The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

An important month

Tomorrow is the first of June. A June that will be one of the most important months, outside of election-year Novembers, in U. S. political history.

Next Tuesday, of course, will be an election, though only in the State of Wisconsin. But this election will show whether ordinary people can take politics away from Big Labor. Governor Scott Walker has tried to get his state's finances in order, and his method has been to take some of the power that public employee unions have exercised in the State away. This has gotten him the unions' deep enmity, of course, so he is forced to fight a recall election — an extreme rarity in this country. Only two Governors have actually been removed by recall in the history of the United States. (A third was put up for recall, but impeached and removed by that process before a recall election could be held.) But it looks as though he will win. Polls show a majority of Wisconsinites will vote to keep Gov. Walker. They are not going to be puppets of Big Labor.

The other extremely important occurrences that will happen this month will be Supreme Court rulings. Both the Arizona illegal immigration law and “Obamacare” are expected to be the subjects of Court rulings this coming month. Both can have a serious impact on what the powers of the Federal government are considered to be. There is a good chance that both rulings will go against Pres. Obama, which will be important reins on the unfettered Federal domination of power that he seeks. A Mayor of Chicago can override the will of his city's people, and Pres. Obama has tried to do the same on a national level. But he will, hopefully, be shown that there are constitutional limits on his power.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two referenda

It appears that there will be two referenda on the Maryland ballot this November on legislation that has been pushed by Governor Martin O'Malley. And while O'Malley has gotten behind both of them, and similar groups are forcing referenda on both, I'm of quite different minds on the two. And I expect to vote one way on one, and the other way on the other.

The first is the “gay marriage” question. I will certainly vote to keep the law as it was passed by the Maryland General Assembly (State legislature) and signed by Gov. O'Malley. What reason the opposition has for wanting to reverse this law I do not understand. I have not seen a single point made in opposition to gay marriage that holds up to scrutiny, and it is clear and simple a bigoted attempt to make things difficult for homosexual Marylanders.

On the other hand, Gov. O'Malley is also pushing a State version of the so-called DREAM Act. It would make illegal aliens living in Maryland — without the legal right to do so! — eligible for in-State tuition reductions at Maryland's public higher education institutions. I cannot see why Marylanders' state taxes should go to help these people get an education in Maryland, while, say, a United States citizen who has his primary residence in one of the other 49 States does not get this break. If Gov. O'Malley wished to eliminate the in-State/out-of-State differential, it might be justified. But to put illegals ahead of, for example, residents of Delaware or Virginia makes no sense to me. They have no business even being in the state, for goodness' sake!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is it justified to describe Obama as a socialist?

Yesterday on the Forbes magazine Website, Paul Roderick Gregory wrote a piece entitled “Is It Within Bounds To Ask: Is Obama A Socialist?” I thought this title interesting, because I've basically considered President Obama to be a socialist, without any hesitation. But I wanted to read Gregory's column, and I think it is so well put that I want to repeat it verbatim:

As campaign rhetoric heats up, pundits and talking-point guys and gals debate what is on or off limits. Can or should the Democrats talk about 16-year-old “bully” Romney or about his “weirdness” (a veiled reference I guess to his Mormon faith)? Can or should the Republicans revive Reverend Wright’s black liberation rants, the Bill Ayers connection, or the President’s youthful drug use, which apparently was prolific.

One such pundit on the democrat side (who and where I forget) referred to “crazies” who call Obama a “socialist.” Such statements are beyond the pale, he declared in disgust. They are on a par with the “birther” claims.

Despite such dismissals, there is strong and legitimate interest in whether President Obama is a socialist. My Forbes piece Is President Obama Truly a Socialist continues to attract many readers three months after it was posted. It showed the remarkable overlap between Obama’s electoral platform and the Party of European Socialists, which represents leftist and socialist parties in the European parliament. My French Socialists Test Drive Obama’s Electoral Platform showed that French socialist Francois Hollande’s and Obama’s platforms are virtual carbon copies, and Hollande is quite open about and proud of being a socialist.

Democrat strategists know that the American electorate reacts strongly negative to “socialism” and are doing their best to discredit any and all who call Obama a socialist. There can be no doubt that Obama is a socialist in the European reform-Marxism tradition. In France, Obama would be the candidate of the French socialist party. In Spain, he would be at home in the Socialist Worker’s Party. In Germany, Obama would be torn between the Social Democrats and Die Linke. In “Old Europe,” the welfare state is well entrenched. Elections are about tinkering at the margin. The United States has still to decide whether it wants the European welfare state or not. Obama does. Romney does not.

Democrat strategists discredit Obama-is-a-socialist claims by equating them with the ludicrous charge that Obama is a card-carrying communist of the cold war tradition. That is not what is being said. European socialists are proud of their rich tradition and heritage that date back to the split with revolutionary Marxism at the turn of the last century. In the United States, however, candidates must conceal rather than openly proclaim their socialist beliefs.

The upcoming November election offers American voters a choice that is starker than they understand. Obama brings to the table a deep distrust of free enterprise and a belief in government as the solution to most problems. Romney offers a vision of faith in private enterprise and a distrust of government intervention. Obama will disguise his views with “fair share” slogans and weak protestations of faith in private enterprise.

Both sides might as well come clean. Obama should make his health care reform a centerpiece of his campaign rather than pretend it does not exist. Romney should explain the insights into American capitalism he gained at Bain Capital and why that qualifies him for the Presidency. Both should state their positions clearly and let the electorate decide. The winner will have a mandate for action.

That’s the way democracy should work. It rarely does. Let this election be an exception.

I cannot disagree with anything Gregory wrote there, except that there are places where he wrote “democrat” with a small “d” and I think should have written “Democrat” with a capital “D”, so I'll repeat it with full credit to him.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The evolution of Memorial Day

When I was growing up, Memorial Day was quite different from the way it is now. First of all, some people called it “Decoration Day,” though both names were common. (See the note on the name on Wikipedia.) And it was before they moved all the holidays to Mondays in 1968, so it was on May 30 every year, regardless of what day of the week it was.

But the biggest change involves what the holiday was all about. At that time, it was still considered to honor the dead of the Civil War, even though at that time three wars had been fought since, and a fourth, in Korea, was going on (although, by the time I was 11, it had ended). It was so much associated with the Civil War that several Southern states did not celebrate it, but had their own “Confederate Memorial Day” holidays (which were not on the same days in all states). (There is a site, at, that claims that Memorial Day was converted into a general day for honoring all the war dead of the nation after World War I. My memory says different. Since it only became an official Federal holiday in 1971, I suppose what it meant varied among different people, though.)

Anyway, it certainly has evolved during my lifetime, though it actually goes back to the 1860s.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gov. Christie's sports gambling plan

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has proposed to legalize sports gambling in that State. Currently, however, there is a Federal law that would prevent it. In 1991, Congress passed a law that permitted it in four states: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, which had permitted it by a deadline specified in that act. New Jersey, which had been given the opportunity to do so in 1991, did not. So, on what basis is Gov. Christie challenging the law?

There are two Constitutional provisions that call for uniformity in Federal laws across the States: Art. I, Sect. 8, clause 1 states that “...all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States,” and Art. I, Sect. 9, clause 6 says that “No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.” But there is neither a tax involved, nor an import duty or other port regulation. So all I can imagine is that Gov. Christie is using the text of Art. I, Sect. 8, clause 1 and Art. I, Sect. 9, clause 6 to imply that the Constitution requires uniformity.

Actually, I hope Gov. Christie wins. I'd much rather see governments get their revenue from the voluntary expenditure of gamblers — and there will always be people who want to gamble — than by raising taxes. And I think that Federal laws should be uniform across the States; the differences in State laws is another matter. But I really wonder how the Supreme Court will rule if the case gets to them. Why should New Jersey not be able to do what Nevada is doing? Common sense is in agreement with Gov. Christie. But it's hard to make a case that the Constitution is.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Romney's VP choices

In yesterday's Washington Examiner was a short story from the Associated Press that stated:

Mitt Romney's vice presidential search has entered a new phase: auditions.

