Archive for March, 2011

Hollywood Caves to Chinese Pressure; Citizen Watchdog Group Doesn’t

When it ran an ad during last year’s off-year election highlighting the dangers of permitting China to become our largest creditor, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) stirred a diplomatic hornet’s nest. The one-minute ad became an instant classic; already compared to the 1964, anti-Goldwater ad in which a young girl plucks petals from a daisy immediately before a mushroom cloud fills the screen.

Never an organization to mince words or sugar-coat the intensity with which it combats excessive government spending, CAGW is again airing the ad. It is one of the best, if not the best and most poignant ads I have ever viewed. Every Americans should watch it at least once.

The ad is set in Beijing two decades in the future, in 2030. It opens to a huge lecture hall filled with attentive Chinese students. The Chinese professor begins lecturing the class on why great nations like the United States have fallen. He explains it is because they all made “the same mistakes, …

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Obama’s “Military-First” Libya strategy another costly mistake

In 1849 French journalist Alphonse Karr first penned the words well-known to 21st-Century Americans – “The more things change, the more they are the same.”  This adage likely has crossed the minds of many voters who supported Barack Obama in 2008 in the hope he would chart a course different from the bellicose national security policies pursued by George W. Bush.  In its Arabic translation, Karr’s words may very well have come to the mind of Libyan Col. Muammar Qaddafi earlier this month, as U.S. warplanes and cruise missiles laid waste to much of his country’s military infrastructure.

It appears President Obama has resigned himself to supporting the same, “military-first” foreign policy as pursued by his three predecessors.  The on-going military operation in Libya illustrates clearly the dramatic shift in how the United States chooses to respond to events in countries far from our shores or interests.

For half a century after WWII, and especially since the creation of the …

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Nanny State Czar Continues Anti-Cell Phone Crusade

Cell phone users, beware! Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s crusade against distracted driving, which includes consideration of an outright ban on cell phone use in vehicles, is back in the news.

Recently, the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports launched a “partnership,” that — with the help of educators — aims to inform teens about the dangers of texting and talking on cell phones while driving. The campaign will include Public Service Announcements to be aired nationwide, explaining the consequences of such activity. Considering the dismal record enjoyed by our public education system in actually educating students about anything, one wonders whether the program will achieve any level of success.

Meanwhile, Consumer Reports released a poll revealing – not surprisingly – that a majority of young drivers talk on cell phones while driving; 63 percent of those under the age of 30. Thirty percent acknowledge texting while driving. The numbers for older …

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GOP’s DNA bill offends Bill of Rights

What the one hand giveth, the other taketh away — words to live by for the Republican majority at the Georgia legislature; which, it seems, just cannot bear to see the power and control of state government lessened.

Last Wednesday, for example, many Georgians had their eyes fixed on the Georgia General Assembly as the Senate debated and subsequently passed SB 10 – legislation that allows local communities to chose whether or not to allow Sunday sales of alcohol. The passage of SB 10 was hailed as a victory for personal liberty; which it was – a baby step, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.

Yet, darned if shortly after passage of the alcohol bill, the Senate moved on SB 80, sponsored by Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) and backed by several of his Republican colleagues. This privacy-invasive, constitutionally-defective measure would authorize government agents to forcibly take a DNA sample from every person in Georgia who is arrested for a felony – not convicted, …

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“Happiness” survey sadly misses the mark

When our Founding Fathers crafted that magnificent document we know as the Declaration of Independence, incorporating those seven words defining true freedom as, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” they had something more important in mind than how well-rested one feels or how many fruits and vegetables one consumes weekly.  Yet, these dietary and sleep habits are among the dozens of “well-being” indices used by Gallup in determining how happy Americans are in this 235th year of our Independence.

The six major categories of “well-being sub-indexes” that comprise the 2010 Gallup-Healthways “Well-Being Index” purporting to gauge how happy we are, includes no factors even remotely related to the concept of liberty that was the foundation of the system created by our truly greatest generation – the one that carved out of tyranny a blueprint for freedom that has long outlived our Founding Fathers’ mortal lives.

