Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Is it desperation, OCD, or is there actually some “there” there?

Who dares to deny that the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the Trump presidency is the most unusual political phenomenon in recent memory?

There is a lot of true craziness among the anti-Trump crowd. They criticize him for virtually everything, or nothing. Like the non-story involving Poland’s First Lady, who set the anti-Trump world ablaze when, after her husband and Trump shook hands, she had the audacity to shake the hand of Mrs. Trump before greeting the president. Oh, the horror! And daughter Ivanka sat in for him briefly at the G-20 meeting wearing a pink dress with – gasp – bows on it!

Perhaps the best evidence of compulsive obsession and the Left losing its grip on reality was Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Cal., who wanted to impeach Trump before he was even sworn in.

Other evidence of the high degree of obsession comes from a survey by the drug and alcohol rehabilitation group Detox, which found that “Over 73 percent of Democrats would give up drinking for the rest of their lives if it led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump...” Teetotaling would be good for those Democrats, as well as the country, however the survey did not provide a mechanism for assuring allegiance to the pledge.

It is quite likely that many people who desire impeachment don’t understand what it is or how it works. Impeachment is a political remedy; it deals with breaches of public trust, or injuries done immediately to the society itself, by certain government officials, but not criminal activity.

The grounds for impeachment require the significant likelihood that "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" (crimes by public officials against the government), have been committed, according to Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. It is not the appropriate solution for those dissatisfied with the results of an election, or the most fervent wish to be rid of a president some don’t like.

Impeachment does not remove a president from office. It is the first step in a two-step process; bringing formal charges against him or her, much like a grand jury indictment. Remember, Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998, but went on to serve out his term as president because he was not convicted in step two, the trial by the U.S. Senate, requiring the affirmative vote by at least two-thirds of its members.

The only other successful impeachment of a president was Andrew Johnson, who was acquitted by the Senate in 1868. Richard Nixon likely would have been impeached and convicted over the Watergate affair a few decades back, but avoided impeachment by resigning from office.

The record for presidential impeachment shows it is a difficult process without much success, as deliberately designed by the Founders.

Failures don’t impede Democrats in their efforts at futile goals, however. Obsession and compulsion are tough masters to defeat. Perhaps their real goal is just stirring up negative opinion among their faithful followers to interfere with the president’s agenda.

“If they had a good case based on real information, I think they would mention it by now and put their cards on the table,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative government watchdog group. He is also a former Pennsylvania state prosecutor and former counsel for the board of directors at the Legal Services Corporation. Talking with The Daily Signal, he added, “They don’t have high crimes and misdemeanors. They don’t have low crimes and misdemeanors.”

Despite any compelling evidence, or even evidence that isn’t compelling, those on the Left who have rallied to the idea include:, Democracy for America, and other progressive or “resistance” groups, and a group of Congressional Democrats who either don’t understand the issues or the process, or just seek recognition.

This list includes the aforementioned Rep. Waters, along with Texas Rep. Al Green, California Rep. Jackie Speier, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maine Sen. Angus King, Texas Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. And, let us not forget Virginia’s own Sen. Tim Kaine, who actually mentioned “treason.”

After admitting nothing has yet been proved, Kaine said, “We’re now beyond obstruction of justice, in terms of what’s being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements, and even potentially treason.”

California Rep. Brad Sherman actually has introduced articles of impeachment, although the House Democrat leadership hasn’t fallen in line with that move. The effort is almost certain to fail because only one Democrat, Al Green, has signed on to it, and based on known facts, it won’t go anywhere in a Republican-controlled Congress.

At some point, however, Democrats must chill down the rhetoric. Emotion and desire, however fervent and crushing they may be, must be put aside, an objective look at the actual case must be undertaken, and then they need get back to performing the national service for which they were elected. Fixing Obamacare and filling hundreds of government positions, for example, are important issues.

Obstruction of the nation’s business and deliberate clouding of the national narrative are harmful to the country.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Do Republicans really vote against their constituents’ interests?

It is not news – not even fake news – that the political Right and the political Left do not see things the same way; they are different, just as men and women are. The Left frequently sees things as problems that the Right does not regard as problems, and vice versa. And even when the two sides agree that something is a problem, they have different ways of addressing it. The gulf between the two factions is wider today than ever before.

The idea that Republican voters sometimes/often vote against their own interests is a Democrat talking point, and was the subject of a New York Times podcast that was discussed in a National Review online article by senior writer David French recently. The podcast host, Times managing editor Michael Barbaro, interviewed domestic-affairs correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who cited the situation in the state of Kentucky, one of the states that suffered mightily when the War on Coal put enough people out of work to run Kentucky’s coal jobs to their lowest level in 118 years.

The out-of-work miners, forced onto Medicaid by the War on Coal, benefited greatly from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, Stolberg said, “yet, its Republican senators are leading the charge for Obamacare repeal, including for Medicaid reform. How can that be?”

The answer to that question comes from the different ways of looking at the world and at life from opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Which of the following sets of ideas do you most closely observe?
1. The nuclear family is an antique idea, traditional ideas of morality and culture are holding us back, sexual autonomy is a virtue, and we just can’t get by without government “help.”
2. First, we graduate from high school, get a job to sustain ourselves, get married, and then have children and raise a family.

If you chose 1, you likely lean toward the political Left; if you chose 2, you likely lean toward the political Right. These different views of how to live our lives define why Republicans vote against what seem to be their interests.

