Thursday, February 20, 2014

Will Smith on Termperment


Sheila Jackson Lee - Free at Last

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th) made a shocking statement at the well of the House of Representatives last week.

While Congresswoman Lee gave plaudits to President Lincoln for freeing the slaves, her floor speech made two anachronistic assertions.  Firstly,  Rep.Jackson Lee presented herself as a freed slave.  Well, the Emancipation Proclamation was promulgated by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863.  As Rush Limbaugh joked,  Sheila Jackson Lee looks good for her age but she has to be over 110  years old.

 Then Rep. Jackson Lee  claimed that this Congress had freed the slaves. Not quite.    More like the 33rd Congress not the 113th Congress. The House of Representatives did pass the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865.  It was ratified by the required 3/4ths of states on December 13, 1865.  In fact, the Mississippi legislature had approved the 13th Amendment in 1995 but had only altered the Federal Register this February.   But certainly this Congress did not free the slaves.

Maybe Representative Sheila Jackson Lee was preoccupied about coordinating with her chauffeur for her one block commute.  After all, she needed sufficient time to change outfits so that she  so could spend  up to eight hours  seat squatting waiting on the aisle  to hug President Barack Obama at the State of the Union speech.

President Barack Obama greets Rep Sheila Jackson Lee at 2013 State of the Union

Considering the regal way that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee treats her staff, it's no wonder that so many Hill Rats yearn to say "Free at last!".

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

So You Say You Want a Revolution -- Understanding the Euromaiden in Ukraine

As the world watches the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian Federation, there is unrest in Kjiv, Ukraine.  Nearly twenty years ago, Nike advertised the that Revolution would not be televised.  That proves untrue as Espreso TV was carrying it live as paramilitary attacked the peaceful protestors throughout the night of February 19th.   First news reports indicate that 22 fatalities with 1,000 people injured,  but  based on the constant pops in the night air and the burning pyres of the barricades  in the main square, this could be a low estimate. 

At first blush,  research intimated that it the Ukrainian unrest might stem from ethnic demarcations, as the Russian speaking Ukrainians might want a Slavic version of Aunshluss as expressed through trade agreements.   When violence escalates in a nation of 45 million that is known as the breadbasket of Europe, which neighbors an expansion happy Russian Federation, I was driven to learn more.  Yet I took some claims with grains of salt.  It was bothersome to read reports  claiming that Nazi sympathizers had taken up arms in Western Ukraine.  This type of damning news tracks Russian propaganda ploys which Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the former spy chief for Ceaucescu’s Romania,  detailed  in his book Disinformation.  

Unfortunately, most Americans will be more worried about the opening week of American Idol or watching NBC’s polished rebroadcast of Olympic events in Sochi to worry about internal unrest half-way around the world.  But when the Putin-alooza ends on the Black Sea on February 23rd, it would not be surprising if the Russians troops helped their Russo-philic Ukrainain President Viktor Yanukovych.  Putin has promised  Ukraine $15 billion in aid but is withholding $12 billion in case the Yanukovych loses power.

[L] Russian President Vladimir Putin [R] Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych at Sochi Winter Olympics 

The EuroMaidan protests began on November 21st, 2013 when protestors gathered at Independence Square in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine when President Yanukovych suddenly swayed away from an associate agreement with the European Union and chose to strengthen economic ties with Russia.  The protest snowballed on November 30th when a group of students were attacked by the police, and it became a national movement.  

Protestors have been gathering in Independence Square, in the bitter Ukranian cold day and night to protest.  But people do not get passionate about just trade agreements.  People are concerned about the rampant corruption in Ukraine. President Yanukovych’s aloofness and unresponsiveness to the will of the people engenders ire.  And of course, the heavy handed tactics, which killed five protestors in late January and the wider violence and bloodshed today. 

While Kjiv’s main square constantly has 20,000 protestors (and can swell up to 800,000), there are said to be mini Maidans throughout the country, but much more pronounced in Western Ukraine.    George Weigel characterized the Euromaidan protests as the rising up of a nation which is tired of being ruled by thieves and barbarians and stand against a thugocracy. 

Last week, Bishop Borys Gudziak, of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparch of  Paris, gave an interview with New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan about Ukraine.   Gudziak, who is also the President of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv examined  the roots of the Euromaidan protests along with highlighting the unifying spirit which has brought together Orthodox, Catholic, Protestants, Jews and Muslims to protest the current Ukrainian Government.  

Bishop Gudziak has been a leading voice to oppose the oppression of the Yanukovych government and to urge for peaceful protest from the people.   Gudziak has observed: The country, in somewhat traumatic ways, is trying to break the bonds of the past and the bonds of fear and subjugation by declaring the God-given dignity of every human being."   Bishop Gudziak has summarized protestors aspirations : The EuroMaidan seeks many of the values that Paris, France, and Western Europe represent: rule of law, equal justice for all, social freedoms and guarantees.

What is really remarkable about the EuroMaidan protestors is how they were Seeing Deeper in a practical way through ecumenical prayer.  Bishop Gudziak noted that during the nightwatch, the top of each hour was led by prayer.  Watching the protests live, I could discern speakers intoning prayers to God, (Bog), peace (mir), and the Ave Maria as well as shouts of “Death to tyranny”.    This does not sound like the stuff of neo-Nazis. 

As Americans, it is easy to feel lured into indifference about unrest in other parts of the world.  But Ukraine is an important nation and is may serve as fodder for Russian imperialist expansion.  

