"We cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity." ~Theodore Roosevelt

March 5, 2005

Democracy Project

I once admired John McCain as the maverick he often plays on TV. I then read his autobiography, and it was unsettling. I can’t quite say what really bothered me about it. Some things just seemed disjointed, and not in a literary or grammatical sense.

The Keating Five scandal was far greater than anything done by Enron executives, but McCain walked away almost unscathed. He operates in Arizona in the same way Robert Byrd does in West Virginia–untouchable due to his Vietnam record and his wife’s family’s influence.

His conflict with Bradley Smith goes back a long way. I wonder if there isn’t something McCain is worried about coming to light, and Smith has the flashlight.

And I’m for just about anyone who is against John McCain. I agree with Winfield Myers:

From my perspective, these amount to many reasons to like Bradley Smith, to believe he’s a man of integrity and courage, and to take heed to what he says. There is a segment of the Establishment that is annoyed by the need to hear criticism of their ideas and policy positions. In the past, they could count on the MSM to beat the drum for their causes and, in most cases, simply ignore their critics. That was certainly true in history of campaign finance “reform,” which was and remains a mandatory article of faith to John McCain and virtually the entire political left.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 7:17 pm

March 4, 2005

Step up to the task

This issue has pretty much pissed me off. Perhaps I’m overreacting. But I’ve followed Ed’s lead, and sent the following to my Congressman and Senators:

The time has come for our politicians (I hesitate to say “representatives” in situations such as this) to strike down what has become the most relentless attack on the First Amendment to Our Constitution.

I operate my own web site, a blog entitled Bunker Mulligan. The URL for this site is www.bunkermulligan.net and I have written there for more than 18 months. I write about a variety of things, including politics. And I have approximately 600 visitors each day interested in what I have to say. I endorsed Dubya, but also took him to task on several issues. I still do. I also receive emails from various advocacy groups, and sometimes post text from those emails. I also link to political candidates’ sites, including those I don’t support. All of these things are my right as an American citizen. And especially as a Texan.

The latest ruling from a Federal judge on the extent of the McCain-Feingold Act has left those of us who comment on matters political in a dark place. My freedom of speech is being taken away from me. I cannot write about politicians and advocate their election or defeat without placing myself in jeopardy of rulings by an unelected bureaucrat at the FEC. Therefore, I expect my elected Senators and Congressman to make sure nobody in the Federal government attempts to restrict my freedoms–those guaranteed by the First Amendment. Apparently, the only way to do this is by rescinding that law. By FEC ruling, it has become unconstitutional.

We in the blogosphere will be watching this issue closely. Personally, I am willing to take this as far as I need to. And be sure that bloggers–some four million of us–will support that action.

As we watch the events in the Middle East, we often react with joy and support for those who are getting their first taste of the rights we are supposed to enjoy in this country. As they move forward toward more open societies and governments, will my Senators and Congressman stand by as those very rights are being stripped from me?

At least my Congressman now has email–a step in the right direction.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 1:45 pm

McCain-Feingold and the FEC

Whether you are Daily Kos (liberal), Glenn Reynolds (libertarian), PowerLine (conservative), or little old Bunker Mulligan (call me what you will), this should concern you.

There have been constant attacks on Americans in general and media in particular by the Federal Government almost from day one of this nation. Politicians do not like unfettered opinion. The Federal bureaucracy likes it even less. And every one of us in the blogosphere is in danger of the Federal Government acting in violation of its own mandate. It has done so many times in the past, and will continue to do so as long as it feels it can.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

In the last few years, the UN and other internationalists have attempted to take control of the internet. Now, our own Federal Election Commission wants to do the same. None of these people want folks like us to voice our opinions. Neither do those in traditional media, and right now that group are probably huddling to see how they can press this issue to limit blogs while leaving themselves free of those limitations. The first attempt is to lay claim to the “free press” phrase of the Amendment and ignore the “free speech” portion.

