Friday, August 07, 2020

What in the world is happening to the United States of America?

Who among us that has been alive for more than five decades would believe what is happening today? Long-standing traditions — the things upon which the nation was created and that allowed it to thrive — are crumbling around us.


Once highly regarded qualities like righteousness, integrity and professionalism, have taken a beating over the last number of years. Career fields like education and journalism are now home to many who are willing to abandon their personal integrity, honesty, and professional ethics to indulge in indoctrination of students and the public at large for destabilizing political purposes.


Recent news reports told us that our gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 32.9 percent in the second quarter. Whether this “news” was a deliberate attempt to misinform in order to cast further negativity on President Donald Trump, or the result of ignorance on the part of these so-called journalists, is difficult to determine.


But what actually occurred was that the GDP actually shrank by much less, only 9.5 percent, in the second quarter, and 4.8 percent in the first quarter. If this trend continues through the rest of the year, the “annualized decline” will reach 32.9 percent.


We see the effects of miseducation as people who never learned about their country reject their access to the broadest set of opportunities to achieve success on the planet, favoring instead the fairytale of equality of outcomes.


Colleges, where people are supposed to learn much more about general studies and their chosen area of interest, have produced the “woke” movement which, in addition to being ineptly named, is a destructive force to which its practitioners are totally blind.


“Wokeness” was aptly described as “pervasive trends under the guise of equality [that] makes diversity training in government, and corporate America, and schools, destructive, divisive, and harmful,” by Angela Sailor, vice president of The Feulner Institute at The Heritage Foundation.


Professional sports and similar activities —where people with high skills in a very narrow and unimportant area of life, like throwing, catching, hitting or “shooting” some sort of ball or other object — make millions of dollars, are now decaying organizations where many or most members proudly dishonor the flag and National Anthem of the country that allowed them to be the wealthy and celebrated individuals that they have become. And they do so with the blessing of their team and league.


Politics and such off-shoots as political correctness, and the new fad of hypersensitivity over small or years-old irritants now are the focus of many education and news folk.


The selfish desires of a relative few now are expected to be accepted by everyone else, whether or not they see any value in those desires. If you do not automatically cow-tow to them, you may be the target of physical and other violence.


And the relatively recent advent of social media adds to the problem. Social media to an increasing degree control what political information we can see on their platforms, and what cannot be seen. That is called “censorship,” which is not among the valued characteristics of our free country.


One example: Twitter removed the Star of David from several tweets, calling it a hateful image.


Another is that certain discussions about fighting the coronavirus are deemed inappropriate for you to see. Twitter has been identified as having taken down some tweets about a drug, hydroxychloroquine, that is favored by many physicians who have used the drug, and say it is effective against the virus.


In addition to Twitter, social media platforms Facebook and Google, and website hosting service Squarespace banned video from a group of physicians known as America's Frontline Doctors about hydroxychloroquine.


A doctor in Tampa, Florida, who is lead physician at a medical office that has 8,000 patients, created a video about how she and other physicians were precluded from prescribing hydroxychloroquine for their patients, despite their previous experience with that medicine.


The brilliant constitutional attorney and author Mark Levin said that the Frontline Doctors’ video was “not about the overthrow of America, not about anti-Semitism, not promoting terrorism — but talking about experience, science, medical knowledge about hydroxychloroquine."


Apparently, Twitter, Facebook and Google know more about medicine than doctors. And furthermore, they think you shouldn’t be able to get information on certain subjects without their guidance, which means providing only what they want you to know.


When someone is triggered by something — virtually anything, these days — suddenly there arises a movement to remove or replace that “something” without even a superficial attempt to understand that something's complete nature. If one out a hundred things is bad, to the dump with it.


Through the decades, we learned to generally trust our teachers and news organizations. We expect school subjects to be presented wholly and without bias. Likewise, news is supposed to tell us the what, where, when, why and who of events, without opinion or bias.


When those rules are deliberately broken in order to control what the public knows, or how the public should think about things, then the result is what we see happening so often today: the sabotage of our country; the freest and most wonderful nation in history.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Why not try to understand Trump, instead of always criticizing him?

Donald Trump is not a politician; he’s an outsider. He doesn’t think, act, or speak like a politician. Therefore, his enemies say, he is a bad dude. Many don’t like the way he behaves and talks. But why can’t they put these puerile feelings away and deal with the reality before us; the problems we have and ways to improve things?


