Pages

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

When anti-Trump behavior becomes more than “spoiled brat” behavior



What is it about Barack Obama and members of his now blessedly former administration that causes them to plague the nation with their opinions on the words, deeds and thoughts of President Donald Trump? What prevents them from doing what nearly all members of previous administrations have done: return gracefully to the life of a private citizen, and keep your mouth shut about the successor’s presidency?

The Washington Post, no fan of President George W. Bush, complimented the former president’s behavior during the Obama administration in 2016 as “exemplary.” “W” has kept himself out of the limelight; despite the strong enticements Obama’s policies provided him and others. Until recently, that is, when he expressed concern over president Trump’s pulling out of the Iran deal.

Hillary Clinton is the most vocal of the bunch, and having been a candidate for president, such criticisms of her opponent are part and parcel of a campaign. But since then, she is forever criticizing Trump and the things he does and doesn’t do.

Her criticisms of Trump are nearly as numerous as her list of reasons she lost the race. As bad as her behavior is, and as bad as the shenanigans in the Justice Department and FBI are, former Secretary of State John Kerry’s behavior is just as bad, or worse.

Kerry was in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, and for him there are two Vietnams. In the first one, after returning from the war he despicably trashed American military personnel, accusing them of all manner of war crimes. But then, when the presidency lured him toward it in 2004, the second one appeared, and he then used his Navy deployment as a star in his crown justifying why he should be elected.

And oddly enough, whenever the negatives of Kerry’s Vietnam service were used against him, he attempted to shame his detractors, actually accusing them of attacking veterans. Blessedly, he was not elected, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to act against the best interests of the nation.

Mackubin Thomas Owens, a contributing editor for National Review Online, explains that  John Kerry 1) played a major role in helping to poison the attitude of the country toward those who fought in Vietnam and 2) laid the groundwork for the foreign and defense policy he embraced as a senator – a record he has not been forced to confront by the press.”

Kerry was Obama’s secretary of state, beginning in 2013, and was a key player in the Iran agreement Obama eventually heralded as the greatest thing since … well, the last greatest thing the “Leader from Behind” did.

Obama, Kerry and Clinton were among the throng of Democrats that raced to complain about Trump’s withdrawal from the deeply flawed Iran deal, with predictions of worldwide catastrophe.

But Mort Zuckerman described the deal in a 2016 edition of U.S. News, writing, “President Barack Obama never submitted his Iranian nuclear deal for ratification by the Congress because he knew it would have no chance of passing. That does not make the United States unique: The Iranian parliament has never approved it either (that body passed a heavily amended version) and the Iranian president has never signed it. The Iranian cabinet has never even discussed it. … Indeed, President Obama ‘may end up being the only person in the world to sign his much-wanted deal, in effect making a treaty with himself,’ as the Gatestone Institute's Amir Taheri has said.”

Zuckerman went on to report that a State Department official confirmed that the deal "is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document."

When you add in the sanctions lifted and the cash and other rewards, it may be the worst deal ever conceived.

And now that Trump has identified the deal as the mess that it is, we find Kerry engaging in shadow diplomacy trying to salvage the Iran deal.
On May 7, The Federalist reported: “Kerry’s highly unusual shadow diplomatic maneuvers include engaging in multiple meetings with high-level Iranian officials in the last several months. For instance, Kerry met with Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif two months ago then again two weeks ago at the United Nations in New York to discuss ways to keep the Iran nuclear deal intact.” He also lobbied members of the U.S. Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

This has fostered accusations that Kerry has breached the Logan Act, which according to The Free Dictionary “is a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.”

Fortunately for Kerry, no one in the Act’s two century history has ever been prosecuted under it, not even members of the Trump team, so he may escape the penalty of three years in prison for his malfeasance.

What really needs to happen to put a stop to, or at least dramatically slow down, these anti-Trump corrupt, and often-illegal actions by members of the government, past and present, is to prosecute, convict and jail these perpetrators.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Will forces from within bring about the demise of America?


In this time when virtually all our standards and traditions are falling away or being scrapped, we should be concerned about what America will look like in another generation. Will America even be recognizable?

School-age kids aren’t being taught to write or read cursive. Like the kids in the UK, 80 percent of Oklahoma kids 6 to 12 years old also are having trouble telling time on an analog clock.

Much of public education seems to be in a crisis.

Columnist and economics professor Walter Williams wrote recently about the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” showing disturbing results.
“Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math.”

He went on to report that America’s high school graduation rate is over 80 percent, which indicates that graduates’ math and reading skills are at a 12th-grade level. How can that be, he asks, when 63 percent are not proficient in reading and 75 percent are not proficient in math?

