BYU did the right thing

March Madness.  Aside from birthdays of two of my brothers, March Madness is what makes the month of March worthwhile.

I’m not all that fond of March.  March temperatures are very fickle in Ohio.  It could be balmy, but more likely its snowy.  If it’s above freezing, March in Ohio can be very muddy.  Mud is probably my number one gripe about March.  Melting snows sometimes close roads because of too much standing water, and those in flood plains should be wary.  March is quite windy, and I don’t much care for really windy conditions.  The leaves are not back on the trees yet, so the landscape looks rather stark and inhospitable.  Not too long ago, March was made even worse by moving the start date of Daylight Savings Time from April.  I’d like to remain on Standard Time year-round.

I have plenty of similar gripes about April, too, but at least the Cleveland Indians baseball season gets underway.

Ohio gets really pretty in May.  I think the lush green beauty of Ohio reaches the peak of its perfection around Memorial Day weekend.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  I love college basketball, men’s or women’s teams. I love it far more than I do NBA basketball.  I graduated from Ohio State.  I’ve always been a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  I bleed Scarlet and Gray.

The Buckeyes are expected to do well this year.  I won’t hold my breath, because I’ve seen them lose so many NCAA tourney games that they weren’t supposed to lose, but I’m not feeling nervous–on edge–apprehensive–like I usually do at this time of year.  For some reason, I feel calm.  Maybe that’s a good omen.  Maybe that means that this year, finally, OSU, a number 1 seed in the men’s tournament, triumphs.  Or, if the men stumble, perhaps the OSU women, a lower seed (4), will surprise everyone in their tournament.

I have a brother and a sister who graduated from Brigham Young University, so I keep tab on their sports teams, too.  Both the men’s and women’s teams seemed to be on autopilot, in control of their destiny, both of them dominating the Mountain West Conference, and the men’s program getting a lot of national buzz with the nation’s leading scorer, Jimmer Fredette.  There was even some anticipation that the BYU men would even receive a number 1 seed in the tournament.

Then there was a bump in the road.

The BYU women did not win the post-season tourney of the conference they dominated all season long.  They didn’t even receive an invite to the women’s NCAA tournament.  They had to settle for the WNIT, instead.

Jimmer Fredette, though wowing spectators across the nation with his stellar on-court achievements, cannot do all of the work of the men’s team by himself.  There are five men on the court for each team at all times, and Jimmer needs those four other men or Jimmermania isn’t even possible.  BYU usually has 5 solid players on the floor, but many of the players coming off the bench are unproven.  It is widely acknowledged that BYU is not a deep team.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  Brandon Davies, the team’s leading rebounder, was kicked off the team and out of school for the rest of the season.  He’d committed no crime, nor had he violated any NCAA rules, yet the decision by the university’s administration to dismiss him was final.  There was no going back on the decision.  There was no further appeal that would receive consideration.

All of a sudden, one of the nation’s premier men’s basketball teams was an also-ran, Jimmer Fredette notwithstanding.  The team was not the same team as it used to be.  Over the course of the bulk of the season, BYU had only suffered two losses.  During the very brief stretch of the season after Davies was dismissed, BYU went down to defeat two more times.

Instead of a number 1 seed, BYU received a number 3 seed.  Many sports pundits believe a number 3 seed, for a BYU team without Brandon Davies, is way too generous.  BYU was blessed with a number 3 seed as a congratulatory hat-tip for the success they’d had over the course of the season, not because anyone believes them to be that good now that Davies is gone.

BYU won its first tourney game yesterday, against Wofford.  The win was expected, but it wasn’t stellar.  The game wasn’t particularly intense, as college basketball games go.  BYU’s win would’ve been lopsided with Davies on the court, but without him, BYU never amassed much of a lead.

Even before tourney play began yesterday, the talking heads were saying that the number 11 seed, Gonzaga, would be the one to win the first two rounds and advance to the Sweet 16.  Gonzaga has fulfilled half of that expectation, already, having beaten the number 6 seed, St. John’s, last night.  Tomorrow, BYU and Gonzaga will be facing off against each other.  Is BYU really all washed up?  Maybe.  We’ll find out more about that tomorrow, I suppose.

What was the reason for Davies dismissal in the first place that caused this trainwreck and possibly have even cost the BYU Cougars a first-ever national championship? He’d violated the student honor code, a pledge of high ethical standards that all BYU students must promise to abide by prior to enrollment.

Almost all students are privately screened by Mormon pastors (there are small variations in the screening process for non-Mormon applicants, but the promise to follow the student honor code is required of all BYU applicants) to assure that the applicants already conform to the standards of the honor code prior to admission and re-enrollment.  The nature of Davies’ violation wasn’t discussed by the university, but Davies, himself, acknowledged the nature of it to his teammates, and physical intimacy (consensual) with his girlfriend was apparently at the heart of the matter.  I can’t imagine that any other NCAA Division 1 university in the U.S.A. would have dismissed Davies on these grounds.  BYU’s expectations of students are incredibly high, and, quite frankly, most late teens and 20-somethings wouldn’t put up with such stringent rules.

I think BYU did the right thing.

Brandon Davies is a much more positive role model than me.  My conduct over the course of my adult life is far more checkered than Davies’ is.  I assure everyone that I approve of Davies’ dismissal knowing full well that, by no means, am I holier than he is.  For me, it boils down to this:  Does BYU excuse a violation by a prominent student-athlete just because they want to win a national championship?  Or, instead, is BYU fair to every student because no student is excused from fulfilling the pledge, not even a star athlete whose name is famous among all die-hard men’s college hoops fans throughout the nation?  The university administration had no doubt in its mind that being fair by holding every single student to the same standard was far more important than a championship.  I think they’re right.

What about second chances?  Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?  Sure they do, and life will provide Brandon Davies’ with second, third, fourth, fifth (and so on) chances over the decades to come.  In my own life, I’ve been given many chances for redemption, too.  I don’t know if Davies feels as if his world has crumpled around him or not, but I know that it truly hasn’t.  The world keeps spinning.  The sun keeps rising.  The calendar keeps advancing.  Life’s journey for Brandon Davies can be a very rewarding one, and this moment of his life can become just a blip on the radar.

He just can’t play basketball for BYU right now.

Though he’ll get second chances, the immediate consequences for the violation cannot be circumvented or else the university would be entirely unfair to its whole student body.  The second chances will have to materialize in some other form.  Playing this tournament with BYU is out of the question.

Fairness to the student body, harumph!  What about fairness to the team?  Why should the team be penalized for one person’s infraction that wouldn’t count as an infraction at any other university in the nation?  Is it fair that the BYU team has to adhere to a very different standard than that of all the teams they play against?  So why is it fair to dismiss a player and hurt a whole team because of something that doesn’t matter anywhere else?

This is where it gets political, as it reminds me of one of the reasons I’m not a Libertarian.

The Libertarians I’ve known have repeatedly decried nanny-state governance.  Why should the government tell us not to grow marijuana, or even smoke it?  Why should the government restrict gambling?  Why forbid prostitution when adult participants willingly consent to it?  Why must I wear a seat belt while driving my automobile?  Why should I allow government to make decisions for me and take away my personal liberty just because they believe their decisions are for my own good?  If I make a decision that isn’t for my own good, I could create some trouble for myself, but isn’t that my concern and no one else’s?

Libertarians also decry the tyranny of the majority.  Why should a portion of revenues from a county sales tax be set aside for public transit that so few people actually use?  Why pay property tax to a school district when none of those students are my own children?  Why does city hall, against my own wishes, install speed bumps on our street just because most of my neighbors want them?  And why do zoning ordinances restrict what I can do on my own property just because those ordinances are deemed to be for the benefit of all?  If I don’t agree with the majority opinion, why can’t I opt out?

My response to all these questions is that no human being is an island.

The consequences of what we do does not stop with us.  It ripples far beyond us.  If I create trouble for myself because of my own bad decision, it IS of concern to others, because others are linked to me, and therefore are impacted.

If you choose to be an alcoholic, you might cause the rest of us to have higher insurance premiums. You might collide with me while you’re driving. You might use your money on alcohol rather than the mortgage payments and the resulting foreclosure lower my property’s value.  You might not maintain your property well and and the rest of us neighbors have to contend with the vermin that migrate from your property.  You might get in violent fights with your spouse and disturb the peace in the neighborhood.  You might act inappropriately in front of my children.  You are not the only one who would suffer from your incorrect choices, therefore the law limits your personal liberties regarding alcohol consumption.  The government isn’t just protecting you from yourself.  It’s protecting the rest of us, too.

When laws are enacted in accordance with the will of the majority, opting out would decrease cooperation, which would increase friction, which would disrupt order, which could disintegrate our society into a lawless one.  A disordered, lawless society would only increase individual liberty if one had hegemonic power over others who might stand in the way.  Somalia is a disordered lawless place, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no system of governance.  Government exists wherever people interact together.  If there isn’t a system of laws to govern those interactions, and if persuasion fails to govern those interactions, then force governs those interactions.  That’s why warlords tussle with each other in lawless regions such as Somalia, because governance of interactions is determined by successful physical aggression and cunning.  Opting out can easily lead to a far more malignant tyranny than the “tyranny of the majority” that exists in the U.S.A.

The spillover effects of Brandon Davies’ dismissal from the men’s basketball team at BYU illustrates that the impact of one person’s actions, the exercise of one person’s liberties, for good or ill, ripples beyond self.  Opting out of Davies’ obligations separated him from the community he was once a part of.  Both Davies and that BYU community suffer because of the breakdown of order.

Libertarianism, even in a nation far less ordered than the BYU community, yields these very same consequences, and at several levels of magnitude greater.

Japanese store shelves tell the tale: The time to hoard is long before the calamity strikes

I’m hopping back up on my soapbox again.  I’ve been blogging about preparing your family for catastrophes since 2008.  I’ve racked my brain to pinpoint of a number of ways in which your family can prepare, and put those thoughts on my blog, too.  I’m blogging again to remind everyone that the time to prepare for catastrophe is sooner rather than later.

