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Thursday, March 26, 2020

The coronavirus COVID-19 is not the only threat China represents

Many years ago, there was a very popular movie, “The China Syndrome.” It was a thriller about a potential cataclysmic event that could possibly destroy China, due to a problem in an American nuclear power plant. We now face another sort of China Syndrome.

This one originated in China, and has already killed thousands, and will likely kill thousands more around the globe. It was in China where the novel coronavirus COVID-19 first appeared and eventually was made public.

It angers many people when this disease is identified by its country of origin as the “Chinese virus,” or the “China virus.” But doing so is not racist. And it is not xenophobic.

It is no more so than “Chinese food,” “Chinese Communists,” or “Chinese checkers.” Many other diseases have likewise been named after their countries of origin: German measles, Spanish flu, Japanese encephalitis, Ebola virus, West Nile virus, and MERS (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). These names merely accurately identify the diseases’ origin; they reflect reality. Nothing more.

Carelessly slinging around epithets, like calling the use of the term “Chinese virus” racist, and mis-labeling people as racist, xenophobes, etc., devalues those terms. Where Donald Trump is concerned, this happens often. Such usage gives credibility to the term “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” It may be as real as the China virus.

That China is no friend of the United States is a story with a long, long history. In recent history, its tariffs on American products have worked against us for many, many years, reaching a record $375 billion in 20l7. Its penchant for intellectual property theft, stealing American technology through the work of spies acting as workers or associates, and often requiring companies to voluntarily share new technology with the Chinese Communist Party in return for being allowed to market products to China, also severely damage the U.S.

The onset of the coronavirus has thrown spotlights on the dangerous degree to which pharmaceuticals are now made in, and controlled by, China. Irresistible incentives offered to American drug companies resulted in the transfer of production of drugs from America to China.

“Multinational drug companies, many of them headquartered in the United States, began buying ingredients for critical drugs in China after the U.S.-China Fair Trade Agreement passed nearly two decades ago,” notes an article in U.S. News. “State-owned Chinese companies, buoyed by heavy government subsidies, set their prices so low that they were able to undercut established manufacturers in the U.S. and elsewhere, prompting them to shut down their plants and move their operations to China,” the article continued. 

China’s “Thousand Talents program tries to recruit experts from Western universities to work in China and ramp up its progress in science and technology,” reported NBC News in January. An FBI complaint charges that the program has “rewarded individuals for stealing proprietary information and violating export controls.”

NBC also reported on the arrest of Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Lieber is alleged to have failed to disclose his involvement in the Thousand Talents program to the Department of Defense.

Lieber was allegedly paid $50,000 monthly by China's Wuhan University of Technology, and also received $158,000 in living expenses, and a $1.74 million award to set up a research lab at the Wuhan University.

Knox News, the online presence of the Knoxville News Sentinel, reported in February that “Anming Hu, an associate professor in [the University of Tennessee’s] Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, faces three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Hu allegedly neglected to make UT aware of an affiliation with a university run by the Chinese government, which then resulted in UT falsely certifying to NASA that it complied with the appropriate laws.

President Donald Trump has begun fighting back against China’s outrageous tariffs, by putting tariffs on Chinese products. As with everything Trump does, this, too, has drawn much criticism. But Trump notes that after years of sitting mildly by while China hurts American business interests and strengthens itself, it is time to fight back.

The country has been gradually coming on board with Trump’s plan. The latest ABC News/IPSOS poll shows that 55 percent of Americans now favor his actions, while 43 percent still oppose his handling of this crisis.

Addressing the threat posed by China today, historian and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich notes, “Now we face the fifth great challenge to our survival as a free country (following the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, and the rise of the Soviet Union).”

In his new book, “Trump vs. China: Facing America’s Greatest Threat,” in which he tracks China’s centuries-long development up to today, he describes the situation. “The Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian system is big, and getting bigger, getting richer, and becoming more sophisticated. It is the greatest competitor that America has faced in our history.”

The COVID-19 threat that originated in China will most likely be defeated in time. The greater threat posed by China, however, will still exist, and must be addressed.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

What, exactly, is a right, and which ones are free for everyone?





We hear a lot about “rights” in these days and nights of political jockeying. What does it mean when someone says that you, or I, or we “have a right” to something? And what, exactly, is a right? 

A right is a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something, or to act in a certain way.

That the people are guaranteed certain rights is a major benefit of the United States of America that nearly everyone understands. That was affirmed in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Later, when the U.S. Constitution was written and passed, Americans were guaranteed certain rights by the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Some of these are: the right of freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to a speedy and public trial for alleged crimes, and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Other rights are assumed, but not specifically guaranteed by the Constitution. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "a right is not something that somebody gives you; it is something that nobody can take away."

