Saturday, March 28, 2015

Un-Reason-able Science



Reason magazine has published the first anti-Republican science based hit piece of the 2016 campaign season, taking the Republicans to task for being "anti-science." Let's take a look at the seven areas Reason examines and their criteria for grading Republicans in those areas.

Three of the areas Reason uses and their criteria for grading are unobjectionable: whether a candidate has shown support for storage of nuclear waste at Yucca mountain, whether he has shown support for vaccinations, and whether he has shown support for GMO crops. I take no issue with looking at those areas or the criteria Reason applies.

The next four issues are problematic indeed.

1. Did the Republican support either quarantine for people, especially medical practitioners, returning from Ebola stricken countries or a temporary ban on travel with those countries. If so, than Reasons gives a failing grade.

Reasons Explanation: [An article predicted that there would only be a small outbreak of Ebola in the U.S., and that is what happened. Regardless,] panicked politicians began ordering quarantines of U.S. health care workers who returned from treating Ebola cases in West Africa. Some pols demanded a ban on commercial air travel from the region. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opposed such a travel ban, cogently arguing that it would be counterproductive to efforts to stamp out the epidemic.

Comment: Nothing has been more devastating to humanity than epidemics. The most recent major pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918, took the lives of upwards of an estimated one hundred million people. Ebola, for which there is no cure, has in some strains a mortality rate several times that of the Spanish Flu and double that of the Black Plague that carried off half the population of Europe in the 14th century. Ebola was and still is raging out of control in several African nations, according to a Feb. 11, 2015 WHO Report. According to a December, 2014 NBC Report, healthcare workers in the country seeing the greatest outbreak of Ebola are at a 100% increased risk of contacting the disease as compared to the general population. Ebola has on average a 21 day gestation period and tests are negative until several days after a person becomes symptomatic and contagious. And, despite initial claims that Ebola could not be transmitted through the air, those claims subsequently were proven false.

Those are the science facts. Whether to quarantine under those conditions and the efficacy of restricting travel were and are political questions. Reason is conflating political decisions of the left with science.

2. Does the Republican contest climate change? If so, than Reasons gives a failing grade.

Reason's Explanation: "On the issue of climate change, all temperature data sets agree that the last decade has been the warmest one in the instrumental temperature record. All the records agree that the planet has warmed since 1979 at a rate of somewhere between +0.16 and +0.13 degrees Celsius per decade. Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) reports temperature trends derived from satellite measurements and concludes that "climate models cannot explain this warming if human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are not included as input to the model simulation."

Comment: According to the temperature records, and indeed, according to the single best record that we have, satellite data, our planet has not experienced any statistically significant warming in the past 18 years. Given that the theory of man made global warming is predicated on the simple belief, written into computer models, that our temperatures will go up in direct proportion to the amount of carbon dioxide we pump into the air, and given that there has been a lot of carbon dioxide released in the past eighteen years, that ought to lead everyone to at least question the validity of the theory of global warming.

There is little about the global warming theory that should give one any confidence, including the repeated tampering with the land based temperature records. The "instrumental temperature record" only exists since 1880. Whether our planet is warming in an unusual fashion requires observations going back several millennia before 1880. And indeed, by all accounts, the Medieval Warm Period was warmer planet wide than our current warming -- and that was clearly not due to increases in carbon dioxide output by man. Nor is the fact that we have been warming in any way surprising, since the planet is recovering from a Little Ice Age. And lastly, it is interesting, is it not, that Reason would pick the year 1979, 36 years ago, from which to calculate a ten year average until today for increases in ten year average temperatures. They couldn't possibly be gaming the system by cherry picking a particular year with an unusually low temperature as a start point, could they. What disingenuous people.

Reason has it backwards. To embrace man-made global warming theory at this point is an act of blind faith. It is a rejection of science, which requires the constant reevaluation of assumptions in light of new data.

3. Does the Republican support further restrictions on abortion? If so, than Reasons gives a failing grade.

Reason's Explanation: "Pro-life activist groups like the Family Research Council claim that fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks of gestation. This claim has been used by such anti-abortion proponents as a justification for declaring that states have a "compelling interest" in limiting abortions after that period. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, for example, was introduced in Congress most recently in January, 2015; it would impose such a limit nationally. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviewed the scientific evidence and determined that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester (24 weeks). Ultimately, the controversy over fetal pain isn't about the scientific debate as much as it's about how people feel about the morality of abortion."

