2006 letters to the editor

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SHAME ON US (1/8/2006)

As the Founding Fathers completed their work at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia approached the most senior delegate and asked, “Well, what kind of government have you given us?” “A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it,” responded Benjamin Franklin.

January 17th is Ben Franklin'ss 300th birthday. He is the first of the Founders to reach that milestone, so we might take a moment to reflect on how we've done over the years in "keeping" that Republic. To begin with, we should note that the Founders created a Republic, not a Democracy. On another occasion Franklin is said to have opined, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." In other words,democracy is rule by the majority, or, in its basest form, mob rule. A republic, on the other hand, holds that the wolves cannot eat the lamb, regardless of the outcome of the vote. In human terms, and as stated in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson was more specific when he wrote, "One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a Free Press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." I suggest to you that over the years, our government has repeatedly infringed on those unalienable rights. One can argue about when it started to happen, but the Civil War is a good candidate. The war that ended slavery, also ended limited federal government and allowed the Bill of Rights to be violated (e.g., suspension of habeas corpus). Similarly, egregious violations occurred during World War I and II (most gray beards will recall the illegal internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, although few may be familiar with the similar internment of German - Americans and Italian-Americans, which also occurred). Notable current assaults on our unalienable rights include the Patriot Act, which infringes on key elements of the Bill of Rights and allows the government to spy on US citizens without their knowledge or consent; and the Supreme Court decision in Kelo, which may have put the last nail in the coffin of the people's private property rights by rewriting the Fifth Amendment phrase " public use" to be "public purpose" and redefinition to include enabling the government to take anyone's property to give to a large corporation, if taxes can thereby be increased. If Ben Franklin looks down on us on his 300th birthday, it will be clear to him that we have failed to keep the Republic the Founders created. Shame on us.


MAKIN’ IT EASY (1/25/2006)

When we hear about something going on in Congress that tempts us to pick up the phone, pen, or keyboard to give our legislators a piece of our mind, how many times do we actually do it, and how many times do we let it pass, just because the appropriate phone numbers, post office addresses, email addresses, are not at hand, or because we don’t have time to compose a proper message? Well, help is just a few clicks away.

There are many services on the web that, based on your zip code, will provide you with the proper names, addresses, etc., of your legislators, and one of my favorites is “Downsize DC” at: http://www.downsizedc.org/index.shtml This site even has professionally prepared letters on a variety of topics, which you may send with a mere click of your mouse; and, after they send an email to the legislator(s) you designate, they will send an email copy of the letter to you. Give it a try. It couldn’t be easier.


The thing most greybeards probably remember about the Northern Mariana Islands is that the largest island, Saipan, is the place where US Marines spent more than three weeks during June of 1944 in hard fighting to take it from the Japanese; and that the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay departed from Tinian in the early morning hours of August 6, 1945 to deliver the atomic bomb Little Boy to Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II.

The thing most younger folks probably remember about Saipan is that a couple of years ago, a coalition of U.S.-based pressure groups and labor unions, acting on behalf of garment workers who had been mistreated in Saipan sweat shops, won a class action settlement against 27 leading garment manufacturers and retailers.

The thing not many people have focused on is that Saipan has US Commonwealth status, its people are US Citizens, and, despite the fact that it is located almost four thousand miles from Hawaii in the western Pacific Ocean, garments made there of Chinese fabric by impoverished Chinese women working seven days a week for paltry wages, may be labeled “Made in the USA.”

“Buy American” proponents who are concerned about US manufacturing jobs being “exported” overseas, and who refuse to buy “Made in China” products at Wal-Mart, might want to think twice before they buy another garment from Tommy Hilfinger, The Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie, Sears, Nordstrom, JC Penny or Target, because all of them sell clothing which is made in Saipan, and labeled “Made in the USA.”



Although there seems to be general agreement that George Washington was born on February 22, there is not much agreement about when, or if, to celebrate that birthday. Things were simpler before 1971, when President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single federal public holiday, “Presidents' Day,” to be observed on the 3rd Monday of February, honoring all past US presidents (thereby lumping Washington in with the likes of Presidents Pierce, Buchanan, and other rueful occupants of the White House). And then the trouble began. Despite Nixon’s proclamation, the applicable federal law was never changed; and to this day, despite all the hoopla which is raised by merchants hawking “Presidents’ Day Special Sales,” the official federal list of holidays includes “Washington’s birthday,” but not “Presidents’ day.” To make things worse, many states, including Georgia, have gone their own way on the matter. For example, the list of official Georgia state holidays specifies no days off in February, but shows Washington’s birthday as “observed” on Tuesday, December 26 (I wonder who’s going to explain that one to the kids!). As for me, I prefer to celebrate Washington’s birthday ON Washington’s birthday, and can think of no better way to start that celebration than to reflect on some words which were written about him by one of his contemporaries, Thomas Jefferson: "His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man."


Concerning the “accidental” shooting of Harry Whittington by Vice President Cheney, am I the only one appalled by the cavalier dismissal of the event by the major media, as well as by Mr. Whittington himself, with the blasé attitude that, "We all assume certain risks in whatever we do ... accidents do and will happen."? Nonsense! There are numerous high risk sports in which “accidents do happen” – riding a motorcycle in the Dakar rally comes to mind (on average, two competitors and an unknown number of spectators die every time the event is run) – but hunting is not one of them. Hunting “accidents” occur only when someone violates formal, documented hunter safety rules, thereby placing the events in the category of foreseeable consequences of safety rules violations, not “accidents.” One of the fundamental hunter safety rules is “Know your target and what is beyond.” Mr. Cheney acted irresponsibly in violating this basic rule and as a result, shot a fellow hunter. In my book, you only get one of those, and I respectfully suggest that it is time for him to hang up his hunting gear. And for those wags who claim they would rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy, if you receive an invitation from either of them, I suggest you decline it.