Thus, having a right to something guarantees only that it cannot be taken away, not that it is automatically delivered to you without you doing anything to realize it. The Declaration mandates that one may pursue Happiness, but it does not automatically deliver it.

And some things claimed as a “right” are merely desires, and can be nothing more than outrageous cravings. 

Two perfect examples of such things are: Haagen-Dazs, an American ice cream brand, whose name consists of made-up Scandinavian words, insisted that it owns the rights to all fake Scandinavian words. And this: Spike Lee claimed that only he had the right to call things “Spike,” after The Nashville Network/TNN changed its name to "Spike TV."

Yes, those examples are absurd. However, the modern American Left supports a list of things that, while not absurd like the previous two examples, are things that it believes we Americans have a “right” to, like a college education, health care, child care, and housing. 

They further believe that they should be provided to everyone, for free. Yes, we all do have a right to pursue these things, but not a right to have them given to us.

Democrat nomination candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said on ABC's “This Week” recently, “The United States must ‘end the international embarrassment’ of not guaranteeing health care as a right. We need more changes in our health care system, you talk about a public option, many people will not be able to afford a public option," he said. "What the American people have got to decide is one simple question: 'Do we create a health care system, guaranteeing health care for all people without insurance companies and drug companies making huge profits and distorting health care in America?' That is the issue.”

All of us have a right to get healthcare, of course, but no one has a right to be given health care that is paid for by the rest of us. Some Americans get health care as the result of the government’s Medicaid program for the needy. Others get care through Medicare as a result of having contributed their money to the Social Security program. But no one has a right to free health care, or any of the other freebies that Democrats campaign on.

The idea of “free stuff for all” carries real problems with it. Cost is a serious consideration. What will/can a government do to pay for the “free” services?

The gargantuan and Democrat-favorite “Medicare for All” would cost $32 trillion or more over 10 years, according to research from the Mercatus Center’s Charles Blahous.

The proposed FY 2021 federal budget is a record $4.829 trillion. The Blahous estimate of $3.2 trillion a year represents increasing government spending by nearly 67 percent.

And Blahous noted that his estimate is probably low. Free stuff tends to attract more users than stuff with a price tag. People will head for the doctor’s office or hospital with every sniffle or stubbed toe. Shortages of care would inevitably result, meaning that government would then decide who gets treatment, and who doesn’t.

Democrat candidate Mike Bloomberg has a solution: "If you show up with prostate cancer, you're 95-years-old, we should say, 'Go and enjoy. Have [a] nice – live a long life.' There's no cure and there's nothing we can do."

For less serious circumstances, you might get treated in a timely fashion. Or, you may have to wait a few weeks, or months. A Fraser Institute study released last December showed the median wait time for medically necessary treatment in Canada’s free system in 2019 was 20.9 weeks.

An article in HuffPost noted that Canada’s health care system lacks medical technology and demands high taxation to pay for it.

Rights are ours to be had, and some are guaranteed. But free stuff isn’t free.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Elections and voting are important and demand effort and honesty




Elections are one of the most important rights and sacred duties of American citizens. Therefore, the nation must do whatever is necessary to assure that elections are free of fraud and abuse. 

Accusations of fraudulent activity are common. Thousands, perhaps millions, of people are on voter rolls who have passed away, moved to another jurisdiction, or who are not eligible voters. Elections must be limited to citizens who are legal voters and registered in the states and localities in which they live.

Some elected officials keep trying to make everything related to voting, from registration to actual ballot-casting, easier. Many believe these efforts are beneficial, and to an extent, they are. But we must work hard to protect the rights we have, and that includes our right — and our duty — to vote for those who will serve us in public office. We must not allow convenience to become the enemy of a fair and just election.

We should not mind putting forth the effort needed to get ourselves properly registered to vote, and get to the polls on election day to cast our ballots. We should not mind spending the necessary time studying those running for office so that we make educated choices. Important things deserve our putting out some effort for them.

Some people, however, cannot negotiate the rigors of registration and voting, so most states have mechanisms to help those people, and some private organizations also assist them.

Some of the “conveniences” created to make voting easier weaken the system. Early voting, for example, is a loser, as many Democrats learned recently. Three candidates dropped out before voting on Super Tuesday, meaning those who voted early for those three wasted their votes. 

Absentee ballots for people who are away from their voting district on election day are a reasonable option, but that idea, too, may result in wasted votes if the ballots are submitted too early.

