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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crisis or Crying Wolf?

Crisis or Crying Wolf?

Apparently, according to the mainstream media and scheming politicians, we live in an age where all challenges are a crisis, not just a problem.  Americans are living longer than ever before, but we have an obesity crisis, especially a child obesity crisis.  Americans are understandably concerned about the rising cost of medical care (due primarily to a lack of tort reform and a lack of individual tax deductibility), but voila, it is now a health care crisis that requires government to take over our health care system!  

The list of these man-contrived crises goes on and on—climate change, teenage smoking, handgun violence, teenage drinking, drunken driving, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans’ suicides, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans’ violence…  And that’s just touched the tip of the iceberg.  Some of these are real problems that need to be addressed and others are imaginary crises created by cynical politicians who see an opportunity to gain more power over American citizens.

So what’s new?  Sinful man has always sought to gain power over others.  As Machiavelli correctly observed, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Or, as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “When those in power realize that they can perpetuate themselves in power through taxing, spending, and electing, democracy is dead.”

Phony crises cause us to take our eyes off the ball.  Real crises are ignored because these same politicians either wish to stick their head in the sand or because they wish to believe the crisis doesn’t really exist.

Terrorism attacks on the United States become, in the words of US Secretary for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, “man created catastrophes.”  Sky high spending causing a tripling of the national debt makes it “necessary” to “stimulate” the economy, even though the primary purpose of the bill is to provide “pork” for Congressmen and Senators to get themselves re-elected.  Alexis de Tocqueville would be shaking his head sadly. 

Shrinking freedom caused by government expansion and justice denied by misguided judges that ignore the Constitution threaten the foundations of our nation.  A total breakdown in morality boldly exhibited on our televisions and a collapse of civility signal a true crisis in our land.  A crisis that continues to be ignored and obfuscated as the latest phony crisis is rolled out to turn our heads elsewhere.

America, it’s time for a reality check.  Fat Americans, high health care costs, teenage smoking, climate change, and drunken driving may be problems, but they are not threatening the survival of our nation.  What America needs is not more pontificating politicians, or more nattering news analysts.  What is needed is spiritual renewal.  Nothing short of spiritual renewal will restore the morality and civility and clear thinking that is absolutely vital to getting the United States of America back on track.  Nothing else will return our land to the rule of law and restore the foundations of our republic.  It’s time to put first things first.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Military Conscription

Military Conscription
My American Heritage College Dictionary defines conscription as “Compulsory enrollment, especially for the armed forces; draft.”  Lest there be any doubt about this definition, my dictionary goes on to define compulsory as “1. Obligatory; required.  2. Employing or exerting compulsion; coercive.”

I’m writing about this because there is a new book out written by Beth Bailey, America’s Army, which relates the history of the voluntary military in the United States.  From what I have heard (although I have not yet read it), it is excellent.

Over the years a number of conservatives have argued on behalf of conscription, forcing young American males who would not otherwise volunteer to serve in the U.S. Military.  The primary argument is that it would be good for them.  

Is that really a legitimate argument that is consistent with conservative values and principles?  Liberals argue that Americans should be forced to purchase health insurance.  Health enthusiasts have argued that Americans should be forced to take Vitamin D and be denied access to “bad” foods.

I might argue that everyone should go to church on Sunday, but even if I’m right, do I have the right to force someone else to do something they don’t want to do?  Forcing someone to do what they choose not to do is coercion.  Any time an adult U.S. citizen has been forced to do something they do not want to do because it is good for them, it is wrong.  That’s not freedom.  That’s the raw exercise of government power to limit another person’s freedom and to control their lives.  I should not have that right.  You should not have that right.  The government should not have that right.

Conservatives should understand that the U.S. government has the right and responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to do only two things—maintain internal order through law enforcement and the courts, and to protect its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic.
Just what gives me or any other citizen the right to force another law-abiding citizen to do anything that I think is good for him or her?  Who made me god?  Men and women are mere mortals, flawed, and inclined toward seeking power over others.  That’s what the founders understood so very clearly.  That’s why Madison and Jefferson and the founders intentionally created a system of checks and balances—to limit the power of individuals over other individuals.

One could make the argument that perhaps, just perhaps, conscription is a necessary evil when our nation is threatened with destruction by foreign enemies.  But no one who believes in freedom and the U.S. Constitution should promote or advocate military conscription because they think it would be good for those who are conscripted.  

Ronald Reagan understood this and that is why, with the able assistance of Martin Anderson (who successfully encouraged President Nixon to end the draft), Reagan worked hard to make the voluntary military a success.  Under Reagan the American voluntary military became the best fighting force in the world.  Efficiency and morale soared. 

Short of a gigantic, all-out war, there is simply no constitutional or individual freedom based argument that can be made by a conservative to advocate conscription.  It is a slippery slope that can justify conscription of young men and women to do all sorts of things in our society just because government forces them to do so.  Our citizens deserve better.  Freedom is always tenuous.  As Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Let us thank, salute, and honor those who willingly choose to serve in our Armed Forces.  We owe them full support and our gratitude for putting their lives on the line so that we might live in freedom.  They are America’s best and they deserve the best from us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Civil Discourse

Civil Discourse

It’s not often that I praise an article in The Washington Post, unless it’s a column by Charles Krauthammer in the Outlook section.  The odds become even less when it’s an article co-authored by Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman.  Ms. Kissling is the former president of Catholics for Choice and Ms. Michelman is the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.  But that’s exactly what I am going to do.  No, I do not agree with the abortion stance of either Ms. Kissling or Ms. Michelman.  I am as strongly pro-life as these two ladies are abortion supporters.

