Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Virginia on-air murders are opportunity for gun control demagoguery

Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has again demonstrated the poor judgment for which she has recently become so well known with her efforts to be the first to jump on the gun control bandwagon following the on-air murders of two WDBJ-TV journalists and the wounding of a person being interviewed. After a brief expression of shock and sympathy, she then said, “We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer.”

What most of us see as a tragedy Mrs. Clinton used as a campaign opportunity, strictly adhering to former Obama White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s advice, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Her statement “We must act to stop gun violence” contains one wrong word: “gun.” Missing the point, like so many demagogues and people-control enthusiasts on the left, she would like nothing more than a nation where there are no firearms in the hands of citizens.

The truth is that an idiot or a maniac like the one at Smith Mountain Lake last week, or the vicious savages who commit violent acts, will kill or assault with or without a gun, and a determined person who wants a gun badly enough will find a way to get one.

The gay black former employee of WDBJ and other news departments had significant behavioral problems that caused him to lose his job in Roanoke and then blame everyone else for his problems. He filed unfounded charges against the TV station after being counseled for shortcomings on the job, losing that job and having to be escorted from the building.

He didn’t have a gun problem; he had a head problem. We now know he had problems with previous employers, residents of his apartment building and a local restaurant, displaying mental instability in each circumstance. That, Mrs. Clinton, is what you should care about, instead of knee-jerking to the wrong conclusion.

A new piece of information that is highly inconvenient for Mrs. Clinton and the gun control fanatics is that on August 26 Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Thomas Faison confirmed that the Virginia gunman legally bought his gun weeks ago and that “he apparently passed a background check” to get the gun. What happened to the much vaunted background check process put in place to control gun sales?

Matching Mrs. Clinton’s failure to focus correctly on the real issue is President Barack Obama, who commented after the shooting: “What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism.” Perhaps he forgot about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, the jihadist Army doctor who killed 13 people at his clinic at Ft. Hood, TX, and the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, OK, that killed 168 people.

Mr. Obama yet again demonstrated that how he reacts to a shooting situation depends upon who shot whom. In Ferguson, MO when a white police officer shot and killed a black criminal who attacked him, the president blamed the police officer, not the criminal. But in this instance, a black man shot and killed two innocent white people, and he blamed the gun, not the shooter.

Folks like Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama see additional and more restrictive laws that affect law-abiding citizens as the solution to shooting deaths, without any apparent recognition of other factors that are at least as important as guns and usually, as in this case, more important.

Given that the laws we have didn’t work, what additional law would have prevented this murderous act, and still comport with the unequivocal right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment?

Surprisingly, The Washington Times reported Friday that the White House conceded that new gun regulations probably wouldn’t have prevented this shooting. “White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it appears that a proposal championed by President Obama to require background checks on purchases at gun shows ‘would not have applied in this particular case.’”

Perhaps those on the left might want to look at their efforts to create victims at every turn and to make victimhood an excuse for people to do pretty much anything they want. The Smith Mountain Lake murderer apparently believed his fellow workers at two or more TV stations where he had worked disliked him because he was a black man, or because he was a homosexual. Apparently, he viewed even the counseling by management about his job performance as racist or homophobic, not legitimate job improvement counseling.

Society’s problems won’t be solved by using tragedies to advance political agendas, as Mrs. Clinton did with this horrible, inexplicable murder. We can only solve them by focusing on the actual problems. Guns are only a problem when people who have violent intent deliberately use them illegally to commit violence. We will not reduce those incidents by restricting the ability of law-abiding people to protect themselves and their families, or to use firearms for other legal purposes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two topics: Cultural change and raising the minimum wage

Cultural transformation is slow and very often quite difficult

August is notable for several reasons, among which is that it marks the end of summer for school children and the beginnings of football season, but more importantly because it was this month in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, at long last giving the right of the vote to all American women.

An article on by Trevor Hammond gives the following information on this event: “Women’s suffrage in America was a divisive issue from the very beginning of the organized movement at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Over the ensuing 72 years, while women gradually won the right to vote in some state and local elections, they continued to fight for full suffrage. Eventually, the suffragists of the 19th century gave way to the ‘suffragettes’ of the 20th century, with their more confrontational tactics, influenced by the militant women’s suffrage movement in Britain.”

The organizers of the Senaca Falls Convention were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and along with Susan B. Anthony they generated the effort that raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women.

The next seven decades were marked by successes, failures, civil disobedience from those both pro and con, and finally Tennessee’s state legislature voted to ratify the amendment on August 18 after the 48-48 tie was broken when Rep. Harry Burn changed his mind, deciding to support the amendment at the behest of his mother. That made Tennessee the 36th state to ratify the amendment. Days later, on August 26, the vote became official when U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the document.

Today, we wonder at how it could have ever been that women did not have the same rights as men for many things, not just for voting. Some believe that this inequality was due simply to the fact that men deliberately kept women in subservient positions; they were misogynists and domineering louts.

And, of course, through the ages there were and still are domineering louts among us. But that is not why it took so long for women to get the right to vote; men had their roles and women had theirs, for entirely different reasons, and it was like that for a long, long time.