“Now, between the two parties, which one has centered its appeal around married parents with kids and which party has doubled down on single moms,” French asks? “Even worse, the Democrats’ far-left base has intentionally attacked the nuclear family as archaic and patriarchal. It has celebrated sexual autonomy as a cardinal virtue. Then, when faced with the fractured families that result, it says, ‘Here, let the government help,’” he writes.

How does this relate to Kentucky’s Republican Senators? They are voting on their ideas of what makes America great, and according to French, those interests “depend on the complex interplay between our faith, our families, and our communities.” It’s all about core values.

New York Times columnist David Brooks traces these values back to American frontier towns, where life was “fragile, perilous, lonely and remorseless,” where a “single slip could produce disaster,” and as a result the frontier folk learned to practice “self-restraint, temperance, self-control and strictness of conscience.”

Those values are at the heart of the American experience of carving a powerful and free republic out of a wilderness, a nation that has as a result led the world for decades. They reflect the Biblical values brought here and cultivated during America’s first turbulent and troubled decades, and which formed the basis of the government created following the “Colexit” of the Colonies from Mother England’s repressive grasp.

Republicans, or at least those who are true conservatives, honor the ideals of freedom, personal responsibility, self-reliance, and limited government, and to a less-than-perfect degree – but a far-greater degree than those who call themselves liberals, progressives, or socialists – try to live by these values.

Kentucky’s Republican Senators dislike the government’s solution to the problem that the government itself created when it over-regulated nearly everything, and so they see a vote against maintaining this absurdity as a virtuous one. They prefer a system freeing Americans to make their own decisions about healthcare and health insurance without the one-size-fits-nobody concept that the Democrats created that we commonly call Obamacare.

Their vote seemingly punishes those they should most want to help: their constituents and supporters. But the bigger picture shows instead the desire to free their constituents from the damaging big government policies that put them on the government dole. The want to create an environment where they can find another job that can sustain them above the poverty line, and off of Medicaid.

Republicans want to do away with this Democrat-created problem. Their fundamental goal is to free Americans from this horrible, failed big government mechanism. Its aim was to ultimately create a single-payer, totally government-controlled healthcare system that would mirror the British system. You know the one: it recently took control of decisions on seriously ill infant Charlie Gard’s care away from his parents, and effectively ordered the Charlie’s death.

That case demonstrates precisely how government-run healthcare can, and likely will, degenerate into a system where government makes decisions about who lives and dies. And that explains why Republicans seem to vote against their constituents’ interests.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Getting it right in the battle against opioid overdose deaths

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia – in that order – lead the nation in prescriptions for narcotic painkillers. Nationwide, there were close to 60,000 deaths in 2016 from drug overdoses.

How is this possible, when narcotics are strictly controlled? A popular target for blame for this problem is the pharmaceutical industry, which is often the focus of criticism. “We would not have a drug problem if manufacturers weren’t trying so hard to sell them,” the reasoning, such as it is, goes.

But making and selling drugs is what drug manufacturers do: they spend millions or billions of dollars over a decade and often longer to find the right formula to create a product that will help people suffering from a medical condition. They work to get the product through lengthy clinical trials and the stringent FDA approval process. Then, they must sell enough of that product during the patent protection period to recoup the costs of its development so the company can invest that money in another product’s development.

Also understand that drug companies do not provide addictive drugs to individuals, neither the legal users, nor the illegal users. They provide them to distributors, or directly to pharmacies, and unless someone steals them or distributes them improperly, they will contribute not one bit to a drug problem.

Far too many prescription drugs do get to users through “pill mills,” and some physicians who don’t have sufficient information about the effects of some drugs as they need may, as a result, over-prescribe them. And, obviously, these problems must be addressed.

However, a recent Daily Signal article tells us that the painkiller abuse problem is not primarily caused by prescription drug abuse and misuse, although the news we hear might convince many of us that drug companies are at fault.

The article, written by former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Bill Bennett, who is also a former U.S. Secretary of Education, and Robert L. DuPont, MD, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, explains that of the 60,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016 from drug overdoses, 33,000 of them were opioid related.

And, they add that our news media mistakenly focus more attention on prescription drugs, instead of the illegal ones. Is that because Big Pharma is an easy and popular target?

Bennett and DuPont, in fact, say, “nearly 70 percent of our nation’s opioid deaths do not come via prescription abuse.” “The main problem today, and the growth for tomorrow,” they say, “is illegal opioids such as heroin, illegal fentanyl, and a hundred other synthetics, not legal drugs used illegally or in ways not as prescribed.”

They cite data from the Obama administration’s press office in 2015 saying that there were 33,091 opioid overdose deaths, 12,990 of which were from heroin. Another 9,580 were from synthetic opioids, mostly illegal fentanyl.

They propose a two-phased attack on the problem. First, fight harder against illegal drugs coming into the U.S. through better border enforcement to stop the drug traffic from and through Mexico, as well as working to have Mexico eliminate its poppy crops; have stricter monitoring of international mail services; and crack down on cartel activity, both here in the U.S. and at their source.

The second phase acknowledges that most money directed at the problem goes to “treatment, recovery, and urgent overdose reversal,” which they say is certainly important, but it is not enough. “We need to improve engagement in treatment, reduce dropout, and address the far too common outcome of relapse with sustained recovery—meaning no use of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs,” by recovering addicts.

“But the main unaddressed nature of the opioid crisis,” Bennett and DuPont say, “is focus and energy on prevention.” This includes serious efforts to educate the public about what is in their medicine cabinets and how to keep those drugs out of the hands of those for whom they aren’t prescribed, and to educate the public about the dangerous nature of the drugs sold on the street. It is critical to also work to counteract the youthful use of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs, where they say 90 percent of addictions begin.

