Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Snyder Shouldn't Brag Too Much

Governor Rick Snyder, during his opening speech at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference on Tuesday, said that Michigan is doing well but needs to 'learn to brag' about its accomplishments, to let more people know the good things happening here. The attitude appears to reflect something which Nolan Finley wrote in the past Sunday's Detroit News. He said that the Governor needs to learn how to brag about his accomplishments in turning Michigan around because it's necessary in the world of politics. Finley asserts that, without selling yourself, others might not see the good which has been done. In politics, when the line between success and failure is finely drawn, when it may only take a small twist to upend someone's efforts (such a Democratic takeover of the state Supreme Court, as Finley says) then you have to make sure people know that you're responsible for the better times or the voters (and investors) will abandon you.

Sadly enough, he's probably right. Politics is one big what have you done for me lately world, and a very unforgiving and inconsiderate one at that. Voters, and more particularly opposition political parties and their leaders, either do not play fair or think clearly, or, really, act in a combination of both. Still, how many of us like braggarts? It's okay to sell yourself, but if you don't pay attention to how it's done and walk carefully, even the successful are frowned upon.

How many great athletes are seen as jerks simply because they say, in effect, 'I'm great and you're not?' Isn't that one of the biggest turn offs in sports today, that too many athletes seem too full of themselves, too over the top? Admit it, in our hearts we like the Alan Trammells better than the Kirk Gibsons, even though Gibson's heroics are more brash. Everyone loves that photo from the 1984 World Series of Gibson with his arms in the air, skipping around the bases after that home run. But that home run didn't win the game per se (the Tigers were already ahead) and who won the World Series MVP? Alan Trammell, who much more quietly dominated during the Tigers' triumph that season.

If you must brag, and, to be fair, it doesn't seem as though Finley is calling for anything over the top from the Governor on the issue, then do it by the force of your actions more than anything else. Point it out, if you must, if political reality forces you to do so. Still, we aren't quite so cynical about the average Joe as we are about the average politico. If crowing a bit, as Finley calls it, means stumping for Republican House candidates, as Finley also suggests be done, okay, do that. But be careful if you want too much more. Bragging normally oozes from arrogance more readily than from real accomplishment. If Snyder is to grab people by the nape of their necks, he must do so as gently as he can.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mulberry Season, 2012

Funny, isn’t it. how we sometimes identify people with certain times, places, or things.

In the alley behind our old family repair shop there is a row of mulberry bushes which have been there for years. My grandfather would, in the late spring or early summer when they were in season, always stop and treat himself to a few of the little fruits as he went to and from work.

Little? Well, mulberries are small compared to most fruits. In context, they’re like raspberries who have spent a lot of time in the gym; a scant few are a handful. They’re juicy and sweet, and Grandpa Joe liked them. I remember vividly his picking and popping them into his mouth as he made his way down the alley, as though he were a kid again.

Time passes, and so, sadly, did Grandpa Joe. Yet the mulberries still grew, and I couldn’t help over the years but develop a liking to them myself. As I hike to and from work nowadays I’ll stop and have a few. As it were, my daughter also came to know and like the mulberries too. Often we’ll take bowls and go fill them with the little purple black fruits, snacking as we pick, and my wife will make pies out of those which make it back home. I like the idea that three generations of a family have been able to enjoy those berries ripening on the same bushes.

Now, I’m not all that naive; I know that Joe Cosgriff was ornery and arbitrary, with a hair trigger temper. I know it from the tales my Dad and his siblings have told, and from the personal experience of having worked with him for a good 15 or 18 years. I know too that there was a part of him which was somehow kind and appreciative, and that there were moments when these came out despite, perhaps, himself. There were good times and trying ones, and lasting impressions. I find as I grow older that, in the end, it is the good times which matter more than the difficult, even if it seems there were more tough days than easy. I believe too that the smallest, almost innocuous, memories can also be the greatest insights into the honest character of someone.

What prompts me to write this? It’s May, and the mulberries are in. And I’m thinking about you, Joe.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Memorial Day: the last Monday in May. The day set aside for remembering our fallen heroes and, I'll add, to think about those currently serving in our armed forces. It is fitting and proper that we do this.

Forget for the moment that it like so many other holidays has been been given something of a second class citizen status. It once was held every May 30th, yet in our rush to celebrate special days more on our terms than as an honest retrospective of deserving people and ideals it has been shifted to the last Monday of the month. That is so we may have three day weekends to party over more so than a single, specially set aside day to actually contemplate what the day is supposed to be about. Nevertheless, it is still a great day on our calendar.

Great hardly seems the right word. It is sad that we have to have a day such as this, sadder still that willing souls have given us their all in order to make such times a need. But that is the price we pay for living in a world where evil exists. We must be thankful for those souls who have made it possible for us to be here and reflect on their actions.

So I will stand by the word great. It takes great people for us to have a chance to celebrate their deeds. It takes great people for us to realize that freedom is not free and liberty not a given birthright. It takes great people to give us the chance to grill and hoist a brew and spend time with our families and friends.

It takes great people to lay down their lives for their friends. Remember them, today and every day. They've earned the honor. The very least we can do is acknowledge them.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Politics of Respect

Ah, the things we do for love. And money. And the love of money. It's now legal to sell fireworks in the State of Michigan. Why? So that the State can collect 8 or 10 million dollars worth of taxes which would ordinarily go to neighboring Indiana or Ohio.

