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January 29, 2007

Dispelling Myths: Candy, Pop, and Reality

Truly "must-see TV"...

 

 

Presented by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund to improve the self-image of girls in the face of the behemoth soul-eating money-monster known as the entertainment and fashion media, this video is a powerful message about the unrealistic image that is placed out there for public consumption and obeisance.

 

 Dove Beauty Campaign

 

Yet the exploitive lie also harms boys, who aren’t encouraged by our culture to seek to grow up and know the truly valuable qualities that make up a woman, such as character, values, and personality.

 

Sure, physical attraction is a vital ingredient for mate selection, but what the media never convey is that this value is relative and unique to every person, and made up of so many more components than merely the visual, such as smell, presence, and the most invaluable traits listed above. However, just as natural sugars found in healthful fruit are taken out to make a very unhealthful candy (ironically, also heavily pushed on impressionable children – while expecting them somehow to grow up skinny and with all their teeth!), so too the pop culture has extracted an unnatural, unrealistic, and hollow ideal from what is so very much more.

 

TV stations should be compelled to play videos like this one several times a day in to order to maintain their FCC licenses, quite frankly; I can't think of too many other public interests as compelling as this one.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 04:21 PM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2007

Dispelling Myths: Democrats and War

Democrat doves? Right…

 

 

The liberal left as we know constantly (and rather perfidiously) tries to compare every military action taken under a Republican president to Vietnam (which was mismanaged under a liberal Democrat president – something else lacking the fullest disclosure). We know that the libs and their willing compadres in the press only do this for Republican wars because, as we saw during all of the astoundingly inept leadership during the Somali crisis, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti, not one comparison was made to Vietnam. Neither were secretaries of defense called upon to resign.

 

 

View full screen

 

Here at last thanks to Maps of War is a dramatic visual rendition of the indisputable dirty truth about war and how many men were lost under which president and political party. Note also the irony that the Republican-led war with the biggest losses was begun by Southern Democrats.

 

While certainly there are a number of wars and conflicts under Democrat leadership such as World War II that were necessary and which they seemed to truly grasp as such, and there were a few conflicts of questionable short-term value under Republican leadership, this should serve to separate the rhetoric of the left from the reality it ignores. Democrats don’t really oppose war, they just oppose war when they can’t get the credit for it. It doesn’t mean that they are generally good at war though; in fact, with the exception of World War II, most of their efforts have been spotty and inefficient. Also, Democrats generally seem to prefer using conflicts for domestic political reasons: Whether it is to "wag the dog" out of an unpleasant intern scandal or for “Confederate Pride”, Dems are perfectly willing to put men in harm’s way until it’s no longer politically useful. At the same time, they seem throughout most of history to fail to grasp the nature, depth, or seriousness of strategic threats, and since World War II they have even worked to appease the sources of those threats emanating from both radical Islam and brutal, imperial communism.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)

Venezuela: Canary in the Latin American Mine Shaft?

 

 

An article published at the end of last December in the BBC online edition reports more setbacks for the democratic hopes of the people of Latin American state Venezuela. Late last month President Hugo Chavez ordered that opposition media be silenced in yet another of several moves to consolidate absolute power for himself and for his party. Chavez declared that, “There will be no new operating license for this coupist TV channel – the measure has been drafted so go turn off the equipment.” Since that time the Venezuelan legislative body – all of whose members happen to be members also of the same political party as Chavez – have decided to vote on whether to give Chavez absolute power to make and enforce law and whether Chavez’ term should be extended for life. Both of these of course make for a dangerous cocktail guaranteed to turn Venezuela into a Castro-styled dictatorship, without the benefit of failing health on the part of the dictator.

 

The argument we seem to shockingly hear from those in the Jimmy Carter camp is that all of these officials were elected by their constituents, thus we must give our blessings to their democratic choice to commit national suicide. Aside from the peculiar fact none or very few of these same Americans also think this would be such a swell thing to do here in the US; a double standard which in itself is elitist and ethnocentric, there is also the very real problem with how the elections in Venezuela have been carried out in the first place. To wit, there have been numerous allegations of improper vote counting, so much so that Jimmy Carter was almost the only one left after the last election who seemed to think it all went off without a hitch.  

