Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Freedom to get the job you want not always possible in West Virginia

The American concept of personal freedom takes a back seat in West Virginia and other states that do not protect their citizens’ ability to get some jobs without being forced to join or pay fees to a labor union. For state governments or the federal government to allow such conditions for going to work to exist is as antithetical to the idea of individual freedom that our nation was built on as it gets.

Half of the 50 states have already embraced worker freedom and passed right-to-work laws. These laws have a positive impact on the economies and job picture for those states, and are creating jobs. And now West Virginia is poised to become the 26th state where workers are free to choose whether or not to join a union.

The state House of Delegates and Senate have both passed right-to-work legislation. The Mountain State’s Democrat Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, has vowed to veto the bill, but the Republican majorities in both houses can override that veto.

Advocates of right-to-work in the state legislature say they are not opposed to unions, per se, but do oppose state laws dictating that unions receive taxpayer and worker funds.

West Virginia and 25 other states believe that people should be free of pressure to join a union to get a job and believe that such mechanisms are deterrents to business development and job creation, and thus are harmful to the economy of states.

Characterized as pro-worker, pro-growth, pro-freedom and pro-job, abolishing forced unionization and the prevailing wage rule in the state are predicted to improve the state’s business climate, increase job opportunities for West Virginians, and help overcome the economic damage to the state’s economy brought on by the Obama administration’s war on coal.

The rub arises when a union has negotiated a contract for workers in a business, and some workers do not want to join the union. The union argues that it isn’t fair for non-union workers to benefit from union negotiations, and the union is correct about that. So then non-union workers are assessed a fee to compensate the union for their benefits.

But then that isn’t exactly fair, either, as non-union workers have nothing to say about how the union uses their money.

The solution is simple: Those workers who want to join the union should be able to do so, and to benefit from the union negotiated work conditions and wages, and those who choose not to join should not be required either to join, or to pay money to the union, and therefore would negotiate their own deal with the employer.

Labor unions evolved from workers wanting better conditions, having endured conditions that were generally unfair and even dangerous for many years. Over the years after workers became organized, however, federal and state governments put laws and rules into effect that provided protections for workers, taking on the primary role that labor organizations had been providing.

With their prime function now essentially covered by laws and regulations, labor unions had to change their focus in order to survive. They have become active and influential political organizations, using member dues and non-union worker fees for political purposes. And too often, the demands they make to attract membership frequently involve things that no sensible business would do on its own, such as demanding work rules that are inefficient and designed to increase union jobs, rather than increase efficiency and productivity. They often demand pay practices that ignore individual worker performance, basing pay on considerations other than the worker’s abilities. And they routinely protect the job of all members regardless of their performance, or the health of the business.

Despite their actions on behalf of their members, which frequently are harmful to the businesses in which their members work, union membership has declined sharply from its peak in the mid-1950s, when one in three workers belonged to a union. The decline began to accelerate in 1980, according to Economy Watch online, and today union membership is a mere 11.1 percent.

That figure includes public-sector workers, who among all workers have the least justification for union representation, given that their employers are the governments that enforce labor law. Public workers are 5 times more likely to belong to a union than their private-sector counterparts, with a union membership rate of 35.2 percent, while the private employee rate is just 6.7 percent.

Many of the demands of unions on businesses, while good for union members, make profitability more difficult for businesses, artificially raising wages and labor costs, thereby increasing the price of goods and services for everyone, including union families. 

Rather than being an adversary of management, unions could become partners, focusing on providing a better trained and more productive workforce, assisting business in succeeding, and creating jobs through natural economic methods, rather than blackmailing employers into actions that benefit only one side of the labor/management equation.

Under this scenario unions could succeed on their own merits rather than depending upon government force and political intrigue for their survival.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

More arguments countering the human-caused climate change theory

Frantic over the flood of evidence that shows that climate change is a natural phenomenon and is not made significantly worse by fossil fuel use, which runs contrary to the narrative that fossil fuel use is slowly killing the planet, officials in two states have begun using government power to punish those who dare to speak against the climate change demagoguery.

The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky writes, “California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in trying to prosecute ExxonMobil for supposedly lying to its shareholders and the public about climate change, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times reported that Harris is investigating what ExxonMobil ‘knew about global warming and what the company told investors.’”

Von Spakovsky’s article in The Daily Caller continues: “Neither Harris nor Schneiderman recognizes the outrageousness of what they are doing — which amounts to censoring or restricting speech and debate on what is a contentious scientific theory. In fact, they want not just to stop anyone who questions the global warming theory from being able to speak; they want to punish them with possible civil sanctions or even criminal penalties.” He goes on to suggest the two AGs badly need a refresher course on the First Amendment.

While trying to punish contrary opinions through government oppression is fairly new to the climate change debate, proponents of human-caused climate change have long been guilty of hiding inconvenient data, distorting and manipulating data, and ignoring a more recent and more accurate method of measuring the Earth’s temperature that does not produce “favorable” data.

For example, 37 years of satellite-based instrument measurements have provided the world's most accurate and unbiased temperature data. These measurements are free from coverage gaps and siting problems – such as artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts – that pollute measurements of land-based instruments. Satellite measurements show no warming of the climate for 18 recent years. Despite their own satellite data, NASA advances theories based upon land-based measurements, which support the human-caused warming theory.

Mike van Biezen addressed the satellite measurement result in an article published on The Daily Wire online discussing ten of the “many scientific problems posed by the assumption that human activity” is causing climate change. In his commentary, the adjunct professor of physics, mathematics, astronomy and Earth science at Loyola Marymount University and Compton College, acknowledges things he says we know to be correct, such as that the global average temperature has increased since the 1980’s; since the 1980’s glaciers around the world are receding and the ice cap of the Arctic Ocean has lost ice since the 1980’s, especially during the summer months; and that the average global temperature for the last 10 years is approximately 0.35 degrees centigrade higher than it was during the 1980’s.

But while acknowledging that those points from 25 years ago are true, and charging that the global warming community exploits those facts to prove that human activity has caused increased temperatures, he then asserts that “no direct scientific proof or data has been shown that link the current observations to human activity.  The link is assumed to be simply a fact, with no need to investigate or discuss any scientific data.”

Among the many things he says are falsely assumed to be linked to human activity:
** Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual
** Current temperatures are always compared to the temperatures of the 1980’s, but for many parts of the world the 1980’s was the coldest decade of the last 100+ years
** The world experienced a significant cooling trend between 1940 and 1980
** Urban heat island effect skews the temperature data of a significant number of weather stations
** The CO2 cannot, from a scientific perspective, be the cause of significant global temperature changes
** There have been many periods during our recent history that a warmer climate was prevalent long before the industrial revolution
** Glaciers have been melting for more than 150 years
** “Data adjustment” is used to continue the perception of global warming

Biezen provides scientific arguments to refute those commonly advanced ideas, and explains why they fail to demonstrate a connection to climate change from human activity, threatening the comfort and success of human-caused climate change advocates.

The American left, whose ideas routinely fall to logical counter-arguments, frequently resort to force of one sort or another to combat their opponents. Desperation clearly has set in, as evidenced by the radical and tyrannical use of government force by the California and New York AGs to silence dissent. But they and others who think they can quiet the voices of dissent should remember that the United States thrives because it protects its citizens’ right to think for themselves and make their own decisions based on their own preferences.

