Posted by: nhfalcon | October 18, 2011

Have You Seen My Country Lately?

… is a book by Jerry Doyle that was published in 2010. Doyle, for those of you who don’t know, is currently a conservative talk show radio host. He also ran for Congress as a Republican a while back (and lost). He is perhaps still best known as the actor who portrayed Security Chief Michael Alfredo Garibaldi on the TV series Babylon 5. I picked up the audiobook version of “Have You Seen My Country Lately” for next to nothing just before Border’s went out of business. Numerous quotes from it stuck out to me as I listened to it, so I took out a copy of it from the local library to make it easier to transcribe them for this post.

I’ll add my own comments in italics where I deem necessary. Otherwise, everything you are about to read is a direct quote from Mr. Doyle’s book (though not necessarily in the order they appear in the book)…

* As I survey the political, economic, moral, and social landscape of America, I’m left wondering where my country, the country I knew, has gone. Many of our biggest private companies are now owned by the federal government. Our banking system has been bailed out by taxpayers and, for the most part, nationalized. Our government is inflating the cuurency, running up unsustainable deficits that will surely burden future generations, taxing us a record rates, and promising to confiscate even more personal wealth on behalf of the village idiots. Our politicians are hand-in-glove with financial criminals, deadbeats, special interests, lobbyists, and leeches. Our media is asleep at the wheel, more concerned about the death of a washed-up singer, a missing blonde, a runaway bride, or an overboard groom than the destruction of our capitalist economy. Our military heroes have been torn down with accusations of murder, torture, and abuse, while bottom-feeders are held up as champions.

Have you seen my country lately?

If you have, please let me know where it is – I’d like to go there. I’d like to go to a country where equality of opportunity is the rule, not equality of the result. I’d like to return to a country where property rights mean something. I’d like to find a country where parents can let their children walk the streets without fear, where cops, firefighters, and members of the military are treasured, and where the freedom and entreprenurial spirit that bring prosperity are still the standard.

That second paragraph, by the way, is what Tea Partiers are talking about, in part, when we say we want to take the country back. Not to when there was still slavery, or when women couldn’t vote. The other part of “taking the country back” is taking it back from the kind of people Doyle is talking about in the first paragraph. Questions?

* What, precisely, is wrong with our souls? Those tired old notions of personal responsibility. Capitalism. Individual liberty. The Constitution. Success and failure. Risk and reward. Mom and Dad. Family structure. Anything and everything traditional. Everything and anything that has made this country what it is. And all of that needs to change.

Why? Why does all of that need to change? What’s wrong with those values? At its core, those values define conservatism. Not racism. Not misogony. Not homophobia. Not islamophobia or anti-semitism. Not greed. Questions?

* “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” – George Bernard Shaw.

* “After years of historic deficits, this new Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: pay as you go, no new deficit spending. Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.” – Nancy Pelosi.

Uh-huh. How’d that work out for ya?

* “As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the wepons inspection process.” – Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998

* “In the four years since the inspectors left… intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all to well affects American security.” – Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

* “One way or the other… we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missilesto deliver them. That is our bottom line.” – Bill Clinton, February 4, 1998

* “I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons… I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out.” – William Cohen, April 2003

* “He will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has ten times since 1983.” – Sandy Berger

* “He has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction, and palaces for his cronies.” – Madeleine Albright

Wait, what? I thought only George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and all those evil Republicans were the only people who believed Hussein had WMDs? What are all those liberals doing making statements like that?!

I’m so disillusioned now…

* “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at.” – Bill Ayers, unrepentant former member of the Weather Underground and donator to Obama’s 2008 campaign.

* “Did we do something that was horrendous, awful?… I don’t think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable… We destroyed property in a fairly restrained level , given what we were up against… I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Would he do it again? “I don’t want to discount the possibility.” – Bill Ayers.

* When confronted with the argument that payroll taxes would increase the already gargantuan unemployment rates, for example, FDR merely stated, “I guess you’re right on the economics, but those taxes were never a problem of economics. They were politics all the way through.”

I don’t really need to add anything to that, do I?

* As of 2004:

The top 1 percent of earners, who made 19 percent of the country’s total income, paid 37 percent of the total income taxes.

The top 5 percent, who earned 33 percent of the country’s total income, paid 57 percent of the total income taxes.

The top 10 percent, who made 44 percent of the country’s total income, paid 57 percent of the total income taxes.

