Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lessons from the first forty-five years

Today marks the forty-fifth year I’ve walked God’s earth. That’s not long when you think about it. Certainly my life hasn’t witnessed the changes that previous generations saw.

For instance, my grandmother--born in 1904--saw transportation change from the horse and buggy to the automobile. She saw the steam locomotive give way to diesel and a simple aircraft become a space shuttle. Radio ascended and television was born. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union both rose and fell. There was a Great Depression and enough war for any one person short of Gen. Patton.

It seems that my brief existence pales in comparison. Even so, I and my contemporaries have witnessed some interesting events and amazing innovations.

In my childhood television was a black and white screen that received only VHF signals, with only two channels available. One afternoon my father brought home a UHF converter and our viewing opportunities doubled. Four channels. Let’s hear it for technology.

Today there are hundreds of cable and satellite networks, with each dedicated to a specific interest. There are sports channels, music channels, food channels, news channels, you name it. Ironically, there seems to be no more worth watching now than there was then.

Eight-track tapes came and went, thank goodness. Cassettes did likewise. Vinyl records succumbed to the compact disc, which are now falling victim to the I-pod. Video games consisted of two white lines that batted a small dot across a screen. If you had “Pong” you were at the top of the childhood heap. But it wasn’t exactly a PlayStation or an X-box.

Computers smaller than a notebook are infinitely more powerful than the ones used to launch Apollo 11, which apparently means they crash with greater frequency. Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man” came into our living rooms via a grainy black and white transmission. Now the reusable space shuttle has become obsolete and space launches are considered routine if not boring.

Walter Cronkite was America’s newsman. His voice was calm and measured, encouraging a nation’s trust. I later realized he was just another media mouthpiece and an apparent ally of our enemy in Vietnam.

Speaking of Vietnam, that war became the confirming moment in how America approaches war. In Vietnam our troops would take targets only to be pulled back after their victory. Predictably the enemy would reoccupy the area. Within days we would send troops to take the same location again. It was a recipe for frustration and futility. And in some ways that is how we have managed war in the post 9-11 era.

America once fought its enemies tooth and nail. War was waged against an entire nation, not just the uniformed military, and nothing less than victory was sufficient. Now we want to fight military personnel while building goodwill and trust among the civilian population. Do we not realize that civilians are the friends and family of the uniformed military, for that is where soldiers come from?

Also during Vietnam Hollywood celebrities--can you say Jane Fonda?--sided with the “oppressed” Vietcong or North Vietnamese Army. During current wars Hollywood celebrities side with, well, I guess some things haven’t changed at all.

American society and Western Civilization were once secured on a centuries old morality. That has been turned inside out. America has produced a fundamental human and constitutional right to abortion when no such language appears in the Constitution. Sexual depravity, while it has always existed, is now celebrated. In fact, the definition of normal has been altered to exclude normality altogether.

Illegitimacy rates were once low and unwed pregnancy was considered shameful. Now it is nothing extraordinary and illegitimacy rates increase in conjunction with government dependency. A president taught a generation that oral sex isn’t really sex.

Technology has changed. Morality has changed. The world in all facets has changed, in some ways for the better and in others for the worse.

According to Center for Disease Control estimations I have 30.8 years left to live, meaning I’m far more than halfway to the end of the line. Please indulge me a birthday wish or two. May positive changes continue unabated while those for the worse are reversed. And when the sons of my generation reflect on 45 years of life may they see only change for the better.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The role of proper government

Congratulations to Gaston County (NC) resident David Williams. It’s not everyday that a man gets the opportunity to speak before a congressional committee. What’s more, Mr. Williams apparently gave a good account of himself. He presented his material logically and reasonably, qualities which are in short supply in Congress these days.

Mr. Williams’ focused on one of the federal government’s legitimate duties, the census. Article One; Section Two of the U.S. Constitution directs the central government to conduct the census every ten years. The purpose is to determine appropriate representation and taxation. Adherence to such constitutional processes hasn’t been high on Congress’ list either.

However, I found one of Mr. Williams’ points troubling. He said the census is used to distribute federal money. If more Gaston County residents complete the census the county will receive more funds from Washington. I assume that would hold true for any county. It is Williams’ goal to ensure that his county doesn’t get shortchanged.

This isn’t a criticism of David Williams or his role in promoting the census. He has a job to do and seems to do it quite well. I’m not placing any blame on him. But it disturbs me that the federal government considers the census a tool for distributing money that first belonged to us.

Leave it to Congress to twist a constitutional duty into a self-perpetuating rewards system. It is not government’s role to distribute wealth by the numbers. So, let’s consider government’s purpose.

Food and shelter are basic needs. Is it government’s role to provide them? To think so requires an unusual view of rights. For a right to be a right and not a privilege it must demand no forced sacrifice from another person. Otherwise there would be no check on what government can confiscate in the name of the common welfare. It is no more the role of government to meet the needs of able-bodied individuals than it is to corrupt the census.

How about the equal distribution of wealth? In order to accomplish that goal some government bureaucracy or commission must possess the wisdom necessary to determine what constitutes equal distribution. Can any such board or panel exist? Who, other than God, is qualified to arbitrarily establish a person’s worth?

The only fair method for wealth distribution is an individual’s contribution to society. Free exchange between people, not government whims and biases, is the only legitimate means of distributing wealth among free people.

How about saving the earth? Is that a function of government? Perhaps in part, but not in the context of current climate debates. It is highly presumptuous to believe that man’s activities can render earth unlivable. Certainly we can cause environmental harm to a degree, meaning sensible laws to curb pollution are worthwhile. But it’s not government’s role to use conservationism as a tool for spreading collectivist doctrine.

It isn’t government’s job to manipulate the housing industry or the mortgage market in pursuit of “social justice”, to force free people to purchase health insurance, or to ensure the perpetual reelection of incumbents. So what is the role of government as it pertains to free men?

All men are created equal. They receive from their Creator certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure and protect these rights is the role of government, the proper authority for which comes at the consent of the governed.

Government’s most basic role, plain and simple, is to ensure that each individual can live freely and pursue their happiness without guarantee that happiness will be found. It is my hope that David Williams’ diligence in promoting the constitutionally mandated census won’t be used to further the power of self-indulgent politicians. But I suspect it is a false hope.

Monday, December 14, 2009

“Climategate” aside, skepticism reigns on climate change

The University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) is in hot water, and it isn’t due to global warming. East Anglia’s scientists produce the data that form the gospel according to Al Gore. Now, thanks to a computer hacker, we know their research has been tweaked to produce predetermined results.

CRU data, the cornerstone of man-made climate change, is in question. And rather than face the possibility of exposure the scientists involved devised ways to keep undesired data secret, or to delete it altogether.

If these scientists were climate change skeptics they’d be summarily dismissed. “Shills for Big Oil,” their detractors would charge. But since they promote climate change their malfeasance is excused or ignored. Are they not shills for “Big Gov”?

But climate change skepticism doesn’t require scientific fraud or manipulated data. Skepticism requires no degree in climatology, meteorology, geology, or other related field. All that’s needed is a degree of common sense and a little research.

California regulates open fires, wood burning stoves and fireplaces because of climate change. Burning wood, green crusaders reason, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and accelerates global warming. But fire isn’t new technology. Wood has burned since the first lightning strike and will continue as long as the world turns. Nothing could be a more natural part of our environment.

How about industrial pollution? Smokestacks are a relic; a mute tribute to the industrial age. Their pollution, we were told, was destroying the planet. New technologies allow power plants and factories to operate without those smoke-belching behemoths. Fast forward to 2006 and pollution becomes our savior.

Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, suggested that pollution is the key to combating climate change. His plan is simple. Balloons would carry heavy guns into the sky and spew sulfates into the stratosphere, which would reflect solar radiation and cool the planet.

Sound crazy? Not to everyone. NASA’s Ames Research Center held private meetings to discuss re-polluting the skies that we formerly cleansed. NASA, if you’ll recall, is a leading proponent of man-made climate change.

Doesn’t global warming mean that the entire globe warms? Well, maybe not. In 2005, the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK argued that man-made climate change would stop the flow of warm air from the tropical Atlantic Ocean toward Europe. Not only is global warming man-made, it will produce a European Ice Age.

So, warming means cooling and cooling means warming. But that’s not the only part that’s confusing. The last time this Atlantic conveyor shutdown was 12,000 years ago, around the end of the Ice Age. A slowing of this process is also suspected to have occurred during the Little Ice Age between 1300 and 1850. Whatever the cause and effect, such a process is not unprecedented and has occurred without SUVs, coal-fired power plants, or incandescent light bulbs.

How about this? According to environmentalists, one of the prime contributors to global warming is deforestation. We must protect the forest canopy from loggers and wildfires. Or not.

According to a 2006 report from James Randerson, a science professor at UC-Irvine, a reduced forest canopy--say from a wildfire--would reflect sunlight back into space. Other research suggests that forests in colder climates raise temperatures as trees absorb solar energy. However, the co-author of the second report, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, cautions that following these findings is also detrimental to the environment.