Whatever you believe about human activities contributing to changes to Earth’s climate, honest people of all ideological persuasions must agree that if you have to deceive the public in order to gain support for your ideas, perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with those ideas.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The verdict is in: college professors are overwhelmingly liberal

Colleges are infected with liberal foolishness to a higher degree than ever before. It seems the most popular activity in colleges today is being offended. Many students are offended by such dastardly threats as contrary opinions, and males standing up while talking to seated females. This is the nature of things at too many campuses these days.

“Trigger warnings” are required to warn students of potentially “troubling class material,” and “microaggressions,” which are words and phrases that offend someone, even when the speaker intended no offense, are a really big deal.

A Harvard Law School dean has compared microaggressions to sexual assault and violence, and the University of California lists things that are just too horrible to say, including threatening phrases, like "everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough" and "America is the land of opportunity." Rough stuff, that.

Such terrifying things slip by traditional, older Americans unnoticed, but cripple younger folk. These hallmarks of modern American liberalism have grown from the seeds that sprouted the belief that feelings are more important than anything, and that everyone deserves a trophy for merely showing up.

Americans who graduated from the school of hard knocks are amazed and bemused at the hypersensitive nature of our once-tough culture, and wonder how this could have occurred. Our education system, at all levels, played a big role.

As these changes occurred they were accompanied by, and perhaps abetted by, the liberalization of the college professoriate.

The Daily Signal published an article discussing a UCLA Higher Education Research Institute study that documents the increase in liberal professors. “During the past quarter-century, academia has seen a nearly 20-percent jump in the number of professors who identify as liberal,” writes Natalie Johnson. “That increase has created a lopsided ideological spread in higher education, with liberal professors now outpacing their conservative counterparts by a ratio of roughly 5 to 1.”

In 1990 only about 41 percent of professors identified themselves as “liberal” or “far-left,” but by 2014 the percentage had risen to 60. Over that same period those identifying as “conservative” or “far-right” fell from 18 to 13 percent.

In 2011 liberal profs reached their highest point at 63 percent, while conservatives reached a high of only 22 percent, in 1993. At the other end, liberals never fell below the 41 percent mark, while conservatives were as low as 12 percent in 2011.

In a perfect world this political imbalance should make little difference. After all, what difference does it make if your math professor is a Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated with a party, a Trotsky-ite or whatever? Math is math, right? Biology, music theory, graphic arts, English grammar and most other subjects are not political in nature. And in an atmosphere where professors merely guide students in learning their subject, it wouldn’t matter. But what if for some strange reason it became trendy for professors to inject a bit of political proselytization into their lectures and lessons?

But isn’t secretly and deliberately indoctrinating young people with ideological attitudes while they think they are only studying how to write a proper sentence, determine a standard deviation, or studying the War Between the States fundamentally dishonest, you may ask? Yes, it certainly is. But bias isn’t always deliberate, according to Matthew Woessner, an associate professor of political science and public policy at Penn State Harrisburg.

He said this ideological imbalance “raises critical questions of whether students are getting a balanced education—not because there’s some conspiracy to block out conservative ideas, but merely because the people who are teaching are either not familiar with or don’t embrace conservative ideas.” Even when faculty attempt to present an issue in a balanced and impartial manner, he said, personal biases naturally bleed into material.

The UCLA study reflects that this liberal tilt among professors has had an effect, with data from 2009 showing that the number of students who said their political views were “liberal” or “far left” grew by 9.2 percent from their freshman year to their senior year.

Daniel Klein, a professor of economics at George Mason University, cast more of a cloud on the collegiate atmosphere, opining that the reported 5-to-1 ratio is “not very meaningful” because the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have become “exceedingly troubled.” Instead, Klein suggested that the imbalance between faculty members who vote Democratic compared with those who vote Republican is closer to 9-to-1 or even 10-to-1.

Ideally, there would be relative equality of liberal and conservative ideology among faculty. Woessner, however, suggests that equal numbers of liberal and conservative professors really isn’t necessary for higher education to work well, so long as a sufficient number of faculty hold different views “to create a space for enough conservative ideas that students are exposed at least nominally to these other perspectives,” he said.

It is critical for colleges and universities to work much harder to even out the ideological divide if higher education is to regain credibility for delivering a balanced education. No group should want that more than the professors themselves, who should prefer a reputation of integrity as opposed to one of having a finger on the scale.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Obama's last State of the Union: Just another campaign speech

President Barack Obama gave his eighth and final State of the Union (SOTU) message last Tuesday night, to a mixed set of reviews. Commentators had noted that a president’s last SOTU generally is predictable and boring. Obama’s final flourish was both predictable in its petulance and arrogance, and boring, because most of it has been said before. And often.

Pledging near the beginning that this one would be short perhaps gave false hope. Going back to Lynden Johnson’s presidency from 1963 to 1969, our presidents’ addresses have averaged right at 50 minutes, and Obama’s speeches have averaged 63 minutes. Only in comparison to Bill Clinton’s average of 75 minutes does this one qualify as short, running just under 59 minutes. At 29 minutes, Richard Nixon’s 1972 address holds the record for the shortest.

Perhaps it is due to his 12-year stint as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School that the address was an hour-long lecture, one part of which dealt with the tone of current political discourse and contained an uncommon admission of failure. “It's one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he said. “I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide...” That is no doubt true, as it is a commonly and broadly held opinion that Obama is the most divisive president in recent memory, or perhaps ever, and he has done nothing to calm the raging political waters in seven years.

Complaining that there has been precious little progress in Congress, he noted: “Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise…” But compromise depends upon the details of the issue. Sometimes, compromise is simply not possible if it means one side abandoning fundamental principles. If one party demands the other party sacrifice their right hand, for example, the other party cannot be blamed for refusing to compromise by giving up two or three fingers. This is the nature of the compromise Obama and the Democrats slam Republicans for not indulging in, as they routinely demand things that even acquiescent Republicans cannot accept.

Burnishing his accomplishments, Obama said we have “a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production.” He also said that the U.S. is in the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. Typically, this is the most non-specific and favorable part of the story, and there is much there deserving of clarification. Many jobs have, indeed, been created and the unemployment rate (U-3) is in good territory, but that is due to millions of Americans having stopped looking for work because they couldn’t find a job in the Obama economy. The Workforce Participation rate is at its lowest point in 35 years.

Wages have stagnated during Obama’s tenure, personal debt has increased by about $1 trillion, and fewer Americans are buying homes. And then there is the national debt, which has increased substantially under Obama. He took office in January of fiscal year 2009, with a national debt of nearly $12 trillion. In fiscal 2015 that figure stood at more than $18 trillion. Fiscal 2016 will end September 30 of this year, and it is likely that by that time the national debt will be $20 trillion.

All the while GDP limps along at rates ranging from a low of minus 2.8 percent in 2009 to 2.4 percent in 2014, never rising above 2.5 percent. GDP finally began approaching respectable levels in 2015, fully six years after Obama took office. Not much to brag about there.

