-2012."

A press release published February 21, 2008 on the U.S. Trade and Development Agency web site which was also largely unreported by the U.S. press (do you see a pattern here?), mentioned that Secretary Gutierrez planned to announce United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) grants totaling more than $1.7 million made "to promote the development of transportation, energy and environmental projects under Mexico's National Infrastructure Program". Still another press release by the USTDA confirmed contribution of $141 billion to be made in July 2008 to Mexico's National Infrastructure Program to create investment opportunities for U.S. firms, principally the 20 mega multinational businesses that are members of the NACC.

The Department of Commerce's SPP website on Feb. 28, 2008 confirmed that Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez and Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff traveled to Los Cabos to meet with ministers from Mexico and Canada in preparation for the fourth SPP annual summit meeting to be held in New Orleans on April 21-22. This SPP press release also confirmed the presence of the NACC at the Los Cabos closed-door meeting.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts in Mexico and Canada will represent the top state-level officials of the three countries dealing with SPP. This designation clearly places the SPP at the top foreign policy diplomatic level in each country. Gutierrez and his counterparts will be considered "SPP Prosperity Ministers", with Chertoff and his counterparts considered "SPP Security Ministers". Overall management of the SPP would fall under the "Prosperity Ministers'" authority.

A policy of secret, closed-door meetings where the press and the public is not invited to participate or observe the process continues to characterize meetings of the SPP and its trilateral working groups. It is only through efforts of diligent reporters that any information about the determination of leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico to create a North American Union is ever revealed. It is reasonable for the public to question the motives and intentions of government actions conducted in secret and deliberately kept away from public scrutiny.

The future you save, might be your own

Would you be as concerned about the price of gasoline for your car if the government paid half of the cost? Not likely, because escalating gasoline costs would not be a big deal if the net effect does not impact your budget. If you think this could not be done, remember the government owns the money tree; it can print as many dollars as it wishes.

What about those selling gasoline? They would be thrilled with government assistance to their customers. Market forces of competition would not stand in the way of keeping prices high because the market would not be price sensitive. Eliminate competition for larger market share or greater sales volume and it is not necessary to lower prices to attract more business in order to make more profit.

This is the Democrat scenario for the game called "Everybody Wins"; everybody that is but the working fools paying taxes to support the "Everybody Wins" game. This is the modern day version of "Monopoly" but here the banker is you.

If all of us would spend even just a few moments as we sip our overpriced Starbucks coffee to think about the game, we would soon realize not everyone wins in this game regardless what Democrats call it.

It isn’t rocket science to come up with examples to uncover the fallacy of the "Everybody Wins" game; it can be revealed by virtually all government mandated programs intending to benefit a few at the expense of the many.

The popular leftist initiative to "give" everyone healthcare would be accomplished by "universal health insurance". However the cost of providing healthcare for everyone is huge, not just in direct costs but in how it affects the very care purported to be provided. Not only would people who do not want to pay for insurance be forced to do so, but healthcare providers would be pushed into receiving less and less for their services as one means of keeping costs low. What do you suppose will be the result if doctors have to see many more patients in a day to maintain sufficient income to meet their business costs?What do you suppose will happen to the quality of healthcare you receive under these circumstances? Who do you suppose would pay for the "free healthcare" some will receive?

We all know that college costs are high; too high in many cases to permit intelligent youngsters to receive an education that would not only help them in life but would also help our country’s growth and development. The government in seeking to remedy all problems with money offers financial support for students to assist them to pay the exorbitant costs charged by colleges and universities – and for that school year it works. But few think about the cause and effect of these government subsidies. With recognition that their high costs do not affect the "market" for students, there is no need for colleges and universities to lower their costs to attract more customers, i.e. students. Since all "places of higher learning" are recipients of the government largesse via their students, there is no competition for the customers and what otherwise would be market forces won’t apply to them.

Thomas Sowell said it best:

"In any kind of economic transaction, it seldom makes sense to charge prices so high that very few people can afford to pay them. But, with the government ready to step in and help whenever tuition is "unaffordable," why not charge more than the traffic will bear and bring in Uncle Sam to make up the difference?"

The government continues to subsidize farmers for not growing things, thanks to the legislative power of senators and congressmen from farm states, and the desire to receive votes in national election. It doesn’t seem to matter that the original purpose of assisting small farmers maintain their income while they supply needed food products to the rest of us, has been long past. Farms are now owned by mega businesses not mom and pop and their children living in a little house on the prairie. The result is the same as wherever the false "Everyone Wins" game is played; some people profit and the most of us pay. Is this the intended or unintended consequence?

Direct government handouts are not the only way to play the "Everybody Wins" game; it can also be played by government policy, sometime by taking action and sometimes by inaction.

When the government makes it easier for business to have lower labor costs by keeping open the doors for illegal immigration, profits can be higher and, if they wish, prices can be lower. Of course, there are two possibilities that may occur in this scenario, prices remain high and only profits increase, or American citizens wanting employment at living wages are shut out of the market and either remain unemployed or will necessarily have to also work for less wages.

All this is not to say that it is never in the country’s best interest for tax payers to support government assistance; of course there are situations which require us to accept the need for tax dollars to do what would not otherwise be able to be done that would help our country without this assistance. One outstanding example is in the energy field.

Instead of forcing curly cue light bulbs upon us and ethanol, with some initial government assistance legislatively and financially we could tap into a virtually limitless (at least for several hundred years) supply of coal to produce oil. Not only would this approach allow us to use existing fuel production and distribution systems, it could be accomplished in a very short time. The technology to convert coal to oil has not only existed for decades, it has continued to be developed and improved upon. Even today, The U.S. Air Force, not wanting to be caught short in wartime, has an ongoing program to supply itself with oil products resulting from coal-to-oil conversion. The only ones standing in the way of this solution to foreign oil dependence is ourselves. Remember what Pogo said "We have met the enemy and they is us."

