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Friday, September 20, 2019

Clean Water Rule gets its long overdue and well-deserved repeal


President Donald Trump began an effort to relieve the country of an unnecessary and harmful regulation by signing an executive order in February of 2017. The order began the roll-back of the Clean Water Rule put in place by the Obama administration in 2015. The Rule was a regulation published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Army Corps of Engineers to clarify water resource management in the United States under a provision of the Clean Water Act of 1972. 

That action to repeal the Rule has now been finalized. It has been termed a major win for the rule of law, property rights, and the environment. It was heavily criticized for making it difficult for people to farm or even build a home on their own property.

What it did was to alter the meaning of the phrase “waters of the United States” — those waters under the control of the federal government — to include waters so small that they couldn’t even be seen by the naked eye.

Here is the way the American Farm Bureau Federation explained things: “…distant regulators using ‘desktop tools’ can conclusively establish the presence of a ‘tributary’ on private lands, even where the human eye can’t see water or any physical channel or evidence of water flow. 

“That’s right — invisible tributaries! 

“The agencies even claim ‘tributaries’ exist where remote sensing and other desktop tools indicate a prior existence of bed, banks, and [ordinary high-water marks], where these features are no longer present on the landscape today.”

That definition of what regulated “waters” were literally made it impossible for property owners to know what on their property is or might be covered by the Rule, but subjected them to heavy civil and/or criminal penalties for breaking the Rule.

It would therefore have been possible for dry land that holds water for a few days after heavy rain to be ruled a “water” under the Rule. That meant a mud puddle could have fallen under federal control.

The result was that some perfectly good lands were judged improper for projects their owners intended to use them for, and in the worst cases, land owners were punished for what were otherwise normal, acceptable land uses.

The vagueness of the rule, and thus the danger it imposed on property owners who want to use their property for their chosen purposes, such as to farm it or to develop it, was substantial enough to have drawn criticism from then-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy back in 2016: “[T]he Clean Water Act is unique in both being quite vague in its reach, arguably unconstitutionally vague, and certainly harsh in the civil and criminal sanctions it puts into practice.”

Its reach also encroached on states’ rights, the ability of the individual states to have much to say about properties within their own borders, an important element of the restrictions imposed on the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.

Such examples of overreaching by the federal government are not difficult to find. They have been growing, as legislators have enacted overreaching laws, and bureaucrats have implemented regulations with the force of law. All of which puts regular citizens at risk of breaking one of the thousands of federal no-nos.

On that topic, Townhall.com said the following in 2016: “There are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, with 10,000-300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. In fact, our entire criminal code has become a leviathan unto itself. In 2003, there were only 4,000 offenses that carried criminal penalties. By 2013, that number had grown by 21 percent to 4,850. The code has become so big, that the Congressional Research Service and the American Bar Association simply do not have enough staff to adequately categorize every law we have on the books.”

This information becomes even more important when considering what might happen after November of 2020 when the nation elects its president for the next four years.

This land, built on the principals of personal freedoms and limited government, has already seen exponential growth in the size and reach of the federal government. The more laws, regulations and rules we have on the books, the less freedom the people have. The number of decrees is unfathomably large and therefore the average person, or even those knowledgeable about laws, cannot possibly know everything for which we citizens can be criminally or civilly punished.

While President Trump believes in removing regulations that needlessly or improperly interfere with normal activities — like the Clean Water Rule — and reducing taxes that allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned income, the socialistic promises offered by Democrat hopefuls will do a sharp 180 on both of those things.

With a compliant Congress and like-thinking, over-zealous bureaucrats, if one of the more radical folks running for the Democrat nomination gets elected, they could initiate scores of new mandates and prohibitions, further limiting the freedoms of law-abiding Americans.

Robert Francis “Beto” O'Rourke gave a hint to the thinking of some of these people: “Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."

This is precisely the opposite of the attitude we need in the White House.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Democrats want to turn the United States upside-down


CNN’s marathon townhall last Wednesday may have set some records. The broadcast lasted a full seven hours. It featured 10 of the numerous candidates for the Democrat nomination to run for president in 2020. They were, alphabetically: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Juli├ín Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, and Elizabeth Warren.

