Friday, January 22, 2016

Tensions in the GOP

The GOP establishment believes in compromise with the Democrats but, in their self-righteousness,  the only compromise the Democrats usually accept is a complete GOP backdown.  And they get it, to the anger of the conservative grassroots

The party of the American establishment is undergoing the biggest revolt against its own establishment since at least 1964. Two ferociously anti-establishment figures are dominating the Iowa caucuses, accounting, if polls are to be believed, for half the GOP vote. The three main establishment candidates together account for only 13 percentage points. Statewide, according to the latest Fox News Poll, 57 percent of Republicans believe they have been betrayed by their own party.

In an interview the other morning, commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, who ran two insurgent campaigns for president and won the 1996 New Hampshire primary, told me "the Republican establishment is a church whose pews are empty."

In earlier Republican upheavals, the rebels were defeated in nomination fights (1952, 1992 and 1996), rejected in a brutal general election defeat (1964) or merged with the establishment (1980). This time businessman Donald J. Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are conducting White House drives that, unlike the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, do not so much aim to take over the party as they seek to ridicule, repudiate and renounce its leadership.

"The civil war in the Republican Party of the United States," Theodore H. White wrote in his "Making of the President" volume for 1964, "is one of the more fascinating stories of Western civilization." If White, who died 30 years ago, were here today, he might argue that that sentence applied even more so to the 2016 race.

The difference: This time it is not a faction that is in rebellion but the majority of the party.

The Democrats, famous for their internal feuds, have not in modern times faced an insurrection remotely like the one the Republicans are experiencing right now, except perhaps at the end of the Lyndon Johnson years. But even then, the party establishment moved in rough alignment with the party base, and the rebels left the Johnson camp with reluctance and regret.

Not so this time with the Republicans. "The people I know are relishing the discomfort this is causing with an establishment they can’t stand," said Buchanan. "The base of the party is totally estranged from the establishment."

The Fox Iowa poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Republicans with no college degree feel betrayed by their party, which might lead to the conclusion that this rebellion is class-oriented and in fact fueled by new Republicans who do not fit the party’s traditional mold. But that is not the case; more than half of Republicans with college degrees feel betrayed by their party, too – – and nearly three in five of those who say they will "definitely" attend a party caucus two weeks from now share that bitter sentiment.

This reflects another important shift in the character of Republican politics. A quarter-century ago, the Republican Party had a share of issue-oriented activists who were less concerned with victory in the general election than with their own special causes, often involving social issues such as abortion.

Indeed, at the party’s 1992 convention, when Buchanan spoke of the "culture war" that was enveloping the nation, those issue activists played a key role in the platform fight at the party’s Houston convention. In a study published in the Political Science Quarterly, the Colby College political scientist L. Sandy Maisel found that their determination to shape a document that customarily is soon forgotten resulted in their successful exclusion of moderates from the platform committee.

Now these very same activists — or their next-generational legatees — are determined to prevail in the election itself, and their rhetoric, especially from Cruz, is full of disdain for the establishment candidates they say always get the nomination but never get, or keep, the presidency. Their examples are Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush, who were defeated for re-election in 1976 and 1992, respectively, along with nominees Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas (1996), Sen.John McCain of Arizona (2008) and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (2012).

The roots of this rebellion actually go back to 1976, with the challenge Ronald Reagan mounted to the nomination of Ford, an accidental president but as a former House minority leader and a creature of moderate Grand Rapids, Michigan, politics, a sturdy symbol of the Main Street strain of the Republican establishment. Ford was a Rotarian, and in fact his hometown club now bears the name Gerald R. Ford Rotary Club.

The Reagan rebellion of 1976 bore fruit four years later, when the former governor of California won the nomination and defeated President Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s appeal and political skills papered over the divisions in the GOP for his two terms and for the first half of the elder Bush’s single term. But since then the tensions have simmered and in the past several years have boiled over, fortified by a pervasive public frustration with politics.

"This is a special case of a broader sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with government," says John J. Pitney Jr., a Clare-mont McKenna College political scientist widely regarded as a leading student of GOP politics. "The anger is particularly intense on the Republican side because they have control of Congress and haven’t been able to do much."

Now the Republicans are energized with the conviction that there is much they can do. The result is a rebellion that is transforming not only their politics but the broader political system as well.



SCOTUS to Review Obama's Unilateral Amnesty

Finally, after a year of legal hurdles in the lower courts, the Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty. On Tuesday, the justices agreed to hear United States v. Texas, the subject of two executive actions. "One, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), would halt deportations and offer work permits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents," The Hill explains. "The other would expand Obama’s 2012 program — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative — which provides the same protections to some high-achieving illegal immigrants brought to the country before age 16. The expanded program would simply extend DACA eligibility to a greater number of people."

Twenty-six states sued to stop Obama’s amnesty shortly after it went into effect. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction last February, correctly accusing Obama of exceeding his executive authority. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed in November and upheld the injunction. But the Supreme Court will ultimately have the final say.

The timing is interesting to say the least. The Hill notes, "If the justices had declined to [take up Obama’s amnesty] in the next round of cases, it would have solidified the Fifth Circuit’s injunction through the end of Obama’s White House tenure." Since a Republican president could undo these actions as early as next January, the justices' decision to take up the case leaves open the possibility that they have enough support to uphold Obama’s amnesty. The administration’s track record in cases regarding executive overreach, however, suggests otherwise. We’ll find out by June.



Establishment support for Trump?

How did it come down to Trump vs. Cruz? And what about the framing of Establishment versus Outsider? Trump has never held elective office, so he is perceived as an outsider. But he has long been a backer of Democrat politicians and has held a number of progressive views (New York values, one might say) that don’t match the conservative base of the party. So does that make him Establishment?

Cruz is a senator in Washington, so by comparison to Trump, is he Establishment? Hardly, considering that Cruz has made his name by tweaking the nose of the GOP establishment (including calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor) and generally taking on what he calls the "Washington cartel." He is arguably the most resolutely conservative of all the Republican candidates, and his voting record and his public stance on the issues bears that out.

Take Cruz’s stance against ethanol subsidies. He refused to pander to Iowa power brokers, while other candidates dutifully bowed to King Corn and the mandates and subsidies that undermine the free market and exceed the government’s constitutional role. Trump on Tuesday called for increasing the ethanol blended into gasoline.

If there are any other questions as to whether Cruz is indeed the outsider candidate, just take a look at Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s words on the subject: "Because as Iowans learn about his anti-renewable fuel stand, and that it will cost us jobs, and will further reduce farm income, I think people will realize that it’s not in our interest. I don’t think that Ted Cruz is the right one for Iowans to support in the caucus."

Traditionally, Iowa governors, regardless of party affiliation, have steered clear of offering opinions of the caucus. But Branstad’s son runs a group that’s part of the ethanol lobby, so he couldn’t remain silent.

The establishment’s rejection of Cruz is due to his solid conservatism and his combativeness with his fellow Republicans in Washington. In fact, there are reports that the establishment is beginning to coalesce around Trump — not because he represents the establishment GOP, but because he is the leading Not-Cruz. The establishment would rather have a dealmaker who boasts of having bought politicians and, more importantly, a moderate-to-liberal candidate, than a principled conservative.

