Monday, July 13, 2009

Deja Vue - 1964

Ronald Reagan, 1964. That it remains still spot-on is scary:

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down: [up] man's old -- old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Most Dangerous Man On Earth

I remain puzzled at the "rock star" status enjoyed by Mr. Obama.
It appears millions, if not billions, of foreigners believe he will put an end to ugly, evil American capitalist imperialsm and bring peace and prosperity to the entire globe.


For better or worth, the US economy still drives the world economy. If Mr. Obama wrecks the US, the world will go down with us. The difficulty is that Mr. Obama does not understand that printing money, all by itself, does not create wealth. Neither does he grasp that there is no one to bail out Uncle Sam. BO is a Chicago hack, accustomed to looking to Springfield or DC for extra money. But now he's running DC. There is no one "upstream" to hand over wads of cash.

Again, for better or worth, the US has the single largest military apparatus in the world. That should concern everyone who living outside the US. A bit of history. When the Romans needed a reliable supply of corn to feed the commoners of Rome, they seized Egypt. What does a Chicago thug do when he discovers that no one will GIVE him what he wants or needs to support his lifestyle?

All hail Barry Augustus!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

D Day Remembered

Unfortunately technical difficulties kept us off line the last several days.

However, we would be remiss if we did not recognize 65th anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy.

The highest ranking officer in the first wave was Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of President Theodore Roosevelt. General Roosevelt could easily have sat out the war. He was too old for the draft, was financially well off and had served in WWI. Indeed, WWI wounds forced him to walk with a cane.

Instead, he went to war, serving in North Africa and Normandy until his death from a heart attack in July, 1944.

His service on D Day earned him the Medal of Honor. More importantly, he exemplifies the spirit and dedication of all the young men who went ashore that day, that we might live in freedom.

General Roosevelt's Medal of Honor citation reads:

For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Little History

Once upon a time an President Richard Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court.

The nomination was defeated, on the grounds that the nominee had made racist statements in the past and that he was a mediocre jurist (having had many of his decisions overturned on appeal).

What qualifies Ms. Sotomayor for different treatment?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"I Love Big Brother!" No. 1.

According to the Politico, the White House has cautioned critics of nominee Sotomayor to be "careful" (

Press Secretary Gibbs' precise words appear to be: “I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they’ve decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation."

For The Supreme Court

I understand that one of Ms. Sotomayor's primary qualifications for the Supreme Court is her underprivileged childhood.

My father was, literally, a barefoot country boy. And he lost his father when he was only 16.

Does that mean he's even more qualified?

Of course, Dad has never been to law school. But considering the profound thinkers our law schools are turning out, that might not be a bad thing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apologies to Neville Chamberlain

I have been quick to dismiss Mr. Obama as the "Neville Chamberlain of our time." I have been waiting for him to declare "Peace in our time."

But Memorial Day set me to thinking about conflicts past and I realized that my comparison between the two men is unkind - to Mr. Chamberlain.

Wikipedia summarizes his life and career as follows:

Arthur Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940) was a British Conservative politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940. Chamberlain is best known for appeasement foreign policy, in particular regarding his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany, and for his "containment" policy of Germany in 1939 that culminated in declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939. After working in business and local government and a short spell as Director of National Service in 1916 and 1917, Chamberlain followed his father and older half-brother in becoming a Member of Parliament in the 1918 general election at age 49. He declined a junior ministerial position, remaining a backbencher until he was appointed Postmaster General after the 1922 general election. He was rapidly promoted in 1923 to Minister of Health and then Chancellor of the Exchequer but presented no budget before the government fell in 1924.

He returned as Minister of Health, introducing a range of reform measures from 1924 to 1929. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in the coalition National Government in 1931 and spent six years reducing the war debt and the tax burden. When Stanley Baldwin retired after the abdication of Edward VIIIcoronation of George VI, Chamberlain took his place as Prime Minister in 1937. In 1938, he returned the so-called Treaty Ports to the Irish Free State.

Chamberlain was forced to resign the premiership on 10 May 1940, after Germany invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and France. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill but remained very well regarded in Parliament. Before ill health forced him to resign, he was an important member of Churchill's War Cabinet. He had a key role in the formation of the Special Operations Executive. Chamberlain died of cancer six months after leaving the premiership.

Chamberlain is most remembered for his appeasement of Hitler, going so far as to agreeing to the surrender of the Sudetenland at Munich. This decision is often depicted as a cowardly submission to Hitler's bullying.

Yet Chamberlain was operating under many handicaps:

1. He personally hated war (what clear thinking person doesn't?);
2. His nation wanted desperately to avoid a repeat of the horrors of WWI.
3. The Sudetenland was a German speaking region of Czechoslovakia. Was it so unreasonable to unite that region with the rest of Germany? After all, in 1938 the full horror of the Nazi regime was not apparent AND WWI was triggered in part by attempts to enforce the rigid old imperial boundaries and authority.
4. Germany had begun merrily re-arming in 1933, Britain had not.
5. Not only was Britain far behind in the arms race, it could not afford to build an army and an air force to counter Germany AND a navy to counter Japan in the Far East.
6. He did not recognize that, in Hitler, he confronted one of the true monsters in history.

In sum, he attempted to reach a reasonable compromise with a thoroughly unreasonable man, while negotiating from a place of relative weakness.

Mr. Obama, in contrast, believes that we - you and I - are the great monsters in history. He evidently believes it is his role to protect us by saving the world from us. In his world view, all the world's ills are a justified response to the depredations of the United States, and particularly those of George W. Bush.

Mr. Chamberlain loved his nation, for all its flaws. As for Mr. Obama, he is sorry that he did not come to power earlier.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"The War In Iraq is Lost"

Whenever I recall Harry Reid's defeatist statement, I rejoice that he is neither in command of our troops or defending us in the field. He probably would have surrendered to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.

