There is an old saying that children should be seen and not heard. I’m guessing it comes from the Victorian era, but I would love to see it apply to American ex-Presidents, especially Democrats since they seem to have an especially hard time keeping their yaps shut. To prove the point, here is a comment made by one-term President Jimmy Carter while overseas:

Former President Jimmy Carter said on Friday the “atrocious economic policies” of the Bush administration had caused the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Carter told reporters on a stopover in Brussels that “profligate spending,” massive borrowing and dramatic tax cuts since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 were behind the market turmoil and economic crisis.

“I think it’s because of the atrocious economic policies of the Bush administration,” said the 84-year-old Democrat, who served in the White House from 1977-1981 during a period of high inflation and energy crisis.

First, former American presidents are just that: former. Think “has been” or “old news” to get the full picture.

Second, the current turmoil comes from housing problems, not spending, borrowing or tax cuts. To lay the blame at President Bush’s feet is naive at best, and utterly dishonest at worst.

Third, the housing problems we are currently experiencing can be traced to the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, signed into law by *drumroll* President Jimmy Carter himself. Granted, it took another Democrat president (*cough* President Clinton *cough*) to really get it rolling in 1995, with the added bonus of Democrat mismanagement in Congress to upgrade the housing problem from the “meh” level to its current status of “HOLY #$%@ COW!”

Finally, it is clear from President Carter’s comments that he doesn’t adhere to the standard that internal politics end at the nation’s shores. We can argue all we want at home, but once we go abroad, we close ranks and stand united as Americans. Seems he’s more than willing to score political points in a foreign land by repeating Democrat lying talking points.

So I’m for amending the old saying — children, and has-been Presidents, should be seen and not heard.

It's Schadenfreude Man!Schadenfreude is a German word that means the enjoyment that comes from watching other people suffer some misfortune. Which is why Schadenfreude Man is standing there with a grin on his face in the Dr. Fun comic to the right (click to expand).

Which brings us to the current American financial woes. Names like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman, and AIG are big in the news, and socialists who hate capitalism are overcome with schadenfreude. To illustrate the point, I offer up an article published on the Spiegel website by Marc Pitzke titled, “The World As We Know It Is Going Down.” The title comes from a broker by the name of James Allroy as quoted in the article. If you have nothing interesting to do or need help sleeping, read the almost 1,300 word article in its entirety; for the rest of you, let me point out two sentences. The first leapt out at me from the twelfth paragraph:

In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered.

The second sentence came four paragraphs later:

The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed — at least for now.

I can’t speak for you, but I can easily imagine Pitzke rubbing his hands with delighted schadenfreude at the idea of America’s free-market economy tanking. And if free-market capitalism doesn’t work, then what other options are there? Well, people love Karl Marx’s ideas of communism and communism lite, also known as socialism. Neither one makes me happy, but I’m neither a communist nor a socialist.

Are America’s current financial problems proof that an “unbridled free-market economy” has failed us? You could make that argument if you believed that the free market got us to this position, but it didn’t. Government intervention got us to this point.

To trace this problem, we have to go back to the days of President Carter. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 (sometimes mistakenly called the “Community Redevelopment Act”) specified that financial institutions had to “meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate.” It was designed to help minorities and the poor buy homes by keeping banks from denying them home loans. Turning down a loan request would be taken as prima facie evidence of racism, and the government would come down on the bank like a ton of regulatory bricks. In other words, the federal government required banks to give loans to Joe CreditRisk, ignoring Joe’s spotty job history, spotty credit record, and spotty credit payment history. Is it any wonder that there were more high-risk loans?

In 1995 President Clinton pushed for, and got, a stronger CRA. Thanks to this update, subprime mortgages for Joe CreditRisk were secured by CRA loans, leading to another increase in high-risk loans. Between 1993 and 1998, CRA loans grew by 39%, while other types of loans grew by 17%. Did this growth occur because the free market ordinarily rewards people who are proven bad credit risks? A truly free-market bank would be very hesitant to make lots of loans to people who would be unlikely to pay them off. But thanks to government intervention, the banking industry was no longer truly free-market. As a banker, you either danced to the government’s tune and offered risky loans to people who were unlikely to pay them back, or the feds would be knocking at your business doors to close you down, you horrible racist, you.