Republican donors and consultants now don’t seem so quick to write off a Trump nomination. Is it because his momentum now makes him more viable than originally perceived? Is it because of the staunch support of his base? Yes, on both counts.

Trump’s supporters are an important asset that cannot be underestimated if Republicans want to win the White House this year. They are motivated because they are fed up with the establishment in Washington. But if that is truly the case, then who would better serve those voters' interests: Trump or Cruz?

Sarah Palin chose Trump, endorsing him Tuesday. The former vice presidential candidate has been a standard-bearer for the Tea Party movement since she emerged on the national stage in 2008, so her endorsement of Trump is important.

At first glance, it’s also a puzzling move, though it shouldn’t be. On April 15, 2009, a big day in the early life of the Tea Party, Trump said, "I don’t march with the Tea Party." He also said Obama "really has made a great impact on people," and, "I think he’s doing a really good job."

But Palin says, "Enough is enough. These issues that Donald Trump talks about had to be debated. And he brought them to the forefront. And that’s why we are where we are today. … We are mad and we’ve been had."

Given Palin’s supposed conservative bona fides, she should have endorsed Cruz, particularly when one takes into account Trump’s previous progressive stances on some issues. And Cruz rightly credits Palin with helping secure his Senate seat. Yet Palin went with The Donald, signifying that she has been more populist than conservative from the beginning. Nevertheless, perception is everything, and her endorsement will only help Trump and hurt Cruz, especially in Iowa.

Republicans are highly motivated to win the White House this year. After eight years of Obama, and a potential four years of Hillary Clinton, the GOP needs to be prepared to do whatever it takes to win. However, the party needs to guard against leaving the bedrock principles of conservatism to be trumped by nationalistic populism. Otherwise a White House win will be a pyrrhic victory.



Hidden Costs of Obamacare’s Slacker Mandate

Obamacare’s so-called "slacker mandate"—which requires that health plans include dependent children up to age 26 on their parents’ policies—has had an unintended but predictable consequence: it has raised unemployment for young adults by eliminating the need for their own health coverage. The mandate has, as the Washington Post puts it, "helped millennials chill out." A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has even estimated how jobless young adults are spending their extra time: about 10 minutes more are spent exercising, 20 minutes sleeping, and 30 minutes socializing (for 23-25 year olds). The slacker mandate also has other unintended consequences, explains Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham.

Parents pay for the mandated coverage for adult dependents through higher premiums. But parents are not the only ones who pay. Another study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that "the slacker mandate reduced wages among workers without children by $210 a month," Graham writes, "but it did not reduce wages among workers with children (either minor or adult) by a statistically significant amount."

"The latter result makes sense, because the working parents simply paid higher premiums to keep their adult dependents on their employer-based plans," Graham continues. "The former result is shocking. How to explain it? I suspect it is easy in the short term to impose these costs on workers without kids because of the high information and friction costs to those workers of learning and responding to the cost of the mandate." Indeed, the cost shifting may have been a prime reason behind the political push for the mandate, Graham concludes.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Could a Movie Derail Hillary Clinton for Good?

Benghazi. Four Americans killed. A film with the recurring theme of a fading superpower that trades on its still-existing military power while trying to figure out its purpose. A movie depicting men who were denied everything yet gave everything they had to protect their fellow Americans.

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is the title of this newly released movie and it tells the story of what happened during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate from the perspective of American fighters on the ground. According to The Washington Post, Paramount insists the film is “not political,” but the Post argues that it is political — even though former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not mentioned by name and Barack Obama is mentioned only in passing. The Post has a point, but that’s only because Obama and Clinton politicized the attack from the beginning.

Further, while the movie does not directly attack the Obama administration, it does show the general incompetence, corruption and sluggish bureaucracy in Washington. And it shows what our guys on the ground went through having been abandoned by Obama and Clinton.

National Review’s David French, an Iraq war veteran, notes, “The Benghazi controversy is the story of three great failures — the failure to either fortify or evacuate Benghazi when threats increased, the failure to adequately protect and support American personnel during the attack itself, and the repeated lies told the American public after the attack to minimize both the nature of the jihadist threat and the scale of the administration’s incompetence.”

As we have known from the start, the attack in Benghazi was not because of a YouTube video. Obama and Clinton lied in blaming a video because Obama desperately wanted to cover up his administration’s failure to recognize the escalating threat to American security in Benghazi and the Middle East generally, as well as the failure to respond to the attack with military force.

Further, Obama and Clinton lied in order to secure Obama’s re-election. And now, Clinton, whose role with Benghazi among other scandalous activities should disqualify her from even being able to run for president, is still the leading contender for the Democrat nomination. That is absolutely appalling.

Equally appalling is that there are several Democrat politicians who have essentially accused our Special Forces who were on the ground in Benghazi of lying. That’s right, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) are accusing Kris Paronto and John Tiegen of lying about the order to “stand down.”

There is ample evidence from multiple testimonies that a “stand down” order was given. The CIA officer who was in charge at Benghazi denies having given the order as the movie alleges. Security operators interviewed by the author upon whose book the movie was based said the CIA chief did give a stand down order. Did he or didn’t he, and if so, was he directed by Washington?

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if she had plans to see the movie, Clinton replied that she was “too busy campaigning.” Yet she isn’t too busy to appear on the Jimmy Fallon Show, the Ellen DeGeneres show or to be interviewed by YouTube stars. She even had the audacity to mention that she had given testimony before Congress about Benghazi for 11 hours — as if the number of hours was a point in her favor.

So we have another lie. She isn’t too busy; she doesn’t want to see the truth. Perhaps she is using the two-hour time slot to come up with more lies for when she’s questioned by potential supporters. Her hopes that her role in Benghazi would fade have not turned in her favor.

On a final note, the movie illustrates some policy challenges for Republicans, too. National Review’s Stanley Kurtz writes, “13 Hours ends by noting that Libya has become a failed state and a training ground for ISIS, subtly pointing the finger at Hillary’s misjudgment on the Libya campaign in a way that most Republicans so far have not.”

That’s because some of them favored intervention.

Republicans candidates had better be clear on their vision of foreign policy. They must make it known whether the United States will or won’t be in the business of removing dictators (like Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi), and whether America’s national security must be at stake before making such a move. And if we do remove a dictator, there should be clearly defined strategic objectives and follow-up actions in place.

Obama’s policy of removing Gadhafi with no strategic objective in mind was exactly wrong, as evidenced by the continuing turmoil there. And he undermined our objectives in Iraq by prematurely withdrawing. Republican candidates need to seize the opportunity to zero in on the failed foreign policies of Clinton and her former boss. If there is ever a chance to beat the Islamic State, then we must first beat Clinton.



Why Are the Media’s ‘Consumer Interest Groups’ So Leftist and Anti-Consumer?

The Media’s double standard when describing political advocacy organizations is as obvious as it is unsurprising.

