Monday, October 31, 2011

Moderate: Because Being Liberal Hurts

Recent polling suggests pretty heavily that the Democrats and President Barack Obama need the so-called moderate vote in order to win elections, while the GOP can rely on the conservative vote quite readily. This can be interpreted in several ways, but perhaps the most insightful is this: moderates aren't really moderates, as a group, but, rather, lean towards more traditional and familiar thoughts whenever in doubt.

That makes sense, in the end. For when there is a crisis, don't most people act based on what they know? When President Reagan was elected back in 1980 to stem the tide of Democratic and hence more liberal leadership, what was his appeal? To make America great again, based on the traditional American values of individualism and hard work. When the GOP ran the tide last November, what was the big question: nothing less than obtrusive, interfering government trampling the rights of the people.

The moderates responded as they knew how, by throwing out those who did not support real American values. That's why conservatives don't have to appeal too overtly to the presumed middle: they aren't actually in the center after all. They are in fact more moderate to conservative rather than being between the left and the right as they are generally portrayed.

Given the fact that so few people, about 20 percent or one in five, call themselves liberal, and it seems that what we truly have in our nation today is an overall aversion to liberalism. Even the presumed center appears to harbor similar doubts about the left, seeing as the Democrats need to get about 60% of the middle of the road vote to win major elections. It is a telling statistic, and does not bode well for any long term success for the party of Jefferson and Jackson.

Of course, the Democratic Party left the beliefs of those American stalwarts behind eons ago. But that is a tale for another time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paul Scott's Recall: Liberal Pettiness

All the time, all the effort, all the false angst and all the cash which has been and will be spent on the recall efforts, have led to what? Exactly one state lawmaker is being subjected to recall. This despite the backing of at least one major union, the Michigan Education Association (surprise, surprise) and the self righteous wailing of the those jealous that they are no longer in power precisely because their message has finally been seen for what it is: a con game based on failed big government theories.

Paul Scott, a Republican out of Grand Blanc, faces recall on November 8th. The most reliable polling shows him winning reasonably comfortably. Should that trend hold out, it will show all the more why the recallers were simply little more than rabble along the lines of the Occupiers. They aren't interested in what the people want. They are interested only in their narrow ideals.

Why is it that we never see conservatives in particular and Republicans in general seeking to recall elected officials? Simply because we believe in the power of the people and the power of democracy. We know and accept that elections happen routinely and regularly and that we can have our say then. We accept that, as one respondent to Rep. Scott's door to door campaigning said, that recalls are for criminals and slackers, not for those actually doing the job of a legislator.

The sweetest irony here is that if Scott is indeed recalled, it will only magnify the narrowness of the interests who will have won. If he loses his seat because of the MEA and the rabble, we will see all the more clearly that it would be a win of the special and not the general interest. It will merely serve to hurt the left even more in the 2012 elections. Not that we want Scott to lose, but merely that a Scott loss won't hurt the Michigan conservative movement all that much. It's a win/win for the right, and, played properly, a lose/lose for the left.

As the old saying goes, give them enough rope. November 2012 can't come quickly enough.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christ, the Moneychangers, and the Occupy Movement

As often happens in this Internet age, where photoshopping is rampant and the virtually immediate inundation of the world's e-mail with snarky refinished imagery based on recent events is encouraged, it is not surprising that many people stoop to the profane. Add on the fact that it can all be done anonymously and what we have is not a more enlighten world but, indeed, a cruder and less fully human one.

Making the rounds lately is a famous image of Christ throwing the moneychangers out of the Temple. Overwritten on the picture are the words, 'The Original Occupy Wall Street Protester'.

It is not a point which helps anyone understand the Occupy Movement nor Christianity. Indeed, it flowers the Occupiers to a status of glory which they do not merit, but, more critically, it slanders Christ to nothing more than a rabble rouser. What the two have in common is precisely nothing.

Christ was evicting people from the temple who did not belong there; they were defaming a holy place. So unless the Occupiers believe that Wall Street is holy and in need of something along the lines of sanctification, then the analogy is less than poor. It is downright, we will say it, blasphemous. Because, in fact, the Occupiers do not want that. They want, all those do gooders who pretend to speak for who they do not, their share, whatever that is. They are jealous of those who have without rational consideration of how they got it. They do not protect something worth protection, as Our Lord was doing, but call for what they do not of their own effort deserve.

No decent Christian would tolerate such tarnishing of the image of Christ, particularly as what He did was based on something really right while the Occupiers are a mere semi-organized rabble who do not understand history, economics, and certainly not religion. If the poster is someone's idea of the intellectual, it instead demonstrates pig ignorance. From that, we learn all we need to know about Occupy sympathizers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

We Americans boast routinely about free speech, being so proud of the right that we put it smack at the top of the Bill of Rights. So, perhaps, it should be. But there are unfortunately degrees to which it must be seen negatively.

There are folks who opine that free speech means the right to say offensive things. They forget that there are two ways in which someone is offended: either when the listener is a fool, or when the speech in question is genuinely offensive.

