Define and Defend your position on Federal and State Employee Unions

Wisconsin State Employees' Union and the Wisconsin State Budget Deficit 

For now, the issue between the Wisconsin State Employee Unions and the Wisconsin State Government has been settled - state employee’s collective bargaining privileges are diminshed (excluding fire and police employees), they will contribute more to their own healthcare and retirement AND....the state will no longer garnish employee wages for union dues on behalf of the Unions. The last point, automatic deductions, means the unions will be responsible for collecting their own dues from employees who join the union.

  • Are unions about employee rights being protected?
Regardless of how you received your information on this issue, did you hear of any right to be protected other than the right to collectively bargain? Is that even a right or simply a decades old negotiated labor arrangement between unions/employees and employers? Do arrangements/agreements evolve into irrevocable rights over time never to be  renegotiated or rearranged? With respect to employee rights; I did not read or hear of any employee rights specifically in need of protecting. Were the working conditions intolerable or rampant discrimination and harassment? Were wages being garnished illegally (besides union dues being garnished), unlawful hiring, firing, rehiring? Ask yourself, "what employee rights did I hear or read about in need of protecting beside collective bargaining?" 

  •  If you are not pro union are you against protecting employee rights?
Department of Labor, EEOC, OSHA, Civil Rights Division of DOJ, EPA: combined, these Government agencies have budgets in excess of $14billion/yr and have thousands of employees/officers protecting employee rights. If you are an employer, having dealt with any of these agenciesyou know this - these agencies are 100% employee advocates and they are serious about what they do. This does not take into account all the state and local laws and state agencies that offer redundant protection in the name of employee rights. The icing on the cake? Lawyers who will sue any business, any employer any time for anything. If you are not pro union, that does not make you against protecting employee rights. If unions went away tomorrow the Department of Labor, EEOC, OSHA, Civil Rights Division of DOJ, EPA would still be here with the billion dollar budgets, thousands of employees, and the ability to fine and incarcerate the guilty. You can be opposed to the redundancy of unions and still believe in the protection of employee rights. 

  • Why are union leadership and the politicians so adamant about collective bargaining and the garnishment ofunion dues
The Wisconsin battle presents the perfect “cataclysmic” storm for unions and the politicians they support. First, state union employees will have to contribute to their own health insurance premiums and retirement ( still pennies on the dollar compared to the rate private sector employees contribute). Let’s remember, regardless of how much  state employees contribute toward their own benefits, all of what a state employee earns comes from taxes, and it is the tax payer on the hook for 100% of what state employees receive, whether in wages, benefits, or benefit contributions. 

Going forward, Wisconsin state employees will pay more toward their health and retirement benefits. At the same time the the State of Wisconsin will no longer automatically deduct union dues from state employees who must now submit their own dues. In fact, you can make a case that the Wisconsin state employee has gained rights as they have a choice and could opt out of paying union dues after the current contract expires.  

Now you have Wisconsin employees paying more for their benefits (approx. $2,000 more a year) with a choice of voluntarily paying into aunion. As wages are not garnished by collecting union dues, where do you think many State employees will choose to save money? Union dues most likely Now you know why the union leadership and Progressive politicians are up in arms - they just lost their guaranteed revenue stream. How many of the 300,000 state employees can opt out of $400 to $1,000/yr dues before it impacts the union coffers? If every state employee paid $400/yr in union dues that’s  $120 million in union dues. That would be $120 million in tax payer dollars in union bank accounts.

What do union state employees pay in yearly dues. (a 60 second read)
fact check:
What does the union do with $120 million dollars (and that is rough estimate on an average of $400/yr dues and 300,000 state employees)? We have already established that unions do not need to protect traditional employee rights. The Federal Government spends billions to do that and unions do not spend any money on something they can get from the Federal Government. So where does the money go?  Surely some of it goes to maintaining the union itself; offices, salaries, management, office supplies and such. Where else do those dues go? In the last two years, the ten biggest unions in the country gave approximately $20 million  to Democratic politicians compared to a few thousand to Republicans. What motivated the Wisconsin Democratic Senators to abandon their duty, their state and their constituents? It wasn’t for the benefit of the state employeesbut rather in their own political self-interest that they left the State, preventing the necessary quorum to vote on the Wisconsin budget which included eliminating the garnishment of union dues from state employee wages. 

This is the crux of the issue - the guaranteed revenue stream from state employee to unions to politicians. Oh, and the granting of collective bargaining  "rights" is how the politicians who received the union contributions paid back the unions and their employees -- a Ponzi/pyramid scheme with the tax payer at the bottom. 

The average union member’s interest most likely does not include much beyond maintaining pay scales, benefits, and probably good working conditions. If we are honest, these are issues important to all of us as employees and employers whether we are a union and non-union member. The other issues -- those are issues that seem to drive union leadership and politicians. If the regular union members do not come together to purge out the extreme factors within their leadership ranks, unions will either become extinct or bankrupt the states and country.  
  • What do Unions Leaders want protected from? 
What do unions protect their members from? The best I can tell, they protect their members from Free Enterprise principles and relationships. Unions are no longer fighting for employee rights, but for employee privileges -- sheltering them from the same principles and standards that exist in the private sector employee/employer relationships. Employment is based on time not performance. Retirement with a pension often in excess of income earned while working, little to no personal contribution, and at a  much earlier  age than in the private sector, with minimal contribution to other generous benefits. The typical union employee has an income and benefit package more than 30% higher than the same job in the private sector. 

The Government employee has the best of everything. Better wages, better benefits, employee rights protected by State and Federal Governments, and a quid pro quo political/union relationship granting them privileges that cannot possibly exist in an economic model where compensation is based on performance. In the Union business model, compensation is endorsement based not performance based. 

Would the average state union member accept the same working terms and conditions available in the private sector? How would we know? As long as the mouthpiece for the unions reflects the union leadership and not union membership how will there be a return to normalcy in the union/employer relationship? 

Three very informative articles

  • Why should you care about what is happening in Wisconsin? 
You should care about what is going on in Wisconsin because you most likely live in a state that either has this issue or will in the very near future. Understanding the issues in Wisconsin will better prepare you to define and defend your position later. 

Not being pro union does not mean anti-employee rights - DOL, EEOC, DOJ, OSHA will still be in place if unions are not. Protecting the unions does not protect employee rights any more than what they are already protected by State and Federal agencies, it is protecting the revenue stream from taxpayer to union leadership to elected official that seems to be the more immediate goal. It is the same type pyramid scheme that sent Bernie Madoff to prison. Protecting the current union based business model is to support endorsement based employee compensation instead of performance based compensation. We see how well that worked for GM, Chrysler, and much of the US manufacturing industry. 

The unions served a purpose once upon a time. If the current system is not reformed, unions will have outlived their usefulness. Just the way it is sometimes -- societies must evolve and transition. What the unions demanded decades ago in terms of wages, safety, and other rights the States and Federal Governments now spend billions to protect. To be clear, the issue is much less about the union member and more about the union system, and the quid pro quo relationship between union leaders and politicians. Let us distinguish: the American worker is still one of America’s greatest assets while union leadership and lobbying have become a detriment. 

It is time for the current system to evolve and we must acknowledge  the current union system has outlived its usefulness. It is just time The present union system is broken and corrupt, evolving into something it was never meant to be. The time has come for unions to evolve with the current economic times or they will continue to be purged from the market place. 
You do not need to be an Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, or even Paul Krugman to understand this issue. You do not even need an in-depth knowledge of economics as the issue is now reduced to simple math. Any individual, business, state or country that continues to spend more than it takes in will eventually go bankrupt - period. This should concern unions as once an entity declares bankruptcy all contractual terms can be renegotiated and perhaps voided by the courts - even collective bargaining terms. It is ironic - the more demanding the unions, the faster states move towards insolvency, the closer unions  may be moving to their own demise. 

It is up to the citizens of each state to decide will they allow unions to do to their state governments what they did to the steel industry and auto manufacturing? It is no accident that Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Mississippi do not have the issues of California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Unions do not have to be dissolved, but it is time they learn - evolve or perish. 

RD Martin

Defining the Moment; Defending a Movement

November 21, 2010

Defining the Moment; Defending a Movement

Most have chosen to evaluate the 2010 elections on the whole, missing an opportunity to learn the lessons that are revealed in the pieces. Understanding the dynamics of individual elections could be the first step in transforming a moment into a movement.