Even Trump’s defenders understand that, like everyone else, he is not perfect. But so much of the anti-Trumpism is based upon emotional reaction rather than upon thoughtful analysis. And, yes, anything that Trump does that produces a positive result is bad news for the liberals/progressives.


Trump is called many unpleasant names, which are almost exclusively wrongly applied or strongly exaggerated. Among them are that he is a “nationalist.” Those using that term disparagingly believe that he wants America — and himself — to rule the world, and if other nations are destroyed or damaged, so what?


But Trump’s nationalism promotes the interests of America, not necessarily to the detriment of others. He loves America, and he wants to protect the country from being abused by other countries. This is exactly what the leader of every nation should do.


He especially has the aim of leveling the lopsided national playing field where we pay and do far more than our share, to the benefit of other nations, and often to our own disadvantage. The upside-down trade situation with China for so many years shines as an example.


Trump is a businessman and sees things as negotiations, whether with the leader of another country, or with other parts of the government. He speaks in positive, sometimes over-positive, language about efforts to get things done. He speaks in very negative terms about people, countries and things working against him, but his ultimate goal is to reach an end where America benefits.


Not everything that Trump has done has worked perfectly, or even well. But some of them are works in progress. Negotiations are not always pretty. Sometimes, things get worse before they get better.


But a good many of them do get better.


Following the Great Recession of 2007-08, then-President Barack Obama’s policies did little if anything to bring the country out of the recession.


Trump, by contrast, understands economic principles, the ones that work. He knew that tax cuts and regulatory roll-backs were key to getting the economy out of the doldrums of the recession.


He lowered tax rates in six of the seven brackets and increased standard deductions for married and single filers, and heads of household.


The theory is sound: Let people keep more of their earnings, and they will spend it on needs and wants. Let businesses keep more of their profits and they will spend them on more or new equipment, additional workers, wage increases and other positive things. More spending in the private sector leads to an improving economy.


Naysayers will complain that businesses just pay executives and shareholders more with their increased profits. True, that happens. But the increase in employment and the decrease in people on welfare show that the money does get used for broader benefits to the economy.


And, they say, the rich just get richer from tax cuts. But the hated rich don’t hide their money in their mattress; they spend it on things like homes, cars, boats, furniture, trips, food, household goods, etc. Purchasing these things promotes economic expansion.


And the rich weren’t the only beneficiaries of Trump’s tax cuts. They created prosperity for the middle class through higher wages, more take-home pay, more jobs and new employee benefits.


Trump’s actions also made operating a business in the US more attractive than it had been in many years, and American businesses began returning to the country, moving factories and jobs from overseas where they had moved years ago, and creating jobs for Americans.


After Ronald Reagan’s economic policies had been in place for long enough to produce positive results, he said: “I knew our economic policies were a success when they stopped calling them Reaganomics.”


And Obama’s followers were not shy about claiming credit for the quickly improving economic conditions after Trump put into effect sensible policies.


The US had been propping up countries damaged by wars for decades, even beyond the point where these countries could stand on their own. An example is that the US leads the funding for NATO at 22 percent of direct funding, The NATO defense spending target is 2 percent, which only eight of 29 members currently meet. Trump wants this corrected so that America carries its weight, but not the weight of most of the rest of the organization.


And just last Friday, Trump signed executive orders seeking to lower the cost of insulin and EpiPens, two drug products priced well beyond where they should be. The orders also allow states and pharmacies to buy drugs overseas, slash pay to medical middlemen and make sure other countries don’t pay less for American drugs than Americans do.


These are the kinds of governing the country needs right now, not the disastrous hands-off policies that allow violent rioting, shootings and destruction to run rampant in cities across the nation.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Selective coronavirus reporting creates confusion

As time passes we become aware of more and more “oddities” related to the coronavirus pandemic. Cutting appropriate slack for the doctors and other healthcare authorities who advised President Donald Trump and the nation on how to respond to the crisis, it was a new virus and little was known about it. We can hardly get huffy about the mistakes made early on, and to some extent, even those that persist.

Even so, dramatic mistakes were made, and playing Monday morning quarterback shows that the reactions were — and are — over-the-top, and quite harmful, in many instances.

