12.30.2008

DON'T THANK US

BY CINCINNATUS


Oh, now this just straight up raises my hackles. Chrysler is getting $4 billion in bailout aid from the federal government, and the first thing they do is buy a full-page newspaper ad that could have run them anywhere from $200-265K (per newspaper), thanking America for “investing” in their company. First of all, they’re thanking the wrong people. They should be expressing their gratitude to President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson, not the American people. If they wanted to thank us they’d give us our freaking money back. We’re not the ones who approved this bailout, in fact the vast majority of us opposed it. The ad comes across as disingenuous and patronizing, not least because it’s a waste of the very money they’re thanking us for. What a display of poor judgment from a company that already suffers from too much of it.

CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN (SERIOUSLY)

BY CINCINNATUS
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I read this Washington Post article this morning and felt compelled to once again point out the potential for disaster associated with President-Elect Obama’s rather hare-brained tax plan. From what I can glean thusfar, the plan entails a potential tax credit of $1000 for couples and $500 for individuals in the middle-class income bracket, and would be effected via reduced tax withholdings on paychecks from employers. So far so good. I love tax credits, and I love tax cuts even more. According to Obama aides, this tax credit is projected to cost the government $140 billion over the next two years, which isn’t a big deal if the sitting administration’s stated goal is to reduce federal spending overall. But therein lies the problem. An Obama administration has promised to increase federal spending to dizzying new heights in an effort to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, save education and, my favorite, save and create new jobs. So how will the Obama administration recoup the $140 billion loss these middle-class tax credits will inflict? If you paid attention during the campaign, you should know this one by now. They’re going to drastically increase the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans. This plan is unsustainable and will send our already ailing economy into a tailspin, for two reasons.

First, In order to squeeze the wealthiest tax bracket Obama will eliminate the Bush tax cuts. Says David Axelrod, "Whether it expires or whether we repeal it a little bit early, we'll determine later, but it's going to go. It has to go." But eliminating those tax cuts won’t be enough. In fact with the middle-class tax credits Obama is promising they may not even break even, and they’ve got a whole slew of new spending programs in mind. So they’ll most likely raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans above and beyond the pre-Bush tax cut levels. To re-hash basic economics, when you saddle the wealthiest Americans (i.e. – business owners) with inordinately high taxes, the inevitable result is that the cost is passed along to the consumer (i.e. – lower- and middle-class) through higher commodity costs, decreased wages, decreased benefits and job losses, all of which we’re already experiencing as a result of the volatile economy. So the middle-class is going to need those meager tax credits to make up for their increased expenses or unemployment. Again, at best we’re breaking even but more than likely we’ll see a recession kicked into a full-blown depression.

The second reason this plan is unsustainable and doomed to failure is Obama’s recycled New Deal promise to create jobs through new government programs. From what I gather Americans will have the opportunity to go to work building wind turbines, repairing or rebuilding bridges, roads, and other general infrastructure. These programs are intended to offset both current job losses and, I suspect, the widespread and inevitable job losses that will result from the Obama tax plan. This jobs program will have the highly undesirable effect of making yet more Americans dependent upon government for their well-being and very survival. But it is without a doubt not a temporary initiative to get us through hard economic times. These programs will become a long-term burden on the American taxpayer. In Axelrod’s chilling words, “we're not only creating work, but we're laying the foundation for the future of our economy.” Unfortunately for President-Elect Obama and Mr. Axelrod, there will come a day when the taxpayers refuse to continue subsidizing an artificial, government-run industry; a day when there are no more bridges or roads to repair or wind turbines to be built. And what will be done then? Will those workers be employed in dismantling those wind turbines? Or will they be laid off?
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Government largesse will not save us from economic difficulty. Tax credits may be part of the answer, yes, but tax cuts across the board offset by a reduction in government spending is even better. That is a sustainable solution, one that doesn’t create tautological programs that will merely bring us full circle in another four years while worsening the current economy. Of course as a fellow blogger astutely points out, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires debate on some very politically sensitive issues, such as military spending and defense contracting or welfare and Medicaid programs. Politicians have to grow a pair and start thinking of long-term solutions rather than continuously kicking the can down the road.

12.29.2008

KNOW YOUR POLITICIANS

BY CINCINNATUS

We’ve returned from a nearly unforgivable week-long absence (our longest to date) for the Christmas holiday and are ready to resume work. I hope you all had a very Happy Holiday, I know I did, and I look forward to the impending New Year.

Our topic for today is the categorization of politicians into specific groups based upon their motives. I’ve given this some serious thought over the years and I think it’s a critical exercise for the American citizenry to know what drives their representatives in government. There are four distinct categories, each with politicians of past and present attached as examples. Of course it is possible that a politician can belong to multiple groups or move from one group to another over the course of what is typically (and unfortunately) a long career in government. However they are usually more one than another, and with a trained eye an observer can see the telltale signs that tag them appropriately. With that, we’ll now get to know our politicians.

THE WASH-OUT

The “Wash-Out” is a politician who had average or below-average grades in school, though they may have done well in college. They were probably a law student, and upon graduating they found that they had neither the inclination nor the talent for the private sector. They may have attempted to hold down a respectable job for a period of time, perhaps as a personal injury lawyer, or they may have even been handed a management position or a whole company by a wealthy parent. But in time their lack of talent became painfully obvious not only to others but also to themselves. In a last-ditch bid to stay above water and maintain the prestige that a law/medical/philosophy/leisure studies degree is supposed to confer, they either ran for public office or cajoled a political appointment from one of their old Harvard classmates (who could belong to any of these four categories). From there, they endeavored to stay on the dole as long as possible and have been proudly serving as your elected representative to Congress for the last twenty-four years. The “Wash-Out” is typically the most susceptible to bribery. Additionally, the “Wash-Out” may often make an easy transition to “Megalomaniac” and is often the child of a “Daddy Warbucks.”

Example: George W Bush

THE MEGALOMANIAC

The “Megalomaniac” is exactly what it sounds like. This politician may come from all walks of life, ranging from poverty to extreme wealth. But at their core they thirst for power and recognition from their peers, and seek to attain it by any means necessary. These are the people who said they wanted to be President of the United States when they wrote their first grade essay and by the time they reached college hadn’t changed their mind. Like the “Wash-Out,” they have no real political convictions but are base demagogues who will say whatever they have to in order to cling to power and climb the ladder. They never give a real answer to any question and they smile all the time, unless their aides tell them to look solemn/serious. They often are half of a “power-couple” and allow their relationships to be dictated by polling data. They appear on the covers of various popular magazines, and have been Time’s “Person of the Year” at least once (they beat out Mother Theresa).