The Media rarely if ever identify Leftist entities as Leftist – instead assigning them non-ideological descriptives.  Often, it is the ridiculous “consumer interest group” – as if the anti-free market side of the equation is pro-consumer, and the defenders of freedom are against the purchasing public.

Never mind that no one is more pro-consumer than a private company – after all, they are the ones trying to please as many consumers as possible.  It would then stand to reason that the organizations defending private companies from government overreach are also pro-consumer.

Because these “consumer interest groups” are in fact “government interest groups” – every “solution” they push results in larger, more interfering government.  Which is about as anti-consumer as you can get.

How’s ObamaCare treating consumers?  The Veterans Administration?  The Department of Motor Vehicles?  Would you rather head there – or to or your neighborhood deli?

Meanwhile, the Media almost always identify Conservative groups as conservative – that is, when they mention them at all.  Often, marketplace political stories only quote Leftist groups – and company representatives.

Which is itself biased.  It depicts the debate as a struggle between the plucky little “consumer interest” groups (who actually often have very large [George Soros] money behind them) – and the evil Industry Titans.

There are perhaps dozens of conservative/free market groups out there – yet the Media often can’t seem to find room for any of them in their stories.

The latest bit of wireless phone news is a fabulous case study.

AT&T Dials Up Toll-Free ‘Sponsored Data’: The company on Monday introduced “Sponsored Data,” or data that is paid is for by a business that wouldn’t count against a subscriber’s capped plan. Think a toll free 1-800 number or free shipping for the delivery of data.

Here in Reality, this should be a non-news story – other than the good news for consumers.  They will be getting more data for the same money – which will in a great many instances allow them to actually purchase less data, saving them coin.

This model exists…well, everywhere.  As stated above, companies via 800 numbers pick up the tab for your call.  Many then after you call to place an order pick up the tab to ship it to you.  The examples of this free market paradigm are nearly endless.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless in particular have been aggressive in getting their customers to switch to tiered plans that require people to pay more to get more data.

Again, here in Reality when we use more – we pay more.  You pay more for ten steaks than you do for two.  It costs more to gas up an Escalade than it does an Escort.

So if the companies providing the biggest data-chewing content were to pay for it – it would in fact be a tremendous consumer boon.  Imagine car makers paying for your gasoline – oh wait, some do.  Isn’t Reality great?

But this is the Media and the Left – they don’t reside in Reality.  "Consumer advocate group Free Press" has already criticized the plan.

There are those magic Media words – “consumer advocate group.”  Never mind that Free Press was co-founded by a self-avowed Marxist – they are “consumer advocates.”  This story quotes Free Press and AT&T only – not a conservative group to be found.

Then there’s this: "AT&T Sponsored Data Plan Threatens Open Internet, Consumer Groups Argue"

In which Free Press and their fellow Media Marxist joint Public Knowledge are quoted.  As is AT&T.  And that’s it.

FCC Ready To Step In On AT&T’s Sponsored Data Plan: "Like a toddler with a pet dog, AT&T (NYSE:T) has a history of poking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until it turns around and barks. And that’s just what it’s done now."

That’s an objective opening paragraph.  Keep in mind that the last time AT&T “poked” the FCC, it was when they wanted to buy T-Mobile.  The Media Marxist chorus screeched their opposition, and the FCC blocked the deal – issuing an error-riddled report in defense of its decision.

But this “news” story ignores all of this.  Instead it portrays AT&T as a serial government instigator.  And pretends the government’s bark is worse than its bite – when it’s chomping huge chunks out of the private sector.

A few months ago, ESPN was also discussing possibly paying for delivery of its digital content. "Why We’re Praying That ESPN Does Not Begin Subsidizing Wireless Plans"

Handout recipients having their cell phones and plans (ObamaPhones) entirely paid for by a fraud-riddled government?  With money the government gets by taxing consumers’ phones?  Outstanding.

Consumers having their cell phone plans “subsidized” – incentivized – by private companies?  Awful.

This “news” story appeared (with apparently unintentional irony) at

The Media aren’t reporting on these choice-and-wallet-expanding possibilities – they are choosing the anti-free market side against them.  And providing cover for the government interest “consumer interest” groups lining up likewise.

The Media and the Left together pretend to look out for the Little Guy – all the while making it ever more excruciating for him.



Another Nutritional Supplement may do more harm than good

I wonder if Bill Quick is using this stuff in his daily medicinal cocktail?

Chromium is most frequently used in supplement form for weight management, body building and type 2 diabetes. Now UNSW and University of Sydney research has revealed that chromium is partially converted into a carcinogenic form when it enters cells, prompting concerns about commonly taken dosages.

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommend 25-35 micrograms of chromium daily as an adequate adult intake. The US National Academy of Sciences advises that a maximum of 200 micrograms of chromium a day is considered safe.

Some commercially available tablets have been found to contain up to 500 micrograms of chromium each.

The research, published in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, was conducted on animal fat cells, which were x-rayed to allow scientists to observe the behaviour of chromium within the cell.  "We were able to show that oxidation of chromium inside the cell does occur, as it loses electrons and transforms into a carcinogenic form," said UNSW's Dr Lindsay Wu.

"This is the first time oxidation was observed in a biological sample with the same results expected in human cells."

The researchers say more study is needed to conclusively say whether the supplements significantly alter cancer risk.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Donald Trump's Bold Promise

Donald Trump went to speak at Liberty University today, where he made a promise to the student body:

    "Donald Trump took the stage at Liberty University on Monday, drawing comparisons between himself and its iconic founder, Jerry Falwell, and vowing to "protect Christianity."

    The front-running GOP presidential candidate spoke to 13,000 people attending the speech at the Virginia school, after a glowing introduction from the late founder's son, Jerry Falwell Jr., who said the politically incorrect real estate mogul reminded him of his father.

    The speech was broadcast on Newsmax TV.

    "I knew his father a little bit," Trump said. "To be compared to his father is really an honor for me. I want to thank Jerry for saying that."

    Trump drew one of his biggest applause responses for denouncing the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

    "We're going to protect Christianity," he declared. "I asked Jerry and some of the fold, 2 Corinthians 3:17: 'Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty'," he said. "It is so true … so representative of what's taken place."

    "Christianity is under siege," he added. "Very bad things are happening … Somehow we have to unify, we have to band together, we have to do really in a really large version what they've done at Liberty ... You band together, you've created one of the great universities, colleges anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, and that's what our country has to do around Christianity."

It's a speech that's sure to assuage the concern of voters who might be leaning towards Ted Cruz in the wake of last week's showdown.



Life under an iron fist

Federal government overseers threaten property and livelihoods of hardworking westerners

Paul Driessen

Activists protesting federal land mismanagement and the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond recently occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building in Oregon. Some facts, context and perspective may help people understand what’s really going on here.

At its core, this is about the often callous, iron-fisted hand of the federal government being slammed down on American citizens. Examples abound – from the IRS targeting 200 conservative groups, to the seizure of cars and bank accounts of innocent business owners, to heavily armed Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) agents bursting into Gibson Guitar facilities over phony exotic wood violations, to EPA destroying tens of thousands of coal industry jobs to “prevent climate chaos.” Making these outrages even more intolerable, those responsible are almost never held accountable, much less liable for damages.