Happily, then we had men who valued America more than their lives, or their tawdry political careers.

For example, Captain E. E. Evans, United States Navy.

On October 25, 1944, Evans commanded the destroyer USS Johnson, part of a task force of destroyers and small air craft carriers defending the US invasion force in Leyte Gulf. The bulk of Admiral Halsey's fleet had been drawn off by a Japanese diversion. All that stood between a major Japanese task force and the invasion forces was Evans and his companion vessels.

Fortunately for us, Captain Evans was made of sterner stuff than Mr. Reid. Hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, Evans attacked.

The Japanese attack was turned back. Captain Evans received a Medal of Honor, posthumously. His citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Johnston in action against major units of the enemy Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay a smokescreen and to open fire as an enemy task force, vastly superior in number, firepower and armor, rapidly approached. Comdr. Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack when the Johnston came under straddling Japanese shellfire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, outshooting and outmaneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostile fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the Johnston, burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the water after 3 hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Comdr. Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout this historic battle will venture as an inspiration to all who served with him

To add a bit of context to Evans' gallantry: His torpedoes had a range of five miles. The Japanese guns were accurate and effective at twice that distance.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Joe Klein, Have You No Shame?

Joe Klein, of Time magazine has recently taken an extremely cheap shot at Charles Krauthammer, suggesting that Mr. Krauthammer's thinking is stunted by his confinement to a wheelchair.

It was a remarkably revealing "liberal" remark. I'd say more on the subject, but someone has beat me to it. Suffice it to say that, in my opinion, Mr. Klein's own thinking is stunted by his lack of wit.

For a more detailed rebuttal, see:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Forgive me once more, Mr. Madison

A further proposed amendment to the Constitution:

Any spending measures that are not initiated in the House are should be automatically void.
The current text implies that, but the implication has been ignored by the courts.

But I digress.

Tax cuts should be permanent, unless revoked by an act of both Houses.
Tax increases must automatically sunset, unless extended by both Houses. Any revocation of a tax cut would fall into this category, of course.

I never gave my step-kids unlimited allowances. I see no reason to grant such freedom to those in Congress, who are even less mature and more irresponsible than a couple 13 year olds.

Thus we would be protected from the current situation, in which the "Bush tax cuts" will expire in 2010, without Congressional action. I like to think of that as a "stealth tax increase." Once upon a time it was called "taxation without representation." If our employees believe they need to pick our pockets, let them stand up and do it in the clear light of day; and face the consequences at the NEXT election.

Many years ago a friend moved to Pennsylvania. He liked many things, but loathed the taxes. "We're still paying a tax to help people recover from the Johnstown flood!" he explained. Perhaps he exaggerated for effect. But his statement illustrates my point.

In a nation of free people, who are served BY their government, tax cuts, not tax increases, should be presumed eternal.

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Listening to Nancy Pelosi's press conference on the afternoon of Thursday, May 14 (2009) regarding what she knew about alleged torture, and when she knew it, I genuinely expected her to rebut the evidence from her staff, and the CIA with the childhood ditty: "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire." Her performance was truly underwhelming. At least the next day she resorted to the tried and true liberal saw: "The CIA lies to us all the time."

To which the first grade child of any CIA employee might rightly reply: "It takes one to know one."

That the Speaker is lying is beyond question. That subject has been explored at length by other outlets (except the major news outlets). What puzzles me is WHY?

In the wake of the Clinton Administration and the 2008 election, does she believe the public no longer cares whether it is lied to? Unfortunately, for her, she is neither as pathological as Bill Clinton nor as eloquent, when on script, as Mr. Obama.

Did she think no one was paying attention? After all, why should anyone pay any more attention to her job than she does?

Did she think no one would dare challenge her? She is merely the most important elected official in the nation after Mr. Obama. (To the fan of Joe Biden out there, I remind you of what VP John Nance Gardner said of that office: "It's not worth a bucket of warm spit.")

Did she think the CIA would not dare defend itself?

Or, to expand on a suggestion from Rush Limbaugh, was she just going through Botox withdrawal? I understand that any drug withdrawal can be a real pelosi.

But perhaps I am unfair. Perhaps she is telling the truth, that she did not realize what was going on until recently. Perhaps she simply wasn't paying attention.

Former Speaker Gingrinch has it right: She is either lying or incompetent. She, like the former CEO of GM, needs to go.

But I remain troubled by a deeper question. How did such a rank politican hack rise to such a position of power?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Government Motors, Part 2

We have had a sneak peek at the 2010 line up from Government Motors.

The family sedan:

The hybrid:

The Presidential Limo:

Obama the heretic?

It is fashionable for contemporary conservatives to dismiss President Obama as a closet socialist.

Perhaps he is. He does not seem to have embraced Leninism, however.

For example, he has disregarded one of the key precepts of Lenin's April Theses:

"(T)he salaries of all officials, all of whom are elective and displaceable at any time, (are) not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker."

Pravda, April 4, 1917 (emphasis added).

Postscript: The Russian in the graphic translates
roughly as "Obama lived/Obama lives/Obama shall live."

Some thoughts on freedom

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down: [up] man's old -- old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

Ronald Reagan, "A Time for Choosing," 1964

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Forgive me, James Madison

A few modest amendments to the Constitution for the benefit of the Republic.

Repeal the 16th Amendment.

The Founders understood what we have forgotten - that it is unwise to allow those who do not work to impose taxes upon those who do.

Impose term limits upon the posts of Speaker of the House and Committee leaderships.

Nancy Pelosi may be a wonderful representative of her constituents, but she does not represent me. I'd like to level the field for someone who does.

Reduce the terms of Federal judges (including the Supreme Court) to ten years, with a maximum service of two terms. Implement a procedure efficiently remove the mentally infirm.