Comment: Reason doesn't even try to hide the ball here. They take the fact that it is groups who are opposed to abortion who have highlighted the science showing fetal pain at and after 20 weeks, then dismissed the findings by concentrating solely on the moral stand of the anti-abortion groups. Leaving aside that the methods used to conduct late term abortions are so horrendous that they could not possibly, in any way, survive an 8th Amendment challenge if used as methods to execute adults, and even accepting that the science suggesting fetal pain is contested, to dismiss the science and claim that anyone who believes that fetal pain is felt after 20 weeks is anti-science, that's just a disingenuous non-sequitur.

4. And then the old leftie favorite, has the Republican embraced creationism? If so, than Reasons gives a failing grade

Reason's Explanation: "Many object that candidates' views about evolution are irrelevant, since they will not be making public policy about it. Nevertheless, how a candidate thinks about evolution provides an indication of their overall level of respect for scientific reasoning and evidence. Or else it shows that they are willing to set aside what they believe to be true in order to pander to voter ignorance and prejudice. That tells you something about a candidate too."

Comment: Is there evidence in any of the 'tested' candidates individual backgrounds to make such an extrapolation valid? This is indeed irrelevant, but since it allows the left to assume an air of intellectual superiority, it is inevitably going to make it into every science based hit piece on Republican candidates from now until . . .

So the seven Republicans tested under Reason's suspect criteria were the potential presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush. How did they fare? According to Reason:

Ted Cruz - 3 Cruz failed their tests on Ebola, climate change, abortion and creationism. Actual score: 6 of 6

Rand Paul - 3 Paul failed their tests on Ebola, vaccinations and abortion. He passed their test on climate change. Actual score: 5 of 6

Marco Rubio - 3 Rubio failed their tests on Ebola, climate change, abortion and creationism. Actual score: 6 of 6

Jeb Bush - 2 Bush failed their tests on Ebola, climate change, Yucca Mtn., abortion and creationism. Actual score: 5 of 6

Scott Walker - 2 Walker failed their tests on Ebola, climate change and abortion. No answer on Yucca or creationism. Actual score: 4 of 4

Chris Christie - 2 Christie failed their tests on Ebola and creationism. He passed on climate change and has not stated a position on the other. Actual score: 2 of 4

So, other than Chris Christie's and Rand Paul's stances on climate change, Republican presidential hopefuls look quite strong in respect to their standing on science . . . actual science, at least, not Reason's unreasonable tests.





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The Watchers Council Forum: What's Your Take on The Bowe Bergdahl Situation? What Will The Outcome Be?



Each week the Watchers Council hosts a Forum, in addition to holding a weekly contest for best posts among its members. This week's Forum questions are "What's Your Take on The Bowe Bergdahl Situation? What Will The Outcome Be?" I have kindly been invited to respond.

On the night of June 30, 2009, Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, then stationed in Afghanistan at Outpost Keating, left a note in his tent stating "he was leaving to start a new life." Bergdahl left his post and made his way into the surrounding countryside, committing a textbook act of desertion per the UCMJ. The Taliban soon made Bergdahl their prisoner.

In the immediate aftermath of his desertion, Bergdahl's battalion engaged in repeated efforts to find him in operations that claimed the lives of six soldiers. Moreover, Army Command made a decision that Outpost Keating, then slated for closure, should remain open as a base from which to search for Bergdahl. On October 3, 2009, the base was subjected to the one of the largest and bloodiest attacks of the Afghan War, in what has become known as the Battle of Kamdesh. The battle resulted in eight more American soldiers killed and twenty-seven wounded.

The Obama administration, at some point, began secret negotiations with the Taliban for the return of Bergdahl. In violation of U.S. law, the Obama administration agreed to a prisoner exchange with the Taliban without timely notifying Congress. Despite that, the Obama administration claiming general power to act under the Constitution, unilaterally authorized the deal. On May 31, 2014, Bergdahl was exchanged for five top Taliban commanders previously being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.

In the wake of criticism, the Obama administration defended their deal, laughably claiming that Bergdahl was a soldier with a distinguished record of service. At least three of the five members of the Taliban Five seem poised to resume their efforts against American and Afghanistan interests. The U.S. military recently charged Bergdahl with desertion.