We're not against the sale of fireworks, but we nonetheless don't care for the government's attitude on the issue. Lansing is all for public safety, so much so that for the longest time the explosives could not be sold here. Yet when the lawmakers realized how much cash was going out of state, well, safety didn't seem so important. Yet elected officials wonder why they don't garner much respect from the voting public, and much less from nonvoters. It's because you haven't earned it, folks. Actions like these simply fuel that attitude.

Which brings us to another issue which resonates in much the same way. There is a movement to have the bison, or American Buffalo, designated as the national mammal. Really, now. We face a tremendous budget deficit which threatens to send our country into another recession yet our national lawmakers try to find time to designate a national mammal. The National Bison Legacy Act proposes it.

We wonder exactly what type and degree of a legacy the bison have earned. Okay, they were food for Native Americans, and then shot for stupid pleasure by advancing settlers in the 1800s. To call that a legacy seems, well, laughable. Sad, no doubt, for killing anything simply for the kill is just plain dumb. But a legacy? A national mammal? It seems that Washington could and should be doing a lot more for the nation than this. It's all too easy to vote on trite issues than to really act to cut the deficit. Still, the lawmakers will lecture Americans on getting respect. They could try creating a national politician who puts the true needs of the people first. It could even be a mammal if they like.

All this disrespect for the politicians right before a day which they will surely use to orate on what it means to be an American. But that's just another way they try to earn our respect. It would appear that those for whom we are actually remembering tomorrow (Memorial Day) are the ones who really merit respect. But, of course, our politicians changed that from a fixed date (May 30th) to the last Monday in May, solely for the sake of the economics of a long weekend. We're sure that the soldiers and sailors who actually earned respect appreciate that. As to the politicians who did it, who moved the date around the calendar, well, you will have no tears shed by us for your lack of respect.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Seat Belt Check Lanes are Stupid

Note: Charles Martin Cosgriff, smart aleck extrordinaire that he is, doubles as the Wayne County (MI) Conservative Examiner on examiner.com He likes this too much to dare alter it.

While your Wayne County Conservative Examiner was tooling westwardly along Michigan Avenue in southwest Detroit early yesterday evening, a little after 7 in the PM, he could not help but notice the harsh stare of the Detroit Police Officer boring into his person as he made his way. It caused him to shrink away with fear, in fact. The officer had his squad car parked in the left turn lane, which was truly inconvenient. Your WCCE was wanting to hang a left into the parking lot of his favorite Little Caesars for the sake of a couple Hot and Ready pizzas, and perhaps some Crazy Bread as well. You know, that delightfully doughy bread painted with garlic, and with what we perceive are cheese bits of a sort as a kind of crust. Yet thanks to the officer ever so diligent at his duty, it was necessary to drive a block past the restaurant, to make a left and circle yet another block in returning to Michigan to turn right into the waiting LC. It was really quite distressing, for your WCCE had spent several hours doing yard work, a chore in itself, and was really quite hungry for that wonderful American specialty colloquially known as beer and pizza. Yet his well earned repast was delayed so insultingly because he had happened upon a seat belt check lane, an area set aside so that the City of Detroit could be on the lookout for those vile and despicable criminals who had not buckled up. Horrid, disgusting felons they are.

Really now. We have to wonder whether the whole plot was merely a ploy for the city to earn a few extra bits of coin. Detroit is, after all, suffering deep financial woes. Yet if only that might have been the case, the officers perhaps may have been cut a little slack. As it is, they were seeking out the truly evil people who may have dared motored along a Detroit thoroughfare without having availed themselves of the proverbial 'click it or ticket'. My, but those government agents as so able to turn a phrase.

Of course, one really can harbor no ill will against those stouthearted men and women in blue. They were merely doing what they were ordered, we are sure, and with the proper admonition to 'be careful out there', if a harkening back to a well known catchphrase from a well received police show of thirty some years ago may suit our purpose here. If the reference escapes you, this is where it may be found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2QApwtE8zQ . It was surely an easy if boring night of work for them, the 5 or 6 squad cars of dutiful civil servants we could count for ourselves who were assigned such a menial task. Surely they pined for a career out of the police academy which offered a greater challenge than signalling an errant driver to the roadside, for no greater sin than a citizen driving his own car on a highway paid for by his taxes having no real concern for his own safety or that of his fellows. Surely the murderer, the rapist, the arsonist, the robber; nay, even the passer of bad checks, could not have been doing more harm to society last evening than that inconsiderate unbuckled operator of a motor vehicle. The nerve. Cheek, gall; that's what it is.

And now, as we have assuaged the desire to over-employ the semicolon as we pen our message this noonday, we leave you with this heartfelt thought.

Seat belt check are a waste of time and manpower. It seems that the nanny state rules, especially as it easier to apprehend safe criminals over unsafe. Our leaders appear to do so much while doing so little as they assign their minions such tasks so well below their training. Yet so little done seems the fate of modern government at all levels these days.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Detroiters to Die...in the Future.

Detroit will face an dramatic spike in heat related deaths by the end of this century. You know, this century, the one which has well over 80 years left in it. But oh yes, it will happen. Thus speaketh the Natural Resources Defense Council, and environmental watchdog group.

Of course, it's all based on computer simulations, and the presumption that global warming will continue unchecked for all of those eighty some years. That by itself should be a clue that we are talking about bad science, be real science and real scientists generally doesn't like to make sweeping predictions about the future, particularly the far future. You see, science lives in a combination of the past and the present, in things we know or can reasonably expect based on actual observation. It is not upon the projected results of whatever data we feed into a computer.