 

Of course, broken democracies, illiberal democracies, and democracies in name only are fairly pro forma in Latin America. From Brazil’s rocky past of on-again, off-again representative and military governments to the PRI practice in Mexico of joining with dissidents in order to water them down and neutralize them, to the lack of real respect for rule of law, property protection, and  honest record-keeping, it’s easy to see the slouching of Venezuela as simply par for the course. However, what seems to be changing if one looks at some of the more recent polls is that Latin Americans want real democracy. While Venezuela has not been an emerging democracy in the same sense that perhaps Afghanistan, Iraq, or many of the former Soviet satellites are, in Latin American terms, it is one among many others in a time where its people are wondering why corrupt and elitist rulers continue to speak of democracy but deliver repression. In this sense, Chavez is much more similar to the old order than anything new, and it’s doubtful that anyone there doubts it. The fact Chavez is left-leaning simply aggravates life for those outside the region due to that rusty old ideology. As a result he becomes a fast-spreading malignant tumor rather than the garden variety that poses a much slower threat. Despite the Ché-esque promises of change from the Latin American "old guard", the only real difference between Chavez and what he might replace is that Chavez provides a conduit for dangerous springboarding opportunities for China, Cuba, Hezbollah, Iran, and other nefarious states and figures but otherwise offers little difference from right-leaning or other types of controlling regime. In this sense, perhaps Pat Robertson was on to something: if we do not wish to control our borders, then we’d better control the risks to the security of the United States somewhere. And Chavez will seek to do much in our back yard of what Iran is currently doing in the Middle East. At any rate however, he is for the moment merely the woe of his own people and perhaps a few of his cloest neighbors, such as Colombia. While Chavez’ decision to silence opposition in the media is a chilling bit of news, it should come as no shock, nor would it be any surprise to discover the exact extent of the irregularities in the last election, as already touched upon, in which he allegedly won by a sizable margin; the self-same election in which noted self-proclaimed left-leaning human rights activist Jimmy Carter, among others, gave his summary blessing, conveniently refusing to revisit the issue when facts warranted.

 

It is a sad day for the progress of true democracy in Venezuela, and it will probably continue into many sad weeks and months and years. However, I think it helps to underscore a problem that is much deeper: very few states in the region still know, despite politically convenient talk and institutional façades by rulers, what mature democracy, as defined by Fareed Zakaria, and capitalism as defined by economist Hernando de Soto really feels like. Until they can partake in such, they remain easy prey for counterfeiters. Still, it bears repeating it is clear from recent polls taken in Latin America that the people want both democracy and healthy capitalism. Since there is at least that glimmer, Latin America and Venezuela in particular remain as examples of places of possible democratic transition, if only given the chance.

 

 

 

This piece was adapted from an academic work published earlier this month.

 

Posted by Martin at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2007

Blogbat Publicitus: Isobel Coleman on Arab Opportunities

 

 

I attended an interesting luncheon today hosted by the World Affairs Council (of which I happen to be a member) at the beautiful Arlington Hall at Lee Park. The event featured a seemingly somewhat sunburned Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy specializing in women’s issues for the Council on Foreign Relations (maybe it was her coral outfit).

 

The discussion focused on the exploding growth of the 15-25 age group in the Middle East and the opportunities and dangers it offers. Ms. Coleman offered a pretty thorough assessment of both; however, she closed by making the statement that the U.S. (and perhaps the West in general) is “obligated” to help this region take advantage of the opportunity for economic growth and stability which presents itself during this time in which these states have relatively fewer senior citizens and school-age children to subsidize. While I’m pretty sure I can guess why she would state that, it still seems a bit shallow to make an assertion that calls for perhaps tens of millions of dollars and other resources to be spent without explaining the rationale.