Problems like these can become exponentially worse for people in one of the twelve western states where the federal government controls 30% (Montana), 49% (Oregon) or even 85% (Nevada and Alaska) of all the land. These government lands total 640 million acres: 28% of the entire 2.27-billion-acre United States.

Though they are often, incorrectly called “public” lands, the “public” has no fundamental right to enter them or utilize their water and other resources. They are federal government reservations, administered and controlled by agencies that increasingly want economic, motorized and many other activities prohibited and eliminated – under laws interpreted, implemented and imposed by officials in the FWS, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Park Service and other federal agencies.

The feds also exercise effective, often punitive control over millions of acres of state and private lands located next to or in the midst of these government fiefdoms. People living in those areas rely on the federal reserves for forage, water, timber, energy, mineral and other resources that are increasingly made off limits, on the ground that “beneficial uses” might impact wildlife, scenic or environmental values.

However, millions of people do have valid, existing, longstanding, protected rights to these lands and their resources, in the form of “appurtenances” conveyed to them by deed or will from the first settler or miner. The forage, water rights, range improvements, easements, rights of ways, mineral rights and other property interests that the first settlers created or were granted to these western lands are constitutionally protected and have been preserved in every federal land law ever enacted by Congress. Those rights cannot be summarily taken away – though federal agencies increasingly try to do so.

As an 1888 congressional report explained, the original idea for these lands involved use and protection: settlements, harvesting of commercial quality trees, watershed protection, and no land monopolies. Various laws allowed mining, oil drilling, ranching, farming and other activities, to supply food, energy and raw material needs, while early environmentalists wanted certain areas preserved as national parks and wilderness. Of course, modern resource use and extraction methods are far more responsible and environmentally sound than their predecessors, so impacts can be much better limited and repaired.

Nevertheless, “wise use” or “multiple use” is under attack, and such uses are now rare or nonexistent across many western and Alaskan government lands. Landowners who remain are barely holding on.

Imagine the feds owning half of Ohio or Pennsylvania – and gradually, systematically closing off access, taking away water and forage rights, banning economic uses, charging higher fees for remaining rights, forcing landowners into years-long courtroom battles, and refusing to pay up when courts order them to compensate owners for attorney fees and lost income. That’s the situation facing rural westerners.

The Hammonds got in trouble because they started a “backfire,” to burn combustible material, create a “fire break” and protect their home and ranch from a raging fire. They accidentally burned 139 acres of federal land before they put the fire out. Now they are serving five years in prison, even though Senior Federal Judge Michael Hogan felt a year or less was fair and just under the circumstances.

They could have been charged under a 1948 law that provides for fines or jail terms up to five years for setting a fire on government lands without permission. But they were not. Instead, the Obama Justice Department charged them under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act – as though what they did, in an honest attempt to protect their property, was an act of deliberate terrorism. That law requires a minimum five-year sentence. Judge Hogan’s lighter sentence was thus overruled.

Why would the DOJ do that? Probably because the feds never forget or forgive. Some years earlier, the Hammonds had removed a barrier the BLM had installed to block access to water they thought was legally theirs. Turns out it was. But they had failed to fully adjudicate their rights to the water – an oversight that they then fixed, thus safeguarding their rights. The Hammonds were also the only ranchers who refused to go along with a BLM “cow-free wilderness” plan. The feds were determined to get even.

Why would the Hammonds just give up and go back to prison? Because the DOJ wouldn’t budge, and they could not afford the huge expense of continuing to battle a vindictive federal behemoth. So now a middle-aged mom and elderly grandmother must run their 6,000-acre ranch, pay $200,000 more in fines, and hope they can avoid bankruptcy, which would result in BLM getting the Hammond ranch.

It is absurd, outrageous and infuriating. The Obama DOJ refuses to call Fort Hood, Boston, San Bernardino and other massacres terrorism – but it labels a backfire “terrorism.” But it gets worse.

Harney County, Oregon, where the Hammonds live, is over 6.4 million acres (over 10,000 square miles, ten times the size of Rhode Island), and 72% of it is controlled by the federal government. A 2012 wildfire in the county burned 160,000 acres! A 2015 fire in the county next door burned 800,000 acres!

Still worse, the BLM has often lit fires in Harney County and elsewhere (often on private land) that got out of control, burned extensive private property and even killed cattle. No one can recall the feds ever compensating ranchers for their lost livestock, fences or forage. In 2013, the Forest Service started two “prescribed burns” in South Dakota that blew out of control and torched thousands of acres of federal and private land. No federal employee has ever been prosecuted for any of those destructive fires.

To top it off, many of these fires are ultimately due to lousy management practices that restrict or prohibit tree cutting, tree thinning and insect control. That leaves vast tinderboxes of dry, rail-thin trees and brush ready to explode in superheated conflagrations that immolate wildlife and incinerate soil nutrients and organisms, ensuring that what’s left gets washed away in storms and spring snow melts. So the feds “protect” our treasured national forests from ranchers and miners by letting them go up in smoke.

But despite all these outrages, and not content with its already vast landholdings, the feds are trying to gain absolute control over all private lands still left in Harney County, and elsewhere. As Congressman Greg Walden noted in a January 5 speech, they are trying to drive ranchers and even joggers out of the Malheur Refuge. Failing that, President Obama might turn 2.5 million acres into a national monument.

The twisted saga is reminiscent of travesties under Stalin, Mao, Castro and other dictators. And it is just one of hundreds, some of which I will profile in future articles. It’s no wonder people are frustrated and angry – and some support Ammon Bundy and other activists who took over the Malheur headquarters. History will judge whether that peaceful occupation of federal property was wise, helpful or justified.

But many in the Obama Administration, news media, academia and general public certainly support or justify the seizure of college administrative offices, Occupy Wall Street encampments, and even Black Lives Matter kill-the-cops rants, Ferguson, Missouri riots, Palestinian attacks on Israelis, and Obama BFF Bill Ayers’ criminal activities. John Kerry went so far as to say, with Charlie Hebdo there was “perhaps … a rationale … [and] you could say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”

So twelve Hebdo staffers murdered by Islamist terrorists is “rational” or excusable, but occupying a federal building is intolerable. We are dealing with a festering, growing, open wound. Congress, the courts and our next president need to heal it, and address the root causes, before things get out of hand.

Via email


Clinton Supporters Sign Petition to Repeal Bill of Rights

Supporters of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton eagerly signed a fake petition calling for a repeal of the Bill of Rights, in a video highlighting the mindlessness of the average Clinton voter.

“Hillary Clinton has announced a plan to help repeal the Bill of Rights for the New World Order and progress America and help with the government,” media analyst and social prankster Mark Dice babbles to a curious passerby before pointing to a clipboard and saying, “Just print birthdate, signature to support Hillary’s plan to repeal the Bill of Rights.”

Unaware he’s being filmed, the man signs and verbally endorses the pretend plan to eviscerate the first 10 amendments in the US Constitution, asserting, “She’s gonna lead us.”

