9/11

The ten year anniversary of 9/11 is this Sunday; silver planes turning in the clear blue sky, towers of glass and flame, the collapse of the buildings and the tsunami of dust and debris, and those many who ran toward the fire and gave their lives proudly. I remember seeking out the two Muslim boys my wife and I had brought to our country to attend college, who had become a part of our family, and how we struggled to understand the violent, hate filled attack and what it would mean for the future. There was much fear expressed at the time that ordinary Americans would strike out at Muslims in our communities but the fear was almost entirely unjustified.

We will see an intentionally limited replay of the images of horror of 9/11 on television on Sunday. The national media has decided that we are not able to handle it because, like the incorrect predictions of retribution following 9/11, the media assumes that we would act inappropriately. This disrespect for ordinary citizens is sadly common among media and political elites who look down upon us as an unprincipled and unruly mob. Not only are they wrong as a matter of fact, they reveal clearly their unAmerican philosophy that citizen sovereignty is quaint notion to which they pay insincere homage while attempting to create a statist society ruled by elites.

9/11 should remind us that there are always those who feel entitled to rule over ordinary people: theocrats, communists, socialists, statists, fascists, etc. If we are to continue to be a nation whose government is  ”Of the people, by the people, and for the people” we must reject all those who claim superiority of right or ability to govern. Wherever one might find oneself on the political spectrum, no political philosophy, no program, no charismatic leader is more important than the preservation of citizen sovereignty.

America’s greatest diversity is not skin color, nor religion, nor ethnicity. It is diversity of thought confined only by constitutional boundaries. Only an unyielding belief in individual liberty can honor this diversity and insure the rejection of elitism, statism and the disrespect for the sovereignty of ordinary citizens from which they arise.

On Sunday let us celebrate our liberty as individuals, let us remember that the price of maintaining our liberty is constant vigilance against treats both external and internal. Let us remember that we, each of us, is sovereign and that those in government and public employment of every kind are our servants, not our masters. Let us remember most especially, that our liberty is individual not collective, for, without this Creator given distinction, the minority will be subject to whim of the majority and citizen sovereignty will be imperiled if not lost.

 

 

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Drowning.

A gentleman sank beneath the waves of Obabikon Bay of Lake of the Woods last week. He had welcomed us each year to the small island resort, a cluster of bright yellow buildings above the blue water. His smile, his knowledge of the lake, his warm humor was given freely to all. He had gone out to a rocky island just a few hundred yards from the resort to burn some refuse and, when his boat floated away, he folded his clothes and swam to retrieve it. He was found five days later by divers from the Ontario police. He knew the risk but he took it none-the-less with confidence and pleasure. He lived on the lake all his life. And in it he died.

We, too, we Americans, are standing on a shore of great danger and risk drowning in bottomless debt, too much owed by too few to too many. Will we add yet more debt to an amount we already cannot repay, call it a new stimulus or a ‘jobs’ bill, and hope that we will not sink beneath the waves? That is what those who have proven they cannot swim wish. But, of course, the burden of effort, and stamina necessary to keep our fiscal ship afloat will not be born by them.

Collectivists like to say that capitalism rewards greed and selfishness. Perhaps. If so, it rewards those who work the hardest.  What then does collectivism reward?  Some say it rewards greed and selfishness. Perhaps.  If so, it rewards those who work the least.

My friend who died last week had spent his life on the lake, had learned to swim in her waters. He had built his resort with his own hands. It was his risk to take.

 

 

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Compromise This.

Our President wants to raise taxes, says it is only “fair” to do so, and, after all, he only wants to raise taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” which, it turns out, is every single person who makes two hundred grand a year or more.

As a percentage of GDP, the historic cost of government has been about 19%. Under President Bush the percentage rose above 20%. Under President Obama it is near 24% and rising. The principle difference between the positions of the Right and Left can be boiled down to this: the Right wishes to decreases overall government spending closer to historic levels and the Left wants to raise taxes to keep spending at the currently inflated levels.

Demographics tell the whole story about the wisdom of raising taxes: there are ever fewer wage earners to tax and an ever expanding population of government dependents to support. Of the diminishing number of wage earners, fewer pay any taxes at all (Only 51% of wage earners pay any taxes.) Fewer and fewer people simply cannot pay for more and more government largess. (If you think that taxing corporations will do it consider this: our corporations already pay highest corporate tax rates in the world and bear the burden of the most costly government regulations in the world. And this: corporations do not pay taxes in any event. Corporations add the additional cost of taxes and regulation to the price of their products and you and I pay them.)

