Posts Tagged ‘Tom Sowell’

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Tom Sowell: Deepest Bow Is Reserved For World Opinion

November 20, 2009

Deepest Bow Is Reserved For World Opinion

By THOMAS SOWELL IBD: 17 Nov. 2009

In the string of amazing decisions made during the first year of the Obama administration, nothing seems more like sheer insanity than the decision to try foreign terrorists, who have committed acts of war against the United States, in federal court, as if they were American citizens accused of crimes.

Terrorists are not even entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions, much less the Constitution of the United States. Terrorists have never observed, nor even claimed to have observed, the Geneva Conventions, nor are they among those covered by it.

But over and above the utter inconsistency of what is being done is the utter recklessness it represents.

The last time an attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a matter of domestic criminal justice was after a bomb was exploded there in 1993. Under the rules of American criminal law, the prosecution had to turn over all sorts of information to the defense — information that told the al-Qaida international terrorist network what we knew about them and how we knew it.

This was nothing more and nothing less than giving away military secrets to an enemy in wartime — something for which people have been executed, as they should have been.

Secrecy in warfare is a matter of life and death. Lives were risked and lost during World War II to prevent Nazi Germany from discovering that Britain had broken its supposedly unbreakable Enigma code and could read their military plans that were being radioed in that code.

“Loose lips sink ships” was the World War II motto in the United States. But loose lips are mandated under the rules of criminal prosecutions.

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Random Notes On A Peculiar Passing Scene

October 12, 2009

Random Notes On A Peculiar Passing Scene

By THOMAS SOWELL

IBD: 12 Oct. 2009

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Upon learning that the Constitution requires a president to be a natural-born citizen, a college student said: “What makes a natural-born citizen any more qualified than one born by C-section?”

Airlines that keep passengers trapped for hours in planes sitting on the runway should be prosecuted for unlawful imprisonment.

When politicians propose some hugely expensive new program and are asked how the government is going to pay for it, a standard ploy over the years has been to claim that they will pay for it by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse.” At a recent town hall meeting, a citizen raised the obvious question: If you can do that, why haven’t you done it already?

Marxism is an ism that has become a wasm.

What is called “universal health care” can turn out to be universal “don’t care” medical treatment, when Washington bureaucrats can overrule what you and your doctor want to do.

Whatever happened to Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel? Could she have met with foul play? Where is the FBI when we need them?

The older I get, the more I learn to tolerate human shortcomings — and the less I tolerate bad attitudes.

After political crusades for “affordable housing” ended up ruining the housing market and much of the economy with it, many of the same politicians are now carrying on a crusade for “affordable health care.” But what you can afford has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of producing anything. Refusing to pay those costs means that you are just not going to continue getting the same quantity and quality — regardless of what any politician says or how well he says it.

Want to win an easy bet? Bet someone that Babe Ruth had a lower lifetime earned run average than Cy Young, Whitey Ford or Sandy Koufax. During his early years with the Red Sox, Ruth pitched nine shutouts in a season, which is still the American League record for a left-handed pitcher.

He would have made the baseball hall of fame, even if he had never hit a home run.

Congressman Joe Wilson got into more trouble for telling the truth than President Barack Obama got into by telling a demonstrable lie about adding millions of people to the insurance rolls without adding a dime to the deficit. As regards providing medical insurance for illegal immigrants, I doubt that the president will do that. More likely, he will legalize them first and then give them medical insurance.

The way Hollywood elites have sprung to defend Roman Polanski to keep him from being extradited to the United States, despite the heinous crime he is accused of, suggests that — like other egalitarians — they consider those who are “one of us” to be more equal than others.

When I contemplate the direction in which this government and this society are moving, my biggest consolation is that economists’ predictions are often wrong. I can only hope that my expectations are wrong by miles.

What is most frightening about the political left is that they seem to have no sense of the tragedy of the human condition. All problems seem to them to be due to others not being as wise or noble as they are.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Think things, not words.” In words, many see a need for “social justice” to override “the dictates of the market.” In reality, what is called “the market” consists of human beings making their own choices at their own cost. What is called “social justice” is government imposition of the notions of third parties, who pay no price for being wrong.

Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Moammar Gadhafi and Vladimir Putin have all praised Barack Obama. When enemies of freedom and democracy praise your president, what are you to think? When you add to this Barack Obama’s many previous years of associations and alliances with people who hate America — Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Father Pfleger, etc. — at what point do you stop denying the obvious and start to connect the dots?

