Saturday, June 30, 2012

Just Another Politician?

Really, Congressman Clarke? You're playing the race card? Really? This is truly a disappointment. We had a high opinion of you. We could never vote for you, but you had always seemed so sincere. We remember you going door to door in your first campaign for a seat in the Michigan Legislature: so excited, so emphatic, so believable. You didn't sound like a politician. You sounded like a man of conviction. And now you don't. Where is the breath of fresh air which you brought to politics? Where is the young man who breathed it? To be sure, we know nothing of robocalls and we do not care to know. Perhaps you are being slighted, and shame on those who do it. But where is the man who would rise above that and present himself as worthy of support? Where is the earnest American who we at least felt had what he thought the best interests of his community in his heart? Where has he gone? The youngster, whoever he was, who said so long ago, 'Say it ain't so, Joe', is now asking, 'Say it ain't so, Hansen.' Will you say that? Can you say that? Why not go to the debate in Southfield this afternoon and present yourself as Hansen Clarke, genuine and forthright. Maybe the fates have dealt you a cruel blow; you aren't the first to suffer such. But you can be one of the ones who rise above it. You are capable of that. Or are you indeed just another politician? Please do not be. You are better than that.

Friday, June 29, 2012

John Roberts Failed Us

The Supreme Court of the United States has handed a victory for President Barack Obama, a victory which says he can force us to buy health care. Yet what did he say about health care when he was candidate Obama?

He said that the government could not require an individual mandate any more than it could require people to buy a home: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023504577320363034617148.html He either lied or was simply manipulating the electorate. But we don't want to talk about that today.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that, as a tax, the individual mandate was okay, but not under the Commerce Clause, because the government couldn't compel commerce but merely regulate it. It sounds like he's jumping through hoops, but at least one source asserts that he's trying to limit rather than expand Congressional power: http://mobile.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/scocca/2012/06/roberts_health_care_opinion_commerce_clause_the_real_reason_the_chief_justice_upheld_obamacare_.html But we don't want to talk about that.

Some folks have argued that Roberts' whole idea was to inflame conservative spirits with the intention of driving out the bums in November. Perhaps; but if so, isn't he overstepping the bounds of judicial activism, and in a rather backhanded way at that? We can live with that idea, however, if in fact it plays out. But we don't want to talk about that. Well, perhaps tangentally, but only that.

Europeans believe that we Americans are making too much of this. We say, let them live fat and happy in Europe, as the euro falls in part under the weight of their precious social programs which will in the end only make paupers of them all. When you encourage irresponsibility, you get it, as Greece and Spain and Ireland demonstrate. But we don't want to talk about that.

We want to talk about Aragorn. Yes, from the Lord of the Rings. We want to talk about fighting the beast no matter how uphill the task appears, no matter how certain defeat may seem. We want to be inspired, inspired that this isn't over, inspired that we can still get out from under the finger of Washington and live the lives of free Americans. We recall Aragorn's words at the Gates of Mordor, adapted for our purpose:

Sons of Michigan! Daughters of Ohio and Delaware and Wyoming and Utah! My brothers and my sisters. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!

We need not be worried about Europeans think. We are the West; they are yesterday's news. We need not be concerned over the left except so far as to learn from them how to use power: as they forced this debacle upon us. let's force them from government. We need not worry about the President: his day shall come, and it shall come in November 2012. That will happen if we remember today, and vote accordingly. And that's what we want to talk about today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Only Electioneering

At the behest of Senator Carl Levin, the City of Detroit will receive a $22.5 million dollar grant which will be used to rehire around 108 of the 164 firefighters who will be laid off. The money won't be available until September, so that won't happen immediately. But Mayor Dave Bing said he had hoped for the grant, and that it's good news for Detroit.

Well, it's good news if you like electioneering.

Isn't it fascinating how much money Washington can find for Detroit in an election year? Especially as President Barack Obama is having such an uphill battle that even Michigan might be in play come November, here's a few bucks to help keep Detroit voters in the fold. It goes very nicely with the 10 million given over recently for bike paths.

You might ask what is so wrong with this, and that's fair. Fire protection is always good; does it matter who pays for it, or how, or why?

Certainly it does. Fire protection is a local responsibility, not a federal. If Detroit has to make deep cuts in order to keep more police and firefighters on the streets, then the city must do that, for starters. Further, allowing Washington to ante up insults taxpayers in Oregon or Wyoming, part of whose money is thus going to prop up a Detroit city government which is simply not attending properly to its own needs.

But more than that, the money is coming from the Department of Homeland Security, under its SAFER program (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response). How is this justified? In case terrorists go around Detroit randomly and wantonly setting fires in order to disrupt town? Ridiculous.

Perhaps even most galling, or most stupid, is that this recent cash (32.5 million bucks, total, counting the bike paths) are going into a city which is going to vote for Obama anyway. It more likely will anger outstate Michigan, which already has a chip on its shoulder against Detroit, while paying for votes the Obama Administration will get anyway. It could hurt the President's re-election chances rather than help.

Maybe the President and the Senator are really just being nice guys simply trying to help Detroiters. Maybe it's only incidental that it's an election year. We'll end with that bizarre hope. It entirely too funny of an idea to leave out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Snyder and the Protestors

Governor Rick Snyder appeared yesterday at a Detroit Church to discuss the issues: voter registration laws, how to help Detroit, and the proposed new bridge between the city and Windsor, Ontario, for example. He was greeted by protestors who demanded 'their' money, namely, $224 million dollars they say the State owes the City. Lansing has supposedly withheld the cash due to the city failing in its obligations.