AP business writer Yuri Kageyama produced this report about consumers throughout Japan, not just in the earthquake/tsunami ravaged zone of northeast Honshu island, descending on stores to buy up all products with any shelf life that could have some use in an emergency. (Hint: Just click on the above link and read the AP article. You need to take a look at it. Got that?)

The scarcity of these consumer goods throughout Japan is hampering the humanitarian relief efforts.  How do you ship survival goods, such as food, water, blankets, batteries, flashlights, tents, sleeping bags, etc., to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami when the unaffected population throughout the rest of the nation has siphoned away all those supplies?  Government officials are urging the public not to hoard, but the public is panicked.

Don’t feel vulnerable in a crisis.  You should have what you need for an emergency now.  If you don’t have it now, when will you have it?  In your hour of need?  And if a natural disaster, such as a house fire or tornado, wipes out your own emergency supplies, won’t you be grateful to your neighbors if they’ve got emergency supplies on hand that they can share with you?  Wouldn’t you be glad you could help out a neighbor if the roles are reversed?  And then, when widespread disasters wipe out the emergency supplies of everyone in the community, wouldn’t you be thankful that humanitarian relief efforts aren’t starved of resources because the population beyond the disaster zone has no reason to panic, since they’re already prepared?

One more thing to keep in mind:  The world economy is fragile.  This earthquake/tsunami disaster has sent seismic waves rippling out into the rest of the world.  If our nation’s economy collapsed (and there’s so much that’s straining our economy and threatening our currency right now), what you already have on hand might be all that you can obtain . . . until an economic recovery ensues.  How long would it take before you can rely on economic recovery to lift you out of your emergency?  Who knows?

No community is immune from disaster.  Don’t bet that it won’t be your family that is calamity-stricken next.  If you haven’t already, get your family ready for emergencies ASAP.

. . . And the walls come tumbling down!

Our economy is a house of cards. Our dollar isn’t backed by gold. It’s fiat money. It’s worth is determined by how much confidence the world has in it. If confidence in the dollar is destroyed, so is the dollar. It just becomes worthless paper at that point.

The politicians in DC and the cheaters on Wall Street and the Chicago Democratic Party machine have brought us to the brink of collapse. The bailouts have done nothing to strengthen the house of cards. Keep mounting card on top of card, and, at some point, the house of cards must fall. It must. So long as there are laws of physics it must fall. Our economy will topple. The only question is when. Which card will be the final one that the other cards can support? Which card will be the one that brings the
walls tumbling down?

Is your family prepared to survive through an economic collapse? I saw a big storm coming back in September 2008, and I think it’s here. Maybe it can be staved off until 2012. I definitely think we cannot get past 2014. But maybe it hits us this month.

Sure, we just elected Republicans to take control of the US House of Representatives, and the two major parties now have checks and balances that will prevent extreme partisan agendas from becoming the law of the land . . . in January, that is. The new Congress takes office in January. But maybe the collapse will occur much sooner than 2014. Maybe much sooner than 2012. It might happen this month. Despite the elections, it’s just too late. The wheels are already in motion. All the Democrats, all the Republicans, even all the Libertarians, all the Greens, all of the Constitution Party, all of the Socialist Party, cannot stop what’s already in motion. It’s a bigger mess than we can handle.

If we suffer a total and complete collapse, all your dollars in your bank accounts become worthless, despite any FDIC guarantees.

Therefore, I hope you have supplies already on hand for your family to depend upon if the worst comes to pass. Right now, you may be holiday shopping, and the sales figures seem to be better than expected, as, perhaps, some consumers have so much pent-up desire to shop that they just can’t keep a lid on it anymore. That’s okay. You might as well shop for tangible items right now if the dollar is going to be worthless later. But while you’re doing that shopping (if you’re one of the fortunate ones who still has an income in this economy), make sure you’ve got at least enough necessities on hand to last your household for at least a month. If you can stash away lots more supplies so that you can be self-sustaining for longer than a month, by all means do so. Preparedness can mitigate your feelings of vulnerability when a crisis arises.

I worry about what predicament our deployed troops might find themselves in if our government becomes insolvent, the financial industry is wiped out, and the currency loses all its value.

There are two things in the news that may possibly cause the dam to break this month. The first is the lame-duck Congress, ramming through the rest of the ill-advised uber-liberal agenda in desperation as the clock ticks down and this session ends.

The second is WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks supposedly has 10,000 pages of documents that they are preparing for posting on the web, and the USA’s financial sector will be the object of the expose.

We saw how WikiLeaks caused a scramble at the Pentagon when documents from the war in Iraq were splashed online. After that, the US Department of State was hit by an earthquake that not only may have irreparably harmed our relations with all other nations, but the field of diplomacy, itself, in every country, is now standing outside naked in a cold winter. If WikiLeaks can derail diplomacy worldwide with just a few documents, what could it do to our financial sector?

I think the documents about the financial sector will be so damaging that all confidence in it will be lost. The collapse here will then cascade all over the globe. The worst hit will be Europe. Europe is already teetering. Africa will be in dire straits because so many of those nations only squeak by because of foreign aid. The Far East owns so much of our national debt, they’ll take a big hit. South America might actually weather the storm the best.

Iceland, the first to become insolvent, and Greece the most recent to become insolvent, are relatively small nations in Europe, but when their governments finally scraped the bottom of the barrel and there was no more money there, it had destabilizing effects on the Euro.

Now it’s Ireland’s turn. Ireland denied for weeks and weeks that they were the next to follow in the footsteps of Iceland and Greece, yet it is coming to pass. The politicians in Ireland who are to blame for it all simply wanted to stay in power as long as they possibly could, thus they tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Irish as long as they could. Sorry, but the crisis is too big to hide. The European Union is coming up with a plan to put Humpty Dumpty together again with the help of the IMF. It still might not be enough, and Europe will teeter on the brink, the Euro imperiled.

Portugal will likely be next. Their politicians are denying that their government will become insolvent, too. If the rescue of Ireland doesn’t crash Europe, maybe Portugal will.

And after Portugal, Spain is suspect. The politicians of Spain are in denial, also. If Europe managed to hold things together during Portugal’s implosion, that’ll be the end of the line. Once Spain implodes, forget it. The Euro is dead, and the European Union is in a shambles. The more solvent nations will retreat back to within their own borders, because they’ll be hard-pressed to meet the demands of their own public, let alone the demands from elsewhere. When America falls, though, not even the most solvent European nations will be spared the bloodletting.

The IMF won’t be of any help, as its chief backing comes from the United States.

If the United Nations weren’t reeling enough from the WikiLeaks targeting the U.S. State Department, it’s biggest donor, the United States, will no longer be able to fulfill its financial commitments to the U.N. The U.N., itself, hasn’t ever had its financial house in order, so they’ll easily buckle under the weight of the wreckage.

Of course the politicians in Washington DC are just as much in denial about the coming collapse as the politicians in Ireland, Portugal, and Spain are. For one thing, they are complicit in our economy’s troubles, so they really don’t want to believe that it will crash, because then everyone will know it was their fault, and from there, power will slip away from them.

The incoming Congressional Republicans are thinking, “OK, now we can get to work and make things better.” They are naive. It’s already out of their hands. They will be so utterly dumbfounded when everything falls apart. “What? How did it happen so quickly? Just when we were about to make a difference for the better with our best-laid plans, it’s a moot point because we’ve already crashed!”

Obama’s Chicago White House may have been planning to bring about this disaster. What? Sabotage? Yes. The liberals he hobnobbed with in Chicago weren’t your run-of-the-mill latte-sippers. Remember Bill Ayers? He’s only one person. There are many others who have programmed this President to sail this course. These are people who have always clamored for a revolution to overthrow the American government and the Constitution that upholds it.

Some of the wonks in Obama’s close circles have clamored for such things as:

  1. using the “green energy” push to accomplish Marxist objectives of redistributing wealth (“economic justice”);
  2. zero population growth, or perhaps even phasing in a depopulation of the planet;
  3. having a domestic military force that could perform security policing of our citizenry not unlike that of the policing our Armed Forces do on foreign soil, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  4. writing a Constitution that would spell out what the government can and will do for you rather than the current Constitution, which states what the government cannot do, thus replacing limitations with bold initiatives;
  5. use the urban public schools to groom the urban youth to become the watchdogs of political correctness and become a massive voting bloc that will support progressive causes (Bill Ayers, himself, advocated for such “education reforms.”);
  6. denuclearize America so it can set the example for other nations to denuclearize, be the vanguard of peace, send no one out to foreign battlefields, and drastically reduce our military;
  7. use the persuasion of power in manipulating the American public if the power of persuasion doesn’t yield the desired effect;
  8. collaborate with the arts community and the media to amplify the desired message, and discredit sources of dissent;
  9. workers of the world unite to usher in a world government guided by the proletariat;
  10. never let a crisis go to waste, as each crisis must serve to consolidate power, and carefully and intentionally orchestrating the emergence of crises may be very desirable if doing so serves to make the public feel more vulnerable and, by extension, dependent on leadership;
  11. shape public opinion with astroturf if grassroots support for the desired agenda is weak, since those who dissent will feel powerless and offer less resistance if they are made to believe they are in the minority;
  12. it is acceptable to overthrow the government if it interferes with the propagation of progressive principles and policies.

There are other radical ideas bandied about within the circles of Chicago political power, but these give you some flavor of the voices that influence the White House.

On that last point, about government overthrow: it can be accomplished through a quisling that is able to consolidate power, through a manipulation of public sentiment, through gaming the system, through martial law, through weakening the power of the people, through violence (Bill Ayers, again), or through scrapping the existing system of governance by causing it to collapse.

I believe the Chicago White House is advancing on all of those fronts.

I’d like to credit the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance (SOB Alliance) for raising the red flags of warning back in 2008 before the presidential election took place. Many of those on the SOB Alliance blogroll posted a 13-part series collectively titled HOPE ON (Help Ohio Prevent Electing Obama Now). There were detractors that insisted that the HOPE ON series was over-the-top propaganda, but re-reading those posts now, especially the ones dealing with economics, the HOPE ON series has hit the nail on the head.