Think about it, the future you save might be your own.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We should not elect a bogus preacher for president

Robert Mitchum was a fine if underrated actor famous for playing bogus preacher roles. Among the many films in which Mitchum portrays such a character is The Night of the Hunter. Robert Mitchum plays an evil, diabolical, self-appointed preacher. Mitchum’s preacher is a really bad guy. He is a serial killer and con man.

Bogus preachers can be self appointed, as was Robert Mitchum, or they can be anointed by the public as a messianic politician. Barack Obama slides easily into that role. Though not self-appointed, Obama does not reject or deny the position but takes full advantage of it as a newly minted clergyman holding his parishioners in awe with his words and style if not the substance of his message. In this role, Obama can be said to emulate his mentor, the not so reverend Gerald Wright.

Whereas Mitchum’s sinister preacher was a criminal doing harm to some people, Obama can do much more damage. By deluding his flock with mesmerizing speeches, his audience fails to fully absorb his socialist ideas for running the country and the very far reaching implications.

If Barack Obama succeeds in his quest for the holy grail of American politics, we will have the most liberal senator in government sitting in the oval office and he will be the most liberal politician ever to be elected to the presidency. He is even more liberal than Ted Hennedy, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In the past, Americans have rejected socialistic Democrats such as George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter (for a second term), Michael Dukakis and Vietnam veteran John Kerry. Yet Obama who is more left than any of the previously rejected liberals who ran for president, he has a good chance to succeed where the others failed, and the reason is many people simply refuse to understand where Obama would lead the country from the most powerful elected position in the world.

As one writer said: "Walter Mondale promised to raise our taxes, and he lost; George McGovern promised military weakness, and he lost; Michael Dukakis promised a liberal domestic agenda, and he lost. Yet Mr. Obama is promising all those things, and he's not behind in the polls. Why? Because the press has dealt with him as if he were in a beauty pageant. "

Voters should look behind Obama’s rhetoric from in front of a teleprompter and consider what he really stands for.

Obama’s positions include: opposing the death penalty under any circumstances; people should not be able to own handguns; opposition to free trade agreements; a belief that "negotiation" and discussions with murdering Islamic Nazis can get them to disavow annihilation of Israel and the killing of innocents in the United states and elsewhere; opposition to deregulation of government; raising taxes on workers who already provide more than 50% of government revenue to support greater redistribution of wealth; a universal health insurance scheme that will increase healthcare costs of employed Americans while reducing the quality and availability of healthcare services; a faith in government to solve all the world’s and the country’s problems in the incredible belief that a government run system is less expensive and more efficient than a private system; denial of efforts to increase domestic oil production such as opening ANWAR to exploration and oil drilling; a religious fervor belief that man is causing "global warming" and the solution is to reduce the quality of American life; a "comprehensive" approach to the illegal immigration problem that includes legalizing illegal immigrants, providing them amnesty and citizenship (unfortunately in these he shares the posture of all his rivals for presidential office); American tax payers should solve world poverty (Obama introduced a bill that would have tax payers spend $645 billion to eradicate poverty worldwide); and associations with anti-Americans such as Reverend Gerald Wright and American terrorist Bill Ayres, a leading member of the Weather Underground and an admitted and unrepentant bomber of American institutions whose philosophy as he stated is: ’’Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at’’.

If elected president Obama would be our Commander-in Chief but what would he do about national security? Last summer Obama talked about invading nuclear-armed Pakistan; meeting without preconditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who vows to destroy Israel, and with Kim Jong II, the murderer of his people by starvation. Obama has also stated that the nuclear option is off the table against terrorists. No wonder Hamas has endorsed Obama for president. Obama is a novice at foreign-policy and he would put our national security at risk.

Obama also had the audacity to say at a rally "All praise and glory to God!" while also saying Christian leaders speaking for life and marriage have "hijacked Christianity." He is in favor of partial birth abortion and will appoint Supreme Court justices who are against any diminishing of the unfettered right to abortion. Those he relies upon for spiritual guidance endorse homosexual marriage and anti-Americanism.

In the economic area, Obama promises to raise taxes on "the rich" but says nothing about how to fix Social Security or Medicare. His solution to make prescription drugs available to seniors, provide healtcare to all children and for all manner of government takeovers and new programs is to raise taxes.

With Obama in charge and the House and Senate in Democrat hands, there will surely be a socialist agenda. Those who support Obama now should not fall for his eloquence as a speaker or his good looks. Voters should look behind the veneer and rhetoric, and his race, and consider how the United States would be irrevocably altered if Obama becomes president of our country. We must make sure a person is elected who is qualified for the office and who will not strive to change our country and those values which have made us great; our future and civilization depends on it. Obama is not that person.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's not about saving the planet; it's about control

“Global warming”, now called “climate change”, is not about saving the planet, it’s about increasing government control of your life. Former communists and their socialists’ cousins have sought control of the proletariat for decades. In the past they succeeded in their own names but an enlightened populace has required them to change their names and their tactics. So today we have “environmentalists” and “man-made global warming” advocates pressing forward with the same objective. There is simply no other way to explain the zeal and near-religious fervor with which these people have urged their will on others despite the overwhelming evidence that their cause is unjust and the premise is just plain wrong.

There are literally hundreds of reports by scientists and knowledgeable experts that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that man cannot exert sufficient influence on the planet to actually be responsible for climate change and that the earth itself has endured a history of enormous changes in temperature, high and low, long before man was around to cause anything to happen on the globe. Yet all this scientific evidence is not only suppressed, but totally ignored or worse. In many cases scientists not subscribing to the prescribed climate change dogma are ridiculed and their work products rejected out of hand. I was recently told of one instance where a contrary report documenting the fallacy of the prevailing thought was rejected upon submission with the “explanation” that it “does not conform to our view” of the subject.

