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Thread: GREAT Article

  1. #1
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    The oldest fraud
    Thomas Sowell (archive)

    November 5, 2004

    Election frauds are nothing new and neither are political frauds in general. The oldest fraud is the belief that the political left is the party of the poor and the downtrodden.

    The election results in California are only the latest evidence to give the lie to that belief. While the state as a whole went for Kerry, 55 percent versus 44 percent for Bush, the various counties ranged from 71 percent Bush to 83 percent Kerry. The most affluent counties were where Kerry had his strongest support.

    In Marin County, where the average home price is $750,000, 73 percent of the votes went for Kerry. In Alameda County, where Berkeley is located, it was 74 percent Kerry. San Francisco, with the highest rents of any major city in the country, gave 83 percent of its votes to Kerry.

    Out where ordinary people live, it was a different story. Thirty-six counties went for Bush versus 22 counties for Kerry, and usually by more balanced vote totals, though Bush went over 70 percent in less fashionable places like Lassen County and Modoc County. If you have never heard of them, there's a reason.

    It was much the same story on the votes for Proposition 66, which would have limited the "three strikes" law that puts career criminals away for life. Affluent voters living insulated lives in places well removed from high-crime neighborhoods have the luxury of worrying about whether we are not being nice enough to hoodlums, criminals and terrorists.

    They don't like the "three strikes" law and want it weakened. While most California voters opposed any weakening of that law, a majority of the voters in the affluent and heavily pro-Kerry counties mentioned wanted us to stop being so mean to criminals.

    This pattern is not confined to California and it is not new. There were limousine liberals before there were limousines. The same pattern applies when you go even further left on the political spectrum, to socialists and communists.

    The British Labor Party's leader in the heyday of its socialist zealotry was Clement Attlee, who grew up in a large home with servants -- and this was not the only home his family owned. Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher's family ran a grocery store and lived upstairs over it.

    While the British Labor Party was affiliated with labor unions, it was the affluent and the intellectuals in the party who had the most left-wing ideologies and the most unrealistic policies. In the years leading up to World War II, the Labor Party was for disarmament while Hitler was arming Germany to the teeth across the Channel.

    Eventually, it was the labor union component of the party that insisted on some sanity, so that Britain could begin preparing to defend itself militarily -- not a moment too soon.

    When Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto, they were a couple of spoiled young men from rich families. All their talk about the working class was just talk, but it appealed to other such young men who liked heady talk.

    As Engels himself put it, when the Communist group for whom the Manifesto was written was choosing delegates, "a working man was proposed for appearances sake, but those who proposed him voted for me." This may have been the first rigged election of the Communist movement but it was certainly not the last.

    All sorts of modern extremist movements, such as the Weathermen in the United States or the Bader-Meinhof gang in Germany, have attracted a disproportionate number of the affluent in general and the intellectuals in particular.

    Such people may speak in the name of the downtrodden but they themselves are often people who have time on their hands to nurse their pet notions about the world and their fancies about themselves as leaders of the poor, saviors of the environment or whatever happens to be the Big Deal du jour.

    Osama bin Laden is not someone embittered by poverty. He is from a very rich family and has had both the time to nurse his resentments of the West and the money to organize terrorists to lash out in the only way that can give them any significance.

    The belief that liberal, left-wing or extremist movements are for the poor may or may not be the biggest fraud but it is certainly the oldest.

    2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

  2. #2
    No surprise there. I've always felt that the best way to help the poor is to create the conditions in the country which would encourage them to succeed. I feel that entitlments actually have the opposite effect. It encourages apathy.

  3. #3
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    A narrow escape
    Thomas Sowell (archive)

    November 4, 2004

    Although more people voted for President Bush than for any other President in American history, it was still a narrow victory -- and a narrow escape for this great nation.

    Can you imagine what it would be like to have a Massachusetts liberal filling the federal courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, with liberal judges who would be turning more criminals loose for decades to come, as well as repeatedly over-ruling the voting public's right to govern themselves on such things as gay marriage?

    With so many elderly members on today's Supreme Court, the choices of their successors will be historic in their consequences. Those consequences could be tragic if they are replaced with more Justices who think their job is to impose their own pet notions or -- worse yet -- to be guided by what is in fashion in other countries, instead of what is set forth in the Constitution of the United States that they are sworn to uphold.

    President Bush has made some excellent judicial nominations who have been stymied by Senate Democrats, led by Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Perhaps Dachle's defeat at the polls will send a message to other Senate Democrats that partisan obstruction is not what the voters sent them to Washington to do.

    The implications of this election reach beyond the government. The election results demonstrate that the mainstream media has lost its power to control what the public will know and not know. If there were not alternative media like talk radio, Fox News and the Internet, the public would have heard nothing but pro-Kerry spin masquerading as news.

    Dan Rather's forged documents were just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Ted Koppel's contrived "ambush journalism" against John O'Neill of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth was more clever, but no less sleazy. Chris Matthews' shouting down and browbeating Michelle Malkin on Hardball was not his finest hour either.

    Other examples abound. Double standards in the media have long been applied to everything from reporting unemployment statistics to demanding to see the military records of the candidates.

    When the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent during the Clinton administration, it was hailed as a great achievement but the very same unemployment rate has been treated as a disaster under President Bush.

    Unsubstantiated charges that Republicans were trying to suppress voters who were likely to vote against them have been trumpeted through the media. But the documented fact that Democrats tried to stop the absentee ballots of people in the military serving overseas in 2000 from being counted in Florida, and tried to stop Ralph Nader from even being put on the ballot this year, received very little mention.

    Unsubstantiated rumors were also enough to keep the media howling after President Bush for months, demanding more information about his military service, even after he signed the official form releasing all his military records to the public. Senator Kerry never signed that same form but this fact was passed over in utter silence.

    No one even raised the obvious question as to why Lt. Kerry's honorable discharge from the Navy was issued during the Carter administration, even though his service ended earlier. Was his original discharge not honorable but only made "honorable" retroactively under the Democrats?

    We don't know and we will never know, so long as the media think their job is to filter and spin for their own causes and candidates, rather than to inform the public and let them decide.

    Some are saying that the Democrats are going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what they are doing wrong, if they want to regain the support of the public. The time is long overdue for the mainstream media to do the same.

    Perhaps as the aging anchor men on network news programs retire, and are replaced by younger people who were not steeped in the heady sense of power that the media acquired during the Vietnam war and Watergate, maybe there will be more emphasis on news in the news rooms.

    The election results have spared us the worst but it will take some rethinking in a lot of places for us to achieve the best.

    2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

    Contact Thomas Sowell | Read Sowell's biography


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