Since we are drawing close to election time, albeit local elections, I thought it might be a good time to review the election of George W. Bush. Few elections have seen as much controversy, or as much erroneous blather, as the presidential election of 2000.

“If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida and be our next president of the United States,” pouted William Daley, former Clinton Secretary of Commerce and Gore’s 2000 election chairman. The problem is that the president is not elected by popular vote. Each state is a winner-take-all for the candidates, and the electoral college then elects the president with a total of 270 or more votes. Daley should know that, but he wanted his man to win.

Voters keenly anticipated the 2000 presidential election, as the polls projected election results with ever-narrowing margins as the day approached. But this time things would be different because of just how close the vote turned out to be. All the nation ended up focusing on Florida, with its 25 electoral votes. Just as the Florida precincts closed, Peter Jennings of ABC News declared that Gore had taken Florida–with 0% of the precincts reporting. It is not unusual for a major news figure to call a state right away for a candidate, since on election day the news outlets run numerous exit polls. But here is the stinger: when Jennings called Florida for Gore, he did so before all of Florida had finished voting. The Florida panhandle is in a different time zone, and voters there still had an hour before the polls closed. When Jennings called the state for Gore, he directly influenced unknown numbers of Republicans in the panhandle to stay home. After all, if the state had already gone to Gore, why vote? Shamefacedly, the media had to retract news of a Gore victory in Florida.

There was very little evidence to call a state prematurely, yet Florida, with its razor-thin voting margin, was called instantly for Gore. Why? Could it be because Jennings and other major media pundits are Democrats? When Bush won Tennessee, Gore’s home state, the media delayed calling it for Bush for several hours, even though the margin there was much wider than in Florida. Here, then, is the media trend–call victories for Gore early, while delaying any victories for Bush. Journalistic ethics demand that members of the media cannot show public partisanship, even though 75% or more of them voted for Gore.

Al Gore was preparing to make his concession speech, after having called Bush and congratulating him on his victory. But as the vote tallies kept coming in from Florida and the victory margin grew slimmer and slimmer, Gore stopped his motorcade and called Bush back. He was not yet ready to admit defeat. All eyes, both nationally and internationally, turned to Florida. Whoever won there would win the presidency. Florida law requires a mandatory vote recount if the difference between the top two candidates is less than 1/2 of one percent.

This was the beginning of the recounting of the votes. After the legally required vote recount, Bush was still the victor, albeit with a slimmer margin. At this point, did Gore decide to do the honorable thing and concede that Bush had won? Are you kidding? Instead, Democrat lawyers began to descend on Florida and muddy up the waters.

Since the Democrats could not accept losing the Presidency, they demanded recount after recount. Rest assured that if a recount had ever gone Gore’s way, they would have stopped counting and proclaimed that the will of the people had finally been revealed. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Gore’s running mate, said during this time that they wanted “a full and fair count of every legally cast ballot.” This meant the Democrats requested that all of Florida’s votes be counted a third time, right? Wrong! They only wanted a recount in three of Florida’s 67 counties. I have a hard time understanding how this is a “full and fair count of every legally cast ballot,” but these are the same people who had problems defining the words “is” and “alone.”

The Democrats only wanted a recount of those three counties because they were counties with strong Democrat populations. It only makes sense that recounting in those specific counties would pull in more Democrat votes since they were statistically more likely to find ballots cast for Democrats. Was this an honest search for the truth? No! This was vote-grubbing on the Democrats’ part.

Now imagine for a moment that you are watching the final play of the Super Bowl on TV, and one team has the ball on the 10-yard line ready for a field goal. If the kicker misses the upright goal by one yard, is it still a field goal? Is it a field goal if the ball passes one inch below the goal? In both cases, the answer is no. How would the other team react if the referee decided to change the rules in mind-game, counting the ball passing one yard line outside the goalposts as a field goal? The team and the fans would be enraged, particularly if this change would swing the victory in the game. It may sound silly, but this is exactly what happened during the recount. The standard method of tabulating votes during a manual recount is to count a punched chad if it hangs by one or two corners of the ballot. But during the recount, the three counties decided to count chads connected by three corners, or even if they were merely dimpled. This was changing the rules in mid-game to favor the losing team. Near the end of the recount, ballot counters even started trying to read voters’ minds. “The only [votes] we reconstructed were the ones we could tell the intent of the voter,” said Sterling Watson, a member of the canvassing board of heavily-Democrat Gadsden County. Is it any wonder that the recount garnered 170 new votes for Gore, and only 17 for Bush?

In the end, the Supreme Court stopped the endless recounting, and Gore had to admit defeat. A year later, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago announced that if the entire state had been recounted, Bush still would have won. This research included the ballots with no votes for president, known as “undervotes,” and those with votes for more than one candidate, known as “overvotes.” Bush truly was elected.

This does not stop the left from crying “Disenfranchisement!” any time the subject comes up. But was anyone truly disenfranchised in Florida? Actually, yes. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research looked carefully at the voting results, and determined that African-American Republicans who voted in Florida were 54 to 66 times more likely than the average African-Americans to have their ballots declared invalid. How could this be? And why were there so many overvotes in Florida? I cannot be sure what happened, but I do know it is trivially simple to change or deface votes on a punch-card ballot. In a matter of seconds, a dishonest person could grab an inch-thick stack of ballots and ram a thin wire down the ballot hole for a particular candidate. Any votes for that candidate would still be his, but a vote for anyone else would be transformed into an overvote and discarded. And because these ballots would have been punched by an improvised tool, many of the chads would still stick to the ballots. Depending on how thick the stack of ballots was, this theoretical fraudster might create numerous ballots with only a dimple in the chad. Ever heard of a pregnant chad? Well, now you know of a very easy way to make one.