Paul Driessen recently wrote, in referring to the work of scientists on the subject:

“Our planet has experienced numerous climate shifts; they point out, including prolonged ice ages, a 400-year Medieval Warm Period and a 500-year Little Ice Age. Climate scientists still don’t understand what caused these events – or the temperature roller coaster of the last century, as carbon dioxide levels rose steadily: temperatures climbed from 1910 to 1945, fell between 1945 and 1975, and increased again from 1975 to 1998, notes Syun-Ichi Akasofu, founding director of the International Arctic Research Center.

Five of the ten hottest years in US history were in the 1920s and 1930s. Average global temperatures stabilized in 1998, and then fell 1.1 degrees F the past twelve months, satellite measurements show. Ice core data demonstrate that, over thousands of years, rising temperatures preceded higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, by hundreds of years – the exact opposite of climate chaos hypotheses. Interior Greenland and Antarctica appear to be gaining ice mass; they’re certainly not melting.

These inconvenient facts have forced alarmists to rely on computer models that generate Frankenclime monsters realistic enough to scare people into believing climate Armageddon is nigh.”

The only basis for the assertion that climate change is caused by man are computer generated models which fail to account for all the variables affecting our climate. As Driessen wrote “Models reflect the assumptions and hypotheses that go into them – and our still limited understanding of complex, turbulent climate processes that involve the sun, oceans, land masses and atmosphere. They do a poor job of dealing with the effects of water vapor, precipitation and high cirrus clouds on temperatures and climate, because the underlying physics aren’t well understood”, referring to conclusions expressed by MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen.

The absurdity of present day “political scientists” is further revealed by the fact that in the 1970’s the imminent catastrophe of the day was “global cooling”. The “experts” then convinced a willing press to announce that unless immediate action was taken the world would experience a severe ice age because increasing amounts of trapped greenhouse gasses were preventing the warm rays of the sun from maintaining a habitable climate on earth. Isn’t it ironic that the same phenomenon now used to explain how the world is undergoing catastrophic warming was earlier claimed to be the source of unmanageable global cooling?

Today’s experts have convinced politicians worldwide, at least those that needed to be convinced, that we are causing terrible things to happen by how we live and enjoy our lives. Carbon dioxide is assumed to be the culprit and cause of climate change and our use of fossil fuels in any form or manner is what is responsible. I say “those that needed to be convinced” because the liberal driving forces behind this alleged impending calamity are not those that need to be convinced of this nonsense, but none other than the one-world advocates of yesteryear who believe there should be a global government with them in charge so they can regulate the world’s population to achieve their socialist and communist ends. This means they want a “level playing field” but not a condition where everyone is brought up to our standard of living but where we are brought down to the living standards of third world countries. This is their sense of fairness and justice for all by giving to those “in need” from those who can afford it; just as Karl Marx said it should be.

The goal of climate change is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in our country 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and to stabilize the level of carbon dioxide. However we are told that the last time the United States emitted such low amounts of carbon dioxide was 1905; a time when all the conveniences of modern life were unavailable. The burden on Americans to achieve this goal will be measured in a drastic affect on our standard of living, increased costs in every aspect of our lives and higher contributions to the government, i.e. taxes, to make all this possible. I wonder how these geniuses intend to reduce human carbon dioxide emissions that come from our breathing and exhaling.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Social Security and Medicare; the problems being ignored

Shortly after his election, President George Bush said he would use his "political capital" to take care of social security because in not many years the funds available to social security recipients would dry up; and he was widely ridiculed for recognizing this was an important problem area that needs to be fixed.

Although the government supposedly keeps a "separate account" ("trust fund") for social security payments made by workers, the government actually uses this money to fund the budget. The government then issues "IOUs" to the social security trust fund for money taken out. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these acknowledgements of "loans" to the government general fund of our social security contributions can’t be used to pay us when we are ready to receive social security benefits. The result will be that at sometime in the short term future those of us relying on social security benefits in retirement may have our benefits reduced or workers still paying into social security will have to be taxed a lot more to make up the shortfall, or the retirement age will have to be drastically increased, or all of the above.

In 2007, combined Medicare and Social Security benefits used a total of 7.5% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In dollars and cents this portion of the GDP based on a total estimated GDP in 2007 of more than $13 trillion, means the 7.5% of GDP spent on these two entitlement programs amounted to just under $1 trillion last year. Projections show that these programs will grow to 12.3% of GDP in 2030, and 13.6% in 2040 as more baby boomers retire. Recognizing that all our federal revenues averaged 18% of GDP over the past 40 years, the kind of crisis looming ahead can be better put into perspective. Only a huge tax hike or a cut in future benefits will enable the country to meet its obligations to senior citizens. Even so there will be very little money available for national defense, education, other domestic programs, etc.

It is estimated that payroll tax revenues (social security payments by workers) will fall below annual expenditures in 2017. At that time the government will begin drawing upon the "trust fund," which by then is expected to have grown to approximately $2.7 trillion (in present value). However the "trust funds" will be slowly depleted and will reach a projected zero balance in 2041. From then on tax revenues are would cover only about 78% of expected benefits.

As bad as the future of social security looks, Medicare is in even worse shape because Medicare not only has to deal with the income shortfall of Social security in the future but the problem of rising health care costs (which are rising at a rate greater than inflation). Beginning in 2008, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (MHI) program is expected to pay out more in benefits than it receives in revenues and its "trust fund" will be depleted by 2019. When this money is gone the MHI expenditures will have to be funded from general revenues.

Not only that but health care costs are growing very fast and annual costs are expected to jump from 3.2% of GDP in 2007 to 10.8% of GDP in 2082. It is also anticipated that Medicare expenditures will grow faster than Social Security by the year 2028.

Premiums paid for Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance program which pays for physician services and prescription drug benefits will also continue to increase substantially faster than the economy and beneficiary incomes.

Although not commonly known, the Medicare legislation providing for Medicare prescription drug benefits requires that a warning be issued if the Trustees predict that more than 45% of Medicare's spending will come from general government revenues within a seven-year window. Actually this is the second consecutive year that the Medicare funding warning has been sounded.

