Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Get educated

Facts, facts, facts--get some facts here.

For those who still have open minds and wish to add a few arrows to your quiver, here are three good essays:

"Preserving the Liberal Vision" by Thomas Sowell - As usual, Dr. Sowell offers his marvelously, rationally eloquent arguments based on solid facts. Once again the good professor points out that liberals judge the value of their policies and actions by their good intentions, often pathologically ignoring (over and over and over) the unintended, unforeseen results. I suspect that the First Neo-Con/Crypto-Con Carnival will tell quite a few tales about how some former liberals could no longer go on ignoring the facts. Dr. Sowell's Part 2 is here.

"Economics of Prices" by Walter E. Williams (via Neal Boortz) - Professor Williams explains a few basic facts of economics in terms an ordinary human being can comprehend--including why it is NOT price-gouging to charge more for inventory already in the store or gasoline already at the pump. As he points out, it is no more price-gouging to do that than it is to sell your house for whatever it's worth at the time you wish to sell it (even though the value of the home has risen over time). Included are such interesting ideas as these:

Nuclear power creates 75 percent of France's electricity, nearly 50 percent of Sweden's and only 20 percent of ours. Nuclear energy is very safe. That's something to keep in mind when we hear of tragic deaths of coal miners.


If Congress mandated that CEOs work for zero pay, gasoline prices would fall by less than a penny. If Congress mandated that oil companies earn zero profit, gasoline prices might fall by 10 cents; of course, we'd have to worry about gasoline availability next year.

Finally, Professor Mike S. Adams writes about "Diversity at the University of Oregon" making the case that the university administration (like many others) is practicing hypocrisy and cultural condescension while revealing its politically-correct, liberal bias in all its goofy, illogical glory. Diversity is okay as long as it is college-approved diversity:

Of course, the fact that UO supports free speech when it agrees with the speech and opposes free speech when it disagrees with the speech can be roughly translated as follows: UO does not support free speech.

It is a pleasure to come across such thoughtful, well-written articles on the internet each day. Much better than slogging through the biases in the incompetently written, incomplete and tired recycled tripe in my local metropolitan newspaper.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

There are so many beautiful and apt Memorial Day messages around the blogosphere this morning. I have little to add, other than to offer up the following, which I was reminded of by the pastor's sermon at the church I visited yesterday with my mother. It is a poem written by one of our national treasures, Ralph Waldo Emerson, for the dedication of the Revolutionary War Battle monument erected at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1836:

Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ben Stein also has a few appropriate words to say to a contemporary audience on this day (via Instapundit).

American Digest does too.

Victor Davis Hanson remembers the soldier whose name he bears.

Thank-you to all who serve, so that I, my loved ones, and my country remain free.

Politics blasting friendships--is it all about ideas or is it all about feelings?

Neo-neocon writes movingly about the kind of long-term friendships that are smashed when politics is brought into overt play. This is one of the sadder aspects of social life in America these days when the political heat has risen, and as a commenter she cites (DBrooks) points out:

What I have been struck by in my own experience with friends on the Left is they seem to think it is acceptable, even righteous, that they can be offensive, yet one is not allowed to be offended. To disagree or offer contrary evidence is viewed with scorn and intolerance.

I have noticed that myself in the past, too, most especially on college campuses, where the zeitgeist is so far left. Now that I'm not an undergraduate kid or a student anymore, I'd probably be more inclined to speak up and air my contrary opinions, especially with strangers or acquaintances I don't care about offending. Not that that would accomplish anything.

But I am sure many of those on the left too have been in situations where those on the right have foisted their opinions and worldviews, unasked, upon them in an atmosphere that seems to assume that everybody agrees with them. And a quick circuit of the blogosphere proves that neither side is a stranger to childish name-calling and personal attacks.

It is important to remember, in historical perspective, that this phenomenon of relationships being smashed by politics is not really new. A member of my extended family who admired FDR's New Deal in her youth was viewed with horrified disbelief by her own parents, who wondered if she were secretly a communist. The Civil War tore families apart, and the Whigs and the Tories got into it, as we know (many a former New England family is now Canadian). It is not the issue, per se, but the individuals and their levels of passion for the issue vs. loyalty to the relationship that determine which relationships break and which can weather the storm.

There is still great usefulness in the old adage that one just should not bring up politics or religion in social circles, as it tends to throw sand into the well-oiled wheelwell of positive, productive social intercourse. And when convictions dictate an airing of one's views, it is best to take the high road: argue fairly, logically, as dispassionately as you can. The point is to persuade and inform, to teach or to learn, isn't it?

Or is the point to self-centeredly let off steam and vent? Surely that is part of why I and others blog. But is it all about ideas, or is it all about feelings?

I am still exploring here how to both refine and "vent" my own political and religious beliefs in an ultimately positive manner, after a half-a-century of being more or less politely, reflexively, close-mouthed. One rule I try to adhere to in my blog is to eschew name-calling (though this is a taxing exercise in many cases). And I am continually rendered grateful for my friends who hang in there with me even when we can't see eye-to-eye on political or idealogical issues--my true friends who share this with me: the conviction that tolerance of human foibles, and acceptance of others' freedom of expression, are important American virtues along the road to enlightenment.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Last night's FairTax rally kicks off a grassroots revolution

"We're sorry,'' Linder said. "Next time, we'll get you a bigger building.''