The bottom 50 percent, who earned 13 percent of the country’s total income, paid a whopping 3 percent.

Don’t bother quoting those figures to any of the “Occupy” folks. They’ll tell you you’re wrong, your sources are wrong, your sources are lying to you, your sources are taking the figures out of context, blardy,blardy, blar…

* The express purpose of the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit): “to provide an incentive to work.” Because, apparently, you need a government handout in order to feel the incentive to work. In fact, you can only get an EITC if you make less than $33,995 for a taxpayer with one qualifying child and $38,646 for a taxpayer with more than one qualifying child, which makes the EITC an incentive not to work.

* That’s what the government seeks to promote: a class of voters who are unafraid to take from other people because they are “special.” The rules of fair play don’t apply to them, because the world owes them something. A group of voters who somehow feel that competition is indecent, because that would entail objective measurements of worth. A mass of voters who hate capitalism and all it stands for because it is “mean” and “unfair.” That’s what the goverment needs: future voters who believe they are incredible and different – and who will come to rely on the government to provide for them each and every day.

Kinda sounds like the Occupy Wall Street folks, huh?

* Obama clearly has no idea how salary works in the financial industry. He caps pay for “executives”, but does not define executives. Are “executives” anybody making over $500,000? Anybody with “VP” next to their name? Anybody who gets a key to the executive washroom? Obama doesn’t say, because he doesn’t know. He just knows what sounds good.

There’s a reason pay has been so high in the financial industry. With the general exeception of retail brokers, executives, investment bankers, traders, those in mergers and acqusitions, and most everyone else on Wall Street are compensated with one large annual bonus and a decent base salary. The bonus is based on a pool for each division and the money allocated in the pool is based on that division’s contribution to the firm that year. It’s basically a commission-based system, a simple structure that in the past has allowed banks to correctly allocate salaries based o nperformance – you get a big bonus if you make a big profit for your division. Is the government going to cap the bonus that traders earn from actual deals they generate? What is the incentive to continue to do business if you know you’ve done enough to make that $500,000? You might as well take the rest of the year off.

Wait, what? I have to earn what I get paid?! I have to work?! And if I don’t work as hard as some other guy I won’t get paid as much as that other guy?! That’s not fair!

Moving on…

* Congress pounced (on the automobile company CEOs). One of the more memorable moments of the House Financial Services Committee Hearing on November 18,2008, came courtesy of Gary Ackerman (D – NY), who straightened the carnation in his lapel and said, “There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and the people coming off them with tin cups in their hand saying that they’re going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses. It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in a high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little suspicious. Couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you get it.”

This is a bit hypocritical, to say the least. While Congressman Ackerman was inquiring about whether the CEOs “got it” with regard to fiscal responsibility at shareholder expense, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was planning a one-week trip to Italy on a government-owned 737 at taxpayer expense. The price tag for the flight alone: $200,000, ten times the price tag for Wagoner’s (the CEO of GM at the time) flight. Seven fellow Democrats accompanied Pelosi on the trip. One of them was Gary Ackerman of New York, carnation blazing in his lapel. So much for “getting it.”

“Hello, Pot, my name is Kettle.”

* Meanwhile, those risky (home mortgage) loans flowed like water, in particular to unqualified minorities. In 1992, Democrats required than Fannie and Freddie increase loans to low-income (“victims!”) and medium-income borrowers (“victims!”), particularly racial minorities (“victims!”). Andrew Cuomo, President Clinton’s secretary of housing and urban development, suggested that Fannie and Freddie give 50% of its loans to low- and medium-income borrowers. Under intense pressure from congressional Democrats, Freddie Mac watered down its underwriting standards an incredible twenty-eight times, and allowed applicants  with no credit history to receive loans. Even more amazing, Democrats forced Freddie Mac to allow applicants to claim income from seasonal jobs and public assistance, including food stamps, toward loan-qualifying income minimums. It wasn’t only Democrats who were covering for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, by the way – Shifty Paulson (Doyle’s nickname for Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush from 2006 – 2009) similarly assured us that Fannie and Freddie were “adequately capitalized.” In the year leading up to Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s nationalization, they ran up a debt of $1.6 trillion. Then, for all intents and purposes, they were nationalized. All at taxpayer expense! And what did this get us? In the fourth quarter of 2008 alone, Fannie Mae reported a staggering loss of $25.2 billion, and turned to the taxpayer for another $15.2 billion, which they received.

