Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little League lawsuit epitomizes a Big League problem

Some things can't be fully appreciated unless compared to their opposites. We hold light dear because its absence is darkness. Crisp autumn mornings are sweeter when compared to summer's searing heat. Likewise, reward can't be fully valued without risk. The connection between risk and reward is a common element in economic and personal liberty, which somewhat explains why some people work so hard to disjoin them.

Trial lawyers have certainly helped foster a reward without risk mentality. Frivolous litigation clogs the courts and cheapens the legal system. Of course, not all lawyers are crooked. Reputable lawyers are assets to their communities and credits to their profession. But shysters and their lamebrain clients are as devastating to personal responsibility as Josef Stalin was to Ukrainian agriculture.

I dare say most of us have attended a baseball game. When we passed through the gates we encountered the risk of a batted or thrown ball entering the spectator area. If we were attending a youth game -- perhaps in a league of 11-year-olds -- and sitting next to the bullpen, the chance of being struck increased. Like swimming in shark-infested waters, baseball presents foreseeable risks that rational spectators should expect in exchange for the rewards of watching a game. It's sad to say, but rationality doesn't always rule the day.

Elizabeth Lloyd was sitting next to the bullpen at a youth baseball game when she was struck by an errant throw. In harmony with the low risk tolerance common to modern America, she sued Matthew Migliaccio, the 11-year-old catcher who threw the ball. According to the lawsuit, Migliaccio intentionally assaulted Lloyd causing her "severe, painful, and permanent" injuries. Her suit also accuses the young ballplayer of "engaging in inappropriate physical and/or sporting activity" in Lloyd's vicinity. Now really, even in a litigious society, what could be a more appropriate sporting activity than for a catcher to throw a baseball in a bullpen?

Go ahead; roll your eyes at Lloyd's reasoning, or lack thereof. It doesn't mean you're denying or ridiculing her injury. Baseballs can hurt, and they can cause trauma. Both of my sons have played baseball and both have been plunked by beanballs and bad hops. As catchers, they absorbed more wild pitches and foul balls than I can recall. They accepted the potential for injury as the risk due to earn the reward, which was playing the game. Do spectators not also assume some degree of risk when they're in close proximity to the action?

According to Bob Migliaccio, Matthew's father, "You assume some risk when you go out to a field." The comment is obviously directed toward the lawsuit against his son. But its inherent truth extends far beyond a catcher's error. There is risk in everything we do, in everywhere we go. There is risk in learning to ride a bike, drive a car, build a career, and live on our own, and each risk carries with it the potential for reward. Our society is increasingly litigious and dependent because of the childish belief that rewards can be realized without facing the risks, or that risks are someone else's responsibility.

Even if separating risk from reward were possible it wouldn't be advantageous. When rewards are received without risk, or gains realized without effort, the value is diminished and the prize is unappreciated. Just consider the entitlement mentality. How often do welfare recipients publicly express gratitude for their monthly checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing, EBT cards, or free school lunches? I can't recall a time either.

Elizabeth Lloyd's lawsuit epitomizes an attitude that goes far beyond the bleachers at Little League baseball games; it's at work throughout our culture. Utter contempt and disregard for the risk-reward connection is a rejection of personal responsibility, without which a free society cannot exist, much less thrive. 

Generally speaking, the greater risks one accepts the greater the rewards: finer homes, nicer cars, bigger TVs, smarter phones, and greater economic security. The relationship between risk and reward is fundamental to personal and national economic well-being. But politicians, the intelligentsia, and other social elitists spent the better part of the 20th Century selling the notion that risks are unfair and rewards are a civil right. To our shame, those efforts have borne fruit. The predictable result is a greater dependence on government and more politicians willing to confiscate and redistribute the risk-taker's reward.

This column first appeared at the American Thinker.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Message to Chick-fil-A: Chicago has enough clucks

Why did the chicken cross the road? In Chicago, it was to get to Logan Square. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Alderman "Joe" Moreno are turning the area into the city's first chicken sanctuary. In case you spent last week on the dark side of the moon, let me explain: Chicago's rulers are resisting Chick-fil-A's plans for a new restaurant due to its corporate opposition to homosexual marriage.

Moreno vowed to keep Chick-fil-A out of his district. Emmanuel was a bit more reserved, content to say the company doesn't measure up to "Chicago values." Now, let's remember that Rahm is trumpeting the values of the nation's most corrupt political city. How can Chick-fil-A reflect "Chicago values", provide free sandwiches to every Chicagoan who rises from the grave on Election Day?

All kidding aside, Emmanuel and Moreno are perfect examples of what's wrong with the political culture. Good government doesn't force businesses to check corporate beliefs at the city limits. Their attitude should serve as a warning to all businesses; if you want access to Chicago's marketplace you must adopt approved positions on social issues. It sounds like bullying because it is bullying, and the politicians practicing it are unworthy of the public trust.

Let's get one thing straight; Chick-fil-A is discriminating against no one. The company serves and hires both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Emmanuel and Moreno are the true bigots. Their opposition to Chick-fil-A isn't based on anything but the company leadership's personal beliefs, beliefs that electoral results suggest are mainstream.

Suppose another city adopted Chicago's policy in reverse, refusing to allow companies that support homosexual marriage -- like Nike, Levi's, and Microsoft -- to conduct business in their municipalities? Would Emmanuel and Moreno support that decision? Please! They'd be tripping over each other in a mad rush to condemn that city's abuse of government power.

Emmanuel says Chick-fil-A's proposed restaurant would be a "bad investment" because "it would be empty." If he really believed his rhetoric he would put Chick-fil-A's building permits on the fast track. Politicians love being right, and Emmanuel would look like a prophet if Chick-fil-A was forced to close the restaurant due to a dearth of customers. Of course, as much as politicians love being right they fear being wrong even more. And evidence suggests that Emmanuel doesn't know what he's talking about.

2011 was the 44th consecutive year Chick-fil-A's sales increased, reaching $4.1 billion and marking a 13-percent rise over 2010. The company operates more than 1600 stores and will open another 77 during 2012. Since Chick-fil-A restaurants aren't sitting empty elsewhere it's unlikely they'll sit empty in Chicago.

If Emmanuel and Moreno prefer political correctness to private enterprise, fine. There are plenty of places -- like the Chicago suburb of Lombard -- that would welcome Chick-fil-A with open arms. The company should take its restaurant plans, and resulting tax revenues, there. Besides, with leaders like Emmanuel and Moreno, Chicago has enough clucks.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

There's no explanation for senseless violence

It can be argued that mankind is nature's perfect contradiction. We seldom consider issues for which there are logical conclusions. Yet when confronted with senseless violence we'll make vain attempts to rationalize irrationality. But no matter how hard we work, satisfactory results are unachievable. Explaining the unexplainable is like pushing breakers back into the ocean. So it goes in the aftermath of the Aurora massacre, as pundit after pundit blames firearms and the Second Amendment for the carnage.