Bad science likes global warming. It likes the idea of promulgating scare stories because scare stories bring attention to it. Then we can have centers such as the NRDC, who, of course, in their position as self appointed guardians of nature and all things environmental, can tell us that more of our great grandchildren will die many years from now if we don't do something NOW. Yet a cursory glance at the NRDC website shows what it cares about: global warming, saving the oceans and endangered species, nuclear nonproliferation, clean energy, and of course the old bugbear, recycling. In short, if it's a leftist cause, they're in it up to their necks.

To be fair, their mission statement sounds good: To safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends. But we nonetheless aren't comfortable with anything which puts Earth first. To be sure, we cannot survive without it. But the Earth is here for people, and not for its own sake or the sake of other life forms. People first, Earth second, that's our mantra.

As such, we are skeptical that the aims of the NRDC are really for the people, even when they issue warnings ostensibly for the people such as warnings of futuristic calamity. Too much of what they are in favor of or against (recycling, which is simply much ado about rubbish, which they favor; urban sprawl, which simply takes property rights away from owners, which they oppose) are in fact anti-people. Add in the fact that it is far too easy to warn of a disaster generations away (if it ever occurs at all) and far after they could be held accountable for any errors they might make (and costs they might incur on future generations) and we are quite comfortable mocking their fears. We believe in humanity enough that we believe it will overcome the heat of the coming years if it in fact comes, and will work things all the better if the temperatures in fact, as we believe, do not rise quite so fantastically or even gradually.

The future, if left to itself, will work itself out. That's a true belief in the person and humanity. All else environmentally is Chicken Little demagoguery.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Toledo Casino Threatens Detroit

The city of Detroit, and likely as not several others areas of Michigan, are looking with fear upon the opening of new casinos in nearby Ohio. They are new and novel, things which in themselves can attract patrons who simply want to check them out. What's more, the closest one in right in Toledo, barely an hour's drive from most of metro Detroit. It's also smoke free, a fact which by itself might entice gamblers to place their bets there rather than any of the Motor City's gambling halls. The fear of lost revenue already has Mayor Bing and Detroit officials plotting on lost casino revenue over the coming years.

When exactly does the law of diminishing returns kick in? Doesn't it seem as though everyone, well, many states and locales anyway, are turning towards gaming as a way to make money? Shouldn't that pool be running dry, given that we in Michigan have around 800 casinos as it is?

All right, Michigan has a mere 24, or something like that. Yet they are popping up everywhere, and more are planned here. Will the growth of the gaming industry really help in the long run?

To be sure, as governments search for ways to increase revenue without taxes they seem to think they have them in casinos. But, again, diminishing returns? Further, who gambles, and what does it say about us as a nation when we have reached the point where we are so ready and willing to fork over cash for a chance at a one armed bandit or video poker? In an odd way, it actually seems to be less cruel of a government to simply raise taxes than to entice the middle and lower classes with promises of riches if they more willingly hand over their money to places which assure us will generate cash for the politicos? Aren't casinos really just a form of their sister lotteries, which encourage people to spend on shallow, blind faith? Who is actually being served, and how well, by such policies?

We are saying that lotteries and casinos are wrong. Though we do wonder, especially if all they have become is an underhanded way for our leaders to separate us from our cash. In that light, the whole thing seems, well, cowardly, But we suppose we shouldn't expect anything more from government officials who lack backbone.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Interview with Sergio Politics

We were interviewed briefly by www.sergiopolitics.org Here is that brief interview along with the responses

What are your thoughts about Mitt Romney as a GOP candidate?

I am not impressed with Mitt Romney. He talks the talk, but will he walk the walk? That seems to be the question with myself and my fellow conservatives these days. He will have a lot of trouble explaining why he's against Obamacare (as the President's health care initiative is called) seeing as he had accepted a similar idea in Massachusettes while governor there. On a lesser note yet one no less important, he will be portrayed as the candidate born with the silver spoon in his mouth; that may not hurt him, if the United States as a nation is tired of Barack Obama. Yet on that more practical level, Romney will surely be seen by some as a typical Republican: rich, white, and unable to understand the plight of the middle class. I think such charges are unfair, but they will be leveled. It should help the GOP in Michigan that he is something of a native son, but it will difficult for him to carry Michigan, which hasn't went for the Republicans in a Presidential contest since 1988.

What do you think about Obama and his chances for re-election?

Right now I believe that his chances for re-election are around 50/50. It will ultimately depend upon how many gains the Republicans will make; we may see a sort of reverse coattail effect in 2012. By that I mean, rather than a strong Presidential candidate helping candidates for the House and Senate, strong races by many local Republicans will get people voting Republican across the board. Further, there won't be all that many sentimental votes for the President as there may have been in 2008, because we are now past the point of showing that Americans will elect a minority President. My personal prediction this minute is that he will lose by a slim margin.

What do you think will be the main issue in November election?

The economy. It almost always is, and that's sad. Quite frankly, there are more important issues than the economy. Yet people tend to vote for the shallowest reasons. They vote for how they feel things are rather than for how things really are or how they ought to be. Even if their personal economic situation is good, they will vote for a change if they think the overall economy bad. Many folks don't vote on principle. They vote on feelings. They forget feelings change, and all too often for light and transient reasons.

How do you think Social Media will play a role in this campaign? and can you compare it to Obama's campaign of 2008?

