Friday, January 06, 2006
Apparently, this guy doesn't do pork! From the article:
And Boehner certainly could. As a senior Republican and committee chairman, his refusal to get pork has probably cost the district at least $100 million in lost funding over his 14 years.Even better:
Boehner said he wants to leave highway funding decisions to professionals at the Ohio Department of Transportation. Boehner turned down $14 million in the current bill, which is stalled in Congress.This isn't a fluke, this isn't a mistake, this isn't some sleight-of-hand by a guy who tells his constituants one thing while doing another:
"I told people in 1990 that if they thought that my job was to come to Washington and rob the federal treasury on their behalf, they were sending the wrong guy here," Boehner, 55, said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office. "I said it, I said I said it. I've said it ever since. It's just not why I'm here."I don't know the guy. I've never heard him speak. He could be the biggest jerk on the planet. But for God's sake, people, let's get him promoted! If you're tired of waste, corruption, and the corrosive effect of federal manipulation of your tax dollars, let's make this man President.
Why you ask? What's wrong with Pork? Well, let me answer you with a questions: where in the Constitution does it give the Federal Government authority over local issues? I can tell you where it doesn't: in the Tenth Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.To get around that, Congress interferes in local affairs inside the states by
- collecting too much in taxes, starving local government
- Offer the money (and more! thanks to borrowing) back to local government through block grants... with strings
So support your Constitution! Help elect Boehner for President! Or find a "Boehner" of your own, and send him or her to Congress. It's your duty as an partiotic American!
"I've got good news and bad news."
"What's the good news?"
"A limo full of lawyers crashed through a guard rail and into the sea. There were no survivors."
"My Lord! What's the bad news?"
"There was an empty seat."
That tasteless bit of humor popped into my head tonight when I considered the news coverage of tragic death of the coal miners in West Virginia. So much has been made about the safety violations, the late-night mis-reporting, and the speed of the rescue attempt that I wonder if perhaps something important has been lost.
The miners themselves knew that they were dying. Reportedly, a handful had the wherewithal and presence of mind to jot a note to leave behind.
"Tell all I'll see them on the other side," read the note found with the body of 51-year-old mine foreman Martin Toler Jr. "It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep. I love you Jr."
It struck me when I read that, in his finest hour, my father might have written that. He grew up poor in the hills of Tennessee, with little more than his family and his faith. Faced with his end, he might have sought to comfort that family, hiding whatever fear or pain he felt, while reminding them of the comfort of his religion.
As for the lawyer joke... well, don't get me wrong. Safety violations and all the rest have to be looked at; blame must be assigned, compensation fought over, and oversights corrected. Lawyers will be involved in both sides, doing their best for their clients. They are necessary... well, "evils", I guess, though "tools" would be more accurate.
But I do have to wonder: if a limo full of lawyers did go through a guard rail, and all the air leaked out except a small pocket, and then the air in that pocket started going bad... what kind of notes do you think those lawyers would write? For that matter, what sort of note would you write, if you knew it was your last?
Lessons will be learned from this tragedy... but I hope that the most important lesson, the one taught by Marin Toler Jr., will not be forgotten.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
So Washington was a gentleman, and so was Howe. How very civilized of them!
You know, I've almost come to hate the stories of those early "battles" that they teach in school. They make it seem as though all we were fighting were some unwelcome house guests; as though all that winning required was some posturing and a bit of endurance.
I'm sure you know that the war wasn't won in 1776 - it lasted five long years - nor was the fighting always so genteel. But you may not know that the decisive battle wasn't won by Washington's cautious, gentlemanly, and largely ineffectual retreats, and it wasn't won by Congress's underfunded, half-hearted, self-aggrandizing army of New Englanders. It was won by "Backwater Men" defending their freedoms in a brutal response to a brutal occupation at the battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.
It happened in 1780. The Revolutionary War was still undecided. The Americans had never won a decisive battle, but the English were a bit tired of the whole conflict. The English decided to try one last push. Their plan was to take Charleston, build strength from the loyalist coastal cities in the south, then roll North, forcing Washington into a decisive battle which the British forces were sure to win.
Not everyone in the South was a loyalist, of course, so the British tried to force everyone to take an oath of loyalty. Failure to do so, or violations of that oath after it was taken, were harshly punished. Houses were burned, men killed, women and children hung. It was appallingly brutal.
At that time, the borders of South Carolina extended over the mountains to include part of present-day Tennessee. King George had forbidden settlement beyond the mountains, but a few had done so anyway. In a sense, those "Backwater Men" and their families were uninvolved in the politics on the other side. Though they were outraged by the atrocities that were occurring - many had family and friends down who were affected - they themselves had their hands full with Indian attacks (encouraged by the British) and the sheer effort of survival on the frontier. They engaged in a few minor skirmishes, and they harbored a few American militiamen who had escaped the defeats in the Carolinas and Georgia, but otherwise were not engaged.
In late September 1780, the English Col. who had been assigned to the area nearest the mountains, Patrick Ferguson, sent a message over the mountain to Isaac Shelby, whom he considered to be the leader of the "backwater men". In it he said that they did not stop opposing the British, Ferguson would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and "lay the country waste with fire and sword."
