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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Funny Headlines

[These are actual newspaper headlines.]

Sadness Is No. 1 Reason Men And Women Cry
War Dims Hope for Peace
Mayor Says D.C. Is Safe Except For Murders
Check With Doctors Before Getting Sick
Neighbors Said Sniper Not Very Neighborly
Court Rules That Being A Jerk Is Not A Crime
Grandmother of eight makes hole in one
Deaf mute gets new hearing in killing
Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers
House passes gas tax onto senate
Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan
Two convicts evade noose, jury hung
William Kelly was fed secretary
Milk drinkers are turning to powder
Safety experts say school bus passengers should be belted
Quarter of a million Chinese live on water
Farmer bill dies in house
Iraqi head seeks arms
Queen Mary having bottom scraped
Is there a ring of debris around Uranus?
Prostitutes appeal to Pope
Panda mating fails - veterinarian takes over
NJ judge to rule on nude beach
Child's stool great for use in garden
Dr. Ruth to talk about sex with newspaper editors
Soviet virgin lands short of goal again
Organ festival ends in smashing climax
Eye drops off shelf
Squad helps dog bite victim
Dealers will hear car talk at noon
Enraged cow injures farmer with ax
Lawmen from Mexico barbecue guests
Miners refuse to work after death
Two Soviet ships collide - one dies
Two sisters reunite after eighteen years at checkout counter
Never withhold herpes from loved one
Nicaragua sets goal to wipe out literacy
Drunk drivers paid $1,000 in 1984
Autos killing 110 a day, let's resolve to do better
If strike isn't settled quickly it may last a while
War dims hope for peace
Smokers are productive, but death cuts efficiency
Cold wave linked to temperatures
Child's death ruins couple's holiday
Blind woman gets new kidney from dad she hasn't seen in years
Man is fatally slain
Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say
Death causes loneliness, feeling of isolation

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hey! I'm a Dalmatian!

One morning last week, Jack Hobbs of WLBT-Channel 3 said something which sent me into hysterics. In fact, I'm laughing so hard right now that I can barely manage to type this.

There was a dog show at the Trade Mart here in Jackson, Miss., and Hobbs interviewed several handlers to get facts on the characteristics of the various breeds. When he got to the Dalmatian, one of the things that the handler noted was that these dogs often ran alongside fire trucks. Hobbs then asked, "Does he know that, since he's a Dalmatian, he's supposed to like fire trucks?"

I missed the woman's reply, since I was rolling in the floor.

As one who tends to humanize dogs, I immediately had several images pop into my mind. A dog stands in front of a mirror for the first time and, after looking himself over, says, "Hey! I'm a Dalmatian, and I'm supposed to like fire trucks!"

A mother dog places her puppies in a little circle and says, "Alright, children, you're all Dalmatians, so remember that you're supposed to like fire trucks!"

From now on, anytime I start feeling a little depressed, I'm going to overcome it by simply thinking of this incident.

Back in Business

If you visited this site at any time during the past two weeks, you surely noticed that the spacing had totally vanished. This was a time of frustration for me, as I tried to figure out what the problem was.

Happily, the kinks now seem to be largely worked out, and the spacing has returned. You'll notice, however, that there are some little marks scattered around on some of the posts. If anyone knows how to get rid of these, I would very much appreciate your passing this information on to me.

My thanks to all who offered suggestions during my character-building experience.

A very Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Two Big-Spending Texans

[This is reprinted from NewsMax.com.]

George W. Bush is the biggest-spending president of the past 40 years, surpassing even Lyndon Johnson and his "Great Society" spending spree, a new report by the Cato Institute reveals.

The increase in discretionary spending - that is, all nonentitlement programs - in Bush's first term was 48.5 percent. That's higher than LBJ's 48.3 percent, and more than twice as large as the increase during Bill Clinton's entire two terms, 21.6 percent.

When spending is adjusted for inflation and length of time in office, Bush has an annualized real growth in spending of 8 percent, compared to Johnson's 4.6 percent. In contrast, Ronald Reagan's real growth was just 1.9 percent.

"In other words, Bush has expanded federal nonentitlement programs in his first term almost twice as fast each year as Lyndon Johnson did during his entire presidency," the Cato Institute's report discloses.

Reagan's discretionary spending rise was mainly a result of increased outlays for defense, but he offset that spending with cuts in other areas. By the end of his two terms, nondefense discretionary spending was actually down 9.5 percent.

But Bush's tenure "has so far been a return to the Johnson and Carter philosophy of budgeting that gives increases to all categories of spending," according to the Cato report.

"George W. Bush is the biggest spending president of the past 40 years in both the defense and domestic discretionary spending categories by a long shot."

Members of the Bush administration say much of the spending growth is due to outlays for the war on terrorism. But Cato found that this expense amounts to only 16 percent of defense spending for the past four fiscal years and therefore "cannot explain most of the Bush budget bloat."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why the Left Fears Christmas

[This article is from americanthinker.com of November 19, 2005.]

As the Christmas season nears, we can anticipate a flurry of news stories about townships here and cities there, all of which are trying their darndest to avoid the idea of Christmas. Some will substitute entirely nondenominational “winter celebrations;� others will invoke Native American or Pagan spirits; others will do an ecumenical melange of celebrations by dressing Santa in a yarmalkah and Kwanza colors; and still others will take the joking way out, and do a Seinfeldian “Festivus.�

Each community, whatever option it chooses, will think it’s properly complying with its First Amendment obligations. And each community, I believe, will be violating both the letter and spirit of the First Amendment’s freedoms of religion and speech.