Combine that with the changes to the curriculum, where many schools no longer teach civics or properly emphasize American history, and we appear to be deliberately creating a generation of young people who are seriously under-educated, in general, and about their country in particular.

College once was a place where young people went to advance their education, prepare for their future work life, and evolve from a teenager into a mature adult. Now, many campuses are places where free speech, once strongly emphasized on campuses, is dead or dying, and instead of learning to cope with adverse realities, they are provided protection from them.

The successful imposition of political correctness and the over-the-top behavior of some people to push PC on the public have turned things upside-down. This may pose one of the most serious societal problems we will face, as so many people want to magnify tiny little “discomforts” into Earth-shattering events, and condemn those who are responsible for these minor “offenses” to a living hell.

Among the abundant examples of this silliness is the recent episode where an American high school girl chose as her attire for the high school prom a dress with a Chinese theme. The PC police quickly hopped aboard the Knee-jerk Band Wagon to label her a “racist” and scream that she was guilty of “cultural appropriation.”

The young lady brushed off the nutty criticism, and the Chinese reacted positively to her. But the PC crowd apparently believes that only Asians can enjoy sushi, and only Italians can order spaghetti, or go to Pasquales’ restaurant.

The profound goofiness of such ideas apparently escapes the understanding of the disciples of political correctness. Many of these folks are from the younger generations, thus this way of thinking does not bode well for America’s future, unless they experience an intellectual  renaissance.

America – the land of the free – a place where government was designed to serve the people, now has important agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) straying from their constitutional roles and being run by people who are motivated by narrow political goals rather than their sworn duty to honorably serve Americans.

IRS employee Lois Lerner delayed applications and hassled applicants for non-profit status because they were conservative organizations. FBI agent Peter Strozk and his lover, agency attorney Lisa Page, used FBI email for partisan messages against Donald Trump’s candidacy. And then we have former FBI Director Jim Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and their numerous misdeeds. The list goes on.

The now notorious and fraudulent Trump dossier was used as evidence to get a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Trump officials Carter Page and Michael Flynn. And the FBI and Department of Justice are withholding documents legally subpoenaed by a congressional committee with oversight authority.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to find a crime in the Trump campaign in the 2016 election had cost taxpayers nearly $7 million as of last December, producing only meager results, thus far.

One year on, two people associated with Trump have been charged: Former campaign chief Paul Manafort, over alleged bank fraud many years ago, and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI, after FBI officials said that he was not suspected of lying. Flynn plead guilty to the charge, apparently to end the crippling legal fees that drove him to near bankruptcy.

And then there’s the $20 trillion national debt – $62,500 per American – that no one seems serious about reducing, that threatens the nation’s future.

Young people who are inadequately prepared through their education to understand America and the realities of life, and people both inside and outside the government, and in the news media, who are willing and eager to cheat to achieve their political goals may bring about the demise of the country.

Are Abraham Lincoln’s words coming true? “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Here’s some good news on climate change and the U.S. energy picture


Was it a breakdown of distribution components? Did information editors snooze through this big news? What was it that caused the recent important news about climate change to not be widely distributed?

Normally, when data show a new hottest year on record; or a big increase over the previous month, or the same month in the previous year; or represent a sequence of warming months or years, that’s a big story. But not this time. What’s up with that?

Well, the answer is that the climate change news did not fit with the climate change narrative preferred by those who promote cataclysmic damage to the Earth’s atmosphere unless we make dramatic, inconvenient, expensive, harmful, and virtually useless changes to the way we live and work.

Since the Little Ice Age ended in the 1880s the Earth has warmed by about 0.8 degrees C, a level of warming that many regard as serious, even catastrophic. However, that same approximate level of warming occurred three times prior to this one, in the Minoan, Roman and Medieval warming periods. Somehow, the Earth managed to not blow up, and its plant and animal life survived. And the fact that Earth survived runs contrary to the manic warnings of the alarmist faction about our fate under such conditions.

The recent news that hardly anyone is aware of demonstrates how Earth’s temperatures fluctuate; alternately rising and falling, over varying lengths of time, and has occurred for at least thousands of years.

The most recent available data comes from the GISTEMP Team, 2018:GISS Surface Temperature Analysis. The source for this report is NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the data shows that from February of 2016 to February of 2018, global average temperatures fell by 0.56 degrees C. That was an even larger drop than the previous two-year drop from 1982-1984, when the global temperatures dropped by 0.47 degrees C.

The recent temperature drop, called the Big Chill, represents the reversal of about 70 percent of the previous 0.8 degree C increase in global temperatures over the last approximately 120 years. This is important; however, two years of lower temperatures are not sufficient to label it a complete reversal of the warming trend. But it does demonstrate the changeable nature of global temperatures.

