Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Boys in DC marching for a cause get attacked, shamed and punished

On Jan. 18 a group of students, mostly from Catholic high schools in Kentucky, were in Washington, DC. to attend the March for Life. The group was near the Lincoln Memorial, and nearby were two other groups, the Black Israelites and members of the Indigenous Peoples’ March (IPM), both of whom also had events that same day.

Some videos made public showed a member of the IPM, Nathan Phillips, standing right in front of one of the students, who happened to be wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Phillips banged on his hand-held drum and chanted, while the student merely stood smiling at him. As things progressed, other students in the group began reciting a school cheer in response to Phillips’ chanting.

Based upon information on social media, videos that showing only a small piece of the nearly two hours of the entire event, the “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later, Or Not” media sprang into action.

The story that dominated was that the students confronted Phillips, but the truth is that the students stayed where they were, and Phillips deliberately walked up to the student and stood there chanting at him for quite a while. The Black Israelites shouted profane and vulgar slurs. Phillips, it turns out, has a checkered past. 

Some of the offending media have acknowledged their mistakes, and some – gasp! – even apologized for their colossal blunder.

The opportunity provided by a group of white boys from Christian schools, some wearing MAGA hats – a gift from Heaven – effectively buried any chance of their reason for being in DC from getting ink or air-time. That doesn’t fit the general media narrative, anyway.

And why is the phrase “Make America Great Again” suddenly racist, when it was seen as patriotic when former President Bill Clinton used it? And before that when former President Ronald Reagan used it?

These students were not in DC to be an easy target for irresponsible media and the two activist groups to attack. They were there to participate in the March for Life, which is a statement for protecting the developing lives of babies not yet born.

Things sure have changed over recent years and decades. Take how we react to unwanted pregnancies, for example. 

Time was when an unmarried female got pregnant – a fairly rare event, years ago – one of two things usually happened: First, she and the father married and became a family, as they should have. Or in other cases she went to live with relatives in another town, carried her baby to term, gave it up for adoption, and then returned to her home. 

Less often, the mother would have a so-called  “back-alley” abortion, or a self-induced abortion. Both were very dangerous. Planned Parenthood reports, “In 1965, illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths.”

Then, things changed. The Encyclopedia Britannicaexplains: “The case began in 1970 when ‘Jane Roe’ – a fictional name used to protect the identity of the plaintiff, Norma McCorvey – instituted federal action against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas, where Roe resided. The Supreme Court disagreed with Roe’s assertion of an absolute right to terminate pregnancy in any way and at any time and attempted to balance a woman’s right of privacy with a state’s interest in regulating abortion.“

Thus the floodgates were opened; abortion became a big business. Various estimates place the total number of abortions since Roe from 50 million to more than 60 million, as pregnant women availed themselves of their right to privacy in getting their pregnancy terminated.

Differing ideas exist as to when life begins. And most of us would not agree with aborting a human life still in the womb. But that question has not been resolved well enough to establish a definitive rule on when life begins, and after which abortions may not be performed.

In 2015 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the following statistics:
** Nearly 75 percent of abortions are surgical
** 41 percent women who had abortions in the U.S. had no other children
** 44 percent of women who had abortions in the U.S. had at least one previous abortion
** 86 percent of women who had abortions in the U.S. were unmarried
** 41 percent of abortions are among women and teens 24-years-old and younger

And the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, noted: “At current rates, an estimated 1/4 of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45.” And, “About 15,000 abortions are attributed to rape and incest — representing 1.5 percent of all abortions.”

If there is good news on this horrible practice, it is that the number of abortions in the U.S. is declining.

The bad news is that acceptance of abortions at any time is growing. New York just passed a law that means a baby born at 1:15 p.m. was eligible to be aborted at 1:14:30 p.m.