I doubt that its role will be a great as it may have been in 2008. Social media isn't new anymore and as such will not affect the sensations of the moment as they might have in the last Presidential election. In 2008, social media probably helped Barack Obama as it was more the province of the young. But the youth vote won't be there on 2008. Young people are feeling the pinch of the economic crisis as much as, if not more than anybody else. PLus, young people tend not to vote if they aren't energized. They do not appear anxious about the 2012 race.

What is your opinion of Super PACs and its influence in this race?

I have no strong feelings about Super PACS. If we are a country which believes in freedom of speech (the left only believes in freedom of speech when it serves their purposes) then I don't see how we can hamper them. Like it or not, the rich have as much right to voice themselves as the poor and middle classes. If we really want to reduce the influence of money in political campaigns, we would reduce the amount of and influence which the government has on the economy and in our daily lives. But that won't happen. Too many people or every stripe have too much invested in big government.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Learning from Fr. Williams Mistakes

No one is perfect. But it seems that some people are held to higher standards when it comes to their behavior.

As they should, quite honestly. When you speak for an institution which calls us, as it says right in Scripture, to 'be perfect', then you ought to expect to be held to a higher standard. That is why it is always disappointing to have a case such as that of Catholic priest and Michigan native Fr. Thomas Williams. He was a leader in the Legion of Christ, a conservative Catholic group itself rocked by other scandals, and a teacher at the organization's school in Rome. He has stepped down from the group and is taking a year off from instruction in light of the admission that he fathered a child several years back.

The atheists and anti-Catholics will have a field day with it. Boiled down to the basic criticism, they will say with snickers and knowing grins, 'So they're no different than the rest of us, those Catholics and other holier than thous'. You can't really blame them. Such scandals are made to order for the skeptics and doubters.

They still fail to see the big picture nonetheless. Conservatives and Catholics, indeed any of the seriously religious, if they take their faith rightly (no pun intended) know they are flawed. They know they are human and will fail to live up the expectations of their faith. Sometimes those failures are spectacular and in the full view of the public. They may even be more wrong precisely because those people speak for institutions or creeds which rightly condemns the actions they have done. Yet such does not and cannot condemn the institution or creed. Fr. Williams, if he was any decent kind of priest at all, would never have taught that he was perfect, but only that the teachings of his Church were perfect and true.

And that is precisely what is neglected by the naysayers who have and will roundly criticize the Church, conservatives, and their friends and allies, not only in this but in other scandals as well. They condemn traditions and institutions due to human weakness. Yet we are called, again, to be perfect. That means we must always strive for that. Yet neither should we expect it. Preaching to that calling yet failing to live up to it ourselves cannot deny the call. It can only mean that we're human. Nothing more.

We will fail to always and everywhere do the right thing, even those of us not seriously religious. Yet that does not grant license to go ahead and do the wrong thing either. When we err, whether in small things or large, all we can do is start again to try to get things right the next time. We do that because we are (or at least ought to be) trying to be perfect. We're trying to do the right thing, to get it right the next time. After all, the next time is all we've got. And one day, maybe, we'll get just a bit closer to the perfection to which we're called. And even closer the time after that.

That is the essence of Catholic and conservative morals. Aim the highest and work towards it. And never take your eyes from the prize even as you fail. You'll be better of for it in the end.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Anders Borg Reinvents Sweden

Are we in the United States behind the curve? When we find that such a nation as Sweden has an economic minister like Anders Borg, we must wonder about the conservative credentials of our own Republican Party, let alone that of the generally conservative nature of our nation.

Borg and his allies have cut back government and cut taxes. He has cut into the welfare state mentality of what has been, perhaps, the most socialist free state in Europe. As a result, Sweden has been relatively safe from the economic calamity facing much of Europe. Sweden does not face the potential collapse of several other countries in Europe, notably Spain, Ireland, and Greece. Nor does it face the deficits forecast in countries such as our own.

This from a man who called then called President-elect Barack Obama's economic agenda, in an interview on November 29, 2008, days after his triumph in our elections that year, 'untenable'. This from a man speaking from the most completely socialist regime in Europe.

He is an economist. That is not something to be said with disdain, unless you look with disdain as well upon Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, or Walter Williams. This is something to be looked upon with marvel, as though from someone who really understands the real world and the actual, human stories which face all of us every day.

Cutting taxes helps the lower employed and the underemployed, says Mr. Borg. It increases investment and the value of risk. Under Borg, Swedish taxes have dipped to where Sweden has a tax to GDP ratio under 45% for the first time in decades. That's still to high. But considering where he works, it is impressive.

It shows that we too can pull ourselves back from the breach. It shows that it is, or may be, anyway, never too late to recover our senses and regain our footing among the peoples of the Earth with sane spending policies.

Will the Swedes make it that far? Will we make it that far? Will we and they reach the point where understand what too much government means, and that too much of it hurts rather than helps? Hopefully. There is, after all, only the future. Swedish voters seem to believe in that. Do we?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No to Seat Belt Laws

The Michigan State Police are at it again, and doubtless many other local law enforcement agencies are too. Check lanes are being set up to make sure that people are wearing their seat belts as they drive. If you come upon one, you may be compelled to pull over and show that you are complying with the law. Never mind the speeders that we see all the time, not to mention the burglars and rapists and murderers who haunt our streets and neighborhoods. The police have nothing better to do than make sure you, evil driver, have clicked it.

