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.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Swastikas, Nazis and congressional density

Are the Nazi symbols appearing at town halls meetings and congressional district offices a sign of racism? Representative David Scott (D-GA), whose district office was defaced with a swastika, thinks so.

"We have got to make sure that the symbol of the swastika does not win, that the racial hatred that's bubbling up does not win this debate," Scott told the Associated Press. He also claims to have received racially intimidating emails, some of which have called President Obama a Marxist.

Race-baiting is childish whether employed by a Klansman or a Congressman, such as Rep. Scott. But calling Obama a Marxist is something akin to calling apples, apples and oranges, oranges.

The Nazi symbolism has sparked outrage, but very little in the way of logical thought. There are several ways to look at this situation, each with its own degree of viability.

First case. Neo-Nazis could certainly capitalize on the current mood to express their warped and repugnant views. But before accepting the premise that opponents of socialized medicine are the racists that Rep. Scott claims, let’s remember who the Nazis were. The German Nazis were the National Socialist Party. They considered people and industry to be state property, subject to dictatorial whims.

No Mr. Scott. Opponents of healthcare reform aren’t trying to intimidate you with Nazi symbols. And they certainly aren’t promoting Nazism.

Second case. Mr. Scott is correct in identifying the heated arguments surrounding healthcare reform. That being the case, who’s to say that left-wing activists wouldn’t paint a Swastika on the Congressman’s sign, certain that the offense would be blamed on the opposition?

Leftists routinely likened Bush to Adolf Hitler. They called for his impeachment and execution, even writing books and making films about how to assassinate him. They toss unsubstantiated charges and labels—such as racist, sexist, homophobe, or xenophobe—at their opposition, attempting to discredit them without having to argue the facts. That is the heart of authoritarian dogma.

Now, is it impossible that people who utilize such tactics would paint a swastika on Congressman Scott’s sign? Not by a long shot. But it’s not a lead pipe cinch that the Left painted the symbol.

Frankly, opponents of government healthcare could’ve painted that swastika on Rep. Scott’s sign. But, if so, the intent wasn’t racial intimidation or promoting Nazism. He who has eyes let him see, and he who has a mind let him think.

Rep. Scott, how blind and dense can you be? If town hall protesters painted a swastika on your sign they did so not to promote Nazism but to call attention to the heavy-handed manner in which you and your colleagues are governing.

You and your party are promoting a healthcare plan that few of you have read. You and your party speak about the plan as if you’re familiar with every aspect. Yet when questions are raised you simply deny their viability, never offering reasons for why antagonists are wrong.

The President, a man of your party, claims to want a spirited debate over healthcare legislation. Yet when the debate turns spirited he dismisses or trashes legitimate questions about the bill’s language as misleading or false. His administration establishes a snitch line and encourages Americans to become White House spies.

Have people utilized Nazi symbolism to oppose nationalizing healthcare? No question. But if those people deface property, which isn’t a proper response, it’s not to promote racist ideas or Nazism itself.

Some Americans are just tired of federal diktat, Rep. Scott. Perhaps they’re letting you know that Washington’s actions are usurping private property, individual liberty, and our Constitution. Maybe they’re letting Congress know that they realize what’s happening and that they’re not pleased with the way Washington is exceeding its authority.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An argument is missing in the healthcare debate

Since the House of Representatives unveiled its various versions of healthcare “reform” there have been myriad reasons given for why it shouldn’t become law.

Opponents have called attention to some rather ominous wording within the legislation. The “end of life” counseling sessions have sparked fear among seniors. Obama himself has said there are times when it’s better to take a pain killer than to treat an ailment, pointing out that such decisions are already being made.

He’s partially correct; such decisions are part of life.

Living wills convey a patient’s wishes in the event he or she is incapacitated. Resuscitation agreements provide instructions concerning life support. And yes, private insurers sometimes deny payment. But these examples aren’t synonymous with the Democrats’ arguments. In fact, they are apples and oranges.

These life decisions are largely a private matter, at least for now. Government isn’t involved; it has no say about what treatments are offered or when those treatments are deemed unwarranted. As for insurers, even when coverage is denied there remain charitable organizations to which a patient can turn.

Allowing government to become involved in individual life decisions is a dangerous precedent, even if it appears harmless at the outset.

That’s not the only argument. Opponents of “reform” point to wording that can end private health insurance, ration care, tax individuals and businesses that don’t carry “adequate” coverage, provide health insurance to illegal aliens and set wage controls for medical professionals.