While some people might gain momentary peace from blaming guns, or the Constitution, for deranged criminality, it is the ultimate nonsense. Firearms are no more responsible for violent crimes than Food Network is for gluttony. Guns are inanimate. They can't act of their own volition, determine right from wrong, or differentiate between just and unjust persons. Like knives, axes, and other tools, guns perform at their user's discretion.

True, a madman with a firearm can inflict more immediate casualties than one armed with a knife or an axe. But capability doesn't change the basic nature of a tool. Since tools are incapable of distinguishing good and evil, we must examine the operator. This simple truth forces humanity to face an unpleasant reality. Evil exists not in the objects we create -- guns, knives, axes, nuclear missiles, etc. -- but in us. Evil will survive as long as mankind survives.

Even so, there's no shortage of kneejerk responses from shortsighted and self-serving politicians who manipulate tragedy to enhance their power and that of the State. Those calls are thus far falling on deaf ears, which is quite refreshing.

Yes, the Aurora murderer used guns for an evil purpose. But thousands, perhaps millions, of like firearms are used for legitimate reasons, or not used at all, every day of the year. Privately held arms are intrinsic to liberty, their value far outweighing the evil found in the random lunatic. However, the peaceful use or nonuse of arms generates neither media headlines nor political opportunities. Those who offer vain explanations for senseless violence are hoping the country will favor their emotionalism over common logic.

Evil acts begin in an evil heart. Firearms, knives, axes, and clubs are just tools for expressing the evil within. Since one man expressed his evil with a gun, and many people died quickly because of it, it's easy to blame the tool. However, many people have died slowly, over time, at the hands of serial killers who used no gun. Those crimes are just as bewildering, the victims just as dead, and the perpetrators just as evil as if the crimes were committed with a firearm.

There's nothing defeatist in recognizing that evil won't be eradicated or fully understood this side of the Pearly Gates. To accept that fact is to choose reason over emotion and liberty over servitude. In Aurora's wake the fact that reason has thus far trumped emotion is about the best result we can hope for.

Tragedy of tragedies and no Shakespeare in sight

Any debate centered on the greatest tragedy writer in literary history will invariably include William Shakespeare. Tragic theatrical literature is as integral to the Elizabethan Englishman's legacy as stately political analysis is to Thomas Jefferson's. However, while tragedy is a favored tool of adept playwrights, it's downright indispensable for political tyrants.

Playwrights benefit from weaving suspense into their scenes. Tyrants benefit from weaving dependence into the law. Of course, the playwright's and the tyrant's motives are as different as night and day. But their base tactic is analogous. Tragedy creates empathy, and empathy captivates an audience. The scene plays frequently on today's political stage. Emotional stories generate compassion among a sympathetic but uncritical audience.

Ohio was the stage for a recent installment of this perpetual drama, where President Obama received tearful praise for enacting the Affordable Care Act. The emotional appeal came from a young woman whose sister succumbed to colon cancer four years ago. No one can argue that the scene isn't sad, even tragic, or that it's repeated far too often. But then life is filled with tragedy, and with people willing to use another's suffering for personal gain.

Admittedly, it seems crass to think a woman's death would be manipulated for political purposes. Yet the very nature of contemporary political discourse compels us to question scenes such as the one in Ohio. Was it genuine or fictional? Either way, it makes for prime political theatre.

Anyone who questions the scene's authenticity is quickly dismissed as the worst villain since Iago. What kind of person would suspect another of lending the death of a sibling to a political agenda? Only a cold-hearted boor could conceive such a conspiracy. However, the Ohio woman herself needn't be the actor for her tragic story to become an unintended performance.

Remember Henrietta Hughes, a woman of unemployment, homelessness, and assorted woe? Oh, how the sympathy did flow. Hers was a supreme tragedy, with the leading politician -- President Obama -- basking in the spotlight. Right on cue, Obama promised to alleviate Henrietta's suffering. On stage he played the hero. Behind the curtain he did nothing to alleviate Hughes' problem. Hughes herself was but a role player, a dispensable character in an endless political tragedy. The same can be said for Cindy Sheehan, the late Rodney King, and everyone who has "fainted" during an Obama speech. Each and every one became part of the political script.

Stephanie Miller, the aforementioned Ohio woman, is now on stage. Whether she's a plant or a heartbroken sister grieving for a lost sibling is material only to her. On the grand stage Miller plays a bit role. Yet she's indispensable to the overall drama, which serves to enhance the State's image. Presenting Ms. Miller's grief to government's leading man promotes a relationship between personal suffering and government relief. The public's allegiance to the State builds upon such tragedy.

Ms. Miller believes she wouldn't be grieving today had the Affordable Care Act been in force when her sister fell ill. But Miller's dialogue contradicts the confidence she, or anyone else, should have in government healthcare delivery. Ms. Miller's sister, upon diagnosis, applied for Medicaid. Guess what? Her request was denied. And what is Medicaid if not a government healthcare program? Thus the gut-wrenching scene of a weeping woman thanking a politician for expanding the State's bureaucracy even after the existing State bureaucracy had failed the prior need. It's like taking a second dose of poison and expecting to be cured.

I believe Ms. Miller's grief is legitimate. But a politician's empathy is not. She is the latest in a long line of role players whose real life dramas fertilize the State's growth. Just as playwrights achieve success through the staged suffering of their characters, tyrants also capitalize on tragedy to enhance their stature.

British statesman Edmund Burke said, "The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion." Tragedy, or its perception, is the most effective delusion available to political tyrants. Tragedy, often of the tyrants own making, dissolves personal responsibility and undermines liberty, resulting in a population becoming more dependent on the State to meet its basic needs.

How shall we be secure from mortgage foreclosure and monetary devaluation if not for government bank regulation? Where will we find jobs if government doesn't subsidize industry? Will we be fed, housed, and clothed if not for entitlements? Can we receive medical care without a government bureaucracy? Political playwrights have spun these scenes into individual tragedies, thereby focusing the audience's attention on government solutions. No matter what happens to the supporting characters tyranny grows and the State is empowered.

Liberty necessarily declines when personal sovereignty submits to political rhetoric. Yet an increasing number of Americans are submitting to political tyrants who promise more of an increasingly insolvent bureaucracy. We are active players in an epic political tragedy, one Shakespeare himself couldn't have written better.

The preceding article was first published at American Thinker.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dropping the "i-word" ignores reality

A simple strategy for winning a political debate is to ignore evidence and blur reason. Denial and obfuscation often frustrates an opponent into surrendering. The "Drop the I-Word" campaign has adopted this technique, apparently believing it offers the best defense for illegal immigration. However, while dropping the "i-word" in reference to illegal immigrants is long on rhetoric, it is short on good sense.

According to Drop the I-Word activists, referring to an illegal immigrant as illegal is racist, dehumanizing, contrary to accepted law, and detrimental to reasoned debate on the immigration issue. However, if there were but one hurdle to logical discourse on immigration, it would be this kind of nonsense. Illegal doesn't indict an alien's character; it identifies their status.

Illegal means contrary to law or statute, or forbidden by same. Collins Dictionary defines illegal as a person who has entered a country illegally. Under these terms, anyone of any race, religion, ethnicity, or background can illegally immigrate, thereby becoming an illegal immigrant.

