Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The quality of U.S. K-12 and college education is on the decline

As recently as 20 years ago, HistoryNet tells us, the United States led the world in high school and college education.  

However, the American education system has lost ground. That is not to say that there are no schools or school systems that are doing well, or that no students are learning. But the U.S. standing among nations of the world has fallen to a frightening degree over the last several years.

“Every American family needs to open The Nation’s Report Card [the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress] this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country’s future,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “The results are, frankly, devastating. This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students.”

Her warning didn’t end there. "Two out of three of our nation’s children aren’t proficient readers. In fact, fourth grade reading declined in 17 states and eighth grade reading declined in 31,” she said. “The gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite $1 trillion in Federal spending over 40 years designated specifically to help close it.”

The Atlantic magazine reported on a 2001 study by the Brookings Institute which, in fact, showed that international students found their U.S. classes “much easier” than classes in their home country. That number rose from nearly 60 percent of foreign students in 2001 to 66.4 percent in a 2016 study.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) administers an exam every three years. It is considered the gold standard for such data. The most recent available results from the exam, titled the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), is from 2015. PISA measures reading, math and science in 15-year-olds in 72 countries every three years.
** The U.S. ranked 18th in Reading. The top five were: Singapore, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan. 
** The U.S ranked 36th in Math, with the top five being: Singapore, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Macau (China), Japan.
** And we ranked 22nd in Science, with the leaders being: Singapore, Japan, Estonia, Chinese Taipei, Canada.

The U.S. scored just above the average of all nations in reading and science, and below average in math. East Asian and northern European countries tend to dominate the exam.

Among the most advanced countries, the U.S. ranks 38th out of 40 in graduating science majors, according to the 2015 Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard report from the OECD.

And America is way behind China and India in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates, the academic areas our future depends upon to a great degree.

“China had at least 4.7 million recent STEM grads as of 2016; India had 2.6 million as of 2017; the U.S. pulls in at third at 568,000,” according to the World Economic Forum. In terms of graduates per thousand population, the U.S. is about even with India with one grad per 573 people, but far behind China with one grad per 293 people.

Being challenged by China, our leading economic competitor, is a serious problem. Will we have enough future engineers and scientists to protect our lead in high technology fields, or will we be replaced by the Chinese?

Business Insider worries that “While American scientists still publish more papers than their international counterparts, and American companies still register more patents, not nearly enough students are graduating with degrees in STEM fields to keep pace with the rest of the world.”

The reasons for America’s declining educational performance are many and varied. Some are systemic. Some are cultural. Some are political.

The Brookings report also reflected that foreign students also say that American students spend far more time on sports than on academics.

“Nearly two-thirds of foreign-exchange students in the United States view American teenagers as placing a much higher value on athletic success than teens in their home countries do,” Brookings reported. “By comparison, only 5 percent of international students say American teens place a much higher value on success in mathematics than teenagers abroad. Around 65 percent of foreign-exchange students also feel that American teens spend less time on homework than their international peers.”

Standardized testing is a frequent target for blame. By placing so much attention on performance on these tests, it is argued, much class time and other resources that could be put to better use is wasted, and students learn what they need for the test, to the detriment of broader and deeper learning of subject matter.

Another area of criticism is the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Common Core was heralded as “dramatically improving teaching and learning” and, indeed, “transforming education for every child.” It hasn’t. The Hill commented, “Under the suffocating hand of Common Core, true academic achievement is withering.”

The late Joseph Sobran years ago wrote, “In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English in college.” 

We have replaced so many of the concepts that made us strong for “newer and better ideas,” and now we are paying the price.

Friday, November 08, 2019

“As California goes, so goes the nation.” Is that still true?

Not so long ago, California was “the” place to be. Known as “The Golden State,” it has beautiful topography, with the ocean, cliffs, lakes, mountains and forests, and generally nice, warm weather that lured those from other states to visit, and even to relocate. Many special attractions add to the state’s allure.