The shutdowns closed thousands of businesses, many permanently, put tens of millions of people out of work, and contributed to deaths and other health problems not directly related to COVID-19, as elective surgeries were cancelled, and needed appointments were cancelled by people afraid to go to see a doctor, or who were afraid to go to the hospital when they were ill.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48 percent of Americans said they or a family member canceled or delayed medical care because of the pandemic, and 11 percent said the person’s condition worsened as a result of the delayed care. Some died.

We have problems with the reporting of COVID-19 data. Media reports focus on “cases” and “deaths,” to the near exclusion of negative tests and recoveries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rules allow people who die “with” the virus to be counted along with those who die “because of” the virus, expanding the number of deaths attributed to the virus by some unknown amount.

Furthermore, according to the CDC, a positive test allows for the chance that antibodies from a virus in the same family of viruses as COVID-19, like the common cold, were found. And, if a person tests positive for the virus, and is tested periodically to determine when he/she is no longer positive, each of those positive tests goes into the positive test count until the person tests negative. How many of the positive tests result from this repeat testing practice?

A virus test that is positive is called a “case.” That implies to many people that each “case” is an illness, that people who test positive are sick. But many who test positive experience only mild symptoms, or no symptoms whatsoever.

And then, there is this: The Florida Department of Health released its daily coronavirus testing report on July 14 showing a statewide positivity rate of 11 percent. But WOFL-TV (FOX 35) in Orlando reported, “Countless labs have reported a 100 percent positivity rate, meaning every single person tested was positive.

“Other labs had very high positivity rates. FOX 35 News found that testing sites like one local Centra Care reported that 83 people were tested and all tested positive. Then, NCF Diagnostics in Alachua reported 88 percent of tests were positive. How could that be?”

An investigation into these hard-to-believe results showed that Orlando Health’s 98 percent positivity rate was wrong. When the station contacted the hospital, it corrected the positivity rate to only 9.4 percent.

Orlando Veteran’s Medical Center reported a positivity rate of 76 percent. But, again, a spokesperson for the Medical Center told FOX 35 News that the positivity rate for the Center is actually 6 percent.

How often do such “errors” occur?

Florida, of course, has seen dramatic increases in actual positive tests, but on the positive side, the state’s nation-leading increase in positive tests is not matched by a nation-leading increase in deaths, so far.

One Florida death was a man in his 20s who died in a motorcycle accident, but was classified as a COVID death. FOX 35 News received a statement from the Florida Department of Health attempting to clarify how a "COVID death" is determined. If, "COVID19 is listed as the immediate or underlying cause of death, or listed as one of the significant conditions contributing to death. Or, if there is a confirmed COVID-19 infection from a lab test – and the cause of death doesn’t meet exclusion criteria – like trauma, suicide, homicide, overdose, motor-vehicle accident, etc."

Despite the latter point, this death was classified as a COVID death.

Here are some relevant data from as of July 19, 2020. The overwhelming majority of data comes from local or state/territorial public health authorities:
Total tests = 44,968,536
Positive tests = 3,962,061
Negative tests = 41,273,443
Test results pending = 3,032
Total hospitalized = 276,439
Total deaths = 132,395

These data show that only 8.3 percent of total tests are positive; that only 7.5 percent of those testing positive become hospitalized; that 3.6 percent of those testing positive succumb to the virus.

Also, fewer than half of those hospitalized — 7.5 percent of those testing positive — succumb to the disease, and 96.4 percent of those testing positive survive.

The selective choosing of which data to report can — and does — create a particular response: fear.

It would be far better — and far more responsible — to report the whole range of data so that the public will have a broad set of data on which to base its reaction.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Sometimes it is good to know a bit more about the people serving us

If you follow politics, you know that politicos are in the news all the time, and they are highlighted for the supposed good and the alleged bad they do. Much of the bad they allegedly do, unless they are Republicans, is kept quiet, however.

Herewith some of the insider info on two of them.

Rep. Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, D-MN, says America is a giant “system of oppression” needing an immediate “dismantling” far beyond current calls for criminal justice reform. She told constituents recently that most national conversations fail to realize the size and scope of change she envisions, as reported by the Washington Times.