Example: Hillary Clinton

DADDY WARBUCKS

A “Daddy Warbucks” was either born into wealth or earned it through hard, honest work in the private sector (though they are more often the former). Having given generously to charity and various political campaigns over the course of their adult life, their abundance of free-time got them thinking about entering politics themselves. They may or may not have strong political beliefs, but oftentimes they are do-gooders who seek to save Americans from themselves. They financed their own campaign and purchased a block of prime-time television that made their victory inevitable. Deep down inside, “Daddy Warbucks” knows that if he/she ran their business the way they advocate running government, it would fail spectacularly, which is probably why they enjoy politics as much as they do. They have numerous conflicts of interest that haunt them from their private business dealings. If they were born into wealth, then their name is often enough to sweep these conflicts under the rug, along with the involuntary manslaughter/statutory rape/insider trading charges. At their core, “Daddy Warbucks” is simply a bored billionaire looking for a new mountain to climb or toy to buy.

Example: Michael Bloomberg

THE IDEOLOGUE

The rarest type of politician is the “Ideologue.” They are true believers who entered government against their better judgment in order to make a difference. They come from all walks of life, but are usually lower- or middle-class citizens who have seen injustice done to themselves or others and seek to make it right. They dislike politics and politicians and are often marginalized because they are unable or unwilling to compromise or “play the game.” They are liberals, moderates and conservatives. They are usually disliked by their political peers and referred to as “nuts” or “kooks”. They are eager to exit politics once their goals are accomplished, but more often than not they will leave in disgust and disillusionment or get voted out by their constituents for failing to secure enough earmarks or because they were destroyed by the media and their political colleagues. They rarely hold high office because they do not seek it, but at times of great national turmoil they can be dragged into power or reluctantly accept it in order to prevent politicians from the other three categories from taking it. You just voted them out of office this year.

Example: George Washington

12.22.2008

HELL NO, THEY WON'T GO

BY CINCINNATUS

Labor unions are obsolete.

We’ve come a long way from the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century, during which child labor was rampant, working conditions were a disgrace, wages were a pittance, and workers themselves were treated like raw material rather than human beings. The United States has instituted legal reforms over the last century that have put an end to all of it, mandating standards in the workplace, equal opportunity and sexual harassment training, and the ever-increasing minimum wage. To be sure, trade unions and organized labor were a driving force behind the institution of these reforms. But like many progressive movements, they refused to ride off into the sunset upon the realization of their goals. Instead, they set new, higher goals; goals that are straining our economy to its breaking point.

Where they once promoted necessary social change, labor unions have become extortion rackets (indeed, American racketeering statutes include an exemption for labor unions). They collect payments from their membership and in return promise to protect them from the greedy corporate leadership. When they want a raise or better benefits, they demand it. When they don’t get it, they strike, usually shutting down their industry and damaging the economy (I believe the mafia follows the same model, but they use bats, bombs and ice picks rather than picket signs). They are not promoting progressive ideals, but rather pushing their employers to hand over concessions above and beyond what current market conditions deem profitable. This is pure thuggery, and it’s eroding the country’s competitive edge.

The most visible example of union strong-arming run amok is the state of America’s Big Three automakers. While the United Auto Workers union tries to muddy the waters and obfuscate with some fuzzy math about their wages, it comes down to the fact that UAW benefits have seriously hamstrung the Big Three’s ability to turn a profit. Part of the benefits package they demanded from the automakers was a program called the Jobs Bank Program, in which union members who were laid off received full salary and benefits while unemployed. This program was only recently suspended as a concession during bailout negotiations. If someone can explain to me why a company should pay for laid-off employees not to work then they get a gold star. This sort of excess is all that the unions seem to have left to fight for, because they’ve already got a guaranteed minimum wage, worker safety standards, a government unemployment program, equal opportunity standards, and the departments and bureaucracies that back those policies up with lengthy audits, investigations and lawsuits. What’s left? To extort employers for frivolous benefits, I suppose. Otherwise they shrink into irrelevance where they belong.

Take the example of the teachers union. One of the greatest obstacles to education reform, they have created a system in which underperforming teachers are protected at the expense not only of the school district at large but the students themselves. The National Education Association, which is the largest American teachers union, has opposed such reform measures as merit pay, school vouchers and tenure reform. The NEA, like many labor unions, has taken the stance that it favors its workers over the health of their industry. In the end, this perspective is worse than short-sighted. It is suicidal. These protectionist policies will invariably lead, as they are with the auto industry, to a cataclysmic collapse that will leave even union members jobless (unless, of course, the government bails them out).

The solution to this whole mess has to lie with the workers themselves who join these unions. Given the current state of things, would you rather have gainful, long-term employment or participate in a labor mafia that picks your pocket and kills your industry but offers phenomenal benefits?

12.18.2008

TAXING THE FAT

BY SEACHRANAI
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In general, I would be the first person to berate a politician for doing something as obtuse as raising taxes in difficult economic times, which is precisely what democratic Governor David Paterson intends on doing in New York. Now, New York already boasts the second highest tax rates in the union (oh Connecticut you gluttonous little cormorant, no one can best you on taxes). Yet, Mr. Paterson has decided that the golden goose that is his state may have a little bit more to give if he sticks his arm in bottom and reaches up there far enough. Groping around, he seems to have found a few more golden eggs in hiking taxes further on beer and wine, cab fares, cable and satellite TV, tickets to movies and sporting events, soft drinks, and iTunes. These ridiculous new taxes will go to replenish the states coffers of the funds they are going to lose this year from having no Wall Street profits or bonuses to tax (Wall Street makes up approximately 20% of the entire state’s revenue), all the while punishing a state populace that has been one of the first and hardest hit by the recession (ironically, because of excessive taxes).

One tax proposal amongst the gaggle, however, may have merit. And that is taxing soft drinks… hear me out. I pay taxes – a lot of taxes – and a good portion of these taxes go toward a healthcare system which is heavily subsidized by the government. We don’t have “socialized” healthcare like Europe and Canada, but we do spend about 20% of the federal government’s budget on healthcare according to the Office of Management and Budget Data.