Our President and his parrots make the argument that our economic problems would vanish if only the Right, and in particular the Tea Party, would  ’compromise’ with them by agreeing to immediate tax increases traded for future promised spending cuts. The term ‘compromise’ has become what ‘change’ was to the Obama campaign: an end in itself, an empty, meaningless vessel into which the Left can pour its anger, a slogan implying moral superiority more suitable for tee shirts and bumper stickers than thoughtful problem-solving.

The truth is that our disastrous financial condition is the result of innumerable compromises between the left and right that permitted each to get most of what they wanted. Now as bankruptcy looms there is no further room for compromise. It is time, as adults, to conclude that we cannot have the government we want. We can only have the government we can afford.

Politicians need not worry.  There will still be trillions of deflated dollars to fight over.

 

 

 

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Give Me Liberty.

It is Memorial Day weekend, flags are flying from porches and the Gettysberg Address is being read at Veteran’s Memorials. It is a day to remember the hundreds of thousands of American warriors who have given their lives for the liberty of people everywhere. No country in the history of the world has offered the lives of so many of its young men and women so freely for the benefit of so many without expectation of reward.

Gettysberg is the battle that turned the fortunes of war in favor of the North. It ended on July 4th, after three days of murderous battle in which fifty-two thousand men lost their lives. The soldiers of the North, the great majority of whom were white, following a white President, empowered by a white Congress and paid for primarily by white citizens, willingly died so that black men and women could be free. Sometimes we forget.

On June 8th I will be attending the National Security Seminar at the Army War College and on that day we will walk the Gettysberg Battlefield where our “great nation” was preserved.  I will walk with this years graduates of the War College and together we will marvel at the principled courage of the victors who faced nearly certain death, not for personal enrichment of any kind, but for the preservation of human dignity, individual liberty, and personal honor.

“Constant vigilance” is the price of liberty said Thomas Jefferson. And vigilance must be backed by force because the hallmark of tyranny is it’s willingness to use any means to achieve and hold power. In the end, when all else has failed, what stands between tyranny and liberty are men and women who are willing to die to be free. That is as true now as it was at Gettysberg. It will be true tomorrow, too.

 

 

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Kingdom Come.

Congress no longer passes laws, it merely enacts broad policies. Contrary to the dictates of our Constitution vesting law-making authority in Congress, most of our laws are now established in the form of rules created by unelected bureaucrats within the ever-growing array of agencies under the control of the President. This evolving practice of “leaving the details” to administration agencies is unconstitutional because it shifts the balance of power of our tripartite system from co-equal branches to executive dominance.

How very sad that the accelerating practice should be fully acquiesced in by Congress itself, so busy running for office that it cannot be bothered with the hard work or the political risk of hammering out the details of the legal policies it passes. As Speaker Pelowsi so revealingly stated regarding Obama Care: “We have to pass the law in order to know what is in it.”

If, as is often argued in support of current practice, matters have become so complicated that detailed lawmaking is no longer feasible for Congress and must be delegated to others, then the Constitution requires those delegated be answerable to Congress, not the President. Following passage of “policy laws”, congressional employees should be tasked to promulgate rules consistent with the new policies and, when completed, submit them to Congress for final review, debate, and enactment.

President Obama, who was very fond of referring to President Bush as ‘King George’, is exercising unprecedented power through agency rule-making. Those who favor his actions on the merits should realize that rigid adherence to constitutional separation of powers is more important than situational goals, no matter how laudable they may be. Expansions of executive power granted to Mr Obama will be difficult, if not impossible, to deny to his successors.

In the final analysis, Americanism is not about being liberal or conservative but about preserving individual liberty through constitutional fealty.

 

 

 

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The Dog Started it.

A poplar web site lists these two teaser headlines today:

“Man charged with misdemeanor for barking at police dog.”

“Man claims dog started it.”

Democrats in the House and Senate in Washington are furious over Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget for 2012 and beyond. This in spite of the fact that Democrats passed no budget at all last year when they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and they have proposed no budget this year in the Senate where they have a majority.

The President, too, is upset by Mr. Ryan’s plan. Although the President did propose a budget for 2012, no one, not even he, takes it very seriously. It does not even address our government’s most fiscally challenged programs; Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

As citizen sovereigns we are entitled to candor and honesty from our representatives. Indeed, we cannot be sovereigns without it. Rep. Ryan gets credit for both, even if one disagrees with him. Now let us have some of the same from Congressional Democrats and the President. Tell us what you will do. Honestly. Thoroughly. Offer it in the form of legislation. We the people are at a point of zero tolerance for political double-talk, political cowardice, and political pandering for electoral advantage.

Representative Paul Ryan is a good example of what we should expect from politicians: he has told us the plain truth of his vision, goals and strategy. Any politician critical of Ryan’s plan who does not have the guts and integrity to do the same should be ignored.

