Chris BellLeading abortion-rights supporters in Texas announced their support yesterday for Chris Bell in the Democratic primary race for Governor. The signers of the endorsement letter included: Liz Carpenter, former LBJ aide; Sarah Weddington, attorney in the Roe v. Wade case; Molly Beth Malcolm, former Texas Democratic Chairman; "Sissy" Farenthold; and Peggy Romberg, former lobbyist for Planned Parenthood. (To read the full letter of endorsement from the 12 women advocates for abortion rights, click here. )
The letter attacked Bob Gammage, Bell’s major opponent, for voting on the pro-life side when he was a member of Congress. On his web site, Chris Bell compares Gammage’s votes on the abortion issue with the positions of Congressman Henry Hyde, the longtime leader of the pro-life forces in the U.S. House of Representatives (link here).
Gammage’s campaign was quick to respond by claiming that Bob Gammage was just as supportive of abortion rights as Chris Bell.
The dispute highlights one reason why the Democratic party has become a minority party in America. Being strongly in favor of abortion rights has become a litmus test for any Democrat aspiring to run for President or almost any Democrat who runs for statewide office. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt and Jesse Jackson originally were opposed to taxpayer funding of abortions. But, they all reversed their position on the abortion issue as they reached for higher office and as the Democratic position hardened on the abortion issue. Isn’t that the reason why Senate Democrats are giving Samuel Alito such a hard time – because they believe he is opposed to abortion?
Obviously, Chris Bell thinks this is an issue that works for him in his primary race against Gammage. And, Bob Gammage must think so too. Otherwise, his campaign would not have been so quick to say what a strong supporter of abortion rights Bob Gammage is these days.
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
~ James Madison
The Washington political scandals dominating the news in recent weeks may be disheartening, but they cannot be considered surprising. We live in a time when the U.S. government is the largest and most powerful state in the history of the world. Today's federal government consists of fifteen huge departments, hundreds of agencies, thousands of programs, and millions of employees. It spends 2.4 trillion dollars in a single year. The possibilities for corruption in such an immense and unaccountable institution are endless.
Americans understandably expect ethical conduct from their elected officials in Washington. But the whole system is so out of control that it's simply unrealistic to place faith in each and every government official in a position to sell influence. The larger the federal government becomes, the more it controls who wins and who loses in our society. The temptation for lobbyists to buy votes – and the temptation for politicians to sell them – is enormous. Indicting one crop of politicians and bringing in another is only a temporary solution. The only effective way to address corruption is to change the system itself, by radically downsizing the power of the federal government in the first place. Take away the politicians' power and you take away the very currency of corruption.
Undoubtedly the recent revelations will ignite new calls for campaign finance reform. However, we must recognize that campaign finance laws place restrictions only on individuals, not politicians. Politicians will continue to tax and spend, meaning they will continue to punish some productive Americans while rewarding others with federal largesse. The same vested special interests will not go away, and the same influence peddling will happen every day on Capitol Hill.
The reason is very simple: when the federal government redistributes trillions of dollars from some Americans to others, countless special interests inevitably will fight for the money. The rise in corruption in Washington simply mirrors the rise in federal spending. The fundamental problem is not with campaigns or politicians primarily, but rather with popular support for the steady shift from a relatively limited, constitutional federal government to the huge leviathan of today.
We need to get money out of government. Only then will money not be important in politics. It's time to reconsider exactly what we want the federal government to be in our society. So long as it remains the largest and most powerful institution in the nation, it will remain endlessly susceptible to corruption.
BOCA RATON, Fla., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- According to data released today by Foreclosure.com, 91,905 foreclosed residential properties were available for sale in the United States during December -- an increase of 12.7 percent from November. The total number of new foreclosures listed for sale in December -- 24,124 -- increased 7.7 percent from the prior month. These increases mark the highest month-to-month increase of both new and total foreclosures since March 2005.
The South region of the U.S. -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas -- led the country with a 17.4 increase in new foreclosures from November to December and a nine percent increase in new foreclosures. The Midwest region showed the second highest percentage increases, followed by the Northeast and West regions.
"The relative stability of U.S. foreclosure inventory ended in December," said Brad Geisen, president and CEO, Foreclosure.com. "With lending institutions closing their books at the end of the year, it is somewhat common for the foreclosure inventory to rise. It is premature to predict that December's inventory indicates a foreclosure crisis in the U.S.; however, this rise in inventory, which is higher than in recent years, should be closely monitored as 2006 begins."
Geisen continued, "If factors such as waning investor confidence in the housing market, high interest rates and a weakening sellers market continue, it is very likely that foreclosure inventory will remain high in the early months of 2006. Regardless of what happens in the first quarter, the current foreclosure inventory represents a very strong buyers market for investors and individuals."
Florida's Chief Justice, Barbara J. ParienteGet this: There’s a new principle in American education, namely, that public schools are to be "uniformly" bad. Such is the rockbottom meaning of that 5-2 Florida Supreme Court decision last week scuttling a public school voucher program.
You needn’t sift for long the legal gobbledegook to figure out that the Florida decision cuts aspiring students off at the knees and rewards substandard performance by their teachers and administrators.
Florida’s constitution requires that "free public schools" be, among other things, "uniform." Which by public consensus many surely are -- uniformly bad. Which is why the state created a voucher program in the first place --- so that victims of such oppressive uniformity could opt either for public schools or private ones, with the state paying the bill.