On November 2, 2010,

  • Senator-elect, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin won by 4.9% over 3 term incumbent and progressive, Russ Feingold ... in the state home to Progressivism
  • Senator elect Rand Paul of Kentucky won by 11.6%
  • Senator elect Marc Rubio of Florida won by 19.2% - against two challengers
  • Sharon Angle of Nevada lost by 5.6% against a very unpopular incumbent
  • Christine O’Donnell of Delaware lost by 16.6%
  • Ken Buck of Colorado lost by 0.9%.


Really, from a conservative stand point, what is the difference between the three candidates that won and the three that did not? There is little doubt that all six candidates would have voted similarly, if not identically. All six candidates were wildly supported by the Tea Party. And, all six called for limited government, fiscal discipline and a return to free market principles while campaigning. So, what was the difference?

The most glaring difference was this: the winners were able to define and defend their positions beyond talking points and more in-depth than what common sense alone can accomplish. No matter how aggressively attacked - by media and opponents alike - the winning candidates rarely got off or lost control of the message, and consequently were rarely drawn into peripheral discussions meant to paint them as radical, extreme and/or fringe. It was their ability to define and defend the message on limited government, fiscal discipline, and free ! market p rinciples that kept them on message and voters engaged.

It is not even worthy of discussion -- that Angle, Buck or O’Donnell were any less passionate advocates for limited government, fiscal discipline, and free market principles thanJohnson, Paul, and Rubio. Rather, it was the ability to define and defend these ideas that separated the winners from the losers - not their convictions.

If we wish to transform the moment into a movement then we must look past the sum total of the elections and identify what moved voters. We must learn how to define and defend why limited government is better government, why fiscal discipline is necessary, and why an economy based on free market principles is best. The message is powerful and persuasive if you have the ability to define and defend. Look at the margin of victory for Johnson, Paul, and Rubio - do you doubt the persuasiveness of the message when properly and consistently delivered?

You may choose to dismiss the importance of defining and defending the message but the Progressives certainly do not. A skillful, knowledgable and persuasive defense of limited government, fiscal discipline, and free market principles is the Progressive kryptonite ... and the Progressives completely understand that. Exactly why do you think the Progressives dislike (hate) Rush Limbaugh Glenn Beck, and even Fox News? After all, they do not make policy, pass legislation, or enforce laws. But, they do educate and persuade large numbers of people on how to define and defend the principles of liberty. Progressives do not necessarily fear the message - they fear those who can define and defend the message -- AND persuade others to do the same. As Ayn Rand once said, "When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side".

The real fear of the Progressives is the connection and synergy that exists between those who can define and defend and those in the Tea Parties whom they have been able to persuade. The brute force that the Progressives exercise through regulations, legislation, and gargantuan bureaucracies is not un-stoppable. The brute force of Progressives stands exposed, with no chance of succeeding against a growing number of enlightened citizens who know not only what they believe, but can easily refer to the underlying principles that support their beliefs. Increasingly, Progressives will find it disorienting and debilitating to confront principled groups and individuals who are anxious to engage them -- e.g., Tea Party groups aligned with those who can define and defend persuasively. Progressives understand the strengths and weaknesses of their message better than most think. The absence of principled beliefs forces them to focus on personality. The lack of substance (that actually works) forces them to focus on style. The inability to practically apply their ideas (successfully) forces them to live in a theoretical world. Their never stepping outside their inner circle of like minded theoreticians minimizes their ability to connect to those other than co-elites - which explains why they they are so disengaged from the American people.

America needs more than a moment to return to past greatness; it needs a movement that is clearly defined and persuasively defended. We have two years to learn how to define, defend and persuasively argue for the principles of liberty.

Define - Defend - Liberty

RD Martin (A)

Happy Bithday America: Remembering Our Past, Choices For Our Future. 7/3/2010

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants --Thomas Jefferson

History repeats itself, first as a farce, second as a tragedy -- Karl Marx

We are fast approaching the fork in the road.  The moment of choice is nearly upon us.  To the right the tree of liberty will be refreshed with the rediscovered "ideas" of patriots; to the left history will repeat itself as a farce The strength of a free society, insuring individual liberties and rights is not without its breaking point. A society of individual liberties and rights that buckles under the weight of tyranny and collectivism, ideas tested and failed, will find the next fork in the road a choice between living a tragedy or refreshing the tree liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

America, we must choose: think ourselves giants, standing upon thebroad shoulders of past generational accomplishments, contributing nothing more than a sense of entitlement or escaping the intoxicatingaphrodisiac of promises and hand outs to understand the principles that established America as the freest, most productive, wealthiest, safest,most powerful country in the history of modern man. Unlike the founding fathers, the path we choose will not be one untraveled in history.Whether we choose free market ideas or a centrally controlled state run economy - it has been done. Whether we choose the rights of the individual or the right of the collective - it has been done.Contemplating the consequences is an act of redundancy, history teaches all we need to know - to those willing to learn. Should we be surprised when we duplicate past actions and obtain similar results? Will relabeled, re-branded, repackaged ideas yield different results -unlikely. Surely American's still posses a sufficient quantity of common sense to see an old idea, regardless of its pseudonym, will be no better for Americans today than in the past. Socialism just doesn't fail because of timing and place - it fails every time and every place for its inherent flaws. Socialism did not fail in the USSR because they didn't do it well, it failed because they did it extremely well. The purer the state of socialism, the quicker the economic demise. China did not begin its transition from a Third World economy until it began injecting their economy with doses of capitalism. The United States achieved what it has not in spite of capitalism, it was because of capitalism. If the results of socialism and capitalism were so similar, then why isn't every country's economy like Americas', why doesn't every country have America's standard of living? 

It is this generation's turn to be great. Why us, why now?Because this generation inherited a society adrift in apathy, governed by a class of disengaged, disingenuous, dishonest politicians who areas absent from reality as their actions are of honesty. America has reached its tipping point from being governed by a class of professional politicians - too often armed only with advanced degrees and no life experiences, having never traveled outside their privileged group of like minded people, acting with the capriciousness reserved for royalty instead of the constitutional stewards they were elected to be. Surely it would ease our conscience to deflect all blame for the present day crisis on past generations, but who can we blame for the manipulative, self-serving sycophants roaming the halls of Congress other than those who elected them. History teaches us, our history teaches us, an entire generation can act with a degree of certainty to change the world - we did it in 1776, 1914 and again in 1940's. It is this generation's turn to act with the courage of a Washington, the convictions of a Jefferson, the wisdom of a Franklin, the prudence of an Adams, the decisiveness of a Lincoln, and the persistence of an MLK Jr. We are at that point in history, will we choose the best of our past to insure the best of our future? History will not ignore our choices - even if we choose to ignore history.

Greatness will not consult with convenience before it calls upon us- the time is now for an American Renaissance.

Happy Birthday America!

RD Martin (A)

Mainstream Media - Not So Mainstream, Not So Relevant

If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it – does it make a sound?
If the mainstream media reports and no one is there to view/listen – is it relevant, is it viable, and can they justify their continued existence?
Does a falling tree make a sound if no one is there to hear it? If we understand sound as “the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium” – the answer is no. Vibrations transmitted through the air are just that, vibrations, until received by “organs of hearing”. Sound is the relationship between vibrations and organs of hearing.

Is a media where no one listens or views relevant? Much like sound, the media requires an organ of hearing to be relevant. This is what mainstream media knows, understands, and fears – the loss of relevancy, the loss of viewers and listeners. The loss of relevancy, viewers or listeners is not an issue for all media outlets. Talk radio looms large with a large listening base and with the onset of 24/7 cable news, no need to wait until 5 o’clock to get your news from the networks.  As if that were not enough to minimize the impact of mainstream media, we now have the internet: an unlimited source of …well, of sources. No need to trust what you hear from one news source when you can Google to get 50 sources. If that were not enough to chip away at the relevancy/viability of the mainstream media, a new source of information has arisen. When mainstream media became the voice of an ideology, abandoning journalistic integrity to choose a side, they inadvertently opened the door for the latest challengers to their relevancy -- the modern day Tea Parties. 