Genuine racial epithets identify persons or peoples according to skin color or heritage, not actions. For example, the "n-word" is a derogatory phrase used exclusively toward black Americans without regard to their character or status. The same can be said for the "c-word" in regard to Asians and the "s-word" for Hispanics. Each term identifies and denigrates based on nothing more than skin tone or ethnic heritage.

Illegal describes a person who has violated accepted legal procedures, nothing more. Thus illegal in terms of citizenship identifies someone whose immigration has violated the law. I'll go as far as saying "illegal" is completely race-neutral. Germans, Chinese, Kuwaitis, Mexicans, and Americans can all become illegals simply by moving from one country to another without navigating the appropriate bureaucratic red tape. Since the word can be equally applied to any race, heritage, or ethnicity based on their status, how can it be racist?

Actually, we have killed two birds with one stone. Since illegal describes the status of the immigrant whereas immigrant, or alien, describes the person, illegal is neither racist nor dehumanizing. The only time racism and dehumanization can be equated with immigration status is when someone with an axe to grind does so for political purposes.

Another issue Drop the I-Word raises is the legal accuracy of illegal. This, too, is misleading. We're not determining guilt in a civil or criminal sense, but in the court of public opinion where the burden of proof is miniscule. Even so, does illegal pronounce guilt without trial, or inhibit a person's ability to defend their rights? We can answer an unequivocal "no" to the first question and a conditional "yes" to the second.

I can't recall a single instance of widespread deportation without the benefit of a hearing. The closest example I can cite is the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Even then, Japanese-Americans weren't deported. Now, I'll admit that an illegal immigrant might have difficulty protecting basic liberties, such as reporting crimes committed against them. But the situation isn't unique to illegal immigrants; the same can be said of anyone engaged in an illegal activity. Such people naturally fly under the radar. Why? Because their actions are illegal, they recognize that fact, and they fear discovery.

If illegal is a slur, how should we identify immigrants who ignore both our borders and immigration laws? According to the campaign, "unauthorized" and "undocumented" are acceptable alternatives. But for how long? If the definition of illegal can be transformed into a racial, subhuman epithet, you can bet the farm the "u-words" won't be far behind.

Understand that Drop the I-Word isn't presently seeking a legislated speech code whereby offenders are held civilly or criminally accountable. Their goal is to convince journalists to drop the "i-word" from their lexicon. And frankly, the journalism community possesses the right to determine what words and phrases are acceptable in their writings and publications. But opponents of using "illegal" to describe illegal behavior should be intellectually honest about their attempt to change the word's definition to fit their political stance.

Dropping the "i-word" allows journalists to feel warm and fuzzy about their tolerance and open-mindedness. But they're ignoring the elephant in the room. If journalists won't admit the obvious fact that illegal immigrants have immigrated illegally, they have little to contribute toward solving the issue.

This article was first published in Creative Loafing - Charlotte.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Congress threw a wild pitch

Roger Clemens' trail is over and he has been cleared of all steroids and perjury charges. The verdict opens the door for the "Rocket's" detractors to cry foul while his defenders validate his storied career. So it goes with celebrity trials. Each side remains convinced of their rightness no matter the evidence or the jury's decision.

The Clemens debate will turn to his place in baseball history. Has the seven-time Cy Young winner been irreparably tarnished? Is his name honored or disgraced? Will he enter the Hall of Fame or set-up shop at the Cooperstown city limit with Pete Rose? If Clemens is enshrined what happens to other tainted players from his era: Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, and Palmeiro? It'll make for interesting hot stove discussions next winter. But the Clemens trial raised a far more important issue than a ballplayer's legacy.

Clemens landed in hot water because he allegedly lied to Congress about allegedly using allegedly banned substances. That's a lot of alleging, especially since the jury's verdict proves Congress possessed no convincing evidence for their allegations. Maybe that's why the public trusts and supports Roger Clemens more than it does Congress.

Rasmussen polling finds only 20-percent of Americans would bar Roger Clemens from the Hall of Fame, which means 80-percent see no issue with him entering Cooperstown or simply don't care. Conversely, only 7-percent approve of Congress' performance while 63-percent disapprove and 68-percent would like to throw the bums out. Make what you will of those numbers; it's quite clear that Roger Clemens is more trusted than Congress, and with good reason.

Would the same jury that found no convincing evidence that Clemens lied to Congress find ample evidence to convict Congress of lying to us? I think so. Despite taking an oath to "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution, Congress has a long history of passing legislation that conflicts with that pledge, and then lying about it.

When passed, the Social Security Act included no adjustment criterion for future income or inflation variations and capped payroll deductions at 3-percent of the first $3000 in annual income. Today's employees pay 6.2-percent on all income, and their employers' "match" is actually part of the employee's earned income that's never seen. The central government's authority to withhold taxes from payroll was initiated during World War II as part of the Victory Tax. The war ended 67 years ago, yet taxes are still withheld. The Great Society promised to alleviate poverty and strengthen families. In reality, it spawned dependence on government above family and coincides with a 50-year rise in illegitimate births. Congress argues that healthcare "reform" isn't a tax and then hails the Supreme Court for upholding the law as part of Congress' taxing authority.

Roger Clemens threw 143 wild pitches during his career. But if government lies were scored as wild pitches, Washington has far outpaced Clemens. So, will taxpayers continue tolerating such legislative "chin music?" Or will we "charge the mound" come November?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hopefully, the Obama camp is right about Romney

Obama's latest campaign strategy, outlined by White House advisor David Plouffe, is rather baffling. The goal is to depict Mitt Romney as the Republican Party's most conservative nominee since Barry Goldwater. Apparently, the Obama camp has forgotten Ronald Reagan. That's especially ironic considering that Democrats gave Reagan's conservatism its greatest confirmation. What better proof of a man's conservative credentials can exist than for leftists to call him a racist warmonger who hates the poor? Liberals called Reagan all of that and more.

In all fairness to President Obama, he has expended so much energy attempting to rewrite and co-opt Reagan's legacy that he may not recognize the real "Gipper." That's the problem with political spin; you eventually lose sight of the actual truth. It may be debated whether the Obama camp believes its nonsense or is just tossing about a ridiculous premise in hope of hitting upon a political advantage. But there's no question they've missed the point of Reagan's presidency and the reason for his popularity.

Reagan's ease behind the microphone is legendary. His title of "Great Communicator" wasn't bestowed; it was earned. But Reagan's oratorical skills weren't rooted in intellectual superlatives. That's today's political trend, where speakers adopt incomprehensible positions on every conceivable issue until it's impossible to determine what they actually believe about anything. Reagan didn't have that problem, although he was well-versed on intricate domestic and foreign policy issues. Reagan succeeded because he presented a clear message that resonated with his audience. 

Ronald Reagan refused to complicate the simple. Rather he stayed committed to three key themes: economic growth, America's image, and opposing communism. He never struggled with his message because he spoke from those core convictions, which recognized his audience's desires above his own.

