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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cleanse the language and culture so that we offend no one

Aliens can be “aliens” no longer. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wants to refer to them in federal matters as “foreign nationals.” And if they are in the country illegally, we cannot refer to them as “illegal aliens,” they now must be transformed into “undocumented foreign nationals.”

Never mind that the proposed new designation is longer and more cumbersome, a larger problem is that the old designation is more accurate.

An “alien” is defined as: A resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization, a foreigner. “Illegal” is defined as: By law or statute, contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.

Ergo, someone from another country who is not a citizen, who is in the country without having gone through appropriate legal processes to be here, is an “illegal alien.”

This proposed change in our use of language is being insisted upon because Castro thinks the label “illegal alien” is demeaning and hurtful. This idea ought to have linguists concerned. If words with specific meaning can no longer be applied to people or situations that precisely fit that meaning, then we have a problem that we may not be able to survive.

Frankly, if you are in this country illegally, you do not deserve any special consideration in how we describe you. If you are offended by the designation you have earned for yourself by being in the country illegally, well then, go back home, and then if you want to return, do it the right way.

The solution to removing the hurtfulness of the term “illegal alien” is to be a legal alien or a legal immigrant by following immigration and/or visitation laws, not by changing a term used in federal documents since 1790 that accurately describes the person and the circumstance.

America once was about individual freedom. You could think what you wanted, pretty much say what you wanted, and within fairly limited legal bounds do what you wanted, and you didn’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time worried about whether what you thought, said or did might offend someone, somewhere.

America did not become the country so many of us grew up in and loved by worrying about offending someone by observing long-standing traditions, or doing normal, everyday things. It also did not become the great nation it once was by accommodating people whose life consists primarily of searching out things that offend them.

One right that is not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights or by the U.S. Constitution is the right to not ever be offended. And thank goodness it isn’t. Part of being an adult is being able to cope with less-than-ideal circumstances, and each of us has an obligation to the rest of us to “just deal with it” sometimes.

Instead, many people believe that when they are offended by something, others must change to suit their preferences.

A good example of over-reaction in the name of being non-offensive is that at least two school districts banned Halloween activities, one of them because 20 percent of the students could not or would not participate.

Milford, Conn. parents and other residents were angered when the school district decided to ban the popular Halloween parades at the city’s elementary schools, due to fear of excluding children who can’t or won’t participate in the tradition.

An official of the school district told the local newspaper, the Connecticut Post, “Milford Public Schools do have many children from diverse beliefs, cultures and religions. The goal is for all children to feel comfortable and definitely not alienated when they come to school.”

A petition opposing the decision read, in part: “These are our American customs and traditions and we should not have to give them up because others find them offensive!” And a school parent added, “I’m so tired of my kids missing out on some of the things we all got to do as children and are some of the greatest childhood memories I have due to others saying they find it offensive.”

The school district reversed the decision, however, some obvious questions arise: What about the vast majority who could and probably would participate? Is 20 percent the red line beyond which traditions that some don’t like can no longer exist?

Where does it stop? How few people who are offended by some activity should be able to end to it? We Americans love and treasure our traditions, and some of them have been around since before the birth of the nation.

And, finally: Is it even possible to assure, as the Milford school district intends, that all children, or adults, will always feel comfortable and never feel alienated?

President Barack Obama was likely not involved in the actions of these school districts, but these actions fit comfortably within the idea of his pledge “to fundamentally transform the United States of America.”

Fortunately, there are tens of millions of Americans who want none of it, and will fiercely resist efforts to erase treasured traditions from our lives, and further are disinclined to go crazy trying to avoid offending the terminally offended.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hillary on Drugs

Not long ago ago Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declared a war on drug prices. At a forum in Iowa she said that asking people to pay thousands of dollars for pills they need to stay alive is not how the market is supposed to work and was a sign of "bad actors making a fortune off of people's misfortune."

Indeed, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that more than 70 percent of Americans think drug costs are unreasonable and want limitations on what drug companies can charge for medicines that treat serious illnesses.

Real events feed this sort of thinking. Turing Pharmaceuticals, for example, has come under fire for a dramatic hike in the price of Daraprim, which has been used for decades to treat toxoplasmosis and more recently to treat AIDS and cancer patients. Turing purchased a quantity of the drug along with marketing rights, and hiked the price to $750 per tablet from $13.50. Such a steep increase appears to defy reason, and to make Clinton’s case, although the economic factors involved in the price hike are not discussed when Turing is getting run through the wringer.