* Liberal policy makers then took the “cash for clunker-borrowers” program and decided to kick it up another notch. They allowed minority applicants to claim entitlements as income for purposes of their applications. That’s right – no joke – thay allowed applicants to write down their welfare payments and food stamps as a proper source of income. One Freddie Mac program, aptly entitled “Affordable Gold,” allowed borrowers to make down payments from entitlements and even from nonprofits; if you could sucker the Red Cross into putting up a few grand, you’d get the mortgage. These loans, by the way, defaulted four times more often than normal loans.

So, um, whose fault was the housing collapse? The banks’ or the government’s?

* The most important myth propagated by liberals all across America is that 45 million Americans have no health insurance, and therefore no access to health care. That’s a phony statistic. What politicians fail to mention is that the “48 million uninsured” figure includes about ten million illegal immigrants. Over nine million of the “uninsured” live in households with incomes above $75,000. About 30 percent of those “uninsured” lack insurance for only six months or less. And according to Pipes, “as many as 12 million uninsured Americans are eligible for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – but haven’t signed up.” When you subtract all the people who are in this country illegally, voluntarily do not have insurance, or just haven’t applied for it, the total number of uninsured Americans is a fraction of the 45 million that we hear repeated over and over again.

With this administration, branding is the key, whether that branding is the truth or not. The reality is that we have eight to nine million chronically uninsured people that we should be focused on helping. What we don’t need is a program designed to save the other 37 million people who don’t need it.

Then there’s the lie that uninsured people have no access to health care. This is absolutely false. The federal government passed a law in 1986 that requires  any hospital that participates in Medicare to accept any patient that comes through the emergency room door and provide care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Do not believe politicians who blather that America must be ashamed because “people in this country do not have access to medical care”; it’s a flat-out lie. Everyone in this country has access to medical care, and most hospitals are required to provide it.

* The tax revenue from my pack of cigarettes is paying for your kid’s health care. I choose to smoke, but I do not choose to pay for someone else’s medical insurance. You had the kid. You pay the freight. Unless I was invited to the conception and birth, I don’t want to be responsible for paying your kid’s medical coverage.

But in the liberal worldview, everybody is responsible for everybody’s medical coverage. Which means that everybody gets to decide whether you really need that new hip, or whether you’re just whining about it. It means that everybody gets to decide whether you or poor sick little Billy deserves chemo. Here’s the problem with “it takes a villiage” medical care – medical care is inherently about the individual, and socialistic medicine is inherently about the community. When you’ve got a broken leg, you’re not concerned about the rest of the folks in the hospital – you want your damn leg fixed this very instant. In a socialistic system, your broken leg might have to wait for Bentley Boy’s sprained ankle.

Liberals love it. They believe that they’re the brightest, smartest folks who ever lived. And they believe that they should be in control of idiots like me and you.

* And here’s an even bigger question: Why not just make it illegal to smoke tobacco? The government wants us to stop smoking – we just spent $75 million in Obama’s stimulus behemoth in order to create programs to get people to quit smoking (perhaps Obama can be the first beneficiary). Yet they won’t just ban cigarettes. That would be the easiest way of stopping people from smoking. We could have a modern-day Tobacco Prohibition. We could stand up for health. We could stop lung cancer right in its tracks. We could do it “for the children.” And the Democrats and Republicans have the votes to do it. So why not?

The answer is simple: they don’t want to make it illegal. First off, they want to milk the tobacco companies for all they’re worth. the same Democrats who say they just want to “help the children” are taking boatloads of greenbacks from companies in the tobacco industry. Over the last decade, Democrats from New York have gotten rich from the tobacco folks: former Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Charles Schumer took $5,000 each; Rep Gregory Meeks took $17,000; Rep. Joseph Crowley took $17,000; Rep. Edolphus Towns took $14,450; and Rep. Charlie “I’m Investigating Myself” Rangel took a whopping $44,000. Only one Republican took more money than Rangel – Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who pocketed $48,000. In California, it’s the same story: Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson took $26,000; Rep. Dennis Cardoza took $26,500; and Rep. Joe Baca led the Democratic pack with $28,310. The only Republican who received more money than the Democrats was Rep. Devin Nunes at $44,500. Even in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) took $23,000 from the evil tobacco industry.