The Founders believed that Federal judges should be insulated from political pressures, but they surely did not intend to create, at best, sinecures and, at worst, a body of unelected legislators. As for removing the infirm, one need only recall the dotage of William O. Douglas understand the need for such a provision.

Revise the Interstate Commerce Clause to clarify that the Federal government enjoys only the powers SPECIFICALLY granted to it.

Look at the mess we're in after 70 years of courts deciding that the government has the powers the court believes are necessary.

Remove the protection granted to elected representatives for dumb decisions.

Public officials should be held accountable as fiduciaries of the public resources. Corporate directors who do not fulfill their duties of due diligence, honesty and loyalty may be held personally liable for the damage their actions cause. We are currently paying for the stupidity known as the Community Reinvestment Act; our grandchildren will be paying for TARP and the Obama deficits. Fraud upon the citizenry, such as the Social Security program, should be criminal offenses. Those who imposed these travesties upon us should be accountable. Those who use as a defense "I didn't read the bill" should be liable for treble damages.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Calling Tom Donophin

David Brooks of the New York Times has recently asked what we can learn from the Western movies of yore. By coincidence, I have been pondering the same question.

Mr. Brooks points to John Ford’s My Darling Clementine as a celebration of family and community over the “rugged individualism” he believes conservatives preach. How Dan Quayle’s “family values” constituency became selfish anarchists is not explained. Evidently, though, the community activist is now good, the classic Western “lone wolf” is bad.

My thoughts have led me down a different path, and to different conclusions. Two films have been much on my mind, High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. In High Noon, marshal Will Kane must face down four hardened killers by himself, for the townspeople have turned their backs on him. They would prefer he simply leave, in the hope that would placate the approaching thugs. I have often wondered whether George W Bush ever thought that he was in a similar situation. There are differences, however. The movie thugs are easily identified and their murderous intent is unmistakable. Mr. Bush was in a much more difficult and ambiguous situation, a situation Mr. Obama inherited. As a consequence, his recent world tours have made me squirm. In his version of the film, Will Kane would not have been asked to leave – he would have been run out of a town on a rail, the better to please the thugs. Which, of course, would have left the town at the mercy of the thugs.

By coincidence, another Western classic explores the question of life in such a town. In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the small town of Shinbone is terrorized by the vicious Liberty Valence, who appears to fear no one other than Tom Donophin, a local rancher. Enter Ransom Stoddard, a young lawyer and idealist, who believes in the law and logic and reason. Ultimately Stoddard realizes that neither words nor law nor reason will deter the evil Valence unless there is force behind them. Reluctantly he straps on a pistol, although he barely knows how to use it, and faces Valence. To the surprise of all, Valence is left dead in the dust. (For CSI fans, the ME’s examination of the corpse is, by itself, worth the price of a rental.) Shinbone is saved, Stoddard is a hero. He gets the girl and begins a long and distinguished political career.

Except Stoddard didn’t shoot Valence.

As we learn in the course of the film, Donophin was lurking in the shadows and fired the fatal shot, timed to coincide with Stoddard’s own. The man of reason and law is saved by the man of controlled violence. It seems they sought the same woman, and she preferred Stoddard. Donophin was willing to kill for her. (Ever the good lawyer, Stoddard notes that Donophin’s action was justified by the doctrine of self defense. Donophin rejects this consolation – he had shot a man without warning. As he sees it: “It was cold blooded murder….but I can live with that.) But we should not slight Stoddard, who was also willing to kill, and to risk being killed, for his beliefs and his beloved and his community.

Together, these films offer a valuable lesson. Evil is not always defeated by reason and logic, for evil is in itself unreasonable and illogical. Force must sometimes be met with force, for the alternatives – servitude or death – are unacceptable. Unless one prefers living on one’s knees to dying on one’s feet.

Needless to say, our ever apologizing president calls to mind the idealistic Stoddard, but with no sign of Stoddard’s grit. Unfortunately Tom Donophin is not lurking in the shadows to save us.

A Note: I know of no evidence that Valence was intended to be a response or rebuttal to High Noon, a film John Wayne reportedly loathed. Rather, the Wayne response is said to be Rio Bravo, which is a classic in its own right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Government Motors?

Dear Mr. President,

There is much talk in the news of late regarding the possibility that the government might take a large equity share in GM. As you were a professor of Constitutional law, could you direct me to that part of the Constitution that authorizes such action?

Please note that I ask out of genuine confusion. I am not merely a right-wing extremist who believes in the enumerated powers doctrine. As a business attorney, I am perplexed.

For example, at the moment I am in my room in Franklin, Tennessee, the home of Nissan Motors, USA. If the proposed deal goes through, will Nissan be competing with General Motors or Government Motors? The conventional wisdom in Tennessee is that Nissan enjoys a cost advantage over GM because Nissan uses non-union labor. What would prevent the government from protecting its investment by requiring unionization of auto plants?

Which leads to another question: Who will regulate the regulators? Would CAFE, EPA and vehicle safety regulations apply to the products of the new Government Motors? Would specific state regulations, such as those in California, be trumped under the Federal Preemption Doctrine?

Or, to whom will management be accountable? You may recall a decade or so ago when the GM Board rather abruptly fired Roger Smith from his position of CEO. The Board was exercising its prerogative - dismissing an executive who had delivered disappointing results. Presumably you, or your successors, could remove an individual CEO who roles out a series of flops, but what of a president who appoints a series of disappointing executives? Board members can be held to answer to shareholders. Indeed, the directors may be PERSONALLY liable in the correct circumstances. Public officials, however, face no such exposure. Who would we, the taxpayer/shareholders name in a derivative suit?

I am also mindful of past experiments with government-owned auto companies. Look what government control did for MG and Jaguar.

