Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

"The tyranny of the legislature is the most formidable dread at present and will be for many years."

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nigeria to Criminalize Gay Marriage. - Fox News

Nigeria's Senate voted to criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection, the latest legislation targeting a minority already facing discrimination in Africa's most populous nation.

The bill, now much more wide-ranging than its initial draft, must be passed by Nigeria's House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law. However, public opinion and lawmakers' calls Tuesday for even harsher penalties show the widespread support for the measure in the deeply religious nation.

"Such elements in society should be killed," said Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti of the opposition party Congress for Progressive Change, drawing some murmurs of support from the gallery.

Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays and lesbians face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided between Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria's north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.

Under the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That's an increase over the bill's initial penalties, which lawmakers proposed during a debate Tuesday televised live from the National Assembly in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

Other additions to the bill include making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly." Those who violate those laws would face 10-year imprisonment as well.

The increased penalties immediately drew criticism from human rights observers.

"The bill will expand Nigeria's already draconian punishments for consensual same-sex conduct and set a precedent that would threaten all Nigerians' rights to privacy, equality, free expression, association and to be free from discrimination," said Erwin van der Borght, the director of Amnesty International's Africa program.

Yet across the African continent, many countries already have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has not been passed into law two years later. Even in South Africa, the one country where gays can marry, lesbians have been brutally attacked and murdered.

Nigeria's proposed law has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria's sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Nigeria declined to comment Tuesday, saying officials wanted to study the new version of the bill first.

The bill also could target human rights and HIV-prevention programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria, which has the world's third-largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman declined to comment.

International opinion didn't seem to trouble lawmakers, who at times laughed at each other during the debate. One senator worried the bill would hinder the tradition of Nigeria's Igbo ethnic group in the southeast to have infertile wives "marry" other women to carry their husbands' children. Another said gays suffer from a "mental illness."

Senate President David Mark at one point started laughing when a senator proposed 40-year prison sentences for gay couples who marry.

"Forty years, that is just too much," he said. "He won't come out alive now."

Before the vote, Mark did acknowledge the nation likely would face criticism. However, the lawmaker said Nigeria would not bow to international pressure on any legislation.

"Anybody can write to us, but our values are our values," Mark said. "If there is any country that does not want to give us aid or assistance, just because we hold on very firmly to our values, that country can (keep) their assistance. No country has a right to interfere in the way we make our own laws."

Quote of the Day

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."

Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fitch cuts U.S. Outlook to Negative. By Aaron Katersky. ABC. News

There are new doubts about the ability of the United States to get its financial house in order.  After the market closed Monday Fitch Ratings announced it has revised its outlook on the US credit rating from “stable” to “negative.”

“The Negative Outlook reflects Fitch’s declining confidence that timely fiscal measures necessary to place U.S. public finances on a sustainable path and secure the U.S. ‘AAA’ sovereign rating will be forthcoming,” Fitch said in a statement.

Fitch said blame rests with the so-called congressional Supercommittee that failed to agree on spending cuts and tax increases to help reduce the nation’s deficit.

“By postponing the difficult decisions on tax and spending until after forthcoming Congressional and Presidential elections, the scale and pace of required deficit reduction will consequently be greater.”

Fitch maintained its AAA rating on US debt and indicated the risks of a downgrade appear minimal.  The other credit ratings agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, also left their AAA ratings unchanged.



Quote of the Day

"Government cannot make man richer, but it can make him poorer."

Ludwig Von Mises

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Plan is the Ryan Plan... Said former Utah Gov . Huntsman

"My plan for debt spending is the Ryan plan," said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a 2012 hopeful, referring to the president's task force. "I think what Ryan is talking about with $6.2 trillion cut out of the budget over 10 years is exactly where the country needs to be."

The New Hamshire Union-Leader Endorses Newt.

From today’s front-page editorial:

"America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year. We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing.

"He did so with the Contract with America. He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic President. A lot of candidates say they're going to improve Washington. Newt Gingrich has actually done that, and in this race he offers the best shot of doing it again."

Mr. President Please Read This!

"No matter how worthy the cause, it is robbery, theft, and injustice to confiscate the property of one person and give it to another to whom it does not belong."

Walter Williams

Obama's Socialism in God's Name

Obama's Socialism in God's Name
Ed Kaitz

Jeremiah Wright's longtime congregant Barack Obama wants to tell you what God desires for America.   At a recent speech in Washington, the president proclaimed that "God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work."  Obama's rather tired revelation however is worth considering for several reasons.

First, Obama's White House spokesman Jay Carney seems to have squirmed a bit when trying to unpack the president's somewhat confusing proclamation.  When challenged by reporters about the propriety of bringing God into the current political fray Carney responded by saying:

I believe that the phrase from the Bible is 'the Lord helps those who help themselves.

The trouble with Carney's response is that it is simply wrong.  The  phrase is not biblical in origin, and more importantly, the president said nothing about people who "help themselves."  The president in other words wants the federal government to expand in size, scope, and power in order to put certain constituencies back to work.

Carney seemed to realize this philosophical dilemma -- but how could he not?  Weeks earlier the president had thundered at a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser that if he were to lose the 2012 election Americans would be cast adrift and unable to help themselves:

The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don't work even harder than we did in 2008, then we're going to have a government that tells the American people, "You are on your own."