On May 2, 2003, President Bush, riding in the co-pilot's seat of a Navy S-3B Viking combat jet designated “Navy One,” landed on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, as it steamed home from the Persian Gulf (at the time, it was located about 100 miles off San Diego). He was greeted by throngs of jubilant sailors as he emerged from the cockpit in a US Navy pilot's flight suit. A few hours after the picture-perfect landing (which was covered live on television), the commander in chief reappeared on the deck, dressed in a business suit and tie, positioned himself in front of a ”Mission Accomplished” sign, and announced to some 5,000 sailors aboard, and to the rest of the world watching on TV: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."


Today, as we approach the three year anniversary of the “end of major combat operations in Iraq” it behooves us to check the record. At the time Mr. Bush made his “we have prevailed” announcement in front of that ”Mission Accomplished” sign, the number of US military personnel killed in Iraq was about 150. Today that number is 2326 and growing. It reminds me of the first major battle of the American Revolution, the 1775 Battle of Breed’s Hill (more popularly, and incorrectly, known as the Battle of Bunker Hill) in which the British took the hill, but only after three bloody assaults and at a dreadful cost of British casualties, prompting General Thomas Gage, the British commander in chief, to admit that he could “ill afford another victory like that.” How much longer, I wonder, will it be before we admit that we can “ill afford” the kind of victory Mr. Bush is pursuing in Iraq.


As we approach the 231st anniversary of the firing of the “shot heard around the world” I thought you might be interested (in case you haven’t already seen it) in this “news story” which is making the rounds on the Internet.

BOSTON – National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19 by elements of a paramilitary extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw. Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right wing tax protest movement.

The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed widespread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons. Gage issued a ban on military style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms. One government official speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obey the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.” Government troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavy armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.

During a tense standoff in Lexington’s town Park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange. Ironically the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.

PORKER AWARDS (4/13/2006)

CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government; and Since 1991, CAGW’s annual Congressional Pig Book has provided the authoritative list of pork-barrel spending in the federal budget. This year’s issue is now out, and makes for some interesting, and disturbing, reading. The good news is that this year, the number of pork projects went down (to 9,963), and the bad news is that the cost of pork projects went up (to $29 Billion). Some of the most outrageous examples of pork include: $13,500,000 for the International Fund for Ireland, which helped finance the World Toilet Summit; $6,435,000 for wood utilization research; $1,000,000 for the Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative; $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, N.C.; $1,433,000 for curriculum development at Mississippi Valley State University; $8,000,000 for the Nutrient Management Laboratory; $2,100,000 for the viticulture consortium in California, New York, and Pennsylvania; $1,000,000 for the already-closed Philadelphia Navy Yard; $250,000 for the Mojave Bird Study; and, although Georgia gets less pork than the other states, we share in the guilt with projects such as $2,610,000 for MARTA; $500,000 for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and $500,000 for City of Monticello sidewalks and bikeways.

I’ve looked through my copy of the US Constitution and I wonder if some pages are missing because I can’t find the authority for Congress to spend $29 Billion of your and my tax dollars on bird studies, teapot museums, and other pork projects. On the other hand, this shouldn’t surprise me because I can’t find any Constitutional authority for most of the items in the $2.77 Trillion budget!


Stripped of incendiary terms like “gouging,” and “windfall profits,” the simple question is, who is responsible for the increase in the price of gasoline? I was going to suggest that the answer was either Republicans or Democrats, but since the Republicans have morphed into Democrats, both answers would be correct. In response to the recent public uproar about gasoline prices and record oil company profits , President Bush and the Republican leadership have called for an investigation into “gouging” by the oil companies. There was a time when Republicans understood that fundamentally, the law of supply & demand determines prices; but recently, they seem to have forgotten what they learned in Econ 101 (prices go down when supply exceeds demand, and prices go up when demand exceeds supply) and have joined the Democrats in bashing “Big Oil” for the current state of affairs. Government ought to be looking at itself as the culprit, for inhibiting the natural forces of the free market by interference which artificially restricts supply and increases demand. Instead of wasting time and money haranguing oil company executives (prediction: the investigation will yield no evidence of “gouging”), there are some positive steps our government could take that would work: they can step aside and allow drilling in ANWAR and the Florida Gulf coast (while we squabble over a 150 to 260-mile no-drill zone around Florida, oil rigs flying Chinese flags are being planned in Cuban waters within 52 miles of Key West); they can eliminate unreasonable restrictions on creation of more refineries (we have about half as many refineries in the US as we had twenty-five years ago); and they can pave the way for nuclear power plants as an alternative energy source (France derives 75% of it’s electricity from nuclear energy, and we get a paltry 20%). More drilling and more refineries will increase the supply of petroleum, substituting nuclear power plants for oil driven power plants will reduce the demand for petroleum, and, if we can keep the government from meddling with the natural free market forces in the future, gasoline prices will come down. Indeed, we’d all be better off today if the government had kept its nose out of this in the first place.

IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK … (5/24/2006)

“There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase often attributed to P. T. Barnum (of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey fame); and while we may argue whether Mr. Barnum ever really said it, there is no arguing that President Bush and several US Senators are thinking it. How else can we explain their belief that they can dupe us into accepting that their answer to the illegal immigration problem does not involve amnesty? According to my dictionary, “amnesty” is a noun defined as “a general pardon granted by a government,” and pardon is a verb meaning “ to let an offense pass without punishment.” So let there be no doubt: when our government allows illegal aliens (my dictionary defines “illegal” as “prohibited by law”), to remain in this country without punishment, they are being afforded amnesty. If the USA is to remain a country where the rule of law is respected, then the discussion of what to do about illegal aliens must begin with an honest definition of terms, and not by ignoring the fact that amnesty by any other name is still amnesty. As the “Hoosier poet,” James Whitcomb Riley is credited with noting, “If it walks like a duck …”


In July of 1776 John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, informing her that independence had been declared, and opining, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great Anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”

This Independence Day, I’m sure there will be plenty of pomp, “shews,” games, sports, etc., but I wonder how much commemoration there will be by “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty”? Not enough, I suspect. Nor do I think many Americans will reflect much on the ideal of liberty which motivated the Founders to put their lives, fortunes and sacred honor on the line. Those ideals are forever enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator (not by government!) with certain unalienable rights; that government must be limited to protecting the peace and preserving our liberties, and must do so only through the consent of the governed.

Today we are the beneficiaries of that remarkable document, but we will remain so only as long as we engage in thoughtful civic participation, based on knowledge of our republic’s origins and the principles and documents on which free government stands. If we are to keep our republic and keep faith with those who established it, each of us must understand the limited role of government in our Founders’ design, we must understand our rights and responsibilities as citizens, and we must act accordingly. We are not just the beneficiaries, we are the custodians of this great experiment in self-government and we must insure that Americans who follow us are prepared for the tasks and challenges of citizenship in a free society. As Edward Abbey wrote, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government.”

KNOCK, KNOCK. (6/19/2006)

Early this month the US Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that police armed with a search warrant may rush into a house without giving a warning to the occupants. In other words, police may now legally conduct a "no-knock" raid, forcibly entering a private residence without first knocking and announcing that they're the police (greybeards will remember how the Nazis used this tactic on German citizens during WWII). And while everyone understands that the tactic may be justified in certain limited situations (such as when hostages are involved); increasingly, such aggressive police tactics have spawned an alarming number of "wrong door" raids, including those in which completely innocent people, such as 75-year-old retired Methodist minister Accelyne Williams, have been killed. Because officials are typically inept at keeping track of their own mistakes, it's impossible to estimate just how many wrong-door raids occur, but one researcher at the Cato Institute found close to 200 such cases. Until now, the only public servants who could legally knock down your door and enter your home without announcement and without your permission, were firefighters. Now that list includes police SWAT teams with black masks and machine guns. God Bless America.

BIG STICK (6/27/2006)

The possibility that North Korea may test launch a Taepodong 2 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile has our attention because, with a range of 2,100 miles to 2,700 miles, such a missile could reach the continental USA. Our elected officials are kicking around a couple of responses to the saber rattling North Koreans: one is to destroy the launch pad and missile before it takes off (and try to explain to the rest of the world how that is not an act of war); and the other is to wait for the Taepodong 2 launch, then attempt to shoot it down the with one of our ground-based midcourse interceptor anti-ballistic missiles (GBIs), launched from Fort Greeley, Alaska, or from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The fact that the GBIs deployed in Alaska and California are still being tested, and have failed three out of the last eight tests, does not bode well for the success of that response. But there are other options. In President Theodore Roosevelt’s approach to foreign policy he adopted the proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” and I believe it is time reinstate that strategy. With apologies to the officers & crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, affectionately known as the “Big Stick,” I submit that the real “Big Stick” in our arsenal is the Ohio Class Submarine (as a reminder, we have 18 such subs operating out of Kings Bay, GA, each of which carries 24 Trident II (D5) missiles, each of which has 8 nuclear warheads, each with a 475KT payload - each of which is 32 times the destructive power of the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima - you do the arithmetic). If we don’t already have one slithering around in the Sea of Japan, we should immediately dispatch one to the region, and let North Korea know that she is there. We should further let them know that if they launch a Taepodong 2 towards the USA (an act of war, regardless of its payload), we will reciprocate by sending them a Trident II. In the words of Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, “Tell them I’m coming, and hell’s coming with me.”



It has been said that politics makes strange bedfellows and this was certainly true of the folks who voted “No” on the alcohol referendum during the primary election. Most of the citizens who voted “No” were people who believe that alcohol is the devil’s elixir; however, they would not have carried the day without the handful of votes cast by people who enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with dinner but who voted their wallet instead of their conscience. In general, restaurants that serve wine by the glass do not allow patrons to bring their own wine bottles to dinner, and if the referendum had passed, imbibing patrons would have to pay about the same for a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant, as they would pay for a whole bottle of the same wine at a wine shop. Accordingly, it is much more economical for them to tote their own wine bottles into a restaurant than to buy wine by the glass on the premises, and some people have admitted to me they voted “No” purely on this economic consideration. Since the “No” vote was 3248 and the “Yes” vote was 3199, if only 25 of the “No” voters had voted their conscience instead of their wallet, the vote would have been 3224 to 3223, and the referendum would have passed. Thus, the anti-alcohol folks owe thanks to 25 pro-alcohol folks for defeat of the referendum. Strange bedfellows, indeed!


THANK YOU (6/27/2006)

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the following gentlemen:

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton; and finally, three Georgians: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton.