Under the program, 730 such students are being educated in private schools. The idea is, we’ll drag ‘em back to the dungeons next fall. Why (according to the court’s reasoning) should these brats, trying to claw their way out of ignorance, be allowed to undermine the Florida public school system’s proud reputation for, ah, insufficiency? A vast, thundering irony here is that the constitution, besides requiring uniformity in education, mandates schools of "high quality"!
A basic question here: What’s the purpose of public schools? Developing and sharpening the intellectual faculties, one would suppose. From which it should follow that those who pay for the schools, i.e., taxpayers, should constantly goad the schools to higher levels of performance. I mean, am I wrong? High performance ITAL doesn’t ITAL count? Tells against you, in fact, in constitutional terms?
Florida’s chief justice, Barbara J. Pariente, objects, in the majority opinion, that private schools aren’t "uniform" with the public schools, partly because, being private, they don’t have to follow state standards. Why, they don’t even have to teach "the History of the Holocaust or the story of Hispanics’ and women’s contributions to the United States." Imagine it if you can --- schools of "high quality" emerging in such an intellectually deprived environment!
. More to the point, shouldn’t one count as an unalloyed blessing the absence of public school standards in private schools? If the public schools’ standards were as high the privates’, demand for vouchers would figure on the merest handful of political wish lists.
It was of course those partly -- at the very least -- responsible for the present debased state of public education who set out to sink Florida’s voucher system. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers stand, as ever, in the way of reform and progress. If the schools are bad, still they provide jobs, and the jobs provide dues money for the unions, and so on. Seeing a handful of Florida parents attack vouchers in court, the unions joined in with gusto, along with the usual leftwing suspects, notably the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The NAACP’s participation in the attack on vouchers should particularly enrage us. We’re going to advance "colored people" how? We’re going to stick them in inferior schools and make sure they stay there -- apparently that’s how. Did I mention that the denizens of Florida’s failing schools are mostly black? A mere detail, such as the NAACP chooses not to bother with, in part no doubt because the teacher unions are reliable allies in the liberals’ ongoing war against Bush-ism and what not. Speaking of that particular war, it’s well to note the reemergence of the Florida Supreme Court -- last heard from during the 2000 election ruckus -- as a factor in national debate. The U. S. Supreme Court, you’ll recall, took on the election contest away from the Florida court, amid some national clamor. The voucher decision doesn’t prove the Florida justices were wrong in their analysis of how the votes should be counted. It doe
s raise a serious question: Would it have been better had we let a court as purblind as Florida’s choose the president of the whole, entire United States?
The President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, is “outraged.” So, for that matter, are all Mexican politicians along with most central American politicians and more than a few from Brazil. They are right to be outraged. The fact that millions of their people are risking their lives to flee their Mexican (and other Latin) homeland to seek economic refuge in the United States indicates a failure of the Mexican state so complete that every Mexican should be outraged.
Unfortunately, President Fox et al are outraged because the United States Congress has suddenly decided to take some action to stop the flow of Mexicans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and even Brazilians into the US. They are outraged the US would dare suggest individuals entering the US illegally should be considered criminals. They are outraged the US is planning to build 700 miles of what they call “moral equivalents to the Berlin Wall.” At least that is what they claim.
What they are really outraged about is that they may not be able to export their hardest working most enterprising citizens who are of course the people most likely to rise in revolt one day. They are outraged their expatriates might stop sending home billions of gringo dollars to prop up their corrupt and inefficient governments. They are outraged that millions of poor Mexicans might have to look to their own country for jobs and succor instead of the Norte Americano. They are also doubtless outraged they have to look stupid comparing walls intended to keep people out with a wall where people were daily shot to keep people in.
Let them choke on their outrage.
But before the Norte Americanos begin to organize a mass roundup of illegal immigrants they would do well to see the movie “A Day without a Mexican.” Ever wonder what the US would be if Latinos vanished? It isn’t pretty. The fact is that Mexico’s loss is largely America’s gain. Like the English, Scots-Irish, Germans, Italians, Irish, Lebanese, Jews and dozens of other willing immigrants (blacks weren’t “willing”) these are people who have come to work and who fill niches in our economy that insufficient numbers of US Citizens are willing to fill.
This isn’t about cheap labor. It is about any labor for dozens industries, including domestic help for individual families. There is every reason to believe the new immigrants are following in the footsteps of their predecessors: learn English, work hard, and build better lives for themselves and their families.
True, immigrants come at a cost disproportionately felt in different areas. Immigrants place a burden on social services in areas where they are most concentrated. Living largely outside the law they live outside mainstream society and are ready victims of crime – and therefore attract criminals. This calls for government action to provide relief for local taxpayers carrying undue burdens and a government program to provide immigrants a legal avenue to participate in the US economy. There is a mutual need that is overwhelming and the failure of the Congress to address it is indeed outrageous.
But as Teddy Roosevelt once said it is not the value of immigrant labor that counts but the capacity for citizenship. The failure of the Mexican State might well give pause. But every single other immigrant group came here because their homelands failed them too. Once freed of the old they prospered within a few generations in the new. The Mexicans will be no different.
But none of this argues against a wall. If millions of hardworking God fearing people can make it across the border illegally so can a handful of terrorists and drug dealers. The Norte Americano has every right and reason to control their border and if walls do the trick let the officials of the Latin South hang their collective heads in shame that their people are fleeing them and must be stopped by walls. The Norte Americano also has every reason to control the total number of people entering their country. The nation can only absorb so many people in any given period of time. The number of immigrants must be determined by our needs not those of foreign politicians or domestic immigration lawyers hungry for clients.