My take is that Bergdahl should be tried for desertion and, if found guilty, be jailed for life. I also believe that Obama's decision to trade for Bergdahl was part of a larger plan to close Gitmo, but that pushback in the wake of this trade will stop that. Obama, who has made an industry out of violating the Constitution and the laws of our nation, will suffer no penalty for this trade because Congress is too supine to force the issue. Most if not all of the Taliban Five will return to their positions in the Taliban to again plan the death and destruction of Americans.

At the Daily Caller, W. James Antle III opines on one other possible fallout:

The charges against Bowe Bergdahl are not merely embarrassing to the White House. They will further undermine the already shaky confidence in the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.

I don't see that. The Iran negotiations are orders of magnitude more important than the Bergdahl situation, which is little more than a flash in the pan in the grander scheme of things. Obama has already given the nation countless grounds to mistrust his judgment and veracity as regards the Iran negotiations. The administration's prevarications and poor judgment as regards Bergdahl are merely more straws on a camels back that is already broken. In the very near future, no one will remember this but as one more sad footnote in the history of the Obama administration. At least, that is, until new American deaths can be traced to the recently released members of the Taliban Five, as seems a certainty. Then the impotent howling will commence yet again.





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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wolf Bytes - The Please Wear Underwear Edition



Blue Moon Over Cambodia: If you are First Lady of the United States, for the love of God, WEAR UNDERWEAR!!!

This is an atrocity: US Declassifies Document Revealing Israel's Nuclear Program

The solution, barring regime change, is simple: To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran

Tell us something we didn't know: We're Losing The War Against Radical Islam

And the solution to that problem is: Islam Needs To Go Through A Reformation

From the Daily Beast, no less: Everything The White House Told You About Bowe Bergdahl Was Wrong

George Will: A new and mind-opening book on economics shows that it’s anything but “the dismal science.”

A rather damning indictment - "NYT's science articles take a pro-fearmongering, anti-technology viewpoint:" The New York Times Should Seriously Consider Not Writing About Science Anymore

Follow the money: ISIS's Backdoor Financing

Lanny Davis says that Hillary's E-Mail Scandal is meaningless because -- "LOOK, SQUIRREL!!!:" The Scandal Machine - Will We Ever Learn

Science Fiction comes closer to reality: Developing A "Cloaking Device" To Shield Against Shock Waves

The faith of our fathers: Franklin, Jefferson and what was deism?

From China: Wrath of Dancing Grandmothers

Fascinating: Two Sentence Horror Stories

& Finally, A True Treat: Itzhak Perlman Plays Klezmer







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The Middle East & Unrealpolitik



'Realpolitik' is a 19th century term meaning to conduct a pragmatic foreign policy based on a cold calculation of reality. Criticized for its lack of lack of paramount concern for morality, democracy and other considerations, it long marked America's foreign policy and perhaps reached its zenith under President Nixon, with his trip to China and his negotiation of an end to the Vietnam War begun by the Democrats. So how would one describe Obama's foreign policy, which seems to be unconnected from reality and wholly lacking in pragmatism?

When Obama took office in 2009, Libya was neutral. Egypt and Yemen were both under the control of pro-Western dictators. Iraq had been won and was under U.S. influence. Syria was stable, if then an ally of Iran. Al-Qaeda had been defeated on the battlefield of their choice and was on its heels. Turkey was still a nominal ally. Iran was beginning to feel real pain from economic sanctions designed to punish that country for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Afghanistan needed attention. And the role of Islam in promoting terrorism was very much at issue.

Today, Libya has been destabilized by a U.S. "led-from-behind" coup and is now a home base for ISIS radicals. Obama supported a coup against pro-Western Egyptian dictator Mubarak, only to see the nation fall under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological parent of al Qaeda and virtually all other Sunni terrorist groups. Since then a second coup led to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and Obama has maintained very cool relations with the new, pro-Western government of al-Sisi, going so far as to suspend military aid at a time when that nation is increasingly coming under fire from radical Islamists. Obama squandered our hard won victory in Iraq, leaving that nation to fall under the ever greater influence of neighboring Iran. Syria, which fell into a revolt led by pro-Western rebels, was ignored by the Obama administration until, now, it is nothing more than a war for spoils between the ISIS and Iran. Turkey has become ever more a home to Islamists and less an ally.