Tea Parties and commentary news constitute the unintended consequence of a main stream media that has long since conditioned Americans to accept a blend of news and commentary -- which Americans now actively seek. We now accept that a lack of impartiality comes with news delivery, and now gravitate toward those whose commentary is more in line with our own as they deliver the news. As mainstream media moved from news reporting to commentary news, so too did Americans preferences move in that direction.  In 1970, there was no place for an O’Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh, Prager, Levin, or Hannity. Today, they rule the airways. They have mainstream media to thank for clearing the way for commentary news. Had mainstream media remained disciplined in reporting, maintaining a shred of journalistic integrity, commentary news may not exist today.  But now, the more aggressively mainstream media reports with (liberal) bias, the more viewers they lose -- fewer viewers, less relevancy.

I always smile when I hear an outlet, such as Fox, dismissed because of right wing bias.  Let us assume it to be accurate that Fox has a right wing tilt and viewers desire to view media outlets more in line with their own thinking.  Can we make a generalized comment about the political thinking of Americans when their number one source for news has a right wing tilt? (Fox news has more viewers than the other cable news sources combined.) I understand the right wing tilt is meant to dismiss Fox News as irrelevant but in fact it shows where the majority of Americans' views lie, and as such does more to dismiss or question the relevancy of mainstream media.

As Americans became accepting of commentary news and accustomed to “surfing the net” for information, we became more comfortable with and accustomed to, more in-depth information. Ten second blurbs on network news from a pretty face do not have the appeal they once did. We are okay with the pretty face, but we want more than a ten second blurb. Now, we get our ten second blurbs from the ticker scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen leaving an hour long news/opinion show to focus on one or two topics. We require 24/7 news, on demand news, multiple-source news we can conveniently view for free on a computer screen, or on demand from cable.

Mainstream media and those who require its collusion with the left are right to fear the internet, cable news and talk radio. No longer can mainstream media count on a citizenry to remain mindlessly numb as opinions are not-so-subtly substituted for objective reporting.  We no longer accept what we are told…we fact check it. The more mainstream media abandons all pretense of objective journalism the more relevant alternative media sources become. No need for newspaper or magazine subscriptions or waiting until 5pm for the news – news sources that become more obsolete by the day -- or the hour.
How do those in the main stream media and their minions in the political class respond to a flow of ideas different from their own ideology?  Their mantra is, "If you can’t out-think (or out-persuade) them, out-legislate them!" They introduce and re-introduce the Fairness Doctrine, Net Neutrality and begin to float legislation that would tax the internet and internet devices (Ipads, Kindles, and lap tops) to subsidize their media of choice -- newspapers. Should we be concerned when a government attempts to control the free flow of ideas? Should we be concerned when our government initiates legislation consistent with that of Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Castro, and Kim Young Il?  Should a nation of free people be concerned when their Government promotes legislation to structure a mainstream media similar to Al Jazeera or TASS?

Certainly the Founding Fathers believed Freedom of Press to be crucial in maintaining our Republic (it is the only public sector profession listed in the Constitution).  It was Jefferson who claimed,  “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They (the people) are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”  The Founding Fathers believed a Free Press to be the peoples' check in a cleverly engineered system of checks and balances within our Constitutional Republic.

Questioning authority with authority was deemed of prime importance by our Founding Fathers and Supreme Court; restraints placed on most other professions are constitutionally removed for a free press.  Freedom of Press (and speech) is not protected for only those who report honestly or accurately – it is protected regardless.  There is no standard or requirement for objectivity or fairness and no demand that sources or facts be substantiated or verified. Furthermore, the Supreme Court, as recently as 1964, strongly reinforced the Founding Fathers' original intent when stating,  “Insisting upon honest, accurate, substantiated, factual reporting would amount to self-censorship, placing undo restraints upon a free press."  However, just because the Constitution and the Supreme Court do not demand an honest, objective, non-biased press doesn’t mean the American people do not want it. As the free press becomes an ideological collaborator, abandoning their intended task of providing a “Constitutional Check” on government, we see others rushing to fill the void created, from internet media sources to thousands of Tea Party Groups.

The reality is that the American people are craving a Constitutional voice; a voice that attempts to hold public officials accountable by keeping them tethered to the very document intended to keep a government of and for the people; a voice that bases opinions and conclusions on fact rather than selectively chosen facts that support a predetermined conclusion. Americans want a voice that understands cause and effect while becoming less tolerant of a voice that merely supports mainstream media’s causes.  American’s are tired of being mocked, chastised, ridiculed and insulted while exercising their constitutional rights -- by a mainstream media that takes theirs for granted. Americans are tired of extending common courtesy to an institution that does not, and has no plans to, extend the same courtesy.  It is that craving that is rendering the mainstream media less relevant, less viable, and increasingly less able to justify their continued existence. 

Mainstream media - not so mainstream and not so relevant.

RD Martin (A)

***Houchins v. KQED (1978) – without granting special rights or access to the press, it was acknowledged the tools of the reporting trade are permitted to convey to the public what they would see and hear if they were at a place or event.  Justice Potter Stewart
***Schenck v. United States (1919) – the character of an act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done – in speech and press…falsely shouting fire in a theater. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
***International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc v. Lee (1992), Hudgens v. National labor Relations Board (1976), Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969) – Time manner and place cases.
****New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) - … a "public official" may not recover "damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with 'actual malice'--that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard" of the truth” … for fear of criticism being voiced resulting in self-censorship.  Justice Brennan
***The Citizen’s Constitution, Seth Lipsky (2009)

Mainstream Media Quandry - guilt by associations, the First Amendment and being pc.

Oh, my goodness, what to make of the tragedy at Ft Hood and the tragedy in how the media reports it.

Boy, oh boy, the press is in a tough spot. How in the world can they report this situation in any way but defensively?  Mainstream media and those who gave the media a pass on their bias reporting the last three years are about to learn why objectivity matters.

Why does the press downplay the communication and association between the shooter (Maj. Hasan) and a radical imam (a Muslim religious leader or chief)?  And,  just how sincerely can the press scream First Amendment rights to defend Maj Hasan's communications with terrorism - advocating nuts?   Why in the world is the press belaboring the point that every Muslim is not a terrorist?   Why is the press having such a hard time reporting the facts without disclaimers and caveats concerning this story. Hell, I hear fewer disclaimers in car ads and  prescription drug commercials.  I think  the MS media finds itself in quite a pickle!

How can mainstream media do anything but deny any and all  "guilt by association" angles? After 36 months of ignoring, dismissing, and excusing the associations of our President (with the home grown terrorist William Ayers and Rev Wright the first noted, and the long list of Czars most recently noted), how can they reverse themselves now without seeming foolish and contradictory? They cannot.  Perhaps you ,too, believe associations don't matter?  If you found out your babysitter regularly associated with pedophiles or was cordially communicating with the chapter president of NAMBLA would associations matter to you? If your kid regularly hung out with drug addicts and dealers would you be concerned and would you question your kids activities based on those associations? If your neighbor occasionally hosted dinner parties for the local chapter of the KKK, but was himself not a member, would it influence your opinion of him?  If you can honestly say those associations do not bother you, you are either lying or irresponsible.

Come on now, let's admit the obvious. Most people like to associate with like minded people, people we admire, people we respect, people we can learn from, people we want to emulate.  It is simply human nature to like being around like people or people we want to be like. Why is it wrong to acknowledge it?  I get it and so do most people.  Knowing someone's associates does not tell you everything about a person, but it certainly tells you something.   And to be fair, most of us have probably even associated with someone with some deviant tendencies without those tendencies rubbing off.  But most of us learn that while those tendencies may not pass to us, the consequences could and we part ways (this is why we don't let the drunk in the group be the designated driver). 
The FBI does a background check on applicants; sex offenders must register with local officials; we keep tabs on parolees, etc.  Most elements of society accept that associations are significant.  It seems that only the press (and politicians) want to ignore that significance. 

The association examples listed are extreme, but no less extreme than the imam Maj. Hasan wished to associate with. The simple fact that Maj Hasan wished to communicate/associate with this imam is not a crime. But  just because it is not a crime does not mean we should not wonder about what kind of person actively seeks out a mass- killing promoting/preaching nut case.  I am fairly certain that if, instead of being a Muslim seeking counsel from an imam, Hasan had been a southern soldier seeking counsel from a separatist leader,  that association would be wildly reported in the media.  Mainstream media is in a quandary for sure. Not only can they not report Maj. Hasan's associations as important, their past failures to report objectively concerning our President put many in the mainstream media in a position to defend Maj. Hasan's associations. Ironically, mainstream media has to choose - be objective and report all the facts about Maj. Hasan or be consistent and downplay/defend Maj. Hasan's association. How can mainstream media report objectively now without being called out for not doing the same the last 36 months? If the media reports that associations matter now, will it take long for viewers/listeners to ask why they didn't matter then? Mainstream media will not take that chance and risk what little credibility they have....so the defense of Maj. Hasan continues.

