Monday, April 27, 2009

No blogging today

Go read my whole six years worth of archives.... for crying out loud it's good stuff! There's more than bikini-clad Conservatives, fascinating poetry, and insights on philosophy and culture!

These are snapshots of history!

Well, that doesn't really describe it.

The point is, nothing that Governor Granholm can do regarding Swine Flue or President Obama can do regarding General Motors has much to do with my thirty pages of stuff I have to minimally write.

So keep in mind as the economic apocalypse keeps on moving, it does not have to affect you.

In three weeks I will begin a photo essay explaining why it does not have to affect you... well, okay it always does.

But just because the economy in Michigan makes it difficult to be employed in this state does not mean you have to be unemployed in this state, but if you are going to just sit by your computer, read through my entire archives, make comments and suggestions, and if possible, tell me what you think can be turned into part of a book.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

endorsing Chris Bunch for Congress will not help him

But I will do it anyway.

Chris Bunch is a Conservative Republican and he is running for Congress in California's 10th Congressional District. This is not only in Madame Pelosi's backyard (and since so many of her constituents like her it cannot help anyone's cause for me to call her "Madame Pelosi" but it is only slightly better than Congressman Walberg calling her "Mother Pelosi" which I will jump to next) but he is running against a Democrat Party incumbent. All the rules say this is an uphill battle, but one of the things I know about climbing up a hill is that it is not impossible... and very much is the difficult crusade a worthy one.

So why should we bother backing him? Well, I like the concept of the large family and Mr. Bunch fathered four boys. He also is a noted warrior, literally, as he fought in both major theatres against terrorists and other hostile Anti-Americans. He makes a point immediately to stand for "Fiscal & Individual Reponsibility, Liberty and Independence, and national strength." If those are just buzzwords they are still buzzwords I can get behind. So the question is.... does the endorsement of my weblog constituted sabotage or help? Could his reputation possibly be hurt by being mention in this weblog?

We may never know. Trust me: finding a good Conservative Republican in California is... difficult at best. Believe me, I have the personal experience!

His campaign's Facebook Group is here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Earth first! We'll destroy the other planets later.

How to destroy the earth FAQ.

Destroying the earth as a point of interest - Geocide

That was fun. Let's indulge in serious thought on environmentalist subjects... I will emphasize these are other people's thoughts, and I agree with them because when it comes to some scientists and government watchdog groups, I am a zombie of sorts, but I do double-check for the sake of my own conscience.

Paul Chesser's Climate Strategies Watch monitors the governments' futile attempts to save the planet by screwing with nature and the economy. That last link is not actually a joke. More than like the governments' attempts to save the planet will likely end in someone getting irradiated or obtaining cancer or worse.

Also serious:
Michael Crichton on DDT

YOU CAN EAT DDT!!! That will not kill you. People used to bathe in it before running off into mosquito-infested jungles to fight wars.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

should Mr. Huang be boiled alive?

Mr. Huang boiled his 10-month-old infant daughter alive.

She died within days. The cause was "multiple organ failure".

The baby experienced great agony.

That he was inebriated is no excuse.

Should he receive the same treatment? Should he receive it only from the waist down?

Miley Cyrus versus Miss California

original title: "the better answer of happiness" That was more appropriate but to the point but did not adequately served the context. If the message is so important I might as well package it to be adequate sent and received or I render my work an injustice.

I need to run through this quickly. The Miss USA Pageant was Sunday April 19th. The reason Miss California (USA), Carrie Prejean, was not declared the winner as the judges initially planned, was because when homosexual blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton (God will this will be the last mention of that name on my weblog) inquired of Miss Prejean her beliefs regarding homosexual marriage, the answers displeased those judges.

Let us set aside the real meat of the story because everyone else is doing that. Carrie Prejean is the runner-up and certainly deserves to be called the winner. The young lady's background has been covered by others and certainly qualifies her to win. That there is a lack of justice here has been covered and her so-called friends abandoned her, revealing their status as not being friends at all, but opportunists.

I am not going to pursue the question of why a Sodomite is judging the beauty of woman in a contest and maybe in the future I will discuss whether a Miss USA contestant is more appropriate in serving as a representative or stand-in for the beliefs and opinions of the population of her home places, or truer to her purpose when she represents her own beliefs and convictions. I will say that the behavior of Mario Armando Lavandeira is deplorable, despicable, and certainly unacceptable for a responsible citizen, albeit no one holds people accountable for this minimum standard of responsibility. We should expect better. It is not appropriate to denounce "Hilton" and the other Miss USA judges for their liberalism because this sort of freedom of belief and expression and the limitations, condemnations, and punishments for the implementation of the expression of belief certainly fits more in the spectrum of fascism more than liberalism.

Mario Armando Lavandeira's states that it had less to do with Miss Prejean's beliefs being contrary to his than the quality of her answer.
Hilton said Prejean could have chosen an answer that he believed would have been less political. When he asked Miley Cyrus the same question on Twitter after the show, he was surprised by her response... Comparing Cyrus and Prejean, Hilton said, "A 16-year-old gave a better answer. If she [Prejean] had said those two sentences, that would have been a better answer."
I am not really interested in portraying (today) what the contestant's answer to the question was, nor am I interested in spelling out the specific question aside from it pertaining to "gay marriage" and being asked by a homosexual. I am willing to openly dispute Miley Cyrus's response. What was "the better answer"?
"I believe that EVERYONE deserves to be happy. That's all I'm saying."
She is wrong.

I do not desire to explore the Declaration of Independence's concept of "the pursuit of Happiness" and believe it is a very literal thing, quite clearly not including a guarantee of results (actually the right to the Pursuit of Happiness refers to a sort of property right). A promise that happiness or even contentedness are to be had simply because one is an American, and a citizen, (those to whom the Declaration quite clearly and enthusiastically refers) simply does not exist. Others have explored and explained these parsings better than I.

