Sunday, August 12, 2018

So-called "Liberals" Oppose Freedom: We've Come a Long Way!

The following article by Michael Barone quite nicely summarizes the strange place we have come to in America. Liberal used to mean free, and liberals used to advocate greater freedom, especially from government control and restriction. In our modern world, "liberals" have confiscated the word and given it an entirely different meaning, advancing the totalitarianism of a Brave New World and promoting the "Newspeak" of 1984
By clear contrast, those who promote limited government and maximum personal autonomy - the "conservation" of government action for necessary and constitutionally-mandated purposes - are the advocates of freedom.

Written by Michael Barone
Why is it considered “liberal” to compel others to say or fund things they don’t believe? That’s a question raised by three Supreme Court decisions this year. And it’s a puzzling development for those of us old enough to remember when liberals championed free speech — even advocacy of sedition or sodomy — and conservatives wanted government to restrain or limit it.
The three cases dealt with quite different issues.
In National Institute of Family Life Advocates v. Becerra, a 5-4 majority of the court overturned a California statute that required anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers to inform clients where they could obtain free or inexpensive abortions — something the centers regard as homicide.
The same 5-4 majority in a second case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, reversed a 41-year-old precedent and ruled that public employees don’t have to pay unions fees that cover the cost of collective bargaining. Echoing a position taken by then-President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, the court reasoned that collective bargaining with a public employer is inevitably a political matter, and that forcing employees to finance it is compelling them to subsidize political speech with which they disagree.
In the third case, Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court avoided a direct decision on whether a baker, whose Christian belief opposed same-sex marriage, could refuse to design a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple, contrary to a state law that bars discrimination against gays. Seven justices ruled that the commission showed an impermissible animus against religion, but the four liberal justices endorsed a separate opinion indicating they’d rule against the baker otherwise.
Rational arguments can now be made for the dissenters’ positions. In Becerra, they argued that the law simply prevented misleading advertising; in Janus, they argued that union members should pay for services rendered; in Masterpiece Cakeshop, they argued that selling a cake is a routine service, not a form of expression. You may not agree, but you can see why others might make these arguments.
But are they “liberal”? That word comes from a Latin root that means “free.”
And “free” is the keyword in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which bars Congress from passing laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion or “abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.”
The Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence got its start almost exactly 100 years ago, in cases challenging laws passed by a Democratic Congress and endorsed by a Democratic administration, prohibiting opposition to the government and, specifically, American participation in World War I.
The justices hesitated to block such prosecutions, but those considered “liberal” — Republican appointee Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Democratic appointee Justice Louis Brandeis — were most likely to look askance. The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 to defend the free speech rights of everyone, even vile extremists.
Unhappily, the ACLU today subordinates free speech to other values, like defending the sensibilities of certain students on campuses. And other liberals have been moving in the same direction. It’s less important for them that people say what they think and more important that they say what the government requires.
In his Bagehot blog, the Economist’s Adrian Wooldridge describes the process. Historically, he says, liberals understood that conflict was inevitable and tried to foster freedom based on their distrust of power, faith in progress and belief in civic respect. But today, Wooldridge writes, “liberalism as a philosophy has been captured by a technocratic-managerial-cosmopolitan elite.” They have moved from making “a critique of the existing power structure” to becoming “one of the most powerful elites in history.” In response, we see “a revolt of the provinces against the city”: Brexit, Donald Trump. In counter-response, as Niall Ferguson puts it in a column for The Times of London, “‘liberals’ are increasingly authoritarian.”
Like the “liberal” Supreme Court justices, who don’t see a constitutional problem with compelling crisis pregnancy centers to send messages they find repugnant, or requiring union members to subsidize political speech they disagree with, or forcing people to participate in ceremonies prohibited by their religion.
In the process, they are providing support for Friedrich Hayek‘s argument in “The Road to Serfdom” that moving toward socialism means moving toward authoritarianism. And they seem to not have noticed Yale Law Professor Stephen Carter‘s observation, as quoted in The Atlantic, that “every law is violent” because “Behind every exercise of law stands the sheriff.”
Carter calls for “a degree of humility” in passing and enforcing laws that compel speech against conscience — something today’s “liberals” seem to have forgotten.
Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fight Poverty Effectively

Poverty is not always a moral issue, but in many instances it is. Morality, of course, in the broad sense of living in accordance with our God-given purpose. Which is another way of saying knowing the difference between right and wrong, making good choices instead of bad choices.

The following article caught my eye. So much government spending to combat poverty contains no real element of change in the individual being helped, and in a very basic way, rewards poor choices. The actual result, then, is to encourage people to continue making bad choices that have lead them into poverty, because they get free money for doing so. Twisted, but simply true. Which makes the following stand out from the typical welfare program:
"A program in Colorado that focuses on helping non-custodial fathers gain employment and pay child support provides a refreshing example of effective state-led antipoverty efforts."