The event did not set a record for the number of viewers it attracted. During the 5:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. broadcast, CNN pulled only 1.1 million viewers, compared to MSNBC’s 1.7 million, and Fox News’ more-than-double 2.5 million during that time period.

The focus of the event was climate change. “So, based off [a BBC] study, CNN will produce 57.4 tons of carbon dioxide emissions while warning about increasing carbon dioxide emissions,” wrote Timothy Meads on Townhall.com prior to the event.

The candidates expressed their ideas about what they say is an existential threat to life on Earth. These ideas include doing away with fossil fuels and nuclear energy, red meat, plastic straws, incandescent light bulbs, carbon, fracking, combustion engine vehicles, and babies.

Abortion was high on the list for some. “Human population growth has more than doubled in the past 50 years. The planet cannot sustain this growth,” an audience member said to Bernie Sanders. He agreed, and promised to back more U.S. funding for abortions in the developing world.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have warned that Africa and Asia are producing way too many babies, and this will threaten the future of the Earth. Former Vice President Al Gore once said the we “have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management” in the developing world to fight climate change. 

And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offered an opinion some time ago. “[A]t the time Roe (v. Wade) was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” Was that a racist comment?

If over-population truly is a problem, Gore’s fertility management solution, if that means pregnancy prevention, would be far preferable to killing developing humans in the womb.

"We are fighting for the survival of the planet Earth, our only planet. How is this not a major priority?" Sanders asked.  He boasted that his was the most serious approach of any presidential candidate in history. It will only cost us $16 trillion. That is roughly equal to all federal spending for four years.

Cory Booker has changed his super-identity from “Spartacus” to “Star Trekian.” This transformation may have come after his discovery that non-white and low-income people are disproportionately affected by climate change, though he did not explain how this occurs. Economic and environmental justice therefore demand that we transition to a carbon-neutral economy as soon as we possibly can, he said, in order to restore the balance of the effects of climate related issues.

Getting millions of vehicles off the road was posited by Joe Biden, the most moderate candidate, who vowed to lead the whole world in this effort if elected president, not just the U.S.

Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper if the Green New Deal’s plan to ban all fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, and meat within the next decade was “unrealistic” or “promising too much?” Biden answered, “No, no it’s not.”

Pledging to do away with carbon energy, but also to do away with nuclear energy by 2035, Elizabeth Warren urged Democrats not to get distracted by sideline issues like the environmental consequences of plastic straws, cheeseburgers and light bulbs. "This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we're all talking about," she said.

Taking a different tack on the issue, admitted cheeseburger lover Kamala Harris wants to eliminate barriers to forcing her radical views on we the people by ending the Senate filibuster. Currently, ending debate on legislation requires 60 votes. Harris supports a simple majority vote to speed along her efforts at control.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., commented on that idea. "The legislative filibuster is directly downstream from our founding tradition. If that tradition frustrates the whims of those on the far left, it is their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling," he wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times.

Harris also said she would use executive power to order the Justice Department to go after oil and gas firms. Is that an American ideal? Or does Harris believe that when you can’t win through better ideas and honesty, you must change the rules, or play dirty?

The list of past environmental catastrophe predictions that didn’t come to be is long: in 1975 a coming ice age; the acid rain threat; over-population producing mass starvation; global temperatures melting ice floes and flooding coastal cities. And now, only 10 or 12 years left to save the world. Again.

The alarmists point to a “scientific consensus” that millions cling to. There were scientists selling the past failed predictions, too. Even if these predictions of doom are true, the only way to stop the threat, apparently, is to spend trillions and turn the United States upside-down, and impose government control.

Friday, September 06, 2019

More information essential to evaluate the renewable energy idea


What we hear about almost ceaselessly is the impending environmental catastrophe facing the world. Despite the tremendous progress the U.S. has made in reducing its carbon emissions, which we are told is what is causing, or hastening, the crisis, more must be done.

We must spend trillions of dollars and turn our lifestyles upside down to make a very fast transition from traditional fossil fuel production of energy through coal, oil and natural gas to so-called “green” renewable energy sources.

We hear repeatedly how bad fossil fuels are as primary energy sources, and how wind and solar power are our salvation. However, much needed detail about this transition is left out.