Citing the rising death toll from illegal drugs, which they note is much greater than the crack cocaine problem in the 80s, the authors call for more effective action by political leaders, parents, the entertainment industry and health care professionals.

Looking back to the late 1970s and 1980s Bennett and DuPont recount how the nation conquered the serious drug problems of that time. “The nation rolled up its sleeves, went to work, talked about it, taught about it, and reversed it—and by 1992 we had cut drug use in half, and even more in some age groups.”

This problem is entirely preventable, and certainly can be dramatically reduced. “In sum, let us commence a strategy to stop the problems of abuse before they start,” they wrote. “It will take a nationwide effort, from the president’s bully pulpit down to local community messaging.”

Certainly, focusing on the real problem will produce positive results.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Camille Paglia gives an objective and very balanced interview

In today’s sharply divided political atmosphere, where a huge and widening gulf exists between the right and the left, it is both surprising and refreshing when someone identified with the left renders ideas that are objective and balanced. Such an occasion occurred earlier this month when Jonathan V. Last published an interview on he had conducted by email with left-leaning feminist, author and college professor Camille Paglia.

While characterizing herself as a libertarian she confesses that she is a registered Democrat, but not always a supporter of Democrats, noting about the 2000 presidential election she voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader because “I detest the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democrat Party, with which I remain stubbornly registered.”

Beginning the interview with a statement of her political affiliations, Paglia noted that she voted for Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 primary and for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in the general election. She now has her eye on newly elected Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Cal., hoping to vote for her in the next presidential primary.

The Paglia-Last interview focused on three topics: the election and early presidency of Donald Trump, Islamic/Islamist terrorism, and feminism vs. transgenderism.

Like millions of others, she did not take Trump’s candidacy seriously, but attributes his win to “the startling incompetence and mediocrity of his GOP opponents.”

She was no more kind to some Democrats, noting that, Hillary Clinton, “with her supercilious, Marie Antoinette-style entitlement, was a disastrously wrong candidate for 2016 and that she secured the nomination only through overt chicanery by the Democratic National Committee…” And, “Despite his history of embarrassing gaffes, the affable, plain-spoken Joe Biden, in my view, could … have defeated Trump, but he was blocked from running at literally the last moment by President Barack Obama, for reasons that the major media refused to explore.”

While criticizing the Trump Administration’s handling of the temporary ban of travelers from predominantly Muslim countries tied to terrorism on the one hand, she then defended the administration, saying, “I fail to see the ‘chaos’ in the White House that the mainstream media (as well as conservative Never Trumpers) keep harping on—or rather, I see no more chaos than was abundantly present during the first six months of both the Clinton and Obama administrations.” She also noted that Trump was “going about his business” while the media was “consumed with their preposterous Russian fantasies…”

A 1950s-60s liberal, she contrasted the exalted civil liberties, individualism, and dissident thought and speech of that time with what she termed the “grotesquely mechanistic and authoritarian” nature of liberalism today. “It is repressively Stalinist, dependent on a labyrinthine, parasitic bureaucracy to enforce its empty dictates,” she said.

Turning to how today’s liberals regard terrorism, she explained, “The contortions to which so many liberals resort to avoid connecting bombings, massacres, persecutions, and cultural vandalism to Islamic jihadism is remarkable, given their usual animosity to religion, above all Christianity.” Paglia also suggested that some liberals have a racial perspective and therefore “Islam remains beyond criticism because it is largely a religion of non-whites whose two holy cities occupy territory once oppressed by Western imperialism.”

She criticizes liberals “paternalistic condescension” toward Islam, which she said is done from a distance, without really engaging in its “intricate mixed messages, which can inspire toward good or spur acts of devastating impact…”

When Jonathan Last posited an expected showdown in the U.S. between feminism and transgenderism that has not developed, Paglia responded that this occurs more publicly in the United Kingdom than in the U.S. She cited two instances where public programs featuring opponents of transgenderism as a legitimate concept drew spirited protests from activists.

Both programs eventually went forward against the same sort of opposition that conservative speakers experience on American college campuses. In the U.S, transgenderism is one of many things that are off limits for public discussion, and such programs would likely have produced riotous behavior.

She called attention to American liberals’ interesting contradictory views of science. When it comes to their acceptance of climate change theory, science is just fine, although Paglia described it as “a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence.” Where transgenderism is concerned, however, liberals “flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender.”

“The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible,” Paglia stated. “Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one's birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.”

Paglia takes a common sense stand on the treatment of transgender folks, seeking to protect them from harassment and abuse that may be aimed at them just because they are “nonconformist or eccentric.” But she said that whether the rest of us must identify a transgender person as a man or a woman based solely on that person’s “subjective feeling” does not fly: “it is our choice alone,” she concluded.

Such a logical and objective approach to controversial subjects is rare from left-leaning folk, but is certainly refreshing and productive. Let us hope for an outbreak of this sort of thinking that reaches epidemic proportions.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

America now being challenged by a crisis of integrity

 Integrity is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. As a society we have moral values, professional ethics and other rules that we are expected to uphold at all times and under all circumstances. When we adhere to professional ethics, the rules of life, and the body of laws, we have a desirable society that is principled, and functions smoothly and efficiently.

In today’s America, evidence of lost integrity is all around us: millions of out-of-wedlock children, people who are not needy collecting welfare benefits, frivolous or questionable lawsuits, and a long list of crimes.

