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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.