All of this came to light as the President pushed Congress to rush healthcare legislation through at light speed, which is another reason to oppose its passage. Representatives both pro and con, and even President Obama, have admitted to never having read the legislation they’re so hot to pass.

Despite this dereliction of a representative’s fundamental duties, reformists have called the opposition everything from kooks to Nazis. It would be laughable if there weren’t so many empty minds soaking up this bilge hook, line and sinker.

Not even the people who write the gibberish that passes for legislation can explain what their bills say. The must call in lawyers, who must call in other lawyers, who then advise the impending bureaucracy on how to interpret the language and establish the rules. So, in all honesty, who can claim to know what “healthcare reform” means or how it will be applied?

But there’s one argument against healthcare reform that cannot be spun or disregarded. And it’s an argument that no legislator has shown the courage to make. Just where in the Constitution is the federal government authorized to provide or manage healthcare?

All powers not constitutionally delegated to the federal government, or prohibited to the states, remain with the states and the people. Since the Constitution doesn’t allow the federal government to provide healthcare or insurance, anything passed and signed into law is invalid.

Sound radical? Take it up with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote in the Kentucky Resolutions, “whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

I have yet to hear a single opponent summon the courage to challenge healthcare “reform” on constitutional grounds. Consider this a call to action, beginning with the representatives from my area.

Rep. Sue Myrick, Rep. Patrick McHenry, Senator Richard Burr and Senator Kay Hagan, heed your oath of office. Unless you want to publicly declare that your word is worthless you have no choice but to oppose this legislation.

Furthermore, you should demand expulsion for any colleague who votes for these “reform” measures. Such persons have violated their oath. They aren’t representatives enacting law; they are tyrants seizing illegitimate authority over the governed.

The Tenth Amendment hasn’t been repealed, much to the dismay of Congress. “Reform” opponents aren’t kooks, Nazis, racists, or lunatics. And there’s nothing subversive about holding our representative’s feet to the constitutional fire.

Pitting Americans against their neighbors

Divide and conquer. It’s a strategy as old as human conflict. When one party can cause other parties to quarrel among themselves, victory is all but assured. President Obama is employing this strategy.

The White House has opened what can only be described as a snitch line. Americans who receive e-mail messages opposing healthcare “reform” should forward that message to the administration at once. What can the intent be other than to attain the email accounts, and subsequently the identities, of Americans who aren’t getting with the program?

There’s so much wrong here that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Stalin often referred to “useful idiots.” A useful idiot was someone easily manipulated into promoting the party line. Such a person became a tool of the state, functional for promoting an agenda and forcing the incompliant to accept the continued erosion of their liberty.

“Useful idiots” were useful because they were too scared, ignorant, or just plain stupid to realize how their actions trampled not only their liberty but that of their neighbors. When the “idiots” were no longer useful, they were either tossed aside or eliminated.

The Obama administration is asking you to become its “useful idiot.”

What happened to candidate Obama’s pledge to unite the country? It vanished, right along with the promise to end deficit spending and take the country in a new direction. The only “change” we’ve experienced is the increased proliferation of the collectivist state we’ve been inching toward for the better part of 75 years.

Asking Americans to spy on White House opponents is divisive to the core. Friends, we’re not talking about calling the authorities when a Muslim of Middle Eastern descent rushes through the airport carrying a keg of gunpowder and shouting “Allah be praised.” This is asking Americans to turn in their neighbors for disagreeing with government policy.

Obama’s snitch line legitimizes propaganda. Through the simple act of establishing an email account and encouraging tattling we’re being told that the government line is the only acceptable position. There’s no room for debate. When concerns are raised about the healthcare bill’s text the White House merely declares the fears unrealistic and moves on, never having addressed the public’s concerns at all.

Enlisting public assistance in compiling an enemies list based on opposition to policy has no place in a free society. Government is here to serve us. We are neither subject nor slave, but free citizens.

Such a request on the part of the White House, even if it’s never utilized, inhibits the free exchange of ideas. It is an assault on the First Amendment, in spirit if not in letter. How can anyone feel at ease airing opinions that oppose government actions if there exists the means for the State to use those opinions for political purposes?

“Well,” you counter, “what about the war protesters?”

What about them? Their right to oppose the war was never silenced. Their anger was misplaced, their actions misguided and their attitudes contrary to the preservation of our republic. But the Bush administration didn’t launch a “spy line” so Americans could tattle on their neighbor’s activities.