And we see several other truly bad ideas for the election process that are currently being pushed. Among them are:
* All mail-in ballots - All ballots will be distributed and returned by mail
* Ballot harvesting - Permits individuals to collect ballots and supposedly return them to a sanctioned voting office to be counted
* Automatic voter registration - People are automatically registered to vote when they register a vehicle at the DMV, and must “opt out” if they are not eligible to vote
* Abolishing voter ID requirements - Show up at the polls and vote; no ID of any kind required
* Abolish voter residency requirements - Normally, name, birthdate and residential address are required, but this would do away with the residential address requirement
* Same-day voter registration - Show up at the polls and vote, and if you are not registered when you get to the polling place, you register, then vote
* Out-of-precinct voting - A variation of same-day registration

These measures are a flashing neon sign inviting election fraud, taking the control of election results out of the hands of election officials, and delivering it into the hands of cheaters, who do not want an honest system, and therefore look for weaknesses to exploit. 

And here are two more foolish ideas being floated by those wishing to weaken the election system:
* Lax enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act - Discouraging the cleaning of dead or ineligible persons from voter rolls 
* Doing away with the Electoral College - Making the popular vote determine who will be president, which allows a few high-population areas to make the decision and the rest of us are at the mercy of their choice

These ideas are, generally speaking, being advanced by individuals and organizations on the left, and more specifically by Open Society Foundations (OSF), which are organizations that have contributed $1.5 billion to 199 other organizations in the U.S. Formed in 1979 by billionaire George Soros, OSF received $18 billion from Soros in 2017, which was more than 70 percent of his total wealth of $25.2 billion, as estimated by Forbes Magazine.

During the 2004 election cycle when George W. Bush was seeking reelection, Soros contributed some $25 million to liberal and Democrat groups working to defeat Bush, according to Judicial Watch.

Since that time, he has supported Democrat candidates for national office, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Of course, Soros is not the only one seeking to influence our elections.

Campaigns cost too much, these days, and the more money that is in the system, the more likely it is that mischief will occur. Former President Barack Obama warned Americans of the perils of “dark money” in elections, saying it “pulls us into the gutter” as a nation.

Why should any person or organization be allowed to contribute to any political campaign they choose, anywhere in the country? Why should someone in one state be able to contribute to campaigns of people seeking office in other states? If someone has no direct interest in who wins or loses a particular election, why should they be able to support those candidates?

Let us all want and work for clean, fair and just elections.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

A truly serious health situation becomes a political football


Candidates working for a primary or a general election victory in the presidential race naturally chop each other down, and they also highlight what they see as the incumbent’s weaknesses and mistakes. This has reached new heights with President Donald Trump as the “enemy.” Everything he does, from relevant topics to the inane, is targeted by Democrats and their media friends. 

The only thing Trump could do that these folks would approve of would be to resign, or perhaps to drop out of the November election. And then he would be criticized for not doing that the “right way,” either.

Cutting taxes, getting rid of needless and harmful regulations, taking out terrorists who murder American military personnel, and strengthening the position of the United States on the international stage are among the things he’s been recently criticized for. And soon we will likely hear that he wears the wrong color socks and eats too much beef.

The emergence of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has gotten the attention of nearly everybody in the United States and, of course, that includes those running for the Democrat nomination for president.

And not surprisingly, they criticize Trump’s official reaction to the threat of the coronavirus in the U.S. When Democrats claimed that his administration was doing a poor job in addressing the threat, Trump declared those criticisms a “hoax.” Not the virus itself, mind you, but the criticism of his handling of it.

The media then took his comment out of contest and ran off the rails. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote: “Remember this moment: Trump, in South Carolina, just called the coronavirus a ‘hoax.’”

Another media mis-statement, by Politico: “President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation.”

Both NBC and CBS ran similar misrepresentations of Trump’s comment.

Most Americans do not factcheck what they read and hear from news outlets. They trust them to be accurate and objective. As these examples illustrate, the media often fall short of that expected and needed purpose. Whether by shoddy work or deliberate intent, the result is the same: mis-information gets passed on as accurate news, which many automatically believe. Is that “fake news?”

As previously illustrated, this happens too frequently. Therefore, is the President’s charge that some in the media are “the enemy of the people” really so far-fetched?

And it’s not only the news media that gets things wrong. Candidates for the Democrat nomination also got it wrong. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said, “There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing.”

“We increased the budget of the CDC,” former Vice President Joe Biden said. “We increased the NIH (National Institutes of Health) budget. … He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort.”

But dang the luck, both are wrong. Trump is trying to reduce government spending to deal with the budget deficits and the huge national debt, which is badly needed. However, none of the cuts he has called for have been enacted; Congress did not pass them.

The Associated Press factchecked these criticisms, and defended Trump: “He’s proposed cuts but Congress ignored him and increased financing instead. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect.”

And just because budget cuts were proposed does not by itself indicate that they would have affected fighting the coronavirus. Further, there is an existing fund that was created specifically for health emergencies.

Trump also has asked for additional funding for fighting the coronavirus, but Congress did not grant the request, saying that more money is needed. If so, would it not make sense to grant the initial request and then pass additional funding, rather than turning down what the loyal opposition claims is critical funding?