The warning may not mean much now but the law requires the next president to issue a proposal to rein in the costs of Medicare within 15 days after submitting the Fiscal Year 2010 federal budget. Congress must then consider this proposal on an expedited basis. However, there is no requirement that Congress actually pass any legislation to address the situation. President Bush did submit such legislation required by this law (H.R. 5480), but it obviously will not receive any serious consideration in congress this year.

Not only has none of the presidential candidate failed to address this serious problem, but Senators Clinton and Obama plan to add to costs by mandating universal health insurance. They should be asked to comment on how they will deal with the Social Security and Medicare funding issues and explain how they can fix those problems and still implement their universal health insurance schemes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Which is a more serious threat, Islam or liberalism?

Like many people, not liberals of course, I have believed the greatest threat facing the United States is from Islam; more particularly, the Islamic Nazis. However after listening to Rush Limbaugh recently, I am now convinced the greatest threat we face is from liberalism. Of course the Islamic thing is a very real external threat but liberalism will cause destructive fundamental changes in our country and our way of life if we let it and our freedom will not be far behind.

In Limbaugh’s own words: “"I have to tell you guys something. Without question the biggest threat facing this country is liberalism.”

Again, according to Limbaugh, discussing a conversation he had with others:

“I attacked everything that I could think of that the left is doing, and the life, liberty, pursuit of happiness concept, they're not for life, they're not for liberty, they're not for the pursuit of happiness, as I have done, and you have heard. How can they be for life when they're sponsoring and have sponsored and promoted and have promoted abortion as a political objective over the years. Liberty, what liberty? You give these people half the chance and we won't have any. It's happening very slowly and it's happening under a false premise and a false guise, and that is we need to give up some of our liberty as punishment for destroying the planet.”

This caused me to ponder what examples could be given to show the extent of government control of our lives liberals have accomplished in a slow methodical way never envisioned by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and others. Limbaugh himself gave a number of examples; the list is not complete but you get the idea.

We can start with light bulbs because it is the most recent example. By 2012 we will have to replace light bulbs with “compact fluorescent lamps” (CFL’s). But here are some others provided by Rush Limbaugh. He says of those listed, and I agree, that "... liberals have guilted us into giving up, guilted us into using or banning ...". Most of these things have proven to be not the threat liberals made us believe, “or they've proven to be worse than what we originally were doing, unintended consequences.”

“... prayer, lead paint, low-flow toilets. Freon in air-conditioning, had to get rid of that. Aerosol cans, had to say good-bye to those. Paper bags, we had to go to biodegradable plastic bags, and now we found out those are destructive to the environment, we're going to go back to paper. How about oat bran? We had to get rid of that. We had to stop drinking coffee till we found out, no problem. We had to get rid of aerosol hair spray. They're forcing ethanol on us.”

“Balloons, you may have forgotten this, but there was an effort to ban balloons in certain parts of the country because they ended up in lakes, they ended up in oceans, ended up killing fish. Outdoor lighting at the beach during turtle season, turn 'em off. Cutting trees on your own property, you can't do it. Nuclear power plants, no. Coal mining, targeted. Trans-fats in New York and other places, stop eating them, you can't. Restaurants that serve them will be fined. Had to get rid of coconut oil for popcorn because The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that it added to clogged arteries, later found that it doesn't, but you still can't get popcorn popped in coconut oil. Smoking, of course. We had to get rid of DDT, which has led to untold cases of deadly disease in Africa. Rachel Carson, big heroine here, actually her ban ended up killing millions. Helmets for bikers and skaters and motorcyclists, you have to wear them. We got rid of monkey bars on playgrounds. We got rid of high slides on playgrounds. Too dangerous for the little kiddies. We had to get rid of toy guns, because it taught and trained little kids to use real guns. Seat belts, have to use 'em. If you get caught without using them, you get fined. Car seats for the kids, got to have 'em.”

“Garbage disposals, they tried to ban garbage disposals in North Carolina just a month ago. Can't eat your hamburgers rare, too many carcinogens, gotta cook your meat beyond rare. Firecrackers, of course, bad news. Gotta get rid of diving boards at public swimming pools, too dangerous. Can't play tag in the public schools because it's embarrassing either way you go. Whoever is "it" is it, and that's bad, but nobody, or very few get to be it, and that's bad too. So it's discriminatory. Dodge ball. Can't play dodge ball, it's too dangerous! Kids might get hurt. Can't play touch football, either. It's too rough. Can't eat fois gras because of the way they produce it, and of course guns are under constant attack. Citizen involvement in elections has been reduced, thanks to McCain-Feingold.”

A gullible timid public ignores the incremental loss of rights because each restriction or mandate is accompanied by some compelling slogan: “save the children”, “save the planet”, “save the poor polar bears”, “reduce” some “health problem”, “lessen the cost” of whatever, “protect bicycle and motorcycle riders”, “second hand smoke kills”, and you can add to the list.

Among the worse liberal mandates are those that require us to “respect the feelings of others”, even to the extent of changing our lexicon. We are not to use terms “mom” and “dad” because some children have two mothers or fathers or none at all. Schools are coming under pressure to provide lessons to all children to promote gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender agendas and are required to stack their libraries with books and videos covering their issues. Among the demands are the outlawing of "homophobic" comments by teachers or students in the playground and a requirement for teachers to receive 'diversity training.” Even the word "gay"; once used for something joyful has been tainted so it can no longer be used to simply describe a happy human condition.

Who can disagree with Limbaugh when he says “One of the definitions the left uses for perfection is that nothing that happens in life will ever offend a liberal.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

“We have met the enemy and they is us”

Recently Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner said:

"In just the past year, this (Democratic) majority voted to cut funding for the border fence, opened the door to illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded services without showing proof of citizenship and overturned a successful GOP proposal to prevent taxpayer-funded federal benefits from being awarded to illegal immigrants."

To quote the long gone sage cartoon figure "Pogo", "we have met the enemy and they is us."

America today is in the sad situation of having to fight many wars at the same time, and not all are off shore. Some of our worst enemies are right here at home and are led by left-leaning Democrats and their allies in the press, and too many Republicans.