It is prudent for policymakers and the public not to rush into judgment and rashly embark the US  into perilous partnerships like in Libya, Egypt and as the Obama Administration was angling for in Syria.  But our prudence must not ossify into inaction, since if you choose not to choose,you have still made a choice. 

These Euromaidan protests have been going on for the last three months.  It is a region of the world that we are familiar with through the Cold War.  Now that we know the protesters goals and modus operandi, what is the Yanukovych Ukrainian government position, and how much which "friendly" neighbors help resolve the uprising?

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has called for sanctions against the Ukrainian government.  Aside from geopolitical considerations, this is a people who wished to be freed from tyranny.  We ought not abandon such lovers of liberty as the Obama Administration did with the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009.   Then again, a God fearing people protesting against thievery and heavy handed tactics may not find much sympathy in today’s corridors of power of the District of Calamity. 

[N.B. This piece originally ran in it's entirety at DCBarroco]

Tim Scott on Segregated Civics and Civility

The so called Reverend William Barber II, a member of the NAACP Board of Directors, recently ignited a firestorm when Barber recognized Martin Luther King Day by pronouncing Senator Tim Scott as a puppet of the Republican Party.  Barber's exact barb was:   “A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy."

The right Reverend feels wronged that the first black Senator since Reconstruction articulates a Tea Party agenda.    Perhaps Barber forgot about Senator Edward Brooke (R-MA), Senator Carol Mosely Braun (D-IL), Senator Roland Burris (D-IL), now Senator Mo Cowan (D-MA) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).  And of course there was Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).  But to be charitable, perhaps Rev. Barber was referring to the South.

None the less, it is fascinating that Barber has the expectation both of group think for Blacks.  Moreover, it shows the hypocrisy of the NAACP as a civil rights organization which it disses an African American who has achieved high office because he does not articulate liberal Democrat policy positions.

Furthermore, Barber uses insulting imagery to demean his bete noir.  No wonder Thomas Sowell quipped that he was so old that he remembers when most of the people promoting racial hatred were white.  When Barber rhetorically excoriated Senator Scott, Barber intimates that only Whites are part of the Tea Party and clearly he thinks ill of them.

When Rev. Barber was given a chance to walk back his tough talk on Senator Scott, he chose to play the prophet, for which he may profit in progressive political circles.  Wonder what happened to all of the Democrat's push for civility in public discourse.  That's right, it was a one way street.

While Barber may be a pastor at the Geenboro Christian Church Disciples of Christ Church, his uncharitable rhetoric and routed political thinking lends credence to having him lead the Church of the Poisoned Mind.  Of course, he would have to compete against the Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Impeaching Presidents' Day

Washington National's Racing Presidents at Mount Rushmore

February is the shortest month of the year. It used to be even shorter for many government workers. Many state’s used to celebrate both Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th and Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. The problems with such a festal federal arrangement was that it shut down not only the government, but banks, mail delivery and impacted the financial markets. The other trouble was that celebrating these Presidents’ on their actual birthdays did not ensure a three day weekend for federal workers.

 So in 1971, Congress passed and President Richard Nixon the Uniform Holidays Act which made observance of many Federal holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and originally Veterans Day) to be on set Mondays. While an early draft of the law referred to President’s Day, the legal name of the holiday has never been changed.

Perhaps it was years of silly commercials for White sales, appliances and new cars which paired Washington and Lincoln that people started calling it “Presidents' Day”. Or maybe it was a deliberate de-emphasis by the education system on the greatness of our first President because he owned slaves that it was called President’s Day. Nonetheless, that moniker seems stuck in the popular culture.

 This year Groupon was continuing the tradition of commercializing this federal free day off by promoting a sui generis deal:

 When it was politely pointed out that Alexander Hamilton was never an American President, their muddle headed marketing point person responded:

 It seems that the the folks at Groupon is that they seem to be educated by the concept of Dead Presidents being on paper money. While that is generally true, it ain’t necessarily so as demonstrated by Hamilton (the first Secretary of the Treasury). Benjamin Franklin on the hundred dollar bill was not President, even of the Continental Congress. While it is unlikely that Groupon will encounter a $500 bill, the 1918 edition of the Federal Reserve banknote had John Marshall on it (before being replaced by PRESIDENT William McKinley). Marshall sat in the Supreme Court’s chambers, not the White House.

Aside from mocking the invincible ignorance of the Groupon Twitter spokesman, for me it serves as an impeachment of President’s Day. One would be hard pressed to find someone who wanted to celebrate Millard Fillmore’s or William Henry Harrison’s accomplishments as President. Partisans today might chortle at celebrating George W. Bush or Barack Obama as the Commander-in-Chief. Not even a homage set to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” should justify a Presidents’ Day holiday.

By celebrating an office creates ambiguity among the citizenry. We ought to celebrate the leader who instituted the concept of citizen politicians and led by example. That Indispensable Man is George Washington.

 In the hopes of educating low information votes and those who have forgotten the past, I hereby resolve to refer to the the third Monday in February shall be referred to by it’s proper name “Washington’s Birthday (Observed)”. We need to all do this, lest next year Groupon is tempted to have another Presidents’ Day "duel deal" with  Aaron Burr.

h/t HotAir

George Washington on Liberty


Friday, February 14, 2014

Thomas Sowell on Racism

With comments like Bryant Gumbel's quip about the paucity of pigmentation that the Winter Olympics, one can better understand Sowell's critique.