Other relevant information not widely reported consists of an analysis of computer climate models as designed by the climate scientists on the alarmist side of things. Writing for Investors Business Daily, Nic Lewis’ and Judith Curry’s study shows the alarmists models are tilted upward on the temperature scale. The planet, they say, is far less sensitive to increases in CO2 than the climate models predict. The result is that Earth will warm less than the models predict, even if the levels of CO2 we put into the atmosphere do not decrease.

Thus, the global warming scare that we are continually being beaten up with is not currently a looming danger. Instead, it is an exaggerated picture of normal temperature fluctuations.

The majority of the information media, which largely sides with the predictions of catastrophe for our environment, mostly reports information about climate when it suits their political perspective.

* * * * *

On the energy front, there is also good news. Bloomberg Markets reports, “Selling more than two million barrels a day of U.S. crude overseas may soon be the new normal.”

The U.S. exported 2.33 million barrels a day in the third week of April, which is the highest export number in the last 25 years, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is a significant increase from earlier in the month, when average exports were 1.76 million barrels a day. U.S. total output has increased to 10.6 million barrels a day, Bloomberg reported.

This increase is attributed to the shale production revolution, which largely comes from light, sweet West Texas crude.

The U.S. is moving from the world’s largest importer of crude oil, and is about to displace Russia as the largest producer of crude in the world.

The coal picture, while improved from the over-reaching Obama administration, does not look as good as the oil picture. However, a new discovery could produce some positive impacts.

The American Geosciences Institute notes: "Rare-earth elements (REEs) are used as components in high technology devices, including smart phones, digital cameras, computer hard disks, fluorescent and light-emitting-diode (LED) lights, flat screen televisions, computer monitors, and electronic displays. Large quantities of some REEs are used in clean energy and defense technologies."

A new project with the goal of being able to extract rare earth elements from acid mine drainage at coal mine sites in the country holds some promise. West Virginia University and the National Energy Technology Laboratory are focusing on developing a less expensive method for extraction, and to increase domestic supplies of these elements, which now are primarily available only from China.

If successful, this project will not only provide a strong domestic supply of the increasingly valuable and useful elements, but will also have a positive impact on the waste produced from past and present coal mining operations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Do we still have freedom of speech? Well, yes; sometimes we do.

 
Thank goodness for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects what our Founders viewed as our God-given rights to free exercise of religion, free speech, freedom of the press, peaceable assembly, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.

However, while efforts to infringe upon those and other rights are not unheard of, the attacks on them currently form a far more serious threat than perhaps at any other time, and certainly the most serious in many decades.

There has been ample news coverage of instances where Christian bakers and florists were forced to bake cakes or produce flower arrangements for gay weddings, contrary to their religious beliefs.

A decorated Army chaplain is facing what his attorneys are calling a “career-ending punishment” after he explained to a soldier that he could not conduct a marriage retreat that included same sex couples, but was willing to find someone else to do it.

Somehow, no matter how many people are available and willing to provide these services, those wanting a particular service view it as a horrible crime if a person refuses to perform it on religious grounds.

These days, certain “preferences” held by relatively small groups are thought to be of even greater importance than those rights set in stone by our Founders.

Some small efforts at balancing these breaches have occurred, but one’s ability to practice his or her religion in the customary fashion is only sometimes protected, these days.

These breaches of the First Amendment’s protections are serious enough, but what is happening on social media, on college campuses and elsewhere regarding free speech and free access to information is much worse, if for no other reason because of its broad swath of free speech encroachments that are being slashed through our culture.

Burgess Owens, a conservative African-American entrepreneur and 10-year veteran of the NFL, appeared at Hobart and William Smith Colleges recently. He told the audience, “I grew up in the Deep South during Jim Crow segregation laws. I can tell you how racism looks, how it feels, and what it means. You guys today can go anyplace you want to — any restaurant, any college.”

Well, that was too much for the audience. A female attendee asked him to repeat his first name, and after he did so, she said, “Oh, I thought it was ‘Tom,’” as in Uncle Tom. Cute.

Student activists at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, made good on their threat to disrupt an address by conservative Christina Hoff Sommers. What makes this one worse is that it was at the Law School. Yes, that’s right: students studying the law denied Sommers her free speech right.

The Leftist operators of Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube social media platforms think the way to persuade people to their ideas is to cheat them out of contrary opinions. 

The Media Research Center has produced a report titled “Censored” on how and to what extent popular social media are trying to “persuade” people to their way of thinking, not through the common sense of their ideas or the power of their argument, but by keeping people from seeing other points of view.

Authors Ashley Rae Goldenberg and Dan Gainor tell us that social media influences our worldview and can even influence elections. “Americans are seeing the results everywhere online. Conservative spokespeople, political candidates, even members of Congress, are falling victim to censors and the top tech firms are to blame.”

