Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ben Franklin And The Real Meaning Of Freedom

During the Bush administration, liberals often brought out one of Ben Franklin’s more notable quotes “Those who are willing to give up a little freedom for a little security, wind up with neither freedom, nor security”.

Whether they were referring to “illegal phone taps” or the monitoring of money transfers, or the detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, they said that the President had overstepped his authority and sacrificed our freedom for our security. It’s difficult to say if the left purposely misused the comment of Ben Franklin -- probably not -- they are not that smart. They truly believed that President Bush sacrificed freedom for security. In doing so, the left and the Bush haters showed a remarkable lack of understanding about what freedom means.

Not understanding freedom, liberals are helpless in comprehending the constitution. There was another quote of Ben Franklin’s that is lesser known than the first. When Franklin got out of the constitutional convention, he was asked “what kind of government have you created a Republic or a Monarchy?” His response was “A Republic, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT”.

The words “IF YOU CAN KEEP IT” mean that there is vigilance and work involved in maintaining the republic and the individual freedoms that the constitution looked at as something that was a natural right, not as something that had to be “given” to anyone. So, what exactly is freedom? Try looking it up on and you’ll get 17 different definitions. Freedom is a concept, not a word.

Every time I’m stopped at a traffic light, my right of movement is obstructed. Is this a restriction on my freedom? Take away traffic lights and we’d have chaos on the roads. Road anarchy would rule the day. Driving on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, it’s obvious that road anarchy already rules the day. Without traffic lights, freedom of movement would be more restricted, not less, because the lack of organization means that no one would get anywhere. Is freedom being sacrificed for security by installing traffic lights? Of course not --laws in a society are for everyone’s benefit. There are situations where one person’s freedom conflicts with another person’s freedom and we need common sense laws so that everyone’s freedoms are protected.

A society with common sense laws is the difference between a Republic and anarchy. If you get on a plane, you have to take your shoes and belt off. This isn’t a government gone crazed with power; it is a common sense response to a real threat. President Bush took actions that were necessary based on a situation that he did not create. Whose freedoms were lost by phone taps anyway?

So if it is OK to make common sense laws that result in the benefit of everyone, when does the government go too far? The answer is the real definition of freedom. Freedom is the ability to make your own choices for your own benefit. You give up freedom when you cede the right of your own well being and put the decisions that affect your life in the hands of another person or entity.

If you are a member of a union and the union goes on strike, you may listen to the arguments pro and con and decide that you want to go on strike with the union. What if, after listening to the arguments pro and con, you decide not to go on strike. You have no right to disagree because a vote was taken and the union voted against you. They are going on strike whether you agree or not.

When the constitution was formed there was a distinction made that many people are unaware of. The United States has often been referred to as a democracy. In fact, it is a constitutional republic. The framers of the constitution wanted to avoid the mob mentality that often arises by pitting groups against each other. This pitting of groups against each other has always been the specialty of the left and dictatorships in general. When Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government they created, a democracy was not even mentioned.

So in the union example, you may be a person who is willing to work at a salary that someone else is willing to pay you, in conditions that you both agree are beneficial, and yet neither of you have the freedom to go forward with it because a majority of union members wanted to go on strike. Both you and your employer have ceded your freedoms to another group. This is the “mob” mentality that the framers wanted to avoid. Anyone who has seen the way unions sometimes behave can’t say the mob analogy is very far off. Unions may have done some great things but if a person wants to work at a salary that someone else is willing to pay, no one should have the right to stand in the way.

Gun control is another area where people are being asked to trust someone else with their freedom. Sometimes, political decisions are made as to who will be protected and who won’t be. People should never be asked to give up their right of personal protection to politicians who too often make decisions based on the political consequences, avoiding risky decisions that may cause controversy, often causing even more controversy by their inaction and cowardice.

Here are three examples of government making decisions for “expedience”. All three of these examples involve race in one way or another but race is not the issue. The issue is about giving up the right and responsibility of personal protection.

The first case is documented in Richard Poe’s book “The Seven Myths of Gun Control”. During the civil war, Black Americans served in the Union army. People coming home often kept the weapons they used in battle. However, in the case of black Americans, there was an organized effort to take away those guns. The Ku Klux Klan and other militia men ransacked their homes. The government did little to stop this. The end result is that because of a government decision, black Americans, after serving in the army, were left defenseless. There are incidents of those who refused to give up their guns and those are the ones who were able to defend themselves -- certainly, at no help from anyone other than themselves.

The second and third examples are more recent. During both the Rodney King riots in LA and the riots in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, local and state politicians decided to withhold protection for citizens who were under attack. People were rioting in the streets while police were, allegedly in Crown Heights, told to do nothing.

Liberal’s talk of gun control, as most things liberals talk about, is based on a false assumption. They are trying to create a “secure” environment by taking away the very tools that create a secure environment. In personal defense, no individual should be at the mercy of a decision made by a politician. People must have the right, if they deem it necessary, to have the last line of defense in the protection of themselves and their families.