So much of what those on the left offer regarding climate change, and their proposed solutions to the problem, is what economist and columnist Thomas Sowell calls “Stage One Thinking.” This involves identifying a problem and proposing a solution that sounds effective and satisfying, but doing so without thoughtfully looking at what happens after that initial action – Stage One – is taken.

Mark P. Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has gone beyond Stage One to look into what is involved in replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in his column “If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig.”

“’Renewable energy’ is a misnomer,” he wrote. “Wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste. The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste.”

Mills’ excellent article appeared in The Wall Street Journalin July. He helps us understand the enormous amount of raw materials needed for electric vehicles, and where we will get them. For example, “A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet,” he explained. “The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.”

Wind and solar power involve similar problems: “Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250 percent and 1,200 percent respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300 percent to 1,000 percent by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.”

And, what the greenies do not want you to know is that so much of the production of renewable energy devices requires the burning of fossil fuels. “What’s more, mining and fabrication require the consumption of hydrocarbons,” Mills explains. “Building enough wind turbines to supply half the world’s electricity would require nearly two billion tons of coal to produce the concrete and steel, along with two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades. More than 90 percent of the world’s solar panels are built in Asia on coal-heavy electric grids.”

Mills referenced a Dutch government-sponsored study that concluded “that the Netherlands’ green ambitions alone would consume a major share of global minerals. ‘Exponential growth in [global] renewable energy production capacity is not possible with present-day technologies and annual metal production,’ it concluded.”

He adds that Europe and the U.S. will not be able to produce the minerals needed for this gargantuan undertaking. “Instead, much of the mining will take place in nations with oppressive labor practices. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 70 percent of the world’s raw cobalt, and China controls 90 percent of cobalt refining. The Sydney-based Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global ‘gold’ rush for minerals could take miners into ‘some remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.’”

And his coup de gras: “Engineers joke about discovering ‘unobtanium,’ a magical energy-producing element that appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing. Absent the realization of that impossible dream, hydrocarbons remain a far better alternative than today’s green dreams.”

So much of what the increasingly socialist left proposes sounds good, but fails the pragmatism test. Its ideas: are ridiculously expensive; increase government control; impinge on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms; or all of the above.

These solutions are sold to the people through fear of impending catastrophe, such as that climate change is caused by or made worse by human activities. Scientists who produce contrary scientific evidence, and those who believe them, are “science deniers,” which is somewhat the same as being a “deplorable.”

Resistance to this dogma is essential if America is to survive intact.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Democrats’ anti-Trump activities are rewriting the “Three Rs”




There are several things known through time as the “Three Rs.” Back in the days of FDR’s New Deal there was: Relief, Recovery and Reform. Trying to reduce the effects of science on animals gave us: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. And now in the days of environmental consciousness we have: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Some of us, the senior citizens among us, remember the “Three Rs,” as: “Readin’, Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic” (reading, writing and arithmetic) when we were in school.

Today, we can thank Democrats in Congress, in the media and elsewhere for giving us another set of “Three Rs.” The first of the set was “Russia.” Next came “Racist.” And now we have “Recession.”

“Russia, Russia, Russia” was the war chant of the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency. But, alas, it was to no avail, as Russia’s interference in the 2016 election turned out to be significant, but to little effect, and the hoped-for connection between the Russians and Trump was a nothing burger.

Multiple investigations did not prove that Trump was a Russian agent, that the Russians colluded with his campaign to elect him, or any of the other allegations that were thrown around like the trash found on San Francisco streets.

Trump’s began an association with Russia in 2013 when he was there for his Miss Universe pageant, according to The Guardian. Trump told the paper he wanted to build a skyscraper in Moscow.

For a wealthy business person, a real estate developer, it is not unusual to have business interests in other countries. Trump is said to have interests in 25 countries, including Canada, Turkey, Panama, Ireland, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, India, Scotland, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and South Africa.

The Moscow skyscraper deal, however, ran into difficulties and had ended by June of 2016, before the election.

Next came charges that Trump was/is a racist. Combining poor reportage and opportunism, the anti-Trumpers take any opening, however narrow, to assert racism. 

Just because a group of four Congressional representatives who are people of color receive criticism from Trump for their words and deeds does not make him a racist.