 

That’s not to say most of us would completely disagree with her, though I probably do disagree a bit with what might be her reasoning. She seeming a bit left of center probably holds to some of the ideas as expressed by Andrew Simms in the New Statesman awhile back in his article, “Why We Owe So Much to Victims of Disaster”. Naturally, Simms is far more wild-eyed and far-left (he’s on the board of directors for Greenpeace) than Ms. Coleman, but the idea expressed in his piece illustrates the general thought processes of the left that we’ve raped, pillaged, and ruined the world; we caused Islamofascist terrorism, and we must therefore pay reparations through the “obligatory” funding of various projects and schemes throughout the disaffected south (Third World). Reagan-Conservatives on the other hand are motivated less by guilt and more by compassion, and that is where I arrive at a similar conclusion: that we should offer help to improve (and de-radicalize) education and help build stable regions that attract business and provide jobs (as Ms. Coleman mentioned, unemployment is literally off the scale among most Middle-Eastern teens and twenties). Although unemployment has always been big in that region, while this round of radicalism has been a bit more recent, it is still a tremendously beneficial thing to provide the framework for opportunities for young men who otherwise might fall into radicalism as part of a bigger solution. However, education and jobs (and trade) alone don't lead to peace and gentleness, as we learned with Nazi Germany. We cannot discount the role of ideology. In reality, materialism alone will lead to more problems than solutions. In addition to compassion, there is also the natural self-interest which states, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Both of those, compassion and practical long-term self-interest (or "self-compassion"), rather than conflicting work in tandem to offer a far more rational approach to thoughtful consideration of what needs to be addressed than the insane frenzy of guiltism, which can hardly bare to look at the problem long enough to throw money at it.

 

Ms. Coleman was also wrong in her assessment that, as she put it, U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq were “a failure”. While Iraq is certainly a child in the special-needs class, Afghanistan has been an amazing success. By her own seemingly begrudged admission, Afghanistan has moved ahead in light-years with respect to the position of women in society. That’s not to say there’s room for improvement still – and by her own admission, such things take time. However, none of it would have been possible if first there had not been a military solution to liberate the people from their cruel oppressors. Also, Coleman’s apparent assumption that it has to be an either-or with respect to the use of military versus non-military aid and support ignores the fact that Afghanistan has been the success that it is precisely because both, not one or the other, were used. Iraq too, is similar, and is bearing similar fruits in the Kurdish region. The difference it seems between Afghanistan and Iraq has been what appears to be a popular readiness for relief from tyranny through the work necessary to attain it.

 

It also cannot be discounted the dramatic inflow of interference coming from Iran and Syria, which curiously, left-leaning policy wonks seem to always state must be left alone at all costs. While the cynic may say that this is because it helps maintain the crisis as it now stands in Iraq, which then serves the political interests of the American left, I think in most cases it goes back again to this guilt and anxiety disorder that motivates that galumphing, knuckle-dragging monster known as the appeasement collective. Notwithstanding, she is correct in underscoring the danger of radicalist teachings within the educational establishments of countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, and so on. However, the fact she understands this and still prefers to think that materialism is the water that douses all errant ideology puts faith in a far too fragile statue.

 

While Ms. Coleman is not entirely off-target in her assessment of the problem or her proffered solution, how she arrived at what she believes led to the problem and how she then arrives at its solution is also critically important, since the logic following those perceptions will determine the critical details of how that solution is to be applied and its eventual outcome.

 