And in the political realm we witness inflammatory language, protests shutting down protected free speech, media taking sides, mob violence and other outrages that have grown to epidemic proportions. These activities are strong evidence of the abandonment of basic human integrity as well as professional integrity.

An immediate danger to the nation and its people is the insanity that has evolved since the election of Donald Trump as president. Lots of people – Republicans, Democrats and the politically unaffiliated – show signs of hysteria. Many are dedicated to bringing Trump down, and seem to be devoted to a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” philosophy, giving little thought to the repercussions this ill-advised path may likely produce.

Trump’s enemies say that he lit the fuse, and he undoubtedly contributed to the current atmosphere. But just because you dislike or hate Trump and his policies, does not entitle you to lie, cheat, commit acts of violence, and behave in a manner that subverts America. If you didn’t support Trump in the election there is only one sensible and honorable path for you to take: Get over it. And remember that you are an American and he legitimately is America’s president.

Three areas are very dangerous for integrity failure: News journalism, the federal judiciary and government bureaucracies.

Last week The New York Times published an editorial stating as fact that when a gunman shot Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011, he was reacting to a political map created by Sarah Palin showing areas that were “targeted” in the coming election. That was untrue, discredited years ago, and The Times corrected its humiliating blunder. But doesn’t journalistic integrity demand that such known details be found before publication? Clearly, integrity sometimes takes a holiday at The Times.

It is very common these days for a news organization to attribute information to an “anonymous” or “unnamed” source. Sometimes, of course, a legitimate source needs the protection of anonymity. But the downside is that this tool can be overused, can be used to cover a non-credible source, or even used when there is no source at all. Add to this the tendency to exaggerate, and even create false stories, and the information upon which we all rely becomes unreliable.

If you’ve ever worked with an attorney you probably noticed how detailed legal language is, so that the exact intent of a document is clear. Yet, we find judges today who abandon the plain language of an Executive Order in favor of what they imagine was in the mind of its author in ruling in favor of a challenge to the Order. It looks as if political desire replaced judicial integrity.

And what about administrative agency employees who abandon their duty to their country, the American people they are paid to serve, and their ultimate boss, to play politics, leaking sensitive information, and even classified information in a cheap and disgusting ploy to damage a duly elected president?

Those who foolishly undermine national security because of their emotional inability to adapt to reality may someday wonder what exactly their behavior has done to their once free and wonderful country.

A lot of political hay can be made in such an atmosphere, and the beneficiaries of this are some elected public servants as well as appointed bureaucrats. Such behavior is the stuff of third-world hellholes, and the abandonment of professional and personal integrity moves America ever closer to becoming one of those.

On the one hand anti-Trumpers denigrate and belittle Trump, and on the other hand they raise him to a high level, one so great that they use it to justify abandoning near-sacred elements of their professions and common decency. It is Trump’s fault, they assert, that they indulged in behavior that is dangerous and often illegal.

Commentator Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News recently, “When you say ‘unless we stop Donald Trump, the republic will not survive,’ then that justifies anything. That’s the language, the ideology, the rationale of terrorists...” And, it produces behavior that will destroy the republic.

We cannot and must not excuse criminal behavior, like the shooting at a Republican Congressional baseball game practice earlier this month, or even the mob violence of late, as the result of foolish and inflammatory language. But it does not help diffuse the raw craving of those who consider resorting to violence when politicians speak rashly, the news media takes a partisan position, the judiciary abandons plain language in favor of political expediency, and other examples of acting outside the narrow path dictated by integrity and moral character.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Making government operate more like a business: a really smart idea

One good thing about President Donald Trump is his businessman’s approach to government. He understands that like a business, a nation cannot survive endless deficit spending and an ever-growing national debt.

To the horror of those on the left of our political system he proposes significant, but not massive, cuts to government spending. And while the cuts are not excessive, the idea still cranked up the wild imaginations and scaremongering mechanisms of Congressional Democrats and other liberals who think money grows on trees and that the national debt is a number that really isn’t important.

Trump understands what so many on the left do not: much of government spending is wasted, fraudulent and abused, and therefore unnecessary and foolish. Actually, it’s not that the left doesn’t understand this, it’s that they couldn’t care less, because they benefit at the ballot box from lax programs that waste your money, and therefore eschew fiscal responsibility, in favor of positive elections results.

Human nature plays a role here: people often will take advantage of what is available to them free of charge. As evidence, consider the recent results from Alabama.

The Daily Signal reported that when “The Heart of Dixie” this year began requiring food stamp recipients to work, look for work, or get approved job training to get food stamps, 13 counties saw participants drop by 85 percent over a four-month period from 5,538 able-bodied adults without dependents to 831 such recipients.

“Statewide, a total of 13,663 able-bodied adults without children or other dependents were enrolled in the food stamp program before the change [was] implemented Jan. 1, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources,” the news site reported. “As of May 1, that statewide number had dropped to 7,483, the agency said.”

Clearly, Alabama was going well beyond the goal of helping those who really need it, and Alabamans were availing themselves of Uncle Sugar’s federal assistance in a welfare program that was not being operated in a sensible manner.

Other states have had this same experience. In 2013 and 2014 Kansas and Maine implemented work requirements and reduced the number of able-bodied adults on food stamps, and last year Georgia followed suit.