Was Bush elected? Absolutely. He won each and every recount performed in Florida, even the ones skewed against him. But will this change the minds of those who hate him with a rare passion? No; he will always be the stupid, bumbling cowboy in their eyes. Long after the 2000 election passes into history, they will continue to mouth the meaningless phrase, “Selected, not elected.”

The Constitution is the law of the land.

That is a phrase often spoken by people in the press or our elected officials as they press the flesh in their attempt to be re-elected. But once they are voted into office, how much do they really uphold it?

Section 8 of the first Article in the U.S. Constitution outlines the responsibilities of Congress. If it is not listed in that section, Congress does not have the responsibility or authority to pass laws about it. Unless you have read that section within the last week, please click on it and read it now. I will wait right here until you are finished.

Done? Good. Did you read anything in there about education, welfare, or the environment? What about Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid? Did you notice that none of these programs are listed in the Constitution as responsibilities of the federal government? Each time people are sworn into the House or Senate, they swear or affirm to defend and protect the Constitution. But each law they pass without a constitutional mandate is another blow to our Constitution as the law of the land. Each time they pass a law without the authority to do so, they prove that their oaths to support the Constitution are just so much legislative hot air.

Here is another case in point. Jim Abrams, a writer for the Associated Press, wrote an article titled “Senate approves pay increase for itself” on Oct. 23. In this article, he points out that Congress will receive a pay increase during 2004, rising from $154,700 to $158,000. In a 60-34 vote on Thursday, the Senate rejected a proposal that would exempt it from a cost of living adjustment (COLA) targeted to all other federal workers and military personnel. In the previous month, the House rejected a similar proposal to exempt itself from this COLA.

As much as I dislike the other political ideas and actions of Democrat Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, I admire him for standing up against this COLA. He pointed out that in the last five years, the Senate has seen increases totaling $21,000–quite a nice sum. Sen. Feingold even went as far as to suggest that anything above his starting salary of almost six years ago should be returned to the Treasury. In this situation, I admire Sen. Feingold’s stand much more than that of Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. “I think that our representatives of government deserve a pay raise consistent with the work that we’ve produced,” he said. Do you, Senator? Then draft specific legislation that will give you this well-deserved pay raise. Do not continue this back-door method of getting more money.

It must be pretty nice to be able to approve your own pay raise. However, there is a little snag in this rosy plan: the Constitution. The 27th Amendment, ratified in 1992, says, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” This means that any raises or cutbacks to members of the House or Senate do not take effect until after the national November elections for Representatives. Since 2003 is not such a year, this COLA should not take effect until at least Wednesday, November 3, 2004. But this pay increase is scheduled to take effect with the first paycheck written by the U.S. Treasury in January 2004, because the majority of the people serving in the House and Senate are more interested in making a few thousand dollars more each year than in honoring their oaths to “support and defend the Constitution.” Nor is the Legislative Branch willing to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the document it pretends to revere.

“This is not a pay raise. This is an increase that’s required by law,” said Constitution-ignoring Republican Senator Ted Stevens, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman from Alaska. He obviously wants the money more than he cares to honor the Constitution. Since this law automatically increases the pay of the Senate and House, it cannot legally take effect until November 2004, but Sen. Stevens has already turned a blind eye to the Constitutional requirement by ignoring the very nature of this pay increase. A rose is still a rose, even if you call it a shovel, Senator. And this cost of living increase will raise your pay; therefore, it is a pay raise. To quote Conan O’Brien, “Duh!”

Democrat Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware voted against the Feingold measure. He called this a “no-win situation under any circumstances” since the people would not accept any dollar amount for a pay increase for the Legislature. Well, if the Legislature can point out the many wonderful work it has completed in the past year, the people will stand behind the increase. But since the nation has been economically rocky for the last few years, just how happy do you think the public will be to view these legislators increasing their paychecks at the expense of families just trying to find work or make ends meet?

I am not all that concerned about the amount of money involved. When you consider just how much power a Senator or Representative has, it is amazing just how little he or she is paid. The leaders of large business corporations, who have much less power to affect our daily lives, are paid many times more than anyone in government. Even the President is only paid $400,000 a year, and he is the leader of the greatest nation on Earth! My primary concern is over the all-too-common disregard for Constitutional authority. The Constitution gives the government the power and permission to act, and when members of the Legislature vote to line their pockets and no one stands up for the 27th Amendment, I realize just how forsworn our elected leaders are.

Each time the Legislature passes another law dealing with welfare, education, or the environment, it is collectively thumbing its nose at the Constitution. So we should not be surprised when in a few months, the Legislature will start cashing larger paychecks regardless of Constitutional amendments against it. Senators and Representatives have shown that the Constitution usually stands in their way, and they do not care if the people see them do this. They know we are too involved with “The Next Joe Millionaire” to care about the unconstitutional acts of our elected leaders. Shame on them, and shame on us.

Recently I wrote about some comments made by the Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. His recent comments were merely one incident in a long string of Jew-bashing speeches he has made. But honestly, did you hear about Mohamad on the nightly news? While some Jewish organizations spoke out against Mohamad’s comments before the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, the major media basically gave his speech a pass. Where is the outrage?