HOPE ON part 1 Obama is part of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac problem
HOPE ON part 2 Obama’s reluctance to drill
HOPE ON part 3 Above Obama’s pay grade
HOPE ON part 4 Can the other side of the aisle even be reached from where Obama is?
HOPE ON part 5 Obama requested $740 million in earmarks
HOPE ON part 6 Obama’s stances ill-defined when voting “present”
HOPE ON part 7 Obama not inspiring our trust
HOPE ON part 8 What are Obama’s intentions for the middle class
HOPE ON part 9 Measure Obama and McCain by their character
HOPE ON part 10 Obama will tax us
HOPE ON part 11 What would Ronald Reagan do?
HOPE ON part 12 Obama isn’t just liberal–he’s extremely liberal
HOPE ON part 13 McCain the real deal

Some excerpts that stand out in my mind:

Part 8: Obama has attempted to portray himself as the champion of the middle class, but the windfall profits taxes and the high-bracket income tax increases proposed by Obama will backfire in the form of rising unemployment as the government dampens earning power, not just of individuals, but of employers as well.

Part 10: Obama talk of federal initiatives and taxes make it sound as if the government creates wealth, but the government doesn’t. The people create the wealth of the nation, and tax policy must reflect that, but Obama’s principles don’t even acknowledge that.

Part 12: The Citizens Club for Growth rated Obama tied for last place with a zero rating in Obama’s first year in [U.S. Senate] office.

Part 13:  Obama has revealed himself to be a socialist. We now have the smoking gun. Now that he’s been pinned down, his counter-argument is that McCain’s platform is based on “selfishness,” which is hardly the way I’d describe John McCain when the chips are down.

Also Part 13:  It’s now been shown that Obama’s reluctant shift toward an all-of-the-above approach toward energy was just a sham, as it’s now come out that the regulatory burden to be imposed on the coal industry during an Obama presidency will be prohibitive. How many more industries, not just in the energy sector, could be impacted by regulatory burdens imposed by Obama remains to be seen.

More part 13:  Obama’s views on education reform aren’t directed at learning or achieving academic success. As shown by his work with Bill Ayers, “social justice” is to be the ultimate imperative that the schools are charged with achieving.

What strikes me about the excerpt from Part 8 is that, indeed, we have higher unemployment than anyone had projected, and Obama’s highly complicated tax proposal presented to the Congress ensures that the government’s regulatory burden upon businesses will only increase, plus, of course, he still wants the taxes to be raised on the very people who are more likely to be business owners, and, in turn, businesses are the very entity that hires workers and brings our unemployment rates down.

The excerpt from Part 10 shows that Obama’s government is very heavy-handed and intrusive. We know that government does not create wealth, but that’s exactly what Obama’s meddling with. Government does not make people healthy, but the government is meddling there, too. The rhetoric loftily asserts that we now have a government who will work on your behalf, that will no longer allow problems to be swept under the rug. Aren’t we all just happy that our government will no longer turn a blind eye to anything? Ooh! Big Brother sees what you’re going through and is here to help. Big Brother will interfere (no, not intervene, I chose the right word: interfere) on your behalf. The funny thing is, I don’t think the main motive for transforming our government into Big Brother is to spy on us. I suspect that they are trying to grow the government big enough to collapse the system so that is is scrapped and can then be replaced with a system of their own design.

The Part 12 excerpt about Obama’s voting record during his first year in the U.S. Senate speaks volumes about where we find ourselves today. How far have we come since then? Back then, he stood for zero growth. Now it’s less than zero. His radical philosophy prevents him from wanting to sustain our employment base.

To placate the citizens, of course Obama’s going to say, with his mouth, that he wants to put people back to work. He’s putting obstacle after obstacle in the way of putting people back to work, so we need to wake up and realize there is another agenda afoot. Obama’s agenda is not a jobs agenda.

If Obama’s agenda were a jobs agenda, he wouldn’t:

  • be pushing for Cap and Trade
  • on top of Obamacare
  • on top of a more complicated tax code
  • on top of a tax hike
  • on top of extending unemployment benefits
  • on top of confusion at the Federal Reserve
  • on top of bailouts for America’s least successful most unethical companies
  • on top of subsidies for industries that aren’t sustainable
  • on top of a Dream Act that will add incentives for additional foreign nationals to immigrate here illegally
  • on top of a moratorium on tapping additional oil and coal energy resources
  • on top of compensating government employees better than the private sector does
  • on top of letting SEIU union leaders shape economic policy
  • on top of continued dysfunction at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • on top of a mind-boggling budget deficit
  • on top of an unfathomable national debt.

That’s not how you create jobs. That’s how you collapse the system!

The first excerpt from Part 13 includes a link to the radio interview in which Obama emphasizes “economic justice,” which is a progressive’s euphemistic jargon for the rise of the proletariat A.K.A communism.

On energy, in the 20d excerpt of Part 13, the timing of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was impeccable. We knew that Obama wasn’t sold on the all-of-the-above approach to energy, and now he can smile like a Cheshire cat that he has the most perfect of excuses for continuing our dependence on foreign oil and subsidizing “green” fuel technologies that are money pits because none of them are on the pathway toward self-sustainability. If you want to help Americans, especially during the expensive winter heating season, stop throwing up obstacles to getting the cheapest most reliable domestic sources of energy. The agenda is collapsing the system. Everything points to it.

And from the final excerpt of Part 13, it appears that the Ayers-propelled education reforms will, once implemented, groom the youth for their role in the new system that replaces the collapsed one.

The WikiLeaks website founder is on the run right now. He’s given the ultimatum that if he is taken into custody, all the documents at WikiLeaks will instantly go public. That could happen any day now, and Mr. Assange of WikiLeaks will be the “fall guy” whose infamy will be forever memorialized in history books as the one who precipitated the crash of the world’s economy.

When we reach the “What do we do next?” phase when we’re all shell-shocked and feeling vulnerable, Obama, as President of the United States of America, will set forth a new blueprint, the likes of which we’ve never seen before, and when he does, we will finally come to understand what his meaning of the word “transformation” is.

Election results match up well with Buckeye RINO endorsements

Though I said in my prior post that I still wouldn’t be happy though Republicans were projected to do well in Congressional races, I have to say, looking through election results, I’m not sad either.  Their are many reasons to smile.

The candidates I endorsed did reasonably well.

In Cuyahoga County, with the new form of government, the Republican didn’t win the county executive race.  Plus, of the 11 county council winners, only three are Republicans.  I’m not sure if that will put enough distance between the county government and the scandalous rascals who will make every attempt to infiltrate it.  On the bright side, having 3 Republicans in county office is a huge improvement over zero (and it’s been zero for a long time).

The last time I checked, the Erie County Auditor race was too close to call.  There’s still a chance it could turn out the right way, in favor of Rick Jeffrey.

Unfortunately, Jeff Krabill didn’t win the 80th District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.  He certainly came awfully close, though, as incumbent Dennis Murray didn’t even garner 50% in his successful re-election bid.  A Libertarian candidate, though not a winner, clearly influenced the outcome of that race.  If the Libertarians didn’t have a candidate on the ballot and it were a two person race, I don’t see how Dennis Murray would have been appealing to a Libertarian.  In a two-person race, I think Krabill would definitely have been the one who captured more than 50% of the vote.  Krabill can take solace in 3 facts: 1) He retains his seat on the Sandusky school board; 2) It took BOTH a Democrat AND a Libertarian to defeat him, as the Democrat couldn’t have done it alone; and 3) as a result of the 2010 Census and other Republican election victories, there may be a redesigned district, perhaps a more favorable one, for Krabill to run in if he chooses to take another shot at state rep in 2012.

In another race contested by more than two candidates where the winner captured less than 50% of the vote, the outcome was much more to my liking.  There was a four-way race for Lorain County Commissioner, and Joe Koziura came out on the short end of the stick. 😀  Republican Tom Williams is the new county commissioner.  Starting in January, Lorain County taxpayers will finally have an advocate working on their behalf in county offices.

Skip Lewandowski didn’t win his state rep race in the 56th District, and he would have been an excellent state rep.  Rae Lynn Brady didn’t win in the 57th, either.  On the upside, Terry Boose easily won re-election in the 58th District, Rex Damschroder prevailed in the 81st District, and the GOP recaptured the Ohio House of Representatives.

In the 13th state senate district, Gayle Manning won.

Kathleen McGervey won her election to the state school board.

The Kasich/Taylor ticket uprooted Ted Strickland from the governor’s office.

David Yost won for Ohio Auditor and Josh Mandel for Ohio Treasurer.

The GOP will lead the reapportionment process for designing new legislative district boundaries based on the new 2010 Census figures.

Maureen O’Connor and Judith Lanzinger won races for the Ohio Supreme Court.

Bob Latta won re-election.  Peter Corrigan, Rich Iott, and Tom Ganley did not win, but 5 Ohio Democrat U.S. Representative incumbents (Mary Jo Kilroy, Steve Driehaus,  John Boccieri, Zack Space, and Charlie Wilson) were defeated by Republican challengers, so, in January, the Ohio delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will include 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats.  As expected, the GOP, nationwide, picked up more than 60 House seats.

Rob Portman won the race for U.S. Senate, and the GOP made nationwide gains there, with at least a net gain of six Senate seats since the special election in Massachusetts that sent Scott Brown to Washington DC.

There you have it.  Lots to smile about this time around.

Congress predicted to be more Republican, but I’m still not happy

Election time is here.

Republican prospects for making gains in Congress appear to be in the offing.

But I’ll still be unhappy with Congress.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m energized about voting.

But I also have a melancholy feeling that won’t dissipate even with Republican control of Congress and the statehouse.

Why?  We Republicans recycle way too much of our garbage.  If I were speaking of environmental issues, you wouldn’t see a problem with that.  No, I’m talking about derelict Republican politicians who resurface in elective office when they didn’t do a good job before the Democratic tide of 2006 rolled in.  Perhaps no example illustrates this better than Jon Husted, who was Speaker of the House back in 2006, and now he’s the Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State.  Why is this guy still around?  Did we actually like the job he did and want to bask in those glory days again?  No.  It’s not as if I want O’Shaughnessy to win.  I don’t.  I endorsed the Libertarian, Charles Earl, in that race, but I have no expectation that he’ll come anywhere near winning this election.  I expect Earl’s percentage share of the vote will be in the very low single digits.  My conscience won’t let me offer my support to either Husted or O’Shaughnessy.