These are, of course, the signatories to the Declaration of Independence which, after all, is what the Fourth of July is all about. These are the 56 men who pledged their “Lives, Fortunes & Sacred Honor” in support of the Declaration.

While enjoying the hot dogs, drinks, and fireworks, let us not forget what we are celebrating.


THANK YOU, RON PAUL (7/6/2006)

If you’re like most Americans, you’re paying federal withholding tax, Social Security tax, “sin” taxes, hotel room taxes, airline taxes, utility taxes, insurance premium taxes, state income tax, property tax, federal excise tax on firearms & ammo, state & local sales tax, state & federal gas tax, about half a dozen different taxes on your phone bill, … the list goes on. And while we are busy working to try to pay our current tax load, the United Nations is busy working to try to stick us with more taxes. You read that right, the United Nations! Despite the fact that there are 192 member countries in the UN, and despite the fact that the USA (that means taxpayers like you & me) is already paying 22% of the UN budget, UN bureaucrats want to soak us even more. Their admitted goal is to establish a global government, superseding all sovereign national governments, and such an ambitions undertaking would require a global military, police force, courts, offices, etc., all of which costs money, which they propose to raise by imposing taxes on individual citizens. Several schemes are under consideration, such as a tax on currency transactions, airline travel, etc.; and after acclimating us to the notion of a UN taxing authority, their eventual goal is an individual income tax. Fortunately for us, there is at least one member of Congress who is looking out for us: US Representative Ron Paul, of the 14th District of TX (a Libertarian in Republican clothing). Recently Dr. Paul introduced language into the 2007 Foreign Operations bill that prohibits the US from paying UN dues if the UN attempts to implement or impose any kind of tax on US citizens. That protects us for one year; however, we should be on the alert because you may be sure they’ll be trying to get their hands in our pockets again next year. The real solution to the UN abusing our generosity, and trampling on our sovereignty, is for us to get out of the UN, and for the UN to get out of the US. And I can’t think of a better time to evict them than right now, before they start spending the expected $3Billion on renovating the UN building in NYC.


Here’s where we have about half a million US military personnel deployed outside the US (forgive me if I miss a country or two): Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Antigua, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia - Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad – Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, UAE, UK, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Most Americans can’t pronounce or spell the names of some of these countries, or find them on a map, or explain why we are there. Admittedly, many of these places have only a few Marines to provide security for our embassy personnel (a legitimate deployment), but in each of 30 of these places we have more than 100 US military personnel, and in a handful of these places we have more than 30,000 US military personnel. I suspect our Founding Fathers, who inveighed against “Standing Armies” (see the Declaration of Independence), would despair at us having half a million troops stationed in 135 countries around the globe.

USA DODGES U.N. AXE (AGAIN) (7/20/2006)

During the first week of this month, while most of us were commemorating America’s 230th birthday with parties, revelry (there was plenty of celebratory gunfire in my neighborhood), the UN (United Nations), meeting on American soil, was busy trying to finalize a treaty that would strip all citizens of all nations of their right to self-protection, and strip you and me of our rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The good news is that the "U.N. Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects" (a clumsy misnomer if there ever was one!) ended in deadlock with no formal conclusions or recommendations, and without a worldwide ban on civilian firearms ownership, which was their real goal. Once again, the sanctity of US sovereignty in general, and our Second Amendment rights in particular, dodged the axe of the UN. But do not relax just yet. Anti-gun NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and liberal governments served notice they would not give up and would present all of their issues to the U.N. General Assembly this fall. They do not understand that our freedoms are not to blame for the worlds problems; and, while the UN ignores slavery, genocide, and mass murder in other countries, they persist in their attempts to infringe on our sovereignty. Sounds to me like a couple of good reasons for us to quit the UN, and evict them off our soil. Sooner, rather than later.




John Linder, US Congressman from Georgia’s Seventh District, has been in the US House of Representatives since 1994 and is familiar to most Georgians, even those who do not live in his district. Recently, Representative Linder introduced the "U.S. General Population Act" (H.R. 5523), which would align U.S. immigration laws with Mexico’s "General Population Act," which governs Mexico's own immigration policy. Some highlights of Mexico’s policy include: Unlawful entry into Mexico is a crime and automatically brings a fine of $600 to $9,000 and up to 2 years in jail; Failure to immediately depart brings a fine of up to $9,000, and attempted re-entry after said deportation brings another fine of up to $9,000 and up to 10 years in jail; and Mexico imposes discriminatory conditions on legal immigrants, including where they may reside, and where and with whom they may be employed. If what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, we should immediately adopt H.R. 5523, and I have written to my US Representative urging him to do so. I respectfully suggest that you consider doing the same!


All three branches of the federal government ignore their Constitutionally mandated limits so frequently that when they step outside the bounds it’s no longer news, and you have to search for coverage among the man-bites-dog stories to keep track of how individual rights and states rights continue to be infringed by the feds. Take, for example, the Supreme Court decision in Ashcroft v. Raich, which was recently announced. You probably didn’t see it on the evening news, so allow me to report on it.