Maybe that all started in the Garden of Eden, or with the first homo sapiens, whichever version you prefer, but the early gender roles were pre-determined not by what one gender or the other chose to do, but by the physical attributes of the two genders and the duties placed on each by the need to survive and procreate. Women were child bearers and nurturers, and men hunted and defended the home.

Cultural change is a slow, deliberate process.

* * * * *

The Effects of Raising the Minimum Wage

More clear thinking on the idea of a higher minimum wage comes from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, by way of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

Mr. Holtz-Eakin is a former economics professor and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and produced a piece for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research this past July, which NCPA recently highlighted.

He reminds readers of the economic reality that higher minimum wages will ultimately eliminate jobs and/or reduce employment growth, and can harm the very poor, who are the ones the higher minimum was intended to help.

Of the political drive to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to as high as $12 or $15 an hour, supported by the White House, Mr. Holtz-Eakin says, “While a minimum-wage hike would benefit millions of workers with higher earnings, it would also hurt millions of others who would lose earnings because they cannot attain or retain a job. Our estimates show that raising the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 would:
   * Affect 38.3 million low-wage workers.
   * Cost 3.8 million low-wage jobs.
   * Only 5.8 percent of the total income raise would go to low-wage workers who are actually in poverty.”

Focusing on the benefits of working, he notes, “it's important to keep in mind that work itself benefits those of modest means. In other words, [raising the minimum wage] is the reverse of Robin Hoodism: taking jobs and income from the poorest to give to those who are better off. The wealthy, whom demagogues now attack, would be untouched. The first job, even at relatively low pay, provides that first step on the ladder of upward mobility. Eliminating those rungs on the ladder threatens the future of workers who are starting out today.”

There are better ways to assist low-income Americans than raising the minimum wage to a level that ultimately hurts them more than it helps, he wrote, among which are the Earned Income Tax Credit, targeted wage supplements and a more effective public-education system that will assist low-income Americans and to make work pay, while not reducing job growth. “The poor cannot afford counterproductive initiatives advanced in their name but harmful to their lives.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The $64,000 question: What in the world was she thinking?

Imagine your political party has won the recent presidential election, and the man elected to be president has pegged you to be Secretary of State. What an honor. Secretary of State is one of the most important and prestigious positions in the federal government; it is one of the most critical positions in the government, dealing with sensitive international matters, such as agreements and disputes, the communications associated with which often carry security classifications, such as “classified,” “secret,” or “top secret.”

There are processes and systems in place to facilitate your communications, both classified and unclassified, between and among individuals and departments within the government, and with officials of other governments, official systems and processes that track these official communications as a matter of efficiency, accountability, national security and historical record.

With this in mind, and after going through the FBI’s briefing on the official communications protocol, and swearing under oath that you have been briefed and understand the process and protocol and why it exists, you then decide that rather than utilize the official secured government communications system you have been briefed on, as your predecessors did, you will use your own private email server to handle official government business as well as your own personal email communications.

Question: What would be the reason for making the unusual and unprecedented decision to conduct official communications on a private system instead of on the official and secured government system, a system to which only you have access, and that denies the government the ability to have complete access to your official communications?

Eventually, this decision enters the public sphere and is predictably met with many questions, and very effectively fertilizes the environment for suspicion of your motives. Political opponents will be emboldened, and you are the one who has emboldened them, and questions will arise about both your judgment and the possibility of illegal activity.

This is the sticky wicket that Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State from January 21, 2009 to February 1, 2013, and now candidate for the Democrat nomination for President of the United States, created for herself with this curious decision as she assumed the position of Secretary of State.

Mrs. Clinton’s political opponents – the “vast right-wing conspiracy” – have indeed noticed this irregularity, and finally the mainstream media is also taking notice.

NBC News commentator Andrea Mitchell – no right-wing conspirator she – shared comments from intelligence officials who have told her that, “nobody can give an explanation for why a cabinet secretary would have a private email system other than to thwart inquiries, FOIAs [Freedom of Information Act inquiries],” which she mentioned recently on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Andrea Mitchell is not the only one interested in the question raised by those intelligence officials. And the new questions raised by those other interested parties go beyond mere curiosity about why a cabinet secretary would have taken this unusual step. The more serious issue is whether or not classified information passed through Mrs. Clinton’s private email system, a clear violation of federal law.

Mark Levin, former chief of staff for Attorney General Edwin Meese in President Ronald Reagan’s administration, also an attorney, author and talk show host, sees breaches of the federal Penal Code, specifically Section 793 of the Penal Code, Subsection (f).

“My point is,” Mr. Levin said, “when you set up an unsecured server in your barn adjacent to your home in Chappaqua, New York, you have intentionally – forget about negligence – you have intentionally bypassed the security process for that server.”

If a private system was her chosen method for email communication, both personal and governmental, even if she avoided sending emails containing classified information, how could she prevent classified information from being sent to her on her private system? In short: How could Mrs. Clinton not have had classified information on her private server?

Some offer the defense of intent, suggesting that it matters if she did not intend to allow classified information to be lost, stolen, abstracted or destroyed. But Mr. Levin says, “No it doesn’t, not with respect to this, Subsection (f).”