Their response was immediate. To make a fascinating story very short, these "backwater men" organized themselves, marched over the mountains, and hunted down Ferguson and his men. They bypassed other targets to make a bee-line for him. Ferguson got wind, and retreated. He could, perhaps, have escaped back to the main force in Charleston, but instead, on Oct 6th, chose to turn and fight at Kings Mountain.
Ferguson has the high ground, trained soldiers, bayonets and the training to use them, good provisions, a slight advantage in numbers, and time to prepare. The backwater men had their long rifles, experience fighting Indians, and the fire in their bellies.
You can read about the battle yourself. But it was a complete rout, a massacre almost incomprehensible to the British. In just over one hour, the "Backwater men" took that hill, killing Ferguson and more then 300 of his Loyalist troops, and capturing all the rest.
The point in telling this story is not the battle, though. It was a turning point in the war, dispiriting the enemy both here and in England, but that's not the point either.
The point is the incredible resolve and will of those backwater men. Remember, this all started in September. Any farmer knows how valuable the days are at that time of year, to prepare for the coming winter. And remember, they, their farms, and their families where under constant threat of attack by hostile Indians. But they rose up, crossed the snow-covered mountains, and marched through rain-filled swamplands.
They had scant provisions, but came anyway, eating mostly game and corn collected along the way. Some were militia, but most had no formal military training or uniforms, were under no orders, and were never promised any pay. That is not why they rose and fought. They were threatened by Ferguson, but that is not why either. After all, they could as easily have stayed put, played safe, and avoided the effort, the risk, and the consequences.
But they saw that doing so would not help them avoid the long-term threat. If they could be threatened when they had done so little against the British, how long before they came and drove them from the homes they'd made for themselves? Most were Protestants - Scots, Irish, Huguenots - outcasts unwelcomed by the established colonies like Massachusetts and Virginia. How long until the Church of England was imposed on them as it was on the coast, and even their marriages considered invalid and their children bastards?
That is why they rose and fought. It was their duty - to themselves, their honor, their religion, their family, and their freedom - in short, duty to the principles which (used to) lay at the heart of this country. They were true American soldiers before there was an America... and there are still plenty just like them today.
That, in my opinion, is the story about the Revolutionary war that ought to be told in big-budget books and schools.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
In the 1920's, two Italian immigrants, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were arrested, convicted, and executed for killing two men while during a robbery in
I was tipped to this article in the LA Times by a Peter Robinson post on the National Review blog, "The Corner". For some reason, though, Robinson doesn't quote some of the most interesting parts of the article.
"I faced the most difficult ethical problem of my life at that point," [Sinclair] wrote to his attorney. "I had come to Boston with the announcement that I was going to write the truth about the case."However:
"My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book," Sinclair wrote Robert Minor, a confidant at the Socialist Daily Worker in New York, in 1927.The "movement" to which he refers is, of course, the Socialist / Communist movement. What a great movement, huh? It kills you for telling the truth, if the truth is inconvenient.
Fear wasn't the only motive for Sinclair's sin of omission, however; there was also fame and fortune.
He also worried that revealing what he had been told would cost him readers. "It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public," he wrote to Minor.To see why this matters, take note of the dates. Sinclair knew the truth all the way back in 1927 - two years before the Great Depression. He could have told the truth. Instead:
On Aug. 23, 1927, the day they were executed, 25,000 protested in Boston.In the days that followed, especially after the Depression hit, Communism / Socialism soared in this country. Thanks to the declassification of Project Verona and the (brief) opening of the KGB archives, we now know that many of the people denounced as Communist spies in the 50's, all similarly defended by the American Left (AKA, "the useful idiots") were in fact guilty. And, however bad you may think it has been, you only need look at this report from the Social Security Advisory Board to see what a monumental error Social Security, the last piece of FDR's Socialist programs, will soon become.
The men have been viewed as martyrs by the American left ever since. Historians agree that prosecutors in the case were biased and shoddy, and that the two men failed to receive a fair trial.
How much of that is due to Upton Sinclair? Who can say... but he certainly didn't prevent it. Perhaps if Sinclair had told the truth back in 1927, Socialism / Communism might to have gained such a foothold. Perhaps the fiscal irresponsibility of our federal government, the usurpation of our states' rights, and the dangers of a nuclear Soviet Union could all have been avoided.
But Sinclair chose silence, and the pursuit of influence and power.
In 1926, he ran as a Socialist for California governor, getting 60,000 votes. He took another stab in 1934, during the Great Depression, this time winning the Democratic primary with a platform of ending poverty. He got nearly 900,000 votes.How nice for him.
In the LA Times article, Jean O. Pasco writes:
On the 50th anniversary of their execution, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis all but pardoned the pair [of anarchist killers], urging that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." But the fearless [sic] Sinclair was left a conflicted man by what Sacco and Vanzetti's lawyer — and later others in the anarchist movement — told him.Will the left now try to remove the disgrace from Sinclair's name?
Update: Another reaction from Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online.