By way of background, ten states have adopted laws permitting doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for a variety of serious illnesses. For example, marijuana's ability to reduce intra-ocular pressure has saved many glaucoma patients from blindness; marijuana can control the painful muscle spasms associated with spinal cord injury suffered by some disabled veterans; marijuana can reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea suffered by cancer victims. Yet, regardless of its proven medical effectiveness (even the Supremes recognize the “valid therapeutic purposes” of marijuana!), the court decided, in Ashcroft v. Raich, that the federal Controlled Substances Act trumps state medical marijuana laws, authorizing federal drug agents to arrest patients using state sanctioned medical marijuana, even when those patients are operating within state guidelines. Thus, we have come to the point where taking a medication on the recommendation of a doctor, for a legitimate illness, as permitted by state law, is a federal crime. Where the Feds get the authority to meddle in such matters and to make such behavior a crime is beyond me, and more importantly, it is beyond the Constitution. But then, as I indicated at the beginning of this letter, I guess that’s just not news any more.

BOJINKA-5 ? (8/18/2006)

When the British domestic intelligence agency, MI5, arrested a couple of dozen terrorists who were plotting to set off explosions on airliners flying to the USA from Britain, the only people surprised at such a plot were those who had not heard of Project Bojinka, an effort funded by Osama Bin Laden in the early nineties, and planned by Ramsey Youssef (you remember him – he’s the guy who was eventually convicted for the 1993 WTC bombing). Project Bojinka involved hijacking airliners flying to the USA from half a dozen countries in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore), and crashing them into targets in the USA. The World Trade Center and the Pentagon were on the target list. Does any of that sound familiar? We know the result: the original Project Bojinka was modified to utilize airliners originating in the USA instead of Southeast Asia, and the plan was executed on 9/11/2001. What we don’t know is why the information about Project Bojinka, which was uncovered in Manila in the Philippines, and passed to US intelligence operatives more than a decade ago, was not used to evaluate “what if” scenarios, including a variation (call it “Bojinka-2”) in which the hijacked flights originate in the USA. Fast forward to August, 2006 when MI5 was on their toes and saved perhaps as many as 2700 people by thwarting an airlines terror plot (call it “Bojinka-3”) originating in the UK. But it ain’t over till it’s over, and nobody should be surprised at a “Bojinka-4.” Or a “Bojinka-5.” Or …

Katrina anniversary (8/24/2006)

As we approach the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina we can expect to see plenty of news reruns of the devastation caused by the costliest cyclone to ever hit the USA; but one aspect of the calamity which probably won’t get much play is how the officials in New Orleans ruthlessly, and illegally, confiscated firearms from law-abiding citizens, thereby preventing them from personally defending their homes from thugs and looters, while “9-1-1” was under water. You may remember Deputy Chief Warren Riley being quoted as saying, “No one will be able to be armed – we are going to take all the weapons,” and you may have seen the ABC News video of National Guard troops smashing down doors and confiscating firearms. Such Gestapo-like actions were unconscionable, unconstitutional, and ignored the fact that many people had already properly used legally-owned firearms to successfully defend their lives and property. Later, when the National Rifle Association (NRA) brought a law suit charging infringement of Second Amendment rights, the City of New Orleans had the audacity to argue that the Second Amendment did not apply to residents in Louisiana and New Orleans (I’d like them to show me the footnote on the Bill of Rights that reads, “Not applicable in Louisiana”). Worse, New Orleans ignored a federal court order to end the illegal confiscation of firearms, and even falsely claimed that the confiscations never occurred! After months of deception, circumvention and outright lying, the city finally admitted they had the firearms, and reluctantly agreed to make arrangements to return them to their rightful owners. Predictably, details of the arrangements were never properly communicated to the gun owners, and red tape involved in the process resulted in few firearms being returned. The good news is that this month, the US District Court denied the City of New Orleans’ motion to dismiss the NRA’s lawsuit, and held that the Second Amendment does indeed apply to law-abiding residents in Louisiana. The case now moves to the discovery and pre-trial preparation phase, and could drag on for months, or years. New Orleans residents who lost firearms in the illegal confiscation can probably taste the irony of having to pay (with their tax dollars) for the city to defend its violations of their Constitutionally guaranteed rights. God Bless America.


September 17th is Constitution Day – the 219th anniversary of the day in 1787 when delegates from 12 states approved the final draft of the US Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. This relatively new holiday has a mildly interesting history. In 1952 President Harry Truman signed a bill to designate a day to recognize everyone who had become a US Citizen the year before. The date designated was September 17th, and the day was named “Citizenship Day.” Fast forward to 2004 when a bill was passed renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” and mandating that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the US Constitution on that date (or the nearest school day to that date) .

Inasmuch as this is a government project to be conducted in government funded schools, I doubt if the matter of Constitutional violations by government officials will be given much attention. To insure “fair & balanced” coverage, parents, grandparents, etc., might want to supplement what the kids get in school by addressing the matter at home. For instance, you might want to remind the kids that the Constitution grants to Congress (not the President) the power to declare war, and the last time they did that was for WWII. Nevertheless, since WWII, the USA has committed many acts of war without Congressional declarations of war. For a quiz, you might ask the kids this question. In which of the following places has the USA committed acts of war without first obtaining a Congressional declaration of war? Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Somalia, Haiti, Libya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. If they answer anything less than “all,” you might want to talk to their teachers.


When the Founding Fathers created the US Constitution, they thought that law making was so important that they listed it in Article I., Section 1, as the new government’s very first responsibility: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States …” In modern times, regrettably, Congress has demonstrated a rather cavalier attitude toward this responsibility. Perhaps the most obvious sign of this blatant disrespect for the design of the Founders is that members of Congress routinely pass huge and complicated bills which none of them has read. And if that shocks you, you should really be alarmed to learn that sometimes printed copies of a bill are not available before a vote; and the content, effects, and cost of a bill are often not known. But do not despair. There is hope. A group calling themselves Downsize DC is on a campaign to pass the “Read The Bills Act” (RTBA), which addresses the problem. Key provisions of the RTBA require each bill to be read aloud in both the House and Senate, require every member of Congress to swear (under penalty of perjury) that he/she has either personally read or heard read the entire bill, and require that every bill must be published on the internet (exposing it to the “Sunshine Test”) at least a week before the vote. Obviously, the RTBA has the potential to bring about some profound positive changes in the way Congress operates. If you’re interested in this effort, learn more at www.downsizedc.org.


Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez infuriated a lot of Americans with the broadsides he fired at the US during his visit here, and most of us wish that he had just stayed home and held his tongue. Virtually all of what he had to say was bloviation and pure nonsense, unworthy of comment, but one thing he said absolutely hit the mark right on, and should not be lumped in with all the other blather. While visiting Cuba last week Chavez announced that he would push to move the United Nations headquarters out of the United States, possibly to Syria or Brazil, and during his speech here at the UN he said, “The UN must be pulled out of the US.” Bravo! On this point he is half right. The other half of the point is, “the US must pull out of the UN.” Proof of how dysfunctional the UN is continues to mount. Perhaps the latest example was the election earlier this week, of an Iranian representative to be the vice chair of the UN's disarmament commission (reminiscent of Libya's assignment, a couple of years ago, as chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights). Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who heads the House subcommittee on the Middle East issued a statement in which she compared the decision to "appointing a serial killer to serve as a juror in a murder trial." Exactly.


While going through some old files, I came across a letter I wrote about three years ago and I decided to dust it off, update it, and share it with you. The letter is about an Italian mariner who sailed for Queen Isabella of Spain. His name was Christophoro Colombo, but he is known to us today as Christopher Columbus. He is important enough in US history, that, except for Jesus, he is the only non-American to enjoy an official US national holiday (the anniversary of the day he discovered America, not his birthday). October 12 doesn’t receive as much attention in Dixie as it does up North, where there are more Americans of Italian heritage, but in both the North and the South, the politically correct brigades have been busy in recent years, intimidating schools and entire communities into morphing Columbus Day celebrations into “ethnic diversity” celebrations. Typically, they deny that Columbus “discovered” America and they vilify him for bringing Western Civilization here. They impugn his achievements and accuse him of being an evil man, undeserving of a Federal Holiday. The disapprobation is frequently followed by a proposal to set things straight by repealing Columbus Day and establishing a Native American Day. They glorify the primitive tribal cultures of the American Indians who were here before 1492, and they would have us reject Western civilization and replace it with multi-culturalism . This “all cultures are morally equal” crowd needs to be awakened to the fact that some cultures are clearly superior to others, and the one Columbus brought with him, was the most superior. Before Columbus, life here was, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and short. Whatever problems Columbus brought with him, he also brought writing, the wheel, and the wisdom and achievements of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, etc., all of which resulted in enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which, most of today’s Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive. We changed his name to Christopher Columbus, but there’s no changing the fact that his 15th century explorations led directly to the opening of the western hemisphere to European adventurers - to Roanoke Island in the 16th century, Jamestown in the 17th century, and the birth of this nation in the 18th century. For this, he deserves a Federal Holiday. Thanks, Christophoro.

GARRETT WHO? (10/6/2006)

If you are like most Georgians you will stay home on election day, rather than trek to the polls to cast your vote. If you are like most Georgians you will complain (in most cases, justifiably) that there is no real difference between the major candidates for the various offices, and you probably feel that it doesn’t make any difference who wins anyway. You’re right: most Democrats and Republicans like to distinguish themselves ideologically, but judging them by their actions, “there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference” (wasn’t it Alabama Governor George Wallace who first said that?). If you are like most Georgians, you have never heard of Garrett Hayes – or Allen Buckley, Kevin Madsen, David Chastain, Jack Cashin, Paul MacGregor, Kevin Cherry, Jim Sendelbach, or John Monds, and I would not be surprised if you are wondering, in the words of Butch Cassidy, “Who are those guys?” Well, Garrett Hays is the Libertarian candidate for Governor; Allen Buckley is the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor; Kevin Madsen is the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State; David Chastain is the Libertarian candidate for State School Superintendent; Jack Cashin is the Libertarian candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, and they will all be on the ballot in Union County. MacGregor, Cherry, Sendelbach, and Monds are Libertarian candidates for local elected positions in other parts of the state, so they won’t be on the ballot in Union County. My point in mentioning these candidates is to inform stay-at-home Georgians, who will not go to the polls to vote because they are tired of having to pick the “lesser of two evils” between Democrat and Republican candidates, that next month, they will have another choice. If you are like most Georgians you are interested in less government growth, less spending, less taxes, less regulation, and more individual liberty. Those are also Libertarian goals, so now you have a reason to go to the polls and vote.

