Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's OK. Photo ID Me, Please!

I cannot say I am disappointed with the United States' Supreme Court's decision yesterday to uphold the State of Indiana's 2005 photo voter identification law. In fact, I applaud it...both the decision, and the law.

Had the result been different it is very possible that in the future the likes of "Mary Poppins" or "James Bond" would be permitted to vote (presumably, for Democrats) and there would be little the 19th State's officials could do to disprove the veracity of such dubious identities at polling places.
In the absence of voter ID laws, it is easy to draft the dead to your campaign (it's not like there haven't been instances of posthumous voting in the past).

Undoubtedly, this decision and the policy places a burden on disadvantaged members of the electorate. I don't deny that possibility. But if such individuals really care about voting and participating in our representative democracy, they won't let fees, processing times or whatever else may get in their way deter them from complying with the law.

What is so wrong, so discouraging, about having to prove you're authorized to vote in the elections of the State you're residing in, by presenting a government-issued ID? Would you rather someone else appropriate your identity, and vote in your stead? Ask yourself, who would stand to benefit the most from the absence of a voter ID law in Indiana?

I can't help but wonder how many illegal immigrants are living in The Hoosier State; surely, without the need to prove their legal presence in these States united, Democrats - who often seem to care for the welfare of illegal immigrants more than native-born Americans - would be able to attract the votes of illegal residents in droves...or, as is more likely, gently coerce them to vote for the Jackass Party.


As I said in the first paragraph, those in Indiana who really want to vote - and who want their vote to count - will do whatever it takes to comply fully with the State's voter ID law, and won't let it "discourage" them. Those who don't want to vote...won't attempt to comply with the photo ID law - and I guarantee you they'll complain, bitch and moan, all whilst playing the part of the whiny "disenfranchised" victim.

As for those who have agitated against the voter ID law, and who will likely continue to do so in spite of the Supreme Court's Monday decision, I'd be interested to know whether they themselves intend on complying with the law, or will seek to somehow get around it. You know, break it.

This much is obvious: If opponents of Indiana's voter ID law could afford to pay lawyers to take this case all the way to our Nation's highest court of appeal, they can also probably afford to now help pay the State fees of those who - they say - would be prevented (or as they say, "discouraged") from voting due to their inability to requisition a legal ID, due a personal insufficiency of funds. They fought the law, and the law won...why not help the less fortunate in situation to comply with it? It's the least they could do.

A requirement to produce legal photographic identification - incidentally, a requirement in Arizona, too - prior to being given your ballot, and casting it, is not an undue financial burden nor an invasion of privacy; if anything, it should provide reassurance that only those who are authorized to vote in your State, or any State, are the ones who are doing the voting.


Since we are still, ostensibly, a country governed by the rule of law and not the rule of men, it seems to me that policies which strengthen our republican democracy rather than weaken it are preferable. After all, a healthy democracy has not simply free elections, but free and fair elections. Does it not?

When voters go to the polls in nascent democracies, or faux-democracies, elsewhere in the world, election monitors are meant to detect and speak out against vote-stuffing and other instances of voter fraud. Riots are known to have broken out in countries following elections in which one victorious candidate or another's claim of voter support is legally suspect. Are we to tolerate an eventual degradation of civilized political discourse and practice in our Republic as well? I certainly hope not.

Simply put, those who seek to hinder the ability of officials to detect voter fraud in America do our democracy a great disservice...and I applaud our High Court's implicit recognition of that fact.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Who's Calling the Shots Now, Eh? (Part Deux)

To begin, I will quote - thrice - the character of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), on CBS's How I Met Your Mother:

"Look at you, ya beautiful bastard! You suited up! This is totally going in my blog!"

"One of the 24 similarities between women and fish are they're both attracted to shiny objects. You really never read my blog do you?"


The reason for those pointed quotes? (No, I don't think you're stupid, blog readers - I appreciate you)

Again, I realized called a shot. Again, I've come to realize I was ahead of the game. Again, I am confident that people should listen to me more often. Not because I'm incredibly wise, or psychic. Because I use reason. Common sense. I observe.

And I'm being proven right again and again. Not on everything. But on significant things.

Of course, I am humble - it would be the height of arrogance for me to assume I'm always right. Praise Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Thank Heaven! And I'm probably not the only one who thinks, or eventually advertises, such prescient thoughts. I wasn't entirely accurate - I put dollars into the coffers of Big Oil and Big Politics - but since the Arab-Islamic oil states conceivably are a part of Big Oil, I was certainly close enough.