My assault on Miley Cyrus's brief twitter-treatise on happiness is simply thus. Not everyone deserves to be happy, and happiness is not unconditional. Many people are unhappy for the dumbest reasons and they simple do not have the right to impose their conditions for happiness over other people, who may or may not be in a position to be affected by those circumstances. I need to see this through a spiritual lens, as it is directly a triggered emotional response in those that clearly do not have a relationship with God, or are not running on their relationship with God at the time. Even with someone who is walking with the Lord happiness describes something that is not something one can just have. From a spiritual perspective, "joy" and "love" are elements that come from God, emanate from human beings and are not dependent on circumstances or external catalysts. To be happy means that a certain set of circumstances must be in place for that individual and conditions must be met. People cannot simply be happy and there is nothing wrong with that. Although I admit some people are happy because their brain chemicals are set just that way and that particular make-up has not been wrecked yet, this is all stuff that can be set one way or the other.

Since the happiness of your average American may depend on the state of affairs being such that is offensive, irritating, or uncomfortable to another individual, "happiness" is not a right, certainly not one that everyone possesses or should possess, because one man getting that right honored and respected instantly erases or tramples another's conditions for happiness. Besides that rather cynical or pessimistic assessment for how people maintain a good attitude, when people's happiness are only for dumb reasons, or they can be happy is someone is unhappy... then why should we appease the dumb at the cost of the wholesome? If Perez Hilton, such as he is called, is only happy standing atop a pile of tortured baby seals, then Miley Cyrus literally is wrong. I would apply this standard to even less extreme examples but I hate these wrong-headed open-minded absolute statements being taken as better answers to real questions and real issues.

My words that I emphasized are the ones I included as my reply to the ABC news article. What makes a practitioner of this sort of homosexuality a worthy judge is quite beyond me, especially since he later suggested a different version that he thinks she should have used.... a version that is quite clearly obfuscating or ducking the issue. Now whether the issues of homosexual marriage should be decided by the individual states is one serious matter, one likely beyond the terms and limits of what should be asked a Miss USA beauty pageant contestant. I believe that these sorts of legal contracts should be determined on a federalist basis, in the hands of the voting citizens through state ballot initiatives and perhaps (but not very comfortably) state legislative action. A defense of traditional marriage should not be mounted among the stalwart and ugly actors of the federal government, especially the judiciary. More importantly while I may be in line with activist judges on the right, on a state level, declaring that the public/government's recognition of marriage may only lay along the lines of tradition that we have honored from thousands of years before the Christian era began all the way to the early 20th century, it is abhorrent that activist judges on any level of government declare that the right of marriage, and the rite of marriage, and said recognition, belongs to any sort of combination/relationship that may suddenly become unfashionable to publicly condemn. Judges or the judicial panels that they sit on should not unilaterally declare a set of legal or moral values one way or the other simply to reflect a fashion or set of fashions of a time.

Oddly enough I think these marriage battles should be taken out of the hands of government but the civil union debate is an issue for another month. Whatever sort of relationship one has with the government bureaucracy does not involve a promise of happiness. If that fact alone is the case, the simplistic misguided utterances of a teenage pop star the endorsement of those phrases by a minor near-celebrity figure should have no relevance to how an utterly beautiful woman was or was not spiritually and rhetorically attacked by these people. Not one of these respective individuals should have been placed in their own respective positions.

Carrie Prejean's continued stand touches me.
"I wouldn't have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that's all I can do. It is a very touchy subject and he [Perez] is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."
It also reminds me of the objectivist character from Watchmen, Rorschach, and his insistence on no compromise, even in the face of Armageddon. I certainly hope this is not that extreme, but a sort of professional and personal sort of glory and success was based on her performance and she decided not to compromise even when tempted with some level of reward.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the Left-Wing Scum are holding a recruitment drive

Yes, we the tax-payers paid for this e-mail. I have less of a problem with that than you would think.

AFSCME to Recruit at JMC

Monday, April 27th

7:00 PM

JMC Library-3rd floor, Case Hall

Given the current political climate, we have seen an increased interest from student activists who are now considering careers in social justice from community organizing to labor organizing. We have had some students from area colleges who have expressed interest in our organizer training programs recently and I wanted to visit the campus April 27th.

We have a number of paid internship and employment opportunities available for sophomore, junior and senior level students who are committed to social and economic justice. Generally, interns, apprentices and Organizers-in-Training assist primarily low-wage women and people of color gain rights on the job, and win better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

The 1.6 million members of AFSCME (The American Federation of State,
County and Municipal Employees) provide the vital services that make
America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations from
nurses to school bus drivers, child care providers to sanitation workers
AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public
services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.

To learn more about AFSCME, visit our website at

If you are interested in attending the Informational Recruitment Session please RSVP to

Jaimie Hutchison at
I'm not giving more advertising than this. If you want to join to heck with you. "Organizing" in this sense is generally a sort of harassment of private citizens until they give in to your ideological whims. It is disgusting. Good Americans would have no part of it. It is, however, popular now because of our great super-hero celebrity President.

Friday, April 17, 2009

John Bambenek's blog

It is called Part-Time Pundit.

I think he promised me some information on Local School Councils. Oh well. The thought counts pretty well for me.

"Live Free or Die!" - IMPRIMIS April 2009 Volume 38, Number 4

from Imprimis April 2009

Mark Steyn
Eugene C. Pulliam Visting Felow in Journalism, Hillsdale College

MARK STEYN'S column appears in several newspapers, including the Washington Times, Philadelphia's Evening Bulletin, and the Orange County Register. In addition, he writes for The New Criterion, Maclean's in Canada, the Jerusalem Post, The Australian, and Hawke's Bay Today in New Zealand. The author of National Review's Happy Warrior column, he also blogs on National Review Online. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling America Alone: The End of The World as We Know It. Mr. Steyn teaches a two-week course in journalism at Hillsdale College during each spring semester.

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on March 9, 2009.

MY REMARKS are titled tonight after the words of General Stark, New Hampshire's great hero of the Revolutionary War: "Live free or die!" When I first moved to New Hampshire, where this appears on our license plates, I assumed General Stark had said it before some battle or other—a bit of red meat to rally the boys for the charge; a touch of the old Henry V-at-Agincourt routine. But I soon discovered that the general had made his famous statement decades after the war, in a letter regretting that he would be unable to attend a dinner. And in a curious way I found that even more impressive. In extreme circumstances, many people can rouse themselves to rediscover the primal impulses: The brave men on Flight 93 did. They took off on what they thought was a routine business trip, and, when they realized it wasn't, they went into General Stark mode and cried "Let's roll!" But it's harder to maintain the "Live free or die!" spirit when you're facing not an immediate crisis but just a slow, remorseless, incremental, unceasing ratchet effect. "Live free or die!" sounds like a battle cry: We'll win this thing or die trying, die an honorable death. But in fact it's something far less dramatic: It's a bald statement of the reality of our lives in the prosperous West. You can live as free men, but, if you choose not to, your society will die.

