I never understood just exactly how these comments directed exclusively at the mostly white media qualified as racist. Nevertheless, I felt that Limbaugh should go because he clearly knows so little about football. You might have been able to make the above case twenty years ago but a black person playing quarterback these days is pretty routine. Also. I am from Syracuse where McNabb played his college ball and I watched him closely for four years. Anyone who cannot see what a special athlete McNabb is has no business being a football commentator. Of all current NFL quarterbacks he has the highest winning percentage. Yesterday’s game provided ample proof that the media can’t possibly treat McNabb too favorably. As a long time Syracuse and Donovan McNabb fan I say in your face Rush Limbaugh.
The second event, which brought Limbaugh to mind, was the results of an online poll conducted by Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The vote on whether or not Limbaugh should see jail time for his illegal drug use came out with 66% of the over 9500 participants saying yes. Most of those who voted in this poll would consider themselves, as I do, part of for want of a better term the drug reform community. As a member of this community I find the results of this very distressing and in fact shameful.
If say Barney Frank found himself in a similar situation as Limbaugh and the DPA conducted a poll with the same question no more than 2 or 3% (if that many) would say that Frank should be jailed. Therefore, some 6000 people have said that Limbaugh should be punished just because he holds a particular political point of view. The principles of self-ownership and the right to alter one’s consciousness as one sees fit are completely thrown out merely because of whom Limbaugh is.
If the people in the drug reform movement want the Bush and future administrations to show compassion for those who run into difficulties with drugs should they not be setting a good example themselves?
Williams goes on to give some examples of true stories concerning unjust lawsuits that seem to my mind to be almost as fantastic as the made up ones. He then writes, ”What is common to all of them is the absolution or the attempt at absolution from personal responsibility. Are people to be held responsible for their actions? In the case of tobacco use, it's not the smoker who is responsible for his illness, it's tobacco companies. In the case of obesity, it's not the individual, but fast-food companies and food manufacturers who are responsible. It's the same with criminal violence — the gun manufacturer is partly to blame. What does all this say for the future of our nation?”
However, the notion that individuals are not responsible for their own actions goes back quite a bit further in our history then 40 or 50 years. The idea that black people are either childlike or brutish and therefore cannot control themselves was along with the need to convert them to Christianity one of the two pillars of the ante-bellum pro-slavery argument. Also, much of the Progressive Era reforms had as their central tenet an absolution of personal responsibility. People were not responsible for their own economic well being, therefore various means of income redistribution had to be attempted. People were not responsible for their own behavior when they used alcohol or took certain kinds of drugs, therefore the disease model of drug use and prohibition came to the forefront.
When Williams talks about drive to blame tobacco companies and fast food franchises for the problems of those who use their products he is in reality speaking about a modern day extention of the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs. Though the seedy looking dope dealer lurking around the schoolyard has been replaced by Ronald McDonald, the underlying philosophy is the same.
That Walter Williams would leave the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs off of his above list of the ways in which personal responsibility is being avoided did not surprise me. I have long noticed a pronounced tendency by black conservative intellectuals such as Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Alan Keyes to avoid the subject of illegal drugs. I have never read anything by Williams on the topic and only thing I have seen by Sowell, that comes close, was a recent column in support of mandatory minimum sentencing. In this piece he argued that those who steal or do violence to others should be sent anyway for a long time. Although, he failed to mention that those kinds of inmates are almost always not the ones subject to mandatory minimum prison terms. In fact the felons Sowell is concerned with are sometimes let out early to make room for the kinds of prisoners serving mandatory sentences, drug law violators who have harmed no one else’s person or property. When pressed on the point Alan Keyes will respond by saying that the illegal drugs enslave their users and that he cannot support slavery, completely oblivious to the fact that he is suggesting that we free these so called slaves by putting them in prison.
If I had it in my power to command the above three conservatives to read two books they would be Jacob Sullum’s Saying Yes, In Defense of Drug Use and Jeffery Schaler's Addiction Is a Choice, then maybe they would lend their powerful voices to ending the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs. Because, if we want to return America to a nation and a culture where the individual is held responsible for his or her own actions ending that war is a necessary first step.
A friend of mine, Bob Skyler, sent this to me in an e-mail and it speaks for itself.
It's time once again to review the winners of the annual"Stella Awards". The Stella's are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds. That case inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous successful lawsuits in the United States. Unfortunately the most recent lawsuit implicating McDonalds, the teen's who allege that eating at McDonalds have made them fat, was filed after the 2002 award voting was closed. This suit will top the 2003 list without question.