Are setting out on a road that dead-ends in East Germany, circa 1968, in which the only car available is the car decreed by the government, no matter how lousy that car may be? I fear you might find the back seat of a Trabant rather cramped.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Later, Jack

Like many pudgy middle aged white guys, I have been a flag waving fan of Jack Bauer and "24." For an hour I can forget the bills and the sinking economy and imagine that I, too, am saving the world.

Until last week, when bit-part player Janeane Garafolo dismissed the Tea Party protesters as ignorant racists. To my knowledge, neither Senator Byrd nor any of his Klan buddies attended any of the protests. The protesters I did see, even on CNN, seemed fair minded, level headed people who happen to disagree with the policies of Mr. Obama, regardless of his pigmentation.

This is, for the moment, a free country and Ms. Garafolo is entitled to espouse her opinions, no matter how hateful or ill informed. At the same time, I have no obligation to help pay her salary. Therefore, I am signing off from "24."

Please note, I am not calling for her be silenced, although I doubt she would show me the same courtesy. I am merely voting with my wallet.

Happily, I think there are "House" reruns on opposite "24." Anyone care to join me?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Borrowing from a classic

Derived from:
By Feodor Dostoevsky
(Translation by H.P. Blavatsky)

In the twilight he arrived, in that quiet time when the tofu-burgers and bean sprouts are not quite digested, the zinfandel is not quite chilled and it is not quite time to light the bonfires about the capitalists, reactionaries, talk radio hosts and assorted other wreckers in a magnificent auto-da-fe ad majorem Barack gloriam, by the order of the all powerful Comrade Community Organizer.

He came silently and unannounced; yet all recognized Him! The population rushed towards Him as if propelled by some irresistible force; it surrounded, thronged, and pressed around, it followed Him. The Love of Freedom burned in His heart, and warm rays of Courage, Wisdom and Integrity beamed forth from His eyes, and poured down their waves upon the swarming multitudes gathered 'round, making their hearts vibrate with returning love.

The crowd wept for joy, and kissed the ground upon which He trod. Children cast flowers along His path. Upon the steps of the Capitol he paused, beholding a man begging favor of a Comrade Member of the People's Congress. “But my children must eat,” lamented the man, whose clothing, now dirty, worn and shapeless, revealed him to be a disgraced wrecker. Perhaps once a banker, or an executive. Certainly a capitalist, but only a lowly one. How else had he escaped the fires? As the Comrade Member turned away, unmoved by the supplicant's meager offering, He stepped forward and raised the man to his feet.

“I will give you work,” said He quietly, yet the words silenced the crowd and echoed abut the vastness of the Mall. “Go,” He said. “Gather your family, and your neighbors, and their neighbors. I have work for you all.”

The crowd is violently excited. A terrible commotion rages among them, the populace shouts and loudly weeps, when suddenly, before the Capitol door, appears the Comrade Community Organizer himself.

He is a tall, elegant man of scarce two-score years, with a kindly, smiling face, and deeply set eyes, from the cavity of which glitter two fiery sparks. He has laid aside the glorious tailored suit in which he had appeared before the
people at the auto da-fe of the enemies of the State, and is now clad in his tastefully torn and stained designer jeans and T-shirt. His obsequious assistants and slaves of the 'Community Cadre' follow at a distance. He pauses before the crowd and observes. He has seen all. Slowly raising his finger, he commands his minions to arrest Him.

Such is his power over the well-disciplined, submissive and now trembling people, that the thick crowds immediately give way, and scattering before the Cadre, amid dead silence and without one breath of protest, allow them to lay their sacrilegious hands upon the stranger and lead Him away. That same populace, like one man, now bows its head to the ground before the Organizer, who smiles upon them indulgently and moves languidly onward. The guards conduct their prisoner to the ancient building of the People's Congress; pushing Him into a narrow, gloomy, vaulted prison-cell, a long forgotten, long unused crypt. They lock Him in and retire.

The day wanes, and night-a dark, hot breathless mid-Atlantic night - creeps on and settles upon the city with His name. The air smells of laurels and cherry blossoms. In the Stygian darkness of the crypt the iron door of the cell is thrown open, and the Community Organizer, holding a dark lantern, slowly stalks into the dungeon. He is alone, and, as the heavy door closes behind him, he pauses at the threshold, and, for a minute or two, silently and gloomily scrutinizes the Face before him. At last approaching with measured steps, he sets his lantern down upon the table and addresses Him in these words:

"It is you! You!” Receiving no reply, he rapidly continues: “Answer not; be silent! And what could you say? I know all too well! You have no right to add one syllable to what you uttered before. Why should you now impede us in our work? I know not; I care not. Tomorrow I will condemn and burn you at the stake, as the most wicked of all wreckers. The same people who today kissed your feet, tomorrow, at one bend of my finger, will rush to add fuel to your funeral pyre.

“Behold them, your 'free' people!” adds the elegant man with sombre irony. “Yes! it has cost us dearly.” continues the Organizer, sternly looking at his victim. “But we have at last accomplished our task, in your name. For two hundred long years we have toiled and suffered owing to that 'freedom.” But now we have prevailed and our work is done, and well and strongly it is done. Dare you doubt that it is so very strong? Know then, that now, and only now, your people feel fully sure and satisfied of their freedom; and that only since they have, of their own free will, delivered that freedom unto our hands by placing it submissively at our feet.

"It was you, in your arrogance, who set us this task,” goes on the Organizer. “In your triumph you rejected the crown your dutiful subjects offered you, and cursed them to the terror whence we, and we alone have rescued them. Do you recall the great honor – nay, the sacred duty – you declined? In the waning days of your rebellion, when all looked to you for guidance and security and entrusted to you their hopes and dreams? Do you recall how they put that trust and love into words and deeds and offered to submit to you, body and soul, as their ruler? And you betrayed them, rejecting their offer. Decide then for yourself,” proceeded the Organizer, “which of you was correct, those who offered, or you who declined?