That contemporary happiness and well-being is measured not by …

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Power to strip search passengers claimed by Feds

In a breathtaking statement delivered in an official court proceeding, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims authority to strip search every airline passenger; and to begin such a practice without even soliciting comment from the public.

This outrageous statement recently was delivered to the American people by a DHS lawyer in arguments before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considering a challenge to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nude body scanner devices. The suit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Currently TSA, which is a component of DHS, claims authority to subject passengers to either an intrusive hand searches or to x-ray scans that reveal a nude image of the passengers’ bodies. Many, including this author and EPIC, consider such searches unconstitutional as violative of the the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution, which prohibits “unreasonable” …

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Drug database bill is “Obamacare Lite”

During last year’s congressional debate over ObamaCare, many Republican state legislators in Georgia voiced strong opposition to this so-called “reform” law.  Their concerns ranged from the questionable constitutionality of the law, to its cost, and to the destructive manner in which the law would affect the doctor-patient relationship.

How soon they forget.

Here we are, barely a year later, and Georgia Republicans are pushing to enact a prescription drug monitoring database bill, with support from the Obama Administration.  This legislation would have much the same effect on Georgia citizens as the federal legislation – it is of questionable constitutionality, it is costly, and it undercuts the doctor-patient relationship.

Prescription-drug database advocates, however, justify their support for this Big Government proposal because Georgia is the only state in the southeast that has not yet instituted such a database.  They also are clamoring to enact the legislation because …

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Is Uncle Sam shaking down drug companies?

A common synonym for the crime of extortion is “shakedown,” and it is a crime under both state and federal law.  It is a crime, that is, unless it is the government doing the shaking down.  There is perhaps no more graphic illustration of the manner in which the government employs the awesome and far-reaching power of federal law to force corporations into massive monetary settlements, than the explosion in the number of cases brought against pharmaceutical companies in recent years.

Fines paid by pharmaceutical companies to the federal government to settle charges brought against them, has skyrocketed to $4.41 billion (from just $10 million in 1991). Even more revealing is the fact that of the 165 pharmaceutical settlements with the federal government in the past two decades, nearly three-fourths occurred in the past five years.  A settlement that might have resulted from an investigation in the 1990s would have averaged $37 million; today the average settlement is $130 …

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Military action against Qaddafi rests on shaky ground

When President Ronald Reagan ordered American F-111 fighter-bombers, assisted by F-18 and A-6E fighters, to strike at Libyan targets in April 1986, he did so based on strong and clear evidence that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s government had directly ordered the bombing 10 days earlier of a night club in Berlin in which U.S. servicemen were killed. In other words, it was a surgical strike against government installations in a country linked directly to contemporaneous terrorist action against American personnel. It was a successful military operation, even though Qaddafi had been warned of the impending strike by one of his diplomatic supporters, and was able personally to escape the bombs by a matter of minutes.

Now, almost precisely a quarter century later, another American president apparently is contemplating military action of sorts against the very same foreign leader. This time, however, the reason for military action is far more vague — amorphous, even — and …

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GOP resurrecting RealID bugaboo

Like the little girl said in the 1982 movie, Poltergeist, “They’re baaaaack.” In real life, it’s not the evil spirits emerging from haunted television sets that are returning, but the discredited national identification card program, known as “RealID.” This law was passed in 2005 by Republicans in the Congress and supported by President Bush in the White House. Following its launch and multi-year lead-in, however, RealID was widely condemned by privacy advocates from across the ideological spectrum, and by state governors and legislatures concerned with the size of the unfunded mandate it represented.

Facing such broad opposition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the time states would have to comply with the Act’s edicts designed to ensure that all state drivers’ licenses were alike, to May 11, 2011; just two months away. The Act requires, for example, that in order for a state-issued driver’s license to be considered valid identification for any …

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