The First Amendment is not complex. Its entire view on the nexus between religion and government appears in two short clauses:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.�

That’s it. (And of course, the Fourteenth Amendment extends this clause’s reach to State governments.)

It doesn’t take a Ph.D in grammar or history to understand these simple words. The language, on its face, patently means that a branch of the government (federal or local) may not create a state religion. After all, when the Founders wrote this amendment, they were a “mere� 150 years away from Henry VIII’s decision to create his own church – with himself as leader – and impose its primacy on all English subjects, whether they wanted it or not. Those who didn’t want it suffered greatly (or emigrated to America).

Because Church and State were inextricably intertwined, disbelief was punished in the same way as treason: with death. Even when the death penalty become a thing of the past for therological infractions, dissenters, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, etc., continued to labor under profound social and legal disabilities.

Revolutionary Americans still labored under these same handicaps and, indeed, in Article VI explicitly ended the pernicious habit of requiring Church of England Sacraments – or any professions of faith – as a precondition for government employment.

The Founding Fathers therefore knew first hand, and through their own history, that religion, while an important social control, can, if co-opted by government, further tyranny. It’s scarcely surprising, therefore, that the Bill of Rights seeks to curtail the two religious sins the Founders knew a government can commit: our American governments cannot create a religion, and they cannot discriminate against any religion.

Significantly, these two government ukases are paired, in the same amendment with one of the greatest freedoms a government has ever granted its citizens:

“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.�

I don’t mention this clause here because I’m trying to tie civic Christmas celebrations in with free speech issues. I mention it because the Founders believed American citizens – free citizens – to be capable of a certain mental toughness that would enable them to articulate their own belief systems and, if need be, defend themselves verbally against systems with which they disagreed. Americans are not to be coddled in the land of ideas.

And yet that is precisely what is happening now with the Left’s relentless attack on banal civic celebrations of a generic American Christmas that has been, for decades, bleached of any religious sensibility.

Thus, I believe that the current attack on this American Christmas reflects the Left’s undemocratic impulse to suppress information with which it disagrees (the information in this case being about the existence of religion). The same impulse appears in the Left’s repeated attempts to prevent military recruiters from entering onto high school and college campuses, despite the fact that those schools rely heavily on federal funding. In the Left world view, students’delicate sensibilities simply cannot withstand the wiles of a snazzily dressed Marine recruiter. Of course, the Left could be right, and our current generation, nourished on a steady diet of MTV and rap, really may not have the mental capacity to create or hold onto any deeply held beliefs. I, however, am not willing to accept that premise as true.

The inchoate, unspoken fear, then, that lurks behind the Left’s relentless attacks on Christmas is that somewhere, somehow, someone is going to see a department store Santa in a city parade or a cheesy creche under a tree by a courthouse, and is then going to rush off screaming to join the nearest church. This extreme fear may be unsurprising, of course, when you have the ACLU and (sadly) the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] busy painting America as the Christian equivalent of Saudi Arabia – the same Saudi Arabia that makes it illegal to practice any religion but Islam [], that recently sentenced a teacher to 40 months in prison and 750 lashings for praising Judiasm and the Bible, and that let school girls burn to death rather than risk having their faces appear on the street.

In a true democracy, there is a fine line between a majority that respects its minority sensibilities, and one that allows them to dictate terms to the majority.I wouldn’t want to live in a truly “Christianized� society that would parallel Saudi’s Muslim society: one where everyone must think and act and believe in the same way, and where those who can’t or don’t share those beliefs are mercilessly punished. But fearing a Saudi style theocracy doesn’t mean we have to go the other way and allow the small number of active atheists to remove religion or, as with Santa, icons loosely based on religion, entirely from our world.

By the way, I know of what I speak, since I’m Jewish, and grew up during the 1960s and 1970s. In those days, there was nothing wrong with Christmas celebrations and Christmas carols at public schools. At school, I happily memorized the words to "Silent Night," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "The Little Drummer Boy" without ever feeling insulted, coerced, slighted, humiliated, or punished. Indeed, the contrary was true – I felt privileged that my Christian neighbors shared their holiday with me while leaving me to practice my own holiday in freedom and peace.

Bookworm is a lawyer and the proprietor of the blog Bookworm Room.

Adios, Air America

[This letter appeared in The Clarion-Ledger on December 2, 2005. It's a response to David Hampton's column of November 27.]

Editorial Director David Hampton says "that talk radio popularity is waning... ." He must be referring to Air America, the liberals' latest effort to compete in that market.

Since Air America has attracted such a small audience, it seems to be headed for the talk radio graveyard. On one of its stations, in New York City, AA's ratings are even lower than that station's previous format, which was Caribbean music.

Things have gotten so bad that one of Air America's hosts, Al Franken (aka Stuart Smalley), is making noises about running for US senator from Minnesota.

Personally, I'll hate to see Air America go, as I sometimes enjoy subjecting myself to the rantings of liberals.

Oh, well... I'll just have to settle for The Clarion-Ledger's editorials.