“Consider then, the curse of this 'freedom' you imposed upon those who placed in you their trust. Did you bless them with this 'freedom'? No, you cursed them. 'Be free,' you declared, and spoke their doom, for you did not know the true meaning of your words: 'Go forth and feed thy selves.' You ignored that, in all history none have succeeded in that task. Did you not know that the day would come when all would understand that freedom and sufficient food cannot be had together, as humanity will never be able to fairly divide the two amongst themselves. And, in the depths of their despair, your 'free' people shouted unto the heavens 'Feed us!' And we fed them; and they worship us.” They regard us as gods, and feel grateful to those who have consented to lead them and bear their burden of freedom by ruling over them.

“'Be free,' you commanded, and sentenced them to the horror of self-reliance, to decide for themselves who to follow, what to believe. Man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped. For the chief concern of these miserable creatures is not to find and worship the idol of their own choice, but to discover that which all others will believe in, and consent to bow down to in a mass. It is that instinctive need of having a worship in common that is the chief suffering of every man, the chief concern of mankind from the beginning of times. But he alone will prove capable of silencing and quieting their consciences, that one shall succeed in possessing himself of the freedom of men.

“The mystery of human being does not solely rest in the desire to live, but in the problem--for what should one live at all? Have you again forgotten that to man rest and even death are preferable to a free choice between the knowledge of Good and Evil? Nothing seems more seductive in his eyes than freedom of conscience, and nothing proves more painful.

"Meantime, every chance of success was offered you. There are three Powers, three unique Forces upon earth, capable of conquering forever by charming the conscience of these weak rebels-men--for their own good; and these Forces are: Miracle, Mystery and Authority. You rejected all the three, and thus were the first to set them an example. Is human nature calculated to reject miracle, and trust, during the most terrible moments in life, when the most momentous, painful and perplexing problems struggle within man's soul, to the free decisions of his heart for the true solution? You thirsted for free and uninfluenced love, and refused the passionate adoration of the slave before his betters. You judged men too highly here, again, for though rebels they be, they are born to be slaves and nothing more. Behold, and judge of them once more, now that two centuries have elapsed since that moment. Man is weaker and lower than you have ever imagined him to be!

"By valuing him so highly you have acted as if there were no love for him in Thine heart, for you have demanded of him more than he could ever give. Had you esteemed him less, less would you have demanded of him, and that would have been more like love, for his burden would have been made thereby lighter. Man is weak and cowardly. Suffused with idiotic tears, they will confess that you, who set them free, undoubtedly did so only to mock them.

"And thus, after all you has suffered for mankind and its freedom, the present fate of men may be summed up in three words: Unrest, Confusion, Misery! Such is the fruit of this 'freedom' you purchased so dearly with the lives of others, and which you esteem as the greatest of all earthly gifts. Gift? Perhaps, to you and your kind, with your pale skins and fine educations and great wealth, built upon the subservience of others. Perhaps it was a gift to you few, you elect who were equipped to bear such a burden And why should the weakest be held guilty for not being able to endure what only the strongest have endured? Why should a soul incapable of bearing such terrible gifts be punished for its weakness? Did you really serve the "elect" alone? If so, then the mystery will remain forever mysterious to our finite minds. And if a mystery, then were we right to proclaim it as one, and preach it, teaching them that neither their freely given love to you nor freedom of conscience were essential, but only that incomprehensible mystery which they must blindly obey even against the dictates of their conscience. Thus did we. We corrected and improved your teaching and based it upon "Miracle, Mystery, and Authority." And men rejoiced at finding themselves led once more like a herd of cattle, and at finding their hearts at last delivered of the terrible burden laid upon them by you, which caused them so much suffering.

"You could have accepted the crown yourself; why did you reject the offer? By accepting the crown you would have realized every aspiration of man for himself on earth; man would have found a constant object for worship; one to deliver his conscience up to, and one that should unite all together into one common and harmonious ant-hill; for an innate necessity for universal union constitutes the third and final affliction of mankind. Humanity as a whole has ever aspired to unite itself universally. We offer that union, and the people crawl up to us in full submission, and lick the soles of our feet, and sprinkle them with tears of blood and beg to drink from the golden cup of 'hope and change'. Under our rule and sway all will be happy, and will neither rebel nor destroy each other as they did while under your banner of 'freedom'. We will take good care to prove to them that they will become absolutely free only when they have abjured their freedom in our favor and submit to us absolutely. Receiving their bread from us, they will clearly see that we take the bread from them, the bread made by their own hands, but to give it back to them in equal shares. Until that day, they will never be happy. We will give them that quiet, humble happiness, which alone benefits such weak, foolish creatures as they are. Their intellects will weaken, their eyes become as easily accessible to tears as those of children and women; but we will teach them an easy transition from grief and tears to laughter, childish joy and mirthful song.

“We will make them work like slaves, but during their recreation hours they shall have an innocent child-like life, full of play and merry laughter. We will even permit them sin, for, weak and helpless, they will feel the more love for us for permitting them to indulge in it. They will believe us and accept our mediation with rapture, as it will deliver them from their greatest anxiety and torture--that of having to decide freely for themselves. Tomorrow you shall see that obedient flock; at one simple motion of my hand it will rush to add burning coals to the stake at which I will burn you for having dared to come and trouble us in our work. For, if there ever was one who deserved more than any of the others our cleansing fires - it is you! Tomorrow I will burn you."

Having unburdened his heart, the Organizer waits for some time to hear his prisoner speak. His silence weighs upon him. He has seen that his captive has been attentively listening to him all the time, with His eyes fixed penetratingly and softly on the face of His jailer, and evidently bent upon not replying to him. The elegant man longs to hear His voice, to hear Him reply; better words of bitterness and scorn than His silence. And then He rose; slowly and silently approaching the Organizer, He bends towards him and softly whispered in his ears. The Community Organizer shudders. There is a convulsive twitch at the corner of his mouth. He goes to the door, opens it, and addressing Him, “Go,” he says. “Go, and return no more. Do not come again; never, never!” and turns Him out into the dark night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To Sean Hannity and John Rich


Regarding Mr. Rich's new song "Shuttin' Detroit Down," I do not think it is an appropriate anthem for the current revolt against socialism.