If that were all, one would be forced to conclude that the Obama foreign policy has been one misstep after another based on mistaken but perhaps reasonable assessments of reality. But that is not all. When one adds in considerations of Yemen and Iran, it's apparent that the Obama administration is not merely mistaken in its assessments, it is completely disconnected from reality.

As to Iran, it is still the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism, still dedicated to the export of its Khomeinist Revolution, and still a mortal enemy of this nation and it has the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands. And yet, Obama has suspended sanctions, removed Iran from a list of terrorists, and now appears ready to make a deal with Iran that would allow them to keep their nuclear program active. Before 2009, I warned that Obama would be the second coming of Chamberlain, likely to try and appease Iran. I was wrong. As Bookworm Room points out, Obama has been infinitely worse, for he appears not merely reasonably mistaken in his assessments, but fully and knowingly willing to make a deal with the devil. The belief that giving a bloody, rogue regime carte blanche to continue developing a nuclear weapons capability will somehow be, in the words of Tom Friedman, transformational in any sort of positive sense for this nation, is pure insanity. It is a recipe for further destabilizing the Middle East.

And then there is Yemen. Within the past week, Iranian backed rebels have driven not merely the government of that country out of the capital, but U.S. diplomatic and military forces as well. It is a disaster. Six months ago, Obama was claiming that Yemen was not merely a counterterrorism success, but a blueprint for future operations. And today . . . his administration is still making that claim, calling Yemen a "template that has succeeded."

It that is success, then the word failure has no meaning. This is actually frightening in its lack of any grounding in reality.

The Obama administration is the anti-Nixon in the foreign policy arena. This is a foreign policy based on fantasy for which there is no word in our historic or political science lexicon. A new word must be created, and the most apt would seem to be "unrealpolitik." And the scariest part of it all is that Obama still has near two more years to do untold damage to our nation's national security.





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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cruz Missiles



Ted Cruz entered the GOP primary race on Monday, and the race in the media to define him has officially commenced. Here's a bit of a roll up from the past few days, some pro, some ridiculously con from the left and from potential competitors on the right:

NY Daily News: The Right Roars As Ted Cruz Rises

National Review: Of Course Ted Cruz Could Win

Breitbart: On Global Warming, Cruz Says He's Galileo, Not A Flat Earther [What a perfect analogy]

WaPo: Ted Cruz's Phenomenally Bad Idea [To get rid of the IRS and impose a flat tax]

Campus Reform: Ted Cruz and the Republicans are Resurrecting Discrimination [the story manages to work in every prog buzz word possible - ultra right wing, extremist, etc.]

WaPo: What's Wrong With Ted Cruz [Concern trolling at its finest]

The Week: Cruz Haters Gotta Hate

Via Hot Air: NYT - What Ted Cruz Would Need To Do To Win

Via Hot Air: Politico - Ted Cruz's Strategy: Destroy The 'Mushy Middle'

Via Hot Air: Wapo - In The Senate Where Cruz Played Rough, Scarce Praise For His Presidential Run [Given the performance of Senate Republicans in rolling over to fund Obama's unconstitutional immigration plan through DHS, I consider that a big plus]

Via Hot Air: Mediaite - Rep. Peter King Threatens To Jump Off A Bridge If Cruz Gets The GOP Nomination [Would that he stay true to his word]

Via Hot Air: Bloomberg - Ted Cruz Is No Captain Courageous [Ridiculous essay. Cruz stood against all who aren't conservatives. That's called the courage of one's convictions.]

Via Instapundit: New Yorker - The New Yorker’s John Cassidy Calls Latino Ted Cruz “Uppity.”

Via Instapundit: National Review - Would the Media Allow ‘Cruz Crushing’ if He Were a Hispanic Democrat?

Via Instapundit: Washington Examiner - Think Progress claims Ted Cruz is anti-woman because he supports a flat tax.

Via Instapundit: Ann Althouse On Ted Cruz's Speech At Liberty Univ. - “This is a truly powerful speech. Just brilliant.”