The following are this year's winners: 5th Place (tie): Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little toddler was Ms.Robertson's son.
5th Place (tie): A 19-year-old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
5th Place (tie): Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up since the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation, and Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. He sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the sum of $500,000.
4th Place: Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog might have been just a little provoked at the time by Mr. Williams who was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
3rd Place: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, $113,500 after she slipped on a soft drink and broke her coccyx (tailbone). The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
2nd Place: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware, successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.
1st Place: This year's run away winner was Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr.Grazinski purchased a brand new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, (from an OU football game), having driven onto the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the R.V. left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the owner's manual that he couldn't actually do this. The jury awarded him $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company actually changed their manuals on the basis of this suit, just in case there were any other complete morons buying their recreation vehicles.
Hentoff also reminds us that the law in effect curtails the ability of individuals of modest means to speak politically during the crucial period before an election by denying them the right to pool their resources, while it leaves the First Amendment rights of billionaires such as George Soros and Bill Gates intact. At the end of his piece he quotes a letter writer to the New York Times, Edward Wronk, who says, “The powerful have only gotten more powerful.”
In the second column John R. Lott Jr., perhaps America’s staunchest Defender of the Second Amendment, discusses a recent announcement by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that it is considering buying a television or radio station. Just as Hentoff shows that the law fosters inequality among individuals Lott demonstrates that the law creates inequality among institutions. He asks,
“But what really distinguishes General Electric’s versus General Motors’ ability to influence elections? Is it really simply ownership of television networks? Can unions buy radio stations? Can anyone possibly rationalize such distinctions?"Apparently McCain, Feingold, and Sandra Day O’Connor can but I can’t.
Now, whenever someone is extolling the virtues of government they invariably mention roads. However, it seems the Montgomery County Council does not see the snail’s pace traffic in the area as its responsibility. They have passed an ordinance which will fine all county businesses with 50 or more employees $75 a day if they fail to come up with “traffic mitigation plans” by January first (those with less than 50 have until next January).
A friend of mine has a much better plan to ease the congestion. He suggests the legislative and executive offices of Montgomery County be moved to Fairfax County, while those in Fairfax County be relocated in Prince Georges County and those in that county be shifted to Montgomery County. Once the legislators and bureaucrats have to deal with the results of their negligence on a daily basis, improvements will swiftly follow.
When Barr experienced a surprisingly sound defeat in a primary election that featured ads sponsored by the Libertarian Party, which highlighted his stance on the medical marijuana issue, I will admit to being pleased.
However, there are most definitely two sides to Bob Barr. While still in Congress he along with Henry Hyde sponsored some worthwhile reform of asset forfeiture laws. When he left the House he worked with the ACLU to combat some of the more pernicious effects of the Patriot Act.
And, in Saturday’s Washington Times the good Bob Barr out did himself. He wrote an absolutely excellent column on the Supreme Court’s recent decision to eviscerate the First Amendment in the name of campaign finance reform. It is well worth reading. In it he relates how many Republican Congressmen voted for a law they knew to be unconstitutional because of their strong belief that the Supreme Court would never let it stand. Surprise! This terrific essay almost makes me wish Mr. Barr were back in the House of Representatives, but not quite.
If we accept the above point then the justification for the invasion is even further diminished. Whether or not Hussein had weapons of mass destruction has always been an irrelevant point. Even if he did still have them, to use them against America would have been an act of suicide by the least suicidal man on the planet. We could have easily traced any use of such weapons back to him because we provided him with such capabilities that he had back in the 1980s when he was one of our best friends fighting one of our worst enemies Iran.
Some of the neocon commentators suggest that we are in a new world war with fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. If this true, what are we doing wasting enormous resources and precious lives in a country that was never a threat to us in the first place? I have no doubt that the fall and capture of Saddam Hussein is a good thing for the Iraqi people. However, the job of our government is not to make the Iraqi people happy, the job of our government is to make the American people safer and when George Bush invaded Iraq he was not doing his job.
I must apologize because the tales that I posted three Blogs below are apparently false. There are real Stella Awards and the above link provides a way to sign up for free case updates. I want to thank Arthur Silber for helping me learn a valuable lesson about being too quick to pass on things that have not been checked out.
In the back of my mind I knew those stories were too good to be true, however, with such things as the war on the Iraqi people, the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs, and the recently passed Medicare “reform” my capacity to believe in acts of gross stupidity has become enormous.