Now I like many could stand to lose a few (especially after the holiday season – you should see all the chocolates and such we have lying around here), but I do actively strive to live a healthy lifestyle. There are many people that do not. So as I see it, 20% or so of my tax dollars will never directly benefit me, or the public good in general, but instead will subsidize a select few that choose to live a less healthy lifestyle.

I am all for the freedom to do whatever you want – or eat whatever you want as the case may be. That does not mean, however, that society must carry the burden (and it may take many, many members of society to carry you at your size) if your poor lifestyle choices lead to poor health. This tax corrects that.

In effect, the economic burden of poor choices is being shifted back to those who make said choices. Now in a perfect world, there would be no government subsidy to “bail us out” of the consequences of our poor decision making, as our current healthcare system provides, and such a tax would be unnecessary and immoral. We don’t live in that world, however, and our incentive structures must be constructed pragmatically to fit that reality.

And so, we tax the fat - or rather, the things that make us fat, and indirectly circumvent another senseless government subsidy.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

BY CINCINNATUS
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I’ve made no secret about my feelings on the Blagojevich scandal and Blagojevich specifically. Based upon the content of the wiretap recordings, he is a sleazy character not fit to hold the office he now tenaciously refuses to vacate. But I have to say, I can’t wait for him to open his mouth about this whole thing (see here), purely for its potential to throw the political establishment into chaos. It'll make great television too.

In my mind’s eye, I see a dark, smoke-filled room in which several sweating, panicked politicians of both state and national prominence sit around a long conference table, mopping their brows with monogrammed handkerchiefs and talking in hushed tones about the “Blagojevich problem” that threatens to expose all of their involvement in his corrupt dealings. They fear what the fool will say when he steps in front of the microphones at last, who he will expose and drag down with him as he descends into the abyss. They fear what an impeachment trial will bring to light; they will not allow it. They talk about “dealing” with the problem before it destroys them all.

I see Blagojevich naming names in front of the cameras, like Jesse Jackson, Jr, Richard Daley or Rahm Emanuel. No one cares if he’s lying or not. It’s great television. As he lets loose his scripted tirade, the journalists jot down frantic notes and formulate their headlines: “Obama Implicated in ‘Blago-gate’” or “Corrupt Governor Seeks to Deflect Blame with Lies.” The impeachment trial embarrasses a notoriously corrupt political establishment and the voters who swept them to power. Some of those nervous men in that dark, smoky room are outed, others manage to cut yet more corrupt deals to save themselves or spin their way to safety.

Or I see an alternative. I see an avoidance of conviction on criminal charges by Governor Blagojevich, whose lawyers may point to Patrick Fitzgerald’s impassioned press conference in which he may have stepped over the ethical line and convicted the governor in front of a national audience before a trial was conducted. How is an impartial jury to be found? A crime may not have even been committed, though the attempt to commit multiple crimes was certainly discussed. While Blago’s career is certainly over, his conviction is far from certain.

In either circumstance, a tell-all autobiography is inevitable.

12.15.2008

FREEDOM TO HURL SHOES

BY CINCINNATUS

I’m really not the kind of person that wants nations that we liberate to lick our boots in gratitude (well, maybe just France), but I wonder if this guy stopped to consider where his right to hurl his shoes in protest came from? Or what sort of painful, torturous end he would have met had he done so, as a Shi’ite, under Saddam’s regime (and I find it strangely ironic that Saddam's lawyer is clamoring to defend him)? Just a thought.
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As a side note, having watched the video of this bizarre episode going down, I have to say: George W Bush has the reflexes of a panther. Gerald Ford would have caught both shoes right in the beak.
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I would have issued additional cool points if Bush had caught both shoes and nailed his assailant with them.

12.14.2008

"ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT" or "CHEVYS DON'T FLOAT"

BY HARIOLOR

Stanley Bing posted a pragmatic defense of an auto bailout. With his usual sardonic manner, he admits that the auto industry is broken, unions are part of the problem, and handouts are not good precedent. But, he says, "I don't care if we're investing in a broken-down model or helping people who make more money than you think they should. I like the idea of several hundred thousand people staying on the job, paying their mortgages, buying flat-screen TVs, shoes and hamburgers." Now I usually like Bing - but he's so wrong here I have to call him out.

Bing also points to increased spending on advertising, and money going to suppliers for production of new vehicles. He argues the trickle-up model that is so popular among bailout advocates. The plan is straightforward enough: bailout the workers and their industry....???....profit (or at least recover)! Here's the problem with his underpants gnome economics:

The question mark in this equation reflects how that money gets spent, and how worker-oriented bailouts condition demand in the market. A lot of intelligent people are arguing for and against the bailout, most of them with immeasurably more technical understanding than myself. Stanley points out that they don't know any more than him about the current economy. I'd tend to agree, but while he uses that as an excuse for unwise policy to "stabilize the patient" as the Obamessiah put it, I see things differently.

The current market bubble was caused on a technical level by over-leveraged lenders selling toxic securities to investors with an ignorance-is-bliss attitude. But on a practical level, the market bubble inflated, and subsequently popped, because of inflated consumer demand for easy credit - not stock brokers and quant financial gurus, but because of the very people Bing is saying will prop up the system if they can only be permitted to keep their jobs.

It all broke from the bottom, so fix it from the bottom?

Yes, but not how he thinks. It broke from the bottom, so the bottom will need to adjust most to get things right. Unfair? Maybe in a holistic sense, but I think in the long-run its alot more fair to force the American consumer to adjust, than to feed their avarice by redistributing money and then telling the people at the top to play nicer.

The SUVs, flat-screen TVs, hamburgers - all the stuff Bing wants to see being consumed more (to keep the bubble at least a bit inflated, you see), are the problem. How many Americans spent themselves into oblivion - too much house, too much television, too much car. Obviously a lot, judging by the rate of credit default that's driving this crisis.

There's a lot of good, sound economic reasoning that points to keeping the ship afloat - heck, the term "bailout" comes from the idea of helping to bail water out of a sinking ship. Problem is, in the process we're tearing down one part of the hull to patch another. The economy can't recover for real until we abandon ship, swim back to shore, and build a better boat. That might mean alot of people drown along the way, and the captain probably won't go down with his ship like he should, but that's reality folks.

Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20, and it's easy for pundits and politicians to claim victory regardless of the actual results of policy by retrospectively changing the standards of success. However, I think everybody knows deep-down that the only real solution is inflicting enough (economic) pain on the average consumer that they change their ways. Yes, repair will come from the bottom-up; but just as the crisis was consumer-driven, the change will have to be as well.