“We can’t stop at criminal justice reform or policing reform,” she said during a press conference. “We are not merely fighting to tear down the systems of oppression in the criminal justice system. We are fighting to tear down systems of oppression that exist in housing, in education, in health care, in employment, [and] in the air we breathe.”

She wants the US to “guarantee homes for all,” due to what she thinks are racial disparities in home ownership. And she supports the Green New Deal because “we know that environmental racism is real.”

“As long as our economy and political systems prioritize profit without considering who is profiting, who is being shut out, we will perpetuate this inequality. So, we cannot stop at [the] criminal justice system. We must begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.”

These aren’t the words of your every-day regressive liberal/socialist, these are the words of someone whose family fled their home country, lived as refugees for four years, and eventually came to America and earned asylum. Why did her family choose America?

Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight-years-old, lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years before coming to the United States in 1992. Her father drove a taxi for some time before getting a job with the US Postal Service. They secured asylum in 1995 and eventually settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Omar became a citizen in 2000.

Having been in such horrible circumstances that they had to flee their native country to another poor African country, and then coming to the United States, where so many in similar circumstances yearn to be, it is an interesting question as to why she wants to change everything in the country her family worked so hard to come to for relief. It would not be unfair to expect her to be a thankful immigrant.

But she is not.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat, has generated a great deal of news since the pandemic began. But who, exactly, is this guy?

De Blasio wasn’t known as “Bill de Blasio” until January 2002. He was born Warren Wilhelm Jr., but changed his name in 1983 to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm. The reason he gave was to honor his mother’s Italian heritage. He received court approval to officially change his name again in 2002 to a name he had been using, and became the Bill de Blasio we have all come to know and love.

He has indulged in some things along the way that would cause many folks to raise an eyebrow. For example, he supported the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the 1980s.

De Blasio opposed the Supreme Court’s decision to allow corporations, political nonprofits and trade associations more freedom to donate to political campaigns. But he is less fervent against labor unions, like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), donating to campaigns. In fact, the 1199 SEIU New York State Political Action Fund and the SEIU Local 1957 Committee of Interns and Residents supported de Blasio to the tune of $14,850 in 2017.

And while he decries big money in politics, he quietly collects money from anti-American George Soros and his family. A large group of the Soros clan helped him win his first mayoral campaign to the tune of $29,875. Soros and two of his sons gave $12,400 to a subsequent mayoral campaign.

The way he operated his campaign earned him a healthy fine from the New York City Campaign Finance Board, of nearly $48,000 in 2016. The violations included failing to report transactions, accepting over-the-limit contributions and taking contributions from unregistered political committees.

De Blasio ran for the Democrat presidential nomination beginning in May of 2019, was critical of fellow candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden, but dropped out in September when his candidacy failed to get traction.

It is also interesting to note the number of media people associated with the Democrats.

Jay Carney went from Time to the White House press secretary's office. Shailagh Murray went from the Washington Post to the Vice President's office while married to Neil King at the Wall Street Journal. Neil King left the Wall Street Journal for Fusion GPS. Linda Douglass went from ABC News to the White House, then to the Atlantic. Jill Zuckman went from the Chicago Tribune to the to the State Department. Stephen Barr went from the Post to the Labor Department.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Seattle, Washington’s CHAZ/CHOP experience: A cautionary tale

The takeover of six blocks of Seattle, Washington early last month as a protest of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota police was allowed to stand by the Seattle mayor, Jenny Durkan.

Perhaps she truly believed that allowing a group to hijack an area of her city, given the current riotous atmosphere in the country, was the best way to address the problem. Maybe the protesters would get tired in a few days of living without the normal comforts of life, and the small price those who lived, worked or owned businesses in the area had to pay was worth it. Or, perhaps she was just afraid to do her job, as she was expected to do.

Durkan characterized the Capitol Hill area as a place where people often express themselves. Defending her decision, after visiting the area where she had spoken with organizers, she said it was a place where people, including police officers, come and go freely.

She is not the only one who attempted to paint a rosy picture of the goings-on. A reporter for MSNBC termed the atmosphere there as “almost like a street festival.” His characterization was immediately disputed by an unhappy protester who said, “No, it is not a street festival! It is not a street festival! It is not a street festival! Do not say that!”

