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.

Racism with a side of fries

Ever wonder how a post-racial America might look? Well, keep wondering. Not only is racism a perpetual human flaw common to all races, but some people will find it when it needn't be sought. They'll look where it's least expected, where no normal person would notice, where Burger King filmed a commercial with Mary J. Blige.

Burger King hired Blige to hawk their chicken tenders, and judging from the hostile reception the ad received you'd have thought the script called for Blige to sing Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground. The indignation flowed like honey mustard.

Madame Noire, a website dedicated to black women, called the ad "unsettling" and stereotypical buffoonery. One pundit charged Burger King with manipulating a black woman to sell chicken: "Because God knows black folk won’t buy anything unless there’s a song, and preferably a dance, attached to it.” Another wrote, "To see her (Blige) sing for chicken is jarring.”

The second claim is utter nonsense. Only an idiot would believe Mary J. Blige sang for chicken. I'll bet she sang for money, and lots of it. Good for her. But the "unsettling" affect, the stereotyping, the idea of "black folk" shunning any product not tied to a song or dance, that's a little trickier.

Granted, the comment about singing and dancing was offered in sarcasm, which I can appreciate to a point. But the days when a blackface minstrel chowing on chicken and watermelon was considered an accurate portrayal of the average black person are long gone. While BK's ad was silly, silliness isn't racism. The only thing the BK-Blige combo should insult is our intelligence.

Had Mary uttered a line such as, "Dis' here chicken sho' do taste mighty fine," the outrage among Madame Noire bloggers might be understandable. But for Pete's sake, take a walk on the real side. Today's black Americans are multi-millionaire athletes, actors and actresses, and performers of various kinds, like Mary J. Blige. They're business leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and -- dare I say? -- President. Blige simply used her status and stardom to make a buck. Big deal! Why, in 21st Century America, can't a black woman advertise chicken, or anything else, without self-serving hacks taking umbrage?

Not all Madam Noire bloggers found offense in the ad. Yet the ad remained racist. Just the anticipation of racism, it would seem, causes fear of racism among blacks. But if merely anticipating the possibility of racism constitutes racism, how then can any person interact with another race? Whatever is said or done becomes racism if an aggrieved party perceives it so. Harmony can't exist under such circumstances. But resentment can, and it will.

Both Burger King and Blige have since apologized for the ad, which Burger King has pulled. But the people who should apologize are those who created this issue from nothing. Racial divisiveness won't end as long as publicity hogs profit from stirring up strife.

Government isn't the Creator of rights

Whether a politician's words constitute a flagrant faux pas or innocent slip of the tongue often depends on the offender's party affiliation. Democrats can commit untimely gaffes with relative impunity. But for Republicans to utter supposed misstatements is proof-positive that conservatives are knuckle-draggers. By some opinions Rick Santorum committed such a verbal error while countering claims that government mandated healthcare is a fundamental right.

"Rights come from our creator," Santorum declared. "They are protected by the Constitution of this country. Rights should not and cannot be created by a government because any time a government creates a right, they can take that right away."

Think what you will about Rick Santorum, his record, and his future prospects. But his transgression wasn't inaccuracy. His sin was daring to challenge the fundamental leftist idea that rights originate in government.

To assume human liberties, defined as rights, are products of government is illogical. Since government produces nothing of its own accord, and therefore possesses nothing, it can only distribute what it first takes. Government can bestow retractable privileges but not inalienable rights. For example, governments issue the driver's license, which is considered a privilege. As such, governments can disperse the driver's license on their terms, according to their will, or revoke the privilege altogether. A veritable right is quite different.

