There is a pretty common thread among liberal singers who turn political. Let’s look at an example: Linda Ronstadt gave a one-night concert at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. Not having grasped the concept that fans prefer to hear singers sing and not bloviate about political issues, she dedicated her rendition of the Eagles song “Desperado” to “documentary” filmmaker Michael Moore. A bit miffed, the 4000-plus audience erupted in boos and catcalls. While some people cheered, a loud and upset percentage of the audience went beyond verbal protests and marched out of the concert. Some even clustered around the ticket office, demanding their money back. Anywhere between one-quarter and one-half of the audience left in disgust, depending on whose numbers you believe. But regardless of the number, no singer would feel comfortable watching a sizable percentage of her audience voting with their feet. Bill Timmins, the head of Aladdin Casino, made the decision to have Ronstadt escorted from the casino, and it is unlikely that she will ever perform there again.

It wasn’t the first time that Ronstadt had dedicated this song to Moore, but now she feels it is time to speak. “This is an election year, and I think we’re in desperate trouble, and it’s time for people to speak up and not pipe down,” she said. Then she followed up with a real stunner: “It’s a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I’d rather not know.”

Perhaps it’s time to make Linda the Left’s poster-girl for tolerance and acceptance. As Rabbi Daniel Lapin so eloquently pointed out, Ms. Ronstadt seems to feel quite comfortable bashing Christians:

What do you suppose might be the reaction if an entertainer would say, “It’s a real conflict for me when I find out someone in the audience is Jewish. It can cloud my enjoyment”? Or what if some politician had once announced, “It’s a real conflict for me when I find out that someone in the audience is homosexual. It can cloud my enjoyment”? Of course almost no entertainers or politicians would ever say anything as bigoted.

But singer Linda Ronstadt did. The point is, however, that she didn’t insult protected minorities like Jews, homosexuals, Moslems, or blacks. She insulted what she calls “fundamental” Christians. (Note to Linda: the term, if you must use it at all, is Fundamentalist.) To quote a line from the lyrics of your song “Desperado,” Linda, “Lighten up while you still can, don’t even try to understand.”

Naturally, Michael Moore jumped to Linda Ronstadt’s defense in an open letter to Bill Timmins. I’m sure you can guess one of the primary planks of his complaint:

What country do you live in? Last time I checked, Las Vegas is still in the United States. And in the United States, we have something called “The First Amendment.” This constitutional right gives everyone here the right to say whatever they want to say.

Yes, Michael, Linda does have the constitutional right to free speech, and she was well within her rights to dedicate this song to you, or to Chairman Mao and his little red book, or to anyone else she pleased. But what seems to escape both you and Linda is the concept that the every member of the Aladdin audience also enjoys the right to freedom of speech, and many chose to exercise that right. I guess liberals want freedom of speech for themselves, but are shocked and angered when the masses demand the same. We also saw evidence of this when the Dixie Chicks bashed President Bush while touring in Europe. They also fell back on the freedom of speech excuse, while failing to recognize that their fans had exercised the same right.

Here’s a free clue for Linda Ronstadt, the Dixie Chicks, and any other singer who aspires to be a political commentator: don’t assume that your fans shell out big bucks for your overpriced concerts because they want your political opinion. They come to enjoy your music and, if you’re cute, to watch you strut your stuff onstage. If you cannot control your comments between songs, at least have the intelligence to judge your audience and tailor your comments accordingly. If you fail to do this, don’t go whining to the press because of your own failings.

Just about every right has an attendant responsibility. Peggy Noonan calls this concept “paying a price for where you stand.” If you choose to swear at your mom, be prepared to get a mouthful of soap and a spanking from Dad. If you choose to call your boss a sheep pimp, you can reasonably expect to have a character defamation lawsuit leveled against you. If you choose to call in a bomb threat at your school, resign yourself to a ride downtown in a cop car and a possible suspension. If you choose to bash the President in an international forum, as the Dixie Chicks did, do not be surprised when some of your audience stops purchasing albums and concert tickets. If you choose to dedicate a song to Michael Moore, as Linda Ronstadt did, steel yourself to accept the result of angry and hostile fans.

But liberals have classically refused to accept the natural results of their free speech. Since people have different opinions about politics, religion, sports and numerous other issues, if you state strong opinions on these subjects, you cannot expect everyone to agree with you. Yes, you certainly have the right to speak your mind, but don’t be so boorish as to attempt to deny others the right to respond to your comments.

If you do, you are probably a liberal. After all, you are known by the company you keep.