How will the media defend Maj. Husan? Will they wrap their defense of Maj. Husan with the First Amendment - how wonderfully delicious that will be. I cannot wait to hear the mainstream media defend Maj. Husan, valiantly defending his First Amendment rights, dismissing whom he was speaking to or what they were speaking of.....as it should be. (The First Amendment wasn't written to protect speech we agree with, it was written to protect speech we do not agree with.) Okay - here is where the delicious part comes. How insanely ridiculous will the mainstream media sound when they defend the First Amendment rights of a mass murdering wacko when they called the Tea Party attendees, Tea Bagging, Red Neck, Racist, Radical, Extremist, Right Wing, Angry Mob. I am unclear - does one have to mass murder or hate America for the media to defend civil liberties? Maj. Hasan?  Civil liberties will be defended by the press. Gitmo detainees?  Civil liberties will be defended by the press. Tea Party attendees? Civil liberties ignored, disregarded and stomped on by the press.

Make no mistake about it, everyone's civil liberties should be defended and protected.  But everyone means everyone. Once again, what a quandary for the media. The media can make a case for defending the First Amendment rights of Maj. Husan, they just can't do it without exposing the bias they had towards the Tea Party attendees. This is actually a double quandary. The press is sure to report consistently rather than objectively, but to report consistently, based on the First Amendment, will expose the inconsistencies in how the media preferentially treats a mass murdering whacked out killer vs every day Americans who exercised their First Amendment rights peacefully at the Tea Parties.

Perhaps mainstream media will take the always safe, politically correct angle when they report the "let's not stereotype all Muslims or a group of people because of a few bad apples". I think there are enough bad apples to make a bushel by now, right? Is it so wrong to profile when it fits? When the FBI is on the hunt for a serial killer, they often give a probable profile of the killer. I think it goes like this, most (not all) are white male, 30 to 45 years old, usually gainfully employed, etc. Oh, and coincidently, nearly all serial killers are white males 30 to 45 years old, gainfully employed, etc. This profile is so accurate that it shocks society when it isn't (DC sniper was black and Aileen Wuornos is a woman). I don't recall ever hearing the media reporting on the profile of a serial killer with a disclaimer, and why would they inasmuch as the profile is usually accurate. In fact, if there were only two people in a room, me (a white male between the ages of 30 and 45) and a 21 year old black female and you had to assume one of us a serial killer, what sane person wouldn't pick me, the white male who fits the profile. One step further, would  law officials be anything less than negligent if they didn't assume the white male vs the black female to be the serial killer? See, society does have the capacity to understand certain profiles fit certain acts. To disregard/ignore that certain people are more likely to commit certain acts is nothing less than laying the foundation for the next 9/11.

It's going to be interesting to discover how/whether the MS media can unravel the conundrum they have created for themselves.

If you can apologize for America while in Europe and Africa............

Watching with eyes wide open:

Adversity may not determine ones character, but it certainly reveals it.
Speaking extemporaneously may not reveal all of ones beliefs, but it certainly reveals some of them.

I normally like to do the work to historically connect current and past events, no need this time. What can or should a non-partisan have noticed while watching the Gates/Crowley mess......if they go through life with eyes wide open. I am less concerned with what happened in Cambridge than what I learned about the President.

 A press conference about health care ended with a question on a police issue in Cambridge - odd I know? The Chicago reporter in question, Lynn Sweet said her question was not screened or encouraged by White House staff. I want to believe that to be true - because if THAT response was scripted to be the best answer possible .....wow.

  • Let's take Lynn Sweet at her word - Obama did not know the question ahead of time. Consequently, it is safe to say that Obama spoke extemporaneously. This is not an assumption it is a fact if reporter Lynn Sweet was honest that the question was not screened/pre-approved.
    1. Obama's, not knowing all the facts (his words not mine), response was to blame the police/establishment? If he didn't know all the facts, how did he come up with his response? When presented with a question, limited facts and you must come up with an answer - what do you do? With the information you have, you give the best answer you can based on your belief system. Obama gave the best answer he could based on the information he had and his belief system. 
    2. Obama and Professor Gates are friends and nearly all people give their friends the benefit of the doubt. One of the many reasons Lady Justice is blind folded. 
    3. Most people who speak out of turn....and are wrong....apologize.
    4. Adversity reveals character, even when it is self inflicted adversity.
Let's address the 4 points:

Pressed to answer a question without all the facts, you have to "go with what you know and what you think". That is not a political, condemning, judgmental, or radical statement - that is just how it is. There is an alternative to answering questions when you do not know the facts, say you do not know the facts and wait to answer until you do. Why didn't Obama, after he said he didn't have the facts, just take a pass on the question. Really, who chastises someone for not answering a question when they don't have the facts, especially after they say they do not have all the facts? I have to question Obama's judgment - answer a loaded question without the facts or wait for more facts. Just not a smart decision and let's be honest, there are many decisions that will be harder than that for the most powerful man in the world?  Makes you wonder how he will handle the hard decisions.
Since the President chose not to wait on the facts, where did his answer come from? If you do not have the facts, don't answers come from your core belief system? Isn't that true for anyone? Obama's core belief lead him to believe the police acted stupidly and were guilty of.....  Now, as a voter and a citizen, it is up to you to determine what "core beliefs" the President of the United States holds that led him to indict the Sgt Crowley without knowing the facts. Unlike Obama, you actually do have all the facts you need to answer that question.

Perhaps Obama simply gave the benefit of the doubt to his friend. Not uncommon and if we are honest, we all have done that a time or two. But, most of us are not the President of the Untied States, have not the taught constitutional law at a major university, and will not do so in a press conference. Knowing when pressed, Obama could choose his friends over the facts, should we pay more attention to who his friends are? Obama was given a pass on many of his past associations.....actually he was given a pass on all questionable associations. Not to open past debates on Obama's past associations, I am just going with the facts here and trying to understand how the President came to indict Sgt Crowley without knowing the facts....his decision had to based on something? If his friendship with professor Gates influenced his answer, an aware observer may conclude it was the biggest influence as Obama stated he did not have all the facts. Then, we should pay attention to the president's associates knowing how influential they can be to his decision making process. Isn't that true for everyone though, aren't most of us influenced to a degree by who we associate with?
Honestly, I find the ease at which Obama indicted the "establishment" pretty consistent with the ease at which Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright do the same thing.

Most people who speak out of turn...or when wrong, simply apologize. " Obama told reporters. "I could have calibrated those words differently, and I told this to Sgt. Crowley.  http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/24/officer.gates.arrest/index.html
First of all - what normal person speaks like that.....could have calibrated my words differently. My opinion, you form your own, it is a real character flaw when someone cannot or will not apologize when wrong. What is the big deal, say you are sorry and move on.
Second - our President can go to France, Germany, & Egypt to apologize for his country, but he cannot apologize when he is wrong? What does that say about a person when they can apologize for the actions of others but not their own. It probably says about the same thing as a President who demonizes the wealthy for not doing enough to help "the greater good" while he donated less than 1% to charity himself (until he ran for a National Office) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aHdvU_NJzIcI&refer=home (Obama's Donated Less Than 1% of Their 2000-2004 Income)

The adversity that arose from Obama speaking extemporanously may not have revealed Obama's exact character, just that has less of it than we should expect from the leader of the free world.  And, if he couldn't change the minds of either Gates or Crowley over a beer, good luck trying to do it with Ahmadinejad, Kim Jung Il, Medvedev/Putin.

RD Martin (A)

Sarah Palin, Barack Obama and the American "Sense of Life"

In 1971, Ayn Rand wrote an essay, entitled, "Don't Let it Go."   She was referring to our sense of life, which she described as an individual's  "pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence."  According to Rand, this sense of life "represents an individual's unidentified philosophy..."  And she went on to explain that a nation, too, has a sense of life, which, she believed is " expressed  not in its formal culture, but in its "life style" -- in the kinds of actions and attitudes which people take for granted and believe to be self-evident..."  When the nation's dominant majority  share the essentials of this sense of life in varying degrees, they develop the same subconscious philosophy --  observed as  "national characterisitics."