The state’s openness to, and propensity for novel ideas on government and other things led to the creation of phrase “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

Today, California is only a dark shadow of its former self. The natural beauty is still there, many of the other attractions remain, but the state has lost much of its charm and allure.

In certain areas it is very expensive to live, and that situation has not been improving of late. AMAC Magazine tells us that “In 1970, Californians spent three times their salary on a home.” That cost/earnings ratio has risen to 10 times salary. 

This and other factors drove a million residents to other states between 2007 and 2016. “The online survey, conducted [in January] by Edelman Intelligence, found that 53 percent of Californians surveyed are considering fleeing, representing a jump over the 49 percent polled a year ago,” as reported by CNBC. 

Taxes add to the discomfort. In some locations the state sales tax is worsened by local sales taxes, and the total tax averages out to 8.54 percent for people in those locations, one of the highest in the country. The 18-cents per-gallon gasoline tax makes things even worse.

The state has become very difficult for middle income earners, who can’t afford to live there comfortably anymore. 

As a result of high taxes and aggressive regulation, businesses now do studies to see if it makes economic sense for them to expand in California, or expand elsewhere, or to totally move from the state.

California’s “sanctuary state” status puts unneeded stress on social welfare programs and public education, both of which are funded by taxes. And, the homeless population is out of control.  

“In 2018, there were 129,972 people on the streets on any given night statewide,” as reported by the Los Angeles Times back in August. “The most recent count conducted in Los Angeles County revealed that there were nearly 59,000 homeless people in 2019, while there were 9,784 homeless people in San Francisco, including in jails, hospitals and rehab centers — a jump of 30 percent from 2017.”

And recently the state has been suffering from the annual wildfire season. Each year hundreds of thousands of acres of land and dozens of buildings are lost to these fires, and the lives of thousands of residents are turned upside-down, and some die. And things are getting worse each year.

Many people place blame on climate change, not only for the worsening degree of the fires each year, but for their origin. Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom, his predecessor, Jerry Brown, and many Newsom political allies claim climate change is driving California’s increasingly intense and deadly wildfires.

While natural circumstances contribute to the problem, most of the fires are started not by nature, but by the actions of people, about 84 percent of them, according to Vox.

Such things as a tree limb contacting a power line. Sparks from a trailer wheel rim with no tire on it produced sparks that caused one fire. Another was deliberately set by an arsonist. And so on.

Some sources say that the degree to which climate change contributes to the fire problem is directly related to the intensity of climate change assumptions that drive the state’s energy and environmental policies. 

“For instance, California’s large and heavily regulated public utilities — PG&E, SDG&E, and SCE — prioritize wind and solar power, leaving little for powerline maintenance and upgrades,” Chuck Devore wrote in The Federalist. “Simply put, the utilities are doing exactly what the regulators tell them to do. They make money for their investors on wind and solar; they don’t on powerline maintenance.”

And a 2015 Reason Foundation study noted: “While it is possible that climate change has played a role in increasing the size of fires, the primary cause seems to be forest management practices, which have changed several times over the course of the past 200 years.”

Failure to harvest timber and manage the downed trees that proliferate in wooded areas and fuel the fires has greatly increased the likelihood, and also the intensity of fires. The policies that limit forest management often are decisions by government to protect wildlife.

No one can argue that California does not have many problems, some very serious. But elected representatives have made scant progress, if any, toward solving the worst of them.

It is a fact that the state government and many/most local governments are and have been under Democrat control for a while. With the hard-left leanings of the current potential Democrat nominees for president, a Democrat president could be a real danger to the country, championing higher taxes and regressive policies such as those in The Golden State.

If it is still true that “As California goes, so goes the nation,” America is in deep trouble.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Imposing justice on a terrorist and impeaching the guy who did it

While the nation watches House Democrats conduct secretive impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump, the president was busy planning and approving a successful raid against the world’s leading terrorist.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, the global terrorist organization that is responsible for death, destruction and misery over a broad area for many years, is at long last dead.