As his campaign evaluates potential running mates, Republicans with a possible shot at the No. 2 spot on the presidential ticket are starting to engage in unofficial public tryouts for the traditional vice presidential role of attack dog.

Democratic President Barack Obama is “the most ill-prepared person to assume the presidency in my lifetime,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared in a speech in Kentucky this week. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told South Carolina Republicans that there hasn't been such a “divisive figure in modern American history” as Obama.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, speaking Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library — it's a favorite venue for Republicans seeking more attention — said Obama “wants to take us further in the wrong direction.” In an Alabama appearance this month, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called Obama “the most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter.”

Not that any of them — or any of the others who may have landed a spot on Romney's list — are talking about becoming vice president. Nor are any of them acknowledging that they're trying out for the role or saying the Romney campaign has asked them to do so. Top Romney aides are sworn to secrecy, as are potential running mates and their staffs — an example of the Romney campaign's closely controlled, no-leaks culture.

Well, it's quite possible that they are auditioning for Romney's VP choice. But it could be that they are simply giving opinions they hold. (Jindal's comment that Obama was “the most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter” is about what I said a few days ago, and I certainly don't expect Mitt Romney to tap me for VP!) But any one of those four could be a good choice, if he is thinking of one of these for VP. So I'm certainly glad to hear their comments.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Barack Obama and LBJ

On March 12, 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson got 49% of the vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Eugene McCarthy got 42%. Such a comparative performance is believed by many to be the reason that Johnson decided not to run for re-election that year.

Fast forward to 2012. Just a few days ago, approximately 40% of the Kentucky Democratic primary voters voted "uncommitted" against President Obama. A similar proportion in Arkansas voted for a Tennessee lawyer that, I am sure, most Arkansans knew nothing about. And a few weeks earlier, in the West Virginia Democratic primary, 41% of the vote went to a prisoner in Texas. Just like 1968, we're talking about Democratic primaries, with a sitting Democratic President defending his record. And at least, in 1968, Eugene McCarthy was a well-known figure. Obama's opposition in those three states was not. (In Kentucky, there was nobody -- just “uncommitted”!)

Perhaps Barack Obama should realize that, even in his own party, voters are dissatisfied with his Presidency. He ought to emulate Lyndon Johnson and retire. But, of course, he won't. He enjoys power too much. (But didn't LBJ, also?) So it is up to the American people to retire him in November.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On Bain Capital and GST Steel

President Obama has been attacking Mitt Romney with the claim that Romney's company, Bain Capital, sucked the blood out of a steel company, GST Steel. Of course, as I posted earlier, Romney had left Bain Capital two years before GST Steel went bankrupt. But I now find out exactly why GST Steel went bankrupt: its unions.This article by Kimberley A. Strassel appeared on the Wall Street Journal's site on May 17:

This week the Obama campaign debuted its attack on Bain Capital, the private-equity firm Mitt Romney founded. Its two-minute ad purports to tell the story of GS Technologies, a Kansas City-based Bain investment that went bankrupt in 2001.

To hear the Obama campaign, this is a tale of greed: GST was a healthy, happy, quality steelmaker until Bain plundered its worth and stripped its 750 workers of their due. "It was like a vampire," laments one former employee in the ad. "They came in and sucked the life out of us."

GST is a tragic tale, though in a different way. The real story of GST is that of a private-equity firm trying to spark some life into a uncompetitive, over-unionized industry. Bain's crime here—if that's what you call it—was giving a dying steel plant an unexpected eight-year lease on life.

When Bain bought the Kansas City mill in 1993, steel was a scene of carnage. Global players were pouring out cheap products, and America's high-cost steel plants couldn't compete. The industry had lost 200,000 jobs in preceding years. In 1992 alone, the six largest U.S. steel mills had lost a combined $3 billion. Armco, the company Bain would buy the plant from, would lose $641 million in 1993.

The Kansas City plant was itself dying. At its 1970 height it employed 4,500; by the late 1980s it was down to 1,000. A year before acquisition, Armco had laid off another 75. Its equipment was old; it faced fierce competition at home and abroad.

B.C. Huselton, a vice president of the business at the time, tells me that in 1990 the Armco CEO held a meeting. "He told us, 'Look, we either try to sell it, or we've got to shut it down.'" Armco had shut down another Kansas City facility, Union Wire Rope, only a few years before.

The Kansas City plant had two product lines—high-carbon rods and grinding media (used in mining)—that it felt could give it a competitive edge. But it needed investment, and Armco was tapped out. Bain nonetheless saw some potential and in 1993 joined other investors to acquire it for $80 million. Management renamed it GS Technologies (which would become part of a larger GS Industries) and poured an additional $100 million into modernization.

The strategy worked for a time. The market firmed up and GSI became a U.S. leader in steel rods. In 1994 it felt confident enough to distribute a dividend to investors. In both 1996 and 1997, GSI would realize $1 billion in revenue.

And then came the tsunami. The late 1990s saw a new outpouring of cheap steel from elsewhere around the globe. The Asian financial crisis walloped the mining industry, cutting demand for GST products. The price of GST's electricity and natural gas skyrocketed. The union dug in, refusing to make concessions. By April 1997, it was on strike, shooting bottle rockets at guards. Labor costs spiked, and by 1999 GSI was reporting $53 million in net losses.

In 2001 it would become one of 31 steel companies that went bankrupt from 1993 to 2003. (Mr. Romney left Bain in 1999.) The steel crash was the economic drama du jour, with Congress railing about "dumping."

At the time, GST's union blamed the company's bankruptcy on the political class, for failing to hamstring imports. "We can't compete against the steel imports that are being sold under cost," said the president of GST's union in 2001. "Our pleas fell on deaf ears in the political arena." The Bush administration would ultimately slap on giant tariffs.

The bankruptcies were led by unionized companies that, like airlines and textiles and Detroit, had negotiated pay and benefits that helped drive their employers under. GST's pension benefits would get passed on to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which in 2002 received $7.5 billion in claims from the steel industry alone. The PBGC covered GST's basic pension payouts.

The Obama ad doesn't note that the broader company, GS Industries, employed 3,500 and that the Kansas City plant (with 750 workers) was the only one shuttered. Other plants were bought and operate today. Nor does it mention Bain's other steel investment in the early 1990s, in an Indiana start-up called Steel Dynamics. The firm touts innovative technology and a nonunion workforce. It today reports $6.3 billion in revenue—25 times what it claimed in its 1996 IPO—and employs 6,000.

A private-equity firm looking to quickly strip value from a company—to "suck" the life out of it—does not do so by investing $100 million in modernization and holding on for eight years, through bankruptcy. Bain has surely made its share of mistakes, and one may well have been trying to resuscitate a traditional steel firm in the grip of industry upheaval. The irony, says Mr. Huselton, is that this plant "wouldn't even be in today's news, if it hadn't been the opportunity that came with Bain. Those jobs would have been gone in 1993."

That's a more revealing story—of the pressures of a global market, the dangers of an inflexible workforce, and the opportunities that come with private equity and risk-taking. It's just not one Team Obama wants to tell.

I've said a lot about greedy labor unions. And I could say more. But Obama, bankrolled by the SEIU and its like, doesn't want to put the blame where it belongs. Don't blame Mitt Romney. Blame the union.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The fraudulence of Obama

Yesterday, Peter Wehner wrote a post entitled, “The Fraudulence of Obama” with a damaging critique of our incumbent President. He wrote:

To understand the fundamental fraudulence of Barack Obama, consider just one issue: his relationship with lobbyists.