Did any of those people protest the Detroit City Council or the Mayor's Office in the recent past? It is, after all, city leadership, presumably elected by the very same protestors chanting at Snyder, which has gotten Detroit so close to falling under a state appointed emergency manager. But that would be taking responsibility unto themselves, wouldn't it? We can't have that, can we? It's easier to berate a Republican than to admit we screwed up.

Other things on the agenda at the meeting involved the more stringent voter identification proposals before the Governor. One such idea is to demand picture identification for an absentee ballot. What's wrong with that? We require picture ID for so many other things, why not in order to vote?

This is another issue which ties into personal responsibility yet is rarely interpreted as such. If you want to vote, if you really care about your community and want to fully participate in it, how hard is it to get a photo ID? If you aren't competent to do that, how competent will your vote be?

The real issue here is that we have people who want to get people to vote simply in order to support their cause. These folks want it easy for transients to cast a ballot because transients vote more or less as expected: for the causes of those who claim to support the best interests of the transients. Yet the question never asked is, who is truly being taking advantage of, who is really being played, with this game?

Speaking of games, another Detroit Lion has been arrested on a suspected DUI. This makes about six arrests of Lions players in recent memory. It all reflects poorly on the current football mentality of sheer arrogance: we're football players. We can do what we want. Well, politicians have thought that for years, and you see how they're viewed. Why not remember that you're playing a game, nothing more, and are fortunate that a sports crazed allows you to make so much money at it?

Sadly, money corrupts like power. Perhaps politicians and football players may belong in the same cage at that.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is It Time to End the Detroit Fireworks?

It is difficult to feel sorry for the City of Detroit these days. Most of the troubles the city faces have been, at the root, caused by the city itself. When you elect leaders (a term we use very loosely here) who do not lead, instead trying to protect their own little fiefdoms (which has been the pattern here for almost 40 years) and end up with what Detroit has, it's very easy to say, simply, you get what you pay for, Detroiters. You reap what you sow.

That's about how we feel leading into tonight's fireworks display on the Detroit River. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has said that, with the budget woes Detroit faces, the city may not be able to keep the fireworks going without help. The $700,000 dollars Detroit spends on them could be better spent elsewhere.

Indeed they could. Call it what you will, the fact is that every dollar spent by the city must be keenly accounted for and spent wisely. This means that extravagances such as fireworks, and even such other long standing local events as America's Thanksgiving Parade, cannot be seen through any special lenses. Every area of city spending must be scrutinized, up to and including traditional big time events.

Is the fiscal health of Detroit worth 45 minutes of fireworks? Is it worth two hours of national television exposure once per year on Thanksgiving? To be sure, some local agencies have offered to help. But at the end of the day, it's still Detroit's burden. There's more to the fireworks than the extra reserve police officers which Macomb County has offered in aid. There's the preliminary stuff, the cleanup afterwards, and likely as not line items in the budget which we don't readily appreciate.

We hate to see the death of long term events, particularly those which speak so very well about our city and state. But, despite being conservative, we must recognize that nothing lasts forever, and tradition itself isn't reason enough to keep things going simply because we've always done them. If the fireworks have to be snuffed out, then they must be. There's no saying we can't resurrect them when the money is better anyway. For the sake of the future, ending the festivities may be the best thing Detroit can do.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Link Detroit: Wasteful Spending

There are certain things which people either fail to understand or simply ignore when it comes to government spending. The most pressing point is that it isn't really the big tickets items which do the most harm but, rather, the nickle and dime projects which in fact lead to budget overruns. An easy example is the $10 million dollar federal grant Detroit has been given for bike paths and walkways.

The money will be part of a $25 million dollar project to link areas of Detroit and Hamtramck with bike and walking paths. The project is called Link Detroit, and is intended to help folks get around between Midtown and the Eastern Market, Hamtramck and the riverfront and things in between. The plan, says Congressman Hansen Clarke, is "a crucial step toward a more sustainable and livable community."

In other words, if you build it, they will come. It does not strike us as rational government policy. It makes us think more of the huge empty cities in China, built solely to make work and glorify Beijing.

How many walkers and bikers are there on Detroit streets right now? A very few really. Most people get around by car or public transport, and most in fact by car. Shouldn't government spending policy, so far as it is the business of government to direct traffic, come in response to a need rather than in attempting to manufacture a need? Why are we building biking and hiking paths when there is no actual demand for them?

For the sake of make work projects, and the appearance of caring about Detroit. Remember too that this comes after the whole idea of nickles and dimes. How many $10 million dollar grants have been handed out to how many other groups nationwide for much the same reasons: as appeals to the local communities about how much Washington can help them?

This why Washington is so deeply in debt, more so than the defense budget. Too much money is going to too many small projects simply to influence the voting public to keep voting for a government which will see to their needs. Even if the needs are imaginary rather than real.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Does House Bill 5560 go too far?

It is very easy to criticize others when they push for things which you don't happen to agree with. It can be more difficult to speak against the things which your friends and allies may want. It is even harder still to opine against things which are naturally closer to one's own temperament. Still, we find that we must sometimes speak against any and all of these situations. That is, if we are to claim any real objectivity at all.