Well, the media outrage is not focused on Mahathir Mohamad’s speech; instead, it is focused on Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin’s recent comments. Gen. Boykin is the decorated former commander and veteran of the Army’s elite Delta Force and the new deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. If you have been watching the nightly news for the last week, you will have seen news stories about Gen. Boykin’s comments. But let me quote a few, just so you know what the hubbub is all about.

Speaking of President George Bush: “He’s in the White House because God put him there.” Speaking of the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia: “I knew my god was bigger than his. I knew that my god was a real god and his was an idol.” Speaking of radical Islamists: “[They hate America] because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian … and the enemy is a guy named Satan.”

Did he make these comments before the nation in some televised forum? No. These comments were made in churches around the nation, but the media decided to make the comments into national news. Judging by the venom issuing from the left, you would think that the General had eaten a spotted owl or done something similarly evil. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) jumped into this fray with his letter to the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld:

“I am writing to express my extreme displeasure over Lieutenant General William Boykin’s remarks about the war and the Muslim religion. Lt. Gen. Boykin serves as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and is charged with heading a Pentagon office that focuses on finding Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other targets. This is a critical policymaking position, and it is outrageous that someone who holds such extreme, closed-minded, zealous views would be allowed such a prominent position in our military.”

There has also been some reaction from the Islamic community. Nihad Awad, the Executive Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said, “Everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs, no matter how ill-informed or bigoted, but those beliefs should not be allowed to color important decisions that need to be made in the war on terrorism.” Tell me, Mr. Awad, should we instead listen to you and other members of CAIR? Your organization is suspected of having ties with Hamas and other radical terrorist groups. Former and current members of CAIR have been arrested for such offenses as conspiring to train on American soil for a “violent jihad.” Forgive me if I’m not too keen to follow suggestions issued by CAIR.

While listening to discussions of Gen. Boykin’s comments on the radio, I heard several conservatives suggest that he should not have made religious pronouncements while in uniform. But contrary to the popular and incorrect view of separation of church and state, the General did nothing wrong. When someone joins the military or has a position of leadership in the government, that person does not give up his religion nor his freedom to express it freely.

Gen. Boykin has stated that he respects Islam, but that the terrorists and radicals who fight against America are “not true followers of Islam.” For the pundits on the left, this was not enough. Last week, Boykin apologized by saying, “For those who have been offended by my statements, I offer a sincere apology.” I can understand the political necessity for it, but I think that style of apology was the wrong choice. Here’s the apology I wish I had heard him give:

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I do have an apology to make. To the good and faithful people of Islam, I am sorry that radicals have twisted your faith into an excuse to commit murder. I regret that too many good Muslims have stood by while terrorists and lawless thugs have hid behind the words of Mohammed in an attempt to justify their evil deeds. I apologize for the need to kill these people who have taken up arms against our nation and our people. I regret that Islam stood by while evil men conspired to do wickedness in the name of Allah. I am sorry Afghanistan and Iraq needed to be freed from the hands of brutal, diabolical dictators. I am truly saddened at the loss of life caused by these terrorists, and I apologize for the need to hunt these murderers like the dogs they are. I pray to God that we are victorious in ripping out, root and branch, this wickedness from off the face of the earth, and that the terrorists burn in hell forever.”

Now that is the type of apology I would love to hear, but I realize that we as Americans are not unified in the war on terrorism. Too many people have forgotten the image of planes slamming into the World Trade Center towers, and too many people do not understand that radical terrorists do not want to discuss their hatred for us. They want to kill us. But this understanding has been lost. That is why there is more reaction to the fervent words of a decorated, twice-wounded soldier who believes in God than the malevolent speech of an outgoing Malaysian prime minister who wants to see Israel destroyed. Please tell me, which of these two is filled with more hatred?

Remember Andrea Yates? She is the Texas woman who drowned her five children in 2001 and then called the police. Almost a month later, a grand jury handed down two indictments for their deaths, both capital charges that could carry the death penalty if she were convicted–and convicted she was, on March 12, 2002. Despite her legal plea that she was not guilty by reason of insanity, she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for forty years. Yates was in the news again this month when her lawyers said she had been placed on suicide watch while in prison.

Women’s advocates and organizations were outraged about this case. People like the National Organization for Women (NOW) saw Yates’ postpartum depression as a reason to rally around her. The fact that she methodically murdered her five children, all seven years old or younger, was not as big an issue for NOW as the chance to trumpet its feminist views. NOW complained that mothers are treated differently than fathers when they murder their children, but it also acknowledged that men are eight times more likely to murder than women, so it does make sense that the media would focus on the unusual case of a mother drowning her own children.

Some of the comments published by NOW and other feminist groups were remarkably forgiving of Andrea Yates. She was a depressed, mentally ill woman, so she should not be held responsible for anything she did, right? Judging by some of what was said, you would think that the victim in this murder trial was Yates herself, and not her five dead children. I cannot help but think that liberal feminist views on abortion might make the deaths of five children seem less of a crime. After all, if one is morally justified in killing one’s children before they are born, how much easier is it to justify destroying them after birth?

Another case of a woman in peril is taking place in Florida. In 1990, at the age of 26, Terri Schiavo suffered a collapse and subsequent brain damage. Since that time she has been cared for in nursing homes or a hospice facility, and by means of a feeding tube, she gets the food and water she needs. According to her husband, Michael Schiavo, and his attorney, Terri is completely brain-dead, like a vegetable or a houseplant. But her family points out that she smiles, laughs and cries, and she even responds to their presence in her room. Her husband’s doctors say this is just a reflex–albeit one that only occurs when her family is present.

