Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The Associated Press is an important part of our everyday lives. AP articles can be found in more than 1,700 newspapers across the country, including this one. Thanks to that exposure, the AP drives the American conversation, their reports being fodder for the talk at the dinner table, at the water cooler, and on the radio. 

With this media cooperative possessing such power and influence -- setting the standard for news in America -- one would expect the organization to exercise a great amount of responsibility to their readership when distributing their reports. This is not always the case with AP, and it was made grossly apparent in a recent article that appeared in Sunday papers on October 28th.

The article in question was headlined in this paper as “Poll: Racial divide in the country has grown”. It analyzed an AP poll that looked at racial attitudes in America. Not written in a subjective or all-inclusive manner as good reporting should be, the writers cherry-picked -- and even manipulated -- the data and the entire focus of the article was on how allegedly prejudiced whites are against blacks. According to the report, a majority of Americans now hold explicit anti-black attitudes. It’s a slight majority (51%), but still an unfathomable number nonetheless. One doesn’t even have to read the survey to know the assumption is bunkum: Think about your white friends, family, and coworkers; do you really think that 1 out of every 2 of them despise blacks?

If you go online you can find the full survey and its results at The alleged disdain of blacks was determined in the breakdown of responses under the series of questions identified as RAC11 where there were 11 traits in which the respondents are asked to rate a race on how well that trait describes it, running the gamut from “not at all” to “extremely well”. There are 9 positive traits (like hard-working, intelligent at school, and good neighbors) and not one of them saw a “not at all” response rate in excess of 3% for blacks.  That number is but a fraction of the assumed 51% of racist beliefs, so it’s obvious that the survey analysts considered a “slightly well” or “moderately well” response to constitute a negative belief since they weren’t in the full positive. How is that good surveying?

There were also 2 negative traits on the survey, violent and boastful, and the “slightly well” to “extremely well” range constituted 66% and 68% respectively. Despite such high numbers, it does not show anti-black bias. The reason: whites were considered violent by 68% of respondents and boastful by 77%. So, their negatives were stronger than those of blacks. Likewise, when you look at their positive traits, they actually had 3 of them in the negative at a clip above 3% (the highest negative rate given to any trait for blacks). Across the board on average, the numbers for whites were no different than blacks.

There was obvious racial bias in the reporting, because the AP article in all its length (1,182 words) said not one word about sentiments towards whites, let alone the fact that the positives were nearly equal across races or that the whites were held in greater disregard for their negative traits. The entire article, and the interviews with thought leaders contained within, painted whites as evil. Mind you, this is the same AP that in 2008 not only gave a free pass to, but highlighted and promoted in a positive light, the countless blacks who openly said they voted for Barack Obama on skin color alone – openly expressed racism and racial preference that went without identification or question.                     

There was also an explicit political bias in the article as well, as a good portion of it focused on Obama, how he’ll lose votes because of the racial feelings allegedly discovered in the survey and how, through anecdotal mentions, he and other blacks have been the subject of racial antagonism since he took office. It’s almost as if the writers were using race-baiting to demean support for Mitt Romney and induce a sense of White Man’s guilt to drive voters to Obama. Like many such Sunday exposes, the article would have driven the political conversation for the week that followed and with a week and a half to go to the election, it could have influenced people on the fence with entirely incorrect information. But, it didn’t, as Hurricane Sandy dominated the news cycle that followed.

Sadly, while the survey shows that whites and blacks hold each other in a positive and equal light, we have a press that drives an agenda to the contrary, in hopes of baiting races to hate one another, divide America and, for the AP’s benefit, make good headlines.         

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at


This column originally ran in the 05 November 2012 Greater Niagara Newspapers

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Students of American history will recall some of the many grievances against King George III that were called out in the Declaration of Independence. Among them were the following:

“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

…imposing Taxes on us without our Consent”

“…depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury”

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws”

I cite those indictments because they represent just a few that still affect us to this day.

But, rather than a monarch being the source of such unconscionable anguish, it is our very own President that has been guilty of such crimes against our people.

It was never intended to be this way.

In the years that followed the signing of that sacred document on July 4, 1776, the Founding Fathers utilized their newfound independence to fashion a government that was beholden to the people (rather than a people that were beholden to the government). Knowing full well the flaws that come with Kings, they created a republic, and for it a Constitution that clearly called out the limited powers and responsibilities of our federal government. In just over 1,000 words they defined the role of the Executive – the President – someone who theoretically replaced the role of the King, but unlike a King, had almost no powers. The President could not make laws, exert taxes and fees, and declare war among numerous other things that Kings took for granted. A President’s duties were very few: He was to be the face of our nation, the Commander in Chief of our armed forces, the appointer of judges and ambassadors, and he was to execute the laws created by Congress.