The Obama White House’s “domestic spying” program doesn’t enlist the people’s help in stopping the local Al-Qaeda cell from making bombs in a basement down the street. It’s not interested in intercepting phone calls between foreign nationals in the United States and caves in Tora Bora. The White House is blatantly encouraging its “useful idiots” to spy on their neighbors, and to turn in anyone who opposes the party line on “healthcare reform.”

It’s frightening to consider how many Americans will use this email link to do just that. Scarier still is how many will consider it the patriotic thing to do.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tolerance for dissent depends on the dissension

The Left loves to toss around their right to dissent. They dissent against defending the country. They dissent against the Second Amendment. They dissent against private property. They especially love to accuse political opponents of stifling dissent whenever their views are rejected.

However, for the Left to appreciate and defend dissent it must conform to their approved criteria. In short, they dissent against dissent. Let’s look at it.

Remember when protesting the war was the Leftist’s favorite pastime? Protesters dressed in black pajamas, just like Hamas or Hezbollah militants, and flew the flags of our enemies. Mock graveyards adorned with red crescents were erected. US flags were set ablaze and used to burn effigies of American soldiers, which were suspended with chains.

When conservatives countered their lunacy with rational arguments we were accused of abridging the protester’s free speech, of stifling their dissent. The charge was nonsensical. Free speech is simply that: the freedom to speak. It conveys no right of audience, agreement or acceptance.

Conservatives didn’t close anti-war protests, we just disagreed. As long as the protesters didn’t aid our enemies or deny other Americans their right to conduct their lives, they could have their say.

But the Left doesn’t view conservative dissension with like tolerance, or with tolerance at all. Conservatives must be silenced. It’s a lesson Loren Spivack has experienced firsthand.

Mr. Spivack operated the Free Market Warrior, a kiosk at Concord Mills Mall in Concord, NC. I use the past tense because his lease has been terminated and his small shop closed. No, his rent wasn’t in arrears and his kiosk structure didn’t violate mall policy. In fact, he was never given reasons for his eviction, only excuses. Each explanation mall management provided was fraught with inconsistency.

The Free Market Warrior’s great offense was selling material unfriendly to Barack Obama and baby bibs that read “Thanks Mom and Dad for choosing life.” Such items were deemed offensive. Yet other stores at Concord Mills sell items promoting drug use, disrespect for parents, oral sex, masturbation and other sexual innuendo. As for complaints about Loren’s “offensive” items, there were two.

This isn’t a First Amendment issue, which Loren readily recognizes. Government didn’t silence the Free Market Warrior just as government didn’t silence war protesters, regardless of what the Left claims. Concord Mills, owned by Simon Properties, is a private entity and can regulate what is sold on its property.

Conservatives recognize such property rights even when used to our detriment. Leftists don’t. And there’s no questioning Simon Properties’ left-wing bias. Just consider CEO Melvin Simon’s history.

Melvin Simon contributes heavily to left-wing causes and political candidates. He has given to Democrat candidates, Democrat PACs and organizations such as Emily’s List. Very few Republicans have received so much as a dime from Mr. Simon.

That’s fine, it’s his money and he can do with it what pleases him. But his history does lend credence to the argument that Loren Spivack was politically targeted, which wouldn’t be acceptable if the shoe were on the other foot.

Equally contradictory is Mr. Simon’s aforementioned wealth, produced through the capitalist entrepreneurialism that his preferred candidates vilify at every turn. Furthermore, Simon’s contributions went to many staunchly anti-Second Amendment politicians. Why, then, doesn’t Simon Properties find the large array of firearms sold at Bass Pro Shops--Concord Mills’ anchor tenant--offensive? That one is easy; Bass Pro Shops generates more revenue than did Loren’s kiosk.

As stated, Simon Properties can do as it will with its malls and its money. But you can bet the farm that if a conservative-minded property group evicted a liberal tenant for similar reasons all Hades would boil over. Yet again, “dissent” proves to be the Left’s playground while conservatives are silenced whenever possible.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thoughts on North Korea’s prisoner release

Learning that the two female journalists were released from North Korean custody is welcome news regardless of who gets the credit. Even though they work for Al Gore, which means two more socialist votes in the next election, it is welcome news. Maybe having experienced how collectivist regimes operate they will have a change of heart about supporting such an agenda and about working for Captain Planet.

Regardless, I have a few thoughts to offer that no one else, at least to my knowledge, has put forth.