In 1993, Michael Schiavo received $300,000 from a medical malpractice lawsuit; Terri was awarded $1,000,000 from a combination of that suit and a separate malpractice suit. Terri’s money was placed into a medical trust fund to provide the care she needs, while Michael’s was awarded to him. Since that time, Michael has directed that his wife be merely sustained in a nursing home, rather than rehabilitated to assist in her recovery. This act runs contrary to the intent of the courts who awarded the money, but many things are suspicious in this case. Michael Schiavo has been engaged to Jodi Centonze for the last seven years, and together they have one daughter and a second child on the way. If Mr. Schiavo merely wanted out of this situation so he could be free to marry again, he need only divorce Terri. But there is a powerful reason why he has consistently refused this option: money. Since Terri has no will and Michael Schiavo is legally her next of kin, he stands to gain all the unspent lawsuit money awarded to Terri upon her death. A living Terri is all that stands between him and wealth. Many times Terri’s parents have asked that Michael divorce Terri and allow them to take full custody of her. He has steadfastly refused. I can only assume he is doing so to ensure he remains the primary beneficiary when she dies. This desire for money seems to have been the impetus for Mr. Schiavo’s constant attempts to end Terri’s life. Over the last several years, he has twice instructed her caretakers to withhold medication so she would die from contracted illnesses. These attempts were unsuccessful, but on October 15, 2003, Mr. Schiavo was able to have her feeding tube removed, condemning Terri to a lingering death by dehydration. Unless something is done very soon to save Terri Schiavo, she will most likely die in the coming week.

National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy has strongly come out in Terri’s support. “This attempt at [Terri Schiavo's] life is horrific! At no time should food and water be denied a woman simply because she is worth more dead than alive.” Kimberly Browne, vice president of the Florida chapter of NOW, has organized a candlelight vigil at Terri’s hospice. “We are here to demonstrate against these hateful actions. Our aim is to bring Terri’s plight to the nation’s attention. Only then can we save this defenseless woman,” Browne said. Three legal challenges have been put forward by the Florida chapter and national offices of NOW in an attempt to stop this slaying. And for weeks, NOW has organized rallies on the Florida Capitol Building steps.

All right, before I get sued for libel, I must confess the last paragraph was a complete fabrication on my part. In reality, NOW has been completely silent about the plight of Terri Schiavo. If you do a search for Andrea Yates at the NOW website, you will find six instances where her case was officially discussed. But do a search for Terri Schiavo on the same site, and you will not find a thing. Why has NOW kept silent about Terri? This is a clear case of an innocent woman being denied her life and rights, so you would expect NOW to be all over this case, right? Why, then, do we hear nothing but silence from them? I cannot help but believe that Terri Schiavo does not serve NOW’s liberal agenda. NOW claims it works for ending all violence against women–even when some guy says, “Hey, nice dress!” to a woman at work, they view this as sexual harassment and a form of violence against women–but they are mum when it comes to Terri’s impending death by dehydration. Is this act not violent enough for them?

The only positive thing I can say about the National Organization for Women is that they are consistent in their callous disregard for human life. It is quite obvious what kind of value they place on the lives of the unborn, so why should they show any more compassion about ending the life of Terri Schiavo?

Addendum: On the same day this article was published, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed into law a bill designed to save the life of Terri Schiavo. The husband’s lawyer has five days to file additional arguments, the state another five after that to respond, then this matter will go before a judge. It isn’t over yet.

Addendum: On Oct. 23, the American Civil Liberties Union decided it was time to jump into this fray. Since they stand for life and liberties of the small guy, they are backing Terri Schiavo, right? Hah! Even the AARP is looking at joining the ACLU to fight for the husband’s wish to kill his wife. What is more apple pie, baseball, and American than pulling the plug on the one you love?

“Our members tell us that [medical self-determination] is a very important issue to them,” AARP state Director Bentley Lipscomb said. “They’re telling us they are very disturbed to think they could sign a living will or do not resuscitate order and have it overridden by the Legislature.” Hello, Bentley! Have you been paying attention? Obviously not, since there is no living will or do-not-resuscitate order in play here.

Isn’t it interesting to see who stands for the right to kill innocents?

Let’s play a little guessing game with the next four quotes. See if you can correctly identify who said them.

“Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Jew involved in it?”

“The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”

“We must study this vile Jewish technique of emptying garbage pails full of the vilest slanders and defamations from hundreds and hundreds of sources at once, suddenly and as if by magic, on the clean garments of honorable men, if we are fully to appreciate the entire menace represented by these scoundrels of the press.”

“The expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land 2,000 years ago and the Nazi oppression of Jews have taught them nothing. If anything at all, it has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly in their propaganda material. They have been apt pupils of the late Dr. Goebbels.”

Confused? Well, I must confess to being a little sneaky. The first and third quotes come from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, while the second and fourth were recent comments by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. In his own defense, Prime Minister Mohamad confesses not to be anti-Semitic. But at the same time he laid the blame for monetary decline of the ringgit, the Malaysian currency, at the feet of George Soros as a Jew. He said, “We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally Soros is a Jew. It is also a coincidence that Malaysians are mostly Moslem. Indeed, the Jews are not happy to see Moslems progress.”