Former federal judge and Attorney General Michael Mukasey comments: “Once you assume a public office, your communications about anything having to do with your job are not your personal business or property. They are the public’s business and the public’s property, and are to be treated as no different from communications of like sensitivity.”

And this from McClatchy DC last Wednesday: “The inspectors general for the U.S. Intelligence Community and the State Department have disclosed over the last week that at least five emails, routed through a private server that Clinton used throughout her tenure as secretary of state, contained classified information, including two emails whose content is now deemed to be ‘Top Secret.’”

Even if somehow Mrs. Clinton escapes being charged with crimes in this incident, her behavior – from the idea of having her own private email server in the first place, to the elaborate cleansing process she utilized to clear all data from the email server, and the release of the email communications that she alone determined was relevant – raises important questions about her lack of judgment and what her motivation was.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Here’s the other side of the argument: Appreciating fossil fuels

Predictions of horrible things happening if we continue burning fossil fuels are fairly common these days. Man is killing the Earth by continuing to use fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – to power electricity generation, make motor vehicles go, and now even to cook your dinner outside on the grill.

This compulsive thinking has driven the Environmental Protection Agency to dictate that the nation reduce the 2005 level of carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, despite that doing so will cost thousands of jobs and millions of dollars, all to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by one-tenth of a percent.

Almost no one argues that global warming isn’t a reality. However, the current period of global warming has taken a timeout for well more than a decade. Most people know that for thousands of years there have been alternating periods of warming and cooling on the Earth. The important question is, however, whether the low level of recent warming is significant, and more to the point, whether or not the actions of human beings contribute significantly to the slight warming period that is now on hold.

The carbon-mania gripping environmental scaremongers in the U.S. ignores the plain fact that compared to China and India, among others, the U.S. is by far a minor contributor of carbon emissions.

Two things have been forgotten – or perhaps conveniently covered up. One is the long list of predicted global catastrophes that have not come to pass. The other is how much better the lives of human beings are because we have learned how to use fossil fuels to make our lives better.

According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013 “Historical Data Workbook,” 87 percent of the energy mankind uses every second comes from burning one of those fossil fuels.

People who live in cold climates use fossil fuels to warm their homes, and people who live in warm climates use fossil fuels to cool their homes. Fossil fuels are used to plant and harvest crops that feed people, and are used to transport food from places where food is produced to places where it is needed and wanted. Fossil fuels are used to light the darkness, to entertain us, transport us, diagnose disease, communicate with each other, mass-produce products we need and want, and to provide security in our homes and for the nation.

And we also do not hear how much better the lives of the poorest people living in the direst conditions on Earth could be if we were helping them to use fossil fuels to their benefit the way the developed world does.

Technology enables us to modify the way we use fossil fuels to control our climate to our advantage, and to progressively improve the way we use fossil fuels to do less harm. Because of technological advances our air today is much cleaner than it was a hundred years ago. Technology not only provides many wonderful assets for us, but also improves itself, so that these crucial technologies now cause little harm to the environment.

Imagine where the world would be today if we had never learned to use fossil fuels and to develop those technologies for our benefit. Imagine what would happen if suddenly all of the facilities that burn fossil fuels for electricity production and for other purposes just simply stopped doing so for several weeks.

And perhaps that is what is needed to get the American people to open up to the truth that using fossil fuels not only is good for us, but also is not harmful to the environment to a significant degree.

A major fallacy in the war against fossil fuels is the belief that they are harmful because they are dirty, and “natural” sources of energy like wind and solar power are not harmful because they are not dirty. But both wind power and solar power also have their negative side, in addition to not being capable of replacing fossil fuels any time in the foreseeable future.

The rare Earth elements needed for wind turbines, for example, can be acquired only through an enormous and complex mining process to find and excavate them. And that mining process requires machinery driven by fossil fuels.

Establishing a wind farm on a mountaintop requires a great deal of clearing of wooded lands and the building of roads for access and towers for transmission lines. Enormous solar farms both substantially warm the acres of land beneath them and attract and kill birds.

Many leading environmentalists, including those who predict fossil fuel catastrophe, hold as their most important value what they call “pristine” nature or wilderness nature unaltered by man. They see humans as a plague upon the Earth.

Alex Epstein, author of the excellent book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, holds human life as his most important value. When you accept that human life is the most important consideration, then small infringements on nature and the environment that yield great advances and benefits for humans are perfectly acceptable.

That is the sensible way to look at it. That is the human way to look at it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Going Rogue, Part XI: EPA will break the law to do what is right!

The Environmental Protection Agency, long behaving as a narrowly focused ideological organization instead of as a servant of the people, may finally have messed up sufficiently to bring itself down, or at the very least to have earned a significant degree of restriction to its slash-and-burn approach to fossil fuel energy production.

Causing misery to thousands of honest, hard-working people who have lost jobs and businesses, suffered downturns in their business and/or paid heavy fines because of the agency’s dogmatic focus on imposing unwarranted restrictions on behaviors the agency dislikes, the EPA has been caught in an incestuous relationship with organizations that advocate the same ideology as agency bureaucrats.