So what was the end result of government’s heavy-handed control over risky loans? Well — duh — lots of risky loans. But as long as housing prices continued to grow and grow, the banks and lending institutions could use the good deals to balance out the bad ones. But then the housing bubble popped, and high-risk debtors turned out to be — surprise, surprise — bad at making their loan payments. Having created the problem in the first place by messing around with the free market, the government stepped in to “fix” the problem with massive buyouts (with taxpayer money) for some, and giving a middle finger to others.

Is the banking crisis evidence of the collapse of America’s free-market capitalism, as Marc Pitzke maintains? No. It is the obvious result of government mucking around where it shouldn’t be. What we have here is the obvious result of a government-controlled market. In other words: Marxism sucks, and how!

In the past, I have written that if the only tool you have is a hammer, it’s not long before every job starts looking like a nail. It is the job of the media to report the news and state their opinions, but there should a clear distinction between opinions on the editorial page and facts on the front page. All too often these days, opinion is reported as fact.

And what is the media’s single tool? It is the “Bush sucks!” hammer that they pound, pound, pound every day. Have you heard that the Dow Jones industrial average of stocks has been hitting record territory recently? Stocks briefly hit another record high today before going down a bit, but the major media doesn’t really want to talk about that because it is good news. Good news isn’t useful in the ongoing mission to bash President Bush.

If we were enjoying an economy like this with a Democrat President in office, the news media would report constantly that the economy is the best in decades, and the boom and bust cycle has been solved, and we’ll never have market corrections ever again. That’s what the economic news was like during President Clinton’s administration, at least before the inevitable dot-com bust came upon us. But since this booming economy is happening at a time when credit can be placed squarely on the Bush administration, faint praise is too much.

There’s been much written about the angry responses of President Clinton during his interview with Chris Wallace, but here’s one article I recently read (thanks, TPK!) that is well worth reading in full. Cliff Kincaid posted this article on Sept. 27, 2006, at the Accuracy in Media site.

Of all the whoppers told by former President Clinton in his Chris Wallace interview, perhaps the most outrageous was his claim that he was involved in “trying to stop a genocide in Kosovo…” In fact, Clinton’s bombing of the former Yugoslavia killed more people than died in this “genocide.” And his policy benefited Osama bin Laden and the global Jihad.

In the year before the bombing, some 2,000 people had been killed in a civil war in Kosovo. A conservative estimate is that 6,000 were killed by U.S. and NATO bombs.

Interestingly, Al-Jazeera celebrated the fifth anniversary of 9/11 by airing several al-Qaeda videos, one of which showed two of the 9/11 hijackers saying their actions were designed to avenge the suffering of Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya. Nothing demonstrates the bankruptcy of the Clinton policy more than that. Not only did Clinton order the CIA to help the KLA in Kosovo, he approved Iranian arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims, in order to help them establish a Muslim state in Bosnia. Still, that wasn’t good enough for the Jihadists. Nothing appeases them.

That’s precisely it. Nothing appeases them. These Islamist nutjobs are not in it for the money. Their goal is a world ruled by sharia law, in which you are one of three things: a Muslim, a dhimmi, or dead.

Take your pick.

Much the same way I wrote yesterday, Hugh Hewitt is uncomfortable with the “fake but accurate” stance some people have taken with the ABC miniseries “The Path to 9/11.” He writes about the Sandy Berger scene and sums it up in two ways:

The preceding leaves us with two possible explanations regarding the controversial scene. One is that the filmmakers have unearthed a previously unknown jewel that they can fully document; that Berger really did slam down the phone on a field agent looking for guidance. If that’s the case, then this entire conversation is irrelevant and you should cease reading this essay.

The other explanation is that, being a docudrama, the filmmakers included a fabricated scene (which was a composite of many real factors) to dramatize the ineptitude and fecklessness that so characterized the Clinton administration. One can (if one so chooses) give the filmmakers artistic license to do such a thing. But if that is what they have done, conservative analysts who back this movie as a historical document will mortgage their credibility doing so.

YOU MIGHT NOTE THAT the defense of the scene offers a rationale that Dan Rather would probably be comfortable with — fake but accurate. I’m uncomfortable embracing such a rationale, and I suspect most other bloggers who have rushed to tout the film will feel the same way once they think it through.