They want the tobacco industry to stay in business, and they want smokers to smoke. All so they can pocket everyone’s money, control your life, and do it “for the children.” And they want you to smoke “for the children” so that they can expand their control even further, by taking over the health care system.

* As we spent year after year at the Glendella, I started feeling grown up – after all, I was already ten. All the adults were sitting around after dinner one night, smoking cigars. Yes – cigars, indoors in front of the children. (We all survived.) My dad noticed me eyeing his cigar.

“You want to try this?” he asked.

I nodded eagerly.

“Do you know how to smoke?” he asked.

I shook my head no but I had watched my mom and dad smoke every day of my life.

How hard could it be?

“Well,” he said, “you breathe out, then you put the cigar in your mouth, and you suck in as much as you can. Then you blow it out.”

With that, he handed me the cigar. With the entire dining room looking on, I exhaled as hard as I could and then stuck the stogie between my teeth, just like in the movies. I inhaled as much as I could and for a split second I had pulled it off.

Then I turned green, started coughing and spitting, and the entire room cracked up. Funny funny ha ha.

That was Dad teaching me the responsibility that comes with choice (emphasis mine). I wasn’t ready for a cigar much less a cigarette, and he knew it – but he also knew that I’d find a way to try it unless he showed me why I wasn’t ready for it. Nowadays, they’d probably drag him down to the courthouse for that lesson. Then, it was seen for what it was: a good teaching tool and a laugh or two.

My parents did something similar with me, by the way. Prior to my freshman year in high school they pulled me aside and basically said, “Look, we know you’re going to be going to parties now that you’re in high school, and we know the opportunity is going to be there, more often than not, to drink alcohol. Telling you not to do it is a waste of breath – you’re a teenager, after all – so go ahead and do it. Just remember these things: 1) for the love of God do NOT drink and drive. If you’re that far gone, call us and we’ll come get you. You will not get in trouble. 2) Just because we’re giving you our permission to drink doesn’t mean you’re above the law. If a cop busts you for underage drinking, you’re going to suffer the punishment coming to you under the law. And, finally, 3) do NOT expect any sympathy from us the next moring when you’re hung over. We’re going to turn on every light in the house, we’re going to turn up the volume on every tv and radio in the house, and we’re going to make you the slimiest, greasiest breakfast we can think of.”

Surprise, surprise – I never became a big drinker.

* With the anticompetition, “everybody’s special” ethic in mind, it’s no wonder so many kids are trained to feel entitled. They never lose at tag, because they never play tag. A school in Santa Monica, California, banned tag in 2002 because it creates self-esteem issues, since somebody has to be “it.”

* Harvard University professor Harvey Mansfield puts it this way, “It (the “everybody’s special” ethic) has created a new atmosphere of consumerism among the students, who are demanding high grades, always negotiating for higher grades, and insisting on being able to produce a transcript that is near perfection. They are afraid of getting a ‘B,’ if you can imagine that.”

I’m reminded of a paper I wrote for my very first Education class when I embarked upon my Master’s Degree back in 2004. I remember writing something to the effect of if a student wanted to feel good about himself in my class, he needed to pass my class, and the only way he was going to do that was by doing all of the work assigned to him, turning it in on time, and doing it to the best of his ability. I wasn’t going to be an ogre, but I also was going to make it plain that little Billy’s or little Mary’s precious ego is none of my damn concern. I’m here to teach them, not raise them. Raising them is their parents’ job, not mine.

* A listener to my radio show e-mailed me back in 2005 something I reread often to remind me of the way it used to be – and in a lot of ways still is today. I don’t know if Charlie B is the author, but whoever wrote it nailed it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

TO THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED

the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s

First, we survived being born to mothers who smaoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing, and didn’t get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright-colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup on a warm day was always a special treat. We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and NO ONE actually died from this

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING! We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able ot reach us all day. And we were okay.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After runnig inot the bushes a few times, we learned how to solve the problem. We did not have PlayStations, Nintendos, Xboxes, no video games at all, no ninety-nine channels on cable, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms… WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told  it would happen , we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever! The past fifty years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success, and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS! Send this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?

I think I want to meet Charlie B.

* If the media pointed its billion-dollar technology-delivery system at a grapefruit, and if reporters from around the world asked the grapefruit their “compelling” questions, striving to deliver the “real” story about that grapefruit, within a reasonably short period of time we could parade that grapefruit across the country and people would come out of their homes and businesses, cheering, weeping, and screaming, “Hey, that’s the grapefruit I saw on TV!”