Genuine rights are inalienable and self-evident. A right exists without government permission and no expert translation is necessary to understand its presence. Rational people instinctively understand their rights and how government incursions weaken their liberties. So to recognize the Creator as the source of liberty is entirely sensible. What a Creator has granted no government can retract. Government may ignore a right, a too common occurrence, but the right still exists for those who will undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

The media is government's willing accomplice in undermining rights and liberties. In fact, the two are working overtime to subvert our natural right to determine our own happiness, and they're rewriting our foundational history in the process. In the news story on Santorum's supposed misstatement, the reporter promotes the idea that government can bestow rights, claiming that men placed our rights in our Constitution. That reporter is either ignorant or an ideological puppet.

The Founders never claimed to have invented or granted the rights in the Constitution; they wrote so as to recognize preexisting rights and to protect them from government abuse. The Constitution's purpose wasn't to enumerate each individual liberty common to free people. Rather it was to restrain government from trampling not only identified rights but any others that naturally exist. In order to establish a workable government while maintaining inalienable rights and liberties, the Founders had to recognize the source of rights as beyond government's ability.

While big government advocates often belittle the idea that rights are natural, dismissing it as the theocratic ramblings of Christian fundamentalists, their argument is not with our Creator alone. It's also with the Founding Fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson. The man most credited with resisting an American theocracy also believed rights emanated from a higher source than human government. In his most obvious reference, found in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson readily acknowledged the Creator's work in mankind's inalienable rights. Furthermore, and equally damaging to big government proponents, Jefferson recognized this truth as "self-evident." He obviously believed basic rights originated outside of human government and were recognizable without its bureaucratic analysis. And lest we assume Jefferson's positions in the Declaration were isolated, he left other references to confirm his view.

In A View on the Rights of British America Jefferson again declared rights as self-evident and outside the so-called generosity of governments. Jefferson knew that a free people would recognize rights as coming from nature's laws, "and not as the gift of their chief magistrate." As in the Declaration, Jefferson confirmed his belief that the principles of right and wrong were obvious to any reasonable observer: "to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors."

Jefferson believed people instinctively understood their rights and the roots thereof. However, to remove any lingering concerns about government's authority to grant or revoke rights let's again seek guidance from Rights: "The God, who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."

Possessing our rights is as natural as taking our next breaths. To have life is to possess rights. Government, Jefferson's "hand of force", can refuse to acknowledge our rights even to the point of destroying both us and our ability to exercise liberty. But it cannot separate one from the other; life and liberty are mutually inclusive. To take one is to take both.

Rights exist whether or not a standing government is sympathetic to their presence. Santorum's critics should then save their breath. The idea of a Creator granting our liberty is radical only in the minds of tyrants and slaves. It is, however, well within the Founding Father's thoughts on the relationship between life and liberty, between citizens and governments.

The preceeding column first appeared on American Thinker.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Supreme Incompetency on the High Court

A Supreme Court justice should present an image of intelligence, competence, and wisdom. Such qualities identify sound judgment and inspire public trust. But two of SCOTUS's "progressive" purists have sullied that image. In fact, we might wonder if a grasp on reality remains requisite for a seat on the high bench.

During ObamaCare arguments Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, "What's wrong with leaving this in the hands of those who should be fixing it?"

Were Sotomayor referring to the free market, which has been all but removed from the healthcare industry, we could admire her insight. But when we understand that she's referring to Congress, we must question her loyalty to, and understanding of, our Constitution. We might even question her sanity.

The U.S. Constitution doesn't grant Congress the power to force citizens to purchase anything, including health insurance. Such federal power is neither expressed nor implied, therefore it doesn't exist. But even if Congress were authorized to provide, manage, or mandate health insurance, who in their right mind would defer to Congress' wisdom?

The Congress that passed ObamaCare, to which Sotomayor would defer, was under Nancy Pelosi's direction, and Pelosi is contradiction personified. She recently told reporters that her Congress "wrote our bill [the Affordable Care Act] in a way that was Constitutional." That's beyond unbelievable, coming from the person who said ObamaCare must pass so we could discover what the bill contained. It's even more unbelievable when we consider that this same Nancy Pelosi piously dismissed a reporter's concern about Congress' constitutional authority to enact ObamaCare. And yet Sotomayor trusts Congress, which has proven inept at nearly every subject it addresses, to correct problems within the healthcare industry? That's psychotic.