The article addresses claims of liberal bias and censorship against Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube individually, listing the claims and evaluating them, showing that the claims are supported by evidence.

These include such things as that Twitter censors conservative tweets pro-life ads, and censors content that governments find objectionable.

Liberal attitudes are at the core of Facebook and it censors pro-life advertising. Facebook’s algorithms filter what things its members can see, and it also blocked the “Diamond and Silk” girls’ posts, calling their content “dangerous.” Have you ever seen Diamond and Silk? Dangerous?

Google’s fact-checking system and algorithm contain an anti-conservative bias, and its News Lab partners with the radical Southern Poverty Law Center to identify “hate.”

Charges against YouTube mirror those previously mentioned for the other three media.

Is it that these folks have so little faith in their way of thinking that they don’t trust it to stand up against contrary ideas? Or do they not want to go to the trouble of actual debate and take a chance on losing in the marketplace of free ideas?

Whatever the motivation, using their ability to control what their customers or users see is truly otherworldly.

Liars, cheaters and cowards, oh my!

Faced with unpopular ideas, so many in our country are convinced that the appropriate reaction is to hold their breath, sob uncontrollably, stomp their feet, run to their safe space and demand that the speaker of these ideas shut up.

Private businesses or organizations can control what their Websites show. No argument there. The question, however, is not whether they can, but whether they should? Politics and business is a bad combination, and in these instances is quite dangerous.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

America Is Moving in the Right Direction Under Trump


Whether you think the way the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email issue was correct or not, or whether the anti-Trump email correspondence between FBI employee lovers was problematic, honest Americans will have to agree that when a Congressional committee with oversight authority of the Department of Justice and the FBI issues proper requests or demands for documents from the DOJ or FBI, and after many months the requests or demands have yet to be fulfilled, something wreaks in the swamp.

And, where a simple request should have caused the fairly quick production of the desired documents, following months of stubborn and illegal refusals to respond, it took the threat of subpoenas and even the threat of impeaching the director and deputy director of the FBI to get them to do their jobs.

Why do federal employees believe they can ignore legal requests, and why did the committees wait so long to initiate the action that finally provided the impetus for the production of desired documents?

Elsewhere, while much of the country entertains and amazes itself with minutiae about Donald Trump, such as whether or not he had an encounter with a prostitute more than a decade ago, or whether he’s going to fire the special counsel or the deputy director of the FBI, or resign the presidency, things are actually going along pretty well in the country.

Not everything is going perfectly, of course, such as the creatures in the swamp that haven’t yet been drained away, and are busying themselves creating constitutional crises, and misbehaving as if there are no rules for how federal employees are supposed to do things. They justify their transescent temper tantrums that result in their abandoning professional ethics and common sense by blaming it all on none other than the president of the United States.

But hidden away from the view of most of the public by an agenda driven national news media, other things are going pretty well, compared with the not-so-distant past.

After a painfully slow recovery from the recession spawned by the financial crisis of 2007, the U-3 unemployment rate finally returned to respectable territory toward the end of 2015. When President Trump took office in January of 2017, the U-3 rate stood at 4.8 percent, and began a steady decline to the current level of 4.1 percent last October. The last time the rate was that low was all the way back in 2000.

Unemployment rates for African-Americans and Hispanics have also fallen over the last year, meaning that the jobs picture has improved across the board. Black unemployment fell to 6.8 percent in December, the lowest ever recorded since the U.S. Labor Department began tracking that rate in 1972.

The U-6 rate, which also reflects those who became discouraged and dropped out of the labor force, has returned from the 17 percent levels of early 2010 to the 8.0 percent level of before the recession.

There are other relevant employment factors, such as the number of Americans on unemployment benefits plunged to the lowest levels since 1974 recently; underscoring the healthy US economy.

And, according to new statistics released by the federal government, just 1.85 million Americans received unemployment assistance in March; levels not seen throughout the country in approximately 44 years.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 in the week ended April 7, the Labor Department said Thursday. This means claims have now held below 300,000 for 162 consecutive weeks, cementing the longest streak for weekly records dating back to 1967.”

The tax cuts that took effect in February produced not only lower taxes for most American workers, but also produced a secondary benefit for many workers, whose employers provided cash bonuses and/or wage increases. One good example is Wal-Mart, whose pay scales have been criticized by the Left for years. The massive company is now raising its minimum wage by $2 an hour.

And doing away with job-killing and economically harmful regulations has spawned new job production, putting thousands of previously unemployed Americans back on the job. The more positive business climate has caused companies like Sprint, Wal-Mart, Lockeed-Martin, Hyundai Motor Company, General Motors, and Carrier to begin bringing jobs back to America, after moving them out of the country a few years ago.

