Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all “please lighten up!”

Christmas, as most of us know, is an observance celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It was a joyous and very special event from which Christian religions grew. Wise men came from afar to give the baby gifts, and over time that spirit of giving gradually evolved from a religious observance to include the giving of gifts between family and friends that occurs in many countries across the globe. 

The giving of gifts to children is an aspect that came to include the Jolly Old Elf, Santa Claus, or some other “bringer of gifts,” who delivers presents to the “good little girls and boys.” 

The celebration of Christmas is both a religious observance with annual programs in churches, and a wondrous display of lights and other decorations, benevolent giving, and good will. 

For centuries in the U.S. and elsewhere the religious and secular observances existed together in perfect harmony. Everyone enjoyed Christmas for what it meant to them and those that observed the birth of Jesus were also most often eagerly involved in the giving and receiving of gifts, putting up the tree and decorations, and the gathering of family.

But as the evolution progressed, more and more Christmas observers honored the secular aspects of the day more than its religious origins, and a lot of folks who celebrate Christmas today are not Christians and do not celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th.

And now in this, the Age of Hypersensitivity, Christmas religious traditions have become unpopular with many people, and instead of quietly and politely leaving alone those who celebrate the religious meaning of the day to enjoy it as they have for so long, a faction now has determined that religious elements are offensive to them and demand their removal so they will not be made uncomfortable by their presence.

This now widespread Christmas discomfort is not quite to the level of full-scale protests, but headed in that direction, particularly where public displays are concerned. 

Religious symbols are becoming, or perhaps are already, as unpopular as symbols of the Civil War, despite the historical value of those symbols of our past. For example, a 34-foot cross that was erected nearly 50 years ago at Pensacola, Florida’s Bayview Park has been ordered removed by a federal judge after 4 people started an action because they saw the cross when visiting the park and were unable to cope with that experience.

A federal appeals court ordered another large cross to be removed last year. Constructed in 1925 at a busy intersection in Bladensburg, MD to memorialize soldiers who died in World War I, it was deemed offensive because some saw “religion” when driving through the intersection, rather than the purpose for which the monument was privately financed and constructed.

A three-judge panel heard the case, which was decided by a two-to-one vote. Chief Judge Roger Gregory dissented, noting that the government is not required by the First Amendment to “purge from the public sphere any reference to religion.” This point no doubt will zoom past the complainers, who see only their personal displeasure and discomfort, which, of course, is more important than anything else.

The First Liberty Institute, which supports religious freedom, and represented the American Legion in the matter, said the decision “sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history.”

Where Christmas is concerned, the fact that without the growth of the observance of the birth of Jesus there would be no Christmas for people to enjoy with gifts, parties and decorations. Despite this, the offended masses think that reminders of Jesus’ birth, like nativity scenes with the baby, mother Mary and father Joseph, and the three wise men, send them into a panic, even as they open their presents under the tree.

This penchant for manic criticism of Christmas has come to include complaining about seasonal songs. Some in their imagination see sexual impropriety in the decades-old Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and think that because some relatively small number of people believe this, that the larger number who see it for what it is – a flirty song that they have liked all their lives – should be banned, denying pleasure to the many because of the objections of a few.

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is seen as encouraging bullying, rather than a song describing how Rudolph became the leader of Santa’s crew.

In what may be a sign of “things to come,” the iconic gingerbread man has been attacked by a coffee shop at the Parliament of Scotland. The political body has now demanded they be referred to as “gingerbread persons.”

Some people think that anything that makes them uncomfortable or that they don’t like for whatever reason should be immediately and permanently removed, without any consideration given to the thousands or millions who value and appreciate those things.

And what on this Earth cannot be found offensive by some small group?

However, all that has been said before must not be interpreted as a “Bah, humbug” recitation from Mr. Scrooge.

To those who celebrate Christmas: Merry Christmas!

For those who do not: Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New climate report not very different from other climate reports

There are many legitimate reasons to question the warnings of climate doom, including the millennia long history of alternating periods of warming temperatures and ice ages, demonstrating that warming and cooling periods occur naturally. 

Not the least of those reasons is the problems with climate science itself, as well as its proponents. 

The issue, of course, is for scientists to accurately determine whether and how much human activities affect Earth’s atmosphere. The record on this is spotty, at best.

The famous – or infamous – “Hockey Stick” graph that showed a sharp rise in temperatures over a rather short period of time was wrong: Bad science. But it nevertheless created a great deal of fear of a dangerously warming environment.

In 2007, NASA released data showing that contrary to the opinion of the climate change faction that the warmest year on record was 1998, the warmest year was actually 1934, and the warmest four years were in the 1930s.

NASA also released data in 2015 that challenged the 2013 conclusions of organizations including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that Antarctica was losing land ice. NASA’s data showed the opposite: that Antarctica was in fact gaining ice.

In October, a scientific paper published in the journal “Nature” suggested ocean temperatures had risen roughly 60 percent higher than estimated. However, it was soon discovered that this frightening finding was due to a mathematical error.

And, although he’s not a climate scientist, and doesn’t even play one on TV, we can’t overlook Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” a movie that provided gross misinformation, based upon predictions of doom of the grave threat of global warming. In 2006, The Washington Poststated that Gore "believes humanity may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan."