North Korea knows these women weren’t spies. Anyone who pays but scant attention to America’s journalistic corps knows full well they aren’t about to spy for our benefit. And they certainly wouldn’t spy against a “worker’s paradise” like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The reason Kim Jong Il’s repressive regime arrested, charged and sentenced these women had noting to do with suspected spying. It was to make America crawl. Okay, we crawled. Maybe we had no choice. No one wanted those women to rot in a North Korean prison for twelve years.

However, their release meant breaking from past practice, one in which America didn’t cave to heavy-handed tactics. What happens the next time an American is taken hostage in some third world hellhole?

Kim Jong Il and his merry band of communist cutthroats recognized an opportunity, much like Iran did a few months ago, to poke America in the eye and dance away scot-free. North Korea now stands tall in the eyes of other small dictatorships that share the DPRK’s disdain for human liberty and the rule of an evenly applied law.

Ironically, one can argue that such notions have become archaic even in the United States. Our government is expanding, our individual liberty waning and our economic freedom deteriorating at fearful rates. But that’s another matter.

Congratulations, North Korea. You identified an opportunity and capitalized on it. But use caution. Your success is eerily similar to the capitalist economic model you so scorn. Also, while you may appear the unbowed bulldog in the eyes of the world’s other Chihuahuas, you are still a Chihuahua yourself. Sorry. That’s just how it is.

As for the two journalists, I’m sure they’re elated. I can’t imagine what they experienced facing twelve years in a communist prison. Regular labor in such a regime is no picnic. What must “hard labor” be like? Even so, if I were they, I would’ve been a little nervous about that flight home.

Bill Clinton negotiated their release. Apparently, if not for the former president they would still be jailed. They owe their freedom to William Jefferson Clinton. They owe him. Women, let that sink in for a minute.

Euna Lee and Laura Ling were locked in a jetliner, 30,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, with Bill Clinton, for twelve hours. And they owed him. Prudence, not to mention chastity, would dictate they make other travel arrangements.

Bill Clinton has, shall we say, a wayward history in his relations with women. This is especially true when he has the upper hand, such as while Governor of Arkansas, or with young interns in the Oval Office, or when someone owes him a favor. Once the landing gear was up and with all that time to kill, Bill Clinton might have decided to call in his IOUs, if you know what I mean. Can’t you just hear him now?

“You know ladies, if it wasn’t for me you’d still be in that musty old North Korean dungeon. I helped ya’ll out of a hard situation. Now old Bill needs help with a hard situation. What d’ ya’ say, ladies?”

Surely a former president would have better manners. But when the subject is Bill Clinton you just never know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More petals drop from Obama’s rose

In late April I wrote a column titled, “What’s in a poll?” I made the case that Barack Obama’s popularity wasn’t as high as some media outlets claimed. Furthermore, I pointed out that his approval ratings had steadily declined since Inauguration Day. It’s a trend showing no signs of stopping.

Rasmussen Reports indicates that 40-percent of Americans now strongly disapprove of the President’s job performance while 32-percent strongly approve, leaving him an approval index of -8. This indicates a steady decline since my April column. Just 49-percent of Americans somewhat approve of Obama’s job performance, the first time such numbers have slipped below 50-percent. And an equal percentage of Americans somewhat disapprove.

Those numbers indicate a divisive governing direction from someone once hailed as capable of bringing the country together.

Seventy-six percent of voters now see Obama as politically liberal and 48-percent view him as very liberal. Both numbers have increased significantly since Election Day. Theories abound as to why America didn’t recognize Obama’s collectivist tendencies last year. But they’re recognizing them now, and the news only gets worse for the 44th President.

Three-fourths of Americans believe that government spending will continue to rise under Obama while just 12-percent expect a tax cut. This means most people think the President is lying when he regurgitates his claim that taxes won’t increase for 95-percent of all Americans. Compounding the bad news for the administration, a wide margin of likely voters think tax cuts, not spending hikes, will spur the economy. Obama’s snake oil isn’t selling like before.

Speaking of the economy, Americans rate our economic condition as the nation’s main problem. Alright, so you knew that without the aid of polling data. But only 29-percent trust Obama to make appropriate decisions concerning the nation’s future economic growth. Small wonder consumer confidence is eroding.

On the trust meter, less than 40-percent see Obama as more ethical than other politicians and just 32-percent see him wearing the magical mantel of bipartisanship. Perhaps more disturbing for Obama is the overall mood of the country.

Six in ten likely voters say the nation is on the wrong track. That number is actually slightly better than recent weeks, but still represents a steady decline in public confidence since the week ending May 10. It’s worse news for the Obama administration than it appears on the surface.