Local coverage of the Fair Tax rally in Gwinnet County, Georgia last night (via Neal Boortz) shows that the convention center was filled beyond capacity with grassroots protestors demanding an end to the IRS and the income tax.

Keep your eye on this idea and the building groundswell whose time has come.

Congressman John Linder, author of H.R. 25, the Fair Tax Act, told the crowd at the rally: We have 300 million people in America, and 250 million of them have never heard of the Fair Tax. It's your job to tell them." [Link to Atlanta Journal Constitution article requires registration.]

UPDATE: Listen to audio highlights of the FairTax rally here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blame who?

One of my son's chores is to periodically empty the tank of the dehumidifier in our basement, and since it is a chore, he periodically grumbles about it. Today he spilled some water on one of his socks while doing it, and joked that he was blaming me for this. He was joking ironically because a) he was in a good mood, it being the last week of school, and because b) we have survived and amiably triumphed over a long history of his "blaming" his dad or me in his younger years for various transgressions which to him once seemed obvious and overwhelmingly unjust, but which to us seemed non-existent or ridiculously misinterpreted. Little kids aren't known, of course, for being especially logical or mature thinkers, and parents are used to taking that kind of all-emotion/no-brains flak until the little ones grow up, wise up, and join the adult world.

This morning I suddenly had an ephiphany. Could it be the same mental process at work with the reflexive "Blame Bush," "Blame America First" crowd on the left? Were they once children indulged in the habit of blaming their parents for perceived slights and insults that in the clear light of day weren't even there at all? Did they grow to adulthood still seeking to blame authority figures for everything that raised their emotional hackles, no matter how tenuous the connection? When you are 25 or 55 years old and it's no longer cool to blame your parents for whatever objective or subjective thing upsets you, is it "cool" in their minds to blame the big bad National Parent for everything that makes them mad or scared? Are they just big overgrown immature babies who never grew up and learned how to think?

Diabiolically simplistic, perhaps, but hey, I don't get paid for these insights, I just hand them out for free.

And sort of in that vein, American Digest hands out a wickedly written insight about the ghettoization of moonbats we call the University Culture. I laughed out loud.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No real progress on aliens or borders

Today Thomas Sowell (via Neal Boortz's website) sums up succinctly all the ways in which nothing has really been addressed in the last few weeks concerning our border security or the illegal alien problem--despite much bloviating from the President and the Senate. His perfectly apt point is that, as usual, the politicians are talking around the problem, not really ABOUT the problem, and that this is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. I couldn't say it any better. Once again our Washington "representatives" continue to fail us. And as Sowell reminds us, amnesty for illegals and employers is also amnesty for politicians who failed to protect our borders and enforce our laws.

Michelle Malkin points out that anmesty for illegal gate-crashers is also amnesty for the companies that hire them.

There is a lot of information on the internet that is not being talked about in the mainstream media (or "drive-by" media, or "hit and run" media). Recently I have been looking at The Immigration Blog and, which today has an unsettling article by Steve Sailer on how a "temporary" guest worker progam may have horrible unintended effects: creating a class of Asian crytoslaves in the U.S.:

The full story: employers can use the Senate's guest worker program to import millions of unskilled indentured cryptoslaves from Southeast and South Asia- while simultaneously encouraging Latin Americans to continue to immigrate illegally.

Read the whole thing. These ideas should be receiving so much more thought than our politicans seem to be giving them as they "rush" to pass something to look like they're "solving" the problem. Meanwhile, the border remains porous and bleeding, since the Senate nixed the bid of Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson to secure the border first.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions should be singled out as a statesman willing to stand up and speak the truth to the rest of the Senate (via Michelle Malkin).

Juan Mann also points out that reporting illegal aliens is an exercise in futility.

Meanwhile, Mexican President Vincente Fox begins touring the U.S. today, starting in Utah. Hmmmph!! Now there's a power I'd like to see somebody speak some truth to.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Summer vacation looms (already?)

It's the last week of the school year for my two children, which means I am futilely trying to finish up some projects and chunks of housecleaning and clutter-clearing before I turn into a full-time mom again. Not only that, but my son is having finals this week (no longer regular classes), so starting tomorrow he gets to come home early from high school every day (in other words, I get to go fetch him) when he's done with exams.

How quickly the weeks have flown since Christmas and New Year's. Now it's that breezy-wowsy, rushed time of year for gift contributions and hand-made thank-you cards for teachers and bus drivers. It's time to send sugar goodies to school for invigorating the end-of-the-year parties. The neighborhood pool has opened and nobody's mind is on education any more, including the teachers'--watching videos and playing games at school is endemic. Regular routines have already disappeared. This week my daughter and her schoolmates are encouraged to bring a book to school each day for reading on their own. That 180-day school year mandated by the state is not really 180 days of teaching. The bureaucracy takes its toll as it grinds through its ending season. But this is as it has always been. Spring fever and summer madness make the last week of school a wonderful, weird, unsettling, exciting-nostalgic time for kids, teachers, and parents.