This is an area where the nanny state has taken over lock, stock and barrel. Why? Because we accept it. We all know that the government always has our best interests in mind, and it's so much better to make sure you've buckled up than to protect us from the real lawbreakers out there. Why, it protects us from ourselves! What else should Lansing be doing?

We are not arguing about using seat belts; no rational person questions their potential value. Yet most people are no more likely to be involved in a dangerous auto accident than they are in a fatal airplane flight. With risks so low, why tie up resources to combat the few who don't wear belts?

The fact is that, after a certain point, the point at which we outlaw burglary and rape and murder, we really ought to leave decisions up to the individual. Especially as there are such choices which we actually do leave up to the people which themselves are more inherently dangerous than not buckling up, it seems absurd to fret over seat belts. We allow people to eat and drink what they want despite the fact that excess in that area surely offers more long term threat to their life than driving unbelted. We do not compel folks to diet right and excercize even though that too has a more obvious long term effect than not wearing seat belts. Well, perhaps after Obamacare kicks in the government will begin forcing us to do that, because, after all, it would have a public interest in healthier people for these of lower health care costs. But that's an aside just this minute.

It is high time we told the government at all levels to bug off where something isn't their concern. Seat belt laws must be removed from the books. They are an affront to our liberty, and nothing less.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Romney Bullying and Liberal Hypocrisy

You can tell that the left is beginning to worry about Michigan's favorite son, Mitt Romney, now that the smoke has cleared and he is the certain GOP nominee for the November elections. They so afraid, in fact, that they're dredging up tales of long ago. All the way back to Romney's high school years, in fact. It seems that he may have bullied a classmate.

Perhaps he did; that is more than we know. If he did something truly so far out of line as he is being accused of doing, then he needs to own up and apologize. Obama allies are quickly taking the story at face value, and asserting that it is proof positive of a pattern of sadistic behavior on the part of the potential Chief Executive.

No more sadistic than forcing a health care plan on the American public through little known parliamentary rules, even with two-thirds of the voters against it? There are two kinds of force, Mr. President: by direct means and by harsh coercion. If Romney was bully in high school, then shame on him. If he is somehow sadistic, then he is no more so than his Democratic opponent.

But what may be the most telling aspect of this whole bullying charge is that it had a precursor in another hotly contested election not so long ago. On the eve of the 2000 Presidential election, the media began to make hay over then candidate George W. Bush's DUI arrest. From 1976. That despite the fact that he had clearly seen the error of his ways and mended them.

When you have to go that far back into a person's closet seeking dirt, it displays a certain hypocrisy which is all too common on the left. The left calls constantly for change; indeed, change is about the only constant in their creed. Yet we are expected to believe that Mitt Romney is the Great Satan because of something that may have happened in 1965. That he could not possibly be a different man now, even if the story is true.

We cannot say it enough: the left wants what it wants because it wants it. And if getting that means digging up bones from generations ago, they do it. THere's a word for that...let's see...what is it?

Oh yes: pathetic.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Remembering our Soldiers

Why is it that we only really appreciate the American Soldier when he is fighting Nazis? We were not going to write this for two weeks yet. After all, Memorial Day approaches, all of two Mondays from now. And isn't that when we are supposed to remember those who have fallen for the sake of those of us who remain? We should recall them, of course. The American Soldier, and his compatriots from Canada and Great Britain and France and China and dozens of other nations from around the world fell while fighting that menace. The Nazis were awful, to be sure. But were they only reason the American Soldier fought and died? Did not the American Soldier fight and fall at Lexington and Concord? Citizen soldiers, yes, they were. And they stood their ground, refusing to allow the Redcoats to secure a garrison of patriotic supplies at Concord, pestering the British all the way back to their garrison at Boston. Did the American Soldier not fall at Fort Ticonderoga, or Bunker Hill, or at Saratoga? Did he not fall at the retreat from Manhattan, or while fighting the Hessians at Princeton or Trenton, or while attacking redoubts numbered 9 and 10 at Yorktown? Why do we not remember that American Soldier? During the Wars which we do not remember so fondly, at sea against the French in 1798, at the Raisin River right here in Michigan in 1813 during the War of 1812, did he not fall? At Tripoli during the Wars in 1804 and 1815? Why do we not remember the American Soldier from then? Do we remember Fort Sumter? Do we remember Antietam? Do we remember Bull Run, battles One and Two, or the siege of Vicksburg? Do Chambersburg and Gettysburg, Gettysburg, the battle which many historians argue is one of the ten most critical battles of World History, World History, mind you, mean anything these days? Do we appreciate what that means to our history? The doughboys in World War I; do we know them these days? Yes, they are almost universally gone now. They should not be forgotten. World War II and Korea live in our memories. Yet we forget Korea. That is, other than with the greatest cynicism, as presented by M*A*S*H. Why do we recall only with disdain the great victories of the American Soldier in Vietnam? Why do we not acknowledge the tremendous victory of the American Soldier of the TET Offensive during the New Year of 1968? John Thomas Cosgriff, you were there, as a 19 year old soldier in the artillery, having arrived there on December 20, 1967 and having fought against the Viet Cong and having blown them off the field of battle as an effective fighting force for a year, an entire year, afterwards? Why do we forget you? Why do we forget the American Soldier of Operation Iraqi Freedom? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day in Afghanistan and Iraq? Why do we forget the American Soldier who toils each day holding the Al Qaeda militants at bay at Guantanamo, safe from attacking their fellow citizens? We should not. We should not forget you any more than we should forget the veteran of Granada or Operation Desert Storm, of Panama or Haiti or the 200 or more military operations in our history. Has every action of the US been right? No; we are human. We have made mistakes. Where we have, nature and nature's God rightly demand we regret them and make amends where we can. Yet where we are right, where our sons and daughters have not died in vain, we must remember. We must give them their due. The Nazis have not been the only evil in the world. They almost certainly were not the worst evil, either. Far worse has happened, and much of that blood does indeed stain the American hand. Yet it does not soil the hand of the American Soldier. He was always and everywhere concerned with rightness and justice. And that, dear friends, is how we ought remember him.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Obama Approval Ratings Slip

With even Democrats feeling that the economy is weak, is President Barack Obama's reelection in trouble?