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Tom Sowell: A New Defense Posture

April 29, 2009

A New Defense Posture: Bend Over Backward

By THOMAS SOWELL | IBD 29 April 2009

It used to be said that self-preservation is the first law of nature. But much of what has been happening in recent times in the United States, and in Western civilization in general, suggests that survival is taking a back seat to the shibboleths of political correctness.

We have already turned loose dozens of captured terrorists who have resumed their terrorism. Why? Because they have been given “rights” that exist neither in our laws nor under international law.

These are not criminals in our society, entitled to the protection of the Constitution of the United States. They are not prisoners of war entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions.

There was a time when people who violated the rules of war were not entitled to turn around and claim the protection of those rules. German soldiers who put on U.S. military uniforms, in order to infiltrate American lines during the Battle of the Bulge, were simply lined up against a wall and shot.

Nobody even thought that this was a violation of the Geneva Conventions. American authorities filmed the mass executions. Nobody dreamed up fictitious “rights” for these enemy combatants who had violated the rules of war. Nobody thought we had to prove that we were nicer than the Nazis by bending over backward.

Bending over backward is a very bad position from which to try to defend yourself. Nobody in those days confused bending over backward with “the rule of law,” as Barack Obama did recently. Bending over backward is the antithesis of the rule of law. It is depriving the people of the protection of their laws, in order to pander to mushy notions among the elite.

Even under the Geneva Conventions, enemy soldiers have no right to be turned loose before the war is over. Terrorists — “militants” or “insurgents” for those of you who are squeamish — have declared open-ended war against America. It is open-ended in time and open-ended in methods, including beheadings of innocent civilians.

President Obama can ban the phrase “war on terror,” but he cannot ban the terrorists

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Tom Sowell: Bigger Menace May Be Gov’t…

April 22, 2009

Bigger Menace May Be Gov’t, Not Extremists

By THOMAS SOWELL | Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009 4:20 PM PT

While the rest of us may be worried about violent Mexican drug gangs on our border, or about terrorists who are going to be released from Guantanamo, the director of homeland security is worried about “right-wing extremists.”

Just who are these right-wing extremists?

According to an official document of the Department of Homeland Security, right-wing extremists include “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” It also includes those “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority.”

If you fit into any of these categories, you may not have realized that you are considered a threat to national security. But apparently the Obama administration has its eye on you.

According to the same official document, the Department of Homeland Security “has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence.” But somehow they just know that you right-wingers are itching to unleash terror somewhere, somehow.

So-called “honor killings” by Muslims in the United States, including a recent beheading of his wife by a leader of one of the American Muslim organizations, does not seem to arouse any concern by the Department of Homeland Security.

When it comes to the thuggery of Acorn — its members harassing the homes of bankers and even the home of Sen. Phil Gramm when he opposed things that Acorn favored — the Department of Homeland Security apparently sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil.

Maybe they are too busy worrying about right-wing “extremists” who don’t like abortions or illegal immigration, or who favor the division of power between the state and federal governments established by the Constitution.

In one sense, the Department of Homeland Security paper is silly. In another sense, it can be sinister as a revealing and disturbing sign of the preoccupations and priorities of this administration — and their willingness to witch-hunt and demonize those who dare to disagree with them.

Reportedly, the FBI and the Defense Department are cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security in investigations of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. That people who have put their lives on the line for this country are made the target of what is called the Vigilant Eagle program suggests that this administration may be more of a threat than the people it is investigating.

All this activity takes on a more sinister aspect against the background of one of the statements of Barack Obama during last year’s election campaign that got remarkably little attention in the media. He suggested the creation of a federal police force, comparable in size to the military.

Why such an organization? For what purpose?

Since there are state and local police forces all across the country, an FBI to investigate federal crimes and a Department of Justice to prosecute those who commit them, as well as a Defense Department with military forces, just what role would a federal police force play?

Maybe it was just one of those bright ideas that gets floated during an election campaign. Yet there was no grass-roots demand for any such federal police nor any media clamor for it, so there was not even any political reason to suggest such a thing.

What would be different about a new federal police force, as compared with existing law enforcement and military forces? It would be a creation of the Obama administration, run by people appointed from top to bottom by that administration — and without the conflicting loyalties of those steeped in existing military and law enforcement traditions.

In short, a federal police force could become President Obama’s personal domestic political army, his own storm troopers.

Perhaps there will never be such a federal police force. But the targeting of individuals and groups who believe in some of the fundamental values on which this country was founded, and people who have demonstrated their patriotism by volunteering for military service, suggests that this potential for political abuse is worth watching, as Obama tries to remake America to fit his vision.