No one has a moral right to voice offensive remarks solely for the sake of making offense; that is simply rudeness at best and insulting and vulgar at worst. To say that they have such a right under the guise of free speech is really only to hide irresponsible behavior behind a pretty face. As rights only grow from responsibilities, it is reasonable to argue that the right to speak freely comes from the obligation to speak truthfully, in the reasonable interests of ourselves and the general society, and considerately, so far as circumstances may allow.

Still, the only way to really stifle morally offensive speech is censorship, and the problem with censorship is that it is only good when good people are in charge. When bad people hold the reigns, then good and necessary free speech will be prohibited. It is a risk we cannot take.

In the end, though, no one has the right to say offensive things, but merely the practical option of expressing them freely. No one has the right to be wrong in the truest sense of the term, but only the free will to be in the wrong. Until we understand that, we really won't understand the importance of a well regulated freedom at all.

Rights must be viewed in their proper perspective. They are not, not a one of them, open ended and subject to mere personal interpretation. We may treat some select few of them as absolute, but only due to abject necessity. Actions which beg the true nature of free speech do not promote but instead denigrate the right. They make us less than we can be and less than we should be. We should be good and decent people.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Message to Occupiers: We Don't Care

The Occupy movement in Oakland has turned violent, as police there tried to move the protesters off the plaza they have occupied. They returned last night, an attempt at showing their resolve.

How about showing some real resolve and actually getting active in the body politic rather than taking over public areas? Your movement cannot achieve its goals by simply sitting somewhere and staying put. Oh, right: you're calling attention to your aims.

Well, here's a news flash: Wall Street doesn't care about you. It's been business as usual from day one of your charming little protest. Big business isn't affected by what you think and how you act. Besides, the overwhelming majority of the rich folks you hate so much actually do do a lot for charity. They are a very philanthropic lot. Here in Detroit, for example, I doubt that you could name all the buildings and foundations with Ford attached to them. And Taubman and Adray too; yessiree, them rich Detroiters sure don't share of their wealth, no way.

But perhaps the best way to rid ourselves of the occupiers is to simply ignore them. They'll go away, we assure you, without the glare of the media shining upon them, because at the end of the day, that's all they want: attention. Remove it, turn your eyes elsewhere, and their candle will burn out. With any luck, they'll take their tie dye with them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Used Cars

When attempting to buy a good used car in or around Detroit, indeed perhaps anywhere in the nation, and one thing will surely jump out at you: the high prices of used cars. At Auto Round Up on Detroit's west side, a 12 year old vehicle with 225,000 miles was going for $2,400! At A and G Auto Sales on the east side, a 1997 Mercury with 150,000 miles and a badly damaged rear bumper was priced at $1,695. Similar tales abound, but the bottom line is this: in the Motor City, good used cars at good prices are tough to find.

We have our friend President Barack Obama to thank for that. You see, the Cash for Clunkers program decimated the used car market. Every car turned in for the program had to be destroyed; they could not be refurbished or resold. The reason given was to get older, gas guzzling vehicles off the road.

But were they all really gas hogs? One particular area heavily hit are the famed minivans, family cars not especially known to burn excessive petrol or horribly pollute the air. Trying to find a decently priced one less than even 15 years old Ais a challenge: a 1995 Caravan at a car lot on Van Dyke in Warren, Michigan was listed at $1600. This is a vehicle 16 model years old.

So who benefited from the program? Middle class Americans who could have afforded a new car had they wanted anyway, and unionized auto workers who vote for the Democratic Party and our President. The poorer classes, the ones the left tell us so often how much they care about, meanwhile, are struggling to get something within their budgets. Even the used car dealers are struggling because they can't get cars for inventory at prices their clientele can afford.

The federal government should have never been in the auto sales field anyway, and part of the reason is in the unintended consequences of such behavior as illustrated by the dry yet inflated used car market. Cash for Clunkers hurts the very segment of society which Democrats claim to love so much. Yet a moment's simple thought would have prevent the harm. A basic understanding of supply and demand would have shown the folly of the program as written.

But appealing to the people who vote them en masse and are also more likely give the Democratic Party cash and effort means more to the left than rational government policy. Yet the poor? The ones the Democrats so much for?

We suppose that they may eat cake.

Monday, October 24, 2011

State and Schools and Excercise

The people of Michigan have weight issues, to put it nicely. The question has become so heavy (oh, come on, you like the pun) on the minds of our leaders that even the state government has taken notice. There are talks of pop taxes, and restaurants are being made to post calorie counts for their patrons. Governor Snyder is encouraging exercise and regular checkups. Schools are providing healthier lunches. Overweight issues are costing billions a year in health care. It's an epidemic of gross proportions.

And it's none of the state's business.

All this talk is little more than feel good stuff whereby our elected officials and schools board members can strut their plumage as community leaders and say they care about the people. But the fact is that without dictatorial methods there's no way you can actually control what people eat or how often they exercise or go to the doctor. Period.

This is not to say that too much weight or a lack of exercise are good things. But it is to say, quite firmly and without reservation, that it isn't anyone else's business. If people do not want to take care of themselves, then the rest of society must simply learn to deal with it. The most of an adjustment in public attitude which can properly be tolerated would be higher health insurance premiums, so long as they're driven by the private sector and not government (nor the schools). If folks choose unhealthy lifestyles, let those folks pay for it. But if you demand more than that, you're simply a little Hitler.