The mob of thousands that took control of the area -- which included a police precinct that was willingly abandoned by the mayor, in a move to defuse the situation -- called the area the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). Later, the CHAZ was renamed the CHOP, which had two different, but similar translations: Capitol Hill Occupied Protest or Capitol Hill Organized Protest.

As should have been expected, what Durkan called “a summer of love” turned bad rather quickly. The takeover should have been met with immediate action by the city’s elected leaders and the police department. But the takeover was allowed to stand.

Judging by what transpired in the CHAZ/CHOP, a more appropriate name for it would have been the Capital Hill Anarchy Zone.

The mostly peaceful daytime hours devolved as darkness fell, with violence growing as time passed. Graffiti on streets and buildings, trash and other things left in the street, robberies, assaults and other violent crimes, including three serious injuries from shootings, and two black teenagers who were shot to death.

Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Sr., the father of Lorenzo Anderson, Jr. the 19-year-old boy who was murdered on June 21, said that neither the mayor nor anyone in the city administration notified him of his son’s murder. He heard about it from two of his son’s friends who happened to be in the area. He criticized local officials for failing to stop the violence sooner.

Durkan reacted to the shootings by noting that the CHAZ had grown less safe instead of safer over time, and the effect on the surrounding community had not been positive. Was that not absolutely predictable?

“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” she said. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.” She ordered the area cleared.

Seattle police chief Carmen Best said: “This order, and our police response, comes after weeks of violence in and around the Capital Hill Occupied Protest zone, including four shootings, resulting in multiple injuries and the deaths of two teenagers.”

And so, the end of something that should never have started finally came about. At least 13 people were arrested.

And, guess what? Durkan called for charges to be dismissed against those who were arrested for misdemeanors. She also said that the community garden and artworks that protesters created would be saved.

However, businesses and property owners affected by the CHAZ have filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming officials’ tolerance of the CHAZ deprived property owners of their rights by allowing the zone to exist.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the mayor awakened to the problem shortly after the “summer of love” street party rioters showed up at her home. A female member of the BLM mob told KING-TV, "We came down to Jenny Durkan's mansion to bring the demands of the movement and of the families who have been impacted by police violence, uh, to her doorstep and she seems to not be able to hear our demands any other way."

The leftists in Black Lives Matter and Antifa seem to think mob violence is the way to control the narrative. And, based upon many non-responses to mob violence, it seems to be working.

Giving in to the mob in Seattle and elsewhere has allowed much destruction and many injuries, and two deaths. But the complacency that allows the riots to continue seems at last to be waning.

It is perhaps too much to hope that the leftists will learn from this cautionary tale, but the country will certainly be far and away better off if they do. In any case, the lawlessness must be stopped.

Friday, July 03, 2020

The cancel culture judges America by her mistakes, not her strengths

As the nation watches the riots and criminal behavior that evolved from protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Black Lives Matter (BLM) has turned its attention to removing monuments to personalities from the Civil War that led to the end of slavery in the United States with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865.

But the mission to take down these monuments was confused from the beginning. It could have been a civil effort to have the “offending” items removed legally by petitioning the appropriate government agencies or property owners on which the statues reside, which is the proper way to do things. The statues could have been moved to museums or other places, if the proper authorities agreed with the petitioners.

But that wasn’t good enough for the cancel culture, which felt that the things must be removed now! And so, rioters — not protesters or demonstrators — turned their criminal behavior to destroying these historical items.

In addition to the monuments to southern Civil War personalities, they also blindly go after some who were on the same side of the slavery case as they are.

The statue of Ulysses S. Grant is one example. Grant was the 18th President of the United States following the Civil War, from 1869 to 1877. But more illustrative of what a magnificent error it was to take down his statue, Grant was the Commanding General of the U.S. Army that defeated the hated Confederates — the targets of BLM — and won the Civil War, leading to emancipation of the slaves.

An even more astonishing mistake is the threatening to take down the Emancipation Memorial. Because this memorial features the likeness of Abraham Lincoln with a black man, Archer Alexander, in chains at his feet, it is regarded by the rioters as a symbol of slavery.

The former slave and now-famous American Frederick Douglass, however, predicted that members of his race “will think of [the Memorial] and speak of it with a sense of manly pride.”

Rather than being a passive, submissive slave, the Memorial was in fact designed to show Alexander at Lincoln’s feet exerting his own strength to break the chains that bound him.