Well, 2019 is nearing, and things are roughly the same as they were at the time of Gore’s huge miscalculation. But no matter how far from reality his prognostications have been, his bank account swells pretty much in parallel with the growth of his carbon footprint. If carbon dioxide is so grave a problem, shouldn’t people like Gore show us the way to correcting that problem with their own behavior?

While Gore has implemented green energy mechanisms in his own home, he buys “carbon credits” to cover for his other excesses.

The day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday, interestingly enough – the 1,700-page National Climate Assessment went public, re-igniting fears of mass deaths, global food shortages, economic destruction, and national security risks resulting from climate change.

However, in keeping with past climate doom reports, this one also has some problems, which Nicholas Loris of the Heritage Foundation has discussed. Among the weaknesses he found are exaggerated economic costs.

One claim is that the worst climate scenario could cost the U.S. 10 percent of its gross domestic product by 2100, more than twice the percentage that was lost during the Great Recession. This is based on the assumption that the Earth’s temperature will increase by 15 degrees Fahrenheit, even higher than the worst-case scenario predicted by the IPCC. Is that realistic?

Further, “It estimates nearly impossible levels of coal consumption, fails to take into account the massive increase in natural gas production from the shale revolution, and ignores technological innovations that continue to occur in nuclear and renewable technologies,” according to Loris.

Even if climate data and the predictions resulting from it are accurate, how people react to this crisis is also relevant, and often problematic. See “Paris, December 2018,” where political climate change is actually occurring.

The protests followed the imposition of a fuel tax announced by French President Emmanuel Macron to curb diesel usage and invest in greener technology. For French citizens living in rural areas, where driving is a big deal, the tax would be very painful. Another factor is the immediate pain of higher taxes today for results to be achieved years or decades in the future.

And then there are the celebrity supporters of climate change measures who expect the rest of us to toe the line while they go along their merry way creating large carbon footprints.

Furthermore, if climate change is actually being significantly affected by the activities of mankind, who are the biggest offenders?

Well, you may be surprised to learn that the United States is neither a big offender, nor the least of those imposing carbon emission restrictions on its own citizens.

So, if action really needs to be taken to prevent the destruction of mankind and the planet, China and India are the first two places that need to change their ways. And there are many others who have not joined in, while the U.S. heads the list in reducing carbon emissions.

And, we cannot ignore that some of these climate scientists are activists, who have a political perspective that is fertilized by ample research dollars for the “correct” opinions on climate change.

No one, or at least few of us, wants to pursue a path that will actually be harmful to us, or our environment. But we must have truthful, accurate information upon which to determine our course of action. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Just when you think you’ve heard the weirdest thing possible …

Politics is many things: maddening, confusing, dirty, crazy. A recent example is Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a #NeverTrumper who did not seek reelection in November, and has decided that he will oppose every effort to confirm President Donald Trump’s judicial and other nominees during the remaining weeks of his term, unless there is a bill put forth to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

This position is odd for a couple of reasons. First, the reason for holding up a vote on a nominee or voting against one is that you believe the nominee is not fit for the position. Second, there is no indication that Trump, after one and one-half years of Mueller’s investigation, intends to fire him, even though he has the clear authority to do so if he chooses, for any reason, or for no reason.

Such a bill raises constitutional questions, as well, since a law that effectively raises an administration employee, which Mueller is, above the authority of the president in effect creates a fourth branch of government.

And then there’s the new Darling of the DNC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young Democrat elected to represent a New York district. The new representative is loved by both the Left and the Right, but for very different reasons.

The Left loves her because she is young and appeals to their idea of shaking things up. The New York Times termed the young member of the Democratic Socialists of America a “28-year-old giant slayer” when she defeated 19-year incumbent Representative Joseph Crowley in the primary.

The Right loves her because of her frequent gaffs; she seems to have little knowledge about the way the country works, among other things. She not long ago informed the country that America’s government has “three chambers of Congress.” Realizing the mistake, she corrected to “three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House."

She champions renewable energy, believing it can cure many ills. “[T]he transition to 100 percent renewable [energy is] the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States.”

And to top it off, in a Twitter dustup with Donald Trump, Jr., she threatened to use the House subpoena power against him. That’s a no-no.

After the 2016 election there was talk of doing away with the Electoral College because were it not for that system Hillary Clinton – the person in all of time who was supposed to win the presidency – would have become president, since she won the popular vote.

Another Democrat wants not only to do away with the Electoral College, but the United States Senate, as well.

As reported by The Washington Times, “Former Democratic Rep. John Dingell, the country’s longest-serving congressman, called for the abolishment of the Electoral College and the Senate, arguing against the ‘disproportionate influence of small states’ that paralyzes the lawmaking and electoral processes.”

Whether Dingell, with more than 59 years in Congress, either was never taught the reasons for the brilliant design of our government, or perhaps just wants to grease the wheels for Democrats to speed transforming the United States of America into another socialist catastrophe, a la Barack Obama, is open to debate.