Why does the rhetoric of a Malaysian prime minister matter to us? After all, he will soon be stepping down after 22 years in office, so why should we concern ourselves with a political has-been? When he made the second quote above at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit on October 16th, Jewish leaders were understandably concerned and spoke out against it. But have you heard anyone from the Islamic political or religious worlds speak out against his comments? The silence is deafening.

Time and time again I have heard Islamic supporters claim that Islam is a religion of peace. For being such a peaceful bunch, have you heard a Muslim cleric or political leader speak out against any of the Muslim-led terrorism or fighting around the world? Have you seen representatives of Islam on Nightline or Crossfire, publicly and loudly denouncing the September 11th hijackers? Or the homicide bombers in Israel? Or the attack on the USS Cole? Or the Bali nightclub bombing? Or the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania? Have you heard any Muslim stand up and publicly condemn any of these actions?

So am I guilty of hating Muslims? No, I certainly do not hate them. At the same time, I can easily recognize that for decades the attacks against the United States have not been led by Nordic ski instructors, but by male Islamic fanatics. Do I blame every one of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims for these attacks? No; that would be silly. But I do blame 1.3 billion Muslims for not standing up and decrying with a loud voice the actions of their radical brothers. I must take their unified, continued silence on these issues as consent and approval. Before September 11th, I could believe that some Muslims were ignorant of the acts of their fellow religionists, but that can no longer be the case.

Is America now at war with Islam? Are we dropping bombs on each and every Muslim nation? If we are, I have certainly failed to read about it, and the world community is strangely silent. So we cannot be at war with Islam as a whole, regardless of the comments and beliefs voiced by some Muslims. But the truth is that radical Islam has most certainly declared war on the United States and our guilty partners, the Western world.

While the ruins of the twin towers were still sending up smoke, there were people who cried for blood, demanding that America show its anger by carpet-bombing Afghanistan with nukes. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. This president seems willing to target people who are threats to our nation, without gratuitously harming the innocents who surround the guilty. Some pundits immediately said that we should turn inward to discover why these radicals hate us. They opined that if only we had been more understanding, the horror of seeing hijacked airliners flown into our buildings would never have happened. But the truth is, as a nation, we are understanding and sensitive. Indeed, we are so sensitive to concerns about racism that the red warning flags of Muslim men buying one-way airplane tickets with cash were ignored. The people who ignored these signs did so because they did not want to be seen as targeting a minority. It is utter foolishness to search former vice presidents and 80-year-old women for box cutters when we know that most air attacks have been carried out by Islamic males between the ages of 17 and 40. We are not profiling them; they have profiled themselves.

Are we at war? Yes! We are fighting a new war, against people with an ideology that demands our death. Some are hiding behind the protection offered by nations, but as the Arab world has discovered, America is willing to target nations who harbor those fanatics who declare themselves our enemies. As a nation we are willing to leave people alone, but when they stand up and state their hatred for us and their willingness to kill us, then we mobilize ourselves in response. We waited until we were attacked before we did anything against the hateful words and actions of Hitler. And we waited until our cities were attacked before we mobilized against the hate and actions of radical Islamists. Just as the fight against Hitler took time, sacrifice, and a determination to win, this fight against terrorism demands the same if we are to be victorious.

Every now and then, something that should be completely obvious is investigated and announced to the world as if it were something new and surprising. Remember the news headline of “Men and Women are Different” of several years ago? What is clearly obvious to some is not so obvious to others.

Speaking of the obvious, the World Bank released a report on Oct. 8th, 2003, entitled “Doing Business.” The Wall Street Journal printed a short review of this report on page A2 the day before its release. The first paragraph of the article summarizes the new World Bank report as showing that “the least amount of business regulation fosters the strongest economies.” To quote Conan O’Brien, “Duh!” Let’s take a look at just how simple and obvious this finding is. Imagine you want to set up a new business selling widgets, which means getting a business license from the government. Here comes the test: would you rather set up the business in a country where it takes only two days to create a private company with no government fee, or in a country that requires 146 days and nine times the average per-capita income to start a company? Is it any contest? The two countries in this example are Australia and Angola. Is it any wonder that Australia is doing so much better than Angola in creating businesses? After all, a high level of government regulation is directly related to more unemployment, higher corruption, and less productivity and investment. Does it take a report like this one to point out that countries get less of what they regulate, and more of what they subsidize?

Don’t believe me? Well, America has subsidized illegitimate births for 40 years now, so what do we have? Let’s say it all together: More illegitimate births. Thanks to government involvement, there are places in the U.S. where married parents are the exception rather than the norm. And that’s not all. Heavy regulations are almost always associated with a highly inefficient bureaucracy. For every dollar of your tax money earmarked to support someone on welfare, less than 25 cents actually reaches the intended recipient. Everything else is sucked up by oversized bureaucracy. The solution is simple, but it is not what you will hear from the intelligentsia surrounding those in government. Their wrong-headed solution is to appropriate more tax money while still wasting three-quarters’ worth of it. The simplest way to put more money in the hands of the needy is to reduce government overhead. If we could reduce overhead by 50%, the needy would see a much greater amount of money reaching them–and it would not cost you, the overtaxed worker, a single dime in extra taxes.

