New Blog: Appeal to Heaven

Appeal to HeavenOver the years and months, What The Crap has gradually become more and more serious. This is perfectly acceptable, as blogs naturally evolve over time. Still – I have been meaning to create a space devoted to respectfully discussing deeper issues at greater length. Thus:

Appeal To Heaven

Appeal to Heaven will also certainly evolve over time. My initial goal is to clearly communicate conservative ideas and discuss the philosophy of liberty.

Please check it out and let me know what you think!!

PS – What The Crap will still be a place for posting random thoughts, videos, and other stuff I come across. Enjoy.

-wtc

America May Never Recover Unless…

“Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.”

-President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama says the latest jobless numbers demand action and it’s “inexcusable and irresponsible” for Congress to delay on his economic recovery package.

-A.P.

Here is a list from the transcript of Glenn Beck’s show on some of the things that America must pass immediately or we may never recover:

  • We’re never going to recover if we don’t get the $50 million for the National Endowment For the Arts
  • We may never recover if we don’t get $380 million in the Senate bill for the Women, Infants and Children’s program
  • We may never recover if we don’t get $300 million for grants to combat violence against women
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $6 billion for university building projects
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $1.2 billion to provide youth summer jobs, and this bill defines “Youth” to people up to the age of 24. You’ll be paying for those.
  • We will never recover if we don’t have $2.4 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $650 million for digital TV coupons.
  • We may never recover if we don’t get $150 million for the Smithsonian.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce headquarters.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $500 million for the improvement projects for the national institute of health facilities.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $44 million for repairs to the Department of Agriculture headquarters or
  • $350 million for agriculture department computers.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building, not for a new building. To help them move to a new building. We may never survive if we don’t have that $88 million for a moving truck!
  • We may never survive if we don’t have the money to convert federal auto fleets to hybrids.
  • This country may never recover if we don’t have a billion dollars for the census bureau.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $89 billion for Medicaid
  • $30 billion for COBRA extensions
  • $36 billion for expanded unemployment
  • $20 billion for more food stamps.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $850 million for Amtrak, a train that hasn’t turned a profit in 50 years.
  • America as we know it may never recover if we don’t have $87 million for a polar ice breaking ship, never recover.
  • We may never recover if we don’t have $1.7 million for the national park system
  • $55 million for the historic preservation fund.
  • We may not survive if we don’t have $7.6 million for the rural advancement program
  • $150 million for the agriculture commodity purposes
  • $150 million for producers of livestock, farm-raised fish and honeybees.
  • We may never recover unless we have $160 million for paid volunteers at the Corporation for National and Community Service
  • If we don’t act now and pass $2 billion for renewable energy research or
  • $2 billion for clean coal power plants in Illinois or
  • $6.2 billion for a weatherization assistance program which basically is weatherstrips for underneath your door! We may never survive
  • If we don’t have $3.5 billion for energy efficiency and conservation block grants or
  • $3.4 billion for the state energy program or
  • $200 million for state and local electric transport projects or
  • $300 million for the energy-efficient appliance rebate program or
  • $400 million for hybrid cars for state and local governments or
  • $1 billion for the manufacturing of advanced batteries or
  • $1.5 billion for green technology, loan guarantees or
  • $8 billion for innovative loan guarantee program or
  • $2.4 billion for carbon capture demonstration projects or
  • $4.5 billion for the electricity grid or
  • $79 billion for the state fiscal stabilization fund.

We may never recover if we don’t do these things right now.

Read the Full Transcript.

Total Stimulus breakdown here.

The Bailout: More than $1 MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY since the birth of Jesus Christ

A Decent Video Overview of American Government

Not perfect, but good. Definitely worth viewing:

Michael Yon’s Afghanistan Coverage Dominates Anything You’ll Find In Ye Olde Media (again)

For those of you actually interested in understanding the mess in the Middle East – consider the outstanding coverage of Michael Yon. He’s a great writer – and an even greater photographer:

Some days ago I visited the bazaar at Jalalabad, and took a bunch of colorful photographs and met many friendly people.  Walking through Jalalabad, one could almost forget there was a war.  But for the most part, this war is today being fought not in the cities, but the villages and small family compounds where most Afghanis live.

Urban counterinsurgency can be incredibly dangerous, yet the population has a common life.  City dwellers are dependent on civil services like water, sewage and electricity; they often have specialized roles in complex economies.  Their feelings and opinions form a political aggregate which both the democrat and terrorist must heed.   These elements of common life give the urban population a center of gravity which can reach a tipping point and shift, either toward the insurgent or the government.  In Iraq, most people live in cities or towns.  When the center of gravity in certain communities began shifting against Al Qaeda and other groups, the shifts had a profound impact on the war.  Also, Iraq, as Afghanistan, has powerful tribes which can behave like “voting blocs.”  Often they vote with bullets.