What do I speak of?

In my blog post of 14 March 2008,
We're Fueling Taxation Without Representation, I railed against the upcoming economic stimulus checks being sent to the American taxpayer by the Federal Government, not because I don't like free money...rather, it was because I didn't think it was enough of a gesture. It treats a symptom, not the ailment itself. Like Tylenol. Tylenol won't save your life during a heart attack. Aspirin just might.

To quote myself in the very first paragraph of that entry,
"You know what I think would help the American people more than any unoriginal, unimaginative tax rebate checks? A repeal, or at least suspension, of the Federal Government's (and any State Government's) fuel tax. That makes infinitely more sense than just handing out money that, sooner instead of later, will inevitably be spent on gas. As anyone who owns a vehicle knows, that that money will probably end up mostly paying for gas (instead of a new flat-screen TV or Blu-ray player) isn't a matter of choice. It's a consequence of necessity."

Now, it is interesting to note that on that same day, 14 March, an article was published on CNNMoney's website making a similar point (mine was published a little after 3 a.m., AZ time...the CNN article was "
First Published: March 14, 2008: 2:10 PM EDT". It is that same article, a bit updated, Gas bills ate your rebate, which I am boasting of having bested now...the same day Washington announced those rebate payments would begin to be distributed earlier than planned.

Heck, folks, I even beat Senator John McCain (by a month) in publicly calling for a suspension of Federal fuel taxes (can't claim the idea, of course...that's from 12 years ago - I can just claim a recent suggestion of a contemporary application in this election year). McCain is a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, so to that's not too shabby of me, if I do say so myself.

And I do. Erm...did.

To, again, quote myself,
"But like I said...that money isn't going to go all that far, if gas prices continue to fluctuate (up and down, but mostly up) as they have. Big Oil - and Big Politics - will be the ultimate benefactors - not Mr. and Mrs. America." I don't need to stupefy with lots of numbers or equations, as do the "experts". If you want to see the "expert" projections, take a look at the article on CNNMoney.

Those employing big words and big numbers, in place of big ideas, I have little time for. As John Stossel has said, "Any government program that has the support of the political class and media commentators makes me suspicious."

And/or as John Lott, Jr. - senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park;
author of Freedomnomics (as well as More Guns, Less Crime) - said in an e-mail to me in an exchange of messages around the time of (and serving partly as inspiration for) the first Who's Calling the Shots Now, Eh? blog post:

"You caught on faster than some of the rest of us."

Whaddaya know...I sure did....hmmm....

I think that means you people should really read my blog more!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No Imagination = No Good

Once again, the imagination of our Federal Government stuns me into an intellectual stupor. Of all the many ways the Feds - both in the Legislative and Executive Branch - could help the American people and the environment, Washington's latest proposal is the one most expedient...and thus, the most lame-brained. I, of course, would love to see vehicles be more fuel-efficient. In theory I'm not against, as the Bush Administration has proposed, requiring automakers to develop 31 mile-per-gallon vehicles. I am, however, against the fuzzy-minded thinking which led to such a well-intentioned yet nonetheless naive proposal.

After all, that 31 mpg auto fuel economy average wouldn't need to be met by automakers until 2015 at the earliest. Not raising any eyebrows, or piquing curiosity? That's to be expected, until one realizes that what Washington is telling us is that fuel prices are only going to continue to go up without much help from our hundreds of representatives in the Federal City, and the only option available doesn't involve cutting or suspending fuel taxes, but letting prices rise and just...us coping with the consequences. What good, I ask you, does a fatalistic government do its people?

What we're being reminded of is, we lack leaders of vision and courage...not to mention imagination. A new bureaucracy would surely be created in order to track and enforce compliance with Federal standards, an incremental increase in national government the relatively ignorant - or informed-yet-resigned - masses will be paying for. I don't have any doubt automakers could meet the compliance deadline...but I feel deciding what will be seven years from now, based only on information known to us now...is stupidity for expediency's sake. It's "government by assumption" - and haven't you ever heard?

"When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME."

Far be it from me to suggest that cutting or suspending fuel taxes, so people won't have to choose between a gallon of milk and a gallon of gasoline, is a better idea - one that could conceivably be implemented in the near future and not in the middle of the next decade. No, I'm totally with the Federal Government on this. Let's waste more money, create more rules people and companies are going to find some way to get around, and exacerbate our problems rather than eliminate them. NOT! Come on, people...they're calling for an increase in miles-per-gallon, but not a decrease in gas prices.

