Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Cat in the Bag



“The Cat in the Bag” is in print!

As you check out this blog, have you ever wondered, “Where the heck is this guy coming from?” This book will connect the dots. You can now order it in paperback from amazon.com or download the Kindle edition.

“The Cat in the Bag” looks at the secret playbook used by the Democratic Party. It covers the themes that create America’s anti-Republican culture, and shows how these themes take on great power with a coordinated narrative. You won’t be surprised to find that “Republicans are destroying the environment” is one of those themes, and that environmentalists promote this theme with what borders on religious zeal.

The book is serious when exposing the themes, but has fun spoofing the antics of the Democratic Party. One chapter highlights the difficulty of bringing “social justice” to our economic structure through the imposition of a wealth tax. (Don’t anyone get any ideas here!)

“The Cat in the Bag” would not be in print if it weren’t for the efforts of Ekot Literary Service and Esther Jackson-Stowell. Esther is the wife of Rich Stowell (author of “Nine Weeks” and “Tunnel Club”) and she is the force behind Ekot Literary Service. She makes the process of getting your book in print painless and inexpensive.

On that last point, please note that I investigated publishing “The Cat in the Bag” using the services of Tate Publishing. Their quote (for a hardcover edition) had a minimum cost of almost $4,000. Esther was able to get “The Cat in the Bag” on Amazon for less than $500. That’s good value!

For those of you trying to get a book published, the rejection notices can be a bit discouraging. It might make more sense to enlist Esther’s services and go the paperback/Kindle route. If the market dictates, you can then publish in hardcover.

Esther turns the conventional publishing process upside down, but in our Internet age, it just may make the most sense.

UPDATE 1/26/2013:
The New York Times lets us know the cat's out of the bag!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

The Rule of Law



Do we need “The Rule of Law?"

It was important to our Founders, as they were quite familiar with laws based on the divine right of kings. Furthermore, they knew that laws had to be written down and have the consent of the governed, or they would not work.

Here in modern-day America, the rule of law is closely linked to the idea that no person is above the law. Rather than be governed by the dictates of individual leaders and groups, we choose to be governed by our Constitution and the laws that flow from it. We honor the notion that no matter what a person’s status within our country, he or she is bound by its laws.

Or do we? There is an interesting twist on this concept that is linked to the referendum on the Democratic Party. When the power and authority of the Democratic Party is at stake, is the rule of law subordinated?

The recent public-sector union conflict in Wisconsin focuses our attention:

--When a physician is working to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party, should his or her ethical standards be enforced?

--When a legislator is working to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party, must he or she conform to the rules of conduct associated with the duties of office?

--When a police officer is working to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party, must he or she carry out the duties associated with public safety?

We are also reminded of the New Black Panther incident in Philadelphia. Our President, a Constitutional scholar who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, believes that the Department of Justice must allow this incident to pass. The rule of law, where it pertains to electioneering, must not be enforced when people are working to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party.

And lest we forget, there is the issue of the administration of our national healthcare, where legislation is passed but individual waivers are given in order to increase the power and authority of the Democratic Party.

In the Democratic Party’s glorious fight, the rule of law is simply discarded. What would Plato think?

UPDATE 3/12/2011:
Linked by Left Coast Rebel!  Thank you, Tim.

UPDATE 3/18/2011:
John Nolte at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government has a compilation of the public-sector union tactics employed over the last few weeks in Wisconsin.

UPDATE 3/29/2011:
Katherine Kersten, writing at the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune, has some additional perspective on the tactics used in Wisconsin.