The Senate’s design of two from each state and the Electoral College as the deciding electoral factor were very deliberate mechanisms to insure that the states maintained some independence and that population centers like New York City and California would not run roughshod over the less populated areas of the country. They both are obstacles the Left would love to eliminate.

A Facebook post laid bare the ignorance of at least some of the legions of Trump detractors. When Trump saluted the flag-draped coffin of former President George H.W. Bush, he was criticized for saluting without having served in the U.S. military. Apparently, no one – or at least not Trump – may salute without having earned the privilege.

The post, however, showed photos of former president’s Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who also dared to salute without having served in the military, which, if memory serves, did not generate any criticisms.

And we find performers in the anti-Trump media, sometimes known as the “fake news” media, who criticize Trump’s combative “take no prisoners” style as offensive, as well as nearly everything else he does, says or even is thought to be thinking. One such performer said during the funeral of George H.W. Bush that Trump’s style, in sharp contrast to Bush’s gentlemanly style, has debased the presidency.

But history shows us that politics has always been a rough and tumble activity, and that Trump has much company in his caustic style. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams may have set the standard in 1796, and the 1828 contest between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson has been called as the dirtiest in American history.

So many of the crazy things that we witness today result from the tremendous amount of things that people don’t know: ignorance. And the poster child for that sad characteristic may be New York’s Representative-elect Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Hypersensitivity and victimhood have risen to epidemic levels

Have you noticed how so many things that lay quietly beneath our awareness for so long have now risen to crisis proportions? And how sensitive people are today; how touchy; how judgmental?

Things from the past that have no bearing on what’s going on today send people into spasms, demanding relief from these things that really have no actual effect on them.

The American south in the Civil War, for example, drives people to want to destroy important vestiges of American history because of something that happened more than 150 years ago.

One does not have to be a defender of slavery or the War Between the States to understand the importance of knowing and preserving history, even those parts of it that are not sources of pride, or may in fact be sources of shame. As wonderful a place as it is, America has not always been and is not now without problems. But why destroy reminders of what actually happened in the past instead of protecting them and using them to learn?

This sensitivity for historical things has expanded to include things that once were mundane, everyday happenings. Some of them were indeed negative, but we had learned to deal with them, rise above them. 

These things were not as serious as bullying, sexual harassment, or other such transgressions. They were minor annoyances: things didn’t go your way; you didn’t win the race; you heard things you disagreed with. These things did not send people hiding from reality.

But recently there has been an epidemic of people reacting strongly to hurt feelings and feeling serious disappointment over little things.  Unfortunately, this condition has found a sympathetic ear on many college campuses, where safe spaces are routine and trigger warnings are to be issued by instructors prior to the delivery of any classroom or other material that may upset someone.

Perhaps this sort of thinking came initially from K-12 education where school administrators decided no student should ever be made to feel bad and therefore every participant in events receives a trophy or other reward just for being there. 

Indeed, some educators have decided that recognizing the two highest academically ranked graduating seniors, the valedictorian and salutatorian, also may cause hard feelings, and has been discontinued so that those that didn’t make the grade will not suffer humiliation.

Now, many subscribe to the idea that whatever someone objects to must be recognized by everyone, even if most people disagree with doing so. This has subverted the idea of working to achieve success and of individual freedom.

Robious Middle School in Midlothian, Virginia has decreed that because some members of the school choir have said they were uncomfortable singing a Christmas song that mentioned Jesus, any Christmas song that mentions him is now verboten. It doesn’t seem to matter to the powers that be that were it not for Jesus there would be no Christmas or Christmas songs, or that Christmas is a traditional holiday going back centuries.

Apparently it did not occur to anyone that merely saying the word “Jesus” or singing it in a musical performance does not mean that a person does or should believe in Jesus, and therefore should not create trauma for anyone. Given the lack of common sense in this case, if the choir cannot sing “Away In A Manger” because the word Jesus is in the lyric, is the band then forbidden to play it?

There are now signs of rebellion to these politically correct over-reactions and the growing degree of personal effrontery. Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a private evangelical Christian university in Bartlesville, OK. Its president, Dr. Everett Piper, describes an event he experienced in a letter to students.

“This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt ‘victimized’ by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.”

Piper, who has been recognized for his defense of intellectual freedom, went on to discuss how our culture has taught young people to be self-absorbed and narcissistic, and when their feelings are hurt, they see themselves as victims.

The title of the letter is a wonderful wake-up call to students: “This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!” 

In it, he offers pieces of advice, such as:
* If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for.
* At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered.
* Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place,” but rather, a place to learn.
* This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

The practice of coddling young people instead of helping them become mature adults is much more serious than many people understand. And the sooner it is reversed and kids have to confront unpleasant experiences and learn to deal with them, the better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Globalism poses a silent threat to all America is and has been

A word that is used rather frequently these days is “nationalist,” frequently when people refer to President Donald Trump. That term is generally used as a pejorative to accuse Trump of viewing America as the nation superior to all others, but more than that as the country that should dominate all others in every way imaginable.

This point of view is the result either of people who don’t understand Trump, or those who deliberately attempt to gin up resentment and negative feelings toward the president. There are more than enough of both types of these folks to go around.

Trump has even adopted the term for himself, but his use of it is that of “patriotism,” or having strong positive feelings about America, as well as a devotion to it. That is a position that every president needs and must have. 