Then there’s the Petition Project, where more than 30,000 scientists bucked the “consensus” on climate change. And there’s Al Gore--Captain Planet himself--who stands to profit big time from the climate change laws and regulations he champions. He refers to this conflict of interest as capitalism, which he defends for himself but condemns for everyone else.

Hopefully, Climategate is the torpedo that sinks this nonsensical ship once and for all. But it’s only the latest in a long line of insults to common sense that drives environmental skepticism.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Doing “nothing” can be the best medicine

Question the wisdom or motives behind congressional legislation and you’ll get the predictable response: read the bill. Alright, let’s try to read Sen. Harry Reid’s healthcare bill, beginning with its 14-page Table of Contents.

There are nine separate Titles containing another 51 Subtitles and 23 additional Parts and Subparts. Underneath those various Parts, Subparts and Subtitles are 365 Sections and Subsections, one for each day in a year. The bill itself is 2074-pages long with each page containing 24 or 25 lines each, a total of nearly 51,000 lines. I won’t even guess at a word count.

Each line, Subtitle, Part, Subpart, Section and Subsection refers to others ad nauseam. In some instances, they reference separate articles of federal law, which must be just as confusing and unreadable as Reid’s healthcare “reform” proposal. Now, in order for us to believe we’re being properly represented we must accept that our Senators have read and understand this bill in its entirety. Sure, and you can see the Pacific Ocean from Lawrence, Kansas.

I’ll make no pretense about understanding this monstrosity. Furthermore, I don’t believe the four Senators whose names appear on the legislation understand it either. Further still, I think it was written that way on purpose.

First, Senators and Representatives need not understand their legislation; they will exempt themselves from it. Second, a bill understandable to them might also be understandable to us. And that isn’t how Washington operates. They prefer ambiguity and legalese that no one short of a Philadelphia lawyer can follow.

Even so, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) explained her vote to begin debate on this behemoth thusly, “It is clear to me that doing nothing is not an option.”

In fairness to Ms. Landrieu her procedural vote doesn’t mean she will support the legislation, and at least I can comprehend what she means. But I have to call her on the “doing nothing” part. Doing nothing can be the better alternative in a host of situations. Let’s examine a couple.

Let’s suppose you awaken in the middle of the night and notice an odd glow outside your window. Your neighbor’s garage is on fire. You call the fire department and, being a conscientious neighbor, out the door you go. The neighbor’s garden hose is close by, but the water isn’t working. Then you notice a gasoline container beside the shed in your neighbor’s back yard. Is it better for you to do nothing? Or, is it better for you to toss the gasoline on the fire?

Let’s try another one.

Black Friday just passed, so let’s assume you were out shopping. The aisles are packed with scrambling shoppers and howling kids. But one kid in particular gets your attention. This little boy just will not behave. He wants an X-box and will stop at nothing to get it.

His mother tries to assuage the situation with the typical “maybe Santa will bring it” line. But if that’s ever worked on a kid it’s news to me. His tantrum continues. Is it better for the mother to give the boy his way and instill in him the idea that his behavior is acceptable and profitable? Or, is it better for her to do nothing, thus letting the boy know that being a brat won’t serve his goal?

Am I exaggerating? Maybe a little. But both analogies illustrate that it can be far better to do nothing than to take actions that make bad situations worse, just for the sake of having “done something”.

Healthcare needs reform, just like the garage needs a fire department and the child needs a spanking. What healthcare doesn’t need is a “do something” fix that adds another layer of bureaucracy to an already bloated system. In regard to Reid’s bill, doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Like any brothel, the Senate has its price

An old joke begins with a rich man in a limousine passing a pretty woman standing on the sidewalk. He tells the chauffeur to stop beside the woman and he lets his window down.

“As you can see,” he says to the woman, “I’m a wealthy man. Would you have sex with me for a million dollars?”

It’s a tempting offer. One million dollars; she’d be set for life. The woman considers the rich man’s proposal, smiles at him and agrees that she would indeed be willing to fulfill her end of the bargain. The man smiles back and asks if she would have sex with him for a hundred dollars. The woman’s smiling face transforms into an indignant frown.

“What kind of woman do you think I am?” she asks.

“We’ve established the kind of woman you are,” the rich man replies. “Now we’re haggling over the price.”

The rich man will have to come up with far more than a million dollars to buy Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). I’m not saying that Sen. Landrieu would sell herself like the woman in the joke. But she will sell her vote, a vote for a bill with which she has issues, for a barrel of pork spending. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed at least $100 million of your money to buy Landrieu, and she’s not the least bit ashamed.

“I’m not going to be defensive,” Landrieu crowed to the Washington Post. “And it’s not a $100 million fix. It’s a $300 million dollar fix.”

No matter the price, it’s obvious that the fix is in. Thus there is little difference between Landrieu and the woman on the sidewalk. The woman in the joke was willing to compromise her morality when the price was right. Landrieu has misgivings about allowing the federal government to commandeer healthcare. Yet she is willing to compromise those principles for money. She has sold herself just as surely as any streetwalker.

I’m not the first person to make this comparison. Therefore, I won’t be the first to be tarred and feathered for the analogy. However, no one has refuted the charge to a worthwhile degree. Let’s go to the dictionary.

The usual definition for prostitute involves granting sexual favors in return for money. But a prostitute can also be someone who misuses or compromises their talent, ability, or position for financial gain. Isn’t that what Sen. Landrieu has done? She offered her ability, in this case a vote to move forward on the Senate’s healthcare “reform” plan, in exchange for federal funds earmarked for her state.

At least if she were walking the streets Harry Reid would have to use his own money to acquire her services. But since she’s a senator whose vote Reid needs, he can use our money to have his way with her. Just as in the joke, we have established the type of woman Mary Landrieu is; we are simply haggling over her price. And she drives a much harder bargain than our sidewalk lady.

Landrieu defenders will argue that this is just business as usual. It’s how politics works, Washington in its purest form. I don’t doubt that’s true. More is the pity. The nation’s future is being shaped by people who willingly sell their principles and their constituents to the highest bidder. Such people have no place representing a free and thinking population.

However, can we truly blame Sen. Landrieu for selling her vote to Harry Reid? Not really. Which do you think will sell better to her constituents come reelection time? Will she win favor for having stood on principle and voted her conscience? Or, will Louisianans more readily reward her for bringing home $300 million in pork? Sadly, I think the later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Truth cannot be denied

Truth prevails whenever it confronts fallacy, for falsehood cannot stand fact. Now for a fact. No one with a heart can excuse abortion once they’re exposed to its reality. To prove this point let me present Abby Johnson, for whom reality and conscience collided in a big way.

Abby’s now the target of a Planned Parenthood restraining order. Of course, anyone who protests outside an abortion clinic will draw the ire of Planned Parenthood. But Abby isn’t the typical pro-life activist. She is an abortion industry insider. Until recently, Abby Johnson worked at the Planned Parenthood facility in Bryan, Texas. While there she helped women receive the 60 to 80 abortions that the clinic performed each month. Those abortions are, according to Johnson, the most lucrative service the clinic renders.

But Planned Parenthood has a problem; a picture is worth a thousand words. Ms. Johnson’s outlook changed when the wonders of the ultrasound allowed her to witness an abortion firsthand. She knew right away that she was in the wrong line of work. Abby is now associated with the Coalition for Life and pickets the clinic where she once facilitated abortion.

“When I was working at Planned Parenthood I was extremely pro-choice,” Johnson told “I would say there was a definite conversion in my heart . . . a spiritual conversion.”

King Solomon, writing in Ecclesiastes, recognized that neither the wise nor the fool could escape error. But that in itself doesn’t make foolishness preferable or excusable. In Ecclesiastes 2:13 Solomon wrote, “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.”

Light’s presence is darkness’ elimination. So, too, will truth and wisdom repudiate falsehood and foolishness. Those who have given their time and efforts to defend life have long known this fundamental truth. We can now count Abby Johnson--a former Planned Parenthood, pro-abortion activist--in our number. Welcome aboard, Abby. And thank God!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Clinton is ignoring history. Will Democrats repeat it?

People who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. For example, collectivist policies have invariably produced poverty and misery. Yet they are routinely resurrected, each time with the empty promise that results will be different. Such is the circle we call history. It is simultaneously completed and renewed in an endless repetitive cycle.

However, this lesson appears lost on Bill Clinton and any congressional Democrat who heeds his latest advice. Or, it could simply reflect the arrogance of the megalomaniacal politician who thinks historically proven absolutes will change for them.

The former president had several interesting instructions for Democrats during a recent luncheon. On the topic of healthcare reform, he called it “an economic imperative” that even the coldest of hearts should support.

I suppose that’s true for the allegedly progressive mind. If government’s role doesn’t increase that might mean individual liberty will flourish. We certainly can’t have that, can we? This is also where Mr. Clinton loses his historical perspective.

Nationalized, socialized, centralized--whatever term you choose--medical care isn’t a magic potion that will conjure Utopia. Nations with collectivist healthcare practices experience longer waits for standard procedures than do Americans. Treatment is rationed, at least to a degree, and care standards are generally lower.

Meaningful healthcare reform means decreasing the government’s role, not expanding it. There’s more than enough government in healthcare and insurance right now. It is beyond naïve to think that another layer of bureaucracy will reduce costs a single penny. What it will do is shift escalating costs to a shrinking number of payers.