Recent polling shows that Democrats think the economy is good is at the 31% mark, down 17 points from similar polls in February. Factor in that almost two-thirds of Americans believe that the President has poorly handled gas prices. More than half of Americans disapprove of his overall economic policies.

Of Course, talk is cheap, and polls and circumstances change. We are a long way from November and Mitt Romney isn't exactly the strongest candidate the GOP could have picked. There is too the old saw that the President can't affect gas prices very much. Perhaps not, in the short run. Yet if Clinton had allowed drilling in places such as the Arctic, or even, to be fair, if Bush and the Republican Congress after him had done the same, we would have access to that oil by now. Even things such as the Keystone Pipeline would have at the least gained Americans jobs, should the President have approved it. So it seems that a forward looking Chief Executive can make a difference on gas, if he wants to. Even something as mundane as a policy change might signal to gas and oil producers that the future looks bright, and thus spur development and exploitation of our resources.

The funny thing is that none of this is likely to make a difference. The Presidential Election this fall will likely hinge on much more shallow factors. A certain number of people will vote for Romney because he's Republican, a similar number for Obama because he's the Democrat other still in order to keep a balance of power in Washington (on the presumption that the GOP keep the House and retakes the Senate). Race may even be an issue, with some voting against and some for the President based upon it. Any way you slice it, things won't be determined by real policy questions, but by mere human whim.

Quite an unimpressive way to run a country, don't you think?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The President and Gay Marriage

In light of President Barack Obama's recent decision that he supports gay marriage, a move which can only be seen as political rather than an honest expression of heartfelt belief, it might be worthwhile to look at the reasons to oppose gay marriage. Three reasons are often given in defense of gay marriage. There are those who support gay marriage and gay rights in that we find examples of homosexuality within the animal kingdom. Some say that because some people may be born with homosexual desires we must allow them to act on them. Others say that it is all about love and the expression of that love. They are each poor indicators of what may determine proper human action. What the lower animals do or do not do has no relevance to the question. We have intellect; they do not. We can judge our actions; they cannot judge theirs. We can interpret and infer meaning; they cannot. We can intend; they cannot. Ours is the realm of action; theirs is the world of reaction. They know no meaning. So what they do, as it is on a purely animal plain, really has no bearing on what we ought or ought not do. Our nature is on a deeper, more profound level. That children are born of nature cannot be denied. That they are born with issues which are difficult to resolve due to their genetic makeup or whatnot is also beyond question. But if they cannot help but act on them, then isn't free will out the window? And isn't the person thus born with an ill temper, if we are to allow that we must condone active homosexuality simply because certain folks were born that way, within his rights to throw a tantrum when he doesn't get his way? How can we tell the person born with a short fuse to keep his temper if he was merely born that way? We cannot, unless we are willing to allow moral judgment of our actions by the body politic. Yet that is exactly what the backers of gay rights want: to judge our actions while we cannot judge theirs. Can you say hypocrisy? It is rather insidious to defend gay marriage as an act of love. What then do we say to those who love to hurt themselves? Or, worse, those who love to hurt others? Obviously, we could attempt to convince them that their idea of love is wrong, and we would be right in that approach. How does that help us here? Simply because it demonstrates that we can make right and true judgments about what constitutes loving actions even when considering what other people are doing in the name of love. Even active homosexuals make judgments such as that. They willingly and rightfully concede that heterosexual sex, under the right circumstances, is a moral good. Homosexuals make judgements about love as much as anyone else; but how can that judgment be trusted if love is supposed to be the great unjudged point in sexual relations in particular and human relations in general? How can their judgment be trusted even with regard to what they argue as their right unless we can judge what love is, even in the mere physical sense? We infer that active homosexuality is a moral wrong because by nature it is clear that sex should be between a man and a woman. male and female. We should explain that when speaking of nature we are appealing to an ideal which can be reasonably inferred from the obviously imperfect nature we deal with day in and day out. In such a regard, it is rather like Plato's idea of Forms: we see things as they are, but that very sight gives us an idea of what they ought to be. It's a bit of a loose interpretation, but we like it. Nature may be faulty, but the ideal can never be. We routinely prune the tree or remove the cancer even though the errant branch and the cancer are 'natural'. Ergo, we cannot argue that something is good merely because it is naturally occurring. Unless, that is, we want to think of the KKK and the Nazis as the simple moral equivalents of the great civil rights leaders or the liberators of Europe. We can and must judge human actions if we are to become a good and stable society, even the actions of consenting adults. Anything short of that, and we are not human.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Conservative Gains

So a Texas prison inmate took forty percent of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic Primary. When someone in prison gets that many votes, you have to wonder how deep the President's support actually is.

North Carolina has passed a gay marriage ban. Indiana Republicans have given Richard Lugar the boot. It looks like conservatism lives.