I’m especially uncomfortable with this controversy since it’s so unnecessary. The record of the Clinton administration on terrorism is an embarrassment and a disgrace. All serious studies of the matter have reached the same conclusion.

But you won’t get a committed supporter of President Clinton to admin that. In related news, Justin Levine posted a great article at Patterico.com about this issue. Here are some of his basic points:

Let’s also try to all stipulate and agree about a few things:

1. The terrorists were ultimately responsible for 9/11. Period. They, and they alone, are to blame (Though blame is admittedly different than mere “criticism” which is what this film inspires debate over in regards to our leaders.)

2. If there were someone in the government (of any administration) who clearly could have prevented 9/11 and failed to do so, it would be unlikely that they would clearly admit to that to the 9/11 Commission, the press, or anyone else.

3. Some partisans on both sides were added to the 9/11 Commission to essentially try and “protect” their own side — resulting in a document that only included what everyone could agree on. Omissions and limitations in the 9/11 Commission report were inevitable, and the Commission itself was aware of that. As a result, the Commission report is certainly not the last word on historical fact (though it can still be a useful tool as a starting point).

Can we at least all agree on that???

[I would also add that Sandy Berger's attempt to remove documents from the National archive while the 9/11 Commission was meeting casts suspicions on his credibility in the final report himself -- but I don't even expect a unanimous opinion about that in the current political climate, so I won't include it in the above list.]

So are there inaccuracies in the film? Of course!

But are these inaccuracies enough to torpedo the movie? It depends on which side of the political fence you come down on, apparently. Democrats have been up in arms over this movie, which the vast majority have not seen, and they appear to have succeeded in making ABC alter some of the miniseries. News Busters is reporting that ABC has caved to Democrat demands and altered the miniseries, and there is still a possibility that ABC will pull the whole miniseries.

News Busters also points to a comment made by Rush Limbaugh about this mess:

I’ll tell you, the thing that is stunning to me, when you compare Bill Clinton the man, and other presidents, George Bush the man, how many times did George Bush or any in the Republican administration demand that Fahrenheit 9/11, that stupid, lying, so-called documentary by Michael Moore not be shown in theaters? Republicans were even going to the premieres of those things. Republicans appeared in it, even though they may have been sandbagged by Moore, they were in it. But the president nor his administration said a word about it. I’ll tell you something else. Sandy Burglar is all upset about the way he’s portrayed in this movie. Sandy Burglar gets a major break. This movie does not portray Sandy Burglar stealing documents in his pants and his socks from the National Archives.

Last week I overheard two conversations. Technically, both of the quotes below were part of the same long conversation, but there was enough of a pause between them that I’ll label them separately.

The first phrase that perked my ears was in conjunction to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, the one that prohibits President Clinton (or any other twice-elected President) from serving a third term. One person was lamenting that President Clinton couldn’t run again unless that Amendment were overturned by another, the way the 18th was overturned by the 21st. And then came the phrase that really got my attention:

“The Republicans don’t want to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Bush could be elected a third time, because they know that President Clinton would be elected with a majority of the vote if he ever ran again.”

I could have responded, but I was talking with a customer about a fairly complicated technical issue, and I decided to concentrate on the issue at hand. But if I’d been free to say it, I would have replied:

Reelected with a majority? What makes you think President Clinton could be reelected with a majority when he never got a majority in his two times at bat?

The conversation drifted away from politics and into the realm of work for the next little while, but it veered back onto the subject of President Clinton when one of the guys asked why people would vote for President Clinton if the choice were available. Here is the response from the same guy quoted above:

Clinton was a great president because he didn’t take us into war. Instead, he was a perfect caretaker for the nation as he kicked the ball of problems down the road. It was Bush who couldn’t keep the peace and wrecked the economy. The economy was great under Clinton, and people would vote for Clinton again to bring back that prosperity.

Ah. Where to start with this? Since I was still on the phone with a customer (that call lasted for over three hours), I couldn’t bring up the bubble economy of the dot-com craze, nor could I bring up Haiti, Kosovo, or Somalia to show that President Clinton had no problem with taking the nation to war, ignoring the U.N. as he did so. Remember the huge peace protests in all our major cities when our forces bombed from 30,000 feet? It’s funny that protesters only seem to wind up the anti-war machine when a Republican is in office.

