Sunday, June 26, 2011

Democrats are the butt of the Weiner jokes

Anthony Weiner left the House of Representatives as the butt of a thousand jokes. And why not? Any man named “Weiner” who spreads his digitized anatomy around the Internet should expect ridicule. Yet while the Weiner saga overexposed a congressional member, the Democrat Party emerged the biggest joke of all.

Anthony Weiner is a man of poor judgment and unmitigated arrogance. Internet anonymity is a long shot even for the most obscure person. Add celebrity to the equation and privacy dissipates like a vapor. Only a man of indescribable juvenility and pomposity would believe he could beat the stacked deck. Weiner lost his bet, with his own party calling his hand.

No one would’ve batted an eye had Republicans called for Weiner’s resignation. Manipulating promiscuity for political advantage is somewhat a tradition in Washington. Democrat’s struck the David Vitter and Mark Foley scandals with the venom of a thousand cobras. But Republicans had little to say about the Weiner matter.

Republicans were content to let Democrats rebuke Anthony Weiner. Their silence was a wise strategy, leaving Democrats caught in their own web. Defending Anthony Weiner would’ve again exposed the Democrat Party’s lack of moral conscience. In showing Weiner the door the Democrats have screamed their hypocrisy at the top of their collectivist lungs.

What did Anthony Weiner do that was worthy of resignation? So he sent risqué photos to a few women, some of whom were
willing participants. Sure, he exercised poor judgment, loose morals, and complete dishonesty. But such depravity is common fare in Washington. If every irresponsible, immoral, or lying politician were forced to resign few would remain on Capitol Hill. Frankly, Democrats showed exceptional gall in demanding Weiner’s departure.

Anthony Weiner is far more virtuous than one of the Democrat Party’s ultimate heroes, William Jefferson Clinton. All Weiner did was engage in cyber sex: a text here, a photo there, his Congressional member everywhere. But it doesn’t appear he touched another woman. Clinton touched another woman, and another, and another, and another: Paula Jones, Juanita Broderick, Kathleen Willey, and Monica Lewinsky.

Bill Clinton didn’t waste his time on sexting and exhibitionism. He settled for nothing less than the genuine article. Not only did he and Lewinsky have an affair, but the affair occurred in the Oval Office on the taxpayer’s dime. Yet the Democrat Party excused not only the Lewinsky relationship but also Clinton’s other escapades. Not even feminists, who preach hellfire and brimstone against self-indulgent men, would
criticize Clinton for routinely objectifying women.

But didn’t Anthony Weiner lie during his press conference? He did. Weiner’s claim that his Twitter account was hacked is akin to Newt Gingrich blaming his adulterous affairs on his love of country. Weiner lied, but Clinton lied worse.

Bill Clinton waved his finger in America’s face and lied like a used car salesman. But he wasn’t finished. Clinton also denied the Lewinsky affair in a sworn deposition. Sexual contact itself was redefined under Clinton’s watch. Oral sex was no longer sex; it was stress relief, like visiting a massage therapist. What’s more, the Democrat Party and their blind apologists excused both Clinton’s adultery and dishonesty. They explained how everyone lies about sex. If promiscuity and falsehood were acceptable behavior for Clinton, why weren't they acceptable for Weiner?

Anthony Weiner made several mistakes that led to his downfall. First, he erroneously believed his electronic erotica would remain anonymous in a techno age. Second, Weiner thought the best cover for an immoral act was another immoral act. But his greatest error was becoming embroiled in a congressional sex scandal and thereby embarrassing his party.

Anthony Weiner has learned a hard lesson: Congressmen are expendable, Presidents aren’t. The same Democrat Party that defended Clinton to the ends of the earth tossed Weiner aside like last week’s leftovers. It may be Washington politics as usual, but the hypocrisy makes Democrats the ultimate butt of the “Weiner” joke.

Three rails of pacifism, and each is off-track

No person is easier defeated than one who holds nothing worthy of defense. The board of directors at Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana, fits that category to some extent. But the Mennonite pacifism is at least partially pure. Secular pacifism can’t make that claim.

Mennonites are traditional pacifists, shunning war and confrontation no matter the provocation. In that spirit Goshen has deemed the Star Spangled Banner
inappropriate because it incorporates war and military power in national defense. The national anthem therefore violates the school’s religious standards and will no longer be heard at Goshen’s sporting events.

Goshen is within its rights to bypass the national anthem, although their decision will doubtlessly offend many Americans. But simply possessing that right doesn’t mean Goshen deserves a free pass. Their pacifist doctrine contains inconsistencies that warrant examination.

Mennonite pacifism is based on their understanding of Jesus Christ as a peacemaker. Jesus didn’t kill other human beings; he didn’t fight wars. Thus his followers must also shun violence no matter the provocation. No doubt Jesus was a peaceful man. But did Jesus exemplify a pacifist, peace-at-all-cost attitude? Maybe not.

