Tuesday, March 26, 2019

If you lose, improve your game; don’t change the game to suit you

What do people do when they can’t win by being better, but cannot stand to lose? The answer often is to fudge a little, or a lot, rather than to gracefully accept defeat, and try to improve.

Pitchers threw illegal spitballs to win. Some quarterbacks prefer underinflated footballs. Election officials stuff ballot boxes, encourage unregistered people to vote, or vote often, or simply report false totals.

Sometimes, those who can’t win under existing rules want to change the rules to make it easier to win, but they often choose the easier route of relying on preferable, though improper, interpretation of the rules.

Democrats once merely thought about things differently from Republicans, but worked within the existing, long-standing and sensible election system created by our Founders. Not so much these days.

What we are witnessing today is a broad coalition of people trying to silence ideas and points of view they disagree with, rather than try to win a debate against those opinions in the light of day.

We see this in the malpractice of some media outlets, both old (print media and radio/TV news providers), and new (social media etc.).

A veteran newsman, Ted Koppel, 25-year host of ABC’s “Nightline,” from 1980 to 2005, agrees that President Donald Trump is “not mistaken” when he says the major media are “out to get him.” “We are not the reservoir of objectivity that I think we were,” he told Marvin Kalb at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace earlier this month.

“We have things appearing on the front page of The New York Times right now that never would have appeared 50 years ago. Analysis, commentary on the front page,” Koppel added.

Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter, frequently receive criticism from conservatives, who say they are singled out and censored. Hardly ever do liberals/progressives have this complaint. And today, if you say certain newly unpopular things, you might be charged with a crime.

College campuses, once the arena for lively and beneficial debate of ideas, both friendly ideas and otherwise, now often ban conservative speakers from campus when heated protests against them arise. Claiming safety as the reason, administrators ban these speakers. But whose safety is at risk, and safety from whom?

The conservative speakers and those who support them are at risk of violence because campus leftists cannot abide those who do not think like they do. And rather than disciplining the violent protesters and restoring order and healthy debate to the learning environment, college administrations take sides and cave in to the leftists.

Stories of political indoctrination replacing or supplementing the presentation of subject matter in schools, all the way from colleges down to elementary grades, are not uncommon, particularly at the higher education levels.

Thanks to the abandonment of professional ethics by the leftist media and leftist educators, free speech is being stamped out, replaced by an “our way is THE way” message.

Along with free speech, important historical monuments and other fundamental elements of our democratic republic are under attack. Changing inconvenient rules is gathering a significant following. Some of the Democrat presidential hopefuls have targeted the Electoral College, and some have taken aim at the Supreme Court.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), both of whom see themselves someday wearing the president’s title, are ready to chuck the Electoral College in order to earn that title.

And much of the electorate has been uneducated or mis-educated in the whys and wherefores of their country’s system of government, and have no idea why this is a bad thing. 

As a safety device – an “insurance policy,” in common parlance – they now want to stack the United States Supreme Court with more activist justices, who will focus on desired outcomes, not on constitutional and legal original meaning and intent.

This group includes Robert Francis O’Rourke (D-Texas), who calls himself by the Hispanic nickname “Beto,” to attract votes. And the previously mentioned Sens. Harris and Warren, along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are on board with this “solution” to their electoral problems.

And if changing those rules isn’t sufficient to win elections, some also want to lower the voting age to 16, and even allow illegal aliens to vote. Claiming “voter suppression,” they complain that asking people at polling places to prove they are eligible to vote, one of the most valued rights of a United States citizen, is somehow voter suppression.

Missing the essential point, liberals/progressives say, “If the Founders were alive today, they would think differently about things than they did back then.” The point they miss or ignore, of course, is that the Founders were not speaking about specifics, but about principles in creating a unique system of government.

Never before in recent history has an American political party been so determined to trash so much of the design of a government that has proven to be so superior to any other in history as today’s most prominent Democrats.

Are they really so desperate to impose their will on the rest of us that they will act to take down the entire country in order to gain power?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Democrats exercising new-found power: some good, some not so much

Since Democrats reclaimed the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives last November, they have wasted no time in putting their agenda into action. 

Unsatisfied with the special counsel’s investigation of then-candidate, and now-President, Donald Trump’s alleged illegal interaction with Russians to steal the election from Hillary Clinton, there has been a lot of talk about starting new Trump investigations, all while serious national problems are left waiting for attention.

But the House has produced and passed one piece of legislation, H.R. 1, which the Democrat majority calls the “For the People Act.” It is intended “To expand Americans' access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 1 has some potentially good features, if properly structured, such as reducing big money in politics.Money for political campaigns should come only from those who are eligible to vote for those candidates or measures on the ballot, and who will be directly affected by those elections. That includes businesses in districts where they actually operate, which should be able to make limited contributions.

However, H.R. 1 contains campaign-spending restrictions that benefit incumbents, including President Donald Trump. Why should incumbents receive favored status?