This morning at breakfast I explained to my daughter what "ambivalence" means: it's when you experience two "contradictory" feelings about something at once. Like sadness and happiness when you graduate from one familiar school and move on to the unknown next one. Like regret and anticipation at the prospect of having your children around you 24 hours a day for three months. Like weeping and still being somehow glad as you watch your children go off to college, or get married. It's the usual and natural reaction to big change. She's only 10, but she immediately understood what I meant.

I am relieved I have no really big turning points at the end of this school year. My son has three more years of high school, and my little one has one last year to go at her elementary school. I don't have to get out the kleenex this week. I just have to shepherd the flock through the end of another successful year of school and into the pool, with the reassurance that another familiar year awaits us on the other side of our summer vacation.

But my blogging this week will be light and sporadic. In the meantime, here's important reading from Mark Steyn ("Not just immigration, it's societal transformation")--including the laughs and the tears (speaking of ambivalence):

The laugh:

Under the new "comprehensive immigration reform" bill (Posse Como Estas?), a posse of National Guardsmen will be stationed in the Arizona desert but only as Wal-Mart greeters to escort members of the Illegal-American community to the nearest Social Security office to register for benefits backdated to 1973....

The tears:

But a "worker class" drawn overwhelmingly from a neighboring jurisdiction with another language and ancient claims on your territory and whose people now send so much money back home in the form of "remittances" that it's Mexico's largest source of foreign income (bigger than oil or tourism) is not "immigration" at all, but a vast experiment in societal transformation. Indeed, given the international track record of bilingual societies and neighboring jurisdictions with territorial claims, it's not much of an experiment so much as a safe bet on political instability.

By some counts, up to 5 percent of the U.S. population is now "undocumented." Why? In part because American business is so over-regulated that there is a compelling economic logic to the employment of illegals. In essence, a chunk of the American economy has seceded from the Union. But, even if you succeeded in re-annexing it, a large-scale "guest worker" class entirely drawn from one particular demographic has been a recipe for disaster everywhere it's been tried. Fiji, for example, comprises native Fijians and ethnic Indians brought in as indentured workers by the British. If memory serves, currently 46.2 percent are native Fijians and 48.6 percent are Indo-Fijians. In 1987, the first Indian-majority government came to power. A month later, Col. Sitiveni Rabuka staged the first of his two coups.

Don't worry, I'm not predicting any coups just yet. But, even in relatively peaceful bicultural societies, politics becomes tribal: loyalists vs. nationalists in Northern Ireland, separatists vs. federalists in Quebec.

Sometimes the differences are huge -- as between, say, anything-goes pothead bisexual Dutch swingers and anti-gay anti-drugs anti-prostitution Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands. But sometimes the differences can be comparatively modest and still destabilizing. Pointing out that America has a young fast-growing Hispanic population and an aging non-Hispanic population, the Washington Post's Bob Samuelson wrote that "we face a future of unnecessarily heightened political and economic conflict."

The key words are "unnecessarily heightened."...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Senate shows its true colors

As Michelle Malkin notes, the Senate yesterday rejected legislation to secure our national borders before doing anything else (indeed, other than securing the borders, there is no immediate "crisis" looming in the immigration mess).

What does this say about the Senate? What's the message here to the American people?

Is it time to vote these 18 Republicans, 36 Democrats, and 1 Independent out of office? Michelle's got your handy list of the Republicans:

Bennett (UT)
Brownback (KS),
Chafee (RI),
Coleman (MN),
Collins (ME),
Craig (ID),
DeWine (OH),
Graham (SC),
Hagel (NE),
Lugar (IN),
Martinez (FL),
Murkowski (AK),
Shelby (AL),
Snow (ME),
Specter (PA),
Stevens (AK),
Voinovich (OH),
Warner (VA)

And these Senators did not vote:

Cochran (R-MS)
Gregg (R-NH)
Lott (R-MS)
McCain (R-AZ)
Rockefeller (D-WV)

Senator McCain, why no vote?

Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who authored the amendment, is disappointed:

“There may be some who say you can’t secure the border or it can’t be done or it’s going to take too long. Listen, this country put a man on the moon in nine years. This country responded to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 within three weeks. This country can do anything it sets its mind to do and we know how to do it,” Isakson said. “In incremental places along the border, we have done it. It’s now time to do it seamlessly across the 2,000 mile border. It’s time we put in place the agents, the UAVs in the air, ground sensors on the ground, the prosecuting officials along the border. Most importantly, we must make a commitment to ourselves and to the American people.

But the Senate said no to that.

"Private-public partnerships absolutely corrupt the private sector"

Arnold Kling has a fantastic essay at TCS Daily (via Instapundit) about libertarianism, small government, free markets, persuasion, and family values, which really struck a chord with me. Several paragraphs stood out:

I would contend that other forms of morality, like speech codes, are best reinforced by nongovernmental means. When we see moral decline, we ought to try to resist turning to government as the solution. Instead, we should view moral decline as a symptom of an adverse cycle of government expansion and family breakdown....

The original idea of "compassionate conservatism" was for government to achieve goals using as partners faith-based organizations and other nongovernmental associations. If that idea ever takes off, I believe it will be a disaster. My line is that "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and private-public partnerships absolutely corrupt the private sector."

There is nothing compassionate about government subcontracting out to private entities. The only real compassionate conservatism is conservatism that shrinks the role of government. Compassion should start with families and expand through voluntary associations. Government programs, everywhere and always, undermine families and weaken voluntary associations.