This is the “Grapefruit Mentality.”

* It’s 6:45 on a Monday morning in 1968. A five foot two, 102-pound twelve-year-old boy leaves home alone, in the dark, to head off to school. His first trek is a five-block walk to the bus stop. Then begins an eight-block bus ride to the junction in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York. He then jumps on the No. 3 train to Franklin Avenue, where he gets off and waits for the uptown train to Manhattan. Upon arriving at the 14th Street station he hasa three-block walk to Xavier High School, the all-boy Jesuit penal colony where a full military uniform is worn every day. At the end of the school day and some extracurricular activities, the process is repeated in reverse, arriving home in the dark. Total time round-trip was anywhere from two to three hours. This happened every day, day after day, week after week, year after year. All without a cell phone, GPS, a credit card, an RFID chip in his head, and carrying about a $1.50 in his pocket just in case. Somehow he managed to live and tell the story. That story is my story.

If the media today found out that my mother allowed that same twelve-year-old to embark on that very same trek, there’s a very strong possibility she’d be on Child Protective Services speed dial.

* In 2008, New York-based syndicated columnist Lenore Skenazy allowed her nine-year-old son to shop by himself at Bloomingdale’s, then take the subway and bus home by himself. “Was I worried?” she wrote. “Yes, a tinge. But it didn’t strike me as that daring, either. Isn’t New York as safe now as it was in 1963? It’s not like we’re living in downtown Baghdad. She didn’t give her son a cell phone – she didn’t want him to lose it. And she didn’t watch him. “I trusted him to ask a stranger,” Skenazy said. “And then I even trusted that stranger not to think, ‘Gee, I was about to catch my train home, but now I think I’ll abduct this adorable child instead.'”

The outcome? “Long story short: my son got home, ecstatic with independence. Long story longer, and analyzed, to boot: Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse.”

It wasn’t just the people she knew. Half the country wanted to turn her in for child abuse. The day after Skenazy’s column came out, she appeared on the Today show; she was grilled by Ann Curry, who asked, “Is she an enlightened mom or a really bad one?” The title under Skenazy’s picture: “America’s Worst Mom?”

* Studies show that there are just 115 “stereotypical kidnappings” – defined as “a nonfamily abduction perepetrated by a slight acquaintance or stranger in which a child is detained overnight, transported at least fifty miles, held for ransom or abducted with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed” – per year. That is in a country of over 300 million people. In fact, each person under the age of eighteen has approximately a 1:1,605,620 chance of being the victim of such a kidnapping. And that’s just for kids under eighteen – the numbers go down for children under eleven.

But if you watch the media, there’s no way to know that. According to the media, there are child rapists lurking around every corner, child murderers behind every bush, and “stranger dangers” everywhere.

There’s a problem worse than overprotective parents, though: the problem of media malfeasance. While the talking heads were busy talking about Smart’s abduction, America was at war in afghanistan and preparing to go to war in Iraq. While the commentators were blustering about Holloway, the Supreme Court was stripping away American’s property rights in Kelo v New London.

* While kidnapped kids are newsworthy on some level, what isn’t newsworthy is the death of has-been celebrities. Such updates deserve thirty seconds of chitchat. Instead, they receive days-long odes. When alleged pedophile and singer Michael “It Doesn’t Matter if I’m Black or White” Jackson dropped dead at age fifty on June 25, 2009, the media went crazy – for ten straight days. Every major media outlet mourned around-the-clock the so-called King of Pop – a man who hadn’t released an album in eight years. He was heralded as an Elvis-type figure, a demigod with magical talent and mystical cultural properties.

Amidst all the hubbub, hardly anybody reported on Barack Obama’s cap and trade bill, which passed through the House of Representatives. That version of the bill would have required the America lower its percapita carbon emissions to 1875 levels. You read that right: 1875. When horses were all the rage and black people were still being lynched (but we’re getting screamed at for wanting to take the country back to a time when blacks were property and women couldn’t vote?! Hello, Pot!).

Here’s a country that has 1875 carbon levels: Haiti. How’s that working out for them? They’ve got 47 percet illiteracy and a life expectancy of forty-nine years. Sounds like a typical worker’s paradise.

And to achieve that tremendous benefit, just think of the low, low cost: only $1,600 per household, increases in gasoline pricesof up to $2.53, and increases in electricity costs by up to 129 percent. What a deal!