The Michigan Legislature has passed a bill which would levy fines against those who disrupt Church services. The penalty could go as high as community service hours for repeat offenses. It was sponsored by State Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, a Republican from Charlotte, and was in reaction to the disruption of Church services at a Church in Delta Township.

We sympathize with the situation. Particularly in light of some of the popularly known disruptions of the funerals of soldiers by a radical Christian group, it would be easy to support harsher penalties such as proscribed by the bill, House Bill 5560. Yet we think that Governor Rick Snyder should not sign it. We are inclined to believe that it ought to be vetoed.

Aren't there laws in place to deal with this kind of situation? If Church patrons are pelted with debris, their children verbally assaulted and fire alarms set of at a Church (as happened in Delta Township) and which was the impetus for this Bill, aren't there already legal options in place by which to punish the offenders? Why do we need more?

To help ensure the safety of those who want to practice their religious beliefs, says Rep. Shaughnessy. But don't the laws in place already mean to do that? Further, when people do not respect the existing law, how can we expect them to respect laws which only really replicate what's already on the books?

The trouble with laws such as these are that the only real effect they have is to make one group appear as though superior to others. That's a dangerous idea. It isn't made palatable because it comes from the right rather than the left. Indeed that may actually make it worse, if conservatives are really the ones who think of each individual as an individual in his own right, whose dignity does not exceed but rather is on equal ground with each other person in the eyes of the law.

The attempt to freely attend religious services without recourse must be seen under the law as no different than the attempt to vote, or participate freely in the job and housing markets. Laws which aid these ideas generally are the best laws. Laws which single out, except in very precise context (we know of no attempt to prevent attendance at religious services though a literacy test, for example), any given person expressing any given right will only appear to make those persons somewhat more special than the rest of us. Quite honestly, it has us reflecting back to Animal Farm.

We do believe, indeed we must stress, that rational and regular religious practice is of tremendous and almost incalculable importance to the health of the body politic. Indeed, the right to freedom of religion is philosophically more important than the rights to vote or seek employment or free speech, though they all necessarily dovetail into one other. But strictly in the eyes of human law, they must be viewed more equally, lest we encourage jealousy rather than respect of people of all creeds and nationalities.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Road to Hell

"Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?" -C. S. Lewis

This isn't the quote we were seeking. Yet it will have to do, and is a decent enough lead in to the subject we wish to address today. The quote we wanted, and we confess right off that this will be a horrible paraphrase of it, dealt with Lewis, speaking through his famous character Screwtape, on the power of bureaucracy. Lewis seems to fear not the Hitlers of the world, but the mousey little bureaucrats who actually run so much of it. He despises the small, well manicured, spectacled man in an office who will not allow another man, a fellow citizen, the right to chop down a tree on his own land to make boards to fix his own steps (or outbuilding or some such) without the proper permits and permissions.

Such folk can so easily be made to appear comic; indeed, Douglas Adams (if we may cross reference the views of a devout Christian with those of a rabid atheist) makes light of them rather well in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Unfortunately, such an interpretation isn't so useful as that of Mr. Lewis. The bureaucrat is far more dangerous than funny. And the government is brimming with them.

We have witnessed both attempts and triumphs by similar elected politicians (and all too often merely appointed civil servants) to force people to drink no more than 16 ounces of a soft drink at a time. We see leaders who don't want to find any trans fats in our food. We find officials who don't want us mowing our lawns or filling our cars with gas on ozone action days. And you don't even have to go to the newest suburbs to hear wails against urban sprawl. Yet what might these all have in common with Hitler?

Only the simple fact that they're all arguably tyrannical people committing arguably tyrannical actions.

Liberals cannot, or choose not, to see this. Overt and powerful evil, yes, they recognize quite readily. But who wouldn't? Hitler, Mao, Stalin; only a true fool could not see the threats they were. Yet our leftist friends do not see the petty tyrant. The truth is, they encourage him. Or her, lest the speakers of the v-word be insulted by a mere masculine reference made with no intention to offend.

To be sure, any one of these actions seen by itself doesn't seem so bad. Some of them indeed may not be bad. Any one by itself might even simply be a misplaced emphasis, may only be mere stupidity, or may even be honest good intention. It is all too easy to say of any individual person or instance, they mean well. Still, the question rarely asked is whether any of them ought to be the province of government and the bureaucracy at all, and if so, which ones really.

What is also overlooked is that no matter what they mean, they may be a symptom of a greater disease. Every petty action by every petty official seen against the big picture demonstrates that small evils may lead to larger ones. Little Hitlers may one day become big Hitlers. It may well be, it likely as not is, that not a one of these people understand that their little sin against their fellow man can lead to far worse sins against him or the world.

Skin cancers by and large are the most curable of cancers. Yet if one ignores the blemish on their arm, thinking that it's nothing and could not possibly come to harm and thus pays it no mind, what will happen? Several years later doctors will telling him that they can do nothing for him. But if he had done something about it when he first noticed it...

This is not to say that every bureaucrat or indeed every liberal thinker (in the modern American sense of the word anyway) is an evil person, or that every act of theirs must lead to tyranny. But it is meant to caution us that sometimes things do go in directions which we cannot immediately envision, that we are responsible not only for the direct effects of our actions but also for the sometimes unpredictable consequences of them, and that the road to Hell is indeed paved with the best of intentions.