What will reduce healthcare and insurance costs are market forces and comparative shopping for health insurance and treatment. Voluntary exchange produces more and better goods and services, at a lower cost, than does government manipulation.

Clinton has chosen to ignore this history, or he has conveniently spun it out of context. He has also ignored the history of his own first term. He reminded Democrats that failing to “reform” healthcare in 1993 led to the Republican Revolution in 1994. But that’s only true in part. Healthcare reform was a piece of the GOP’s winning formula, just for a different reason than Clinton admits.

It wasn’t the administration’s failure to socialize medicine that sent congressional Democrats down in flames. It was their desire for socialization and the manner in which it was attempted that helped fuel the voter rebellion. But the prime reason for the Democrat’s 1994 destruction was gun control, from the Brady Bill to the so-called “assault weapon” ban. And Clinton himself blamed the NRA for the election results.

Clinton also claimed that the tea party protests are signs that Democrats are advancing their agenda. “The reason tea-baggers are so inflamed is because we are winning,” said Clinton.

First of all, “tea-bagger” is a perfectly vulgar description of a sex act, which makes it apropos for someone who has conveniently forgotten his own personal history, like Bill Clinton. However, while Democrats have won recent elections, is their agenda really advancing?

Democrats are losing ground on Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot and both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have high unfavorable numbers. Despite their majority status, Democrats aren’t moving their agenda much, if at all. Look at healthcare, cap and trade, Iraq and Afghanistan, or immigration. For a party with such sizeable congressional majorities they have precious little momentum.

Bill Clinton has ignored the history of his own administration and, in doing, has advised Democrats to repeat their 1994 implosion. That wouldn’t be a bad thing. But the question then becomes whether or not Republicans will repeat history and revisit their own free spending, big government ways.

I’d bet the farm on it. If there’s one thing at which politicians are adept it is ignoring and repeating history.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome your new neighbors

Roll out the welcome wagon; some new faces might soon move into your neighborhood. If you’re going to help these folks settle in--you know, show them some real down home hospitality--you should know something about them. Fortunately, I’m here to handle the introductions.

Meet John Montgomery. He is a convicted first-degree rapist sentenced to life in prison for having his way with a 15-year old girl. The rape occurred while he was on the lam, having escaped from a Guilford County (NC) prison where he was serving two years for breaking and entering and larceny. Let’s just say that John is no stranger to the slammer.

Be fair; don’t judge John in haste. Montgomery hasn’t been the worst of the worst behind bars. His only infractions, aside from the aforementioned escape, are quitting a community based program, weapon possession and creating an offensive condition. That last one is a bit unnerving. How bad does a person have to be to create an offensive condition inside a prison?

Let’s face it; John Montgomery is a sweetheart. You’re going to love him. I’ll bet you can hardly wait to see his moving van in the driveway next door?

Perhaps you would prefer Alford Jones? You might not have to worry about him raping your daughter. But you will have to worry about him killing her. Alford is a first-degree murderer. He killed William Turner with a shotgun blast to the chest on January 6, 1975 and has been a guest of the state ever since.

Jones is industrious; he’s been a busy man while in stir. Four times he has been cited for substance possession. And that’s the good news. He’s also committed an undefined violation of North Carolina law, been charged for fighting and has assaulted a fellow inmate with sexual intent. It’s doubtful that Alford is housed in the female correctional facility. So, like I said, the wife or daughter can sunbathe in the backyard with a care. You men might want to take notice, however. And he might just kill the whole lot of you.

Andrew Carter is a first-degree murderer who strangled his victim. But that’s not all; he can give you the best of both worlds. He’s two for the price of one, as it were. Andrew sexually molested his victim, too. Whether it was before or after the strangulation isn’t specified. Does it really matter? Maybe. But only in whether his scorecard reads simply homicidal maniac or includes necrophiliac, too.

Carter has also been busy behind bars. He has stolen from other inmates and been caught fighting twice. Also credited to Andrew is one count of provoking an assault and one count of making a verbal threat. Your new neighbor could be a big-mouthed, murdering pervert with an axe to grind who gets his jollies at the morgue. I’ll send him over for a get-to-know-you dinner.

The mild-mannered Perry Omega was convicted only of second-degree rape. Apparently, he entered the home where his victim and her children were sleeping. The victim awoke to find Perry standing over her. When she tried to run he knocked her down and raped her, at knifepoint, multiple times. Sounds sort of premeditated to me. But what do I know? I’m neither a lawyer nor a district attorney. Whatever the charge, he was once on death row.

Omega isn’t boring; you have to give him that. He has committed 18 infractions since he entered prison in 1977. Fighting, verbalizing threats, gambling, weapons, disobeying orders, profane language, general laziness, Perry Omega has tried it all. The party season is upon us. Don’t you know Perry would put the “festive” your festivities?

James Pone is only a second-degree murderer, meaning he intended only to rob taxi driver Neil Purdie in 1978. Pone really didn’t mean to hit Purdie in the head or shoot him in the chest. And I know Pone didn’t mean to leave the hapless cabbie to die in a pool of his own blood.

Pone hasn’t wasted his time in the big house, either. His infractions include fighting, gambling, interfering with prison staff, theft and what might be described as loan sharking. Well, he’s no worse than Bernie Madoff. Why waste his talents? When he’s released he can manage mortgage loans for Fannie Mae.

How about Willie Womble? Womble is surely a hard luck story. No doubt he was wrongly convicted and the shooting that put him in prison for “life” was an accident. Womble was jailed for the 1975 killing of Roy Bullock, who was shot once in the chest and twice in the mouth. Wow, three accidents occurring simultaneously. What are the odds? Talk about your bad luck. And that’s not the only trial Womble experienced. The robbery that was underway at the time of Bullock’s killing must’ve been an accident, too.

Misfortune followed Willie right through the prison gate. Since his incarceration he has been the innocent bystander to riots, fights and assaults. He was also unfortunate enough to have a Class B offense committed in his presence. Class B offenses run the gamut from drugs and property damage to sexual matters, assaults, weapons and arson. Talk about being born under an unlucky star. You’ll help Willie change his destiny, won’t you?

William Baggett, here’s a man who certainly deserves a third chance. Baggett is serving a life sentence for the premeditated murder of James Williams in 1976. But he began his prison career in 1968. That’s why he deserves a third chance; his second chance is all used up.

One thing is for sure. Baggett hasn’t wasted his time in prison. He has been involved in all sorts of extracurricular activity. Unauthorized boxing is his preferred hobby. Seven times he has been involved in some type of fight or assault. Other people’s property means nothing to him, either. And Baggett has also been cited for sexual acts. Oh well, everyone needs a pastime.

If you want your skin to crawl take a look at Willard Warren. This guy has “axe murderer” written all over his face. He’s got a leg up on it anyway. Warren is a former death row inmate who went to prison in 1976 for the murder of Leo Clark. Now, instead of enjoying the fruits of his labor, he could settle on a street near you. And don’t worry about him losing the nerve to kill. He’s racked up quite a list of substance possession violations while in jail. If any pesky qualities--say, conscience, compassion, or remorse--remain in Willard he can dull them pretty quick.

James Alford committed the premeditated rape and robbery of a woman in Winston-Salem, NC more than 30 years ago. If he is released he will be a registered sex offender. In all fairness, Alford hasn’t been quite as notorious in prison as some of the other inmates we’ve met. He might make a quiet and peaceful neighbor. He might be easy to overlook, to forget. But somehow I don’t think Alford’s victim has forgotten the time she spent with him.

James Johnson is another sweetheart. Yes, he too is serving a “life” sentence that doesn’t mean life. What’s life anyway, especially to someone convicted of premeditated murder? James Farley Hall went to his everlasting calling thanks to James Johnson. Furthermore, Johnson is a former death row inmate. Don’t bother asking how a convicted murderer can go from death row to serving less than half of a “life” sentence. You’ll just make your head hurt. And you can’t hold the past against him. That would be judgmental, and we can’t have that it today’s society.

One thing is certain. Johnson couldn’t have earned early parole credits for his good behavior. He has committed twenty-four infractions since he took up residence at the Graybar Apartments. Johnson has possessed banned substances, started fights, been found with weapons and had a little sex on the side. Reformed? Yes sir! He’s all set to be the guest speaker at Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity Church.

Just to look at Porter Manley you might think he’s a likely candidate for a second chance. His prison picture looks like a nice, graying, friendly sort of man. Maybe he’s just a little too friendly, especially when he robs you. You see, it wasn’t enough for Porter to take his victim’s money; he had to take his victim’s physical favors, too. You guessed it; Porter Manley is a rapist. In fact, his conviction was for rape and armed robbery. Just like Andrew Carter, Porter is his own two for one sale.

Since his incarceration he has tallied 11 prison infractions. Some are for substance possession. Some are for weapons violations. But most are for being a general malcontent. I guess, if you’re Porter Manley, you figure what can they do, put you in jail? If you have a loud, obnoxious neighbor on one side, Porter can provide you with a stereophonic experience.