Pushing a 1,200-page Crap N’ Tax bill through the House wasn’t the only thing going on. as the media replayed Thriller for the ten thousandth time, things were exploding in Iran and Honduras. The Iranian government, which had been threatened by popular rioting, was declaring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the president of Iran – and Obama was figuring his best “nonarrogant” U.S. response. In Honduras, a leftist would-be dictator named Manuel Zelaya was ousted from the country by the Honduran Supreme Court, Congress, and military – and Obama was condemning the country and asking for Zelaya’s reinstallation.

But you didn’t hear about any of that, did you? After all, it wasn’t just Michael Jackson who died that weekend: we also lost Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon. So I understand if you were distracted from the federal government’s $80 billion cash influz to non-TARP company General Electric – which, not coincidentally, owns NBC.

While Brian Williams was busy shedding distraction tears over the loss of Billy Mays, the OxiClean spokesman, and a personal friend, his bosses were quietly pocketing taxpayer cash handed over by the Obama administration.

The media doesn’t just serve as a distraction from the real news, though: it makes politicians into stars and stars into politicians. Think Obama, a no-name senator from Illinois, elected in 2004, now sitting in the White House. Think of Saturday Night Live alum Al Franken sitting in the Senate.

The media can turn a grapefruit into a star.

The media recognizes its own power – and it uses that power to manufacture grapefruit stars every single day. Then it uses those new stars to blind us to the real stories. It’s a purposeful government-media alliance, and it’s designed to keep you away from the truth.

* By the way, as the media focused incessantly on (Carrie) Prejean and (Perez) Hilton , there were soem other, minor items in the news: Obama was risking our national security by releasing CIA memos about our interrogation methods; Obama was considering converting bank bailouts into equity shares, which would give the government controlling stakes in the nation’s major financial institutions; Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretary, was defending a report labeling anyone  who didn’t like big government a “right wing extremist” capable of terrorism; Obama was preparing to lash out at credit card companies and rewrite their rules.

But Prejean and Perez – the Grapefruit Sisters – were clearly more important than any of these little issues.

* The New York Times inexplicably gave Obama a 855-word review (for Dreams From My Father). Reviews that length are unheard of for no-name first-time authors, let alone no-name first-time authors writing self-serving autobiographies. And it wasn’t just a review – it was a drooling, sycophantic ewview. “All men live in the shadow of their fathers – the more distant the father, the deeper the shadow,” gushed Paul Watkins. “Barack Obama describes his confrontation with this shadow in his provocative autobiography… and he also persuasively descrbes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither… Mr. Obama was born into a cultural milieu than on the surface made for perfect social and racial diversity, but living such a life proved extraordinarily difficult.”

Yes, Obama had such a tough childhood that he could afford cocaine, live the high life in Hawaii, pay the bills at the wholly private Occidental College, and then go on to Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

* By the time of the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Obama was a Senate candidate. Because he was young, black, and extremely articulate, he was given the honor of delivering the keynote address. It was, reportedly, the first time he had used a teleprompter; a lifelong love affair began. Despite the fact that Obama’s speech was not very different from those delivered by VP candidate John Edwards and presidential candidate John Kerry – in fact, one line in Obama’s original draft was so similar to Kerry’s that Kerry insisted the line be cut (emphasis mine) – Obama was feted by every newspaper and media outlet in existence.

* Meanwhile, the media busied itself tearing down Hillary Clinton, treating her like an aging mistress. Hillary supporter and ultrawealthy founder of the Shorenstein Center on the Press and Politics at Harvard University, Walter Shorenstein, wrote a memo to Democratic superdelegates complaining about the media bias against Hillary. “Is it in the country’s best interest that voters received far more information about Hillary’s laugh than Obama’s legislative record?” Shorenstein asked. “Our democracy depends upon upon the fourth estate to fulfill the uniquely critical role of informing voters about the important issues facing our nation, yet far too often, the campaign coverage has been biased, blase, or baseless.”

* While the media focused on Hillary’s mental lapse about her trip to Bosnia…, they utterly ignored Obama’s deep and abiding relationships with radical racialist Jeremiah Wright, unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, unrepentant terrorist spokesman Rashid Khalidi, the voter fraud group ACORN, and anti-Israeli Merrill McPeak, Samantha Powers, and Robert Malley, among others. They overlooked his gaffes – fifty-seven states, anyone? – and his outright fabrications on his policy positions. They did not press him on who he was or why he was running; instead, they focused on Hillary’s pantsuits.