MORE

I’d call it: Reporting, minus the bull-crap. If you still haven’t checked out his stuff – you owe it to yourself. His reporting come straight from the ground – and it will actually elevate your knowledge and understanding of the situation, unlike much of the dumbed down, dope-tastic (not to mention: negative) coverage you’ll get from other sources.

Piece of Garbage Murders Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman

That’s right – the piece of trash who did this – your name won’t be mentioned on this blog, and you will quickly be forgotten.

Arkansas Democratic Party Leader Bill Gwatney has died from the gunshot wounds. He was attacked today at the Democratic Party Headquarters in Little Rock.

Details about this senseless and tragic story are here.

Prayers for the Gwatney family and friends.

The Spoiled Children of Capitalism

Jonah Goldberg wrote a great piece this last week about Capitalism and why people tend to dislike it – though most of their entire livelihood is a direct result of living in a capitalist system. I think it it a very important opinion to add into the ring. Read it here, or below (emphasis mine):

It’s an old story. Loving parents provide a generous environment for their offspring. Kids are given not only ample food, clothing and shelter, but the emotional necessities as well: encouragement, discipline, self-reliance, the ability to work with others and on their own. And yet, in due course, the kids rebel. Some even say their parents never loved them, that they were unfair, indifferent, cruel. Often, such protests are sparked by parents’ refusal to be even more generous. I want a car, demands the child. Work for it, insist the parents. Why do you hate me? asks the ingrate. 

Of course, being an old story doesn’t make it a universal one. But the dynamic is universally understood.

We’ve all witnessed the tendency to take a boon for granted. Being accustomed to a provision naturally leads the human heart to consider that provision an entitlement. Hence the not-infrequent lawsuits from prison inmates cruelly denied their rights to cable TV or apple brown betty for desert. 

And so it goes, I think, with capitalism generally.

Capitalism is the greatest system ever created for alleviating general human misery, and yet it breeds ingratitude.

People ask, “Why is there poverty in the world?” It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil. As individuals and as a species, we are born naked and penniless, bereft of skills or possessions. Likewise, in his civilizational infancy man was poor, in every sense. He lived in ignorance, filth, hunger, and pain, and he died very young, either by violence or disease. 

The interesting question isn’t “Why is there poverty?” It’s “Why is there wealth?” Or: “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”

At the end of the day, the first answer is capitalism, rightly understood. That is to say: free markets, private property, the spirit of entrepreneurialism and the conviction that the fruits of your labors are your own. 

For generations, many thought prosperity was material stuff: factories and forests, gold mines and gross tons of concrete poured. But we now know that these things are merely the fringe benefits of wealth. Stalin built his factories, Mao paved over the peasants. But all that truly prospered was misery and alienation.

A recent World Bank study found that a nation’s wealth resides in its “intangible capital” — its laws, institutions, skills, smarts and cultural assumptions. “Natural capital” (minerals, croplands, etc.) and “produced capital” (factories, roads, and so on) account for less than a quarter of the planet’s wealth. In America, intangible capital — the stuff in our heads, our hearts, and our books — accounts for 82 percent of our wealth. 

Any number of countries in Africa are vastly richer in baubles and soil than Switzerland. But they are poor because they are impoverished in what they value. 

In large measure our wealth isn’t the product of capitalism, it is capitalism. 

And yet we hate it. Leaving religion out of it, no idea has given more to humanity. The average working-class person today is richer, in real terms, than the average prince or potentate of 300 years ago. His food is better, his life longer, his health better, his menu of entertainments vastly more diverse, histoilette infinitely more civilized. And yet we constantly hear how cruel capitalism is while this collectivism or that is more loving because, unlike capitalism, collectivism is about the group, not the individual. 

These complaints grow loudest at times like this: when the loom of capitalism momentarily stutters in spinning its gold. Suddenly, the people ask: What have you done for me lately? Politicians croon about how we need to give in to Causes Larger than Ourselves and peck about like hungry chickens for a New Way to replace dying capitalism. 

This is the patient leaping to embrace the disease and reject the cure. Recessions are fewer and weaker thanks in part to trade, yet whenever recessions appear on the horizon, politicians dive into their protectionist bunkers. Not surprising that this week we saw the demise of the Doha round of trade negotiations, and this campaign season we’ve heard the thunder of anti-trade rhetoric move ever closer.