Many might say we want some new blood to take the reins of government.  But do we see any new faces?  Senator Voinovich is stepping down, so we’ll get some turnover for that seat, and I expect Rob Portman will win it handily, but is either Portman or Lee Fisher a new face?

Even if a tidal wave sweeps Republicans into power this time around, aren’t these the same guys that have been in the pipeline for about 4 years now?  Were any of them that stellar back in 2006 to say,”Hey, how about recapturing the seat you just lost?”  I think at least some of us, at least me, had been hoping the old guard would concede defeat and some newer faces would emerge to try to give the Republican Party an image makeover.

The best headlines this year were the ones where Tea Party favorites defeated the establishment in GOP primaries.  I’m not 100% on board with the Tea Party (maybe I’m 80% on board with them), but I’m very happy that they’ve become a sizable enough group to do some GOP housecleaning.  Heaven knows we’ve badly needed it.  I wish there were some astonishing Tea Party victories here in Ohio, rather than down in Kentucky, over in Delaware, way out there in Nevada, and all the way up in Alaska.  But I’ll take what I can get.

The Tea Party is really a middle-of-the-road constituency.  Many among them are not hardcore Christian conservatives.  Many are independent voters and ardent supporters of minor political parties.  The mainstream media has it all wrong.  These are not the people on the extreme conservative fringe of the political spectrum.  They are the people that live next door or down the street, or maybe even you, yourselves.

And with that false MSM portrayal of the Tea Party, the establishment has woven a narrative that the Tea Party favorites are too radical, too extreme, to represent the voters.

The word “radical” is used to describe change.  It is a change that is an abrupt departure from what was considered the norm.  I think what the establishment finds so radical about the aspirations of the Tea Party is that the establishment would be replaced by the Tea Party favorites.  There’s nothing really extreme in the ideology.  It’s all about a reluctance to relinquish power.  The crop of establishment Republicans we have before us have pretty much used ideology as just mere words to rally the masses.  They don’t really vote that way as legislators.  As legislators, they enjoy the perks of cutting deals, of being power brokers.  They are drawn to those halls of power for exactly those reasons.  They don’t really do our bidding.  That’s how we end up with a Congress we have a low opinion of.

I’d be in favor of some radical change.

With no favorable track record for the establishment to run on, since they are such hypocrites with all their conservative talk, and a focus on their track record would truly expose their hypocrisy, they have made these elections about the question marks that surround the Tea Party favorites instead of about themselves.  Radical.  Extreme.  Untested.  Inexperienced.  Unqualified.  You are being told that Tea Party candidates are radical and extreme.

In reality, the most radical and extreme thing the Tea Party hopes to do in electing candidates this year is to replace the establishment.  That’s what’s so unappealing to the establishment, is that the Tea Party’s aim is to put the incumbents out of a job, replaced by one of their own.  Otherwise, the establishment Republicans are borrowing Tea Party credos for their own propaganda about what they, themselves, stand for.  If the Tea Party is so extreme, so radical, why are the establishment Republicans echoing exactly what the Tea Party faithful are saying?  Is it just pandering for votes?  Of course it is.  They want to co-opt the Tea Party message for themselves to win enough votes to put them over the top, but those messages really don’t convey what these Republican establishment types are all about nor do they really describe how they govern.

Pure and simple, the charges of “radical” and “extreme” are a last-ditch desperate effort of the entrenched establishment to hold on to power.

What’s worse is that the establishment really thinks that they are entitled to that power.

They’ll tell you that a Christine O’Donnell in Delaware or a Joe Miller in Alaska have no rightful claim to seats in the U.S. Senate.  In O’Donnell’s case, the establishment conceded a November GOP defeat just as soon as the primary election outcome in Delaware was announced.  They took their ball and went home. They gave up.  They quit.

The most perfect illustrations of the establishment’s sense of entitlement are Charlie Crist in Florida and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.

Former Florida Governor Crist, desperate to remain part of the national GOP establishment that he’d networked with, pulled out of a GOP primary race with Marco Rubio so that he didn’t have to make an early exit.  He’s running as an independent, instead, grasping at anything he can cling to so that he can stick around.

Lisa Murkowski had no intention of an early exit, either.  After a primary election defeat at the hands of Joe Miller, she got back in the race as a write-in candidate.  She’s that addicted to the power she wielded.  She can’t bring herself to walk away.  She is trying to claw her way back into the Senate any which way she can.

Joe Miller and Christine O’Donnell have found themselves ridiculed for episodes from their past.  Should this disqualify them from serious consideration?  Lisa Murkowski may think so, but I’ve been around the block enough to know that all those establishment politicians have episodes from their past that they hope will go unnoticed.  Christine O’Donnell, if she were placed on the scale with some sitting GOP Senator, and the blemishes from each one’s past weighed, would her demerits be any weightier than those already in the halls of power?

Lisa Murkowski, go ahead and point a finger at Joe Miller.  There are four fingers pointing back at you.

I am absolutely disgusted when a sitting politician intones that a challenger is unqualified to be a legislator.  I’m not swayed by their citations of “experience” as a reason to support them over anyone else.

The qualifications for being a Senator are the same as for being a registered voter except for a residency requirement (reside in the state you represent) and an age requirement (over 30 years old).   How could anybody that meets those requirements possibly be unqualified?  And what advantage is it to be an experienced legislator than an inexperienced one?  The more experienced you get as a legislator, the farther removed you are from the constituents you represent, and the closer the orbit around lobbyists becomes as you are exposed to their tempting propositions for a longer duration of time.

It’s okay for legislators to be amateurs.  In fact, it’s the ideal for them to be amateurs.  When amateurs write our laws, they are likely to be more fair to the ordinary people of the United States, because they feel and experience what we feel and experience.  Though it was pooh-poohed by the establishment and the MSM, I thought it was a major selling point when Christine O’Donnell said in an ad, “I’m you.”

Our Constitution has checks and balances built into it to ensure that our nation retains a government of the people, by the people, for the people.  There are the separation of powers between the branches of government (executive, judicial, legislative) to check and balance each other.  The Congress, itself, is structured with checks and balances.  It doesn’t consist of one person issuing decrees.  In the Senate, there are 100 persons and in the House there are 435, so, within each chamber, they check and balance each other, plus one chamber checks and balances the other chamber.  So, if a Tea Party favorite really does turn out to be a train wreck, the damage done is limited.

There are also checks and balances between amateurs and seasoned professional public servants.

The executive branch enforces the laws.  They administer.  A politician who aspires to the executive branch ought to demonstrate some relevant experience.  The resume of an executive branch candidate is highly relevant.  You need someone with a lot of honed skills to be effective in the executive branch, and experience can demonstrate effective skills.

Judges are also professionals.  Their chief qualifications are revealed by their resume.  They interpret the law, review it to insure a law’s fidelity to the Constitution, and deliberate over very complex matters painstakingly set forth in courtroom hearings.  They administer justice and balance the rights of the accuser with the rights of those accused when charges are lodged and suspects brought to trial.

But government decisions made only by professionals would lead us down the path of elitism which gives way to aristocracy which gives way to tyranny.

Voting is not the only check and balance amateurs have upon the professionals.  Though a judge presides over a court room, a jury of amateurs decides the outcome.  Though the executive branch carries out the law, it was intended for amateurs to make them.  Turnover was to be encouraged so that we would have some amateurs arriving with each successive election cycle, while others who’d been in Congress a long time would eventually return to private life.  That’s why elections for the U.S. House of Representatives occur every two years, to encourage such turnover to keep the Congress in touch with the people.  There ought to be no career legislators.  A career in elected political office is only fitting for the executive branch (and the judicial branch, although in the federal government, being a judge is not an elected office).

Yes, I want to show Democrats the door.  I will be voting Republican for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  But I’m not elated that, in many cases, the Republicans poised to capture seats are the same ones we were disenchanted with back in 2006.

Guest blog: Tea Party will not hurt the GOP

Editor’s note:  James Williamson, one of my younger brothers, an Ohio native, but currently residing in Nevada, authored this blog piece and has previously written guest blogs for Buckeye RINO, which you may read here, here, here, and here.  While I’ve often offer election endorsements, it is true that I don’t often make predictions of the outcomes.  I’m more interested in how I think you should vote rather than how I think you will vote. I have offered predictions about trends in economics, foreign affairs, and religion, though. Further, I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say the Tea Party Movement belongs to the Republicans, as independents, Libertarians, moderate Democrats, and those from other minor political parties are welcome to participate in the Party, and have, in fact, participated in significant numbers.  I concede that the public perception may be that a coalition of independents and a splinter group of Republicans (the ones who have “gone rogue”)  are the nucleus around which the Tea Party Movement has coalesced, and that the MSM plays up the dynamics of the interactions between the Tea Party Movement and the GOP, thus portraying the Tea Party Movement and the GOP as joined at the hip.  I think Sharron Angle surprised everyone with $14 million raised during the latest financial reporting cycle, which underscores the assertions that James has printed here.–DJW

TEA PARTY WILL NOT HURT THE GOP

Recently there have been some statements by prominent members of the Democratic Party that tea party candidates will weaken the GOP by placing radicals on the ballot that cannot get elected in a general election.  Don’t be fooled this nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of the Democrats.  There are at least three reasons why the Tea Party candidates will not hurt, but actually may help the GOP’s chances of taking back Congress in November.