In arguably the most important speech of the campaign, the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa in 2007, Obama said, “[Lobbyists] have not funded my campaign, they will not work in my White House.” Upon taking office, Obama made quite a show of announcing new ethics rules barring lobbyists from working in the administration on issues that fell under their lobbying bailiwick. Yet Obama immediately allowed waivers for lobbyists working on issues that fell under their lobbying bailiwick.

But that’s not all. During the 2008 campaign, Obama said this:

I intend to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over, that they had not funded my campaigns, and from my first day as president, I will launch the most sweeping ethics reform in U.S. history. We will make government more open, more accountable and more responsive to the problems of the American people.

When speaking about the destructive power of lobbyists in a town hall meeting in Bristol, Virginia, Obama was emphatic: “We are going to change how Washington works. They will not run our party. They will not run our White House. They will not drown out the views of the American people.” And in August, 2008, Obama said this: ““I suffer from the same original sin of all politicians, which is we’’ve got to raise money. But my argument has been and will continue to be that the disproportionate influence of lobbyists and special interest is a problem in Washington and in state capitals.”

Now let’s judge Obama’s words against his actions, with the help of a Washington Post story.

Here’s how the story begins:

Before 9 a.m., a group of lobbyists began showing up at the White House security gates with the chief executives of their companies, all of whom serve on President Obama’s jobs council, to be checked in for a roundtable with the president. At 1 p.m., a dozen representatives from the meat industry arrived for a briefing in the New Executive Office Building. At 3 p.m., a handful of lobbyists were lining up for a ceremony honoring the 2011 World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. And at 4 p.m., a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs arrived in the Old Executive Office Building for a meeting with Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

It was an unremarkable January day, with a steady stream of lobbyists among the thousands of daily visitors to the White House and the surrounding executive office buildings, according to a Washington Post analysis of visitor logs released by the administration The visitor logs for Jan. 17 – one of the most recent days available – show that the lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The records also suggest that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House enjoy the easiest access.

Now hypocrisy is not an unknown quality in a politician. But what sets Obama apart from almost everyone else is the lengths Obama goes to in order to portray himself as morally superior to the rest of the political class even as he acts in ways that completely shatter his claims. He reminds me of the minister who cannot help from condemning the very sin to which he is beholden. And so as recently as last month Obama was saying, “A lot of folks see the amounts of money that are being spent and the special interests that dominate and the lobbyists that always have access, and they say to themselves, maybe I don’t count.”

What’s impossible to know is the degree to which Obama is alarmingly cynical or the degree to which he is alarmingly self-deluded. Whatever the case, he is a man whose words mean nothing. Nothing at all.

This is not very surprising. After all, this is the same president who promised that if you were happy with your present health care plan, you could keep it. This is the president who said “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.” (And again: “The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states - red states for Republicans, and blue states for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. ... We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”) I could go on. But Wehner has said enough to make the point.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A follow-up to the endorsement of Bongino for Senate

I was just looking at Dan Bongino's website. Interestingly, I can't even tell from it his positions on the “social issues.” But actually, that's the way it should be.

Dan Bongino is running on the right issues. The things that need to be fixed in this country. No need to reconsider — I'm supporting him for the Senate. Read his stands at this site.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dan Bongino for Senator

In this area, a lot of areas have these events (usually called “Taste of …” and the name of the area in question) where you can sample food from a lot of nearby restaurants. Yesterday was “Taste of Wheaton,” and I went there. Besides the food tables, there were a couple of rows of other tables, put up by various organizations: nonprofits, County agencies, commercial establishments, and both major parties. In fact, they put the Republicans' table right across the way from the Democrats' — whether on purpose or not. (Most people thought this was deliberate!) I went over to the Republicans' table, and by the table was Dan Bongino, the candidate in this year's election for Senator from Maryland. I hadn't supported Bongino in the primary, and I knew very little about him (except that I was likely to support any Republican against our incumbent, Ben Cardin), so I began the conversation asking why I should support him. I did not say anything about my own political beliefs, because I did not want him to know which issues he needed to emphasize to get my support. (I don't, as you who read this blog regularly would know, like the “social conservative” positions taken by many Rrpublican candidates these days, though I would vote for someone who self-identified as a social conservative against a Ben Cardin if social conservatism was not his chief issue.) Bongino's response, however, kept me quite satisfied. He began talking about reducing Government's impact on our lives — the kind of libertarian appeal with which I strongly agree. He then mentioned economic matters and the ineffectiveness of Ben Cardin (who has almost no legislation that he has sponsored among the laws). He never mentioned any of the social issues, and the campaign literature he handed me was similarly oriented toward economic matters and Bongino's qualifications. I certainly feel comfortable, on the basis of my conversation with him and his campaign literature, supporting Dan Bongino for Senator from Maryland.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another voice on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story

Mansfield Frazier wrote a post on the Daily Beast site this morning. The main title talks about the need to try George Zimmerman, but it is another point he makes that I want to emphasize:

At heart, this case is really about the type of society some want to have versus the one the National Rifle Association wants to foist on an unsuspecting public. Just imagine for a minute that Trayvon Martin was an adult instead of a juvenile; further, that he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon; and still further, that he had a gun on his person when Zimmerman approached him. Under “Stand Your Ground” laws Martin could have just as easily shot and killed Zimmerman instead, and (if not for the fact he was black, and that laws—when race enters into the picture—have been applied unequally in this country for centuries) he then could have made the same self-defense claim. Under this type of Wild West mentality fistfights can (and will) escalate into murders.

Nonetheless, more laws are being proposed in some states to allow concealed weapons to be carried into bars, schools, and public buildings, all in the name of creating a safer society.

According to a study published in the prestigious American Journal of Epidemiology, however, “Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home …”

Writing on the website for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence, Dennis Henigan said, “The NRA has a wonderfully simple story to tell. In the NRA’s world, people are neatly divided into two readily identifiable groups: good guys and bad guys. In this imaginary world, we know that legal carriers of guns must be good guys and that good guys use their guns only in legitimate self-defense—that’s what makes them good guys in the first place. The Trayvon Martin tragedy reveals the real world to be far more complicated.” Indeed it is.

In the streets there’s a phenomenon called “pistol courage” which poses the question, would Zimmerman—if he wasn’t armed—have approached Martin in the aggressive manner in which he did? Put another way, are cowards, when they’re empowered with the advantage of firepower, willing to take more risks, and even provoke situations that could have been handled in another manner if they were not armed?

Many gun nuts brag about how they could blow someone away and sleep like babies, and for some of them that’s the gospel truth. But for others (even case-hardened soldiers and police officers) once they’ve taken the life of another human being they’re forever changed—and not for the better. And there’s really no way to know in advance how a person will be affected.

In the Martin/Zimmerman case, issues such as who was crying out for help and what Trayvon was saying to his girlfriend in the seconds before the confrontation cannot be dismissed, and can only be thoroughly examined in a court of law. But the real upside of a trial is that a much-needed spotlight will be placed on “Stand Your Ground” laws. Even if Zimmerman is found not guilty, if those dangerous laws are changed, society will have won a victory.

I'm glad to see this post. As I said earlier, it's really these gun laws that need to be blamed for the Trayvon Martin death. But I was perplexed that others didn't see it that way. Mansfield Frazier clearly gets it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What have the two in common?

In Virginia, judges are elected by the legislative branch, unlike most of our states (Only Virginia and South Carolina do it this way). And the General Assembly, as it is called there, just got through a process where a judicial candidate, Tracy Thorne-Begland, was denied election because he is gay and living with a partner. One particular Republican delegate, Robert G. Marshall, led the opposition to Thorne-Begland, and 31 Republicans altogether opposed him, which was enough to kill the nomination.

