Monday, February 28, 2011

Gadhafi's Ironic Failure to Learn from History

It's unfortunate that for all of his shouting and fighting, Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi has failed to follow the learned advice from a celebrated philosopher who wrote nearly two centuries before Gadhafi's imperilled reign. This thinker even expounded his opinions wrote with Tripoli's head of state in mind.

In "Securities against Misrule and other Constitutional Writings for Tripoli and Greece", utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham outlined the necessary liberal reforms for Mediterranean States to establish stable and healthy democratic governments. The philosopher's main arguments maintained the superiority of elected representatives in serving the people and media publicity as the chief means for stopping the abuse of political power.

What a strange irony that the current, illiberal leader stationed in Tripoli, Libya, is resorting to Western media outlets to justify himself and shore up his role as firmly-established leader of his nation.

The very principle he employs, publicity, is the very resource which is his undoing: one of Bentham's original arguments. The chief security against misrule or abuse of power is . . .publicity. Trapped in his own arrogance, Gadhafi is proving a fundamental principle of the liberal state, originally published in support of the head of state in Tripoli!

"Those who fail to learn from history . . . ."

Government Shutdown 2011: Something to Fear?

As the budget impasse in the Federal Government grows more protracted between Republicans who want to cut and Democrats who want to retain, the closing March 4 deadline for a plan grows more ominous. Without a budget with outlined appropriations, the U.S. Government will shut down.

Many pundits and policy wonks claim that a government shutdown would be disastrous for the United States. In reality, a government shutdown would stop everything except essential services in this country. The military will still stand guard. The post office will still deliver mail, but they and other federal employees will not get paid. Even Social Security checks will still be mailed out, if there are employees and resources still in place to process them. National museums and parks will close. Applications for passports, welfare benefits, and social security will not be processed.

In effect, a government shut down would provide an opportunity for the American people to witness how much they accomplish on their own without government. Do we not have private agencies which deliver our mail, and deliver it more efficiently? Would it not be better for elderly and retired persons to save their own money, ensuring for themselves a more secure future? Could not private and local interests fare just as well (if not better) in managing parks and recreational facilities in this country?

Notwithstanding legislators' wary recriminations about the 1995 shutdown, the Republicans now hold the high ground. Since Barack Obama became President, the United States electorate has grown much more aware, and outraged, by the deficit spending and the burgeoning national debt burdening this country.

The profligate appropriations, unsupportable entitlements, and utter irresponsibility of our lawmakers with tax-payers' money has brought this nation to this vulnerable turning point. A government shut-down may be just what it takes to shake loose services from the unconstitutional sway of the federal government and return them to state, local, and private initiatives, where they belong. If Americans realize that a stalled government hinders their daily lives far less than an active government, then the Republicans will have won the argument pressing for less federal regulation, intrusion, and control; and President Obama and the Democrats will have even fewer talking points to justify their statist agenda.

I vaguely recall someone in President Obama's coterie asserting, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." The Republicans have nothing to lose in capitalizing on this extensive financial debacle to further their agenda, the long-term financial well-being of this nation.

A Likeable (But Likely?) Presidential Candidate

So far, it looks as if Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels possesses the experience, credentials, and skills to take on the mantle of President of the United States.

Like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, he has tackled the huge budget deficits which plagued his home state of Indiana. Even better, he has privatized core state functions like the roads in to independent operators, which has not only maintained the road and freeway systems in the state, but has netted the state coffers a tidy profit. While most states are still reeling from huge debt margins in their state budgets, Indiana has enjoyed a surplus in its coffers.

Daniels is a social conservative, but not brazenly so, which will prevent him from alienating independent voters and disaffected Democrats. Well-liked in his home state, he is even taking on the public employees unions' right to collective bargaining. This bold step has driven the shrinking minority of Indiana Democrats to flee the state, just like their craven counterparts in Wisconsin.

I am not concerned by a long-past drug conviction which has recently come to late (as Republican contenders for the Presidency have to face sooner or later). In fact, it highlights Daniel's integrity, because since then he has been an able and responsible public servant.
As already mentioned, Daniels is well-known and well-respected in Indiana. However, will this popularity engage the national electorate? Besides the problem of name recognition, Governor Daniels lacks charisma, a crucial factor in persuading others to vote for him.

Daniels is worthy to be President. On the other hand, is worthy to be elected President?

Narrowing the 2012 Presidential Field

There are at least ten Republicans interested in challenging President Obama for the Presidency.

One candidate whom I would endorse, or at least seriously consider, would be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yet despite the pleas from many in the Tea Party and throughout the Republican Party, Christie has maintained that he will finish out his term as governor of New Jersey.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is inching closer to a presidential run. I hope he chooses not to.

This man cheated on his first wife with his future second wife, then cheated on his second wife with his current third wife. This man displays no integrity in his personal life. What gives him the idea that he can hold the trust of the United States of America? Furthermore, his botched leadership as Speaker of the House during the 1995 shutdown and the 1998 Congressional Elections all prove that he does not have the skills to be Chief Executive.