The Washington Post did it’s best to downplay the event with this headline: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.” Apparently shame, at last, won out, and that obit-like headline was later changed to: “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.” Only slightly better.

“He commanded an organization that, at its peak, controlled a territory the size of Britain from which it directed and inspired acts of terror in more than three dozen countries,” The New York Times wrote of the terrorist.

This triumph against terrorism caps an international five-year manhunt involving the intelligence services of several countries.

In a U.S. Special Forces operation with its origins several days ago, al-Baghdadi was located in northwestern Syria. After consulting with military leaders, plans were devised and Trump okayed the raid, choosing the option that provided the highest probability of success. 

The option chosen called for asking al-Baghdadi to surrender, but if necessary to kill him. He refused to surrender, and Special Forces troops stormed his compound, chasing the terrorist leader from it into a dead-end tunnel last Saturday night, where he killed himself and three of his children by detonating a suicide vest. 

U.S. forces collected valuable intelligence information following the raid on al-Baghdadi, and sustained only minor injuries, and no deaths in the operation.

Calling the terrorist leader’s death a "devastating blow" to a terrorist organization that has launched horrific attacks across the world, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that "we're going to watch carefully [ISIS’] next steps. And as a new leader and leaders pop up we'll go after them as well,” on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He also commented that al-Baghdadi "is not just their leader, it's their founder. He was an inspirational leader in many ways."

Michael Pregent, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute said that there is likely to be a splintering of ISIS into some smaller groups, as the transition to a new leader, or leaders to replace al-Baghdadi transpires.

While acknowledging the obvious success, Congressional Democrat leaders criticized the president for not notifying them in advance, and for notifying Russia, but not them. But there is no requirement to notify Congressional leaders of coming secret military missions, and Russia assisted in the operation. The fewer people who know about a secret mission, the better. And Democrats’ reputation for keeping quiet is not especially good.

Congratulations to the Special Forces, and all involved. It is comforting to see that Trump is doing his job despite the obvious distractions and interference resulting from the years-long impeachment effort.

Speaking of impeachment: ABC News reported “A group of House Republicans stormed a secure hearing room Wednesday, delaying a witness deposition in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.”

What an interesting choice of a verb: they “stormed” a secure hearing room. In this context, “stormed” means a sudden forceful attack by armed troops, such as the storming of the Bastille.

In World War II, roughly 57,000 American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy. Dressed in military clothing, complete with helmets, ammo belts and weapons, soldiers exited the boats near the shore, fought their way onto the beaches under fire, climbed the cliffs and killed thousands of the enemy. Thousands of American troops also were killed and injured.

That is the picture created by the choice of the verb “stormed,” which the news media used nearly universally. Warrior Republicans in the House of Representatives fought for conquest over the secretive hearing being conducted in the underground SCIF in the Capital building.

Two dozen House Republicans — men dressed in trousers, coats, shirts and ties; women in dresses, or skirts/slacks, blouses and high heels — walked casually down the stairs to the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), a secure room where the impeachment inquiry is taking place three floors below ground level. They wanted to attend the secretive meeting that only members of the Intelligence Committee are allowed to attend.

They were asked by the Committee staff to give up their cell phones, and did so. All this was done before the unclassified hearing started. Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., hustled the witness out of the SCIF while the warriors were present, and would not return until they were gone.

Had American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, dressed and behaving as gently as were the Republican warriors armed with cell phones, we would likely be speaking German today.

We have become familiar with — and numb to — hyperbole, overstatement and embellishment by the mainstream media, as its members commit malpractice in support of Democrat/liberal efforts to unseat a duly elected president. This behavior by the media has reached the point where terming the inarguably mannerly entry by Republicans into the SCIF as “storming” no longer raises eyebrows.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Creeping love for creepy socialism by Americans defies understanding

Those of us who learned about our country in school, and appreciate it for all the wonderful features it provides through a government structure that is unique to America, are confounded by the creeping infatuation among our fellow citizens for creepy socialism. This highly flawed ideology receives great amplification from the many Democrats vying for the nomination to run for the presidency.