12.12.2008

SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING

BY CINCINNATUS

As I read articles like
this (with poorly disguised glee) discussing the Senate’s failure to reach a deal on the auto bailout last night, I am struck by an underlying premise that has sadly become embedded in our national consciousness, perhaps without many even knowing it. It has become amplified by our government and media’s current “crisis mode” operating procedure, in which the instrument of fear is used to convince the American people that, if somebody doesn’t do something this instant, the world will start burning tomorrow morning. That premise is that, if something’s wrong, the federal government has to take action and fix it. I’m not sure exactly when this became a generally accepted practice, though I discuss it in some detail in A Republic Corrupted as one of the greatest corrosive elements in our modern American society. But whenever it started, it’s got to stop.

When measures, particularly measures like this auto bailout, come before Congress, there is naturally a debate that ensues between the two parties. As a result of ideology but more often political posturing, there will be a major disagreement. When this disagreement stalls the progress of whatever bill is hurtling toward the president’s desk, the ruling party of the House/Senate will invariably ask, “well if you don’t like it, then come up with an alternative.” The implication is that the alternative be an alternative bill or an amendment to the existing legislation. For some reason, politicians never seem to feel comfortable answering that challenge by saying “doing nothing is better than doing this” or, more appropriately, “we shouldn’t even be involved in providing a solution to this problem.” 9 times out of 10, the latter response is the correct answer.

But with our economy in turmoil and two wars ongoing overseas, politicians in our federal government are turning the screws and applying pressure to the American people, telling them that we can’t afford to sit idly by while our society crumbles around us. So in an effort to grab some short-term political points, the politicians clamor to solve the problem for us and trip over one another until they reach some sort of compromise that is merely a cobbling together of two opposing goals and therefore doomed to failure. But, hey, somebody had to do something, anything! We couldn’t just stand around. The reader will note that this operating procedure conveniently has the consistent end result of taking more of the taxpayer’s money while expanding federal power. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taosim, once said “The greater the number of laws and enactments, the more thieves and robbers there will be.” Well, in our American republic, it just so happens that the thieves and robbers are the ones making the laws.


But while it’s fun to blame to politicians, there’s plenty of it to go around, and most of it lies squarely on our shoulders. We are the ones who buy into their fear-mongering. We are the ones who wring our hands and demand that Congress save us all before it's too late. We are the ones who get indignant and petulant when Congress fails to take action during a crisis. We are the ones who seem to be incapable of coping with short term losses for long term prosperity and the preservation of our liberty. A favorite quote of mine from Ronald Reagan is: “We defend freedom here or it is gone. There is no place for us to run, only to make a stand. And if we fail, I think we face telling our children, and our children's children, what it was we found more precious than freedom. Because I am sure someday - if we fail in this - there will be a generation that will ask.” So what will we tell our children when they ask us why we repeatedly ceded our liberties to the government? Will we say, “well if you had only been there, you would have understood how scary and uncertain things were”? Or perhaps we’ll plead ignorance and say, “how were we to know that the bailouts would lead us here?" But if we are to be honest with ourselves, we will say simply, “we chose our own financial and personal security over our essential liberty.”

12.11.2008

THE BAILOUT FACES ITS SPARTANS AT THERMOPYLAE

BY CINCINNATUS

Well, ask and you shall receive. While clearly Senator Voinovich hasn’t gotten the message (this career politician has long since gone stale, time to kick him to the curb Ohio), a politically courageous band of GOP senators is standing up to the auto bailout like latter-day Spartans at Thermopylae (see here and here). Even with the White House applying pressure to GOP lawmakers and the passage last night of the bill in the House 237-170, these conservatives are standing up to be counted among those who said NO to a taxpayer subsidy of the failing auto industry. While there’s still a long way to go for the GOP to gain my support, this is a good first step toward fulfilling Item 3 in my Open Letter. The senators leading the opposition to the bailout and advocating for a structured bankruptcy deserve recognition:

Jim DeMint (R-S, Carolina)
Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)
John Ensign (R-Nevada)
Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma)
David Vitter (R-Louisiana)
Bob Corker (R-Tennessee)

Their opposition echoes the sentiments of most rational conservatives, particularly that the proposed “car czar” would be a disaster and amount to nothing more than a political puppet of the sitting president. They want to see a structured bankruptcy that allows the renegotiation of labor contracts, which present a large part of the problem for the American auto industry.

Barney Frank made a comment that infuriates me with its ignorance, it is featured in this
Washington Post article: “Frank added: ‘The greatest illogic is to argue that somehow in the bankruptcy courts . . . you have a far greater degree of expertise than either’ Bush or President-elect Barack Obama, with their teams of economists, could muster.” The difference, Mr. Frank, is that a structured bankruptcy will not amount to a $15 billion check signed by the American taxpayer being handed over to the Detroit automakers with few if any real strings attached. I am just constantly stunned by how little regard liberal lawmakers have for where the money they throw away comes from. It’s as if that thought doesn’t even cross their mind.

The Senate could vote on this measure as early as this afternoon, and it is my sincere hope that these 6 Republicans are able to muster enough support to halt the legislation before we embark on one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer money in American history. Furthermore, I will be keeping my eye on the final vote to see if any of them turn tail and change positions when the chips are down. If they do, you’ll see their names up in lights on this blog, exposed for the cowards they are.

If you have a moment today, please email or call these senators to express your support for their position, even if you aren’t part of their constituency.

12.10.2008

POLITICIANS GOTTA EARN TOO

BY CINCINNATUS

Corruption, corruption, corruption. If you were watching the news yesterday, you couldn’t go five minutes without getting the skinny on disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his disgusting (and absolutely idiotic, I might add) adventures in political graft. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald went through the litany on Tuesday, outlining the scope of the charges against the Governor who, if convicted, will become the fourth Illinois Governor in 40 years to go to prison. Put that on your license plate, Illinois!

What can I say about political corruption that hasn’t been said before? It’s sickening and downright treasonous. The Blagojevich case is a phenomenal example of combating corruption right, a big thumbs-up to Mr. Fitzgerald on that. In particular, I was happy to hear that Governor Blagojevich was arrested at his home, handcuffed and marched out. YES. I’ve heard pundits commenting that this sort of treatment was inappropriate given the nature of the crime, which has been referred to as “white collar.” I take issue with that characterization. Political corruption is not “white collar,” it is a crime against our republic. Cuff ‘em and stuff ‘em, be they aldermen, governors or presidents. We need to be sending the right signal to our politicians about this sort of thing.