As for who is on the job, overseeing the work, which Democrat hopefuls also criticized, the major players are Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, and a respected veteran of previous outbreaks, Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH’s infectious disease chief who has advised six presidents. 

These doctors provide the medical knowledge needed to protect Americans from this serious threat. And Trump has formed an administrative coronavirus task force to manage the government’s actions.

Trump has assigned Vice President Mike Pence to head the task force, which includes Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Department of Homeland Security acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, and Domestic Policy Council Director Joseph Grogan. 

Weaponizing the coronavirus threat into a political issue is both a cheap shot and dangerous. It unnecessarily raises fears among the public where good sense is needed, and it shifts the focus of the Democrat campaign away from the radical political positions the Democrats propose.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Trump is now being targeted for “planning” pardons, commutations


 

“How far will Trump go in abusing his pardon authority?” That is the title of Joe Conason’s column. He’s a liberal columnist who apparently has psychic access into Trump’s mind, to wit: “But as he prepares to bestow that favor on Roger Stone …,” Conason wrote. That column suggested that in doing so Trump might open himself up to a criminal investigation, as then-President Bill Clinton did after he pardoned "fugitive financier" Marc Rich on the last day of his presidency, Jan. 20, 2001.

Stone was found guilty by a federal jury on the seven charges that he faced, including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. That is the part of the Stone story that is pretty straight forward. Regardless of whether you like Stone, whether you trust or approve of Trump, you really ought to fairly consider the various aspects of the Stone investigation and prosecution.

Stone became a subject of interest in the Mueller investigation into who aided Russian interference into the 2016 election. More than a dozen FBI agents wearing night goggles, full SWAT gear, with rifles and side arms, knocked on Stone’s door before dawn in January, 2019, and arrested Stone in his jammies after he answered the door.

Oh, and somehow a CNN news crew just happened to be there on the scene, set up and ready when the SWAT team arrived.

What had Stone done to require a SWAT team with weapons drawn? Murder? Armed robbery? Rape? Gang activity?

Nothing, other than being a Republican and friend of Trump. He could have been served a warrant during waking hours, or even notified by a phone call.

No one — not Stone, not anyone — was charged with a crime of helping the Russians. Stone was convicted of process crimes: crimes he allegedly committed during the investigative process, an investigation which found no crimes of Russian involvement, the purpose of the investigation. He was convicted of obstructing an investigation into a crime that never occurred; an investigation trying to find a crime.

Of the charges against Stone, witness tampering carries the heaviest sentence, up to 20 years. Randy Credico, the witness with whom Stone was convicted of tampering, wrote a letter to the judge in the case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, asking that Stone not be sent to prison because he didn’t really believe Stone would ever harm him or his dog Bianca, the target of the alleged threat.

So, the alleged victim did not feel any tampering, rose to defend Stone from the charge, but Stone still was convicted of witness tampering.

Many observers are urging Trump to pardon Stone. And there are other odd things about his case and his sentence that should be considered.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, on his opinion show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” said, Stone is “A 67-year-old man with no criminal record caught up in the Russia hoax, farce, caught up in an investigation that proved to be fruitless.”

He then listed the following average lengths of time served for certain crimes, for comparison with the prosecution’s recommendation for Stone’s sentence of seven-to-nine years.

“Do you know what the average rapist does in this country? We checked today. Four years. Do you know what the average armed robber gets? Three years. The average thug who violently assaults somebody? Less than a year and a half. But the left, CNN as well, demanding that Roger Stone dies in prison. Hmm. This man needs a pardon.”

Yet the prosecution recommended Roger Stone get a longer sentence for crimes far less serious that killed no one, assaulted no one, robbed no one, and did not tamper with a witness, according to that witness.

Why did a supposedly neutral, objective prosecution team recommend such a severe sentence for a non-violent person with no criminal background? And why did the judge ignore the exculpatory statement by the witness who was the supposed victim of tampering?

There is also a question of the objectivity of at least one of the jurors.

The jury foreperson, Tomeka Hart, is a former Democrat candidate for Congress who in her tweets refers to Trump as #KlanPresident. 

While Hart was serving on the jury, she tweeted about Trump’s impeachment. In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, Hart requested The Times use more direct language accusing Trump of committing a crime in his dealings with Ukraine.

She recently defended the prosecutors for advocating a seven-to-nine-year imprisonment for Stone. Attorney General Bill Barr lowered the recommended sentence to something more normal and reasonable, and the four prosecutors resigned in protest.

Was Hart an objective juror? Did she, as foreperson of the jury, leave her bias aside, the bias she readily showed before, during and after the trial?

Several irregularities exist: The FBI inappropriately raided Stone’s home. Hart should have declared her bias in pre-trial jury forms. The judge should have dropped the tampering charge. It was appropriate for Barr to reduce the sentence recommendation.