Every good salesman or marketer knows that it’s easier to sell something when the potential buyer already likes it, than when the buyer must be convinced of a product’s worth.

This is why those candidates, even those who do not voluntarily wear the label of “socialist,” promote aspects of socialism: to appeal to those voters who are partial to those ideas. And the idea of free health care, a free college education, a good-paying government job or getting money “just because,” appeals to millions of people.

Programs such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All are glaringly socialist. Other programs rely on government control of things that are now available for us to freely choose for ourselves. The U.S. Constitution restricts our government from controlling everything.

Those seduced by the siren song of socialism respond eagerly to the tactic of candidates painting fraudulent pictures that make the good (capitalism) look bad, and the bad (socialism) look good.

Since no form of government is perfect, highlighting and embellishing those elements of our capitalist system with which many find fault, and countering them with the imagined blessings of socialism enables these candidates to seduce voters to support and vote for them.

Every true American should be troubled, and even angered, that so many have been deceived by the poisonous socialist dream, and what that says about our culture.

In America, we elect those who serve in our government, and our Constitution provides ample opportunity for each of us to determine how we live our life. Under socialism, the government decides what people can, cannot and must do.

Often cited as examples of successful socialist nations are the Scandinavian countries. In fact, countries not infrequently self-identify as socialist, but in reality, only embrace some socialist ideas. While Scandinavian countries do often exhibit some socialist ideas, none is truly a socialist nation.

In fact,, and other sources, name only four countries that currently are truly socialist: China, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam.

Notable examples of failed attempts at socialism include the United Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR).

Of the USSR, tells us: “After overthrowing the centuries-old Romanov monarchy, Russia emerged from a civil war in 1921 as the newly formed Soviet Union. The world’s first Marxist-Communist state would become one of the biggest and most powerful nations in the world, occupying nearly one-sixth of Earth’s land surface, before its fall and ultimate dissolution in 1991. The United Socialist Soviet Republic, or U.S.S.R., was made up of 15 soviet republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.”

Along the way problems worsened. The Communist Party leaders became rich while average citizens faced starvation by the millions in the 60s and 70s. Communist Party leaders attempted a coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, which failed, but substantially weakened Gorbachev, and strengthened democratic forces. Following his resignation on December 31 of that year, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, after 70 years of misery for its citizens.

Then there is Venezuela, which in 1982 was the richest country per capita in South America. Starting in 1998, Hugo Chavez led the nation, and was followed by Nicolas Maduro. These two men have been hailed by the political left as heroes of “21st-century socialism.” 

Instead of a heroic socialist success, these two men created a downward spiral of the country’s economy and wide-spread suffering of its people. This once strong economy has been destroyed by corruption and its parent, socialism.

The Soviet Union is long gone, but Venezuela’s horrors continue, and worsen. From its days as a strong nation until today, Venezuela has existed under socialism for less than 40 years, and is on the verge of total collapse.

While the USSR and Venezuela lasted only a few decades, the USA has lasted almost 250 years. In fact, no strongly socialist nation has ever thrived for very long. Socialism just does not work.

Although America has embraced socialist ideas more and more through the years, it still has a long way to go before it dies like the USSR and Venezuela.

Foolish, dangerous and unnecessary measures like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and other equally bad ideas like a mandated $15 per hour minimum wage, gun control efforts like mandatory buybacks, confiscations and Red Flag laws, all are steps down that deadly path.

Will the United States of America become the new USSR — the United States of Socialist Repression? If through some horrible misfortune any of the current Democrat hopefuls were to be elected president, it would take a few long strides in that direction. Not one of them campaigns on a platform that does not include socialist measures.