Jesus didn’t yield when resistance was warranted. He repeatedly and publicly chastised community and religious leaders for their hypocrisies. Jesus was anything but meek when he physically drove the frauds and con artists from the Temple courtyard. Furthermore, Jesus gave credence to the idea of a just conflict when he said, “if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I might not be delivered.”

America isn’t a kingdom. But it is our sovereign slice of this world. Sorry Mennonites, but Jesus didn’t teach absolute capitulation as a tenet of discipleship. In fact, his teachings prevent no one from participating in their own defense.

The Mennonite attitude toward war is a moral pacifism, even if somewhat naïve. Their passivity is based on a quest for spiritual purity; it is their constitutional and ecclesiastical right. Secular pacifists, conversely, practice a pacifism that is unclear, indefensible, and inaccurate.

Intellectual pacifism deplores warfare not because of religious beliefs but philosophical ideals. This person never considers war a valid response to any provocation. War, in the intellectual pacifist’s mind, is invariably based on lies. Not even America’s role in
World War II is immune from this viewpoint.

According to intellectual pacifists, Germany posed no threat to the United States, their army couldn’t have crossed the Atlantic, and Americans wouldn’t be speaking German if not for our military adventurism in Europe. But their arguments are untenable.

Germany didn’t possess the amphibious capability necessary to cross the Atlantic and assault America’s east coast. However, Germany’s desire to confront the United States dates to the late 19th Century. That dream became an obsession for Hitler. According to James Duffy’s book, Target: America: Hitler’s Plan to Attack America, Nazi Germany had both ambitions and plans for striking the United States.

Germany’s “Amerika Bombers” were long-range aircraft designed and produced to varying degrees by Messerschmitt, Junkers, Heinkel, and other German aviation firms. As the name implies, those bombers were intended to fly transoceanic raids on the U.S. mainland. Germany also considered occupying the Azores as a refueling station for the Amerika Bombers. Another strategy employed seaplane bombers, with submarines serving as seaborne refueling stations. Germany was also developing rocket propulsion, hoping to produce guided or piloted missiles that could reach New York.

Certainly the value of such raids, had they materialized, would’ve been more psychological than strategic. But Germany unquestionably desired to strike the U.S. mainland. And the idea of a ground assault on the U.S. wasn’t ignored either.

Germany attempted to forge relationships in South and Central America, including Mexico. The objective was to secure a base for launching a ground offensive across our southern border. Was such an invasion feasible? The U.S. military thought so. Furthermore, had intellectual pacifists met the theoretical Nazi offensive the only thing stopping Germany’s northward march would’ve been the Canadian border.

Intellectual pacifism ignores contemporary belligerence, regardless its source, just as it still ignores Nazi Germany’s aggression. Their worldview contradicts the venerable truism, “If there’s nothing worth dying for there’s nothing worth living for.” What, then, is the intellectual pacifist’s reason for being?

On pacifism’s third rail is the immoral pacifist. The immoral pacifist differs from both the moral and intellectual pacifist, but is closer aligned to the later. Neither a thirst for spiritual clarity nor an innate preference for surrender drives the immoral pacifist. Political expediency motivates their attitude, which is personified in the anti-war marcher.

This mindset selectively deploys anti-war sentiment where it can best serve a political goal. For instance, leftwing ideologues used the Iraq War to demonize President Bush, claiming he waged an unauthorized and illegal conflict. Both charges were lies. Congress
authorized military force against Iraq and the operation was conducted within those guidelines.

The Iraq War protester has been conspicuously absent since a preferred president, President Obama, joined the United States to the Libyan fray. And Obama is waging an
illegal war. He authorized military action without Congress’ consent. He has ignored the timelines for unilateral presidential action outlined in the War Powers Act and obfuscated Congress’ attempts to understand his adventurism. Yet the immoral pacifists are deafening only in their silence.

The moral pacifist can be challenged with their own religious doctrines. Yet they can defend their pacifism on ecclesiastical grounds. For the intellectual pacifist there are fewer defenses. Their pacifism isn’t grounded on a quest for spiritual truth but a combination of foolhardiness and ignorance. No logic is apparent in the intellectual pacifist’s dismissal of all war as unwarranted. There’s no defense whatsoever for the immoral pacifist. Their objectives are political, based on falsehood and opportunism.

Ironically, Goshen College’s ban of the Star Spangled Banner fulfills its commitment to higher education. The board’s decision laid bare the three rails of pacifism, none of which secure a nation’s sovereignty. In fact, any nation trying to run on pacifism’s track is hurtling toward derailment.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Government receives the most “bang” for the preschool buck

There’s a study for all occasions and all occasions warrant a study. Otherwise, grant money would remain unspent. One study recently targeted preschool education, finding preschool classes provided benefits to students even into adulthood. Sound odd? Not really; many are the preschool skills that serve us in our latter years.