None of that will matter when and if an American or Canadian or British Hitler rises to power. Yet the truly sad thing is, should that actually happen, no one will claim to have seen it coming. They will be all too correct.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Women and Hubris

The decision to have sex is between a woman and a man. The decision to have an abortion is between women and God. So says Detroit Free Press writer Rochelle Riley, in response to the recent events in the Michigan Legislature, events which which have supposedly taken freedom of speech away from women in the state. The thousands who appeared in Lansing yesterday certainly seemed well aware of the right, and well capable of expressing it.

But as we said here a few days ago, this isn't about freedom of speech. It's about abortion, which even Ms. Riley admits in something of a backhanded manner in a recent column. The decision to have sex is between a man and a woman. The decision to have an abortion is between a woman and God.

We do not care to speculate as to the nature and extent of such a discussion between God and a woman who has had an abortion, except to say that we would just as soon not be around for it. Still, back here on Earth, would the decision to have the baby be seen as only between a woman and God? Or would the woman expect that the father of the child would contribute to the raising of the child if she elected to have her? Of course she would; indeed, daddy would likely be hauled into court if he balked. The trouble herein is really twofold. On the one hand, the father is told that, although he consented to sex too and as such can claim the moral right of fatherhood afterwards with all that that entails, he nonetheless has no such rights if mother wants an abortion. This is truly a deceit, when you think about it. He participated freely in the act yet is essentially denied a say in the results of the act. He gave of himself and yet expected to sign off on the effect.

Which leads to point number two. We are told that women should never be treated as objects or mere vessels. And they should not; we say so emphatically and without reserve. Their dignity as human beings commands as much. Yet we seem, or, at least, the Rochelle Rileys of the world appear to think, that men can be treated as mere objects of a woman's whim. They can have relations with a woman, they can be used as a mere sex objects, after which their opinion may be readily discarded.

Be careful, ladies, should you really want a world which disregards men so easily. This is a world which has legislated against things such as rape, something which men in power have done to help protect your dignity as women and for which they are not harangued against even though it involves only a violation against women. You didn't appear to mind laws about your bodies then.

It is dangerous, women of Michigan, to hold yourselves in such isolation. You do not want to be guilty of the very hubris of which you accuse the men-folk.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

Why would anyone with their heads on straight think for even a moment that holding a pig's head and telling people that they would burn in Hell might possibly encourage those folks to convert to Christianity? Yet a group called Bible Believers apparently believe exactly that. They made their case, such as it is, at the opening of yesterday's annual Arab American festival in Dearborn, Michigan.

It is nothing less than amazing that such 'missionaries' cannot see that they are exactly who they are presuming to protest against: ignorant and reactionary. To be sure, any seriously religious person would want others to come along with them. Anyone who really believes they have found the path to righteousness should want to share that with all others. But they surely also must realize that they will reap few followers with hatred. Will they ever question what their venom might say about them?

These people are not conservative, though they will be painted as such by many others, others who belong in the same ignorant army as the Bible Believers. They are in fact reactionaries, lashing out at any and all who they have deemed evil; it is worth note that Catholics as well as Muslims are under their savage glare. Basically, whoever is not goose-stepping alongside them is evil.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and you never teach love with hate. We are not saying that you must respect those in the wrong, those who act in honest error, but it is here where the word tolerance may actually have a decent meaning. You tolerate what they do in their everyday lives, in your own day in and day out interactions with them, pleasantly and with good cheer, showing them your way of life and your beliefs in a manner befitting your way of life and beliefs. It is then, if they are willing and able to convert, that they will.

But if you taunt them with a pig's head, they will at best only wonder what is the condition of your own sty.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Abortion Debate Not About Freedom of Speech

Once again, the left is attempting to make an issue into something which it is not. Representative Lisa Brown, a West Bloomfield Democrat in the Michigan House, has been censured for using the 'V-word' during a rant about abortion legislation. She ended comments on the House floor Wednesday with, “And, finally, Mr. Speaker — I’m flattered that you’re so interested in my (V-word), but no means no.”

Where to start? Well, we are quite certain that Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger is not in fact or even in the abstract interested in his colleague's, um, physical person. It is more likely that he is concerned with something far greater than that. Yet is he or the GOP leadership in Lansing violating her rights in any way?

Her choice of words have been defended as simple freedom of speech. Rep Brown herself has said that it's anatomically correct, and no different than saying 'elbow'. But the trouble here isn't whether her verbiage is or is not anatomically correct. The real issue within the abortion debate is not of something so mundane as body parts. The real issue is whether human women have human babies, and whether human babies have the same human rights as every other human.

Such displays of hubris are nothing new to the left. For liberals, the abortion debate is not about human rights but women's rights. They forget, fail to understand, or simply ignore the fact that no one has rights based on something as relatively benign as what gender they are. The purveyors of women's rights are asserting that there are human rights exclusive to their gender.

There are not. Attacks against the rights of anyone are attacks against them as persons, not as a man or a woman. Similarly, innocent persons have the right to their lives whether male or female. That the two genders have physical differences matters not when someone's right to live is at stake. Or, indeed, when any given right of theirs is at question.

The abortion debate is not, never has been, and never will be about the female anatomy. The abortion debate is not, never has been, and never will be about men holding women down, or holding them to obligations which men are not also held to. It is about whether a human baby has the right to be born simply due to the fact that it is human. A woman can no more take an innocent human life than can a man. That women are the ones who give birth is in truth merely incidental to that point.