As Mr. Franklin wisely said, we have “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Did the Founders ever imagine our culture crumbling as it is today?

The year was 1492. The month was August. The mission was to find, at the behest of Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, the riches of Asia. Lacking the magic of GPS, Waze and Google Maps that we know, the challenge was a daunting one. Instead of arriving in Asia, navigation by the stars led Italian explorer Christopher Columbus to the Americas two months later, opening an entire New World for mankind to explore.

Centuries later, the discovery of the New World was observed and honored by the creation of Columbus Day on October 12 each year. What has happened to how some Americans view Columbus and his discovery, and to so many of the traditional values and standards of our country in recent years, evidences the degradation of the culture that America was built on.

Many of us senior citizens remember the time when a family consisted of two parents — a mother and a father — and usually some children. While divorces were not unheard of, they were not common. The family unit usually remained intact throughout the life of the parents, children were taught personal responsibility, and the children carried that family structure forward.

A more conservative idea of appropriate sexual behavior kept unwanted pregnancies at a low number. And those children were generally raised in the family, or occasionally given up for adoption. Abortion was a murky, immoral and not-widely-known concept that carried great risks.

Religion was a strong and positive influence on the culture, and even those who were not religious, including atheists, generally had a solid moral center. People knew right from wrong, and most lived within the cultural and legal boundaries.

People had an appreciation for their country, understanding the great benefits provided for them by the nation’s brilliant Founders. They designed a superior form of government that allowed for maximum personal freedom and that guaranteed certain important rights. Most Americans understood that each person was responsible for taking care of themselves and their family, except for those who had some significant incapacity that prevented them from doing so.

They understood that they were to go to school and learn the basics of communications, mathematics, history, civics, science, and literature, get or stay fit in gym class, and avail themselves of instruction in the arts and trades if they so desired. It was expected that people prepare themselves for adulthood, and be able to support themselves and their family.

Life always dealt challenges. Sometimes people were able to rise to meet them, and sometimes not. But they knew that it was up to them to live their lives within the boundaries set by the culture and laws of the land, and to make the most of their situation and circumstances.

In a recent column, Victor Davis Hanson compared today’s Americans to those of the past: “Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.”

Our once self-reliant and responsible culture now takes great offense at things once regarded as mere unpleasantries. So many now believe that if something offends them, they have the right to condemn it so they will not be offended any more. There is little if any regard for the person who is responsible for what offends them, and that person’s rights that are equal to theirs.

Free speech and the importance of being able to say, hear and consider other opinions is no longer valued, as it was for more than two centuries. Unpopular speech often spurs violence by those who disagree. Violence against those they disagree with has become a common tactic among the increasing numbers of the disgruntled. Someone saying something or doing something that others dislike is often considered an excuse for his/her enemies to attack them.

Because one in a hundred, or a thousand, instances of action by police finds a police officer responsible for doing something wrong, many Americans now view the police as enemies. Some even attack them, sometimes violently, when they are peacefully doing their job, such as when they are on the scene of a protest.

We have become a nation that has large numbers of easily-offended people who believe their concerns are more important than those of others. America’s new most abundant product is “victimhood.”

In contests, all young people now must get the same award as the person who actually won, just so they won’t feel bad.

Politically-correct control fanatics now insist that in order for churches to keep their non-profit status, they must forego their religious beliefs and accept politically-correct ideas that run counter to those beliefs.

Our Founders, who sacrificed so much to escape the bondage imposed by Great Britain, must be smacking their heads in bewilderment at what has happened to their marvelous creation. As Ben Franklin said to a woman asking what the Constitutional Convention had produced, he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Our once-strong culture is collapsing; narrow self-interest rules. And Franklin’s doubt of our ability to sustain the republic has become reality.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The stubborn and dominant “I” words: Impeachment and Immigration

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., uses the term “Formal Impeachment Inquiry” to describe the political exercise which currently consumes House Democrats. However, a cursory analysis of what is happening shows Pelosi’s term is incorrect.