Hey, here's an idea - why not increase fuel efficiency, cut fuel taxes,
and set a cap on gas prices...so one day, people can fill up their gas tanks for cheaper, and have that gas last longer?

Nah, that makes too much sense.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We Should Do the Sovereign Thing

Monday, April 21, 2008 brought with it the news that The United States of America and the French Republic were drafting a United Nations resolution authorizing governments to chase and arrest pirates operating off the coast of that despondently ever-failing and chaotic African entity going by the name Somalia. This development came after a rise in the frequency of incidents - including a recent one which caused the price of a barrel of oil to go up significantly - after years of piratical events being more or less tolerated by the international community, except when dumb pirates chose the wrong moment to hijack a ship and had the United States Navy suddenly - to the luck of intended victims - intervene.

One who pays little attention to news events, or gives the United Nations the benefit of the doubt, might be encouraged by a combined effort by Washington and Paris to address the issue. Even I, educated skeptic that I am, have to admit I'm slightly pleased. But only slightly.

What ever happened to sovereignty, that old fashioned principle by which nations were accorded the right to make and carry out decisions for themselves? By my observation, in our modern times the United Nations and other international entities (not to mention even certain American political parties) only see oppressive, dictatorial regimes as the rightful possessors of sovereignty; countries where representative government - in some form - exists and all citizens are theoretically equal under the law see their sovereignty no longer recognized. While dictatorships are permitted to keep in their country whomever they want, democracies can no longer be so picky when it comes to who they let in...we're just supposed to let in
everybody, regardless of their respect for or understanding of domestic laws concerning our borders.

In the early 1800s, the American Republic did not need the permission of any other country or organization to go to war against the "Barbary States", whose pirates (the real kind...hardly the Johnny Depp romanticized versions) had for years afflicted international shipping and exacted tribute from supposedly strong, sovereign nations in Europe. These were the pirates, you may remember, who upon capturing non-Muslim sailors enslaved them. These were the Muslim pirates who conducted war not because there was any occupation by a "Western nation" of Muslim lands, but due to the concept of "al-jihad fil-bahr", in English "the holy war at sea" (I've written about this in a couple of previous blog postings). When going to war against Muslim terrorists 200 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson sought only the support of Congress - there was, after all, no corrupt international organization (such as the United Nations) to genuflect to at the time.

But these days, for the benefit of nations that wish us more ill than health, this so-called "superpower" known officially as
The United States of America willingly submits itself to the superpower kryptonite that is the United Nations...paying a hefty burden of the UN's tab for the privilege of being insulted by feted dictators before an applauding General Assembly. As if that weren't enough, New York City time and again gets cheated out of millions of dollars in unpaid traffic violation fines racked up by visiting UN delegates (ain't diplomatic immunity grand?). This means, basically, that even with the most powerful Navy in the history of mankind, the American government must first beg for permission to defend our interests - among them, maintaining the "Freedom of the Seas" - rather than do "the sovereign thing," which if you ask me, worked pretty well for us in the past.

Imagine a world in which, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt had to first seek the permission or support of the United Nations Security Council before taking retaliatory action? Thank God such wasn't the case, though the United Nations did come into existence around that time...the difference being, it wasn't the name of an organization so much as an alliance of countries opposed to the Axis powers.

Despite the best efforts of the Arab League, European Union and Russian Federation, the State of Israel doesn't wait for UN permission to bomb rocket-launching sites in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Thank God for that, too, though Prime Minister Olmert & Co. don't instill me with confidence in their ability to defend the Jewish state.

These pirates making "mischief" off the coast of Somalia don't care one way or the other what the UN thinks - whether the organization supports or opposes them, they'll keep doing what they're doing anyway...and endangering lives in the process. If they have no qualms operating outside of the arbitrary legal strictures set in place by the United Nations, we should have no qualms circumventing the Useless Nuisance ourselves and exercising our sovereign right to...well, quite frankly, to do what we feel is right. What we know to be right. This, after all, is our sovereign right.