Friends, if you think I’ve been far too harsh in my assessment of the men we’ve mentioned thus far, then I have a deal for you. Allow me to arrange your 17-year old princess’s prom date . . . with Kenneth Mathis. Mathis has been in the can since 1978, perhaps literally. He went to jail for forcing his victim, presumably a woman, into a wooded area where he proceeded to have a high old time. One problem, his “partner” wasn’t the least bit interested in Mathis. Therefore he was charged and convicted of first-degree rape, which proves that his wasn’t a heat of passion mistake.

Has Mathis reformed? Has prison rehabilitated him? Well, maybe, to a point. But not in a way that qualifies him for a job as scoutmaster. In April 1990, Mathis was cited for a sexual act. In June of 2000 he was again cited for a sexual act and a Class A offense, which could mean he kidnapped a fellow inmate or staff member or used a weapon to obtain said sex act. In December of 2005 he was reprimanded for assaulting an inmate with the intent of committing--can’t you guess?--a sexual act.

Let’s see, we have a convicted first-degree rapist who can’t keep his pants zipped in prison. Yeah, he’s reformed. He’s earned a new beginning. Now, what time will your little princess be ready for her date?

Faye Brown is in prison for the first-degree murder of a NC State Trooper following a bank robbery. She was discussed in a previous column so I’ll give her a break. I’m feeling generous at the moment.

John Martin, is he someone who deserves another opportunity? He was sentenced to life, yes. But his crime wasn’t premeditated, thus he was convicted of second-degree rape. The more lenient among us could consider Martin worthy of a break. After all, he didn’t plan the assault. Of course, planned or not the victim was just as raped as if Martin had stalked her all the way home from the supermarket. And the fact that he was 24 or 25-years old at the time proves that he understood what he was doing, premeditated or not.

It also seems that Martin has already used his second chance at freedom. In fact, he’s used his third chance. He got his second chance when he escaped from prison in 1995. The third opportunity came with his “unauthorized leave” in 2001. Frankly, I can only make an educated guess at the difference between an escape and an unauthorized leave. But in either case Mr. Martin wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Finally, 13 of his 20 prison infractions have been for substance possession.

It seems to me that John Martin has spent the last thirty-two years right where he belongs. But you’ll have to decide that for yourself. Feeling benevolent? If so, and if there’s a foreclosure in your neighborhood, put me in touch with your realtor. I’ll pass his number along to John.

Charles Lynch appears to be a different story. He doesn’t seem quite as nefarious as the other murderers and rapists whose “life” sentences are fulfilled somewhere short of life. His crime was second degree burglary. During his time in prison Lynch has received only three infractions, and none of those appear serious. Surely this man is a likely neighbor.

Don’t let your heart bleed for Chuck just yet. Let’s do the Paul Harvey routine. You know, the rest of the story? Lynch’s burglary conviction involved two counts, not just one. He also assaulted his victim with the intent to commit rape. He broke into the home alright, but the female victim wasn’t there. So Lynch, being a patient man, made himself comfortable and waited for her. He had also broken into another home and stolen a necklace. If that isn’t enough, he was suspected of nine other assaults.

Having a guy like Charles Lynch move in next door can drive property values down faster than a Barney Frank sub-prime lending program.

Here’s a guy that you’ll certainly want to take home to momma. Steven C. Wilson received “life” in prison for kidnapping and first-degree rape. It was proven, to the satisfaction of a jury, that Wilson made a conscious choice to abduct his victim and force that person into sexual activity. Oh, I left out one little detail; the victim was a nine-year old girl. Nine years old! Not only is Wilson a kidnapper and rapist, he’s a child molester to boot. Now that’s neighborly, don’t you think?

To confirm Wilson’s qualifications as a good houseguest, consider what he has been up to in the clink. Wilson was involved in 18 prison infractions between 1978 and 2001. Seven of those involved weapons, fighting or otherwise provoking contentious situations. Of his other 11 violations, one involved an offensive condition and another was for assaulting an inmate with sexual intent. Three more were for attempted Class B offenses.

According to the Inmate Booklet provided by the NC Division of Prisons, pages 11 and 12, a Class B offense can mean several things. Combining Wilson’s history with sexual matters and the fact that section B6 in the prison handbook defines a Class B offense as committing, inciting, or soliciting any sexual activity, you have to assume the worst.

Steven Wilson is a kidnapping, raping, child molesting pervert. And he could be moved in next door in time for Thanksgiving. Set an extra place at the table. After dinner he can watch the kids while you ladies chat and the guys watch football. Good deal!

Don’t let this next jewel of humanity fool you. Raymond Dull is anything but obtuse. You could say he’s very exciting. Ray has seen a lot of things in his life, like 33 years in the tank and the business side of death row. He’s witnessed the fear in a woman’s eyes as he kidnaps her at knifepoint and forces her to drive to an unknown destination. He’s seen that face change from fear to the blank realization of the inevitable when he holds that knife against her skin and does God knows what.

Do you feel sorry for Raymond? Do you empathize with his plight? Okay, let him bunk with your wife until he finds a place of his own.

Raymond Dull wasn’t some teenager who got a little carried away with his date in the back seat of Pop’s LTD. He was a man who committed an intentional, violent and premeditated sexual crime. Will he do it again? Who knows? He might come out of prison and be the perfect neighbor. But he might come out of prison and rape someone you love. And he might take vengeance on the woman who reported the assault that landed him in the jug for half his life. In prison he won’t be raping anyone. Well, at least not our wives, daughters or girlfriends.

Now, old Dewey Gray, he’s another case entirely. Old Dewey hasn’t seen unfiltered daylight since 1976. And you know what? He earned every last, stinking minute of it. Take a look at what Young Dewey was up to and see if you think Old Dewey is right where he belongs.

One of Gray’s charges was “AWDWWITKISI”. No, that’s not like “LOL”, “ROFLMAO”, or some other teenage text messaging shorthand. It means Dewey committed assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and inflicted a serious injury. Oh yeah, he was also convicted of first-degree burglary and first-degree rape. Maybe I’m weird, but that doesn’t make me “ROFLMAO”.

Dewey Gray went to his victim’s home armed with a gun and a knife. He forced his way into the victim’s home. He dragged her outside where her raped her, stabbed her and beat her half to death. At least Raymond Dull had the decency to take his victim somewhere private. Dewey Gray took his victim outside where all the neighbors could watch. Not only is he a creep, he’s stupid to boot.

Dewey has shown no signs of changing his attitude while in prison. He’s earned recognition for verbalizing threats, creating offensive conditions and for unauthorized leave. Overall, he’s been a disruptive, disrespectful, uncooperative agitator with a penchant for raping and assaulting at will. Okay, so he’s qualified to run for Congress when he’s released.

At least Cecil Morrison didn’t plan his sexual assault. At least he wasn’t convicted of premeditated rape, like so many of his possible parole mates were. It’s grasping at straws, but maybe he’s simply depraved, not someone who worked hard at perfecting depravity. He’s depraved, though; make no mistake about that.

Morrison began serving his life sentence for second-degree rape in 1977. What sent him to jail? Nothing much. He only abducted his victim, forced her into the woods and raped her at knifepoint, that’s all. Sound familiar? Oh, did I mention that the victim was a 12-year old girl whose provocation was walking home from school? Twelve years old; at least that’s three years better than Steven Wilson.

Not being a man to waste time, Cecil has made the most of his incarceration. Four times he’s been cited for provoking an assault. Twice he’s been caught stealing and twice he’s committed Class B offenses, which as previously discussed can be anything from inhaling intoxicating vapors to tampering with locks to sexual misconduct. Considering the crime that brought Morrison to this point in life don’t you think the Class B offense could be of a sexual nature? And I forgot to mention that he was a “Pre-Sentence Diagnostic.”

“Well, what’s a pre-sentence diagnostic?” you ask.

Glad you did. A pre-sentence diagnostic is an inmate who is committed to the Department of Corrections for an evaluation. You know, mental state, ability to stand trial, that sort of thing. Apparently, Morrison was found perfectly capable to stand trial for raping that little girl. So much for the “he didn’t know what he was doing” argument.

Last but not least, meet the guy who made it possible for you to meet each and every one of these fine, upstanding examples of civil behavior. Allow me to introduce Bobby Bowden. No, some FSU fans might want that Bobby Bowden thrown in jail these days. But this Bobby Bowden is everything that Bobby Bowden isn’t.

This Bobby Bowden began his criminal career with a conviction for common law robbery on February 26, 1973. He began his seven year sentence the same day. According to the NC Department of Corrections Offender Public Information website, Bowden’s projected and actual release date was one and the same, June 11, 1978. But somehow he found time to kill Larry Lovett and Normal Ehrhart in cold blood on August 7, 1975.

What does it even matter that such a discrepancy is possible? All that matters is that Bobby Bowden has argued that his sentence is complete and that he, along with everyone we’ve discussed, is ready to set up housekeeping on your cul-de-sac.

What a fine neighbor he will make. That is, as long as your idea of a fine neighbor is an antagonistic, foul-mouthed vandal. Bowden’s prison record includes them all. He damaged either state property or that of a fellow inmate in 2003. Bowden was caught with weapons in 1980 and 2003. He possessed unauthorized funds in 2005, which could’ve resulted from any sort of unseemly transaction. And during the first eight years of his murder sentence he cussed out everyone in sight and steadfastly refused to follow orders.