Many of these folks who call Trump a nationalist are the polar opposite of that mistaken image of Trump; they are globalists. They are One World Government types, who believe and work toward a massive control mechanism everyone on Earth must obey. It would be like the United Nations on steroids. 

If your initial reaction to that idea is, “That’s not going to work. There are too many nations with different ideas of how things should be,” you have a point. 

Sure, some nations will willingly go along, like Germany and some of the others in the European Union, and some others elsewhere on the globe. The United States, however, has for its entire history done things its own way and been very successful doing that. To most clear thinking Americans, globalism is not on their bucket list, though it may be at the bottom of a trash bucket.

The only way the US will be a part of a world government is if we are forcibly made to conform or, more likely, subverted into subservience. Through such a process, strong social elements gradually are taken over and used to feed propaganda to the public. We see the news media and education systems now being transformed from their fundamental beneficial purposes to these socialist tools. 

The global warming/climate change mania is another area that is used to gently induce Americans to accept the concepts of global government through scare tactics of impending global doom. People believe this despite the highly blemished record of the climate change faction that includes outright fraud. Recently, another fallacy in this leftist demagoguery was discovered.

A scientific paper published last month in the world’s premier scientific journal “Nature” suggested ocean temperatures have risen roughly 60 percent higher than estimated. That’s scary, and numerous mainstream-media outlets widely and uncritically reported this finding.

However, mathematician Nic Lewis easily caught an error in this study: Despite the paper being automatically trusted and published in the journal, “a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results,” Lewis said. The authors have, acknowledged their “error.” Have you heard about this in the mainstream media?

Americans were once a group of strong, independent, self-determining men and women. We find many now who are well down the pothole-infested road to surrendering to the socialist pap that grows so quickly, being well fertilized by feel-good leftist propaganda.

Their susceptibility to such venom is in large part the result of failing critical social systems: the family, education, and the information media.

The strong, nurturing nuclear family is in shambles, and our natural defenses, our protection against dopey ideas have been weakened through professional malfeasance in the other areas.

The agenda media, that part of the news media with a clear political purpose in all it says and does, misinforms, and by careful cherry picking of news items, denies important information to the public. Such actions clearly justify President Trump’s declaring this group “the enemy of the people.”

Many teachers, especially in elite colleges and universities, apparently failed or skipped their Integrity 101 class, and now rather than helping students learn basic subject matter, believe it’s more important that they help them learn how to think “correctly” about things. 

Public education at the K-12 level helps in this effort. For some unexplained reason, there is less, or little, emphasis in teaching actual American history and classes in civics where students learn about their government, how it works and why it was established as it was.

Consequently one or more generations of Americans are un-educated or mis-educated about the fundamental principles and mechanisms of their country, which are essential to understanding America, and appreciating it for all that it is. 

Is it any wonder that so many are able to be deceived and accept notions that are contrary to the country’s principles and best interest? These folks are prime targets for the platitudes of the leftist globalist puffery.

Much of this degeneration began back in the 60s and got a boost during the catastrophic Obama administration, where America was routinely dishonored and criticized by the now former president.

Re-educating the mis-educated generations is s daunting challenge, but it can’t be ignored.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Investigators: Coming to the House of Representatives in January

According to historical precedent, the political party that does not hold the presidency makes gains in the mid-term election. That was confirmed earlier this month as the Democrats will take the majority in the House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January. 

According to NBC News, “In every midterm election since the Civil War, the president's party has lost, on average, 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate.” While they did not get the benefit of the Blue Wave they had predicted and hoped for, they did post decent gains in the House, with 34 seats won, and five others still undecided as this is written. They did not, however, meet the average gains in the Senate, as Republicans gained one seat and another will be decided with a run-off Nov. 27th.

As Election Day neared, Democrats were expecting to be voted into committee chair positions and expressed their ideas on just what their committees would do should they gain the majority. Investigations headed the list.

The Huffington Post published a list of 52 investigations the Democrats may pursue: Democratic members had asked the Republican majority “to issue subpoenas related to the administration’s conduct 52 times during the first 20 months of Donald Trump’s presidency. Republicans turned down each of those 52 requests. If Democrats held the committee gavel, the subpoenas would be approved.”

The Democrat A-Team is lined up and ready to start investigating. “The Investigators” include: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) the House Intelligence Committee; Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the House Oversight Committee: Rep. Maxine Waters, (D-CA) the Financial Services Committee; all to be led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if she indeed is elected Speaker of the House, as she expects.

Following is a list of nine topics that the Post believes will be the focus of investigations: Trump’s corruption; private email correspondence; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; Michael Flynn; the 2016 campaign; government reorganization; security clearances and classification; failure to produce documents; census 2020.

One could not be faulted for believing from the public comments of prominent Democrats that the sole purpose of the Democrat-controlled House will be to investigate Trump into total paralysis. How smart.

Instead of working to secure the border and get control over illegal immigration, we can expect Democrats to work for the status quo, and champion legal status for “Dreamers.”

Unable to understand that the root of “gun violence” is violence and not guns, expect more efforts to weaken Second Amendment protections for law-abiding citizens through ominous gun control measures.