As a result of these irregularities, Stone convictions should be overturned, and he should get a new trial. A fair trial. Or, a pardon.

Even Trump friends and Republicans deserve objective justice.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Potpourri: Some thoughts on current topics

 ** A liberal journalist has set aside his ideology and written something honest and positive about President Donald Trump. Vox senior correspondent Ian Millhiser, in an article examining the Trump judicial appointments and their likely effect on the courts, wrote, “In less than three years as president, President Trump has done nearly as much to shape the courts as President Obama did in eight years.”

But in what could be expected to be nothing more than a leftist lecture against Trump’s judicial selections, Millhiser gave this objective evaluation. “Trump hasn’t simply given lots of lifetime appointments to lots of lawyers. He’s filled the bench with some of the smartest, and some of the most ideologically reliable, men and women to be found in the conservative movement.”

And then, this: “In other words, based solely on objective legal credentials, the average Trump appointee has a far more impressive résumé than any past president’s nominees.”

** Poor Joe Biden. He’s failing in his bid for the Democrat presidential nomination, and unlike Bernie Sanders in 2016, he has no one to blame but himself. Uncle Gaffy continues to issue non-sequiturs at a dizzying pace, and recently he said that immigrants, legal and illegal, are “a gift” to America.

Immigrants have been, and can still be a gift to the country. But they must be here for the right reasons, and they must become true Americans and contribute positively to the country in order to qualify for that honored status. However, Biden does not understand, or ignores, that illegal immigrants are not “a gift,” and too often are dangerous.

** A criminal investigation that began nearly two years ago with a referral from the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, which concluded that Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had repeatedly lied about having authorized a subordinate to share information with a newspaper reporter for a 2016 article about an FBI investigation into possible crimes by Hillary Clinton. The DOJ has decided not to bring criminal charges against McCabe, despite the investigative conclusion that he lied to officials.

Many believe that the same result will apply to all those whose criminal behavior attempted to overturn the legitimate election of President Donald Trump.

** One of the most ill-advised actions taken recently by some Americans is the desire to remove things that remind them of events in times past that they dislike. One example is removing statues of people who represented the south during the Civil War.

Fortunately, some people still understand that while some things in the nation’s history are not proud moments, they still are part of its history, and therefore should not be destroyed. History is history, and we need to be reminded of both the good and the bad elements of it.

Thankfully, Virginia Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Moore has ruled that the statues of General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson are now protected monuments and will remain standing. He said the way the statues made people feel did not change the fact the statues paid homage to the Civil War heroes.

“While some people obviously see Lee and Jackson as symbols of white supremacy,” Moore stated in his decision, “others see them as brilliant military tacticians or complex leaders in a difficult time.”

Moore is absolutely right.

** One of the most divisive topics in America today is abortion. The point at which life begins is an ongoing debate. And the question of when, if ever, it is okay to terminate a pregnancy is the major factor in the abortion debate. 

From the moment of conception, when the male and female reproductive cells unite, what occurs is the development of a new person over a nine-month period. The miracle of the birth of a new human being once was an almost universally valued event in our country.

Years ago, the result of passionate interludes between a woman and a man was the blessed event of a child, a new family member. Today, that result is regarded by many as an inconvenience to be corrected by ending the pregnancy through a medical procedure.

After millions of future children have been terminated before their birth, we find people who want to terminate children even after they have been born following a failed attempt at abortion.

Despite the desires of the mother, when a baby is born, that baby is a living person. It requires and is entitled to the same efforts by medical personnel to save its life as any other person in the ER, an OR, or in a patient room. Deliberately failing to provide that critical medical attention should be punishable as manslaughter, or murder.

Yet state legislators routinely defeat measures to assure that born-alive abortion survivors may be killed or allowed to die.

If a child’s life can be ended after a failed abortion on the basis of a weak rationalization based on the intent of the mother, can it be long before other rationalizations will be cited to end the lives of the elderly, or the infirm, or those with serious diseases?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

George Orwell’s vision is coming true, but his timing was off



In 1946, author George Orwell, fighting tuberculosis, isolated himself on the Scottish island of Jura to write his last book, “Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel.” The story describes a totalitarian state where the government — “Big Brother” — created the language — “Newspeak” — to control the thoughts of its citizens.

Published 71 years ago, and having gained great fame, Orwell gave us concepts like “Big Brother,” “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime,” “Newspeak,” “2+2=5,” and “memory hole.” Some of those concepts are relevant today, both in Orwell’s fictional account, and in reality.

Now, 36 years after 1984, Orwell’s dystopian society — a society in which individual freedoms suffer under government edicts and other forms of control — is forming in the United States.

It is becoming easier and easier to find evidence of the creeping impact of Big Brother-like control. Many instances go unreported, and are even unknown beyond the local area where they occur. Some, however, are reported for all to see.