Douglas said, “We have done a good for our race today. In doing honor to the memory of our friend and liberator [Lincoln], we have been doing highest honors to ourselves and those who come after us,” and “we may calmly point to the monument we have this day erected to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.”

And then there is Charlotte Scott, a former slave freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, who said upon hearing of Lincoln’s assassination, “the colored people have lost their best friend on earth! Mr. Lincoln was our best friend, and I will give five dollars of my wages towards erecting a monument to his memory.”

Her contribution sparked a movement among freed slaves to raise money for a memorial to Lincoln which totaled more than $12,000. At that time $12,000, and even $5, was a lot of money.

Female RE-Enactors of Distinction (FREED) is a group of actors that is committed to accurately depict the role of African Americans, including the U.S. Colored Troops and their families during the U.S. Civil War.

Marcia Cole is a member of FREED who portrays Charlotte Scott. Regarding the Memorial, she told Washington, DC TV station WJLA, “I’m here to speak on behalf of the legacy of Charlotte Scott. I understand there’s a big campaign trying to raise money to either take it down or mend it, and I say ‘no’ on behalf of Ms. Charlotte.” 

But the rioters don’t know this history.

So, the historical figures and sites that the BLM wants removed will not be decided by the American people and their governments, but by a relative handful of the people, who don’t know history and don’t care about history. They care nothing about what others think and willingly, eagerly, turn to criminality to accomplish their goal.

That isn’t the American way. But America and her ways are a foreign language to most of these folks. They judge America by her mistakes only, ignoring her strengths. They apply his same myopia to Civil War figures. They see only a part of the lives of the individuals that they target. That small part is all that matters to them.

That sentiment was fairly clearly stated by Hawk Newsome, president of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter. “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it,” Newsome said in an interview on Fox News’ “The Story” with Martha MacCallum.

And so, what we really have is not merely a crusade by a relatively small group to cleanse the land and remove elements they dislike and that stain our history, it is to wreak havoc and impose their will on the rest of us.

In the wise words of Marcus Aurelius: “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

Order must be restored, and those committing crimes must be held accountable.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The emotional whitewashing of history is an enormous mistake

The tragic and indefensible killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of city police officers created understandable emotions of pain and anger in the country.

We have all witnessed the resulting peaceful protesting of police brutality against citizens. But in many cases protests turned into violent, dangerous rioting, and now rising anti-slavery emotion has spawned tearing down statues associated with that dark period in American history, and condemnation of other things reminiscent of that period.

While these efforts have strong support, other people see them as wrong; as trying to whitewash history, instead of leaving these statues and other things to remind us of the evils of slavery, now gone from America for more than 150 years.

If slavery was a mistake of our nation — and it was — so is trying to erase every last vestige of it. We learn from our mistakes, so that we don’t make them again. But if there is nothing to remind us of our errors, at some point in the future we may again travel down those paths.

Through the years people have made important, illuminating comments about such situations.

One of the most relevant is this one: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” — George Orwell, 1984

Two more are from a current source, the brilliant Thomas Sowell: “Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination.”

And: “Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this. But years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people ‘feel’ have left too many people unable to see through this media gimmick.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” recently, “We’ve reached a point in our society where we dissect everything and try to ascribe some nefarious notion to it,” he said. “We really need to move away from that. We need to move away from being offended by everything, of going through history and looking at everything, of renaming everything. I mean, think about the fact that some of our universities, some of our prestigious universities, have a relationship with the slave trade. Should we go and rename those universities?

“It really gets to a point of being ridiculous after a while,” Carson said. “And, you know, we’re going to have to grow up as a society.”

And then there is this: “The modern Left: they cancel ‘Gone with the Wind’ ... and then burn Atlanta.” — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX.

Other targets include brand names that have been part of American life for decades, without hurting anyone: Eskimo Pie, Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix and syrup, Uncle Ben’s rice, Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, and Cream of Wheat breakfast mix. These brands are considering changing their names and/or appearance due to pressure from the change culture.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, recently ordered the removal of four portraits of former Speakers. “As I have said before, the halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy,” she wrote in a letter requesting the removal of the portraits, “there is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy.”