But if there is any definitive reason why President Clinton should never be reelected, it is precisely because he failed to act when it really mattered. This inaction allowed Osama bin Laden to become progressively more bold as he viewed the U.S. as a paper tiger. After all, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, Khobar Towers in 1996, two embassies in Africa in 1998, and the USS Cole attacked in 2000. The response was measured at best, and so ineffectually wimpy at worst as to let Osama believe that the U.S. would never respond to an escalated attack. That’s the sort of problem that occurs when a leader kicks the ball of problems down the road, rather than dealing with it himself. If you don’t agree, I have a phrase from history for you to ponder:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

The other day I came across a list of reasons why President Bush should not be re-elected. Here’s the list:

  1. Bush is destroying workers’ rights and outsourcing jobs instead of protecting the right to organize and creating new jobs rebuilding schools, bridges, roads and hospitals.
  2. Bush is privatizing Medicare, Social Security and public education with phony reforms instead of enacting health care for all, protecting retirement funds and full funding for public education through college.
  3. Bush is bankrupting the Federal Government with giant tax cuts for the very rich and super-funds to the military instead of securing the budget for human needs by taxing the rich and spending on human needs.
  4. Bush is rolling back civil rights gains instead of enforcing and expanding affirmative action to end racism in all areas of life.
  5. Bush is curtailing women’s rights and choice by undermining Roe v. Wade instead of upholding the right to choice and ending the gender wage gap.
  6. Bush is abusing immigrant workers in low-wage jobs instead of providing a clear path to citizenship and equal rights.
  7. Bush is exploiting and ruining the environment by protecting corporate polluters instead of conserving our natural resources for the public good.
  8. Bush’s war in Iraq is a disaster for our security and economy. He is pushing for more preemptive wars and for first strike nuclear military policy instead of negotiations and cooperation utilizing the UN.
  9. Bush is denying civil liberties and free speech in the name of fighting terrorism instead of repealing the USA Patriot Act and helping cities, towns and states fund firefighters and police.
  10. Bush discriminates against Gays and Lesbians with a Constitutional Amendment instead of expanding civil rights and liberties for all.

If you have been following the latest election cycle as I have, you’d recognize these are reasons being used by Democrat Senator John Kerry’s campaign against President Bush (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10), but there is one catch — this list didn’t come from the Democratic National Committee site. It came from the Communist Party USA site. There is virtually no difference between the Democratic objections to President Bush and his administration, and the Communist ones. Why? The answer is simple enough — the modern Democratic party is Marxist by its very nature.

The American Left didn’t start out Marxist, but it has increasingly become so in the past decades. I pointed out before that the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto have been fully accepted by the Left (and, sadly, by the Right in too many instances). But the Marxist rot has spread the farthest and been accepted the most by the Democrats and the Left.

Numerous pundits have noted a double standard between how members of the Left and Right are treated. Republican Senator Trent Lott made an off-the-cuff remark about fellow-Republican Senator Strom Thurmond’s presidential run of four decades earlier, and the subsequent backlash and cries of “Racist!” from the Left forced him to step down from his position of power in the Senate. Yet Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan in his past, and he recently used the word “nigger” multiple times on national TV. There were no similar calls of outrage and horror from the Left, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) dismissed this obvious demonstration of racism. Former President Clinton has been accused of multiple rapes and has confessed to multiple adulterous affairs, yet the National Organization of Women (NOW) has not only excused these actions, they actually stood by Clinton during the exposure of his affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. The Left proudly claims to champion the rights of racial minorities and women, but willingly accepts bigotry and misogyny when it comes from within their own ranks. Lawrence Auster explains why this double standard exists: the American Left has become Marxist.

The basic reason for the “liberal” double standard has already been alluded to. It is that today’s “liberals” are really leftists who have rejected the older liberal belief in a shared equality of citizens before the law and have embraced the socialist vision of “equality as a fact and equality as a result,” as Lyndon Johnson famously put it. Since people are unequal in their ability to accumulate property, as Hayek argued in the Mirage of Social Justice, equality of results can only be pursued by treating people unequally. This is the origin of the double standard.