If you want to encourage friends and family to live more active lives and eat healthier, good for you. That's what friends are for. Beyond that, you have no right to make it a public campaign, unless you pay the costs yourself. There are worse troubles in the world for which the public sector must raise concern.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The FBI and Profiling

The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained a document from the Detroit branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the Freedom of Information Act which they claim is proof of racial profiling against Arab Americans. It says: "...because Michigan has (a) large Middle Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization,". Hassan Jaber, head of ACCESS, an Arab American social services organization, asserts that the memo "sheds a disturbing spotlight on practices that should have been rendered to the dustbin of history,". In the meantime, the FBI says that, "certain terrorist and criminal groups target particular ethnic and geographic communities for victimization and/or recruitment purposes. This reality must be taken into account."

No one likes the feeling of being singled out for anything with a negative connotation. Arab Americans are certainly right to be concerned with such tactics if, and only if, they are the targets of systematic and unwarranted police investigations. If all you have against someone is ethnic identity, then you would obviously be violating someone's rights in detaining them in any way.

But on the issue of profiling in itself, we seem to have a bit of paranoia going in two directions. On the one hand, with potential incidents such as what we are discussing here or with such as a DWB, Driving While Black, and other racially charged accusations, we cannot see any rational grounds for the defense of profiling. Yet when a serial killer is being sought, no one seems to mind that single, loner white males in their twenties, thirties, and forties living in the area of the violence are singled out.

Indeed, profiling in the manner which directs us towards true felons is apparently well employed by the police forces in our country. Further, television shows and movies are made all the time where a 'profiler' is readily used to hunt a criminal. On the surface, under such circumstances, the practice doesn't seem all that wrong. If it is nothing save a tool which truly aids the police in apprehending serious criminals then, if used in conjunction with other generally accepted police procedures, it doesn't appear any real violation of a person's rights.

Therein likely exists the difference. If all there is to a 'random' police stop or questioning by a government agent is skin color or gender or whatever other qualifier you may care to add here, then someone's rights have been violated. But if applied in sequence with several other legitimate policing factors, then we have no quarrel. It may be a fine line we draw. Yet it may be the only line we have.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cain on Abortion

A Phoenix rising out of the ashes or simply another politician who has found a way to put his foot in his mouth? Either way, Herman Cain has certainly found a way to draw further attention to himself. His remarks these past few days on abortion are certain to cause a greater scrutiny of his candidacy for the GOP nomination for the Presidency.

Based on what he said to Piers Morgan on CNN, it would be easy to argue he was pro-abortion. The media was certainly quick enough to pick up on that possibility. Yet that doesn't seem entirely fair to Cain, who appeared more concerned with, well, showing concern for someone in an unfortunate circumstance (seeing as the question involved a woman pregnant through rape). Being against abortion does not mean lacking consideration of someone in a bad situation not of their making. Seen on that level, what Cain said shouldn't be taken as supporting abortion. It's simply stating that those in tough spots may not always act in the best way and it isn't unfair to recognize the circumstances.

But the media, who want to sensationalize, indeed who want civil war within the Republican camp, don't want to understand fine lines. Too many voters as well refuse to see nuance: either yer fer us or agin us, and that's that. Under such circumstances, almost anything you say which doesn't appear hard line and hard nosed will be seen as vacillation.

Perhaps Cain was attempting to avoid the issue altogether by trying to walk a tightrope. If that's the case then he has another lesson to learn: speak clearly, especially on important issues. It's okay to say that we well ought to feel empathy for a woman pregnant by rape, but that abortion is still a serious moral evil which cannot be seen as an answer even then. You won't alienate the liberal voters who will be against you anyway, nor the conservative voters who have at least a shred of decency for a human being in a tight spot.

Cain told Fox News yesterday that "Abortion should not be legal, that is clear". He further said that he would appoint pro-life judges, nor fund abortions or Planned Parenthood. He was only trying to, not intending to put words in his mouth, sympathize with someone. It isn't all that outlandish of a concept.

At this writing we are satisfied that he is pro-life. But we hope he might learn something from this: it is difficult to draw too fine of a line on subjects as near and dear to so many voters as abortion. When you attempt to make very particular distinctions, people simply don't listen. That's shame on them, not the candidates, to be sure. Yet it is all too great of a reality in modern American politics.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Revising the Detroit Charter

Detroit Common Council President Charles Pugh is against the proposed revision of the Detroit City Charter. He feels it doesn't give the Common Council enough confirmation power over mayoral appointees. The Charter Revision also calls for an elected police commission, at large voting for two council members with the other 7 elected from districts, a standard of ethical conduct clause, and yadda yadda yadda.

We have intended to write about the revisions for week, but the fact is we simply get excited over them. We cannot shake the feeling that, in the end, it's much ado about nothing. Not only is the process dull and boring except, perhaps, for constitutional law geeks, but given the type of leadership Detroit has suffered for years now we do not see where the changes will help.

Yes, yes, districts for council members and elected police boards are all well and good. They call for better accountability among elected office holders and keep the police in check. In the abstract, all that works. But if all that's going to happen is that the same kind of wrangling will go on between council and mayor as has been our fate for years now, how will altering the Charter replace that?

