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?