1.       The schism within the party isn’t really a schism. Ironically it was the Republicans two years ago who were pointing at the Hillary Clinton – Barack Obama runoff that touched of serious debate (and name calling) within the Democratic Party and tried to say that the Democratic Party was on the verge of falling apart.  No such luck for the Republicans then and no such luck for the Democrats now.  Again, ironically, it was Bill Clinton who tried to calm critics in his own party by saying that there was nothing wrong with having rigorous debate within the party, that it was all part of the political process, and that there was no reason to run around yelling “The sky is falling.”   The same Bill Clinton that is now calling the Tea Party candidates radicals and extremists. Politically motivated or just an astute observer?  I’ll let you decide that.  Despite all the rhetoric, the Tea Party movement belongs in the GOP. It wouldn’t survive in the Democratic Party because it runs against everything the Democrats believe in.  The fundamentals of the movement do strike a chord with Republicans, though, as it would be impossible to win a primary if it didn’t.  The mere fact that the Tea Party candidates are winning GOP primaries is evidence that no third party is forthcoming. After all, it was when Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t win his party’s nomination that he formed the Bull Moose Party.  The Tea Partiers may be upstarts within the Republican Party but they definitely belong to it and the RNC better get used to the idea.

2.       Anti-establishmentarianism is stronger than the establishment wants to believe. It is so strong (and not without reason) that I predict that record numbers of newcomers to Congress will be elected this year.  (I haven’t done the math, but at this point that may not be much of a prediction since there are so many newcomer candidates and vacating incumbents.)  Why else could Sharron Angle be virtually tied with Harry Reid in the polls?  If Angle has no political experience, no money (compared to Reid), and no brains (according to her critics) then why is she running neck and neck with the highest ranking official in the Senate?  The answer is simple:  Voters don’t care about experience and they don’t care how much money you have.  I will make one more prediction on this one (even though the Buckeye RINO doesn’t like to make predictions, I have no qualms about doing so.  I don’t get embarrassed when I’m wrong.):  Money won’t matter this election.  In fact it may actually hurt you come November because you will be viewed as the establishment AKA the enemy.  These are perfect conditions for the Tea Party Movement and without the anti-establishment mood the movement would never have gotten off the ground.

3.        The GOP needed a whipping. As many others have noted, both parties have been swinging wildly left on the political spectrum.  Republicans barely have more fiscal restraint than Democrats.  Even on moral issues there has been a leftward drift.  Some may think that this is a reflection of the change in thought of the public or even simply progress in political thought, but support for the Tea Party Movement refutes those notions.  The public has not shifted to the left. The political elites have. With things out of balance and Washington being ever deafer to constituents, a pull back to the right is necessary to keep things in balance.  I would point out that even in Europe so-called right-wing “extremists” have made a lot of headway in the last decade.

I might even go so far as to say that the Tea Party Movement may actually become what saves our political process and averts outright revolution.  You can only ignore your constituents for so long before they get angry and only so long after that before they go for their guns….  Of course I could be wrong on that count too.  The Tea Party Movement may not be enough to get the blue bloods in Washington to listen and we may need a second American Revolution…

Marcy Kaptur lives in a glass house & throws rocks at Rich Iott

It makes a lot more sense to call U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur an Osama Bin Laden sympathizer than to call GOP nominee Rich Iott a Nazi sympathizer.

Did she really say, in her press release characterizing Iott’s war re-enactments as equivalent to an endorsement of WW II Nazis, “To perpetuate such a twisted and dangerous view of history is outrageous and indefensible?”

Well, let’s step back in time to March 1st, 2003.  The Toledo Blade attributed quotes to Marcy Kaptur from an interview that smacks of revisionism to me.  And, by the way, her take on Osama Bin Laden omits any sympathy toward Jews.  Who is a more clear and present danger to Jews, Israel, and even America, today?  Adolph Hitler or Osama Bin Laden?

“One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown”

And she said this, too:

“I think that one thing that people of faith understand about the world of Islam is that the kind of insurgency we see occurring in many of these countries is an act of hope that life will be better using Islam as the only reed that they have to lean on.

“I think that people of faith understand that for many of the terrorists, their actions are acts of sacred piety to the point of losing their lives. And I think that people of faith understand that there is a heavy religious overtone to the opposition.”

Do people of the Jewish faith understand and put into perspective the actions of the terrorists from such a sympathetic view?  There are many within the Jewish community who exhibit religious tolerance and do not harbor personal enmity against their Muslim neighbors in America, but I don’t think there are many who would view the terrorists in the same light as Marcy Kaptur does.

From the myriad emails I get from those of the Christian faith, I’d say no, they don’t understand.  Not in the way that Marcy Kaptur understands.  Many don’t even understand my pleas  for religious tolerance on this blog.

To be sure, I have, more than once, called for more religious tolerance, and my plea for religious tolerance extended to Muslims in America.  Check it out for yourself by clicking this link and this link.

But we’re talking about terrorists, not about Muslims in America who obey all our laws.

And if the actions and propaganda of the Islamic terrorists in other parts of the world are couched in terms of “a heavy religious overtone,” what does the heavy religious overtone consist of, and to what end is it purveyed?

Annihilation of Israel?  Annihilation of the largest population of Jews outside of Israel, namely New York City?  Annihilation of America, which terrorists refer to as “the great Satan?”  Aren’t these perversions of Islamic teachings aimed toward such ends?

But Marcy Kaptur made nary a mention of the terrorists’ rampage against the Jewish religion (nor of anti-Semitism, in general) in her interview, nor in her “clarification” a few days later (World Net Daily article from March 8,2003).  She only referenced the religious convictions of the Americans engaged in the Revolutionary War against the British crown and her own Catholicism.  Is this omission tantamount to whitewashing what the terrorists truly stand for and strive for?  You decide.  But read what follows before you do.

In her interview, she was pleading for peace, to take no military action against such an “insurgency we see occurring in many of these countries.”  In the aftermath of the Holocaust, didn’t we solemnly resolve “Never again?”  Don’t these terrorists wish to emulate the Holocaust?

Her remembrance of the history surrounding the American Revolution and the motives of the American colonies’ rebellion is on shaky ground.  This is no benign revisionism.  It is “a twisted and dangerous view of history” when applied to Osama Bin Laden and his ilk.

Massachusetts was a Puritan colony.  Maryland was a Roman Catholic colony, settled by those who felt Great Britain under the Church of England was too religiously oppressive.  Yet there were colonies that were settled in large numbers by the adherents of the Church of England.

The Puritans sought to escape persecution in England by relocating, first to the Low Countries off England’s shore, and, shortly thereafter, in Massachusetts.  But that didn’t mean that the Puritans of Massachusetts championed religious liberty.  Why did Roger Williams leave Massachusetts and take on an important role in the colony of Rhode Island?  Roger Williams wanted more religious liberty than could be found in Massachusetts.

With all these competing religions in the 13 colonies, religious liberty in America had to be hammered out during the framing of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.  Religious liberty was not achieved by rebelling against Britain in the American Revolution, nor did it instigate the rebellion.  Though Americans had a lengthy list of grievances against Great Britain, heavy taxation without any representation in Parliament was the actual spark that led to the Revolution.

Armed conflict in the name of religion happened in Northern Ireland, in the Christian reconquest of Moorish Spain, during the Crusades in the Holy Land, and in many other places throughout time, but not here on American soil, not even during the American Revolution.

Yet Marcy Kaptur portrayed the terrorists as akin to Revolutionary Americans.  Such revisionist statements, if believed, would evoke sympathy toward the terrorists point of view.  Even in her clarification, though she spoke out against terrorists, she did not abandon this faulty view of history and defended her comparison between the terrorists and the Americans who fought the War of Independence.  Make no mistake, the Islamic Jihads occurring in other regions of the world are not wars for achieving independence.  Quite the opposite.  And with this comparison as the rationale for “peace” with the terrorists, her “twisted and dangerous view of history is outrageous and indefensible.”  If we exit the fight against terror in the name of peace, would peace really flourish under the rule of the terrorists?  There is no peace, whether we fight or not, but the fight against terror serves to protect us.  I think protecting ourselves is a worthwhile endeavor.  I thank God for the courageous women and men in our nation’s military who provide the most important public services rendered by any persons on the government payroll.

Marcy Kaptur further revises history, during her interview, by asserting that the attacks against us were brought about by ourselves.  We bear some blame in the attacks.

” . . . we have to learn to coexist in a world with religious states that we may not agree with and find ways to cooperate.”

Those “religious states” have even more need “to learn to coexist” than we do.  We are at the vanguard of finding ways to cooperate and coexist in the world.  We do better at it amongst ourselves within our own borders than any other country in the world does, and we endeavor, throughout the world, to follow that same ethic.

And further:

” . . . I think this is such an important moment in history is because the United States cannot become the target of the anguish of the dispossessed in the most undemocratic region of the world.”

Two things about that statement bother me.

The first is that we can make ourselves a target of the dispossessed.  Last time I checked, there are more dispossessed in the world who would rather migrate here than who would attack us.  We don’t target ourselves and we don’t make targets of ourselves.  The terrorists who cannot abide democracy choose to target us of their own volition.  We ought not to abandon democracy, not even to avoid being targeted.

The second is that, in “the most undemocratic region of the world,” the dispossessed would do far better to alleviate their anguish by contending against their own tyrants than to contend against us.  They should be seeking to gain their independence from tyranny.

If Rich Iott is a Nazi sympathizer for playing the role in such re-enactments, then whenever anyone stages a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” we should disavow and repudiate the actors who appear as Nazis in that musical as being sympathetic to the perpetrators of the Holocaust.  Hollywood ought to banish actors who play the roles of Nazis in their films for the very same reason.  Kaptur’s reasoning in denouncing Iott on these grounds is a prime exhibit of the politics of personal destruction and character assassination.  There’s no merit to what she alleges.

Kaptur’s posturing against Iott is mudslinging.  Let’s call it what it is.

Apparently, there are Kaptur henchmen who are defacing Iott yard signs with swastikas . . . or are these Kaptur supporters who have gone rogue?  In this Blade article, a Kaptur spokesperson, Mary Chris Skeldon isn’t so convincing in keeping Kaptur distanced from the vandals.

“For him to blame the actions of others on our campaign is ridiculous and a sign of desperation.”

The Kaptur campaign made a ridiculous charge in the first place that associated Iott with swastikas.  Why wouldn’t the Kaptur campaign’s mudslinging be the impetus for such antics?  And isn’t it the mudslinging, itself, a hallmark of desperation on Kaptur’s part?