These improvements are expected to make 3.0 percent GDP growth much more common than it’s been for years.

The U.S. energy picture is also improving. Earlier this month bicmagazine.com reported that the “U.S. has been a net energy importer since 1953, but the AEO2018 (Annual Energy Outlook 2018) reference case projects the U.S. will become a net energy exporter by 2022.” Under slightly different Energy Information Administration scenarios supporting larger growth in oil and natural gas production, this transition occurs even sooner.

While the anti-Trumpers delight in the distractions aimed at damaging the president, while he has been in office some good things have occurred. And more than a little of the good is the result of the plain positive differences between Trump and his socialist predecessor.

-->

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Sinclair Broadcast Group controversy


“On local news stations across the United States last month, dozens of anchors gave the same speech to their combined millions of viewers. It included a warning about fake news, a promise to report fairly and accurately and a request that viewers go to the station’s website and comment ‘if you believe our coverage is unfair,’” The New York Times reported last week.

These news anchors work for Sinclair Broadcast Group, based in Hunt Valley, Md., which owns 193 local TV stations, making it the largest owner of TV stations in the U.S. A video produced by Deadspin shows dozens of miniaturized TV screens filling the video screen. In each of the small screens Sinclair anchors are shown all reading the same statement.

The purpose of the video was apparently to create an image of dystopian news control by this owner of local TV stations. The video has created quite a wave of criticism of Sinclair for having all its stations’ news departments present the statement on air.

The idea the critics promote is that this indicates some sinister effort to control news at all Sinclair stations, and some comments allege that many of the anchors were privately opposed to the idea.

However, stations in groups like this routinely show “must-runs” such as this. Must-runs contain content the corporate office requires each station to broadcast, and are not at all uncommon. They also are not the subjects of some specially created special purpose video.

Other criticism includes the references to fake stories and false reporting, suggesting that “right-leaning” Sinclair appears to be parroting President Donald Trump’s criticism of “fake news” in the mainstream media, and that therefore Sinclair news is biased in favor of the Trump agenda.

Trying to find the text of this statement was a bit tricky, but seattlepi.com, which is the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s (SeattlePI) online presence, published the script used by anchors at KOMO-TV in Seattle, WA.

The Website noted, “The KOMO segments feature several different pairs of anchors sticking word-for-word to a Sinclair script they were required to read.” “They're certainly not happy about it,” a KOMO newsroom employee told SeattlePI. “It's certainly a forced thing.”

Here is the statement the anchors presented:

Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces. But we're concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.

More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories... stories that just aren't true, without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control “exactly what people think”...This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.

At KOMO it's our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand truth is neither politically “left nor right.” Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.

But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to KOMOnews.com and clicking on “Content Concerns.” We value your comments. We will respond back to you.

We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual. We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day. Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback.

This reads like a mission statement for Sinclair’s news services, presented in a personal manor by station news personnel. It plainly condemns weak, slanted and poorly researched reporting, and vows not to indulge in such poor journalistic practices, but to present factual news and a focus on truth.

Further, it invites viewers to contact the station to report what they see as unfair coverage, and promises to respond to such reports. Many people regard that to be a very strong and good message.

Companies routinely have a mission statement telling the public about the company’s philosophy, so why this it an item of fear for Deadspin and other critics of Sinclair is the big mystery, not the message Sinclair put out.

Deadspin has a story online discussing how employees of local stations disagree with the company’s news policy statement. Why honest news people would object to a statement endorsing honest news reporting is a fair question for these staffers.

It all comes down to a simple problem: Any employee who disagrees with the corporate decision for them to read material on air with which they disagree has two choices: One, they can bite their lip and comply, or two, they can find another employer.

Sinclair’s senior vice president of news, Scott Livingston, responded to the furor, calling the backlash “ironic,” and said the stations “keep our audiences’ trust by staying focused on fact-based reporting and clearly identifying commentary.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The 21st century: We are living in a world turning upside-down


Human beings have been consuming coffee for decades, at least, and perhaps for centuries. But despite the drink’s long and loved history, a story in the newspaper last Friday informed us coffee drinkers that the beverage harbors harmful elements that can cause cancer. Who knew?

Well, according to a legal action begun some eight years ago, everyone and anyone associated with coffee products – such as roasters, distributors, and retailers – should have known that because processing coffee beans releases a carcinogen in miniscule amounts, they should have warned the public.

Interestingly, the plaintiff is not the one with the burden of proof resting on its shoulders. In this case the age-old maxim “innocent until proven guilty” has been turned upside-down, and that duty has been shifted to the defendants by state law.