Then there's Sarah Palin. A media darling and lightning rod for the Right, she reneged on her commitment to the state of Alaska, resigning as governor not even two years into her term in office. She dotes on her daughter Bristol, an unwed mother who engaged in explicit routines as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars". As a mother of five children, Palin should never have permitted her daughter to exploit herself like that. Beyond these moral failings, there is Palin's abortive reality TV show and miscalculating endorsements of extreme-right candidates, both of which have done more harm than good to the Republican brand. A hyped-up sell-out who even stooped to spewing crude language during her interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Palin has traded straight talk and credibility for blunt talk and celebrity, a combination which may win ratings but won't win her the Presidency.

I hope that as 2011 progresses, we will witness unfit candidates making way for more effective and influential candidates who do not calculate on winning the nomination with the current crop of potential candidates.

Bob Schieffer: Time to Ship out?

I have not been a frequent viewer of the evening news with Katie Couric. I did approve of her straightforward questioning when she interviewed Sarah Palin. After that extended conversation, it was clear to me that Governor Palin was simply not Presidential material. Couric may not have the gravitas of Walker Cronkite, but her work is acceptable

I bring up Couric's work as a news anchor in contrast to Bob Schieffer, who served as interim news anchor for CBS after Dan Rather resigned in the wake of the "Bushgate" smear. Schieffer was an affable man, one who made his viewers feel as if he was right there in the living room with them, sharing the news like a close friend or relative talking about the events of the day.

His homespun charm, however, is starting to wear away, and his political leanings are fraying the welcoming tone of his commentaries. I refer, for the most part, to his role as news mediate on "Face the Nation".

In his commentaries, he has betrayed an attention to facts and foibles which are both irrelevant and inappropriate. He decried the lack of bipartisan civility which the country had enjoyed shortly after 9-11, when both parties in the Senate voted 98-0 to set up extensive funding for the Department of Homeland Security. What Schieffer ignores is that this bipartisanship is the biggest reason why this country is facing massive deficits, crippling national debt, and growing insolvency in unsustainable entitlement programs. This bipartisanship which Schieffer longs to restore in this country is the very dysfunction which is undermining not just our current financial well-being, but the economic opportunities for generations to come.

In another final word, in the midst of Congressional arguments to defund the wasteful Medical Mandate "Obamacare" and the intense wrangling over this nation's budgetary woes, Schieffer chided newly elected House Speaker John Boehner on his smoking habits! In contrast to the Speaker's private vice, the news anchor praised President Obama for the variable private virtue of having kicked his own nicotine habit. Obama's personal health problems, and Boehner's for that matter, are of little concern to the American people. Besides, Boehner's private vice is nothing like the very public irresponsibility of this current administration, which is bankrupting the United States while thwarting effective free market principles and an aggressive foreign policy to protect national interests.

As if these short-sighted comments were not enough, just this past Sunday Schieffer brought up New Jersey governor Chris Christie's weight as a segue to First Lady Michelle Obama's program to tackle childhood obesity. I was offended that Schieffer would waste air time touting a weight and nutrition program on national television, while needlessly pointing out the weight "problem" of a governor whose bold achievements have slashed the government largesse impoverishing his state. That's the fat-trimming which Scheiffer should have been focusing on.

In addition to these three segments which I have pointed out, I am sure there are more incidents where Bob Schieffer has betrayed either a heedless attention to irrelevant facts or leaked out a liberal bias. In the middle of his interview with Governor Christie last Sunday, the camera even caught him nodding right after the program came back on air. I even heard the camera crew behind him whisper, "Bob, we're back." Schieffer simply does not seem to be alert anymore. Sunday morning news deserves more diligent newscasters than what CBS is currently providing.

Perhaps Katie Couric could make an effective transition into the News Anchor chair on"Face the Nation". . . .

Madoff's Revelation

So Bernie Madoff, the multi-billion dollar swindler of middle class investors and Hollywood Elites alike, has declared that the entire U.S. Government is a Ponzi Scheme, similar to the racket he was running for years.

As proof, he cites the feeble federal regulations which did not prevent him from defrauding the government and his investors. Nor did government precautions stop the the banks which he was working with from abetting his extensive fraud. Madoff has even decried the recent enhancement in securities and financial oversight as "laughable".

In spite of the odious and rapacious swindling that Madoff perpetrated on his trusting clients, he is right to say that the entire U.S. Government is running a Ponzi Scheme, but not exclusively in the arenas of banks and securities regulations. Consider Social Security, an entitlement program which takes money from hard-working Americans to subsidize the retirement of others. Not only is this immoral system impoverishing the current generation to buoy up the insolvency of older generations, but the U.S. Government has been taking money from this fund in order to pay off other programs.

Social Security is the most brazen of Ponzi Schemes, since it not only openly takes money from one earner to subsidize another, who is no longer working, but carries out this massive fraud under the shameless veneer of legality in the name of promoting the public good. Even senile Senators like Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) have bought into the folly that this massive, bloated, insolvent scheme is working and worth saving.

By endorsing Bernie Madoff's point of view, I do not endorse in any way the harm that he has perpetrated on millions of investors, as well as his family and the public at large. Nevertheless, he has a point in calling out the U.S. Government on its Ponzi Schemes. He ought to know: it takes one to know one!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thoughts on the Tide of Middle Eastern Revolutions

The parallels between the years 1989 and 2011 are striking.

2011 is looking to becoming an annus mirabilis (miracle year). Before 2011, though, there was 1989. Columnist George F. Will, who surveyed the events of that period of time, termed that tumultuous year an annus mirabilis for good reason.