Consider for a moment the influence of the blogosphere. The three blogs I mentioned at the outset receive more than a million hits each day–each. There are very few newspapers in this country that have that kind of circulation. And there are even fewer television news organizations with that kind of viewership. Those three sites and the longer tail of our smaller ones have had a significant impact on the national discourse in the last few years. Trent Lott felt it. John Kerry felt it. Dan Rather felt it. None liked it. John McCain lives in fear that some of his skeletons will be dragged out of the closet when he decides to run in 2008. So do many others.

The folks at the FEC have no fear of that. They simply want control–as do all bureaucrats. It matters not whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Control. Cloakroom deals. Standard fare.

When bloggers write about any politician or governmental act, they are offering up their opinion and trying to make sense of what it all means. Some try to influence things, others simply blow off steam. Still more want to point out something that has been left out by MSM. Such was the case with the three instances I mentioned above. We in the blogosphere do not replace traditional media; We augment it by providing background information and delivering a story MSM didn’t feel it had time to or didn’t want. Some in government and media don’t like that. We have no “journalistic credentials".

The FEC is currently looking at coordinated activity on the internet between campaigns and blogs or forums. That sounds innocent enough, but who can say where it will lead? What do they mean by coordination? Can I retain a link on my site to the campaign web site for a candidate? If I receive emails from Kinky Friedman’s campaign and post that information on my site, have I violated the FEC regulations? If so, who gave them the authority to overrule my Constitutional rights?

This bears watching. Politicians and bureaucrats, whether American or international, see the internet as a threat to their personal survival. One place you can check on a regular basis is The First Amendment Center

I will.

****UPDATE****

Ed Morrissey has already tried to contact both senators on this issue, but his emails bounced back. Let’s all join Ed and notify your own senators.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 12:16 pm

Insanity at the FEC

Sorry. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees me, and everyone else on the internet, freedom of speech. If McCain-Feingold makes political discourse on the internet illegal, then McCain-Feingold is, itself, unconstitutional.

The judge’s decision is in no way limited to ads. She says that any coordinated activity over the Internet would need to be regulated, as a minimum. The problem with coordinated activity over the Internet is that it will strike, as a minimum, Internet reporting services.

I have placed a link to a local politician’s web site on my local news blog. I did it for free. He called two nights ago asking me for an “in-kind” value so he could report it as a campaign donation. He wanted to be sure nobody came back to him later and claimed he didn’t report all contributions.

Okay. Ads are probably something that may need to be reported, even when posted free of charge.

But my personal freedom to write what I want to write will not be infringed.

Come and get me.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 10:42 am

March 3, 2005

Using a mouse?

Kev has a sad piece which all you DOS-heads will appreciate.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 5:36 am

March 2, 2005

The Supremes

We need to consider the 5-4 decision by the US Supreme court in slightly different tones than does Deacon. His concern in this post is about numbers and words. I look at it in what some would say are simpler terms.

Our nation was formed, and our Constitution written, in direct opposition to the way things were done in Europe. Now it appears we have Supreme Court justices who want to impose the will of European elites on the American people.

Does that make any sense at all?

Filed under: — Bunker @ 7:13 pm

Clothes Horse

Dave has some fashion tips today:

When you go out to buy some pajamas to blog in be aware that not all pajamas are created equal. While there are many fine pajamas out there, watch out for imposters of inferior quality and materials and keep in mind that price isn’t always an accurate measure of quality.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 4:02 pm

Success

Our public education system has been driving toward one goal in regards to students for many years now: Everyone gets a college education.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? In this push, all else has been relegated to the background. And there is a single, obvious problem with universal college education–not every job requires it.

So, how many jobs do? More important, how many don’t?

We’ve all heard stories of the college graduate that can’t find a job. What the story was really about was a college graduate who couldn’t find a job doing what he/she studied in college. Regardless of degree. I don’t have a solid idea of how many jobs there are in this country which don’t require a college education. There are quite a few that don’t require even a high school education. But if 90% of the people in this country graduate from college, most of them will find they have to work in a job that doesn’t require all that education.