We are not trying to be mean spirited or uncaring towards women as we say this. We are however attempting to state the obvious in no uncertain terms. The abortion debate is not about women. It's about human life and all the rights which that must necessarily entail. It is the Lisa Browns of the world who are trivializing the question by trying to make it into something it is not.

Her use of the clinical terms of female anatomy under the guise of freedom of speech belittle rather advance the cause of human rights generally, and of the right to life in particular. Indeed, such actions make light of what ought to be a very serious and considered discussion: what human life is and when it begins. It is ultimately nothing more than sensationalism, and as such, is shallow grandstanding for a selfish purpose.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Barack Obama has Lost His Halo

The silver has tarnished. Sure, it only took three and a half years, and it's happening for all the wrong reasons. Yet the luster is gone. In the eyes of the rest of the world which had so longingly adored him, President Barack Obama has become just another US President.

From some fronts, that was to be expected. The Muslim world, for example. The President never closed the prison at Guantanamo Bay, got the credit for, shall we say, taking care of Osama Bin Laden, and has angered Pakistan. Russia thinks less of him, but, of course, our relationship with Russia is still adversarial and probably will be for several years to come.

The most ominous drop in the warm fuzzies comes out of China, where his approval ratings have dropped thirty percent since 2009, from 57% to 27%. Beyond that, the general feeling of the rest of the world is that the United States still continues to act unilaterally, and that bothers them. The policy of drone attacks to fight terror is also listed as a concern.

Yet everyone still wants Barack Obama reelected. That by itself is cause enough for us to give him the boot come November.

We will freely admit that we aren't particularly concerned with the opinion of the rest of the world with regard to our elections. It goes hand in hand with the fact that we also aren't particularly concerned with elections in the rest of the world ourselves, in the nations that actually have meaningful elections, anyway. Why ought we care about what China thinks about our elections or our President, seeing as they are still essentially tyrants? The fact too that the America haters don't appear concerned with the still bellicose Russia strikes us as rank hypocrisy as well. That the United States continues to remain the object of most of the world's vitriol despite the Chinese, the Russians, and the terrorists and those who harbor them, strikes us as little more than, well, perplexing would be a kind word for it. We simply are not the threat which they are.

As such, world opinion about our elections should mean little to us. Especially as so many who criticize Mr. Obama still want him re-elected. Why would they want that, other than as an attempt to dictate our own policy?

The devil with that. If you aren't going to like us anyway, if you aren't going to like who we elect anyway, if you aren't going to like what we do anyway, then that's all the more reason to not take your view into consideration. We'll elect who we want. And it actually gives us a certain childish pleasure that whomever we elect in November you won't like anyway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Can't Maroun Build the New Bridge?

So it appears that a new bridge to Canada will be built downriver from the Ambassador Bridge. Matty Maroun, who owns the Ambassador, will protest, and likely stall the project through the courts. Michigan citizens meanwhile are told they won't pay a dime for the new span; Canada is apparently putting up the bulk of the cash, other than what the US Federal Government will put into a new customs clearinghouse. It all sounds good.

But what of a private investor's willingness to pay for something such as this? Why are people so fired up against Maroun? Why can't we allow him to build a new bridge himself?

One objection is that an international crossing ought to be built internationally. But if that's the case, why did we allow the original bridge? To be sure, such projects require international cooperation. Further, it appears as though the Canadians are the most concerned with a government ownership of the new span. Otherwise, they wouldn't be putting up so much of the cost, or opposing Maroun so virulently.

Considering too the venom with which even Michiganders are employing against him, and it almost looks as though the real problem with a private bridge is that it would be financed by the likes of Maroun; he doesn't seem very well liked.

At the end of the day, we don't particularly care who covers the cost of a new bridge. If our Canadian friends are hellbent for leather to spend their taxpayers' dollars, okay by us. But as the only real objections to Maroun building it is that he's arrogant, well, isn't government insisting that it, government, is best suited to build the thing also rather arrogant itself?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

McCotter's Real Mistake

When Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter made his famous E5 (that's an error by the third baseman, for those of you who don't know how to score baseball) he did something more than simply putting a solid Republican House seat in play. He opened the door wide for all sorts of trouble, and not the least of which was making the seat plausibly winible for a Democrat. He opened it up for the likes of Kerry Bentivolio, a Republican in name only, to have the convenience of becoming the only Republican on that actual ballot.

To be sure, the local GOP is attempting a write in campaign to see whether the party can keep Bentivolio off the November ballot. That's because he is in fact a libertarian, and stands against what the mainstream GOP supports.

This why we need to return to the smoke filled rooms of the past. Republicans as a political organization would not give him the time of day. But the parties aren't actually private entities anymore. Anyone who can collect the required number of signatures can have their name put on the primary ballot of either of the big two political parties. That's unfair to both of them. It can lead to situations such as this, where someone who doesn't truly stand for the party ends up a standard bearer. It's a large part of the reason that we have, according to the words of the pundits, demopublicans and republicrats rather than philosophically distinct parties.

To be sure, Bentivolio, being libertarian, plays against this type. Yet generally, the system as we have it has caused a movement towards the mushy center rather than the extremes of either party. Instead of building political organizations with a core of distinct beliefs which anyone can understand, we have entities which appear to merely coalesce around the most common denominator. We end up with no real choice come November.