The work of the Environment & Energy Legal Institute (EELI) reveals that the EPA has secretly colluded with environmental activists to drive the Obama administration’s manic global warming agenda. The organization’s report reveals “records showing illegal activities by EPA staff, conspiring with certain environmental group lobbyists to draft EPA’s greenhouse gas rules behind the scenes and outside of public view.”

As reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Michael Bastasch, who quoted Chris Horner, an EELI senior attorney, “These emails, which EPA forced us to litigate to obtain, prove beyond any doubt that EPA conducted its campaign to impose the global warming agenda unlawfully, making the rules themselves unlawful.” Mr. Horner says the EPA’s rules were made in collusion with environmental groups, including the radical Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), thereby excluding the public from the process, and are therefore unlawful.

EELI says the EPA wrote the Clean Power Plan and other agency rules with an “unalterably closed mind” centered on an anti-fossil fuel agenda. The EPA’s behavior and the NRDC’s perspective perfectly fit the dictionary definition of the ideologue: an impractical idealist, an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology.

A 2014 EELI report focused on emails released through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed coordination between EPA employees and environmentalists that discussed the Keystone XL pipeline and clean coal technology. The EELI asserts that the records show “the influence on EPA by pressure groups, the same groups from which EPA obtained numerous senior officials,” and that these activists helped to craft the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) that regulates carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

The New York Times found similar connections last year: “Indisputable, however, is that the Natural Resources Defense Council was far ahead of the E.P.A. in drafting the architecture of the proposed regulation.”

Analyzing the EPA’s strategy, Mr. Horner commented: “The issue is solely whether Congress will stop EPA from unlawfully winning by losing, which is to say, using sham rulemaking to metastasize its desired harms before the typical timeline of litigation allows for intervention. The public needs to consider this illegality and cynical lawlessness when the President stands up with the EPA administrator … to lecture us all about how they’re just doing the right thing.”

Question: If the EPA and the Obama administration are doing the right thing, why did they feel compelled to break the law?

The EPA is expected to finalize the CPP this week, and may already have done so by now. According to comments from the White House, this new version of the plan is even stronger than last year’s proposal, which was objectionable enough to prompt several states to file suit opposing the rule, and to outrage some labor unions.

Even before this stronger version of the plan had been developed, United Mine Workers of America president Cecil Roberts said the CPP would result in tens of thousands of union members losing their jobs. Doing the right thing “will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr. Roberts said in a statement. In addition to the thousands who have already lost their jobs, he estimates that the rule will cause 75,000 job losses in the coal sector by 2020, rising to 152,000 by 2035.

Apparently unconcerned with the thousands of American workers whose lives will be turned upside-down, an EPA spokesperson said, “The Clean Power Plan follows our clear legal authority under the Clean Air Act,” adding that, “The supreme court has decided multiple times that EPA has an obligation to regulate greenhouse gases,” without apparent concern for the repercussions.

The EPA, like all federal agencies, is duty-bound to enthusiastically adhere to only one ideology, and that is the one outlined by the U.S. Constitution.

The EPA, or any federal agency, may properly seek input from any individual or organization, but they may not take information or advice exclusively from one side without providing the opportunity for opposing points of view and data to be provided, and to objectively consider all points of view to arrive at a fair and sensible conclusion.

Out of control actions by agencies of the federal government are much too frequent, and repercussions for this inappropriate, intolerable and sometimes-illegal behavior are nearly non-existent. A number of people should be fired, and a few deserve to be indicted.

Don’t hold your breath!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

America’s tendency toward over-spending leading to catastrophe

Many years ago Beatle John Lennon compared America to Rome. Some interpreted his statement as being complimentary, that America was like the Roman Empire in its glory days: the place to be. Others took it to mean that like Rome’s eventual fate, America was declining and headed for the dustbin of history.

As it turns out, both interpretations were correct, depending upon the time frame of the analysis. From its early days America was a bright spot in the world, becoming a leader in many areas and doing things never done before. The rise of the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s spawned the flower children that viewed the U.S. as tarnished and wicked. And since then, particularly in recent years, America has been transitioning to resemble Rome’s decline. Perhaps a more accurate comparison for 2015 is Greece, where out-of-control spending is about to kill the nation.

There is a steady record of troubling statistics that U.S. presidents and Congresses have negligently ignored. For example, in 1971 the federal debt was $348 billion, about 34 percent of GDP, but today it is about $18 trillion, and is more than 100 percent of GDP. This trend caused Standard and Poor’s to downgrade America’s credit rating in 2011.

Federal assistance program payments have risen from about 21 percent of GDP in the 1970s to about 70 percent today. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2008 cost $37.6 billion, but by 2012 totaled $78.4 billion.

The 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, published by the Heritage Foundation, reports how food-stamp participation has soared from 2003 to 2013, growing by more than 26 million people. In 1970, the number receiving food stamps was well below 10 million, growing to more than 20 million by 2003, and nearing 50 million by 2013. The index also shows that total welfare spending has climbed by $246 billion between 2003 and 2013. In 2014 the federal government operated more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing and medical care to poor and low-income Americans.

Heritage’s Robert Rector notes that government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012, and roughly 100 million Americans – nearly one in three – received aid from at least one of them, averaging $9,000 per recipient.