Two House committees, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Intelligence Committee, are involved in this exercise, but the whole House has not voted to initiate a “Formal Impeachment Inquiry.” Thus, there isn’t one. 

What we have instead is a “Democrat Impeachment Extravaganza.” This term does not appear in the U.S. Constitution, nor in any House document, but it accurately describes reality. Technically, the House is holding a “legislative investigation,” and nothing more.

Recognizing the true state of what is taking place in the House, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said, in essence, that the White House will not be providing any documents or information requested by the committees, since the investigation has not been formalized by a vote by the full House. 

The White House and others who do not share the impeachment fervor see this as purely partisan theater. As things stand, with Democrats in the majority in the House, Democrats control what goes on. Republicans can do little more than watch.

An actual formal impeachment process would be conducted by only one committee, the House Committee on the Judiciary.

The Lawfare website explains: “The impeachment proceedings against both Presidents [Richard] Nixon and [Bill] Clinton began with a vote by the full House of Representatives directing the judiciary committee ‘to investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach’ the president in question. In both cases, the resolution granted several specific powers to the committee for it to use in the course of completing the investigation with which it was charged by the full House.”

With this legislative investigation, only the majority party issues subpoenas and calls witnesses, but in actual formal inquiries “the Nixon and Clinton resolutions allowed subpoenas to be issued by the chairman and the ranking minority member ‘acting jointly.’ If either declined to act, the individual proposing the subpoena could issue it alone unless the other requested the issue be referred to the full committee for a vote,” according to Lawfare.

A 1998 report from the judiciary committee accompanying the authorizing resolution noted that “this approach balances ‘maximum flexibility and bipartisanship,’ both of which are lacking in the current investigation.

However, there is a reason why Pelosi and her party have not formalized the investigation: There are heavy risks involved.

By having members vote on a formal inquiry, newly elected Democrat members from states Donald Trump carried in 2016 would be shown in opposition to their constituents, risking their reelection in 2020, and perhaps turning the House over to a Republican majority. Or, they may vote against impeachment to protect their reelection, and put the impeachment inquiry in jeopardy. A positive vote also would provide Republicans some equality in the investigation process.

Those possibilities are unacceptable to House Democrats. They cannot afford to lose any element of control over this political exercise.

Showing how far back the impeachment obsession got started, on January 17, 2017 — three days before Trump was sworn in — California Democrat Maxine Waters suggested he should be impeached.

Since impeaching Trump likely will not lead to removing him from office, Democrats will keep throwing out accusations without proving them, hoping to weaken his support enough for the Democrat candidate to prevail in the 2020 election. Which means another year of investigation, and no legislation.

* * *

The way some Americans view the issues relating to immigration defies understanding. People generally want to protect their home and possessions. They don’t allow just anyone to come into their home, or invite just anyone to avail themselves of the goodies they have, give them money, or other desirable things. They don’t leave the doors and windows of their home open or unlocked 24-hours a day, unless they live in a place protected by a wall, security guards, or both.

But for some reason, many of our fellow Americans support doing such things to their country, by opposing immigration policies and providing incentives for illegal entry.

Some argue that “it’s not the same thing.” But why isn’t protecting the country and its citizens equal to protecting your family and your possessions?

Why would any true American:
·      not insist that all people wanting to come to the United States follow the long-established legal process for entry into America?
·      think it is wrong or unnecessary to control our borders by all means available and prevent illegal entry, by anybody, good or bad?
·      not understand that people who come here illegally are not deserving of any type of assistance from government at any level, short of very limited emergency assistance?
·      not oppose the things the country does that encourage illegal entry?
·      not want illegals deported?
·      want to defend criminal illegals and shield them from legal disposition, when defending illegal immigration puts Americans’ safety in jeopardy?