But one thing has distressed me increasingly over the nation.  It seems to me the great decline in public civility reached a zenith in the Clinton years when those who opposed the policies put forward by the Clintons were targeted as enemies, rather than opponents.  Politics became more like war, than a sporting contest.  The politics of personal destruction became accepted practice.  No longer did politicians try to persuade, they endeavored to win at any cost, even if that cost meant the destruction of an opponent.  The Clintons were especially good at tarring any opponent with the worst possible descriptions, even when they knew there was no truth to such accusations.

That’s why I found the article by Kissling and Michelman titled, “How to be Pro-Choice on Super Bowl Sunday,” a breath of fresh air.  Essentially, they argue for toning down the abortion debate and moving toward an effort to try and persuade the public rather then demonizing those who disagree with them.

The article was prompted by the $2.5 million 30 second ad that was run during the Super Bowl featuring recently graduated University of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow and his mom, Pam Tebow.  The article describes Tim Tebow as a “humble young man who takes his faith seriously,” and describes the ad as “…the story of her [Pam Tebow] decision 23 years ago to ignore medical advice and continue a risky pregnancy.”

Here’s the advice that Kissling and Michelman give to their side of the argument:  “For abortion rights supporters, picking on Tim Tebow and his mom is not the right way to go.  Instead of trying to block or criticize the Focus on the Family ad, the pro-choice movement needs its own Super Bowl strategy.  People want to be inspired, and abortion is as tough and courageous a decision as is the decision to continue a pregnancy.”  

While I don’t agree with their sentiments, I did appreciate that they were suggesting that the argument over abortion be taken to a higher ground.

Kissling and Michelman give this advice to those who favor unrestricted abortion, “Women’s and choice groups responding to the Tebow ad should take a page from the Focus on the Family playbook.  Erin Matson, the National Organization for Women’s new vice president, called the Tebow spot “hate masquerading as love.”  That kind of comment may play well in the choice choir, but to others, it makes no sense, at best; at worst, it’s seen as the kind of stridency that reinforces the view that pro-choice simply means pro-abortion.”

This is the kind of advice that both sides of all public issue debates should be giving to their followers.  Why?  Because it raises the debate to a plane where both sides make their case based on facts and use their best efforts to persuade the American people they offer the right answer to the issue at hand.

As long as one or both sides remain mired in the muck of personal attacks, it will be difficult for the American people to make a rational choice.  When one side of the argument breaks down and people are called “baby killers” or “racists” or “haters” or “cowards” or “bigots” or “war mongers,” it will be difficult for those who are undecided on the issues to make a decision.

I’m personally confident that freedom and morality are the best choices for America.  I’m confident that the American people want to take care of themselves and that they want less, not more, government in their lives.  I don’t have to and should not attack a liberal as a bad person, but simply as someone who is wrong.  Similarly, just because I believe in smaller government and favor freedom-oriented solutions like school vouchers to strengthen the quality of American education, it should not cause me to be attacked as a racist or someone who has no compassion for the poor.

I salute Frances Kissling, Kate Michelman and the leaders of Focus on the Family for their efforts to lift the debate over abortion to a higher plane.

To read the entire article, “How to be Pro-Choice on Super Bowl Sunday,” click this link:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Great Week for Freedom!

A Great Week for Freedom!

January 17-23, 2010 was a great week for freedom and a great week for America!  On Tuesday, a heretofore little known state senator, Scott Brown, was elected to the United States Senate in what must be recorded as one of the greatest political upsets in the history of the U.S.  

Brown defeated the incumbent Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, 52% to 47% in a special election to fill the remaining three years of the U.S. Senate term vacated by the death of Democratic icon, Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy.  Massachusetts can easily be called the most Democratic state in the nation, going to President Obama in 2008 by 26 points.  Brown’s election wasn’t just a victory, this was another Massachusetts “shot heard ’round the world.”

Like throwing a tire iron into powerful gears, the victory brought the nationalized medicine agenda (and much of their other agenda) to a screeching halt.  Freedom was the victor, socialism was the loser.

This unbelievable triumph was quickly followed on Thursday by yet another victory for freedom.  In a case brought by Citizens United against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for barring the distribution of their movie, “Hillary,” during the election season, freedom of speech and freedom of the press prevailed over those who want to limit speech to only what they believe is acceptable.  

Contrary to the depiction by much of the news media, this wasn’t a victory for big corporations or the rich or the unions.  It signaled an end to letting only a few for-profit corporations, those that own TV and radio stations, as well as newspapers and news magazines, promote, endorse, and push candidates of their choosing.  Now, all corporations are on an equal footing when it comes to advancing candidates of their choosing.  For far too long have CBS, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, The Washington Post and their fellow travelers promoted only candidates they liked, and smeared those they disliked.  The public was ill served.

Hopefully, with this new burst of fresh air, the table will be more fairly balanced and those in the news media will be more circumspect in using their news pages to slant the news in favor of a particular candidate.  But perhaps that’s too much to hope.
But what a great week it was!