Obama said it is a hallmark of his economy that today more Americans work in the solar industry than in the coal industry. But at what cost? He gave well over a billion dollars of taxpayer money in subsidies to a few solar firms that not long thereafter went bankrupt, and the administration’s harsh and unwarranted attacks on the coal industry put tens of thousands out of work and closed several coal-fired electric generation plants well before natural changes in energy production would have more gradually and less chaotically replaced coal with other methods.

In West Virginia, the loss of income from the Coal Severance Tax and Income Tax collections from out-of-work coal miners and workers in support industries have seriously damaged the state’s economy, and Kentucky and Virginia also have suffered job losses and economic harm, all without a sympathetic tear from the president.

Each year as the State of the Union address grows near there is talk of doing away with it, because it no longer has a valid purpose. “What’s tiresome is the hoopla about a speech that hardly anybody watches, and that, as a general rule, contains nothing new,” stated Yale law professor Stephen Carter. The SOTU originally was intended for the president to report to Congress on the condition of the nation, but also allowed the President to outline his legislative agenda.

Ah, but those were the good old days. More recently it has devolved into a grand political opportunity, as Obama so well demonstrated.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Obama brought to tears talking about gun violence in America

In his comments last Tuesday prior to signing an Executive Order expanding background checks for gun purchases, President Barack Obama became uncharacteristically emotional and shed tears as he discussed children killed in mass shootings. His emotional reaction gave weight to his message, but some doubted the sincerity of his tears, seeing them as a device to increase support for his proposal. The Executive Order issued days later expands background checks for firearms purchasers, but is an action that would not have prevented the shooting that brought the tears, or other recent horrific shooting events.

This rare show of emotion calls attention to Obama’s lack of tears for other tragedies – such as the death of an innocent young woman at the hands of an illegal alien in California, or the San Bernardino murders by radical Muslims – as further evidence of his selective use of emotion for political purposes.

Emotion is the driver of liberal initiatives, which are highlighted by the generous use of false information and/or exaggeration, and the twisting of truth. Demagoguery and shaming are always close at hand, as well. If someone opposes abortion, they don’t really want to protect life, they just want to deny women control of their bodies. If someone opposes stronger gun control measures, it isn’t because they value and want to defend Constitutional liberties, it is because they don’t care that children and other innocents are being murdered daily. Although this tactic sounds like it was developed on an elementary school playground, a lot of people rely on it and fall for it.

Obama quotes the statistic that there are more than 30,000 gun deaths each year, and Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton breaks that down to an average of 90 gun deaths a day. Those large numbers surely catch one’s attention, but throwing out large numbers cheats the public of both perspective and true understanding of gun deaths. For example, roughly 19,000 gun deaths are suicides. How many of those severely troubled individuals would decide to go on living because they could not lay their hands on a gun?

About 1,800 are gang related, and 900 others are accidents. A majority – 80 percent – of the remaining gun-related deaths is attributed to urban problems. And, of course, some gun deaths are justified, as in cases of self-defense. The CDC reports that there are 3.5 gun deaths in the U.S. per 100,000 people while the number of all deaths is 821.5 per 100,000 people.

The self-defense aspect receives far too little discussion. In 2013, Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess the existing research on gun violence, and a report prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council stated, in part: “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”

Some suggest that three million is likely an unrealistically high number, but if guns are used defensively a half-million or more times a year, that is compelling. Given the record of people using guns to defend themselves from criminal activity and even death, wouldn’t it be appropriate for tears to be shed because so many have died in “gun-free zones,” where they were denied the ability for self-defense or protection from other people who were in the line of fire who were armed? There is a better than average chance that mass shooters would make a point to avoid places where they knew guns were being carried by their potential victims.

Americans are a rebellious lot; they don’t like to be controlled. Thus, in order to persuade them to go along with ideas like gun control, they have to be made to believe that existing laws are being enforced but that existing laws just aren’t enough, and we need more regulation. This is accomplished through various techniques, including heavy propaganda based upon myths.

Some examples: Background checks are not required for purchases on the Internet. Law enforcement is not present at gun shows, which are a free-for-all for prohibited individuals to obtain firearms. Obama has made firearms enforcement a priority, and his executive action on gun control will thwart criminals’ ability to obtain firearms. There is a general consensus in America that greater gun control is needed to prevent mass shootings in the United States.

Those statements are all false, and have been shown to be so by Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who wrote a commentary published on The Daily Caller online, listing and disproving 10 myths about guns, including those above.

Neither gun violence nor climate change is a critical problem for the United States. The threat of Islamic terrorism, a government too weak on the world stage, but grown too large and too controlling here at home, and a president who thinks he is an emperor, however, are critical problems. And that is why restoring conservative government is so important in the next election.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Asset forfeiture provides huge monetary benefits for law enforcement

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act became law in 2000. Asset forfeiture is a tool that gives law enforcement the power to seize property and cash if they suspect it is connected to a crime, and is hailed by law enforcement groups as a vital tool for combating drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Institute for Justice reports that the Justice Department’s program furnished state and local law enforcement agencies some $4.7 billion in forfeiture proceeds from 2000 to 2013. What better way to help fund law enforcement than through the confiscation of property from criminals?

But the DOJ now plans to halt the program. Naturally, law enforcement wants this program to continue, and the possibility of the program being halted has raised concerns and prompted letters to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The National Sheriff’s Association, to cite just one of the law enforcement groups expressing concern, said the Justice Department’s decision will hinder law enforcement agencies’ ability to do their jobs. “While Congress and the president vacation in peace and tranquility, law enforcement knows all too well that the criminals, terrorists, and criminal aliens do not take a holiday,” the sheriff’s organization noted. “Those seeking to do us harm can rest easier knowing one less tool can be used against them.”

However, typical of governments at all levels, which are operated by humans and not angels, this program has been abused to illegally confiscate the private, legally possessed property of innocent Americans. Essentially, the message government sends out far too frequently is, “Any useful program that governments have at their disposal will eventually be misused, to the detriment of the people for whose benefit it was developed.”

If you need a recent example of government power misused by government employees, remember Lois Lerner and the IRS targeting and harassing certain conservative organizations seeking non-profit status. Other examples of misbehavior are not hard to find.

The asset forfeiture program also is abused. From the ACLU Website: “Police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws has shaken our nation’s conscience. Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.

“Forfeiture was originally presented as a way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. But today, aided by deeply flawed federal and state laws, many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting. For people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with costs sometimes exceeding the value of the property. With the total value of property seized increasing every year, calls for reform are growing louder, and [the ACLU and others are] at the forefront of organizations seeking to rein in the practice.”

Adam and Jennifer Perry exemplify people who were victimized by this law and law enforcement officers willing to capitalize on it.

On October 25, 2012, the couple was stopped for speeding in Henry County, Mass. Police searched the couple’s vehicle and found a suitcase containing $107,520 in cash. Suspicious? Yes, but not a crime or necessarily evidence of a crime. And although no drugs or any other evidence of a crime were found, the police said they suspected the Perrys of criminal activity, and seized the cash and their vehicle.