The president of a libertarian think tank in Colorado, Jon Caldara, who also was the most-read opinion columnist of The Denver Post, lost his job with The Post because of a comment in a recent column. What could he have written that would deserve such strong action? “[T]here are only two sexes, identified by an XX or XY chromosome,” he wrote. “That is the very definition of binary.”

This comment is absolutely consistent with biologic science, but is a no-no in much of today’s America. You see, it does not conform to the politically correct “Newspeak” imposed on us by a relatively tiny minority of people, even though it is the scientifically correct position.

In 2018 a French teacher at West Point High School in West Point, Virginia was fired by the local school board after a four-hour hearing, an hour of which was a closed session, in a 5-0 vote. Why was Peter Vlaming fired?

Because he resisted administration orders to refer to a ninth-grade female student with male pronouns. The girl had undergone a gender transition, and insisted she be treated as a male. Vlaming resisted because it put him in conflict with his religious beliefs. He suggested to the student that he would instead use a first or last name, but that wasn’t good enough for the student. Or, apparently, the school board.

So, a teacher’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion takes a back seat to a female ninth-grader’s desire to change genders and be identified by everyone as a male. “Thoughtcrimes” are real and being punished.

This case is thought to be the first in Virginia. It likely will not be the last.

Today, on some college campuses, where the intersection of competing ideas was once a strong and valued concept, conservative speakers are shouted down or prevented from opportunities to speak, and this occurs with the unquestioned support of the school administrations.

Professors are urged, or ordered, to give prior “trigger warnings” when a topic that may upset students is scheduled. Some schools have mandated that some types of speech are restricted to “free speech zones,” so that students will not accidentally stumble on information that is at odds with their beliefs, which may upset them, or make them think. Students now have “safe zones” where they may hide from ideas differing from their own.

A fascist group called “Antifa” (short for “anti-fascist”) indulges in violence, and crosses the line of Constitutionally protected peaceful protests in public places. Members attack police, throwing eggs, bottles and other things at them. Yet the police often retreat, rather than arresting and jailing the law-breakers, and doing so forcefully if necessary. This is partly due to the generally false narrative that police frequently indulge in unnecessary violence, so they play it safe, and back off.

And Virginia’s government is now under control of the liberal/progressive elite from the DC-Richmond corridor, and the Democrat-led government has set about turning the state into California-East, despite the strong objections of a substantial portion of state residents.

This dystopian direction America is now traveling is fueled by liberal/progressive thinking, not the national government. Many people, both in and out of government, however, prefer majority rule — a strict democracy — which can be more easily turned against the people than the republican system our Founders developed.

John Adams reminded us: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

John Marshall, the highly respected fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."

Thomas Paine said, "A Democracy is the vilest form of Government there is."

The brilliant columnist Walter Williams notes that “We would no longer be a government ‘of the people.’ Instead, our government would be put in power by and accountable to the leaders and citizens of a few highly populated states. It would be the kind of tyranny the framers feared.”

But this faction doesn’t understand the reasons our nation was created as it was; a large number of Americans have no idea how much damage their desires will impose on their country.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Radical ideas by Virginia Democrats will hurt the state

From before there was a United States of America, there were future Americans in what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia. The first English settlement in North America occurred in what is now Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. 

One of the original colonies, Virginia played an important role in the American Revolution of 1775-83, and was home to numerous now-famous persons from history, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and others. 

These men were instrumental in crafting a governmental structure second to none, based upon democratic principles. But it was not, and is not, a pure democracy; it is a democratic republic. 

The United States Constitution was ratified in 1788, and it put that system of government into effect. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, which forbid federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteed a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791. 

The greatest threat in the 200-plus years the United States has existed is a rise of leftist idealism that today threatens the continued existence of America as we know it. 

If this trend continues, it is only a matter of time before our history and our traditions will be erased, and the country will have adopted socialistic concepts like those radical ideas championed by the current cast of Democrat hopefuls seeking the party nomination for president. 

California has long been a cauldron of crazy ideas and failed policies, generally leading the way toward societal collapse. But now we find a state that was one of the leaders in formation of the United States of America behaving like California, and Virginia is its name.

With a Democrat governor and Democrat-controlled General Assembly for the first time in more than 20 years, several radical ideas have been proposed in Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam and legislative leaders recently announced an 11-point ‘Virginia 2020 Plan.’ Among those 11 points are:
* Restore women’s reproductive rights.
* Raise the minimum wage.  
* Advance common-sense gun safety measures.
* Fight climate change, protect natural resources.

It all sounds so harmless, so good. But these four points from the list have great potential for very negative consequences:

* Women’s reproductive rights - removes the ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period requirement, as well as a requirement that abortion clinics meet the same standards as hospitals. 