Trying to secure our borders to prevent the illegal entry of people from other countries, some of whom are criminals, is not racist. Neither is wanting to send illegal aliens back where they came from.

What such efforts tell us is that those backing the efforts are failures, not that Trump is a racist.

One might expect that as part of this ill-fated exercise in imaginative politics, the accusers might consider that Trump’s unemployment numbers for African Americans and Hispanics are at their lowest in decades, or ever. His “racism” apparently also includes implementing the opportunity zones that help low-income distressed communities across the country, which includes those of black Americans and Hispanics.

The racist allegation against Trump and others on the right has been so widely and foolishly misused that the most significant result of this misadventure is to have rendered the term meaningless. Strike 2.

And now, because the yield curve inverted for a day or so, we are told the nation is headed for a recession. As some know, there is a recession in our future because behind every period of expansion is a period of recession. It’s the business cycle.

After the 2007-2008 recession, the economy experienced its slowest recovery ever, but has been doing pretty well in the expansion phase, with nearly all of the good things occurring since election night 2016. Sound Trump economic policies have proved their worth. 

An inverted yield curve is considered an omen of a recession in 17 to 22 months. However, a lot can happen in that period that could delay the economy going into recession for a fairly long time. The left’s prognostications are, to put it politely, premature.

But as Obama administration member Rahm Emanuel famously said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” And a recession, when we have the next one, might be a serious crisis. Emanuel, who was at the time the White House chief of staff, went on to explain himself: “And what I mean by that, it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Clearly the Russia and Racist opportunities did not pan out, so perhaps the Recession one will. No doubt the left media and others who can benefit from this scare will take it to the limit, one more time.

But if a recession doesn’t do the trick, maybe after this third R is exhausted the left will give us another R: Regret. As in, “we regret going down these curvy, pot hole infested side roads, trying desperately to remove from office a duly elected president that we just do not like, and now we will live with the decision of the American people.”

Given the manic behavior of Trump’s political enemies in Congress, the media and elsewhere, such a thing may be a futile hope. However, hardly anything would benefit the country more than the anti-Trumpers getting their over-worked emotions under control, returning to doing their jobs properly, and helping the country move forward.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Red flag laws; Democrats threaten to restructure the Supreme Court


Who among us is not disgusted with senseless mass murders? People demand that something be done to solve this horrible problem. Proposed solutions include weapons and accessories bans, universal background checks, and red flag laws.

Clearly, some people should not have access to guns: the mentally ill, those addicted to drugs or alcohol, people with a history of violence, or those who have displayed suicidal tendencies, etc. Identifying these people is often difficult.

Shortening its summer recess so that it can meet on Sept. 4 to address these tragedies through legislation, the House Judiciary Committee will look at bills addressing high-capacity magazine bans, preventing people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing firearms, and a red flag law to deny firearms to those deemed to be a danger to themselves and/or others.

The New York Times explains that red flag laws “are state laws that authorize courts to issue a special type of protection order, allowing the police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or to others.”

Requests for confiscation may come from persons who have legitimate concerns about an individual, such as suicidal tendencies or comments about violence, or actual threats. Authorities may also request such an order.

The key factor in gun violence is the desire to harm or kill people. But keeping guns away from those likely to misuse them may be the most sensible and successful approach to ending or reducing mass shootings. 

These laws must be written and enforced to protect not only the public from potentially violent individuals, but also to protect the Constitutional rights of all individuals.

Without laws that are properly written and executed, all that might be necessary to have police show up at someone’s home, demand or force entry, and confiscate legally owned weapons is an allegation that sounds legitimate to the judge in a red flag action.

Baseless, vindictive allegations of potential violence are an all-too-real possibility. The U.S. Constitution guarantees each of us the right of due process in such cases. Any legal procedure in which allegations are made against an individual must allow the individual to have legal counsel and to be presented with and counter the allegations.

The Indiana red flag law carries protections for citizens concerned about any limitation on their Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. Other state laws may or may not provide these protections. However, every red flag law must protect these rights.

And there must be a significant punishment for fraudulent or baseless referrals for red flag actions. 

*****

Democrats, liberals, socialists – or whatever term may be used to identify today’s radical leftists – are set on changing nearly everything that makes the United States of America the special nation that it is.