Unwanted pregnancies need to be prevented, not expunged. We know what causes them, and there are means to protect against them. The most effective among them is abstinence. It never fails, and it is free.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Freedom of the press: a privilege to be honored by practitioners

Freedom of the press is a hallmark of the American experiment. Looking back to the days when the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights were created, we can see what the Founders had in mind.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the press was to serve both intellectual and political liberty. One goal, he wrote, was to establish that “man may be governed by reason and truth.” And desiring that, all avenues of truth must be open to the people. “The most effectual hitherto found,” he said, “is the freedom of the press.”

To Jefferson, the press was charged with the solemn duty to provide the truth to the people so that they may be well informed.

Press freedom was thought so important that it was specifically provided with protections in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.

Press freedom has risen to the fore since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. His pugnacious attitude, that so often produces testy responses to what he sees as press offenses, has brought this issue into the news on a regular basis.

Members of the press and their allies see his criticisms of their work as attacking press freedom. But Trump’s allies agree with his position that some in the press have an anti-Trump bias that produces a steady stream of “fake news” and biased coverage.

Like Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin also championed press freedom, but did so while holding a realistic view of the real nature of the press. In 1789, in “An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz., The Court of the Press,” Franklin describes the operational environment of the press, with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

In the first section, entitled “Power of this Court,” he wrote: “It may receive and promulgate accusations of all kinds, against all persons and characters among the citizens of the State, and even against all inferior courts; and may judge, sentence, and condemn to infamy, not only private individuals, but public bodies, &c., with or without inquiry or hearing, at the court's discretion”(emphasis in the original). 

And who shall be eligible for membership in the Court? Well, “about one citizen in 500 who by education, or practice in scribbling, has acquired a tolerable stile as to grammar and construction.” “This 500thpart of the citizens have the privilege of accusing and abusing the other 499 parts, at their pleasure.”

Unlike courts of law, the press is not controlled by a higher power, which enables the carryings-on of mischief and misfeasance, if it decides to do so. It may use anonymous sources, which may or may not testify truthfully, since the press can not impose, nor need not fear fines or jail time. Mere accusations may be treated as absolute truth. Accusations may be made by anyone, against anyone, at any time, by the press.

Franklin wrote, “The accused is allowed no grand jury to judge of the truth of the accusation before it is publicly made, nor is the Name of the Accuser made known to him, nor has he an Opportunity of confronting the Witnesses against him; for they are kept in the dark, as in the Spanish Court of Inquisition.”

Whenever such misfeasance does occur, the press is protected by the freedom of the press guarantee of the First Amendment, and that protection is promptly and routinely called upon, as we have seen in the recent past.

The picture painted by Franklin is of a power with no limiting mechanism; it can do as it pleases without supervision, governed only by the integrity and adherence to ethical boundaries, which is completely voluntary for those working in the press.

Unfortunately, there is ample exercising of that un-governed power in play today, the defense of which seems to be only that “Trump made me do it.”

Looking at the broad swath of professional misbehavior in the press, government, and elsewhere, one might well conclude that Donald Trump is the most powerful human being ever. He is able to compel people to willfully abandon their honor, their integrity, and their professional ethics, all because of their overpowering hatred for him.

Being a journalist is an important job. As Jefferson said, providing the truth is essential to the nation, and he named the press as the mechanism to do that. Being a good journalist is very demanding; it requires a very high degree of self-discipline to prevent journalists from allowing personal ideas and political positions to color their reporting. Sadly, many journalists have shown themselves unable to maintain that high level of personal performance.

Press bias is in ample supply and is easy to find, so long as the searcher is as objective in his search as the press is supposed to be in search of the truth.

Can journalism ever restore its reputation as a trustworthy element in America? It would be helpful if there were a penalty for straying from the straight and narrow.

It will be a long uphill journey. The sooner that journey begins, the better.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The New Deal is long gone; let’s leave it to its place in history

Few people alive today experienced “The Great Depression,” that period brought on by the stock market crash of 1929 and made worse by the Dust Bowl of the 30s. It was a time of great misery for America, and much worse than what today is referred to as “The Great Recession” that followed the market’s steep downturn beginning in December 2007.