Various Democrats have shown much disdain for the tax cuts enacted last year, and Pelosi has referred to them as “crumbs.” Repealing the tax cuts, or working to undo much of the good they have produced will be high on their list.

The Democrat plan is to increase the top marginal tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent, nearly 3 percentage points, or a 7 percent increase. While they think this will properly punish the “filthy rich,” this is a direct tax increase on small and mid-sized businesses, the group that hires the most Americans.

These things are directly against the best interest of nearly every American.

The Club for Growth, which is no Trump fan club, said this about what has occurred in the first year of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. “So, what have we seen in the year since passage of the largest tax cut package ever? Great things!”

Some examples:
* Despite the “new normal” of 2.0 percent GDP, according to the naysayers in 2016, GDP has grown by 3 percent over the past four quarters, and hit 4.2 percent in Q2 2018.
* The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.7 percent, its lowest point since 1969.
* The ratio of unemployed workers to open jobs hovered at a record low in September.
* Tax collections have embarrassed the Congressional Budget Office’s estimators by being significantly higher than estimates.

What a wonderful thing it would be for the country if the new House majority would take the good things that are going on and work to increase the good things, rather than try to undo them and return to the economic doldrums of the Obama years, one of the slowest recession recoveries on record.

Instead of protecting illegal entrants and punishing law abiding citizens with onerous gun control laws, why not work to reduce the size, negative impact and cost of government, bringing the enormous national debt, that their last president doubled, down at the same time?

True, they must forego the satisfaction they would achieve by hounding the duly elected President of the United States, but perhaps they could soothe their hurt feelings with the knowledge that they are doing the right thing for their constituents. 

Now there’s a novel idea.

But it’s a fool’s errand to expect the Democrats to suddenly get over their hurt feelings of losing an election they thought they were going to win, and then add insult to injury at having their biggest enemy have so many successes.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

News journalism badly needs self-correction

As we consider the state of things in America today, we see important areas of American life that have weakened as the years have passed. Among them are the nuclear family, public education, higher education, and the general sense of what America is all about.

This devolution has also affected news journalism. Today, quite a few of those practitioners are persons who, rather than being committed to professional ethics, are instead folks who pay allegiance to their personal inclinations. And generally they seem to be in some of the most visible and influential news outlets in the country.

Following the dramatic dustup in the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room last week that got all the news folk talking, Al Jazeera’s Jeffrey Ballou said President Donald Trump's remarks to CNN’s Jim Acosta and others "may be free speech, but beyond the pale of respecting the constitutionally enshrined role of journalists."

That statement brought this from a long-time news journalist, Wesley Pruden, editor emeritus of The Washington Times, and a man who worked his way up from beat reporter to editor: “That was a new one to me, though I have been in this business, man and boy, for a lot of years. I never knew I was someone so grand as to be "constitutionally enshrined."

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a free press, and that might be seen as enshrinement of journalism’s role, but the Amendment does not enshrine any person or set of individuals, not even reporters.

Watching the behavior of some of the media personalities in the Brady Briefing Room of late clearly demonstrates that some reporters believe they are personally enshrined. And this fit of egomania explains how someone can cast off the restraints of professional ethics in favor of one’s own political agenda when doing the hard and important work of reporting what is really happening in the country and its government.

News journalists defend an important element in America: They are to provide true, accurate, timely and important information to the people, so that they are properly informed and able to make intelligent decisions.

“The Journalists Creed” is a statement of “the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world,” as described by Fourth Estate, and is displayed in the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Creed is the product of Walter Williams, the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism in 1914.

It reads, in part: “I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.”

The failures of news journalism have been termed “fake news” by the president. That includes which topics are presented or not, taking things out of context, exaggeration, and outright falsities.

The existence of “fake news” and the episode in the Brady Press Room last week are evidence of the waning of professionalism and the advancement of ego among the big names in news.

With television and now the Internet, the face of news journalism has changed. Network news personalities are sometimes viewed as stars, and some have egos to match their celebrity status.

Pruden weighs in on this aspect: “The real reporter is happy to answer to ‘reporter,’" he wrote, and “knows better than to try to make himself more important than he is by becoming part of the story.”

“Newspapermen never aspire to celebrity, even the cheesy celebrity accorded by television,” Pruden commented, “and are willing to abide rebuke and worse, even by a president, if that's what it takes to get the story.”

Tough questions are fair and expected from reporters in all areas of news media. What is not expected or acceptable is what happened that day.

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta became not just part of the story, but its star, with his statement challenging Trump’s characterization of the alien caravan as an invasion. Making matters worse, he refused to cease and desist his flurry of questions as instructed by the president, who was trying to move on to other reporters.

As he kept shouting follow-ups after being dismissed by Trump, a White House intern, whose job is to get the microphone from one reporter and deliver it to the another reporter, found Acosta refusing to let her have it.

He, and others, as well, either forgot or have not learned that the White House person that is providing the information and answers to questions is in charge of the event, not the reporters. They are not above the rules of good conduct, even as they press for answers.

Freedom of the press is a critical element in our country and must not be infringed. That does not mean, however, that reporters and other news people can do anything they please without being called out for it and/or disciplined.