June 1989 witnessed the populist uprising in Tianamen Square, Beijing. Many people still recall the brave stance of one lone individual (a business executive, perhaps), briefcase in hand, who prevented a column of tanks from crushing protesters. Even though "Briefcase Man" disappeared under armed capture with the Chinese government's final crack down on the protesters, the world realized evidently that the Chinese Communist regime was not as strong as it appeared. Autocratic regimes could be stopped, or at least threatened.

Another victory half-way around the world would shadow this temporary setback: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of Communist hegemony in Russia and Eastern Europe. I was only nine years old at the time, but when I saw East and West Germans climbing on the Berlin Wall, dancing, breaking away at that formidable divide with hammers and chisels, a strong sense of solidarity welled up within me. I knew what they were rejoicing about, I understood what the celebration and the destruction of the wall meant for them, for me, and for the whole world. It was a wonderful scene that moved me then, and still makes me tear up now when I think of it now.

To see freedom win out over long-standing oppression; to see people-power triumph over tyranny; to witness a new hope envelop a land whose people had been resigned to despotic despair: that same joy overtakes me when I read about the downfall of Arab dictators and the solidarity of Middle Eastern nations to overthrow their abusive rulers and strike out boldly for their freedom. As this year advances, may this annus mirabilis reveal greater joy and wonder for the world.

Charlie Sheen and "Two and a Half Men"

In the past, I ranted against the chronic swarming of the media around every misstep and crime perpetrated by Lindsay Lohan.

Now, the paparazzi and news entertainment circles are following every act of malfeasance by the badly troubled Charlie Sheen. Just recently, news sites across the web are swept up with reports that Charlie Sheen is unleashing his wrath against the executives of CBS.

Central Broadcasting should take some blame. They financed Sheen's outrageous behavior with multi-million dollar salaries year after year.

His hit sitcom is a shame and a disgrace, anyway. Every week, viewers witness Charlie Sheen's character profane his life through illicit affairs, one-night-stands, and reckless debauchery, all while working a terrible influence on his own nephew. What's worse, the show depicts his down-on-his-luck brother as the only real loser in episode after episode because he is too timorous (not necessary moral) to engage in the same lewd spate of misconduct as his wealthy song-writing brother.

"Two and a Half Men" glorifies vapid, virulent, vociferous vice, to put it succinctly. Frankly, what other end could one expect of a highly-paid actor for portraying a jaded, faded hedonist, than to carry on like one in real life?

I hope that the CBS TV executives follow through on their threat and terminate Sheen's shameful sitcom. It would do a world of good for the viewing public by ridding the airwaves of such trash, deprive the media hounds of one more sickened TV star to harass, and even give Charlie Sheen a real chance at saving his life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why is Revolution Spreading Across the Middle East?

Aljazeera's English Website issued the following statement explaining the origin the populist movement which is embroiling the Middle East, from the Maghreb to Transjordan:

"December 17: Mohammed Bouazizi, an 26-year-old man trying to support his family
by selling fruits and vegetables in the central town of Sidi Bouzid, douses himself in paint
thinner and sets himself on fire in front of a local municipal office.

Police had confiscated his produce cart because he lacked a permit and beat him up when he resisted. Local officials then refused his hear his complaint. He is taken to a
hospital near Tunis for treatment of his third-degree burns. "

Later, Bouazizi would die from his wounds, and so would the corrupt, autocratic, kleptocratic regime which had robbed him of his means of livelihood.

The brief synopsis published by Aljazeera reveals the gross extent to which hyper-regulation and government intervention hindered free enterprise and unjustly confiscated from one citizen a means for making a living.

Having to provide a permit just to own a cart and sell fruit from it: that alone is an onerous burden. But then for state officials to beat him without pity and deny him any redress in a court of law, it becomes apparent that the Tunisian state would go to any lengths to profit from its businessmen before allowing them to earn a profit on their own. A country which bars the free market from flourishing will stifle creativity, innovation, and expand poverty. With no recourse to remedy one's pitiful economic plight, Bouazizi had little choice but to immolate himself in order to protest his nation's rapacious economic policies.

Egyptians faced similar limitations on free enterprise under the Mubarak regime. To open a business required paying immense fees, usually entailing bribes to significant state officials. Just as the fruit seller from Tunisian suffered the arbitrary confiscation of his livelihood, so too could any entrepreneur in Cairo or elsewhere in Egypt endure the same cruel power grab. It is widely reported that many Egyptians, to safeguard their businesses interest, would run for political office. As newly elected officials, they could then tailor the law to protect their own investments at the expense of rivals, or at least compel competitors to pay bribes. Cronyism and corruption corrode free market capitalism, which in turn denies to many a meaningful and sure path out of poverty to prosperity.

Media analysts must recognize that the systemic repudiation and repression of the free market ultimately defined the poverty-stricken nations which are now in populist uproar.

Now, casting out greedy autocrats is an important first step toward achieving lasting liberty, and democratic reforms will furnish a means to success. However, the necessary mechanisms of free enterprise and proper government enforcement of trade and contract, those are the most important elements which the newly-freed peoples throughout the Middle East must implement. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the dreaded history of uprising, revolution, and tyranny repeats itself, with expanded poverty and repression soon to follow.