“We’re gonna go in the right direction,” he says.

Approaching a couple walking, Dice again inquires, “Support Hillary’s plan to repeal the Bill of Rights to help modernize the New World Order.”

“You probably saw her primary campaign promises to repeal the Bill of Rights, part of the new freedom for the New World Order,” Dice remarks, to which the man signing the petition says, “I did.”

Dice then riffs on the fictitious petition’s premise.

“You know it’s a woman that’s gonna finally repeal the Bill of Rights, we’re hoping, but we still needed some signatures just to show that the people are behind her finally to have someone do that,” Dice says, to which the couple nods in agreement.

While the petition may be fake, Clinton has already proven herself an enemy of the Constitution.

The former secretary of state threw her support behind recent executive orders by the Obama administration toughening firearm background checks, largely seen as infringements on the Second Amendment.

Last November, the Clinton campaign was also accused of going after comedians who poked fun at her in a compilation video uploaded by comedy studio Laugh Factory.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A quiz

Who said:

1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
    A. Karl Marx
    B. Adolph Hitler
    C. Joseph Stalin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few, and to replace it with shared responsibility, for shared prosperity."
    A. Lenin
    B. Mussolini
    C. Idi Amin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

3) "(We) can't just let business as usual go on, and that means
something has to be taken away from some people."
    A.  Nikita  Khrushev
    B.  Joseph Goebbels
    C. Boris Yeltsin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own in order to create this common ground."
    A. Mao Tse Dung
    B. Hugo Chavez
    C. Kim Jong II
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."
     A.  Karl Marx
     B. Lenin
     C. Molotov
     D. Barack Obama
     E. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched."
    A. Pinochet
    B. Milosevic
    C. Saddam Hussein
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

And if you think that Barack Obama said all these things - think again!  All were said by Hillary


Reflections on Wise and Suicidal Immigration

By Victor Davis Hanson

Legal immigration has historically been classically liberal and a great boon for the United States.  Immigrants often bring in energy and fresh ideas.

In the past, newcomers from around the world were eager for a second start in the United States. They nearly all worked hard, reminding American-born citizens that that they can never rest on their laurels.

Immigrants honed American competition and helped to keep the nation productive.

Immigrants were typically hyper-patriotic. They reminded complacent Americans how lucky they were to be born in the U.S.

No one knew better how uninviting were the alternatives abroad than did those who had been forced to live under fascism, communism, totalitarianism, tribalism, or endemic poverty and corruption. Most immigrants believed that they always had been Americans in spirit, just unfortunately born in the wrong country.

Immigrants characteristically had rejected their native cultures and were eager to adopt a new American identity. So they were not foolish enough to question what had made America attractive to them in the first place: constitutional government, the rule of law, personal freedom, free-market capitalism, and an independent judiciary and press.

Instead, immigrants often enriched that immutable Western core with diverse contributions of food, music, literature, and art.

Through integration and intermarriage immigrants quickly became part of the American dream. The path from Italian to Italian-American to American usually was completed in two generations.

What then were the ingredients of past successful American immigration policy?  Four enlightened rules.

One, immigrants came legally. Breaking the law was a lousy way to start American residency. How can an immigrant continue to respect and follow his adopted country’s legal system when his first act as an American resident is to mock federal law?

Two, immigration was blind and diverse. It did not favor one particular group over another. The more diverse the immigrant blocs, the less likely they were to form lasting separate communities. There were, of course, mass influxes of immigrants in the past, but they were quite diverse: gobs of Germans, hordes of Irish, masses of Italians and Sicilians, huge influxes of Poles and Jews, lots of Japanese and Chinese, large arrivals of Mexicans. But note how diverse and varied were the immigrants’ places of origin and how destined they were to bump into each other upon arrival. Each group was wary of the other trying to use immigration as a crass tool to boost their own political fortunes by bringing in more kin than their rivals.

Three, immigrants usually arrived in manageable numbers; mass arrivals were usually periodic and episodic, not continuous and institutionalized. Only that way could the melting pot absorb newcomers and avoid the tribalism and factionalism that had always plagued so many prior failed multi-ethnic national experiments abroad. To avoid the fate of Austria-Hungary or Yugoslavia, immigrants—geographically, politically, culturally—by needs were soon intermixed and intermingled.

Four, both hosts and immigrants insisted on rapid Americanization. Immigrants learned English, followed all the laws of their host, and assumed America was good without having to be perfect. Otherwise they would have stayed home.

Unfortunately, 21st century immigration policy has forgotten these old rules and become illiberal and tribal. Is it any surprise that foolish immigration practices are proving as reactionary and destructive as wise ones were once enlightened and beneficial?

Immigration is now often in violation of U.S. law. There are somewhere over 11 illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Breaking the law should be the last not the first act of a new immigrant.

Under political pressure, entire cities have declared themselves immune from federal immigration laws—apparently on the theory that immigrants’ children and those given amnesty will vote for their enablers. Well-connected ethnic elites will have more careerist opportunities if they can pose as self-appointed representatives of masses of the unassimilated and poor.

In recent years, a third of all Texas murders were committed by unlawful immigrants. There are nearly 300,000 aliens in the nation’s state and local prisons.

A staggering one-quarter of all federal inmates are now aliens. There are over 20,000 unlawful immigrants in California prisons alone.

Immigration is growing less diverse. Over half of all immigrants come from a single country, Mexico. Over 70% of all unlawful immigrants come from Central America or Mexico.

Such an absence of diversity shorts immigration aspirations from dozens of other countries. We reward the unskilled who illegally cross into the United States, and punish the doctor or architect who waits patiently for a legal invitation. The lack of variety among immigrants makes integration and assimilation more difficult.

The number of immigrants is at a near-record percentage of the American population. In absolute numbers, there are now nearly 50 million foreign-born residents—the largest in our history. Democrats are not shy in warning their conservative opponents that they have changed the political future of the country—convinced that their sponsorship of government largess and destruction of immigration law will create a permanently indebted ethnic bloc. Such hopes remind us that otherwise, progressives have no agenda that appeals to the majority of American citizens. Therefore, they must impede integration and assimilation in fears that a successful and empowered immigrant is likely not to remain beholden to Democratic pieties.

There were waves of 19th century immigration in the past. But what is different this time around is that the host America has largely given up on the multiracial melting pot for the multicultural salad bowl.

The result is that millions of new arrivals are not meeting enough with others outside their ethnic group. Assimilation, to the degree it is even seen as a positive, is delayed for generations. One in four American residents currently does not speak English at home–the former common tie that helped bind multiracial America. Careers are enhanced by accent marks and hyphenation. Ethnic identity is now essential not secondary to character.

Most immigrants still come to work. But the sheer size of the pool of new immigrants means that those who don’t seek jobs can pose staggering costs on the host. Currently about 30% of all immigrant-headed households are on some form of public assistance. That is not much of a problem when strapped middle-class taxpayers can be dubbed racists and xenophobes for opposing expansions of entitlements in a country $20 trillion in debt.