My book America Alone is often assumed to be about radical Islam, firebreathing imams, the excitable young men jumping up and down in the street doing the old "Death to the Great Satan" dance. It's not. It's about us. It's about a possibly terminal manifestation of an old civilizational temptation: Indolence, as Machiavelli understood, is the greatest enemy of a republic. When I ran into trouble with the so-called "human rights" commissions up in Canada, it seemed bizarre to find the progressive left making common cause with radical Islam. One half of the alliance profess to be pro-gay, pro-feminist secularists; the other half are homophobic, misogynist theocrats. Even as the cheap bus 'n' truck road-tour version of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, it made no sense. But in fact what they have in common overrides their superficially more obvious incompatibilities: Both the secular Big Government progressives and political Islam recoil from the concept of the citizen, of the free individual entrusted to operate within his own societal space, assume his responsibilities, and exploit his potential.

In most of the developed world, the state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood—health care, child care, care of the elderly—to the point where it's effectively severed its citizens from humanity's primal instincts, not least the survival instinct. Hillary Rodham Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. It's supposedly an African proverb—there is no record of anyone in Africa ever using this proverb, but let that pass. P.J. O'Rourke summed up that book superbly: It takes a village to raise a child. The government is the village, and you're the child. Oh, and by the way, even if it did take a village to raise a child, I wouldn't want it to be an African village. If you fly over West Africa at night, the lights form one giant coastal megalopolis: Not even Africans regard the African village as a useful societal model. But nor is the European village. Europe's addiction to big government, unaffordable entitlements, cradle-to-grave welfare, and a dependence on mass immigration needed to sustain it has become an existential threat to some of the oldest nation-states in the world.

And now the last holdout, the United States, is embarking on the same grim path: After the President unveiled his budget, I heard Americans complain, oh, it's another Jimmy Carter, or LBJ's Great Society, or the new New Deal. You should be so lucky. Those nickel-and-dime comparisons barely begin to encompass the wholesale Europeanization that's underway. The 44th president's multi-trillion-dollar budget, the first of many, adds more to the national debt than all the previous 43 presidents combined, from George Washington to George Dubya. The President wants Europeanized health care, Europeanized daycare, Europeanized education, and, as the Europeans have discovered, even with Europeanized tax rates you can't make that math add up. In Sweden, state spending accounts for 54% of GDP. In America, it was 34%—ten years ago. Today, it's about 40%. In four years' time, that number will be trending very Swede-like.

But forget the money, the deficit, the debt, the big numbers with the 12 zeroes on the end of them. So-called fiscal conservatives often miss the point. The problem isn't the cost. These programs would still be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover them each month. They're wrong because they deform the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if there were no financial consequences, the moral and even spiritual consequences would still be fatal. That's the stage where Europe is.

America is just beginning this process. I looked at the rankings in Freedom in the 50 States published by George Mason University last month. New Hampshire came in Number One, the Freest State in the Nation, which all but certainly makes it the freest jurisdiction in the Western world. Which kind of depressed me. Because the Granite State feels less free to me than it did when I moved there, and you always hope there's somewhere else out there just in case things go belly up and you have to hit the road. And way down at the bottom in the last five places were Maryland, California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and the least free state in the Union by some distance, New York.

New York! How does the song go? "If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere!" If you can make it there, you're some kind of genius. "This is the worst fiscal downturn since the Great Depression," announced Governor Paterson a few weeks ago. So what's he doing? He's bringing in the biggest tax hike in New York history. If you can make it there, he can take it there—via state tax, sales tax, municipal tax, a doubled beer tax, a tax on clothing, a tax on cab rides, an "iTunes tax," a tax on haircuts, 137 new tax hikes in all. Call 1-800-I-HEART-NEW-YORK today and order your new package of state tax forms, for just $199.99, plus the 12% tax on tax forms and the 4% tax form application fee partially refundable upon payment of the 7.5% tax filing tax. If you can make it there, you'll certainly have no difficulty making it in Tajikistan.

New York, California... These are the great iconic American states, the ones we foreigners have heard of. To a penniless immigrant called Arnold Schwarzenegger, California was a land of plenty. Now Arnold is an immigrant of plenty in a penniless land: That's not an improvement. One of his predecessors as governor of California, Ronald Reagan, famously said, "We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around." In California, it's now the other way around: California is increasingly a government that has a state. And it is still in the early stages of the process. California has thirtysomething million people. The Province of Quebec has seven million people. Yet California and Quebec have roughly the same number of government workers. "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation," said Adam Smith, and America still has a long way to go. But it's better to jump off the train as you're leaving the station and it's still picking up speed than when it's roaring down the track and you realize you've got a one-way ticket on the Oblivion Express.

"Indolence," in Machiavelli's word: There are stages to the enervation of free peoples. America, which held out against the trend, is now at Stage One: The benign paternalist state promises to make all those worries about mortgages, debt, and health care disappear. Every night of the week, you can switch on the TV and see one of these ersatz "town meetings" in which freeborn citizens of the republic (I use the term loosely) petition the Sovereign to make all the bad stuff go away. "I have an urgent need," a lady in Fort Myers beseeched the President. "We need a home, our own kitchen, our own bathroom." He took her name and ordered his staff to meet with her. Hopefully, he didn't insult her by dispatching some no-name deputy assistant associate secretary of whatever instead of flying in one of the bigtime tax-avoiding cabinet honchos to nationalize a Florida bank and convert one of its branches into a desirable family residence, with a swing set hanging where the drive-thru ATM used to be.

As all of you know, Hillsdale College takes no federal or state monies. That used to make it an anomaly in American education. It's in danger of becoming an anomaly in America, period. Maybe it's time for Hillsdale College to launch the Hillsdale Insurance Agency, the Hillsdale Motor Company and the First National Bank of Hillsdale. The executive supremo at Bank of America is now saying, oh, if only he'd known what he knows now, he wouldn't have taken the government money. Apparently it comes with strings attached. Who knew? Sure, Hillsdale College did, but nobody else.