This is the irony of capitalism. It is not zero-sum, but it feels like it is. Capitalism coordinates humanity toward peaceful, productive cooperation, but it feels alienating. Collectivism does the opposite, at least when dreamed up on paper. The communes and collectives imploded in inefficiency, drowned in blood. The kibbutz lives on only as a tourist attraction, a baseball fantasy camp for nostalgic socialists. Meanwhile, billions have ridden capitalism out of poverty. 

And yet the children of capitalism still whine.

Here are a couple more closing thoughts.

Obama: Rather loose a war, than loose an election?

Q: If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?

A: No, because, keep in mind that…

Q: You wouldn’t?

A: Keep in mind… These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that, what I’m absolutely convinced of, is that at that time we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.

So, something that has brought down violence 80% and American troop deaths from 78 to 5 per month – he would still oppose…because he disagreed with President Bush…? Is he saying he would still oppose something that has empowered Iraqis and saved American (and Iraqi) lives simply for political reasons?

Is this a gaffe, distraction, or a moment of clarity?

Peter DeFazio on the Fairness Doctrine

A few days ago I wrote this letter to Peter Defazio about the Fairness Doctrine. I was happy to get a real response from him. I thought that you all might find this interesting as it illuminates a clear difference in understanding when it comes to government power (his response is below, followed by my closing comments):

Representative Peter DeFazio,

 

Dear Sir,

I would consider myself philosophically conservative on most issues, so I know that we probably disagree on many things. However, I respect you greatly as a fellow American, and I enjoy hearing your opinion, however different from my own it may be. 

With that in mind, I am certain that you and I would agree about the importance for our government to secure liberty and protect an individual’s basic right to free speech. (see footnote 1)

For instance, it would be detrimental to individual liberty for the government to force individuals, groups, or companies to present certain viewpoints or ideas (whether Left leaning, or Right) to the public. In other words – it is a similar violation of liberty to have government forcing radio stations to promote certain ideas, as it is having the government force an environmental group to present certain viewpoints on a college campus. 

Thus, I am confused as to why you would support legislation such as the Fairness Doctrine – which essentially amounts to the government forcing radio stations to carry certain aspects of content. 

Who decides what’s fair? As a consumer of radio, I don’t need the government to decide what sort of speech I should be hearing. Similarly, I wouldn’t want the government telling colleges what their professors should be teaching.

The best thing about America, is that individuals have the liberty to support or not support stations, organizations, and institutions that carry viewpoints they like or dislike. For instance, I enjoy the freedom to discourage local radio stations from carrying jerks like Michael Savage, in favor of talkers with more class. I don’t need the government to step in and balance things out. I would be just as opposed to the government forcing Air America to carry conservative viewpoints as I would of the government forcing you to provide an opposing opinion when you give a speech.  

Essentially, the issue here is personal Liberty. Our basic freedom to disagree, and yet discuss our differing viewpoints is what makes America so great. This is what freedom of speech (see footnote 1) is all about. In this case, I think we should let the people individually decide what they wish to listen to or not. The more personal choice individuals have, the freer we all are as a people.

Imagine you had your own radio show where you talked about your viewpoint on policies and government. Does it make sense for the government to require the stations carrying your show to have to provide opposing viewpoints? No. If people want to listen to your show they will – if they don’t, they’ll switch stations. 

Even worse, how do you determine an ‘opposing viewpoint’? There are millions of different viewpoints (Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Universalist, Constitutional…just to get started) out there – it would be an impossible task for government to regulate. If government required this, most radio stations would probably just can everything. Then people wouldn’t hear any viewpoint. The bottom line is that this judgement is best left to each individual person. 

Anyway, that’s my opinion on the matter. Like I said, I know we disagree on a lot – but I would encourage you to please consider my argument and perhaps reconsider your stance on things like the Fairness Doctrine. Likewise, I would also be interested in your point view on this topic.

Thanks so much for your time!

Respectfully yours,

========= Here is his response (I highlighted a couple things to discuss at the end):

Dear Mr._______:

Thank you for your recent message on the Fairness Doctrine. I appreciate hearing from you.

The Fairness in Broadcasting act, which is better known as the Fairness Doctrine, was repealed in 1987.  It provides that when broadcast stations discuss issues of public importance, they give reasonable time to opposing views. It in no way infringes on anyone’s First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court agreed in its ruling in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC.

But more importantly, it is important to note that the Fairness Doctrine does not in any way restrict people from expressing their views on the public airwaves. Talk radio hosts would be free to continuing doing the same shows they do today.  The doctrine merely requires license holders to allow for opposing points of view to be heard.  Hearing a fair and balanced debate is critical to helping Americans fully understand the issues our country faces.