Kaptur wants this story to be in the headlines rather than issues of domestic policy.  As an incumbent representative to Congress, shouldn’t she want the headlines to be the causes she championed in Congress?  Shouldn’t it be about the legislation she delivered on and the legislation she’d pursue if re-elected?  Nope.  Iott must be polling within single digits of Kaptur.  She stooped this low against Iott, but not against prior contenders that she bested by double digits.

Iott, for his part, has remained focused on issues, with press release after press release talking about reforming Congressional earmarks and reversing downward economic trends.  He’s the one taking the higher road.

Obama’s highly political “economic policy” speech in Parma

Listening to a speech billed as revelatory of Obama’s economic proposals, I was hard-pressed to identify any new direction in White House economic policy.

Before a cherry-picked audience of Cleveland-area Democrats, Obama tried to fire up his political base in advance of the November elections.  His remarks were enthusiastically received by those in attendance, but my own take on Obama’s address was that it was the very epitome of political double-speak.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of all the double-speak featured in Obama’s speech, so feel free to add to the list in the comments section:

  1. He decried inheriting a deficit of a trillion plus from the previous administration.  Then he portrayed his actions of the following year, also incurring a deficit of a trillion plus, as a rescue from a national financial meltdown and as an investment in the future, particularly an investment in education.
  2. He called for tax breaks for small businesses.  Most small businesses are not corporations.  A large number of small businesses are owned by private individuals, and such businesses report their profits or losses on the business owner’s personal income taxes.  Taxes on annual incomes over $250,000 are set to increase dramatically as temporary tax cuts expire, thus increasing the tax burdens for a significant number of small businesses.
  3. He stated that he favored a free marketplace, yet the policies he is pursuing, especially redistribution of wealth and government investment in industries that aren’t self-sustaining, continue the trend toward a centrally-planned economy.
  4. He stated that the middle class didn’t reap any economic benefits when the legislative and executive branches of federal government were controlled by Republicans.  He stated that the middle class was shrinking under Republican rule, and that he intended to grow the middle class starting with making temporary middle class tax cuts permanent.  On the other hand, he acknowledged a high unemployment rate with a forecast that it will take a long time for private sector employment to rebound.  Widespread unemployment has hit the middle class hard, and threatens to shrink the size of the middle class.
  5. He derided our largest corporations and our most influential industries for being left to regulate themselves while taking credit for saving our nation from a financial meltdown.  The most influential industry that regulated itself was the financial industry, and the largest corporations within that industry, who were the most egregious with their excesses, were the beneficiaries of bailouts that Obama supported.  As for self-serving regulators and bad actors in the financial industry instrumental in its demise, it should be noted that, in the Obama administration, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers are charged with the responsibilities of financial industry oversight.
  6. Though acknowledging that he and his party have the clout to enact laws without the help of the Republican Party due to the overwhelming Democrat majority in the current Congress, Obama, over and over again, scapegoated the Republican caucus for thwarting the legislation that the White House sought to advance.

One of the most astonishing claims that Obama made was that Ohio’s economy had grown over the past several months.  Is that what Ohio’s economy looks and feels like to you?  To me, the comment was designed to bolster the faltering Strickland gubernatorial campaign.

His frequent negative references to John Boehner alongside his criticisms that Congressional Republicans wanted to revert to failed economic policies of the past that put our nation’s economy in the ditch indicated to me that Obama is alarmed at the number of Ohio’s Congressional races now rated as tossups rather than rated as leaning toward the Democrat incumbents.

Stemming the Republican tide in the polls leading up to the general election, particularly in the swing state of Ohio, was clearly the main aim of the President’s speech.

Congressional Republicans must indeed share in the blame for our nation’s economic collapse.

Republicans (and Democrats) aided in distorting the marketplace, thus short-circuiting the natural corrections characteristic of a free marketplace.  These marketplace distortions create an uncompetitive business climate (with the health care coverage provider industry among the least competitive).  These marketplace distortions take many forms, from regulations that favor some industries and corporations over others; to earmarks and government investments in enterprises that aren’t self-sustaining; to regulatory bodies comprised of the agents of the largest corporations in an industry to the exclusion of smaller businesses and neutral, disinterested, independent parties; to forging private-public partnerships and forming hybrid private-public companies; to steering government contracts; to government marketplace intervention in the interest of political expediency; to carving out exceptions to the tax code for politically connected companies.  Lobbyists secure these marketplace advantages using incentives such as political campaign contributions.

Republicans (and Democrats) have enacted federal budgets that have run up deficits and incurred more government debt.

The business community is complicit in these machinations that have brought about our nation’s economic plunge beyond what has already been stated.  For example, the business community has clamored for greater government transparency and accountability, yet transparency and accountability should apply to the business community as well.  The Wall Street meltdown should never have happened after the debacle of Enron and the related demise of the Arthur Anderson accounting firm, but unethical business leaders continue to sidestep accountability, as the recent bailouts clearly illustrate.

These are the factors that ran our economy into the ditch–not free market capitalism, not limited government, not austere government spending, and not low tax rates.

In this speech, President Obama states that our nation has already tried the “failed” Republican approach of free market capitalism, limited government, austere budgets, and low tax rates.  Personally, I think the Congressional Republicans have talked the talk, but have not walked the walk, thus the approach Congressional Republicans give lip service to has NOT been tried.  Rank-and-file Republicans, independents, Libertarians, and even clear-thinking Democrats hope that Congressional Republicans have gotten the message (a message delivered through public polling that shows the electorate’s overwhelming disapproval of Congress and through rallies such as those organized by Tea Party groups) and finally mean what they say.

So, as we approach the November elections, should we support Congressional Republicans or Congressional Democrats?  Isn’t there a risk that Congressional Republicans still won’t walk the walk?  For myself, at least the Congressional Republicans are saying the right things about free markets, limited government, budget cuts, and tax cuts, while the Congressional Democrats and the President, himself, eschew such principles, leading me to support the Republican candidates for Congress.  After all, who is more likely to deliver on those right things?  I think since the leading Republicans are at least talking about pursuing those right things, they are more likely to deliver on them than leading Democrats are, since the Democrats are talking about pursuing an opposite approach.

Guest blog: NY State may be awash in red ink, but a state taxing the indigenous Seneca Nation is unconstitutional

Editor’s note: This blog article was written by James Williamson, one of my younger brothers, who is an Ohio native and, for now, an Alaska resident (his employer, a company owned by Alaskan Natives, soon plans to transfer him to another office in another state).  James married a woman from among the indigenous Otavalo people of Ecuador, so his learning curve pertaining to indigenous American peoples is fairly steep.  James has written three prior guest blog pieces for Buckeye RINO that dealt with recent schisms between states and the federal government.  In the last two guest blog pieces, Imminent Rebellion: The Tar Pit, and Imminent Rebellion: the new Fort Sumter, the federal government and several states, most notably Arizona, do not see eye to eye on the immigration issue.  His initial guest blog piece Imminent Rebellion: States vs the Federal Government spotlighted the rising tide of states reasserting their 10th Amendment rights, such as Texas, with its governor, Rick Perry, openly talking about secession.  The state of New York has not seceded, but they are acting like a nation unto themselves when they ignore treaties between the USA and indigenous tribes, such as the Seneca Nation (counted among the league of Iroquois Nations), with their latest tax grab scheme.  NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, representing a city with a voracious appetite for tax revenues collected beyond the city limits, stated he’d grab a cowboy hat and a shotgun to forcibly seize money from the Senecas on behalf of a fiscally irresponsible New York State.

Don’t Mess with the Natives!

Recently I read an article that caught me by surprise.  The mayor of our nations largest city is calling for the governor of New York to grab “a cowboy hat and a shotgun” and beat the natives into submission.  You can read the text here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/19/seneca-nation-wants-bloomberg-cowboy-hat-shotgun-comment/

And the follow-up article here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/21/american-indian-tribe-miffed-bloomberg-remark-sues-block-ny-cigarette-tax/

Of course the natives are not happy…

At first this may seem a trivial dispute, but what caught my attention was that the taxes were being levied upon the Iroquois Nations not by treaty, but by a state legislature.  Why is it that all dealings with American Indians in the early days of our country were by treaty and had to be signed by the president and ratified by the senate, but the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City are able to levy a tax on the Nations of the Iroquois through state legislation?

Let’s start with the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article 1 Section 2, which reads, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”  This of course was later modified by the 14th Amendment.  You will note a striking similarity between the previous sentence and the following sentence from the 14th Amendment.  “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.’

This may appear to be trivial but I assure you it is not.  Why were the Indians (Native American tribes) not taxed?  Could it be that they were considered sovereign nations?  If they were not considered sovereign then why was it necessary to sign treaties with them and have them ratified by congress in the same manner as any other sovereign nation?   The answer of course is that they were recognized as sovereign then.  Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”.  Sorry Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Paterson, you are not allowed by the constitution to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes.  Congress is.

Interestingly enough American Indians in their entirety were not considered citizens until 1924 with the passage of the Native American Citizenship Act.  (Everyone else got it in 1868 with the 14th Amendment.)  Even so, the first state to guarantee the right to vote was Utah in 1957.  Yes, that’s right it took longer for them than women or blacks.   But I digress…

Returning to the question of sovereignty and citizenship the 14th Amendment of the Constitution states:  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  Hmm… If the American Indian nations are sovereign then are they subject to the jurisdiction of the US and therefore citizens?  If the child of an ambassador is born in the US, the child may not be considered a citizen because an ambassador is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  They are subject to the jurisdiction of the country of their parents because they are on U.S. soil for diplomatic purposes and, as such, granted immunity (at least in theory) from U.S. laws.   So what conclusions can we draw?  Well, it would appear to me that an American Indian is only a citizen and bound by the laws of the United States if he so chooses.  Otherwise he is a citizen of, and subject to the laws of, the tribe or nation to which he belongs and not subject to the federal government of the United States or to any of the states.