If you're a business, when government gives you 2% of your income, it has a veto on 100% of what you do. If you're an individual, the impact is even starker. Once you have government health care, it can be used to justify almost any restraint on freedom: After all, if the state has to cure you, it surely has an interest in preventing you needing treatment in the first place. That's the argument behind, for example, mandatory motorcycle helmets, or the creepy teams of government nutritionists currently going door to door in Britain and conducting a "health audit" of the contents of your refrigerator. They're not yet confiscating your Twinkies; they just want to take a census of how many you have. So you do all this for the "free" health care—and in the end you may not get the "free" health care anyway. Under Britain's National Health Service, for example, smokers in Manchester have been denied treatment for heart disease, and the obese in Suffolk are refused hip and knee replacements. Patricia Hewitt, the British Health Secretary, says that it's appropriate to decline treatment on the basis of "lifestyle choices." Smokers and the obese may look at their gay neighbor having unprotected sex with multiple partners, and wonder why his "lifestyle choices" get a pass while theirs don't. But that's the point: Tyranny is always whimsical.

And if they can't get you on grounds of your personal health, they'll do it on grounds of planetary health. Not so long ago in Britain it was proposed that each citizen should have a government-approved travel allowance. If you take one flight a year, you'll pay just the standard amount of tax on the journey. But, if you travel more frequently, if you take a second or third flight, you'll be subject to additional levies—in the interest of saving the planet for Al Gore's polar bear documentaries and that carbon-offset palace he lives in in Tennessee.

Isn't this the very definition of totalitarianism-lite? The Soviets restricted the movement of people through the bureaucratic apparatus of "exit visas." The British are proposing to do it through the bureaucratic apparatus of exit taxes—indeed, the bluntest form of regressive taxation. As with the Communists, the nomenklatura—the Prince of Wales, Al Gore, Madonna—will still be able to jet about hither and yon. What's a 20% surcharge to them? Especially as those for whom vast amounts of air travel are deemed essential—government officials, heads of NGOs, environmental activists—will no doubt be exempted from having to pay the extra amount. But the ghastly masses will have to stay home.

"Freedom of movement" used to be regarded as a bedrock freedom. The movement is still free, but there's now a government processing fee of $389.95. And the interesting thing about this proposal was that it came not from the Labour Party but the Conservative Party.

That's Stage Two of societal enervation—when the state as guarantor of all your basic needs becomes increasingly comfortable with regulating your behavior. Free peoples who were once willing to give their lives for liberty can be persuaded very quickly to relinquish their liberties for a quiet life. When President Bush talked about promoting democracy in the Middle East, there was a phrase he liked to use: "Freedom is the desire of every human heart." Really? It's unclear whether that's really the case in Gaza and the Pakistani tribal lands. But it's absolutely certain that it's not the case in Berlin and Paris, Stockholm and London, New Orleans and Buffalo. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government "security," large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and a ton of other stuff. It's ridiculous for grown men and women to say: I want to be able to choose from hundreds of cereals at the supermarket, thousands of movies from Netflix, millions of songs to play on my iPod—but I want the government to choose for me when it comes to my health care. A nation that demands the government take care of all the grown-up stuff is a nation turning into the world's wrinkliest adolescent, free only to choose its record collection.

And don't be too sure you'll get to choose your record collection in the end. That's Stage Three: When the populace has agreed to become wards of the state, it's a mere difference of degree to start regulating their thoughts. When my anglophone friends in the Province of Quebec used to complain about the lack of English signs in Quebec hospitals, my response was that, if you allow the government to be the sole provider of health care, why be surprised that they're allowed to decide the language they'll give it in? But, as I've learned during my year in the hellhole of Canadian "human rights" law, that's true in a broader sense. In the interests of "cultural protection," the Canadian state keeps foreign newspaper owners, foreign TV operators, and foreign bookstore owners out of Canada. Why shouldn't it, in return, assume the right to police the ideas disseminated through those newspapers, bookstores and TV networks it graciously agrees to permit?

When Maclean's magazine and I were hauled up in 2007 for the crime of "flagrant Islamophobia," it quickly became very clear that, for members of a profession that brags about its "courage" incessantly (far more than, say, firemen do), an awful lot of journalists are quite content to be the eunuchs in the politically correct harem. A distressing number of Western journalists see no conflict between attending lunches for World Press Freedom Day every month and agreeing to be micro-regulated by the state. The big problem for those of us arguing for classical liberalism is that in modern Canada there's hardly anything left that isn't on the state dripfeed to one degree or another: Too many of the institutions healthy societies traditionally look to as outposts of independent thought—churches, private schools, literature, the arts, the media—either have an ambiguous relationship with government or are downright dependent on it. Up north, "intellectual freedom" means the relevant film-funding agency—Cinedole Canada or whatever it's called—gives you a check to enable you to continue making so-called "bold, brave, transgressive" films that discombobulate state power not a whit.

And then comes Stage Four, in which dissenting ideas and even words are labeled as "hatred." In effect, the language itself becomes a means of control. Despite the smiley-face banalities, the tyranny becomes more naked: In Britain, a land with rampant property crime, undercover constables nevertheless find time to dine at curry restaurants on Friday nights to monitor adjoining tables lest someone in private conversation should make a racist remark. An author interviewed on BBC Radio expressed, very mildly and politely, some concerns about gay adoption and was investigated by Scotland Yard's Community Safety Unit for Homophobic, Racist and Domestic Incidents. A Daily Telegraph columnist is arrested and detained in a jail cell over a joke in a speech. A Dutch legislator is invited to speak at the Palace of Westminster by a member of the House of Lords, but is banned by the government, arrested on arrival at Heathrow and deported.

America, Britain, and even Canada are not peripheral nations: They're the three anglophone members of the G7. They're three of a handful of countries that were on the right side of all the great conflicts of the last century. But individual liberty flickers dimmer in each of them. The massive expansion of government under the laughable euphemism of "stimulus" (Stage One) comes with a quid pro quo down the line (Stage Two): Once you accept you're a child in the government nursery, why shouldn't Nanny tell you what to do? And then—Stage Three—what to think? And—Stage Four—what you're forbidden to think . . . .

Which brings us to the final stage: As I said at the beginning, Big Government isn't about the money. It's more profound than that. A couple of years back Paul Krugman wrote a column in The New York Times asserting that, while parochial American conservatives drone on about "family values," the Europeans live it, enacting policies that are more "family friendly." On the Continent, claims the professor, "government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff-to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family."