Reagan wanted America to regain its economic confidence, which produces growth. He accomplished that goal. Yet he was no magician; he didn't rely on sleight of hand and favorable media coverage to create jobs and boost the GDP. Reagan didn't worry about convincing the media or his Washington colleagues that he was right; he convinced the American people that he believed we were right. He developed a rapport with the public that forced even ardent political adversaries to coalesce to some extent. Reagan bet on the entrepreneurial spirit rather than on the political manure. It was a winning hand . . . twice.

Reagan recognized and appreciated America's desire for national pride. The Vietnam War, a deteriorating military preparedness, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and a long economic malaise had taken a toll on America's confidence and prestige. His military initiatives represented an approach to national defense that everyone, friend and foe, could understand. Reagan's "peace through strength" doctrine allowed him to take a stand when necessary and walk away when practical.

Communism is invariably immoral and wholly incompatible with liberty. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the Soviet Union, which Reagan rightly recognized as the evil empire. Simply put, communism is political bullying, and years of backing down to Soviet bullying had weakened America. The Soviet leaders soon learned that Reagan differed from his predecessors. He was determined to prove to the USSR, the world, and America itself that endless supplication was no longer an option.

That's not to say that Reagan was a stubborn mule. But he saw no reason to hamstring America with one-sided arms treaties that banned our revolutionary defense systems while requiring the Russians to abandon only their obsolete technologies. Moscow threatened war over plans to deploy Pershing missiles in Europe. Reagan called their bluff. The Soviets huffed, puffed, and snarled, then folded their hand. Their harsh façade was irreparably compromised. 

You'll seldom find me supporting an Obama initiative. But he has, albeit unwittingly, given Mitt Romney a solid campaign strategy. Conservatives should hope the Obama camp is 100-percent correct and Mitt Romney is the most conservative Republican presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater. Mitt can determine his own three core themes. But sincere conservatism carried Reagan to two landside victories. There's no reason it won't work for Romney, too, if he's willing to embrace it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The odds are against John Edwards' rehabilitation

The justice system is apparently through with John Edwards. But according to the former Senator and presidential candidate, God isn't. If the Almighty needs a helping hand, Edwards -- the legal albatross removed from his neck -- is ready to help. He began rehabilitating his image the minute his trial concluded, vowing his devotion to selfless charity on behalf of the children. And then there's the one about Little Red Riding Hood.

I'm not saying Edwards is beyond redemption. Numerous people with checkered histories have undergone radical transformations. Norma McCorvey comes to mind, as does Shelley Lubben. Neither woman may come up for sainthood. However, their behavioral change is exemplified in their actions. John Edwards is just shoveling the same manure that liberals shovel each time they need a public relations boost: God, children, and poverty. In the aftermath of his acquittal, Edwards seems determined to confirm everyone's worst suspicions about him.

Frankly, trying John Edwards for corruption was a redundancy. No sworn witness or jury conviction was necessary to understand this man. We needed no testimony from the equally corrupt Andrew Young. John Edwards' entire political career confirms his turpitude.

Edwards entered the political scene with a "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific" coiffure and a smile worthy of the seediest used-car salesman. He built his platform on a "Two Americas" class envy theme so seasoned with nanny state hogwash that it would've made Lyndon Johnson barf. Edwards presented himself as a "stand by your woman" man. Yet he used his wife and her illness to gain public sympathy, and its related contributions, for his presidential bid. Behind the scenes he was committing the "Big A" with campaign staffer Rielle Hunter. He then blamed Rielle's pregnancy on an associate whose moral compass was no more dependable than his own. Oh, and he conned a naive old hag into paying his hush money.

Edwards is corrupt whether he broke the law or not. Anyone who failed to recognize his lack of character must've spent the last decade with their eyes closed. Edwards is a world class narcissist and first rate con artist. But alas, so are many politicians. Retrying him would prove as wasteful of time and resources as it is uninteresting.

However, it will be interesting to see how far "progressive" media hacks will go to aid Edward's rehabilitation. You have to know they'll feign and fawn over this swine at the first opportunity. Let Edwards hand a lollipop to one poor child while blaming Republicans for defunding the federal free lollipop program and we'll be inundated with stories about how this charlatan has reformed his image. In typical liberal fashion, Edwards will seek redemption in phony charitableness while contributing nothing of his own.

God might indeed mend John Edwards. They say He moves in mysterious ways. But politicians move in predictable ways. I'll wager that John Edwards remains more concerned with cultivating a persona that plays well in the media than stabilizing his personal integrity. Place your bets.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The lynching of George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman's public image took a blow when a judge revoked his bond, alleging that Zimmerman willfully misled the court concerning his financial situation. The fact that he's back in jail makes him appear guilty in the publics' eye, and that's what matters. Whether or not Zimmerman mislead the court is immaterial. In fact, his guilt or innocence is immaterial. His trial has transcended justice; it's now about capitalizing on opportunity.

Zimmerman has maintained since day one that Trayvon Martin instigated their fatal confrontation. Zimmerman's various injuries coupled with autopsy results revealing Martin's injured knuckles tend to support his story. That evidence might be the reason he wasn't charged immediately after the shooting. Yet he remains guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of many, including the federal government and national media. 

Could there be an orchestrated campaign between government and media entities to see this man imprisoned, or even executed? While Florida pursues the former, the federal government engages the later, all while the media circus cheers them on. Despite the physical evidence of which we're aware, an apparent lack of credible witnesses on either side of the case, and expert legal opinion belittling Florida's case against Zimmerman, the FBI has launched a hate crime investigation against him. And it could stick.

We might logically believe the Fifth Amendment's protection against double jeopardy would compel the Justice Department to abandon the case if Zimmerman is acquitted. Not necessarily. According to Cleveland State Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich, Supreme Court precedent has established a narrow threshold for claiming double jeopardy. “The double jeopardy clause would not prohibit a federal prosecution of Mr. Zimmerman, even if he were acquitted in Florida state court," Prof. Rich states, although he believes the likelihood of federal prosecution following a state acquittal is small.

However, FBI involvement means Department of Justice involvement, which in turn means Eric Holder involvement. Mr. Holder's idea of judicial impartiality is, shall we say, conflicted.

Under Holder's management the Justice Department engaged in a gun-running operation that if done privately would've sent all involved parties to the darkest of prisons. Imagine you or I being caught smuggling weapons to Mexican drug lords and coercing legitimate domestic firearms dealers to participate. And Holder's disregard for justice doesn't end there, nor does the media's capitulation.

Not content to simply ignore the New Black Panther's voter intimidation efforts, Holder closed the ongoing investigation. Neither he nor his predecessor investigated a hate crime when five blacks kidnapped, raped, tortured, murdered, and mutilated Channon Christian and Christopher Newsome. There was no national outrage and no political speechifying. Their brutal deaths barely registered with the national media.

For example, a search for "Channon Christian" on the New York Times website returned only 53 results, just three of which addressed the murdered woman. Two of those stories were duplicates and the third a synopsis of a television show that reviewed the crime. In other words, the New York Times ignored Channon Christian's death. Conversely, a "Trayvon Martin" search yields more than 4000 results.

