Monday, July 31, 2006

US District Court Judge John Feikens misses on civil rights commission

The Honorable John Feikens wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in Thursday's Free Press supporting the Civil Rights Commission's investigation of alleged fraud by signature collectors for Michigan's Civil Rights Initiative.

The article, This is no time to weaken state Civil Rights Commission, makes its major point here:
".. the state Constitution directs the Commission to investigate alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin and to "secure the equal protection of such civil rights without such discrimination.

".. if complaints of discrimination are brought before the commission and its members believe them to be credible, they are obligated to pursue those complaints... To do anything less would be a failure to do the job they were appointed to do, and indeed a dereliction of their duty as public servants sworn to uphold the laws of Michigan and the United States."
Judge Feikens' bias, like the commission's, is in favor of affirmative action regardless whether it is warranted, achieves its purpose, is deleterious to blacks, or ultimately unconstitutional. His op-ed misapplies Article-1 Section II to petition signers claiming they didn't understand what they signed. But the real violation of equal protection and "civil and political rights" was committed by BAMN and the commission itself when they conspired to obstruct citizens' rights to exercise their constitutionally protected franchise to draft petitions, gather signatures, and shape their government.

In this specific instance the opinion itself is discriminatory because it seeks to protect the civil rights of one party at the expense of another, which is what affirmative action is all about--more discrimination. Worse, the opinion and the issue brought before the civil rights commission wasn't that the complainants were discriminated against but that they didn't understand what they were signing. It's unclear to what extent the state constitution protects ignorance or tempermentalism, but it clearly protects citizens' rights to amend the constitution by petition.

If being misled is a violation of civil rights politicians would never be allowed to speak or act. Democracy is necessarily caveat emptor, but we can correct mistakes at the ballot box or by petition when our elected candidates haven't the political will to do what citizens feel must be done.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rochelle Riley: Lower all flags until war is over

Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley had this to say in yesterday's paper:

"Gov. Jennifer Granholm ordered the flags lowered 72 times for soldiers between December 2003 and last week, doing what governors in at least a dozen states do.

"She better keep on doing it, because we've reached a place in America where some of our soldiers are losing hope and sanity, some of their families back home are losing hope and faith, and those who should be honoring the dead are losing their minds -- counting how many times we lower the flag in memory of those who do the jobs that keep us free."

The media has done a great job telling us how miserable the war in Iraq is going and criticizing our military for the Where's-Waldo search for Osama bin Laden. The media paints a picture of demoralized troops without goals or confidence skulking through a foreign landscape with ungrateful citizens.

Against that backdrop it's refreshing to hear directly from soldiers about appreciative Iraqi citizens that are glad for our troops' sacrifice and commitment, and thankful for the job they're doing building them a freer Iraq.

When those soldiers look back at the US they won't see our half-mast flags because apologists can't stand proudly for America. Instead of lowering our flags until the finest soldiers on the planet come home we should lift our flags to their highest points so our honor for them will be the first thing they see break the horizon.

Mark Twain wrote, "Tis a fine thing to fight for one's own freedom; tis a far sight finer to fight for another man's."

We should not be jealous of our freedom nor believe we are uniquely deserved of it. What kind of arrogance is it that believes one people are more deserving of freedom than another? No finer a goal has been fought for since America's Civil War when a great and terrible price was paid to ransom a liberty not easily purchased.

It's less a measure of patriotism than a measure of gratitude. Who are we to suspect another nation's degree of thankfulness when we demonstrate so little ourselves?

Keep your flag at full-mast, and let everyone see it from as far away as possible. Iraq and Afghanistan are a long way away.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Illegal Aliens kill millions over eight-year spree

It started over 500 years ago when 39 undocumented boat people, lead by a bossy Italian and with the encouragement of an entire government, invaded islands in the Caribbean simply to do work the islanders weren't willing to do themselves, look for spices and mine gold.

Between the years 1494 and 1508 illegal aliens were responsible for something both amazing and frightening. Documented by a young priest (Bartolomé de las Casas), the invaders first did something the US government was unable to do in Detroit for the 2000 census, accurately count all the inhabitants throughout the island's 76,480 square kilometers--maybe using those statistical sampling techniques democrats are always talking about. This led to their second stunning achievement: counting 3 million dead over that eight year span (approx 1027 deaths/day). Present day city clerks on Chicago and Detroit with the assistance of computers, a modern post office and without language barriers (well, ...) can't track dead registered voters, but historians have discovered this task was actually easier half a millennium ago. Other estimates blame the aggressive undocumented invaders with eight million dead (2739 deaths/day) suggesting an even busier priest or a concerted effort to reinterpret history to support an anti-western agenda popular among today's intelligentsias.

Why write about this now and not on Columbus Day when most apologists will be protesting the evils of Chistopher's spice and gold lust? Because a relative lent me Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States at a graduation party this weekend and I detected a revisionist narrative on the first page.

Except for what I suspect are the gross exaggerations symptomatic of statistical sampling's imprecision, I believe Columbus' conduct would not reflect his employer's (Spain's) wishes if it happened today. But it didn't happen today. It happened 514 years ago when slavery (of anyone) wasn't thought immoral, and if not for las Casas' shock at the number of deaths (whatever their number) we wouldn't be castigating Columbus today. But five centuries ago, Columbus' behavior did become his employer's, and other nations wouldn't have cared except for their disappointment of not having conquered the natives first and claimed the islands as their own.