Interestingly enough, the Iroquois nations are the only tribes that issue their own passports.  Yes, the very nations that are balking at this unconstitutional taxation of the Indians.  Why would they issue their own passports and refuse to travel on U.S. passports if they wanted to be counted as U.S. citizens and be subject to its laws?  See the link below for the story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/sports/17lacrosse.html

Now it’s understandable the Mr. Paterson and Mr. Bloomberg would want to tax the Iroquois nations.  Their governments are bleeding red ink and they want revenue wherever they can get it.  Since they have already been squeezing the life out of everyone else, the relatively tax-free Iroquois Nations probably look like a popsicle in the middle of the fires of hell…

I would have to question the wisdom in this policy.  Is it wise to antagonize a group of people who don’t consider themselves part of your culture, race, or nation when you have already removed them from their ancestral lands, decimated their population, destroyed their culture, and deprived them of liberty?   You have taken their coat and cloak already and now you want the sandals, staff, and undergarments as well?  Why not beat up a kid for his shoes and then take his lunch money too?  Why not chase a bear into its den to take the food right out of its mouth?  What Mr. Bloomberg fails to understand is that, in the mind of the Seneca Nation, he is the bully that has been stealing their lunch for a very, very long time.  He better pray that the kid getting his lunch money taken neither finds bigger, meaner friends, nor suddenly experiences a growth spurt and gains some more muscle mass…

Next time Mr. Bloomberg pick on someone your own size.  Try riding through downtown New York City with your cowboy hat and shotgun and get the mafia bosses to comply with the law and let’s see how you fare…

My take on the Christian Science Monitor op/ed by Michael Spencer on “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”

This is my second consecutive blog post on the topic of religious tolerance, and it’s a topic I’ve touched on before, in this post at great length, and tangentially in this post, this post, this post, and this post.  Those four latter posts were chiefly about Rev. Wright, and how silly I thought it was to tie Obama to Rev. Wright.  I still think it was silliness.  In thirty years time, probably much less, the story of the interaction between religion and politics will be dominated by much weightier matters, and Rev. Wright won’t even be a blip on the radar screen.  In fact, we’ll probably yearn for the day when Rev. Wright was the top story, as a recollection of the good old days.

There’s a reason I’m harping on this topic.  I sense grave trouble ahead for the First Amendment’s freedom of religion.  If the religious tolerance doesn’t improve, at some future date, we could be living in a very different America where the government is very hostile toward religion.  If it reaches that point, then, in my mind, America will cease to be America.

But before I elaborate further, I want to draw your attention to an editorial that I saw two or three days ago in the Christian Science Monitor, but apparently it was written much earlier at a blog titled Internet Monk.  Written by a Christian named Michael Spencer, it was titled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.”  Seeing the editorial this week I thought was very timely, considering some other headlines this week in relation to Federal courts.  The editorial is displayed across three pages on the CSM website, and I recommend clicking the link and reading at least to the top of the second page.

I’m sure you’ve seen the evangelical Christian mega-churches, emblematic of the charismatic movement that feature dancing and clapping to Christian rock music played on drums, electronic keyboards, and electric guitars, with sermons derived just as much from poetry and song lyrics as they are from the scriptures.  Maybe you even attend such a church.  The modern charismatic movement within Christianity was an adaptation mostly designed to bring younger generations in contact with the churches.  It was thought that without such adaptations, the Christian congregations would dwindle away to nearly nothing as church members aged and passed away with none of the rising generation taking their places in the pews.

The charismatic style of worship is not what I prefer, myself.  I prefer the more traditional services, with hymns accompanied by a piano or organ, and sermons that delve into scripture.  But I’m not writing this blog piece to find fault with the evangelical movement in a wish that worship returns to a more traditional format.  Quite the opposite.  I’m concerned that the evangelical charismatic movement might be decimated.

Spencer’s op/ed discusses some of the vulnerabilities of the charismatic format of worship, particularly the vulnerabilities of parishioners who are not so informed about the doctrines recorded in the Bible.

The strength of the charismatic movement is fellowship, a sense of belonging, of knowing that your fellow parishioners deeply love and care about you, and another strength is the simple sermons that communicate the message “God loves you.”  Indeed, God does love us–it’s the most important message a Christian church ought to convey–and fellowship was one of the purposes in forming churches in the first place.

Michael Spencer points out that enduring discipleship requires deeper doctrinal roots, and that can be more challenging to foster in the charismatic format of worship.  Touting conservative political values can ring hollow without deeper understandings of doctrine.  The perceived bond between evangelical Christianity and political conservatism means that evangelical Christianity will have the same ire directed at it as is directed at conservatism.  When that ire bears down with full force upon the parishioners of the evangelical ministries, significant numbers of them will not be sufficiently prepared to withstand it.  Jesus Christ told a parable of a sower and seed.  The seeds that could get no depth of root, though they sprouted quickly, were eventually scorched by the mid-day sun.

So, in my mind, religious tolerance practiced by all Americans would allow these ministries to continue to flourish, and I hope such is the case.  So I have been harping on the principle of religious tolerance.  All faiths, including non-Christian faiths, stand to benefit.

There you have it.  I’ve explained myself.  I’ve explained my motive.

But I believe Michael Spencer is not mistaken.  I see the writing on the wall.  On our current trajectory, I believe, as he does, that:

“Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.”

Michael Spencer goes on to predict what the fallout will look like, what elements of Christianity are likely to survive the onslaught, and what principles to follow that will likely bring about Christian revitalization.  I differ somewhat on what the fallout will look like, but I don’t wish to dwell on it too much.

Instead, I have something to say concerning the agents of hostility against Christianity.  Spencer does not identify who these agents of intolerance will be, nor does he identify the path by which the government becomes hostile to Christianity.

A prominent headline in the mainstream media this week has been the ruling by a Federal district court that California’s Proposition 8 identifying marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.  I’ve been keeping a wary eye on this. Our Constitution begins with “We the People,” yet a vote of the people has been overturned by this ruling.  Each state determines its own marriage laws, but the federal judiciary is now co-opting the states’ prerogatives.  I don’t agree that such a case should ever have been heard in a federal court, in the first place.  There already are murmurings that some states may eventually rebel against the federal government, but, as we see, on virtually every front and virtually every issue, the federal government seems intent on widening the rift.

I don’t take solace in the fact that this ruling is being appealed.  I’ll explain why.

The other big headline in the mainstream media this week is that Elena Kagan, though unqualified, has been confirmed as the newest Supreme Court justice.  This is emblematic of a larger trend.  Part of the agenda of the Obama Administration in filling federal court vacancies is to stack the deck in favor of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) community.  The Kagan appointment fits this agenda, and her Senate confirmation shows just how easy it will be for the Obama Administration to continue this agenda in filling federal court vacancies at every level.

But that’s not all.  I’ve looked around at several states that elect judges.  Often times in such states, like Ohio, the party affiliation of the judicial candidates is not listed on the ballot, yet we know that there is a Democrat slate of candidates and a Republican slate of candidates.  This year, there appears to be yet another slate of candidates.  There is a slate of LGBT-endorsed candidates.  In a number of races, the LGBT has tapped a candidate from the Democrat or Republican slate to also appear on their slate.  But in those cases where that is not the case, the LGBT is fielding their own candidate.

Among those three-way races, or more-way races, where the LGBT has fielded their own candidate, I’ve witnessed some crafty campaign advertising, wherein the campaign message is couched in Tea Party Movement terms.  In such cases the LGBT advertisement highlights the campaign contributors of the partisan slate candidates, and cites it as evidence that the partisan candidates are agenda-driven, prone to legislating from the bench to serve the interests of campaign contributors.  Thus, the LGBT candidate is positioned as the candidate who will uphold the Constitution, not an activist who will pursue the agendas driven by campaign contributors.  Clearly, this mimics Tea Party Movement communications.

If you want an example of such a campaign to research on your own, I invite you to look into the campaign of a candidate for Supreme Court justice in the state of Washington named Charlie Wiggins who is competing against Bryan Chushcoff and Richard B. Sanders in a top-two primary election slated for August 17.  The top two candidates will proceed to a run-off in the November general election.

It’s set in motion already.  The first dominoes have fallen in these two headlines of this week.  The LGBT community will fashion the government to their liking through the courts, at federal and state levels, bypassing legislatures, and clearly bypassing votes of the people.

This is the path by which the government becomes hostile toward Christianity.

Religion has been made the scapegoat in prior losses the LGBT suffered in vote after vote of the people.  As I have pointed out, there are secular arguments that even an atheist can make against same-sex marriage, so scapegoating religion is disingenuous, but it serves the purpose of the LGBT community, so they continue to do so.

But Christianity can withstand hostile governments.  If the opposition that evangelical Christianity were to face were merely hostile governments, then I would not be in agreement with Michael Spencer’s editorial.

I predict, however, that after the LGBT community has toppled the last domino in their quest for the government to embrace their agenda, the LGBT community will still not be done with the work they want to do.  They will turn their attention on any church that considers homosexuality a sin, and they will harass such churches.

Thus the LGBT community will be the foremost agents of the persecution that evangelical Christianity will face, and I don’t share Spencer’s view that the Roman Catholic church will add significantly to its numbers during the onslaught in light of who, in my opinion, will be the agents of Christian oppression, but I do share his view that a great many Christian parishioners won’t withstand such opposition.

When that fever pitch is reached, we shall see the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion discarded.  Violent civil strife may even ensue.

Religious tolerance practiced by all Americans would prevent such events from unfolding.  It is apparent to me, however, that the LGBT community will only tolerate the denominations that align themselves with the standards of political correctness set forth by the LGBT community.

If you are reading this, you may be thinking to yourself that you are reading the absurd paranoid ramblings of a raving lunatic.  I invite you to read this again in thirty years time to match it against what has actually transpired by then.

WSJ op/ed on religion: Ground Zero mosque

Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote this opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “Liberal Piety and the Memory of 9/11,” which clarifies some of the reasoning behind opposition to the planned construction of a mosque a very short distance from Ground Zero.  I recommend clicking the link and reading it.

It certainly is no accident that Ground Zero for the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, targeted landmarks of New York City.  Because it’s America’s biggest city? In my mind: I suppose so.  Because it’s America’s financial capital?  In my opinion: I suppose so.  Because it’s America’s media center?  My best guess is: I suppose so.  Because it’s the largest community of Americans who identify themselves as Jewish?  My mind is totally clear on this one: Most definitely.

Dorothy Rabinowitz is not paranoid.  She has good reason to believe that Jews are prime targets of terrorists who identify themselves as Muslims.

