We call the war of 1861 the Civil War. But is that right? A civil war is a struggle between two or more entities trying to take over the central government. Confederate President Jefferson Davis no more sought to take over Washington, D.C., than George Washington sought to take over London in 1776. Both wars, those of 1776 and 1861, were wars of independence. Such a recognition does not require one to sanction the horrors of slavery. We might ask, How much of the war was about slavery?

Was President Abraham Lincoln really for outlawing slavery? Let's look at his words. In an 1858 letter, Lincoln said, "I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists." In a Springfield, Illinois, speech, he explained: "My declarations upon this subject of Negro slavery may be misrepresented but cannot be misunderstood.

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The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our war of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the war between the colonies and Great Britain. Its first article declared the 13 colonies "to be free, sovereign and independent states." These 13 sovereign nations came together in 1787 as principals and created the federal government as their agent. Principals have always held the right to fire agents. In other words, states held a right to withdraw from the pact -- secede.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that in Germany, multiculturalism has "utterly failed." Both Australia's ex-prime minister John Howard and Spain's ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar reached the same conclusion about multiculturalism in their countries. British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that multiculturalism is fostering extremist ideology and directly contributing to homegrown Islamic terrorism. UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the United Kingdom's push for multiculturalism has not united Britons but pushed them apart. It has allowed for Islam to emerge despite Britain's Judeo-Christian culture. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the roots of violent Islamism are not "superficial but deep" and can be found "in the extremist minority that now, in every European city, preach hatred of the West and our way of life."

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Rep. Diane Watson said, in praising Cuba's health care system, "You can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met." W.E.B. Dubois, writing in the National Guardian (1953) said, "Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. ... But also -- and this was the highest proof of his greatness -- he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate." Walter Duranty called Stalin "the greatest living statesman . . . a quiet, unobtrusive man." George Bernard Shaw expressed admiration for Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin.

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Michael Moore's new film, "Capitalism: A Love Story" will be released next month. I've neither seen nor read reviews of the film, except for a short piece in the London Telegraph (9/6/09) titled "Michael Moore film calls capitalism evil." Aware of Michael Moore's previous films, I know that it will be at best a misleading story about capitalism. So let's do some defensive mental preparation, not about the film but what is and what is not capitalism.

Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private ownership and control over the means of production. The distribution of goods and services and their prices are mainly determined by competition in a free market. Under such a system the primary job of government is to protect private property, enforce contracts and ensure rule of law.

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President Obama and congressional supporters estimate that his health care plan will cost between $50 and $65 billion a year. Such cost estimates are lies whether they come from a Democratic president and Congress, or a Republican president and Congress. You say, "Williams, you don't show much trust in the White House and Congress." Let's check out their past dishonesty.

At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee, along with President Johnson, estimated that Medicare would cost an inflation-adjusted $12 billion by 1990. In 1990, Medicare topped $107 billion. That's nine times Congress' prediction. Today's Medicare tab comes to $420 billion with no signs of leveling off. How much confidence can we have in any cost estimates by the White House or Congress?

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s2smodern

Harvard Professor Henry Gates' arrest has given new life to the issue of racial profiling. We can think of profiling in general as a practice where people use an observable or known physical attribute as a proxy or estimator of some other unobservable or unknown attribute. Race or sex profiling is simply the use of race or sex as that estimator. Profiling represents mankind's attempt to cope with information cost. God would not have to profile since God is all knowing.

People differ by race and sex. Let's look at a few profiling examples to see which ones you'd like outlawed. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of men getting breast cancer is about 1/10th of 1 percent, or 1 in 1,000; and 440 men will die of breast cancer this year. For women, the risk of developing breast cancer is about 12 percent, or 1 in 8, and 40,610 will die from it this year. Should doctors and medical insurance companies be prosecuted for the discriminatory practice of routine breast cancer screening for women but not for men?

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Mike Scruggs