It also loosens several restrictions on third-trimester abortions, including a requirement that three doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy would likely cause the patient’s death or “substantially and irremediably impair” their mental or physical health, expanding abortion rights during the last three months of pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy is both easier and better than ending pregnancy.

* Raise the minimum wage - enacting a $15 minimum wage will drive up unemployment, and place a hardship on small businesses. When California increased the minimum to $15, a Moody’s economist calculated that as many as 160,000 jobs would be lost, and that was just in the manufacturing sector. With the advances in technology, a higher minimum wage speeds up ending job possibilities for young people and others with limited skills.

* Gun safety measures - very aggressive anti-gun laws, including a “Red Flag law” that would allow weapons to be temporarily confiscated from legal owners, merely on the say-so of another individual that the person constitutes a danger to himself or others, all without due process. It impinges on law abiding Virginians’ Second Amendment rights.

* Climate change - Northam signed an executive order last September calling for the state to use 30 percent renewable power by 2030 and to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050. In 2018, about 64 percent of electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases). About 19 percent was from nuclear energy, and only about 17 percent was from renewable energy sources like wind and solar. 

Like the Green New Deal, the Virginia plan promises more than can be, or should be delivered, and is an attack on the local economies that still depend on jobs and revenue from fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources may someday replace other sources through natural processes, but shoving them down the throats of Virginians through government edict is neither smart nor necessary.

In addition to these goals, others liberal ideas also promise negative results:

* repealing the Right to Work law - this likely will have a negative impact on job growth. This law ensures that nobody will be denied a job because of that person’s decision to join or not join a union, and joining a union will be a choice, not a must.

* abolishing the death penalty in favor of life without parole - this action leads many states to also eventually abolish life sentences, meaning violent criminals could be released into society after serving their time. Some crimes deserve the death of the perpetrator. Leave the death penalty alone.

These measures turn Virginia away from the American design, which isn’t perfect, but is better than any other design. Who would ever have thought that a state so deeply imbedded in the nation’s founding would become one that would lead its downfall?

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Equal Rights Amendment died in 1982. But is it really dead?



The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), aimed at providing legal equality of the sexes and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, was first proposed nearly a century ago, in 1923. Four decades later, sponsored by New York Democrat Rep. Bella Abzug, with the support of well-known feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, the ERA was introduced in Congress. It was approved by the House in October of 1971 and by the Senate in March of 1972. It was then sent to the states for ratification, where more than 30 states ratified it within a year.

However, ratification requires the approval of three-quarters, or 38, of the 50 states to become an Amendment to the Constitution, and it fell short. At the seven-year deadline for its ratification set by Congress, and even after the deadline was extended to 1982 by Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter, fewer than 38 states had ratified the ERA.

In 2018, nearly 40 years after the initial and the extended deadlines had expired, the Illinois legislature adopted a resolution to ratify the ERA, making 37 of the 38 states needed for ratification. 

Earlier this month the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Democrat-controlled General Assembly became the necessary 38thstate to ratify, when the House passed the ERA. Whether this effort matters, or was just a waste of time depends upon whether the deadlines set for ratification by Congress are valid.

This situation is made even more complicated by the fact that five states which previously ratified the ERA had rescinded their approval before the initial deadline occurred. ERA advocates insist, first, that the deadlines did not end the viability of the proposal, and second, that those five states could not rescind their approval.

Logically, if Congress has the authority to pass and send to the states proposals that may become Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, it also has the authority to set a time limit for ratification of these proposals.

Advocates argue that both the initial and the extended time limits should be ignored. But if advocates thought an extension of the deadline was necessary to extend the ratification period until 1982, how can they now argue that deadlines are not valid?

Furthermore, precedent was established for Congress setting a time limit on ratification when, starting with the 18thAmendment and continuing through the last one, the 27th Amendment, Congress did set expiration dates for ratification.

Advocates’ argument that states may not rescind their ratification of the proposed Amendment also seems weak. If a state has the authority to pass a state constitution and state laws, does it not also have the authority to amend that constitution and those laws? If states can pass and amend constitutions and laws, why can they not ratify and then rescind ratification of Amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

The effort to pass the ERA in the 70s and 80s fell short, in part because of efforts of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in opposition to it. But had there been truly strong sentiment for the ERA, it would have passed then. And today, decades later, the equality between men and women has substantially improved. Why, then, is the ERA needed?

Following the Illinois vote for ratification in 2018, an article in Business Insider by Daniella Greenbaum stated that “[w]e are no longer living in a time in which women don't have the right to vote or own property. The status of women in the United States could not be more different now than it was in the 1920s, when the ERA was first written.”

Jarrett Stepman, a contributor to The Daily Signal, suggests that among the many potential problems the ERA would cause today if ratified, four deserve discussion.

