Thursday, June 30, 2011

Obama's Red Meat Rhetoric

Stay with me here. I am about to quote Aristotle again. I have to. Because his ethics and understanding should be part of our dialogue today. Especially when it comes to politicians. Especially when it comes to Obama and his policies.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Chapter 6, paragraph 7 on Theoretical Wisdom, Aristotle writes: "That is why it is said that men...have theoretical but not practical wisdom: when we see that they do not know what is advantageous to them, we admit that they know extraordinary, wonderful, difficult, and superhuman things, but call their knowledge useless because the good they are seeking is not human" (157). Or good.

He goes on to provide an example of the man who knew that "light meat is easily digested, and hence wholesome, but did not know what sort of meat is light, he will not produce health" (158).

This man does not produce health. Knowing that light meat is healthy is only half the equation. The other half--the important half--is having the ability, understanding and, yes, wisdom to be able to identify light meat. Healthy meat.

The same is true of Obama's rhetoric. Saying that we need to produce jobs and then proposing penalties to the very people who produce those jobs is akin to arguing for a healthy diet while downing a bag of Cheetos Cheese-Puffs. Voters of all ages and educational background instinctively understand the notion of cause and effect. If I touch the hot stove again, I will get burned. That is practical wisdom. Something that Obama lacks.

Time to step back from our president's raging inferno of rhetoric and acknowledge that his policies have done nothing to create jobs and everything to create unprecedented deficits. In record time. Six months ago he was all for the Bush era tax cuts and now he demagogues the rich and argues for tax increases. Which is it? White meat or dark? What is the cause of our problems, rich people? Or uncontrolled and fraudulently wasteful spending?

I know healthy meat when I see it and this red meat Obama is throwing at his far left base is reckless and irresponsible. And anything but practical.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finally, Some Sanity on the (Un) Constitutionality of ObamaCare

Encouraging news from an article on today's Opinion page in The Wall Street Journal by David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey: "The Supreme Court's most important ruling this year may have been its unanimous decision in Bond v. United States, which held that individual citizens can challenge federal statutes when they encroach on authority the Constitution reserves to the states."

This remarkable, unanimous decision supports each citizen's right to challenge federal laws that exceed the authority of the Constitution. "The court stated without equivocation that "[b]y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When the government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake.""

Rivkin and Casey conclude: "That's why the decision is bad news for those who defend ObamaCare—the most extravagant challenge to that dual system in our history."

The dual sovereignty of the federal and state governments was established to guard citizens against the absolute power, or tyranny, of a single government. The Constitution provides clear boundaries for the federal and state governments. "In enacting the ObamaCare law, Congress seized for itself the very type of power—the ability to regulate individual conduct regardless of any significant connection to interstate commerce or another legitimate federal regulatory interest—that the Constitution reserves solely to the states."

ObamaCare overrides the individual's personal decision of whether or not to purchase health care insurance. Additionally, ObamaCare places the sole authority of that decision with the federal government which stands in stark opposition to the Commerce Clause which delegates the authority to regulate commerce to the States. The Supreme Court's decision in Bond v. United States sets a clear and welcome precedent.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What exactly does it mean to be "Pro"-Choice

Honestly, I am tired of special interest groups co-opting and then distorting words and phrases from every day speech.

Pro-Choice has been inculcated by the pro-abortion crowd to portray a democratic, libertarian bent to the question of abortion. If you aren't "pro-choice" then you must favor oppression and lack of choice. You must be judgmental or, worse, an evangelical. You must not be a very nice person. Choice is good. Even noble. Limiting choice is bad. Evil.

Yet the same but political ideologues who demand a woman has a right to make decisions regarding her own body and the life of her unborn child, view the question of choice simply from the woman's point of view. Never from the child's. More remarkable these same people advocate that individuals must now give up their health care choices. As Obamacare invades the patient/doctor relationship, delegating basic decisions to government run committees--in other words, limiting and in some case doing away entirely with choice--these pro-abortion and pro-government run health care advocates refuse to acknowledge their contradictory logic.

The hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty is breathtaking.

Aristotle understood that choice was a function of human morality. Or lack thereof. He understood that choice could result in good and/or bad outcomes. That choice for choice sake wasn't the point. The point was to make good choices. He wrote: "That is why there cannot be choice either without intelligence and thought or without some moral characteristic; for good and bad action in human conduct are not possible without thought and character."