Representative Boehner addressed one of our "wars", the battle for the sole of America and whether we will remain a "melting pot", a homogeneous mass of Americans including immigrants that come to this country, or become a "salad bowl" of ingredients seeking to maintain separate identities.

Since the beginning of our country immigrants were welcomed and played an important role in America’s development. The Statute of Liberty at the long-time entrance to our country reminded the world that as a country we invite immigrants to join us and share in our bounty while making a better life for themselves and their families. Now Miss Liberty no longer stands at the door to the United States, she is merely a memorial to what once made our country great. Democrats are willing carpenters of multiple doorways and creators of lavish gifts to those who flout our laws.

Those of us old enough to still hold in our hearts and minds the memory of times gone by and of "the greatest generation" of Americans who fought and died to keep our country free are saddened by politically correct efforts to turn our melting pot into a salad bowl of mixed loyalties replacing the unity which our founders bestowed upon us. It’s no exaggeration to say that that as we continue down the road Democrats are leading us, one way or another, the perhaps well-intentioned "enemy among us" will succeed in changing the cherished character of America and that will be a great loss not only to its citizens but to the whole world. The loss will be felt around the globe because a strong, vibrant, country dedicated to freedom and individual rights will not be available to fight the good fight in the name of "justice for all".

By preventing our country from determining who may or may not enter and accepting the notion we should be "multinational", we voluntarily remove the ties that bind us together. From failed attempts to restore one national language to lax or non enforcement of our borders, we undermine our national character and unity.

The issue is not whether we should be tolerant and caring of people who come here by any means available seeking to make a better life for themselves, it is that the greater good for our country is to see that we welcome only those whose motivation is to join us and not to simply take advantage of what we have to offer. We can only achieve this end by actually controlling our doorways and removing the incentives that drive the efforts to enter by evading our laws.

It is also no excuse to avoid doing what needs to be done now that there are already millions here because of the failure to deal with this for many years. We have to start sometime and that time is now. Those who are preventing us from taking needed action to preserve what’s left of our national character do a disservice to lawful entrants and to our heritage.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Have the Clintons Lied Once to Often?

It seems an eternity since Bill and Hillary Clinton entered stage left and took over the political scene. Whoever heard of the Clintons before Ross Perot brought out his charts and persuaded too many Republicans that we needed a change (does this remind you of anyone?).

Coming from Arkansas via numerous other venues, the Clintons parlayed small town celebrity and a way with cattle futures into the big enchilada. Bill Clinton was a modern day snake oil salesman and he and his girl with the coca cola bottle glasses became icons of the left. Always one step ahead of a blowing whistle, the Clintons managed to avoid getting mired in the muck, even if it required a string of unexplained deaths and a lengthy list of unavailable witnesses along the way to lead them down the garden path to the White House. Of the Clintons it can be said that compared to an eel, they are slipperier than an icy road in winter time.

Bill and Hillary could have retired on their laurels and the hefty checks received for speaking engagements but their egos would not allow that. So Hillary packed up her carpet bag and moved to New York where she was welcomed by the northeast elite liberals and the first black president could set up shop in Harlem.

Then, not to be out done by the father and son presidential Bush team, the Clintons embarked on the grail of the first husband and wife presidential succession. Juan and Evita Peron would be their examples of how it was to be done.

When the 2008 presidential season began the Clinton machine, so successful for too many years, made everyone believe the selection of Hillary for the Democrat presidential nomination was all but assured and the anointing oil was brought out of the Democrat dungeon of horrors. BUT, this was not to be; for out of Chicago with its own machine, came the last best hope for "change". Not only did Barack Hussein (pardon me) Obama spring up out of nowhere, he managed to bring with him "the youth of America" and the money of George Soros and like minded socialists. Suddenly for many Democrats there was a choice, not a rubber stamp.

What started out as a run-away became a real contest so the Clintons had to pull out all stops. With negative campaigning usually reserved to battle wimpy Republicans, the Hillary team used their infamous war room to try to destroy the upstart. Rumor after rumor was circulated by what was once a Clinton-adoring press but this proved to be inadequate fire power so the Clintons do what they do best, they lied. Even Democrat stalwarts have admirably claimed the Clintons were "unusually good liars".

By now everyone is familiar with the "Hillary under sniper fire" story blown famously out of the water by those who accompanied Hillary to the "war zone" filmed by American TV cameramen (wearing flak jackets themselves we may presume) and by others who accompanied Hillary at the risk of their lives. We also know about the Hillary campaign pedaling lies about Obama and of course the Rose law firm billing records. But just a short walk down memory lane also brings to mind the following:

The story she told about studying The Wall Street Journal to explain her 10,000 percent profit in 1979 commodity trading (turning $10,000 into $100,000 virtually overnight).

The first scandal during the tawdry Clinton administration; Travelgate, where Hillary induced a White House lawyer to assert flatly to investigators that Mrs. Clinton did not order the firing of White House travel aides (who were then replaced Mrs. Clinton’s cronies). Hillary Clinton later told investigators she had "no role in the decision" to fire them and didn't know the "origin of the decision." But in a memo that was discovered later, former White House aide David Watkins said Clinton had said, "We need those people out and we need our people in." The Office of Independent Counsel said there was overwhelming evidence that she'd played a role in the firings and called her denials "factually false."

Following the apparent suicide of her former partner and closest confidant, White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster, Hillary ordered the overturn of an agreement to allow the Justice Department to examine the files in the dead man’s office and then blatantly "disremembered" doing so.

Hillary attributed the Monica Lewinski affair to a "vast right wing conspiracy" when she knew full well her horny spouse did that all on his own.

Can we forget that the name "Hillary" did not just pop out of her parents’ mind’; no, according to Hillary it was Sir Edmund Hillary who, along with Tenzing Norgay, was the first man to climb Mount Everest, that inspired her parents to name her Hillary. It matters not that Sir Edmund reached the summit in 1953 and Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in 1947 five years before the climb.