Although the ultimate law of the land – the Constitution – clearly and concisely identifies the legal role of the President, we’ve seen the office stray from those limitations.  And, despite protestations by the Grand Old Party, this is nothing new to the office since President Barack Obama came into power. Every President of our lifetimes has been as despotic as kings, including alleged small government types like Ronald Reagan. They do as they shouldn’t and do as they want, even if the end result is not the peoples’ will.

This addiction to centralized, unconstitutional power has become the norm and dates back to the days of Lincoln, a man who had no absolutely no consideration for the Constitution and a man who history has painted as a hero (and something approaching a god) for it. Lincoln opened the floodgates that led to the modern and popular interpretation of the presidency that allows Presidents to declare war (our last Constitutional war and occupation was World War II), suspend trial by jury and exert indefinite detention, and use their administrative offices to make regulations (which are laws), impose taxes (fees and fines), and infringe upon the rights of the people and the sound operations of the free markets. They have grown beyond the boundaries of their duties and have assumed the powers that were once - and are elsewhere – bequeathed to monarchies, doing everything, unchecked, that a Congress should, thus taking all power away from the people and keeping it for themselves.

The people fail to see that the ultimate power should be in their hands, through our representative form of government. The nation was founded so that the Congress was the most powerful branch of government. The general belief is that all branches share equal power; this is not so -- the Executive Branch should only be a check and a balance to an overreaching Congress, as are our courts to both. Our nation was founded this way so that the masses were equally represented and the development of laws and budgets came from a governing body directly accessible to the common man and which could actually be comprised of the common man. The rights and consent of the government were paramount.

Yet, sadly, that is not what the people seem to want anymore.

Reflect upon what we’ve observed in this election cycle (and every cycle before it). The voters want to know what the presidential candidates will do for them. They expect them to fix the economy, regulate industry, exert social mores upon the masses, assume war powers, make laws, control the Congress, create tax policy, intervene in foreign affairs, and suppress liberty in the name of security. They think the President is – and they clamor for – a singular power, a central office…in essence, a king.

What has become of our United States? At this rate, what will become of them?

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at


This column originally ran in the 29 October 2012 Greater Niagara Newspapers

Friday, October 19, 2012


The Founding Fathers conceived the United States of America out of their desire to escape Great Britain’s heavy-handed governance. They justifiably felt that the Crown was too intrusive and oppressive. The colonists were – just as they were back in their homeland - heavily taxed, denied the pursuit of freedom and silenced when it came to legislative affairs. They and other Brits had become beholden to their government.

Not wanting to live under such tyranny, and intent on guaranteeing that no one else suffered the same, they founded this great nation under the basic yet utterly profound premise that the people control the government, rather than the other way around. This tenet was codified in the Declaration of Independence through this timeless phrase: "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

As a direct result of their newfound self-rule, the United States and their citizens prospered. It was the first time in history that a people collectively and officially recognized freedom as a natural right, granted to all by a higher power, something beyond government and beyond Man. Despite being natural and essential to one’s existence, true liberty was in stark contrast to not only British rule but also that of most organized societies since the dawn of time, from nomadic tribes to the world’s greatest empires. Americans were unique because they could pursue happiness and liberty virtually unabated.

Essentially, the United State were, by design, Heaven on Earth.

This position still holds mostly true to this day; centuries later: Despite her flaws (the result of our people straying from the formative tenets of self-rule, responsibility and liberty), our country is still the best exemplification of a free society.

Realize, though, that this is not a guaranteed comfort; there have been and always are forces at work to suffocate natural rights and eliminate “the Consent of the Governed” from the government equation. We as Americans can only maintain this great nation and eliminate those threats through participation in legislative affairs. This does not mean that one needs to run for office. All it means and requires is that the citizens pay attention to how their lives are impacted by government and then - based upon acceptance or displeasure – make their voices heard in the electoral process.

Unfortunately, over the years, many have lost sight of this duty. Less and less people exercise their right to vote, taking Americanism and freedom for granted while accepting the status quo and gradual degradation of our rights. They fail to see that the right to vote essentially dictates all other rights. Such a wayward mindset will ultimately destroy America, taking all of the power from the people and placing it into the hands of the government. Oppressive government rule can and will wipe out all rights, even those identified as being unalienable.