Or we end up with a Bentivolio, which forces Republicans to vote against their grain or, worse, to vote for the Democrat as the lesser of two evils. Either way, opening up the two major parties to the whim of the public in the end offers less rather than greater choice. It gives the voter not distinct options, but pale gray choices.

This is not pick on Bentivolio, who we are sure is sincere and well meaning. We certainly would vote for a libertarian ahead of a liberal, even though we are not sure the distinction is particularly substantial. And we recognize that the ultimate fault here is with McCotter's stupidity. Yet even that is merely an under the circumstances error. Had the GOP been left to itself, McCotter as an established Republican would have surely gotten the nod without all the hullabaloo about petition signatures.

Close the parties. Allow them to pick their candidates based on their standards, selected by true and active party members. The voting public would still have their free will choice to make in the general elections. Indeed, they would likely have a clearer choice than they do as it is.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rally for Religious Freedom

Catholics nationwide are gathering to day to protest against the provisions of President Barack Obama's health care reform which violate religious freedom. Here in Detroit, the rally will be held at the McNamara Federal Building from Noon until 1:30.

It's great to see the Church leading the way on such an issue. Because, of course, this is indeed all about religious freedom. No Catholic, no one at all really, should be forced to go against their conscience in areas where life is involved. No one should have to allow, provide, or participate in something immoral. Providing 'preventative' services such as sterilization and contraception clearly would force religious persons and institutions to act immorally, even if they are compelled to do so only indirectly.

The efforts of the Obama Administration must be seen clearly for what they are: an attempt to control religion and religious institutions. The HHS mandate upon which all the hullabaloo is centered is an intrusion into our lives far beyond mere government sponsored health care. What's more, if this directive is allowed to stand, it will put the federal government on the road towards commanding the people to do almost anything it deems fit. Never in our nation's history have we seen Washington so intent on dictating to the conscience. It would figure that the cause they are attempting to institutionalize is inherently liberal.

And we ask again, as we have asked before, where are the libertarians as this plays out? A guard at Guantanamo Bay looks at a detainee crosswise and the blogosphere is full of outrage. A jailed criminal protests that his food was served cold and the guardians of civil rights cannot crow loudly enough. Homosexual couples demand marriage or, at least, civil unions, and we won't hear enough about it. But where religious freedom is concerned, we hear little. We suspect there will be few libertarians at any of the protests.

We suspect that it's because religion stands up against so much of what they assert is the domain of the individual, and that libertarians thus cannot fully tolerate the seriously religious or the serious religions. Be that as it may, this particular issue cannot be allowed to stand. Hopefully today's rallies will inspire the citizenry to fight back against this intrusion upon our conscience. It is good to see the Church standing up for Her constitutional rights in light of a nation which seems to believe She has none.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Homebrew Tension

Listen, my children, and you shall hear, the marvelous story of Marty's beer.

Okay, so I totally ripped off Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. For my Canadian friends, the joke involves a poem written in 1860. It can be found here: http://www.legallanguage.com/resources/poems/midnightride/ if you are so inclined to make the connection. But this is only connected to it by the famous opening line, and nothing more.

So much for culture. I can't stand too much of that anyway.

So anyway, to the important stuff. This evening I entered my latest brews into their secondary fermentation phase. The first beer, a stout, I can hardly wait to try. The dregs at the bottom of the primary fermentation keg (I do so love beer related terms) smelled so wonderfully chocolately that I almost drank it. The aroma was, simply, marvelous, hence the above reference. Chocolate, stout, I mean, the smells so wonderfully mix that it is difficult to put it into words. The one to two week secondary fermentation period will simply be unbearable.

But, of course, you can't drink the dregs. That would make you a drunk, and worse, a drunk with the runs. I can't imagine a worse kind of drunk, and I would be extremely grateful if you would not make comment upon that. Just trust me. Don't drink the dregs. Or comment about me.

But man oh man, I am so looking forward to that stout. Please do not disappoint me, beer gods!

The other brew, an American Red Ale (so said the directions of the recipe I followed; I was not aware that there was such a thing as an American Red Ale) I am not so anxious about. I had grown impatient (imagine that) and decanted it into plastic one liter bottles because placing beer into glass bottles for secondary fermentation, since I have nothing larger than 12 ounce glass bottles otherwise. It had taken me around 45 minutes to decant the stout into 24 twelve ounce bottles and I simply didn't want to take 45 minutes with the red ale. Hey, I told you I was impatient. Besides, I only really care about the stout.

Still, I did use four twelve ounce glass bottles as a sort of control group. Maybe it's just me, but beer from plastic bottles taste plastic. This way, I can try the ale from the plastic and the glass and see which tastes better. Yes, I am a scientist at heart. If beer is involved.

Thus, the story of Marty's beer is not over yet. The denouement is to come. But never fear, friends, beer mavens, and those suckered into reading this blog. I'll let you know the result.

You may even hear it from Canada. Just turn your ears northward (Yanks, we are north of Canada here in Detroit) for the cries of delight or disappointment.

A loss of innocence

Somethings should not be a surprise these days. Yet we still come across things which out to surprise us just the same.

An attorney involved in a local legal issue whom we will not name because, well, we don't like doing that and also as we fear attorneys (you simply never know what one of them will come up with if tread upon) has pronounced that his client is innocent, and what's more, she did nothing wrong. "My client is innocent, and she did nothing wrong." So he says.