Allen Park, Michigan failed to pass a millage which was intended to stave off an emergency manager. Should that actually become necessary, will Governor Snyder treat Allen Park with kid gloves as he did Detroit or simply march in? Our bet in march in. He can't appear to treat Allen Park differently than Benton Harbor.

Speaking of the Governor, he has signed into law something which will allow gun permit owners to carry tasers. Why not? That's better than using the gun, isn't it?

Will GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney be hurt by his auto bailout remarks from the 2008 campaign? Perhaps. Yet the ones doing the hurting are the ones lacking in objectivity, not Romney. Corporate welfare is welfare as much as any other kind of welfare.

Even Ypsilanti has gotten into the tax rejection game. Voters rejected ballot initiatives for new revenue by about a 2 to 1 margin. As we said, conservatism isn't very much alive.

That's the way it is, Wednesday, May 9th, 2012. Good day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Preservationist Busybodies

Preservationists in the Midtown area of Detroit are aghast at Wayne State University. The school plans to demolish a building designed by the renowned Detroit architect Albert Kahn in order to facilitate the construction of a new research center. The schools' initial use would be to aid in construction traffic while the main building is constructed. It would likely then become a parking lot, at first, anyway, before being used to extend the research facility. Or it may eventually be used as urban walking space.

There are skeptics about long range, however, who note that the sites of other demolished architectural gems such as the Hudson's downtown site or old Tiger Stadium haven't been converted to anything better. Yet there are differences between those sites and the American Beauty Electric Iron building, the one to be raised for WSU's purposes. The fact that Wayne State owns the thing means a lot: if they need to tear it down for whatever legitimate reason (and aiding in construction and viable parking options are legitimate) then no one has the right to stand in their way.

Whoever owns a property has the primary right to determine what to do with it. But what we're really dealing with here is the activity of busybodies who want to enforce their will on anybody as they see fit. In this case, because it is a Kahn building, it should never be torn down.

Baloney. Nothing should be made sacred merely because of the designer, and it isn't as though it's the only Kahn building around, or even his best structure. Yet even if they were all demolished, it isn't as though he would be forgotten. Surely his styles and influence will be remembered in schools and in Kahn's influence on the trade.

Not everything of some historical importance ought to or can be preserved. We probably over preserve as it is. Particularly in instances such as this, where we must wonder why the building wasn't scarfed up by some bunch of Kahn groupies way before Wayne State got it if it were really so important a part of his portfolio of buildings. Likely as not that failed to happen because they don't have the money on their own.

But that doesn't stop them from telling the University what to do with it. There is a word which describes people like that. Hubris.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The State of Superior?

Ever hear of the state of Superior? How about the state of Ontonagon? Both are ideas which have been discussed from time time as attempts by the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to split off from the rest of the state. An article in today's Detroit Free Press tells of how there is talk of it again in Marquette.

Nothing will come of it, of course. But it is easy to sympathize with the Yoopers. They feel themselves too distant from Lansing, and also believe that rest of the state is simply using them for whatever nefarious reasons, up to and including taking away local property taxes on the mines up there. Seeing as they only make up 3% of Michigan's population, residents of the UP can certainly feel shunned by the rest of us.

To be sure, many areas are more culturally part of Wisconsin then Michigan. In the western part of the UP in particular, they read the Milwaukee papers and root for the Green bay Packers. Indeed, among the secession proposals have been ideas to incorporate part of northeastern Wisconsin ans several northern Lower Peninsula counties into a new state. A larger land mass than merely the Upper Peninsula itself would be necessary for such a state to be economically viable.

t is interesting to note that almost every state in the Union has at one time or another addressed secession from the larger body. But as with any local changes, they have met with no serious attempts at breaking off from the mother state. Often they were simply protests against feeling shunned by the rest of the given area.

Still, the state of Ontonagon sounds better than the state of Superior, and especially Northern Michigan, as had been suggested too. But again, nothing will come of it.

Yet that won't stop our northern brethren from dreaming.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

No Child Left Behind Nonsense

The Federal Establishment has requested clarifications from the Michigan State Department of Education before it grants the state more time to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Michigan believes it needs extensions beyond the current 2014 deadline for reading and math proficiency. No matter what the outcome of this minor struggle in the larger battle, we are always amused that in an area which preaches diversity such as modern, institutionalized education does, it doesn't seem to want diversity in how government approaches education. We have a 50 state union here; it strikes us that that should mean 50 different systems of education, if not more once you factor in private education and home schooling. It's hard not to have diversity when there are that many shows on the road.

Yet what else can you expect but conformity once you get the behemoth which is Washington into the fray? Who's the strongest force when it comes down to DC or any given individual state, locale, or person? Who is bound to win?

This is not to argue against effective education. It is to argue against the brick wall approach which naturally results when you are dealing with a structure as massive as our federal bureaucracy. It cannot move quickly enough to effectively address issues such as K-12 education. Particularly when you consider that groups of students will vary from year to year in talent, industry, and inclination (as will teachers, quite honestly) then it seems a fool's errand to demand rigidly equal results from all involved.

There are certain basic needs which must be addressed for education to help its pupils. They are readily traceable to the famous three R's. While we are not all that sure ourselves in how many ways and in how many directions they might be effectively taught, as two plus two must always equal four and George Washington was our first President no matter how we present the information, we cannot help but feel that if there are better ways to do that they are more likely to be found when many people are attempting the chore rather than by a few dictating the process from on high. Those folks will get pointlessly caught up in the minutiae, or worse: they will become dictators.