I understand, mind you, the current belief that the international system as it now stands provides something akin to societal and diplomatic stability in an otherwise chaotic world. But claiming that we must always go through the United Nations' diplomatic channels before military actions can gain legitimacy is a cop-out, an excuse made by those too scared to confront - or even recognize the existence of - the various Big and Small Bads out there needing to be confronted by America (who else will confront them? Remember the "Barbary Pirates" example). Not every issue facing the United States needs to be referred to a committee first...this is especially so when that "committee" has a known anti-American bias.

Sometimes you have to operate outside of the law (in this case, "international law") in order for that law to be upheld for the people and kept by those who serve them. Why is it only comic book writers and illustrators seem to be the ones who have, decade after decade, truly and consistently understood this reality? Batman consults with Commissioner Gordon - but doesn't seek permission from Gordon to act. One acts outside the system, and the other acts from within the system itself. The goal is the same - only the methods, motivations and tools differ.

In general - not just when it comes to dealing with pirates off the Somalian coast - we should "do the sovereign thing" and let the rest of the world whine about it to their heart's content. Why? Other countries will thank us later...more often than not, they'll see we acted in their interests as well as our own. Even if they do so begrudgingly, even if they do so clandestinely, they will thank us. They say they don't want the U.S. to be the world's policeman, yet they also don't want to do the job of upholding international law and order themselves. Well...

Well, I'm sorry, but someone's gotta do it - you can't just talk about doing it, and expect everything to be hunky-dory...wait, I take that back.

Actually, you can...if you're at the UN!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Who's Calling the Shots Now, Eh?

Folks, I gotta tell ya...I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now.


I'll tell you.

Did you harbor any doubts I would?

And no, this isn't an April Fool's Day thing.

Take a look at this commentary, written by John R. Lott, Jr. for FoxNews.com. It's called "The 'Recession' is a Media Myth", and it was published March 31, 2008:


Now, assuming you haven't already done so, go back in time, in my own blog, and read "It's the End of the World (but it isn't)!"...written January 23, 2008:


If you haven't already gotten the point, I'll...point...it out to you.

I was ahead of the game, there. I hit the ball out of the park, and I knew where it would go. I paved the way.

Call me The Pioneer.

But that's not all, kids...

As I blogged on March 14,

"I would love to see millions upon millions of Americans purchase a hearty supply of fuel containers, fill 'em up with a month's - or even a week and a half's - worth of gasoline, and then let the oil companies squirm from lack of continued business. I'd love to see sit-in-car strikes at gas stations, where people fed up with ever-rising prices refuse to move their cars until something significant is done. Refuse to move their cars, and refuse to buy anything - anything at all from the convenience store. I'd love to see such things happen, but it likely won't."

Of course, as you surely remember, O Wonderful and Adoration-filled Audience O'Mine, that paragraph is from the blog entry written prior to the one you are reading now, and it was called
"We're Fueling Taxation Without Representation". And while what follows is not, exactly, the same thing - and very well may be an April Fool's Day stunt - the undeniable fact is that I called for a "strike" in protest of rising gas prices before news broke of a possible strike, by truckers, sparked by painfully high gas (in this case, diesel) prices:

FoxNews: At Up to $1,200 a Fill-Up, Truckers to Strike Over Record Diesel Prices

NewsChannel 5, Nashville, Tennessee: Truck Drivers Threaten To Strike On April Fool's Day

USA Today: Truckers to protest fuel costs

I'm not, by any means, claiming to be a modern-day Nostradamus (though it is worth noting that his family had Jewish roots). Nor could I ever hope to have the sort of wisdom of
שלמה המלך (King Solomon). I'm not even going to go much into how I called for Egypt to take back the Gaza Strip - at least, raised the suggestion - way back on June 15, 2007, in "Oh My, Gaza!" , half a year before noted Mideast commentator Daniel Pipes said "Give Gaza Back to Egypt" in The Jerusalem Post on January 30, 2008.

I'll just let you look on your own.

Anyway, when perusing the news on a Monday's evening, and you find that once again, you've been ahead of the game - ahead of others - in a manner most pleasing to yourself and your ego, well...as others catch up - 'cause that's what they're doing, chilluns - you can't help but feel justified in claiming that you are "Awesomeness" personified.

The word "Awesome" made flesh.

So help me - and endlessly Thank - God.

"What do you think of the nerve of that big monkey. Imagine the guy calling his shot and getting away with it." - Lou Gehrig, on Babe Ruth's famous "called shot" home run of October 1, 1932 during the 5th inning of Game 3 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, played at Wrigley Field