Granted, the USA is not perfect. But it also does not require dramatic changes. 

A fairly recent target of the left is the U.S Supreme Court. Since the appointment and approval of two new justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the Court now has an originalist/conservative majority, and that does not sit well with those on the left.

Originalists view the Constitution through its original language and support the principles it emphasized when it was written. This is a significant obstacle to the fundamental transformation of the country the left has in mind.

Five U.S. Senators have expressed their dissatisfaction with certain rulings with which they disagree. They are Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. They feel the High Court suffers from an affliction which must be remedied.

“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” according to a legal brief produced by the five senators, as reported by Fox News. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.'”

This not-so-veiled threat assumes that a sufficient outcry of agreement with the senators’ opinion is all that is needed for the U.S. Senate to “restructure” a federal body that is not subservient to the Senate, or even to the whole of the Congress.  The Judicial Branch is co-equal with the Executive and Legislative branches. The senators also mistakenly suggest that their misadventure is something other than “politics” itself.

The essence of the message is that unless the Court makes decisions more politically suitable to these senators and those who think like they do, rather than decisions based upon the laws and/or the Constitution, the senators will somehow act to structure the Court with more liberal justices and fewer originalists.

The Founders provided proper methods for making changes to the federal government, to the Constitution and laws. Loading courts with liberal judges who will make the “right” decisions, such as threatened by the five senators, is not one of them.

*****

Correction: Last week’s column contained a quote attributed to Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. The quote was found in two different sources, but turned out to be a false attribution; she did not say what the quote attributed to her. I regret the error.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Efforts to suppress freedom of speech truly threaten our future



Our Constitution guarantees many freedoms that are outlined in its first ten amendments, The Bill of Rights. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” So reads the First Amendment.

There is a reason these rights appear in the very first amendment: They are important and fundamental freedoms. And among those, the ability for the people to express their wants and desires, their approvals and disapprovals is fundamental to a free nation.

The First Amendment protects popular speech as well as unpopular speech, without prejudice. And it is unpopular speech that has the greater need for protection. Imagine living in a nation where only approved ideas may be discussed, with punishment for breaching the rules a likely result.

Such restrictions on the expression of ideas is a feature of monarchies, dictatorships and fascist regimes.

In sharp contrast, the USA was formed as a democratic republic with great individual liberty, where new and different, popular and unpopular ideas have been welcomed since its inception. 

By encouraging the expression of ideas by anyone at any time, there are discussions going on continually. Ideas that offer positive influences are adopted, while unworthy ones are rejected. The freedom to speak is an indispensable element in moving forward in the best possible way.

In the early years of the 21stCentury, that sensible process is under attack. What we see increasingly these days are efforts to suppress and suffocate ideas that are in conflict with some group or another, regardless of how small or large the group may be. 

Some of this is the ghastly social disease called “political correctness.” Some of it is censoring political ideas and speech, a clear and present danger to our future. This movement shuts down discussion and debate. It works to prevent even the exposure of contrary ideas to the light of day. The only ideas the ever-more socialist Left will allow are those of the group’s narrow dogma.

It is a testament to the failure of their ideas that the Left’s greatest fears are ideas that are different. Rather than leave their ideas to rise or fall on their own merit, they work overtime using dishonest tactics to make their ideas the only ones anyone hears or reads.

Some examples:

** Putting their finger firmly on the ideological scale, Twitter, Facebook and Google (among others) censor conservative posts. Recently, a group of Leftists protested in front of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky home, shouting profanities and threats. When McConnell had video of these threatening carryings-on posted on Twitter, his account was promptly suspended. It’s just unacceptable to show how the Left behaves.

** Texas Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro publicized the names and businesses of Trump campaign contributors. “Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” he tweeted. Clearly assisting his followers in efforts to intimidate potential supporters/voters, he continued, “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Defending this sordid action, Castro said that he didn’t intend any harm, and that the information is public information. True, campaign donations are public information, if one chooses to search them out and knows where to look. But how many of Castro’s followers would have thought to do that, or gone to the trouble to look up the names of Trump donors, if he hadn’t saved them the trouble?