Let’s go to the scorecard. All told the North Carolina Department of Correction may soon unleash ten convicted rapists, seven of them first-degree rapists, on the general public. All ten, obviously, will have to register as sex offenders, which sheriff’s deputies will have about as much chance of monitoring as the Washington Nationals have of winning next year’s World Series. Five of those ten rapes involved kidnapping or otherwise abducting the victim and three of them involved the sexual assault of a minor.

Ten first-degree murderers will join them. One of those murderers was fleeing from a bank heist at the time of the killing. Two other murderers killed their victims while committing robberies. Another inmate, not content with a simple killing, committed murder in the course of both an armed robbery and a rape. Last but not least, one murderer sexually molested his victim. Whether it was pre or post-mortem isn’t clear. And who cares?

Most of these inmates had criminal records prior to their murder or rape convictions. And all of them have found trouble, although some offenses were relatively minor, while in prison. Barring unforeseen events these twenty men will be back on the street pretty soon. Like the Bachman Turner Overdrive song, “the boy’s are back in town.”

With the Holiday season fast approaching you’ll need to plan your parties and fill your guest lists. Look at it this way, politicians have done their part. They wrote the laws that could allow these violent convicts to leave prison. The least you can do is invite them to Christmas. You can decorate the tree with condoms and body bags.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We’d better jump to conclusions before it’s too late

Maybe it’s time to withdraw our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan after all. It’s obvious that our government has no intention of winning the “war on terror.” Not only are we afraid to allow our soldiers to kill our enemies, we won’t even identify our enemies.

Is it so hard to admit that we’re at war with Muslims who’ve deemed it their divine mission to convert or kill infidels? So what if only one-percent are violent radicals? That accounts for millions of radical Muslims worldwide. Even the non-radicals have given tacit endorsement to the nutcases.

What’s worse, our enemy isn’t on the other side of the globe; it’s within the military establishment that’s supposed to fight against them. Thirteen flag-draped coffins prove this point. What is our reaction? We won’t even call the Fort Hood attack what it was.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a “peaceful” Muslim, attacked his fellow soldiers, who were unarmed. Forty were wounded and thirteen killed. Now we’re told that we don’t know Hasan’s motivation for turning Fort Hood into a shooting gallery? Please!

Hasan once attended a mosque led by Anwari al-Awlaki and frequented by three of the 9/11 hijackers. Anwari himself is known to support terrorist organizations. Even now, from his current home in Yemen, he uses the Internet to spread Muslim fanaticism. Hasan, it’s said, has a deep-rooted respect for al-Awlaki.

But does the fact that Hasan worshipped in a radical mosque mean that he shared al-Awlaki’s views? Our course not. Our president sat in Jeremiah Wright’s loony bin for 20 years and didn’t hear a single sermon. Let’s not jump to conclusions.

As an army psychiatrist Hasan was charged with helping our troops adjust after concluding their combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet he had become a vehement critic of both wars. He defended suicide bombers and considered our retaliation for Islam’s attacks on us to be a war against Islam. Hasan once told colleagues at Walter Reed than non-Muslims should be set on fire, beheaded and have boiling oil poured down our throats.

But let’s not jump to conclusions.

Just before attacking Ft. Hood Hasan gave his neighbor a Koran and promised, “I’m going to do good work for god.” He was known to use his doctor/patient privilege to spread Islam and encouraged Muslims to rise up against America. He shouted “Allahu Akhbar” as he began his assault.

But let’s not jump to conclusions.

Despite evidence to Hasan’s attitude our main concern appears to be for other Muslims in the armed forces. We can’t have anti-Muslim backlash. We don’t want Muslims offended, or even suspected. It would harm our military diversity. But there’s a solution for any Muslim who might fear retaliation--get out of our military! How can any US soldier be confident that the Muslim beside him isn’t the next Major Hasan, or the next jihad warrior to roll a grenade into a crowded tent?

Call Hasan whatever you want. Call him a terrorist if you like. I call him a treasonous infiltrator and saboteur; a man worthy of death. Oddly, I hope he survives so he can face court martial and execution.

Why are we so concerned with what the “Muslim world” thinks? Muslims aren’t at all concerned with what we think. Frankly, I could care less about offending Muslims or their blood-drenched, bomb-scarred, suicidal religion. Having Muslims in our military at this point in our nation’s history is akin to accepting Soviet enlistees during the Cold War. It’s nonsense to think one’s enemies can play an integral part in one’s defense.

Our “leaders” are blind guides, lacking the foresight and courage to even identify our enemies, much less fight them. Why send troops to confront an enemy they aren’t allowed to recognize, especially within their own ranks?

No more political correctness. We’d better jump to conclusions while we still can.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Confusion on the meaning of charity

I say that America is confused on the meaning of charity. Let’s go to the dictionary.

According to Random House, charity is generous aid given to the poor. In Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law charity is “a gift for humanitarian . . . or other purposes beneficial to the public.” For something to be given it’s understood that the act is voluntary.

I also say that America is confused on the meaning of slavery. Let’s go back to the dictionary. Random House defines slavery as a state of subjugation. American Heritage reads, “the condition of being subject . . . to a specified influence.” Slavery grants a person no choice of options.

When a person contributes willingly to the benevolence of their neighbor they’ve established charity. It is spiritually pure and morally just. However, when one person is compelled via force to surrender the fruits of their labor for another’s benefit there is no charity. When government wields that force a state of subjugation is established. It’s neither just nor pure and dangerously similar to slavery.

Slavery need not be enforced with chains. Physical shackles do not typify its existence and no cotton fields are required. There is neither black nor white; there’s no race, ethnicity, or heritage of any kind. There is only misery, poverty and servitude. American political culture has so perverted charity that it allows the taking of property from one party for the benefit of another, thus we’ve rendered charity synonymous with slavery.

At some point, in the not so distant future, we could find our nation right back where it started. Not only can slavery exist, but it won’t be targeted toward any one group. It will encompass the whole of society, just as it did under the British Crown.

If we awaken as slaves in our own land, bound by the dictates of an oppressive, intrusive and unconstitutional government, who will we blame? Will it be the fault of the Democrats, or the Republicans? No, the prime author of our subjugation won’t be a political party. They will have played a key role no doubt. But we can’t place the blame solely on them.

Maybe we can blame Barack Obama, or George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton, or some other politician? Most have contributed to the demise of the American experiment. Most have used their power to expand the role of government in our lives and usurp our natural liberty and right of self-determination. But no president or politician, past or present, can take all the credit for our waning autonomy.

The Founding Fathers; they started this country. Can we blame them? Hardly. The Founders created a constitutional republic that limited the size and scope of the central government. The Constitution and its amendment process also established the means to end slavery as it then existed, although that didn’t happen as fast as it should have.

Maybe we should blame God? Absolutely not! God made man to be free, to think and to reason. This is evident throughout the Bible, wherein God repeatedly grants a choice to man. No, we aren’t compelled through divine authority to be enslaved, or to enslave one another. Nor are we compelled to think it charitable to force a person to serve the needs of their neighbor. Spiritual charity is inherently voluntary.

The blame for America’s descent toward servitude lies directly on us, the electorate. Not only have we ignored our impending chains we have openly embraced them. We have defined charity as government taking the production from one American and giving it to another. And we have lost touch with the practical definition of slavery.

We’ve become gutlessly apathetic concerning freedom and wholly ignorant of both charity and servitude. When we awaken as slaves in our own land the lion’s share of blame will fall on no one but us.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Government fails a basic function, again

Ask people to name government’s basic function and you’ll get a multitude of answers. But ask people to name five basic functions of government and I’ll bet the farm that keeping violent criminals in prison will appear on nearly every list. So why is that so difficult for government to do?

Politicians can find money to build a theatre for Dolly Parton’s tenth cousin thrice removed. There are funds aplenty for tea pot museums, sports arenas, light rail systems and pork barrel vote buying. Laws are readily written to suck every expendable dime from your income, to steal your liberty, or to make it virtually impossible to dispose of your household garbage. Yet funds can’t be found and laws can’t be written to keep predatory vermin off the streets?

Get ready, here it comes again, if North Carolina releases twenty violent convicts as currently planned. A 35-year old sentencing law apparently defines life in prison as 80 years. Thus the twenty convicts--led by Bobby Bowden--think they have fulfilled their “life” sentence obligation.

Here’s an oddity; all twenty are still alive, meaning they haven’t served “life” in prison at all. Not a single one of those inmates has served even half of their 80-year “life” sentence. In fact, those 20 inmates owed the civil population 1600 combined years of prison time. Yet, if released as currently planned, they will have served only 644 total years. Somewhere, someone owes us 956 years in the jug.

There is an equitable solution. If politicians are unwilling to require violent offenders to do their time, perhaps those same politicians should do it for them. Obviously that’s a pipe dream, so we’re left to ponder where those missing years went.