One poorly considered feature is that Democrats want to lower the voting age to 16. They argue that 16 year-olds are old enough to drive, get married, rent an apartment, work and pay taxes, therefore they are old enough to vote. However, that list contains things that are not universally allowed for 16 year-olds across the nation, and other things that require parental approval.

We are reminded that voting is a right. But it is also a serious responsibility; it should not be available to just anyone, or to everyone. Voting requires maturity, knowledge and forethought. Are 16 year-olds really mature enough, and knowledgeable enough to vote responsibly?

When the voting age was lowered from the age of majority – 21 years of age – to 18, the rationale was that anyone old enough to fight, be injured or perhaps die for their country is old enough to vote.

Whether one is capable of voting responsibly is not a question of age, but of preparation and maturity. At what age is someone adequately versed in the way our country is organized, and why it was designed that way? At what age are they knowledgeable enough about political issues and candidates?

Therefore, a better idea would be that someone 18, 19 or 20 who is actually serving in the military would be able to vote. Otherwise, that right and responsibility comes at age 21.

Some Democrats would go even farther in allowing unprepared and otherwise ineligible people to vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), for example, recently proposed a truly irresponsible idea. Citing what she termed the wondrous things immigrants bring to America, she said: “And we want them, when they come here, to be fully part of our system. And that means not suppressing the vote of our newcomers to America.” She left unaddressed the question of whether they are here legally or illegally.

Given the Democrats consistent obstruction of Trump’s efforts to halt the entry of thousands of illegal aliens across the southern border, it appears that she not only prefers no restriction on who comes into America, but also thinks that once here they should be able to vote in elections.

It is incomprehensible that so many actually think this idea is sensible. Many or perhaps most of those wanting to enter America are good people looking for a better life. But not all are. They need to prove they deserve to be admitted, before they come in, and not receive any benefits until they do.

Though not a part of H.R. 1, the Electoral College is a target of the Left. Many of them, still feeling the sting of defeat more than two years after the election, think it denied Clinton the presidency after she collected more of the popular vote than did Trump.

The Electoral College is an original element in the Founders’ design of the government, being addressed in Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution, which outlines the way presidential elections are conducted. It was a brilliant element of our government’s structure.

In reality, Clinton lost because she ran a bad campaign, choosing not to campaign in some states that ended up voting red. This helps explain precisely why the Electoral College is necessary: because Americans who do not live on the coasts and in other population centers – who live in what is called “flyover country” – deserve something to balance their desires and electoral preferences against those of the population centers.

Ask yourself: Do we really want presidential candidates focusing only on New York, California and a few other highly populated places during campaigns, telling them what it takes to get their votes, and ignoring the rest of us? 

The Electoral College helps balance the electoral power of large states and large cities with the tens of millions of Americans who would otherwise be at their mercy. It must be protected from the power seekers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

More news of concern on the environment and manmade climate change

The results of a new peer-reviewed Organization Studies survey are out, published in a Forbes article. Founded in 1993, the Organization Studies Research Network’s website explains that it “comes together around a common concern for, and a shared interest to explore, new possibilities in knowledge, culture and change management, within the broader context of the nature and future of organizations and their impact on modern society.”

The survey polled 1,077 geoscientists to find the current thinking of this large group on how human activities are affecting our climate.

The largest subgroup of participants fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. This subgroup of 36 percent of participants expressed the strong belief that climate change is happening and is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main cause. This result will not surprise the manmade climate change faction among us.

The next largest subgroup is the “Nature is Overwhelming” faction, at 24 percent. These scientists believe that changes to the climate are natural and normal, but they strongly disagree that climate change poses any significant public risk, and see no impact on their personal lives.

Those two groups, however, represent only 60 percent of the total.

Following at 17 percent in third place are the “Fatalists.” They credit both human and natural causes for climate change; consider climate change to be a smaller public risk with little impact on their personal lives; are skeptical that the scientific debate is settled regarding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) modeling; and think climate change is but a small risk. They are said to hold the position, “How can anyone take action if research is biased,” the report notes.

Coming in fourth are those in the “Economic Responsibility” model at 10 percent of participants. These Earth scientists “diagnose climate change as being natural or human caused,” but more than any other group hold to the idea that the real cause of climate change is unknown, as nature is forever changing and therefore uncontrollable. They also are unlikely to accept that scientific debate is settled.

The smallest subgroup is the “Regulation Activists,” which, at just 5 percent of the total, are skeptical that the scientific debate is settled, and also blame both natural and human causes.

These findings prompted the author of the Forbes article, James Taylor, to conclude that, “Taken together, these four skeptical groups numerically blow away the 36 percent of scientists who believe global warming is human caused and a serious concern.”

Taylor adds, “Now that we have access to hard surveys of scientists themselves, it is becoming clear that not only do many scientists dispute the asserted global warming crisis, but these skeptical scientists may indeed form a scientific consensus.”