And while Americans mourn the tragic loss of lives at that fateful spot of New York City, there are a number of people scattered around this globe that would dance and make merry on that spot of ground.  Many of those would-be revelers would identify themselves as Muslim.

Is the building of a mosque that close to Ground Zero an attempt to revel in the damage caused by evil deeds?  It might be.  Or it might not.  It’s like a Rorschach test, with no conclusively right or wrong answer–different people see it from different perspectives.

The next to last paragraph of the editorial reads thus:

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser—devout Muslim, physician, former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy—says there is every reason to investigate the center’s funding under the circumstances. Of the mosque so near the site of the 9/11 attacks, he notes “It will certainly be seen as a victory for political Islam.”

It seems quite reasonable that it would be viewed by a number of people as a victory for political Islam.  But not every one would jump to that conclusion.

My opinion?  I’ve already spoken out, here at Buckeye RINO, against religious intolerance from the political right.  Of course, that admonition can well be extended to others along the political spectrum.  Religious freedom extends to Muslims.  Religious tolerance should extend that far, also.

I can’t help that there are a number of people who will view it as a victory for political Islam.  People will make of it what they make of it.  The First Amendment to our Constitution has to be the prevailing principle.

Besides religious freedom, I also believe in property rights.  If Muslims acquire a property, they have the property rights and the religious rights to build a mosque there.

On the other hand, yes, if I were Jewish resident of New York City, I’d likely feel those exact same feelings that Dorothy Rabinowitz expressed.  In fact, I sympathize with those feelings, already, even though I’m not a New Yorker (disclaimer: for one summer, I did live in upstate New York, but I don’t think that makes me a New Yorker, even in small measure), even though I’m not Jewish, and even though I can’t empathize because I’ve never walked in her shoes and borne the brunt of anti-Semitic persecution.  I am an American, though, and a human being, and on those common grounds, I feel anguish to this very day for what happened on 9/11, just as surely as I cried tears of great sadness on the day it all happened.

Religious tolerance, though, sometimes means we have to live with a great deal of anguish as we allow other religions to exercise their Constitutional liberties.  So a mosque can be built there.  But there will be many who feel an anguish that cannot be alleviated.  It’s just the way it is.

It has to be a two-way street.  Public figures have publicly asked the public to refrain from retaliating against and persecuting Muslims. Again, I expect religious tolerance to extend to Muslims.  But I also expect Muslims in America to tolerate other religions.  I expect Muslims in America to neither persecute nor molest persons not of their faith.  As has been pointed out, there have been a few Muslim individuals that haven’t measured up to that expectation, and they must face American justice to be held accountable for their deeds.

If a Muslim chooses to reside in the United States of America, then it should coincide with the choice to respect our Constitution, and our laws, including the freedom of non-Muslims to choose their own religion.  This necessarily means that Muslims must forfeit any design to impose any incarnation of political Islam in America.  There is freedom to believe what you believe so long as it stays within the religious realm.  Furthermore, in America, there can be no coercion exerted to make others adhere to a religious persuasion, and a Muslim who chooses to reside here must agree to abide by that principle.  Political Islam cannot coexist with the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.  Any Islamic insurrection that may arise in an effort to wrest power from the people of the United States of America must be crushed or America would cease to be America.  If a Muslim insists on living in a nation that conforms to sharia law, then that Muslim must necessarily take up residence somewhere else.

I have worked alongside Muslims in companies where I have been employed, and I enjoyed their friendship.  They were friendly, devout, honest, trustworthy, humble, hard-working, conscientious, respectful, well-behaved, ethical individuals.  I wouldn’t mind if there were many, many more of them here that shared those same characteristics.  I hope the American experience is as rewarding for them as it is for me.

Congressional ethics investigations of Rangel & Waters

U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was recently spotlighted by a Congressional ethics panel.  A plea bargain has apparently mollified the committee.

Now there are murmurings that U.S. Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA) may be the next one spotlighted by a Congressional ethics panel.

Some media pundits have surmised that these news headlines may be damaging the Democrat brand at an inopportune time–as midterm elections loom ahead.

My take on it?  It’s not going to hurt Rangel and Waters in their own districts, unlike former Democrat U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana who was replaced by Republican Joseph Cao.  The Democrat brand is being hurt by their domestic policy agenda.  The alleged unethical actions of one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or so members of their caucus, at the end of the day, has little to do with how the Democrat brand is perceived in the current political and economic environment.  The public is clearly distracted by unemployment, home foreclosures, and other perils that hit closer to home.  Few are paying attention to ethics investigations at this point (unless the tycoons of Wall Street, the Fed, and former and current officials of the U.S. Department of Treasury were being investigated–then we’d be all ears because of our collective outrage against the bailouts).

If a Congressional Democrat had to pick a time to be spotlighted by the ethics panel, this is a good time to do it.  The public distraction is only one factor in the equation.  The other important factor is that it seems likely that the Democrats won’t maintain their House majority, anyway.  If you were in their shoes, would you want an ethics panel chaired by fellow Democrats now?  Or Republicans after they take office in January?  If you wanted to strike a deal, settle a case by plea bargain, would you rather cut the deal with Democrats chairing the panel or Republicans?  If you were disciplined as a result of ethics hearings, would you rather have the penalties meted out by Democrats or Republicans?

As a Republican observer, I think it’s a win-win for Democrats who step forward for scrutiny now rather than later.  If you believe you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got to think the panel will be more fair to you now rather than later.  If you have done something wrong, it’s not likely to be remembered, not likely to cost much political clout, and not likely to be heavily penalized in the event of a sour outcome to the hearings.

If a targeted Democrat were to try to dodge an inquiry now, but couldn’t prevent it from resurfacing later,  even if the Republicans chairing the panel were quite fair in applying the rules, at the very least there will be acrimony.  Partisan rancor would be the source of that acrimony.  The Democrats would circle their wagons and lodge complaints of Republican witch-hunting.  By that time, though, the public might not be so distracted.  They might pay attention, and, despite the charges of witch-hunting, the public might not let the matter go by the wayside until all the dirty laundry has been aired before an ethics panel.  If, after that airing, the ethics probe was justified because of findings of wrongdoing, then it wouldn’t have turned out to be a witch-hunt after all, and the Democrat caucus that circled their wagons around you would be tarnished with the perception that they’d attempted a cover-up.  What would happen to the Democrat brand then, when the party is already down and needs to pick itself back up?  How sure are you that the hearings chaired by the other party will be fair?  How sure are you that a deal can be cut to settle the case?  How sure are you that the penalties won’t be harsh?  If you stayed in office this time around, will the public catch up to you the next time, as happened in Rep. Jefferson’s case?  If so, would the caucus shrink further, by your absence from it, rather than rebound during the next election cycle?  If  the panel exonerated you, and it did appear that the Republicans engaged in a witch-hunt, is that going to repair the public trust in Congress that is now in tatters (recent polls: Congressional approval rating of 11%) because of the public perception of hyperpartisanship and political posturing?  It’s a lose-lose.

If you are a Congressional Democrat with a target on your back, and an ethics probe lies in your future, then your next press conference referencing a potential probe should be “Bring it on!”  Then, under your breath, so no one else hears, whisper to investigators, “And hurry up about it!”

Nevada’s tempest in a teapot–Obama’s right about a few things

I picked up this story of huffing and puffing Nevada politicians at ABC’s website.

It seems that all the politicians in Nevada are expressing umbrage at the President for saying the following:

“Responsible families don’t do their budgets the way the federal government does.  When times are tough, you — you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It’s time your government did the same.”

Of course, the federal government should’ve tightened its belt, too, and that fact seems lost on Obama, but the rest of what he said is perfectly sensible.  I said in September of 2008 that families should prepare as best they can for the worsening economy.  The events of September 2008 are different than the events of today, but the prospects for continued and perhaps even worsening economic malaise are still staring us in the face.

But Nevada politicians, whether Democrat or Republican, are evidently irrational.  They’ve built their state’s economic foundation upon the sand (see the economics explained here and here) instead of upon a rock, and when the economic storm blew in, their economic house was pulverized.  Do they face the music of generations of bad decision-making?  Apparently not.  They are still in denial about what a prudent course of action should be.  All they’ve done so far is shoot the messenger, in this case, President Obama, when the truth of the message is plainly evident.

I might add that there was never a time when it was OK to blow a load of cash in Las Vegas casinos at the expense of a college fund, not even in the good times.

President Obama sent a letter of clarification to Senator Reid.  In the letter, the President still makes perfect sense:

“I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun.”

For the record, I like vacations.  I like to travel.  I learn many things about our world from my travel experiences.  But I wouldn’t be able to afford much traveling or vacationing if I feed those one-armed bandits called slot machines.  I certainly don’t see any educational value in making a casino my tourist destination.

Remember when Senator Reid was accused of making racist remarks?  How many politicians came to the Senator’s defense?  He made an apology to the President, and the President vouched for the Senator’s character, that the Senator was not a racist.

But, in this instance, no apology is necessary, yet Senator Reid, with lightning quickness, has thrown the President under the bus, even after the President reached out to him with a letter of clarification.  I think the President would do well to file this episode of disloyalty in repayment of his own loyalty in a place where it can be easily retrieved in the case of a future dispute.  Bad karma for Senator Reid.  Bad karma.

One of Reid’s potential opponents for his Senate re-election, Republican Danny Tarkanian, isn’t demonstrating any more intelligence on the issue than Reid is.  I won’t bother to quote any of the Nevada politicians, since their rants aren’t sensible enough to be worthy of repetition on my blog.

So, why all the nonsensical bluster?  As I posted in the run-up to Ohio’s elections on the casino issue, GAMBLING BUYS POLITICIANS.

In search of Ellie Light

Plain Dealer journalist Sabrina Eaton is on the trail of Ellie Light.  I highly recommend this story and this story.  You have to give credit to Sabrina Eaton for checking her sources.

More Obama news made in Lorain County

To access a clearinghouse, of sorts, of news and some blog articles about President Obama’s visit to Lorain County, Ohio, on 1/22/2010, click over to this special section commemorating the occasion provided by LorainCounty.com.