Sunday, June 11, 2017

Everyone did that which was right in their own eyes...

It is impossible to have a civilized society without a clear expectation of what is right and wrong in that society. Laws memorialize what the society believes is right and wrong. Laws must be written so that people can reasonably understand whether they are violating them. We cannot have interaction, particularly interaction between people elected or appointed with governing authority, without these clear expectations. Of all people with power, it would seem that judges are in the position most prone to violate this principle, and Neil Gorsuch made this point well in his Senate hearings:

“If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be, the very idea of a government by the people and for the people would be at risk. And those who came to court would live in fear, never sure exactly what governs them except the judges' will."

Erick Erickson, with whom I do not always or entirely agree, also makes some good points in his column below.  
"Our great national experiment in democracy continues to crumble, eroded by the supposed good intentions of too many bad actors."
No civilization can abide lawlessness and remain civilized.

A Nation of Men, Not Laws

James Comey, Donald Trump and Reality Winner all did what they thought was right, not what the law required.
Erick EricksonJames Comey testified this past week before the Senate. There are things the media will downplay that should not be downplayed. The media agenda, however, is to cast as much doubt on the president as possible. They do this not just because of a liberal bias, but because discord and doubt are a ratings bonanza.
Comey testified that the president did ask him to stop the investigation into Mike Flynn, but Comey refused. He also said the president was not under investigation. The president grew angry when Comey refused to say this publicly.
This does not appear to be an issue of obstruction of justice. Justice was not obstructed. But the president should not have done it and it is a self-inflicted wound. There are, however, larger points the media will choose to ignore.
Mr. Comey testified that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to minimize his statements on the Clinton investigation. The former Attorney General asked Comey to call it a “matter” instead of an “investigation.” Comey also testified that Lynch meeting with President Clinton was the catalyst to stop his pursuit of Hillary Clinton. If the fix was in, why bother.
Contrast that testimony to Mr. Comey admitting he leaked his own memo about President Trump asking him to suspend the Flynn investigation. He said he leaked it because he wanted a special prosecutor. Why was Comey willing to leak that, but not the Lynch matter? The most obvious answer is that Comey thought the one a bigger deal than the other. But then James Comey refused to stop the Flynn investigation and he did actually stop the Clinton investigation. That should trouble everyone who is troubled by President Trump’s actions.
James Comey should not have stopped the Clinton investigation because of Loretta Lynch’s conduct, just as he should have not stopped the Flynn investigation. That he did so suggests Comey was willing to do what he thought was proper and not what the law demanded. It also suggests a latent partisanship on Comey’s behalf. Surely now it appears more likely he sent out the famous memo about Hillary Clinton shortly before the election not to help Trump, but because he assumed Clinton could not be stopped. He was covering himself, not doing his job.
The president of the United States does not come out of this looking well. He looks like he did try to bully the director of the FBI. He looks like he did try to use his influence to help friends. Donald Trump is a very loyal person. He demands loyalty and he gives it. Flynn gave him loyalty and the president tried to protect him. Comey would not give him loyalty and Comey got fired. The president has the power to fire the FBI director and did. But it does not mean he should have. [Do not miss the difference between the actions of Trump, Comey and Winner: Trump's action is unwise, but not unlawful.]
Compare Comey to 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner of Augusta, GA. Ms. Winner, a self-entitled millennial who possibly put our national security in jeopardy, allegedly decided to abuse her position as a national security contractor. Having now been arrested, Ms. Winner is accused of leaking classified information hoping to harm the president. On Twitter, she tweeted that she would stand with the Iranians against President Trump. She decided to do what she thought was right, not what the law required or demanded.
James Comey, Donald Trump and Reality Winner all did that. They did what they thought was right, not what the law required. President Trump decided he could do what he did because he was president. Comey decided he was the FBI director and no one could question him. Winner did what she did thinking she could undermine the president.
In all three cases, these individuals made it about themselves, not the law. As a result, they have all weakened institutions of public trust. They have made us more a nation of men and not laws. And all of them, and their supporters, think they did nothing wrong. It was the other guy’s fault. Our great national experiment in democracy continues to crumble, eroded by the supposed good intentions of too many bad actors.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