Clinton concludes that high prices are routinely due to price gouging, as appears to be the case with the Turing price hike. That is the populist’s first response. But she either lacks understanding of how businesses work, and in particular the realities of developing needed pharmaceutical products, or she uses this emotional response to her benefit, or perhaps both.

As reported on earlier this month, “In the United States, it takes an average of 12 years for an experimental drug to travel from the laboratory to your medicine cabinet. That is, if it makes it.” And if that isn’t sobering enough: “Only 5 in 5,000 drugs that enter preclinical testing progress to human testing. One of these 5 drugs that are tested in people is approved. The chance for a new drug to actually make it to market is thus only 1 in 5,000. Not very good odds.”

Does Clinton have even a suspicion of the huge investment pharmaceutical companies have to make in the 1 drug in 5,000 that actually gets to market? reported that the Eli Lilly company blog contained a post noting that “The average drug developed by a major pharmaceutical company costs at least $4 billion, and it can be as much as $11 billion.”

And Hillary Clinton thinks the cost of pills is too high? How many pills must be sold to recoup that investment? And the lower the price, the more pills have to be sold to pay for developing a drug to help people with serious health problems.

Her solution, predictably, is more involvement by the federal government, the Democrat solution to nearly everything.

However, more than a little bit of these incredibly high investments is due to the federal government. “Regulating pharmaceutical drugs to a certain extent is important to prevent dangerous medicines from being released on the market, yet the current amount of regulation is stifling competition,” according to Scott Gottlieb, a medical doctor and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute writing in the Wall Street Journal. “The FDA has increased the security on the manufacturing process and as a result several U.S. drug plants have closed their doors. The time intensive process of approval and the recent shutdown of plants is creating drug shortages and monopolies, causing the prices of drugs to skyrocket.”

The reality is that the cost of drugs amounts to about 10 percent of health-care spending, and the amount of health-care spending used on drugs has not changed in 50 years. That could be changing.

If Clinton is really interested in bringing down the price of drugs, she would acknowledge the role over-regulation and slow approval processes play in the price of drugs, and pledge to streamline the process instead of demonizing drug manufacturers and proposing even more government intervention.

Things confirmed and learned at the first Democrat candidate debate

Most people seem to think Hillary Clinton won the first Democrat debate, and she did put forth a good showing, even if the atmosphere and comments from her opponents were decidedly soft and friendly. The other debaters did not challenge the top-rated candidate.

However, fans of Bernie Sanders disagree, believing the Vermont senator was the best of the five. Sanders is the only candidate who admits to being a socialist, a “democratic socialist” to be precise, although he found little opposition to his socialist views from the rest of the group, illustrating that the entire Democrat field shares his affection for socialist dogma.

Reviewing the comments during the debate it was confirmed – if, indeed, there was ever any question – that the Democrat Party is the party of exchanging free stuff for votes, their largess made possible by those of us who pay taxes. There was so little disagreement among the debaters that some observers think that the other four candidates have realized that Clinton will be the nominee, and they seemed to be campaigning not for the nomination, but for a position in the Clinton2 administration.

The “party of diversity” is far less diverse than the Republicans, who have 1 woman, 1 black man, 2 candidates of Cuban descent, 1 of Asian descent, some older candidates and some young candidates. The Democrats, the party of people who are around 70 years old, have 1 older white woman and 2 older white men, and two middle-aged white guys.

Based on questions, comments and crowd response, Democrats do not object to Clinton putting national security at risk by shunning the government email communications system employees are expected to use in favor of her own private system for official government communications. In order to defend the former Secretary of State one must ignore that her decision to do so was “inconsistent with long-established policies and practices under the Federal Records Act and NARA regulations governing all federal agencies,” according to congressional testimony of Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives. To the Democrats, it is merely a distraction from the business of getting Clinton the nomination.

Reports say that “journalists” in the pressroom exploded in applause and laughter when Sanders said the American people are sick and tired of hearing about the “damned emails!”