How about the sob story Clinton had been repeating on the campaign trail—that of an uninsured pregnant lady who lost her baby and died herself after she couldn't pay $100 for treatment in an Ohio hospital—which of course is not true and was never even checked for authenticity.

The lies are catching up with the Clintons, and especially now with Hillary. Pollster John Zogby said "This is a real difficulty for her." "With Bill Clinton, there was always an honesty problem. But he always was able to overcome it through charm and brilliance. … It doesn't look like she is able to transcend those fundamental problems that she has with the truth."

In a recent Gallup Poll 53% of Americans said they thought Hillary Clinton isn't "honest and trustworthy." Will someone the public thinks is untrustworthy be elected to the presidency?

Hillary behaves as past royalty who believed that they were anointed by God and could therefore ignore the moral laws that apply to everyone else. Hillary seems to think she can do whatever she wants in pursuit of some greater good but the more ambitious and greedy Hillary becomes, the less likely she will get away with it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This is not a time for childish games with China

It has been a long time since we had a popular craze similar to "pet rocks" but the time has arrived when it has become popular to buy into another childish game.

The world is unhappy with the "human rights" record of China; and well it should. Except for the freedom to make money, capitalist style, China deprives its citizens of human rights possessed by about 20% of the rest of the world. China is not unique in having a controlling government, but other countries are not hosting the Olympics for a while yet so attention is focused on the mammoth of the east who, incidentally, owns a big chunk of the United States debt.

As do-gooders around the world whine and wring their hands in sorrow, China’s human rights practices will not go away anytime soon; and if and when they do, it will not be because other countries disapprove. In some ways China is to be admired for the way they address whatever they perceive as threats to their country. Of course, it goes without saying that a country with the ability to eradicate such threats will inevitably use this power in many instances civilized countries would disapprove. Nonetheless, who among us thinks China will not withstand Islamic terror much more successfully than any other country because of their "style", for example?

Like many Asian cultures, China has a very strong sense of "self" and disrespect, real or perceived, is not taken lightly. Those "well meaning" among us who advocate boycott of the Olympics in China this summer fail to appreciate the major impact such action will have not only on the Chinese government but the Chinese people as well. China is rightfully proud of advancements it has made economically and scientifically in a very short time. Fifty years ago it would never have been predicted by even the most astute of us that China would have developed so far so fast.

An Olympic boycott of one form or another will never cause any change in the internal working of the country. Like the pet rock, those that believe in it will experience the same meaningless self gratification without any mature sense of accomplishment. The only result will be a poke in the ribs of an enormous giant with whom you want to get along as much as possible and not needlessly anger. That is not to say there may not be a time and place when it may be necessary to risk provoking China to actually protect our self interest and citizens; it’s just that we should have a better reason to do so than objecting to China’s internal human rights restrictions.

If the truth be told there are countries treating their citizens far worse than China and little or nothing is done individually or collectively to correct or even object meaningfully to such conduct. The examples are too numerous to mention but the needless loss of millions of lives in Africa is one.

If bad behavior toward its citizens is reason for taking some sort of action, how come there is so much criticism of the United States for taking action to free Iraqis from the horrendous conduct of Saddam Hussein and his sons? Are not indiscriminate killing, torture and ethnic cleansing sufficient for the world to notice a need to do something about it?

Another point worth noting as President Bush contemplates whether or not to make the meaningless gesture of boycotting the Olympic starting ceremony as some other nationals leaders are doing. In times of crisis, big or small, a person or country is likely to regard an act of respect and separation from the critical crowd as very meaningful. Even though nothing may actually be said about it, China will be very pleased with the United States for not joining with other countries as they slap China in the face in an act which China will undoubtedly perceive as disrespect causing an Asian "loss of face" which will be long remembered.

President Bush should not play the pet rock game; he should take this public opportunity to recognize China for its accomplishments and set aside differences over meaningful issues for another quiet time.

To avoid giving Ripley’s ‘Believe it or Not’ something to write about, be careful who you vote for in November

In 1918 Robert Ripley conceived and drew a cartoon he entitled "Believe It or Not!" which appeared in the New York Globe. It dealt with bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question them. In a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court three Justices took a position which would have made Ripley’s cartoon.

A straightforward case of murder was decided by a court in Texas which convicted confessed killer Jose Ernesto Medellin of rape and murder of two Houston teen-age girls in 1993 and sentenced him to death in 1994. Medellin’s conviction was brought before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, also known as the World Court, on the grounds that the conviction violated the 1963 Vienna Convention. This treaty purports to provide criminals arrested in countries other than their homeland access to their homelands consular officials. Medillin was in the United States illegally at the time of the crime and when he was arrested. Mexico took the case to the International Court of Justice and the court ruled in favor of Mexico. The World Court’s decision would apply not only to Medillan’s conviction but also to 50 other convicted Mexican nationals nationwide.

President Bush impressed by the World Court’s decision told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to order the Texas court to reopen the Medillin case. The president said that his decision was reason enough for Texas to grant a new hearing in the case because we should abide by the World Court’s decision.

Fortunately for the rule of law according to our laws and constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with the President and the World Court. Chief Justice Roberts wrote an 89 page opinion for a majority of six Justices that said while the congress had by acceptance of the treaty authorized the president to represent the United States before the United Nations, the International Court of Justice and the Security Council, his authority "speaks to the president’s international responsibilities, not unilateral authority to create domestic law."

"The authority expressly conferred by congress in the international realm cannot be said to ‘invite’ the presidential action here. At bottom, [nothing] supports the president’s claim that congress has acquiesced in his asserted power to establish his own federal law or to override state law."

California-based "Criminal Justice Legal Foundation" filed a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of the family of one of the murdered girls. They praised the Supreme Court ruling and said that the court made it clear that treaties do not override state law until and unless congress implements them with legislation.