Choice in and of itself is not good. Making the right choice results in good. The abortion question regarding a woman's choice of carrying the baby to term or terminating the baby's life
focuses, in my view, on the wrong choice. The original choice, the one that caused the pregnancy, carried consequences. A baby was one of those consequences. Seems to me that being pro-choice should focus on the question of choosing to or choosing not to engage in activities that could result in the death of another human being.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2333 Years Later

Sometime before his death in 322 BC, Aristotle completed the Nicomachean Ethics. The Ethics was compiled from Aristotle's lectures at the Lyceum exploring the Socratic question of how men should best live.

In Book Five, Aristotle responds to the question: What is just in the political sense? He writes, "That is why we do not allow the rule of a man but the rule of reason, because a man takes too large a share for himself and becomes a tyrant. A (true) ruler, however, is the guardian of what is just, and as such he is also the guardian of equality and fairness. We think of a just ruler as one who does not get more than his share."

For 2333 years Aristotle's work has stood as the definitive work on ethics. Our founding fathers, among others, relied on the Ethics to influence the framework of our government. Yet, our leaders continue to feed at the trough of hard-earned tax payer funds taking more than their share. Yesterday, we discussed Nancy Pelosi and her well-funded, luxurious flights at our expense. But that is only one example. There are countless other demonstrations of this tyrannical abuse by our leaders.

Politicians whose family members are highly paid lobbyists, trade on the position of their elected spouse, father, wife or son. Congress shoves an unworkable, unpopular, unconstitutional health-care bill down the throats of the people while exempting themselves and their friends. Meanwhile Timothy Geitner, Obama's Secretary of the Treasury, the well-publicized tax cheat gets off Scot-free and becomes the national guardian of our treasury. One set of rules for us, another set of rules for them.

It grates on me. Gets under my skin. Just doesn't set right. We are an educated people. We ought to recognize tyranny when we see it and certainly before it is too late. Before, as a shopkeeper in Ireland told me while discussing their prohibitive value added tax (VAT), "they've broken us." Tyranny and tyrannical leaders eventually accomplish that.

Aristotle warned those who would listen. 2333 years ago.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Courtesy of The People

I know we're all busy. But surely we have just a moment to share a little outrage.

The Hill reported yesterday that Nancy Pelosi's net worth grew by 62% in 2010. Compare that to the change in the total net worth of all households and non-profit organizations in the United States which improved by a mere 7.4% during the same period. Or compare it to the Federal Government whose liabilities rose exponentially during the same period. In other words, the Federal Government's net worth declined exponentially while under the fiscal direction of Speaker Pelosi while her own assets increased mightily.

Ms. Pelosi's assets now total $43.4 million (with $8.2 million in liabilities) making her one of the wealthiest members of Congress. So explain to me then why the, former majority leader (now minority leader) spent oodles of taxpayer money on her flights and in-flight service during the first two years of her Speaker-ship. World Net Daily reports that the then Speaker spent "more than $101,000...for "in-flight services" – including food and liquor...on Air Force jets over the last two years. That's almost $1,000 per week."

"Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, show Pelosi incurred expenses of some $2.1 million for her use of Air Force jets for travel over that time."

John Boehner, the new Speaker, flies commercial. Presumably paying for his own liquor. Oh, and his net worth? The Speaker reports a net worth of $2.1 million (up 16.7% over the previous year) and zero liabilities.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Read this from The Heritage Foundation

Morning Bell: Unemployment Is No Laughing Matter
From The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell

As President Barack Obama swung through North Carolina yesterday, he did all he could to show that he cares about the U.S. economy, its 9.1 percent unemployment rate, and the 13.9 million Americans who remain out of work. Well, that is, until he let a bit of honesty slip off his tongue.

During a meeting with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council—a group of CEOs the President created to give him advice on the economy—conversation turned to Obama’s $787 billion stimulus that promised to “create or save” 3.5 million new jobs by 2011 by pumping money into “shovel ready” jobs. Confronting the reality that his stimulus failed, the President quipped, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” The council, led by GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, burst into laughter.

But for those millions of jobless Americans who have not seen the promise of Obama’s stimulus come to fruition, unemployment is no laughing matter. Still, though, that reality escapes those on the left who continue to cling to the notion that President Obama’s big government, Keynesian policies have succeeded despite all evidence to the contrary.

Case in point: On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory confronted DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with the cold hard facts—unemployment is up 25 percent since President Obama’s inauguration day, the debt is up 35 percent, a gallon of gas is up 104 percent, and 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the President’s handling of the economy. Wasserman Schultz’s reply that, in all likelihood, is still spinning like a top two days later: ”We were able to, under President Obama’s leadership, turn this economy around.”