In other corruption news, Congressman
William Jefferson (soon to be former-Congressman) of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, was defeated by Joseph Cao in last month’s election, 49.55% to 46.82%. That’s a margin of 2.73%, which is a startlingly narrow victory for Cao, considering that Jefferson has been under investigation for corruption since 2005 (he won his 2006 re-election bid, by the by), during which $90,000 in “cold” (hey-o!) cash was famously found in the Congressman’s freezer. A videotape was produced showing the Congressman accepting a suitcase full of $100,000 in cash and discussing a payoff to the Nigerian Vice President in order to secure contracts for a private technology firm. Rather than demanding his resignation, the leadership of his party asked only that he give up his seat on the House Ways & Means Committee. When he refused, he was unceremoniously kicked off. And now the voters have at last (barely) taken care of business. Nice work.

We’re all agonizingly familiar with the Ted Stevens case, in which the Alaska Senator (also defeated by a disappointingly narrow electoral margin in November’s election), was found guilty of seven charges of making false statements in connection with an investigation into the receipt of unreported gifts, which is a felony. His party leadership immediately called for his resignation, which is a moot point considering his election ouster. It is widely whispered that he’ll be pardoned by President Bush, which would be a huge miscarriage of justice if it were to come to pass.

There are other cases of ethics violations or outright corruption that are currently ongoing, such as House Ways & Means Committee Chairman
Charlie Rangel’s tax evasion and ethics abuses (oh sweet, sweet irony), for which we have yet to see any disciplinary action or verdict.

We’ve said it here before, but corruption has to be punished swiftly and sternly. If substantiated allegations of wrongdoing or unethical behavior hang over the head of a politician, we the people and the leadership of their party should demand his or her resignation, bottom line. And we should all stop acting like corruption is somehow equivalent to corporate embezzlement or insider trading. Political corruption is a far more insidious animal. It leads to government contract awards for ill-deserving companies, often with disastrous results for our men and women in uniform. It leads to the appointment of political cronies and undue concessions to special interests that are in direct conflict with the best interests of our nation. Sadly corruption in Congress has become a running gag that has bred apathy in the electorate. When presented with another case of ethics violations or outright corruption, the American people simply shrug their shoulders and say “That’s our Congress!” as though they were the mischievous but well-meaning neighbor on a television sitcom. Enough is enough.

12.09.2008

AMERICA: THE OWNER'S MANUAL

YOUR AMERICAN EDUCATION

BY HARIOLOR
I
“Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes.”

With this tremendous run-on sentence, Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States of America, opened a bill written for the establishment of a public school system with limited government subsidy that would educate “the people at large” to better protect them against the ambitions of those to whom power was given in our Republic.

Over the intervening centuries his plans have been changed dramatically, but the seeds of his intent still exist in this great country. You have at your disposal a singular opportunity to study whatever draws your interest without fear of censorship or retribution. Children here have the privilege of receiving a (usually) fully-subsidized education by which they are provided with the tools and knowledge to become positive contributors to society and informed voters. This value of education is so strongly seated at the foundation of our country that it is considered by many to be an implied right of citizenship, though I would warn that it is not specifically stated as such anywhere in our founding documents (see "Your American Privileges" for a further explanation of other common privileges that are not necessarily rights).

Alas, you and your children will find that, as with the many other freedoms your citizenship brings you, there are pitfalls as well. Your local educational system will be subject to the political and moral influences of parents, teachers, government, and benefactors. You may also find that many in your local school system believe so strongly in the “right” to education that they believe knowledge itself should be somehow granted by that right, without hard work or risk of failure. Should you be disillusioned by these facts, fear not, for there exist private educational institutions that offer a still broader and more rigorous education than you might find in your public schools. You are free to choose to send your children to these schools, provided you possess the often substantial income necessary to pay their tuition.

As an American, upon completion of a basic curriculum, all citizens have the opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning, though it will be up to you to demonstrate your qualification for admission and ability to pay (I hope you worked hard in school). Once admitted, you will find that passing requires far more work than it did in your previous schooling, as our society does not yet view advanced education as a “right” on-par with primary education. For those who have financial or educational barriers to admittance, or who find the rigors of higher learning too stressful, many community colleges and technical schools are available to help you improve your employability, and to possibly prepare you for taking a shot at the American Dream of business ownership.

Your learning will not stop there, however. Our most sacred and inviolable right to Freedom of Speech means that you will be assaulted on all sides at all times of day by advertisements, news outlets, and special interests seeking your attention (indeed, you are experiencing it right now!) You will find that many Americans will draw from this information conclusions that differ from your own. Embrace this, for these differences are the strengthening threads in the fabric of our Republic. I encourage you to fully practice your freedoms by entertaining every opinion in your mind, and subjecting them all to the test of your own knowledge and the input of your fellow citizens. Be wary, though, for half-truths and outright lies are often permitted to slip through in the interest of preserving free discourse. It will be up to you, armed with your own intuition and the vast knowledge you have accumulated in your education, to sift the good from the bad. Much of what you encounter will be subjective, and your own intellect, experience and morality, forged and honed in the educational system, will be your only guides.

I end by offering a few pieces of advice to give you a jump-start on navigating the storm of information you will encounter here in America.

1. The most professional and somber delivery is often the most prone to half-truths. - Verify!
2. The same goes for the most impassioned opinions. - Verify again!
3. Hold fast to your beliefs, but debate them often and openly. Discourse is an opportunity for growth and fosters understanding.
4. Do not let your feelings be hurt by the expression of opinions different from your own, they are the bread-and-butter of free people.
5. Never stop learning. You have freer access to more information in America than anywhere else in the world. This is a treasure of incalculable value.

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL REPUBLICAN & DEMOCRAT POLITICIANS

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Dear Republican or Democrat Politician:

I am writing this letter to inform you that, despite whatever recent support you may have enjoyed from me, I am not satisfied to cast my vote for a candidate of either major party. I have lost all confidence that Republicans or Democrats have any idea what is in my best interest or the interest of our nation. Furthermore, I get the uneasy feeling that both parties are, to put it loosely, making it up as they go along rather than adhering to any set of core tenets informed by the principles of our nation’s founding. I find few, if any, examples of political courage among your rank and file. Instead, I see repeated instances of weak-willed and cowardly pandering on the part of both the Republican and Democrat leadership. This has gone on for far too long and I will no longer tolerate it.