And when Maine imposed work requirements on food stamp recipients in December of 2014 officials reported that the number of able-bodied adults without dependents declined from 13,332 to just 2,678 over a three-month period. Maine officials concluded that many food stamp recipients would do without the benefit rather than perform a minimum of six hours per week of community service, or other aspects of the work requirements.

These results prompted Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation who specializes in poverty and welfare programs, to project that, “If the federal government establishes and enforces similar work requirements nationwide, total food stamp enrollment would plummet in a few years, possibly saving taxpayers $10 billion per year or as much as $100 billion over the next decade,” The Daily Signal reported.

Not all of that money is federal money, of course, but about 90 percent of it is. And keeping the federal portion of those dollars in the nation’s treasury certainly is a positive thing. It’s even better when you understand that those truly needing help are not part of the reductions, and that other federal programs also suffer these same problems.

It is widely acknowledged that Americans are the most compassionate people in the world, and they certainly have no objection to helping their fellow citizens in need. Even so, they do not want their hard-earned tax dollars being wasted on people who can earn their own way. Sound business practices prohibit such sloppiness; they are business killers.

Of course, with all of these people no longer getting food stamps, having available jobs for them is important, and that feeds right into Trump’s goal of bringing back jobs and creating an environment for new job production to flourish.

Trump managed to get pledges from several companies that said they would invest in America, bringing back or creating new jobs. And good things are also happening because of his effort to remove job-killing regulations.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace recently, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, “We’ve had almost 50,000 jobs created in the mining and coal sector alone. In fact, in the month of May, almost 7,000 jobs,” Pruitt told Wallace.

Naysayers will note that this number really isn’t that significant, but the important reality is that it is a step in the right direction, and a dramatic shift in direction from the dangerous, job-killing policies of the Obama administration.

Coal industry and related jobs killed by Obama are coming back following the removal of the foolish regulations that killed them. No one expects that coal will reach its former economic glory, but a lot of people put out of work by merciless regulations will be productive again.

Obama and others on the left think they know best and will try to control every aspect of our lives to achieve their vision. But that isn’t what America is all about. Thank goodness that Trump understands that.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The Journalists Creed: Another tradition fallen by the wayside

Several years ago on a trip to Washington, DC, my wife and I visited the National Press Club for lunch and a tour of the Club. Among the many things that impressed me there was a bronze plaque on a wall, The Journalists Creed, which the Press Club has had on display since 1958.

The Creed is the product of Walter Williams, not the excellent columnist of today, but an older gentleman who is credited with starting the world’s first school of journalism in 1908 at the University of Missouri. In 1914 Williams created the Creed, as “a declaration and personal affirmation of the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world,” according to the Fourth Estate organization. It regards journalism as an ethical public trust that requires accuracy and fairness.

Since Williams created the Creed, and even since the Press Club’s acknowledgement of it in ’58, huge changes in the way news is distributed have taken place. Now in addition to newspapers, periodicals, radio and television we have the Internet and social media.

These days absolutely anyone can appear to be a legitimate news source on the Internet. Many or most of these sources may have good intentions, but lack the background or discipline to do it correctly. They are unaware of, or ignore the Creed.

These days even some who know the importance of the ethics with which news journalism should be practiced don’t always stick to the straight and narrow. Being first is often more important than being correct. “Click bait,” sensational headlines designed to increase the number of visitors to Web sites, are common.

In addition to new media technologies are also new media genres, such as the speculative media: Trying to be first, a hint of something often spurs frantic action to get out there before anyone else through online or on-air media. For example, when President Donald Trump reached back for Malania’s hand while exiting a plane on their recent trip abroad, and she sort of flipped her hand away, the media reported that there might be trouble in their marriage.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who is catholic, was not among those who met the Pope on the trip, so the media reported that his being excluded might signal that Spicer was on his way out as spokesman.

Neither of these were true.

The assumption media: When Trump mentioned being “wiretapped,” it was “assumed” that he meant wiretapping and only wiretapping, not the newer, more modern methods of surveillance, apparently widely used in the Obama administration.

The agenda media: We saw very little reporting on the positive aspects of Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and NATO, but there was plenty on the “troubles” in Trump’s administration.

And then there’s Kathy Griffin, the self-described “D-list comedian,” who worked very hard to create a disgusting, low-class image of her holding a bloody likeness of the decapitated head of the President of the United States ISIS-like, by its hair.

Criticized for this repulsive display of what today passes for humor by nearly everyone, she finally issued an apology, except not apologizing to her target, Trump and his family. Shortly thereafter, the firestorm of anger and disgust she stirred up created for her a moment of brilliant insight: The negative reaction to her gross attempt at humor, and her resulting misery is actually Trump’s fault.

And guess which one gets too much coverage? Poor deranged Kathy’s campaign about her hurt feelings at the hands of her imaginarily beheaded enemy.

Wesley Pruden, Editor Emeritus of The Washington Times, is a man trained in and who worked in journalism when standards were more broadly expected of practitioners. He characterized a Bloomberg News reporter’s G7 coverage like this: “Just what a ‘bromance’ is [between France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau], beyond the not-so-clever wordplay, sounds like too much information, something you ought not to want to know about. It’s no doubt overheated reporting by a reporter who never had an editor to teach him the rewards of restraint.

“But romance was clearly in the air, not between the leaders of France and Canada, but by reporters nurtured not on the rough edges of politics and discipline of newspapers, but by too much time spent watching soap operas.”

Another old pro, Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal, said this about today’s practice of the profession: “When journalists drop objectivity to become part of the shout-fest, and when grass-roots activists move beyond making voices heard to voicing threats against those with whom they disagree, they are adding to the problem.”