Obviously enough, the economy has not turned around. In a roundtable published by Barron’s magazine, 10 money managers and financial market experts were unanimous in their belief that slower economic growth is in store for the second half of 2011. Meanwhile, economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal say that the biggest risk to the U.S. economy’s recovery is a slowdown in hiring. On average, they expect the economy to add just 2.2 million jobs over the next year. And to make matters worse, Bill Gross of the Pimco investment firm told CNBC that the United States is in worse financial shape than Greece when its public debt is added to all the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs.

Or if you apply simple logic, if the economy had turned the corner, the President wouldn’t need to tour the country to convince America that down is up, night is day, and that he’s doing a great job getting people back to work.

In another bit of unintentional Obama economy comedy, the LA Times‘ Peter Nicholas laments today that “traditional tools to jolt the economy [are] largely exhausted or unavailable” to the President—more spending and tax cuts are off the table, he writes, because Congress is “concerned with reducing the federal debt.” Remember, though, that debt comes from spending, and it’s Obama’s reliance on spending that has helped put us where we are today. Heritage’s James Sherk and Rea Hederman, Jr., write:

The President responded to the recession with the stimulus, which massively expanded the size of government. President Obama now fiercely resists attempts to reduce spending and insists on dealing with the deficit by raising taxes on “the rich”—i.e., successful entrepreneurs and business owners. Increased government spending displaces private-sector business investment.

Other Obama policies that have made America’s economic picture worse include the President’s health care plan (which makes hiring new workers significantly more expensive, while leaving uncertainty over future costs); an increased effort to foist unionization on employers and employees; a refusal to submit trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama (that would create new business opportunities, along with tens of thousands of jobs); and an opposition to increasing domestic energy production, which will leave Americans to grapple with high energy costs.

There are, in fact, things the President can do to help the economy get on the right track. As Sherk and Hederman note, it starts with opening the door for entrepreneurs and businesses to expand and create new jobs by lifting the stifling regulations and burdens that have been created in the past two years.

President Obama might want to joke about jobs or downplay his failures as mere “bumps on the road.” He might also like to blame America’s troubles on the previous Administration or “unease about the European fiscal situation.” The truth, though, is a different story, and rather than joking, downplaying, or blaming, it’s time for the President to get to work on fixing the problem.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

High- Minded Hope
(Photo courtesy of Gloria Carlson)

A few weeks ago I attended my son's graduation from the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis. The graduation was everything one would expect: inspirational, patriotic and celebratory. Secretary Gates gave the keynote and focused on the character of leadership that these young men and women would soon be demonstrating. And I thought, we have a chance if these graduates lead us.

As a college lecturer I experience a cross-section of America's youth each semester. I love each and every one of the young scholars I teach. Yet, each semester I am struck by the lack of knowledge they have accumulated in the previous 12 years of their schooling. Last semester in my English Composition class I asked my students to read and evaluate The Declaration of Independence. When I surveyed my class of seventeen how many had read the document previously only two raised their hand. Two of seventeen. The semester prior I asked the same question to my two classes and five responded affirmatively. Previous surveys have produced similar results.

And more remarkable: When they read an excerpt from the 911 Commission Report--a handful expressed their view that the attacks on the World Trade Center were an inside job.

In my Collegiate Seminar of the Great Books we read Aristotle. We discussed his notion of the "high-minded" individual. The high-minded is the man who "thinks he deserves great things and actually deserves them." The counter to the high minded is the fool; the man who "thinks he deserves them but does not" (Nicomachean Ethics, 93). As a group, my students had more trouble accepting the nature of the high-minded man than the fool. They felt he was arrogant and conceited rather than the other way around. I believe this is emblematic of our society. We pity and often exalt the fool at the expense of the high-minded. We're more comfortable with the fool because he challenges us less. Our weaknesses or faults pale in the shadow of the high-minded but shine when compared to the fool. Instead of being outraged by the audacity of the fool claiming the prizes of greatness we seem more intent on putting the high-minded man in his place rather than rewarding him.

Witness the defense of Anthony Weiner by prominent women, fellow members of the Democratic caucus and the media. Charlie Rangel, as reported by the AP, summarized the inside-the-beltway view when he said "that other members of Congress had done things more immoral than Weiner." Rangel's defense magnifies Aristotle's characterization of the Fool. Our political leader's believe they are entitled to the privilege of office, the trappings of greatness, despite their behavior or character.

I, for one, am pinning my high-minded hopes on men and women like the Ensign's and Second Lieutenants of the USNA graduating class of 2011. They, at least, understand the importance of integrity and discipline and...honesty.