At NYT, It Depends on Whose Ideology Is Advancing

Eliminate the filibuster? The New York Times applauded the move under an editorial titled "Democracy Returns to the Senate." But...that was in 2013 when Harry Reid changed the rules on judicial nominees to prevent the Republican minority in the Senate from blocking votes on Obama's court-packing project.
Fast forward to the Gorsuch nomination, when a nominee less likely to advance the Times' agenda is the subject of the first-ever purely partisan filibuster. Is the NYT consistent? 
Of course not. The Times accuses McConnell of abusing his Senate power with an editorial under the headline, "The Supreme Court as Partisan Tool"!
Let me get this one more note off my chest. Republicans not giving Garland a vote and Democrats filibustering Gorsuch are not equivalent. In the earlier case, we had a majority-elected President being blocked (asked for a more conservative nominee) by the majority party in the Senate; the very definition of check and balance. The voters didn't trust one party with both branches. In the latter case, the voters have entrusted both the Presidency and the Senate to the same party, to fill the SCOTUS vacancy. Seems like the perfect example of democracy--actually, a constitutional republic--at work.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Buying without Paying. Legally.

When you can "buy" a product or service you want but charge it to someone else who you think can afford it, you'll buy more than you would if you paid for it yourself...unless you aren't human. The overall cost of providing those products and services will go up, not down, because more will be purchased than otherwise would. I illustrated this in a "Produce Stand" fable some years ago.

This is the fundamental issue in the health insurance debate. Mandated insurance or government provided "insurance" (i.e. through Medicare or Medicaid) make you think you can buy the medical services while someone else pays the bill for you. Frankly, the more your insurance premiums rise, the more you feel "entitled" to get lots of medical services: you feel even more justified in running to the ER, or getting a second opinion, or getting that extra test, or trying the other medicine. But someone has to pay for all the services you are getting.

As John Stossel put it in a recent column,

Someone else paying changes our behavior. We don’t shop around. We don’t ask, “Do I really need that test?” “Is there a place where it’s cheaper?”
Imagine if you had “grocery insurance.” You’d buy expensive foods; supermarkets would never have sales. Everyone would spend more.
Following is his complete column (with my emphasis added) which I heartily recommend.
Free Market Care
By John Stossel

Apr. 2, 2017

President Trump and Paul Ryan tried to improve Obamacare. They failed.

Trump then tweeted, “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”

But I do worry.

Trump is right when he says that Obamacare will explode.

The law mandates benefits and offers subsidies to more people. Insurers must cover things like:

—Birth control.

—Alcohol counseling.

—Depression screening.

—Diet counseling.

—Tobacco use screening.

—Breastfeeding counseling.

Some people want those things, but mandating them for everyone drives up costs. It was folly to pretend it wouldn’t.

Insisting that lots of things be paid for by someone else is a recipe for financial explosion.

Medicare works that way, too.

When I first qualified for it, I was amazed to find that no one even mentioned cost. It was just, “Have this test!” “See this doctor!”

I liked it. It’s great not to think about costs. But that’s why Medicare will explode, too. There’s no way that, in its current form, it will be around to fund younger people’s care.

Someone else paying changes our behavior. We don’t shop around. We don’t ask, “Do I really need that test?” “Is there a place where it’s cheaper?”

Hospitals and doctors don’t try very hard to do things cheaply.

Imagine if you had “grocery insurance.” You’d buy expensive foods; supermarkets would never have sales. Everyone would spend more.

Insurance coverage — third-party payment — is revered by the media and socialists (redundant?) but is a terrible way to pay for things.

Today, seven in eight health care dollars are paid by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance companies. Because there’s no real health care market, costs rose 467 percent over the last three decades.

By contrast, prices fell in the few medical areas not covered by insurance, like plastic surgery and LASIK eye care. Patients shop around, forcing health providers to compete.

The National Center for Policy Analysis found that from 1999 to 2011 the price of traditional LASIK eye surgery dropped from over $2,100 to about $1,700.

Obamacare pretended government controls could accomplish the same thing, but they couldn’t.

The sickest people were quickest to sign up. Insurance companies then raised rates to cover their costs. When regulators objected, many insurers just quit Obamacare.

[Last] month Humana announced it’ll leave 11 states.

Voters will probably blame Republicans.

Insurance is meant for catastrophic health events, surprises that cost more than most people can afford. That does not include birth control and diet counseling.

The solution is to reduce, not increase, government’s control. We should buy medical care the way we buy cars and computers — with our own money.

Our employers don’t pay for our food, clothing and shelter; they shouldn’t pay for our health care. They certainly shouldn’t get a tax break for buying insurance while individuals don’t.

Give tax deductions to people who buy their own high-deductible insurance.

Give tax benefits to medical savings accounts. (Obamacare penalizes them.)