UPDATE 4/13/2011:
Richard A. Epstein, writing in National Affairs, concludes his article on "Government by Waiver" with this:
"...the problem of government by waiver — like the larger danger of excessive discretion — can be limited only by a greater awareness of these perils on the part of judges and administrators. The best we can hope for, then, is enlightened leaders.
And that is precisely the problem. The fate of our rights and liberties is left to the wisdom and discretion of individuals; we are therefore governed by men, not by laws. It was this exact circumstance that our system of government was designed to avoid: As James Madison noted in Federalist No. 10, 'enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.' In this sense, the problem of government by waiver shows us just how far we have strayed from the intentions of those who created our system of government — and how we risk betraying their hope that we might preserve it."
UPDATE 5/23/2011:
The rule of law stands in contrast to the power of droit de seigneur seen in the accusations made against Dominique Strauss-Kahn this past week.  A chambermaid at a New York City hotel is getting firsthand experience with the importance of this constitutional principle.

UPDATE 11/17/2011:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a story on the sanctions taken by the Wisonsin Medical Examining Board against the various doctors noted above:
Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said that the action showed the board wasn't serious about enforcing standards.
"This confirms my suspicion that the Medical Examining Board is a joke. Their goal is not to look after the public at large but to protect their buddies from an undue interruption in their careers," Grothman said.

UPDATE 3/22/2013:
Rob Douglas, writing for Steamboat Today notes how frequently we see America's leaders ignore the rule of law.  His final observation:
Our elected representatives also need to grasp the reality that a nation that loses respect for the law quickly can slide into anarchy.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Not a Referendum on the Democratic Party?



Political pundits are wondering how Republicans should position their debate coming into the 2012 election cycle.

Should it be on policy or on the records of individual politicians?

My preference would be to highlight the recent practices of the Democratic Party and put them up for evaluation by our electorate. We need to find out if our current political atmosphere is “right” for America.

To put this in perspective, look at some recent events. Does it seem appropriate that every domestic and foreign policy issue has to be examined from the standpoint of what benefit it can bring to the power and authority of the Democratic Party? Rising fuel costs, unrest in the Middle East and governmental spending all must be examined in two ways: What is right for the country, and what does it do to enhance the power and authority of the Democratic Party.

Many Americans don’t see a problem with this stance. After all, it’s just politics…and elections have consequences. But shouldn’t it be discussed?

There are so many examples from the last few years: President Obama closes the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, or does he? His timing and actions are based on what increases the power and authority of the Democratic Party.

Attorney General Eric Holder tells us he makes decisions in the context of “my people.” You might think that would refer to people with dark skin tone, but he would not be including Condoleezza Rice, Herman Cain or Clarence Thomas. His “people” are those who support the Democratic Party.

Rahm Emanuel doesn’t want to allow a “crisis to go to waste.” He extracts additional power and authority for the Democratic Party at each and every opportunity.

One gets the feeling that our country is being used as a “prop.” We are watching events unfold that clearly do not promote the general welfare. Shouldn’t we be discussing whether “the Democratic Party way” is what we want as “The American Way”?

And then there is something more sinister at work.

Our country is beset with the constant theme that “Republicans are Bad People.” Individuals such as Representative Steve Cohen characterize Republicans as liars over the use of the terminology “government takeover of healthcare.” A more accurate phrase might be “government control of healthcare,” but then I don’t think Representative Cohen wishes to debate the issue. His point is to characterize Republicans as bad people, and he does that by calling out Republicans as “liars.”

Cultures in the Middle East teach their citizenry to hate people of non-Muslim beliefs, characterizing the infidels as being impure. That makes for effective politics, but is it something that we need to emulate in America? Making sure Republicans are stigmatized as racist, homophobic bigots might be effective politics, but is it the direction we want our political discourse to take? (NPR, what do you think?)

Isn’t it time to turn these “rhetorical questions” into a referendum before the electorate?

Let the debate begin…and then let’s have America vote!

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Numbers



Peggy Noonan has a wonderful article today in the Opinion Section of The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ editors must have considered her column important, because they published it in Opinion Journal and dropped the “paywall.” They made it free to the public.

What makes the article important? It talks about the current public-sector union controversy roiling our nation, and describes how “the atmospherics of the drama” are changing. Here are Peggy's words:

Unions have been respected in America forever, and public employee unions have reaped that respect. There are two great reasons for this. One is that unions always stood for the little guy. The other is that Americans like balance. We have management over here and the union over here, they'll talk and find balance, it'll turn out fine.