This is the danger of projecting today's moral perspectives on people from times past. What they did then wasn't considered objectionable by their contemporaries. Prior to Western Culture (specifically Christians) thinking slavery was abominable and the 150 years it took to abolish the slave trade, all nations and all people traditionally (and without a second thought) made slaves of other nations and people.

Which of our own accepted and constitutionally-protected behaviors will future generations think abominable, or will they find our anxieties quaint? What will the future think of prostitution, homosexuality, underage sex, drug use, welfare, or fossil fuels, or racial preferences? I don't know if Christians were the first to believe abortion was wrong but if slavery required 150 years, a civil war, and both the British and American navies to abolish I don't expect abortion to become as unconscionable any easier.

In his book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell visits this topic in the chapter History versus Visions. Regarding Europe's invasion of the Americas and the conquest of its natives:
"But, morally, what the Europeans did was the same as what non-Europeans had been doing for thousands of years. This is not a moral justification for either. But it is an argument against the selective localization of evil.

"Against that background, it is possible to see what a gross distortion of history it is for schools to be asking American school children such questions as how they would feel if they were the indigenous American Indians being forced from their land by the westward movement of invaders from Europe.

"Indeed, Indians often joined with the European invaders to attack other Indians, in order to share in the spoils or to exact revenge for these other Indians' prior spoliation of them, including the taking of their lands and the enslavement of their people. When Cortés marched against the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, he led an army of 900 Spaniards and thousands of Indians."
But author Howard Zinn doesn't need to limit his audience to children and teachers to find gullible audiences. There are plenty of American apologists and multi-culturalists ready to eat this stuff up.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Splitting the baby over politics

Ron Dzwonkowski has penned two columns about Unity08, a nascent political party hoping to claim the widening middle ground between Republicans and Democrats. His first, Irrelevant Parties, introduced Unity08 to his readers with a quote from Unity08's website
Neither of today's major parties reflects the aspirations, fears or will of the majority of Americans. Both have polarized and alienated the people. Both are unduly influenced by single-issue groups. Both are excessively dominated by money. ... The two major parties are today simply neither relevant to the issues and challenges of the 21st Century nor effective in addressing them.
Ron wishes he had written that (really!).

In his second column, In Search of Unity, Ron reports on the hoards of letters he received about the first article and includes quotes from a few. One writer excited about Norway's collecting seeds against a future cataclysm wonders, "Why isn't my government doing cool things like that?" Another wishing the Federal Reserve was more concerned about jobs than inflation exclaims, "This government just doesn't know or is unwilling or unable to address what is really important."

I don't know what else Norway could be doing. When you think of AIDS research, feeding starving Africans, funding the United Nations, providing disaster relief to tsunami and earthquake victims, or ending a world war Norway isn't at the top of the list. And though the priorities of the Federal Reserve may be one person's most important issue, it's not everyone's.

Most interesting is Ron's quote near the end of his article:
ABC News did a special report last month on "A Country Divided," showing how polarization is feeding on itself and spreading as people talk only with the like-minded and pay attention only to things that reinforce their views. Moderates, middle-grounders, have become political freaks.
Several weeks ago a neighbor I've been mailing my essays to asked to be taken off the list. A fair request since they'd never asked to be on it. They said the articles were well written but they didn't agree with anything I said and were too busy to comment on them. I believe it.

A few months ago I attended a birthday party at a swanky Ferndale restaurant with as eclectic a gathering of people as their could be (a compliment to the birthday boy). Anything that could be discussed was discussed except for politics. After spending a few hours with these intelligent and well educated people I left the party not knowing any of them better than I know whomever designs the window displays in Birmingham.

Whoever suggested religion and politics should be avoided in polite conversation did America a great disservice. Whoever repeats that phrase suffocates the discourse our country desperately needs to prosper as a nation.

Much is said about the search for moderate politicians and the political middle ground. This, supposedly, is where Unity08 thinks the seeds of its ideas may find purchase. But on many topics there simply isn't a middle ground. We speak as though there's political wisdom in splitting the baby, but Unity08's goal is more like the two mothers' from the Old Testament than it is King Solomon's.

If Americans are willing to vote without debating the issues why should candidates debate the issues?

Free Press editors asked readers if it was proper for newspapers to endorse candidates. The propriety of endorsements is less an issue than the need for endorsements. Endorsements from organizations we respect saves us the time and effort of researching, debating, and forming our own opinions. Why risk forming an opinion when we can borrow the opinions of others? Why hold ourselves responsible for electing bums when we can blame others?

This was the attraction of term-limits. Rather than being responsible for voting a bum out of state office they'd be forced out after two terms. We delegated our responsibility to an amendment to take care of it for us. Unfortunately, term-limits don't distinguish between good elected officials and bad ones so the quality of our lawmakers cannot improve with successive elections. How would hockey fans have felt if Steve Yzerman was forced to leave the Red Wings after only two seasons?

This election year let your decisions be deliberate. Don't let any of your votes be accidental. Decide to vote your favorite color or not. Decide to let newspapers tell you who to vote for or do it yourself. Let The League of Women Voters ask questions or ask them yourself. Believe what you hear on television and radio commercials or read the proposals and debate them with your neighbors.

You're always welcome to debate them here.