If the burden of government regulation on business becomes too great, people will stop forming officially registered businesses and will switch to doing work on the black market. The government will never see tax revenues from these businesses, and these “freelancers” will have a hard time getting loans or the legal protection that the law grants to recognized businesses. At last estimate, over 80% of Bolivia’s businesses are run outside of government control. If one of these businesses has problems with its suppliers, the owners cannot appeal to the courts for redress. And since when do black market businesses like Bolivia’s offer worker benefits? Since liberals claim to be champions of the working poor, shouldn’t they also be champions of less government regulation? You would think so.

So far I have written about government regulations, but what about the property rights I mentioned in the title? As the Journal says, “[t]he report argues that improving property rights offers benefits to citizens, especially the poor.” From 1995 to 2001, the Peruvian government issued over 1.2 million property titles to urban-squatter households. Since these people now own the land they previously only squatted on, they have an incentive to improve their property and take better care of it. And since they no longer need to have someone on the property at all times to keep other people away, this single government act has allowed parents to find jobs. The former squatters now look to the police as friends and protectors, rather than threats. Now if someone breaks into their homes, they may call the police without fear of being evicted. In the past decade, work hours in Peru have increased by 20% and child labor has declined by 30%.

The more people feel safe about their property, the more they will be willing to work for more property. Countries where property rights are safeguarded tend to have stronger economies; places without these safeguards are centers of poverty. If someone owes you money, be grateful you do not live in Guatemala. The courts there can take over four years to resolve something as simple as a bill-collection dispute. How willing is a Guatemalan to loan money to others or start up a business venture if he knows it will take four years to get a loan issue resolved? In Burundi, you will have to jump through more than 60 legal and bureaucratic hoops before you can collect a debt. The top ten countries whose regulations make it easy to do business are (in alphabetical order): Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Did you notice that not one of these countries is poor? The five slowest countries to enforce business contracts are Guatemala, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Poland, and Ethiopia. None of these five are places you would think of as being first-rate wealthy countries. There is a direct correlation here. But do you think any of these countries will notice and change? I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

As a country lowers the regulations governing business, and as it enforces the laws that protect property rights, that country will enjoy economic prosperity. Simeon Djankov, a co-author of the “Doing Business” report, said that legal systems which help companies collect debts are the single most important factor in attracting business. And as businesses increase and the economy booms, the government will see tax revenues increase, even if they have lowered the tax rates that businesses and people pay. After all, a smaller piece of a large, robust economic pie is better than a large slice of a weak, anemic economy. This is obvious to me and to many others, but what is obvious to some is not necessarily obvious to all.

I wrote last week about two ways Rush Limbaugh had hit the news. The first came from his comments on ESPN that led to him leaving the show. But the second was a more serious issue. Some people had come forward claiming that Rush had been addicted to prescription pain pills.

I wrote how his comments last Friday seemed very evasive, practically Clintonesque, in avoiding the facts of the allegations. This evasion did not sit well with many people, myself included, and we asked that Rush be a little more forthcoming. Today, Rush did have more to say:

“You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life. So I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication. I first started taking prescription painkillers some years ago when my doctor prescribed them to treat post surgical pain following spinal surgery. Unfortunately the surgery was unsuccessful, and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck due to herniated discs.

I am still experiencing that pain. Rather than opt for additional surgery for these conditions, I chose to treat the pain with prescribed medication. This medication turned out to be highly addictive. Over the past several years I have tried to break my dependence on pain pills and, in fact, twice checked myself into medical facilities in an attempt to do so. I have recently agreed with my physician about the next steps. Immediately following this broadcast, I am checking myself into a treatment center for the next 30 days to once and for all break the hold this highly addictive medication has on me.” [Read the full quote here -- ed]

I have to applaud Rush for coming clean. Too many people dig in their heels and deny any wrongdoing, so publicly confessing to this issue is admirable. I can envision the inner wrestling Rush must have gone through before deciding to announce these uncomfortable facts to his large audience. This could not have been an easy decision to make, even though it was the only right one.

Rush mentioned that while some of the information out there is correct, some of it has “inaccuracies and distortions” that he won’t be able to comment on until he is “free to speak about them.” Some people have criticized Rush for saying that he cannot talk about the particulars, but there are valid reasons for this. Most likely his lawyer has told him not to say anything specific because there is a police investigation going on. Some pundits on both the left and right are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the image of Rush being led handcuffed to a police car. I myself said that I expected justice to be served in this matter, so if that means he has to serve time, that is what should be required.

But in this past week, I have learned a few things about prescription drug abuse and the law—mainly that the law does see a difference between use of illegal narcotics like heroin and cocaine, and the illegal use of prescription drugs. In the case of narcotics, both the dealers and the users are prosecuted fully; but in the case of prescription drug abuse, only the dealers are prosecuted. If Rush is a user and not a reseller of these pills, his prosecution would be unprecedented in the history of federal law. Since the law does not normally prosecute people in Rush’s position, any legal action taken against him regarding this issue must therefore be suspected as a politically or personally motivated attack. There are also some questionable issues about the people who leveled these charges at Rush. One was convicted of identity theft. Wilma Cline claims to have a tape of Rush buying drugs from her, but it’s a 3rd degree felony to tape someone without consent in Florida. So if this does become a court case, the tape—if one exists—is inadmissible evidence.