But with the public employee unions, the balance has been off for decades. And when they lost their balance they fell off their pedestal.

When union leaders negotiate with a politician, they're negotiating with someone they can hire and fire. Public unions have numbers and money, and politicians need both. And politicians fear strikes because the public hates them. When governors negotiate with unions, it's not collective bargaining, it's more like collusion. Someone said last week the taxpayers aren't at the table. The taxpayers aren't even in the room.

As for unions looking out for the little guy, that's not how it's looking right now. Right now the little guy is the public school pupil whose daily rounds take him from a neglectful family to an indifferent teacher who can't be removed. The little guy is the beleaguered administrator whose attempts at improvement are thwarted by unions. The little guy is the private-sector worker who doesn't have a good health-care plan, who barely has a pension, who lacks job security, and who is paying everyone else's bills.

That resonates: Who is the little guy? “Right now the little guy is the public school pupil…”

And Peggy goes on to explain that “suddenly everyone is talking about numbers.” The numbers are no longer abstract. Our states have to deal with them, and the numbers have consequence to the lives of people.

I thought of her comments in the context of an inspired satirical post by David Burge. Writing for his Iowahawk blog, he shows how numbers are used to create an impression that furthers a political point of view.

If you like David Burge’s “Iowahawk Smackdown,” you might be one of those Americans who is suddenly into numbers.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance




Sunday night was the 83rd Academy Awards presentation. The ceremony is a celebration of the motion picture industry, and this year it featured a theme of “overcoming adversity.”

The Best Picture category included Colin Firth conquering a speech disability in “The King’s Speech,” Mark Wahlberg waging a comeback in “The Fighter,” and Hailee Steinfeld pursuing justice in “True Grit.”

There was even a sense of overcoming adversity in the presenters. Kirk Douglas introduced the nominees for Best Supporting Actress, showing that he was able to deal with the consequences of a debilitating stroke.

Randy Newman showed he had spunk in accepting the award for Best Original Song, noting that while this was his second Oscar, it had taken twenty nominations to get there. Tom Hooper accepted the award for Best Director, and gave all the credit to his mother!

The show was entertaining, and the political comments were kept to a minimum. Even so, there was that irresistible urge to demonstrate anti-Republican credentials on the part of a few individuals. Wally Pfister, the cinematographer of “Inception,” praised the Wisconsin collective bargaining struggle, and Gary Rizzo (winning an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing; also on the crew of “Inception”) voiced his support for union members of his production crew.

It’s hard not to share their enthusiasm. They are winners, and they are exuberant about their passions.

But the enthusiasm for unions seems slightly out of touch. Can it be that this is a deeply held belief on behalf of Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Pfister, or is it something done for political expediency?

Here is why I question their conviction: “Unions” is a term being used in the same fashion as “Immigrants” in our political discourse. Republicans have concerns about our national policy toward illegal immigration, but the political advantage in the discussion goes to those who characterize Republicans as being anti-immigrant. A Republican concern about a specific policy issue is turned into xenophobia. The narrative is not that Republicans want something done about illegal immigration; it’s that Republicans fear diversity.

That type of political maneuver is being used in Wisconsin, where a Republican administration is seeking to curtail the power of public-sector unions. Concern for fairness and balance of power in a specific instance is turned into a Republican hatred of all union endeavors.

In this atmosphere of political posturing, I suppose it makes sense to use the Academy Awards to speak out. But then, this brings us to the issue of cognitive dissonance.

If you accept a particular point of view, and then find it to be false, your reaction is strong and negative. If you believe in the sanctity of union activities, and then find those activities encompass assaults on adversaries, the use of violent rhetoric, and the desecration of memorials, those actions might cause a reevaluation of your position.

I suppose it depends on your politics, but if you give someone your trust and then they lie to you, you don’t feel good about it.

Some would call that cognitive dissonance.

UPDATE 3/2/2011:
More Oscar politics described by Zombie at Pajamas Media.

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