Wasn't there a time when we assumed that innocent meant 'did nothing wrong'? Yet lawyers wonder why they are frowned upon. Well, it would seem that, after a K-12 education, 4 years of college and three years of law school, as well as having to pass the bar exam, any given attorney might recognize redundancy, at least as well as an a Blogger columnist might recognize alliteration. Still, no. His client is innocent and, what's more, she did nothing wrong.

Perhaps it is we who do not understand. Perhaps there is a legal distinction between being innocent as well as having done nothing wrong. To be sure, we can imagine it in a certain vague manner, as in the difference between a legal issue and personal stupidity on something unrelated. Yet even that insinuates two separate questions, doesn't it? Especially as most cases of personal stupidity aren't illegal.

We can hope that this is but one attorney as is not reflective of the entire legal profession. It likely as not is, too. Still, we see far too many people across all professional professional fields afflicted with a lack of basic skills of expression that we cannot help but wonder. Sometimes the smallest things rather than the large show us the true colors among individuals, and even within career fields.

We hope that we're innocent of presumption here, but if guilty, are quite sure an attorney will point it out to us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Landslide in November

Conservatives are on a roll, and Wisconsin has affirmed it. Scott Walker has survived the recall attempt against him by an astounding margin of around 2 to 1. Never you mind about the spending differential. Sure, Walker outspent his opponent by about seven to one. The result then ought to have been seven to one. But as most voters had made up their minds before the middle of May, which is only about, oh, three weeks ago, and perhaps four, the spending gap means next to nothing. Perhaps as an example of a preemptive strike, maybe. But shock and awe certainly seem to apply positively here should that be the case. All the political capital the liberals have put up in Wisconsin is now up in the proverbial smoke. All the praise for recall efforts as being democracy in action surely affirm true democracy now. The original vote of the people stands resoundingly affirmed. This was supposed to be the siren call for labor. Yet labor struck out looking at a pitch over the heart of the plate. Even the jewel of the left, President Barack Obama, kept his distance from the Badger State in recent weeks. Was he he keeping himself above the fray, or was he simply chicken? November 2012 is so very close by, you know. Should he save himself, or his partisans? It is a delightfully wonderful question. Wisconsin was supposed to be a swing state. Yet with a vote so overwhelming as now, can it be said so with any real certainty? And if so, how many swing states can now be counted in the Republican fold? Michigan will go for Romney in November 2012. You heard it here first. What you will hear next is a Republican victory nationwide.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Anti-bullying Efforts Are Off Base

All right, enough already. The situation has become downright laughable, and the object of the situation really isn't. Despite what people might think or what you may have heard, or even from what you may have read from the likes of us, conservatives are just as much against plain old bullying as anyone else. But we are as a community truly becoming far too obsessed with the question.

Students at Farrand Elementary in Plymouth, Michigan have among them a group of 45 trained as 'bully busters'. Oh, the images this conjures up; will the bully busters bust the chops of the bullies? Will they wear special shirts with special insignia as a show of their colors and comraderie? The whole thing seems contradictory, especially considering that World Wrestling Entertainment, which thrives on bully characters, is one the key groups within the anti-bullying campaign. But to the point: one fourth grader in the group joined to 'make sure that (bullying, we presume) doesn't happen to those little kids'. That's been our problem all along, you know. A lack of social consciousness among fourth graders.

Yet this is but a symptom of the larger issue. Bully Busters are a result of Matt's Safe School Law, which requires all district and charter schools in Michigan to have anti-bullying policies in place by July 6th. These must include, among other provisions, a statement prohibiting the bullying of a student. What, was bullying actively supported before? You can find a full list of the law's requirements here: href="http://www.freep.com/article/20120604/NEWS05/206040335

If it sounds like legalese, well, we're sure the actual bill sounds worse, yet we are unwilling to search for it. Why? Well, the term 'dreadfully boring' comes to mind. But more than that, why do we find it necessary to institutionalize what surely was, at one time, seen as reasonably straightforward? If students acted up, teachers punished them. Nowadays, they send their minions, coded with terms such as bully busters, to do their job.

No, we aren't naive. We know that teachers can't catch everything. We also know that kids are kids. This doesn't excuse bullying, or any other kind of bad behavior on their part, much of which they will not be caught at either. And it certainly does not lessen the tragedy of suicides possibly brought on by such behavior. But has anyone else considered that, when we begin institutionalizing things in the way we have, when we have created among our kids their own little police force, that we just might be on the first step towards a far worse type of bullying? Have we considered that, perhaps, these youngsters may be the first generation of the Thought Police? Have we even considered that, in puffing up the childish egos of ten and eleven year olds, we may be creating a worse type of bully? A bully with the official sanction of authorities too cowardly themselves to be adults, let alone teachers, and actively attempt to monitor the behavior of those under their charge as they should?

No worries about that. The bully busters get a whole week, an entire week, mind you, of training in how to deal with bullying situations. Fascinating. We have kids who, after 12 years of school, can't diagram a sentence, know anything useful about the Bill of Rights, or understand basic math. Yet after one week of training, mere fourth graders can turn the bullies around. We are further expected to believe that kids are learning how to resolve conflicts themselves to boot, say the bully busters and all the kids under their protecting cape at Farrand Elementary. Let's just say we're skeptical. They're still just kids after all. And we haven't even reached the point yet of asking whether the only way to stop some bullies may in fact be to bust them in the chops.