What successful antipoverty efforts look like: A refreshing report from the Rocky Mountain State

"Initial results from the Colorado Parent Employment Program (CO-PEP) demonstrate the power of work and careful case management, with a focus on outcomes, in increasing the economic and social involvement of formerly addicted or incarcerated men in their families’ lives. Funded through a public/private partnership and administered by the new Colorado Division of Child Support Services, CO-PEP resembles similar projects in Texas that focus on transformational rather than transactional assistance. In other words, assistance isn’t just financial aid but an investment of both social capital and money coupled with some tough love.

"How did CO-PEP achieve this kind of success? They first had to understand that most absent parents (mostly fathers) want to work, earn money, and support their children and former partners. CO-PEP set up these absent parents with coaches and case managers, who trained them for up to 14 hours a month in work preparation, parenting skills, and financial literacy. Then they got them into employment — and the positive outcomes followed from there."
Read the whole article here.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Let Common Sense Prevail

Amid all of the anti-gun media hype of the last couple of months, how often have you heard the following facts?
  • The number of lives saved annually in America by guns is conservatively estimated to be 40,000, about five times more than lives taken by all gun murders. In other words, remove guns from law abiding citizens and we could quintuple the number of deaths.
  • Just 2.6% of all murders are committed using any type of rifle, and far less than that by so-called "assault weapons."
  • The US Center for Disease Control reports that "defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals."
  • Since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in September 2004, murder and overall violent-crime rates have fallen.
Larry Elder makes the case for common sense in his column below. If you are interested in facts, and not emotional hyperbole, you might also find the Truth About Assault Weapons of interest.

Where's The Common Sense In 'Common Sense' Gun Laws?

Larry Elder (original article at Investors Business Daily)
Americans, many quite young, attended anti-gun violence rallies across the country. Many protesters demanded more federal "common-sense" gun control laws. But the push for common-sense gun laws lacks common sense, or at least perspective.
The protests, sparked by the murders of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, were billed as a "March for Our Lives." But according to criminologist James Alan Fox, over the last 25 years 10 students have died each year, on average, in school shootings. By contrast, every year about 300 Americans are struck by lightning. Most survive, but since 2000 an average of 35 people have died each year from lightning strikes.
One "common-sense" proposal is to re-enact the "assault weapons" ban.
But of all homicides involving a firearm, only a small percent involve any type of rifle. Furthermore, the assault weapons ban did not achieve the objective of reducing murder and violent crime. Economist John Lott noted: "Since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in September 2004, murder and overall violent-crime rates have fallen. In 2003, the last full year before the law expired, the U.S. murder rate was 5.7 per 100,000 people. ... By 2011, the murder rate fell to 4.7 per 100,000 people. One should also bear in mind that just 2.6% of all murders are committed using any type of rifle."
The "common-sense" gun control activists rarely ask, "What about the beneficial effect of gun ownership?" The Centers for Disease Control examined research on the defensive uses of guns. It concluded: "Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was 'used' by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies."

The CDC's report also found that "defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence." Exact statistics are hard to find because the police are not always notified, so the number of defensive gun uses is likely understated because they're underreported. "Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals," wrote the CDC, "with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008." The CDC noted one study of defensive gun users who believe that but for their own firearm they would have been killed.
Criminologist and researcher Gary Kleck, using his own commissioned phone surveys and number extrapolation, estimates that 2.5 million Americans use guns for defensive purposes each year. One in six of that number, or 400,000, believe someone would have been dead but for their ability to resort to their defensive use of firearms. Kleck points out that if only one-tenth of the people are right about saving a life, the number of people saved annually by guns would still be 40,000.
For some perspective, consider the number of Americans who die each year because of medical errors. A 2016 Johns Hopkins study called medical error the third-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for about 250,000 deaths annually, or 10% of all deaths. Other studies put the number as high as 400,000 a year or more — since medical examiners, morticians and doctors rarely put "human error" or "medical system failure" on a death certificate.
What about accidents that result from driving while texting or engaged in other distracting activities like playing a CD or applying makeup? In 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured, in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
How many Americans die each year because of opioid abuse? According to the latest estimates from the CDC, more than 50,000 people died from opioid drug overdoses in 2016 — 15,446 from heroin, 14,427 from prescription opioids and 20,145 from non-methadone synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Finally, few of the demonstrators, at least publicly, called for the repeal of the Second Amendment. But the former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment on the grounds that it is "a relic of the 18th century." He argues that only a repeal of the Second Amendment would diminish the National Rifle Association's power and influence. Stevens does not even believe that the Founding Fathers intended an "individual right" to keep and bear arms. A repeal would require approval of two-thirds of both Houses of Congress and three-quarters of the states. Good luck with that.
A prediction. When the dust settles and the fury wanes, Congress will not pass additional gun control laws. It won't be for lack of passion. It will because the "common-sense" proposals suggested — banning bump stocks, re-enacting the "assault weapons ban" and others — either would do nothing to reduce firearm crime or would violate the Second Amendment. In short, the "common-sense" measures are devoid of common sense.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Misdirected Efforts?