We recommend voting for it just the same, if for no other reason than that stirring the pot maybe, hopefully, will leave a better stew. But our skepticism will remain until and if Detroit can find itself better people at the helm. Unless that happens, all the revisions in the world will not make Detroit a better place.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Check Lanes are Wrong

Something which we are seeing more and more often, at least here in Michigan but it seems safe to assume that it's happening in many areas of the country, are drunk driving check lanes. The idea is to capture drunk drivers before they can do any harm. On paper, it isn't a bad idea. Yet other ideas on paper, such as our Constitution, my well be at odds with it.

Why should anyone be pulled over merely to see if they are driving legally? Aren't we supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? Aren't the authorities supposed to have reason to detain us, let alone inspect ourselves in our private vehicles (vehicles as private as our own homes, in moral if not legal fact) before they can take action against us? Why do we tolerate such violations of our basic rights?

Because we are fighting drunk driving? While drunk driving is of course reprehensible and irresponsible, to say the least, is it ultimately justifiable to allow anyone's rights to be ignored simply in a preemptive attempt to prevent crime? Isn't a crime supposed to happen, either in fact or in full view of law enforcement, before it can be addressed? As bad as drunk driving is, why should it get a free pass when questions of our civil liberties are involved?

We may be told that it is in part because driving is a privilege. Well, there's a bit of a moral issue with that. Why isn't driving seen a right as much as working freely within the job or housing markets? It is, you know. Any competent human being, one willing and able to follow the legitimate rules of the road, has the moral right to operate a car. As such, the state, no matter how many of its own rulings or assertions to the contrary, cannot prevent an otherwise free person from driving. It must allow anyone to drive for which there is no compelling reason to keep them from doing it.

From there it must presume, until there is compelling evidence otherwise, that that person is driving well and competently. Anything less is an infringement upon that guy's rights.

This is not to defend drunk driving, though we shall be accused of such. It is to defend law abiding citizens. Isn't that why we have laws to begin with? If so, then we must apply the true spirit and the rule of law properly and equally across the board, no matter how justified we may feel with allowing certain exemptions. If we are not doing that, then we have something worse than drunken drivers staring in our faces. We have nothing short of tyranny rambling towards us on the very roads we hold sacred.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Football Needs a Lesson in Sportsmanship

This weekend saw a couple of football games which were of great interest to our part of the country. The Detroit Lions lost to the San Francisco 49ers, and the Michigan Wolverines lost to the Michigan State Spartans. In both games, incidents stand out which give us a light on the state of football in our minds. They also illuminate something vaguely sinister about our society.

Michigan State played a dirty game. The Spartans committed four personal fouls and two roughing the passer penalties, and that's before a non-call on a taunt by the officials on the team's last touchdown. The general reaction to the game? Something along the lines of, that's football. It happens. I don't make rules, call plays, or hand out punishment. In short, poor sportsmanship doesn't matter if I ain't a ref or rulemaker.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh got into some kind of shouting match after Sunday's game. The general reaction? Well, while it was more whiny than what was said about the UM/MSU game, seemed more based on the same kind of oh-well-it-happens-in-football as we saw with the collegians.

What both sets of reactions, or non-reactions if you will, ignore is that everyone involved in a sport ought to be concerned with being sportsmanlike. Brady Hoke, regardless of his stand as Michigan' coach, is a lamebrain to say that as a coach he is absolved of judgment on other matters relating to the game. David Molk, Michigan's center, was simply stupid to assert that it's all in the eye of the beholder. If that's the case, Mr. Molk, why have rules at all? If what constitutes roughing the passer is in the eyes of the one doing the roughing then why prohibit it in the first place? Coach Schwartz's response to his verbal joust was at least a bit more proper, yet even it lacked perspective. "It is what it is," Schwartz said Monday. "It happened. It was regrettable." Not even an I'm sorry? Please. It was regrettable...but apparently not all that much. He spoke as though he had no hand in it.

Perhaps it's all simple defense mechanisms of sort on a deep psychological plain. Perhaps they're just trying to forget. But even those attitudes beg the question of whether what happened in the games were right or wrong. Sports reflect society: when we refuse to call wrong things wrong in our recreation, especially when games like football are sold in part to teach manners and sportsmanship, we are a short step from refusing to call societal ills wrong on much the same grounds.

Football players refusing to condemn unsportsmanlike behavior is the single greatest disease within the sport these days. But then, society at large appears affected by the same malady.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Romney as the Front Runner

The pundits appear to be calling it a lock. They are quietly asserting that the Republican nominee for President in 2012 will be Mitt Romney. Even the Democrats are starting to act as though he'll be the one, as it seems their efforts are being directly aimed at him.

They should be; there is at least one idea in the Romney machine which it will be difficult for him to sweep aside. The Democrats are beginning to argue that Obamacare was based on Romneycare as installed when he was governor of Massachusetts. Romney will have a tough time expelling that demon even among Republicans. The GOP must look upon the Tea Partiers as in their camp. If they become alienated, it could profoundly affect Republican chances in November 2012.