So why should this case be an item for "Ripley’s Believe it or Not"; because three Supreme Court Justices held in favor of the supremacy of the World Court over U.S. and state law. Can you imagine what George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would have said to that? They and others supported a revolution against foreign tyranny to create an independent country. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and David H. Souter would have the United States subject to the machinations of international law as dictated by the World Court and the American Constitution be damned.

Be very careful who you vote for in November or we may see many more Supreme Court decisions suitable for Ripley.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

We can win in Iraq, but will Democrats let us?

The appearance of General Petraeus at various Senate Committees and the testimony he gave about the situation is Iraq was in stark contrast to the questions and comments by Democrat presidential aspirants. The General set the example of what is good about the United States and represented the spirit of thousands of men and women of our military in Iraq fighting for the safety of their country. The Democrats in contrast could only think about political advantage and what they could do to cause our country’s defeat at the hand of terrorists who want to destroy us; for them the question is not what we can do to beat back terrorism, it’s what can be done to surrender to it.

After initially agreeing with most everyone in the world about the necessity to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein because of the threat he posed to the world, Democrats gradually began to realize that Americans no longer have the stomach for wars lasting more than fifteen minutes and with their media allies launched an increasing crescendo against the Iraq war effort which ultimately became their battle cry; demanding withdrawal of American military from Iraq, not today, but yesterday.

Along the way Democrats sought to impose "conditions" for continual funding of the military needs. At one time they said that we had to control the violence, another time they said we had to show some political improvement in Iraq and still another condition was proof that Iraqis were taking on the job of protecting their country so American troops could leave. As each "condition" was met, Democrats formulated others; the objective being to appear to be supporting the troops while setting the stage for demands to withdraw.

The addition of more American soldiers in what is commonly referred to as the "surge" was wildly condemned by anti-war Democrats but President Bush carried on with it anyway. The result was that violence did decrease and Iraq became safer for Iraqis and the American military. Although unfortunate American casualties were still suffered, our losses decreased; nontheless the liberal press continued to write front page headlines reporting the death of each soldier as it occurred.

Recently we saw an example of the Iraqi government attempting to subdue insurgent elements without American help. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, ordered and led contingents of the Iraqi military against Shiite paramilitary forces in Basra. Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army clashed after Maliki issued a government ultimatum to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to disband his militia who controlled the oil-rich Basra region.

Several things about this are noteworthy. Maliki has been generally assumed to favor Shiites over Sunnis and Kurds because he himself is a Shiite and has been widely criticized as not representing all Iraqis. His effort to bring anti-government Shiite forces under control shows that there is a sincere effort to form a national government with national priorities. The ability of Maliki to marshal a significant military fighting force in relatively short order demonstrates the American undertaking to train an Iraqi military force has had at least some success and the Iraqi military was able to respond when called upon by their government. It has been reported that army components of 14,000 soldiers were sent to Basra and for the most part fought commendably.

A less obvious lesson may be learned by the recent Iraqi action. Basra was deemed to be pacified and the British left after having been responsible for the area for several years. After the British left armed Shiite militia took over and controlled Basra and the oil production. Those who demand immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq should learn what the effect of removing American military from the country would be following the experience of what happened in Basra after the British troop withdrawal. Not only would anti-American forces take control, but al-Qaeda would develop a stronghold and a base for terror operations just as they had in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. Furthermore, we would be leaving those Iraqis who supported and helped Americans at the non mercy of vicious Islamic Nazis.

Despite the testimony of General Petraeus and a factual report of progress in Iraq, Senator Hillary Clinton said "I fundamentally disagree. Rather, I think it could be fair to say that it might well be irresponsible to continue the policy that has not produced the results that have been promised time and time again." To me this is a childish comment reminiscent of the adage "Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up."

Senator Obama’s contribution was "Start bringing troops home." He said "He worries that the goals — completely eliminating al-Qaeda and Iranian influences — may be impossible to achieve and troops could be there for 20 or 30 years in a fruitless effort."

If either of these Democrat presidential contestants achieves the presidency, we will see another example that we are our own worst enemy. With either of them as president would we be able to win in our struggle for survival against an ideology that wants to rule the world and replace freedom with the kind of mentality we fought a brutal war fifty years ago to avoid?

Monday, April 7, 2008

“… from each according to his means.”

If congress has a bill that needs to be disguised from the public, they are masters of coining titles so that the public is confused into thinking the legislation is worthwhile. Actually, this ploy may be useful to finagle the law passed other legislators who generally don’t take the time to read what they are inflicting on an unwary public. Some examples that come to mind are the Energy Security and Independence Act which provides neither security nor energy independence, and the Campaign Finance Law which may have been better titled the Incumbent Protection Act.

Anything that has to do with redistribution of wealth is a prime target for inventive titling. Those among us that actually pay taxes are generally tapped for more and more money to give to the "more unfortunate among us"; to use standard Democrat phraseology. It matters not that more than 44 million adults pay no income taxes at all, that’s 40% of the households in the country; not a penny. Inevitably the government still goes back to the well where people who worked hard, made sacrifices, delayed gratification – reside, to finance ever-increasing programs to redistribute their wealth. To liberals, there is no limit to their generosity when giving away other people’s money.

The highest 10% of income earners paying taxes pay 71% of income tax revenue received by the federal government. To further put this in perspective, 40% pay 99% of the total income taxes collected. If 40% pay no taxes at all, that means 10% of us pay at most 1% of income taxes. Where does all the money doled out by the government for one welfare program or another come from you may ask? Well, if you followed this simple arithmetic it is clear that 40% of us are supporting the give-away of billions to at least 59% of the total population. Is this a great country or what?

Ari Fleischer wrote last year:

"According to a recent study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, those who make more than $43,200 (the top 40%) pay 99.1% of all income taxes, the taxes that support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, for example, fund the federal portion of transportation, education, environmental and welfare spending.Those who made more than $87,300 in 2004, the top 10%, paid 70.8% of all income taxes, an increase from their share of 48.1% in 1979. Think about it. Ten percent pay seven out of every 10 dollars and their share of the burden is rising."