The larger the organism the more likely that it will stifle rather than encourage creativity. That is why the No Child Left Behind Act cannot work in the long run. It gums the gears of education rather than greases them to run smoothly.

There are times and events which cause us to seek Washington's aid. Education is not one of them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Snyder as the Number Two Man?

Snyder for Vice President? That is one scenario being bandied about the media and the political wonks the last few days. After all, he's one tough nerd. To be sure, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has done quite a lot which would endear him to conservatives. Perhaps even the social conservatives such as those of us in the Wayne County Conservative Examiner's Office could be persuaded to support him for second choice on the national GOP ticket. It's easy to like his approach towards the public school leviathan, pushing for more charters and cyber schools as he and the Republican Legislature in Lansing have been doing. Even the Emergency Manger law doesn't bother us, given that he treated Detroit with kid gloves as insolvency approached Michigan's largest city. But is that enough to satisfy conservatives nationwide? Would there be a true balance on such a ticket? To have both Republicans from more or less the same part of the country (the rust belt) doesn't appear to offer more than regional appeal. And we still wonder whether Governor Snyder much less Mitt Romney really feels very strongly about abortion and gay rights. One of the sins of Republicans, even the more conservative ones, are that they tend to do two things which can only be construed as weaknesses. One, they vacillate on more substantive issues in favor of the economic ones. We can only presume that they do so in order to get and stay elected. To be fair, seeing as the general electorate is indeed rather shallow, they may feel that is their only recourse. Even so, it still reeks of weakness. Point number two, they don't press their advantages as liberals do. The whole reason we have Obamacare looming is that the liberals didn't care about what the vast majority of the nation wanted. They wanted national health care, so much so that they engaged in little known and little used parliamentary tricks to get it. They had the power and the votes and they used both. In that regard, Snyder might not be so bad a choice after all. He's stood by his decisions and the GOP in Lansing has pressed its cause. But in the end, rumors of a Snyder vice presidential candidacy are surely all talk. What else can be done when politics are at a low ebb? Political writers spout conjecture. We should not put much weight in that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Open Our Border!

We live next to a neighbor who cannot be seen as anything less than the greatest friend and ally that a nation such as the United States can have. Canada as a nation and Canadians as a people have been very good to us for the better part of our joint history. We trade more between the two of us than with anyone else. Yet how do we treat our friends in return?

By making them wait unduly long in coming over to say hello, and maybe spend a few bucks while here.

This is an issue which is generally not seen or understood by most of the US. But there is a very real question of courtesy and common sense at stake, both with regard to individuals and businesses. It simply makes sense that we expedite travel between our countries. It is time that we seriously considered a complete opening of the longest border in the world.

Why shouldn't US and Canadian citizens pass freely between each other? We are surely as close as any given European Union country, and likely as not more friendly than a good number of them. Such an idea would free up resources on both sides for better use (we surely have more grief coming from our southern border) while allowing an easier flow of goods, both personal and commercial. An initiative such as this would surely aid free trade, particularly between major crossings such as we have here in Detroit. More than that, it would serve as a powerful sign that we trust each other in the manner which close friends ought.

The terrorism question will certainly come in up in any discussion about this problem. Yet how many suspected terrorists have been caught moving between or border? Or do we, and we should admit this only shamefully if it is true, believe that we don't really trust that Canada's other points of entry are not secure enough for the both of us? All that we really accomplish in thickening the border looking for sneaky evildoers is cause unwarranted trouble for ourselves and our neighbours.

That's hardly a welcome signal. If we are to be at all true to our deepest principles, then we need to show our Canadian brethren that we understand friendship and invite it. At some point, we simply must quit worrying about cloak and dagger threats and live up to our highest callings. Anything less than that and we are but quivering beneath the sheets.

Open the International Border. Let's begin living up to our principles rather than down to the despotism of the world's lowest thugs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Re-Occupy Detroit!

They're back, and this time we cannot doubt their true message. Is it an actual coincidence that the Occupiers plan to re-occupy Detroit on May Day, traditionally a communist holiday? So much for representing the 99%.

The group intends to begin the day with rallies in southwest Detroit, followed by a march to Grand Circus Park, where there will be food, games, and music; a 'celebration' of the 99%. They will camp out there overnight. During the march they expect to be joined by unions and 'other groups', whomever or whatever they may be, to protest for workers and democracy.

We wonder how much history the Occupiers know, much less how much of it they understand. Democracies and the workers didn't appear to have blended very well in the old Soviet Union. Of course, Soviet May Day parades were much more grand, and decidedly straight to the point. Their 99% marched amongst soldiers, tanks, and great big guns, with pointy missiles on trailers behind drab green Army trucks. The People's Army. Apparently workers and democracy go hand in hand with military might. Mao was right then.

All you folks who fear corporate America, and corporate America certainly isn't perfect (of course, nothing of human design is or can be perfected without help beyond human means, but we doubt the Occupiers understand that either), do you see the option? We either have real freedom and democracy and the natural failings within it, or we have state despotism in the name of freedom, democracy, and the workers. Notice too that with real democracy, and we will proudly cite the democracy of the United States today and in history as having worked most generally the best for the people, we might actually curb corporate America's power. Yet with the communism, we replace that feared corporatism with something far worse: state command of the workers. From whom do appeal with that?

The Occupiers show their true colors with parades and parties on May Day. They too display their ignorance, naivete, and downright stupidity.