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.