Counting to ten helps determine the number of fingers we have remaining after a day of sawing lumber. Identifying basic colors is essential to stopping, yielding, or proceeding at traffic intersections. And tying one’s own shoes is beneficial in both social and business settings. It also looks great on your résumé.

Such are the lessons from preschool. Still, the study’s proponents claim preschool gives taxpayers the “most bang for the buck.” Lead researcher Arthur Reynolds says preschool classes produce a $90,000 return on a $9,000 investment (the cost for 18 months of preschool). That’s not a shabby ROI. Most of us would take a ten-fold return on our 401k and never bat an eye. But when we take a closer look at the study’s statistics, the results seem mixed.

For instance, adults who had attended preschool earned annual salaries only $800 higher than those who didn’t. Just 5-percent were more likely to graduate high school, and only 4-percent were more likely to attend a four-year college.

Actually, preschools teach rudimentary lessons that were once taught at home, including homes with low incomes. The practice has eroded since the federal nanny state usurped the role of father in most such households. Preschool offers little to a child of average, or even slightly below average, learning ability. It does, however, remove children from the home, allowing politically correct education requirements to be instilled at a younger age.

I hate to sound like a soldier in the tin foil hat brigade, but I’m suspicious of government’s motives. Whenever a study touts the virtues of earlier government involvement in our children’s lives, the suspicions grow. A young mind exposed to the concept of government as a god-like provider learns to believe government’s function is to meet individual needs. Once those views are ingrained in the mind, a child will view government as the source of liberty and rights through adolescence and into adulthood.

Education has long been a tyrant’s tool. Hitler used education to indoctrinate the Hitler Youth. Stalin, too, leaned on education. The
Soviet leader called education “a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” American preschools won’t likely turn out the next generation of Brown Shirts or Young Pioneers. But preschools can sell children an unrealistic vision of government and liberty.

Preschool’s benefits may well extend into adulthood. But benefits are more for the state than the child. Seldom in human history have governments served goal’s other than their own. Why believe government preschools break from tradition?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sarah Palin, the media, and the First Amendment

The Constitution’s First Amendment clearly and properly protects the press from government intrusion. However, does the First Amendment allow reporters to ignore laws, or guarantee their access to a citizen’s every move? Ask Sarah Palin.

Palin recently made
news for reasons other than her unusual version of Paul Revere’s ride. The controversy centered on her One Nation Tour, whose bus drivers apparently didn’t win any safe driving awards. Palin’s drivers ran red lights, recklessly exceeded speed limits, and changed lanes without signaling.

Ignoring traffic laws isn’t best practice, but it’s hardly unique. Drive a mile on the nation’s highways and you’ll witness similar, or worse, disregard for traffic laws. The question is, why reporters are so familiar with the One Nation Tour’s driving habits? If you answered, “The reporters were doing the same things,” take a gold star.

Reporters committed the same traffic violations for which they criticized Palin’s troupe. Even while describing the experience as “harrowing,” reporters remained quite blind to their own role in creating dangerous situations. Even in today’s warped social climate, where traditional standards are deemed passé, two wrongs still won’t make a right. Reporters are no more immune from traffic laws than are Palin’s bus drivers.

However, reporters excused their part in creating a “rolling menace” as the price required for keeping pace with Palin. Palin’s advisors failed to divulge the tour’s schedule. Lacking the itinerary, reporters had no alternative but to trail the One Nation Tour at all cost. What a load of bull!

The lack of an itinerary provides no excuse for reporters to exacerbate the traffic dangers blamed on Palin. In fact, the media is just as guilty as the Palin entourage, if not more. The media’s zeal to cover Palin is predicated not on idealistic notions of journalistic integrity or public disclosure but on the hope she will commit an embarrassing faux pas. What’s more, the media has no right of access to Sarah Palin’s itinerary.

“But the fourth estate has an obligation to keep tabs on politicians, government figures, and candidates,” journalists may counter. I agree; that’s why the Constitution recognizes the free press. The media should scrutinize everyone who fills, or seeks to fill, public positions. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.”

But Palin isn’t filling a public trust. She is no longer the Republican nominee for Vice President, the Governor of Alaska, or the Mayor of Wasilla. Sarah Palin hasn’t declared her interest in any public office either. She’s a media personality no doubt. But she isn’t a public official whose decisions can directly affect our liberty. Anyone who patronizes her does so voluntarily. Therefore, reporters have as much right to your local barber’s itinerary as they do Sarah Palin’s.