This kind of bigotry saddens me, and makes me ashamed to be a member of the same party. However, the other party stands for all sorts of other things I cannot abide, so you will not see me joining the Democrats. I am a Republican because I oppose the Democrats' economic policies, whether it's fealty to organized labor or socialistic approaches to business, and because I oppose most Democrats' foreign policy positions. What the connection is between Republican economic and foreign-policy positions, which I favor, and this sort of homophobic bigotry I cannot fathom. And in fact there are conservative Republicans, from Dick Cheney to Michael Barone (columnist in the National Review and Washington Examiner), who support gay marriage, so it is still possible to detach these issues from each other. But how can the party shed this anti-gay image? Somehow it must. The Republican party is, on other issues, the party of individual freedom. It cannot be the party of coercion in this instance.

Friday, May 18, 2012

An[other] infuriating column by Cal Thomas

Yesterday I read a column in the Washington Examiner written by Cal Thomas, and as usual, Mr. Thomas' positions I find infuriating. Now in this column, he is actually advocating a position I share — that Obama should be opposed — but I think for all the wrong reasons. Thomas begins his column (named “The Gospel According to Obama”) with the paragraph:

It is one thing to talk about “fairness” when it comes to allowing gays and lesbians to marry; it is quite another to claim biblical authority for such relationships.

President Obama cited the Golden Rule about treating others as you would like to be treated. In doing so, he ignored the totality of Scripture and the notion that the Lord alone sets the rules for human behavior.

Now, Mr. Thomas seems to think that he alone is an expert on Scripture; or, more likely (since, if I recall correctly, he is a Roman Catholic) that all of the world is bound by what the Pope has said, and Mr. Thomas' deference to Papal infallibility should be shared by all. Now, whatever I may think about President Obama, I believe that he, as much as Cal Thomas, has an equal right to interpret the Scriptural meaning — and, in fact, I claim this right for myself as well. And in particular, since there are churches that are willing to solemnize gay marriages (even if his own is not), Mr. Thomas is in addition imposing a religious test contrary to both the spirit and the letter of Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

So Mr. Thomas is way off base. And later in the same column, he says:

I recently wrote that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people who believe the Bible is God's Word to impose their beliefs on those who disagree with them. But it is something altogether different for those who disagree with them to claim the Bible doesn't say what it actually says. Obama apparently hopes there are sufficient numbers of biblical illiterates — and he could be right about this — who either don't notice his sleight of hand, or don't care.

Again, Cal Thomas knows “what [the Bible] actually says,” while Barack Obama does not. But then he slips into a different argument:

Thousands of years of human history have sustained marriage between one man and one woman.

In other words, “this is how it's always been.” But of course, until the 1860s, “how it's always been” included slavery; and one can name all sorts of things that once upon a time could be described as “how it's always been.” That does not mean they were right. But then, Thomas goes back to the Bible, and fires off a number of biblical quotations, but fails to note that the Bible also says he should not eat pork, that a widow should marry her late husband's brother, etc., etc. So why do these quotes carry more weight? After these quotations, Mr. Thomas goes on:

Liberal theologians have tried to modify, or even change, what is contained in the Bible, and there are those in our time who are following their example with the issue of same-sex marriage. People are free to accept or reject what Scripture says, but not to claim it says something it does not. In modern times, that's called spin. In an earlier time, it was called heresy.

What “liberal theologians” say deserves as much credibility as Mr. Thomas, who is offering only one interpretation of what Scripture says, an interpretation which he certainly has a right to hold to, but not to bind anyone else to. Now, Mr. Thomas does say one thing which I actually find to make some sense:

As he seeks to justify his position on same-sex marriage and other issues with at best a questionable use of and at worst a denial of Scripture, President Obama might be said to be preaching another gospel. This could possibly lead to a fissure in his solid support among African-Americans, costing the president votes in November. It will also likely galvanize the culture warriors. Minorities mostly vote for Democrats, but they don't like their faith denied. That could cause some of them to stay home on Election Day, or even vote for Mitt Romney.

While I might challenge Mr. Thomas' characterization of President Obama's position as “at best a questionable use of and at worst a denial of Scripture,” I can certainly agree that there are African-Americans who might weaken their support for him, or possibly even vote for Mitt Romney, as a result of this; not many, because they seem so proud of having one of their number. But in the same issue of the Examiner, for example, columnist Gregory Kane, an African-American conservative who never did support Obama, mentions that his mother's support for Obama has been lost as a result of this stance.

In a sense, I should not gloat over someone casting a vote for Romney for a reason which I think should not govern a voter's decision. I shudder to think of the fact that I have people like Cal Thomas on “my team.” But I reason this way: Obama may lose some votes for the wrong reason. But if he does, I can't really shed any tears. Any reason that someone votes for Mitt Romney against Barack Obama helps remedy the terrible wrong that resulted from the 2008 election.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Obama: the worst of all Presidents? Perhaps not, but it's close!

Barack Obama has been one of our very worst Presidents. But I got to thinking: Is he the worst ever? Well, I can't really say; I've heard of some pretty bad Presidents, such as James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding, but not having lived through their Presidencies, I find it pretty hard to evaluate them vis-à-vis Obama. So I finally decided that I could only evaluate him as compared to the Presidents who served during my lifetime. And for the rest of this post, I will stick to that field.

When I was born, Franklin D. Roosevelt was President. But he died before my third birthday, so I really have no memories of him as President. And anyway, though my opinion of him is a whole lot lower than that of my FDR-loving parents, he would be out of the running for worst, so whether or not he should be counted among “the Presidents who served during my lifetime” doesn't really matter.

Thinking through the list of Presidents from Truman to Obama, I find that, while I am strongly negative about at least one, namely Bill Clinton, and I really think he should have been removed by the impeachment process for his lying under oath, there is really only one President who might contend with Pres. Obama for the title of “worst in my lifetime”: Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter took two carefully crafted foreign policy deals and ruined them: first: we had found a way to have Communist China represented in Washington by the equivalent of an embassy, while not giving up our insistence that the true legal government of China was the Nationalist government in Taipei, and second: we had negotiated a settlement of the Vietnam War. Carter gave in to the Communist Chinese demand that we throw out the embassy of Nationalist China and give them the status as the legitimate government of China, and he essentially surrendered South Vietnam to the North. In general, Carter was hopelessly naïve about Communists; he expressed “shock” that Leonid Brezhnev would lie to him!

Domestically, Carter was pretty bad too: he appointed a doctor who had been found guilty of prescription drug law violations as his drug program manager! In general, knowing Jimmy Carter from Georgia was more important than competence in qualifying for an appointment in the Carter Administration,

Now, Barack Obama came into office because the economy had taken a serious dive. So you'd think he would use the powers of the Presidency to work on the economy. But his only economic proposal was really a “stimulus” that did not stimulate. Most of his efforts were spent trying to put through a “cap and trade” proposal that would, if anything, bring our economy down further (which never went through, in the end!) and, even more, actually forcing through an unconstitutional (well, ok, it has not yet been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, so it's only my opinion that it is unconstitutional!) law on health care, over the wishes of the American people. (Even in Massachusetts, they elected Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy's seat when Kennedy died, mainly because of his stance on that health care bill!)

So was Obama worse than Carter? It's a close call. Probably Carter deserves the “worst of the Presidents who served during my lifetime” title, and Obama is only #2. But it's hard to understand why anyone really contemplates voting to re-elect him this year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Obama's sleazy attempt to blame Romney for a bankruptcy

One of Mitt Romney's achievements that forms a part of the reason for believing him to be a good choice for the Presidency is his founding of a venture capital firm, Bain Capital. This firm was responsible for infusing capital into such now-well-known names as Staples, Sports Authority, and many others. But of course, some of the firm's guesses did not work out. And nobody guesses right on an investment all the time, so one can hardly blame Mitt Romney for an occasional bankruptcy. Yet, President Obama's campaign people are doing just that.

GST Steel was a company which Bain Capital acquired in 1993. GST went bankrupt and shut down its Kansas City plant in 2001, costing about 750 workers their jobs. Note that date. Because Mitt Romney had left Bain Capital in 1999, when he went to take over the management of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic bid. In other words, Mitt Romney can not be blaimed for GST Steel's bankruptcy, even if Bain Capital could be shown to have done something wrong. And as I said, even the best investment firms make some mistakes. For every GST Steel that Bain could not save, there were many more Sports Authorities that they did. Even Steve Rattner, a former Obama adviser, says the ads are "unfair"!