A black mob attacked two white reporters in Norfolk, Virginia. Again, neither Holder nor the media showed interest. Not even the newspaper where the reporters worked reported the story. Four "minorities" beat a soldier in Tampa, Florida and the result is deafening silence. The Justice Department hasn't launched a hate crimes investigation and no civil rights leader has scheduled a march. 

What benefit exists in practicing selective justice and biased reporting? Why is black-on-white crime, like the Christian-Newsome murders, largely ignored while white-on-black crime is overhyped? It's no mere oversight. Since the "progressive" solution to every problem is more government, we can expect bureaucrats and leftist politicians to demagogue racial issues. The sympathetic press corps is content with being their cheerleaders. 

The odds of Zimmerman's exoneration are fading even as the evidence suggests his possible innocence. The Florida prosecutor may have intended to lose this case from the start. But the hate crime investigation and selective reporting from the national media serve to steer public opinion toward Zimmerman's guilt. If you dare question the prosecution or media reports, well, you're just a racist.

Whether or not Florida has overstated its case against George Zimmerman is still undetermined. He may be guilty as sin. But the federal government and its media lapdogs have engaged an agenda that transcends guilt or innocence. They've become co-conspirators in a quasi-lynching, which serves to affect not only the lynched party but anyone who questions the lynching or its motive. This trial is no longer about George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, or even about justice. The goal is to create distrust and animosity along racial, philosophical, and ideological lines. 

No matter how Zimmerman's trial plays out, whether he's convicted or acquitted, the left has achieved tactical victories. They've sown doubt regarding the right of an individual to protect life and limb. Each state's authority to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes occurring within its borders is compromised, which concentrates power in the central government. Racial tension and division increases, too, which invariably leads to less liberty.

The purpose of a lynching isn't to punish the accused ne'er-do-well. It's to intimidate anyone who shares characteristics or attitudes with the victim. George Zimmerman has been lynched no matter how his case is adjudicated. But the message behind the lynching isn't for him; it's for the rest of us.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Will she or won't she?

According to the savvy political observers, President Obama will dump Joe Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton. On the surface it seems a plausible strategy. Biden has all the flair of the Ford Pinto: pointless, ignorable, and prone to explode at inopportune times. He's a gaffe-a-minute sideshow who provides the Obama administration with all the style of a leisure suit. Hillary is the name brand; the erstwhile queen in waiting who could breathe life into a lackluster campaign.

If you'll recall, we heard similar speculation in 2004 concerning the Bush-Cheney ticket. It was all swirl eight years ago, just media-generated spin intended to create news where none existed. Likely as not, the "Dump Biden" theory is also spin. The probability of Hillary joining the Obama ticket can be assayed with a few simple questions. Is a change practical? Will it help the campaign? Would Hillary accept the position?

It sounds cliché, but when horses were the primary source of transportation it was considered imprudent to change mounts in midstream. If a change was necessary it was made before entering the river. Had Biden been removed from the ticket early in the race it might have been workable. Not now. Effective campaigns must present confidence. To shake-up the ticket at this point would undermine confidence. In fact, with the Republican challenger all but announced, a change on the Obama ticket would convey desperation.

The Vice President serves little purpose other than to make the presidential candidate look good. As long as Biden remains Biden, the "teleprompter President" can maintain his image as a comparatively great orator, a reasoned voice amid Biden's nuttiness. Therefore, from a strategic viewpoint, dumping Biden seems both senseless and impractical.

Adding Hillary to the ticket might solidify Obama's image with feminist voters, but few others. Ms. Clinton is only slightly right of Obama if not his equal. Let's not waste time recounting Hillary's youthful activism and questionable acquaintances. Most everyone has some embarrassing associations they can claim to have disavowed. Besides, we needn't revert to the Woodstock era to uncover Clinton's ideology. As First Lady, Ms. Clinton was a driving force for nationalized healthcare. She's an open proponent of wealth redistribution, especially when the raided coffers belong to the hated "Big Oil." Therefore, to say Hillary Clinton would moderate the Obama ticket is utter nonsense.

I’m not sold on this "Hillary is the world's smartest woman" bit, but she's no fool. The last thing she needs is to be linked to the scandal and ineptitude common to presidential second terms. There'll be no Democrat incumbent in the 2016 election. So, although Clinton will be 69 by then, she'll have the inside track to the nomination if she chooses to run. Being linked to a four-year disaster will sully her image and ruin her electability.

The obvious drawbacks of an Obama-Clinton ticket outweigh the perceived benefits. So, will she or won't she? She won't; not for all of the socialism in Western Europe.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I-95 runs both ways, Mayor Bloomberg

During a commencement speech at UNC-Chapel Hill, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a shot at North Carolina voters for having passed Amendment One, which amended the state's constitution to recognize marriage as a male-female relationship. Bloomberg believes North Carolina singlehandedly proved how many a mile the civil rights march has yet to trudge. But it was Bloomberg who displayed a level of ignorance exceeded only by his colossal hypocrisy.

Considering that Newsweek recently
created our first gay president from whole cloth, Bloomberg might have been trying to score political points with the media. But he scored no points for integrity. If Bloomberg truly believes North Carolina voters dealt civil rights a setback, he would've condemned voters in 39 other states for previously passing similar laws and constitutional amendments. That list includes traditionally leftist states like Illinois, Hawaii, and Michigan. Even California voters twice passed laws preventing state recognition of same-sex marriage.

It's more likely Bloomberg was preaching to the ignorant hayseeds, hillbillies, and assorted bumpkins who call this allegedly backward Southern state their home. Being from New York City, he just couldn't resist telling the rednecks how things are done "up North." However, rather than displaying his intellect and tolerance, Bloomberg unveiled his utter contempt for the concepts of a constitutional republic.

In a perfect world, marriage would be the religious community's exclusive territory, free from government in all forms. But we don't live in a perfect world. So defining marriage is left to the best available option. Under that premise, marriage law is a state's rights issues. The U.S. Constitution delegates no authority over marriage to the central government, nor does it prohibit states from assuming that authority. Therefore, the Tenth Amendment reserves any government involvement in marriage to the states and the people.

Each state can unilaterally address homosexual marriage as its voters see fit, either through ballot referendum or their representative bodies. That's the beauty of a constitutional republic, wherein powers are decentralized and states enjoy wide autonomy in determining their own governance. If someone finds the statutory climate in their current state unbearable they're free to move to another state where their values are more accurately reflected.

Bloomberg also faces conflict on another front. While the U.S. Constitution is totally silent on marriage, it's far from silent on the right to bear arms. In fact, the restriction on restricting access to firearms isn't limited to Congress alone; the Second Amendment is uninfringeable at any level. Yet Bloomberg, a man professing concern for civil rights, is one of the most vehement anti-gun politicians on the North American continent.