During nine hours of questioning the Perrys insisted they had done nothing wrong and that the money was theirs legally, from various legal sources, and had evidence confirming that for some of the funds. Lacking any real evidence, the police had to release the couple. But they kept the money and the vehicle, even though no charges were filed, no trial was held, and no guilt was proved. Three years later, the Perrys are still fighting to get their property back.

If this legalized theft from innocent citizens isn’t bad enough, now a federal judge has demanded that the Perrys prove how they got the money, this after they had already given explanations to the police, who did not disprove those explanations. Question: If there was no evidence of a crime, and no charges filed, why should these citizens be compelled to prove where they got their own money?

A fundamental American legal principle is the presumption of innocence, that Americans are innocent until “proven” guilty, and that the onus is on the judicial system to prove guilt, not on citizens to prove they aren’t guilty.

On December 23, the Justice Department announced it will discontinue the asset forfeiture program, but the discontinuation is temporary.

The tyrannical treatment of the Perrys by Henry County, MA police and a federal judge epitomizes what “un-American” means. Before it can be reinstated, asset forfeiture laws must be amended to protect Americans from rogue actors in law enforcement who seek improved work conditions at the expense of law-abiding citizens. Stiff criminal penalties for abuse are essential. These people soil the reputations of the 99 percent who honorably serve the people.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

As humanity evolves, technological advances improve our lives

As humans and technology evolve, new ideas, products and improving processes make our lives fuller and easier. We once listened to music on plastic platters. Even as the quality of records improved, progress brought about the reel-to-reel tape machine. That was a great development, but then someone came up with the 8-track tape player, which eventually gave way to the cassette player, and then audio on tape was surpassed by a new technological creation, the compact disc. And now that, too, is about to become old news.

As the years, decades, and centuries pass, human beings evolve in their ability to develop ideas and create devices that improve the quality of their lives.

In 1593, Galileo Galilei invented the first device to measure temperature variations, a rudimentary water thermoscope. In 1612, the Italian inventor Santorio Santorio put a numerical scale on his thermoscope. While neither of these new instruments was very accurate, they represented progress.

In 1654, Ferdinand II, the Grand Duke of Tuscany invented the first enclosed liquid-in-a-glass thermometer, and replaced water with alcohol as the medium to measure temperature changes. This instrument, too, was inaccurate and used no standardized scale, but represented a step forward.

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the first modern thermometer, the mercury thermometer with a standardized scale, in 1714. Thermometers continued to evolve since that time, becoming more accurate and more versatile along the way, measuring the temperatures of air and liquids. For most of those 300 years they utilized a liquid to measure temperature, but today digital technology has become the standard.

From their land-bound home, humans learned how to move through the air and into outer space, and now digital thermometers measure temperatures on Earth from satellites orbiting many miles above the planet. For 37 years satellite-based instruments have provided the world's most accurate and unbiased temperature data.

And space-based measurements are free from coverage gaps and “siting problems,” conditions that plague land-based instruments. A study authored by Anthony Watts and Evan Jones of, John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M, and John R. Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, show the problems inherent in land-based thermometers that do not affect space-based measurements.

Watts, the lead author of the study, explained: “The majority of weather stations used by NOAA [the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration] to detect climate change temperature signal have been compromised by encroachment of artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts.” He added: “We also see evidence of this same sort of siting problem around the world at many other official weather stations, suggesting that the same upward bias on trend also manifests itself in the global temperature record.”

The study notes that there are two subsets of weather stations, those that are well sited, and not affected by extraneous effects, and those that are poorly sited, and are affected by extraneous effects. The well sited stations produce readings markedly cooler than those corrupted by extraneous effects, and the study suggests that the results of the well sited stations – the truest measure of environmental temperature – are adjusted upward to more closely match the results of the poorly sited stations, resulting in temperature readings higher than true readings.

Put into plain English, many land-based measurement stations are corrupted by elements that are not a part of the Earth’s natural temperature, and they skew the results upward. Real-world temperatures measured by satellites are consistently cooler than those projected by climate computer model simulations because they are not affected by concrete, asphalt and other things that collect and produce heat that are not a part of the Earth’s natural environmental temperature.

And what the satellite-based instruments reveal is stunning. There has been no warming at or in the:
    •    South Pole for 37 years
    •    Southern hemisphere for 19 years, 10 months
    •    Tropics for 19 years, 3 months
    •    Tropical oceans for 22 years, 11 months
    •    North Pole for 13 years, 10 months
    •    Australia for 18 years, 1 month
    •    U.S.A. for 18 years (49 states)
    •    Globally for 18 years, 6 months

These readings plainly show that contrary to global warming scare stories in the media, the world has not warmed as the models projected. However, warming advocates choose to ignore these measurements, and the reason why is simple: Without a scary story of future catastrophe to promote, they lose power and they lose money, the power to control the masses being the more important.

The worldwide effort to fight climate change is not about fighting climate change; it is about control. But twenty-first century technology provides evidence that is devastating to the global warming narrative. 

The simple truth is that some years are warmer than others; and some years are cooler. Warming and cooling periods may lasts a few to several years or many decades. Our climate is not static and has never been.

Contrary to the warming advocates’ story, satellite-based measurements show that the industrial revolution that set loose the development of so many things that make our lives better has not caused the planet to heat up.

With science, the media and government conspiring to subject people to ideological control over unproven climate change, that progress will be impeded, and the entire world will suffer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ominous omnibus: There are many problems with the spending bill

Last Friday Congress passed the omnibus spending bill, avoiding a government shutdown when current funding expired at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 23. At 2,009 pages it spent a dazzling $1.149 trillion, and like most legislation it had some good features and some less-than-desirable features.

It was described as far-reaching legislation funding the government until next October, passing tax breaks for businesses and low-income families, reauthorizing programs to compensate and provide health care for first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and a cybersecurity measure that could help businesses cooperate more closely with the government and each other in fighting online threats.

The bill easily cleared both chambers, first in the House, which passed it 316-113, followed by the Senate in a 65-33 vote. President Barack Obama signed the measure.

Republicans, who hold majorities in both houses – 54 percent in the House and nearly 57 percent in the Senate – supported the bill by a significant majority in the House, but in in the Senate only about one-third voted for the bill.

Despite the Republican majority in both houses, the GOP managed only a few real victories, while the minority party won big, according to most analyses.

Republicans gained the lifting of a 40-year ban on oil exports, prohibiting funding to bail out the insurance companies in the Obamacare health insurance program, and preventing the IRS from regulating political speech.

However, they were unable to restrict the Syrian refugee program, end funding for Obama’s executive actions on immigration, defund Planned Parenthood, defund sanctuary cities, or restrain EPA over-regulation of ponds and streams, and coal-burning power plants.

Perhaps the most noteworthy provision in the bill is the one that could allow more than a quarter-million temporary guest workers into the country, an increase from the previous federal cap of 66,000 on H-2B visas for low-skilled foreign workers seeking blue-collar jobs in the U.S. This is a significant change to immigration law, and it has conservatives dismayed. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told The Daily Signal, “It came out of nowhere, completely out of nowhere,” the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus said, “[and] everyone was shocked there was a change and no one had talked about it.”

