No Conflicts of Interest

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This is my end-of-the-year reveal-all column in which I come clean about my conflicts of interest. Trouble is, I don’t have any.

All income comes from the sales of the column, pension, Social Security and, now that the Internal Revenue Service is forcing me to withdraw some of the money, my rollover retirement kitty.

I am a member of only one organization, the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I am registered as a Democrat because I dislike the hypocrisy of the Republicans, who talk conservative and vote liberal. Truth is, though, I can think of only a very few Democrats I would gladly vote for. As Huey Long once said, the Republicans skin you from the top down, and the Democrats skin you from the bottom up.

You can describe me as a Jeffersonian Democrat. I believe the Constitution is a contract between the states and the federal government, not some rubbery so-called living document. You don’t amend a contract by interpretation. That great document is written in such plain English, only an idiot or a dishonest lawyer could misinterpret it.

Unfortunately, in modern times, as a Yankee judge put it, the Constitution means what the court says it means. I always include in my prayers a request for a Congress of men and women intelligent and courageous enough to apply the whip of impeachment to federal judges who usurp their authority. So far, no answer has come from the direction of heaven. I strongly suspect God thinks we should clean up the mess we created.

Like George Washington, I believe in a noninterventionist foreign policy. We have no legal or moral right to tell other sovereign nations how they should conduct themselves. Contrary to the widespread delusion, the American president is not the ruler of the world, for which, I’m sure, the world is grateful, given the ability of the present White House occupant.

A patriot is a person who loves the land and the people and is loyal to the Constitution. Patriots are not those who blindly click their heels and salute whatever current politician temporarily occupies the office. Such heel-clickers are generally described as having the makings of a fascist, but a kinder description is that they are people who have misplaced their faith.

As for the column, I have always tried to tell the truth as best I can determine it at the time of the writing. Sometimes I’ve been wrong. I don’t pretend to be omniscient. I don’t mind when people disagree. Reality will eventually settle all disputes. That’s one of the advantages of reading old books. With hindsight, you can tell who was right and who was wrong.

My purpose is to stimulate people to think about important issues. I fear apathy may one day do us in. The Founding Fathers did us no favor when they handed us the burden of self-government. It’s hard work trying to keep informed and to think clearly about public issues.

I don’t carry water for anyone — not for a political party or even for conservatives. Labels like "conservative" and "liberal" have for all practical purposes lost their meanings, though we keep using them for lack of a better description.

Just remember that it’s become a very approximate description. If William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is a conservative, then I’m not.

But we have a lot to do and better things to do than quibble over labels. Our great country is not as good as it can be. We know what the problems are, and there are enough of them that everyone can find one to tackle based on his or her interests and talents. May the new year bring us all closer together.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.

© 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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