These examples of journalistic malpractice and comments about news coverage from two old timers show how far news reporting has strayed early in the 21st century.

Combined with a general public largely unconcerned with studying current events America has a true problem. So many consumers of news get their “news” from their friends on social media, and accept as true those communications that fit their preconceptions. They just don’t look beneath the surface for fact.

With all these factors, the public is largely under-informed, or misinformed, a circumstance both dangerous and foolish.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Democrats say that Trump’s budget proposal is “dead on arrival”

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal went to Congress last week, while Trump was on his first overseas trip visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Palestinians, the Vatican and NATO. Trump’s $4.1 trillion plan is titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”

Predictably, upon release of the proposal Democrats burst forth to condemn the budget. A couple of Congressional Democrats eagerly, and with as much flourish as they could muster, termed the proposal “dead on arrival” which, like so much of what they say, is much ado about nothing. Every budget proposal from every president is “dead on arrival,” the word “proposal” being the operative word. A president’s proposal is merely a starting point.

Since you can’t swing a dead cat without seeing the negative coverage of everything Trump says or does, this article will summarize the positive elements of the proposal.

Trump’s proposal focuses on national defense areas by boosting spending on the military and border security. This focus is what Trump campaigned on, budget director Nick Mulvaney said.

As reported on, Mulvaney said, “There’s not a single thing [cut] from Social Security or Medicare. Why? Because that’s what he promised.” However, other programs such as Medicaid and food stamps will see cuts.

"We look at spending differently," Mulvaney explained. “We are not going to measure compassion by the number of programs or [the number of] people on them.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in support of the budget plan that “We can finally turn the page on the Obama era of bloated budgets that never balance.” “President Trump has proven his commitment to fiscal responsibility with a budget that … prioritizes American taxpayers over bureaucrats in Washington.”

Focusing on national defense through restoring the military and tightening our borders are badly needed corrections to critical failures of the Obama administration. The last eight years saw serious weakening of the military and policies that encouraged illegal entry into the country.

While Obama foolishly reduced the size and strength of all military forces, the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano tells us that the “most neglected of all U.S. national security elements are our strategic forces. Here, President Obama has reined in development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses,” and “cut all advanced missile defense programs designed to keep the United States ahead of the ballistic missile threat in the future.” And, “to curry favor with Russia, he pulled the plug on planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, simultaneously alienating those allies while displaying weakness to Moscow.”

The plan addresses the dangerously high national debt of nearly $20 trillion and takes a fiscally responsible approach aimed at beginning the process of reducing the large annual deficits to zero in ten years, and perhaps produce a relatively small surplus by 2027.

While this year’s deficit will be a little higher than last year’s, the initiatives contained in the plan will turn the habit of annual deficits around, if they are successful. Trump depends upon producing growth in our economy, although many economists say his goals are too optimistic.

Modifications to the tax system are an important part of Trump’s plan, and include reducing tax brackets from seven to three with rates of 10, 25 and 35 percent, and will eliminate tax breaks to balance the loss of income to the Treasury from lower tax rates.

Lower rates are a good thing; they leave taxpayers with more spendable dollars, which increases consumer spending and spurs economic activity that produces jobs, and new jobs produce additional taxpayers and increase tax collections.

Big government types, which include most Democrats and liberals, believe cuts in federal spending are always a bad thing. But cuts can be made without hurting people who truly need the government payments they receive.

The Trump proposal cuts almost $3.6 trillion from an array of benefit programs, domestic agencies and war spending over the coming decade, including Medicaid, student loan subsidies, food stamps, and the highway formula for the states.

“We are not kicking anybody off any program who needs it,” said Mulvaney, who explained that the proposal doesn’t cut Medicaid, just grows it more slowly over 10 years.

However, while cutting some federal spending, the plan features one major new domestic initiative: paid parental leave estimated to cost $25 billion over the next decade.

But in this discussion of cuts let us not forget that waste, fraud and abuse account for billions of dollars of federal spending annually that accomplish nothing. reports on federal estimates showing “Improper payments account for about 5 cents of every Medicaid dollar, … or about $29.1 billion of the $547.7 billion program in 2015 alone,” through intentional deception or misrepresentation; inappropriate use of services and resources; and practices inconsistent with sound fiscal, business or medical practices.

And that is just one federal program. Ending or reducing those problems will go a long way to counter spending cuts.
Those who believe the federal government cannot spend less and accomplish just as much good are living in Fantasy Land. Too many people automatically believe the scare mongering of those who profit politically from supporting high levels of spending.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Restoring government’s three branches to Constitutional balance

The unequaled genius of the Founders produced an original form of government that included a system of checks and balances to maintain its integrity. That design has been substantially abandoned, and all three branches of government are guilty of creating this situation.

The Legislative Branch is now weaker and the Executive Branch now stronger due to malfeasance by the Congress and the eager acceptance of extra-constitutional power by administrative agencies. Likewise, failure of the duty to the Constitution’s original language and intent has increased power to the Judicial Branch.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress, and only Congress, the authority to pass laws. But through laziness and other misfeasance through the years Congress has abdicated much of that duty by allowing administrative agencies to pass rules that are in effect laws. That is how the EPA is able to implement a rule that absurdly allows it to tell a farmer in Iowa that the drainage ditch along his dirt road is a waterway that falls under federal control.