While the latter event was the longest recession since World War II, lasting until June 2009, and its severity notable, it was not comparable to the Depression from which it got its name.

In the 30s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to the severe economic conditions with programs known as the New Deal. Those who lived through it may well regard FDR’s efforts in a positive light, as they “gave the country hope.”

But as is often the case, those memories do FDR more justice than he deserves. His program of high taxes and spending prolonged and deepened the misery. Though the country suffered longer and more severely, however, it did survive.

Democrats still entertain ideas similar to Roosevelt’s. In a nation created with specific limits on government’s size and power, a major political party does its best to increase government’s size and influence over its citizens.

A current proposal harkens back to the dark days of the 30s with a new “New Deal,” this one called the “Green New Deal,” combining the horrors of FDR’s missteps with the equal horrors of the manic climate change faction.

Typical of leftist/liberal prescriptions for a better world, this one touts and focuses on a set of desired results, but avoids paying any real attention to the enormous costs those desired results would create.

The Green New Deal is only a draft resolution at this point, but it proposes to do away with all fossil fuel use by 2030, just 10 years after its legislation is supposed to be completed.

The proponent of this measure is – surprise, surprise, surprise! – the newly elected Democrat Darling, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has raised the ire of her Democrat colleagues with her behavior, which pays little deference to the Party leadership, as she stumbles in and out of controversy.

Her methodology for this grand idea asks questions like “wouldn’t it be nice if,” or “shouldn’t we?” But it pays little attention to the answers to those questions, such as “at what cost” or “who will this hurt?”

On the subject of “wouldn’t it be nice,” the Green New Deal proposes making the nation run on only renewable forms of energy, as well as upgrading every residential and industrial building to improve comfort and safety.

And it goes further beyond the green aspects of our lives. It also proposes to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one. And we must establish additional measures, such as basic income programs, universal health care programs and any others that the select committee, which will be formed to flesh out the draft, deems appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism.

The cost of these pie-in-the-sky goals runs about 40 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, roughly double the current national debt.

Fossil fuels have weaknesses that make them undesirable. But renewable energy sources have weaknesses, too. Windmills kill birds at alarming rates, and large solar arrays also kill birds. You might expect these factors to upset green organizations that work to protect animals.

Solar panels only work when the sun is shining, and windmills only work when the wind blows. As it turns out, according to the Department of Energy, the most advanced wind turbines only reach their rated capacity roughly 42.5 percent of the time. And the most advanced, motorized solar panels achieve their rated capacity roughly 26 percent of the time.

Currently, fossil fuel backup systems turn on when wind and solar can’t work, but the plan is to stop using them. If we are to be prohibited from burning coal and natural gas, the other options are using more nuclear energy, which attracts strong opposition like that of fossil fuels, or store energy in batteries in humongous numbers.

Further, banning fossil fuels from all agricultural, manufacturing, and transportation uses would dramatically increase the cost of every product in the United States and make it difficult for American businesses to export products at reasonable prices.

This proposal, like so many liberal creations, sounds wonderful, but poses substantial problems.

What works best in such monumental transitions like this is a gradual evolution from the old to the new. That, however, is not part of the plan. The left/liberal method is not gradual evolution, but government force, as we saw in former President Barack Obama’s war on coal, with all the unemployment and extraneous human costs associated with that which were, unfortunately, not accompanied with any semblance of pity for the negatively affected thousands.

As science, technology and manufacturing processes evolve and improve, green energy will gradually and naturally replace burning fossil fuels for many of their uses. America already leads the world in carbon reduction. It should not punish its citizens further by implementing unnecessary and painful measures.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Democrats re-take the House: It is just as bad as we expected

She’s baaa-aaak! Imagining herself suddenly somehow equal to the President of the United States, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, basked in the glory of getting the gavel returned, after Democrats won back control of the House in the mid-term election.