** Robert Francis O’Rourke (Beto) said this on MSNBC recently: “… the most important thing we can do right now, but also ensuring that beyond the president’s conduct and behavior and rhetoric we do a better job of regulating and enforcing hate speech and calls to violence on social media platforms.” The essence of his comment is to censor conservative speech, particularly Trump’s, which he characterized as “hate speech” and “calls to violence” based solely on his prejudiced opinion.

Isn’t it interesting how so many Democrats/Leftists, particularly those chasing the Democrat nomination for president, exercise their First Amendment rights to attack the First Amendment rights of their ideological and political adversaries? They do this under the guise of protecting America from “racists” and “white supremacists.”

The Leftists have raised the uncouth ability for name-calling to the top of their list in order to stifle free speech.

Silencing political and ideological opponents is a violation of one of the most important individual rights that our Constitution guarantees each of us. It is un-American. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Democrats’ strategy for 2020: Free stuff, fear, and gun control




The process of nominating a candidate for president is always a spirited affair. And with 24 people (so far) seeking the Democrat nomination – including a former Vice President, current senators, current and former representatives, some governors and mayors, and a billionaire – who range from well-known to unknown, the stage is set for a lively campaign.

It can get rough, as candidates tear down their rivals and at the same time try build up their own image in the eyes of voters. This year’s nomination process is even wilder than the Republican effort in 2016 when 17 candidates vied for the nomination.

Front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden has been harshly attacked by several opponents in the first rounds of debates, as they work to claw their way to a respectable level in the polls.

No one is safe in this environment, not even the Democrats’ much-loved former President Barack Obama. As Obama’s VP, Biden opened the door to criticism of Obama’s immigration and health care policies.

Liberal MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said the "trashing Barack Obama's legacy” was “insanity.” "We were sort of in a Never-never land last night in that debate. It was bizarre," he said. 

Free stuff is a favored ploy among the candidates, along with dire predictions. In a recent opinion column John Stossel presented the shopping lists and total costs of free stuff offered by several of the candidates.

The list of free stuff contains many items, including:
·         More money for Title I schools
·         Universal pre-K
·         More psychologists and social workers in schools
·         Free college and free community college
·         More money for teachers
·         Forgiving all or some student debt
·         Universal child care
·         “Medicare for All”
·         The “Green New Deal”
·         A government job for everyone
·         Increases in several government assistance areas

Stossel’s major focus was on which items each candidate proposed and how much those items will add to taxpayers total costs.

In comparing the biggest spenders to President Donald Trump’s spending plan, which Stossel said totals $267 billion, he concludes: “We can’t afford it! The federal government is already $22 trillion in debt – $150,000 per taxpayer.”

Stossel continued, “While Trump’s $267 billion is bad, the Democrats’ plans are worse.” He counted $297 billion proposed by Biden, $690 billion from Mayor Pete Buttigieg, $3.8 trillion from Senator Elizabeth Warren, $4 trillion from Senator Bernie Sanders and $4.3 trillion from Senator Kamala Harris. “That would double what the entire federal government spends now. Senator Harris ‘wins’ the free stuff contest.”

There is also a fear factor in campaign rhetoric, as candidates continue to predict global catastrophe if Americans do not make great sacrifices to save the world from climate change. The candidates predict we have only 10 years, or perhaps 12, to turn our lives upside-down in order to save humanity.

The recent hot spell gave a boost to the assumed urgency of this situation, and campaign rhetoric heated up correspondingly.

Contenders prefer various measures to bring a positive effect to the problem of carbon emissions. Biden wants a price on emission-producing materials and tariffs on foreign carbon products. Buttigieg, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Booker prefer a tax, or carbon-price on certain products.

All candidates support the enormously expensive “Green New Deal” with all of its job-killing and severe lifestyle-changing requirements to transition to 100-percent clean energy in a decade. This despite the fact that the U.S. leads the world in carbon emission reduction, while other nations lag behind, are not reducing emissions at all, or are actually increasing emissions.

Democrats’ support for more and stricter gun control laws has been long and loud. Last weekend’s two horrible mass murder incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have added more urgency to the situation among gun control advocates.

Like the climate change issue, the gun control issue uses fear to attract support. Everyone abhors these senseless killings, and every candidate seeking the Democrat nomination preaches gun control as the solution.

