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.