Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The five myths of Regressive politics #1: Conservatives are racist.

Whenever conservatives comment on racial issues they’re immediately compared to the Grand Dragons of the Ku Klux Klan. Such an accusation would be laughable if it weren’t so egregious. In reality conservatives are the colorblind idealists. Since all that’s rightly promised to free people is an opportunity to use their talents for their own benefit, conservatives recognize that preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity are themselves discriminatory. Quotas aren’t necessary for success, nor are head starts required.

In reality, applying quota and preference programs to people of color is condescending. Racial quota systems promote the idea that minorities are inferior and needful of preferential treatment. Conservatives recognize the duplicitous fallacy in this argument. Therefore, under conservatism, people are evaluated on their merits, with financial compensation and cultural status reflecting each individual’s contribution to society.

In conservative thought equality means a known starting point, no more. No one is elevated or relegated based on race and no preference is given beyond that which is due to the skills and attitudes a person presents.

The left is correct in one thing; racism does endure in America. However, its home is on the political left. Liberals have no faith in minorities regardless of the preening and crowing they do on behalf of the disenfranchised. Minorities cannot succeed without the left-wing do-gooder’s social justice activism and government assistance. Success can result from welfare and entitlement programs, hiring quotas, college admission preferences, or some other means. But success must be attributable to government.

The true crime of political racism is perpetrated daily on the left. Liberal politicians work diligently to convince minorities that life is worthless and unlivable without expansive government programs, thereby maintaining their grip on power. The fact that these programs are a proven snare, trapping recipients in an endless stream of dependence is immaterial. All that matters is the electoral power that can be attained and the governmental control that can be expanded.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TV ads are annoying, but Senators are worse

If there’s an area in which U.S. Senators excel more than tossing tax dollars down rat holes it must be in blowing hot air. List grandstanding and pandering among their attributes, too. The recently passed Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM, S. 2847) displayed these Senatorial “skills” for all to see.

If you watch television you’ve noticed the difference in volume between programming and commercials, with commercials being much louder. Condemn those blaring commercials as annoying and I’m right there with you; they’re like raking your fingernails across a chalkboard. But does an annoyance warrant congressional action? Let’s think about that one for a moment.

Congress may claim authority to regulate a television commercial’s volume through their typical mischaracterization of the Constitution. Perhaps they’ll cite the commerce clause, which Congress routinely abuses to legitimize its unwarranted meddling. However, if we look at the Senate’s action in light of how the Founding Fathers viewed proper government we must conclude that Senators missed the mark on the CALM Act.

Governments exist to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But CALM achieves none of those goals beyond what we can do for ourselves. It doesn’t defend our lives, as no one has died from an obnoxiously loud used car commercial. Our liberty isn’t protected since we can mute offending commercials, turn down their volume, or change channels. CALM doesn’t secure our pursuit of happiness, either. We can pursue happiness with or without television and its advertisements.

The CALM Act isn’t about protecting consumers at all. It’s about providing a populist stage whereupon grandstanding politicians can crow to voters about how they stuck it to the Madison Avenue man, as the bill’s sponsoring Senators inadvertently

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) claims CALM reduces the stress Americans face. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says this “common sense” bill “prevents airing ads at unbearable volume levels.” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) explained that viewers shouldn’t fear “
losing their hearing” during commercials.

My! Aren’t they the champions of the public interest? Maybe not. Genuine common sense (not the kind Rockefeller touts) shows this bill for the pandering twaddle that it is.

No one has fallen deaf due to an overzealous word from the sponsor. Furthermore, there’s quite a distinction between an annoying noise and an unbearable one. Whining jet engines are unbearable. So are blaring train horns. Include any form of rap music in the mix, too. Television commercials are actually quite tame by comparison.

The most indefensible position comes from Sen. Whitehouse, the bill’s primary sponsor. So, loud commercials add “unnecessary stress” to people’s lives? Talk about an oxymoron. Sen. Whitehouse and his colleagues should look inward if they seek the source of America’s stress.