Conservatives are displeased that the Republicans were unable to remove so many troublesome provisions that they should strongly oppose, and also with the very process that created the bill and brought it to a vote.

Critics of the bill and its passage complained that the rank-and-file members of the House were not included in negotiations. Congressional leaders assembled the bill in smoke-filled back rooms and did not release the text of the 2,009-page bill until 2 a.m. last Wednesday, and the separate 233-page tax-extenders bill was released just before midnight.

Prior to the vote Heritage Action for America chief executive Michael A. Needham said the package represents the most sweeping changes to tax policy since 2012. “In fewer than 48 hours, lawmakers will likely be asked to vote on two massive bills that were negotiated behind closed doors over the past several weeks,” he said.

After the vote Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky explained his “no” vote to a New York radio station: “It was over a trillion dollars, it was all lumped together, 2,242 pages, nobody read it, so frankly my biggest complaint is that I have no idea what kind of things they stuck in the bill.” “I voted against it because I won’t vote for these enormous bills that no one has a chance to read,” Paul continued. “[T]his is not a way to run government. It’s a part of the reason why government is broke." And broken, he might have added.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who voted against the spending bill, said Republicans voted for the bill in part to support House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, who had just taken that position and they were hopeful he would be more inclusive with rank and file members than his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“There were a lot of people who didn’t want to vote for this, but they were giving him a vote out of good faith,” he said. At the same time, many also were worried that Ryan had given Democrats too many policy concessions in the bill, a feeling now confirmed. “The Democrats unfortunately just learned that they can mistreat him like they mistreated Boehner, which is a really bad thing,” Labrador said.

What the Framers designed as an efficient and transparent system of lawmaking now operates in the gutter. These days, bills often reflect dishonorable characteristics like this bill had:
    •    Created in secrecy
    •    Hundreds or thousands of pages long
    •    Voted on without time to be properly considered
    •    Amendments not permitted
    •    Contain elements unrelated to the purpose of the bill
    •    Are approved for political expediency, rather than by broad support

Too many bills are designed not to produce needed and broadly supported laws, but to enact politically useful and narrowly focused measures that benefit some at the expense of the others.

This process is yet one more sign of the devolving nature of our country. If America is to survive, good government must be restored.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Paris climate conference focused on fear, not climate reality

The Paris climate conference is now over. The Christian Science Monitor reported on Saturday that the rap of the chairman’s gavel “signaled unanimous – if not unanimously enthusiastic – support from all parties engaged in this year's UN climate talks. It comes at the end of a year scientists say will likely be the hottest ever on record.”

After all the time involved and the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced getting the hundreds of representatives from 196 nations all in the same place, and then back home again, the agreement does not put the world on a path toward what scientists regard as a safe level of global warming, but the agreement sets forth a clear path for countries to identify their own targets for CO2 reduction. Ultimately, participants want a global carbon-free environment by 2060, at the latest, meaning that every car, building, plane, ship, train, and power plant would have to operate without burning any fossil fuels.

Days prior to the closing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told the ministerial session, “The clock is ticking toward climate disaster,” and former Vice-President Al Gore compared the need to combat climate change to the abolition of slavery, giving women the right to vote and the civil rights battle. Gore said, “The right choice is to safeguard the future for the next generation and for the generations to come.”

There were scary stories of rising sea levels, causing residents of low-lying areas like the Marshall Islands to lobby strenuously for the agreement, while droughts, flooding, and other extreme weather events were predicted to increase elsewhere on the planet if CO2 emissions aren’t reigned in. And to make sure to attract the attention of enough third world countries, billions of dollars in support for affected economies is on the table, supposedly to be paid by the rich countries, like the United States.

The whole world is concerned because of the idea that too much CO2 in the atmosphere will cause catastrophes sometime in the distant future. Carbon dioxide is what plants that produce oxygen for us to breath live on.

All of this scare mongering tended to overshadow the dismal record of climate predictions and data manipulations from the not-so-distant past that casts doubt on the need for turning the energy universe upside-down. Here are some of the scary predictions of global warming catastrophes that did not come true:

* By 1980 all of the important animal life in the sea will be extinct.
* By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.
* The world will be eleven degrees colder by the year 2000.
* By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching Earth by half.
* A general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.
* Within a few years children just aren't going to know what snow is.

Add to those failed prognostications a global warming hiatus for at least16 years, according to the British Met Office, and energetic disagreement about man-caused climate change among climate scientists, and the agreement looks like a gigantic global shakedown.

As an example, while Barack Obama is busy regulating America’s coal-fired electricity generating plants out of existence, China is constructing new plants. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris, we should be wary of China’s commitment to reduce emissions. China is by far the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and is currently constructing 350 coal-fired power plants and has plans to build another 800.

The Wall Street Journal notes, “In 2013 China burned 3.9 billion tons of coal, almost as much as the rest of the world.” Obama seems to think that harming the U.S. economy by shutting down U.S. fossil fuel-burning facilities will negate China’s feverish coal-burning economy. Loris asks pointedly, “This is the country that we’re going to trust to peak emissions 15 years from now?” 

And trust is the operative word: all countries are on scouts honor to do what they have said they will do, without official oversight or penalties.

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 fossil fuels.

People who live in cold climates use them to warm their homes, and people who live in warm climates use them 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. They 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.

Fossil fuel use has improved the lives of millions of people worldwide, and millions more can benefit from it. There are no replacement technologies that even approach filling the void Obama and the other climate change advocates are creating. We are on course for a disaster.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Latest from Bones

San Bernardino: nothing more than gun control opportunism for the left

Before the sound of gunfire in San Bernardino had faded away, the radical left wing, ever at the ready, had sprung into action. Members of the intolerant LACTOS (Liberals Against Conservative Terrorist’s Offensive Shootings) attempted to blame the GOP and right-wingers for the massacre in tweets: “Well, c'mon, GOP: Tell me how your prayers are with the victims and their families *this* time while you do nothing.‬” And, “No, I'm tired of praying. I want action. I want people to stop saying ‘MAH GUNS’ in response to death.‬”

Meanwhile, at the White House, five minutes after the shooting started, a clerk in the Rush To Judgment Department removed a sheet from a stack of pre-printed president’s statements calling for more gun control, while the folks in the WVNT (Workplace Violence, Not Terrorism) and CCCAP (Climate Change Causes All Problems) offices geared up for the coming propaganda drive.

From the BFIL (Blame First, Investigate Later) and the ITNRAS (It’s The NRA, Stupid) were these, first from Democrat presidential candidate Martin O'Malley: “@MartinOMalley‬ Horrifying news out of #SanBernardino‬. Enough is enough: it's time to stand up to the @NRA‬ and enact meaningful gun safety laws.” And: “Another day, another mass shooting in NRA's America.‬”

Those calling for more and stricter gun laws seem unable to grasp that people who want to commit the crime of killing innocents probably won’t obey gun laws, either.

Terrorism is designed to scare people into irrational actions or surrender, and the terrorists are winning against the American left, which is clearly terrified of guns. Some rationality is desperately needed.