Many will see the increase in these numbers as necessary support from the government for Americans in trouble. Some do truly need help, but many are simply availing themselves of easy money.

Government policies and actions have kept the economy stagnant since the recession of 2007, preventing job creation that would allow millions to provide for themselves, or at least to contribute to their own wellbeing. More than 93 million Americans desiring work – nearly one in three – are not in the labor force. These policies and actions are championed by politicians, many of whom subscribe to the same socialist ideals that are killing Greece, and who benefit from having large numbers of individuals and organizations depending upon them for their survival.

And, the common theme of government wreaking havoc by interfering with business economics rises to the fore, yet again.

One example of a foolish policy is when Obamacare reduced the number of hours of the full-time workweek from 40 to 30 in an attempt to force employers to cover some part-time workers. This resulted in thousands of full-time workers becoming part-time workers, who lost 11 hours of pay a week, as businesses suddenly faced massive new expense and were forced to counteract that by reducing the number of full-time employees by cutting their hours.

Had the leftists that threw together Obamacare in the dark, smoke-filled rooms of the Capital actually thought about what they were doing, they could have avoided some of the punishment they caused these workers. No doubt that thousands of those workers now qualify for government support as a result.

Ignoring the wisdom of not raising the minimum wage, Seattle, Washington raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour in April. And guess what? Some of the workers who benefitted from the increase are now complaining that since they are making more money they will lose their housing subsidy, and are asking to have their hours reduced so that they can keep the free money flowing. Seattle’s minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $15 an hour by 2017.

The American tradition of self-reliance, of working to improve one’s plight, has been replaced by the opportunity to benefit from “free money” from government.

“If we keep on this way, we’ll reach a tipping point where there are too many people receiving government benefits and not enough people to pay for those benefits,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in The Wall Street Journal. Currently, about half of Americans pay no income taxes. “That’s an untenable problem. The receivers cannot receive more than the givers can give.”

The politics of government largesse and the sensible policy of holding individuals and institutions responsible for their actions, the tradition of self-reliance upon which America became the wondrous nation it used to be, are inalterably opposed. The question is, how much more of this dependency can the country survive before it becomes a Greek tragedy?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

This military policy causes precisely what it is intended to prevent

The United States is a wonderful country that provides many opportunities for all. However, the U.S. is short of perfect in many ways, including unwise policies that put Americans at risk. Places like schools, shopping areas, restaurants and bars, office buildings and, of all places, military installations, leave their occupants at risk by announcing to everyone, including murderers and terrorists, that guns are not allowed on the premises.

Those in charge of these facilities obviously want the people who spend time in them to be safe, and so they ban guns from them. If only the murderers and terrorists obeyed the rules. But, alas, they don’t.

And so yet again newspapers, broadcasts and Internet sites are filled with the horrific story of multiple deaths and injuries at gun-free zones, this last episode at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn. last week.

“A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station on Thursday, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines,” as reported by The New York Times. A Navy petty officer shot on Thursday died Saturday. The nation has logged yet another event where American military personnel – at the mercy of short-sighted rules based upon emotion and fear, rather than on logic – were forced to be sitting ducks while on duty defending the nation against its enemies. Except, in this case they were prohibited from protecting themselves against this enemy.

After the numerous examples of violence on military bases – the worst of which was the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009, when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the clinic where he worked as a physician – one might think that the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s military, might change the rules that prohibit military personnel, arguably those best trained to carry weapons anywhere and everywhere, from being armed while on duty (this is a non sequitur!).

It defies reason to deny highly trained military personnel being armed while serving at their duty stations, making them sitting ducks, but it also makes little sense to deny having trained people at schools and other places who could respond to an armed attacker that otherwise would enjoy open season on those at defenseless facilities.

Just the idea that there may be armed people at a potential target has a deterrent effect on those wishing to commit murder and mayhem. Terrorists and murderers may be vicious scum, but they are not always stupid. They prefer soft targets, where they can accomplish their evil goals without interference, and knowing that guns are prohibited at a potential target location is an attractive advantage, as opposed to a target where they know they likely will encounter armed resistance.

John R. Lott, Jr. is an economist, columnist and author of books on guns and crime. He notes in discussing a live-fire incident: “And even when concealed handgun permit holders don’t deter the killers, the permit holders stop them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mass public shooting at a liquor store in Conyers, Ga., was stopped by a concealed handgun permit holder. A couple of people had already been killed by the time the permit holder arrived, but according to Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett: ‘I believe that if [the legal permit holder] did not return fire at the suspect, then more of those customers would have [been] hit by a gun. It didn’t appear that he cared who he shot or where he was shooting until someone was shooting back at him. So, in my opinion, he saved other lives in that store."

So, what are the chances that the “gun-free zone” policy at least contributed to the deaths of five military personnel in Chattanooga? Very good, if not certain.

This policy was put into effect by President Bill Clinton, according to a 2009 editorial in The Washington Times, following the Ft. Hood massacre: “Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases.” The editorial then added, “Because of Mr. Clinton, terrorists would face more return fire if they attacked a Texas Wal-Mart than the gunman faced at Fort Hood …” That restriction was not altered by President George W. Bush, although there was only one shooting on military bases during Mr. Bush’s presidency, according to a report on, and that was in September 2008, three months before Mr. Bush’s tenure as president ended.