This essay pretty much sums up my libertarian views. I am an old-fashioned gal, a vigilant mother, and I deplore cursing (to use Kling's example) and all the rest of modern U.S. life that seems so anti-family and in-your-face. But government intrusion (except as judicial or police/military bodies) almost always crowds out better solutions (no matter what the original intentions were, no matter how well-intentioned they were). Even on "pro-family values," I tend to favor persuastion over government force as being the most ultimately effective and the most moral choice, and when it comes to the government funding "faith-based charities," I clearly feel that is a disaster--for the faith-based charities--and that means, for everybody.

I am so glad there are so many voices expressing well-thought-out, coherent, and persuasive opinions like these today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Will the President's words be backed up by effective actions?

Seems the reaction among conservatives to the President's speech last night on immigration reform and border security ranges from the skeptical to the cynical. Hugh Hewitt sums up the general reaction this morning pretty succinctly:

President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.

Now the Senate needs to add specifics (especially on the fence) and get to the conference committee asap. There is no excuse for delay.

UPDATE: My interview with Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers staggered me, undoing in a handful of minutes my confidence in the president's commitment to border security first. Either the president's team had not communicated effectively with sub-cabinet appointees about the fence, or the president doesn't really believe in the fence, because Assistant Secretary Myers is clearly not a proponent of the fence.

Memo to Tony Snow: The blogosphere/talk radio callers/e-mailers are turning against this speech in a decisive fashion. They simply do not believe the Administration is really committed to border enforcement, and the spokespeople sent out to back up the president's message aren't doing that job. Period.

It is all about the fence. The real fence.

I watched the speech myself and was surprised to hear the President mention many items in a forthright manner that, given past experience, I had not expected him to address. I was in fact surprised and pleased to hear him admit that mistakes had been made and failures had occured that would now be rectified. In fact, the speech at first hearing seemed like a good step forward in addressing necessary changes: increasing border security, stopping "catch and release" of non-Mexican gatecrashers, making sure employers realized it was against the law to hire illegal aliens, making sure "guest workers" in the U.S. had tamperproof identity papers, etc. Having hitherto heard nothing on all of this for far too long from the President, it was satisfying to finally have some to-the-point articulation and even the promise of some action (how little we have grown to expect from President Bush!). I respected that he finally (too little, too late) addressed these issues.

The blogosphere reaction this morning seems to range from the skeptical to the deeply cynical (to the revolutionary as many are fed up entirely with Republicans). I think it is realistic to be skeptical and understandable to be pessimistic about what Michelle Malkin calls the President's platitudes. While hoping some real progress can be made in securing our nation's sovereignty, it remains to be seen if what the President has promised will really come about. And there's the real rub. Not only is the devil in the details, but much remains in the hands of the Senate and the rest of the President's administration, who clearly do not get the messsage that the American people want effective border security now.

All I can say is, it's a (long overdue, shamefully late) start. Where it will go remains to be seen. I'm afraid I have even less hope of true, swift, good action from the Senate than I do from the President.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Evidently Bush still doesn't get it

Michelle Malkin writes a scathing critique of President Bush's too little, too late response to the national borders scandal. I don't even have to write about it now, as she perfectly articulates my feelings in her post:

Some Bush supporters are admonishing immigration enforcement activists to "tone it down" because the criticism will hurt Bush.

Maybe he should of thought of that all the years when he could have been raiding worksites and strengthening border protection for their own sake. Instead, he has chosen to offer a too little, too late, and all-too-expedient gesture of immigration enforcement as a phony bargaining chip to bribe his base into supporting a historically doomed, dangerous, and utterly unmanageable amnesty proposal.

Tone it down? No, crank it up.

Count me among the group she writes about: "Grass-roots conservative blog reaction gives Bush two thumbs down. Way down."

Tony Snow! If you get any face time with President Bush, please tell him he's still not getting it. And ask him who it is he's trying to please and protect, if it ain't us U.S. citizens.

The Senate doesn't get it either. They're all bipartisanly hot to pass this bill (via Drudge):

One of the most alarming aspects of the bill, they say, are the provisions that drastically alter not only how many but also which type of workers are ushered into the country.

Historically, the system that grants visas to workers has been slanted in favor of the highly educated and highly skilled.

Currently, a little less than 60 percent of the 140,000 work visas granted each year are reserved for professors, engineers, doctors and others with "extraordinary abilities." Fewer than 10 percent are set aside for unskilled laborers. The idea has always been to draw the best and the brightest to America.

Oh, but that's so 19th-century.

Now let's purposely draw more undereducated wage-slaves and their families whom we can have even more difficulty assimilating and trying to educate, and whom the taxpayers of the U.S. can be privileged to support in their disability and old age. Sounds like a perfect voter base for the Democrats, by the way.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The killing of Atwar Bahjat

I have not commented on this earlier, because it was so horrible. This is yet another terrible and disturbing story of jihad: this time a brave 30-year-old female journalist tortured and slaughtered in Iraq. I am linking here only to neo-neocon's essay on the story, and on the nature of evil, the nature of jihadism, and the way the modern world looks at it, including this:

But in a strange and paradoxical way, the over-the-top nature of the drawn-out violence in this and other similar killings only makes them easier for many to deny. Despite the existence of video documentation, such methods seem so barbaric as to be almost unbelievable. And this air of unreality isn't helped by the fact that media coverage of such things is tentative and muted.