Good conduct credits. That’s why a convicted murderer’s or rapist’s 80-year “life” sentence is neither 80 years nor life. However, I’ll bet that Larry Lovett and Normal Ehrhart don’t see their sentences reduced one day. You see, both men died on August 7, 1975 when the aforementioned Bobby Bowden, sans judge or jury, sentenced them to eternity without parole. No amount of good behavior will pull their bodies from the grave. Concern for Bowden’s eternal destiny is valid and admirable. Conversely, for government to have established laws that allow his release from prison is wholly irresponsible.

Now, back to this good conduct business. Even if Bowden isn’t the worst inmate in penal history he hasn’t been a member of the penitentiary scout troop either. Bowden has racked up 17 infractions since he hung out his shingle at Central Prison. He’s been cited for disobeying orders, which could be of either major or minor significance, for damaging property and possessing weapons. But of course he is “reformed” and ready to assume his place in society. Yeah, right.

The other 19 inmates set for release are just as notorious as Bowden. Among their number are first and second degree murderers, rapists of women and children, kidnappers and armed robbers. Every one of them has found trouble in prison, too, ranging from simple possession to fighting to sexual assaults on fellow inmates. They are hardened criminals, not people who have paid their debt to society.

In fairness to elected and appointed officials, passing laws won’t prevent criminal behavior when a person has determined to act criminally. However, it is the prime duty of government to ensure that such criminals can’t repeat their offenses. The fact that the inmates in question can be released is substantive proof that government is fundamentally incapable of performing this basic task.

Worse still--and the greatest indictment against our intelligence--is how the politicians who write our unwieldy and ineffective laws, and create the unmanageable bureaucracies that administer them, can convince us of their insight and understanding each and every election year.

Shouldn’t we be just the least bit tired of their continual malfeasance and campaign pandering?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apologizing for convicted murderers makes no sense

It never ceases to amaze me how some people can get warm and fuzzy over convicted murderers and tell the whole world how wonderful those people have become.

Admittedly, a person can change. They can adopt a different attitude and a new personality. But does that excuse murder? Or, have people who murder another person--the most heinous act one human being can commit against the life, liberty and happiness of their neighbor--forfeited nearly all expectations for mercy in a human court?

Faye Brown is just such a convicted murderer. She is now 56-years-old and has spent more than half her life in prison. Brown earned her living arrangements in 1975 when she and two accomplices robbed a bank. During their escape state trooper Guy Davis was shot and killed. Brown didn’t pull the trigger. But she was willingly and directly involved in the entire incident. She isn’t innocent.

Yet, the fact that Brown was directly involved in the death of Trooper Davis is apparently inconsequential. According to “Wanda Short,” which may or may not be the actual name of Brown’s supporter, Faye Brown has rehabilitated. She has finished college and even pays her room and board. She has become the ideal person and far more valuable to society outside of prison rather than inside.

Wanda Short just can’t believe that anyone could be so short-sighted as to deny this deserving woman, Faye Brown, her freedom. One mistake shouldn’t define a person’s entire life, according to Short. Everyone has baggage. Faye Brown just made a bad choice.

But there are glaring problems, Wanda. Faye Brown didn’t just make a bad choice; she made several. She chose to drop out of school and run with the wrong crowd. Yes, many good people made similar choices. But few allowed those choices to culminate in bank robbery and murder. Faye did more than make a “bad choice” and she is carrying more baggage than a 747.

Faye Brown may or may not be the same woman who robbed that bank in 1975. But that doesn’t mean the bank wasn’t robbed. Brown played an integral part in that crime and in the death of Trooper Davis. Wanda Short may like the current version of Faye Brown. But she’s missing the point.

Whether or not Faye Brown has rehabilitated is immaterial. The fact is that Trooper Guy Davis never got the chance to live his life. Davis faced no jury, received no trial and gets no parole. He’s dead and his family had to learn to live without him. His right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were taken by Faye Brown and her accomplices. Therefore, she has forfeited her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Faye Brown didn't commit a simple crime. She didn't just tell a lie. She didn't just cheat on her husband. She made a conscious choice to take part in a robbery the end result of which was the death of another human being. I'm sure her family loves her. But why should she be entitled to the very thing she helped deny Guy Davis?

Perhaps Faye Brown won't commit any type of crime once released. Maybe she’d be a model citizen. But if Faye Brown does commit another crime will Wanda Short take responsibility for Brown’s actions? She seems quite convinced of Brown’s character. Will Short take Brown’s place in prison? Will she bet her freedom, her family, or her life on someone who willingly took a life, or was party to that death?

I would almost bet my last dollar that Wanda Short would say yes to every question. She might even sign a document to prove her faith in Faye Brown. However, I would absolutely bet my last dollar bill that, if faced with having to fulfill the pledge, Wanda Short would fight it tooth and nail, all the while apologizing for the convicted murderer.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who was Margaret Sanger?

Mention Margaret Sanger and you’ll start a debate, perhaps a heated argument. Sanger is the greatest heroine since Florence Nightingale to some people and the worst villain since Attila the Hun to others.

So, what could produce such diametrically opposed opinions of the same person? Let’s look and see.

Sanger’s supporters refer to her nursing work with poor women on New York’s Lower East Side during the early part of the 20th Century. They see compassion in her attempts to help poor women prevent the unintended pregnancies that so often produced family poverty. From this perspective, Margaret Sanger sounds fit to be Mother Theresa’s big sister.

Detractors consider Sanger a racist, atheist and eugenicist. Oh, and we’ll toss in adulteress at no extra charge. They point to her very writings for their evidence. Supposedly, Sanger referred to blacks and immigrants as “human weeds.” She advocated an application and licensing system for child-bearing and promoted birth control as a tool for creating “a race of thoroughbreds.”

Sometimes it can be difficult to separate truth from fiction. Sanger was certainly an advocate of “family planning” and no opponent of abortion. She also wrote in the May, 1919 issue of Birth Control Review that women with large families most often became “unfit breeders of the unfit.” Her writings in The Point of Civilization add to her reputation as a eugenicist.

Conversely, Sanger’s other writings support the idea that abortion, while not necessarily life-threatening for the mother, isn’t the no consequences decision that today’s pro-choice activists claim. That’s certainly true. Few women who’ve undergone abortions live without the emotional scars. Yet alleged feminists and family planners, most notably Planned Parenthood, treat abortion with the same indifference as taking out the household garbage.

Whether or not Margaret Sanger would approve the contemporary Planned Parenthood attitude toward abortion may be debatable. But the fact that she founded the organization isn’t debatable. Let’s see what her brainchild has become.

Planned Parenthood clinics have become America’s go-to guys when it comes to abortion, and they do it with your tax money. According to the Christian Examiner, $305 million tax dollars went to Planned Parenthood in 2006 despite the organization having turned a profit of $900 million. They were receiving bailouts when bailouts weren’t cool.

The family planning federation didn’t fare badly in its 2008 fiscal year, either. According to Planned Parenthood’s annual report the organization produced total revenues of over $1 billion, “excess revenue over expenses” of $85 million and year end net assets of $1.014 billion. Not too shabby for a non-profit, huh?

To be fair, Planned Parenthood provides more services that just abortions. Their clinics perform cancer screenings and STD treatments. Pregnancy tests are also conducted. However, pregnancy tests can be had at a Crisis Pregnancy Center, too. And you won’t find a CPC providing the 305,310 abortions that Planned Parenthood performed in 2007, which was an increase of over 15,000 from the previous year.

At a median price of $625 per first trimester abortion, Planned Parenthood brought in a gross receipt of more than $190 million in one year from abortion alone. Do we see why they so defend the procedure?

What’s more, Planned Parenthood’s claim of adoption referrals, while technically correct, is misleading. The organization boasts, on page eight of its annual report, that adoption referrals increased 100% from 2006 to 2007. According that report, only 4,912 adoption referrals were made in 2007. That’s 62 abortions for every single adoption referral. Read it for what you will.

You can decide for yourself whether the late Margaret Sanger was some kind of misunderstood saint or deranged societal engineer. However, she created Planned Parenthood, an organization that is anything but saintly. In fact, it has become a monster of the first order.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What should we make of Columbus?

Note: This column was written in October, 2007 and appeared in several outlets. With Columbus Day being this Monday I thought it an appropriate post.

On October the 8th government employees paused in honor of Christopher Columbus. The rest of us continued on business as usual, except for the banks of course. I took the occasion to reflect on what Columbus was, and I use “what” purposely because his legacy is more than a single man.

I recall some of my grade-school history concerning Columbus. He grew up poor and spent his youth sailing and studying what little was known about geography. Columbus didn’t develop the idea of a spherical earth or of sailing west to reach the East. He did, however, desire to prove each theory and gain some fame and fortune for himself.

Columbus didn’t gain the fortune he sought and died in poverty within 15 years of a discovery he never realized he had made. He certainly gained fame, but he didn’t prove the idea of sailing west to reach India. In fact, he thought the New World was India. By modern standards Columbus would be an ignorant failure. However, he didn’t live in modern times.

For his day he was certainly a great navigator and a pioneer explorer. He discovered an area unknown in his world and found his way back home. How many of us can’t find our way out of the two-acre forest behind our homes? He made his voyage with sailors who believed the sea serpent-filled Atlantic Ocean had no end and the equator was so hot that the ocean boiled. Considering the circumstances, Columbus’ achievement was remarkable.