Obama didn’t receive 61-percent of the vote in the last election. Some of the people who voted for him apparently don’t think he is providing the hope and change he promised. In fact, it would appear that people are now associating him with more of the big government, free spending politics that have soured our economy, circumvented our Constitution and compromised our liberty.

However, Republicans shouldn’t see these numbers as cause for jubilation. A majority of Americans still blame Bush for our economic state. And despite the public’s growing skepticism of the Democrat’s socialized medicine and cap and trade scams, Republicans have garnered only a slight lead in the generic congressional ballot.

Maybe that last tidbit of information is our ray of sunshine. A solid majority of Americans trust their own economic instincts above government meddling. That’s good news. People exchanging voluntarily in the free market make economies grow, not Washington politicians and bureaucrats regardless of their party affiliation.

Now, will America act on its disgust with the two major parties, which differ mainly in the degree of tyranny and socialism they are wiling to impose on us? Or will we continue to allow congressional charlatans to steal our liberty and compromise our future?

The petals are falling from Obama’s rose, revealing the sharp thorns that were beneath the bloom from the beginning, while freedom’s fruit is ripening. Let’s pick the fruit and leave the fading flower to wither on its thorny stem.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lessons learned at Harvard

It’s rare to begin a column with a disclaimer. This is one of the exceptions.

The truth is that I’ve never attended a single class at Harvard University, a record I’m confident will remain intact until my dying day. I’ve never even passed the ivy covered entrance to Harvard or driven through Cambridge. Yet I’ve learned some lessons from Harvard, lessons that are worth sharing.

Reality dispersed the fallacy surrounding Professor Henry Louis Gates’ arrest just as sure as a drop of water disperses oil. That doesn’t mean the incident didn’t warrant an investigation. No one--regardless of their race--should be arrested inside their home without just cause. However, jumping to conclusions before facts become evident isn’t a good excuse for speaking in ignorance either. That became the norm in the Gates episode.

Sgt. Crowley’s account was corroborated by other officers--including black officers--and an eyewitness. Gates’ version carried the weight of Harvard, a famous and venerable institution. These men aren’t stupid; they are intelligent, professional and supposedly rational.

To have formed an opinion during the investigation’s early stages indicates an undeniable lack of discernment. That’s lesson one. Don’t form opinions without facts, which brings us to lesson two.

The president displayed an alarming lack of wisdom. When asked about the Gates arrest President Obama was quick to concede his ignorance of the particulars. Yet Obama told the entire nation exactly what he thought of the situation despite having admitted his lack of knowledge. He said it was troubling for a black man to be arrested inside his own home.

I concur. But that didn’t happen to Prof. Gates; he wasn’t arrested inside his home. He was arrested outside after following the investigating officer to the front porch, his belligerent attitude in tow.

Prudence, especially in a president, demands that we keep our opinions silent until we have the facts. Obama would have none of that. He spoke publicly and authoritatively immediately after admitting his ignorance, displaying a disturbing lack of judgment.

A third lesson is where racism may exist. If Gates was the target of racist police tactics or profiling, where did it occur? The scene didn’t unfold at a Klan rally or in a corner booth at Denny’s. It happened at Harvard University, the school where Berkeley leftists learn liberalism.

Harvard is one of the most liberal outposts in one of the most liberal areas of arguably the most liberal state in the union. We’re constantly told that such high-minded institutions are nuanced and intellectually superior to those of us in the great unwashed. Yet the alleged racism took place in the heart of leftist philosophy. Oh, say it isn’t so!

Addendum to lesson three. With more facts now available concerning Gates’ actions prior to his arrest it’s becoming apparent that racism is indeed alive and well at Harvard. Can you figure out who was stereotyping whom?

Fourth lesson, what if the suspected burglary had been real? Suppose Officer Crowley had accepted forged identification from a genuine burglar. Had Crowley then left the burglar at the scene he would certainly have been labeled a racist. Do you believe for a minute that Gates wouldn’t have accused the white officer of refusing to protect a black man’s property?

The fifth lesson is that race shouldn’t have become a factor. There’s been no proof of racism, only the unsubstantiated rants from Gates, for whom life is all about race. Sgt. Leon Lashley, a black officer at the scene, supported Gates’ arrest. And black Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson called Obama’s imprudent comments racist and irresponsible, and accused the president of “causing deep irreparable damage to race relations in this country.”

Racism remains the Left’s favorite political tool. They practice racism from one side of their mouths while accusing opponents of it from the other. That makes six lessons I’ve learned from Harvard, all without attending a single class.