Having a hard time finding the time to blog these days. Busy is often good, so I am not complaining. But I cannot resist sharing insights of others from time to time, like the following quotes and cartoons, mostly from my favorite news source, The Patriot Post.
At the same time, I can't resist a bit of editorial, in case you wonder as you read the quotes below, "why is abortion a topic in this discussion?" Abortion is one of the many cultural markers of the political left (along with others like turning marriage from a solemn commitment and nurturer of children into a whatever-makes-me-happy arrangement, the objectification of women, the prevalence of violent video games with names like Cop Killer or in which the object is to shoot kindergarten children, the coddling of lazy takers and punishment of diligent workers, the subsidizing of illegitimacy, and so many more misnamed "progressive" trends) which have, as C. Adams says below, fundamentally altered America from the former, better days when "right and wrong was more starkly defined, where expectations about behavior were clear, and wickedness hadn’t been normalized." The dominant voices in this liberal culture have normalized all manner of wickedness, emphatically teaching that there are no absolutes, there are no lines in the sand, there is no edge to go over. When the predominant culture raising our children preaches loudly, "if it feels good, do it, your feelings matter above all else, by all means draw attention to yourself, undesirable consequences of your pleasure can be eliminated, and whatever you can get away with is perfectly OK"...why are we surprised when an occasional young person goes over the edge?
“To me an obvious thing is for schools to have armed and trained security guards. It is not unusual to see armed security guards at banks because we don’t want someone taking our money. Aren’t our children more valuable? Instead, we ‘protect’ them with ‘Gun-Free Zone’ signs. It makes absolutely no sense for our children’s safety to depend entirely on whether or not a maniac wakes up in the morning and decides to kill children in a ‘gun free zone.’ Guess what? Once the killer steps onto the campus of that school, it is no longer a ‘gun-free zone,’ and the only armed individual is the criminal. Why is this so controversial to the Left? Sadly, it is easier for a murderer to walk into a school with a gun than it is for a student to walk in with a Bible and attempt to give it away. The default position of progressives is to attack the Second Amendment and the availability of guns. Yet the percentage of households with guns has been declining for decades. Fewer Americans hunt today than did several decades ago. In fact, many schools used to have gun clubs on campus. Yet school shootings were rare. Logic suggests that something else explains this shocking trend.” Gary Bauer

Why would leftists object to armed guards? Because it looks scary? It makes the children feel bad? It suggests that the school is a dangerous place? Probably. In other words, liberals insist that the children believe in the utopia that liberals are creating. God forbid that the children realize that our new culture of death has dangerous consequences even to them! That you can't redefine what is good, right, and wholesome, and not change the nature of our society into something genuinely more frightful. As Winston Churchill said, "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." The results of liberals' values-free utopia are ugly. Curt
“Thirty years ago, kids who brought their rifles to the high school shooting range didn’t wonder about evil and cultural decay. They simply lived in a time in America when right and wrong was more starkly defined, where expectations about behavior were clear, and wickedness hadn’t been normalized.” —J. Christian Adams
“Abortionists kill more kids each year than mass shooters, but let’s talk about the latter and not the former.” —Erick Erickson     
Since there are over a million abortions per year in the US alone, and well under 10,000 murders with guns, Erickson grossly understates the point! Actually, abortionists kill over 100 times more kids each year than all firearm murders of all kinds combined...but lets talk about gun control instead of the damage (hardening our culture while killing innocent babies) caused by abortions. Curt

“Liberal arguments on guns: ‘Outlawing them is dangerous.’ ‘No one likes them, but people should have access to them.’ ‘If you don’t like them, don’t get one.’ ‘Your body, your choice.” Oh, wait. My bad. That’s just on abortion. You know, the thing that’s ALWAYS intended for murder.“ —Allie Stuckey
"I believe the shootings of random, happy people doing normal, quotidian things are a symptom of the spiritual emptiness and loneliness that afflicts a subset of our people — a byproduct of family dissolution and fraying communities. It won’t be solved by any gun measure." Mona Cheren

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Cartoons: Mike Lester for February 16, 2018

Monday, August 21, 2017

Whitewash all references to slavery! or not?