The report lists three shootings during Mr. Clinton’s term in the White House, but that number increased substantially during Barack Obama’s tenure. The report lists 16 shootings from January 2009 when Mr. Obama took office through April of 2014. But even that shocking statistic has not prompted him to change the rules.

A major enumerated function of the federal government is to guarantee our God given rights, several (but not all) of which are listed in the Bill of Rights. Who can argue that protecting one’s self is not such a right? When is the government going to stop interfering with that right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

“Coming to America” in the 21st century: Stupid is as stupid does!

A sanctuary jurisdiction is a place where people who are in the U.S. illegally may go without fear of being discovered and deported. Most of these people are just looking for a better life, but not all, and some are violent criminals. Regardless of their reason for being here, all are safe from being deported or jailed until they commit a crime, but then it is too late. Someone, likely a taxpaying, law-abiding American citizen will have been robbed, assaulted, raped or murdered.

If you come into the United States without proper documentation, without following the approved procedure, you are a federal law-breaker. If you come into the U.S. legally and over-stay your Visa, you are a federal law-breaker.

Both types of illegal immigrants are deportable under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) which says: "Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.”

You are not an “undocumented immigrant,” you are an illegal alien, a law-breaker. Period. You are not entitled to any government benefits, you should not be able to get a job; you should not be protected by going to a sanctuary jurisdiction.

If you broke our laws to come here because of intolerable conditions where you came from, you have our sympathy for your situation, but we have a process for people like you to immigrate to the United States. In very dire circumstances you may be able to request asylum, but even in those dire conditions, there is a process to follow, and that process does not include crossing our borders illegally, living in the shadows, collecting benefits and avoiding immigration authorities. If you do that, you are a criminal, and should be deported. If you do it again, you should be jailed.

If an American citizen harbors an illegal alien, he or she is breaking the law and can be prosecuted. But cities and counties may do so with the blessing of the federal government, and get taxpayer funding to do so.

It’s not that most illegal aliens are criminals, it’s that far too many of them are. Even one illegal who commits a crime – especially a serious crime like armed robbery, assault, rape or sexual abuse, murder, etc. – is one more than we should accept.

Far too many illegals are up to no good. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records, “from January 1 to August 31, 2014, more than 8,100 deportable aliens were released after arrest in approximately 300 local sanctuary jurisdictions, even though ICE had issued a detainer seeking custody in advance of deporting them,” as reported by Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, writing in National Review. “Some 62 percent of these offenders had a prior criminal history,” of whom about 3,000 were felons. “Of the 8,100 aliens who were released to the streets instead of to ICE, approximately 1,900 were later arrested, a total of 4,300 more times, on 7,500 different charges.”

Kathryn Steinle, 32, walking on Pier 14 with her father in San Francisco on July 2, 2015, was shot and died in her father’s arms, begging him to help her. Ms. Steinle and her father were minding their own business, but she was nevertheless mindlessly shot and killed. And who committed this heinous crime? An illegal alien from Mexico named Francisco Sanchez who had seven felony convictions against him, four on drug charges, and had been deported five times.

“ICE had started the deportation process, but San Francisco asked for custody of Sanchez to pursue prior drug charges,” Ms. Vaughn’s report noted. “These were dropped, and in early April, instead of turning him back over to ICE for deportation, the San Francisco sheriff’s department released Sanchez, in keeping with the city’s longstanding sanctuary policies, without notification to ICE. Less than three months later, Sanchez shot and killed Ms. Steinle."

Kate Steinle is not the only American murdered by an illegal, only one of the most recent. It is a true scandal that Americans are less concerned with this serious threat to the safety of their fellow Americans as they are with whitewashing history by removing every existing Confederate battle flag from the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that the Obama administration is more concerned with global warming than with illegals streaming into the country, many of whom are violent criminals.

How many of those who like sanctuary jurisdictions and open borders and the other foolish ideas that constitute threats to Americans have the power of their convictions? How many would follow the same policies at their homes, leaving doors unlocked, allowing anyone to come in and live in their basement or garage, or their bedrooms? Very few, most likely. But they like the sanctuary idea because it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy with misplaced compassion, and they don’t really have to worry about the consequences.

Except they do. These vicious crimes are their responsibility. Wonder how would they feel if Kate Steinle was their daughter, wife, or sister? How would you feel?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Trump seeks the nomination, and it was a “good week for Obama”

Perhaps everyone should have known that Donald Trump threatening to enter the GOP nomination race would have produced so much negativity. First reactions were that he really wouldn’t follow through, wouldn’t take the steps necessary to become a candidate. But as he completed them, one after another, the criticisms only increased.

Love him or hate him (as most seem to) Mr. Trump – “The Donald,” as he is affectionately known – is a force to be reckoned with.

A poll by the Morning Consult online asked people “what they think of when they hear Trump’s name, [and] a majority of registered voters came up with a negative word. ‘Arrogant,’ ‘ego’ or ‘egomaniac’ and ‘greed’ or ‘greedy’ were the most common negative responses.” “Few offered purely positive descriptors; ‘good’ or ‘great’ only came up 14 times among the 1,306 respondents,” less than 1 percent.

