Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chapter 13. Moments in American Leadership

"But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country.  As I have never left your side one moment, but when called from you, on public duty.  As I have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses, and not among the last to feel, and acknowledge your merits.  As I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseperably connected with that of the army...it can scarcely be supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests."  George Washington  March 15, 1783

As the Treaty of Paris was nearing completion to end the Revolutionary War, General George Washington's officers were in a state of discontent at the prospects of not getting paid, for the country was broke.  Anonymous letters were circulating at the camp at Newburgh, NY urging the army, in the event of a successful treaty, to remain formed in order to pressure Congress into paying them.  This action would essentially create a military government rather than a representative democracy. 

Washington appeared before his officers at a meeting on March 15, and delivered a short prepared speech, dubbed the Newburgh Address.  In it he essentially made his case for patience with Congress and implored the officers to give it, and him, their trust.  As he had done many times before, he put his own reputation and integrity on the line to avoid disaster for the fledgling nation.  After he concluded the speech, however, he sensed that the officers were still angry.

Then, he produced a note describing Congress' monetary dilemma.  He squinted as he read and was thus forced to dig out his spectacles.  This simple action reminded the officers, many of whom didn't know that the General required glasses, of what Washington had done for the country through the war years, and that he indeed had been with them at every moment:  the night time retreat from General Howe's British troops in New York; crossing the Delaware on Christmas Day 1776 to engage the Hessians at Trenton in a surprise counterattack, then success later at Princeton; enduring the miserable winter at Valley Forge in 1777; the training of the troops by Baron Von Steuben; and Washington's inspirational rallying of the retreating American troops at Monmouth.

Having been reminded of their leader's incredible courage and leadership, many wept in shame.  When Washington had left the meeting, the officers quickly resolved to follow Washington's example and reaffirmed their loyalty to the American republic.

It would not be the first or last time that George Washington's personal integrity saved the United States of America from short sighted folly.  We Americans owe this great man our unyielding gratitude and respect.  And, if possible, our emulation of his feats of faith and his strength of character.

Quotient out.

Washington at the Battle of Monmouth

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chapter 12. Get Your Gore-tex, There's More Snow Coming...

There's an rumored phenomenon out there called the "Gore Effect." Whenever the former Vice President arrives at a venue to warn that the next 5 years will be critical to save the planet from the ravages of anthrogenic global warming, the region experiences unseasonably cool weather.

How laughingly fitting that the most visible new disciple of the hoax of the century, President Barack Obama, fresh from his jaunt to the U.N.'s Climate Change Conference, might have to land Air Force One at an alternate location due to a unseasonably strong winter storm bearing down on Washington at this very hour. D.C. has declared a snow emergency.

At tin pot dictator and limousine-rich Copenhagen, the so-called "leaders" of the world sat around eating luxurious food, being waited on and sniffing their own greenhouse gases, while decrying the unfair treatment of the United States toward Mother Gaia and demanding reparations from us.

It's the perfect curtain call for the President, who seems to never tire of striding on to the world stage to stump for yet another economically crippling Marixist program. Galling enough Hugo Chavez, but our own President?

Odd that there was no mention of the recent revelations of data-fixing from East Anglia, sensor hiding from Siberia, and the polar bear exploding Artic Circle. Just the robotic recitation of imminent danger ahead if we don't "act now."

Once he eventually lands back at the capitol Obama can at least claim to have kept the plow and salt truck drivers employed this winter. We're getting used to his snow jobs.

Quotient out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chapter 11. Socialism Doesn't Kill People, Socialists Do Part 3: Euthanasia's Example

"Is there any difference between watching someone drowning without doing anything and pushing them into the lake?”

So asked Dr. Eduard Verhagen of the Netherland's University Medical Centre in Groningen, when interviewed in 2006 by the Times (UK) about the impending new Dutch law which legalized "baby euthanasia," effectively expanding the 2002 legalization of euthanasia (anyone over age 12).  Infants could now be put down.  You might say that in 2006 the Dutch finally put the "Youth" in "Euth"anasia.

Dr. Verhagen claims to agonize over each of the several times he has killed an infant.  Nevertheless, he called the new law "a giant step and we are very happy about it."

Verhagen's absurd question about the drowning person belies the fallacy of the euthanasia mindset, in which people who are suffering are better off dead, and even better than that if someone actually intervenes to hasten their death.  But it is instructive to analyze the doctor's wordplay. 

In Verhagen's argument the act of pushing someone into a lake is no different than happening upon someone already in trouble in the water and letting them drown, presumably because the victim drowns either way.  But, the doctor is misusing the analogy, since the predicament of the victim is that he is drowning at all.  How the victim got into the water is not part of the proper argument; in the case of the infant with a disease one could refer to "the pusher" as Fate, Chance or God.  So let's discard Verhagen's comparison.