What are some of those essentials that have defined the American sense of life, and which have historically differentiated us from the other peoples of the world?  My list would include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following concrete examples:

Unlike the people on every other continent, we Americans do not believe that our government owns us.  We have always known who works for whom.  And we know that our lives belong to our individual selves.

We do not believe that our future is determined by our birth, our current circumstance, or our "station" in life.  In fact, we reject the whole notion of "station." 

We do not like to be "put in our place," because we don't believe that any human being should be confined to "his/her place" (and we proved that by fighting a war against fellow Americans who, earlier in our history, thought differently).

We do not like to be told that we cannot do something.  Rather like defiant children, we frequently say, "Oh, yeah? Watch me."

We are not easily intimidated.  And WE DON'T LIKE BULLIES! 

For the most part, we believe in the concept of the "benevolent universe."   We trust other people, often naively.  We have difficulty believing that anyone would want to hurt us, inasmuch as we bear no ill will toward others.

We have always taken pleasure in sharing with others.  But we're not big on sacrifice, and we don't like to be told that we "owe" something to someone whom we don't even know.

We routinely take initiative and step up to solve a problem -- whether or not we were involved in its creation.  Just don't tell us that it is our "duty" to step forward.

Our commitment to reality is evidenced by our historically common sense approach to life.  And although we believe in education, we're fundamentally anti-intellectual (we don't trust eggheads).

We are willing to work hard for what we have.  And we play just as hard in the enjoyment of the earned fruits of our labor.

Un-earned guilt has not been an elemental characteristic of who we are.  It has not been our practice to ask for permission to live.

We are an essentially life-oriented, happy people -- except for our intellectuals.  Alexis de Tocqueville commented on exactly that when he traveled through America in 1831.  It amazed him.  And surely we must know how appealing that distinctly American characteristic has been to the millions of immigrants who have flocked to our shores.  Almost everyone in the rest of the world  has wanted to be touched and transformed  by that part of us.  And many have, while many others have died trying.

In my mind's eye, I have always seen Americans as a huge group of self-confident, big-for-their-age, somewhat awkward, a little pushy, fearless, fun-loving, boisterous, generous -- and above all, innocent -- 6th graders.  Yes, 6th grade -- that year when we have finally reached the pinnacle -- being the biggest kids in grade school.  That year when we walk with a bit of a swagger, and exude a sense of certainty -- about everything!  And even when we lord our size and strength over the littler kids, we still feel protective toward them; eager to give them tips on how to be successful like we are.  They all look up to us and can't wait until they can be just like us.   And we believe that, in fact, they can be -- just like us!

That is how I think of Ayn Rand's American sense of life.  It does not denote brilliance or perfection, and cannot, by itself, insulate a person against the constant cultural and political assaults against his beliefs and aspirations.  But it is the most elemental aspect of the American outlook; our sense of life is the national feature most observed and commented on by foreign visitors; it is that characteristic that  most distinguishes us from the countries and peoples of the rest of the world.  And as I look around me today, I see this American sense of life best illustrated and represented by Governor Sarah Palin.

Ayn Rand also said that the best way to identify a sense of life is by contrasting one constellation of concretes, like those listed above, with the outward expressions of a different sense of life.  Listen to the criticisms that are frequently leveled at our "6th graders"  usually by embittered adults, and see if they don't illustrate a different  sense of life:
"Who are you to be so sure of yourself?  Nobody knows anything for sure!"

"You think life is all fun and games?  Well, just wait 'til you grow up.  You'll see that life is about duty and sacrifice!"

"Don't be stupid and trust every Tom, Dick and Harry.   Human nature is dark and evil, and it's only a matter of time before people will disappoint  you."

"It's easy for you to act so carefree and happy.  You're rich and spoiled, and you've never suffered!   And that's the only reason you can act so generous!  Just don't expect any thanks from me!"

"Don't you know that your nice clothes, your good grades, and your  'merry sunshine' attitude make other, less fortunate, kids feel bad?   Shame on you!"

"Don't you dare  do anything or go anywhere without asking for permission.  You can't trust your own judgment.  Always, always ask for permission from the smarter, wiser people who know what's good for you and everyone else.  We'll tell you who they are."

"You think you're such a big shot!  I can't wait 'til someone cuts you down to size!"

"You're selfish, selfish, selfish!  All you ever think about is your own happiness. Shame on you!"

"Look at you -- acting like you're so special.  You're not very smart, and you don't have an ounce of sophistication.  You'll never be anything but a commoner -- and a laughingstock."

"Oh, for goodness sake, nobody but you really believes that stuff about all men being created equal. Those are just words that a bunch of old, hypocritical, white men said a couple of hundred years ago."   

"It's not right that you should be so happy when there are so many other kids who don't have as much as you have.  If you want to be a really good boy, start giving your stuff to them.  And don't just give them the stuff you no longer want or need.  Give them your favorite things, too.  Then, maybe you'll deserve to live!"

"Stop laughing!  Life is not funny.  Wipe that silly grin off your face -- before someone does it for you!"

A very different sense of life, to be sure.  It isn't just that the critics don't feel the same kind of benevolence or joy in living.  What is most striking is their disdain and animosity toward those who do, and their determination to strip them of their belief in themselves as people who are entitled to all of the liberty, prosperity and happiness they can earn.  When we find Americans with this sense of life, we should run from them as though they were trying to spread a deadly plague -- which they are!  As I look around me today I see this non-American sense of life best illustrated and represented by Barack Obama and his Progressive colleagues.

As Ayn Rand explained, "A sense of life is not a substitute for explicit knowledge."  As our 6th grader moves toward adulthood, it is imperative that he engage in the intellectual stuggle that will lead him to a consistent body of conceptual knowledge.  He must know not only what he believes, but why he believes it.  He must hold his beliefs consciously, and not just sense them in a vague, inexplicable way.  This is the only way he will be able to maintain and protect his precious American Sense of Life.  In other words, he must fight for it.  We must all fight for it! 

Lennie Martin
Austin, TX

"Let Them Eat Cake" - A Case against Cap and Trade

Most American know the phrase "taxation without representation" but few realize lack of representation only pushed the colonies to the brink of revolution in the 1770's. What pushed the colonies over the edge was taxation and economic control through taxation policy. (Please visit each of the links below to learn more on the British acts and taxation policies. Each one takes a minute or two to read. Take 8 minutes to understand 9 years of historical thought that began a revolution.)

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/sugaract.htm  - sugar act 1764
http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/stampact.htm - stamp act 1765
http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/townshend.htm  - Townshend act 1767
http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/teaact.htm    - tea act 1773
Interesting fact - besides leading to the Boston Tea party, the tea act was designed to subsidize the East India Company (a British Company, despite the name) which was struggling financially. "The Townshend Duties were still in place, however, and the radical leaders in America found reason to believe that this (tea) act was a maneuver to buy popular support for the taxes already in force. The direct sale of tea, via British agents, would also have undercut the business of local merchants", even though it did not increase or create any new taxes on the colonies. Apparently, the colonists were motivated and angered by something more than prices, taxes and representation. Was it the attempt by the British Crown to manipulate American markets and American sentiment by dumping cheap goods in the colonies in order to subsidize British companies?   Apparently so. The tax acts (sugar, stamp and Townshend) had been in effect up to 9 years before the tea act - but it took an act to "buy" American sentiment  and manipulate the American economy to set the final wheels in motion for Revolution.

Politicians have been so busy trying to not waste a good crisis (their words not mine) it is easy for hard working Americans to ignore it all and do what we have done for the last 100 years - allow apathy to replace action.  Apathy, gave us the New Deal, the Great Society, the War on Poverty, the Missouri Compromise, and Hitler. Action gave us the American Revolution victory, the Constitution, 50 states instead of 13 colonies, victory in two World Wars and a man on the moon.

http://www.ushistory.org/us/23c.asp  Missouri Compromise 1819

It is impossible to apply common sense to the issues coming out of  Washington without becoming nauseated. It is not just the nonsense policies they are trying to ram through Congress, down our throats, under the cover of night. Every time I hear of a new policy or law coming from Washington - that costs us more money, creates a centrally controlled economy and/or infringes upon the best of this country -- it is frustrating.   But still, there is something more.  To be told the socialization of the economy is the path to salvation, when in the history of man there has never been a socialized country that could match the ingenuity, productivity, creation of wealth, or standard of living of the United States, is an insult to anyone with eyes wide open. The media and policy blitz alone is enough to cause one - and perhaps many in due time - to revolt. But there is something more to this.  It isn't only the assault on our freedoms or insulting our intelligence that should boil your blood, it is the "let them eat cake" attitude of politicians and their desire to replace innovation with regulation.