Republicans, you have willingly abandoned your purported agenda of small government by presiding over one of the largest increases in the size of federal government in our nation’s history. You have spent carelessly and wastefully and been infected with the germ of populism. You have not stood up against encroachments to our personal liberties represented by the PATRIOT Act and the endless string of bailouts; indeed, you have sponsored them. You have not held yourselves to the strictest standards of ethics and demanded the same from your opposition, and as a result your party has become a home to political corruption and graft. You have given up the battle to educate Americans about the founding principles of this country and do not teach conservatism. Instead, you shift positions when the wind blows.

Democrats, you have led one of the most naked assaults on free enterprise in our history in the guise of the bailout. You have institutionalized it. You have espoused a philosophy of an activist judiciary that tramples upon the rights of the citizenry and upsets the balance of power among the separate branches of government. You have advocated for increased federal spending above and beyond the Republican increases that will either take the deficit to new heights, force a heavier tax burden on all Americans, or both. Your rhetoric betrays a loathing of free market principles and personal economic freedom that is an affront to our nation’s founding philosophy. You, as much as the Republicans, have become rank with corruption and an aversion to ethics, accepting donations from private parties that present a direct conflict of interest to the discharge of your duties.

Consequently, you will find no support from me until you have rectified your glaring inadequacies and demonstrated in no uncertain terms that you have an interest in satisfying the following requirements:

1. You will tie your party’s platform directly to the founding principles of our nation: individual liberty in both economic and social matters, limited federal authority, strong state’s rights, separation of powers, a balanced budget and limited government spending.
2. You will pursue by constitutional amendment the institution of Congressional term limits that will ensure turnover in government and put an end to political oligarchy in our republic. Until the passage of this amendment, you will strictly practice self-imposed term limits within your party.
3. You will stand against continued government bailouts of private sector interests.
4. You will not shut out third party and independent candidates from participation in presidential and Congressional races and debates.
5. You will pursue reforms aimed at simplifying the federal income tax code.
6. You will, wherever possible, keep the tax burden of ALL Americans as low as possible and focus on reducing spending before you even think about raising taxes.
7. You will ruthlessly self-police for corruption in government and your own party and practice a zero-tolerance policy for unethical behavior.

Until it is clear to me that you are taking these requirements to heart, I will support and vote for a third party or independent candidate of my choice (I will not refrain from voting and allow you to take my silence for complicity in your agenda). If you are unresponsive to this letter or do not signal clear change along these lines, I will assume that you have no intention of representing my interests and the interests of those like me and stand in vocal opposition to both parties.

Respectfully,
"Cincinnatus"
Voter

12.05.2008

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS NOT FREEDOM FROM EXPRESSION

BY CINCINNATUS

Children Of The Revolution contributor Seachranai brought this article to my attention today. Having read it, I have mixed feelings. First, let me express my political opinion. The group mentioned in the article, Freedom From Religion, of course has every right to display this sign, and I respect the State of Washington’s decision to support free speech, especially that which is unpopular. The fact that the sign was stolen or destroyed is of course an infringement upon said speech and whoever the perpetrator is clearly doesn’t celebrate or appreciate that aspect of our free society. This should all go, in my opinion, without saying.

That’s how I feel politically. Now I’m going to express my personal feelings about the matter. While the group clearly has every right to express themselves, their desire to do so during the holiday season is an irritation of mine, purely from the perspective of reciprocal tolerance and old-fashioned courtesy. Atheist activists find themselves in the fortuitous position of having no particular holidays (this article mentions the Winter Solstice?) during which those of faith can erect signs directly insulting their beliefs. Conversely, they have ample opportunity to snipe at religious holidays. Freedom From Religion cites the Nativity scene as an “intrusion” and an affront to their beliefs, saying, "It's not that we are trying to coerce anyone; in a way our sign is a signal of protest. If there can be a Nativity scene saying that we are all going to hell if we don't bow down to Jesus, we should be at the table to share our views." Indeed, they are at liberty to sit at the table and do so. But what is their goal? To stifle the expression of the religious in order to defend themselves from such an “intrusion”? Is that tolerance?

I’m not a fundamentalist by any means, though I am a man of faith. Just because the celebration of Chanukah is observed by a sect that denies the divinity of Jesus Christ, I’m not going to erect a sign beside a Menorah instructing passersby that Jesus was the Son of God and that Judaism should be cast aside. I would refrain from doing this out of tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others that I disagree with, but who may feel just as strongly about those beliefs as I might about mine. Furthermore, advocating for the removal of that Menorah out of deference to my beliefs is unconscionable. We are free to celebrate our faith, privately or publicly if we so choose. But we are not free to bulldoze the Nativity scene over (especially if it’s a living Nativity), just as whoever stole Freedom From Religion’s sign was not free to do so.
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I understand the reasons why Freedom From Religion chose the holiday season to put up their sign: increased visibility and poignancy, to create discussion (evidenced by this very blog post), and in protest of the presence of religious symbolism to which they do not subscribe. Their sign does not offend me, it only annoys me. Had they put it up in my town, I wouldn’t have made a fuss with city hall or the state legislature or stolen it, though I might have shaken my head as I walked by. But it is a sort of bastardly thing to do.

12.04.2008

CIVIL DEFENSE: LESSONS OF MUMBAI

BY CINCINNATUS

On November 26, a group of armed extremists attacked a railway station, two hotels, a café, a hospital, a cinema and a Jewish outreach center in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai, home of the famous Bollywood. Using automatic rifles, small arms and explosives, they murdered 188 people and injured 293 more. They took hostages in the course of their four-day attack, not to exact demands but to prolong media attention on what became an all-out street war. Current reports estimated that the terrorists numbered anywhere from 10 to 25. By the time Indian forces had regained control of the situation, all but one of the terrorists lay dead. The lone survivor, Azam Amir Kasav, was subdued in a firefight with police and subsequently beaten by an angry Indian mob before being taken into custody. Since then he has divulged many of the details of the planning and execution of the attacks. Recent intelligence reveals that many of the terrorists were trained for at least a year by Pakistani ex-army officers.