Please. We were all kids once, all subject to the childishness of our then peers, and the overwhelming majority of us came out just fine. The entire anti-bullying campaign reeks of overreaction. Yet, sadly, that's the least dangerous it can be.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Note: The other day we wrote about selective sex abortions. We received a criticism that, while abortion is abhorrent, why not use the stem cells of the aborted for research anyway, and they are already aborted? This is our response. -Charles Martin Cosgriff

The trouble with allowing research with the stem cells of aborted babies when and where abortion is legal is that it allows us to profit from the abortion industry. Any profit from any immorality must itself be seen as immoral, as the 'good' (so to speak) is coming from a bad (abortion).

Good coming from bad: well, first, true good cannot come from bad. It must be tainted if it came from an evil, and as such must be itself bad. But more, a presumed good created in a bad manner must in fact alter the intended good. It must affect that good somehow and, quite frankly, make it bad.

If for example we allow such stem cell research and it saves lives or allows for physical gain (being able to walk for a paraplegic, for instance), what might those saved lives and repaired bodies think? That they were saved by a miracle? Or will they consider, even for a moment, that they were saved through the death of others? Will they in fact have greater respect for human life, or less? Will they think for a moment that they live or walk by Divine inspiration, or by mere human will?

My guess is by human will. They will forget that human will in such areas has led to the attitudes of Adolf Hitler more quickly and readily than the actions of Mother Teresa have led to positive action for the true good of humanity. They will forget that selfishness and indulgence tend to mean more to the individual than to the greater humanity. And they won't consider for a moment that perhaps they might be the selfish ones.

Somehow that doesn't sound like a recipe for a better world. Yet every brick on the road to Hell bears that selfish imprimatur.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Waste of Money

They're everywhere. They can be found all over Detroit, and more are appearing all the time. Our old road markers are being erased and new solid white lines are taking their place, narrowing lanes for vehicular traffic as they are marked. We are seeing in Detroit the installation of dedicated bike lanes on our city streets.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with that on its own terms, so far as it goes. Bicyclists have as much right to the road as cars and trucks. Oh, there are reasons which we find shallow for encouraging riding bikes over using our cars: all the environmental overstatements or the hue and cry over burning fossil fuels come to mind immediately. Even the idea of the government encouraging bike riding for the sake of exercise we find to be beyond the province of our elected and bureaucratic officials, though we will concede such as better for any given human being than the other claptrap. Still, isn't it fair to ask, exactly why is this being done?

There simply are few bikes on Detroit streets as it is. Perhaps they mean to encourage bike riding by having the visible lanes installed. But, again, bikes could use the roads anyway, and we can't see where such antics would particularly tempt more folks to get out the old two wheeler. Especially on routes such as 14th Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard, where there are simply few riders. Yet each have bike lanes now.

There certainly doesn't appear to be an increase in cyclists on Michigan Avenue, where the lanes first came to our notice several months ago. We should, maybe, point out here that we at the Wayne County Conservative Examiner's Office are avid bike riders. We are on the byways of Detroit frequently. But we rarely see other such enthusiasts as we bandy about town.

What we are taking a very roundabout way of saying is that, with all the difficulties governments at all levels are having with cash flow, why all this splurging on bike lanes which almost certainly will not result in more bike riding? To increase awareness of those who do ride? To, once more, increase ridership? That hardly seems likely or necessary. It would seem that we are seeing money spent pointlessly, and at a time when money is tight and existing cyclists don't seem to care to use bike lanes anyway.

Yet our friends wonder why conservatives are so against government spending.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Selective Sex Abortion

We all knew it would happen. That is, any of us with a rational mind could see it coming. Now that abortion is so well ensconced as the law of the land, now women or couples (most likely women, because they hold the power within the issue) seek abortion simply because they don't like the sex of the child. Yet even the Republican controlled House couldn't see fit to stop the practice, and the feminists could care less, because to argue against such selective abortion would undermine the presumed right to one. Because if an abortion is okay, then the reason behind it is irrelevant.

Even if it's the selective abortion of girls. You know, the female humans who might take advantage of the procedure if they were allowed to be born (what a delightful irony that is; your own feminist mothers are taking away your rights, potential women!). The Chinese do it, because sons are seen as more valuable and, in a further condemnation of a world which sees birth control as a duty towards society and abortion merely an offshoot of that, wants to limit family size anyway to the point of enforced abortions. But again, if abortion is okay, what does that matter?

Even an aspect of the issue which libertarians might point towards, that forced abortions are bad because they violate personal rights, fails to show an adequate understanding of personal morality. They would, most libertarians would, anyway, allow selective sex abortions if unforced. The only difference between them and the Chinese is degree, and that ain't much. The tyranny of the individual is as bad as the tyranny of the state.

We are hard pressed to think of something more appalling than abortion simply because you don't like the gender of the child. Even abortion as abortion does not reek of, we will say it, the nonchalance of the evil involved when aborting simply because it's a girl when you want a boy, or vice versa. Abortion as abortion is simple murder. Selective sex abortion is worse than callous. It is social engineering writ small. It allows anyone who wants to be a little Hitler to be exactly that.

Yet we wonder what's wrong America, what's wrong with the world, today.