Michael Bloomberg is a man fully consumed with his own importance. As such, he fails to realize that North Carolina's voters really don't care what he thinks about their state's business or how he does things "up North." As the old Southern adage holds, I-95 funs both ways, Mike. Find the on-ramp nearest you, and good riddance.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Time cover reveals more than a nursing mom

Time magazine was once a driving force in world opinion. Today it resorts to stunts to boost circulation. Thus we have a story about "extreme parenting" with a cover photo of a young mother breastfeeding a three-year-old boy. While the Time cover photo has been analyzed from myriad viewpoints, one aspect has been overlooked. The cover introduces us to more than just attachment parenting, it exposes a contemporary, in-your-face brand of breastfeeding that would make grandma hide in the closet.

"People have to realize this is biologically normal," the Time cover model said. "The more people see it, the more it'll become normal in our culture. That's what I'm hoping. I want people to see it."

This particular mother has adopted the militant's aggressive brand of activism. There's no room for civil discourse, debate, or even hostile argument. There's only room for her agenda, which desensitizes society until it conforms to her views. She represents the unbelievable, the radicalization of breastfeeding. Lactivists, as they're called, are transforming breastfeeding into a public spectacle on par with an anti-war protest or a Jesse Jackson march. Not content to nurse their children according to their own consciences, lactivist moms demand not only acceptance of their decision to breastfeed but also public approval to nurse anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances.

Lactivist outrage is expressed through "nurse-ins" aimed at businesses and public accommodations that ask them to cover their breasts, nurse discreetly, or remove to less conspicuous areas. Lactivists find such requests an infringement on their rights. For instance, lactivists staged a nurse-in at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum after staff asked a mother to exercise modesty while nursing her child. Upset over restrictions that prohibit exposed breasts on Facebook, nurse-ins targeted the social media giant's offices in various cities across the country.

More examples of breastfeeding militancy are readily available. But lactivism can be summarized in Katie Hamilton's attitude. When staff at a Los Angeles museum, acting on another patron's request, asked Katie to cover her breast she responded, "It doesn't matter. That patron can look away. I have rights." That's not the attitude of maternal tenderness; it's selfish, irresponsible, and confrontational.

Before the next nurse-in occurs in my front yard, let me state that I'm in favor of breastfeeding. I was breastfed, as were my two children. Mother’s milk contains the requisite vitamins and proteins for proper infant development. It's non-allergenic, and since the mother’s antibodies are transferred through the milk it protects infants against various diseases and infections. Breastfeeding is also believed to reduce the risk of certain cancers in both the mother and infant. What's more, breastfeeding makes diaper changes more tolerable. There’s no doubt that nursing is a natural and wise choice for feeding a baby.

However, lactating moms should realize that public places aren't their sole domain. There are other people in the public sphere as well, and they also have rights. Decorum remains relevant despite modernity's best efforts to antiquate it. Mothers who want their children to enjoy the benefits of breast milk can accomplish that task without a combative attitude. There's no reason children can't be nursed discreetly with respect to cultural modesty. 

Mothers know when they’ll be in public places for extended periods and enjoy several options for providing breast milk to their children. Electric breast pumps can be bought for under $50. Fill a few bottles and store them. Breast milk remains fresh for up to eight hours at room temperature and 24 hours in a cooler bag, and it's easily warmed. Does it really burden mom to heat the bottle under warm tap water? And why not use a nursing blanket? While lactivists accurately describe nursing as an intimate act between mother and child, intimacy demands privacy above openness. It's unlikely that most people will have a problem with tasteful public nursing. But those same people just might take issue with the hooray-for-me-and-to-hell-with-you lactivist.

The nature of any protest prompts the curious mind to question the activists' fundamental motives. In the lactivists' case it is apparent that the activism outweighs all other factors. Lactivism isn’t about nursing babies, for there are many ways to breastfeed babies in public without drawing attention to the activity. Lactivists have co-opted the natural and wholly inoffensive act of breastfeeding to garner attention for their alleged cause. It's a case study in militancy. 

I have no qualm with women who modestly nurse their babies in public. Exploitation is the issue. Lactivist moms at public nurse-ins expose far more than their breasts; they expose a self-promoting agenda. The attitude driving militant lactivism brings greater dishonor to breastfeeding than the occasional exposed mammary can produce prudish offence.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

All corporations aren't created equal

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." What about corporations? Apparently, some corporations are more equal than others, or perhaps some are "people" whereas others aren't. It depends on how an individual corporation's political twig is bent.

A federal judge recently issued an injunction against a Texas law that barred public funding of clinics that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood is a chief plaintiff in the case, which only makes sense. According to Planned Parenthood's figures, the federation performed 329,445 abortions in 2010, an increase of 25,135 over 2007 and an average of 902 per day. In all, 56-percent of the unintended pregnancies the organization claims to have prevented in 2010 ended on the abortion table. Planned Parenthood clinics, it would certainly seem, run afoul of the Texas law's funding restrictions.

However, abortion isn't the issue for this column. The eight clinics involved in the lawsuit do not perform abortions, at least not on site. The issue is Planned Parenthood's legal argument against the Texas law. The organization alleges that its free speech has been abridged, and there can be no more perfect example of modern liberalism. Isn't it the left that decries corporate free speech and personhood?

You might recall the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. When the Court ruled that corporations are legally protected under the First Amendment's free speech provision the left cut flips. It represented a gross violation of justice to define corporations as "people" capable of exercising free political speech, or free speech in general. Where is that anger now? The left isn't criticizing Planned Parenthood for asserting its corporate citizenship and free speech rights. 

What is Planned Parenthood if not a corporation? Search Planned Parenthood's websites; you'll find the federation repeatedly identified as "incorporated." Articles of incorporation for Planned Parenthood regional affiliates are available online. There's no questioning Planned Parenthood's incorporated status, just as there's no questioning its liberal political alignment. Yet we're to believe liberals can't abide the thought of corporations exercising free speech. As is common to liberalism, we have a contradiction.

If this were an isolated incident we might let it slide. But Planned Parenthood isn't alone. Colleges and universities, among the most liberal of all institutions, incorporate for various purposes. Stanford University formed a corporation to manage its on-campus faculty housing. Harvard University operates a financial investment corporation that manages funds to satisfy research and educational necessities. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros are all party to numerous corporations. Not one of those people or institutions can be called conservative.

Apparently, liberals don't view all corporations as created equal. Some corporations are capable of exercising free speech, determining their own expenditures, and behaving in an approved way. But acceptable corporate personhood is based not on equal protection but ideological alignment. Now we're left with one lingering question: do liberals suffer from "corporaphobia," or are they just being two-faced?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dealing with racial slurs the NHL way

Most people look to the South whenever a case of racial intolerance makes headlines. While that stereotype isn't unfounded, the days when black Southerners -- and black Americans overall -- were legally relegated to second-class status are gone. Our black countrymen can come and go as they please, even attending NASCAR races at Talladega, Alabama. But what about hockey games in Boston, Massachusetts?

Admittedly, ice hockey isn't the toughest sports ticket in the black community, yet there are black hockey fans. So it's likely that some black fans were inside the Boston Garden for Game Seven between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins. No problem, right? Right, until a black Capitals player netted the series-winning goal. The racial slurs then flowed like mint juleps on an antebellum Old South plantation.