·      turn a blind eye to, or condone sanctuary jurisdictions which invite and protect people who have willingly entered the country, or deliberately over-stayed their visa? 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Badly needed: A more balanced approach for environmental policy

A few months ago, a new proposal to save the world from environmental catastrophe burst forth. The plan was designed to eliminate the threat, or at least reset the End of the World Clock that is counting down the final 10, or maybe 12, remaining years of life on Earth.

Called the Green New Deal (GND), it would turn life in the United States upside down by eliminating some things that we want and need, like fossil fuels and nuclear energy, 99 percent of motor vehicles, air travel, meat, and some other equally radical things.

In addition to all the inconvenience and misery the GND would cause, its price tag is trillions of dollars we don’t have. 

The GND’s narrative of impending doom, burdened with weaknesses and dangers, is just the latest of dozens of prior such predictions. One list contains 42 of them, 27 for which the Competitive Enterprise Institute provided sources, such as The New York TimesThe Boston Globe, the Washington PostThe Guardian, Brown University, Time magazine, and the Associated Press.

Here are some select excerpts of predictions issued between 1967 and 2014, categorized, and each preceded by the year of the prediction:
* Ice Age: 1971 - New Ice Age Coming By 2020 or 2030; 1972 - New Ice Age By 2070; 1974 - Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast
* Flooding: 1988 - Maldive Islands will Be Underwater by 2018; 1989 - Rising Sea Levels Will Obliterate Nations if Nothing Done by 2000; 2005 - Manhattan Underwater by 2015
* Warming: 2008 - Arctic will Be Ice Free by 2018; 2013 - Arctic Ice-Free by 2015; 2000 - Children Won’t Know What Snow Is
* Famine: 1967 - Dire Famine Forecast By 1975; 2002 - Famine In 10 Years If We Don’t Give Up Eating Fish, Meat, and Dairy
* Diverse problems: 1969 - Everyone Will Disappear in a Cloud of Blue Steam By 1989; 1970 - Urban Citizens Will Require Gas Masks by 1985; 2004 - Britain will Be Siberia by 2024; 2014 - Only 500 Days Before ‘Climate Chaos’

If you do not buy into the catastrophe warnings, you are deemed a “science denier” by the climate alarmists. However, you have evidence on your side. The history of predictive catastrophic environmental science is poor.

Despite this horrid record, however, we are told that in 12 years it’s all over. And even though hundreds of scientists dispute the doomsday scenario, we are told it is the unquestionable truth.

Attempting to persuade the powers that be at the United Nations of its erroneous outlook, a group of 500 prominent scientists and professionals from around the globe has produced the European Climate Declaration, and submitted it to officials at the UN. 

The group is led by CLINTEL (Climate Intelligence Foundation) co-founder Guus Berkhout of The Netherlands, and includes America’s noted Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., a professor of meteorology and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Both men are among the Declaration’s “ambassadors” from 14 different countries who signed the communication to the UN.

The September 2019 document makes seven major points: 1. There is no climate emergency; 2. Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming; 3. Warming is far slower than predicted; 4. Climate policy relies on inadequate models; 5. CO2 is plant food, the basis of all life on Earth; 6. Global warming has not increased natural disasters; and 7. Policy must respect scientific and economic realities.

Two major fallacies exist in the “science” behind climate catastrophe predictions these scientists say: First, political considerations infect the scientific process, and second, the climate models that predict catastrophe are biased.

Climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the important drivers of climate, including atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice. The results of a climate model are a product of the data provided. 

The Declaration offers the following comment on climate models: “Climate models have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools. Moreover, they most likely exaggerate the effect of greenhouse gases such as CO2. In addition, they ignore the fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is beneficial.”

Further, it notes: “CO2 is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO2 is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crop worldwide.”

And the seventh and final point: “There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050. If better approaches emerge, and they certainly will, we have ample time to reflect and adapt. The aim of international policy should be to provide reliable and affordable energy at all times, and throughout the world.”