So what’s next for Rush? He has voluntarily checked into a treatment center for the next month to break his addiction to pain medication for good. This choice has at least three benefits: first, Rush can commit to a month of steady medical care to help break him from this addiction. He might also reconsider additional surgeries to fix his spinal problem and alleviate the pain that started the addiction in the first place. Second, Rush will probably be sequestered from the press during this time. Once the next scandal or big news hits the front page, Rush’s addiction will fade into obscurity. Third, his show will be guest-hosted by a variety of people. Since Rush’s show has such a huge listener base, it’s quite possible that some of these guest hosts could use this national exposure to catapult their radio careers. Sean Hannity currently holds the #2 slot behind Rush; much of his rise to fame in the radio industry can be directly attributed to Rush’s involvement and allowing Sean to guest-host for him on several occasions.

So Rush will be off the radio for the next month, and his audience will have some time to come to grips with his admission. His addiction to drugs is regrettable and may lose him many listeners, but I am very glad that he publicly confessed to his addiction. I hope the coming month will see Rush free from addiction and back doing what he loves to do. I suspect any legal action, if it takes place, will come after Rush leaves the treatment center. Time will tell.

I didn’t feel like covering the latest example of Democrat outrage, increasingly called “Leakgate” by the media, but since it is being misreported and people do not seem to understand what it is all about, I thought it was time to chime in. Several items about this whole issue smell very fishy to me.

It all started July 14, 2003, with the publication of Bob Novak’s article called Mission to Niger, about Joseph Wilson’s trip to Africa to investigate allegations of Iraq buying yellowcake uranium. Notice that this was written in July. Why did Wilson start freaking out about this article months later? The response delay does smell fishy, does it not?

Novak was curious to discover why Wilson was chosen to investigate the alleged sale of uranium. After all, Wilson was an ambassador, not an investigator. He is a Democrat, staunchly anti-Bush and firmly against the war in Iraq, so how did he get sent on a critical mission to investigate the claims that Iraq was seeking uranium? Novak wanted to uncover why, and he believed he found the reason in the person of Wilson’s wife.

Here is the offending paragraph that has bunched the Dem’s undies:

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.

The Democrats are screaming that revealing Wilson’s wife’s status in the CIA violates a law about revealing the identity of undercover intelligence officers. They are hoping this will be the wedge they can use to pry open the White House and oust President Bush. Who it was that told Novak about Plame is not known, because Novak refuses to identify his sources. His article says “senior administration officials,” but this does not necessarily mean the White House. It could apply to any senior bureaucrat serving anywhere in the executive branch of government. In fact, on Crossfire Novak said, “Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this.” But that hasn’t stopped liberals from pointing the finger of blame right at the White House.

Here’s a typical bit of liberal ranting found on one Bush-bashing site: “The intentional leaking of the name of a CIA operative by Senior White House Officials (AKA Karl Rove), was most certainly politically motivated.” Are there any facts in this sentence? Here they have changed Novak’s description to cast aspersions on the White House, and have specifically named Karl Rove, Bush’s chief strategist. These are not the only people to direct their anger toward Rove. Wilson himself did this before an audience in Seattle. He said he wanted “to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs.” Later on ABC’s Good Morning America, Wilson had to shamefacedly confess, “I don’t have any knowledge that Karl Rove himself was either the leaker or the authorizer of the leak.” That should clear Rove, right? But Wilson went on to state, “I have great confidence that, at a minimum, [Rove] condoned it and certainly did nothing to shut it down.” He offers no proof, just the same type of baseless assertion that he gave in Seattle and later retracted.

But regardless of who passed the information about Plame to Novak, the Democrats say this was a violation of law. Even Bush is calling this leak a “criminal matter,” but I must disagree. Granted, I am not a legal scholar, but I do not see how this leak actually violates the law. The law in question states that the United States must take affirmative measures to conceal a covert agent’s relationship with the United States. So, did the CIA hide the matter of Plame’s employment? I cannot see how the CIA could be taking “affirmative measures to conceal” if they confirmed to Bob Novak, and columnists Clifford May and Josh Marshall, that Plame was a CIA employee. If the CIA had been trying to hide her employment, they could have denied that she worked for them or repeated the standard “we can neither confirm nor deny” routine. But they chose neither of these options. It seems pretty clear that the CIA took no measures to conceal Plame’s employment.

So Plame works for the CIA, as freely admitted by the CIA itself. If she is a covert agent or some other secret operative, instead of the analyst the CIA claims she is, whose fault is it that her employment with the CIA was uncovered? Clearly it is the CIA’s fault for confirming her employment. Do you see the liberals barking after the CIA, asking for heads to roll or people to be frog-marched out? Are you silly? Their target is Bush, and they will stop at nothing to hammer away at him. Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to investigate this matter. They are all excited about the need for a special investigator because they know that their ox will not be gored. If a prosecutor is called, then the investigation will continue through the upcoming election year, muddying the waters and giving the Democrats ample ammunition with which to attack Bush.

But one thing should be very noticeable in this whole manufactured, inflated brouhaha: Bush is not dragging his feet in this investigation. He has informed the White House staff that they will cooperate fully with the Justice Department. Gone are the days of the Clinton administration, of declarations of executive privilege and shameless stonewalling. Staff members are willingly handing over documents, rather than letting them appear mysteriously years later in the residential part of the White House.

Addendum: CIA suspected that Soviet spy, Aldrich Ames gave Valerie Plame’s name with others to the Russians in 1994. They were certain enough that he had handed over her name, so they recalled her back to Washington. So she’s not been a covert agent since at least 1994. This information was posted on Oct. 11th by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.

So why did the CIA send someone known to be a rabid Bush hater to Africa to scope out the veracity of this story, especially since Wilson has no experience being an investigator? In his own words, he spend his time “investigating” by talking with government officials in his hotel while sipping sweet mint tea. So when they said they absolutely did not sell yellowcake uranium to Iraq, he believed them. Some great investigator.