Stepping back then from his earlier statement that "the Lord helps those who help themselves," Carney played it safe with a conclusion more socialist-friendly:

I think the point the president is making is that, you know, we have it within our capacity to do the things to help the American people.

Simply put, anything smacking of self-reliance doesn't have much of a shelf-life in this administration. The purported constitutional scholar in the Oval Office has no grasp of the underpinnings of that document in a decidedly different concept of God's desires for us.

The philosopher Eric Hoffer once noted that the very identity of America itself was fashioned by those who actually enjoyed being on their own:

The history of this country was made largely by people who wanted to be left alone.  Those who could not thrive when left to themselves never felt at ease in America.

Hoffer was clearly channeling the exceptional energy created some three hundred years earlier by America's honorary "Founding Grandfather" John Locke.  Although an Englishman, Locke's notions of self-reliance, limited and divided government, free trade, prosperity, industry, and justified rebellion inspired intelligent and responsible civic-republicans from our own Founding Fathers as well as to supporters of the contemporary Tea Party.

Locke, in his 1690 publication of the Second Treatise of Government, provided the most compelling modern standard for making an informed judgment about whether a country's elected officials have betrayed their trust.  The last thing Obama's handlers should be doing is encouraging voters to revisit Locke's Second Treatise -- a book whose subtitle could have been "God Bless America."

Indeed, Locke's Second Treatise is a small but powerful book that should be within easy reach of all concerned Americans.  (Its text can be found here and here, gratis.) In the first part of the Treatise, Locke wants to show that in the "state of nature" prior to any civil government men are usually reasonable enough to get along fairly well.  Locke details the plethora of ways for example that small farmers cultivate, trade, and expand their property.  Money is invented in order to eliminate spoilage and generate surpluses for exchange.

Locke's objective in describing this fully functioning and government-free "state of nature" is twofold: First, he wants to demonstrate that men can actually rule themselves quite well without government (i.e., they can "help themselves"); and Second, Locke wants to show that self-reliance, industry, talent and free trade constitute the precise qualities that God wants for us to employ in order to solve life's most basic problem: self-preservation.

In other words, if men decide to do the opposite and create governments that promote dependency, class warfare, resentment, and envy then our attempts to solve the problem of economic scarcity will fail, thus violating God's most basic command: preserve thyself. 

For example, in section #34 of the Second Treatise Locke tells us what God really wants:

God gave the world ... to the use of the industrious and rational (and labour was to be his title to it), not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious.  He that had as good left for his improvement as was already taken up, needed not complain, ought not to meddle with what was already improved by another's labour; if he did, 'tis plain he desired the benefit of another's pains, which he had no right to, and not the ground which God had given him in common with others to labour on, and whereof there was as good left as that already possessed, and more than he knew what to do with, or his industry could reach to.

Locke's genius was in realizing that nature uncultivated would promote the kind of zero/sum thinking so precious to generations of economically-dense socialists.  In short, in a private property, free-market economy there is always "as good left as that already possessed" since talented, responsible, and hard-working men and women always have room to "increase" nature's bounty and establish new markets in the quest for the kind of prosperity that will benefit the entire community's standard of living.

Covetous, quarrelsome, and contentious complainers who merely desire "the benefit of another's pains" are therefore violating the natural law of self-preservation.  This is precisely the point James Madison made about one hundred years later in 1787 when he warned about demagogues who would call for "improper and wicked projects" including inflating the currency, abolishing debts, and redistributing property.

Locke goes on in the Second Treatise to argue that men decide to leave the "state of nature" and establish a government precisely in order to protect their property from "quarrelsome and contentious" individuals who cannot thrive when left to themselves.

Locke warns also that unless government is divided, and unless politicians are circumscribed and issued term-limits they will tend to violate their original trust and begin to corrupt the very small-government, free market system they were established in power to protect. 

The final part of Locke's Second Treatise is in many ways the most important.  It establishes the proper conditions for overturning an oppressive government.  Locke argues however that since the people constitute the "master" in a commonwealth and the politicians represent the "servants" a rebellion is by definition a revolt by the government against the constitution and the hard-working people who want to be left alone to prosper under its guidance.

"The greatest crime I think a man is capable of" says Locke, is someone who "lays the foundation for overturning the constitution and frame of any just government."  To prevent this kind of political corruption Locke advises constant vigilance by courageous individuals who can show troublesome politicians "the danger and injustice" of their behavior.

Being called "terrorists" by the nation's vice president in other words pretty much indicates that Locke's Tea Party progeny are fulfilling their constitutional (and arguably divine) function.

Locke's Second Treatise then can be seen as one brilliant man's attempt to demonstrate that God favors those who create the optimal conditions for personal initiative and self-reliance.  In other words, human flourishing is impossible under conditions of big-government, socialist dependency.

A rather famous man of God, Mahatma Gandhi, once said that he looked upon "an increase in the power of the state with the greatest fear" because the state tends to do "the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of all progress."

"Welcome evermore to gods and men" agreed Emerson, "is the self-helping man."

Quote of the Day

"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."

Ronald Reagan