As befits a distinguished economist, Professor Krugman failed to notice that for a continent of "family friendly" policies, Europe is remarkably short of families. While America's fertility rate is more or less at replacement level—2.1—seventeen European nations are at what demographers call "lowest-low" fertility—1.3 or less—a rate from which no society in human history has ever recovered. Germans, Spaniards, Italians and Greeks have upside-down family trees: four grandparents have two children and one grandchild. How can an economist analyze "family friendly" policies without noticing that the upshot of these policies is that nobody has any families?

As for all that extra time, what happened? Europeans work fewer hours than Americans, they don't have to pay for their own health care, they're post-Christian so they don't go to church, they don't marry and they don't have kids to take to school and basketball and the 4-H stand at the county fair. So what do they do with all the time?

Forget for the moment Europe's lack of world-beating companies: They regard capitalism as an Anglo-American fetish, and they mostly despise it. But what about the things Europeans supposedly value? With so much free time, where is the great European art? Where are Europe's men of science? At American universities. Meanwhile, Continental governments pour fortunes into prestigious white elephants of Euro-identity, like the Airbus A380, capable of carrying 500, 800, a thousand passengers at a time, if only somebody somewhere would order the darn thing, which they might consider doing once all the airports have built new runways to handle it.

"Give people plenty and security, and they will fall into spiritual torpor," wrote Charles Murray in In Our Hands. "When life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do, ideas of greatness become an irritant. Such is the nature of the Europe syndrome."

The key word here is "give." When the state "gives" you plenty—when it takes care of your health, takes cares of your kids, takes care of your elderly parents, takes care of every primary responsibility of adulthood—it's not surprising that the citizenry cease to function as adults: Life becomes a kind of extended adolescence—literally so for those Germans who've mastered the knack of staying in education till they're 34 and taking early retirement at 42. Hilaire Belloc, incidentally, foresaw this very clearly in his book The Servile State in 1912. He understood that the long-term cost of a welfare society is the infantilization of the population.

Genteel decline can be very agreeable—initially: You still have terrific restaurants, beautiful buildings, a great opera house. And once the pressure's off it's nice to linger at the sidewalk table, have a second café au lait and a pain au chocolat, and watch the world go by. At the Munich Security Conference in February, President Sarkozy demanded of his fellow Continentals, "Does Europe want peace, or do we want to be left in peace?" To pose the question is to answer it. Alas, it only works for a generation or two. And it's hard to come up with a wake-up call for a society as dedicated as latterday Europe to the belief that life is about sleeping in.

As Gerald Ford liked to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." And that's true. But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. That's the position European governments find themselves in. Their citizens have become hooked on unaffordable levels of social programs which in the end will put those countries out of business. Just to get the Social Security debate in perspective, projected public pension liabilities are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8% of GDP in the U.S. In Greece, the figure is 25%—i.e., total societal collapse. So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I want my benefits. The crisis isn't the lack of money, but the lack of citizens—in the meaningful sense of that word.

Every Democrat running for election tells you they want to do this or that "for the children." If America really wanted to do something "for the children," it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the Western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a leviathan of bloated bureaucracy and unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme. That's the real "war on children" (to use another Democrat catchphrase)—and every time you bulk up the budget you make it less and less likely they'll win it.

Conservatives often talk about "small government," which, in a sense, is framing the issue in leftist terms: they're for big government. But small government gives you big freedoms—and big government leaves you with very little freedom. The bailout and the stimulus and the budget and the trillion-dollar deficits are not merely massive transfers from the most dynamic and productive sector to the least dynamic and productive. When governments annex a huge chunk of the economy, they also annex a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher—and you make it very difficult ever to change back. Americans face a choice: They can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or they can join most of the rest of the Western world in terminal decline. To rekindle the spark of liberty once it dies is very difficult. The inertia, the ennui, the fatalism is more pathetic than the demographic decline and fiscal profligacy of the social democratic state, because it's subtler and less tangible. But once in a while it swims into very sharp focus. Here is the writer Oscar van den Boogaard from an interview with the Belgian paper De Standaard. Mr. van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay "humanist" (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. "I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it." In the famous Kubler-Ross five stages of grief, Mr. van den Boogard is past denial, anger, bargaining and depression, and has arrived at a kind of acceptance.

"I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it." Sorry, doesn't work—not for long. Back in New Hampshire, General Stark knew that. Mr. van den Boogard's words are an epitaph for Europe. Whereas New Hampshire's motto—"Live free or die!"—is still the greatest rallying cry for this state or any other. About a year ago, there was a picture in the papers of Iranian students demonstrating in Tehran and waving placards. And what they'd written on those placards was: "Live free or die!" They understand the power of those words; so should we.

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kasabian - Club Foot

Well, this answers my questions about "what the heck is that song!?"

For my search purposes the question is "what is the name of that song in those tv advertisements?"

Or "the song in the Unusuals Promos"

Question asked, question answered.

Frank Springer died last Thursday

Frank Springer died Thursday April 9 2009.

I do not know whether he was a good man. There was a (too) brief article in Newsday.
Frank Springer, a longtime Long Islander who was a prolific comics artist for such strips as "Terry and the Pirates" and "Rex Morgan, M.D.," died Thursday at his home in Damariscotta, Maine, of prostate cancer. He was 79.
Frank Springer stands out to because he was/is a definitive artist/penciller in the original run of the American Transformers comic book series for Marvel Comics. That is where he stands out to me.

Appropriately I learned of the man's passing from this node.

the US Navy Seals killed the Somali Pirates

Three out of four scummers personally holding the American Captain Richard Phillips are dead. The fourth should be hung, in all propriety.

Now the rest of the pirate organization (such as it is) should be hunted down for the sheer affront to our power and status. That is how President Thomas Jefferson and other Americans of that time would deal with it, and the only good way to deal with these Enemies to Mankind.

I cannot believe I am now creating a Pirates label.

UPDATE 2009/04/13 8:04 AM - The "pirates vow revenge" on the United States for the proper treatment of their colleagues. This makes aggression against these villains a much more obvious need.

UPDATE 2009/04/13 9:38 AM - How it really happened; no mere politician was involved in the specific happenstances of the rescue, therefore National Command Authority only deserves credit and responsibility in the broadest sense.