Did the White House send him? Originally he said his mission came from Vice President Cheney’s office, but they have no record of this. So someone in the CIA, and most certainly a Democrat who wanted to embarrass Bush, sent Wilson. And Bob Novak wanted to know why someone like Wilson was given this assignment when he had no experience in this area. The simple answer is that his wife played a key part in his selection. See how it all ties together?

Rush Limbaugh is a major fixture in the radio business. For more than fifteen years, Rush has broadcast his views and opinions over the airwaves. Many people love him, others despise him, but all have to agree that Rush’s show has been monumentally popular. Industry people even credit Rush with reviving the AM band in general, and talk radio in particular. But love him or hate him, Rush has hit the front pages twice this week.

The first hit came while Rush was on ESPN commenting on the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Buffalo Bills game. Referring to the Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb, Rush opined, “I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go,” and “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” These comments kicked up a firestorm a few days later as more and more people complained they were racist and hateful. Three of the Democratic presidential candidates, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and Al Sharpton, called for ESPN to fire Rush. Wesley Clark went as far as to call these remarks “hateful and ignorant speech.” Oh, come on! Jesse Jackson calling New York “Hymietown” is racist and hateful. Rush’s comments are not.

Allen Barra of Slate magazine agrees that Rush’s comments were not racist. In an article published Oct. 2, Barra agreed with Rush’s assessment of McNabb. “If Limbaugh were a more astute analyst, he would have been even harsher and said, ‘Donovan McNabb is barely a mediocre quarterback.’ But other than that, Limbaugh pretty much spoke the truth. Limbaugh lost his job for saying in public what many football fans and analysts have been saying privately for the past couple of seasons.” Barra also took time to compare Brad Johnson with Donovan McNabb. In almost every measurable way, Johnson is a better quarterback than McNabb. But people view Johnson as mediocre, while McNabb is often lauded as the best pro quarterback. If McNabb’s performance is worse than Johnson’s, why is he considered the better quarterback? There is only one plausible reason: Rush is right.

I don’t follow football, so I have never watched Rush on ESPN. I do think it’s sad to see Rush forced away from ESPN when he clearly enjoyed it so much. But when it comes to his comments, people have been making a mountain out of a molehill. Many perpetually annoyed liberals have screamed that Rush’s comments were racist, but their claims ring hollow to me. After all, how seriously can I take their complaints about Rush’s comments, when they take no stand against a former Grand Kleagle of the Klu Klux Klan sitting in the Senate? I refer of course to Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, who was an active member of the KKK for many years and who has never renounced his affiliation with that organization. But does this concern the liberal left? Not at all. Yet if a conservative makes one comment about the race of a football player, even if many others share his sentiment, liberals will call for his head. Interesting hypocrisy, no?

The second story to hit the news alleges that Rush has been buying thousands of addictive prescription drugs from a black-market drug ring. According to Wilma Cline, who claims to have been Rush’s housekeeper, Rush has been hooked on various potent prescription painkillers. The National Enquirer sat on this particular story for two years, and the obvious question which no one seems to be asking is: why release it this week? If you have been following Rush’s activities, you would have noticed the drug accusations hit right while he was headed for Philadelphia to be the keynote speaker at the annual National Association of Broadcasters meeting. Thus on the day the story broke, there was a substitute filling in for Rush. The timing of this story placed Rush in a position where he was unable to defend himself against these accusations on his radio show, and the curious who listened in on that day would probably assume Rush had gone into hiding to avoid further hits from the press.

On Friday, Rush returned to his radio show, and most of the day he strongly defended his comments about McNabb, but he barely touched on the drug accusations. Here is part of his official response, posted on his Web site and disseminated by EIB: “I am unaware of any investigation by any authorities involving me. No governmental representative has contacted me directly or indirectly. If my assistance is required in the future, I will, of course, cooperate fully.”

I’m pleased that Rush says he is willing to cooperate with the authorities, but he did not definitively reject the notion that he abused prescription drugs. He has not strongly declared his innocence. During the past administration, Bill Clinton was questioned many times by reporters about his various scandals. His responses were inevitably evasive. Usually he would say that since the issue was under investigation, he could not respond. Instead he preferred to wait until all the facts were known. But Clinton himself would have been privy to these facts, so waiting for the investigation to conclude was an attempt to dodge the questions. Clinton could have proclaimed his own innocence, since he was fully aware of his actions in these matters. But he chose not to do that.

Rush was quick to spot these evasions during Clinton’s administration, but I have yet to hear anyone pointing out these same evasions on Rush’s part. I admit that I like listening to Rush, and I do hope he is innocent of these charges. But conservatives like me have a very low tolerance for corruption and law-breaking, even among our own. When someone on the political right does something wrong, we expect that person to do the honorable thing. You can see this expectation reflected in the way conservative government officials have resigned when their past sins came back to haunt them. But liberals tend not to do this. When a liberal gets in trouble, other liberals tend to close ranks and stand behind him, right or wrong. This was the case during the Clinton years, and it is the case today. This is why I say conservatives have standards, and liberals have alibis.

I hope Rush is found innocent of these drug charges. But I believe if he could honestly defend himself against these accusations, he would–that would fit his brash, outspoken style of comment. This tiptoeing around the issue seems to reveal much more about what’s going on. If Rush is found guilty, as much as I like him, then I expect justice to be served.