A special revulsion should arise for those politicians and others who attack Mr. Ryan personally as being uncaring, cruel, the enemy of the poor, a lackey of the rich, a tool of the military industrial complex, a friend of big oil, a despoiler of the environment, a starver of old persons… the usual litany. Their statements, although considerably less funny, are as childish as the guy who said: “The dog started it.” Much worse, their deceitfulness and hatred is destroying honorable, principled political discourse, putting the future of our nation at risk.

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On Wisconsin.

Today, in Wisconsin, a candidate for it’s highest court is declaring her intention, if elected, to set aside that state’s recent legislation regarding public employee rights and benefits passed by both the Wisconsin House and Senate and singed into law by Wisconsin’s Governor. It has here-to-fore been universally understood that judicial candidates should never announce how they will vote if elected on an issue certain to come before the court on which they seek to serve.

It is unethical for a member of an appellate court to prejudge any issue. To do so makes a mockery of the idea of judicial fairness. The fact that most Wisconsin school teachers and their union are supporting the openly biased candidate makes the matter all the more troubling. What, one may fairly ask, are they teaching their students about respect for law?

Our judicial system only works if the vast majority of it’s decisions are complied with voluntarily and that only happens when there is wide spread faith in the court’s integrity. If we destroy the generally accepted sense of judicial impartiality, there will never be enough police to enforce judicial decisions.

Whatever one may think of the legal controversy Wisconsin, upholding the integrity of the court is more important than any decision the court may render. That requires rejecting any candidate for judicial office who signals their partiality regarding any controversy certain to come before the court on which they seek to serve.  To do otherwise is to put politics and self interest above principle and to do great harm to Wisconsin and to our nation.

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Spring Forward.

The weather slowly, teasingly suggests spring and then summer, open water and the sweet coconut smell of suntan lotion. Hopefulness lifts our spirits but we are reminded by the late snows of March and April that happiness untempered by acceptance of reality is egg-shell thin. Persistence, humor, patience and thankfulness, all founded on meaningful aspirational principles, are necessary if one is to be happy throughout the journey to life’s completion.

And so it is with societies, which inevitably begs the question: What aspirational principles? Our American principles are these: Creator endowed individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, universal equality of opportunity, citizen sovereignty, citizen elected representative government checked and balanced against government’s natural tendency to accumulate power to itself, and supremacy of the rule of law over the rule of man. Our national motto, E Pluribus Unum, does not mean, as many suggest, that we must give up our individual liberty to some collective good determined by government, but that we are honor bound to become one in fealty to America’s aspirational principles. If we do so, we can disagree passionately on the most difficult and important issues but remain respectful of each other as committed partners unified by common fundamental beliefs.

Mrs. Clinton was famous for saying: “It takes a village to raise a child” but, societally speaking, “It takes a child to raise a village”. Our common child, our pride, our responsibility, our hope for the future is our shared allegiance to American principles.

I read this morning with interest the continuing debate regarding the “income gap” and it’s politics. It is, in fact, more about “wealth” than “income” but, none-the-less, it is a serious matter deserving serious discussion. Nowhere, however, have I read about how the existence of the gap or, perhaps more importantly, what power government might need to exercise to reduce it, comports with our American principles. Without a common discussion at the outset of the opportunities and limitations of available solutions consistent with our overriding fealty to our founding principles, we will inevitably be reduced to enemies without a common purpose instead of allies in the preservation of a shared philosophy who advocate different constitutionally respectful treatments.

The truth is, it is easier and more profitable for politicians and zealots of all stripes to divide us and to incite fear and anger instead of conforming their arguments to our shared principles. Attack dogs have a natural tendency to the kill but their domesticated behavior is directed by their trainers and they respond only to the commands of their owners. Those that will not obey are put down. The only solution to the politics of hatred is for each of us to muzzle our own political dogs. They will not listen to anyone else.

A recent presidential candidate, reversing himself on his promise to conduct a civil campaign, declared: “I will not unilaterally disarm.” But it is only up to him if those who supported him continue to do so. When we fail to control our candidates, we, not someone else, are responsible for the harm to our unity, our liberty, our happiness, and our principled nation.

Often, to preserve a principle, less than desirable consequences must be accepted. We know, for example, that our desire to insure that innocent persons are not convicted of crimes they did not commit means that some guilt persons will go free. We can be unified and content with the result only if we understand and share a belief in the underlying principle. Those who set the guilty free in order to preserve the principle are not “heartless” or “hateful”. They do not care less about victims.

Similarly, those who oppose government actions that might “help” people but would grant constitutionally excessive power to the state in order to do so do not hate the poor, and those who question the constitutional power of government to coerce confessions are not “Friends of Osama” even though the demand for adherence to principle may in some way benefit our nations enemies.