Do you know the history of the quote "let them eat cake"? Incorrectly attributed to Marie Antoinette in the 1700's as her contemptuous and insulting response when told the starving peasants had no bread to eat. As if, what was the big deal if they have no bread they can simply eat cake/pastries - without  thinking that if bakers could not make bread how could they make cake ? Regardless of who uttered the phrase, it is synonymous with the glib, callous, thoughtless attitude of a ruling class towards the people in hard times. In the 1770's that ruling class was called an aristocracy and today has evolved into congressmen and Presidents. Two hundred and thirty-three years ago we revolted against the shackles of aristocratic rule, today we vote them into office. Who we were and what we have become will not co-exist indefinitely. Just as socialism - by virtue of what it is - will crumble once government runs out of other peoples' money (USSR in the 1990's) so, too, will a society of free people run by elitists and aristocrats crumble.

http://www.royalty.nu/Europe/France/MarieAntoinette.html  - Marie Antoinette (1755 -1793) "let them eat cake"
http://www3.telus.net/EKaminski/collapse.htm  - collapse of the USSR

There is just something about being told to be happy with the scraps thrown your way that should make every self-respecting American angry. Scraps are what's thrown to the dogs after the main course is picked clean by those seated at the table. It appears we have become so numb to the "let them eat cake" mentality of politicians that it goes unrecognized by many American citizens and un-reported by the American media. .

Cap and Trade - a heaping slice of cake.
Regulation vs Innovation

The Cap'n Trade debate is constantly focused on how much more it will cost Americans. I think if I hear one more politician start a sentence with, "It will only cost tax payers ........"  I will take the amount they always preface with "only" and deduct from my taxes - I mean really, I only deducted that inconsequential amount they said was too insignificant for anyone to be concerned about. You would be so lucky to have an IRS agent think that way. I once had a doctor define minor surgery as surgery on someone else - an inconsequential increase in costs is when someone else is paying it.  Okay - now if I hear the response one more time to the "It only costs taxpayers ......"  be, "But you do not increase taxes/cost of living in a recession"  I just may lose control of all bodily functions. Granted  you do not increase costs during a recession, but the debate should not be when is the right time for Cap'n Trade cost of living increases, but rather, why in the hell would we voluntarily increase the cost of living at all (and on all) while simultaneously committing economic suicide via Cap'n Trade? How un-American is it to look at an issue and NOT think we can make a service or goods better, faster, cheaper? 

When did it become American to be regressive and not progressive (not progressive in the FDR, Wilson or Obama sense of the word). We went from the horse and buggy to the automobile, from radio to big screens, from calculators to lap tops, from pay phones to iPhones and from Pong to xbox. It was innovation, imagination, inspiration, and the American spirit that moved us forward - not government. Would you trade your car in for a horse, your computer for a calculator, your big screen for a radio, or iPhone for a pay phone? Ironically, at the time of these innovations there was no real need or clamoring for them. These innovations started as an individual's idea not a government mandate; fueled by imagination, not a government subsidy; and a desire to create and innovate, not an obligation to support or regulate . Only when the government is responsible for solutions do ideas and innovations become regressive and inefficient - post office, Amtrak, public housing, public education, Medicare and Medicaid. Do you want to live in public housing, are you happy with public education (better compare our test scores to the other countries before you answer), do you travel via Amtrak, do you believe the post office to be efficient? Why would you want the inadequacies of these institutions to guide entire industries?

We have the Democrats saying, "Let them eat cake, it is only a few hundred dollars more a year," while the best response the Republicans can come up with is, "Well sure, but not just yet"?  I do not care if it is only 50 cents more - more is too much. We have a long tradition in this country of improving upon an idea - making it better, faster, more affordable leading to an increased standard of living. Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, he built them better, faster (father of the assembly line) and more affordably.  Michael Dell didn't invent computers, he just figured out a way to do it faster and cheaper.  Bill Gates didn't invent software, he made it better, more user friendly and less expensive. The same should and could be done with energy. This is America! We invent, create and improve to make industry better, faster and more efficient - which leads to better & cheaper goods and services increasing the standard of living. We do not go backwards, we move forward...always. Where once our Manifest Destiny meant claiming a continent in the 19th century - let our 21st century Manifest Destiny be the unleashing of the American spirit  on society to solve and resolve the issues facing mankind. Our history has not been to settle for scraps thrown at us from an aristocratic ruling class - it has been to scrape off the bindings of an illegitimate ruling class, freeing up the American spirit to do effectively what government cannot (and should not) do in a free and capitalistic society).

Answer this - who would you rather have working to solve our energy needs, Henry Waxman (whom I now call Cap'n Trade, yes similar rank as Cap'n Crunch and as much practical life experience) who is 70 years old and has spent only 5 years of his adult life outside of government (6 years in California State Assembly, a US Representative since 1975) or T. Boone Pickens? T. Boone knows energy like politicians know taxing. Waxmen has spent a life of living off your taxes, never made a payroll, and has never...or at least since 1969... created one bit of wealth. But, he has lived off of your wealth for decades. Waxman is like the son who still lives with mom and dad when at 35 (or 70 in his case)....he just won't move on!  He is a do nothing, create nothing politician - and that is who created the Cap'n Trade bill.
                                   I ask you, who looks more able to create new and or better forms of energy?
              Henry Waxman (aka Cap'n Trade)                  Cap'n Crunch (aka delicious)    T. Boone Pickens (aka Cap'n energy)
                        Career Politician                                            Career of being Delicious                    Career Energy Producer
                In Government since 1969                                   but a life time in business           In oil and gas business since 1951                                                                                                                                                                                   http://www.boonepickens.com/

This has nothing to do with clean and efficient energy or we would build nuclear plants.
This has nothing to do with national security to reduce dependency on Middle East oil, or we would drill our own damn oil and burn clean coal, employing hundreds of thousands of American while having the extreme pleasure of blowing off the Middle East countries. It has nothing to do with job creation - what would create more jobs RIGHT NOW than utilizing our own resources.
And.....it is not about emissions. Any emissions we may reduce (which will be very minimal) will only be produced by China, India, Brazil, and every other country trying to industrialize. Considering how many countries still need to industrialize (which must happen to transition from a Third World economy) stopping US emissions will do little more than wreck our economy. You have to be either ego-centric or totally naive to believe that because Americans choose to regress the rest of the world will follow. Greece gave way to Rome, Rome to Great Britain, and Great Britain to America. Cap'n Trade will cause America  to give way to......?  China and India have 2.3 billion people to feed -- you think they are worried about carbon credits because they want to play nice with the Americans....please. With 2.3 billion people, they could develop their own markets and dismiss the 330 million people in the US market easily.  With 2.3 billion people, you don't think they could pick up the jobs we run off from Cap'n Trade?

www.ft.com/cms/s/0/741cc2f0-748f-11de-8ad5-00144feabdc0.html  India rebuffs US carbon demands
http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/romefallarticles/a/fallofrome_2.htm  - the fall of the Roman Empire

Come on, the bill is thirteen hunnnnnndred pages long. The Constitution is about 12 pages (my pocket version is any way) - and we outlined an entire country with that. You do not  need 1300 pages to define an energy policy - you need 1300 pages to write an instruction manual on how to control the US economy through an energy policy. Pay attention to California because that is where Cap'n Trade will drive the national economy.


Representatives Pelosi and Waxman - how about serving some truth along with the cake you are force feeding us. Just say it - you think there should be a centrally controlled economy and you want to use the Cap'n Trade bill to get it done. And, thank you Lord Jesus for Nancy and Henry, as they have committed a combined 56 years of their lives to saving the stupid peasant folk from themselves while hiding behind the environment, energy, and health care to over tax, over regulate and over stay their usefulness. In the 1770's, Pelosi and Waxmen would have been leading voices for remaining loyal to the British crown. They may be American by birth, but certainly not in spirit.