These findings should not surprise those who have followed this debate, and who do not automatically subscribe to the idea that fossil fuel use is causing climate change.

“Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming,” wrote Peter Ferrara of the Heartland Institute, in Forbes all the way back in 2012, discussing the seventh International Climate Change Conference.

“That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more,” Ferrara continued.

He called attention to the fact that temperatures dropped steadily from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. The popular press even predicted a coming ice age. Ice ages have cyclically occurred roughly every 10,000 years, with a new one actually due around now, Ferrara wrote.

He writes about Don Easterbrook, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University, who “publicly predicted in 2000 that global temperatures would decline by 2010. He made that prediction because he knew the Pacific Decadal Oscillation had turned cold in 1999, something the political scientists at the UN’s IPCC did not know or did not think significant.”

Easterbrook was correct, and the IPCC was wrong, Ferrara notes. And 56 percent of the Earth scientists surveyed say that natural causes are a significant factor, and perhaps a more significant factor than fossil fuel use.

Using fossil fuels will naturally give way to other methods when those methods are able to provide the needed energy economically and without drastic disruption.

Until then, we need to stop the climate alarmism and focus on actual problems, like drug addiction, the national debt, and illegal immigration.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

U.S.A. to become U.S.S.R.: United States of Socialist Regression?
No doubt that the Founders and the Framers are spinning in their graves at the degree of sympathy and affection that exists in America today for socialism. They were so smart in creating a nation the design of which is superior to every other that has yet existed, and yet even that nation seems destined to fulfill the prophecy that democracies are doomed to survive only about 200 years.

The USA is not a pure democracy, but something even better: a democratic republic, with protections pure democracy does not offer. That may be what explains why the USA has beaten the 200-year mark by 20 percent.

As Benjamin Franklin explained to Mrs. Powel, who asked outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Without batting an eye Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it.”

Our democratic republic until fairly recently openly and strongly promoted the ideal of individual freedom supported by individual responsibility, an opportunity open to all who wished to pursue it.

This right of the people, and others, were guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments were thought so important that without their specific guarantee some of the states would not have voted to ratify the Constitution.

Today’s socialism promoters use a combination of scare tactics and too-wonderful-to-be-real promises to hoodwink the populace into following them.

These promises, to be completed in the next 10 years, include such things as universal health care; rebuilding every structure in America to meet energy efficiency goals; a guaranteed job with a family sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security for every American; replacing air travel with energy efficient, high speed trains; and to save the world from the idea of life-ending climate catastrophe due to fossil fuel use, as well as eliminating climate-harmful bovine flatulence by doing away with beef as a food.

Trouble is, even if wind, solar and a couple of other sources could actually provide the power the US and the world need, the costs are themselves catastrophic, in the US running to something like $600,000 per household over 10 years. We are told by the proponents of this plan that the costs are not that important, even as we are confronted by a national debt of $22 trillion.

But so many of those on the left have likely already heard and discounted these well-founded negatives. And they may even believe that socialism’s dark past is unimportant.

Do these proponents of socialistic elements not know the history of this ignominious ideology? Do they think it has never succeeded in history only because the right people have not been in charge? Or, do they just not care?

After all, who can argue with the siren song of all this free stuff and utopia just over the horizon?

Perhaps you regard the ubiquitous rookie Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a true “seer” of how socialism can and will work under her control – she’s the boss, you know – with the assistance of Bernie Sanders, and far too many other Democrats.

Socialism developed in the mid 1800s. Let’s take a look at the A-List of Socialist Leaders since then: Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong. These rulers, and others like them, brought the socialist utopia to 19 nations, including the Soviet Union, Communist East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, the People’s Republic of China, North Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea. All of them failed.

History tells us that governments in socialist countries killed approximately 110 million people between 1900 and 1987.

And then there’s Venezuela, formerly a prosperous country before the socialist scourge turned wealth to poverty. Today, Venezuelans are short on basic necessities like food, water, medicine, toilet paper, and now must eat out of trashcans, even as humanitarian aid is blocked or destroyed at the border.

Scandinavian countries often are cited as successful socialist nations. However, even with their high taxation they are not truly socialist. In fact, they are less so than before, according to The Federalist online. Sweden, for example, has abandoned its tax-and-spend philosophy, which drove it from prosperity to mediocrity in just over two decades, and while it and its neighbors still have high taxation, Sweden is incorporating more free market ideas.

We can blame much of the ignorance about what real socialism is, especially for younger Americans, on our education system, which to a significant degree has become a tool of the left.

But many of those on the left have already heard and discounted these well-founded negative impacts. And they may even believe that socialism’s dark past is just unimportant. Besides, the truth about socialism stands in the way of their plans for domination.

We had better pay attention to former President Ronald Reagan: “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.”

The United States of America’s long and illustrious success is not an accident. Socialism can never match what we have. We must heed Mr. Reagan’s warning.