George W. Bush: A Vindication Forbidding Scorning

The broader vision of a more democratic Middle East is bearing fruit, in some cases peaceful, in other instances more violently.

We need to recognize that it was the vision and courage of the previous President George W. Bush who initiated this commitment. He saw the potential for wide-spread reform. He adopted the mind-set that democratic governments could take root in the arid desert.

It was during his Presidency that the world witnessed the Syrian army withdrawing from Lebanon after 15 years of "protection". Because of Bush's hard stance against terrorism, the cruel dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled from power and ultimately executed. Moammar Gadhafi renounced intentions to pursue weapons of mass destruction.

Now witness the populist uprising transforming the Middle East today!

Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, nations all shook up by the uprisings of its people for too long oppressed by burdensome tyrannical governments. Even the previously unassailable regime of Libya is teetering on revolution.

The world is witnessing the vindication of President Bush's expansive foreign policy hopes. In spite of the upsets which have frustrated liberating efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, in spite of the virulent terrorist group Hamas winning majority power in Gaza, the desire for freedom is overshadowing these setbacks. In this troubled region of the world, it is becomes more tenuous for ruthless dictators to suppress their peoples at the expense of the growing communication networks linking activists and protesters all over the world.

Comment on Napolitano's Mental Health Care Bill

In response to the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, fellow Congresswoman Grace Napolitano wants to invest $200 million dollars into education to hire social service professionals in schools. In her opinion, an adequately trained professional could have diagnosed Jared Lee Loughner before his shooting spree severely harmed Congresswoman Giffords and killed both a federal judge and young girl. This recent terrible incident hearkens back to the 2007 Virginia Tech shoot-out at the hands of another troubled college student, one whose mental illness went unnoticed by administrators, staff, and students, before it was too late.

I am glad that Napolitano is not arguing for the curtailing of gun sales ("guns do not kill people; people kill people"), and it is good to see politicians take steps to invest in proactive mental health care. However, a blanket government invest into wide-spread programs throughout the country will ultimately have little effect on curbing the deviant behavior of mentally ill college students. Desperate times invoke desperate measures, which in turn cannot treat the individual needs or prevent the sinister threats which any one individual may pose to another.

This attempted subsidy smacks of puritan progressivism, tailoring a one-size-fits-all approach to treat a problem in the wake of one devastating tragedy. I do hope that distinct college campuses will devise better methods and train medical staff more effectively. I also hope that the stigma of mental illness will subside so that students who are troubled, or the loved ones who suspect problems, can seek proper assistance. Another government grant, however, cannot meet this problem head-on in such a blunt fashion.

Consider the case of a young child in a San Pedro elementary school who shared a sinister drawing with a teacher, stating that he was thinking about dying. The school responded by reporting the incident and having the student locked up for a short period of time, away from his parents. This extreme reaction was as traumatizing, if not more so, as the grief which the child and his family were already facing. If this is the normal state-response to mental illness, or even a hint of concern relating to such a problem, it's little wonder that so many people choose to hide their pain rather than seek help.

As I mentioned before, let's hope that communities can create more hospitable and welcoming conditions for individual patients to seek help, of for friends and family to detect the warning signs of mental instability, so that they will be more likely to seek help for their loved ones.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi: Going Down and Good Riddance

Moammar Gadhafi, longest-reigning Arab dictator in the middle east, is barking defiantly against the surge of populist uprisings which have swept the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt from power. He has ordered mercenaries and armed guards to fire on his own people, assuring his supporters that state police will not intervene. However, the horrendous attacks he has perpetrated on humanity go back much further than the current attempt to suppress the uprising of his own people.

This sudden turn of international history is most fitting. A virulent tyrant who oppressed his own people over these long 42 years, Gadhafi instigated one of the worst terrorist attacks in history: the explosion of Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, which ended the lives of 270 people, including many Americans.

Recently, in the long wake of this horrible tragedy, there was the "compassionate release" of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the chief terrorist implicated in the bombing. His early parole demonstrated no compassion for the victims or the nations who suffered from that devastating attack, including the United States. Despite the allegations that al-Megrahi was a terminally-ill cancer patient, he lives to this day, having received a hero's welcome from his countrymen, including the menacing Gadhafi. Utterly shameful.

Notwithstanding this unjust arrangement, there is great satisfaction in witnessing the blazing demise of the leader and his supports who sponsored such a horrible act of terrorism, perpetrated ubiquitous oppression on its citizens, and frustrated the freedom of millions of people throughout the Middle East.

Public Unions, Fiscal Responsibility, and Wisconsin

Recently, trade unions throughout the state of Wisconsin have stage huge protests against current Republican governor Scott Walker's desire to curb the power of labor unions and force them to contribute to their pension and benefits package.

This is the kind of backbone that we need to see in this county. Elected officials must muster up the courage to take on the public-sector service worker lobby, which in many cases masquerades as a united front for labor.

Public sector unions are an unconscionable drain on the communities they are supposed to be serving and the states where they are located. Consider San Diego, a community that has had to lay of one third of its police and fire department in order to pay the exorbitant pensions extended to previous government employees. Los Angeles may have to consider bankruptcy as the only way to continue offering basic services to its citizens without going broke subsidizing pen ion plans and health benefits for retired and current city employees. Even if the city manages to break free of those extensive entitlement obligations, what will be left of the City of Angels for its current and future residents?