The mentality of many immigrants has changed as well from one of excitement at becoming an American, to sometimes resentment that the host has not measured up to particular agendas and expectations. When an immigrant is waved through the border without legality, he has less respect for the United States, whose magnanimity earns contempt as weakness not gratitude for caring. Cheering the Mexican national team and booing the U.S flag at a soccer match in Pasadena are what the host now expects of the guest.

Even unlawful immigrants routinely now sue universities to ensure discounted rates of in-state tuition, sue property owners for being in the way of their illegal migration pathways, sue states for not providing them with driver’s licenses, and sue the U.S. government for insufficient services. In contrast, the Mexican constitution prohibits immigration that imperils the ethnic essence of the Mexican people. Is such a racialist worldview shared by illegal immigrants in their eagerness to see racism as the cause for worry over open borders—on the logic of “our racist government does not let in others unlike ourselves, so why would they?”

The classically liberal ideals of legality, moderation, diversity, assimilation and gratitude explain why America’s immigration policies in the past were so beneficial to the growth of the United States.

Likewise, the lack of all that explains the present immigration chaos.



Affordable Housing Mandates Are Costly and Unfair

The Supreme Court will do homebuyers a world of good if it strikes down a controversial ordinance in San Jose, California, mandating that housing developers sell a portion of their houses at below market prices. Affordable housing mandates-also called inclusionary zoning-are a textbook example of a government policy that does the opposite of what their supporters claim. Rather than make housing less expensive, they raise home prices-usually by tens of thousands of dollars. Their counterproductive effects have been confirmed by numerous studies, as Independent Institute Research Fellow Gary M. Galles explained last week in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.

Studies of the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and Massachusetts, Galles shows, all found that after a city enacted affordable housing mandates, construction fell and home prices rose. The reason shouldn't be surprising: restricting supply in the face of growing demand is a sure recipe for pushing up prices. One can blame housing activists who are blind to evidence and logic, and one can blame politicians who seek reelection by repeating noble-sounding rhetoric. But another factor may also be at work.

"Perhaps the reason that inclusionary zoning mandates aren't more widely opposed is that they transfer so much wealth from real estate developers and homebuyers to people who already own property," Galles writes. "The mandates are portrayed as compassionate, but they survive because they have the opposite of the supposed intention, resulting in higher home prices, not lower." But not only do housing mandates benefit homeowners at the expense of homebuyers and developers, they also violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against the taking of private property without just compensation. The Supreme Court should move quickly to strike them down.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, January 18, 2016

It takes a criminal to know a criminal

Why does the left have such an affinity and affection for criminals? Because deep down they know they are criminals themselves. Lincoln defined slavery as, “you work, I eat.” That is the mantra of the left.

Living off the labor of others is called theft whether the gun is in the hand of a street criminal or an IRS agent.

This is the thesis of Dinesh D’Souza’s book, “Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party.” D’Souza argues philosophical political discussions with liberals are totally pointless since they have no philosophy other than, we want what you’ve got and they will use the government to get it and whatever con they can think of to justify it.dinesh d'souza cpac

In 1974 I was campaign manager for a Republican running for Attorney General of Idaho.  During the race there was a riot at the Idaho State Penitentiary. My candidate pledged that if he won the race he would have a member of his staff interview every guard and inmate to find out what was going on. He won and I did.

My experience with criminals over 40 years ago was quite different than D’Souza’s recent experience as an inmate after his conviction for campaign finance law violations. Whether that difference in attitudes was because of a change in the culture or it was because I represented law enforcement and D’Souza was a fellow inmate I do not know but I suspect the former.

Most of the inmates I interviewed told me they were in prison through no fault of their own.  Their imprisonment was the result of some mix-up, misunderstanding or circumstances beyond their control. While I did not believe their protestations at the time their answers were a tribute to the morality of the times in that the inmates felt the need to deny culpability.

In D’Souza’s experience he was placed in a detention center with thieves, rapists and murderers. None of them felt compelled to deny their evil deeds. They adopted the defense Bill and Hillary used in the mid to late 1990’s. The, “everybody does it,” defense. As you may recall, everybody lies about sex, everybody is immoral just like the Clintons.  The media and the culture accepted this defense and Clinton’s popularity rose (if you believe the polls) while six-year-old children asked their mothers, “Mommy what’s a BJ?”

Now approximately twenty years later D’Souza’s fellow inmates are telling him the culture is corrupt, and that they are no different that the local politician, business person, or government employee other than the fact they got caught and held to a different standard because the establishment types are part of the ruling class and the convicts are not.

D’Souza believes they have a point. Was Solyndra really an effort to build solar panels or was it a criminal enterprise to rip the taxpayers off for millions of dollars? Did anyone go to jail for that?

How does one explain the many office holders who come to Washington, D.C., the state capitols, county court houses, or city halls with modest means and a few years later leave multi-millionaires?

The public seems to catching up to the perceptions of murders, thieves and rapists.  A recent Gallup Poll reveals that 75 percent the public believes that corruption is widespread in the U.S. Government.

Can America recover from this loss of faith?  One can only hope.



Trump's Trump Card

By Stephen Green

Josh Kraushaar rethinks a presumption or two:

    "The win­ner-take all rules for many of the more mod­er­ate “blue” states on March 15 and bey­ond should fa­vor a more prag­mat­ic Re­pub­lic­an down the stretch — at least on pa­per.

    But these cal­cu­la­tions are based on a premise that I’m hav­ing a bit more trouble ac­cept­ing these days — that blue-state Re­pub­lic­ans are more likely to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ate than their red-state coun­ter­parts. It’s an es­pe­cially shaky as­sump­tion to make with Trump, giv­en the polit­ic­al ped­i­gree of his strongest sup­port­ers. To put it an­oth­er way, many of Trump’s sup­port­ers are self-de­scribed mod­er­ates and view him as the more cent­rist can­did­ate. (Based on his his­tory of hold­ing lib­er­al po­s­i­tions and past dona­tions to prom­in­ent Demo­crats, they have a point.)

    The or­din­ary rules of the polit­ic­al game haven’t ap­plied to Trump so far, and if he lives up to the hype early on, there’s little reas­on to be­lieve he’ll fade as the race moves in­to more mod­er­ate ter­rit­ory. If Trump wins Iowa—the one state where he hasn’t led in many pub­lic polls—it’s hard to see where his mo­mentum stops."

Ted Cruz currently leads in Iowa, and if he fails to win there it's difficult to see how he picks up momentum against Trump's media machine in the bigger, more moderate states. And if Cruz does win Iowa, keep in mind Iowa's long and storied history of picking losers. In seven contested caucuses since 1976, Iowa has correctly picked the eventual nominee three times (Ford '76, Dole '96, Bush 2k) and only one (Bush) went on to win the general election. Iowa has never been all that it's cracked up to be, and yet it's the basket where Cruz has put most of his eggs.