A few people - a very few - may be "livin' it up on Wall Street," but the biggest parties are going on in DC - on Capitol Hill, and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It's not the execs who screwed up their companies that I'm ticked at. I'm ticked at the feckless, corrupt, ignorant, incompetent bunglers in Congress and the White House (past and present) who decided to gleefully give our way our money, and who decided that this "crisis" is an occasion to abolish the Constitution.

Barney Frank and company probably love the song. It distracts from their own misdeeds.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Right Wing Radicals Unite

Dear fellow believers in freedom:

According to news reports, our government now believes we may be a threat.

Repeat after me: "I Love Big Brother!"

Once upon a time we had laws that protected us against government repression for instance:

Title 42, § 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Raining on the Parade

As with all decent persons, we rejoice at the liberation of Capt. Richard Phillips and regret that it cost the lives of three misguided young men. However, they chose to put themselves in harm's way and life can be unforgiving.

We also regret that the deft work of a trio of Navy snipers is hailed as a profound military victory for President Obama. At best he did what any good executive would do - he left the matter to the professionals. They served him, and us, in an exemplary manner.

But the heroes of this drama were not an Administration, and a President, who made hard calls while the world watched. The heroes are Captain Phillips, who risked his life to protect his crew, and that crew, those men who did the unthinkable: They took their ship back without government aid.

More, they left the pirates virtually impotent - adrift in a small craft, without fuel, without water, and only one hostage. Once the US destroyer arrived, it was the pirates, not Captain Phillips, who were effectively the hostages. After that, the President's wait and see policy was obvious.

It was the courage of Captain Phillips and his crew that saved Mr. Obama from a truly difficult decision - how to deal with a hijacked cargo ship and 20 hostages.

Joe Biden has said Mr. Obama has a spine of steel. The question is still open. Perhaps Providence will smile upon us and Mr. Obama will never be called upon to provide us with a clear demonstration.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just Like The Good Old Days

Positive proof that at least part of Europe accepts President Obama's thesis that America is bad, very bad. So bad, in fact, that we attempt to destroy a nation even while our leader is on his knees begging forgiveness for past transgressions.


Russian political expert blames Obama for Moldova riots

8 Apr, 01:40 PM

Russian political scientist Aleksander Dugin has said in a newspaper interview that the current political crisis in Moldova was planned and organized by the US president’s administration in order to further destabilize the situation around Russia’s borders.

“According to my own intelligence reports, an orange revolution is currently underway in Moldova,” Dugin told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily. “This shows us that all hopes for a change in the American political course in post-Soviet republics are nothing but Russian liberals’ illusions. There is a consensus in Washington regarding the US interests in the world. Strangling Russia and surrounding it with a series of pro-American political regimes is one of the top priorities in foreign policy – both for Republicans and for Democrats,” the political analyst said.

Dugin went on to call the current Moldovan events a coup d’etat organized by the US Council on Foreign Relations, which he called the main intellectual headquarters of the US administration. The analyst predicted that the riots in Chisinau would be suppressed, but the West would demonize Moldova’s Communist president Voronin and the opposition in the country would get more funds so that the situation could develop in accordance with the Georgian and Ukrainian scenarios.

“I have told you – do not fall for Obama’s charms. His priorities are the same as those of the previous administration. We see that there is no troop withdrawal from Iraq and the colored revolutions continue in the former Soviet republics,” Dugin said.

After this weekend’s parliamentary elections in Moldova, the nationalist opposition started a rally protesting the alleged rigging of the poll. The rally led to riots and ransacking of the parliament building that left at least 50 people injured.

Tags: Moldova, Dugin, Orange, Protests

Monday, April 6, 2009

When Celebrity Trumps Justice

Widow of Slain Policeman Fights On

April 6th, 2009 in American History by Paul Davis

In February Philadelphia buried a 25-year-old police officer killed in the line of duty. Officer John Pawlowski’s accused killer was apprehended and is now on trial.

Another 25-year-old Philadelphia officer was murdered in 1981, and many continue to seek justice for Daniel Faulkner.

The widow of Danny Faulkner has written a book called Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice (Lyons Press). In her book, which is co-authored by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and talk radio host Michael A. Smerconish, Maureen Faulkner recounts her long fight to counter what she regards as a worldwide, celebrity-driven campaign to overturn the conviction and death sentence of the man who murdered her husband, Mumia Abu Jamal.

On December 9, 1981 Faulkner was shot and killed after stopping Jamal’s brother. Jamal, a former radio reporter, was driving a cab when he saw his brother and Faulkner. According to witnesses, Jamal and Faulkner traded shots. Jamal survived with a chest wound and was arrested with his revolver lying at his feet.

Jamal was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1983. Support for Jamal, a former Black Panther and supporter of the radical group MOVE, has risen steadily among death-penalty opponents, celebrities and leftist groups as his legal appeals slide slowly through the justice system.

Jamal wrote a book called Live From Death Row, and he has become the world’s most famous Death Row inmate. His photo on posters lags only slightly behind Che Guevara in popularity.

From her side, Faulkner offers a story of her typical upbringing as an Irish Catholic girl from a blue collar neighborhood, her happy and short marriage to Danny, and her pain and suffering as the Jamal case lingers on.

“A cop is murdered by a man he never knew while patrolling the streets in the ordinary course of his duties. Period. End of story. An unfortunate yet simple tale,” Maureen Faulkner writes in her book.