Yet there’s another side to Columbus, and each anniversary of his landing brings renewed scorn to his memory. Not only do his critics point out his failures, as if that were a new discovery, they charge him with raping the Utopian paradise that was the Caribbean.

Antagonists charge Columbus with establishing a genocidal pattern of murder and slavery that quickly exterminated the Arawak tribesmen. Columbus’ critics maintain that the entire era of European exploration and settlement exploded into a slaughterous inquisition and that Genoa’s famed mariner lit the fuse.

However, the idea that the New World lived in peace and harmony before Columbus is somewhat naïve. Yes, the Spanish abused the Taino Arawak tribe. But Columbus’ critics accentuate his violence only, never mentioning that the New World had a native brand of brutality.

The Taino were rather peaceful. But the Caribs were a warrior tribe that was pushing Tainos from their land before Columbus arrived. They made wives of captured Taino women (slavery, anyone?), made necklaces from a vanquished enemy’s teeth, and may have practiced cannibalism. Perhaps Caribs had decimated the Ciboneys, said to have populated the Caribbean 5000 years ago, before the Spanish arrived to finish off both tribes.

The Ciboneys apparently descended from a prior culture that was nearly exterminated by yet another people. Brazil’s Tupinamba Indians practiced a warrior form of cannibalism whether the Caribs did or not. And each of these tribes came from the mainland meaning that they themselves were explorers and not indigenous to the Caribbean.

I’ll neither praise nor scorn Columbus and his successors. But keep in mind that most known civilizations came from somewhere and displaced someone else along the way, likely by force. Mankind has explored, fought, conquered and lost since Adam and Eve were booted from the Garden of Eden, and it will continue as long as man survives. Is that preferable to living in peace and mutual respect? Certainly not, but it’s reality nonetheless.

One commenter summarized Columbus thusly, “It is not history that is good or bad--history merely is. It is human nature that is good or bad; and we are all a part of it. Let’s celebrate it whenever we can, each in our own ways.”

We must judge Columbus’ contribution, both good and evil, on the standards of his time. To condemn him in retrospect, by modern standards, is an injustice.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How to save media news? A bailout, of course.

The most equitable way to determine successes and failures is a free market. Free markets reward efforts that meet or exceed the customer’s need. But in a socialized market goods and services are taxed and regulated until producers can no longer compete with the subsidized competition.

A producer’s funds are confiscated and used to prop up failing industries that have long since stopped pleasing their customers. Success is forced to relinquish its return so failure can receive reward. Furthermore, customers who won’t willingly patronize the failing industries are forced to subsidize them, too.

There’s nothing fair or equitable about it. Subsidies allow the government to choose winners that would lose if let to their own devices. It’s an utterly corrupt process.

Nowhere is the failure to please customers better exemplified than in the national news media, where the industry leaders have little more than contempt for their customers. So far the news media hasn’t been subsidized, if you don’t count public broadcasting. That could soon change.

Dan Rather has become a cheerleader for a subsidized media. It’s his view that the government should create a commission to establish innovative media business plans and preserve journalism jobs. This is necessary, according to Rather, because a free and independent press is the heartbeat of freedom. He has unwittingly revealed a fundamental reason for the public’s waning interest in his profession.

Hasn’t it occurred to Dan Rather that government involvement in the media is the antithesis of a free press? The purpose of the free press, as constitutionally protected, is to monitor government. When government is involved with the press, via subsidies or otherwise, the press is no longer a guardian of freedom but a tool of tyranny.

Thus far, President Obama has expressed some interest in a media bailout, at least for the print portion. But a bailout for one segment of the media would invariably lead to a bailout for all.

Not only would government subsidies force certain news customers to pay for a service they now reject, it would also be a deal with the devil for the media itself. Media personalities have their biases, which are apparent even when concealment is attempted. How much worse once government is funding the enterprise? The “free” press would become an overt tool for swaying public opinion, which would further disintegrate the public’s waning confidence in journalism. Ironically, Rather’s biases were instrumental in cultivating the public’s distrust for the media.

I respect a person’s right to their beliefs. But an opinion is just that, an opinion. When opinion comes packaged as unbiased reporting, well, news viewers and readers aren’t as stupid as media potentates seem to believe.

When will Dan Rather--and Katie Couric, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Andrea Mitchell for that matter--recognize the public’s weariness of left-wing puppets disguised as news anchors, reporters and journalists? There’s just so much mind-numbing propaganda that a reasonable person can take.

Similar bias is standard fare on the print media’s buffet as well. Small wonder Americans are turning to British newspapers while the domestic media wallows in sanctimonious denial and loathsome self-pity. News customers are speaking with their remote controls and subscription payments, and in a free market they are rejecting the media status quo.

The news media--whether broadcast, print, or electronic--doesn’t need to further prostitute itself to Washington in order to survive. The profession need only stop presenting spin as news. The majority of America really isn’t as stupid as the high-minded media pundits believe. Indoctrination and reeducation isn’t needed. Just report the news and spare us the alleged civics lessons. The First Amendment, journalism, media customers, and the prospects for a free republic will all benefit.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Democrats’ “out” pitch becoming all too predictable

Successful pitchers have an “out” pitch, something that can be thrown for a strike in a tight situation. It could be something off-speed, like a curveball or sinker. It might be heat, like a slider, cutter, or a fastball that explodes through the strike zone.

The type of pitch really doesn’t matter as much as the pitcher’s confidence that his “stuff” can beat the hitter. But when the out pitch becomes routine the pitcher has a problem. If the out pitch is thrown to the same location in the same situation, time after time, it becomes predictable. Smart hitters adjust and the out pitch becomes ineffective.

Race has been the Democrat Party’s out pitch for as long as I can recall. Whenever facts contradict their emotions, or they lack solid footing for their arguments, they resort to shouting racism. It has worked like a charm for years. Now they’re throwing the race pitch to retire opponents of President Obama’s push toward socialized medicine.

Jimmy Carter has declared that racism, overt or latent, is driving opposition to nationalized healthcare. Carter’s race pitch seeks to accomplish two goals: to raise the specter of racism and provide top Democrats, Obama included, with plausible deniability.

Obama can now deny that racism is driving the opponents of a nationalized healthcare system, which he has done. Yet racism, the Democrats’ out pitch, remains in play. It’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it? No more.

Democrats have so overused the race pitch that it has lost its effectiveness. Empty-headed ideologues lodging equally empty racism charges are no longer intimidating. It has been wantonly abused, without the first fact to substantiate the charge. The Democrats’ out pitch has become a hanging curveball, just begging to be hit out of the park.

Opposition to nationalized healthcare is based on facts, not race. Taxes can be imposed on businesses and individuals whose insurance plans don’t meet government approval. Wording does open the door to extending health insurance to illegal aliens. Fiscal concerns are legitimate. And no one from the White House or Congress has cited the part of the Constitution that allows the central government to provide, manage, or reform health insurance.

If that’s not enough, let’s reverse course and throw the race pitch back at the Democrats, mainly Jimmy Carter.

So, Mr. Carter doesn’t believe that a white person can disagree with a black president on ideology or policy. Thus disagreeing with Obama is pure racism. Well dig in Jimmy. Let’s see if you can hit the race pitch.

Allen West is a candidate for Florida’s District 22 congressional seat. He blames government intervention for our ongoing economic problems and favors tax cuts and reforms. Mr. West is committed to a strong defense and to confronting the Islamic jihad. He fully supports the Second Amendment and domestic oil production while opposing amnesty for illegal aliens.

Mr. Carter, would you vote for Allen West? Would you support him at all? If not, you’re a racist based on your own criterion. Mr. West is black.

Bill Randall is running for Congress in North Carolina’s 13th District. Like West, Mr. Randall supports the individual right to bear arms and a strong military. He considers the federal government fundamentally overbearing and fiscally irresponsible, preferring individual liberty and free markets to tyranny and central planning. Like West, Bill Randall is a black man.

What about J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma representative? What about Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Herman Cain and Kevin Jackson? Mr. Carter, are you so racist that you can’t support these men simply because all are black?

When a pitcher’s out pitch becomes predictable he must develop a new strategy to survive. Likewise, Democrats should try to develop arguments that aren’t emotionally charged and intellectually vacant. The race pitch has become too easy to hit.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Death can’t deify Ted Kennedy

Decency demands a certain amount of respect for the dead. Therefore, it was appropriate to allow ample time for Ted Kennedy’s family to grieve peaceably. I remember when Jesse Helms died. Hatred rained down on Senator Helms before his body had time to cool. Opponents celebrated his death and hoped for his eternal damnation.

Similarly, conservatives weren’t fans of Sen. Kennedy. But few, if any, conservatives wished him to the fires of hell. Proper etiquette demanded that temporary silence.

That time has passed. Kennedy has been eulogized and grieved. So, unlike many Republicans who’ve fawned over Sen. Kennedy’s 50 years of “public service”, I’ll focus on why Kennedy was so disliked. You could say I’ve come to bury Kennedy, not to praise him. What’s more, this can be accomplished without personal malice, relying solely on his activities. That’s more than the late Sen. Helms received.