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Crisis Creators Marshal Mobs Against Others

March 25, 2009

Crisis Creators Marshal Mobs Against Others

By THOMAS SOWELL | IBD 25 March 2009

Death threats to executives at AIG, because of the bonuses they received, are one more sign of the utter degeneration of politics in our time.

Congressman Barney Frank has threatened to summon these executives before his committee and force them to reveal their home addresses — which would of course put their wives and children at the mercy of whatever kooks might want to literally take a shot at them.

Whatever the political or economic issues involved, this is not the way such issues should be resolved in America. We are not yet a banana republic, though that is the direction in which some of our politicians are taking us — especially those politicians who make a lot of noise about “compassion” and “social justice.”

What makes this all the more painfully ironic is that it is precisely those members of Congress who have had the most to do with creating the risks that led to the current economic crisis who are making the most noise against others, and summoning people before their committee to be browbeaten and humiliated on nationwide television.

No one pushed harder than Rep. Frank to force banks and other financial institutions to reduce their mortgage lending standards, in order to meet government-set goals for more homeownership.

Those lower mortgage lending standards are at the heart of the increased riskiness of the mortgage market and of the collapse of Wall Street securities based on those risky mortgages.

Sen. Christopher Dodd has played the same role in the Senate as Frank played in the House of Representatives. Now both are summoning government employees and the officials of financial institutions before their committees to be lambasted in front of the media.

Dodd and Frank know that the best defense is a good offense. Both know how hard it would be to defend their own roles in the housing debacle, so they go on the offensive against others who are in no position to reply in kind, given the vindictive powers of Congress.

This political theater is in one sense cheap beyond words. In another sense, it is costly beyond words.

It is cheap because the politicians who are creating this distraction from their own role in the crisis also voted for the very legislation that enabled contracted bonuses to be paid by companies like AIG that received government bailout money. If members of Congress can’t be bothered to read the laws they pass, then they have no basis for whipping up lynch mob outrage against people who did read the law and acted within the law.

Just as everyone seemed to be a military expert a couple of years ago, when it was chic to say that the “surge” in Iraq would not work, so today everyone seems to be an expert on executive pay.

Whether the particular executives who received bonuses were the ones responsible for AIG’s problems, or were among those who warned against those problems, is something that those of us on the outside don’t know. That includes those in politics and the media who are making the loudest noise.

The politicians claim they are protecting the taxpayers’ money. But having politicians trying to micromanage any business is far more likely to make those businesses lose more money, including the taxpayers’ money.

Securities based on risky mortgages are what toppled financial institutions, but it was the government that made the mortgages risky in the first place, by making home-ownership statistics the holy grail for which everything else was to be sacrificed, including common-sense standards for making home loans.

Politicians and bureaucrats micromanaging the mortgage sector of the economy is precisely how today’s economic disaster began. Why anyone would think that their micromanaging the automobile industry or executive pay across a wide sweep of other industries, is likely to make things better in the economy is a mystery.

The real point is to pander to envy and resentment against people who make a lot of money. Envy is always referred to by its political alias, “social justice.” But to put the lives of the wives and children of executives at risk for the sake of Beltway grandstanding shows how low our political saviors have sunk.

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Despair Sets In With America On A Fatal Arc

February 24, 2009

Despair Sets In With America On A Fatal Arc

By THOMAS SOWELL | 24 Feb.09 IBD

An increasing number of recent letters and e-mails from readers strike a note, not only of unhappiness with the way things are going in our society, but a note of despair.

Those of us who are pessimists are only a step away from despair ourselves, so we may not be the ones to offer the best antidote to the view that America has seen its best days and is degenerating toward what may well be its worst. Yet what hope remains is no less precious nor any less worthy of being preserved.

First of all, the day-to-day life of most Americans in these times is nowhere near as dire as that of the band of cold, ragged and hungry men who gathered around George Washington in the winter at Valley Forge, to which they had been driven by defeat after defeat.

Only the most reckless gambler would have bet on them to win. Only an optimist would have expected them to survive.

Against the background of those and other desperate times that this country has been through, we cannot whine today because the stocks in our pension plans have gone down or the inflated value that our houses had just a few years ago has now evaporated.

In another sense, however, looming ahead of us — and our children and their children — are dangers that can utterly destroy American society. Worse yet, there are moral corrosions within ourselves that weaken our ability to face the challenges ahead.

One of the many symptoms of this decay from within is that we are preoccupied with the pay of corporate executives while the leading terrorist-sponsoring nation on Earth is moving steadily toward creating nuclear bombs.

Does anyone imagine that we will care what anyone’s paycheck is when we see an American city in radioactive ruins?

Yet the only serious obstacle to that happening is that the Israelis may disregard the lofty blather coming out of the White House and destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities before the Iranian fanatics can destroy Israel.