It was confirmed that the Democrat candidates and audience members believe the deaths of four Americans in the Benghazi assault are not important. It’s old news; just another distraction. Apparently those of us who think Benghazi is important, or ISIS, or the economy, the national debt, or the millions of potential workers driven out of the workforce by the lousy job market created by the slowest recovery in 80 years are clearly on the wrong track. Climate change, gun control and giving away free stuff are clearly at the top of their agenda. They seem not to understand that nothing is free.

They all think pretty much alike, and believe that any diversion from the “party line” is wrong, whereas the Republican candidates have divergent views about important issues. Their diversity causes a great deal of consternation and disagreement among GOP supporters and conservatives, but reflects the sense of our Founding Fathers that robust debate of contrary ideas is a foundational principal of good government.

Sanders scored points with the statement that the United States “should not be the country that has … more wealth and income inequality than any other country.” found, however, that the U.S. ranks 42nd in income inequality, according to the World Bank, and placed 16th out of 46 nations in the share of wealth held by the richest one percent of the nation’s citizens. Sanders’ vision of a socialist utopia cannot stand up against the glare of facts.

Clinton gave an interesting answer to the question, “Which enemy that you’ve made during your political career are you most proud of?” In addition to the NRA, the drug companies, the health insurance companies, and the Iranians, she said that the Republicans were her proudest enemy. Interesting that she compares insurance companies, drug companies, the NRA and Republicans to the Iranians.

Jim Webb, by contrast – the former Marine Corps First Lieutenant and Navy Secretary – said he was most proud of having dispatched “the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me” during the Viet Nam War. While killing that enemy soldier, Webb saved a fellow Marine, and won the Navy Cross. Clearly, his answer wasn’t as appropriate as Clinton’s.

She told viewers that what separates her from being a third term of the Obama presidency is that she is a woman, and mentioned being a woman as a good reason to elect her more than once during the debate. Remembering what happened after the manic drive to elect the first African-American president, we should be very wary of electing someone president because that person is a woman.

That is especially true of one who thinks she deserves to be elected, and cites her gender as the only reason she won’t be a continuation of the disastrous Obama presidency.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

American media abandons objectivity in order to target Republicans

California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable (sic). But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

Her defenders jumped at the opportunity to interpret that statement to mean that the Republicans held the hearings expressly for the purpose of bringing Mrs. Clinton down, an allegation that became instantly popular with the left-leaning media. Mr. McCarthy’s artless statement certainly may be read to support such an assertion, but that statement can also be interpreted in other ways. However, let’s not forget that the Select Committee was formed in May of 2014, well before Ms. Clinton appeared as an  “unbeatable” candidate.

If you read for meaning, rather than opportunity, you will notice that he also said that the hearings have shown her to be “untrustable,” a result not of Republican desires, but of Mrs. Clinton’s willful behavior that the hearings have brought to light. Her falling numbers resulted from examining her flawed performance.

Objective observers understand the Benghazi probe’s purpose is nothing other than trying to get to the bottom of a deadly foreign policy and security blunder by the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

To review, on September 11, 2012 Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi, Libya, not at the embassy in Tripoli. An armed attack on the American Consulate there occurred and ultimately resulted in the death of Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty.

The initial explanation from the Obama administration was that the attack was the result of a demonstration spawned by an Internet video, a position the administration maintained for days after the attack.

CBS News initially reported that a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi said that an angry mob had gathered outside the consulate to protest a video made in the U.S. that was offensive to Muslims, and stormed the consulate after the U.S. troops who responded to the mob’s appearance fired rounds into the air to try and disperse the crowd. CBS later reported that U.S. officials said the attack was not an out-of-control demonstration, but a well-executed assault.

The New York Times reported: "American and European officials said that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning." 

Suspicions arose because while a video could have spurred a demonstration, the attack that followed was clearly mounted by a military-type organized group, not a group of upset demonstrators. 

To decide if this investigation is legitimate, all one must do is ask and honestly answer some questions about the Benghazi attack. 

Does Congress have constitutional oversight responsibility to look into executive branch actions such as why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi at a time of increasing tensions and when an organized attack by a military-like force occurred?

Should the American people know why repeated requests from Ambassador Stevens for increased security in Benghazi prior to the assault were rejected, to know who rejected those requests, and why? 

And, who made the decision to not dispatch military units to try to help the beleaguered consulate on the basis of there not being time for them to get there when no one knew how long the assault would last? 