Ari Fleischer also observed with respect to just payroll taxes:

"Top earners, on the other hand, pay payroll taxes so their money can be redistributed to others. According to the CBO study, the top 20% of workers, those with incomes over $64,300, pay 44.2% of the payroll tax. … In return, when it's time to retire, lower-income workers typically receive more in Social Security benefits than they paid in, while the wealthy, who paid the most in taxes, simply can't live long enough to get back what they paid. For much of the middle class and the wealthy, Social Security isn't a retirement program -- it's another program that redistributes their income."

Where do you fall in these income ranges? If your family income is $43,700 or even $87,300 do you think you are "rich"? The Democrats think you are, or at least they say they think you are when they wish to criticize the "Bush tax cuts".

Of course, to hear the liberals, socialists and their allies in the news media; the "rich" i.e. the "fortunate 40%", are not paying enough. So if and when taxes are reduced there is a hue and cry that only the "rich" will benefit. It’s never explained that a tax reduction only applies to those really paying taxes.

All of which takes us to the delightfully named "Earned Income Tax Credit" (EITC). If you didn’t know better and took the title at face value, you would think this was a plan to extend a credit to those paying taxes; not so my dear.

The EITC program redistributes money from those who pay income taxes to 22 million families and individuals with incomes less than $36,348. These workers not only don't have to pay any income tax under current tax laws, they are given a government check as a gift from the other tax payers. Broad marginal income tax rate cuts and continual expansions of the earned income tax credit (EITC) for non tax payers has created a situation where fewer people are paying more and more of the income tax. When the lowest tax rate was cut to 10% from 15% by President Bush in 2001, several million additional people were excused from paying any income tax.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is couched so as to be described as a "tax credit" but it is a credit given to those that pay no taxes. In reality it is a tax-free grant of money to those that qualify, single individuals, single parents and parents with "qualifying children". A qualifying child can be under age 19 at the end of the tax year or under age 24 if classified as a full-time student for at least one long semester or equivalent.

It is also not necessary for someone to be a parent to be able to receive a "credit". Persons without qualifying child can also get the government handout as long as they are not claimed as a dependent by someone else. In this category the claimant must be over 24 years old.

Today, the EITC is one of the largest welfare programs in the United States.

I believe that it is appropriate to help people in need under some circumstances. But why can’t congress call a shovel a shovel; are they worried they won’t be able to sell it to the 99% of workers who will foot the bill? By the way, if one doesn‘t pay any taxes, what is the "earned income tax" against which the "credit" is applied?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The cure is worse than the disease

Years ago during the phony oil shortage motorists waited in line to buy gasoline, sometimes for hours. All sorts of schemes were proposed including buying gasoline only in alternate days depending on your license plate number. With gasoline shortages and high prices, one not so funny joke circulated ridiculing the plight of those needing to use their cars for work and other necessary travel. The story goes that on one occasion a motorist pulled into a gas station complaining to the operator about the high price of gasoline at his station. The motorist said "How come your price is twice the price of the station down the street?" Without batting an eye the station attendant asked "Do they have any gas to sell?" The complaining motorist answered "No". Well said the attendant at the high priced gasoline station, "When I don’t have any gas to sell my price is also lower".

The bogus shortage of oil causing high gas prices at the pump and delays in getting it were a precursor to the difficulty getting health care where health insurance is mandated by states for everyone and an example of what we will face throughout the country if those trying to impose universal health insurance, euphemistically called "universal health care", on all of us succeed.

In Massachusetts, one of the first states to prescribe universal health insurance, one consequence of their universal coverage plan is that its citizens are finding it difficult to impossible to get to a doctor for routine medical needs and even when a visit to the doctor is more seriously needed. The law requiring everyone to have health insurance went into effect last year and since then about 340,000 of Massachusetts’ estimated 600,000 uninsured have received health care coverage; however the problem is that they are finding there is nowhere to get it. Even scheduling appointments has proven to be more difficult than buying gasoline in bygone days of universal gasoline shortages as many search in vain for doctors and to schedule appointments for long-deferred care.

In one recent example described by columnist Kevin Sack Amherst, the "next appointment" available for a physical examination was not until early May – in 2009; the medical profession version of "justice delayed is justice denied". Many doctors are not taking new patients or are being rushed to see many more patients in a day. Straining the time of a doctor visit also places patients at unnecessary additional medical risk. Writer Amherst reported:

"Dr. Patricia A. Sereno, state president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said an influx of the newly insured to her practice in Malden, just north of Boston, had stretched her daily caseload to as many as 22 to 25 patients, from 18 to 20 a year ago. To fit them in, Dr. Sereno limits the number of 45-minute physicals she schedules each day, thereby doubling the wait for an exam to three months." ‘It’s a recipe for disaster,’ Dr. Sereno said. ‘It’s great that people have access to health care, but now we’ve got to find a way to give them access to preventive services. The point of this legislation was not to get people episodic care.’"

For an aging population in Massachusetts and anywhere similar laws are enacted, the United States will need 40 percent more primary care doctors by 2020 to respond to universal health insurance mandates. With the reduction of government assistance to medical schools during the Clinton presidency to support Hillary Clinton’s failed universal health care proposals, the number of medical school graduates in the United States entering family medicine training programs, or residencies dropped to 24% in 2006 from 54% in 1998, according to the American College of Physicians. These changes place additional strains on medical care availability where universal health insurance is mandated. Even though the supply of doctors is being enhanced by foreign medical school graduates and osteopathic doctors, this is still not enough to fill the medical needs of the increased number of the newly medically insured.

Dr. Bruce Auerbach, the incoming president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, testified in congress recently, "It is a fundamental truth — which we are learning the hard way in Massachusetts — that comprehensive health care reform cannot work without appropriate access to primary care physicians and providers".

Despite warnings like this, Democrat legislators and Democrat presidential aspirants want to impose socialized medicine schemes of one sort or another on all of us. If they succeed, the "cure" will be worse than the disease.