If Sotomayor's views were isolated, or represented a worst case example of judicial reasoning, we might dismiss them out of hand. But her opinions are neither isolated nor a worst case scenario. Justice Elena Kagan upped the ante. One of the key arguments against ObamaCare is its coercive nature, to which Kagan responded, "Why is a big gift from the federal government a matter of coercion?"

Kagan possesses, at best, a warped appreciation for giving. A gift is, by definition, free. ObamaCare isn't free. The cost may be reflected in mandates, fines, or coverage for the uninsured, but ObamaCare carries an unavoidable price. State governments, insurers, medical professionals, and individuals must absorb the cost of Obama's supposed gift while navigating the regulatory maze the requisite bureaucracy will create. A gift with such strings attached is better left unwrapped.

Because Sotomayor and Kagan are Supreme Court justices their opinions, however incredulous, are granted credibility. It needn't be so. Ronald Reagan warned us, "Don't be afraid to see what you see." While both Sotomayor and Kagan are educated, education doesn't invariably grant wisdom to its possessor. When we hear Sotomayor and Kagan speak on ObamaCare's constitutionality and benefit, let us not be afraid to see their incompetency and the threat to liberty it represents.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lights, camera, Sharpton!

The classic image of the Hollywood movie set features a gruff director -- wearing a beret and chomping a cigar -- bellowing, "Lights, camera, action!" The actors then perform their roles. In Sanford, Florida the director might shout, "Lights, camera, Sharpton!"

Although Al Sharpton is a devout blowhard, let's give the devil his due. Whenever there's race to hustle or cameras to hog, he never misses his cue. In the wake of Trayvon Martin's untimely demise, Sharpton delivered a
timeless line to the teen's parents: "they will try to make your son a junkie, thief, assaulter, everything else before this is over."

It's theatrical history, Mr. Sharpton starring in a role for which he's uniquely qualified, dividing public opinion. His concern over that fateful night when one life ended and another was forever altered is purely professional. Sharpton is an actor, a caped civil rights crusader manipulating Trayvon's death to build his own street cred. It's a role he's played many times over.

Remember the Duke Lacrosse case, when white lacrosse players were accused of raping Crystal Mangum, a black stripper? Al Sharpton declared the accused guilty without a shred of substantiating evidence. Rich, powerful, white men had abused a vulnerable black woman, as if the scene had played out on an 18th Century southern plantation. Anyone who questioned Mangum's story was racist, sexist, and probably a few other things.

There was only one problem. Mangum wasn't a victim; she was a lying
fraud. Ensuing scenes found her convicted of child abuse and charged with the stabbing death of her boyfriend. But before Mangum's story reached its ugly climax Sharpton had long since left the stage.

Sharpton played a similar role in Louisiana's Jena Six case. The script reverberated with racial injustice when Mychal Bell was arrested for beating a white classmate. The cameras rolled and Al delivered in all his demagogic glory. Sharpton's dramatic monologues declared Bell the victim of blatant racism at a racist high school in a racist southern town. However, Mychal Bell turned out to be everything his critics had said, and Jena's systemic racism was pure
hype. When the scene ended and the set fell dark, Bell remained in jail and Sharpton had disappeared quicker than September snow.

Since Al Sharpton claims the title of reverend, it's fitting for his marquee to come directly from biblical
text, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." Al plays the role of the sympathetic civil rights crusader. Inwardly he's a publicity hog, Kim Kardashian without the buxom figure.

Evidence to date can
neither exonerate nor convict George Zimmerman for Trayvon's death. Jumping to either conclusion is foolishly immature. But identifying Al Sharpton as a race-hustler is verifiable. He flawlessly performs the black leader's role, only to vanish without a trace just prior to the scene's climax. Keep a close eye on Sanford, Florida. Al Sharpton's latest performance is can't-miss theatre.