Flo Rida - Right Round

Obama Zombie Solutions

This is hilarious.

It was one of my Facebook Friends' links last week. It was posted on the 23rd. It is exactly right-on, and my gosh I posted this on April 6th.

You're welcome.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

1 Corinthians 15:55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

Act 2:23,24 "you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."

1 Corinthians 5 demands that may we not abuse this liberty.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ramesh Ponnuru versus Tom Tomorrow

This idiot thinks the American health care system (which does not work very well at all) operates under a free market.

That idiot is "Tom Tomorrow".

So Ramesh Ponnuru mocks him for it.

today is Passover

Jewish World Review has its Passover in 60 minutes (or less)

That is all I have for Passover this year. Next year I hope I have more.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

this article smells like bull crap to me 2008

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May 23, 2008 Friday

Look homeward, Obama

BYLINE: Dan Conley


LENGTH: 3969 words

HIGHLIGHT: Anyone who doubts that a toxic political environment can be overcome should look to Chicago. Are you listening, Senator?

When the words "Chicago" and "politics" collide, a multitude of images arise. From the mythical voters who rose from the grave to elect John F. Kennedy in 1960, to the tear gas that separated hard hats and cops from billy-clubbed war protesters in 1968, most of those images have to do with corruption and conflict.

In the 1980s, Chicago was famous for bad blood and racial friction in city government. There was a series of theatrical City Council disputes dubbed the Council Wars by comedian Aaron Freeman, and then there was the bitter, racially charged 1983 primary that pitted sitting Mayor Jane Byrne against mayor-to-be Harold Washington, and future mayor-for-life Richard M. Daley, a battle of titans that now seems like a precursor to the 2008 Democratic presidential nominating fight.

Various articles during this campaign -- including some in Salon -- have attempted to tie Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to that outdated vision of the Windy City. But over the past 25 years, Chicago politics has evolved. The city is still divided along racial lines, and other layers of government here -- from the Illinois Statehouse to the Cook County government -- feature as much grandstanding and as many ad hominem attacks as anywhere. But anyone who doubts that a toxic political environment can be overcome should look to Chicago. Consensus has become more conspicuous than conflict. Deal-making is more important than showboating. In short, the city's politics has become post-partisan. It's a concept that should be familiar to anyone who has followed Obama's presidential bid.

A line from one of Obama's stump speeches sounds very much like words that could have been spoken in his adopted hometown at the end of the 1980s: "This election is about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation -- a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity."

They don't sing "Kumbaya" in City Council meetings, but a general sense of civility prevails. In the same chamber that during the Council Wars featured endless parliamentary maneuvers and more than a few fistfights, policies are ratified in generally dull proceedings; details are usually ironed out internally before going public. Ideas hatched at City Hall are floated with community activists, business leaders and aldermen first -- and woe onto any mayoral staffer who presents a plan to the mayor that did not receive the full sign-off before making it to his desk.

It's a far cry from the Chicago politics Barack Obama first experienced when he moved to town in 1984. While this city hasn't been divided along party lines since the New Deal -- everybody's a Democrat -- racial divisions have largely defined Chicago politics. In the 1980s, during the administration of Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor, racial animosities were at their height. In his 1995 autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," Obama tells the story of an asbestos removal problem at the Altgeld Gardens housing project and how the residents came together to make sure the problem was dealt with and that the Chicago Housing Authority heard about other problems in the public housing community.

But just as momentum was shifting toward dramatic change at Altgeld that addressed a wide range of resident concerns, a public event featuring housing residents and the CHA commissioner devolved into a comical media circus that featured the commissioner grappling with a pregnant Altgeld resident for control of a microphone, then the commissioner sprinting out of the hall to his limo, to audience jeers. This led some to conclude that the entire event was set up not by Obama and the CHA residents, but by Mayor Washington's intra-party political nemesis Alderman Edward "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak, looking to embarrass the mayor.

Chicago in 2008 is a city far more hospitable to community organizers like the young Barack Obama. Community leaders have real power in Chicago today -- and they have the ability to raise funds not only from City Hall, but from a vibrant philanthropic community that includes heavyweight donors like the Chicago Community Trust and the MacArthur Foundation.

Obama knows about Chicago's political evolution very well. In his 1995 autobiography, Obama noted how the petty divisions of the Council Wars made community action difficult -- even with African-American mayors in charge for most of the 1980s. Obama's wife, Michelle, worked in the Daley administration, in his Department of Planning and Development. It has been during the Daley administration, which began in 1989 and will never end, that Chicago has changed. Michelle saw firsthand the transformation of city government to its new model of consensus governing. Obama's team includes Daley stalwarts like Valerie Jarrett, a possible White House chief of staff, and John Rogers, a major fundraiser. And Obama's top political aide -- David Axelrod -- also happens to be Mayor Daley's prime political advisor.

But with Obama's nomination now all but assured and the general election rapidly approaching, Obama's post-partisan politics remains largely undefined. It has led detractors -- many of them loyal, liberal Democrats -- to question whether there is a commitment to progressive policies behind the mantras of hope and change and to wonder if he's a bit too naive, too academic and too "Dukakis" to win -- or if he wins, to govern effectively.

Obama addressed this characterization directly during the MTV/MySpace Forum in November 2007: "The politics of hope ... is not based on us all holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya,'" Obama said. "It is based on the idea that instead of people operating on the basis of fear, instead of people operating on the basis of division, I want people to come together and focus on the problems that we face: healthcare, education, global warming. We are not going to be able to solve those problems if we don't talk about them honestly."

Still doubts persist. And no one has expressed them more forcefully and consistently than New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. In a March 3 column, one of more than a dozen about Obama he's written this year, Krugman says, "Obama, instead of emphasizing the harm done by the other party's rule, likes to blame both sides for our sorry political state. And in his speeches he promises not a rejection of Republicanism but an era of postpartisan unity."

Here's the specific danger that Krugman envisions: "If Mr. Obama does make it to the White House, will he actually deliver the transformational politics he promises? Like the faith that he can win an overwhelming electoral victory, the faith that he can overcome bitter conservative opposition to progressive legislation rests on very little evidence -- one productive year in the Illinois State Senate, after the Democrats swept the state, and not much else." Krugman has a point. Despite the rhetoric, it's hard to find evidence of what post-partisanship means to Barack Obama in his legislative record. Obama likes to note the way he's worked with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., on security issues and with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to create a federal database of government spending. But on a range of issues, such as ethics reform, Obama's been a valuable soldier for the Democratic side, even helping Democrats to take on John McCain.