The fact that many of the jihadis and their supporters may be literally bloodthirsty offends our PC sensibilities and our postmodern vision. So it's much, much better--isn't it?--to focus on President Bush rather than on the terrifying mental images of the dying woman in the video.

Encounters with the facts and the methods of evil, like this, are fantastical for most Americans. But it's like watching "United 93." Painful, hurtful, disturbing, and tragic, but necessary--a facing of the truth with both the mind and the emotions. Out of a sense of duty and self-preservation, we need to keep these despicable truths in our conscious minds, distasteful as that necessity may be.

Evil is not a fairy tale, or a story dreamed up. It walks the same world as we do. It would murder us too, given the chance.

As Ayaan Hirsi has said: Never appease evil.

Anger from Americans who want secure borders and a rule of law

Yow! Lou Dobbs has steam coming out of his ears about the illegal aliens and the lack of national border security and immigration law enforcement. I have never been a fan of his broadcasts because his grasp of economics usually seems muddled (Neil Cavuto at Fox News is much more savvy), but on this issue even Lou speaks for me.

He's not alone in being pushed past his limits of endurance. There's revolt in the air of middle America.

I'm reminded of how disappointed I became with the first George Bush presidency too, when "Read my lips: 'no new taxes'" turned out to be a tarnished empty promise.

Like father, like son?

There is much I do support George W. Bush on, but his stance on immigration "reform," amnesty, and doing nothing about border security or prosecuting illegal immigrants and the firms that hire them is nothing short of dereliction. It's baffling. I can only assume he's somehow on the take. Either from big business or from the Mexican government, trying to protect its biggest import--illegal aliens--or both.

Meanwhile, the illegal gate-crashers keep coming, even the underage ones, at risk of life and limb. (Sorry, I cannot remember who to thank for this last link; but the story is a sad one and worth reading.) We are not doing all we can or should to put an end to these terrible scenes.

Today's links

Michelle Malkin has the scoop and the followups on the creepy story of the Border Patrol helping the Mexican government spy on the Minutemen! Neal Boortz has righteous anger on our government "ratting out the Minutemen" and some questions for President Bush.

Neal also points to this excellent article by Thomas Sowell analyzing gasoline prices and profits. Be forewarned: he uses facts, math, and logical arguments, not emotional hyperbole.

It's a good day when Lileks has a new Screedblog up: this one made me laugh out loud. Roger L. Simon also comments about the goofy letter from the Iranian President.

Walter Williams talks about "Caring vs. Uncaring" -- and pretty much sums up why I believe capitalism is so goldarned good.

More laughs: Mike S. Adams claims to have a gang of slaves working for him! I think he's right.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Did your children celebrate Earth Day?

That old hippie holiday, Earth Day, came and went this year on a Saturday, to my great relief. It's not that I have anything against conservation per se, especially free-market solutions for conservation and protecting and preserving the environment and awareness of governments' failures at same.

No, it's just that I always resent having teachers give my defenseless children the scary-didactic, leftist, anti-capitalistic, anti-American view of environmentalism wherein my children are bidden to personally "save the (doomed) earth" and stop being greedy, ugly Americans. I resent this for a lot of reasons, not the least because I'm the one who has to talk them down from their nightmares, illogical fears, and teacher-induced guilt, and deprogram them, resulting in their wondering why the heck their teachers are so partisan and uninformed.

With Earth Day falling on a weekend, we missed the usual festivities of crayon-drawings of planets filled with crying antelope, and essays on brave Greenpeace protestors, and other such wastes of time.

But a dedicated librarian in our neighborhood middle school made sure the holiday was marked, by setting out in the middle of the library a display of "green" nonfiction titles for children and plenty of slips of paper for students to take home with the URL for the Earth Day Network's "Ecological Footprint Quiz."

At least this activity qualifies as voluntary for the students, if one-sided in presentation.

I checked out the quiz and then checked out Earth Day Network. Its Charity Navigator rating is pretty good, but apparently it is a left-wing, anti-capitalist organization that seeks to redefine what constitutes "the environment" that it hopes to change:

One of EDN's major recent projects was its "One Million New Voters" campaign of 2003, which was launched on Earth Day of that year. "If you want to do one thing for the environment," EDN stated, "register to vote!" Though EDN denied that it was endorsing any particular candidate for U.S. President in 2004, Democrat John F. Kerry attended Boston's Earth Day events with EDN co-founder Denis Hayes and supported the "One Million New Voters" campaign, which was the brainchild of EDN President Kathleen Rogers. Ms. Rogers thanked Senator Kerry for his "leadership in environmental stewardship."

"Working with MoveOn and other successful Internet organizations," said Earth Day Network, "EDN and its partners will register voters on our sites, create e-mail voter registration campaigns, and Internet educational outreach as well as create opportunities for other types of on-line activism."...