Allow insurers to sell across state lines. Current law forbids that, driving up costs and leaving people with fewer choices.

What about the other “solution” — Bernie Sanders' proposal of single-payer health care for all? Sanders claims other countries “provide universal health care … while saving money.”

But that’s not true.

Well, other countries do spend less. But they get less.

What modern health care they do get, they get because they freeload off our innovation. Our free market provides most of the world’s new medical devices and medicines.

Also, “single-payer” care leads to rationing.

Here’s a headline from Britain’s Daily Mail: “Another NHS horror story from Wales: Dying elderly cancer patient left ‘screaming in pain’ … for nine hours.”

Britain’s official goal is to treat people four months after diagnosis. Four months! That’s only the “goal.” They don’t even meet that standard.

Bernie Sanders' plan has been tried, and it’s no cure.

If it were done to meet American expectations, it would be ludicrously expensive. In 2011, clueless progressives in Bernie’s home state of Vermont voted in “universal care.” But they quickly dumped it when they figured out what it would cost. Didn’t Bernie notice?

It’s time to have government do less.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Orwell's 1984 in Living Color?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

When it Was Trump, That Was Different

According to the "Mainstream [can we really still call them that?] Media" and other self-righteous leftists, when Trump implied he might act like Al Gore and not "accept" the results of the election without question, he was extreme, offensive and a threat to democracy. What  an ironic week this has turned out to be, well-said and well-illustrated by the following humorists. Enjoy!
“Quite frankly, you gotta' watch what you say nowadays. There are a lot of people out there with love in their heart who wish you dead if you don’t have as much love in your heart as they do.” —Dennis Miller

Cartoons: Mike Lester for November 11, 2016

2016 11 12 3f325a60 large

2016 11 11 910fa51a large2016 11 12 e20b23cf large

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Spare Us Your Indignation!

The conservative voters who didn't consolidate the vote around the viable conservative candidate early in the primary process are, I hope, learning a very painful lesson. How many election cycles does it take to learn that when we have a legitimate shot with a good candidate in the early primaries, we should stop splitting our vote among the various flavors and shades of conservatives.

One of two people will be POTUS in January, and I am conscience-bound to vote for the candidate least likely to use the power of the presidency to harm Christianity and the freedom of individuals to lovingly exercise and share it. The most important issue in this presidential election is whether there will be five individuals who believe they are the Supreme Legislative Body empowered to impose their vision of social justice, diversity and deviancy on us all.

Nate Jackson makes some excellent points in the following column. I may be more disgusted than he seems to be with Trump. Donald is immoral and insufficiently repentant. But either he or Hillary will be president, those are your only two choices. And when it comes to their records and promises regarding governing, the least-destructive choice is still clear.


Donald's Boorish Comments and Bill's Criminal Actions

Nate Jackson · Oct. 9, 2016
Hillary Clinton and her Leftmedia super PAC got their dream candidate. We warned throughout the primary that the Leftmedia wanted Donald Trump as the Republican nominee because stories like the one that broke Friday afternoon would help boost Clinton, an incredibly weak candidate. And indeed, the Left couldn’t ask for a better October surprise than to be able to run headline after headline about Trump’s awful comments and GOP leaders withdrawing their support and calling for the nominee to step aside.

We’ll leave Trump’s actual lewd and despicable comments for others to repeat, but the reason they’re so devastating is, as Andrew McCarthy put it, “[T]he power of a tape to make its mark on our consciousness is simply unequaled by written and oral descriptions.”

In any case, there are a couple of primary takeaways. First, Trump is Trump, and he’s never going to change. If that wasn’t clear before, well … it should have been. Second, for Clinton and her Leftmedia allies, this is all about women voters. How they feel about Trump will either depress his support and/or increase Clinton’s. She’s depending on women to win.

But we’ll say this to Clinton and her leftist gaggle: Spare us your indignation. What Trump said and did is horrible and inexcusable. But Bill Clinton raped several women, had an affair with another in the Oval Office itself, and Hillary Clinton viciously attacked those women in public in a craven attempt to save her own political future. This was consistent with her character, too. As a young lawyer, Clinton defended a child rapist, happily destroying the victim’s character in the process. As the nation’s top diplomat, Clinton broke federal law regarding classified information, endangering national security, and she ran a pay-to-play operation called the Clinton Foundation. What Trump said 11 years ago doesn’t change the fact that Clinton is manifestly unfit for office. And either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is going to be president come January. Make your choice, America.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Not Voting for the Lesser Evil is to Vote for the Greater Evil

I didn't vote for Trump in the primary. I would have preferred most of the other candidates. But in November, we have to vote for or against Hillary Clinton, who is a known commodity. The only way to vote against Clinton is to vote for Trump, a rather unknown commodity who has made some pretty good promises (such as with respect to the Supreme Court) and selected a very solid running mate.