“ASK NOT ...” (10/17/2006)

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, today I used my computer to watch a replay of the Georgia Gubernatorial debate between Messrs. Hayes, Perdue and Taylor. I wasn’t able to watch it live on Sunday, and I failed to record it, so I appreciated WMAZ-TV (Macon) making the broadcast available at their website. Predictably, Garrett Hayes, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, was the only one of the three candidates who focused on the issues. Incumbent Governor Sonny Perdue (R) and Lt. Governor Mark Taylor (D), spent most of their time sniping at each other. When Hayes was asked if he wanted to respond to any of the personal attacks that the other two were hurling at each other, he offered a variation of the famous "There you go again" line, which Ronald Regan used to deflect Jimmy Carter’s barbs during the 1980 televised debates. The Hayes variation was “Well, there they go again,” and the audience seemed to understand and agree. The sniping continued and when Hayes was offered a second opportunity to respond, he said, "No, I'm just waiting to get back to the issues." Often in such debates, a participant will ignore a direct question asked by a panelist, and will use the opportunity to jab at an opponent. That was the main action between Perdue and Taylor, while Hayes kept trying to bring the debate back to the issues. I’ve read some print reports on the debate, and seen some TV coverage, and was disappointed (but not surprised) that most of the coverage had to do with the potshots exchanged between Perdue and Taylor, and little to do with what the positions of the candidates are on the issues. During the debate, Hayes was able to make clear his three points, even if they weren’t adequately covered later in most of the media reports: Hayes would focus on eliminating the state income tax, working for real eminent domain reform without any loopholes, and working with the Georgia Congressional Delegation to pass the "Fair Tax." And lest anyone think Hayes was partial to Republicans because he used a variation of a Ronald Regan quote, he gave an equal nod to Democrats by concluding with a Libertarian flavored variation of a Jack Kennedy quote, "Ask not what government can do for you, ask if there is anything government will allow you to do for yourself."

DRAGGING OUR FEET (10/26/2006)

Right on the heels of President Bush dropping his “stay the course in Iraq” mantra, we began hearing speculation about how long we would be required to remain in Iraq. “Twelve to eighteen months” seems to be the most popular opinion. One of the key elements in the rationale for why it will take so long, is that it will take that long for the Iraq army to get up to speed so they can take over responsibilities currently being performed by the US military. Let me see if I have this right: The US has been training Iraqis to take over, at least since May of 2003 when Mr. Bush declared: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended - in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." That’s three and a half years. And they need another year and a half? That’s five years. How is it that we can take a US high-school graduate, train him for 16 weeks and ship him off to fight in Iraq, when, after three and a half years of training, the Iraqis still need another eighteen months? I don’t buy it. Pulling out immediately is probably not logistically possible, but being out of there in six to nine months is, and that should be our target. If we stay any longer it’s because we are dragging our feet – which, if Mr. Bush was right back in May of 2003, is exactly what we have been doing for three and a half years.


Being an optimist, I was pleased to see how well the Libertarian candidates did in the election. According to the latest (unofficial) results: Mr. Hayes received more than 80,000 votes for Governor - more votes than any Georgia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate has ever received. Mr. Buckley received about 75,000 votes, which means he got 20,000 more votes in his race for Lt. Governor than did the 2002 Libertarian candidate. Mr. Madsen received almost 84,000 votes for Secretary of State - the most votes any Georgia Libertarian running for Secretary of State has ever received. Mr. Chastain received over 104,000 votes in his race for State School Superintendent. That’s over 5% of the vote - almost double the 2002 Libertarian vote total in the State School Superintendent race. Mr. MacGregor pulled 4.87% of the vote in Public Service Commission District 3 which forced the race into a run off between the Democrat and Republican. Most rewarding of all is the fact that well over 100,000 Georgians voted for a Libertarian candidate.

As Revolutionary patriot Samuel Adams observed, “"...it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." To the 400 or so people in Union County who voted for a Libertarian candidate: remain irate, remain tireless, keep setting those fires!


Our family is in the habit of doing an appropriate reading at the Thanksgiving table each year and one of our favorites is George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation. It is an “In Your Face” reminder to those who are hostile to public religious declarations by government officials that neither the First Congress, nor our First President, had any problem with open recognition of God, and prayer, while acting in their formal capacities.

After the new US Constitution was ratified, the First Congress, in September, 1789, called on President Washington to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God.” He did so by issuing the following:


Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind

care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we

have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful

knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and

supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise,

just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and,

generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October,



A few years ago the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), aware that a basic knowledge of US history is essential to full and informed participation in civic life, and knowing that many of America’s most distinguished historians and intellectuals had expressed alarm about the growing historical illiteracy of college and university graduates, commissioned the University of Connecticut to survey seniors from the nation’s top colleges and universities to determine what they knew about this nation’s history. They flunked. 81% of seniors from the top 55 colleges and universities in the nation received a D or an F on a test which was composed of questions drawn from a basic high school curriculum. To address the problem, one of the actions recommended by ACTA was for citizens to petition their governors to issue proclamations calling upon all Americans to renew their commitment to historical literacy. This seemed to me a reasonable request so, based on material from ACTA, and a proclamation by the US Congress, I prepared a petition to Governor Perdue, had it co-signed by 100 of my friends and neighbors, and submitted it. After jousting with the Governor’s office for several months, they finally informed me that it is their “usual practice” to reject petitions (regardless of merit) which are submitted by private citizens, unless they are submitted on behalf of an organization. I suppose if I had submitted a petition on behalf of an organization of emu lovers, I would probably have been successful. And before you laugh, be advised that the Governor has signed Proclamations for “Emu Week” as well as “Ice Cream Month.” Armed with this knowledge of how to circumvent the Governor’s insouciance, I decided to approach a suitable organization to sponsor the petition. At that time my wife was pursuing membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), so I selected them, thinking that they would certainly be interested in promoting historical literacy. I was wrong. The DAR was not interested, and I, frustrated, and having other dragons to slay, shelved the effort and moved on.

But the problem persists. About a year ago, the University of Connecticut addressed the matter again, this time with a different survey, commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), but with basically the same unfortunate findings. Last month ISI released the results in a depressing report entitled “The Coming Crisis in Citizenship: Higher Education's Failure to Teach America's History and Institutions,” and the title says it all.