We are being forced to choose a path - apathy or action. Will Cap'n Trade (or Government run Health Care) be this generations Tea Act? Will this generation have the courage and discipline of our forefathers or the Greatest Generation to throw off the shackles of illegitimate government acts? Will this generation encourage and promote innovation and the creation of new ideas that further mankind and society or will we allow industry and our livelihood to be over regulated and over taxed? Will this generation settle for the scraps tossed at them by the political elitists and settle for cake? Or, will this  generation be American in spirit and action  and claim our rightful seat at the main table -- to order up a second serving of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?

Call or email your congressman and let them know you won't settle for cake any longer!

RD Martin (A)
Phoenix, AZ

What I Have Learned About "The Obama Phenomenon" -- So Far

I have been watching/studying Mr. Obama since early in 2008.  I have listened to what he has said, read what he has written, listened to what has been said about him, read what has been written about him, and read the books that he has read.  From the beginning, I was completely fascinated by Barak Obama, recognizing his charm, his charisma and his gift for rhetoric.  Because I understood how powerful a charismatic individual can be, I knew that it was imperative to listen very closely to this very talented young man.   What I quickly learned is that Mr. Obama, himself, was also aware of the effectiveness of his charm and charisma.  What remained to be seen was whether he would use his talents to achieve noble or base ends. 

What I noticed immediately were the discrepancies between what he said and what he did -- or what he said at one time and what he said at another time.  My first recollection of this was when he referred to himself as a 'uniter of people', and accused other politicians of dividing people.  And yet, the first Obama commercial I ever saw showed him at a townhall meeting, telling people about the rich CEO's who "make more in 10 minutes than you make in a month" -- or something very close to that.  I thought, Hmm, class envy -- what an interesting way to "unite" people.  Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama revealed his contradictions and discrepancies everyday.  Like many Americans, I was not persuaded by his explanation/excuses regarding the Rev. Wright/Bill Ayres situations.  I remember thinking about what I would have said/done to any of my five children if they had ever offered such lame excuses for their behavior or relationships.  It wouldn't have been pretty, I can assure you.  And then there was his  unforgivable disloyalty to his grandmother, when he referred to her comments as 'typical remarks/comments made by a white woman'.  That was unacceptable on so many levels.  He was dismissing the woman who had been the only constant in his life. And for a bi-racial kid who, frankly, never lived the American "black experience," it was a disgusting attempt to further ingratiate himself with his black base.   And let's not forget what he said about people in blue collar PA when he was in San Francisco, and what he said to those same people when he was in PA.  By the time Mr. Obama was elected, I recognized him as the amoral, narcicisstic elitist that he is.  But that understanding was primarily about his character.  There was still much to learn about his politics.

Interestingly, Obama never really tried to hide who he is.  In one of the books he wrote, he refers to himself as a blank page upon which people can write whatever they want; their own wishes, beliefs, (and their own biases and resentments) etc.  And this is why some Americans saw  him as a moderate (the moderates), while others saw him as a revolutionary (the young), and still others saw him as a savior (those who believe they need to be saved), while the middle class saw him as one of their own (which he clearly is not), etc.  His intention was to be whatever anyone wanted him to be.  It was all there -- for those who chose to see and hear.

Mr. Obama has told us from the beginning what he believes, but he has co-opted the language (and we have abandoned the precision of our language). So when we hear his words, we define and interpret them to loosely mean what they have always meant to us, and what we assume he means.  But they have very different, precise meanings to Obama and the people who share his world view.  For instance, within the first minute of his victory speech, while his fans and supporters were crying tears of joy, Mr. Obama was loudly proclaiming that "We are NOT a collection of individuals."  Why did no one scream at the top of their lungs, "OH,  YES WE ARE!  THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE!"  Obama was being very precise about what he believes -- and he does NOT believe in the sovereignty of the individual (the premise which underlies the U.S. Constitution).  And how was/is he able to get away with this?  Because Americans "assumed" that anyone who ran for President of the United States must surely love this country and love the Constitution.  And because people who have become comfortable with their civic ignorance did not even recognize when that beloved document was suddenly under seige.

President Obama has openly referred to himself as a Progressive, as has Hillary Clinton and most of the others in the Obama administration.  In order to be able to stop these people at the polls, it is crucial that Americans gain at least a rudimentary understanding of Progressivism.  Progressivism/Historicism is a philosophy (Hegel & Kant)  that treats the principle of natural human equality as a historical artifact from the past -- rather than as the foundation of justice and security for freedom.  They believe that human nature and human ideas are evolutionary; that there is no permanent human nature, hence no natural rights; no permanent truths or principles.  When Progressives speak of strength, freedom and sovereignty, they are referring to the infusion of strength, freedom and sovereignty in the state -- not in the individual.  To achieve Progressivism's ends requires a large, powerful bureaucracy.

America is the embodiment of several "timeless principles," primary among them is that "all men are created equal."  It is that principle upon which the government of the United States was formulated.  But we are now being governed by people who hold a belief that opposes the prinicples of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 

It is important to understand that for people who do not believe in principles, there is nothing to rely on but might.  In order for Progressives to defend their plans, policies or positions by persuasion, they would have to refer to principles and ideas, wouldn't they?  But since they do not believe in timeless principles, in those instances where others question and challenge the Progressives beyond their level of tolerance, they can only resort to force.  So we are currently being governed by a group of people whose only guiding principle is "Might Makes Right."  That should give all Americans pause.

If we are going to save our country, I believe that we must first be very clear about what we, ourselves, believe, and why.  That means that perhaps we need to study the Constitution and understand it.  And study Progressivism, too.  We can study alone, or in groups with friends or others who share our concern.  And once we feel comfortable with our knowledge and consistent in our beliefs, we must SPEAK -- to anyone who will listen to us. Share what you have learned, and be prepared to defend your position.   We must resist the desire to bury our heads in the sand.  Instead, we must listen to every word that is said by people who have proven themselves to be un-trustworthy.  Americans have allowed themselves to be manipulated beyond belief, and this embarrassing behavior of ours must end.  It is  my fervent belief that when Americans realize the extent to which they have been duped -- by people who do not share the values that are embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they will stop at nothing to take back their country.

My husband and I recently returned from a week-long seminar on The American Constitution (I'm practicing what I'm preaching), and it was wonderful.    There is, indeed, a left-wing revolution going on.  The question that remains is whether the rest of us are up to doing what is necessary to triumph.   I believe that this will be the last great battle I can wage on behalf of my children and grandchildren, and I mean to be up to the task.

What about  you?  What have you learned  -- so far?

Lennie Martin
Austin, TX

Are there lessons to learn from Iran?

Posted November 2009
Took the Iranian officials less than 5 months to round up, send to trial, sentence, and execute many involved with June's election protest. How is that for speedy due process! Appears our stance of doing nothing "did nothing" to temper the response of a the tyrannical government.

Well, played Mr. President....well played indeed.

TEHRAN, Iran(AP) - Iran has sentenced five people to death over the unrest thatfollowed the country's disputed June presidential election, statetelevision reported Tuesday.

At least three others caught up in the turmoil have received death sentences previously.

........"So far, 89 of defendants were tried andbased on their cases, death sentences were issued for five of them,"the statement said.

Posted June 2009
I am done - no free pass here.

After hours of TV viewing this weekend, I learned the American idea of freedom - freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to protest, freedom to have honest and fair elections -- is still alive.  I also saw  opposition to those ideas, along with other individual liberties, is equally as active and considerably more aggressive.

This weekend I saw the best of the human spirit while the worst of humanity tried to squelch it. I saw example after example of people demonstrating on the pretext of: better to risk death than succumb to tyranny, better to demand individual liberty than accept the scraps thrown down to you by tyrants. I saw a mass of humanity demand from its government a respect of basic inalienable rights....and I saw a government afraid of that mass of humanity ....as it should be.  A government should be a little afraid of its people, while a rational, sensible, law abiding citizen should not be afraid of its government - EVER.  (An illegitimate government and/or a government with unjust and/or unlawful causes utilizing unjust and/or unlawful means should be very afraid of its people.)

I saw a people with a noble cause risk life and limb in attempting to record and communicate with an outside world. I saw a wave of humanity march in defiance of its government as it seemed the individual actions of one inspired the actions of another until the mass assembly of individual spirit shouted loudly to the world - NO MORE FREE PASSES!