Teachers unions, for example, may demonstrate extensive skill in drumming up a crowd. Keep in mind, however, that those unions rely on dues which they compel from their members and spend as they see fit, without any input form their members. There are many members of labor who do not support the broad Democractic Party agenda, though they do care for their economic interests. Now that the card-check attempt at union hegemony has died, let's hope that the muscle which Governors Walker and Chris Christie of New Jersey will be enough to start turning the tide of public sector unions choking the life and economy of state governments.

I do note, in passing, that Governor Walker is not expecting more form the Public Safety Unions, including police and fire. I think that is not fair. Even public safety employees should take a loss and put up more money towards their pensions and healthcare coverage. President Calvin Coolidge noted that there is no right to strike when public safety is at stake, which holds true in the face of the long-term economic crisis which Wisconsin and other states in the Union are facing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

China's Intellectual Autarchy Imperilled

Massive revolution is spreading across the Middle East, with two dictatorial "presidents" fleeing from power at the powerful, forceful impulses of people power. It is wonderful to see the cracks in the technological tyranny of the "People's" Republic of China.

Modern technology has made it even harder for repressive regimes to prevent international controversies and revolutions from being heard within their borders. The world witnessed nearly two years ago as protesters young and old took to the streets in Tehran. The Ayatollah and Ahmedinejad could not trap any communication from the individual protesters, who cryed out against the fraudulent reelection of the current President of the increasingly Modern-Day Persia.

Who could forget the death of that poor young woman, Neda Agha-Soltani, whose image was reproduced like the Presidential Poster for then-Candidate Obama? The striking red, white, and blue, encaptioned with her name below, appealed to the world. With one look at that dying gaze, no viewer could deny the personal and passionate impulse surging through the protesters in those daring June days. An impersonal news crawl became an emotional appeal. This revolution entered into the daily lives of many and impacted us far more than any newspaper headline.

A ruthless dictatorial regime still officially espousing the soul-killing doctrine of Communism, China must have a lot to worry about. The people power of two nations, Tunisia and Egypt, has brought down their wicked and callous leaders. Uprisings throughout the Middle East suggest that more autocratic and traditional leaders are also in danger of losing their power. China could be next. Yet no matter how hard the Chinese propaganda machine tries to supress the political nature of the Middle Eastern protests, it is becoming increasingly clear that China's authoritarian days are numbered. As one Chinese dissident quipped, "Today, we are all Egyptians." One could very well attribute this desire for freedom on the part of every human being, whether in the Americas, Africa, or the Middle East. It appeals to everyone, even those persecuted in the Far East.

OC DA and Freedom of Speech

It was indefensible for members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other outspoken members of the Muslim student community from UC Irvine and other college campuses to intentionally disrupt the public speaking engagement of Michael Oren. According to many reports, police personnel were on site in the event that any trouble may occur. A number of students were removed, arrested, and punished by their respective schools after a series of students would rise up, shout opposition to the key-note speaker, only to be followed by another student interrupting in turn.

The Orange County District Attorney has decided to file conspiracy charges against those individuals. He is well within his rights and responsibilities to do so, and I believe that it should be done. UC Irvine is become a tense location for Muslim -- Jewish relations. The rhetoric, in some cases, has become quite nasty. Despite the weighing in by campus officials, including the Dean of the relatively new law school, the campus needs to take extra precautions that further planned disruptions do not occur.

Freedom of speech will not be imperilled by holding those students accountable.
They are not being punished for sharing their views. They are being held to answer for disrupting a public form to hear from the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. It is important to keep in mind that freedom of speech is not just the freedom to be heard, including the right to not hear, but also the right to hear in the first place. If any party or individual disagrees with statements, ideas, or ideologies of another group, they have the right to respond in a manner which emboldens their own right to expression without impinging on the rights of others to speak.

A Response to My Response to Congresswoman Harman's Resignation

I appreciate that someone has taken the time to respond to my views regarding Congresswoman Jane Harman's resignation and legacy. I wanted to respond to some of the comments that he made.

United States Congressmen must be invested in the best interests of the entire United States, not just the parochial interests of congressional districts and states. The long-term success and stability of Israel is crucial to the well-being of this country, for the Jewish state is one of the most sophisticated and equipped nations to thwart terrorism.
It is fitting for the United States to support Israel, a land dedicated to Western values and anti-terrorist reconnaissance in the midst of tyrannical, authoritarian, and failed states

The writer comments that President Obama received overwhelming support for himself and for his agenda. However, in a virulently anti-incumbent 2008, President Obama only received 53% of the popular vote. He won as the also-ran to a badly wounded Republican Party. In recently months, his poll numbers have slipped, and there is growing opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as we speak.

Throughout the one hundred plus speeches to endorse the bill, President Obama changed the number of uninsured who would be covered by the bill at least three times, from 20 million, to 30 million, to 40 million (?). Citizens in townhall meetings across the country voiced their outrage to the bill. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's quip, “We have to pass the bill so that you know what’s in it” also demonstrates the hurried callousness of the United States government to the needs of the American people.