From 2009 to 2013 the United States experienced 38 “rampage shooting incidents” (RSI) that claimed 227 lives, according to the Rampage Shooting Index. That works out to roughly one RSI every five months claiming more than 20 lives in each incident. These numbers rank the U.S. at the top of the list. In a not-so-close second place is Norway, with 77 RSI deaths, but only one RSI. Next is Germany with 25 deaths and three RSIs.

These numbers ought to scare the stuffing out of every American, not just the anti-gunners on the political left. Numbers, however, can be used to create many false images, and this is one example of that. The numbers cited previously do not include the elephant in the room: the population of those nations.

When America’s population of 315 million becomes part of the equation – the largest by far in the study – the U.S. drops all the way down to sixth place, behind Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Israel and Switzerland. Leading the way with 15 deaths per 1 million population is Norway, while Finland leads in the number of incidents with .37 per 1 million residents. The U.S. numbers are .72 deaths and .12 incidents per 1 million population, ranking sixth – not first – in both categories. Furthermore, the nations with worse numbers per 1 million people than the U.S. have “restrictive” firearm regulations, while the U.S. and Belgium (7th place) do not.

These numbers show that Norwegians are 20 times more likely to die in an RSI than Americans. Adding two years to the span of time cited above, Norway remains in first place, but the U.S. drops to eighth place, when national population is part of the equation.

And so another liberal false narrative falls flat on its face, but where guns are concerned, as with climate change, the left refuses to let inconvenient facts get in the way.

Some on the left are legitimately fearful about the supposed gun violence issue, while others are focused on gaining further control of the American people. This latter group includes Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and many, if not most, of the active politicians in the Democrat Party.

Brittany M. Hughes, reporting on the Media Research Center online in September, addressed the number of guns in America, noting that in 2009, it was estimated by the National Institute of Justice that there were approximately 310 million firearms in the country. Today, that number is likely higher.

“The number of firearm-related homicides in 2013 – the CDC’s most recent data – was 11,208,” she wrote, “(so about 309,988,792 guns were just milling about that year, not killing anybody).”

She continued: “That means about 0.000036 homicides were committed per gun in the United States in 2013,” less than four homicides per 100,000 firearms.

Some clear thinking on the use of firearms to discourage crimes came from the Cato Institute: “The rationale for [gun control] legislation is to reduce accidental shootings and the criminal use of guns against people. But if harm reduction is the goal, policymakers should pause to consider how many crimes … are thwarted by ordinary persons who were fortunate enough to have access to a gun.”

Bloomberg Business in 2012 analyzed the vastly contradictory claims about defensive gun use, estimating defensive actions occur tens of thousands of times a year, adding, “100,000 is not a wild gun-nut fantasy,” while suggesting higher numbers are more likely.

Common in mass shootings in the U.S. is that they occur in “gun-free zones” where guns are prohibited. It is the American left that prefers gun-free zones, not the American right.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Obama implements hundreds of millions in new costs for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2015 was an important day for President Barack Obama. In addition to the traditional pardoning of turkeys, he did two other notable things.

He delivered a Thanksgiving message on Thursday comparing Syrian refugees to the Pilgrims who came to North America in 1620, noting that they were also fleeing persecution. “Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” Obama said.

This weird mischaracterization deserves discussion, but it is the other of his Thanksgiving events that people most likely will not hear much about.

The previous day the President of the United States gave the American people a Thanksgiving gift, quietly releasing more than 2,000 new regulations that reportedly will raise the price of many common items. Furthermore, they come on top of a multi-year period of depressed economic activity left over from the 2008 recession that Obama’s policies have not relieved. Among this group of 2,224 new rules are 144 that are deemed “economically significant,” because each of them will cost the nation at least $100 million.

That group of 144 sets a new record, beating the previous high of 136 that Obama released last spring. With this sort of impact, you can understand why the Regulator-in-Chief prefers to utilize that fabulously popular political tactic of releasing bad news on a Friday, or on the eve of a holiday, so that other things will distract news organizations and the bad news will get buried by the holiday or weekend news.

Obama has used this technique frequently to hide similar releases, doing so right before a holiday seven times since Christmas of 2012.

One of the new rules is particularly notable for its importance to mankind: It mandates labeling of serving sizes for food that “can reasonably be consumed at one eating occasion.” In fact, the Thanksgiving agenda includes regulations covering a broad range of areas, from labeling requirements for pet food, new test procedures for battery chargers, mandated paid sick leave for contractors, and automatic speed limiters for trucks, to a dozen new rules limiting energy use, which will increase the cost of everything from furnaces and dishwashers to dehumidifiers, according to James Gattuso of The Heritage Foundation.

While these rules are not yet finalized, if all of them are finalized it will bring the total cost of regulation for this year to $183 billion, according to the American Action Forum.

Barack Obama may lead all presidents in the number of regulations his administration has created. From January, 2009 when he took the oath of office through 2011, the Code of Federal Regulations increased by 11,327 pages, a 7.4 percent increase, which was more than double the annual increase of the previous decade. And of the six years with the most pages of regulations added to the Federal Register, five of them belong to Obama.

At the end of 2014 the Obama administration had issued nearly 21,000 new regulations, and 2015 has seen approximately 5,000 more. It is only fair to point out that while Obama leads the pack, every recent president has also issued stacks of new regulations each year.

Robert Longely, who writes about government for, explains that “[f]ederal regulations are specific details, directives or requirements with the force of law enacted by the federal agencies necessary to enforce the legislative acts passed by Congress,” and that creating the “vast and ever-growing volumes of federal regulations … happens largely unnoticed in the offices of the government agencies rather than the halls of Congress.”

This means, of course, that regulations are created not by the legislative branch, as intended by the U.S. Constitution, but by thousands of faceless, nameless, unelected and virtually unaccountable bureaucrats in the executive branch, who also create penalties with the force of law.

If there is any good news here, it is that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress 60 in-session days to review new federal regulations issued by the regulatory agencies. The CRA requires regulatory agencies to submit all new rules to the leaders of both the House and Senate, and the General Accounting Office provides information on each new major rule to those congressional committees related to the new regulation.

However, while the Congress has 60 in-session days to review and potentially reject any proposed rule, the sheer volume of material represented by 2,224 regulations means that only those major rules that will cost over $100 million will be reviewed. Therefore, most of these rules, the most harmful along with the least harmful, will likely become finalized without being adequately reviewed.

And by the way, just because the cost of a rule doesn’t exceed $100 million doesn’t mean it isn’t both expensive and harmful.

In America – whose foundational principles supported the creation of a nation of maximum individual freedom and a small, efficient and non-intrusive federal government – how many regulations and laws are enough? History teaches that unless there is a substantial change of attitude very soon, we are nowhere close to ending the growth of stifling and destructive regulations.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Syrian refugee resettlement program: shortsighted and dangerous

Americans are sharply divided over the Syrian refugee situation. Compassionate impulses are countered by the need for due caution.

The White House, which thinks any of the Syrian refugees ought to be welcomed with open arms, reported the following last week:
·         -- The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has referred 23,092 refugees to the U.S. Refugees Admission Program.
·         -- The Department of Homeland Security has interviewed 7,014 of them since FY 2011.
·         -- Of that number 2,034 Syrian refugees have been admitted since FY 2011.
·        --  So far, none of the 2,034 Syrian refugees have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.