Anxious to get back control of the House and wallowing in the glory of things to come, prior to the opening of the 2019 Congress caucusing Democrats, led by Maxine Waters, D-CA were overheard singing: “Investigate! Salivate! Dance to the music!”

And right on cue, the political foolishness began. The bad ideas Democrats had been discussing and preparing to unleash were officially unleashed.

Barely after members were sworn in and the election of the Speaker was completed, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA, rushed forth to introduce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump as his first order of business.

Not long after that, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, introduced a few new bills, one of which proposes the elimination of the Electoral College.

They also introduced a bill that many people would support to fund government agencies affected by the shutdown. Too good to be true, however, the bill also contained a hidden element that would provide more than a half-billion dollars in pro-abortion funding, including repealing a provision implemented by the Trump administration that would not fund NGOs that engaged in pro-abortion activities.

On the matter of impeachment, freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, wasted no time in calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump just hours after being sworn in.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters Thursday night, Tlaib said: "People love you and you win. And when your son looks at you and says, 'Momma, look you won. Bullies don't win.' And I said, 'Baby, they don't, because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the [vulgarity deleted].'”

Where the comment immediately placed her high in the running for the “2019 Classless Congressional Comment” award, it also garnered her much attention, but also a little welcome Democrat criticism.

Defensively, Tlaib pointed out that her “colorful” language should not overshadow her message. Well, if your message is really important to you, don’t use colorful language that interferes with it.

While we are on the topic of newbies, the freshman Democrat Darling and self-described socialist and radical, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has danced and talked her way into the limelight.

Her dancing may well be the strongest of her talents, with economic understanding bringing up the rear. The 29 year-old Representative has displayed a great lack of understanding of her country’s Constitution and government organization, characteristic of many others of her age.

She has expressed strong support for raising taxes on the highest wage earners to as much as 70 percent to pay for her list of socialistic freebies. As ridiculous an idea as this is, it wouldn’t make a dent in the costs of the programs she favors.

A 70 percent tax is punitive, and would shift a great deal of money to government use rather than use by those who earned it, and has very little support. It heaps unjust obligations on the top earners, who already shoulder a hugely disproportionate share of America’s tax bill.

Democrats apparently have been forbidden from discussing the death of Police Officer Ronil Singh, the most recent American to be killed by an illegal alien. Nancy Pelosi reportedly responded to a question about this senseless crime, “No comment.”

The ban on discussion is apparently complete, prohibiting even the expression of sympathy to Singh’s family and fellow officers, lest they admit indirectly that we have a true and serious illegal alien problem that includes sanctuary cities/fugitive cities. They didn’t even allow the automatic reaction to a gun death: the call for gun control.

As the 18th partial shutdown of the federal government since 1976 continues into its second week, there is no agreement between Congressional Democrats and President Trump to end it, as this is written.

Ranging from a few days to more than a month, under six presidents, both Democrat and Republican – Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, G.H.W. Bush and Obama – government shutdowns are not uncommon. The longest one lasted 32 days under Bill Clinton.

The responsibility for the security of the United States and its citizens falls upon the shoulders of the Executive Branch: the President, not the Speaker of the House or the Senate Minority Leader.

Following the advice – the sincere and desperation-prompted pleas – of the people who are on the border trying to secure it, Trump wants an impenetrable barrier along sections of the border.

Under those conditions, Congressional Democrats, who voted to fund a wall previously, are instead acting to support the status quo, which includes the horrible things illegal aliens have done and will do, while Trump is working to secure the border and improve the immigration process.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million people in exchange for the promise of border security. But border security was not achieved. Reagan said that was his biggest mistake. Trump does not want to make that same mistake.

In other news, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, introduced a Congressional term limits bill.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Costs of illegal immigration demand significant reform measures

That a sovereign nation should be able to control people coming into it is a no-brainer. So is the idea that in setting criteria for entry by immigrants a nation should consider what sorts of people will be good for the nation and its citizens.