Obama did not approach this health care legislation in a bipartisan fashion. It passed the House and Senate without any Republican support, and even in spite of some Democratic opposition. Some moderate Democrats are back-peddling from their previous support. Recently, two Federal Judges (one presiding over a case in with amicus curies briefs from twenty states) have both declared the law unconstitutional. There is little evidence that this bill enjoys wide support among any significant segment of the population.

The writer also requested evidence of the negative consequences of this health care law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Acts deprives Medicare of 500 billion dollars, defunding one unsustainable entitlement to finance another. Small businesses are not creating jobs in part because the health care law creates burdensome uncertain for their fiscal obligations to their employees and to the state.

Worse yet, consider the fate of the socialized medicine in Canada and other nations, where the average wait time to see a physician can take months. The Quebec Supreme Court has ruled that it is inhumane to force patients to wait indefinitely for "free" health care and prevent them from purchasing their own insurance. Medical professionals have fled Canada to the United States, where the pay is higher, the taxes are lower, and technological innovation is more affordable. In Great Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron and his ruling coalition are taking the painful but long-overdue steps of privatizing the National Health Service (NHS). First of all, the unforeseen costs of government-run health care have become more than the British Government can afford. Secondly, the British wants patients and medical professionals, not bureaucrats, to make life-and-death decisions regarding health care.

These and other gross deficiencies should discourage the United States from sanctioning any government intervention into our health care system, including Obamacare.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Iranian Revolution Redux

New reports are circulating of another crack-down against protesters in Iran. The Iranian people are rising up again, in the hopes of toppling their cruel dictatorial "President" Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. They should be more hopeful in achieving their goal, especially in the wake of Egyptian President's Hosni Mubarak's sudden resignation and President Zine al-Abidine ben Ali's flight from Tunisia. "People Power" throughout the Middle East is yielding some signicant dividends, which the Iranians want to take advantage of.

I sincerely hope that this second uprising, in the wake of two previous successful demonstrations of Middle East people power, will finally remove that hateful, anti-Semitic dictator and his religious cronies.

I would be really glad to see populist uprisings remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. He is the last remaining Arab-Nazi Baathist in the region, and his ouster would only be a boon to the weakened state of Lebanon and the harassed nation of Israel.

Let us hope and pray for the long-term revival of freedom in the Middle East, where it has languished for far too long.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Comment on Gabrielle Giffords

I have shared many times before about how I think the mainstream media wastes so much time and coverage on petty matters in our day-to-day lives.

If there is one series of small events which deserves our attention, it would be the slow, deliberate, and miraculous recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

She has recovered from a devastating shot to the head, to lying in critical condition, to being able to see and recognize others, to asking for basic foods.

These incremental steps are remarkable. These are the types of small events which we should be paying more attention to. To see this woman come back from such a savage attack as she and many others had endured is simply wonderful.

Though she is a member of a different political party, I still have great respect for her as a human being. Here's to her full and complete recovery in the near future!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak Resigns; Suleiman takes over

Middle Eastern strongman Hosni Mubarak has resigned his Presidency and fled Egypt. Citing the action as in the best interests of his county and its people, he has turned power over to his recently-appointed Vice-President and the Armed Forces Supreme Council.

Nobel Peace laureate and lead protester Mohammed ElBaradei proclaimed: "[Egypt] has been liberated after decades of repression."

On the other hand, has this nation removed one oppressor, only to make room for another tyranny, more radical, more populist, and ultimately more deadly?

I choose to remain optimistic, but cautiously so. Freedom and Democracy are delicate creations which require slow, deliberate, and consistent nurturing. Let's hope that the Egyptians will channel their euphoria into concise democratic reform. Hopefully, the transitional government under VP Suleiman will be just that, transitional, providing enough time and stability for opposition parties to coalesce, make their case, select candidates, and run for Legislative and executive office.

In the midst of this political upheaval, let us remember that it is not elections, but liberty to speak out, to be heard, to practice one's faith, and to learn about one's culture that define a free society.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cameron Privatizes the NHS

The National Health Service, the state-run health care system in Great Britain, was already on life-support. Now Prime Minister David Cameron wants to pull the plug.

At least, he wants to put an end to the full state subsidy of the state health care system, a program which is notoriously riddled with incompetence and inefficiencies. This measure comes in the wake of the current British government's attempts to staunch the hemorrhaging national budget, which is currently facing historic deficits.

Acknowledging that the NHS is Great Britain's largest employer, Cameron has suggested contracting out services to private clinics and allowing family practitioners to make more decisions on behalf of the patient, instead of unlicensed and unprofessional bureaucrats.

This is a telling step for the British Government and its people, considering that the NHS has been a source of pride in the UK ever since its inception. But let's consider its achievements.

On average, a patient must wait a significant period of time before seeing a physician and receiving the proper care needed. Average waiting time: seven to eight months.
According to some reports, pregnant mothers have had to deliver their children in hallways in certain hospitals because medical facilities are so overbooked and understaffed.

Two incidents relating to the Dentistry Services in the UK also point to the gross incompetence which plagues the NHS. One man was so desperate to see a dentist, that instead of waiting the customary seven-eight months for an appointment, he had to take the drastic measure of pulling out his own infected tooth. In another published incident, an unlicensed Dutch was secretly recruited by imperilled patients, only to be chased around from city to city by the state police. That did prevent the dentist from practicing her trade, since so many patients needed oral care.