Harkening back to a report of mine from last week, Kraushaar adds:

    "As The New York Times’s Nate Cohn con­cluded, Trump’s strongest voters are “self-iden­ti­fied Re­pub­lic­ans who non­ethe­less are re­gistered as Demo­crats” and are well-rep­res­en­ted in the in­dus­tri­al North and Ap­palachia. There’s a reas­on why Trump spent time last week in Low­ell, Mas­sachu­setts and Bur­l­ing­ton, Ver­mont—in two New Eng­land states that hold primar­ies on Su­per Tues­day. And polls show Trump’s fa­vor­ab­il­ity stead­ily im­prov­ing among GOP voters, coun­ter­ing the wide­spread be­lief that he’ll flame out when the field nar­rows".

If Trump doesn't flame out -- and there's not much time left for that to happen -- then his victory is gonna be yuge.



What happens to principle in a dying culture?

Bruce Hanify

What happens to principle in a dying culture? I’ve been asking myself that question almost every day for just about 40 years now.

In "A World of Sergeants" I wrote about what it was like to grow up in an America that still had fathers. Just about every adult male I knew during my formative years had served in one of the Armed Forces between 1941 and 1965. Following World War II, it was pretty much expected that you would sign up for service out of high school. If you left home when you were 17, and Vern or Loren from Missouri or North Dakota was your Drill Instructor in basic training, it took the Momma’s Boy out of you and put “grunt” into you.

A noticeable difference in bearing and judgment ensued. When that boy returned to his hometown to get a job and marry his sweetheart, he had “man” written all over him. I’m telling you, whenever I went to to a friend’s house, the guy sitting in the big easy chair was a man’s man. He stood for something and you knew he stood for something and that meant something because that’s how it was — like sinew in a forearm. He didn’t need tattoos or a pony tail or earrings to prove his substance. His substance was in his bearing and his work and his character — his principles. Those kind of guys weren’t impressed by boys who wanted to look like girls. They were impressed by whether you stood for something worth standing for, not pretending to be something you weren’t. About 1970 that culture passed away.

I think America was a better country before people began pretending as much as we do. If you were to ask me my diagnosis for what ails us, I would tell you no one can tell the difference between character and personality. Personality is androgynous. Character is decidedly masculine or feminine, not something vague. That distinction has been lost. With that basic understanding lost (for the moment), principle went out the door.

Because, you know, we are dying. The reasons are multiple — too many for one blog post. We could start with our globalist friends who don’t like national borders and constitutions. They see labor as completely replaceable from any source and will never prioritize patriotism over control of the labor force. In fact, patriotism impedes their control. Whether your computer tech comes from India or Mexico makes no difference to them except insofar as they can put pressure on the American economy.

Our public representatives who serve the banks that serve the investors grow weary of having to think in terms of the America I grew up in, where families and patriotism were the guiding principles — just ask Paul Ryan. And if some foolish Americans believe their government has a duty to protect and enforce the Bill of Rights against any and all schemes to water them down, the political elites and the media immediately start labeling such persons names, from bigoted and xenophobic to racist and even “terrorist.”

It has come to this in America: people who believe in the principles of private property and free enterprise are more likely to be called “terrorists” instead of industrious citizens. You ought to ask yourself, How long can that last? My guess is it will lead to either a complete collapse, followed by chaos, or an outright explosion. Neither outcome seems good to me, yet what is the cause for this insecurity? It is the wanton sacrifice of the principles of family and national economy to personal greed. For want of principle a great nation has to be divided up among vultures and swindlers — under the guise of political correctness? How nutty is that?

From my social contacts both online and in the physical world, it seems likely to me that 45-50% of my fellow Americans are willing to bow to some form of gun control, regardless of what the Second Amendment stands for. That same group sincerely believes the UN needs to ensure that there is “social justice” and “environmental responsibility” imposed upon the United States.

Notice how they never hold Russia or China or any part of the Islamic world to those standards? Why are they so quick to surrender American sovereignty to an outside jurisdiction that clearly targets the United States as a hostile force? Where is their loyalty? Every one of my liberal friends deems it racist to talk about enforcing our southern border. They can’t conceive of leadership such as Calvin Coolidge provided, which prioritized the American family over foreign interests. They just don’t get that, and their lack of understanding is always coupled with gun control! Rather neat piece of brain washing, don’t you think?

If you make what seems an ordinary pitch for border enforcement and pro-American economic policies (leaving aside the Second Amendment momentarily), somehow that means you would have turned away Jewish refugees during World War II? What does border enforcement have to do with World War II? How does self-protection and national economic growth become something other than principles of patriotism and loyalty?

How sane can a country be when it’s ruling elites continually harass it with relentless assaults on its educational, medical, and criminal justice resources, then punish it with charges of “racism” when people cry out for relief? Every person I know instinctively feels the need for concentrating on our own infrastructure and our own social fabric at this time.

What is behind this maniacal drive to bring in as many immigrants to our country as we can — people whose religion and cultures are often antithetical to our own? Why is it racist to question the wisdom of those policies? What kind of government would intentionally subject its people to chaos and violence then condemn those who ask questions?

Somewhere in the last 40 years, self-aggrandizement has replaced principle. We have a situation where people often confuse virtue with “niceness.” “Niceness” excuses them from having to stand for something. By denying the principles of loyalty and economy and duty at this crucial period, they risk the safety of themselves, their families — and their country. One can only imagine how things will look by the end of this year. When will we awaken to the power of principle in our lives? What steps will be necessary to restore order to chaos? Sanity to madness?

While I cannot predict specific answers to those questions, I can echo Margaret Thatcher’s observation that The Facts of Life are Conservative. Sooner or later all little boys must become men, and women must step up to their roles as women. You can only pretend for so long before Hell demands its due from a crude and foolish people.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's a Three-Man Race

Donald Trump may just win the Republican presidential nomination. Thursday night’s debate made clear that this is at most a three-man race between the real-estate mogul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. And Trump pretty clearly came away stronger than anyone, not because he had the best or most well-thought-out answers, but because he keeps proving his very presence can dominate the stage. His supporters are now itching for the chance for him to take on Hillary Clinton.

Chris Christie had his moments, and Jeb Bush and John Kasich weren’t bad. Ben Carson once again, unfortunately, seemed entirely out of his depth. It’s tough to see a way up for any of these four.

So we’ll highlight three exchanges between the trio we view as the strongest contenders.

First, the “birther” controversy over Cruz’s eligibility to run for president. Cruz addressed it head-on:

“Back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there. … Now, since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have. And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.

"If a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president. If an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Mexico.

"At the end of the day, the legal issue is quite straightforward, but I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on — some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil. Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified and, interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified — because Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized.”

After some cross-talk, Cruz redirected the focus, saying, “You’re an American, as is everybody else on this stage, and I would suggest we focus on who’s best prepared to be commander in chief, because that’s the most important question facing the country.”

Trump didn’t concede anything and neither will his supporters or those who insist Cruz isn’t eligible, but in our estimation Cruz won the debate exchange handily.

He did not, however, come out so well on the question of “New York values.” Having previously hit Trump with that phrase, Cruz was asked to define his terms.