This legitimate and appropriate investigation produced a lot of evidence about Mrs. Clinton’s performance, and her disregard of the rules about email – including using her own email system for government emails – that every Secretary of State and other Cabinet secretaries have followed since Al Gore invented the Internet that put classified information at risk. These issues have raised numerous legitimate doubts about her fitness to be president.

Yet the media seems unconcerned with these contemptuous breaches of rules and protocol, and the failure to protect classified, perhaps top secret, information. 

Meanwhile, Rep. McCarthy, the Majority Leader who was expected to succeed Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, following his announced resignation, unexpectedly declined the position. The media went wild, trumpeting the chaos in the GOP, and somewhere along the way someone suggested that Rep. McCarthy and a female representative were having an affair.

Both he and she denied it, and no evidence – let alone proof – has been produced. Nevertheless, the subject remains a part of the story about Rep. McCarthy stepping aside.

On Fox News’ “Media Buzz” last Sunday, a panel of journalists all said it is proper for this to be part of the ongoing story, despite there being no evidence that it is true. Since viewers/readers can find references to this alleged affair on the Internet, the reasoning goes, the media are therefore obligated to cite it.

By that reasoning, any allegation made by anyone about any public figure should become part of every story about or involving that person. This is the confused state of journalism today.

Message to the media: You factually report; we’ll decide.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

How defective Republican Congressional leadership threatens liberty

Wednesday morning on Bloomberg Business TV’s “The Pulse,” host Francine Lacqua brought up the situation in the House of Representatives following House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announcing his retirement later this month. Program contributor Hans Nichols opined that a group of 40-50 Republicans that he characterized as saying no to everything, that doesn’t want to lead, and wants to shut things down, has plagued Mr. Boehner, whereas by contrast Mr. Boehner and the leadership were trying to “govern.” Although Mr. Nichols didn’t use a term to describe that group, “radical” is a term commonly used.

What Mr. Nichols misses is that the idea of “governing” employed by Speaker Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is all too similar to that of the former Democrat leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who led with such foresight that the Democrats lost control of the Congress.

Too many Americans seem not to understand that political parties evolved from differences in philosophies, which introduce a diversity of ideas into the governing process. (They like diversity, except in politics, where it is truly needed.) Thus, there is a better chance of finding good solutions to problems, when solutions are needed. And when no proposal can gather enough support among the diverse membership of the two houses, they enact no legislation.

What the “radical” faction of the Republican majority did is exactly what the Founders envisioned the Legislative Branch doing: introducing and advocating the things they believe are needed, and opposing those that they believe are not needed, or may even be harmful. Making legislation was never intended to be a smooth and easy process. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

The idea is that competing political philosophies propose ideas to address a problem and try to find areas of agreement on important and appropriate issues. Virtually every Republican or Democrat proposal contains elements that the opposing party will not agree with, but they may well – and should – contain elements that both sides can agree on. Those are what should become law, and the rest should be tabled or trashed.

This approach means that both sides get less than they want, but the country gets solutions that gather enough bi-partisan support to be approved, which likely means that a true bi-partisan solution has a fair chance of working.

It is not uncommon for Congressional Democrats to introduce legislation that they know Republicans will oppose, which then allows them to accuse the GOP of partisanship and obstructing progress for political purposes. The compliant media then engages its corruption squad to give the Democrat position nearly exclusive support.

It is a political process, after all. But which side is the more actively political: the one that opposes measures it believes are bad, or the one that designs measures to fail?

What if one party offers proposals that the other party, or a significant number of its members, can find no common ground in. What it Party A offers a measure for Party B to have his left hand amputated? Does Party B compromise on losing only a finger or two?

The “radicals” in the Republican Party oppose measures they see as antithetical to the founding principles. These are the kinds of proposals they say “No” to, and do not support.

When the Republicans gained a majority in both houses of Congress, their supporters rightly expected to see changes in the way Congress worked.  They wanted strong conservative actions from their elected representatives, in contrast to the liberal measures brought forth by the former Democrat majority.

Instead, Congressional Republican leaders have sat around while the president ignored the role and duties of the Congress to put his agenda in place. The “radical” Republicans strongly object to this failure of the legislative branch to protect its authority and do its duty. So should we all.