Obviously Ted Kennedy won several elections. But how did he gain the Senate seat originally?

JFK opened that seat when he won the presidency in 1960. But Ted was too young to become a Senator. That was a problem for the Kennedy political dynasty. What if someone with an eye toward winning the seat in the next election filled it in the interim? Ted’s career could’ve been over before it began.

As luck would have it, Benjamin Smith--a Kennedy family friend with no political aspirations-- was available to keep the seat warm for Ted. It worked like a charm. Smith stepped out of the way in 1962; Ted won the seat and stayed there for life.

Such a ploy may not be illegal, unethical, or even immoral. But it does smack of the backdoor shenanigans that undermine the electoral process, which means Kennedy played dirty pool.

Friend and foe alike hailed Ted Kennedy as a role model. Perhaps that’s understandable for his friends, who likely share his warped moral view. But I can‘t comprehend why people who oppose the nanny-state that Kennedy championed sang his praises. He was anything but a role model.

“Here we go,” you say, “time to dredge up Chappaquiddick.”

No. I don’t have to mention the C-word at all. Everyone who lives outside of Bin Laden’s cave knows Kennedy couldn’t drive or use a phone. But what about a night at the Kennedy’s Florida compound in 1991?

The Senator woke his son and nephew for a night on the town. When the night was done Kennedy’s nephew, William Kennedy Smith, faced a rape charge. Guilt wasn’t proven and Smith was exonerated. However, rousting two young men from their beds for a night of drinking proved the Senator’s lack of judgment beyond reasonable doubt.

Before his death Sen. Kennedy encouraged the Massachusetts legislature to change the process for selecting his successor. Current law requires a special election to fill a vacant Senate seat. Kennedy supported that law when enacted in 2004 because it would’ve prevented Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, from appointing John Kerry’s replacement had he defeated Bush.

Ted Kennedy lobbied to change a law he supported, and which was passed for purely political reasons, so Massachusetts’ current Democrat Governor could name a Democrat replacement immediately and preserve the Democrats’ filibuster-proof Senate majority. Imagine the outrage if a conservative had displayed such “bipartisanship”.

Kennedy’s policy positions were flawed, too. From abortion and gun control to illegal aliens and taxation, the Senator favored government largess to individual liberty and world opinion to national sovereignty. What’s more, he railed against the “privileged class” when he himself personified of the term.

When Senator Helms died the left pined for his eternal torment. I bring none of that to Kennedy’s death. In fact, I hope he has found eternal rest and peace. However, to suddenly ignore his blatant lack of character and the effect his “public service” had on our culture and liberty is nonsense.

Ted Kennedy was no hero. We don’t have to relish his passing. But we don’t have to praise a man who consistently worked to expand government and limit freedom either.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Taking the high road with Thomas Jefferson

Anyone who makes their opinions public, in print or online, can expect to receive periodic hate mail. That’s how the game is played. Just as the columnist attempts to provoke the reader, so does the hate mailer desire a reaction from the columnist. It’s tempting to oblige.

I received such an email recently. It was self-congratulatory and totally anonymous. I should’ve just let it ride, like I do the other occasional hate mails. But, for some inexplicable reason, I replied to the message. As stated, it’s difficult to remain silent when a reader invites abuse.

For example, this hate mailer informed me that my “southern bubba ass” will soon be a minority and my sole source of income will be cleaning toilets with my tongue. According to my new fan, such work would be perfect for an “inbred miscreant” like me.

I replied to the sender, which was taken as a sign that he had “gotten under my thin bubba skin.”

Witty, no?

It would’ve been easy to use this space to settle the score. I could’ve pointed out that it was he who initiated the contact. Had I not gotten under his thin skin I wouldn’t have heard from him to begin with. I could’ve pointed out that the use of “bubba” carries the same connotations when directed toward a white male as the word “nigger” has when used toward blacks.

Furthermore, I could easily prove that my mother isn’t a prostitute. I could point to the simplicity of a mind that considers it an intellectual insult to “dedicate a big, brown turd” to me. And I could close with the obvious conclusion that “identifying” oneself as a long-dead Civil War general (William T. Sherman) is the same as remaining anonymous.

But as I prepared to write the column I had a change of heart. In an instant I realized my folly. I had forgotten one of my favorite lessons from Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson once said that a wise man shouldn’t argue with a fool, a passing stranger might not know which one is which.

Remembering Jefferson’s sage advice was like a sign from God, and perhaps it was. The easy solution, the easy reaction, would be to attack my attacker. But what purpose would it serve, other than to provide momentary satisfaction?

“General Sherman” had already done more to make himself look foolish than I could do in ten thousand words. In fact, rather than anger, I felt sympathy for the general. What a small man.

His response was typically shallow. Such is the leftist way. They rely on no fact; they rely on no principle. Their main weapons are sophomoric invectives and petty jealousies. It’s sad, really. How can a meaningful debate occur when one side is armed with logic, reason and a rational outlook while the other resorts to talking points, sound bites and gutter insults?

There are two lessons to be learned from this episode. First, when confronted with ignorance the best recourse is remaining silent. Or, if silence is impossible, respond with sound arguments. It will surely confuse the hate mailer, likely sending him or her into a tail-chasing frenzy. Exchanging witticisms is futile. The hate mailer has no wit, no fact, no logic and little--if any--useful purpose.

Second, the left is actually quite pitiful. The rank and file leftist has drunk deeply from the kool-aid. They don’t think; they feel and react as indoctrinated. Collectivism is their religion, which they will defend beyond all rational thought. And just as sure as if Jim Jones himself were leading them, they will devise their own destruction. But perhaps the saddest part is that such a large number of our neighbors have abandoned their intellect for the pabulum common to the leftist ideology.

Mr. Jefferson was correct. Never argue with a fool.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Beltway Zone: where minds turn to mush

The beltway surrounding the nation’s capital must comprise some paranormal force capable of melting a person’s mind. Nearly all life that ventures inside loses memory, common sense and contact with reality.

Politicians forget their campaign pledges and how to reconcile financial accounts. Business leaders who become lawmakers forget the most basic principles of economics, like the implausibility of borrowing one’s way out of debt. The worst examples--or the most piteous--are journalists.

Once journalists join the beltway media they exit the atmosphere of planet Earth. Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne isn’t the only example; he just happens to be the latest.

Mr. Dionne has a problem with guns at healthcare forums, especially Obama’s. He wonders why conservatives excuse the gun-toting protesters at a black president’s appearance and what they might’ve said if leftists had brought guns to Reagan or Bush appearances.

First of all, the presence of guns--right or wrong--has nothing to do with race. People have brought guns to white representatives’ forums, too. It’s not just the president. Also, someone did bring a gun to a Reagan appearance. He was shot, if you’ll recall. Furthermore, there were movies and books about assassinating George W. Bush.

Drop the race-baiting, Mr. Dionne. It’s an empty argument and beneath the dignity of a serious commentator.

Another of his peeves is the “jackboot politics” that opponents of government healthcare employ. If you’re a vocal opponent of socialized medicine you’re part of an “angry minority engaging in intimidation.”

Mr. Dionne, your memory is short.

When Bill Clinton was president and his administration botched the Branch Davidian raid, federal agents were called “jackbooted thugs.” Leftists came unglued. They fully supported Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, heaping scorn upon the “jackboot” comments. As for the “angry minority”, support for the plan to “reform” healthcare is trending downward. The “minority” you lament is actually a majority, one that’s weary of being ruled rather than represented.

Guns aren’t the basis of American liberty, Mr. Dionne argues. It is discussion, debate and free elections that produced our liberty; violence bypasses the rule of law.

Really? Try selling that notion to the Founding Fathers.

The Colonists presented the British Crown with petition after petition and grievance after grievance. All were rebuffed. The Declaration of Independence is the epitome of reasoned and rational argument. However, if I remember my history, King George ignored the Colonists’ complaints. Monarchal tyranny was halted only at the barrel of the Colonial gun.

Freedom doesn’t exist if mankind has no fundamental rights. It is the natural course of government to steal those rights one authoritarian necessity at a time. Without the ability to defend liberty our rights become privileges that can be granted or repealed at the ruler’s whim. Sorry, Mr. Dionne, but armed citizens are the basis of freedom, if freedom is to have meaning.

As for violence, it’s the totalitarian government’s favored tactic. The Romans made sport of killing Christians. Oppressing the rule of law and human liberty drove Nazi Germany to exterminate six million Jews. The Soviet Union was even worse. Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, the Viet Cong, Islamic revolutionaries, Castro, all have used force to suppress freedom.

Those rulers stripped people of all legitimate means for defending their rights. And if armed citizens make America appear “foolish and lawless” to the rest of the world, let’s remember that the majority the world’s governments are themselves authoritarian regimes of some sort. The idea of limited government and personal liberty often makes America look foolish to worldly tyrants.

Visions of a right-wing armed revolution are premature. We can peacefully overthrow our government at the ballot box. However, bearing arms against enemies both foreign and domestic is the cornerstone of liberty. Failing to recognize that fundamental truth proves that Mr. Dionne has been inside the Beltway Zone too long.