Continued breaches of the important duty of reporting news will bring about responses that journalists will not like. Therefore, some serious self-correction is advised, and the sooner, the better.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The economy’s strong performance has Trump enemies all flummoxed

Citing President Donald Trump’s “nativist fear” in the opening paragraph of an article in The New York Times titled “Republicans Have a Humming Economy to Tout, but Trump Rhetoric Muddies the Message,” writers Astead W. Herndon and Sydney Ember proceeded to analyze the economy of Trump’s second year.

The article does a passable job of showing the strength of the economy, and it fairly criticizes Trump’s penchant for careless or objectionable language and how it interferes with good news.

Here are some reminders of the economy’s strength:
* 250,000 jobs added in October: Hotels and restaurants added 42,000 jobs; health-care companies hired 36,000 workers; manufacturers filled 32,000 jobs; construction companies took on 32,000 workers
* Unemployment 3.7 percent
* Average Hourly Earnings have risen 3.1 percent over the last year
* Third quarter GDP +3.5 percent

However, Herndon’s and Ember’s comment, "President Trump’s blistering message of nativist fear has become the dominant theme of the campaign’s last days..." is an attention-getter.

“Nativist” clearly implies that Trump favors the interests of Americans, as if it is wrong for the leader of a country to favor that nation over others.

Adding the word “fear,” however, drives the article over the cliff. It charges Trump with being afraid of immigrants and for the country to allow people to immigrate here. That’s an interesting position for a man to hold who has an immigrant wife. It’s equally as foolish as the criticism that he is anti-Semitic, with a son-in-law who is Jewish and a daughter who married him who has adopted Judaism.

As Herndon and Ember are reporters, neither having psychology or psychiatry credentials, their analysis of the president is immediately thrown open to suspicion of reportorial bias, which, of course, is unheard of at The Times (cough, cough).

To any thinking person, the idea that we should at long last secure our borders and tighten up immigration policy to prevent gang members, murderers, drug dealers, child traffickers and other undesirables from getting into the country is a no-brainer.

Not content to go quietly into that good night like his predecessors have sensibly done, Barack Obama, the blessedly formerpresident, is making the rounds criticizing his successor.

Since Election Day 2016 when Trump was declared the winner, the economy has been doing great, and as time has passed that performance has only gotten better. But Obama claims to have started it all  “Where do you think that started?” he asked an audience.

Obama took office in January 2009, as the recession was winding down, officially ending in June. Called “The Great Recession,” the period of contraction lasted 18 months, less than half that of The Great Depression.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta called the recovery “atypical and very weak compared to other post World War II recoveries.” Obama’s policies were responsible for this.

After a recession the economy will eventually produce a weak recovery pretty much on its own, but needs help to prosper. Like a car out of gas at the top of a hill, it can roll toward the filling station on its own until it hits flat land. Then it needs help. Under Obama’s watch, he used the brake on the downhill roll, and didn’t push after that. And that is his basis for taking credit for today’s good economy.

What has transpired since Trump won the 2016 election had nothing to do with anything Obama did, because the results we see today came from doing the opposite. Remember Obama saying, “When somebody says  … that he’s going to bring all these jobs back. Well how exactly are you going to do that?” … “What magic wand do you have?”

Trump’s response: “Here, hold my coffee!”

Obama now defends the thousands of people traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. border, with the idea of busting through our border as they did in Guatemala and Mexico.

"Now the latest, they're trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees," Obama said, imitating a contestant in a stand-up comedy tryout.  “They’re telling you the existential threat to America is a bunch of poor refugees 1,000 miles away,” Obama said. “They’re even taking our brave troops away from their families for a political stunt at the border. And the men and women of our military deserve better than that.”

As poet Browning said (sort of), “How do I deceive thee? Let me count the ways.”
* Impoverished and mal-nourished? It’s no picnic, but people provide food along the way and often transportation, thanks to their financial backers.
* A serious threat? Yes. Existential? No. Obama grossly exaggerated.
* A bunch of poor refugees? Some of the 5,000–7,000 no doubt are; some, perhaps many, surely are not.
* Taking troops away from their family? Troops deploy; they are sent places, as Obama surely remembers from sending them to the border, and to Eastern Europe.

The Democrats’ desperation is palpable. They’ve resorted to threats, intimidation, exaggeration and untruths trying to save their party in today’s election, and to save the country from the good things that have occurred since that great Election Night in 2016.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Political shenanigans and crimes dominate political landscape

When it comes to which political party has received the most serious bad treatment, last week’s mail bomb threat targeting Democrats definitely ranks high. Even though it appears the “bombs” were built so that they wouldn’t explode, the idea of someone mailing bombs to people for political purposes is quite unsettling.

Among the targets of the devices were former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and 11 others.

One of the many honest-to-goodness experts on bombs appearing on TV analyzed the situation this way: The person who did that was either not trying to hurt anyone, or was the world’s worst bomb-maker.

Another important factor is that most of the bombs actually never made it to their recipient. Bad addresses, discovery by postal employees and Secret Service agents before delivery prevented recipients from actually getting delivery, although one made it to the home of Democrat funder George Soros, and another made it to the mailroom of CNN’s New York offices. That one was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, though Brennan is a NBC News contributor and has no public ties to CNN. Some of CNN’s offices were evacuated s a result.