With his “no holds barred” approach to life, Donald Trump upsets lots of folks, including fellow Republican candidates. He comes from a different world than the politicians do. In his world, you say what needs to be said, and it may not be the kind and gentle talk that the media and those in politics expect.

In politics you must be careful to never alienate a potential voter, and these days you must not offend anyone. Ever. Therefore, the comments in his candidacy announcement about illegal aliens coming across the southern border really set off a firestorm of criticism.

The Trump style may be blunt and not politically correct, but his points are valid: Our border is a sieve leaking who knows who into the country, among which we know are some criminals, rapists, and drug cartel members, and probably a few terrorists. Although a little later in those comments he said plainly that the bad folks aren’t just from Mexico, they are also from Central America and South America, but they do enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Donald Trump has been wildly successful in business, and you don’t accomplish the things he has accomplished without knowing what needs to be done, and doing it. That no-nonsense approach and plain talk is missing in many or most of our current and potential elected leaders on all sides, although they do have political experience, which he does not have. Political inexperience and his blunt talk likely mean he will not win the Republican nomination.

But you can count on Donald Trump to talk about things many other candidates would rather not talk about, and do so in a manner does not comport with the accepted style. This will provide the media with a great opportunity to distract the public by trying to trap Republican candidates into either defending or attacking him personally, and making the campaign all about Trump, instead of the important issues facing the country.

We have already seen some Republicans fall into that trap, and more of them likely will. Republicans are known for their proclivity to kill each other and themselves off, making the Democrats’ job much easier.

While Donald Trump is being skewered for something he said and how he said it, President Barack Obama is being celebrated for things he had nothing to do with, and for things of questionable value to the United States. 

“Wow! Is President Obama on a roll or what!”  trumpeted columnist Ann McFeatters. The country is just “watching in amazement at what seems like a kaleidoscope of change.” 

She believes that Mr. Obama has reaped benefits for some things he had nothing to do with, like:
A. “In rapid succession, we have seen the Supreme Court rule in favor of samesex [sic] marriage equality, and uphold the legality [of the] Affordable Care Act.” Advocates are unconcerned with the constitutional gymnastics needed to arrive at those faulty decisions.
B. “One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag, symbolic of racism and rebellion against the United States, is finally ceasing to be flown over public buildings.” She must not know that 57 percent of Americans in a recent poll see the battle flag as a symbol of history, not of racism.

And she gives credit for things of questionable value:
A. “And, now, relations with Cuba! ... For the first time since 1961 Cuba will have a U.S. embassy,” as if giving Cuba this gift really means anything without some substantive results for both the U.S. and Cuba. On the other hand, Americans may at last be able to legally buy Cuban cigars.
B. “Obama is trying hard to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. It may not be possible, but naysayers to his plan simply do not understand realpolitik in today’s complicated world.” Realpolitik must mean giving up sanctions on Iran and at the same time not blocking that rogue nation from producing nuclear weapons, as well as speeding up the process for the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama’s legacy is apparently at the top of his priority list, as so many of his actions demonstrate. But just getting an agreement with Iran to burnish his image is a dangerous and foolish way to do that.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thoughts on the Supreme Court: Same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act

Following the American Revolution when the new nation realized it needed a new controlling document, it replaced the Articles of Confederation with the U.S. Constitution, under which the states had significant independence from the federal government. The new government had a brilliant and unique design that included three co-equal branches, each with its own specific duties, limited authority and a system of checks and balances so that no one branch could become dictatorial.

Mentioned first, the Legislative Branch is the rule-maker, the single branch authorized to make laws. Next, the Executive Branch is charged with administering and enforcing the laws that Congress passes; and the Judicial Branch was to be the referee that made sure that the actions of the Legislative and Executive Branches comported with the dictates of the Constitution, as Alexander Hamilton said, to determine whether laws passed by the legislature were consistent with the fundamental and superior law of the Constitution. And Chief Justice John Marshall, in weighing the validity of a provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789, declared “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

Today we see that the Judiciary has become politicized, putting Constitutional concerns on the back burner, as demonstrated by two decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

First, the Court turned plain language and constitutional law on its head, for the second time, to deny challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And then it redefined what marriage has been for centuries.

The purpose here is not to argue against same-sex marriage or against whatever few good things may have resulted from the ACA, but to argue for proper judicial behavior in regard to interpreting Congressional acts.

Contrary to the popular notion that the Constitution is a “living document,” the meaning of which changes in response to the prevailing winds of popular societal notions, the Constitution set forth principles envisioned by the Framers as valid for the ages, and which ought to be interpreted as such. Otherwise, what means one thing in 1795 could mean something totally opposite in 1895, and then completely different from either meaning in 1995; the law being blown about on an ever-changing sea.

In the first case last week, Chief Justice John Roberts, voting with the majority, opined: “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax.” Had he not redefined a “penalty” as a “tax,” the ACA would have overstepped its power in regulating interstate commerce. Last week, the Chief Justice again voted to correct flaws in the law by deciding that words don’t really mean what we thought they meant, saving the law’s constitutionality for a second time.