We have gotten used to the idea of terrorist attacks as sudden, mass-casualty events, usually a car or suicide bomb, detonating in a crowded place or building. And this has typically been the MO of extremists of all stripes up to this point. Much has been made of the recent
WMD report by a bipartisan commission, which has stated that, likely as not, a nuclear or biological attack will take place by the year 2013 (I’m always skeptical of these arbitrary and unsubstantiated numbers, which are intended only to create the sense of urgency needed to kick the government into action). Having been schooled in this area myself however, I agree that the likelihood of a biological attack is such that it is surprising we have yet to see one. But the Mumbai attacks raise a whole new set of questions. Here were a group of 10 to 25 terrorists, armed with weapons that, if one were to try hard enough, are available on American streets. Using small arms, they managed to lay siege to the largest city in India and inflict nearly 400 casualties. Reports now indicate that they had intended to harm as many as 5,000. Bombs did go off, but the shooting went on for four days. The attack did not end quickly. It was prolonged and painful and terrifying. If confounded the local police forces and presented a challenge to Indian troops, who were alarmed at how well-trained and well-armed the extremists were (one man commented that they knew the layout of the buildings they had seized better than the Indians did).

Now imagine that, when you woke up to see the attack reported on CNN, the caption under Breaking News read “Los Angeles, California” instead of “Mumbai, India.” I know some of you are shouting, “don’t be such a sensationalist fear-monger!” I promise you, I am neither. What I aim to illustrate is that, if the terrorist movements of the world interpret the Mumbai attack as a success (and I imagine that they do), a trend of coordinated low-tech assaults in major metropolises across the globe could turn our conception of international terrorism and domestic security on its head. We’ve seen it before here at home on a much smaller scale (
Virginia Tech, Columbine, University of Texas), but never perpetrated by foreign fighters or sleeper cells with a political agenda. We know it can happen, we know the weapons are available, and we know that they are very difficult if not impossible to prevent. All that can be done is to react to the crisis as swiftly as possible. American police terminology would define the Mumbai terrorists as “active shooters;” that is to say they were free to move about and seek out new victims while evading police. Current doctrine among police forces is to relentlessly pursue and engage the suspects, bypassing the dead and wounded, rather than cordon off the area and await the SWAT team. This means that street officers rather than SWAT officers are the most likely to initially engage the perpetrators.

Americans police forces are some of the most well-trained in the world, but the average street cop remains armed only with a sidearm and shotgun. Faced with a well-trained, heavily armed shooter or shooters, he is outmatched. SWAT team response times can be anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes depending on the location. By the time they arrive, the shooters may have moved on, or taken hostages and holed up. Bear in mind, shooters at multiple locations throughout the city may be active as well and dividing police resources. And all this time, news helicopters would be hovering over the scene broadcasting the events live to the world. The good news is that once the SWAT team arrives on the scene, they are ruthlessly efficient at neutralizing their targets (see
here).

Of course the desirability of mounting such an attack on American soil would be weighed against the prospect of encountering armed opposition among the target population (civilians). Which brings me to an interesting and salient point. Would America’s
concealed carry laws deter such an attack? It’s an old argument, one that has cropped up from time to time following shootings. The data shows that permissive concealed carry does in fact reduce violent crime in locations where it is enacted. Could we assume that attackers like the ones in Mumbai would be similarly deterred, were they forced to anticipate a civilian population that could fight back suddenly and without warning before authorities even arrived on the scene? It is likely that they would. Unfortunately, some of the likeliest targets (major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, DC), are the ones with the most stringent gun restrictions. DC, until only earlier this year, had a blanket ban on gun ownership altogether. Cities like New York have what is called a “may-issue” concealed carry policy, which is to say you have the right to request permission, but the city has the right to deny unless you can provide just cause. As a result, the city issues very few permits, unless circumstances are extenuating or (ironically) you happen to be a politician/celebrity (such as Charles Schumer, Joan Rivers or Robert DeNiro). Sadly, India's restrictions on gun ownership are severe, and the police were the first and only line of defense against the terrorists during the initial attack. How they responded is debatable.

Would it be a reasonable solution for large American cities, which receive a significant chunk of the Homeland Security budget, to consider not only providing sophisticated training for their police force, but also more permissive forms of concealed carry? I believe it would. I’m not talking about the Homeland Security Department handing out firearms to every able-bodied man, woman and child from the back of a van here. I’m talking about allowing the civilian population to effectively train and arm itself to aid law enforcement and deter violent crime, including terrorism. It works wherever it’s tried. Can you imagine, the American people providing their own national security? If only the Founders had thought of something like that…

"The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."

-Thomas Paine

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
-Patrick Henry

12.03.2008

SOME WELL-EARNED DRIVEL

BY CINCINNATUS
I
Things have been a bit on the heavy side here at The Children Of The Revolution for the past month or so, which is the nature of the beast. We deal typically with serious issues here and address them in a (usually) serious manner. That being the case (and as the only item in the news worth reporting is this), I’m taking a day off from all of it and publishing an inconsequential fluff piece. Deal with it.

Those of you who know me are certainly aware that I love film and have what may or may not be an unhealthy obsession with it. I consider myself a snob in only two areas: beer and movies. I like to think that I have refined tastes in both, though I’ll openly admit that I loved
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (shut up) and indulge in the occasional Pabst Blue Ribbon.

But while I love movies, I find that I despise Hollywood and its culture. It isn’t just the ubiquitous, poorly reasoned liberalism loudly espoused by most of the city’s more notable denizens, but the culture of superficiality, unaccountability, and selfishness. Oh, and the fact that 90% of the city’s residents seem to think that making movies about talking Chihuahuas or time travel is a good idea. But getting back to the liberalism, the assumption is that everyone working in film is a liberal. And generally that assumption is correct. However, there are a handful of conservatives and even libertarians in the film industry that have either come out of the closet or been dragged out kicking and screaming (to what they fear is the detriment of their career). Granted, I don’t know any of them personally or the full extent of their political views, but based upon specific comments that they’ve made or that have been made about them, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re either conservatives or libertarians (whether they seem to know it or now). Much to their horror, I’d like to recognize them here today. Like I said, total fluff.

Robert Duvall
Best Role: Tom Hagen, The Godfather, Parts I & II
Worst Role: Otto Halliwell,
Gone In Sixty Seconds

Duvall has been one of the most outspoken conservatives in Hollywood. He has criticized some of the studio executives for what he considered hypocritical liberalism, referring to Steven Spielberg frequently. He supported the McCain/Palin ticket and was a very vocal opponent of Barack Obama.