I am a little ashamed and a bit embarrassed that such an example of the idea of American freedom had to come via blogs, twitter, Facebook, and video phones from the streets of Iran. I made my children watch the news Saturday night. I wanted them to see the face of freedom, I wanted them to see the power of ideas, and I wanted them to see the reaction of those who fear ideas. I explained to my kids that if the Iranian government could identify the Iranians videoing the events - they would be imprisoned or killed. I also made sure my kids understood that those recording the events knew they risked their life to do so, those who participated in the protests did so under fear of death, those who tweeted would be executed if found out. Since basic American values are now glossed over in schools, ridiculed by the media, treated as passé by the intelligentsia, and apologized for by their President I thought I could not waste an opportunity to show them how precious freedom is. I do not want them to understand freedom only after they don't have it, I want them to understand so they can keep it or not give it away to the highest bidder.

Granted, I perhaps overly "ennobled" the Iranian protesters. I listen to the pundits and they cannot agree if this is a pro- Mousavi movement,  a movement against mullah rule, or a real movement for real freedoms and individual liberties. I would bet there is a mixture of ideas fueling the protests, but what is not debatable is the Iranian governments reaction to rights we have taken for granted for the last 100 years. I think it is worth noting, the Iranian protesters march today because of the free pass given to tyrannical rule 30 years ago by their parents and grand parents. It is not true only in Iran but in the history of man - no government likes to give back power - whether that power was given or taken by force.  Most countries are not governed such that power obtained by the government easily transfers back to the people. Most in government know this to be true. The trick for government heads is to obtain power when and where they can because they know any and all power obtained is not easily taken back. One would be hard pressed to find in the history of mankind a government that willingly gave power back to the people under the banner of individual liberty.

I thought it would be interesting to make some observations concerning what is happening in Iran with references to our history, recent and not so recent.

  • Why has our President not spoken to the Iranian people and embraced them and their fight for individual liberties? Because we don't want to antagonize the Iranian government? Because we do not want to become the reason the government squashes the protesters? 
    • Our choice, do we speak to the Iranian people and on behalf of the Iranian people or in a back handed way legitimize the fraudulent election and a tyrannical government by not calling them out? Tick tock, tick tock....come on, you are the leader of the Free World, it is not a hard decision....speak up for freedom. Do not give the Iranian government a free pass.
    • Does anyone really believe the Iranian government will imprison, kill or torture fewer people because we don't meddle? Is anyone that naive? Could we at least show support by echoing comments by France and Germany's as they have been the most critical? (Don't want to say I told you so......)
    • I wonder where this country would be had the French not helped us in the American Revolution? Yes, we saved their butts in WWI and WWII, but before we saved them they helped us fight off British rule. 
    • As I was watching the Iranians protest on Saturday night, I noticed the President - in a room full of media people - yucking it up making jokes about how much he likes (loves) himself - which is almost as much as his media minions in attendance. I don't know, maybe as he was in a room full of people who make their living off the "freedom of speech" and as all were "freely assembling" it may have been appropriate to give a little shout out to those who risked their lives to do the same. Ahhh, it must be hard for those who risk nothing to acknowledge those who risk everything.

  • I am surprised there is not more mention of the Basij in the media. What is the Basij - "it is a volunteer based Iranians paramilitary force founded by order of the .....  in 1979. There is a local Basij organization in just aboutevery city in Iran. They serve as an auxiliary force engaged inactivities such as law enforcement, emergency management, social service providing, public religious ceremony organizing, and more controversially morals policing and dissident gathering suppressing." (from reference.com)
    • This was easy to look up on reference.com. Since there is no web page for the Basij I had to use other sources. But you know who does have a web page - ACORN. The following is from their web page.
  • "ACORN is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low-and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organizedinto more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across thecountry.  Since 1970, ACORN has been building community organizationsthat are committed to social and economic justice, and won victories onthousands of issues of concern to our members, through direct action,negotiation, legislative advocacy and voter participation.  ACORN helpsthose who have historically been locked out become powerful players inour democratic system."
    • Funny, the definition of both organizations seems benign. Except for the "paramilitary"  and law enforcement bit it is hard to read much of a difference in what they do. Should we be concerned that the only thing that separates ACORN and the Basij are a few night sticks and the go ahead to use them. 
    • Remind me again who once was an attorney for ACORN?
    • Barring the physical violence (granted that is a big one) what is the difference between one government funded, government sanctioned group that aggressively intimidates the public to get what they want vs. another?

  • I was wondering if the folks at Columbia University feel just a tiny bit stupid for allowing Ahmadinejad to speak last year at their University. Did anything positive come from that?
    • I don't think I am going out on a limb here I bet protesters in Iran are going to say that "sharing of ideas and dialog" will help them very little once they are identified. Apparently it wasn't a sharing of ideas as much as it was a forum to rant as it seems like Ahmadinejad gained little from any ideas that may have been shared with him. Nice job Columbia on the free pass granted a tyrannical leader, I bet he laughs daily at your over inflated opinion of your institution and the platform you gave him to spew his venom. If you are not ashamed of your actions (which I doubt you are) I hope you are at least embarrassed.

  • I cannot pretend to know the courage it would take to video, blog, or tweet for fear of death. Those actions by those students to show the world those events was courageous. It makes me wonder - why does the American media have such a hard time reporting facts (vs opinions or ideologies) when the worst that happens to them is losing ratings vs life.
    • If it doesn't  concern every single American that ABC is basically presenting an Infomercial for Obama's health care plan it should. Forget about the subject matter for a moment and think about the format.  Additionally, they will not allow differing view points to be aired? Doesn't this make ABC state run media? Holy smokes - even the Venezuelan press put up a fight before being taken over by Chavez. It took American media to show the world how to lay down (their pens).
    • A group of students will risk their lives to share information and the American media cannot bring itself to even pretend to be impartial. This is the ultimate free pass and why we can no longer take for granted the news we hear is truthful, accurate, or even legitimate.
    • I have a feeling if Thomas Paine were alive today he'd be tweeting and working a blog off his I-Phone.
    • Maybe ABC, NBC, and CBS can merge into one company called.....I don't know....is TASS an available DBA (doing business as)?
People who are sensible, rational and honest, when confronted with an issue will usually come up with pretty similar conclusions - maybe not all at the same speed or at the same time -- but most people get there.  Sure there will be some differences, but there will be more that unites them than divides them, they will have more in common than not. With the information you can find on the Internet, there is no reason for any and all sensible, rational and honest people to not be informed so as to come up with their own conclusions.  One thing is for sure - you cannot rely on mass media, the universities, or the politicians to communicate honestly and without intended bias. It is time for Americans to revoke the free pass they have given to those who are waging an all out assault on our freedoms, liberties, and the American value system. We are worried about the debt we are passing on to our children. I say it is high time we worry about the freedoms we won't be passing on if we do not revoke the free pass we have given to those who willingly throw away our liberties and freedom. If we do not think for ourselves....there are plenty of government officials willing to do it all for us. You want Bawney Fwank, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, and Harry Reid to think for you? They can hardly think for themselves...do not abdicate thought to that bunch of simpletons or anyone else for that matter.
And Obama, I get it. He is a cool and suave dude. A great qualification for a neighbor, a buddy to drink a beer and shoot some hoops with or someone to help you build that deck in your back yard. He is our President and nothing will change that for years....but he was given a free pass when elected and it should have stopped there. He was given a free pass with the stimulus and it should have stopped there. He was given a free pass when he bailed out and bought into the banks and it should have stopped there. He was given a free pass when he bailed out and took over GM and Chrysler and it should have stopped there. The fact is - you cannot separate any man from his actions and while his policies are not popular he still is...how...because he is a cool guy? Do you give that type of pass to people in your personal life? If someone steals from you, do you invite them into your house? If someone lies to you, do you entrust them with secrets? If someone mismanages their money, do you ask them for financial advice? Why is it so easy to understand the connections between the person and their actions in our personal life but so hard to make that connection with elected officials?

It is time to accept the connections, if you do not support Obama's policies you should question your support for him. Accept Obama as the President - simply because he is - but that does not mean you have to accept his policies or any government policy  simply because it sounds good. Think....the real question, is it right? A lot of things sound good that are not right. (Being able to have an open dialog with  Ahmadinejad sounds good, but is it right?)  Remember, once a freedom is given away it will be hell getting it back from the government. Just ask the Iranian student protesters. 

Time for all freedom loving Americans to revoke their free pass.

RD Martin (A)


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