In his scathing dissent of that most recent ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it [actually] means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.” “Words no longer have meaning,’” he wrote.

Further, the Constitution does not provide for the Supreme Court to correct errors in Congressional acts so that they pass constitutional muster. Congress must fix its own mistakes.

Chief Justice Roberts is thought to have been more concerned with trying to protect the Court’s reputation by not overturning a piece of popular legislation, rather than observing his duty to uphold constitutional law.

And last week the Court also voted to redefine what marriage is, with Justice Roberts returning to proper judicial conservatism, voting with the minority this time.

Nothing in the Constitution requires or allows the Supreme Court to redefine marriage. Marriage is a social/cultural construction that has stabilized the family as a bulwark social institution for thousands of years. The court imposed its judgment about a policy matter that should be decided by the American people through their elected state representatives, as provided for by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. The definition of marriage had already been broadened by 34 states, which is proper. If some states decide not to change that definition, so be it.

Chief Justice Roberts, who twice abandoned constitutional requirements in finding the ACA to be legal, noted the following in dissent about the same-sex marriage ruling: “If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

The Chief Justice properly noted the absence of constitutional authority in the same-sex marriage case, but somehow did not understand that the separation of powers prevents the Court from repairing the work of the Congress, which behaved horribly in creating the Affordable Care Act.

If the people can no longer rely on the Supreme Court to objectively evaluate acts of Congress and the Executive, we are doomed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The U.S. in the 21st Century: Compassion takes a back seat to politics

The ink was barely dry on newspapers reporting the murder of nine people attending a Bible study Wednesday night at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, when it started.

Amid the understandable outrage and feelings of grief and compassion, there arose the clatter of political demagoguery, as the vehicles were gassed up and engines were started to rush and join the forming parade.

Since the participants of this parade formed it not to provide aid and comfort to those in need, but to avail themselves of a convenient opportunity – as former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel advised, “Never let a good crisis go to waste” – reason and honesty were banned from the event.

Thursday morning Faheem Younus, who identifies himself as “Muslimerican,” and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland, posted on Twitter: “This terrorist #CharlestonShooting is predictably White, called a ‘gunman’ by the media and has no mention of his faith.” It was most important to him to imply that had the murderer been a Muslim, that point would have been made abundantly clear.

And no leftist demagogic rant would be complete without taking a shot at Fox News. “The ideology of racism promoted by the @FoxNewsandCo. breeds the terrorists who commit #CharlestonShooting,” he tweeted.

At least in the midst of his mis-focused, cheap-shot tweets, the learned professor did brush up against the main truth: This attack was a racist act.

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton used the shooting to advantage in her self-promotion. First, she suggested that “inflammatory things about Mexicans,” uttered by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, may have “triggered” the incident, and then turned to liberalism’s favorite boogeyman, gun control.

But at least President Barack Obama started out on the right path: “We knew their pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who, along with eight others gathered in prayer and fellowship, was murdered last night,” he said. “And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and their community doesn't say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.”

But then: “We do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” he continued, finally getting to his main point.

No one argues that some people should not have guns. The argument begins with the method people like Mr. Obama prefer. The same people who use guns for violence would also use knives, TNT, poison, an automobile, hijacked air liners, or whatever tool they could find to commit violence against others, a point the anti-gun faction seems immune to understanding.

“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries … with this kind of frequency,” Mr. Obama said. “It is in our power to do something about it.”

Mr. Obama must have found some study showing that the U.S. leads the world’s advanced countries in mass shooting casualties. The Rampage Shooting Index, in fact, shows that among 12 countries, from 2009 to 2013, the U.S. had 227 such deaths. Norway had 77, Germany had 25, the UK had 13, and Israel had 11. The US had 38 such incidents and the nations previously mentioned had only 1 to 3.

That is pretty damning evidence. But as usual in these sorts of campaigns, there is more.

The Index clearly shows that when population is taken into account, the results are far different. Per 1 million population Norway had 15.3 fatalities and .19 incidents per 1 million people; Germany - .31 fatalities, .04 incidents; the UK - .019 fatalities, .02 incidents; Israel - 1.38 fatalities, .25 incidents. The U.S. had .72 fatalities in .12 incidents, and fewer fatalities and incidents per 1 million than Norway and Israel. Furthermore, of the five countries discussed, all but the U.S. are said to have “Restrictive” gun policies.

Also, of the 12 nations in this study, when population is a factor the U.S. drops from first in mass shootings to seventh.

Mr. Obama was wrong. Again.

If you feel so strongly that a higher degree of gun control is a viable policy, why use faulty data to try to sell the idea to the people? If your cause is just, you needn’t lie or deceive to gain support.

Laying aside the distasteful efforts to politicize this issue, the real issue is not guns, it is the impulse to harm or kill innocent people, and how to protect against those impulses.

This was a racist act perpetrated by a white guy who used a gun. Dylann Roof had a drug arrest and conviction on his record, and had a recent history of racially charged comments. Reportedly, his father gave him a pistol for his 21st birthday in April.

What gun law would have prevented Dylann Roof from killing those nine people?

When you are caught using faulty data, you tell the world that you really have a goal other than the stated goal in mind.