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Clint Eastwood
Best Role: William Munny, Unforgiven
Worst Role: Pilo Beddoe, Every Which Way But Loose

Clint Eastwood seems to have become the symbol of libertarianism in Hollywood. He has been a registered Republican since 1951 and was elected the Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA in 1986. He says his political philosophy is “Everyone leaves everyone else alone.” Right on.

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Bruce Willis
Best Role: John McClane, Die Hard series
Worst Role: Mikey,
Look Who’s Talking

Rumors have flown about wildly regarding Willis’ political orientation, and it’s been assumed that he’s a Republican by many. Willis himself, however, has said, “I'm sick of answering this ******* question. I'm a Republican only as far as I want a smaller government, I want less government intrusion. I want them to stop ******** on my money and your money and tax dollars that we give 50 percent of... every year. I want them to be fiscally responsible and I want these ******* lobbyists out of Washington. Do that and I'll say I'm a Republican... I hate the government, OK? I'm apolitical. Write that down. I'm not a Republican.” He is also a firm believer in gun rights.

So he may not be a Republican but he sure as **** sounds like a conservative/libertarian.
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James Woods
Best Role: Lester Diamond, Casino
Worst Role: Jack Crow, John Carpenter’s Vampires

You may know him as the namesake of Quahog’s “James Woods High School” on the show
Family Guy. Woods became a self-described libertarian following September 11, 2008. He was a vocal supporter of Rudy Guiliani during his primary presidential campaign and fought hard to play the former New York mayor in a made-for-TV movie. He eventually backed the McCain/Palin ticket. I

Dennis Hopper
Best Role: Billy, Easy Rider
Worst Role: Tie between Deacon, Waterworld / John Canyon, Space Truckers

Ironically, the long-time, ardent liberal from the iconic film Easy Rider
converted to conservatism later in life and has been a supporter of George W Bush. However, he reportedly stated on Election Day this year that he was voting for Obama because of McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his VP. I

Gary Oldman
Best Role: Norman Stansfield, Leon: The Professional
Worst Role: Baron Ruber, Quest for Camelot

One of my favorite actors, Oldman raised hell over the final cut of the film
The Contender, in which his portrayal of a conservative US Senator was edited into a simplistic, villainous role. He has been described by many, including his agent, as a conservative.
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James Earl Jones
Best Role: Tie between Terence Mann, Field of Dreams / Darth Vader, Star Wars series
Worst Role: Earnest Moses,
The Meteor Man

Says Jones, a long-time member of the NRA, “The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.” While he is private about his political views, I personally attended a speech of his in which he advocated for greater individual responsibility, limited government and less self-imposed division along ethnic lines.

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John Malkovich
Best Role: Mitch Leary, In the Line of Fire
Worst Role: Galbatorix, Eragon

Malkovich is a strong supporter of the death penalty and a self-described atheist libertarian. According to Wikipedia, Malkovich hosted a champagne party when serial killer John Wayne Gacy was executed in 1994. So he’s basically as strange in real life as we all think he is. Delightful.

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Vince Vaughn
Best Role: Jeremy Grey, Wedding Crashers
Worst Role: Fred Claus, Fred Claus

Owen Wilson outed his Wedding Crashers co-star in
this USA Today piece. Vaughn voiced his support for Rudy Guiliani during his primary presidential campaign but has otherwise remained relatively quiet about his politics.
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Bo Derek
Best Role: Jenny Hanley, 10
Worst Role: Jane Parker,
Tarzan, the Ape Man

Bo Derek is an outspoken conservative who supported both Bushes. She is a staunch defender of gun rights and is a frequent participant in the USO tours to entertain the troops.
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Patricia Heaton
Best Role: Debra Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
Worst Role: Woman Fan,
Space Jam

Heaton is a very active conservative and member of the Feminists for Life organization (which also counts Sarah Palin among its ranks), which opposes abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty. She is also an advocate for gay rights. Ah, the glorious, patchwork tapestry that is conservatism.
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Angie Harmon
Best Role: Abbie Carmichael,
Law & Order
Worst Role: Ryan McBride, Baywatch Nights

Model/actress Angie Harmon is a long-time conservative and appeared at numerous events for George W Bush and John McCain. She appeared alongside fellow conservative and one-time presidential candidate Fred Thompson on TV’s Law & Order.



So there it all is, for what it's worth. Maybe some day I'll tell you about the conservatives in the music industry (not just country), like Marilyn Manson. No, seriously.
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*Hyperlink count for this article: 45

12.01.2008

AMERICA, OCCUPIED?

BY CINCINNATUS

I am reading today that the Department of Defense, under orders from both Congress and the President, is readying a force of 20,000 uniformed military personnel (troops) to be stationed within the United States by 2011 to provide aid and support should a mass casualty attack occur. Just for the reader’s information, this is illegal.

The
Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, while arguably dated (enacted to limit military policing of the defunct Confederacy post-bellum), still remains in full force today and is the law of the land. While President Bush attempted to enact changes to the Act in 2006 that would have granted the military the power to assume control of a disaster situation, such as a hurricane or a nuclear attack, these changes were repealed in 2008 (after having been passed in October 2006 and then subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court). The verbiage that permitted the President to use the military as a domestic policing or disaster management tool is below:

The President may employ the armed forces... to... restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition... the President determines that... domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order... or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such... a condition... so hinders the execution of the laws... that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law... or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

I encourage you to note the “…or other condition…” portion and the fact that the circumstances governing the deployment of these forces were entirely subject to the President’s discretion. I’m stunned that this legislation passed in the first place and that I don’t remember it ever having done so or even showing up in the news. I am curious to see what sort of legal ramifications the deployment of this domestic security force will have, if any. From what the article says, the Cato Institute and the ACLU may be on the job already.

I hope that everyone recognizes what sort of dilemma is posed by the stationing of troops domestically that are under the direct command of the President. This is the sort of thing that banana republics and police states do, not the United States. Our National Guard units are under the command of state governors, in case you were wondering, and can be used for federal purposes only with their consent (it’s a bit more complicated, but that’s what it boils down to). And speaking of the National Guard, reacting to disasters of varying degrees within their specific state is their primary role. Why are they not the focus of this escalation of domestic security?
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I'm not upset at the troops themselves, understand. They're following orders. I'm upset at their commanders, specifically their Commander-In-Chief, for using them in this manner, which is entirely inappropriate. As always, this is but a prelude to possible future expansions of government authority.