The Republican leadership cowers in a corner when there is pressure to bring a measure to a vote, knowing that even if the measure passes, the president will veto it. “If we know he will veto it, why waste the time it will take to pass it?” Here’s why: Because if Republicans don’t vote on and pass a measure, then they have taken no official position. The Congressional leadership will have decided the issue by inaction rather than forcing the president to take a public position by vetoing legislation passed by Congress. The majority party will have given the president an easy victory, and surrendered the right to complain about the results. This is not leadership.

The Republicans that Mr. Nichols seemingly holds in such disdain are working to uphold fundamental American political values, which is what the voters that delivered the Republicans the majority expect. If advocating fundamental principles has now become a radical activity, it demonstrates just how far the political left has moved from the principles that allowed America to grow into the most successful and free nation in history.

We must restore the founding values to the federal government: smaller, less expensive, non-wasteful, responsive, constitutional government, a government that truly serves the people who pay for it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Religious beliefs take a beating in today’s politically correct world

Issues of religious freedom have been in the news a good bit lately. Primarily, these news events occur when someone finds their religious beliefs in conflict with another person’s secular desire. A baker or a florist who regularly sells their wares to gay/lesbian customers declines to bake a cake or make floral arrangements for their wedding because their religious beliefs do not approve homosexual marriage. Despite the fact that there are many, or if not many, at least some alternatives to those bakers or florists, those who refused to provide services were persecuted and some driven out of business by the uproar the offended gay/lesbian couples instigated because these people held to their religious beliefs.

More recently, a county clerk in Kentucky refused to sign marriage licenses of gay/lesbian couples after a court ruled that treating gay/lesbian couples differently than heterosexual couples is discrimination, and therefore illegal. A judge jailed the clerk for refusing to act, despite the commonly observed practice by judges of using the least radical punishment for such problems first, and then proceeding to more stringent punishment and ultimately jail as the last resort.

This last episode is a much different situation than those previously mentioned, as it involves a government employee refusing to do her sworn duty. But the attention it received and the way the judge handled the clerk does illustrate the size of the schism between people following their religious beliefs and social preferences or legal mandates.

If there were options other than punishing these Americans for following their religious beliefs, why were bakers, florists, and others who have had similar misfortunes singled out for what may rightly be termed persecution. This point is particularly relevant in a nation in which the first right among four specifically enumerated rights in the first of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights is the free exercise of religion?

It is also relevant to note the degree to which these events attract media coverage, which highlights how unpopular traditional religious practices have become to the media and many Americans in the 21st century.

Combine a media mindset apparently hostile to religious practices with a tendency to try to tear down Republican presidential candidates and you find Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson being given rough treatment after saying that a Muslim shouldn’t be President of the United States. "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," he said a while back on NBC's "Meet the Press."

A bit later in the interview, he said, when asked about a Muslim running for Congress, that it would depend upon the individual in question. "Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just like it depends on what anybody else is," Dr. Carson said. "If there's somebody who is of any faith but they say things and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony, then I'm with them."

Host Chuck Todd also asked him whether a president's faith should matter to voters. "I guess it depends on what that faith is," he said. "If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem." Asked whether he thinks Islam is consistent with the Constitution, Carson said: "No, I don't – I do not."

Clearly, Dr. Carson believes that anyone subjugating their religious beliefs, whatever religious beliefs they may hold, to the requirements of our Constitution is the key element.

He appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” last Sunday where reporter Martha Raddatz grilled him on that same statement, either ignorant of his other comments further defining his view on the issue, or unwilling to acknowledge them. Here is part of that interview:

Raddatz: “I want to go back to your controversial comments on the possibility of a Muslim president. The question seemed quite clear. The question was: Should a president’s faith matter? You said, I guess it depends on what that faith is. The question was: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution, and you said no, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that. 

Do you stand by that now?”

Carson: “Well, first of all, you know, what I said is on a transcript and it’s there for anybody.”

Raddatz: “I’m reading the transcript, Dr. Carson, that’s exactly what you said.”

Carson: “No – read the paragraph before that where I said anybody, doesn’t matter what their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our Constitution. I have no problem with them.

Why do you guys always leave that part out, I wonder?”

Political correctness – or opposing unpopular things in favor of popular things – is the order of the day, in life and in the media.