As we ‘spring forward’, let us reset our political clocks to Founding Principles Time, expressing our liberty passionately but respectfully, united in faith and fealty to America’s aspirational principles. That rumble of voices on the warming winds is the thunder of liberty!

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Liberty, Freedom and Democracy.

‘Democracy’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Liberty’ are not synonyms. It is Liberty, Creator endowed and unalienable, that is at the core of American values and human rights. Liberty is inseparable from ‘humanness’ and is therefore universal. As such, liberty owes nothing to men for its existence or its perpetuation.

Freedom, on the other hand, is man made. Freedom is the social state that enables the free exercise of  liberty. Complete freedom is anarchy. On the continuum from anarchy to tyranny, different governments provide for more or less liberty.  Indeed, as expressed in our Federalist Papers, every grant of authority to government necessarily results in a loss of some liberty.

Democracy is a form of government that derives its powers from consent of the majority of its citizens. Democracy, however, without a fundamental belief in individual liberty permits tyranny of the majority over minorities. Americanism is exceptional because the highest goal of its republican/democratic blend of governance is to protect the liberty of all its citizens and thus are minorities protected by restraint of democracy in service of a higher ideal.

Why is this important? It is important because, as we fashion our policy toward Egypt or other nations , it is liberty, not democracy, that we should be advocating and supporting. Many from the cultural relevance wing of the left have been saying that whatever government Egyptians democratically choose should be o.k. with us. Really?

Cultural Relativism approves enslavement, imprisonment, sexism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, stoning and even murder. Cultural Relativists stand for nothing, and, because they do not, they are the useful idiot enablers of tyrants. Enabling tyranny is not amoral, it is immoral.

It is individual liberty, not democracy, that is essential to the protection of human rights and dignity. Liberty is what Egyptians deserve and nothing less.  The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood would limit the liberty of women, Christians, and other minorities by imposition of Sharia Law is reason enough for us to oppose them, even if they were democratically elected. Indeed, it is reason enough to deny them the opportunity to be elected.

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Listen and Yearn.

Our President will speak to us this evening and words will not have their normal meaning. More government spending will be called “investment” and the fact that the “investments” will deliver yet billions more of our tax dollars to the public and private unions that spent millions of dollars to elect Obama, we will be asked to believe, is a mere coincidence.

But 200 billion dollars of the last stimulus bill already went directly to education and produced exactly no innovation or improvements, principally because teachers unions like things the way they are. Those who doubt the truth of this statement might seek confirmation from Mr. Obama’s Secretary of Education, Mr. Duncan.

And, if infrastructure “investment” is so critical because of critical infrastructure needs and to boost job growth, why didn’t we spend most of the last stimulus on it just as Transportation Chairman Oberstar and many others, Republican and Democrat, so urgently recommended?

When the President’s speech is finished, as if we were too stupid to have understood, media mouthers and political patterers will explain it, mostly by just repeating it more loudly and slowly, the way one treats another who does not speak their language. And it is true, we do not speak their language, they who so admire the theater, the cleverness and the calculation.

As citizen sovereigns we only want the plain truth. Indeed, we need it to effectively exercise our sovereignty. Those who use words not to clarify but to disguise their intent are subverting our constitution by elevating themselves above the people. Those who admire their cleverness and calculation are their abettors. We the people are boss and those who would deceive and manipulate us, whatever their motivation and whatever their party, are the enemies of America.

The fact that our current President, who won election at least partly because he said he would discontinue “politics a usual” but has continued it a fortiori, should, but probably will not, disappoint even his supporters, proving once again, as if any more proof were necessary, that, to far too many, politics trumps principle. If you disagree, please read on.

Mr. Krugman, that hateful but clarifying writer of the left from the New York Times, said this in his column this morning regarding tonight’s speech by our President and his new use of “buzzwords” regarding investments and competitiveness: “Arguably, Obama has enlisted… old cliche’(s) on behalf of a good cause, as a way to sell a much-needed increase in public investment to a public thoroughly indoctrinated in the view that government spending is a bad thing.” Well, it seems to Mr. Krugman that our President needs to fool us by clever language because someone else has indoctrinated us to a view he, and he secretly believes Obama too, opposes! And then this follows from Krugman: ” The favorable interpretation, as I said,  is that it is just packaging…” (emphasis added)

Mr. Krugman then says something with which we should all agree: “But even if he proposed good policies, the fact that Obama feels the need to wrap these policies in bad metaphors is a sad commentary on the state of our discourse.”

None-the-less, Mr. Krugman  concludes that he would  ”be pleased” if the President is intentionally misleading the citizen sovereigns of our nation so-long-as it advances an objective that Mr. Krugman believes is good for America. One thing that is not good for America is Mr. Krugman’s total disregard for our constitutional rule “Of The People, By The People, and For The People.”

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