Had these “bombs” detonated, this would be the most serious on the list of political crimes and persecutions. But since they did not, far and away the most serious is the shooting at a House Republican baseball practice last June where a lone gunman, a Bernie Sanders devotee, opened fire on the team. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise nearly died from gunshot wounds, and is still recovering from them. Three other people were wounded.

While several republicans were harassed while trying to merely have a meal in a restaurant, and Senate Republicans were harassed as they walked the Halls of Congress, these things happened to a Democrat only once that made the news.

Certain media outlets and politicians like to lay blame for this hostility and violent behavior at the feet of our overly frank Commander-In-Chief, President Donald Trump. His attitude and language much too frequently stir the ire of people, especially Democrats.

But we must not overlook the sterling performances in unacceptable comments coming from angry Democrats, as well. They include Hillary Clinton, California Rep. Maxine Waters, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Attorney General Eric Holder. All of them have issued statements that fire up the anti-Trumpers, and anger Republicans. Waters leads the pack with her encouragement to confront administration officials in restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and where ever they are seen.

Democrat activists have hassled Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his wife, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and her spouse and children, Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Neilson and a friend, all while they were minding their business enjoying a meal at a restaurant. Not content to harass Neilson at dinner, the mob appeared at her home later, blasting loud noises from the street.

To date, the only Democrat in the news to have endured this treatment is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was harassed at a campaign event in Florida by what was described as a “mob” that called her a communist, among other things.

And then earlier this month we have the letters containing a “white powdery substance,” a couple of them identified as containing deadly ricin, targeting President Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and Sen. Ted Cruz’s Houston campaign headquarters. Two Cruz staffers were hospitalized. 

Two weeks later, and following her wonderful comments as she announced her support for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Maine Sen. Susan Collins received a suspicious letter at her home. Police were notified. In tweets, the letter writer claimed the letter was contaminated with ricin, but no harm was reported. Why so little news coverage of these events?

Naturally, those who support the victims of these acts blame the other side. Trump is the most common alleged perpetrator. However, as disturbing as all of these aggressive comments are, the blame needs to fall on those that actually carry out the harassment, mail letter bombs or ricin letters, or shoot up a baseball practice.

While the wild and crazy comments of the president and Congressional Democrats may affect their followers’ attitudes and thinking, their comments are just words. They are not orders that must be followed. And so long as they do not actually encourage violent acts are merely ill-advised speech.

Therefore, the responsibility for these acts is the sole responsibility of the person who committed the act. Bernie Sanders is not responsible for the near killing of Steve Scalise; the guy who decided to commit an illegal act is responsible. 

And Donald Trump is not responsible for a crazy ne’er-do-well sending phony bombs to Democrats; the ne’er-do-well is. And, Donald Trump is also not responsible for the nut-job who shot up the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburg killing 11 innocent people and wounding four others.

We must learn to assign responsibility where it belongs, not where it feels good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The country’s election system needs dramatic overhaul and reform

We’ve all seen the political ads for the upcoming election, right? We’ve all likely found many of them to be smear pieces, using exaggeration, taking words out of context, and using unflattering photos or pieces of videos of opposing candidates to make them look bad, or stupid, or both.

It is not important to the producers of these ads that their content accurately represents the opposing candidate’s character, record, actual spoken words, or positions on issues. What is important is that they create a negative impression and a negative vote.

Nearly always, these ads are not directly the work of an opposing candidate’s campaign staff, but the work of an independent group — maybe a political action committee (PAC) — that supports another candidate and works to get him or her elected by trashing the opponent. The candidate favored by the ad has little, if anything, to do with the ad, and therefore cannot be held responsible for whatever untruths or other dirty tricks may be employed.

Many of these ads contain a statement to the effect that no candidate supports the ad. It is junk such as this that helps give politics its well-deserved reputation of being a sewer. These ads should be outlawed.

Another thing that stretches the bounds of decency is that much, or sometimes most of a candidate’s financial support comes from people or entities he or she does not represent. A candidate in South Carolina may get financial support from people and organizations in California, New York, Missouri, or any or all of the other states in the union.

Why should any candidate in a state or local race receive financial support from people and organizations in other states? Why is this allowed?

There are other problems with our political system, and many of them involve the system of elections. For example, some “Americans” think it is okay for people to vote who are not eligible to vote. And they openly advocate for that.

One such person is a candidate for governor of Georgia. Of the Democrats’ blue wave that they hope will sweep the nation she said, after listing some of the kinds of people who comprise the wave,  “It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

This person is the Democrat candidate, Stacey Abrams. She is a lawyer and has served in the Georgia General Assembly, and ought to know better.

While many deny the reality, non-citizens do vote in our elections, as do some who have been dead for years or months, and some who vote under more than one name, and some who are registered in more than one state.

Here is just one example, as reported by the McClatchy Washington Bureau: Habersham County's Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state's primary elections in May. But 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state's office, indicating a 243 percent voter turnout.