Now there is Obamacare. We may be about to make the most stupid move in the history of this Republic. Hypocrites on the left don’t bring up Security-Freedom tradeoffs when it comes to unions or gun control. They don’t bring up tradeoffs in Social…uh, Social what? Oh yes, Social “Security”. That thing that says you have to pay some of your money so the government can put it away for your old age. When there is no money left in social “Security” you can take solace in an old age where you won’t be able to hire the doctor you want because the government may not consider your life “important” enough. Those defending Obamacare say “You already don’t have complete freedom to choose a doctor”. This is true enough but you don’t solve a problem of this magnitude by creating a much bigger problem. This would be like having a $500 dollar debt and trying to solve it by spending $10,000 more, or a few trillion but who’s counting.

During the Bush years, the United States did not sacrifice freedom for security. The one job of the government is to provide for the common defense which the Bush administration did admirably. No individual liberties were lost under the Presidency of GW Bush. Where is the left, so concerned about individual rights during those years, as Obama tries to take every personal choice out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of beaurocrats who don’t care about the people they serve (Yes, they serve US!). Amazingly, they do this in the name of “morality”. All dictators do.

What kind of government? A Republic – If you can keep it… let’s hope we can.

Friday, July 3, 2009


It is the beginning of Barack Obama's second term as president. Obama is getting ready to deliver a much anticipated speech on the state of major league baseball. He is going to propose a stimulus package that is designed to get major league baseball back on its feet. And here he is, the preident of the United States, Barack Obama....

Good morning, everybody. Please be seated. Thank you all for being here. Throughout the history of baseball, there have many crises - The black sox scandal in 1919, the strike year of 1994.

Today we face a crisis in the sport of baseball unlike any we have ever seen. We don’t know which players are on steroids. The price of tickets has become unaffordable to the average person. Some teams cannot compete and have to get by with small payrolls while other, more greedy teams, steal the resources necessary to be competitive while the fans of these poorer teams live in despair with no hope in the current season and no future to look forward to. The horrific state of baseball education has resulted in players not running out ground balls or pop ups and has now put us behind Japan and Korea in baseball knowledge and skills.

Quite frankly, the state of baseball is a mess. Owners of major league teams have put their own selfish needs of winning above the good of the sport. Major League baseball has had a win at all costs attitude. It has encouraged trickery and deception and instead of representing all that is good about America, it has represented all of America’s mistakes. As my wife Michelle has told me, “It has become a mean game.” That ends today. Starting today, owners, players and fans must ask themselves not what is good for their team but what is good for the well being of the sport.

For this reason I have worked with my economic team and leaders of both parties on a plan to meet the most urgent challenges in major league baseball. The plan that I will outline today represents not just new policy for baseball, but a whole new approach for the game and for meeting its most urgent challenges. I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. I get it. I do not want to run Major League baseball. I have enough to do running the banks, car manufacturers and oil companies. While Washington will do everything possible to prevent the catastrophic failure of Major League baseball, it will come with a clear understanding that government support for any team is an extraordinary action that must come with significant restrictions on the sport and on the individual teams that receive support.

Changes to the sport must begin in Washington. Only government can break the vicious cycles that have crippled the game. Baseball must set an example in creating a clean energy economy. For this reason, night games will be a thing of the past. Baseball teams will be allowed one night game per week. By this one action we will save as much energy as we would acquire by drilling in ANWAR. In addition, major league stadiums must immediately stop the wasteful practice of watering the field and the infield dirt. We can live with a weed or two in the outfield and a bit of dust kicking around in the infield.

Baseball must be at the forefront of environmental responsibility. Electronic scoreboards and video screens running throughout the stadium are also wasteful. I am recommending today that baseball return to the days of a person sitting inside a scoreboard manually changing the numbers. Not only will this help the environment, but it will create thousands of jobs. New stadiums built must be retrofitted with windmills and solar panels so that to the extent that energy is used, it will all be self generated. Existing stadiums have one year to comply with adding solar panels and windmills to their structure.

And then there is the issue of travelling in baseball. It is incredibly wasteful and bad for the environment that teams charter their own planes to fly all over the country. Again, baseball must, as the great American institution that it is, set an example. Teams will no longer have the luxury to charter planes to go to all over the country. Teams will need to travel on commercial flights already scheduled. If a team is unable to get all its members on one flight then the team can travel in two or three different flights. It can be possible that a team may get to its scheduled game and all of its players have not arrived yet. For this reason I am proposing that major league rosters expand to 35 players. This way, more jobs will be created and it will be unlikely that the team will arrive at its scheduled game without enough players.

The idea of creating more jobs is an important part of this baseball stimulus package. Baseball has become a game of selfishness, where only a few of the millions who try out for it, get to play on the highest level. One of the causes of this is the pitch known as the curveball. There are players who have been stars in high school and stars in college. Yet when they try out for the major leagues, they are excluded because they are unable to hit this deceptive pitch. Baseball should not be about deception and exclusion. The rules of the game, itself, must change to be more inclusive and fair to the people who desire to play. There will be no more curveballs in baseball, period.