One of Congress’ specific responsibilities is to propose amendments to the Constitution. This requires a two-thirds vote of both houses to start the process moving. Once Congress has voted on and passed with sufficient numbers the proposed amendment, it is then handed to the 50 states to be voted up or down. Once three-fourths of the states have voted in favor of the proposed amendment, it is fully ratified and becomes part of the Constitution. This has only been accomplished 27 times in our country’s history, with the last amendment ratified in 1992. (Not that the government pays any attention to this simple amendment.)

A majority of the people of the United States are in favor of legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This definition would effectively block people of the same sex from being married, as well as polygamy, bigamy, group, clan, line, and a myriad of other non-traditional marriage arrangements. If “adult” is added to the definition, as in “an adult man and an adult woman,” it would also prohibit the man/boy unions championed by organizations like NAMBLA. While “adult” doesn’t appear in the text, here is the exact phrasing of the proposed amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

What would the passing of this proposed amendment accomplish? Well, for starters, it would stop various judges in the U.S. from messing with what is a legislative function, as stated in Senate Resolution 275: “the power to regulate marriage lies with the legislature and not with the judiciary and the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts specifically states that the judiciary ‘shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men’…” What I find interesting in the various judicial rulings is that marriage has already been defined by Congress: the “word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” This legal precedent was set by the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 and signed by President Clinton.

I find it interesting that marriage was defined in the law years before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled 4 to 3 that the Massachusetts state constitution prohibits denying a marriage license to same-sex couples. Why are these justices allowing same-sex marriage licenses when federal law prohibits it? The most wet-behind-the-ears lawyer could remind them that when there is a conflict between state and federal laws, the federal law trumps. Don’t believe me? There was a heated debate that settled the matter some years ago.

Since people who should know better have been ignoring the law of the land, it is understandable that some senators have wanted to strengthen the laws by elevating them to the status of a Constitutional amendment. But this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. On July 14th, the Senate voted on a motion of cloture, a legal term for ending the debate in preparation for a final vote on the bill. A motion of cloture requires 60 votes in the Senate, and the motion died with only 48 voting in favor. Three Democrats voted in favor of the motion: Robert Byrd, Zell Miller, and Ben Nelson. But six Republicans voted against it: Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Lincoln Chaffee, Susan Collins, John McCain, Olympia Snow, and John Sununu. Even if all the Republicans had voted for the motion and the three Democrats joined in, the motion still would have failed to reach the 60 votes required.

Regardless of what the senators and pundits may say about why they voted against this motion, the reality is that the 50 senators who voted against it did so because they consider you, Joe and Jane Citizen, too stupid to be bothered with this proposed amendment. I often hear Democrats talk about the importance of democracy and how every vote should count, but when it comes to putting issues before the people, Democrats have proven that they’d rather not have you deal with government. The Senate could have passed the proposed amendment and placed the decision at the feet of the masses, but in the mind’s eye of roughly half the Senate, the masses are asses and shouldn’t be bothered. In addition to this attitude of disdain for the American voters, Democrats couldn’t vote for the amendment because they were afraid that it might actually be ratified. After all, 38 states currently have laws with language similar to this proposed amendment, and 38 is the magic number of states needed to ratify a proposed Constitutional amendment.

This 48-50 vote also exposes something else important — Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, the Democrat President and Vice-President hopefuls, didn’t show up to vote at all. They say that their presence wasn’t necessary to defeat the motion, but the reality is they were too busy campaigning to do their senatorial jobs. As pointed out by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Senator Kerry was absent 64% of the time in 2003, and 87% of the time in 2004 when the Senate voted on legislative issues. How would you respond to an employee who only showed up to do his or her job 13% to 36% of the time? And being a senator is John Kerry’s job. Kerry took an oath “that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter,” but it is clear from his working history that he doesn’t hold this oath too seriously.

In a news article published today, Lee Davidson discusses how Senator John Edwards’ record is equally lackluster. Davidson points out that Edwards has been consistently at or near the bottom of attendance in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the three years he has served on this committee, he has attended only 18% of the hearings and 20% of the business meetings when the average for the entire committee was double and triple Edwards’ attendance. In the 108th Congress alone, Edwards’ attendance at business meetings has slipped even more; his attendance at three out of 34 meetings means his 9% attendance is almost eight times lower than the committee average.

So Senators Kerry and Edwards want to be your next President and Vice-President. If elected, they will place their hands on a Bible and swear, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of (Vice) President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Does this mean the “best of [their] Ability” lies somewhere between 9% and 36% of their time? Boy, that’s the kind of work ethic I really want to see in a President. Not!