Ardent supports of Obamacare should pay close attention these fiscal and moral realities which result from any attempt at state-run, state-mandated health care. Just because any agency declares that every citizen is entitled to free health care does not mean that it will be free, available, or even acceptable. The few isolated examples mentioned above do not begin to paint the horrid conditions, treatment, and outcomes which patients in the UK must face at the hands of the NHS. As P. J. O'Rourke quipped, "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free."

In light of the brave steps which Prime Minister Cameron is taking to swiftly reduce the national deficit, it is shameful to witness President Obama and his Democratic caucus in Congress support a budge-busting take-over of the health-care system in the United States.

I hope the best for Cameron and the British public in the wake of this grand privatization of health care. I also hope his proposed reforms will provide better care at a quicker pace in a more efficient manner. In turn, the British public will be distinctly surprised by the outcomes of the British government's releasing its hold on a profession which is better practiced by the professionals schooled in the trade and by the individual patients who better know what they need and how to evaluate the proper cost.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pity Poor Scott Brown

In January 2010, it was miraculous to witness the recently-deceased Massachusetts Liberal Senator Ted Kennedy replaced by Republican Scott Brown, elected by a 53% margin in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1.

Still more, it was gratifying to see a responsive, outraged, and energized electorate spell out very clearly to President Obama, that they wanted no part of his government take-over of health care in this country. For once, the political process was being receptive to the needs and concerns of the people rather than ignoring them in the haze of elitist liberal arrogance.

My happiness about the upset victory for Senator Brown was in no way tempered by the fact that he was most likely going to vote as a Moderate Republican, in spite of the galvanized support generated by Tea Party Activists. Most likely Brown was going to vote more like the Two Ladies from Maine (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe), and to a lesser extent like Arlen Specter (before he betrayed his party to join the Democrats). The majority of Massachusettians did vote for Brown because they wanted to stop the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but for the most part because they did not want to have to pay for an addition health care mandate on top of the Massachusetts health care plan-Romneycare--a health care system which they have no interest in changing.

His most important legacy, and initial impact upon entering the Senate, was to be that 41st Senator who blocked ObamaCare from receiving a final vote. His 41st vote provided the number necessary for the Republican minority to sustain a filibuster against the President's aggressive health care bill.

We have to keep in mind that Senator Brown played a specific role in preventing that law from coming to a final vote in the Senate, even though the House of Representatives would used reconciliation to pass the measure, notwithstanding.

Before die-hard conservatives consider axing him from the Republican caucus or abandon him to his own efforts in his re-election bid, they must remember that a Moderate Republican is about all they can hope to get from a Northeastern state. The electorate in that region is decidedly more liberal, yet the stance that Moderate Republicans can take is still preferable to a dyed-in-the-wool Democract who will vote 100% with Obama's agenda of aggrandizing the federal government at the expense of the states and the American people.

I hope that the Republican party will avoid the same deleterious outcome that had occurred during the 2010 Republican Senate Primary in Delaware. Moderate Republican Mike Castle was certain to win the general election against any Democractic challenger; yet toward the end of the primary campaign, he was undone by a neophyte with hard-core conservative credentials and Tea Party backing. The Tea Party advanced a pure conservative and a sure loser in state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, a setback which Mike Castle's extensive credentials as both a legislator and governor would have easily overcome.

Republicans must be pragmatic as well as principled when it comes to Senator Brown. It was not a sure thing that a Republican would ever reclaim the Senate seat in Massachusetts, but it could very easily fall back into Democratic hands, which would be a terrible outcome for everyone, not just the votes of Massachusetts and the Republican caucus in the U. S. Senate. And a Republican who votes some of the time with the Party is better than a Democrat who will most certainly oppose any measures that would broaden individual freedom and responsibility and slow the swelling of the federal government into more facets of American life.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lindsay Lohan's Plight, Revisited

Once again, Lindsay Lohan finds herself in deep legal trouble.

Now accused of stealing a $2500 necklace, she will have to stand trial for this crime.

Honestly, when is enough going to be enough? Who has decided that these notorious celebrity cases warrant the viewing public's attention in any way?

Lohan has not even made a worthwhile film in quite some time (she was even forced out of one production in part because of previous legal problems).

This voyeuristic craving to see a form starlet fall so far is simply wrong.

Not that I have so much compassion that she should not be held accountable for any crime that she may have committed . . . And that is the point, MAY have committed. She is still innocent until proven guilty in our legal system. Certainly the constant prying of the media into this mess is not only making a mockery of the legal process, but subverting this very crucial principle. Who are we to judge , or rather, prejudge?

Besides, are there not more noteworthy news-events taking place all over the world, as we speak? We are witnessing right now in the Middle East a surge, a tidal wave of unrest in which long-oppressed subjects are asserting their natural rights, demanding that their national governments treat them like citizens.

This widespread demand for liberty impacts the citizens of the United States greatly. We should be paying close attention to the events taking place on the other side of the world, not the petty thievery of a failing actress, and even more petty introspection of the vapid, ubiquitous media.

Unrest Across the Middle East, Cont'd . . .

Tunisia's interim government has recently bolstered its troops in order to help stave off any further unrest as the nation tries to implement democratic reforms as rapidly as possible.