The portraits are of Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia, Howell Cobb of Georgia, James L. Orr of South Carolina and Charles F. Crisp of Georgia. Crisp served in the Confederate Army, but entered politics after the Civil War in the 1870s. The other three were in Congress before the War, and then held high civilian office in the Confederacy.

Pelosi has been in Congress for a lifetime, and is Speaker of the House for the second time. Why did the presence of these four previous Speakers’ portraits not drive her crazy before now?

But let’s not ignore the other side of this coin. The advocates of whitewashing unpopular items from our history sometimes goof.

Along with the statues of Confederate luminaries, the cleansers of history also wanted to remove the statue of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was in fact the leader of the Union Army that defeated the Confederates, and became the President of the United States after the War from 1869 to 1877. Yet, the cancel culture wants his statue destroyed.

And then there are objects that fit the definition of things that they want removed, but maybe after thinking about it, they might change their minds.

A Facebook tweet reads: “Yale University was named for Elihu Yale. Not just a man who had slaves. An actual slave trader. I call on @Yale to change its name immediately and strip the name of Yale from every building, piece of paper, and merchandise …”

The idea of whitewashing history is not a good thing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Censorship is a growing problem in our news and other media

Adolph Ochs, former publisher of The New York Times, back in 1896 adopted the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” and insisted on reportage that lived up to that promise. That phrase appears in the upper left corner of the paper’s front page every day.

He might be appalled today to find that The Times, among other media, sometimes operates on the motto “All the News That Fits,” as some news media move steadily toward advocacy over objectivity.

We now find two major newspapers censoring conservative opinion on their opinion pages, where traditionally newspapers published a variety of editorial opinion in order to give their readers a diverse mixture. It’s the one place in a newspaper where opinion is appropriate.

The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer both had editors resign their positions recently because of staff objections to editorial decisions they made.

Several days ago, The New York Times editorial page editor, James Bennet, resigned following a revolt among employees over an op-ed the paper had requested from Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR, on George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Some of the staff called in sick one day in protest, and the paper said later that a review found the piece “did not meet its standards.”

Just a week later, however, the Times published an op-ed from a person who is a fellow at George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and who is a far-left activist. No editors resigned and no standards were violated.

The Floyd matter was at the center of another newspaper editor’s sudden departure. The Inquirer’s top editor resigned after his choice for a headline on an article addressing the mob violence which evolved from protests over Floyd’s death produced a revolt among employees.

Lamenting the senseless destruction and damage from the riots, Stan Wischnowski titled the article “Buildings Matter, Too.” The totally accurate headline was too much for the staff to swallow, so Wischnowski decided to step down.

The one place where opinions are proper in a newspaper — pages containing editorials and commentary — in those two papers now presents only that narrow set of politically biased ideas that have the approval of the newspaper staff. Ladies and gentlemen, this is precisely the opposite of what press freedom is all about.

An older tendency among news providers is for them to be politically guided in what they report and what they don’t. This tendency towards advocacy-over-objectivity is much more widespread than many realize. The reaction of the news staffs of the Times and Inquirer support that this journalistic breakdown exists.

However, such shenanigans are not limited to newspapers. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, said about President Donald Trump, “First, we were hearing that it’s [the coronavirus] a hoax...” referring to Trump’s describing the way the Democrats used the coronavirus. Tapper later admitted he knew it was a lie, but chose not to say anything. “I thought about it, because the president did not call the virus a hoax,” he said.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which the press is quick to throw out to defend against challenges to its work, guarantees the press the necessary freedom to do its job of telling the people what is going on. That is a very valuable thing, and a rare thing in our world.

But the freedom the press enjoys is accompanied by the essential obligation to do that job honestly, without fear or favor, accurately and objectively. When those things are missing from what the news media is doing, it has abandoned its press freedom protections.

The press is a very different animal today than in the days of the Bill of Rights, and now includes broadcast media and Internet media in addition to print media.

While online social media sites are not the same as news providers, they are extremely popular communication instruments. Ostensibly an open forum for participants to post and comment whatever they choose, some have begun to monitor and over-ride participants’ posts and comments. Sometimes that action is used for improper language. Sometimes it is used to censor undesirable political content.

MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin took a quote from Trump’s Fox News interview with Harris Faulkner out of context to make it look like Trump was approving of chokeholds. “Trump on Fox: ‘I think the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect,’” he tweeted, making it appear that Trump condones chokeholds. He doesn’t.