July 14th is Bastille Day. This means my French-speaking sister-in-law ran the Tricolor up the pole today, instead of the normal Stars and Stripes (or the occasional Jolly Roger). Bastille Day is, of course, the day the French celebrate their twin successes of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and the invention of cheese.

OK, so that’s not really the reason for Bastille Day, but I just couldn’t pass up teasing my sis about France. It’s my raison dêtre.

So much for the Stuff. Now on to Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. In computer circles, this is often shortened to FUD. TWikIWeThey summarizes FUD this way on its FudFighters page:

FUD is short for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, combining to form the preferred marketing tool when your product doesn’t have any “real” advantages. Well, that’s not strictly true. Given the choice between RedHat 7.2 and Bob’s Latest Distro 0.4.1a-test, most people would choose the RedHat distro. Bob’s might actually be better, but we’re uncertain of that. We doubt that he has tested it as thoroughly as RedHat have, and fear what might happen to our systems if we installed it.

However, when used as part of an agressive [sic] marketing campaign, FUD can be thrown at software and/or systems that are demonstrably better than the version you are pushing. It relies on the target market not knowing as much about the products as you seem to.

While this page deals mainly with the computer industry and provides great examples of FUD and how to do it right, FUD is not just limited to the computer world. When Aljazeera posts the video of a kidnapped victim being beheaded, they are willing accomplices of terrorist FUD. When Democrats toss out lies like “this is the worst economy since Herbert Hoover,” they are engaged in political FUD. And when environmentalists bemoan the destruction and death of 50,000 to 100,000 species every year due to mankind’s actions, they are engaged in environmental FUD.

One commonly-used environmental FUD rallying cry is the threat of global warming. According to these green Chicken Littles, Earth will soon burn up because we drive SUVs. Yeah, OK. When confronted with one of these enviro-nuts, I usually ask them to identify the primary cause of global warming. Since they know all about this subject, you’d think they could provide the correct answer, but in the dozen-plus times I’ve presented this question to environmentalists, no one has successfully answered correctly. The #1 cause of global warming is the sun. This simple answer is not what environmentalists want you to consider when they are pushing their agenda.

The BBC recently posted this article announcing that the sun is at a 1,000-year high for sunspots and solar activity. In the article, they provide a fact and then a opinion: “They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth’s climate became steadily warmer. This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue.” Imagine the sun tossing many 50-pound sandbags on a scale, and then hearing people claim that your few grains of sand are tipping the balance. While we are a nifty species, man cannot affect the earth’s temperature anywhere near as much as the sun can.

During 1645 and 1715, scientists counted only a few sunspots. The prolonged cold weather during this time was termed the “Little Ice Age.” Few sunspots; cold weather. There seems to be a link, and while scientists are loath to declare a direct correlation, sunspot activity and Earth’s overall temperature do coincide.

NASA posted an article this month about the sun’s “blast wave” — the coronal discharge of our active sun. During the two-week “Halloween Storms” of last year, the sun erupted in 17 major flares, including the strongest one yet on record. “In two weeks the Sun released more Earth-bound [coronal mass ejections] than it had all year.” Sounds like a pretty active sun to me, and well worth paying attention to.

Thanks to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft (SOHO), you can see images of the sun taken at different wavelengths. I particularly like the blue images taken at 171 angstroms, and one of these images is usually my desktop image. You can access these images at this SOHO image webpage or by clicking on the links just below the nifty blue sun:

Look, Ma!  It's the Sun!

(512 x 512)(1024 x 1024)

As long as people have strongly held opinions, there is the chance that they will use fear, uncertainty, and doubt to push their agenda. When someone dishes out a heaping helping of FUD, the truth will be your best defense. That, and a good 2×4 to smack ‘em upside the head.

Several times now Bill Cosby, the popular comedian, writer and actor, has spoken out about the American black community. Recently he spoke to black leaders and activists about the rising generation of blacks: “They think they’re hip. They can’t read; they can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going nowhere.” This was not the first time that Cosby had chastised the black community for the failings of some of its members. Months before, at a gala affair commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Cosby said he wanted to “turn the mirror around on ourselves.” Here are several quotes from this and other times he has spoken out:

I travel the country and see these patterns in every community — stories of 12-year-old children killed in the crossfire between knuckleheads selling drugs, the 14-year-olds with a sealed envelope as their first step into the criminal justice system, the young males who become fathers and not held responsible, the young women having children and moving back in with their mothers and grandmothers, and the young people who choose not to learn standard English.