Despite the recent surge by Herman Cain, no staunch conservative has been able to tread much water in these still early stages of the campaign. Without a solid right winger it seems unlikely that the tea party would be more than tepid with Romney heading the ticket. To be sure, he could and likely would name a conservative to run with him as Vice President. But would that be enough?

The next question becomes, can he distance himself from his own ghosts? Can he make it appear as though his health plan is fine locally but bad nationally? Can he find differences significant enough between Romneycare and Obamacare that it will assuage Republican voters? Time will tell; but that does look as though it could be the premier issue in next year's Presidential sweepstakes. If that's the case, the President may stand a better chance of re-election than many of us have cared to think.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lansing Sees the Light

The Michigan Legislature has passed a bill which would allow an instate manufacturer of traditional light bulbs to produce them, so long as the product was sold only inside our fair state. Democrats who opposed the bill say that it's a silly thing because there is no one making the bulbs inside Michigan.

It is rather silly within a certain context. No legislative body, local, statewide, federal or super, should be taking up time with such trivial matters. There are real rights and wrongs which ought to be at the forefront of any lawmaking body. But in a different context, that of which the federal Congress has already addressed, then we begin to see why that matter ought to be addressed by Lansing.

The federal government is engaging in the type of micromanagement which would have infuriated our founding fathers. The effort is well lit (sorry) by the coming ban on older style, less energy efficient light bulbs mandated nationwide by Washington. In that light (sorry again) it becomes important that the several states begin to address the question themselves.

Outside of a real and true threat to our existence, and what kind of light bulbs we use is no such threat to ourselves or our virtue, then Washington has no business telling us what type of illumination to use in our homes and businesses. Yet when Washington does engage in such grandstanding feel good legislation, it needs to be called out on it if we are to assert our authority as the people who give power to the government, not the other way around.

If the best we can do to protest that is to have our more local lawmaking body pass laws to circumvent federal authority, then let them have at it. For ourselves, we can buy as many older style bulbs as we like. We certainly intend to buy them by the dozen in the weeks to come simply to have a long term supply for ourselves. It is our own little passive aggressive way to subvert Washington's authority in our own daily life. But we do what we can.

You should, too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Detroit. The Tigers are in Texas Anyway.

The Occupy movement is coming to Detroit. It/they/whatever plan to meet at the Spirit of Detroit statue and march to Grand Circus Park, which they will 'occupy' for as long as their members can maintain their interest, we suppose.

We have to admit that there is a certain cuteness to such protesters. Even though they tend to be little more than yawn inducing, they are true believers. You almost want to pat them on the head and offer them faux encouragement. You say: Who's a good boy? Who's a good girl? and wait and hope they grow up someday and actually try to make a real difference in the world. Because there are real problems in today's world which really do need to be addressed, and we need people with a certain fervor to address them.

These aren't those people. These are the kinds of folk who believe that all the troubles in the world are caused by The Man. You know, The Man, that fictitious leader behind the scenes of all things which harm The People.

All right, enough of that sarcastic blather. The whole Occupy movement, which will surely peter out when the protesters grow tired and head back home to the soft bed in mom and dad's basement (okay, no more sarcasm starting now), means to do exactly what? Are they stopping Wall Street's 'greed' by hanging around street corners? Are they bringing attention to an actual problem harming the average American? Are they perhaps calling attention to the hygiene issues which several days living in a tent will cause?

Okay, we are really, truly done with sarcasm now.

Isn't it interesting how they occupy areas which they presume to represent the worst in America? If they really wanted to impress us, they might try occupying the vast open areas on the east side of Detroit, where no amount of government cajoling seems to entice people to invest of their time, money, and effort. Because if you actually do want to know what's wrong with the US economic system, if you really want to see what environment a lack of production and individual incentive can cause, then you want to see the east side, not aging hippies who can't protest war because the current President (one of their heroes) is, as it turns out, as war mongering as The Man.

Otherwise, be charitable and take toothpaste and deodorants, maybe a crust of bread, to the occupiers at Grand Circus Park over the weekend. Take your kids too, as a lesson in life. Show them what might happen if they study sociology rather than business in college.

Okay, we promise. That's it for the sarcasm. We really, really mean it now. Because we have to go to work.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tolerate Me

Tolerance. The word leaps from the mouths of liberals as though a mantra. We need to be more tolerant of people, especially, it seems, those who violate long accepted mores.

Well, let's put the shoe on the other foot. If tolerance is so great, why are you trying to change my, or anyone else's, for that matter, outlook? Aren't we as representative of diversity in our divergent viewpoints as all those different folks and actions we're supposed to blindly accept? Don't we merit the same kind of acceptance which we are supposed to offer everybody else?

In the aftermath of the 2010 elections and in light of many recent legislative proposals here in Michigan, as well as in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere, there have been many liberal sympathisers who have bemoaned the ignorance of the electorate in putting the GOP back in play. Conservatives have been called dummies and bullies and worse, all because we don't believe in the creeds of the left. Even the President has lamented that he likely hasn't explained himself well enough, as though we poor neanderthals simply can't understand him or his ideals. All because we have repudiated the vast excesses of the past two and a half years.

