Friday, August 31, 2007

Eugenics vs. Abortion

From: IOL.

A botched abortion in which a healthy twin foetus was terminated instead of its sibling with Down syndrome has reignited the abortion debate in Italy and raised allegations of eugenics.

"The time has come to re-examine the abortion law" that dates back to 1978, wrote leftist Senator Paola Binetti, who is close to the Vatican, in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"What happened in this hospital was not a medical abortion but an abortion done for the purposes of eugenics," she said, referring to the belief that the human species can be improved through selective reproduction.

The abortion was performed on a 38-year-old woman in Milan in June, but news of its outcome has only recently become public. Doctors blamed the mistake on movement of the foetuses between the examination and the abortion.

'They wanted to kill the sick foetus and save the healthy one'
"They wanted to kill the sick foetus and save the healthy one and what didn't work properly in this business was the selection," Binetti wrote.

Pro-life campaigners also seized on the case as an example of what can go wrong under the abortion law, according to the Ansa news agency.

Health Minister Livia Turco, however, defended the existing abortion law as "very wise" and said it would not be changed. The Roman Catholic Church and the conservative right have long called for its repeal.

Granny Air Bag

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Essence of Destiny

Watch your thoughts, for they become words; choose your words, for they become actions; understand your actions, for they become habits; study your habits, for they will become your destiny. ~German proverb

Helium Balloon Lawn Chair Pilot

BEND, Ore. — Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks — and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons.
Destination: Idaho.

Read the rest of the story here.

I think this is every kid's dream growing up, to be able to fly. I might actually have to give this a try some day. Check out the guy's website.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Real Decisions & the Fed

A great article about how our country's top decisions are actually being made by the Federal Reserve behind closed doors. Check it out here. For a good read about our monetary system and the history of the Fed, google the Creature from Jekyll Island.

Monday, August 27, 2007


My freedom ends where your nose begins, and your freedom ends where my nose begins.

Declaring & Waging War: The U.S. Constitution

This is an old column but well worth the read. It's taken from The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Excuse me for asking an indelicate question in the midst of war, but where does President Bush derive the power to send the United States into war against another nation? The question becomes increasingly important given that the president has indicated that once the Afghan War has been brought to a conclusion, he intends to use U.S. military forces to attack other sovereign nations.

It is important to keep in mind that our system of government was designed to be unlike any other in history. First, the federal government was brought into existence by the people through our Constitution. Second, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land that controls the actions of our public officials in all three branches of the federal government. Third, the powers of the federal government and its officials are not general but instead are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution.

Fourth, the government is divided into three branches, each with its own enumerated powers, and one branch cannot exercise the powers of another branch. Fifth, the Constitution expressly constrains democratic, majority rule. Sixth, public officials are not legally permitted to ignore any constitutional constraint on their power but must instead seek a constitutional amendment from the people to eliminate the constraint.

Why did the Founders implement such a weak, divided government? One big reason: they clearly understood that historically the greatest threat to the freedom and well-being of a people comes not from foreign enemies but instead from their own government officials, even democratically elected ones. And they understood that that threat to the citizenry was always greatest during war.

Consider the words of James Madison, the father of our Constitution: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”

What does our Constitution say about war? Our Founders divided war into two separate powers: Congress was given the power to declare war and the president was given the power to wage war. What that means is that under our system of government, the president cannot legally wage war against another nation in the absence of a declaration of war against that nation from Congress.

Again, reflect on the words of Madison: “The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies. A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.”

Therefore, under our system of government although the president is personally convinced that war against a certain nation is just and morally right, he is nevertheless prohibited by our supreme law of the land from waging it unless he first secures a declaration of war from Congress. That was precisely why presidents Wilson and Roosevelt, who both believed that U.S. intervention in World Wars I and II was right and just, nevertheless had to wait for a congressional declaration of war before entering the conflict. And the fact that later presidents have violated the declaration-of-war requirement does not operate as a grant of power for other presidents to do the same.

What about the congressional resolution that granted President Bush the power to wage war against unnamed nations and organizations that the president determines were linked to the September 11 attacks? Doesn’t that constitute a congressional declaration of war? No, it is instead a congressional grant to the president of Caesar-like powers to wage war, a grant that the Constitution does not authorize Congress to make.

Therefore, when a U.S. president wages what might otherwise be considered a just war, if he has failed to secure a congressional declaration of war, he is waging an illegal war — illegal from the standpoint of our own legal and governmental system. And when the American people support any such war, no matter how just and right they believe it is, they are standing not only against their own principles and heritage, not only against their own system of government and laws, but also against the only barrier standing between them and the tyranny of their own government — the Constitution.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Freedom Quote for the Day

"When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society."

-Pope John Paul II

Spot the Difference

A Liberal Education & "Free" Federal Financing

by Brooke Levitske

Despite – or precisely because of – soaring tuition costs and record-high post-graduation debt levels, 2008 Presidential campaign rhetoric is rife with promises of more federal aid for college students. Expressing widespread liberal sentiment, Barack Obama's stance is that the government should "guarantee every American an affordable, world-class, life-long, top-notch education, from early childhood to high school – from college to on-the-job training." Obama has also floated the idea of giving all students who maintain a B average a guaranteed, taxpayer-funded college education.

But would a new injection of federal dollars inflame the problems that already exist in the world of higher education? Steadily increasing federal grants and loans to college students are one major cause of the exponential rise in tuition, student debt, and institutionalized dependency on government aid. Some schools are determined to avoid this trap. Hillsdale College, for example, recently announced its decision to protect its independence by refusing all federal and state money, choosing to rely entirely on privately-funded scholarships for its students.