I can’t even talk the way these people talk, “Why you ain’t,” “Where you is” … and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.

I want people to take their neighborhood back. Hey, man, you know, to be — I’ve traveled around all the different cities, and to turn on the TV or the news at 5:00, and I read that some child, 12-year-old, shot. Whether it’s Dayton, Ohio; Wilberforce, Ohio; Pennsylvania, Mississippi. And for me, it’s painful. That’s a life gone. And then when they catch the person that did it, that’s another life gone. Where are we? Who are we? 50% dropout in school. 60 to 70% of our incarcerated are illiterate.

You’ve got to stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job, because you didn’t want to get an education and now you’re [earning] minimum wage. You should have thought more of yourself when you were in high school, when you had an opportunity.

Our nation has come a long way from the institutionalized racism of the last century. Outright and open racism is no longer acceptable in society, but this shift in attitude has caused racists to go underground and hide their disdain of others. We have changed to a society where a once commonly-used racial slur is now only referred to as “the N word” on the nightly news. But although the overwhelming majority of whites would be embarrassed to use this type of language today, Cosby is saddened that blacks too often use “the N word” with each other. He places the responsibility for this act on the parents. “When you put on a record and that record is yelling ‘n—– this and n—– that’ and you’ve got your little 6-year-old, 7-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car, those children hear that,” he said. I would add that while parents are responsible for playing that “music,” the artists are also to blame for creating songs which contain this kind of language.

Cosby has dismissed reports that some people are using his words to tear down blacks, but there has been very little open criticism against his comments. Jesse Jackson was present at a recent event and defended Cosby: “Bill is saying let’s fight the right fight, let’s level the playing field. Drunk people can’t do that. Illiterate people can’t do that.” And many others have stood up and agreed with Cosby, as Dick Meyer recently wrote: “Cosby’s remarks were embraced by several of the leading black columnists in the country: DeWayne Wickham, Clarence Page, Colbert King, Leonard Pitts, Jr., and Thomas Sowell.”

Bill Cosby dismissed claims that he was airing the black community’s “dirty laundry” thus: “Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other n—— as they’re walking up and down the street.”

It is laudable that Cosby is not willing to sit back and watch people dig themselves deeper into problems of their own devising: “I think that it is time for concerned African Americans to march, galvanize and raise the awareness about this epidemic to transform our helplessness, frustration and righteous indignation into a sense of shared responsibility and action,” he said. Inaction is easy, but it takes courage to stand up and announce publicly that the emperor has no clothes, and we should stop pretending otherwise. “For me there is a time … when we have to turn the mirror around,” Bill Cosby said. “Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you’re sitting in.”

I am glad to see Cosby refusing to play the game of victimhood. Taking responsibility for your own failings and rolling up your sleeves to fix them is a sign of maturity. In fact, Ralph Peters identified in 1998 the tendency of blaming others as one of the seven signs of a losing nation-state:

The cult of victimhood, a plague on the least-successful elements in our own society, retards the development of entire continents. When individuals or cultures cannot accept responsibility for their own failures, they will repeat the behaviors that led to failure. Accepting responsibility for failure is difficult, and correspondingly rare. The cultures of North America, Northern Europe, Japan, and Korea (each in its own way) share an unusual talent for looking in the mirror and keeping their eyes open. Certainly, there is no lack of national vanity, prejudice, subterfuge, or bad behavior. But in the clutch we are surprisingly good at saying, “We did it, so let’s fix it.”

I salute Bill Cosby for speaking up over the years about this issue, and I’m pleased to see some national press finally following his comments. It is high time that we as a nation grow up, both individually and collectively. The overt racism of segregated water fountains in times past should be as repugnant to us as the subtle racism of lowered expectations today.

If I were to walk up to you and take your wallet at gunpoint, that would be stealing. If I were to take your things with the mere threat of violence, that would be stealing. If I forced you to sell your $100 item to me for only $10, that would also be stealing. None of these examples of theft should be all that hard to identify, but the government doesn’t play by the same rules you and I do.

The right of eminent domain allows the government to take your property if there is a pressing public need for it. If the government is building a new highway, it can force the landowners along the route to sell, but it must pay fair market value for the land. This holds true for creating or expanding airports, public transportation networks, or any other valid public use. A strip of land near my home is owned by the city, and nothing can be built on it since the city needs full access to this land to work on the utility pipes that lie buried underneath it. The Fifth Amendment outlines the government’s power of eminent domain: “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” But the government doesn’t always pay much attention to the Constitution.