Ms. Coleman is well-spoken and no doubt sincere, though she is certainly someone who is on the left at least with respect to the matter addressed today. She is also, no surprise, pro-abortion. However, there’s nothing “conspiratorial” about that: she’s just someone who lives in a “blue state” and is the product of likely considerable exposure to a leftwing educational establishment. She’s also clearly an emotional person, which arguably makes her more prone to modern Western liberalism’s guiltist thinking. There are certainly also many noted conservatives who share membership in her organization, including the great Charles Krauthammer. The fact that there are many of leftwing orientation in the CFR says more about the region in which it is headquartered and the large number of academicians who no doubt have joined to make themselves feel more important than they really are. Other organizations, study groups, and think tanks such as the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research are no different. Such groups are open to diverse political walks, but their location tends to make them more prone to leftwing thinkers than otherwise; not too different really than how one expects to catch more salmon in some streams, bass in others. If the CFR had been based in Enid, Oklahoma, it no doubt would instead have a right-ward slant (and a parking lot full of pickups). That’s not to discount the fact that some leftwing members would like to see bad things happen to the United States as we know it, but that’s a truism across the board for at least the radical members of the left in any organization, church, or business. The fact that as luck would have it they may make up most of this organization only states the obvious: the glass is most often defined by its contents, but the glass itself is not what it contains. One must simply change the contents of the glass to redefine it. That isn’t to say that those such as Ms. Coleman do not have a place; they not only do, believe it or not, we need them too. However, I would like to see more conservatives taking part. A think tank (among other things) that addresses such a wide scope of international issues as does the CFR absolutely has a necessary place, but it’s rendered a bit less useful when it has been to some degree hobbled by its abundant leftwing idealism and at times also a short-sighted economic idealism.

 

On a final note about this afternoon’s luncheon (and to leave you with something that struck me as a bit funny), I have a short little story to offer from something that happened during the Q & A portion of the event. A Brazilian educator who was present mentioned that she had been present at some sort of NEA (National Education Association) conference recently in which she brought up the subject of private school teachers and the NEA. The woman explained to us how shocked she was that those NEA members refused to even discuss letting private school teachers join the union. Indeed, she couldn’t comprehend why an organization made up of teachers would put politics ahead of education, apparently unaware of that union's long history of doing just such; something at which most of us knowingly chuckled. Even our speaker was forced to admit the proof was in the pudding, so to speak: public schools largely controlled by this union which almost always gets its way when it comes to textbooks and policies by and large are a failure. As for whether private school teachers would wish to join the NEA, that’s probably not something the NEA truly has to worry about; the NEA and private school teachers obviously have different agendas. :)

 

 

         

Posted by Martin at 02:52 AM | Comments (3)

January 14, 2007

Reagan: A Time for Choosing

 

 

Address on behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater

Rendezvous with Destiny

October 27, 1964

 

Parts of this speech were posted December 02, 2004 on this blog. The full text of this speech can be read below. The ideas in this speech as articulated by President Reagan are at the core of what this blog is all about (the quote of his on the banner at the top of this page is from this speech). In today's murky political waters, it's a necessity to remember what our principles are in the clearest possible manner. This is certainly an older speech by contemporary definitions; men and nations do fade, but ideas remain constant.

 

 

 You-Tube video credit: JohnJ2426

 

Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks.

 

I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used "We've never had it so good."

 

But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend $17 million a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We have raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations in the world. We have $15 billion in gold in our treasury--we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are $27.3 billion, and we have just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.

 

As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well, I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.

 

Not too long ago two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are! I had someplace to escape to." In that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

 

You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

 

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a "greater government activity in the affairs of the people." But they have been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves--and all of the things that I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say "the cold war will end through acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says that the profit motive has become outmoded, it must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state; or our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the president as our moral teacher and our leader, and he said he is hobbled in his task by the restrictions in power imposed on him by this antiquated document. He must be freed so that he can do for us what he knows is best. And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." Well, I for one resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me--the free man and woman of this country--as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"--this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.

 

Now, we have no better example of this than the government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming is regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we have spent $43 in feed grain program for every bushel of corn we don't grow.

 

Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater as President would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he will find out that we have had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He will also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress an extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He will find that they have also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil.

 

At the same time, there has been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There is now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore.

 

Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but who are farmers to know what is best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.

 

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights are so diluted that public interest is almost anything that a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes for the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he is now going to start building public housing units in the thousands where heretofore we have only built them in the hundreds. But FHA and the Veterans Administration tell us that they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosures. For three decades, we have sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. They have just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over $30 million on deposit in personal savings in their banks. When the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed.

 

We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they are going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer and they've had almost 30 years of it, shouldn't we expect government to almost read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?

 

But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater, the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we are told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year. Welfare spending is 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We are spending $45 billion on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you will find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those 9 million poor families, we would be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty! Direct aid to the poor, however, is running only about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.