Saturday’s El Paso shooting resulted in 20 deaths and injuries to nearly two-dozen others. The alleged shooter is also believed to have written a 4-page manifesto that provides insight into his motives.

Reason magazine described the manifesto: “The El Paso shooter’s alleged manifesto is racist, anti-corporate, anti-automation, and especially anti-immigrant, and it reflects a general hatred for many aspects of American society.”

It also urges any future mass murders to pick lightly guarded or unguarded target areas: “Remember: it is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit. AKA Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD (Call of Duty) fantasy.”

Any successful response to these horrific events must address soft targets where no defense against someone with evil intentions exists, and especially the mental condition and motivation of the people who carry out these acts.

Guns are inanimate objects. They are not evil; the people who misuse them are evil. Disarming or restricting law-abiding citizens’ gun purchases misses the point.

The most important word in the gun control discussion is “control,” a trait it shares with the climate change discussion. Control is a major aspect of socialism, which is openly advocated by several Democrat candidates.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Let’s not change what makes us uncomfortable. Let’s learn from it!



Change this! Get rid of that! America has a new mania where people try to remove statues and monuments they don’t like, that make them uncomfortable, or that they believe are bad. If a statue or a monument upsets people, it must be erased from the American landscape where it has existed for years or decades. 

In the process of soothing these feelings of discomfort, features of American history, some of them very important, will forever be removed to the trash pile, painted over, or stored in a warehouse somewhere, and lost to the generations that follow. 

These things can help future Americans learn about their country so that they will be able to understand its full history and evolution, both the best and the worst.

Instead of the full story of what built America, what will be left to future generations to learn from is whatever the existing culture deems important at the time. 

Some important elements in the history of the United States of America will be removed through this politically correct cleansing of America’s history, for no better reason than to soothe the discontented.

Included in the list of things from America’s past that have been targeted for removal from public view are: The Jefferson Memorial; Mount Rushmore; Stone Mountain; two Chicago Parks; and monuments and statues across the nation.

While the subject of some monuments may be a person or persons who may now be unpopular, the monument or statue itself may be a special achievement. 

Likewise, the people who are remembered and honored by prominent statues were not universally bad. The recent dislike of Thomas Jefferson, for example, is because he owned slaves. In fact, slavery is the reason for so much of today’s efforts to remove many statues and monuments.

Slavery is now universally condemned in the U.S., as it should be. And it is a dark period in the nation’s history. But for decades during slavery in the south, no one living at that time was alive when slavery did not exist in the southern states. Slavery wasn’t right, but it was the way things were; it was a regular part of life in the southern U.S.

The Jefferson Memorial honors America’s third president, and a Founder of our republic. Although Jefferson inherited slaves from his father and kept them throughout his lifetime, he also publicly denounced slavery. The totality of his life and work was not just being a slave owner. His work was critical to the formation of the country in which so many now are able to condemn him for owning slaves.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which began the struggle for freedom from the binds of British dominance, he was a critical part of America’s formation, and he had served as the nation’s second vice president before being elected president.

Surely this man’s great contributions to the formation of the United States of America are enough to warrant his remaining a part of the story, and not being removed from our history.

It took some 400 workers from 1927 to 1941 to produce the majestic figures on the rock face in the Black Hills of South Dakota known as Mount Rushmore. Those four were Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. 

Rushmore is an amazing tribute to workmanship as well as a unique work of art. It depicts four of our most notable presidents, all of whom had their faults, as do we all. But they are forever a part of our history. 

The carving on Stone Mountain in Georgia has similar assets. It is the largest high relief sculpture in the world. The Confederate Memorial Carving depicts three figures of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The carving is 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain.

Like Mount Rushmore it is a tribute to workmanship, is a work of art, and features people prominent in our history who are now being condemned. 

Chicago has parks named for George Washington and Andrew Jackson that are also targeted for change. Someone has suggested changing Jackson Park to honor either modern civil rights figure Jesse Jackson or singer Michael Jackson, and also renaming Washington Park. However, both Washington and Jackson contributed much to our Country, and deserve their rightful place in history.

And there are numerous monuments and statues in North Carolina, Virginia and in towns and cities all across the nation that also are targeted. Each of them represents some contribution to the rich history of what was and still is the greatest nation yet conceived.