Quotable from Gary Bauer...Irony Abounds:
"The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement demanding that “every street, every school, every flag, and every public memorial honoring those who took up arms in defense of white supremacy and slavery” be removed or have its name changed.

"That’s an interesting position for CAIR to take since it would require that every mosque in America be shut down. Mosques are dedicated to the teachings of Muhammad and Muhammad owned slaves. He took opponents as slaves after they were defeated on the battlefield.

"Also joining the fray is Planned Parenthood, which tweeted, “#StandWithCharlottesville against racism & hate in your community.” This is coming from an organization founded by Margaret Sanger, who was a disgusting eugenicist. Her purpose in founding Planned Parenthood was to weed out “less desirable” populations."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Liberty & Health Care

Let me break it down for you. We are all born with nothing. Our parents, responsible for having brought us into the world, provide for our basic needs until we are capable of providing for our own. We then become free to receive from life in proportion to what we contribute to the lives of others. If we contribute little, we receive little. If we contribute much, we receive much. If we contribute wisely, we receive more than if we contribute haphazardly. We are free to choose how much we receive by choosing how much to contribute.

Our contribution, of course, is what we sometimes call "work" or "service" or our "job." What we receive is compensation in the form of money, a resource which we are free to use to enhance our own life as we choose: food, clothing, shelter, health care, iphones, xbox, beer, etc.

I have no right to take anyone else' resources if I do not contribute something to them.
Are there humans who cannot contribute to the lives of others? Of course. And men and women of goodwill have funded hospitals, schools, etc., since the founding of our nation, and before, voluntarily and charitably, to provide for the truly needy. That is good and right. Is the average protestor, Millennial, snowflake, Democrat voter or college student in the category of humans who cannot contribute to the lives of others? No. Are they incapable? No. So why would they be entitled to demand resources from everyone else? Until they have done what they can to provide for their own needs, why should anyone sympathize?

Enough of Reality 101 for today. Following is a good summary of the current health care debate problem in the US Senate, from the Patriot Post. The Republicans can't articulate the basic facts of life, and are left twisting in the wind. No one seems to be able to raise the issue of liberty and the corresponding responsibility that comes with it. Are a majority of voters that irresponsible? Are we such suckers that we let the irresponsible lay claim to the resources of the responsible?

We don't need to replace ObamaCare. Repeal it! We need some insurance and tax reform, like allowing purchasing across state lines, tort reform, tax deductibility for all rather than just employer-sponsored plans, freedom to buy policies that cover things applicable to me but not cover things I'll never need, freedom to have high deductibles...freedom of choice.

With freedom comes responsibility, and if I don't use some of my resources to pay for insurance and then I have a catastrophic health need, it should bankrupt me...not the government, not some insurance company, not all of my friends or my community.

Just a few of my thoughts today.

Republican Gridlock Over Repealing ObamaCare

Republicans hold majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican sits in the White House. Yet there is still delay and gridlock in the attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Part of the problem is that, once again, Republicans are far too easily manipulated by Democrats’ class warfare mantra of “benefit cuts for the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich.” Democrats and their Leftmedia colluders continuously conflate welfare with rights, and Republicans are seemingly unable to expose the inherent fallacy of that argument. Even more frustrating is that Democrats aren’t doing anything new, and still Republicans can’t seem to get past it.
Liberty, the foundational principle upon which this nation was founded, recognizes innate, God-given human rights. Rights as opposed to welfare. Liberty both offers and requires the individual to make choices — the consequences of which, whether good or bad, the individual is responsible for. Welfare seeks to protect individuals from the consequences of their poor and foolish choices. Essentially, welfare demands that the responsible pay for the irresponsible, which robs both individuals of their right of Liberty.
Democrats created the concept of welfare equaling “rights” by conditioning people to believe that they are helpless to help themselves and therefore the government must provide welfare programs as a means of protecting human “rights.” Nothing could be further from the truth. And yet it seems no Republican since Ronald Reagan has been able to effectively expose and combat this leftist myth with the positive message of Liberty lifting all boats.
Now Republicans in the Senate are waffling again over the fallacy of health care being a “right.” One would have to be blind not to see that ObamaCare is collapsing and untenable. It is costing taxpayers trillions all while increasing health care costs for families. Democrats scream about how Republicans “will kill people” if they repeal the “Affordable” Care Act. Republicans need to respond with the fact that ObamaCare is the government stealing money and Liberty from the American people. Republicans need work toward restoring the Liberty Barack Obama and his Democrats stole. This is what the GOP message should be; this is what their mission should be about — not acquiescence to Democrats’ leftist conflation of government-provided welfare being a human right. Republicans need to stop being scared of their own shadows, and do the right thing.