Still don’t believe me? I have already demonstrated the link between the Communist Party USA and the Democratic party in their shared anti-Bush message, and I previously wrote how the DNC fully embraces the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto, but you can also see it in some of the Democrat campaign slogans. Senator John Edwards’ “Two Americas” speech has been used repeatedly on the campaign trail:

Today under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one. One America does the work, while another America reaps the reward. One America pays the taxes, while another America gets the tax breaks.

Tell me whether there is any material difference between Senator Edwards’ stump speech and this quote by Joe Cannon, from the 1948 Socialist Workers’ Party convention speech:

There are two Americas — and millions of the people already distinguish between them. One is the America of the imperialists — of the little clique of capitalists, landlords and militarists, who are threatening and terrifying the world. This is the America the people of the world hate and fear. There is the other America — the America of the workers and farmers and the ‘little people.’

Another slogan for the Kerry/Edwards ticket, “Let America Be America Again,” was taken from the first line of a poem by Langston Hughes — a known Communist activist. This particular poem shows the poet’s admiration of Joseph Stalin, the most murderous of all the Soviet leaders. Senator Kerry wrote the preface to a recent re-release of Hughes’ poetry, so he seems to have no difficulty with the very pro-Communist flavor of Hughes’ work.

Speaking of Senator Kerry, the Left is rallying around him because he is their appointed leader. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group started to voice its concerns and opposition to Senator Kerry’s Navy record and service in Vietnam, the Left responded not by refuting these claims, but by launching attacks on the Swift Vets themselves. Apparently it is OK for the self-proclaimed “party of the little guy” to attack the little guys of the Swift Vets group when they dared to challenge the Left’s anointed leader. Any lie, dishonesty, sneaky behavior, or illegal act is defensible and right if it is done to uphold Marxist ideals.

This is why Leftists don’t care about their own hypocrisy. This is why it is useless to expose the Left’s double standard. Since treating people differently to achieve equality of result fits with Marxist ideals, the hypocrisy of their actions simply doesn’t matter. It is part of what they must do to achieve their desired ends. I believe in calling a spade a spade, so from now on, I will stop calling radical Democrats “the Left” or “the liberal Left” and call them by their true name: the Marxist Left.

As I type this, the Marxist Left is being exposed again. On October 14th, just a few weeks before the national election in November, the Democrat election playbook was leaked to the press. Chapter 2 of the playbook directs Democrats to “launch a pre-emptive strike” if no sign of voter intimidation appears. In other words, if nothing goes wrong, the Marxist Left is to go ballistic and claim voter intimidation anyway. You can see this in the shrill verbiage from the Marxist Left on the subject of the 2000 vote in Florida. They claim that a million blacks were disenfranchised, but nobody can point to a single black person who was prevented from voting. But since it assists their goal of regaining power, it’s acceptable for the Democrats to lie. In a further attempt to muddy the waters, the “Colorado Election Day Manual” says to round up the useful idiots and parade them before the media: in other words, describe “party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting”. The truth doesn’t matter to these people; all that matters is getting and keeping power. That is the essence of Marxism.

Last time I wrote about countries with single or multiple political parties. The American political system, however, is geared toward two major political parties.

George Washington decried political parties, but even before he left office, two parties had formed. To the right, I have outlined how the two major parties have shifted over the years. The first two to form were the Democrat-Republicans, centered around Thomas Jefferson, and the Federalists, centered around John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Other than the election of John Adams after Washington, the Federalists failed to elect another president from their party. By the 1820s the Federalists had atrophied and disappeared. In fact, all four candidates for president in 1824 were Democrat-Republicans. The Democrat-Republican name was awkward and often shortened to either Democrat or Republican. At the time, the name Democrat brought to mind the mob rule of revolutionary France; it was sometimes used by the Federalists in a derogatory manner. Since the Constitution guarantees a republican form of government, this term was a neutral and vague title, and was generally preferred for use by the party. However, after his election in 1824, Andrew Jackson officially shortened the name of the party to Democrat. At this time, the remaining Federalists and the Democrats who opposed Andrew Jackson banded together to form the Whig party. The Whigs were strongest from 1824 to 1856, and they succeeded in electing four presidents during that time: William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Millard Fillmore.