To say that some Bruins fans didn't gracefully accept their team's early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs is an understatement. In fact, disgruntled Boston fans transformed Twitter into a cesspool of boorish
commentary. Now, a few sore losers don't mean all Bostonians are card-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan. However, the presence of racial slurs in Boston, a stronghold of liberalism, does prove that bigotry doesn't come with a "Made in Dixie" label.

The question isn't whether racial slurs are still part of the national lexicon, or in what part of the country they're most common. The question is what type of response racial slurs demand? Are more hate-crime laws the answer? Should the First Amendment be sacrificed to bureaucratic speech police? Maybe we should just emulate Joel Ward?

Who is Joel Ward? He's the black player who scored the Capitals winning goal. He bore the wrath of immature Boston fans. He's also my favorite hockey player, even though I'd never heard of him before this incident unfolded and know nothing about ice hockey. To me, a hockey broadcast makes as much sense as the evening news from the dark side of the moon. Joel Ward, conversely, makes perfect sense.

Ward was initially stunned by the demeaning tweets, which is understandable. But he didn't book a performance of the Jackson and Sharpton Three-ring Civil Rights Circus. He didn't blame history, slavery, or the daily stress of being a black player in a mostly white sport, a feeling with which white
NBA players can certainly empathize. Instead, Ward simply said, "It has no effect on me whatsoever."

A single statement can't fully define Joel Ward's character. It doesn't divulge his politics, his devotion to family, his charitableness, or if he eats all of his vegetables. It can, however, define his courage and confidence. Joel Ward refused to let a few thoughtless blowhards determine his worth. He dealt with their ignorance in an exemplary manner; a manner that people of all races should adopt as their own.

Successful bigotry -- an oxymoron, I know -- hinges on the ability to diminish another person's pride and self-confidence. When bigoted remarks prompt anger or offense, the bigot has gained the advantage. For instance, had Ward reacted rashly, or threatened retaliation, he would've granted Boston's bigots the sense of accomplishment they sought. Effective defamation demands its victims respond in equal thoughtlessness and hostility. When Ward dismissed the racial slurs he denied his antagonists the satisfaction of having provoked his ire. Here's the score: Joel Ward 1 Boston Bigots 0.

Joel Ward's words were simple, but the lesson within them is profound. When we yield to bigoted opinion we grant power to the bigot. Rather than reacting with anger or hurt feelings we should dismiss baseless accusations, thereby relegating our detractors to an inferior intellectual status. That's what Joel Ward did. He refused to empower his antagonists, proving that their views of him and his racial heritage meant nothing.

We'll never rid the world of bigotry and its associated slurs. That's a pipe dream reserved for Utopian fantasizers. But if all races dismissed racial slurs with the same confidence Joel Ward exhibited we could reduce their effectiveness and frequency. We might even "form a more perfect union."

A version of this column first appeared at American Thinker.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Zimmerman Conspiracy

So George Zimmerman is going to trial, where a jury will decide what actually happened between him and Trayvon Martin. Until the trial is finished mulish minds on both sides will cling to their predetermined versions of the truth. Such devout passions deserve their own conspiracy.

Generally, conspiracy theories represent easy explanations for otherwise unexplainable events, or they promote a political agenda. Thus we have "Truthers," "Birthers," and tyrannical secret societies propagated by the Illuminati. However, just because most conspiracies are built on fluff rather than substance doesn't entirely discount the reality of conspiracies. We're witnessing one in Sanford, Florida.

Trayvon Martin's life was unquestionably squandered, whether Zimmerman is innocent or guilty. That's the singular point upon which all sides should agree; after that the facts are muddled. So let's focus on the conspiracy rather than on rehashing divergent and unsubstantiated opinions. Doesn't it seem odd for a prosecutor to file a second-degree murder charge after the initial investigation produced no such evidence? Why would an experienced prosecutor take such a stance?

Bear in mind that I'm not raising this question; it's the question respected legal experts have asked since photographic evidence was revealed that supports Zimmerman's story. What did the prosecution know concerning those photos prior to filing the murder charge?

According to Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman is "so thin it won't make it past a judge . . . everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense." Dershowitz also said the prosecution committed a "grave ethical violation" if the photos were known prior to filing the affidavit.

Mr. Dershowitz continued, "The whole country is watching. What do they benefit from having half-truths in an affidavit?"

I won't pretend to instruct Mr. Dershowitz on the finer points of law. However, I will argue politics to a certain degree. And politics has forged public opinion about George Zimmerman from the outset. Therefore the State benefits greatly from filing a second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman . . . if the evidence confirms he acted in self-defense.

Consider what a powder keg this case has been since day one. Zimmerman and his family have been threatened. Race hustlers accused the Sanford Police Department of a quasi-lynching and subsequent cover-up. Protesters demanded not only Zimmerman's arrest but his conviction. The New Black Panthers placed a bounty on Zimmerman and the pros and cons of self-defense and gun control laws have been argued. The product of these variables is division and potential civil unrest, which truly benefits no one.

The prosecution found itself in a tight spot. There was a need to placate the mob mentality and avoid potential riots while also protecting the rights of the accused and of self-defense. What could be a better solution than filing a tough-on-crime charge that can't produce a conviction? The mob's call for justice is answered without taking a chance on imprisoning an innocent defendant or compromising the right of self-defense.

It's a tidy conspiracy. Any takers?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Minister Farrakhan, the human conch shell

Most people believe you can hear the ocean roar if you place a conch shell to your ear. I've always thought the sound was more like a steady and annoying wind, the kind that blows endlessly in no particular direction. When you think about it in that light, Louis Farrakhan is quite like a conch shell. If you placed his head to your ear you'd likely hear the same sound. 

Farrakhan, never a stranger to controversy, created quite a stir with his recent ramblings about people killing their leaders, about Jesus, David, and Solomon -- all Hebrews -- being African, and about Jesus himself being a Muslim despite having preceding Mohammad by six centuries. It's rhetorical flamboyance extraordinaire, but coming from Farrakhan it's not surprising. For him to utter an odd word here and there is more the rule than the exception. However, even Farrakhan can exceed his own high standard for balderdash, and this is one of those times.

Sure, Farrakhan's remarks warranted a certain amount of outrage. However, his greatest offense was his ignorance of, or absolute disregard for, reality. While defending his claim that Jesus was a black man -- Jesus was a Jew and neither white nor black -- Farrakhan said, "You are not trained to accept wisdom from a black person, no matter how wise that black person is."

Oh Louis, how can you, a single man, be so wrong?

There are people who readily accept wisdom from black people. We call them conservatives. In fact, I would argue that a conservative's pursuit of wisdom transcends the racial and ethnic spectrum. However, there's a catch. Since the goal is to gain understanding, conservatives will ignore fools, henceforth defined as anyone who makes Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton appear levelheaded. Mr. Farrakhan does just that, which is why he's routinely dismissed as a certified nutcase.