Following is a thoughtful column which I believe states a good case for why all Christians and conservatives must vote for Trump in the general election. This is going to be the first of several such postings. If your conscience is troubled by the thought of voting for Trump, read on.

From #NeverTrump to #NeverClinton

Vote for the Supreme Court! Choosing not to vote for the "lesser of two evils" is a vote for the greater of those evils.

By Mark Alexander · July 27, 2016   

"In the midst of these pleasing ideas we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections." —John Adams (1797)

(Aggravation Alert: I have received a considerable number of objections from fellow Patriots this year complaining either that my analysis of Donald Trump was too hard or too soft. This column is directed at those who believe either one to be true — the #NeverClinton and #NeverTrump folks who plan to abstain or vote for a third-party candidate.)

It's no small irony that the Socialist Democratic Party is hosting its confab in Philadelphia this week, the cradle of Liberty and Rule of Law.

On the opening night, Bernie Sanders, the candidate who was narrowly defeated by Clinton thanks to hacked DNC emails indicating they rigged the primary, offered this assessment of the last eight years: "Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution — our revolution — continues."

If that sounds familiar, it should. That "political revolution to transform America" would be the fulfillment of Obama's 2008 campaign promise of "fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

On the other hand, Republicans should be debating the re-election of Mitt Romney this year, but we aren't. Here's why.

Without debating Romney's merits all over again, the reason that the contest this year is not between Romney/Ryan and Clinton/Kaine is because millions of "faith and values" voters chose to sit it out in 2012. Weeks before the 2012 election, I had a very intelligent young Christian woman ask a question far too typical of evangelicals: "Can you really vote for a Mormon?"

Of course, in addition to those evangelicals, there were also millions of principled conservatives who didn't cast their ballots in 2012, protesting that Romney was a centrist, moderate, Northeastern elitist.

So how did that work out?

Four more years of Barack Obama's colossal failures in both domestic and foreign policy.

Let's review.

Obama's domestic policies have been defined by his litany of lies and legacy of scandals, most notably the failure of his so-called "economic recovery" plan; his long list of ObamaCare lies; his IRS Enemies List targeting conservatives; his "Fast and Furious" gun control ploy; the VA death panels cover-up; the immigration crisis on our southern border, and the long-overdue resignation of his corrupt attorney general, Eric Holder.

The Obama-Clinton foreign policy malfeasance is unparalleled in American history, including the Benghazi cover-up ahead of the 2012 election; the "Russian Spring" in Crimea; the hollow "Red Line" in the Syrian sand; the Middle East meltdown in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Gaza; the disintegration of Iraq; the dramatic resurgence of al-Qa'ida; the rise of the Islamic State; and the re-emergence of Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, which is now metastasizing into Western Europe and North America.

All that being the case, once again, millions of conservatives are reluctant to vote because the choices are the assurance of extending Obama's disgraceful legacy for four more years under a Clinton regime or the prospect that Donald Trump will prove to be the "lesser of two evils" come January 2017.

For value and principle conservatives wrestling with whether to vote for Trump or not at all, political philosophers and moral theologians have written for generations about the "incommensurability in values," or, in common parlance, choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Some of my conservative friends subscribe to the observation of 19th century British theologian Charles Spurgeon, who wrote, "Of two evils, choose neither." But Spurgeon's words, as related to evil actions, are taken out of context in reference to civic duty. Of such duties, Spurgeon said, "I would not, however, say ... despise the privilege which you have as citizens."

The question of voting for Trump is no quandary for me.

While I understand well the nature of presidential character, and believe both Clinton and Trump fall substantially short of that character, I also understand that the outcome of the November election will not only determine our president for at least the next four years, but also the composition of the Supreme Court for at least the next quarter-century. Think about that before you decide to stay home this year or to cast a "protest vote" for a third-party candidate.

On this point, I would state emphatically that those who choose to sit this election out or "choose neither" are making a choice. In fact, I would argue that handing this election to Hillary Clinton is far more evil than choosing the lesser of the two. If you can't vote for Trump, then at least vote against Clinton. If you can't vote for Trump, then at least vote for the Supreme Court. And make no mistake: A vote this year for a third-party candidate in any state where the Clinton v Trump contest is close constitutes a vote for Clinton and a third term for Obama. Period.