A major Google executive, recently released from incarceration in Egypt, has joined at the helm the wide array of protesters in that county .

Who knows where this growing dissent will lead? Will Egypt further descend into chaos, or will another interim government replace the popular, and barely out-going, President Mubarak? Will it make the necessary decisions to implement a stable government, pushing for reforms in an orderly and secure manner?

I am still very interested in the outcomes that are developing in Yemen and Jordan. It is my hope that sclerotic monarchies which rely on tradition and oppression to hold their peoples in check will be brought down, or at least forced to compromise, in the near future.

In addition to the nations already mentioned, I look forward to any long-term unrest necessary to break out in Syria, a backward regime which has already demonstrated a hateful reputation for allying itself with other repressive regimes while subduing other sovereign states in the region.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Congresswoman Harman Has Resigned: Final Thoughts

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-El Segundo), has resigned her position as House Rep for the 36th Congressional District in Southern California. She has been the Congresswoman who has represented me since I can remember, although I cannot say that she was ever my Congressional representative.

Notwithstanding her party affiliation, I respected the fact that she was a firm and vocal advocate of the State of Israel. At one point, she was accused of secretly colluding with Israeli state officials in illegal negotiations, but those allegations were eventually found to be without merit.
I was also very sad to see her lose the chairmanship on the House Intelligence Committee, especially when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi was going to allow the judicial crook Alcee Hastings to fill the post. Even though the Speaker chose Congressman Silvestre Reyes as a compromise appointment, Jane Harman was certainly the more-qualified Congresswoman for the post, considering her extensive foreign policy experience and support of the Jewish State.

However, I am not sad to see Harman leave, for she voted vocally and proudly for Obamacare, a medical mandate which will impoverish the nation and forcibly limit the free enterprise system of health insurance and trade in this county. Her complete indifference to the will of her constituents on this issue was simply maddening. Elected officials must be responsive to the needs of their constituents, especially when they have voiced principled opposition unconstitutional acts.

The fact that Harman will end up as President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars underscores all the more where her true allegiances lie. We do not need any more liberal internationalists trying to mold individual nations into submitting their sovereignty into a tenuous alliance or tyrannical world government. As long as her new role mainly entails her buoying feckless scholars instead of distorting national policy, the United States will have less to fear from her than before.

It is certainly a moot point for me to add that, since I never once voted for this Congressman, I am all the more glad to see her moving on, no longer representing me or my district in Congress. Unfortunately, I fear that another, perhaps more radical, Democract will take her place, since the 36th District, from Playa del Rey to San Pedro, consistently votes for Democratic candidates.
At least the voters in this district will have another opportunity to make things right, perhaps even selecting a politician who will make it a point to stop Obamacare at all costs.

Natan Sharanksy and the Uprising in Egypt (and throughout the Middle East)

Natan Sharansky, Jewish Freedom Fighter and Israeli patriot,
foresaw to a certain extent the revolution that is taking place in Egypt.

Writing in The Case for Democracy, he acknowledged the fledgling reforms that were taking place under the Mubarak regime, including open elections to opposing parties.

He also pointed out that it would only be a matter of time before subjects in these oppressive Arab nations would rise up, demanding more freedom and accountability from their governments.

Much of the debate in international circles has turned on what would be the long-term effects of regime change in Egypt, along with Tunisia, Yemen, and Jordan. Many fear that more radical Islamic elements will rise to power on the wave of populist revolt sweeping the Middle East. Even worse, state officials and Zionists fear that a democratic Egypt will give birth to a nation hostile to Israel, repudiating the Camp David Accords which President Jimmy Carter had helped broker in 1979.

I am more inclined to accept the cautious optimism of Natan Sharansky, who has gently chided Western Leaders that for too long they have compromised their democratic ideals all in the name of regional stability. To refute the value of this policy, Sharansky merely indicates the decisive devastation wrought on this county on September 11, 2001; the vast majority of those high-jacking terrorists were from Saudia Arabia, one of the "moderate" authoritarian states which the United States had chosen to ally itself with. Consider also the frequent concessions expected from the Jewish state to purchase peace from the PLO. Every time that Israel concedes land or liberty, the jihadist elements in the region increase their attacks on Israel.

It is in the best interests of every freedom-loving nation to support broader political, religious, and cultural freedoms throughout the world.

Sharansky qualifies this point: We must support democractic reforms in these Middle Eastern countries, yet our support cannot be merely blind sympathy. Democratic reform must entail more than sporadic elections with token opposition parties whose votes and policies ultimately yield to a censorious political climate that restricts free speech and minority rights.

In spite of the growing concerns rising in the minds of many policy wonks and pundits, I believe that the growing unrest and demand for change which we are witnessing in Tunisia, Egypt, and to a lesser extent Yemen and Jordan, is in the best interests of the United States and Israel, both countries firmly committed to the cause and spread of freedom and democracy. As Sharanksky writes, "The free world continues to underestimate the universal appeal of its own ideas." He later expounds the belief, which I share in turn, that all peoples want to be free, and are willing take the steps necessary to achieve, even those oppressed nations in the Middle East.

It would be in the best interests of foreign policy here and abroad to review the opinion and practices which guided Natan Sharansky and his political allies, both within Israel, the Middle East, and the United States.