When one of your own former advisors makes such comments, that is a sleazy thing to do.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The real Mitt Romney - what is he like?

The Democrats are trying to paint Mitt Romney as a cold-hearted man who would love to lay someone off to save money. And in fact, as this post by Mara Gay, Dan Hirschhorn, and M.L. Nestel shows, it's really the antithesis of the Mitt Romney that has already shown himself:

One cold December day in the early 1980s, Mitt Romney loaded up his Gran Torino with firewood and brought it to the home of a single mother whose heat had been shut off just days before Christmas.

Years after a business partner died unexpectedly, Romney helped the man’s surviving daughter go to medical school with loans for tuition — loans he forgave when she graduated.

And in 1997, when a fellow church member’s teenage son fell seriously ill, Romney sprinted to the hospital in the dead of night, where he kept vigil with his terrified parents.

Stories like these — tales of long hours spent with grieving families, financial assistance to those in need and timely help given to strangers whether asked for or not — abound in the adult life of the Republican presidential candidate. Many of them, though not all, are connected to his work as a Mormon bishop.

And yet these stories are largely absent on the campaign trail.

Some supporters believe he isn’t touting them because it’s impossible to separate the good works he’s done from a Mormon faith that demands them — a faith that has by all accounts been a defining influence in his life, yet which the campaign has been determined to keep out of the political conversation.

But taken together, the stories point to a central contradiction between Romney the candidate and Romney the person. In short, a man weighed down by the image of a heartless corporate raider who can’t relate to people actually has a history of doing remarkably kind things for those in need.

Many people close to Romney find the contradiction maddening.

“The people that know him — the picture the media paints is not the Mitt that I know,” Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, told The Daily. “And I wish I could do something about it. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that.”

Democrats would scoff that whatever good Romney has done in his personal life doesn’t mean his policies would be any less destructive for those same struggling people.

“No one is questioning whether or not Mitt Romney has a nice family or has lived a life of success in which he’s tried to give something back,” said Jen Psaki, a Democratic strategist and former communications staffer in the Obama White House. “But that doesn’t matter to people who are still struggling, families that are trying to pay for college, people trying to pay for health insurance, middle class families who are trying to make ends meet. [Romney] hasn’t shown a plan to help them. That’s what voters are looking for, and he leaves a lot to be desired on that front.”

But as his campaign tries to humanize the often-stiff candidate, who was forced to apologize last week for bullying a prep school classmate, friends and supporters see an opportunity in these stories and others like them. Some are being reported for the first time here; others have slowly emerged in reports over the years. Even some Romney insiders are unfamiliar with the tales, underscoring the extent to which Romney himself has kept them out of his political narrative.

“I do think they should [tell these stories] because it rounds out who he is,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Republican strategist who’s not affiliated with the campaign. “It also shows people that here’s a guy who lives his personal values — he’s not just a politician. The fact that they never made a big deal out of this stuff says something itself.”

Many can’t escape the nagging feeling that it’s a fear of highlighting his Mormonism that keeps these tales out of the political bloodstream.

“I wish Mitt could find a way to just tell the story of his life,” said Richard Bushman, a prominent Mormon academic at Columbia University who has known Romney for years. “He’s a Mormon through and through. We all know that. And he’s lived the Mormon way his whole life.”

Top Romney strategists would not comment for this article, nor would the campaign make Romney available for an interview. But a well-placed source familiar with their thinking said a reluctance of bringing up his religion does indeed factor into why these stories aren’t often told. Also, the source said, the campaign prefers not to engage in an argument over likability against a personally popular president at the expense of fostering Romney’s image as a fix-it man for the economy.

Good works are a fundamental part of membership in the Mormon church. “If a Latter-Day Saint isn’t doing a whole lot of service, especially for other members of the church but also beyond, they’re not being a Latter-Day Saint. That’s just what we do,” says Robert Millet, dean emeritus of religious education at Brigham Young University.

It is also a matter of salvation, Millet said. “There’s a passage in the book of Mormon that’s particularly important. ‘When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of God.’ That’s an important idea for Mormons,” he said. “We can’t really serve God directly. We can only serve God by helping his children.”

Talking about those teachings publicly, however, could be risky for Romney, who is the presumptive nominee of a Republican Party with an evangelical base that is often suspicious of or even hostile toward Mormonism — a tension many supporters were feeling ahead of the candidate’s speech over the weekend at evangelical Liberty University, where the Latter-Day Saints church has been openly regarded as a “cult.” There’s also the fact that some of these good deeds are made possible by a vast personal fortune Romney has often worn uncomfortably on the campaign trail.

Either way, there’s no escaping the fact that Romney’s many kind acts — some of which were first reported in the recent book “The Real Romney” — are sharply at odds with his persona on the campaign trail.

Take the story of Ellen Hummel, whose father died of a heart attack when she was 5. Ellen turned to the Romneys to learn more about her dad, a close family friend who worked with him at Boston Consulting Group and later, the private equity firm Bain Capital. Later, she also asked Romney for a loan to help her pay tuition at Columbia Medical School.

“I went to him asking him for help and he freely gave it,” said Dr. Ellen K. Hummel, today a general practitioner at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Just before graduation, she received a note from Romney, forgiving the loan. “It was a Christmas letter,” she said. “It was something caring and it was something saying ‘This is a gift.’”

Then there’s Kim Clark, the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho. When an adverse reaction to medication landed his 16-year-old son Michael in the hospital in 1997, Clark turned to Romney.

“I called Mitt because I wanted to give Michael a blessing,” Clark told The Daily. “Whenever in our family we had situations arise we always called Mitt because we knew he would always come.” Even after it was clear the teenager would recover, Romney remained at the hospital with the family through the night.

One story surrounded by considerable lore and unknown to most advisers — Romney seems to only have alluded to it once publicly, in 2007 — concerns a cold December Sunday in the 1980s. Romney got a phone call from a Mormon bishop in Utah who said the adult daughter of one of his members — a single mother who did not belong to the church — needed help. The woman’s heating oil had been turned off in the dead of winter.

Enlisting his young sons to help, Romney loaded up his Gran Torino with firewood and drove the car from the family’s generous house in the leafy Boston suburb of Belmont to the woman’s home in the hardscrabble Dorchester neighborhood downtown.

“I remember well loading it all up,” Tagg Romney recalled. “And we drove it to her house and made a fire for her and dropped off quite a bit of firewood so [the family] would be able to keep warm.”

The Daily was unable to locate the woman, but people familiar with the story described it in similar terms.

Stories like these are legion. Romney gathering neighbors in a quick effort to clear out a burning house until firefighters arrived on the scene. Showing up unsolicited to clear a hornet’s nest near an injured church member’s house. Organizing a New York City search for a business partner’s missing daughter — a story actually told by Romney’s campaign in a 2008 ad reprised by a super PAC supporting him this year.

Religion aside, any politician who talks up his good deeds runs a risk of appearing a bit too fond of himself. But with Romney unable to shake off his buttoned-up, corporate image, some think talking about his personal experiences is crucial.

“People need to get to know a man who’s a potential president of the United States,” said Wilson, the GOP strategist. “The more you fill in the blanks the better for Romney. It mitigates the plutocrat attacks.”

An attempt to redefine the candidate may take more urgency after it emerged last week that as a high school senior, Romney directed his classmates to hold down and cut the hair of a classmate presumed to be gay.

But for now, those closest to him don’t expect a wellspring of stories of kindness to emerge from the candidate, even if that means the narrative of a wooden candidate whose gaffes about Cadillacs and firing people endures.