Another EDN project is the Environmental Education Program, which provides schoolteachers with games, interactive quizzes, and a variety of other aids for use in teaching children from kindergarten through twelfth grade about environmental issues. Implicit in many of these lessons is the notion that capitalism is unjust, and that the U.S. is a heartless nation that ignores the world's poor and squanders the earth's resources....
Nice use of the public schools to indoctrinate students in radical "progressive" philosophy and causes.

I also found a pretty funny essay by Mac Johnson about how PBS's new eco-conscious show for children brainwashed his toddler before he even knew it ("PBS Peddles New Online Leftist Indoctrination to Children") and how he fought back:

I watched a cartoon about the Tundra, in which Matt, an ignorant white kid, is educated about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Arvaaluk, an Eskimo kid. I mean “Inuit kid.” I mean “youthful Arctic-American.” Ok, I mean “Eskimo kid,” dang it. Arvaaluk explains the risk drilling presents to wildlife, but then explains our need for oil. “I can see both sides of this issue,” replies Matt. Hmmm? Balance? Oh, there’s no need for balance. Arvaaluk then explained that there’s probably not that much oil there anyway and we could save a lot of gas if we would just inflate our tires properly. Thus, there’s no need to drill in ANWR. Stupid Matt! (I checked my tires; they are inflated properly, so NOW can I drill in ANWR? PLEASE?)

I learned that the Tundra must be protected because it consumes more carbon dioxide than it produces. By logical extension, I thought, we should kill baby Pandas, since they produce more carbon dioxide than they consume....

It's sad how children all over America and in other countries, too, are now sitting targets for outright leftist indoctrination by adults with political agendas, all operating hypocritically under cover of the word "education."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What to do while Rome burns

"We ... understand that barring a [weapon of mass destruction] coming across one of our borders and vaporizing a city, our state and federal governments will never do anything serious about illegal immigration or border control. So the burden of doing something meaningful about it rests on the shoulders of common Americans"

Via Neal Boortz.

My libertarian tendencies in favor of limited government have gotten me thinking. Perhaps we should accept the ever-obvious fact that government is the last, most imperfect resort in the illegal alien problem as well as so many other areas. Here are a few ideas about what ordinary Americans can do about illegal aliens and our porous national borders and ports while our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. dither:

Build effective border fences on private land

Join the Minuteman Project Caravan ("Americans Doing the Jobs Congress Won't Do")

Form a posse to enforce the laws

Support the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps as they continue to assist the U.S. Border Patrol by spotting and reporting lawbreakers

Vote out non-responsive politicians (via Michelle Malkin)

Yank the welcome mat on the state level

Ask "Do you hire illegal aliens?" before making purchases.
Avoid those businesses that hire or market to illegal aliens, and tell them why.

If you have any extra time on your hands, might as well express your views to media and lawmakers.

Add your own creative, non-racist, non-violent, free-market ideas in the comments.

"Crypto-Conservative"? Tell your story

The first Crypto-Conservative Carnival is now underway at Bookworm Room. If you are new to conservative thinking and would like to share your tale of awakening, growth, mutation, and/or conversion, give it a whirl and submit your post (anonymous is fine) by July 1st.

They say that a conservative is a former liberal who's been mugged, had children, or started a business. I'd be curious to find out a few more triggers! But I can't join the Carnival because I've never been a liberal, except in the most classic sense.

Five principles of prosperity

Speaking of letting the rule of law be whittled away...

The five basic principles of economic growth (inimical or invisible to collectivists):

1. The rule of law

2. Property rights

3. Low taxes

4. Minimal bureaucracy

5. Free trade

This list comes from Steve Forbes' thought-provoking and informative talk at Hillsdale College, "The Great (and Continuing) Economic Debate of the 20th Century," which begins:

The great economic debate of the twentieth century was between collectivists and free-marketers. In one sense, the free-marketers won: When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it was widely acknowledged that Soviet socialism had been a catastrophic, not to say murderous, failure. But in another sense, the debate continues. Democratic capitalism still has not vanquished the idea of collectivism. Far from it.

At the beginning of the last century, free markets seemed to be on the ascendancy everywhere. But two events gave collectivism its lease on life. The first was World War I. In addition to the slaughter—and to breeding the ideologies of communism, state fascism, Nazism, and even the Islamic fascism we are battling today—World War I served as an intoxicating drug to those in the West who believed that a handful of people in government could manage affairs better than the messy way in which free peoples tend to do so. Massive increases in government powers, coupled with massive increases in taxation, gave many the idea that you can achieve massive increases in production by commandeering the financial resources of society....

Please read all of this short speech; it says a lot of important things that should be said, often and in many ways and places.

Our nation's capitalist system of free trade is just as much a national treasure as our Constitution and our historic shrines, though it is much less well understood by the general populace, and much more taken for granted and abused. This punching bag in the ongoing "debate" between collectivists and free-marketers has been responsible for creating and disseminating more wealth and better conditions to people in the U.S. and around the world than any other in the history of earth. It is no wonder so many foreigners want to become Americans.

But our capitalist economy is still constantly under attack, misconstrued, and slandered. We tamper with our free-market system, mismanage it, burden it, bilk it, or ignore its workings and its blessings at our great peril. It is not a given that it will always perform for us if we do not recognize it for what it is and value it and protect it.

Collectivists here and elsewhere who seek to tear down capitalism in various ways know full well what they are doing. Unfortunately so do our politicians whose main priority is to dither and demogogue for votes in the short run, ignoring what damage their self-serving behavior does to our country's future.