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, a Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got?” And without hesitation he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” We remain the beneficiaries of that republic, but we do so with special attention to Franklin’s admonition, since it is only through engaged and thoughtful civic participation that we “can keep it.” Knowledge of our republic’s origins, and of the principles and documents on which free government stands, are central to informed participation in civic life, but serious studies suggest that we lack that understanding. Unless we act now, Americans who follow us will be ill-prepared for the tasks and challenges of citizenship in a free society. We must ensure that the next generation receives an adequate grounding in America’s history, particularly its Founding documents, if we are to “keep” our republic and keep faith with those who established it. We are not just the beneficiaries, we are custodians of our great experiment in self-government and the vigorous civil society it engenders. If you belong to an organization you think could get past the Governor’s gate keepers, and would be willing to sponsor a petition for a proclamation “On the Need for Historical Literacy in the State of Georgia,” you need not start from scratch. I would be happy to discuss passing my file to you, so all you would have to do is to replace my name with yours, copy it to your organization letterhead, and mail it. If you’re interested, E-mail me at terraesp@alltel.net.

FDR’s FOUR FREEDOMS (12/7/2006)

Greybeards may recall that sixty-six years ago next month, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his State of the Union address in which he described his “Four Freedoms” which, he claimed, applied everywhere in the world. FDR was in good company when he listed (1) “freedom of speech” and (2) “freedom of religion.” These, of course, are enshrined in the beginning of our Bill of Rights, and as every schoolchild knows, were key elements in the founding of this nation. But then FDR moved on to a couple of ideological distortions by offering us the woolly abstractions of (3) “freedom from want” and (4) “freedom from fear.”

Our Founding Fathers understood that freedom of speech and freedom of religion were in included in the “unalienable rights” given to us by our Creator; and contrary to FDR’s notion, they also understood that our natural rights did not include freedom from want and freedom from fear. The idea that everyone should be free from want is what has led to our behemoth welfare state and oppressive tax burden, and the notion that everyone should be free from fear is what has led to our having half a million US troops stationed in about 150 countries and territories all over the globe.

It was a mistake to buy into FDR’s propaganda 66 years ago, and it’s a worse mistake to buy into it today. We have a long list of freedoms, but freedom from want and freedom from fear are not on the list. Utopia is not one of the options.


In response to the suggestion made in a 12/7/2006 Letter to the Editor that voters should consider certain legislative action regarding motorcycles, I have considered the author’s proposal and have just e-mailed state representative Jenkins my rebuttal. Following is an extract of that e- mail:

Dear Representative Jenkins:

The 12/7/2006 issue of the Union Sentinel carried a letter to the editor entitled, “A Letter to Rep. Jenkins,” in which the author proposed that you “sponsor legislation immediately that would outlaw any motorcycle on a Georgia highway or public road that is capable of speeds in excess of the legal limits.” As a mature, responsible motorcyclist, and a retired Certified Motorcycle Safety Instructor, I am writing to refute that simplistic, misguided, and ill-conceived approach to solving a complex behavioral problem. The availability of high speed motorcycles is not a threat to safety any more than the availability of high speed cars (the street-legal Bugatti Veyron will do over 250 mph), or the availability of high powered hunting rifles, or large boxes of kitchen matches, or deep residential swimming pools, or high speed motorboats, etc., It is the behavior of the people involved, not the product, that is the issue. Since all motorcycles are capable of exceeding the speed limits at some places in the mountains (as are all cars, trucks, and bicycles), and all matches are capable of starting forest fires, etc.; the focus of our anger should be directed instead at the individuals responsible for access to, and use of, the vehicles, firearms, matches, etc., Very few motorcyclists exhibit unsafe or criminal behavior, and penalizing the whole for the lawlessness or poor judgment of the few is discriminatory and unfounded. All loss of life on the highways is regrettable, but outlawing legal motorcycles or mandating speed-restricting devices on them is not the answer. As with the abuse of firearms, matches, etc., the answer lies in changing the behavior of the abusers. I don’t have the answer to how to solve that complex problem, but neither does the author of the reference letter; and I am opposed to any legislation that singles out motorcycles for speed-based equipment restrictions, which would have little or no effect on the problem, but which would invoke the ire of the overwhelming majority of motorcyclists, who are safety-conscious, law-abiding voters.


Last summer, Nancy Pelosi began talking about what the Democrats would accomplish during the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress when they convene in January. On Day One they would put new rules in place to "break the link” between lobbyists and legislation. On Day Two they would enact all the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission. During the time remaining of the 100 hours they would pass legislation to: raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour; cut the interest rate on student loans in half; allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients; and broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds. Phew! If that sounds like a lot of legislation to be considered in a short amount of time, it is. Congressional rules require that bills be available for review at least three days before coming to a vote, but those rules have routinely been overridden, leaving only a few hours to read bills that are thousands of pages long, and spend hundreds of billions of our tax dollars. Worse yet, it seems that the more important the legislation, the less time members have to review it before voting. Recent examples include the energy bill, the Medicare prescription drug bill, the intelligence bill and the defense authorization bill, which together totaled almost 3000 pages, authorized more than $1 trillion spending, and yet, were available to members for less than 48 hours total for reading! Ms. Pelosi has said that 100 hours is enough time to begin to "drain the swamp" created by more than a decade of Republican rule; but it looks to me like her yellow brick road is actually a dirt path leading to that same swamp.

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