“He just thinks that’s the right way to go about it,” Tagg Romney said of his father’s silence on this front. “I don’t think he’s going to change.“

Mark DeMoss, an adviser who has worked to sell the candidate to evangelicals and religious conservatives, said Romney shouldn’t start telling these stories if he couldn’t do so comfortably anyway.

“I don’t think he should,” DeMoss said. “Because if by talking more about it he was doing something that he wasn’t comfortable doing, then it wouldn’t be him.”

And if Mitt Romney is not comfortable talking about himself that way, perhaps others need to do it for him. I, for one, will do my part by bringing Gay, Hirshhorn, and Nestel's post to the attention of readers of this blog.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A column worth reading

Most of the time, the Washington Post is pretty far to my left. And I'm certain the Post will endorse President Obama this fall. So it was interesting to read this column by Kathleen Parker in the Post:

This past week’s news cycle has produced two narratives:

One, Barack Obama is an evolutionary, 21st-century hero who supports equality for all.

Two, Mitt Romney is a gay-bashing bully mired in the previous century who also supports a war on women and, oh yeah, hates dogs.

Let’s parse, shall we?

Obama’s Big Announcement that he supports gay marriage came about for the following reasons: (a) He had no choice after Vice President Biden said on “Meet the Press” that he was fine with same-sex marriage; (b) one in six of Obama’s campaign bundlers, those who raise big bucks, is openly gay; (c) Obama risks nothing except the votes of those who wouldn’t have voted for him anyway.

And last, but certainly not least, because supporting equal treatment of all Americans under all legal contracts, including marriage with all its attendant rights and responsibilities, is the right thing to do. In this respect, Obama may have evolved in his thinking, as millions of other Americans have, including yours truly. Indeed, polls show that the country is about evenly divided on the question, with younger Americans overwhelmingly supportive of same-sex marriage. In another generation, this conversation likely will be irrelevant.

Meanwhile. Can we stop hyperventilating long enough to not be ridiculous?

Yes, Obama’s statement carries symbolic weight, but it changes nothing. In fact, by also saying he thinks the issue should remain with the states, he is both taking a conservative, states’-rights position and passing the constitutional buck. As commentator Joe Scarborough pointed out, if the president believes that equal marriage rights are constitutionally protected, then he has a duty to fight for those rights rather than hand off the issue to the states. Gay men and lesbians won’t fare well on that frontier given that 30 states already have passed prohibitive amendments to their state constitutions.

Thus, Obama’s announcement, while political and pragmatic, was fundamentally meaningless. You’d never know it by the media’s response, of course. As Tim Stanley wrote in Britain’s Telegraph, everything the first African American president says or does is breathtakingly historic:

“The Prez could go seal-clubbing and much of the media would see it as a new epoch for winter sports. ‘Barack Obama Becomes the First President to Kill Six Seals in Under One Minute,’ The New York Times would proudly report, while Twitter would be all abuzz with how hot he looks in snow shoes.”

Not so much poor Mitt. While Obama was being feted at a $40,000-a-plate din-din at George Clooney’s house, Romney was being roasted for a high school bullying “prank” nearly 50 years ago. A prank that made the top half of The Washington Post’s front page Friday — and the details of which are in much dispute, especially from the family of the alleged victim, who, alas, isn’t alive to defend his version of events.

Briefly, as told by a handful of boarding-school classmates, Romney led a group of boys who tackled and held down John Lauber and cut his longish, blond hair. Romney allegedly didn’t like Lauber’s look and decided to fix it. The subtext is that since Lauber later came out as gay, Romney is a not-so-closeted gay-hater.

For those to the premises more recently arrived, a quick primer on 1965, when this occurred. Nobody knew who was or wasn’t “gay,” a word that wasn’t yet in popular circulation as a noun and generally meant “merry.” Homosexuality wasn’t on most high school kids’ radar, period. If anything, Romney may not have liked Lauber’s “hippie” locks, which is the more likely case given the era.

Whatever. Lauber obviously was a nonconformist in an environment that valued conformity, and Romney and his crew were indeed bullies. They shouldn’t have done it, but boarding schools until recently were not widely known as incubators of sensitivity. Today, of course, prep schools feature weekly diversity seminars and offer staff psychiatrists for the noncompliant.

But five decades later, this is a campaign issue in a presidential election? Lauber’s family doesn’t think it should be — and they may be the only people who count in this particular debate.

The real story, meanwhile, is the one that keeps getting pushed aside, which is that the country is going bankrupt and that 32 percent of young people (ages 18 to 29) are underemployed. But as long as we’re talking about things like gay marriage and contraception — all forced to the fore by Democrats, by the way — Americans can avert their gaze from the evolving economic collapse, which will be anything but gay.

That such words appear in the Post is amazing. But they make more sense than most of what the Post publishes.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More about Elizabeth Warren's ancestry

This news, recently posted by Michael Patrick Leahy, about Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate to return Scott Brown's Senate seat to Democratic hands: Not only isn't she of American Indian origin, but one of her ancestors was involved in rounding up Indians and forcing them to move to Oklahoma:

For over a quarter of a century, Elizabeth Warren has described herself as a Native American. When recently asked to provide evidence of her ancestry, she pointed to an unsubstantiated claim on an 1894 Oklahoma Territory marriage license application by her great-great grand uncle William J. Crawford that his mother, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandmother, was a Cherokee.

After researching her story, it is obvious that her "family lore" is just fiction.

As I pointed out in my article here on Sunday, no evidence supports this claim. O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford had no Cherokee heritage, was listed as "white" in the Census of 1860, and was most likely half Swedish and half English, Scottish, or German, or some combination thereof. (Note, the actual 1894 marriage license makes no claim of Cherokee ancestry.)

But the most stunning discovery about the life of O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford is that her husband, Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, was apparently a member of the Tennessee Militia who rounded up Cherokees from their family homes in the Southeastern United States and herded them into government-built stockades in what was then called Ross’s Landing (now Chattanooga), Tennessee—the point of origin for the horrific Trail of Tears, which began in January, 1837.

This new information about Ms. Warren’s true heritage came as a direct result of a lead provided to me by William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection, who in turn had received the information from one of his readers. Jacobson, who has questioned Warren's explanation for her law faculty listing, calls this discovery "the ultimate and cruelest irony" of the Warren Cherokee saga.

Jonathan Crawford, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford’s husband and apparently Ms. Warren's great-great-great grandfather, served in the East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteer Militia commanded by Brigadier General R. G. Dunlap from late 1835 to late 1836. While under Dunlap’s command he was a member of Major William Lauderdale’s Battalion, and Captain Richard E. Waterhouse’s Company.

These were the troops responsible for removing Cherokee families from homes they had lived in for generations in the three states that the Cherokee Nations had considered their homelands for centuries: Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

While these involuntary home removals were not characterized by widespread violence, the newly displaced Cherokee mothers, fathers, and children found an oppressive and sometimes brutal welcome when they finally arrived at the hastily constructed containment areas. An estimated 4,000 Cherokees were warehoused in Ross’s Landing stockades for months awaiting supplies and additional armed guards the Federal Government believed necessary to relocate them on foot to Oklahoma.

Jonathan Crawford most likely did not join the regular Army troops who "escorted" these Cherokees along the Trail of Tears. He did, however, serve once more with Major William Lauderdale's re-formed Batallion of Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteer Militia. This group fought the Seminole Indians in Florida during the Second Seminole War. Crawford arrived in Florida in November, 1837, and served there for six months until his unit was disbanded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana the following May. (Note: It was not uncommon in those days for militia formed to serve for a limited period of time under specific commanders would reform later under the same commanders.)

Jonathan Crawford's service as a Private in Captain Richard E. Waterhouse's Company of Major William Lauderdale's Battalion of Mounted Infantry in Brigadier General R. G. Dunlap's East Tennessee Mounted Infantry Volunteers is confirmed by his appearance in the muster roll of the Brigade, taken around June of 1836. (Note that this transcription of the muster roll incorrectly lists the date as 1832.)