The introductory letter written by the ambassadors suggests that the UN “organize with us a constructive high-level meeting between world-class scientists on both sides of the climate debate early in 2020,” and recommends a full and fair discussion of the issue. 

That seems to be a sensible plan.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

“Impeach Kavanaugh” is the new call of the desperate Democrats

Brett Kavanaugh. The nerve of that guy. Thinking he was deserving of a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Just because he has a law degree and many years of good and loyal service as a judge does not qualify him for that highly regarded position. It takes more than that to get a seat on the nation’s highest, and most influential court of law in this day and time.

He apparently thought that his time as an alleged sexual harasser would be so old that no one would remember it. But then, he perhaps had forgotten about Christine Blasey Ford. You remember her. She’s the one that claimed he did unspeakable things to her one summer night while in high school decades ago.

She said in Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing that she was “one hundred percent” certain that Kavanaugh was the man who attacked her when she was 15. He had the nerve to angrily deny allegations of sexual misconduct and called his confirmation process a “national disgrace.”

Her story and his denial were enough to fire up the “he’s unqualified!” posse in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and throughout the land. But, alas, it was not enough to derail the nomination, and Justice Kavanaugh is now sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.

And now that he has been duly approved, and has served a term on the Court, another story has come out regarding another young woman. It is alleged he did shameful things in front of her and asked her to do shameful things for him while a student at Yale a few years after the alleged Blasey Ford incident.

In the first instance, Blasey Ford alleged that Kavanaugh tried to rape her, and feared he might try to kill her. She named four witnesses to this alleged event. She, however, could not remember the date, location, how she got there, or how she got home. And the four witnesses, one of whom is Blasey Ford’s lifelong friend, all said they remembered the summer in question very well, but did not remember the event Blasey Ford alleged had taken place. There was no supporting evidence or memories of the alleged episode.

In the more recent event, a person brought forth an allegation, and the person alleged to have been harmed refused to talk about it with reporters and other interested parties, but some of her friends have said she does not remember the incident.

The person bringing this allegation to light was a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s named Max Stier who, interestingly enough, was an attorney on President Bill Clinton’s impeachment team, while Kavanaugh was on Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s team. The incident came to light in a story appearing in (yet again) The New York Times, written by reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, which actually contains two accusations. The two women are authors of a book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.” 

These notable allegations are automatically believed by many. What makes them notable is that they all share something in common: each is unsupported by actual evidence.

The perpetrators of these frauds have a purpose in mind, and they know that a significant number of their fellow travelers will fall in line, no questions asked. And guess where they found willing accomplices? The gang of candidates for the Democrat nomination for president.

Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, “Beto” O’Rourke and Kamala Harris jumped immediately on board the “impeach Kavanaugh” band wagon, and Pete Buttigieg ran along behind and eventually caught up with the wagon a bit later. All of these folks should know better than to take a position without evidence, but especially Harris, whose was a district attorney and a state attorney general before becoming a senator and candidate. She ought to understand about having significant evidence before acting. That is, unless you know her shady history as a prosecutor.

Since the increasingly left-wing Democrats depend so heavily upon the judicial system to help them force their unpopular ideas on the country, it is imperative that no judges, especially those on the Supreme Court, who follow the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution and our laws be appointed and approved for those positions.

In order to pass muster, you must subscribe to, and tacitly agree to support the left’s holiest of cows, Roe v. Wade -- the license to abort developing children in the womb. 

Blasey Ford's lawyer Debra Katz has admitted support for abortion motivated Ford’s role, and her own, in the use of unsupported allegations of rape against Kavanaugh. “He will always have an asterisk next to his name,” she is reported to have said, by Commentary magazine online. “When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is …; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.” 

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s straight forward allegiance to the intent of the Constitution and the law is a threat to leftist ambitions. Nothing is “too low to go” to prevent judges like Kavanaugh from holding court positions. But their gutter tactics are a threat to Judicial independence and the rule of law.