This information is intended to show the American people that the vetting process for these refugees works flawlessly, but even some government officials do not hold that view.

The pro-Syrian refugee crowd regards as anti-refugee those who cite reasons for being cautious about bringing refugees to the U.S. They say proponents of caution are engaged in religious stereotyping and scapegoating, and are afraid of women and orphans. Such rhetoric itself is a signal that caution is what the pro-refugee crowd fears most.  

But fallacies abound. While the U.S. is the most compassionate nation on Earth and helps people in trouble all over the world, it has no obligation to take in Syrian refugees. The U.S. didn’t cause the problems from which Syrians want to escape, and therefore it has no guilt to assuage by bringing them here.

Just because a lot of people somewhere experience a major crisis, that is no reason to invite them to come to America. It is a reason to start investigating all of the circumstances about the crisis and the people affected by it. After that, perhaps there will be good reasons to bring some of them here, or perhaps not. What follows are some very good reasons for exercising caution.

** Honduran authorities arrested five Syrians last week with stolen or doctored Greek passports that they said were headed for the U.S. Later, authorities said the five Syrian men were actually college students fleeing the war in their homeland. Note to the “bring refugees to America” crowd: Why would college students use fake passports to enter the U.S., and if they thought of using stolen or doctored passports, might not it be possible for terrorists to do the same?

** No less an authority than FBI Director James Comey has said that our government has no real way to conduct background checks on refugees. “We can only query against that which we have collected. And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them,” he explained. This is why common sense needs to be applied to this situation.

** A recent U.S. Transportation Security Administration report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found that 73 aviation workers, employed by airlines and vendors, had alleged links to terrorism. How did they get past the vetting system and get hired?

** The brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three and injuring nearly 300 others, were not refugees, as their family sought political asylum in the U.S in 2002. Through the years the Muslim brothers became more and more hostile to the U.S., and Russia’s FSB warned the FBI about them in 2011, but the FBI found no connections to radical Islam. Yet two years later they set bombs at the Marathon in "retribution for U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq" as one of the brothers wrote in a note. Radicals can hide here, and people who come here as peaceful immigrants can evolve into radicals after they come here.

So, after considering these factors the question then becomes, “what amount of risk to the safety of Americans do the refugee advocates think is acceptable?”

It is certainly appropriate for us to try to help the actual refugees, but we must not expose even one American to a terrorist hiding among the refugees. ISIS has pledged to come here, and it is foolish to believe that terrorists will not use the refugee situation to infiltrate the US, as those students did. We must not ignore the weaknesses in the vetting process for Syrian refugees that some US officials are specifically concerned about.

Most of the refugees don’t speak our language, most or all do not understand our ways, and many things we do in the U.S. are at odds with the tenets of Islam. With such vastly different ideas about life and living, will they really be comfortable in America? And how can we guard against radicalization among some refugees after they come here, as occurred with the Chechen brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon?

There just is simply no good reason to bring them here when we can assist them to settle somewhere that is closer to their homeland, both geographically and culturally. They will be happier, and America will be more secure.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Higher education under attack from within, by disaffected students

College campuses – once the bastion of diverse opinion, a garden where ideas thrived, where contrary viewpoints were freely expressed – are fast becoming cesspools of narrow-mindedness that stifle free speech, where political correctness rules over common sense, where free thinking is discouraged, and they are occupied more and more by students offended because someone expressed a different opinion, didn’t pay proper deference, or wore the “wrong” costume on Halloween.

Student protests are returning to 1960s/70s levels, and arise because some students think that there aren’t enough minority professors on campus while others decry a lack of “social justice,” and some have called for hunger strikes over what they perceive as a lack of support for students of color.

If students don’t like a professor’s point of view, or they detect “microaggressions” in the classroom, they feel led to demand the professor resign or be fired. You are a Hispanic kid and someone wears a sombrero and a poncho on Halloween, it’s time for a protest.

And did you know that the First Amendment makes some college kids feel unsafe? Would you ever have imagined that such an idea could take hold on an American college campus?

The vice president of the Missouri Students Association, Brenda Smith-Lezama, told MSNBC last week, "I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here." Poor little thing must be terrified listening to rap or watching television or movie drama. And she suffers under the delusion that her comfort is more important than someone else’s.

While these kids have yet to accomplish much, they believe the world must work to calm their fears, perceptions that may be adequate to drive protests and hunger strikes, but their perceptions do not necessarily reflect reality. The concerns expressed by these students are precisely the types of things the liberal attitudes that prevail on campuses today work to eliminate.

Many of the complaints have a racial element, but they really center on hypersensitive feelings about things that have always been normal aspects of life. Suddenly, these normal campus happenings that students – white students, black students, Asian and Hispanic students, female students – have dealt with successfully for decades and with little or no difficulty, are now scary and threatening.

College once was a place where kids learned to think. Today, many of them seem to know only how to feel; emotion rules rationality. Listening to different ideas used to be enlightening, mind-expanding. Now, it makes the kiddies cry for their mommies.

Missing from these children-in-adult-bodies is even the suspicion that not everything revolves around them, that they are not the be-all and end-all of the known universe.

And they also want someone to pay their college loans off for them, because … well, just because.

The process of gaining entry to an institution of higher learning is long established and has worked well for decades. Colleges and universities are places where the qualified my go to advance their education, and most of the onus is on the student to fund their education through parental help, scholarship assistance, student loans, the GI Bill, or good old hard work. And then it is the student’s responsibility to perform as expected academically to complete their degree requirements, and then go out and get a job and become a productive member of society.

That is called “life,” and life is not a smooth ride, most times. But tens of millions of Americans have successfully navigated the sometimes-troubled waters successfully without being coddled and nursed along the way. Conquering challenges and facing adversity head-on build character.

The whining behavior demonstrated on several campuses recently shows a fundamental failure of thousands of young people to have learned the basic rules of life, and have their minds grow up at the same rate as their bodies.

However, bowing to the whims of students is letting the inmates run the asylum. College is a place for learning, or once was. Professors led the learning process, administrators ran the school, and the students worked hard and did what they had to do to master the material at a satisfactory level. If students weren’t happy in a particular environment, or couldn’t hack it, they were free to leave. Or they could simply adapt. If that dynamic isn’t restored very soon, we may as well shut down colleges, because they will no longer provide a benefit.

As bad as this is for higher education, it is much worse for America. A generation or two with millions of young people among them who can’t cope with the simplistic problems of going to college surely won’t be able to be good citizens, to hold down jobs in a productive economy, or staff a strong, able military capable of defending the country, or even make sensible decisions about for whom they will vote. They can hardly be expected to weigh complex arguments rationally, when anything that doesn’t agree with their narrow ideas makes them hide under their beds.

This is what liberalism hath wrought, and it will most likely get worse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Obama pushing for a new United Nations climate agreement

The United Nations has scheduled a meeting in Paris to discuss climate change, with a new international global warming agreement involving more than 190 countries as its goal. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, starting November 30 and running to December 11, will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The objective is to create a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, and the Obama administration has submitted a plan for a new deal consisting of national contributions to curb emissions that would alter the 20-year-old Kyoto Protocol distinctions between the obligations of rich and poor nations.