Well, here's one conservative who's sick and tired of it. Think me dumb if you like; label me (oooh, there's another sin of the right: labeling people. Heaven forbid we know anything about them) a bully or what have you. I have one thing to say, one thing to put in your pipe to smoke.

I'm a right wing traditionalist who believes in the individual who believes in himself and his country when he and they are in the right. I believe in doing and supporting what's right while working against what's wrong, and most importantly I have faith in a just God. Tolerate me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Arrogance of the Atheists

Richard Dawkins,a prominent writer, scientist, and atheist, has had a speaking engagement at a local country club canceled. The Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills uninvited him after learning that he was an atheist. Dawkins response was that it was an instance of bigotry, and an example of general bigotry against atheists in the community at large. He even went so far as to say that the action, 'violated the spirit of the Civil Rights Act'.

We find it difficult to believe that Dawkins has a hard time getting his views out into the world, given the fact that he is well known as an atheist and has been seen on such shows as Bill O'Reilly's cable program. It was that appearance which led to his un-invitation. But as to his overall charges, they themselves reek of a a certain arrogance, a bigotry of their own, upon a moment's reflection.

The various Civil Rights Acts of the US Congress hardly prevent him from speaking his own mind on his own time. Indeed, they hardly call on a private club at a private function to let anyone in particular speak. As Billy Joel says, you can speak your mind, but not on my time. Nor, we will add, on my dime either. Dawkins' type of bigotry is of the worst kind. It is a form of arrogance and self righteousness which is meant to suggest that we are neanderthals if we choose to ignore him.

The situation did not deal with prejudice against Jews, gays, or blacks, as Dawkins asserts. It deals with people not wishing to hear an atheist speak, which is hardly a civil rights question. His attack is presumption, and nothing more. They do nothing but demonstrate the inferiority complex of the shrieking atheist crowd.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why not Expand Charters?

A series of bills making their way through the Michigan Legislature would seriously affect the current state of education within our borders. Basically, they would allow for a great expansion of charter schools, allowing them even in areas of high student performance. They currently are not allowed in such places.

The pros and cons of the effort can be and are being debated to the proverbial nth degree. The focus of the debates are on exactly how efficient charter schools are. The results are certainly mixed; yet no more different than what is currently found among traditional public schools. Poorer areas with charters tend to perform more poorly. Such findings ought not to shock nor of themselves condemn charter schools.

The main argument against expanding charters is that the amount of state oversight may not be properly determined. Although figuring out precisely the right level of such oversight is important, it doesn't seem to matter so much in areas of high academic achievement, which, let's face it, are precisely the areas most threatened by new charters. Those folks only real argument against charters, then, can only be that 'we're doing a good job anyway'.

That's fair enough, we might suppose, if we also suppose that it is the schools in those areas which actually make the difference. Of that, we're skeptical. If it is the lack of parental and societal support which at least help make schools in those places bad, why are we to assume that it is the schools themselves which make the students in wealthier, more stable areas good? Doesn't it make more sense that it is the parental and societal expectations which make the schools better?

As such, charters should not be a threat to Bloomfield Hills or Grosse Pointe students and parents and society. Nor should any amount of state oversight be of consequence either. The real issue here is an encroachment on the authority of traditional public academies. They're attempting to protect their turf and not their progeny. We can learn much about their actual intent from that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving in Canada

Today is Thanksgiving Day for our neighbor to the north, Canada. As we have said many times that we Americans, particularly those of us in close proximity to Canada, ought to learn about and pay more attention to them, perhaps we have a teachable moment here.

Americans are well familiar with the advent of our Thanksgiving. It commemorates a fine harvest by the Pilgrims in early Massachusetts made possible with the aid of their Native American friends which made it possible. In our case, a certain religious importance goes along with the holiday. Days of feast were regularly celebrated to help remind revelers of God's help in the good fortune which precipitated the holiday.

Thanksgiving in Canada is traced to colonial roots too. Indeed, indigenous Canadians celebrated the harvest in something which may be akin to harvest celebrations around the world and throughout history. But the influence of the Europeans certainly is apparent in early Canadian history, and may have been influence too by American Loyalists after the Revolution. Leaving the United States for Canada, they brought their traditions with them to their new home.

This intermingling and common ancestry undoubtedly has led to the closeness of our nations today. A further tightening of bonds may be seen in the declaration of Thanksgiving by the Canadian parliament in 1957:

A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.

So there is, it seems, a religious connection between Canadians and the rites of Thanksgiving as well. Just as it is here.

In some ways we are closer to our Canadians friends, then, than we may have thought.
By the grace of God, we say, Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Color All Around Us

Fall color experts say that the changing colors on Michigan trees may hang around a little longer this season. The fact that we had plenty of rain in the summer apparently helps the trees to keep their leaves for a longer time, making Michigan blaze in color for an extended period.

This may not seem particularly newsworthy, nor in keeping with what purports to be a conservative political column. But hear us out: with the state still fighting the economic doldrums we need all the help we can get. If the weather pattern does that, if we receive some benefit from things we can't control, well, we need all the help we can get.