So like everyone else, I'm left wondering just what post-partisanship means to Barack Obama and how it could possibly work as long as the Republican Party has enough votes to stop a Democratic president from enacting his or her ideas. But having worked in Chicago for Mayor Richard M. Daley, I would like to suggest, gently, to the senator and his staff that an imperfect, but helpful model for post-partisanship can be found right here in his hometown and in a brand of politics a world away from "Kumbaya."

When I arrived in Chicago in 1995, I expected hardball. I had just taken part in a brutal four-way U.S. Senate contest in Virginia featuring Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb, Republican nominee Oliver North, former Democratic Gov. (and the nation's first elected African-American governor) Doug Wilder and former state Attorney General Marshall Coleman. Having worked for the failed campaign of Wilder, looking for a new job was not easy. The Democrats had just been booted from power in Congress, making it a mini-Great Depression for Democratic political operatives seeking work. And to make matters worse, I was a conspicuous supporter of a Democrat who had run as an independent. It was an opportune time to get out of Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area and head to the last place in America where Democrats retained a stranglehold on power.

I landed in Chicago right before the city elections, which always take place in the dead of winter and several months after regularly scheduled elections for Congress and statewide posts. That was my first tip-off that the city of Chicago had its own customs and mores -- and the powers that be were eager to keep it that way. In Chicago, politics isn't a spectator sport, and if you don't pay enough attention to know how to participate, that's all on you.

In the course of a haphazard job search, somehow my résumé found its way to the Axelrod & Associates fax machine just as Mayor Daley's speechwriter had decided that he'd like to move into a policy position in the mayor's next term. For all the talk about patronage hiring in Chicago city government, my experience -- a complete outsider with no history in the city and no ties to any powerful person in it -- could best be described as a mixture of 10 percent merit and 90 percent good timing.

After a few rounds of interviews, Mayor Daley offered me my introduction to Chicago politics. I only remember the first and last things that he told me that July day in his office. First, he said that national Democrats tried on several occasions to get him to endorse Chuck Robb in the 1994 Senate race. But Mayor Daley wouldn't do it. "I'm a Doug Wilder guy," Daley told me. It was nice to hear -- not just for the respect he showed my old boss, but to receive the signal that the old Chicago of opportunistic racial division was at least in part passing from the scene.

He drove home that point with his final words to me as I exited his office, job offer in hand. "You'll like it here," Daley said. "There's not a lot of partisan politics."

That was a good thing, but writing speeches for Mayor Daley presented a few unique challenges. First, his Bridgeport accent tends to create strange sounds when applied to longer words (for example, "community" comes out sounding like "cuh-mun-ah-tee"). David Axelrod put a positive spin on it while I was interviewing for the job, saying that being a speechwriter for Daley forces you into a form of simplicity and clarity that makes you a better writer. Maybe true, but I still missed using words in the English language with three or more syllables.

The second challenge was that Daley demands full staff input into all speeches before they reach his desk. Daley, in this regard, is incredibly well-grounded for such a public person -- he knows his own liabilities and relies heavily on experts to ensure that all bases are covered. Once I presented an education speech for his approval and he asked if I had run it past his education advisor -- an advisor who had been hired only days earlier and whom I had not even met. When I answered no, I was subjected to a grilling that included the phrase "How dare you!" Over the top, certainly, but I never made that mistake again.

The third challenge for me was that Daley has strong beliefs about personal responsibility. He doesn't believe that it's the proper role of government to promise a solution for every problem -- citizens have a responsibility to take care of their children, join block clubs, go to police beat meetings, run for local school councils and take ownership of their own communities. It's a powerful message -- one that defines him as a public servant and has made him an effective mayor for two decades -- but it can be a difficult message to write without making the speaker sound like a scold. I believe that this definition of post-partisanship -- a return to community values in politics -- works for Obama because it's authentic. Early on, shortly after graduating from college, Obama showed a desire to create change by building coalitions, not employing media stunts or demonizing opponents. As detailed in "Dreams From My Father," Obama's early career as a community organizer forced him to find areas of agreement. Working to organize industrial plant workers who had lost their jobs, Obama would run into people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds, but who were experiencing the same hardships. They wanted nothing to do with each other politically, but discovered that the only way to get their jobs back was to find common ground with each other.

And again, Obama would find this common ground among parents concerned about gang activity and a lack of police presence in their community. Action required bringing these parents together, getting the local church and small businesses involved and then arranging a meeting with the district police commander. And even when the efforts failed and the action lagged, the process for change was on target. There was no magic formula for success, but rather just enough incentive to keep working it until a major success -- like the opening of a job training center -- convinced activists that their hard work was paying off.

Somewhere between Obama's arrival in Chicago at the beginning of the Harold Washington administration and my entrance at the end of Richard M. Daley's first full term in office, a sea change engulfed Chicago politics. The community-based, coalition politics of wards and blocks had overwhelmed the theatrical sideshows of the Council Wars. Much of the credit belongs to Mayor Washington for empowering community groups that had long languished -- organizers like Barack Obama suddenly had a friend in City Hall eager to build the community anchors, like modernized schools, job training centers and new parks, in black communities that had for generations gone to meet Irish, Polish or even Swedish-American needs. By the time Washington won reelection in 1987, he had become a true coalition mayor with substantial support from business interests and lakefront liberals.

But there's no question that Mayor Richard M. Daley continued this momentum and, to the surprise of many, calmed the city's political tensions. Mayor Daley adapted to the times and recognized early that he had a great deal to gain by reaching across racial lines to build coalitions with African-American and Latino leaders. He's now routinely reelected with more than 70 percent of the vote despite the fact that white voters comprise only about a third of the city's voting population.

Daley's form of post-partisanship can lead to surprising government actions that defy ideological labels. Just last month, Daley responded to a wave of murders across the city with a very non-governmental suggestion -- not new gun control, not more police on the streets or new drug laws. Rather, he called on people in all Chicago communities to organize -- hold block club meetings, talk to neighbors, go to police beat meetings. Daley said that the solution to violence will come from citizens taking action and demanding change -- finding their own unique solutions. And when they found solutions with a chance at success, government would be glad to help them succeed.