The bottom line is that the airwaves over which over-the-air television and radio broadcast are distributed are owned by the American public, not the corporations that are granted a temporary license to carry programming on a given station.  Therefore, it is entirely reasonable to require the license holder to act in the public interest by ensuring an opportunity for conflicting views to be heard on pressing issues of national importance.  But, again, that doesn’t mean that each viewpoint would have to be offered equal time or that a talk radio host would be restricted in what issues he or she could discuss or what guests they could have on.    

Again, thanks for contacting me on this matter. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Rep. Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON

===================

I think that is an interesting response and I am very happy that Rep. DeFazio (or his staffers…) took the time to reply. Clearly, you can see that he believes that the government should require radio stations to allow for opposing viewpoints because it is in the public good

Here lies a crucial departure in our understandings when it comes to governmental power. It seems clear that it is Rep. DeFazio’s view that the government decides what is in the best interest of the public. In this case, that means requiring a radio station to provide “conflicting views. (see footnote 2)

This is a monumental moment of clarity!

I believe in the opposite. I think that the power lies in the publics’ free choice (that’s you!) to decide what they view to be good for themselves.

One quick possible objection before I expand on that idea:

It is logical to argue that the government is “the people”. After all, we elect them right? I mean, the fine folks of District 4 in Oregon chose to elect Rep. DeFazio, correct?

Of course this is true.

However, what people may not realize is that the public also elected to make certain radio shows (with certain viewpoints) successful over the airwaves in a much more direct and democratic way: With their own choice to listen! 

Radio is successful only when it can generate revenue from advertising. Advertiser’s only sponsor shows that have good listener ratings. Therefore, the public (again…that’s you) have chosen to listen to whatever they/you want, in their/your own interest.

This is the very crux of personal Liberty in a free market system. You get to choose what is in your own best interest. Not The State! (You cannot get a more fundamentally core conservative principal than this.) Furthermore, did District 4 elect Rep. DeFazio so that he could decide what is in our best interest? I highly doubt it. 

This is what Liberty and America in general, is all about: No matter who is elected into government, whether Republican or Democrat, what gives them the right to choose for you what is in your best interest.  

This is fundamentally why I am now a conservative. I believe that the greatness of America lies in the fact that the power of our government is directly in the hands of it’s people. You and I are far better judges of what is in our own best interest than The State. And like I said in my letter, I have the freedom to turn off the radio when I feel that a certain viewpoint is not in my best interest, and so should you.

What do you think?

-Footnotes:

  1. Scrap the free speech stuff. I was mistaken to include that. As Rep. DeFazio (or his staffers…) rightly pointed out, this has little to do with First Amendment rights.  Rather, it has more to do with peoples choice over what is in the public interest and who decides that. I regret bringing the First Amendment into the discussion.
  2. I thought that comment was interesting because anyone who has listened to radio for more than a few seconds would realize that there are all kind of conflicting views. In fact, I prefer shows where the host intentionally and only takes callers with opposing views, because it’s great radio!!! I would assume that either Rep. DeFazio doesn’t spend a great deal of time listening to radio shows, or perhaps only listens to one rather boring show where everyone agrees…


“The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.”

Justice Scalia’s scathing decent to the Supreme Courts 5-4 decision today that U.S. Constitutional rights essentially (unlawful combatants now have access to the US civilian justice system) apply to everyone in the world…

Today the Court warps our Constitution in a way that goes beyond the narrow issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause, invoking judicially brainstormed separation-of-powers principles to establish a manipulable “functional” test for the extraterritorial reach of habeas corpus (and, no doubt, for the extraterritorial reach of other Constitutional protections as well). It blatantly misdescribes [sic] important precedents, most conspicuously Justice Jackson’s opinion for the Court in Johnson v. Eisentrager. It breaks a chain of precedent as old as the common law that prohibits judicial inquiry into detentions of aliens abroad absent statutory authorization. And, most tragically, it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner.

The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today. I dissent.

Ed Morrissey concludes:

It seems absurd to apply criminal law to unlawful combatants captured during hostilities abroad. Will they require a Miranda reading, too? Do we have to bring the soldiers and Marines who captured them to the trial? In our 232-year history, when have we ever allowed that kind of access to enemy combatants not captured inside the US itself?

Mark Levin’s thoughts:

While I am still reviewing the 5-4 decision written by Anthony Kennedy, apparently giving GITMO detainees access to our civilian courts, at the outset I am left to wonder whether all POWs will now have access to our civilian courts? After all, you would think lawful enemy combatants have a better claim in this regard than unlawful enemy combatants. And if POWs have access to our civilian courts, how do our courts plan to handle the thousands, if not tens of thousands of cases, that will be brought to them in future conflicts?

Epic fail in my opinion… How can a nation possibly successfully wage war if we are granting US civil rights to non-citizens captured outside this country?  

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