His service a year later (1837) in Major William Lauderdale's Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Infantry (Five companies of volunteers, one of which was led by Captain Richard E. Waterhouse) is confirmed by his widow O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford’s 1851 pension application before the Bledsoe County, Tennessee commissioners

Meanwhile, William J. Crawford (Elizabeth Warren's great-great grandfather who would, fifty-seven years later, falsely claim that his mother was Cherokee in that now-infamous 1894 Oklahoma Territory marriage license application) was born in Bledsoe County, Tennessee in 1837. This was just a few months after his father apparently helped remove thousands of Cherokees from their homes and a few months before his father went off to fight Seminole Indians in Florida.

His father, Jonathan Crawford, Elizabeth Warren's great-great-great grandfather, died in Jackson County, Tennessee in 1841. His mother, O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford, died sometime between 1860 and 1870 - most likely in Bledsoe County, Tennessee.

Neither O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford, Jonathan Crawford, nor any of their seven other children, apparently ever claimed that O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford had Cherokee heritage.

As recently as two weeks ago, Ms. Warren publicly claimed to have Native American ancestry. In Dorchester, Massachusetts on April 27 at the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Apprentice Training Center she stated, “I am very proud of my Native American heritage.” Yet, decades after she first made this same claim, it now appears that it is without any foundation.

It is time for Ms. Warren to publicly acknowledge the truth of her ancestry. It is time for her to admit that she has no Native American heritage that she can prove; and it is time for her to acknowledge instead, that she is likely a direct descendant of a Tennessee Militiaman who apparently rounded up the ancestors of those who truly have Cherokee heritage, the first step in their forced removal from the Southeastern United States to Oklahoma over the long and tragic Trail of Tears.

Come clean, Ms. Warren!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Can Barack Obama make the American people forget the economy?

Yesterday's editorial in the Washington Examiner began:

What issues are most important to voters this presidential election year? If you said the economy, jobs and the budget deficit, congratulations, you are like the rest of America. But if you said gay marriage, birth control and pranks Mitt Romney pulled in high school in 1965, then you either already are, or may have a future in the liberal media.

Very apropos. Obviously, President Obama does not want people to focus on the economic issues that point out how totally unsuccessful, even after three years of trying, the Obama administration is at fixing what is wrong with the economy. He and his media allies would rather direct people's attention to Mitt Romney's nearly half-century-ago harassment of a seemingly-gay classmate, or a vacation he took where he strapped his dog's shelter on top of his car (also decades ago). They figure that they have to make people dislike Romney so much that they will forget about people's being out of work, or being forced to take a health plan poorly suited to their needs, or all the other things that Obama's administration has foisted on the American people. Hopefully he will not succeed. We need to make clear that Obamanomics is the issue in 2012, not something Mitt Romney did to a fellow high-schooler almost 50 years ago.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Obama and gay marriage

President Barack Obama has now officially endorsed gay marriage. And I think this puts him on the right side of this issue, so I can hardly be opposed to him for that reason. But I hesitate to mark this as the world-shaking event that many in the media are proclaiming it. There are a number of reasons why I think it will have little consequense.

First of all, marriage is a state-level issue. Obama has already come out against defending DOMA, which is the one Federal law affecting marriage, so this is no change for him; otherwise, it carries as much weight as would a state Governor expressing himself on foreign policy.

Secondly, among people who oppose gay marriage and oppose Obama's re-election, it can only deepen an opposition that was already there; they were not going to vote for Obama this November anyway, and so this opposition will not change anything.

Third, among people who support gay marriage and support Obama's re-election, it can only get him more support from people who would have voted for him anyway; so again, nothing will be changed.

So what about people who are for gay marriage, but at present against Obama's re-election? Will any of them shift their support from Romney to Obama? Not very likely. Most of them, I imagine, are like me — gay marriage is a relatively minor issue, and my opposition to Obama (and I presume that of others in this category of prospective voter) is due to other actions that Obama has taken as President.

The remaining group of people conststs of people who are against gay marriage, but at present for Obama's re-election. Some people think Obama is being courageous in making this statement, because he might offend them. But who are they likely to be? If you look at the recent Maryland gay-marriage controversy, the only normally-liberal legislators who opposed gay marriage were African-Americans, mostly in Prince George's County. They were responding to African-American clergy who were religious conservatives, even if socially liberal. Bur the African-American community is so proud of Barack Obama that I would be surprised if his support decreased very much in that community because he came out for gay marriage. So this was hardly the risk some people seem to think it is.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Truth: a casualty of liberal thinking?

As I have mentioned more than once, I get a lot of material for my posts from columns I read in the Washington Examiner. Many of the columns do not really share my opinions, and I've agreed with some and disagreed with others. (In some, I have not really cited the column, such as one by Gene Healy on Gary Johnson, though it was because of that column that I wrote my most recent post, which was about Johnson.) And yesterday I saw another column I'd like to cite; this one by the Examiner columnist I tend most to agree with: Noemie Emery. Her column, in yesterday's paper, was entitled “The year of losing touch with reality”: among some of the things she says is

Somewhere in the recent past (say, about the time “Dreams From My Father” was published), liberals decided reality wasn't really their thing. It was too dull. It didn't give closure. Sometimes the endings weren't right. So it turns out that Obama's main squeeze in his young days was a “composite,” digitally enhanced for your reading experience.

Then, it turned out that even the blond, blue-eyed, whey-faced Elizabeth Warren, running against Scott Brown in Massachusetts for his seat in the Senate, was hired by Harvard as an American Indian, though the proportion of Cherokee in her bloodline was just 1 in 32 parts. Just how pale-faced is Warren? A lot more than George Zimmerman, the brown-skinned son of a Peruvian mother who is accused of murdering Trayvon Martin. He was described by the New York Times as a “white Hispanic,” because if you're going to characterize a death as a lynching, the one who commits it had better be white.

I have to say that I enjoyed seeing those words in her column, and I felt I really needed to quote them. She also goes on to say, later in the same column,

What could be less real than that? Well, there is one thing — conjecture about what would have been in an alternative universe, in which much is asserted and nothing proved. These have become mainstays for President Obama, whose case for re-election is based not on what has happened, but what could, would or might have occurred under different conditions, which he is allowed to make up. One is his belief that his stimulus averted a second Depression. A second is to charge that a President Romney would not have made the call to take out Osama bin Laden and then to attack Romney for a “decision” he never had the opportunity to make. The supposed evidence for this claim came from a wide-ranging interview on general strategy that Romney had given five years earlier.

I recommend that you read the entire column, but these excerpts show how Noemie Emery tells it “like it is.” More power to her.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Spoiler alert?

This weekend, Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Wexico, accepted the Libertarian Party nomination for the Presidency. And he made a statement that he “would rather die” than endorse either President Obama or Mitt Romney for president.

I am certain that part of this is rhetoric that is intended to ensure that Johnson is considered a serious candidate. And Johnson is, of course, a “more serious” candidate than most of the people the LP has put forth. An actual state governor in the past, he's actually better qualified for the Presidency than then-Sen. Barack Obama was four years ago. But let's face it. He has no chance whatever to be elected President. Nobody who was not a candidate of the two largest parties has even finished as high as second in a Presidential election since 1912 — and that was Theodore Roosevelt, a former President in his own right. Nobody else has finished as high as second since before the Civil War.

So Gary Johnson can only be considered a spoiler. If we had some system like approval voting in place, I might advise a vote for him to show support for the idea of libertarianism. But with our plurality system in place, a vote for Johnson simply takes a needed vote away from Mitt Romney, where it has some chance of ousting the current incumbent. And ousting the current incumbent is the first priority in this election.