“I think most people know exactly what ‘New York values’ are,” he replied. Prompted for more, he answered, “There are many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York, but everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, are pro-abortion, are pro-gay-marriage, focused around money and the media. … Not too many years ago, Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now. In his explanation, he said, ‘Look, I’m from New York. That’s what we believe in New York. Those aren’t Iowa values.’”

For the record, in that 1999 interview Trump said he was “very pro-choice,” which he conceded was probably “a little bit of a New York background.” And in his 2000 book, “America We Deserve,” Trump wrote, “I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.”

Cruz is right that the values of the leftist elite don’t jive with conservative ones, but he whiffed on the formulation, as Trump’s rebuttal clearly illustrated.

“He insulted a lot of people,” Trump said of Cruz. “When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York,” Trump recalled. “You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. Thousands of people killed. And the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup. … And the people in New York fought, fought and fought. … We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers.”

Trump clearly won this round with his heart-felt appeal, and it left even Cruz applauding.

Finally, on immigration, an issue many conservatives view as “make-or-break” for their votes, Rubio came away still looking weak and untrustworthy. Asked to explain his work to expand legal immigration, Rubio argued that the issue has changed: “First and foremost, this issue has to be more than anything else about keeping America safe. And here’s why: There’s a radical jihadist group that is manipulating our immigration system, and not just green cards. They’re recruiting people that enter as doctors, and engineers, and even fiancĂ©es. They understand the vulnerabilities we have on the southern border. They’re looking to manipulate the visa waiver countries to get people into the United States. So our number one priority must now become ensuring that ISIS cannot get killers into the United States.”

He added, “The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did you not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally.”

He’s right that it’s a national security issue, but it always has been. And Cruz hit back hard: “Radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, we had al-Qaida, we had Boko Haram, we had Hezbollah, we had Iran putting operatives in Central America, South America. It’s the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the Gang of Eight amnesty bill. It was clear then like it’s clear now that border security is national security.”

Another win for Cruz. Frankly, immigration is possibly a deal-breaker for conservatives and Rubio, despite his conservative record on almost every other issue. Neither Rubio nor Cruz is always forthright about his position — past or present — but there’s one thing voters will remember: Rubio helped write the Gang of Eight bill; Cruz opposed it. End of story.

To sum up, the “establishment” is coalescing around Rubio (which is rather ironic given that he was part of the first Tea Party wave elected to Congress, and defeated a liberal Republican in a primary to win his seat.) Mainstream conservatives are rallying around Cruz’s banner. And those who simply wish a pox on both houses believe Trump is their man. One thing’s for sure, this race is as interesting as any in recent memory.



Obama's "fundamental" changes have been economically incompetent and destructive

When Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008, he pledged to strengthen the economy, create jobs and restore confidence in America. On Tuesday in his final State of the Union Address, he tried to convince America that he had succeeded. But after seven years of watching the White House operate outside the realm of reality, no one is fooled.

Obama set the stage by preemptively insulting anyone who would attempt to unravel the spin he was about to spew, stating, “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” Of course, someone who lives in a world of fantasy, where a jump in the national debt from $10.6 trillion in 2009 to $18.8 trillion today is “economic progress,” can hardly be trusted to judge fact and fiction.

In the land of reality, Obama’s economy is a downright failure. First, as The Daily Signal explains, while Obama touted lower unemployment and more jobs, the fact is that the 5% unemployment rate today is worse than the 4.4% rate under George W. Bush in May of 2007. And the unemployment rate doesn’t count the millions who have left the workforce during Obama’s reign. Indeed, the labor participation rate today is the lowest since 1977, standing at just 62.6%. What’s more, the average unemployed worker has been jobless for more than six months, longer than at any time between 1945 and Obama’s inauguration.

As for those new jobs? Job creation has mostly kept pace with population growth. While treading water is better than the alternative, it’s hardly worthy of a medal.

And let’s not forget the $80 billion (per year) in new regulations under Obama that have wreaked financial havoc on business and individuals alike — ObamaCare being the prime example. Obama said Tuesday that “there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut,” but under his watch Americans have inherited 184 new major rules. Meanwhile, just 17 federal rules have been scaled back. That red tape seems to be sticking pretty close to Obama.

Then there’s Obama’s claim that government spending on renewable energy has brightened the economic landscape. “On rooftops from Arizona to New York,” he said, “solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average.” Well, remember all those regulations? They’re killing thousands of better-than-average-pay coal jobs. Meanwhile, solar energy, while growing thanks to taxpayer-funded subsidies, remains one of the most expensive ways to generate electricity. So if there are more solar jobs than coal ones, it’s because Obama put his foot on the scale.

Finally, while Obama claimed over the last seven years that progress toward the goal of “a growing economy that works better” for everyone, those facing declining incomes under his watch might disagree. As the Signal notes, “Between 2007 and 2011 (the most recent data available) labor income for non-elderly households in the middle quintile dropped roughly 10 percentage points.”

While no amount of rhetoric can spin all this into a booming economy, Obama still tries. As The Wall Street Journal observes, “Obama’s legacy project is already in high gear. This includes Tuesday night’s State of the Union, which is best understood as the start of a campaign to persuade Americans that the last seven years have been better than they believe. He needs to start early because this reality makeover won’t be easy.”

Indeed, Obama prepares to exit office with a limping U.S. economy, an economic slowdown in China that could make the limp more pronounced, and falling oil prices that might bring relief at the pump but are hitting the U.S. drilling industry hard.

It’s little wonder that the Democrat presidential candidates lining up to take Obama’s place are far from enthusiastic about the economic legacy they’re simultaneously running on and against.

Who can blame them? Obama’s economic legacy will be one of change minus the hope. And no lies intermittently augmented by nearly 15 minutes of applause can change that.



Another "anti-obesity" measure flops

The nice thing about the free market is that it allows lots of different people to try lots of different solutions to the same problem.

Take Walmart. Five years ago, when everyone in the public sector was still focused on making restaurants add calorie counts to their menus-which it turns out doesn't work-the company decided to launch a healthy eating initiative of its own design.

Instead of pinning their hopes on numbers-based nutritional labels, Walmart designed a simple front-of-package 'Great for You' logo to be attached to a small number of food items.
It also reduced prices on fresh fruits and vegetables and reformulated recipes for some of its home brand products to reduce sodium and sugar content.

These were great, innovative ideas-and it turns out they don't work either.

According to a new study, the initiative had no effect on the ongoing shift toward healthier eating that has been observed among Walmart customers since 2000. Calories, sugar density, and soda consumption were already trending down. The healthy eating initiative did not make them trend down any faster.

Walmart should not be criticised for this. It's good that they tried something new, and a failure can teach you as much as a success-if you are willing to learn from it.

Unfortunately, the public health academics behind the evaluation study would prefer to double down: "These results suggest that food retailer-based initiatives ... may not suffice to improve the nutritional profile of food purchases. More systemic shifts in consumers' characteristics and preferences may be needed."

If obesity prevention programs are really about evidence and not an ideological commitment to the nanny state, it would make sense to get things right at the "retailer-based initiative" scale before attempting something "more systemic." But that's a big if.



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