Do the rest of us understand the nature of our heritage and what's at stake? It would not be "compassionate" to allow the wealth, prosperity, and freedom of the American people to slip away.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why have borders at all?

Tony Blankley has written a well-argued article at today (read it all):

It is almost inconceivable that an argument is taken seriously that we don't have the right to secure our borders and determine who shall enter our country. Not only has such lunacy become respectable, but our mainstream media instantly, instinctively embraces such a position. Every radio headline newscast, almost every newspaper and television report willfully refuses to distinguish between illegal and legal immigrants. Each report stamps the mark of evil on the forehead of all who would guard our borders.

Even the Republican president of the United States makes the nonest of non-sequiturs, when he justifies doing nothing to enforce the border laws by claiming that these are decent humans just looking for a chance in life.

Well, with the exception of the 29 percent of federal prisoners and similar numbers in state prisons, with the exception of those who seek our welfare, rather than a job -- the rest of the wayfarers are indeed far from their native lands for the most decent and best of intentions.

I would guess that of the world's 6 billion or so souls -- probably about 75 percent are good and decent folks who only want the best for their children and the world. It's the same all over -- England, Mexico, America, Africa, throughout the world -- about a quarter of the population are bums, the rest are pretty good.

And most of them would like to live in America. But why stop with 85 million Mexicans? For the open border crowd -- which apparently includes virtually the entire American political, media, academic and business establishment -- there is no reason to try to keep out anyone who wants to come in. (The Senate and the president have made it quite clear that they have no plans to actually secure the border. Their border security proposals are charades and calculated pretenses.)

There are still about 700 million Chinese peasants waiting impatiently for a decent job; probably about an equal number of Indians. And most of the African continent could surely live better in Phoenix than they do being butchered in genocidal wars or starving in man-induced famines....

I too am astonished that the mainstream media seems to be so willfully partisan on this issue. Why? Do porous borders mean more customers for them, too, just like for the big businesses that benefit from illegal alien workers?

I watched ABC Nightly News coverage of the May 1st illegal alien protests, including the de rigeur human interest piece on the nice, hard-working Hispanic waiter who hadn't missed a day's work in decades but who took the day off work to join the protest rally for "immigrant rights." He hoped that lawmakers in Washington would "touch the heart" before they make any decisions about immigration reform. Then the show turned "to the rest of the day's news."

I guess they don't even try to pretend to be "fair and balanced."

What, no touching human interest follow-up piece on overburdened hospital emergency rooms, with nice, hardworking nurses, doctors, and social workers forced to provide ever-burgeoning services out of their limited resources to illegal aliens without health insurance? No human interest interview of a nice Arizona or California family fighting the overwhelming tide of environmental damage and human refugees wrecking havoc on their homes and neighborhood? No one citing the increased drug and crime rates in the border areas--no interview of a nice teenager caught up in the Mexican drug smuggling and gangs? No human interest looks into the classrooms where non-English-speaking children have driven down school test scores and overwhelmed and demoralized the nice, dedicated teachers or principal? No interviews of nice, legal Americans denied services because the illegals have drained the coffers, emptied the food pantries, and blown the civic and church budgets? No in-depth look at a family devastated by an uninsured or drunk illegal-alien driver?

Some of my liberal friends protest, "These are good people who just want to come here and work and make a better life for their families. They are fleeing horrible situations and they don't have bad intentions. They don't want to hurt anyone." I will grant them that, but doesn't half the world want the same? Who wouldn't rather live in America if just jumping the border would accomplish it? If you give up the idea of borders meaning anything, how can you then keep anyone out? And at what point do we recognize that Americans are not only paying, but being forced to pay for this haphazard, lawless "compassionate" charity that rewards lawbreaking and unaccountability (as if making a joke of would-be immigrants who follow the rules) and still leaves these people in a limbo world of fear and no status? THIS is compassion?

No, for these stories of the other side of the equation, of our citizens and our country being hurt by the unstaunched flood of illegal immigration and the flaunting of our rule of law, we have to be watching our local TV news coverage or reading the truth on the internet. The big media players can ignore these petty details of how real, nice, legal Americans are struggling to deal with the realities of the illegals, with no solution yet to secure our borders. Too many in the media and in the Federal government are still playing artful games with words, trying to equate "undocumented workers" (or even more ridiculously, "undocumented citizens") with "illegal aliens." But they do so at their peril: not everyone is falling for it. Not everyone is lulled.

For me, the most important consideration of all, more important even than all the sad and touching individual human interest stories vying for attention on both sides of the issue, is this: are we to be a nation of law or not? Our founding fathers considered the same broad question wisely and extensively, and were quite clear on where they stood: the rule of man was to be feared and guarded against, as leading to tyranny and/or mob rule. The rule of law and an impartial judicial system together made the best government we could hope for in order to establish domestic tranquility and protect the rights of our citizens and our nation as a whole.

For 20 years our politicians, immigration officials, and law enforcement have turned a blind eye to illegal aliens. Businesses and individuals have hired them (and often exploited them) to make a quicker buck. Most of our citizens have turned a blind eye to the lawbreaking too, either out of self-interest, disinterest, or typical American live-and-let-live compassion for these individuals who sacrificed much to join us in our American dream.