The real question is, when one encounters a drowning man (a\or infant with a terrible, painful disease) what is the response?

In most real life situations, including those Verhagen describes being a part of, doctors will try to help the victim, to cure them or to at least ease the pain.  This is compassionate and right.  But if that doesn't work, then Verhagen oversteps his moral authority and prescribes the "final solution." 

So here's the analogy:  Encounter a drowning man (infant with disease), perhaps try to help him with a outstreched hand (medicine, surgery, palliative care), but if you can't haul him out of the water (cure him), then you have a choice:  either do nothing while perhaps waiting for another person to help (for instance, a new technology or medicine); or, jump into the lake, swim over to the victim and hold his head under water until he's dead (that would be the analogy to euthanasia).  Verhagen chooses the latter course, in which he actively kills the drowning man, but attempts to make it somehow eqivalent to the passive spectator.  We know that it is not.

Furthermore, doing nothing (a misnomer really but we'll use it) allows for hope, for a cure, for a miracle.  Verhagen's approach, while many times driven by distraught parents and a misguided sense of mercy, simply abandons all hope.

In the utilitarian-socialist world developing around us, choosing to take life becomes something of a bad habit.  That is the danger to America, as we launch into our 27th year of federally approved abortion, several states have indeed approved "assisted suicide," and we wrestle mightily to understand stem cell research and to define marriage.

We've come upon that man struggling in the water.  Time to decide what to do.

Quotient out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chapter 10. The First Amendment vs Fascism In Our Churches & The Media

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 1791

"Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation... above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition." Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

After the Revolutionary War was won, the Founding Fathers labored to create a governmental structure that both allowed the States to form up into a strong national entity, but also maintained the rights of individuals and States that had already been written into the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. The resulting Constitution and Bill of Rights, has to be counted among the top few documents of human history. The delicate balance that was debated and embodied in the Bill of Rights has enabled our freedom, our industry, and our very lives to flourish for over two centuries.

Not for the first time, however, these "first freedoms" are under attack by a growingly emboldened radical coalition: politicians seeking power, special interests and advocacy groups, and even outright enemies of the United States.

In Connecticut, a state bill (S.B. 1098) was proposed in January 2009, specifically changing the governance structure of the Catholic Church in CT. Ostensibly written to address financial mismanagement amid an embezzlement scandal in 2008, the bill would have fundamentally altered, by force of law, a church's pastor/laity relationship, which in the case of the Catholic Church has existed since the dawn of Christianity, literally since the days of the Apostles. As it turns out the language of S.B. 1098 that would reorganize the Church and emasculate the clergy, seems to be lifted from the strategic planning of an organization called Voice of the Faithful, a collection of liberal Cathlolics and ex-Catholics formed in 2002 to respond to clergy sexual abuse, but which expanded to include defiant radicals bent on "reforming" the the entire Catholic Church, such as Sister Joan Chittister. Those like Sr. Chittister want nothing less than a fundamental upheaval of the Church, goals which are predicated less on dedication to the teaching of the Church than on their own personal, misguided, arrogant, and selfish agendas.

S.B. 1098 failed, mainly due to the outrage of local and national Catholics speaking up against it. Nevertheless, forces continue to push for the dilution of the central tenets of Christianity, if necessary by the forcible takeover of the Church by the State. This will not be the last time we see our churches under attack.

As for the media: in 1949 the FCC adopted the Fairness Doctrine, which stated that due to the limited resource of radio frequencies, broadcasters were required to present controversial issues of the day and to do so in a manner which was, well, fair and balanced. In 1969 the Supreme Court (Red Lion Broadcasting, Inc v FCC) upheld the right of the FCC to enforce the Doctrine, again citing the scarity of the spectrum of broadcast frequencies. In 1987, under President Reagan, the Doctrine was abolished by the FCC; this was before the rise of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, meaning Reagan himself would be at greater risk of media attack without the Doctrine. Yet the principle was, the Doctrine impedes free speech and should therefore be abolished. Over the intervening years various legislators called for reestablishment of the Doctrine, and even a push to codify it into federal law. Curiously, these proponents were all Democrats.

The Fairness Doctrine is not needed. There is no scarcity of frequencies today, and really never was. And yet, the Democrats continue to attempt to exhume it from the deserved grave it inhabits. Clearly the success of conservative media in the last decade has whipped the left into a manic frenzy while they watch their own instruments like Air America founder from mismanagement and irrevelancy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in 2007, announced that she would like to see the Doctrine ressurected. Figures. It would allow the State to force successful broadcasters to offer material from those who- for many reasons- don't have a commercially viable messsage.

True to form, what the left cannot achieve through legitimate argument and advocacy, it seeks to gain through legislative or judicial force. And some day the means may extend to the realm of the baton and gun. It's been done before.

Quotient out.