Congress--your Congress, Sen. Whitehouse--has spent this nation into a black hole. No tax rate can satisfy Washington’s insatiable spending lust. Each American’s share of the gross federal debt is
$45,000. Focus solely on children under 18 and each is saddled with $119,000 in unsecured debt. Americans fight radical Islam overseas while politicians seem content to tolerate it here. Healthcare “reform” is a pig in a poke that will increase the aforementioned debt while promising performance similar to Medicare, Social Security and Walter Reed.

Are Americans uneasy, unnerved, and perhaps stressed? Yes Sen. Whitehouse, and justifiably so. But of the problems we face loud TV commercials aren’t high on the stress-o-meter. In fact, they’re almost a respite from the harsh gale emanating from blowhard politicians.

Don’t fall for the Senate’s feint. CALM isn’t about TV viewers. It’s about creating a populist position for politicians seeking public approval. It’s an overblown reaction to a miniscule problem, one that Congress should have no authority to address. That S. 2847 passed unanimously is all the more discouraging. Considering the problems our country faces the Senate should find better things to do with its time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A leftist confuses exceptionalism with superiority

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) summarized his Deficit Reduction and Budget Reform Act on the Hill website. His purpose was to outline his ideas for restoring fiscal discipline to the federal government. Not once did Sen. Thune mention “American exceptionalism,” the laws of science, religion, or race. But that didn’t stop an obvious Regressive from taking the Senator to task on each subject.

In the comments section “PGBACH” wrote:

Dear Johnny, The Founders did not embraced [sic] a "spirit of American Exceptionalism." Unlike you, they were not arrogant. There is nothing in their writings to suggest they believed they were better than anyone else. In fact, to the contrary. The Founders were rational people. They rejected delusional psychosis. At no time did they claim America was above the laws of science. I do understand, Johnny, you belong to a party that rejects rationalism and science, while embracing religious delusions. That your proposal would double the poverty rate in the USA in 24 months demonstrates the GOP's agenda for rich white folks. You nearly make me ashamed to be white.

Unsubstantiated claims accompanied by race-baiting and ignorance of the Founding Fathers. “PGBACH” is a vapid talking point, a Regressive through and through. But it’s the total misconstruction of “American exceptionalism” that warrants response.

The respondent’s hostility toward "American exceptionalism" reveals a colossal ignorance of how conservatives utilize the term. “Exceptionalism" rises not from American citizens being better than citizens of other nations, but from our society and culture being based on a more solid foundation, namely personal and economic liberty and property rights. These inalienable rights have created a greater opportunity for success in America than in nations where such ideals are uncommon or suppressed.

“PGBACH” has equated exceptionalism with attitudes of superiority, the latter being more common on the American Left than on the American Right. The Left claims the understanding necessary to dictate everyone’s affairs. It is the Left that encourages Americans to surrender their rights and decisions to government. Healthcare? Retirement? Defense of self and property? How we build our homes? The kind of car we drive and the fuel economy we receive? Energy production? All are mandated, to some extent, through legislation and bureaucracy. Some such rules are warranted, but not all.

Before taking conservatives like Sen. Thune to task the respondent should’ve gotten the facts in order. Understanding Sen. Thune’s arguments and presenting a sound opposition would’ve been a start. Knowing the difference between exceptionalism and superiority would’ve helped, too. It’s likely “PGBACH” would’ve remained wrong. But there’s no excuse, aside from stupidity and laziness, to have looked so foolish in the process.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Christopher Columbus: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

On Columbus Day it is appropriate to discuss Christopher Columbus’s legacy. Critics seem emboldened on the day we recognize the famous mariner’s arrival in the New World. Was Columbus the barbaric sadist his detractors claim? Or was he a great explorer and discoverer?

Columbus lived an impoverished, unspectacular childhood. He spent his youth studying geography and developing his love for sailing. In manhood Columbus was relentless in peddling his belief in a spherical earth and westward sailing route to reach India. His audiences with the Spanish royalty are legendary.

However, the concept of a round world didn’t originate with Columbus. Neither was a westward trade route to India his idea. His desires to prove these theories weren’t rooted in scientific advancement. Columbus sought personal fame and fortune, expressing an entrepreneurial, capitalist attitude, which could partially explain why the modern Left hates him so.