“Perhaps one of the clearest results of the ERA would be that it would almost be impossible to exclude women from the draft,” he wrote. “At 18 years-old, women would have to sign up for Selective Service just like men. Though the reinstatement of the draft in the near future is unlikely, in any case in which the draft was deemed necessary, women would be included due to the ERA. Given the legal push to open up all combat roles to women, this could have potentially profound societal and individual consequences.”

The second of the four is the possible abolishment of same-sex bathrooms in public buildings. This issue has already become the subject of fierce debate, and more than a few sexual assault crimes have resulted from the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms.

The end of government-funded women-only shelters and other such facilities that help battered women and women harmed by domestic violence is a third problem.

And last, but hardly least, the ERA could force the “right” to taxpayer funding of abortion into the Constitution, at least in Medicare cases where abortion was a “medically necessary procedure,” equal to a “medically necessary procedure” for men.

However, the abortion lobby will certainly seek expansion of federal money for abortions.

Abortion is rarely “medically necessary,” given that unwanted pregnancy nearly always results from voluntary actions, not involuntary actions, like rape or incest. Given that truth, there is little reason for any federal money to be used for abortion. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Is it desperation that pushes the left to promote such crazy ideas?

Democrat Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and one of a dozen candidates for the Democrat nomination for president, offered his thoughts following the West Freeway Church shooting in Texas recently. 

“It’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.” Bloomberg said.

You could fill several large sports venues with what Bloomberg doesn't know. But as ignorant as he appears to be on this issue, you might expect him to understand that because several non-law enforcement persons had weapons at the Texas church that Sunday, rather than perhaps dozens of parishioners being killed or injured, the murderer only killed one parishioner and injured another one.

Can things go wrong in situations such as this one? Of course. But two things must not be forgotten: First, there aren't enough law enforcement officers to provide protection in every place where groups gather, and it takes valuable minutes for them to respond to calls, and second, as demonstrated by the armed parishioners of West Freeway Church, there are many law-abiding citizens who are trained and skilled enough to effectively act to end a shooting, saving many lives.

As President Donald Trump indicated in a tweet following the incident, “It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshippers,” “Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry guns!”

                                                                                    * * * * *

On the day the impeachment process got under way in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., dressed in black for the occasion, and declared, “I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment of the President of the United States.”

The House then rushed through its phase of the impeachment process, where the case against the president is to be built through testimony of witnesses with knowledge of the wrongs under investigation. The House was in such a hurry to save the country from Donald Trump that they couldn’t spare the time to have the third arm of the federal government — the judiciary — to resolve the stand-off blocking some witnesses the Democrat majority wanted to call. 

Pelosi, curiously, then put the two Articles of Impeachment the House felt rushed to create in a drawer for a couple of weeks. The House finally voted last week to transmit the Articles to the Senate where the second phase — the trial — is to take place, based upon the case developed by the House during the initial phase.

Prior to delivering the Articles to the Senate, Pelosi passed out commemorative pens made specifically to celebrate the solemn occasion that she had previously described. They completed the ceremony by singing, “We’ve Been Working On A Railroad.”

Then the group sang “We Love A Parade” as they walked across the Capital building to the Senate chamber. 

                                                                                       * * * * * *

Democrat hopefuls seem to take it as a challenge to see which of them can develop the craziest idea. Wild ideas that are both unworkable and ridiculously expensive, like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, both of which have the added element of increasing the federal government’s control over our lives, now have a new partner.

At last Wednesday’s town hall, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., unveiled another grandiose plan to decarbonize the U.S. She said that her administration will decree that any new buildings built from 2028 onwards must be carbon neutral.

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe, she declared, “What scares me is every time you go back to the scientists, they tell you two things. It's worse than we thought and we have less time. That means we've got to be willing to do things, for example, like regulation. By 2028, no new buildings, no new houses, without a zero-carbon footprint."

Back in September she described her plan to stop using fossil fuels to produce electricity. 

“I think the way we get there,” is to say, “sorry, guys but by 2035, you’re done. You’re not going to be using any more carbon-based fuels,” she said. “That gets us to the right place.”

Warren added, “In my administration, we’re not going to build any new nuclear power plants, and we are going to start weaning ourselves off nuclear energy and replacing it with renewable fuels. We’re going to get it all done by 2035, but I hope we’re getting it done faster than that. That’s the plan.”

The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) tells us that in June 2019, energy plants around the country produced a total of 352 million megawatt-hours of electricity, as follows:  Natural gas-powered plants accounted for 39% of it, coal 22%, nuclear 20%.

The preferred so-called “clean” energy sources, including hydroelectric power, provided less than 18 percent: wind less than 7 percent, solar 3.3 percent, hydro about 8 percent.

If current trends continue, the EIA projects that by 2035 renewables will generate only 24 percent of electric power, and by 2050 only 29 percent.

Warren did not explain where the rest of the needed electricity will come from.