Here is another: ABC News reports that the California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted last week that a mistake caused as many as 1,500 noncitizens being registered to vote in the state.

That there are ineligible voters in every election in the United States is not in question. What is in question is how many are there and how often do they affect one or more races.

Russians being blamed for a poor candidate’s loss in 2016 does an effective job of distracting the people from the actual problem of illegal voting that occurs in every election.

Our elections have lots of problems. The Trust the Vote Project cites voting machines as one of them, noting the potential for manipulation by cyber criminals. 

Other elements also can be problematic. Early voting, for example, is convenient, and it may be the easiest way for some people to vote in some circumstances. But voting is a critical duty of citizens, and convenience is not the primary concern when important duties are the topic of discussion. Things can happen after an early vote has been cast, but before Election Day, that could have influenced someone’s vote. But after the vote has been cast, it cannot be changed.

Another is that any person can claim to be an eligible, registered voter, but without a photo ID requirement, their identity is less easily verified, allowing voter fraud to occur.

The two most important aspects of voting are, first, that everyone who is eligible to vote be registered to vote, and study the candidates and the issues, make informed and thoughtful decisions about them, and then express their preferences at the polls.

The second is that election officials make an honest and determined effort to be sure that no ineligible person votes in any election, and further that anyone who breaks voting laws is prosecuted and justly punished.

The US has a long way to go to strengthen and secure the election process. We do our nation and ourselves a great disservice by not focusing on improving and securing the election procSess.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hurricanes and the IPCC report crank up climate catastrophe talk

The devastation resulting from this year’s hurricane season has once again spurred the climate change faction into action. Combined with a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these horrible storms regenerated the predictions of doom and gloom from that group of scientists who get paid lots of money, green money, and work overtime to convince us to ignore the substantial contrary scientific data that the end is going to come, and now it is even closer than the last time they cranked up the Scare Machine.

The IPCC report suggests that a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures over the next 22 years would be catastrophic. The New York Timestook this to mean that we face “a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

Weighing in on this renewed crisis, political commentator Ben Shapiro addressed it in his column “No, Global Warming Isn’t The End Of The World. Here’s Why,” last week.

“The report urges a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to prevent that imminent doom,” he wrote. “The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.” 

Shapiro added that the consequences of this approach would be devastating. “Some of those changes could include an attempt to direct 5-10 percent of global capital revenues toward investment in public works projects, plus a $27,000 tax on each ton of carbon by 2100 – equivalent to roughly $250 per gallon tax on gasoline.”

All of which made Eric Holthaus and other confused socialists break out the champagne. Holthaus, of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, cheered the dismantling of capitalism that will follow this really foolish idea: “If you are wondering what you can do about climate change: The world's top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilization and a habitable planet. I mean, if you are looking for something to do.”

Imagine that: a creature of academia that wants to do away with capitalism! 

Some interesting data addressing emissions is the “BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2018” chart showing the ten countries with the largest reductions of CO2 emissions and the ten countries with largest increases in CO2 emissions.

Leading the world in reductions in CO2 emissions in 2017 is – wait for it – the United States with more than 40 tons of reductions. The next three are the Ukraine, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. At the other end the four with as much or more in increases as the U.S. had in reductions are:
* the European Union - 40+ million tons
* Turkey – 40+ million tons
* India – 90+ million tons
* China – nearly 120 million tons

America leads the world in CO2 reductions, but four contributors each negate America’s efforts. One contributor produces twice as much as we reduced, and another produces four times what we reduced. And yet, America must do more, they say. 

The Earth has been heating and cooling for thousands, probably millions, of years; warming and cooling periods are not unusual. The terms “global warming” and “climate change” do not adequately illustrate how the Earth’s global temperature behaves. 

To provide some understanding, a chart produced by climatologist Cliff Harris and meteorologist Randy Mann covering temperatures from 2500 B.C. up to the present and looking ahead to 2038 A.D. shows the warming and cooling cycles, and should assist in understanding what is happening. 

In this 4500-year period, there have been at least 75 major temperature swings, the chart explains. The warmest temperature occurred in 1100 B.C., and the coolest temperature, by far, occurred in The Little Ice Age sometime near 1600 A.D. The warmest “recent” temperature occurred in about 1300 A.D. For most of the 4500 years, no numbers are used to indicate temperatures.

The normal temperature is 57°F. The warmest temperature using actual numbers was 58.3°F in 1998, and the coldest was estimated at 54.3°F in The Little Ice Age in 1600 A.D. The recent temperature span indicated by these two data points was approximately 4°F.

On the chart, the projected high temperature in 2038 is approximately the same as the high temperature in 1100 B.C., but is not represented by a number.

“Why shouldn’t we be quite as worried,” Shapiro asks, “as the Left would argue about global warming? Because people are good at adapting. The changes that we’re talking about don’t happen overnight – they happen over the course of decades. And that means that the impact is spread out over the course of decades, too, and against a backdrop of global growth.”

Certainly, this information must be willingly received and considered. But given the strong scientific data challenging the catastrophic predictions, the past manipulation of data and the “green money” influence enjoyed by the climate change scientific community, and America’s world-leading record of CO2 emission reductions, any sacrifice needed to combat climate change must come from other nations.