That is also how the Department of Education justifies using SWAT teams to break down the doors of people because their education loan payments are past due. There are dozens of other examples of this unconstitutional over-reach by federal agencies.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee confirms this unconstitutional transfer of power, and blames lawmakers, saying, “We are not, in fact, the victims, we are the perpetrators.” He went on to tell The Daily Signal that this was done to make Congress’ job easier, because it is less politically risky to let others do the lawmaking through the rule-making function.

Speaking at the Federalist Society’s 5th annual Executive Branch Review Conference, Lee talked about his efforts to combat this situation through the Article One Project. He outlined three pieces of legislation designed to address the problem.

The REINS Act would require both Congress and the president to approve any administrative rule with an economic impact of $100 million or more. Lee said that ultimately, “Congress would be responsible for every major regulation that went into effect.” The Act has passed the House, but not the Senate.

The second measure is the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (SOPRA), which Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe told The Daily Signal would reverse the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision that established the “Chevron doctrine” that “determined that courts must defer to agencies’ interpretation of ambiguous laws as long as their interpretation is deemed ‘reasonable.’”

“This bill would end the dysfunctional status quo that tilts the legal playing field in favor of bureaucrats,” Lee said. SOPRA passed the House last year, and Ratcliffe has introduced it again this year.

Currently, federal agencies use funds received through fines, fees, and proceeds from legal settlements at their own discretion, thereby avoiding the formal appropriations process, and escaping congressional oversight. It may also encourage agency action aimed at raising funds. The Agency Accountability Act will require funds acquired by agencies outside the appropriations process to be turned over to the Treasury.

Lee commented, “You see the Constitution has this pesky little provision that … Congress has the power and the responsibility to direct spending of federal dollars. The power of the purse is one of Congress’ most potent tools for controlling bureaucracies.”

The Judicial Branch also has strayed from the straight and narrow path created by the Constitution through increasingly liberal interpretation of the language and intent of the Constitution and federal laws, citing how society has changed over the years as the need to reinterpret them. Amending them is too slow and difficult, you see.

Carson Holloway, author of “Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration,” explains another liberal judicial technique. President Donald Trump’s revised Executive Order temporarily halting travel to the U.S. from several countries with ties to terrorism was found unconstitutional by some lower courts, which agreed with opponents that the order actually bans Muslim immigration.

The order does no such thing, Holloway notes, since it applies to only a fraction of Muslim countries, and that the lower courts reacted not to the language of the order, but to things Trump said during the campaign. In other words, the courts abandoned interpreting actual written language in favor of reading the president’s mind, and finding a hidden agenda there.

Looking back in history to the days of Chief Justice John Marshall, Holloway explains that while Marshall acknowledged both the letter and spirit of the law, Marshall said, “the spirit is to be collected chiefly from its words,” not the imagination of judges.

Holloway said, “rule of law does not mean rule by judges acting on their whim,” but that it requires “judicial modesty.” And Marshall noted in Fletcher v. Peck that “an inquiry into the subjective motives of the lawmaker quickly leads judges into a realm in which there are no clear, compelling standards of judgment.”

Holloway concludes with the hope that the Appellate Court “follows the path of judicial modesty … and not the endlessly debatable intentions that may lie behind” the order.

Our government is badly out of balance, and a quick return to constitutional government and originalism in the courts is essential.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wind and solar energy have failed to perform as advertised

The bad news for what we have been told are superior energy sources keeps piling up. Even European countries, with their strong preference for things that don’t work, like socialist government, have begun pulling back from wind energy as a major energy source, and solar energy isn’t doing so well, either.

German-owned solar panel producer SolarWorld has filed for what it termed “insolvency” in a European court, saying it was “over-indebted” and did not have a “positive going concern prognosis.” Translated into the plain language of American business, SolarWorld is filing for bankruptcy.

In America bankruptcy does not necessarily mean the end for a company, so perhaps “insolvency” is only a temporary side trip, but it certainly falls well below the description of a successful company.

Here at home, that raises concerns over the company’s U.S. division, SolarWorld America, Inc., which operates a $600 million panel plant in Hillsboro, Oregon. Democrat Gov. Ted Kulongoski praised the plant as an economic development beacon “in the Silicon forest” during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, also attended by Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and then-Rep. David Wu.

The facility was purchased in 2007 from Japan's Komatsu Group, and by 2012 had collected $57 million in Business Energy Tax Credits from the state. Reports say it now has received $100 million in tax breaks just from state and local government. It also benefitted from a $4 million grant from Barack Obama’s Department of Energy.

SolarWorld notes, however, that despite its problems in Germany, the Hillsboro plant that employs 800 people continues to operate. The question now is how long before the Oregon plant, which its previous owner wanted rid of, joins the infamous Solyndra and Solar Trust green energy fiascos, that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars?

Across the country in Rhode Island a new offshore wind farm just went online last week. The five-turbine farm cost $300 million and currently powers just 2,000 homes, which works out to a bargain-basement price of only $150,000 per household. Ultimately, it is expected to power 17,000 homes, which will lower the cost per home, but progressives and environmentalists believe the price per home isn’t important. They believe that “it’s the precedent that counts,” according to

The Daily Caller News Foundation calculated the difference in wind and nuclear power by comparing this wind farm with a new nuclear plant, Watts Bar Unit 2, which cost $4.7 billion to build. The important difference is not the price, but the result: the nuclear facility will power 4.5 million homes at a comparatively cheap $1,044 per house.

Even with 17,000 customers, the wind farm is still 17 times more expensive than nuclear. Despite this ridiculous situation, the feds want to use offshore wind to power 23 million homes by 2050. However, Germany has finally been shocked into reality as to the inefficiency of wind power, and now plans to stop building wind facilities.