Extended fall colors may lead to extended tourism. Even if it's simply the locals taking day or weekend trips to check them out, it helps those who rely on tourism. Tourism after all is one of Michigan's major industries, if the term applies. If the reds and oranges and yellows of fall help spread the green, it's all good.

We cannot forget that the environment plays a role in what we are able to do. It can be bad, such as with the Okies in the Dust Bowl, or good, such as with a rainbow of foliage attracting tourists. With all the bad economic news we've dealt with in recent times, we need to take what we can get. So take a day trip and help your fellow Michiganders, and enjoy the beauty which nature's God has given us. You can help your fellows and help your soul too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

British Cannons and History

The Detroit Police Department's dive team found a cannon in the waters of the Detroit River while on a training exercise in July. A local towing company, Boulevard and Trumbull Towing, pulled the cannon from the water, a true first for them, having been accustomed to dealing with submerged motor vehicles. Joel Stone of the Detroit Historical Society has identified the cannon as British. It will be kept in water to prevent rust, and will be displayed at either the Dossin Great Lakes Museum or the Detroit Historical Museum. After all that, what do we have at the end of the day?

An old cannon. A piece of scrap iron.

We do not intend here to dismiss or discourage history, historical research, or the proper appreciation of history through historical artifacts. But it is just a cannon, and not the only one found in the Detroit River in recent years (four others have been dredged up). Has it occurred to anyone that maybe, just maybe, not everything old needs preservation?

Quite frankly, and we will conceded that this may be our affinity for baseball speaking, old Tiger Stadium merited greater consideration as importantly historical than a hollowed out stick of iron, yet didn't get it. Which isn't even to say the old Gray Lady at Michigan and Trumbull should have been preserved, only that it was rather summarily tossed aside in value while we're supposed to revere a cannon. There doesn't seem to be the proper perspective at work here.

One wonders what the cost of retrieval and preservation of the cannon may eventually run into, and would like to juxtapose this to the other needs of our citizenry. We hear ad infinitum about how much financial trouble the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit are in, yet somehow there's cash to deal with a historical artifact whose value is, at best, merely trivial.

True, the cannon will be forgotten quickly. But that doesn't address the questions raised by the event. Indeed, that near certainty magnifies them. Are our senses of historical importance and spending, whether public or private, out of whack? Mull that over when you pass by a water bowl which has an iron tube laying in it at your neighborhood museum.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Word on Public Education

An ongoing debate within the political sphere, one which has indeed been carried on since the dawn of the Republic, has been about the extent and nature of public education. it is time that we addressed the issue squarely, by stating unequivocally and emphatically that public education is not a right.

For starters, seeing as education is ultimately the obligation of the individual (if mature enough) or of the parents of young children, then it is up to the person or their moms and dads to see to their learning as much as to their housing, clothing, and food. Society should only step in when the individual or the family needs help, just as it does with housing, clothing, and food. This needs to be said emphatically and forcefully: if you are able to provide for your or your child's education then you should have to provide for it, not the rest of us.

Indeed, with all the blather which the purveyors of teaching at the public trough give towards such ideas as diversity, how much more diverse can you get than to leave education to parental judgment and inquiry? Imagine a world where parents send their kids to schools they like based on their ideas of right and wrong rather than having them indoctrinated by the often errant views of the general society, a society whose 'views' are all too often dictated by judicial and legislative fiat rather of by the rational analysis of the individuals who are more concerned with true education (it is their children involved, you know) than passing fancy? How much more diverse can you get?

Or is diversity not what they truly want? Is their real aim the propagation of erroneous creeds and disreputable acts? To wit, do they want diversity as diversity, which is really only different folks acting different ways with no regard to the value of those acts (something of which even traditionalists should be wary), or do they in fact want indoctrination, the acceptance and living of the acts they, the education elite, deem worthy? Do they really want diversity, or the interpretation of ideas in their own light?

But the bottom line is that education is not a right so much as a duty. When we live up to that, we live well. When we don't, we get whatever comes along. And exactly what we would deserve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Capital punishment and the life issues

Yesterday we spoke of the importance of abortion as a respect life issue. When such is asserted, the question of the death penalty falls immediately at its heels. We wonder whether there is a direct correlation between the two or not, and further, whether we can justify capital punishment.

Abortion involves an innocent, defenseless child. Capital punishment (ideally) deals with a non-innocent person who has at least some ways in which they may defend themselves. On that point alone, we do not think they are equivalent issues. But then, there are relatively few equivalencies when discussing morals anyway. It would seem each issue must be addressed more or less on its own relative demerits against persons and societies. With that line of thought, it would appear we cannot talk about abortion and capital punishment in the same manner. So on this question alone, we would have to say that the death penalty may be applied by society and yet be moral.

It may be asserted that society as a whole and people as individuals, having the right to protect themselves, may used violent means up to killing the attacker in so doing when no other option exists. At one time we would have embraced this argument fully in defending the death penalty, but not so much now. It seems to only really apply in a sense of immediate need, and we cannot imagine anyone disagreeing with it in such a light. Surely no one would argue that we must let someone kill us when we are threatened with deadly force? Or that a nation can never defend itself even knowing such defense would lead to killing the other country's soldiers? In short, we feel that such things are not really variations on capital punishment but only what the heat of the moment may of necessity allow. Those convicts on death row are no immediate threat to us.