Now there are some pitchers who throw over 95 MPH. Others throw at 86 to 88 MPH. Thus comes the need for trickery on the part of the pitcher who, through no fault of his own, is not able to throw the ball as hard. Currently, the pitcher’s mound is 60 ft, 6 inches from home plate. Starting today, there will be three rubbers on the pitcher’s mound. For those pitchers who throw 93 MPH and harder, they will need to use the rubber that is 70 feet from home plate. Pitchers who throw the ball at 90 to 93 MPH get to use the current rubber of 60 feet, 6 inches. Those who are less fortunate, get to use the rubber that is 59 feet from home plate.

Not only will this policy create more jobs in baseball, eliminate the need for deceptive pitches such as the curveball, it will also eliminate the need for one of the scourges of major league baseball -- steroids. There will be no need for any player to take steroids when the rules of the game don’t reward the unjust advantages that some have over others. If we eliminate these inequities, there will be no need for players to seek dishonest advantages with artificial means.

For this reason we also have to look at other parts of the game as well. Some players can hit a baseball 500 feet while others may top out at hitting a ball 350 feet. Players who are unable to hit a ball over 400 feet will be allowed to use metal bats. Players who attempt to steal a base or try to stretch a single into a double will be suspended. Stealing bases puts undo pressure on both pitchers and catchers and awards the accidental advantages that some players have for being faster than their cohorts.

With these rule changes that I am proposing, thousands of new jobs will open up to people who previously had no hope of ever playing in the major leagues. Therefore it will be incumbent upon baseball to seek out new cities for new teams in order that all the players who were previously shut out from the game find a place to play. I am today putting forth an executive order that baseball expand from 30 to 46 teams in order to provide the necessary opportunities needed for all the players who will now have the right to play.

I must now take a moment to speak about the competitive aspects of baseball. I believe that the rules of baseball were motivated by a sincere desire to create a competitive and honest game. But I also believe that all too often the writers of baseball rules made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often they trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of creating a game based on our principles, too often they set those principles aside as luxuries and too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent. In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by my Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who is a Yankees fan.

We have pitchers throwing inside at hitters with no regard for what might happen if that pitch hits the batter and the harm that the pitch might cause. We have runners trying to break up double plays going into second base without taking into account the well being of the shortstop or the second baseman on the other side of the play. We have fans hating each other. Red Sox fans hating Yankees fans. Mets fans hating Phillies fans. Hatred and the desire to do harm will have no place in the game of baseball. Tonight I seek a new beginning between the owners, players and fans around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that the interests of different fans are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Now let me be blunt. There are no neat or easy answers here. I wish there were. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo. As President, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. I refuse to pass it on to somebody else. It is my responsibility to solve the problem. The people elected me president. We won the election. John McCain lost the election. Yet as Senator McCain once said, torture “serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.”

So what does that have to do with major league baseball? In baseball stadiums around the country, fans boo players who make mistakes, players commit acts that can hurt one another, they try to steal bases and humiliate the other team. They do things such as bunt, which causes a third baseman to second guess himself. He wonders “Should I play in?” “Should I play back?” And if, in fact, the hitter bunts, the third baseman is forced to rush in to catch the ball, often without even enough time to catch the ball in his glove, he has to catch it with his bare hand and then try to throw it to first off balance and awkwardly, risking injury to himself and humiliation to his family. Today I am ordering the closing of any baseball stadium that allows these practices to continue.

I must take a moment now to talk about umpires in baseball. Currently umpires call balls and strikes, whether a ball is fair or foul, whether a runner is safe or out. A shortstop may make an amazing play, throw to first on his knees, and yet after all that effort the runner may still be called safe. I am appalled by this inflexible and unfair approach to the game. I am going to increase the number of umpires in each game from 4 to 9. When there is a play that merits further consideration to the infexible rules, umpires will deliberate and vote whether or not to overrule the rule. So in the above play, if the umpires vote 5-4 to overrule the call at first base, the runner will be safe. All umpires will be appointed by me. I won the election and therefore, respectully reserve the right, with all due respect to those who lost the election, to these appointments.

For the reasons I just mentioned and many others, I am extremely proud today to appoint Al Gore as my new baseball czar. Mr. Gore will oversee the spending of money by major league teams. All expenditures by major league teams will need to be approved by my new czar. No team will be allowed to spend more than any other team and all signings of players and coaches, as well as hot dog vendors and ushers, will need approval from the baseball czar. The days of deception and cruelty in baseball are over. The days of the strong teams praying on the weak teams are over. People elected me for change, not to maintain the status quo. In baseball, the strong too often have dominated the weak, and too often those with speed, power, or the ability to throw harder or trick their associates have found all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of the disadvantages of others.

I am proposing a win-win situation for baseball. I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we cannot return baseball to its former glory unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. I am going to make the game a beacon of environmental responsibility. I will eliminate the need for anyone to ever try steroids because the rules of the game do not encourage it. I will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. I will create a game where fans in all cities have hope that their team can win a championship, where good will and mutual respect define the game, not hatred and the desire to do harm. How can anyone be against this plan?

We will not be united and safe if major league baseball continues as a wedge that divides America -- it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people and as one nation. We've done so before in times that were more perilous than ours. We will do so once again. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.