How can Farrakhan lodge such a charge when he himself ignores wise individuals who share his racial heritage but shun his divisive political ideology? For example, does Farrakhan accept wisdom from syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams? Does he read Thomas Sowell, a black man whose wisdom propels him to write editorials, scholarly essays, and books as easily as most of us tie our shoes? Does Farrakhan seek the wisdom of former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts, or Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or Shelby Steele, or Kevin Jackson, or Star Parker?

While Farrakhan undeniably harbors delusions of intellectual grandeur and fancies himself a serious contributor to public discourse, his charge is as laughable as it is false. Maybe this tirade resulted from Farrakhan's jealousy of black men and women who impart genuine wisdom with relative ease. But most likely his rhetoric results from a mind that exists in a vacuum, where the only sound is the steady and annoying wind that blows endlessly in no particular direction.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The real story behind "Hilary Rosen-gate"

Hilary Rosen's feud with Ann Romney is over. Yet we've seen once again how quick a proponent of a woman's right to choose will turn on another woman whose choice differs from liberal orthodoxy. Had Romney chosen to abort her five kids she'd have been Rosen's heroine rather than her target. The same can be said if Ann had shunned family for a career.

Rosen has since apologized, but not before receiving her own share of "scorn" for belittling Romney's family devotion. While liberal talking heads were spinning Rosen's inanity into a spoof of Republicans, Democrat strategists ran from her like she'd arrived at the Baptist picnic toting a bottle of Jack Daniels. Yet Rosen's offense wasn't her assessment of Ann Romney. Her actual faux pas arose when she said of the "Republican War on Women":

Well, first, can we just get rid of this word, “war on women”? The Obama campaign does not use it, President Obama does not use it—this is something that the Republicans are accusing people of using, but they’re actually the ones spreading it.

Unintentional error is excusable. But Rosen's false and illogical opinions weren't unintentional. No rational person believes Republicans would sabotage their standing with female voters by wrongly accusing themselves of waging war on women. To accept Rosen's accusation as fact, one must also accept that Emily's List and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) are members of some vast, right-wing cabal.

Emily's List has issued an endless stream of emails accusing "ultra-conservatives" of "attacking" the organization's preferred candidates, predominantly females. In a message dated March 23, 2012 Emily's List supported electing women to "stop the Republican War on Women in its tracks." On April 12 Emily's List claimed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had "taken the Republican War on Women and made it his personal crusade." The DCCC's director, Kathy Ward, issued a short message that mentioned "war on women" four times, concluding with, "Let's make Republicans regret they ever launched a War on Women." Even Vice President Biden, certainly a part of the Obama campaign, said, "I think the 'war on women' is real." 

Sorry Hilary; Republicans didn't create the "War on Women" theme and everyone knows it, including you. 

So the real issue in "Hilary Rosen-gate" wasn't Rosen's opinion of Ann Romney, as the pontificators have pontificated. It was her blatant lie. Why would she issue a statement so nonsensical, so fabricated, so refutable? There's a method to her madness. Rosen knows that large numbers of liberal voters will accept her story as the unmitigated gospel, never bothering to recognize or research the truth. Rosen was publicly pandering to a segment of her party's base.

It only appeared the Democrat Party had tossed Hilary Rosen under the bus. In baseball terminology she took one for the team. When the heat's off the Democrat hierarchy will reward her loyalty.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Factual error clouds the Zimmerman verdict

Factual error sounds like an oxymoron, similar to deafening silence, dark lamp, or definite maybe. However, a factual error isn't so much a matter of linguistic construction as of personal perception. Once error is accepted as fact there's little chance that evidence will change public opinion. Subsequent conclusions are then based on accounts that may or may not be accurate.

The George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin saga produced the perfect storm for factual error. An overzealous neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, pursued and killed an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman uttered a racial slur and based his assumptions of Martin's criminal intent on the youth's race. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law condones vigilante murder and Martin's hoodie made him a thug.

But each aforementioned fact contains a startling array of error. And each error could've been avoided simply by waiting for the story to fully develop.

NBC's creative editing of 911 tapes portrayed Zimmerman in a false light, and he apparently used no racial epithets to describe Martin. Wearing a hoodie in the warm Florida climate might be odd but doesn't necessarily convey dubious intent on Martin's part. "Stand Your Ground" laws recognize the basic right to counter an imminent threat, even with deadly force. Yet "Stand Your Ground" conveys no right, expressed or implied, to pursue or provoke someone who appears suspicious. Depending on who ultimately attacked whom, either Martin or Zimmerman could argue self-defense.

If Trayvon was innocent, then Zimmerman assailed, and eventually took, Martin's right to life, to liberty, and to pursue happiness. Would Trayvon not be correct in defending those rights? However, if Trayvon assaulted Zimmerman, as some accounts claim, then Zimmerman had every right to protect his life. At this point the public has just enough fact and just enough error to substantiate an emotional response, not to render a life-changing verdict.

I'm not suggesting the protests are baseless. In fact, they would be commendable if the intent was to prompt a more thorough investigation of Trayvon's death. But are the marches geared toward a verdict based on evidence, one way or the other? Not at all; their demand is George Zimmerman's conviction. Therefore the justice marches are undeniably conflicted. While angry that Zimmerman allegedly denied Trayvon Martin his right to life and liberty without due cause, they're demanding George Zimmerman be treated likewise, convicted regardless the evidence. Protestors are practicing mob rule, which has no place in legitimate jurisprudence.

Zimmerman has now been charged. If the evidence warrants, convict him. But he shouldn't be arrested, much less convicted, because street mobs have predetermined his guilt. He shouldn't be prosecuted to appease Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. He shouldn't be imprisoned because racists seek retribution on their own terms. Zimmerman is assumed innocent until the State proves his guilt; Zimmerman himself needn't prove a thing.

Trayvon's supporters have made a trustworthy verdict improbable, perhaps unattainable. Due to reliance on factual error the case against Zimmerman has been so politicized that no one will be satisfied with its conclusion. Seating an impartial jury of Zimmerman's peers will prove difficult at best, and confidence in the subsequent proceedings will be minimal. The possibility of a fair trial is in doubt, as is the probability that the mobs will accept Zimmerman's possible exoneration.

No one knows what happened between Zimmerman and Martin. Perhaps an overzealous Zimmerman doggedly pursued an imaginary problem in Martin, belying his self-defense claim. Maybe Martin assaulted Zimmerman, posing an imminent threat to his life and limb, which places Zimmerman in the right. Had cooler heads prevailed from the outset we might have hard evidence on whether Zimmerman acted defensively, and thus correctly, or offensively, and thus criminally. Instead we have a situation where the end result, whatever it may be, will prove nothing. If Zimmerman is convicted it will appear that he was sacrificed to placate the mob mentality and subsequent unrest it portends. Should Zimmerman be acquitted, institutional racism will be blamed for exonerating an innocent black teenager's murderer.

There is one certainty in all this uncertainty. Zimmerman's trial will produce neither racial unity nor cohesion. It'll only fuel the people who profit from inflaming racial tensions, as have previous cases. We could've avoided this circus had we refrained from forming initial judgments based on factual errors. We're in good position to gain wisdom that will help us better address such future situations. But chances are we'll just end up offended.