 

So now we declare "war on poverty," or "you, too, can be a Bobby Baker!" Now, do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $1 billion to the $45 million we are spending...one more program to the 30-odd we have--and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs--do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain that there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We are now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps, and we are going to put our young people in camps, but again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we are going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person that we help $4,700 a year! We can send them to Harvard for $2,700! Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.

 

But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who had come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning $250 a month. She wanted a divorce so that she could get an $80 raise. She is eligible for $330 a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who had already done that very thing.

 

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we are denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we are always "against" things, never "for" anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so. We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.

 

But we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those who depend on them for livelihood. They have called it insurance to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified that it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is $298 billion in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble! And they are doing just that.

 

A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary...his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee $220 a month at age 65. The government promises $127. He could live it up until he is 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now, are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis so that people who do require those payments will find that they can get them when they are due...that the cupboard isn't bare? Barry Goldwater thinks we can.

 

At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provisions for the non-earning years? Should we allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under these programs, which we cannot do? I think we are for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program was now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road.

 

In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate planned inflation so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents' worth?

 

I think we are for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we are against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among the nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we are against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in Soviet colonies in the satellite nation.

 

I think we are for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We are helping 107. We spent $146 billion. With that money, we bought a $2 million yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenyan government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought $7 billion worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.

 

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this Earth. Federal employees number 2.5 million, and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force is employed by the government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury, and they can seize and sell his property in auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier overplanted his rice allotment. The government obtained a $17,000 judgment, and a U.S. marshal sold his 950-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work. Last February 19 at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-time candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do.

 

As a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration. Back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his party was taking the part of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his party, and he never returned to the day he died, because to this day, the leadership of that party has been taking that party, that honorable party, down the road in the image of the labor socialist party of England. Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men...that we are to choose just between two personalities.

 

Well, what of this man that they would destroy? And in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear. Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well, I have been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I have never known a man in my life I believe so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing.

 

This is a man who in his own business, before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan, before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provided nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by floods from the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.

 

An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas, and he said that there were a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. Then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was this fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in the weeks before Christmas, all day long, he would load up the plane, fly to Arizona, fly them to their homes, then fly back over to get another load.

 

During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life upon that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all of the other problems I have discussed academic, unless we realize that we are in a war that must be won.

 

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us that they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he will forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer--not an easy answer--but simple.

 

If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based upon what we know in our hearts is morally right. We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion now in slavery behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skin, we are willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Let's set the record straight. There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace--and you can have it in the next second--surrender.

 

Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face--that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand--the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he would rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin--just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it's a simple answer after all.

 

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits--not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."

 

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

 

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

 

Thank you very much.

 

 

 

Source: The Reagan Foundation

 

More can be found from the President here.

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 04:48 PM | Comments (1)

January 08, 2007

Blogbat Video: All Bow to the Corporate Plantation

The present reality of morality in business & foreign policy in which we find ourselves

 

 

This video montage (3.5 min.) shows the faces of the victims – those who’ve lost their lives on both sides of the border to the juggernaut of open borders that was designed to provide cheap labor to unethical businesses and keep their partners in office. The montage uses both American and Mexican advocates as sources for the information and images it contains. The song, “The Good Dancer” is by Lisa DeBenedictis from her “Tigers” album.

 

In the post below this video, I expand on what is rather admittedly sardonically touched upon in the video. I hope it’s helpful in understanding the possibly somewhat strange position that has been developing as I have slowly walked about the elephant, touching him as I’ve gone, examining the true nature of the animal and comparing it with what others have discovered. The first step is knowing it’s an elephant, and just one at that.

 

Sources:

Immigrationshumancost.org

laprensa-sandiego.org

wehirealiens.com

 

 

 

  

 

Is the democracy clock ticking backwards toward the old plantation oligarchies of the 19th Century and before? Are most American businesses or politicians bad? With respect to the latter, certainly not. I am among the most in favor of free-enterprise, as are many others, so long as it obeys the rules of the Judeo-Christian ethic; that ethic is what informed the American Founding Fathers and was the system by which all freedom to say nothing of freedom of commerce could exist at all. Only when men would restrain themselves could there exist a system in which a government need not rule with an iron fist. Of course, this ideal has never been followed to perfection since men are far from perfect; however, there was by far much adherence to the principle and progress it seemed toward a greater degree of adherence to those founding principles was being made.