It’s truly amazing the lengths to which the media will go to cover every movement of a woman they routinely label as the world’s biggest idiot. If Sarah Palin is as dumb and irrelevant as the media claims, why cover her tour at all? Why not simply let her go her way in anonymity? Such an approach, if adopted, might cause reporters to miss an opportunity to portray Palin as the total loon they believe her to be. No wonder she didn’t grant journalists access to her itinerary.

Reporting on the whereabouts of celebrities -- and Palin is a celebrity -- isn’t the reason the First Amendment protects the free press. The media’s right to investigate politicians and bureaucrats who directly affect America’s liberty is unquestionable. Should Palin again seek or assume a public trust, she’ll become fair game. Until then the media enjoys no First Amendment access to her agenda and no right of any kind to mimic poor driving habits.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Basic civics courtesy of a Syrian protester

Politicians and media experts readily adopt the latest notions, often without question. No one wants to miss their seat on the politically correct bandwagon. Toward that end media personalities and worldly politicians gush and swoon over the so-called Arab Spring. However, rhetoric and wishful thinking aside, the jury remains out on the forces driving Middle East protests and the emergence of westernized constitutional republics in Arab lands.

Consider what is known about the Arab democracy movements. The
Muslim Brotherhood’s legacy belies the moderate agenda with which it has been credited, instead promoting violence, Sharia Law, and a general anti-Zionist bent. A Libyan rebel leader spent six years incarcerated at Guantanamo prison because of his links to Islamic extremists and the powers behind Syrian and Yemeni uprisings aren’t likely to prove better.

Arab Spring will likely bloom into Sharia Summer and Islamist Autumn, the result being greater authoritarian rule than Arabs previously experienced. But there’s at least one Arab protester who seems to understand the idea of deposing tyranny. In fact, America would do well to heed his simple civics lesson. This one man, a Syrian Kurd opposed to Bashar Assad’s rule, held a simple
sign espousing a profound message. His poster read, “Rights are not given as charity.”

Such a concept of rights and liberty is becoming rare within American politics. Rights are increasingly defined as a function or extension of government with human liberty existing only when government reigns supreme. America has largely forsaken the Jeffersonian view of liberty sanctified in the Declaration of Independence, wherein freedom is a gift from our Creator, a divine and inherent right. It doesn’t exist at the whim of presidents, legislators, or bureaucrats.

Mankind possesses liberty from birth, just as we’re born with a beating heart and lungs capable of processing our life’s breath. The human spirit is free until subjugated via direct force or subtle coercion. Enter government, which often shows precious little regard for the inalienable rights of man: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, attaining said happiness isn’t guaranteed, as success and fulfillment are individual, not collective, determinations. Government cannot pledge happiness or achievement to one person without denying those pursuits to another. For instance, when government provides food, shelter, or clothing to one person as a matter of right, another person’s property rights must be ignored. The so-called contributor is denied the right to benefit from their production and to determine its proper use.

Governments are ideally instituted to secure and protect the innate rights of mankind. Yet such administrations are the exception rather than the rule, and too often temporary in duration. Governments are inclined to oppose liberty at every turn. Restraining liberty, often to the point of bondage or death, is government’s natural progression. Government must subside for liberty to flourish. So too, liberty must yield for government to ascend. When legislative bodies expand in scope they transform into ruling bodies, assuming a self-perpetuating identity.

Civil authorities are no more content with merely securing the blessings of liberty, as Jefferson described a government of just powers, than drunkards are satisfied with a single gin and tonic. A metamorphosis takes place. Governments instituted as benign protectors of liberty become imperious sovereigns dedicated to regulating every aspect of human behavior until freedom and individual decision are eradicated. Public charity is a proven, useful tool for manipulating the decline of the individual in favor of the state.

Heritage Foundation’s 2010 Index of Dependence on Government reveals disturbing long-term trends in America’s dependency on governmental charity. From housing and medical care to welfare and education, Americans are ever-increasingly dependent on government. Liberal politicians, bureaucrats, and social activists have sold dependency as a human right and the provision for personal need as a charitable act of government. Surging dependency signifies a people willingly surrendering their liberty birthright and a government capitalizing on the population’s apathy.

The Syrian protester hasn’t likely considered the profundity in his message as applied to American concepts of liberty. He does, however, understand human rights aren’t a matter of government charity. Liberty exists even when the possessor doesn’t embrace its presence and when governments fail to respect its existence. No government, via charity or other device, can grant that which we possess by matter of birth.

America stands at a crossroads in our understanding of rights. On one hand we demand less government, lower taxes, and greater individual choice. On the other hand we love liberty only until it interferes with a favored Washington program. Then all bets are off.

If America is to retain freedom, and preserve it for our posterity, we must become reacquainted with liberty’s core concepts: individual responsibility, self-motivation, and basic respect for self and others. Let’s begin with a civics lesson from an anonymous Syrian. Apparently, he possesses substantial wisdom regarding rights and their origins, a knowledge woefully lacking in the land of the free.