Ultimately, Christopher Columbus never amassed the fortune he sought and died in poverty just 15 years after a discovery he never realized. He secured fame, but not in his time. Columbus never sailed west to India. Actually, he believed the New World was India. According to modern standards he would be an ignorant failure. But Columbus didn’t live by modern standards.

Columbus was an excellent navigator, a courageous explorer and an able captain. He discovered a land unknown in his world and returned home across a trackless ocean. He commanded sailors who believed the Atlantic Ocean was full of sea serpents intent on devouring the wayward seaman. They thought the Atlantic an infinite sea that boiled at the equator. Christopher Columbus’ accomplishments were remarkable considering the obstacles he faced.

Then there’s the other portrayal of Columbus, that of the murderous, slave-trading ogre that detractors use to besmirch his memory. Not content with his true faults, Columbus haters accuse the Genoa mariner of
destroying the peaceful paradise that was the Caribbean.

Columbus, his antagonists allege, sparked a genocidal avalanche of misery and mayhem that decimated the Arawak Indians. In fact, the entire European exploration and settlement era exploded into an imperialistic inferno with Christopher Columbus holding the match. Yet the idea that the Western Hemisphere was the Garden of Eden prior to 1492 is fairly naïve. Some European explorers were brutal, and the Taino Arawak tribe suffered at Spanish hands. But to lay all violence at the feet of Columbus ignores the New World
brutality that existed before his arrival.

The Taino were rather passive. But the
Caribs were a fierce people who abused the Tainos and took their lands before Columbus arrived. The Caribs made wives of captured Taino women (slavery, anyone?), fashioned necklaces from their vanquished enemy’s teeth and may have practiced cannibalism.

The Caribs may have decimated the Ciboneys who once inhabited the Caribbean. The Ciboneys descended from a prior culture that was all but exterminated by yet another people. And if the Caribs themselves weren’t cannibals, the
Tupinamba Indians were. Finally, these tribes were indigenous Caribbean Indians; they migrated from the mainland. Thus the peaceful natives Columbus assaulted were neither peaceful nor native, but warrior explorers and conquerors.

Each person must render an individual judgment on history. Make what you will of Columbus and his successors. But remember that many civilizations originated in other places and expanded their holdings and influence through force. Mankind has explored, fought, conquered, settled and lost throughout world history. That reality isn’t going to change just to suit the unrealistic notions of Utopian fantasists.

Christopher Columbus is neither as pure nor as despicable as he is portrayed. He was human, a walking paradox whose life was filled with flaw and virtue, success and failure. He accomplished more than he knew while never quite realizing his dreams. Why not celebrate Christopher Columbus’ courage and contributions while learning from his faults and failures?

Originally published on American Thinker.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Silence is Jimmy Carter’s remedy

A viral infection can be dangerous to an 86-year old man, even if that man is a former United States President. Best wishes to Jimmy Carter for a full recovery. However, that sympathy doesn’t exclude a hope that he will keep his mouth shut.

Carter was making headlines even before falling ill. During an
interview to support his new book, White House Diary, Carter belied the humility for which he is credited. “I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents,” he meekly declared. He also blamed the late Ted Kennedy for preventing his administration from imposing socialized medicine in 30 BO (Before Obama).

Such ranting does nothing for Carter’s thoroughly tarnished image. He whines because his administration didn’t implement health reforms that have endangered the Obama presidency if not the entire Democrat Party? And his one alleged quality—humility—he tosses aside like an oily rag. That’s not a great day at the office, Mr. Carter.

Carter apologists and history revisionists tout his presidency as one of international accomplishment and domestic reform. But there’s precious little evidence to support those claims. Carter’s presidency was fraught with poor decisions, so much so that political jokesters labeled his administration the “Carter Error.”

In fairness, Carter brought Israel and Egypt to the peace table at the Camp David Accords. But the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis generated his greatest international fame. Under Carter our military preparedness degenerated until we couldn’t get our helicopters off the ground. He also surrendered control over the strategic Panama Canal at a time when the Soviet Union’s influence was surging in Central America.