In 1996, then-President Clinton staged a photo op in Arizona as he signed an executive order to establish the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. He mouthed some words about the monument being necessary to protect the cryptobiotic crust and other buzzwords by the environmental left. Never mind that the EPA didn’t see any need for this land to be set off-limits by the government. So why did this land grab happen? I can see two reasons: first, grabbing this land allowed Clinton to boost his popularity with environmental leftists while simultaneously sticking it to Utah – the only state where President Clinton had finished third in the 1992 Presidential election. The second reason is more conspiratorial. At the last minute, the Kaiparowits Plateau was included as part of the Monument. There is nothing on the plateau that warrants its being added, but it effectively blocked a multi-year deal to extract the low-sulfur coal beneath that plateau. Kaiparowits is the only known U.S.-based location where this low-sulfur, low-polluting coal can be found. The only other known location is in Indonesia and is owned by the Lippo Group, run by the Riady family – the same family implicated in the Chinese money scandals during President Clinton’s terms in office. Ignoring the possibly conspiratorial nature of this land grab, however, the order by President Clinton effectively stole the land and its use from the state of Utah. The profits from the sale of coal would have funded Utah’s already drastically underfunded public schools.

“Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool,” said Clinton presidential aide Paul Begala. Not really. With a stroke of the pen, President Clinton stole the land from Utah.

The Environmental Protection Agency is also guilty of stealing from the American people. Rather than just taking the land outright, the EPA will simply deny landowners the full use of their land. People have been denied the use of their property because standing water is somewhere on the land, and the EPA swoops in and declares it a wetland. Once a piece of property is declared a wetland, the landowner is not allowed to drain the land or build anything there. Stroke of some bureaucrat’s pen, and the owner loses control of his land without “just compensation.” The farmers in the Klamath basin in Oregon have seen this theft in action. In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt declared that the inhabitants of the Klamath basin would be guaranteed their water rights “forever,” but the promise of a President doesn’t matter as far as the EPA is concerned. EPA bureaucrats decided the needs of the endangered bottom-feeding suckerfish were more important than the rights of the Klamath farmers, so they descended on the Klamath basin and shut off the farmers’ water supply, diverting it to keep the rivers full and the suckerfish happy. But why does a river need to be kept running high when the “endangered” fish is a bottom-feeder? However, questions like this don’t matter when the greater good of protecting a fish is at stake. Do you imagine the EPA was in the least concerned about the endangered livelihood of the Klamath farmers? The EPA has shown itself over and over again to have far more interest in the welfare of a frog or a fish over a human being. Call me a species-ist, but I am more concerned with the welfare of my fellow humans over some bird, amphibian or insect.

North of Oregon is the beautiful state of Washington, where again we see governmental theft in action. King County is the largest county in Washington, incorporating the major metropolis of Seattle and more rural areas to the east of Lake Washington. King County Executive Ron Sims has proposed a new property plan, termed “65-10″ in some circles. Basically, the proposal would mandate that land owners in rural King County must leave 65% of their property untouched and undeveloped. 35% of the property could be cleared, but only 10% could be built on. If Executive Sims has his way, over half of the county’s rural acreage will be mandated by law to lie perpetually fallow. Do you think King County will compensate the owners for 65% of the total value of their land? Not bloody likely. This proposed governmental theft is being justified by the environmentalists living in urban Seattle because of the need to keep the watershed in place. It’s telling that these urban greenies are targeting only the areas where they do not live. Jill Boccla recently asked in a community forum, “Are you managing my property for me, or are you managing my land for you?” Of course King County sees the property as being its own to manage, rather than belonging to the people whose names are on the land titles, but this is pretty much the way bureaucrats always see private property. Last year California was ravaged by intense forest fires, fueled by fallen trees that had lain unharvested because the environmentalist bureaucrats felt it was better to let the forests lie untouched rather than cleaning out debris. When the fires came – and the fires always do come – the abundance of dry fuel ensured the fires would rage out of control for a long time. This King County plan would essentially do the same in Washington, since people would be kept from clearing fallen trees off their own property.

“Just compensation” would mean paying the King County landowners at least 65% of the value of their property, since the proposed law would effectively take away their rights of ownership. “Just compensation” would be paying the farmers in the Klamath basin for their lost livelihoods, or better yet, letting them keep their promised water. “Just compensation” would be paying the state of Utah for the billions of dollars it lost to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But though it would be called stealing if it were done by private citizens, this is just another case of “government business.”