 

Today a lot of ordinary people are suffering as a result of the wholesale abandonment of the values that were once defined as “American values” (before the public schools ripped that idea out of their books), and as a result what we are seeing today both within the US and by transnational corporations (TNCs) founded in the US is something to a far greater and sadder degree than witnessed at any time in US history prior to the 20th Century. Not only are Americans dying as a result of a lack of ethics and morality in business and government in a way that makes the Ludlow Massacre look like a picnic, Mexicans and other foreign nationals are becoming the new de facto plantation slave labor, paid at rates far below living wages with little ability to escape once they’ve fallen into the trap. Indeed, factory workers are being exploited around the world by American companies such as Dell and Nike with harsh conditions and slave-wages, even as future US foreign policy woes are being manufactured at a faster rate than the products themselves.

 

As CNN’s Lou Dobbs and others have pointed out numerous times, there is an unholy clientist alliance between a number of politicians in Washington and Mexico City with equally corrupt and unethical members of the business community and other elitists. Since the nature of power is self-preserving, it has been suitable economically as well as politically to disrupt the stability of the middle classes of the two countries (or to further disrupt, as in the case of Mexico since 1982) which pose the biggest threat to such power.

 

It seems therefore beneficial to have poor and middle class Americans pitted against their Mexican counterparts even as neither gets what they need so that the political power and status of the above-mentioned remains unopposed in any significant way.

 

Two long-time tactics anti-democratic in spirit as used in Mexico by its PRI Party but more often apparently favored in many respects as popular courses of action in Washington have been “accommodation,” the prima facie responsiveness of politicians to public concerns with no real follow-through (e.g. Congress passing a bill to build a border fence but not allocating sufficient funds to do so); and “co-option,” hijacking the causes of dissident groups by watering them down with accommodation, side-tracking (offering dissident members positions which appear to offer progress, but do little more than pigeon hole them), and (more typical in Mexico) infiltration.

 

This does not represent a battle of classes though; rather it is a battle of morality versus immorality, with witting and unwitting members at all economic levels. As such, it is increasingly important that ordinary citizens in both countries become aware and unite against the profound lack of morality informing decision-making at every level of business and government today, which threatens real opportunities for the poor and middle class in both countries. Even as Mexico has among its millions some of the poorest in the world, it also has the highest per-capita number of millionaires of any country in the planet, with a huge and widening gulf that separates them. That gap only promises to increase (and has trended just so) both in Mexico as well as here in the US. The end of the open-border, slave-labor game as envisioned by its powerful advocates and apathetic followers is the economic leveling out of the US and Mexican general populations not at any high-water mark, but at a much lower level. In other words, it will not bring Mexicans up to a higher living standard, it will only drive Americans down to a lower living standard. Since any real power among the US citizenry – the conscience of its government – will evaporate, so too will any check on the dealings of US interests in Mexico, which will only guarantee increasing exploitation of the Mexican in Mexico. Of course, the politicos will be happy because they get to keep their power as they continue getting fat campaign contributions from unethical businesses and elites who will in turn be happy to get ever-fatter bonuses at the expense of their underpaid employees.

 

All of this has been a horribly unfolding tragedy, rotten and almost Putinesque   to its core, and the ordinary citizen is the only real obstacle that has any potential of standing in its way. To draw an analogy from Tiananmen, if we want anything better for the next generation, we had better start standing in front of a few tanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 05:31 AM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2007

Read Me at WorldNet Daily

…on Michael Medved, Bush, amnesty, & the rest

 

 

WorldNet Daily’s letter of the week features yours truly. “North American Union in College Texts”, covers some of what I’ve seen since my return to academe, but it also touched a bit on the fallacy imbedded in present-day internationalist thinking.