People mostly aren’t looking at the big picture. Our country has made mistakes, as all countries do. Each of us can think of things we would prefer weren’t part of our history. But erasing history is foolish.

Future generations can only learn from our successes and our failures if they know what they are. The good and the bad together form our history, and nothing less than the whole story is acceptable to tell America’s story.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The future: a $15 an hour minimum wage and more 100 degree days?

The House of Representatives passed a bill recently that would increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $15 by 2025. Proponents call this a “living wage.” The House vote was 231-199 with 3 Republicans supporting it and 6 Democrats opposing it. 

It’s not breaking news that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour is a divisive and hotly debated topic. What’s lacking is any sensible reason to do this, unless you consider vote buying as sensible.

Most minimum wage earners are younger and just entering the world of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018 only 2.1 percent of all hourly workers earned the minimum wage, or less. These workers tend to be under 25 years old and work in the food and hospitality industry.

The younger minimum wage workers generally do not require a “living wage,” as many still live with their parents or are college students, and few are the head of a household.

As with other work, some minimum wage workers are really good, some are okay, and some aren’t good at all. But a $15 minimum wage means that the best and worst employees in minimum wage jobs will earn the same $15 wage, which nets out at $31,200 a year for a 40-hour per week full-time job. 

As a matter of sound economics, government should not dictate minimum wages or any wages, other than for government workers. But should this become law, government will have increased the payroll expenses of virtually every business in the country.

While minimum wage workers will reap significant benefits from the increase, business owners will face mandated increases in payroll expenses. For a business to operate successfully it must have more income than expenses. This makes achieving that goal more difficult.

Every employee who was making more than the old minimum wage will get a raise to the new minimum. Those making above the minimum should also get their additional wages added to the new minimum, or they will not be happy.

Where will that money come from? Likely sources are higher product and service prices; reduced employee hours; fewer employees and perhaps more computers and robots. And, if these solutions are not sufficient to maintain profitability, businesses will close and jobs will be lost.

A July report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that up to 3.7 million Americans would lose their jobs if the minimum wage were raised to $15 per hour by 2025.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who claims to be an Independent, but is seeking the Democrat presidential nomination, claims the $7.25 minimum is “starvation wages.”

But – surprise, surprise – Bernie does not practice what he preaches. After his statements supporting a $15 minimum wage and raising the minimum above the “starvation” level, many of his campaign workers began complaining that he isn’t paying them at that level. 

It was reported that henceforth campaign workers will be paid at least $15 an hour, but some would have their hours reduced to keep wage expense down. 

Boom! Reality hit the Sanders campaign. But will Bernie learn the economics lesson, or continue to peddle the false narrative that every working person needs to make at least $15 an hour in order to stay alive?

However, because of all the harm this measure will do to the economy, the Republican-controlled Senate will almost certainly vote against the legislation, saving jobs.

In other news, a recent story in a South Carolina newspaper predicted that “by the middle of this century, the number of sweltering days in the Palmetto State is forecast to increase by more than 350 percent if little or nothing is done to stop man-made climate change,” and by “the end of the century, the increase could approach 600 percent.”

Global warming advocates will readily endorse this prediction, especially after last weekend’s very warm temperatures and heat indexes of 100 degrees or more. 

This discomforting prediction comes from a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) showing that the United States is heating up rapidly due to climate changes, which these scientists attribute to human activities.
Increases in the number of days with extreme, dangerously hot weather can be expected to rise sharply in hundreds of cities across the country, the researchers say.
The UCS says it’s already too late to prevent all of the rising heat, but the country can slow down the trend with aggressive action to halt man-made global warming. The UCS did not propose that the nation adopt the wild and crazy Green New Deal, but conceivably might do so at some point.

If humans are causing this warming, can the United States really do enough to stop it? We have led the world in carbon emission reductions for years. Other nations, China and India, to name two, not only are not reducing carbon emissions, they are increasing them.

Why are Americans expected to sacrifice jobs, lifestyle and amenities to try to stop global warming? We must demand that the rest of the world, particularly China, India and the other culprits, catch up with our progress on emissions, and not punish ourselves.