An interestingly religious aspect of the question, though we do not want to make this a religious discussion as such, is that in being sentenced to death we may bring out in the criminal a reality they would not otherwise appreciate. It might crystalize in them the remorse they ought to feel. Timothy McVeigh comes to mind here: he requested a priest before the death sentence was imposed, and received the Catholic sacraments. Would he have been so reticent without the very finality of his life brought so completely upon him?

Yet that question doesn't seem to have any real bearing on whether capital punishment should be employed or not. It is an after the fact sort of argument, and such things do not address whether the prior action, sentencing someone to die, is itself moral. It may offer a good side effect, a useful unintended circumstance of human action, but it cannot make the action itself legitimate.

We could go off on a perhaps necessary tangent and speak of the value of human life. But the trouble there is that we don't know that value. It's like dealing with an infinite: we know that every human life is precious but we can never know how precious. This isn't a reflection on how any individual human lives life but, rather, on the very concept of humanity. It doesn't seem particularly outlandish to say that some people are worth more than others in the practical effect they have on themselves and society; yet that is not the same as judging the value of their life in anything more than earthly attributes. The former appears to address how people have chosen to live; the latter speaks of something far different.

As the value of life is incomprehensible, it would seem presumptuous to decide who lives and who dies. Not because certain acts may not objectively call for the death of the instigator but because we cannot be aware of all the facts we need to make that judgment.

Discretion is the better part of valor, and it is always best to err on the side of caution. As we cannot know the value of a human life, we should not take it outside of abject necessity, and never as part of a criminal procedure. We must therefore conclude that the death penalty is immoral.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Respect Life Sunday

Today is Respect Life Sunday. It is a day which the Catholic Church has set aside each year to remind people that life must be respected from the moment of conception. Naturally enough, the aim is to convince everyone that abortion is a moral evil.

It cannot be said enough that being against abortion is a philosophic and not inherently religious stance. Society likes to dismiss it as merely religious so that it can justify the deed. Separation of Church and State and all that, you know. It's funny how they don't mind religious action on other matters, such as poverty and capital punishment, but that is a question for another time.

Human beings have human babies. Common sense tells us as much. Science, if you simply must have everything interpreted empirically, tells us as much. When a couple decides to have a child, they fully expect a human child. Even in the despicable cases of rape and incest, we cannot set aside the question of personhood involved with the child for the sake of the unfortunate (in terms of having a crime committed against her) mother. We know that a pregnant woman is carrying a human being. To deny that is intellectual dishonesty, or worse: a moral evil perpetuated by those who benefit from the act of abortion.

These conclusions can be derived by logical argument and inference without any reference to religion. It is time that we as a society accept it as such, and act accordingly. Short of that, we are simply savages.

You must respect life from conception if you expect your life to be respected equally. We are less than human otherwise.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Need for College

Today, we are greeted with the news that around one in three Michigan high school graduates are not ready for college. To be sure, the data varies from district to district. Yet even the wealthier areas, the areas where the schools are supposed to be so much better than everyone else because they have so much more money which they oh so willingly throw at their charges, show a rather high rate of graduating students who need remedial work in a university setting too. Bloomfield Hills schools show that slightly over a fifth of their pupils require extra lower level work in order to be prepared for college. The Grosse Pointe Schools show that 16% of their grads need it too.

What can we make of these facts? To begin with, money probably isn't what makes good schools good. The key difference between poorer areas and wealthier is almost certainly in the areas of parental involvement and family support structure and not in the fact that there's more cash to toss around. Even in the richer parts of town, one in five and one in six rates of poorly trained graduates (considered solely in terms of preparedness for higher education) seems rather high.

That isn't necessarily the fault of the schools or the teachers themselves, however, any more than poor performing schools absolutely reflect bad schools or bad teachers in less affluent neighborhoods. What we are facing here is the simple fact that not everyone wants to go to college. Or should.

How do we address that in a way fair and equitable to everyone? The most obvious answer would be to stop pushing the inane idea that college is for everyone, or worse (as is so often implied) that a degree makes you more special or more fulfilled than someone without one. That's nothing more than the arrogance of the credentialed, and a disgusting and shallow breed of haughtiness it is indeed. Let those who do not want college feel no pressure to attend.

While we're at it, why not drop the nonsense about needing college to make more money. Yes, we know what the statistics say. We also know plumbers and electricians and business owners of many stripes who make as much as their lawyer and teacher friends while working no more hours. Individual initiative and not university is often, if not generally, what makes for better salaries.

Many of the economic stats simply reflect the fact that some jobs pay less than others, as ought to be expected. What else ought to be expected yet is not is that some people are perfectly happy with those chores. And a good thing too: how many good and needed things would go undone without them? Those who elect to do such jobs, or even feel no option but to take them on, are surely not second class citizens. They or their jobs should not be treated as such.

In short, the remedial needs rates of recent high school graduates are not of themselves cause for panic or concern. They may simply reflect the desire of some people to do things other than what society may think they ought. As such, we have but one duty: to get out of their way and let them live their lives. It's something we could easily do by merely shaving an inch or two off the ivory tower and the attitudes which feed it.