The judge in the case, in (where else?) California, ruled, “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.” The judge somehow holds the defendants guilty of not proving something that plaintiffs did not allege, and leaves the plaintiffs to celebrate not having to prove their case. Nevertheless, coffee sellers now must label their product with a cancer warning, despite the carcinogen being removed from the “possible carcinogen” list.

*****

Citing Pennsylvania Act 31, a law addressing child abuse recognition and reporting, a dental office threatened to report a child patient’s mother to social services or law enforcement agencies if she did not schedule appointments for "regular professional cleanings."  This law allows the very people who provide services to report parents to authorities if they do not do business with the providers according to a schedule created by a professional dental association.

Here is yet another age-old saying brought to the fore: the fox guarding the henhouse. Beyond the open invitation for unscrupulous dental offices to act in their own interest rather than in that of their patients, we have potential interference from government when parents’ decisions on dental care differ from that of dentists, who collect fees for those services.

There should be no legal penalty or threat if a parent fails or decides not to follow the schedule, unless real and significant harm to the child results.

*****

The Trump administration has decided to add a question to the 2020 Census form asking the person filling out the form if she/he is a citizen. And guess who doesn’t like that? Primarily Democrats/liberals.

Counting non-citizens, including illegal aliens, in the census can affect such things as how many congressional districts states may have. Having more non-citizens counted in a state might cause it to have an additional district that it otherwise would not have.

Researchers have found that if citizens-only were counted, Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, which have large immigrant populations, would lose eight congressional seats, collectively.

J. Christian Adams, of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, observed: "Only citizens should be given political power. Our current system leads to noncitizens being allocated political power in legislatures at the expense of citizens." "It's critical that the next redistricting cycle account for the citizen residents of districts so urban centers do not unfairly profit from the political subsidy that higher noncitizen populations provide," he said.

*****

Rumors about leftist indoctrination by teachers in many colleges across the country are not at all unusual, but it is also present in public schools. Few instances, however, are as obvious as this one.

“For this assignment, you are writing a letter to the lawmakers of the United States. The purpose of this letter is to pressure lawmakers to have stricter gun laws in the United States. Your letter should contain at least five complete sentences. Make sure that you use proper grammatical skills when writing your letter,” read the assignment by a social studies teacher to his students at Hampton Middle School, Hampton, GA.

Well, at least the indoctrinator had the good sense to ask for proper grammar, even if it was as an afterthought. Whether he sent the letters to lawmakers or not, he was way out of bounds assigning students to take a particular position, particularly on a red-hot topic like the gun debate. How could a trained professional be so blind and dumb as to assign his students something so blatantly politically biased?

*****

With all the hoopla about supposed collusion by Russians in the 2016 presidential election that some believe helped Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, you may have gotten the idea that this was a new wrinkle in U.S. elections. But thanks to a friend and reader of this column, who provided a copy of The Christian Science Monitor from the mid 1940s, we see that isn’t at all the case.

In October of 1945 a front-page story tells of the Russian Congress of Industrial Organizations Political Action Committee openly supporting congressional candidates. Democrat candidates. Unsurprisingly, the Democrats denied the news. A Russian English-language newscast openly denounced Republicans and said their election might be the end of democracy in America. The broadcast was in Russia, but The New York Times printed an account of the broadcast.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

School shootings produce protest march, which produces what, exactly?



An unspeakable tragedy, carried out by a maniac who had given people close to him – as well as health practitioners and law enforcement – ample warning of his deficient mental state, has set loose so many reactions. Some of these reactions are natural and necessary, like grief, sorrow, and anger. Others, not so much.

Certainly, citizens of any age have the right, and should be encouraged to express their beliefs in appropriate ways about issues they feel are important. And hundreds of thousands of school-age kids recently marched to protest gun violence. It is a good thing for America’s future that this many young people have enough interest in an issue to strongly support a solution.

Whether it will accomplish positive results, however, depends upon how successful the protesters are in convincing the nation to accept their solutions, and that depends upon how sensible and potentially effective their solutions are.

Some of the prominent youngsters in this movement are smart, thoughtful and sincere, while others are merely reactionaries, and still others have become fond of the spotlight and the adoration that comes with it. It is difficult to tell which of these groups comprises the majority.

When you examine the solutions favored by the protesters, gun control measures and blaming the National Rifle Association (NRA) lead the list. These two targets appear to be the result of immature and faulty thinking, if thinking occurred at all, or perhaps encouragement from special interest groups. And trumpeting them alienates quite a large portion of the American people right off the bat.

Such gross miscalculations raise the question of just how much these young folks know about their country, its history, and the U.S. Constitution.  To find a real solution, one that does more than make some folks feel good, requires understanding the intricacies of the problem, and addressing them.