* Obsessed with his self-image, enamored of hearing his voice on TV, Obama has actually usurped the power of the press. Now members of the press, including super-liberal Helen Thomas are upset about Obama’s habit of rigging his press conferences. “What the hell do they think we are, puppets?” she complained on July 1, 2009. Well, yes. Mainly because you are puppetts, dancing for the master. Next time Obama lies, catch him on it rather than laughing at one of his stupid jokes. Then perhaps Obama will start treating you like reporters rather than housebroken pooches.

Maybe Helen Thomas isn’t such a bad old dame, after all…

* Why do so many people not trust the police, firefighters, and military anymore? Why do these people see them as alternatively incompetent, stupid, and brutal? Why is it that our illustrious president once opined on national television that, although he did not know the facts of the case, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police “acted stupidly” when responding to a 911 caller who reported a suspected house break-in?

Here’s why: our society confuses heroes and victims with perpetrators.

Those who gamed the financial system – the myriad bankers and financial institutions who profited handsomely from the inflationary monetary policies of the 1990s and 2000s – are portrayed as victims. They’re perpetrators, not victims.

The fools who bought mortgages with 0 percent down, lied about their income, and then abandoned those homes when real estate values dropped are seen as victims. They’re not victims – they’re perpetrators.

Soldiers who engage in hard-nosed acts in order to keep us safe at night are seen as perpetrators. They’re not perpetrators – they’re heroes. Soldiers who are killed on the battlefields protecting our rights are seen as victims. Nuts! They’re not victims – they’re heroes.

* Stephen Wilbanks, a Marine vet who, at thirty-five, thought he was too old to reenlist, rejoined the Marines in the aftermath of September 11. Here’s what he had to say about “Going Green Again,” as quoted by Matthew Currier Burden in The Blog of War, an essential read for all Americans:

“As I watch the kickoff of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom from the sidelines, I couldn’t stand the fact that Marines were out there doing what Marines do and here I was, a man of eligible age, riding the bench… Serving my country is not a four-year contract. It is a lifelong membership fee. It is a deeply personal obligation and it is certainly not time “to be done” like some felony prison sentence. It is nothing short of an honor that I hol in the highest regard, and honor I must prove worthy of, an honor that must be earned every single day.”

Bloggers questioned why Wilbanks would reenlist despite having a family, a wife, and kids. This was his response:

“Without question, my family is the single most important part of my life on earth. But just what kind of husband and father do I want for my family? What kind of man do I want my wife to devote her life to? When my children are grown, what is the picture of their father going to look like in their minds? I will tell you: I want my beloved wife to go through her days without a shadow of a doubt  that the man she married is a man of honor and committment, a man that knows there are things in life worth giving one’s own life for, if necessary. I want her, as she looks out upon all of the world’s deceptions, falseness, infidelity and evil, to know that her husband is on the right side of things.

I want my children to have a father that they can unwaveringly look up to as an example. I want them to grow up not with an attitude of entitlement, but with a sense of duty, honor, obligation, and reward. I want to teach them that wedon’t always say, “Let the other guy do it.” Instead, I want them to learn that there are times when we must ask, “If not me, then who?” I want to be the best father I can be, and I can think of no better lessons to teach them than the value of honor, integrity, dedication, perseverance, and selflessness. I can offer no better example for my family than to strive to live those values every day in my own personal life.”

Now THAT is someone to look up to!

* I’ve seen my country lately. Frankly I don’t like what I see. Nevertheless, it’s not too late to restore the great and unique wonder that is the United States. It’s never too late. The moment we think it’s too late and give up, darkness enshrouds us. Too many people have become feeble, weak, compliant, and dependent on government. We are the beacon of hope for the world, and we will remain so as long as we stay true to our principles – and that means standing up for our principles. As the old saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Let’s stand for something. Something beyond our own petty wants and needs. Something beyond the things we think the government owes us. Something beyond the false security blanket of federal safety nets and regulatory authority.

Let’s stand for what America was, what America is, and what America can be. As Abraham Lincoln put it, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

(oh, btw, lest you think Doyle just pulled all this stuff – and more – out of his ass, this book contains nearly twenty pages of footnotes citing Doyle’s sources)

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