After the conservative congressional advances across the nation in 2010 and 2014, despite the needless presidential loss in 2012, throwing this year's contest to Clinton would be disastrous.

Conservative political analyst Dennis Prager wrote a letter "To My Conservative #NeverTrump Friends," in which he makes the case for supporting Trump:

"The 'conscience' argument that one can sleep with a clear conscience by not voting for Trump [asserts] that your conscience is clear after making it possible for Clinton to win. ... In the 2016 presidential race, I am not interested in moral purity. I am interested in defeating the left and its party, the Democratic Party. The notion ... that we can live with another four years of a Democratic president is, forgive me, mind-boggling. To that end ... multiple additional leftists on the Supreme Court, a Republican presidential victory in 2020 would mean nothing. ... Left-wing judges pass so many left-wing laws that they render those who control Congress, and even the White House, almost irrelevant. I just don't understand how anyone who understands the threat the left and the Democrats pose on America will refuse to vote for the only person who can stop them."

(Notably, Prager argues that Trump's convention speech was not "dark enough.")

Last week, Donald Trump delivered his GOP convention acceptance speech, outlining in the broadest terms what his objectives would be if elected president.

This week, Hillary Clinton will conclude the DNC convention with a similar speech, promising mostly the antithesis of the Trump platform. And it is unlikely that any of her adoring media will highlight her extensive record of incompetence and lawlessness.

In advance of Clinton's diatribe, we compiled a list of questions for consideration by those who are not yet committed to vote for Trump. Our editors have expanded that list to include the following questions:

Who will achieve more with Republicans in Congress?

Who will nominate judges for the federal bench and Supreme Court who will uphold Rule of Law?

Who is more likely to formulate and enforce stronger foreign policy in an effort to restore America's standing in the world?

Who is more likely to seek to begin rebuilding America's military might?

Who is more likely to implement policies to protect America and the West from catastrophic terrorist attacks?

Who is more likely to clearly identify the greatest ideological threat to the West as "Islamic extremism"?

Who is more likely to treat our nation's military personnel and veterans with the dignity and respect they have earned?

Who is more likely to enforce immigration laws and protect American borders?

Who is more likely to support the Second Amendment?

Who is more likely to reduce taxes?

Who is more likely to balance a budget?

Who is more likely to address our ruinous national debt?

Who is more likely to be a better communicator of free market principles?

Who is more likely to reduce oppressive central government regulations?

Who is more likely to repeal ObamaCare and implement market solutions for health care?

Who is more likely to repeal the onerous Dodd-Frank regulations?

Who has more experience creating and protecting American jobs?

Who is more likely to promote Americanism rather than globalism?

Who is more likely to flex American muscle when dealing with foreign tyrants?

Who is more likely to aggressively pursue energy exploration?

Who is more likely to re-write trade agreements that undermine the U.S. economy?

Who is more likely to populate their administration with free enterprise advocates?

Who is more likely to advocate for retention of Republican majorities in the House and Senate?

Who is more likely to resist the influence of Wall Street?

Who is more likely to reject Obama's unconstitutional executive overreach?

Who is more likely to denounce Black Lives Matter and other Democrat Party fronts seeking to disunite America?

I'm sure you can add to this list, and I'm equally sure that Trump will fare better across the board than Clinton.

In her convention remarks, Michelle Obama declared, "This election ... is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives." Indeed it is, and well into the next generation. Will our children and their children fare better with leadership from Democrats on the Left or Republicans on the Right?

So to my fellow conservatives who don't plan to vote in 2016, I ask the following: What will our nation look like in 2020? How about 2030?

I ask this question not only as a citizen and fellow Patriot, but also as one who, like many other Patriots, has family blood on the line in this election. As the father of a young Marine who is bound by oath to "Support and Defend" our Constitution, I am, like so many of you, deeply concerned about who will be our next commander in chief.

The last seven years have been very demoralizing for those of us who are in the trenches every day advocating for Liberty. But take heart. While Liberty is eternal, the contest to maintain its beacon of freedom is also eternal, and sitting this election out or voting for a third-party candidate in a closely contested state only makes that contest more difficult.

Finally, the Demos are very divided. Let's finish them off. Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed status quo candidate in an election year for change. My advice to anyone who hasn't yet committed to vote for Trump and the Supreme Court, or at least vote against Clinton: Embrace the suck. Just do it, and convince everyone you know to do the same.