The shooter had mental problems, and some had known that for years.
But the failure of those who knew of his problems, and those of law enforcement and the other failures, were not caused by guns or the NRA.

The school, like most schools, was publicly known as a “gun-free zone,” which is an open invitation to someone like the shooter. Further, the school had insufficient security measures, as evidenced by the shooter’s ease of entering the building. And after he got in, there was absolutely no one inside that could confront him.

It seems like common sense that if you want to prevent school shootings, don’t let shooters come in. Beef up security so that only those who should be in the building are allowed in. The NRA would likely support such a measure very enthusiastically.

Sensible measures that address the actual problems – people with mental problems, inadequate security measures at entrances to the school and no armed security in the building – would likely have prevented this attack or ended it sooner.

And these solutions have the added advantage of not challenging areas of the Constitution’s protection of rights, or foolishly trying to pass the blame to an organization of approximately 5 million innocent, law abiding Americans.

Just because hundreds of thousands of teenage students feel strongly enough to protest a problem and lobby for a solution does not mean that their proposed solution should be adopted, or is the best one.

Further, this large protest is not without its share of irony. The marchers, who were protesting in support of gun bans, were protected by … good guys with guns. And at least one of the good guys had an AR-15, the weapon of choice of the shooter, and the target of the protesters, along with the NRA.

So, if protecting protesters with armed security, and protecting some elected officials and some well-known people with armed security makes sense, why not protect defenseless students with armed security at schools?

Too often, possible solutions that pop up quickly are lousy ideas. One such idea might be: If you want to stop school violence quickly, close down schools. That will stop violence immediately. Without gun-free zones that are shooting galleries: no school shootings. You don’t need expensive buildings and fleets of buses to carry kids back and forth. All schools will be online.

Is that a lousy idea?

And, is it a good thing that organizations and individuals with money got behind this movement and helped with organization, transportation and even the armed security personnel?

Who are they? What did they hope to achieve? Do they have an ultimate goal, and what is it?

Columnist Walter Williams has a far better idea of why school shootings occur: “Gun ownership is not our problem. Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns. That decline includes disrespect for those in authority, disrespect for oneself, little accountability for anti-social behavior, and a scuttling of religious teachings that reinforced moral values.”

No offense to those truly sincere students who want a solution, but Williams has a far more mature and scholarly grasp of the problem and its causes. Starting from his position is far more likely to produce a good solution to this problem.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

McCabe earned being fired, and things are getting more interesting


In late January FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe announced that he was resigning his position effective March 18, after being removed as deputy to Director Christopher Wray after Wray was appointed to the position that was previously held by Jim Comey. McCabe has had a dark cloud hanging over him for a while, and last Friday Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him before his resignation took effect, denying McCabe his retirement benefits.

Sessions released a statement, saying, "Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General [IG], the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility [OPR], and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately."

“McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor including under oath on multiple occasions,” Sessions continued. "The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability. As the OPR proposal stated, 'all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand,'" he said.

Reportedly, the IG report was based on statements McCabe made to his own agency that were not true, lies told to the agency of which he was second in command.

In response to his firing, McCabe said, "This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally.” Apparently, McCabe has been studying Hillary Clinton’s technique of blaming everything and everyone in the world for her problems, instead of herself.

McCabe might just continue to follow the Clinton Blame Motif and shift blame to the Russians, to Donald Trump, or even the dreaded Evil Unicorn, as things progress.

The tainting of the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals to which McCabe referred is a too-broad statement to begin with, but it has been clearly shown that people in the upper echelons of the FBI are the ones who have done the tainting, and not to all of the FBI, just the echelons they inhabit.

McCabe has single-handedly ruined his professional career, a man who rose to the number two position at the agency, and who was, as reported by Fox News, on Trump’s short list for the directorship.

Do his comments following his firing add weight to allegations of his anti-Trump behavior as FBI deputy director? Perhaps. Is it also a similar sign that Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) has offered McCabe a job, and if he takes it would extend his federal government service for at least long enough to restore his retirement benefits? Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) is reportedly also interested in hiring McCabe.

The interest of these lawmakers fits into the Republican narrative and criticism of McCabe as being too closely tied to the Democrats. Among the items on the Republican list is that McCabe’s wife received campaign donations for a 2015 Virginia Senate run from Clinton ally and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, even as the Clinton email probe was underway by the FBI. That should have caused McCabe to recuse himself from the Clinton probe.

McCabe is also a central figure in the matter of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses connected to the Russian collusion probe. He is said to have signed a FISA warrant that targeted former Trump campaign volunteer adviser Carter Page.