In some ways, I probably am closer to Johnson's positions than to Romney's. (Not all: Johnson's libertarianism includes the very isolationism I condemned at the start of this month. And he embraces the Libertarians' desire to legalize illegal drugs.) But Johnson can't beat Obama. Romney can. And if there is any chance that Johnson draws enough votes away from Romney that Obama is re-elected, it will be a tragedy for this country. So I cannot look with favor on Gary Johnson's candidacy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

More on football

A few days ago I posted a note on here about football, how the game just seems too violent. While I got one comment which registered a dissent, a day or two ago I saw a news bulletin which, to me, pointed out just how bad it is. It seems that Troy Aikman, a former player in the National Football League, was quoted as saying that it was a bad idea to increase the NFL season to 18 games. Now think of it! An NFL season is all of sixteen games long! Major League Baseball teams play a season of 162 games — more than ten times that number. The major leagues in basketball and hockey have seasons only about half as long (in number of games) as MLB, but even so, that's about five times as many as the NFL. And here you have a former star in the NFL saying that this is enough. Obviously, football takes too much out of its players.

I looked up a bit more about Troy Aikman — not being a fan of the game, I don't know much about him. It seems he'd had 10 concussions before retiring from the “sport” — and he was quoted, not so recently, as saying: “Football Has Gotten So Dangerous I Wouldn't Even Let My Kid Play The Game.” Even then, over a year ago, he was condemning the plan to increase the season from 16 to 18 games, but the quote in question damns the “sport” even more — he was considered a “star” — the post in question uses that term to describe him — and he calls the “sport” so dangerous he wouldn't let his own son play it.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The 1/32 Cherokee Elizabeth Warren

It is interesting that Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat trying to win back Edward Kennedy's old senate seat from Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, apparently got her Harvard Law School professorship because she was part-American Indian. (The politically correct term is “Native American,” but I will not use that term: anyone born in this country, including myself, is a native American, and so that's a misuse of the English language.) As Michael Barone puts it:

When she was hired, Harvard Law had just denied tenure to a woman teacher and was being criticized for not having enough minorities and females on its faculty.

Of course, Harvard and Warren say her claim to minority status had nothing to do with her being hired. And if it did, no one is going to say so. Nothing to see here; just move on.

And it is funny, up until her hiring, Warren had listed herself in various directories as minority, but more recently she has not. well, it's true that she has some claim of American Indian ancestry:

a researcher at the New England Historic Genealogical Society found that in a transcript of an 1894 marriage application, Warren's great-great-great-grandmother listed herself as Cherokee… That makes Warren one-thirty-second Native American.

Of course, is that enough to make someone a “minority”? More to the point, should that tenuous a claim to minority status convey a preference in hiring? Apparently, Rutgers Newark Law School, where Elizabeth Warren got her law degree, is considered such a low-status school that Harvard Law would normally not hire a person with Warren's background as a faculty member. (I don't mean to put down Rutgers in general: I taught there, though not at the Newark campus, in the 1970s. I'm talking specifically about its law school.) Would a male applicant without racial minority status have been hired by Harvard Law if he had Warren's educational background? I suspect not. Barone's comments are justified:

…the Warren story illustrates the rottenness of our system of racial quotas and preferences. Although the people in charge of administering them deny this, just about everyone with eyes to see knows that you're more likely to be hired and promoted if you have checked one of the non-Asian minority boxes: black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander.


People who classify themselves as approved minorities get into schools and get jobs that they wouldn't if they classified themselves as white. Not surprisingly, some people, perhaps including Warren, game this system.

The original justification was that this would overcome the disadvantages that American blacks endured during decades of slavery and segregation. That made sense to many people at the time. Those disadvantages were real, and most Americans wanted to be fair.

But the extension of minority status to other groups and the perpetuation of racial preferences for nearly half a century since the abolition of legal segregation mean that there is increasingly little correlation between membership in the favored categories and genuine disadvantage.

A note worth pondering.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Yes, it DOES depend on who he's running against!

Newt Gingrich has been criticized for the tepidness of his endorsement of Mitt Romney:

I’m asked sometimes, ‘Is Mitt Romney conservative enough?’ And my answer’s simple: Compared to Barack Obama? You know this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical, leftist president in American history.

But Gingrich is justified. Certainly he has every right to believe that Mitt Romney is not his ideal candidate, but the choice is Romney or Obama, and he's making the choice between those two. I have my own misgivings about Mitt Romney — as you can tell if you read the things I posted about him back in 2007 and 2008. (Just one example) They happen to be the opposite of Gingrich's — I'm afraid he may be too conservative. So four years ago, with first Rudy Giuliani and later John McCain in the running, I had a relatively low opinion of Mitt Romney. This year, when his only rivals for the nomination were right-wing extremists like Rick Santorum (and Ron Paul, who isn't exactly a “right-wing extremist,” but rather such a caricature of a libertarian that even a relatively libertarian Republican like me could not support him!), it was much easier to support Romney. And in the general election campaign, where the alternative is Obama, there's no question. Mitt Romney, though as far from being my ideal candidate as he is from being Newt Gingrich's ideal candidate, deserves my 100% support this year.

Friday, May 04, 2012

What will the Obama administration do about Chen Guangcheng?

We have been reading about the blind Chinese political activist, Chen Guangcheng, who recently escaped from house arrest and sought asylum in the embassy in Beijing. The Obama administration is now on the spot. Will he somehow stay in China under US protection? (He'd have to stay in our embassy; otherwise he'd be under Chinese sovereignty and they could do whatever they wanted to him.) Or will he be taken to the U. S.? (He apparently repudiated the earlier quote that he wanted to stay in China, though the Obama administration still claims that it was genuine.)

The Obama administration will have to make up its mind, as to what matters more to it: good relationships with the Communist regime in Beijing, or the U. S.'s reputation as a place where the politically persecuted can get a safe haven. I await the outcome.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

What a "sport"!?

The papers today write of a former player in the National Football League, Junior Seau, who apparently committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. At least one author of an article suspected he shot himself in the chest so his brain would be intact and could be studied to see the effects of concussions he had received over the years in his football career.

Another story making the rounds of the papers is the league's suspending various people (players and coaching staff) in the New Orleans franchise over their placing rewards on their team's seriously injuring opposing team players.

It's in the nature of football — a “sport” that seems to be nothing more than unbridled violence. Many people, a few decades ago, were calling for the abolition of boxing because of its violence — I think football is at least as bad, and I think perhaps that “sport” in more deserving of a ban.

I'm not a big sports fan — the only sport I care about is baseball. But I notice that when someone has a sports-only channel playing on a TV in my vicinity, if it's showing basketball, or soccer, or hockey, I'll mostly be just bored. But when it's football, I'm downright disgusted. I'll wince and close my eyes. I really can't understand why this “sport” is becoming the most popular sport in the U. S. A. Are our people really so bloodthirsty?

And I suppose this popularity is why we'll never see football banned. Which is the real pity.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Libertarianism and isolationism

Some people who care deeply about freedom, and would be, on that account, termed libertarians, also seem to be fervent isolationists. I don't see the connection — in fact, as I said in an earlier post, I cannot see why freedom is good, but exporting it is bad. But we all know how much of an isolationist Ron Paul is, and he's one of the most extreme libertarians around. Today I saw another example.

The Washington Examiner, as I have said in the past, is a conservative paper, not only in its own editorial policies, but in its choice of columnists. Almost all its columnists would be described as more conservative than I am. But two of the columnists, John Stossel and Gene Healy, are better described as libertarians than conservatives. (Healy is a vice-president at the Cato Institute, certainly a libertarian credential.) And today, Healy's column showed that, like Paul, he qualifies as an isolationist.

Today's Gene Healy column was entitled: “Is Rubio running for veep, or Globocop?” And in it he takes Sen. Marco Rubio to task for advocating what Healy terms a “neoconservative” foreign policy. (Read Healy's column: here.)

Perhaps I too am a “neoconservative.” (I'm not quite sure what that means!) But to me, helping people attain freedom, not just in the USA but all over the world, is a good thing. And there's where I part company with Gene Healy.