The United States is under no obligation to let anyone come here; it is a completely voluntary thing that we can do or not do as we choose. The United States has benefitted greatly from immigration in the past, and if we a smart about it, we can benefit from immigration now and in the future.

As the most generous nation on Earth we can help people from other countries that really need help, but only under circumstances that are beneficial to us, or at least that are not harmful to our country and its legal residents and citizens.

We should not allow those to come here who carry disease, who are violent, who wish to undermine our way of life, or in other ways will do harm of some kind to the country. That such standards must exist is not even arguable.

Right now, and for many years, our immigration system has been a mess. The southern border is dangerously porous, and is routinely breached by persons wanting to come here illegally. Despite Border Patrol efforts, people routinely cross into the country. Others get visas to come here legally, but stay beyond the expiration date. These people by their very existence inside our borders are lawbreakers, and some of them commit crimes.

Answers for how much illegal aliens cost the country cover a broad range, depending upon whose numbers you use and exactly what kinds of things comprise the total. Estimates range from a bit over $100 billion to $338 billion annually.

A 2017 cost analysis by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) puts the figure of illegal immigration costs to U.S. taxpayers at $155 billion annually. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, however, that cost is much higher: $338.3 billion. 

Some estimates of particular elements of illegal immigration costs are: $22 billion on social services; $2.2 billion on food assistance; $2.5 billion on Medicaid, $29 billion on education; $3 million per day to incarcerate illegal immigrants who comprise 30 percent of all federal prison inmates; $90 billion for welfare; $46 billion for deportation; and $200 billion in suppressed American wages. reported in October that the U.S. is currently spending more to cover costs of illegal aliens having children here than for President Trump’s border wall this year. A new report tells us that illegal alien women had 297,000 children in 2014 at a cost of $2.4 billion.

Technically, illegal immigrants are not eligible for welfare services. But the report explained, "Medicaid will pay for a delivery in almost all cases if the mother is uninsured or has a low income. ... Illegal immigrants and most new legal immigrants are ineligible for Medicaid, but the program will still cover the cost of delivery and post-partum care for these mothers for at least a few months."

Forbes magazine’s Chris Conover ran the numbers in November and determined that at least $18.5 billion of tax money is spent on health care for illegal immigrants.

And there’s this from CNS News: “The federal government spent more money on the food stamp program in October, which was the first month of fiscal 2019, than President Donald Trump now wants the Congress to approve for the border wall for the entirety of fiscal 2019,” according to Editor-in-Chief Terence P. Jeffrey.

Dollar costs are not the only price Americans pay for our sloppy immigration control; crimes committed by illegals are a serious problem. One assault, one robbery, one rape or one murder is one more than we should accept.

Figures provided by Customs and Border Patrol as of August 31, one month before the end of FY 2018, include convictions of illegal aliens for:
Assault, battery, domestic violence = 506
Burglary, robbery, larceny, theft, fraud = 322
Driving under the influence = 1,062
Homicide, manslaughter = 3
Illegal drug possession, trafficking = 816
Illegal entry, re-entry = 3,637
Illegal weapons possession, etc. = 98
Sexual offenses = 78
Other offenses = 1,298

These 7,820 convictions are approximately half the number for FY2016. However, assuming the last month of FY2018 saw the average convictions of the first 11 months, the total for FY2018 would be 8,531. FY2017 also saw numbers significantly lower than FY2016, so things are moving in the right direction.

However, the fact that more than 8,500 people in the United States were direct victims of illegal aliens is inexcusable. 

We desperately need immigration reform and the first step is to secure the southern border so that the only people who enter the country are those who ask permission by coming to an official entry port, and after vetting receive permission to enter. 

The people who work on the border say, “Walls work!” We need to listen to them and erect walls/fences in places where they are most needed, to keep immigrant numbers under control, and to maintain the security of our people and our nation.