How many truck drivers do we need? How many dry cleaners hire college grads? Most technicians have no college, even though most are doing demanding jobs. Think about the plumbers, electricians, air conditioning repairmen, roofers, masons, carpenters, landscapers, glaziers, welders, automobile repairmen, and machinists. Hanging sheetrock isn’t a glamorous job, but it can pay well, and requires experience to do well. I would venture to guess that your average college graduate cannot do any of those jobs well. I’m a mechanical engineer and can do a lot of those jobs, but in no way are my skills at the same level as theirs. When I need that kind of work done, I hire someone with the skills. And they charge me the going rate. Entrepreneurs.

The only way to become a millionaire is to own and operate your own business, and/or be extremely fastidious. College helps, but isn’t the total answer.

So how do you measure success? The Education Establishment measures success in college diplomas. Ask the guy running his own music store how he measures success.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 12:28 pm

Special Report

Happy Independence Day!

Filed under: — Bunker @ 5:49 am

March 1, 2005

Has the World Really Begun to Change?

Back in August I wrote about where the invasion of Iraq might take us. I laid out my personal view of what the outcome would be if we stayed the course, and I expressed my hope that all in this country would support the effort that we had. Being for or against going into Iraq should have made way for a unified America working toward the goal of success. The potential for change in the Middle East was, in my opinion, enormous.

Later, in October, I wrote an imaginary history of this time. Dubya understands his own legacy will be written long after he is gone. I took some license.

The changes in the world dynamic were a direct result of America’s decision to end Islamofascism. Beirut is once again a thriving international city. Iraq has become the economic center of the Middle East with oil and food exports supporting the entire region. Jordan’s agreement with Israel to build a pipeline and desalination plant promises to turn the desert area east of Amman into a green zone. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are now having to make some tough decisions, and are moving more toward the model in Turkey. Iran has redirected its nuclear efforts toward energy generation, and now exports more oil than any country in the region while still providing adequate electricity for its own consumption and sale across borders to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria still struggles with no oil and little farm land, but is considering water importation through a pipeline to mimic Jordanian efforts.

I’ve not written anything about the events in Lebanon and Egypt, but have been watching closely. We send a lot of money to Egypt each year, still making payments on the agreement Sadat made with Carter. Lebanon is a sad tale–a once-thriving nation overcome by civil war and takeover by Palestinian terrorists and the Syrian army. Things are changing in both countries.

The Bush Doctrine. It is on the threshold. It can still fail. Some in this country and abroad–"allies” I think they are called–still want to see it fail. If it fails, the imaginary history I wrote will not come to pass. Instead, a much greater war will ensue. For those of you who are still anti-war, consider that potentiality.

I have no claim to prognosticative power. But, I hope I was right in my guess and assessment of the situation in both of those posts.

****UPDATE****

And now I find this. I think the answer to my question is “Yes.”

Filed under: — Bunker @ 6:30 pm

Illegal Aliens

Wimps.

A frustrated Arizona lawmaker says he will push a proposal next year to give American workers the right to sue companies that fire them while keeping illegal immigrants on the payroll. Violators would have their state business licenses suspended.

Legislators don’t have the guts to do what needs to be done. So, they decide to write laws that allow the citizenry to clog up the court system with suits to do what law enforcement should be allowed to do in the first place.

Trial lawyers will be pleased. As will immigration lawyers.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 6:39 am

Judicial Nominees

Joseph Farah has three questions for judicial nominees:

  • Do you believe the original intent of the founders should be considered when weighing the constitutionality of a law?
  • Do you believe the Constitution is a “living document,” whose actual meaning changes with the times?
  • From where do people get their rights?

I agree with the premise. And the reason. Hearings on nominees have become nothing but political theater. All that Senators need to know about a nominee is in the public record. A simple yes or no to the first two questions and a simple response to the third should end all questioning.

Americans don’t need black-robed justices divining the meaning of the Constitution. The Constitution was written by our Founding Fathers as a document that could be understood by ordinary citizens without law degrees from Harvard or Yale – or even in spite of such credentials.

Which is why I support the idea of someone like Andrew Napolitano or Newt Gingrich as a justice. Knowledge of the Constitution and the history that created it is far more important than years on an appellate court reading depositions.

Filed under: — Bunker @ 6:34 am