But post-9/11, post-protests, post-swelling numbers of border jumpers crashing to the front of the queue, the stakes are more starkly evident. Our elected representatives are willing to let the rule of law be whittled away by the ever-growing masses of illegal-alien lawbreakers.

Who will do a human-interest story about all the Americans now and in the future hurt by that?

Random Thoughts by Thomas Sowell

Does it tell you something about our times when a representative of the Taliban is welcome on the Yale University campus but representatives of our own military forces are not?

Click here for more.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

FairTax news

The paperback revised second edition of The FairTax Book by John Linder and Neal Boortz is released today. Buy several, and leave copies at your dentist's office, your tire alignment place, your local DMV or creative. As Neal says:

One other thing has become clear to me since the original release of The FairTax Book. The FairTax frightens many politicians. We've come to realize that the passage of the FairTax would constitute the largest transfer of power from government -- from politicians -- to the people since our Constitution went into effect. There are, it seems, many politicians who don't like to give up power. These politicians will only support the FairTax if they believe that non-support could cost them their jobs.

Another aspect of my thinking has changed since the original release of the book. Back in September of 2005 I believed that we needed tax reform, and that the FairTax was the best tax reform proposal on the table. Did I think it could actually be done? Hopeful? Yes. Confident? Not at all. That has changed too. This can be done. Our present tax code cannot be sustained. We cannot continue with a system of funding the federal government that rewards the very behavior we don't want in our fellow Americans, and punishes the behavior we do want. Our tax code is going to change, either through chaos or in an orderly fashion. We can direct that change.

There will also be an upcoming FairTax rally on May 24th. It will be at the Gwinnett Convention Center (in the suburbs northeast of Atlanta, Georgia). Neal writes:

If you can't come to the rally there is a way you can participate. Letters! We want letters! We want letters detailing your support for the FairTax! We'll dump those letters on stage during the rally to show the level of support! Then we'll personally deliver those letters to the politicians who hold the fate of the FairTax in their hands! For now, just send those letters to us here at the Boortz studios. In a day or so we'll have another address for Americans for Fair Taxation to use. But you can start now by writing a letter addressed to:

The Neal Boortz Show
1601 W. Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1st

In olden days back in the early 20th-century, when parents read serialized stories of "Uncle Wiggly," that kindly old gentleman rabbit, to their children from the newspaper, May 1st was a day to celebrate the natural and spiritual beauties of spring. Children across America would seek out wildflowers from the woods and leave little nosegays or baskets of moss and blooms on the doorsteps of friends and relatives. It was a day reminiscent of maypoles, picnics, warm weather frolicks, and the imminent end of the school year. It was the official end of winter and a happy day to look forward to the coming summer months.

Somehow, by the time I was a child, May 1st had become the day when the Soviet Union decided to parade its weaponry and soldiers before the world in a pagentry of force reminiscent of Hitler's goosestepping Nazi extravaganzas--or so it seemed to me as a child watching these May 1st Moscow proceedings on our family's black-and-white TV. Since those days, diehard Communists, Socialists, and Reds of all tints who have managed to outlast the dismantled and discredited Evil Empire itself remain adamant in hijacking May 1st as a day to extol "the workers" (meaning a day to extol communism, socialism, and collectivism).

It is sad to see that this political and philosophical nonsense has now worked its way onto the streets of America by tangling itself in with the illegal aliens among us. It is not by accident that the illegal aliens have chosen May 1st as their day to protest in the streets. There is a clear connection between their political street theater and the communist/socialist idealogues who are supporting them. Not all of the protestors understand this, of course. But it is impossible for informed citizens to ignore.

Proponents of tired, discredited, and ultimately inhumane philosophies and political theories have the right of free speech too. Communists and socialists will always be among us, thanks to the perversities of human psychology; they are prominent supporters of the anti-war rallies; they are prominent in the anti-American rallies; they are prominent on our university campuses. Today they must be delighted to have co-opted such a large cohort of willing (and many ignorant) protestors to their ranks--"useful idiots" as Lenin aptly termed such people.

I say it is a sad day in America when May Day becomes a day for illegal aliens, Marxists, Communists and socialists to protest in our streets in favor of disregarding our immigration laws and our border security.

The question becomes: what is the rest of America going to do about it? What are our elected leaders going to do about it? What are you individually going to do about it?

Here is what some are doing. And here is what some Hispanics are doing, saying "You don't speak for me." Michelle Malkin has another roundup.

Today, as maypoles and visions of illegal aliens "shutting down cities" fill your head, think about what May 1st should mean for you. As Neal Boortz says, "this country is still worth defending."

Victor Davis Hanson has, as usual, an eloquent and well-reasoned thing or two to say about assimilating the Hispanic illegals.

UPDATE by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:

People are talking about backlash, and how these rallies are counterproductive. That's probably right, but I think that's what the A.N.S.W.E.R. folks are hoping for. Right now you have lots of immigrants who want to be part of America. The A.N.S.W.E.R. people have been stoking these demonstrations not because they want to help illegal immigrants, but because they hope to provoke a backlash that will make them angry at America instead. They don't have short-term ameliorative political goals -- they want shock troops for the revolution.