 

While it can quite rightly be argued that internationalism in some respects and given certain conditions is a good thing, what is being pushed as such today is most often not being done so by level-headed, thoughtful, or apparently moderate voices within that camp. Instead of an intelligent, rational, and fair dialogue with the people, democracy is rather quickly being subverted.

 

By "being subverted", I mean that there is lacking the crucial debate over such things as how much, what, where, and with whom, such laws should be crafted and treaties signed toward regional and global unity on a variety of fronts. If one questions this, he should look at the growing frustration among EU citizens (which I wrote about here) over the increasing disenfranchisement they feel as growing EU power has not coincided with similar growth in EU-wide democratic institutional relief. Yet, this is the model after which many of the North American effete currently pursue, desires and needs of the people be darned.

 

The fact this is the current paradigm in academia does not make those who hold internationalist views evil; however, those who hold hard-line “unity at any cost” views, as I mentioned at WorldNet Daily, are either suffering “bouts of missing history” with respect to the long-standing ebb and flow of localization versus regionalism, or logic with respect to so much as truly rationally evaluating the historical information of which generally they are aware.

 

I Hope you enjoy the read.

 

 

Previous Blogbat posts:

 

The Case Against Breaching the Levee

When is it safe to open the locks in a canal? Only after the water has reached the same level on both sides.

 

Viva Farmer's Branch

 

Alien Amnesty: A Children's Crusade

 

NFTGJ: Hating the Elderly

 

Terrorism and Immigration News Roundup

 

Court TV: Inside the Border War

 

Blogbat does Geno's in Philly

 

Planet Moronia: Sowing Tears (more dead thanks to the wreckless border policy)

 

 

Posted by Martin at 07:56 PM | Comments (3)

January 01, 2007

Was Geht Ab Mit Rhapsody?

 

 

Music fans, something is amiss. Tonight we celebrated as the ball dropped, but where does one go to find some great music for the occasion into the wee hours of the morning? Not Rhapsody, apparently (thank goodness for dasding.de). I know this is a departure from my usual rants on foreign policy and saving the world, yadda, yadda, but this is big. Well, I should qualify that. "Big" if some of the music you enjoy happens to be electronic (i.e. dance, techno, etc.) and you happen to suffer a singular online addiction: a constant supply of new music.

 

For those unacquainted with electronic music, it is a generally accepted fact that some of the very best in this area comes out of Germany (as well as other points in Europe – much of American electronic music tends more often toward the nonsensical and can be aesthetically quite unpleasing). However, the popular music service Rhapsody has almost no German music available to customers whatsoever, outside of a few strays and crossovers such as Cascada, some folk music and holiday music, and of course the great baroque- and classical-era composers. The non-crossover European electronic music that Rhapsody does carry is often two- to three-years old; so much for blazing a trail, n’est ce pas? As for non-electronic German popular music, only one or two artists can be found (such as Fettes Brot and Wir Sind Helden), filed under no particular category and apparently only available to those who search for the artists by name. Rhapsody of course offers millions of titles often by less-known US indie artists like New Jersey-based One True Thing, or my Nashville friends in Trick Pony, Michelle Gold, or Elizabeth Jordan (though Jordan has written several top singles and in fairness I couldn’t find up-and-coming indie Lisa DeBenedictis).

 

What makes this even more glaring is that Rhapsody music created special sections for popular music from France, the Middle East, Latino artists, the Caribbean, East Asia, Africa, and nearly every other part of the globe. But curiously, nada for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or Lichtenstein. So what gives?

 

This brings me back to the most serious infraction. This infraction is the naked absence of major German artists from the Rhapsody Electronic music section – a type of music as already mentioned that is virtually dominated by the pace-setting Teutonic artisans. How can anyone take Rhapsody seriously if the company hasn't figured this out?

 

So I’m publicly calling Rhapsody out on the carpet for its shameless omission. These guys must live in a cocoon or something, but we’ll see what they have to say for themselves when they respond to my e-mail, or if, given the pitiful state of customer service these days…

 

 

Posted by Martin at 04:43 AM | Comments (2)