The U.S. plan depends on individual countries enforcing their own emissions reductions, and the countries that agree to the plan would be required to set new targets to lower their carbon emissions after 2020. And rich nations like the U.S. and Japan will be held to the same legal requirements as China, India and other fast-developing nations.

This all sounds wonderful, if you believe in manmade global warming/climate change; one-world government; the US making more reductions before China and India – the really big polluters – do; and the Easter Bunny.

Why would China or India voluntarily reduce their emissions when doing so would stop their development or severely hamper it? And, can the world trust both countries to honestly report their emissions? Just recently, The Guardian published evidence that China has already been deceiving the world on its coal burning carbon emissions, even before this new agreement is finalized.

At a meeting in Bonn last month to discuss a draft agreement a bitter fight developed over the degree to which countries of the world should cut their greenhouse gas emissions, how much time they will have to complete those cuts, and who will pay for the transition.

Some provisions of the draft require the complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2050, and that rich countries like the U.S. get to pay more than $100 billion per year after 2020 to compensate poor countries for supposed climate change damages and help them adopt non-carbon producing energy sources.

The basis for this stepped up attack on fossil fuel use is the old story that human activities cause climate change, and global warming is responsible for so much harm, like Al Gore’s shrinking Arctic ice cap that was supposed to disappear by 2014 (the Arctic still has a large ice cap and the Antarctic cap has grown), rising global temperatures (that haven’t risen since 1998 in the U.S.), too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which makes plants grow and produce oxygen for us to breathe) and the rest of the more than 700 things attributed to global warming, as compiled by the British-based science watchdog, Number Watch.

California Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee and several other Democrats believe that if substantial reductions in CO2 emissions aren’t made soon then droughts and reduced agricultural output may force women to turn to “transactional sex” (once known as “prostitution”) to survive. Seriously.

A consortium of environmental activist organizations released a report titled “Fair Shares” which concludes: “Nothing less than a systemic transformation of our societies and our economies will suffice to solve the climate crisis."

Since President Barack Obama is totally on board with this concept he has already implemented his own “climate action plan.” Thus, the theory goes, the U.S. would not need congressional approval to implement the U.N. agreement, since it’s already being done through executive orders. 

Which, of course, means that Obama intends to ignore the constitutional role of Congress. Again.

“So this is just the latest example of President Obama’s contempt for obeying the Constitution and our laws,” Myron Ebell, director of the Center of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In the past, rulers who act as if the law does not apply to them were called tyrants,” he noted.

The U.S. Constitution says that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” to make treaties with other countries. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol had to be ratified by Congress, but it never was, even though the Clinton administration signed onto it. This agreement, too, is a treaty, and it requires Senate approval.

“CEI has warned for several years that the Obama Administration would follow advice from environmental pressure groups and try to sign a new U.N. agreement that ignores the Senate’s constitutional role,” Ebell said.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee called the plan ambitious and cynical because it “is an attempt to enshrine in an international agreement President Obama’s unilateral environmental regulatory regime, which remains deeply unpopular among the American people.”

Opponents also point out that this agreement will not take effect until after Obama leaves office, so he won’t have to deal with the damage it causes. However, if it does not receive ratification by the Senate making it a treaty, it is only an agreement, and therefore can easily be cancelled by the new president.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Republicans face problems in debates and the House of Representatives

Say what you will about the way CNBC conducted the Republican debate, the business side of NBC News did something that neither Fox News nor CNN were able to do.

All three had similarities, like gotcha questions and efforts to pit one candidate against another, elements that obstructed a discussion of the serious issues of electing a nominee for President of the United States, rather than assisting voters in making an informed decision. To the extent that real issues arose, the combative atmosphere moderators created in all three debates got in the way.

In sharp contrast to the mood in Republican debates was the Democrat debate on CNN, which also failed to reveal important information about the candidates, but approached not doing so by giving hugs and kisses to the candidates.

CNBC was both over the top and under the table. The three moderators were clearly not up to conducting a meaningful debate, not even on business and economic issues, and the muddle that resulted drew almost universal criticism. Moderators were poorly prepared, partisan, thought they were the stars of the show, were argumentative and often interrupted the candidates. While so many TV news people seem infected with the idea that being quarrelsome is cool, CNBC took that to a new level. You can challenge candidates on issues and answers, and still be civil.

However, as horrible as it was, CNBC did succeed in uniting the candidates for the first time since the campaign began, if only against CNBC’s amateurish approach, and the revolt that followed did produce a little discussion of important issues.

The 2016 debate series should be a valuable element in the process of selecting presidential candidates. Along with public and media appearances, the debates are opportunities for voters to hear candidates discuss their platforms and they are the only vehicle where the pros and cons of the various positions are aired in a way that voters have the opportunity to evaluate them side-by-side. 

So far they all have been disappointing, in terms of illuminating the candidate’s views, but CNBC wins the brown ribbon for the absolute worst. In place of questions on substantive issues, the moderators worked hard to trap and demean the Republican participants, which is very different from challenging them on issues.

Unfortunately, our campaign process identifies the best candidate, not necessarily the person best suited to be president. So much is based on appearance and performance, rather than candidates’ understanding of the country’s problems and sensible ideas for addressing them. A track record of success takes a back seat to image, charm and glibness.

And Republicans have the additional obstacle posed by the liberals in the media, who often misunderstand and not infrequently deliberately mischaracterize their objectives, and tell the world how awful they are.

Granted that the GOP is sharply divided, unlike the Democrat Party that pretty much possesses no diversity of thought. But the left portrays this Republican diversity as a weakness, which is interesting, since the left considers diversity one of the most important things in life.

It suits the purposes of the left to mischaracterize and demonize the House Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party groups and other elements of the right, and there are plenty of media sources indulging in that activity.

Some, commenting on Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s election as House Speaker, wonder how he will possibly be able to manage such an unruly group. The liberal writers characterize the conservative Republican bloc with terms such as “right-wing fringe” and “radicals.”

The liberal writers are happy to offer guidance to conservatives, such as that if their subgroup wants to set policy for its party, all it needs is to have a majority of the party’s support. And if it doesn’t have a majority, it should meekly abandon its position and support the position of the majority.

And that no doubt would please liberals and Democrats, and many Republicans. However, millions of Republican voters recognize that this approach is largely why things are worse today than when the GOP gained control of the Congress, and why the Republican Congress has been so ineffective at representing their views.

These conservative House members were elected not to offer their ideas and then surrender, they were elected to fight for their supporter’s beliefs in the traditional conservative values that built the country, and to stick by them. Isn’t that what republican government is all about?

The liberals advise that when voters have put one party in charge of the executive branch and another party in charge of the legislative branch, as is the case today, compromise is demanded to move the country forward.

However, compromise does not mean surrender, as many of these “advisors” suggest. One does not oppose a bill with multiple objectionable elements, and then “compromise” by accepting the whole package when others resist changes. The two sides identify those elements they agree on, take the rest out of the legislation, and move the compromise measure forward.

Compromise means that everyone gives up something, not just the conservative Republicans. It is sad – even dangerous – that so many Republicans do not understand this.