This demise can be prevented – and America saved - with your help. In 2 weeks, during the general election, many people will do the patriotic thing and exercise their right to vote. While this occurs many others will decline their obligation. You will know many such people, those who consider going to the polls a chore and struggle to make to time for it or to put-in the efforts necessary to make an informed decision. You yourself may even be one of these souls. If this is the case, a truer path must be chosen. It is imperative that you exercise your right to vote. It is as equally important that you influence other people to do the same.

Not participating in our representative form of government through elections will, in the end, give away the very extraordinary American way of life – one predicated on freedom -- that you, your children, and their children all rightly deserve and should expect.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at


This column originally ran in the 15 October 2012 Greater Niagara Newspapers

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Last week’s column discussed the dire straits faced by school districts and how it makes good fiscal sense to cut sports. It’s also good practice from a philosophical standpoint.

Very few people would argue against society having a responsibility, within reason, for the education of our youth. It’s only fair: it was done for us and we should do it for them. It’s also a good investment: The introduction of knowledge to and the fostering of critical thinking skills within our children will always pay huge dividends when they became capable, working adults who will contribute to the greatness of their generation and those that follow.

But, a line needs to be drawn.

We should fund science, math and the humanities. They contribute to the basic premise of public education. The burden that taxpayers shouldn’t shoulder, though, are the extra-circular activities. Not only do athletics have the potential to adversely affect the budgeting of the intellectual pursuits and/or create undue financial burden on local, state, and federal taxpayers, but we’ve been saddled for too long by a sort of misguided belief whereby society thinks that entertainment and leisure deserve the same investment of energy and public funds as the things that really count in life.

It should be noted that by strengthening the important aspects and outcomes of education (know-how, creativity and productivity) in the home, in our community and in our nation, leisure will follow as an improved people (singularly and collectively) have the time and money to invest in it. We’re not even close in that regard -- not only are our students getting trounced when compared against the rest of the world’s children, but our society is in an escalated state of decline (see our struggling economy, for starters). It’s the overemphasis on leisure that contributed to the Roman Empire’s complacency and resulting death, and it’s doing the same to us. To some, that may seem like over-reaching hysteria, but take a look around you: Think of how many youths (and their parents) focus more on sports than on their studies…they’d rather excel on the field than in the classroom.  

What makes this especially confounding is the fact that parents with school-aged kids (the most powerful voting bloc in school board elections and budget votes) think it’s the obligation of the masses to pay for their children’s hobbies. A boy’s interest in football and a girl’s love for field hockey are no different than others’ appreciation for, say, Scouting and horses. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for sports – enjoyed by a very small minority of the student body – when they aren’t forced to pay for a Boy Scout’s trip to the Jamboree or a young lady’s participation in equestrian competition? You see, it’s ridiculous to even ponder publically-funding the latter set of circumstances, so why should it not be the same for the former? Consider that a money-poor taxpayer could lose his home for not paying for some boy’s baseball uniform or a girl’s basketball. How is that even remotely right?

Sports should be full-funded by the participants. It should be the obligation of the children and/or their parents to pay for all costs associated with their hobbies. You would expect the same if a kid is in scouts or little league baseball, plays video games, or hunts and fishes. Those families and, where applicable, their respective organizations make it happen. The parents might have to give up on a little bit of their interests to fund that of their kids, or the children may have to go out and mow some lawns or get a job.  They might all have to get together and creatively put together some fundraising endeavors and events. My default example for this is always the Royalton-Hartland Sports Boosters Club. Faced with the total elimination of football a few years back, those great souls brought it back, fully-funded by their efforts. They found that those who can’t give couldn’t, but those who could, would give in spades. They made it work in a small community with a very limited business base. With equal efforts in similar and larger districts, other schools could easily fund their sports by benevolence and not by force.

So, while impending cuts – which have been a long time coming - may seem depressing and daunting to young athletes and their parents, other families suffer the same financing issues with their interests and they seem to adjust accordingly and admirably…and it’s likely they savor their hobbies more for the investments they make in them. That’s the premise that America was founded on – happiness was meant to be pursued, not given to us, and we (both young and old) are better off for that pursuit.                            

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at


This column originally ran in the 15 October 2012 Greater Niagara Newspapers