The authentic Obama has always believed in political organization and activism -- and he's often seen politics-as-usual as the enemy of real change. In "Dreams From My Father," Obama recounts his job interview in New York with community organizer Marty Kaufman, who wanted Obama to work for him in Chicago. After talking a bit about Obama's background, Kaufman asked, "What do you really know about Chicago anyway?"

After some fits and starts, Obama responds: "America's most segregated city. A black man, Harold Washington, was just elected mayor and white people don't like it."

What follows is an illuminating dialogue. Kaufman says that the racial division in Chicago has created a media circus and nothing is getting done. The young Obama replies, "Whose fault is that?" And Kaufman says: "It's not a question of fault. It's a question of whether any politician, even somebody with Harold's talent, can do much to break the cycle. A polarized city isn't necessarily a bad thing for a politician. Black or white."

And that's the precise question facing America today. Not necessarily the racial part -- although this year's Democratic primary battle raises fears the party might be going down that path. But rather, even if Obama lives up to his potential and offers America hope of real change, given the pitched partisan battles of the past two decades, can any politician, no matter how skillful, break the cycle? Or are we stuck in a permanent state of battle over questions like: How badly was John Kerry really injured in Vietnam?

Are Americans ready to shout, "Who cares?" And if so, can a politician like Barack Obama seize this sense of exhaustion and forge a new style of politics in a political company town that once excelled in, that was built on, the examination and exploitation of divisive trivia?

If this approach has worked anywhere, it's here in Chicago. This city -- seemingly a liability to Obama's electoral hopes -- is actually the best, most authentic way for Obama to explain to voters precisely why some of the prominent controversies of his campaign so far are largely beside the point. In a city as big and diverse as Chicago, creating a working coalition requires people to put aside old rivalries and past political disputes. When controversy erupted recently over Barack Obama's longtime association with Hyde Park neighbor and former Weather Underground member William Ayers -- who is unrepentant about his radical political past and the violent acts he committed -- Mayor Daley immediately came to Obama's defense, noting that he worked with Ayers in shaping school reform programs and that Ayers is a valued member of the Chicago community.

Daley then went on to say, "I don't condone what he did 40 years ago, but I remember that period well. It was a difficult time, but those days are long over." That answer may not pass the smell test in Washington, but it's the way politics is practiced here. In Chicago, it's more important that Ayers is the son of the former chairman of Commonwealth Edison and has become an expert in public school reform. He wants to participate at the table and he brings something to that table, so he's taken seriously. This attitude helped former Black Panther Bobby Rush attain and hold a congressional seat. And it's why former Students for a Democratic Society peace activist Marilyn Katz -- who regularly battled Mayor Richard J. Daley, the current mayor's father -- owns a lucrative public policy P.R. firm that does a great deal of business with the city.

It's also why the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been judged here more for the community work performed by the Trinity United Church of Christ than for what he said in the pulpit. And it's also why, when someone like Tony Rezko starts doing favors for you and helping you to raise money, Chicago politicians don't immediately question his motives or check into his business dealings. In Chicago, as long as you bring something to the table, people are willing (almost eager) to ignore the less flattering dimensions of your character.

Doug Wilder, who, like California's Jerry Brown, decided to run a city after serving as a governor, agrees that the open-seat-at-the-table style is essential to managing a modern American city -- especially at a time of declining government ability to solve problems directly. Wilder, now mayor of Richmond, Va., likes to quote from Charles Landry's landmark book "The Art of City Building," especially a passage where Landry calls city management "more like improvised jazz than chamber music. There is experimentation, trial and error and everyone can be a leader, given a particular area of expertise. As if by some mysterious process, orchestration occurs through seemingly unwritten rules. ...There is not just one conductor, which is why leadership in it's fullest sense is so important -- seemingly disparate parts have to be melded into a whole."

Of course, Obama isn't campaigning to lead a city, but a nation -- the world's richest, most powerful nation in a time of economic distress and lingering war. How is an open seat at the table going to improve the economy or win the war on terror? How does assembling a winning presidential campaign create a lasting coalition that can change the way the nation is governed?

The honest response is that greater activism, in and of itself, guarantees nothing. Maybe the level of civic education in America is so low that voters may be unprepared to meet this challenge. Critics might also argue that leaving a seat at the table open -- and allowing a multitude of unelected leaders to emerge -- opens the door to corruption.

Chicagoans would respond that the true naif is anyone who thinks that citizens who are inactive in politics -- who bring nothing to the table -- should share equally in the largesse of government. Politics does not reward passivity. And those who think that only the purely virtuous should be allowed to participate in public life care more about living out a grand-scale morality play than using the levers of politics to take action to build a more perfect union, or more livable city.

Also, if Obama were to embrace Chicago openly and use it as a model of change, there's no question that it would invite Americans to place Chicago under the microscope. I live here, but believe me, I don't want our tax rate, school system and, in early 2008, at least, level of violent crime replicated elsewhere.

Furthermore, many Americans fear our big cities -- and no sane political advisor would recommend exporting the urban lifestyle to the suburbs and small towns that define the idyllic American life. But, for better or worse, big cities already define the dominant cultures of our nation. New York defines our economy, Los Angeles our entertainment and Washington our government.

So perhaps the best, fairest way to frame Chicago as a model for change isn't to look at the policy specifics -- because they are unique to Chicago. The city's government is a better example in structure and process than policy. And it certainly isn't fair or useful to offer a choice between Chicago and the rest of America. Rather, the most informative way to frame the discussion is to draw the distinction between Chicago and Washington. Do the American people want to remain tethered to the political treadmill of personal destruction and political grandstanding? Do they think that Washington -- that most dysfunctional of all major American cities -- should continue to dictate to the rest of us how we have to be governed?

Like Barack Obama, I became a lifelong Chicagoan when I married a Chicago native. Marry a Chicagoan and you are married to the place. And like Obama, I married a Chicago city employee -- so my views are not only somewhat biased, but connected. For us, that kind of personal and professional attachment is normal.

What Obama promises is an America where politics is a good thing, where arguments on the merits are encouraged, where a seat is always open for anyone eager to sit at the table and contribute what they can.

I made my choice 13 years ago. And given all the facts, I'm confident that America too will pick Chicago over Washington.

LOAD-DATE: May 25, 2008



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