If by some miracle we manage to avoid the fatal dangers of a nuclear Iran, there will no doubt be others, including a nuclear North Korea.

Although, in some sense, the United States of America is still the militarily strongest nation on earth, that means absolutely nothing if our enemies are willing to die and we are not.

It took only two nuclear bombs to get Japan to surrender — and the Japanese of that era were far tougher than most Americans today. Just one bomb — dropped on New York, Chicago or Los Angeles — might be enough to get us to surrender.

If we are still made of sterner stuff than it looks like, then it might take two or maybe even three or four nuclear bombs, but we will surrender.

It doesn’t matter if we retaliate and kill millions of innocent Iranian civilians — at least it will not matter to the fanatics in charge of Iran or the fanatics in charge of the international terrorist organizations that Iran supplies.

Ultimately, it all comes down to who is willing to die and who is not.

How did we get to this point? It was no single thing.

The dumbing down of our education, the undermining of moral values with the fad of “nonjudgmental” affectations, the denigration of our nation through poisonous propaganda from the movies to the universities. The list goes on and on.

The trajectory of our course leads to a fate that would fully justify despair. The only saving grace is that even the trajectory of a bullet can be changed by the wind.

We have been saved by miraculous good fortune before in our history. The overwhelming military and naval expedition that Britain sent to New York to annihilate George Washington’s army was totally immobilized by a vast impenetrable fog that allowed the Americans to escape. That is how they ended up in Valley Forge.

In the World War II naval battle of Midway, if things had not happened just the way they did, at just the time they did, the American naval force would not only have lost, but could have been wiped out by the far larger Japanese fleet.

Over the years, we have had our share of miraculous deliverances. But that our fate today depends on yet another miracle is what can turn pessimism to despair.

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Random thoughts on the passing scene

January 20, 2009

9 April 2009 – IBD

By Thomas Sowell
Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Most of the problems of this country are not nearly as bad as the “solutions” — especially the solutions that politicians come up with during election years.

Some people actually think that televising Congress gives us information. What it really does is give politicians millions of dollars worth of free advertising, while they play charades on camera to fool the rest of us.

Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine said: “What, me worry?” During election years, Democrats running for office say: “What, me liberal?”

Senator John McCain could never convince me to vote for him. Only Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can cause me to vote for McCain.

What is more scary than any particular candidate or policy is the gullibility of the public and their willingness to be satisfied with talking points, rather than serious arguments.

One way to reduce illegal immigration might be to translate some of our far-left publications into Spanish and give everyone in Mexico subscriptions. After they read how terrible this country is, many may want to stay away.

Whenever I see one of Barack Obama’s smooth performances, it reminds me of a saying from my old neighborhood in Harlem: “An eel is like sandpaper compared to you.”

Most people on the Right have no problem understanding people on the Left because many, if not most, were on the Left themselves when they were younger. But many, if not most, people on the Left find it inexplicable how any decent and intelligent person could be on the Right.
It is amazing to me that there are people who still take seriously claims by some candidates that they are against “special interests.” All politicians are against their opponents’ special interests and in favor of their own special interests.

Nothing is more fraudulent than calls for a “dialogue on race.” Those who issue such calls are usually quick to cry “racism” at any frank criticism. They are almost invariably seeking a monologue on race, to which others are supposed to listen.

The same people who have gone ballistic when some prominent figure is found to belong to some all-male social club are full of excuses for why Barack Obama remained a member of a racist and anti-American church for 20 years.

Among the many wise things said by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was that you are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Yet an incredible number of people make up whatever “facts” are needed to support whatever they choose to believe.

Rachael Ray is showing up in so many places on various television programs, on magazine covers, on boxes of crackers that the question must be asked: Are we sure that she is not twins, or perhaps triplets?

The way to get people’s votes is to say that all their problems are caused by other people, and that you will stop those other people from giving them trouble. But if you really want to help, then you can tell them the truth and risk losing their votes.

The idea behind giving professors lifetime tenure is that this will enable them to speak out freely. But it would be hard to name any other occupation with a more cowardly record than academics, who have been giving in to politically correct campus bullies ever since the 1960s.

There is no question that Barack Obama is a clever and glib fellow. There is also no question that some of the most foolish, dangerous, and horrific things done around the world in the past hundred years have been done by clever and glib fellows.

When someone is brutally murdered, the media often defuse our shock by focusing on praise of the victim, instead of focusing on what can be done to keep the murderer from ever doing this again. In the midst of all this emotional venting, it is galling to realize that chances are the murderer will eventually be put back on the street again.