“Or so it should have been. Instead, this ostensibly uncomplicated scenario has been subjected to more manipulation than any other murder in the United States. Without foundation, it has been transformed into a sensational saga of persecution and injustice that has attracted support from, among others, a large group of Hollywood sympathizers, the City of Paris, and even John Street, now Mayor of Philadelphia.”

Both Jamal and his brother have never given a full account of the night of the murder; Jamal has never denied killing Faulkner; and Jamal was disruptive and abusive during his trial. Yet many still proclaim his innocence and offer uncritical support.

Maureen Faulkner has remained faithful to her husband’s memory, and to justice. She has shown bravery equal to that of the police officers who patrol the mean streets of America’s cities.

She believes, as I do, that cop killers should receive a swift sentence of death for their crime. Maureen Faulkner believes that police officers need and deserve that protection.

Paul Davis also writes an American crime blog for Great History. Visit his Web site. He can be reached at

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dear Mr. President - April 4, 2009

Dear Mr. President, with regard to your recent European concert tour:

Please tell me that you did not actually bow to the Saudi king. The photos I have seen appear to have caught you genuflecting, as Catholics do before the altar in church. The image is troubling, for the Saudi king is neither divine, or my ruler. Why then, would you, as the representative of a free people, of a people who violently rejected monarchy 200-odd years ago, bend your knee to a modern king? Did you truly mean to suggest that ALL Americans now owe obeisance to "royalty"?

How dare you denigrate your employers as "arrogant."

With regard to your calls for international regulation of financial entities and other proposals tending to erode the sovereignty of the United States, do you recall the Declaration of Independence? The part that declares "these Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent...?" I know that you are a Constitutional scholar. Could you point me towards the provisions of the Constitution that authorize you to bargain away that independence without so much as submitting a treaty to the Congress for ratification?

I regret that the First Lady of France recoiled so visibly from your proffered ceremonial kiss. She is, by all accounts, a true "free spirit." Perhaps she recognized you as an enemy of freedom.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dear Mr. President - April 1 2009

Dear Mr. President,

Pardon me for not writing for the last few days. Monday I received notice from my job.

As you might imagine, I'm a bit shaken. Aside from the fact that it was a wonderful place to work, I'm worried.

I have responsibilities. I have a mortgage. I am one of the few persons in the nation to recently invest in a new car. Unhappily, it is not GM, and I acquired it before you guaranteed payments for GM customers who lose their jobs. (By the way, how did you get Congressional authorization for that expenditure?)

More than that, how will I pull my weight? My taxable income just plummeted. From being one of the evil rich supporting your policies, I may now have to rely on them to get by.

I realize I have some 3 million companions involuntarily between jobs, and I am certain we all share my concern. If we can't work hard, earn lots and pay lots of taxes, how will your policies succeed?

I am committed to doing my bit. If you'll pardon me, I'm going back to polishing my resume. If you know of anyone hiring experienced business attorneys, would you drop me a line?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Introducing the Star Chamber

The recent recipients of bonuses from AIG have been tried, convicted and urged to commit suicide by a number of prominent members of Congress, all for the crime of fulfilling their contracts.

Their actions are a disgrace to their offices and a betrayal of their oaths to protect the rest of us from such flagrant denials of due process.

But perhaps, somewhere in the thousands of pages of recent spending legislation the Bill of Rights has been replaced by the Star Chamber, of which Wikipedia says:

The Star Chamber (Latin Camera stellata) was an English court of law that sat at the royal Palace of Westminster until 1641. It was made up of Privy Counsellors, as well as common-law judges, and supplemented the activities of the common-law and equity courts in both civil and criminal matters. The court was set up to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes. Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. Evidence was presented in writing. Over time it evolved into a political weapon and has become a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts.

It was mistakenly thought that in 1487 an act was passed which established a special "Court of Star Chamber" to deal with the nobles; however; the only legislation passed in that year in this context was to set up a tribunal to prevent the intimidation of juries and to stop retaining. It seems to have gone out of use by 1509 and it had no connection with the later Court of Star Chamber whose primary purpose was to hear political libel and treason cases.

In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings. The inherent lack of objectivity of any politically motivated charges has led to substantial reforms in English law in most jurisdictions since that time.

As the U.S. Supreme Court described it, "the Star Chamber has, for centuries, symbolized disregard of basic individual rights. The Star Chamber not merely allowed, but required, defendants to have counsel. The defendant's answer to an indictment was not accepted unless it was signed by counsel. When counsel refused to sign the answer, for whatever reason, the defendant was considered to have confessed." Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 821-22 (1975).

But at least we now precisely what "change" Mr. Obama has brought to us. We are no longer citizens of a free republic. We are subjects.

I've never been so embarrassed to be an American

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

----- Joseph Nye Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, June 9, 1954.

Dear Mr. President,

The following illustrates what you and your commissars are doing to ordinary Americans who happen to make the mistake of first making a lot of money and then of trusting your Administration.

I would put to you the same question Attorney Welch put to Senator McCarthy, with whom you share many characteristics: “Have you no decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Publius Scipio

NEW YORK TIMES March 25, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor
Dear A.I.G., I Quit!

The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:
I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.
After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.
I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.
You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.
I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.
The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.
I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.
But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.
My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.
That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”
That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.
At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.
I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.
You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.
As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.
Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.
The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.
So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.
That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.
On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.
This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.
Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”
Jake DeSantis

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'm Confused

Dear Mr. President,

Are you familiar with the “shareholders derivative suit”? It is a standard tool of corporate governance. It allows shareholders to sue the directors of a company for bad results. To be precise, the directors may be held personally liable for losses suffered by the company if they acted in bad faith, engaged in self dealing or failed to exercise due diligence. Making a bad business decision is not grounds for liability; making a bad decision without doing your homework is. Which calls to mind the AIG bailout and claims by various members of the government that they had no knowledge of the retention bonuses. Given your public commitment to transparency and accountability, would you kindly introduce legislation allowing voters to sue, personally, all members of Congress and the Executive who failed to do their homework?