The modern Republican party was formed in 1856 with a strong anti-slavery plank, and John Frémont, the first Republican candidate for president, ran on the platform of “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Frémont.” This party incorporated many former Whigs, and as the Republican party ascended, the Whig party ceased to exist. With the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to be elected president. Since this time, the American presidency has passed between the Democrat and Republican parties. There have been numerous third-party candidates, mostly formed around a specific person (the “Bull Moose” party around Theodore Roosevelt, the Reform party around Ross Perot) or an idea or philosophy (Anti-Masonic, Free Soil, Greenback, Socialist), but none of these parties has succeeded in electing a candidate to the presidency or generating long-term support.

The American system works best with two large political parties. This is caused by ballot laws that promote the major parties, but also by the “winner-take-all” method of votes. Basically, winner-take-all means that in an election for a position like mayor, the candidate with the most votes will “take all” — being elected to the mayorship, while the rest get to make concession speeches. This is known as “Single-Member District Plurality” in political science, but other than poli-sci majors and Jeopardy contestants, who really cares? OK, I like Jeopardy, so here’s a great Final Jeopardy answer: “This principle asserts that a winner-take-all election system naturally leads to a two-party system.” If you said, “What is Duverger’s Law?”, you should look at competing against current Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings.

People have made a big deal over Vice President Al Gore getting more votes than President George W. Bush in the 2000 election, but Americans do not elect their president based on the popular vote. The Founding Fathers of the United States were hesitant to create a true democracy, where the majority vote wins, since they knew that system is inherently unstable. Once a democracy learns it can vote itself goodies from the public coffers, the people quickly vote themselves into bankruptcy. It is also susceptible to the tyranny of the majority, where the rights of the few are trampled by the mob.

Rather than the popular vote, the president is chosen by the Electoral College. The individuals in a state are not really voting for a president; they are voting for an Elector who will then vote for the candidate. Each state has the same number of Electors as it has people in Congress. So Wyoming has three Electors for its one Representative and two Senators, while California has 55 for its 53 Representatives and two Senators. In our “winner-take-all” system, the political party whose candidate gathers the most votes gets to select all the Electors for that state, except in Maine and Nebraska where the winner gets two votes (for the Senators) and the rest of the votes are distributed according to the winner of each congressional district. Confused? You can read all the trivia and history about this that your poor eyes can stand at the Electoral College’s website.

With the closely-contested election of 2000, and in pretty much every election cycle, people have discussed getting rid of the Electoral College and shifting to a nationwide election for president based on the majority of votes. While we now have the technology to do this, I believe it isn’t a good idea. First, it would require changing the Constitution, an act not easily achieved. Second, it would negatively affect states with smaller populations. Let’s pick on Wyoming with its sparse population to illustrate this. In our current system, Wyoming’s 3 electoral votes out of 538 is more than three times the percentage of Wyoming’s population divided by America’s population. In an election determined by popular vote, the candidates would only need to campaign in the most populous states and kiss off the smaller ones. But since the president represents all Americans, it’s a good idea to all states from populous California down to meager Wyoming.

Since 270 electoral votes or more are necessary to elect a president, it is critical that a presidential hopeful have the greatest number of votes in each state. In our two-party system, the voters may chose to elect either a Democrat or a Republican for president. A commonly seen corollary of Duverger’s law (and you thought I wouldn’t bring it up again) is the spoiler effect of a third-party candidate, effectively siphoning votes away from one of the two leading candidates. You could make the argument that Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential run pulled enough votes away from George Bush to push Bill Clinton into the lead. This was definitely the case in the 1912 election. Theodore Roosevelt pulled enough Republican voters away to his “Bull Moose” party (officially called the Progressive party) that Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected. You can spend some time (as I did) at Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections site and look at elections such as 1884, 1888, and 1892 when third-party candidates had more votes than the difference between the first two candidates. Had these third-party candidates not run, the numbers had pulled could have thrown the election either way.

My wife asked if there had ever been a third party that managed to get a president elected. In a word, no, and for a tautologous reason: once a third party succeeds in placing one of its candidates in the presidency, it has become a majority party. This last happened 144 years ago when the then four-year-old Republican party succeeded in putting Abraham Lincoln into the White House.

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.”