America has a 60-plus year history of providing federal aid for higher education, beginning in a major way with the passage of the GI Bill of Rights near the close of WWII. Controversial in its day, the GI Bill transformed American campuses as millions of returning veterans enrolled in colleges and training schools. Without question, the state has an obvious interest in encouraging its citizens to pursue higher education – especially as the economy demands ever-broader global and technological competency. Founding Fathers like John Adams and George Washington saw great value in making laws and spending taxpayer money to edify the public mind. Both thought it impossible to preserve a free society without maintaining a generally "enlightened" populace.

But the first principle of analyzing an act of the government is not to ask, "Is it a good idea?" but rather, "Is it the government's place?" Interestingly, good ideas rarely require the government's help to succeed, and are often damaged by the attempt. Practically, federal funding causes the cost of tuition to go up – at a rate much faster than the rate of inflation – so it generates the exact opposite of its stated intent. (According to the American Institute for Economic Research, the average tuition increased by 150 percent between 1993 and 2003, making higher education second only to the tobacco industry in price increases.) Theoretically, federal funding of anything opens the door to greater federal control over that thing; so if education is the formation of minds and characters, increased federal aid opens the door to more governmental control over the minds and characters of those being educated.

Practically speaking, one effect of helping students pay for tuition is that the government creates a greater demand for space in colleges and universities. And when more people want a thing, the seller can raise its cost. As a Cato Institute study has pointed out, this is especially true when federal aid increases the demand for space but the amount of space available at a given school remains static. Because all institutions are managed differently, and experience varying levels of supply and demand, they will attract different types of students. This means that actual benefits are passed to some schools and students but not to others, even if all receive federal money. Also, colleges and universities often decrease their own financial aid to students in response to government aid, while keeping tuition the same (if not raising it). Nothing about federal grants or loans "levels the playing field" in any observable way.

The Revolutionary War-era slogan, "Take the king's coin, become the king's man" describes the theoretical danger of allowing the government to subsidize higher education, as Hillsdale recognizes. But if the government provides the money, the government can call the shots. J. Gresham Machen, Princeton theologian and founder of the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination, summed it up well in his 1933 address, "The Necessity of the Christian School":

Every lover of human freedom ought to oppose with all his might the giving of federal aid to the schools of this country; for federal aid in the long run inevitably means federal control, and federal control means control by a centralized and irresponsible bureaucracy, and control by such a bureaucracy means the death of everything that might make this country great.

Students, politicians, and universities need to have an honest discussion about where this cycle of superfluous taxation, excessive spending, and increased personal comfort with debt is taking us, morally as well as pragmatically. If tuition continues to increase at nearly twice the rate of inflation, students will feel even greater pressure to apply for government help – which will raise tuition again, placing them in graver financial vulnerability.

A college education is still a good investment on which the market offers significant returns. But if tuition reaches an artificially high level such that the market cannot guarantee financial stability for students in the wake of post-graduation debt, intellectual independence may not be the only problem students will face.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thought for the Day

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."
- Plato

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Those Shirts

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Monday, August 20, 2007

High Risk Credit

As markets went on a rollercoaster ride last week, our economy is coming close to a day of reckoning for loose credit policies being followed by the Federal Reserve Bank. Simply, foreign banks we have been relying on to buy our debt are waking up to the reality of much higher default rates than predicted, and many mortgage backed securities have been reduced to “junk” ratings. Wall Street fears the possibility of tightening credit and the tightening of America’s belts. Why, they say, “if Americans spend only what they can afford, think of the ripple effects throughout the economy!” This is the cry, as the call comes for the fed to cut rates and bail out companies in trouble.

More inflation is, however, never the answer to inflation.

The truth is that business involves risk, and businesses that miscalculate risk should be liquidated, so their assets can be reallocated to businesses that correctly judge risk and make profits. Instead, the Fed has injected $64 billion into the jittery markets, effectively amounting to a bailout that keeps these malinvestments afloat, but eventually they will become the undoing of our economy.

In addition to the negative reactions in financial markets, many Americans have taken on too much personal debt owing to exotic mortgage products and artificially low interest rates. Unfortunately, these families are now in the position of losing their homes in unprecedented numbers as the teaser rates expire and the real bills are coming due.

The real answers are, and always have been, found in the principles of the free market. Let the market set the interest rates. If we had been functioning under a true and transparent free market system, we would not be in the mess we are in today. Government, like the American household, needs to live within its means to get back on stable fiscal ground.

We’ve been headed in the wrong direction since 1971. This week marks the 36th anniversary of Nixon’s decision to close the gold window, which convinced me to seek public office to call attention to the runaway money train that would come in the aftermath of that decision. The temptation to print and spend money with impunity, like the temptation to max out lines of credit, is too strong to for government to resist. While Nixon brokered exclusivity deals with OPEC to prop up demand for the tidal wave of green pieces of paper the Fed pumped into the markets, the world is tiring of marching to the beat of our drum in order to secure their energy needs. The house of cards Nixon built is now on the verge of collapsing on our heads, and on our children’s heads.

As the dollar weakens, it becomes ever clearer that we need a return to sound, commodity-based money for a secure future. Money based on real value, not empty promises and secretive backroom machinations, is the way to get out of the current calamity without causing even bigger problems.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Ron Paul-National Right to Life Convention