I realize that most of these individuals have not yet ascended to the ranks of the Truly Evil Rich, so it would not be feasible to recover from them the billions they have frittered away. I would propose more modest consequences. Those found liable would be removed from office, disqualified from future office (even dogcatcher), lose all benefits (including campaign funds socked away for a rainy day) and be subjected to audits going back to three years before they first took office.

Applying this new liability to the AIG case does prevent some difficulties. Retroactive penalties are generally disapproved of as ex post facto laws, which are prohibited by the Constitution. Similarly, affected individuals may also claim that, by being singled out for punishment, they are the subjects of a Bill of Attainder, also prohibited by the Constitution. You may recall that the Bill of Attainder was a favorite tool of Henry VIII of England. He used it to legally murder a number of those who opposed, or simply displeased him. Yet, coming from the current Congress and Administration, the claim would would ring false. Recent legislation designed to recover the retention bonuses through punitive taxes certainly seems to be little more than legislation intended to punish a disfavored few.

Curiously, that disfavored few have attained that status by living up to their contracts. They EARNED the bonuses that have caused so much fuss. They kept their end of their deal with their employer – AIG – and the US government. If they snookered us, you and your should be attempting to discover who dropped the ball, not on how to welch on what turned out to be a bad deal for the US.

In sum, I am confused. It would seem that our Republic is in the hands of dishonest, vindictive incompetents willing to sacrifice even our most fundamental protections to preserve their positions of power. Your silence on these questions suggests that either you do not understand them or find no reason to object to them. You promised us “hope” and “change.” I hope you did not intend such an appalling change for the worse.


PS I apologize for the slight deception in my last letter. I know there are not 37 Articles to the US Constitution. I was citing the Constitution of the former Soviet Union.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

International Amnesty

Dear Mr. President,

I understand you have taught Constitutional law. I would ask, therefore, how you reconcile pending amnesty proposals for illegal aliens to Article 37:

Citizens of other countries and stateless persons living here are guaranteed the rights and freedoms provided by the law, including the right to apply to a court and other state bodies for the protection of the personal, property, family and other rights.

Citizens of other countries and stateless persons, when living here, are obliged to respect our Constitution and our laws.

Does the requirement to respect our laws apply only AFTER arriving here, and not to the manner of arrival?

Does being foreign born, and having a contempt for our laws, entitle one to preferential treatment, treatment not available to the law abiding?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Revenue Sources

Dear Mr. President,

In these times of economic crisis, when the government needs every kopeck it can raise, it has occurred to me that the following suggestions might be helpful.

  1. End the “War on Drugs.” Our experience with Prohibition teaches us that this simple step ill save money currently spent, mostly futilely, on interdiction. In addition, legalization would drive down prices, undercutting the drug cartels that cause such troubles in Mexico and other Latin American nations. Finally, legal sales can be taxed – as with alcohol.

  2. Windfall profit taxes for additional sales of goods and services resulting from awards, such as Academy Awards, New York Times Bestseller status, the Pulitzer Prize, or an author's election to office or other public disgrace.

  3. Strict registration and licensing of celebrities who wish to become “activists.” Licensing fees for these lobbyists would be a flat percentage of their annual gross incomes.

  4. Lift the current ban on offshore oil drilling. This step would reduce the cost of energy and encourage production, creating jobs. In addition, with consumers now conditioned to higher fuel prices, a surcharge to fund socially responsible research into alternative energy, would pass unnoticed.

  5. An illegitimacy tax. While procreation may be a natural right, creating a burden on society is not. In addition, modern DNA tests remove uncertainty regarding paternity. Parents should therefore be directly responsible for the cost of public benefits to protect and rear their offspring. Parents who cannot afford to pay these assessments should be required to work off their obligations.

  6. An appointment to office tax, being a percentage of the total sum an appointee contributed directly or through surrogates, to secure the election of the appointer. As a corollary, appointees who are not current in their taxes would be assessed a surcharge equal to 200% of their tax deficiency. Payment in full being due before appointee is permitted to take office.

  7. A celebrity tax, payable by entertainers, sports figures, political pundits and others who derive their income not from production of goods or services having practical utility but from their own notoriety. An additional surcharge could be levied upon those “famous for merely being famous.”

  8. Registration and licensing of print and broadcast journalists. While print and broadcast journalists exercise a public trust, events over the last decade – witnesses various deceptions perpetrated by or on the New York Times and CBS Evening News – reveal that these organizations cannot be allowed to police themselves. Oversight is clearly necessary to ensure the accuracy and integrity of all reporting. Neither is there any reason that these organization should not contribute handsomely to the public fisc in return for the opportunities they enjoy.

  9. An entertainment tax. While rest and recreation are, of course, necessary to the well being of individuals, in these times of national crisis such as these they must be pursued in moderation. To that end, taxes may be imposed on such items as motion pictures, televisions, condoms, DVDs, home theaters, video games and works of fiction (including the writings of any holder of or candidate for political office).

  10. A leisure tax. Given the current crisis, unproductive members of society are a luxury we cannot afford. Thus all able-bodied men and women not otherwise gainfully employed should be put to work at socially productive tasks. Given the millions we spend each year on public education and training, no one should complain that they have not been given opportunity to acquire the skills needed for their preferred employment. As Captain John Smith taught during a similar time of national peril “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”


Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dear Mr. President -

I fear your address to the All Party Congress has left me profoundly troubled.
Whence will come all the trillions of dollars you intend to spend?

You could confiscate all the wealth of all the "rich" and still not be able to pay the bills.

If you merely print money, you will impoverish us all. Witness Zimbabwe.

You can try to borrow the money, but will you use for collateral?

It all appears a mammoth Ponzi scheme, in which you rob those who do not support you to pay those who do.

It will truly be "change," as you promised, but not change for the better.