One of the things you will hear in the news, most often from someone on the liberal end of the political spectrum, is the need for an international response to one crisis or another. Our Democrat leaders in the U.S. House and Senate have called for a multinational response to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror. Without the blessing of the United Nations, these leaders were not willing to proceed in any of these actions.

But what is it about the United Nations that makes its involvement necessary as part of the American President’s sworn duty to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”? If America must protect itself, does it need the permission of Angola, Benin or Chile? This would be like appealing to your neighbors for permission to stop the armed thug breaking though your front door in the middle of the night. It makes more sense for the head of the household to arm himself and repel the intruder than to waste time on the phone with all the people on the block, asking if it were all right with them if he confronted the trespasser.

You could respond to the example above that the most logical action would be calling the police. While that would be an excellent choice in such a situation, calling the police does not adequately defend you against the armed assailant who is in your house now. Besides, there is no international equivalent of the police department. Regardless of what some people may think, the United Nations has no more power and authority than what the individual member nations choose to give it. And typically, if the United States doesn’t want something to happen in the United Nations, it normally doesn’t happen.

So what benefit is there actually in having the United Nations? The organization will celebrate its 59th anniversary this October, so perhaps it’s time to ask: what tangible benefit does the United States derive from continued membership in the United Nations that it could not achieve on its own? Cannot the U.S. get together with other nations as it sees fit, to create treaties or hold meetings? Certainly it can, and it did so last week during the G8 summit. The eight member states that gathered were Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Nations did not need to be present for the world’s eight most economically influential nations to congregate and discuss their goals, needs and plans.

When President Clinton wanted to enter the fighting in Kosovo, he didn’t bother going to the United Nations to get permission. He side-stepped the United Nations completely and started the bombing on his own. President Clinton’s actions in this regard showed how immaterial the United Nations is if the United States chooses to make it so.

But as immaterial as the United Nations is in all practical matters, this does not stop some people from wanting to give the United Nations sufficient power to make it a world government in deed, not just word. I wrote how the laws of thermodynamics work both in biology and sociology. With each level feeding off the level below it, only a small fraction of the energy passed up the food chain actually does any good. Since we already have city, county, state, and federal bureaucracies, do we really need to add another layer of world government and its attendant bureaucracy?

We certainly do not need the United Nations if Rwanda is any indication of how things normally work. In 1993, the United Nations dithered for five months trying to raise a few thousand troops to keep an eye on the warring Tutsi and Hutu peoples. When the larger Hutu population started the outright slaughter of the minority Tutsis, the United Nations stepped right in to stop the massacre. Well, maybe in an alternate universe, but certainly not in this one. In reality, the UN spent the next six months dithering in an attempt to get from 3,000 troops to 5,500. Endless resolutions were passed, and these stern pronouncements were predictably impotent, while over 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death by machetes.

You may recall that the UN passed 17 such resolutions about Iraq over 12 years; apparently Saddam felt no pressure to comply with them. Only the projection of power supplied by the United States gave these resolutions any teeth. But when the United States decided it was time for Saddam to comply in full with the UN Security Council’s resolutions, the bureaucrats in the United Nations wrung their hands and moaned about the United States acting unilaterally. It was almost as though these bureaucrats were more concerned with keeping control of the situation–even if it were in name only–than they were of making their resolutions stick.

Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer governed by tyrannical and oppressive governments, while Rwanda saw 10% of its population floating down the river in hacked-up chunks. There is a reason why the fates of these two nations are so different. At the beginning of this new century, the United States has a President who is prepared to do the right thing regardless of what the other nations of the world may think or say, and Iraq and Afghanistan are free because President Bush is such a leader. But at the closing of the last century, the United States had a President who was willing to work with the United Nations and too often shared in the slow-acting, ineffectual hand-wringing that typifies an entrenched bureaucracy. Rwanda became a genocidal bloodbath because President Clinton wanted to gather consensus rather than to lead.

It was President Clinton’s brief moments away from the United Nations that led to military victory in Kosovo. But this same President and his minions are now raising their blood-drenched hands to President Bush, demanding that he work not with the nations who willingly joined our coalition, but with the sluggish, ineffectual United Nations bureaucracy. President Bush should give them all the finger and proceed to do his job in the ongoing war, just as President Clinton did in Kosovo.