His direct dealings the Soviets left much to be desired, too. Carter apologists point to his administration’s negotiation of SALT II as instrumental to world peace. Instrumental it was, but to Soviet superiority, not peace. Basically, this Carter “victory” banned nuclear weapons systems in which we held an advantage--such as depressed trajectory missiles--while allowing the Soviets to develop and deploy their advanced technologies. Some deal.

Domestically, Carter is better remembered for 20-percent interest rates, double-digit inflation, a stagnant economy and the misery index than educational and environmental reform. His “superior” post-presidency includes the Oslo Accords, a one-sided Israel-Palestine peace agreement that the PLO and Hamas violated before the signatures dried. And his nuclear negotiations with the North Koreans during the mid-90s lulled the world into a false sense of security. We soon learned that the communist regime had developed the very nuclear technology Carter was credited with preventing.

Neither Carter’s health nor his age requires us to ignore his self-aggrandizement or his attempts to reform his abysmal presidential legacy. I don’t wish him poor health. But if he must fall ill, why not a case of laryngitis? His silence would make his supporters’ chronic amnesia slightly more tolerable.

Ballplayers aren’t Cincinnati’s only “Reds”

Is nothing sacred? Is there no limit to the lengths busybodies will go to rule every aspect of our lives? Apparently there isn’t. Not even baseball, America’s pastime, nor a victory celebration can escape the bureaucrat’s oversight or the anonymous meddler’s nosiness.

The Cincinnati Reds are the National League’s Central Division champions, heading to the playoffs for the time since 1995. It’s a monumental accomplishment, the culmination of a dream shared by innumerable ballplayers since Little League. A celebratory moment is warranted following their successful march through the tough slog of the Major League season. So Reds owner Bob Castellini distributed
cigars in the Reds locker room after the team clinched and players puffed a smoky salute to their triumph. That’s where the fun ended.

The Reds’ cigar party occurred inside the team clubhouse and was broadcast on television. Five “whistleblowers” saw these outlaws and phoned Ohio’s smoking ban hotline to report their dangerous assault on public safety. While it’s possible that jealous Cubs or Cardinals fans are behind the complaints, that doesn’t mitigate the nature of the anti-smoking “whistleblowers.” They are meddlesome tattletales in desperate need of a mission other than snooping in their neighbor’s business.

The Reds’ cigar party violated Cincinnati’s indoor smoking ban. City inspectors will now investigate--including possible undercover trips to Cincinnati’s playoff games--to determine if the scofflaw Reds will continue sneaking illicit smokes. Just how many murderers, rapists, burglars and assorted
thugs will wander Cincinnati’s streets while taxpayer’s money is used to ensure public safety inside the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse?

How long should we stand for such lunacy? How long should the blatant waste of resources remain acceptable? Is there no end to the gullibility that allows government to transform erstwhile private citizens into bureaucratic stooges, anonymously spying on our neighbors? Above all, how long will we tolerate the incessant assault on private property and personal decisions that pass for “public safety” initiatives?

Obviously the clubhouse at Great American Ball Park isn’t the only place to find “Reds” in Cincinnati. It isn’t the only place to find “Reds” in America. Tyranny is expected from the Nancy Pelosi sect. But it’s unnerving when “everyday” Americans consider it good citizenship to snitch on their countrymen’s private affairs. Isn’t it time to root out these useful idiots among us, these petty tyrants, and expose their treachery?

Anonymous tip lines that encourage people to tattle on their neighbor have become all too common. If the Reds’ cigars are such a serious offence, let the offended come forward, like adults, and openly air their grievance. Since they obviously lack the courage to take a public stand, let these mice return to their holes.

Move aside cowards and let the bold dogs can bark. Let the barking commence at the Reds’ first home playoff game. I’d like to see the entire Cincinnati starting nine take the field with stogies in their mouths, just for a show of solidarity.

Although I’m a non-smoker and a Yankees fan, I’ll put my head on the block alongside the Reds. I will smoke a cigar--indoors, of course--if Cincinnati wins the World Series. What’s more, I will video my tribute and send a copy to the Cincinnati Health Department. Consider it the “puff heard around the world.”

Originally published at American Thinker.