McCabe testified before a congressional committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISA court without the Steele dossier information. The Steele dossier was unverified, and financed as opposition research by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

The Hill reported on Saturday, “McCabe is accused of misleading investigators about allegedly giving information to a former Wall Street Journal reporter about the investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family’s charitable foundation. McCabe asserts in his post-firing statement that he not only had authority to ‘share’ that information to the media, but also did so with the knowledge of ‘the director.’ The FBI director at the time was Jim Comey.”

“I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor,” McCabe said. “As deputy director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.”

So, McCabe’s comment directly contradicts Comey’s congressional testimony last May. When asked if he had “ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation,” or if he had “ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation,” Comey replied “never” and “no,” respectively.

The upper echelons of the FBI appear to contain an Office of Duplicity staffed by, in addition to McCabe, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strozk, FBI attorney Lisa Page, and other fellow travelers that allowed politics to trump their integrity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Critics say Trump’s tariffs will bring on a trade war, but will they?


President Donald Trump continues with his “America First” campaign, announcing a move that is aimed at the tilted playing field on international trade. Critics say Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the country will usher in a trade war, and it will harm America.

However, the fact is that we are already in a trade war; we have been it for many years; and we are losing it.

Most Americans probably don’t realize that we are in a trade war because, first, they don’t really follow such things, and neither do the major news media. Also, when a situation exists for a long enough time, it becomes “normal.” That is the case with the uneven tariff situation with other nations, and quite a few of them are our allies.

"We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others,” Trump told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal. Because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all."

 “We cannot get our product in [to the European Union], Trump said in a TV interview in late January. “It’s very, very tough. And yet they send their product to us - no taxes, very little taxes. It’s very unfair.” Germany was singled out as a particularly guilty nation.

Trump points out how this has created America’s huge trade gap with foreign countries. “In 2017, the U.S. trade gap leaped 12.1 percent to a nine-year high of $566 billion,” as reported by MarketWatch, which attributed the rise  “to high oil prices and also to a strengthening economy. When Americans are more prosperous, they tend to buy more imported goods.”

“The latest statistics released on March 18 [2017] by the BEA [Bureau of Economic Analysis] show that for every dollar that the United States bought from China in 2009, the Chinese government only let its people buy 28 cents of American products,” reports idealtaxes.com. “Although the Chinese economy was growing by 8.7 percent, the Chinese government managed to shrink Chinese imports of American goods and services.”

The report states “China still maintains high duties on some products that compete with sensitive domestic industries. For example, the tariff on large motorcycles is 30 percent. Likewise, most video, digital video, and audio recorders and players still face duties of approximately 30 percent. Raisins face duties of 35 percent.” However, China did cut tariffs on a few minor items last November.

Trump has also criticized China's currency manipulations, which increase costs of American goods and services by 25 to 40 percent.

As The Washington Times reported last December, “India is still using high tariffs and other protectionist measures to keep U.S. manufacturing goods from entering its domestic market.” The result: America has a $32 billion trade deficit with India, the second largest country on Earth. The Times concludes, “It’s a problem that the Trump administration needs to address — and soon.”

Cars and electronics are largely the fuel for Japan’s $69 billion trade advantage, America’s second largest trade deficit, after China’s. All told, eleven nations impose tariffs on America’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles with engines over 800cc: India at 100 percent; China at 60 percent; and Thailand at 30 percent.  And the EU has had steep tariffs on U.S. imports for years.

To all of that, add in that the tariffs Trump wants to impose resulted from an investigation by the Department of Commerce that showed that imports of both steel and aluminum are sufficiently high that they pose a national security threat.

With those listed anti-American tariffs at work against us, what do we do? Do we merely leave things be, and continue to have our economy and Americans’ pocketbooks negatively affected? Or, do we try to fix the situation.

Trump is not one to merely look the other way under such conditions, and has proposed tariffs that at this point exclude only Canada and Mexico. This, of course, has attracted quite a lot of negative reaction.

So many people are obsessed with criticizing everything Trump does or doesn’t do that they repeated fail in these efforts, and then can’t resist advertising their failure. They don’t go the extra little bit. Instead of instantly denigrating and ridiculing Trump, do a little work and see what he is really doing below the surface.

Trump is a negotiator, and that is a major factor in how he does things. He can propose a 50 percent tariff on a country or some products, and then modify his terms if some accommodation is made, or maybe double down if no accommodation is offered. Ultimately, the conclusion of this exercise will usually be more moderate than the initial proposal, and actually will provide positive change for our country. This is the nature of negotiation, and Trump is a professional negotiator.

As for his many critics, why not just wait and see how the situation evolves, instead of jumping at his first words to try and create the most exciting and damaging comment about something that is just getting under way?