Further illustrating the calamity of the world’s environmental mania is the condition of the environment. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), which because of its European connection ought to have more credibility with the environmental faction than do Americans who don’t buy into the green energy hype, made data public recently that even the most strident greenie ought to consider.

As published by the UK Telegraph, “ever since December temperatures in the Arctic have consistently been lower than minus 20 [degrees]C. In April the extent of Arctic sea ice was back to where it was in April 13 years ago. Furthermore, whereas in 2008 most of the ice was extremely thin, this year most has been at least two metres thick. The Greenland ice cap last winter increased in volume faster than at any time for years.”

The Telegraph goes on to say that “as for those record temperatures brought in 2016 by an exceptionally strong El Niño, the satellites now show that in recent months global temperatures have plummeted by more than 0.6 degrees, just as happened 17 years ago after a similarly strong El Niño had also made 1998 the ‘hottest year on record.’”

The DMI reported actual measurements of climate information, rather than the results of climate models, which are projections that are often wrong. The DMI data shows there has been no additional warming for the last 19 years, which is “an inconvenient truth,” to environmental zealots.

The shortcomings of wind and solar power and the mounting evidence that fossil fuels have not caused the environment to warm significantly cast doubt on the idea that we need expensive “green” energy. In addition to their high costs, wind and solar energy are inefficient, and not as “green” as they are advertised. Both cause environmental harm in their construction and operation.

Non-fossil fuel energy sources are not yet ready to replace coal, oil and natural gas, but they may be in the future.

As with most things the secret to better, cleaner energy is through natural processes, not government force. As technology develops, improvements in how we use fossil fuels make even the dirtiest sources of much cleaner and less objectionable. This process may also make wind and solar energy more efficient, and therefore desirable.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away! Or, maybe not!


U.S. airlines have been attracting enormous amounts of negative, but well-deserved attention recently.

The most notorious of these outrages is the dragging of a paying, seated United Airlines customer off an airplane so that an employee could take the seat, instead. United CEO Oscar Munoz finally got it together, backtracked on his lame initial statement, and told a Congressional committee that he realized how badly his airline had screwed up and explained what it was doing to repair its policies. Time will tell about that.

A Delta flight more recently had an incident where a customer was told that a seat he had purchased for one of his children, but that was occupied by a different child, was no longer his, and he and his wife were threatened with jail time and losing custody of their children for breaching a federal law if he did not comply with the airline’s demand to give up the seat he paid for to another flyer.

And then there were the thousands of stranded passengers and many cancelled or delayed flights because Delta‘s mid-20th century communications system failed.

The airlines are within their “rights” in the first two of these incidents, by virtue of their passenger agreements that cover aspects of flying on their planes.

Passenger agreements run to dozens of pages and contain all the fine print necessary to allow an airline to pretty much treat the people it depends upon for survival any way it pleases. United’s Contract of Carriage Document, for example, takes 37,531 words covering 63 normally formatted Word document pages to explain what it can do with/to you.

That’s as long as two or three chapters in a good book. How many people actually read these things? Is this document even easily available to people booking a flight?

Located online, United’s document says, in part: “Each United Carrier reserves the right to … change or modify any of its conditions of contract with or without notice to ticketed passengers.” If you have read this tiny piece of those 35 thousand words, you have been forewarned that United can have its way with you, and you have apparently no recourse, no matter how stupid, violent or unfair its actions may be.

While airlines have the right to do what their agreements state they can do, they first and foremost have an obligation to treat their customers with respect and deference and bend a little sometimes, because it often makes more sense to treat people well than to strictly follow the rules, especially with passengers that airline personnel have allowed to board a plane. A good rule to follow is: Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it.

The United and Delta incidents demonstrate that some airlines tend to view their customers more as cargo than as customers. How did this idiotic situation come to be?

The “Economic Letter” of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from January 2002 provides some insight into how the airline industry has changed from 1975 to 2000.

When airline deregulation began in 1979, it started an increase in passengers that tripled by 2000, while average fares dropped by about two-thirds. So, in 2000 there were three times as many passengers as in the 70s paying a third the price per ticket (in 1983 dollars).

With more people flying at fewer dollars per ticket, filling every seat became important. To address this factor airlines adopted the practice of deliberately over-booking seats, so that there are more passengers with tickets than seats on the plane, meaning that even no-shows don’t prevent every seat from being filled, maximizing revenue per flight. The need for revenue may also explain the explosion of fees and crazy rules.

However, over-booking also means that lots of people don't get on their chosen flight, unless some passenger fails to show up, or is dragged off a plane. Perhaps ticket holders are aware of that going in, being placed on standby status, or some other similar situation.

As bad as it may be to not be allowed to board the flight you paid for, it is far worse to have bought a ticket and be seated on the plane with your luggage also on the plane and be asked or told to vacate the seat because the airline needs it for an employee.

If the airline needs seats to move employees from place to place, they should reserve them prior to letting paying customers be boarded. That’s just common sense. If they can’t do that, the employee should wait, not the customer.

Perhaps turning a profit in the airline industry is particularly difficult because of the highly competitive nature of that market. Even so, taking paying customers out of a seat on a plane they have paid for and already occupy is not what you would call a smart business plan.

Inexpensive airline tickets certainly attract passengers, but many flyers are able and willing to pay a little more for better accommodations, and knowing they will not be beaten into submission and dragged from paid-for seats to make room for an employee.