Contrary to its policies that “catch” so many conservative tweeters, Twitter did not flag this lie.

There are many instances of such malpractice. Either you have an open forum that leaves people alone to express themselves as they choose, or you don’t.

If you do, no problem. If you don’t, you become a different animal, one which purports to be open, but which covertly censors only some users, and may thus be subject to legal action.

Why does the left cheat like this? Because it’s much easier to gain support for your ideas when there is only one set of ideas to choose from. Why confuse people with extraneous stuff?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The push to defund police is an ill-advised and unnecessary move

For weeks the country lived in fear of being infected with and dying from the COVID-19 virus. And thousands did become infected, many suffered but survived, and more than 110,000 lost their lives.

Then suddenly, the daily focus on COVID-19 was replaced by the death of a black man at the hands of a white Minneapolis, Minnesota policeman, and the aftermath. Video of parts of the arrest of George Floyd stunned the nation, resulting in the initial firing of the policeman and three of his fellow officers, who now face criminal charges.

Peaceful protests of this death quickly turned violent, groups of protesters turned into mobs, businesses were robbed and burned, innocent people and police were attacked and injured, rioters saw strong police response, and many were arrested.

Curiously, some of the people who witnessed Floyd dying by a criminal act protested against that criminal act by committing their own criminal acts.

These riots are not about justice for an undeserved death. They are an insult to the true, conscientious protesters and to the memory they have of George Floyd. They are all about causing damage and pain for the sake of causing damage and pain.

There is no justice in burning down random buildings, looting stores for TVs and whatever else they can steal, attacking innocent bystanders and police officers, throwing bricks and water bottles at them, and killing a retired black police captain who was protecting a pawn shop that was being robbed.

Clear thinking has been told to stay-at-home, and raw emotion now controls the mobs. Some say there are outsider-anarchists whose goal is to stir violence and are fanning the flames of revolution.

New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones said in an interview,
"And violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man's neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. And to put those things — to use the same language to describe those two things I think really — it's not moral to do that." In her mind, destroying things in response to what happened to Floyd is okay: “Destroying property … is not violence.”

Tell that to the numerous victims of rioting in Minneapolis who face damages to their businesses and other property that are said to exceed $55 million. Millions more damage has been done across the nation.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo believes that “protests” shouldn’t be peaceful. "And please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” he said. 

Perhaps the U.S. Constitution can help Cuomo correct his gross mis-understanding. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people ‘peaceably’ [emphasis added] to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” A non-peaceable assembly — a violent riot — is not protected, no matter what the reason for the assembly.

It is stunning to see the breadth and depth of the attitude to now accept the injuries, deaths and destruction from riots as a normal part of protesting.

In what may be the goofiest idea of all, celebrities — those possessors of ultimate wisdom on all things — endorse the idea of “defunding police departments.” These self-important folks say the money spent on police would be better spent on “building healthy communities.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) wants the 800-officer Minneapolis Police Department disbanded. In a tweet she said, “The Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform. It’s time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis.”
“Yes,” said Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender. “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.”

Someone breaking into your home? A riot on your street? Who you gonna call? Ilhan Omar, Lisa Bender?

In Los Angeles, $100 million to $150 million may soon be cut from funding the LAPD. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced Sunday that the city would move funding from the New York Police Department to youth initiatives and social services.

However, we must decide if the current situation truly warrants such drastic actions against all police departments nationwide, which seems to be what celebrity advisors want.

Far more important than the pure number of people killed by police is how many of them were unjustified, and how many contributed to their deaths by resisting police? The former number is easier to find than the latter two numbers.

Last year, nearly 1,100 people were killed by police, according to Mapping Police Violence (MPV), a research group. MPV defines police killing as any time someone dies as a result of “being shot, beaten, restrained, intentionally hit by a police vehicle, pepper sprayed, tasered, or otherwise harmed by police officers, whether on-duty or off-duty.” 

The MPV data does not say how many contributed to their own demise by resisting arrest, how many were unjustly killed, or died by accident. That is critical information in determining how great a problem police criminality actually is.

Eliminating unjustified killings by police is a critical goal, and the solution must be a sensible plan, not an emotional, chaotic one.