Via Instapundit: - Popehat On NPR's Ted Cruz Racism: “First time I ever heard NPR use the term ‘White Hispanic’ was George Zimmerman. Second time today. Never for Castro, who’s white as snow.”







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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Adam Smith & My Supper

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol 1, 1776

Adam Smith was the father of modern economics and the first proponent of free market, laissez-faire capitalism. He promoted free trade as the world, then experiencing its first massive expansion in wealth as a result of global trade, began to move from mercantilism towards something approaching his vision. So what does that have to do with my supper?

I just had a quite filling repast -- fresh green beans and a bit of diced sweet onion cooked with a slice of bacon, marinated in the bacon fat, then spiced with cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and black pepper, all washed down with a cup of tea flavored with lime juice and heather honey. Delicious, filling, and . . . only possible because of globalism, capitalism and trade.

The only thing local was the sweet onion. From whence did all else come?

Green beans - shipped fresh from somewhere in Central America

Bacon - probably Virginia

Cayenne Pepper - probably Mexico

Black Pepper - probably India

Paprika - probably south central Europe or perhaps Turkey

Salt - probably Minnesota, with its huge salt mines

Green Tea - China

Lime Juice - Florida

Heather Honey - Scotland

All of the above came in containers made variously of glass, plastic, cardboard and metals from all over the world.

All came to a store near me by transport using fossil fuels.

All of that allowed me to make a meal that probably cost me about $1.25 to make. And the thing of it is, the price could have been far cheaper were not our band of capitalism still stunted by cronyism, protectionism and over regulation.

All of the people involved in bringing the supper to my table tonight did so out of their own enlightened self interest. And I bought all of the things that went into my supper not out of any feeling of benevolence towards the sellers, but out of my own self interest and with trust in the quality of goods from each supplier / producer.

Aren't global trade and capitalism wonderful things? As Ayn Rand once wrote:

Capitalism has been called a system of greed — yet it is the system that raised the standard of living of its poorest citizens to heights no collectivist system has ever begun to equal, and no tribal gang can conceive of.

So tonight, as I enjoy a simple, cheap and fine supper, I wonder what the masses are having in the socialist bastion of Venezuela? Or for that matter, what the deeply misguided and hypocritical Occupy protest veterans are dining on?

For anyone who needs a refresher in capitalism, there is no finer reference than Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and purchase a copy.





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Senator Cruz Enters The 2016 Presidential Race





With a midnight tweet, Ted Cruz officially joined the race for the Republican nominee for President. Here is his speech announcing his bid at Liberty University:







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Monday, March 23, 2015

Democracy, Our Republic & Obama

President Obama, whose party was trounced in last year’s midterm election due in part to poor turnout among Democrats, endorsed the idea of mandatory voting Wednesday.

“It would be transformative if everybody voted,” Mr. Obama said during a town-hall event in Cleveland. “That would counteract [campaign] money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”

. . . [W]e’ve got to have a better debate about how we make our democracy better and encourage more participation.”

Washington Times, Obama Calls For Mandatory Voting In The U.S., 18 March 2015

Okay, I'll bite. Let's talk about "democracy" and suffrage. But to understand those concepts within the context of our Republic, you need to go back to the time that the Founders drafted our Constitution.

The American Revolution, defined by the Declaration of Independence and culminating in our Constitution, marked the pinnacle of the Age of Enlightenment. What our Founders built with the Constitution was not a democracy, it was a Republic underpinned by a carefully limited democracy. One could be excused for thinking that our unreserved reverence for democracy today extends back in time all the way to the Founding Fathers, but that is decidedly not the case.

The Founders certainly believed in democracy as the basis of self-rule. While writing the Constitution, the Founders ignored the issue of suffrage -- i.e., who would be entitled to vote in that democracy. Their concern was with the role democracy itself was to play in our form of government.

Their view of democracy was that it was a double-edged sword that needed to be carefully limited in two respects. One, the purer the democracy, the more likely to lead to "mob rule," something to be shunned every bit as much as an aristocracy. As Thomas Jefferson opined, "democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” John Adams was even harsher in his criticism:

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.

Their second criticism of democracy, expressed in countless forums by our Founders, was that the average person, what we would call the "low information voter" today, was not paying intimately close attention to the issues of the day and could be led astray by charismatic politicians who were not fit to lead. Thus, while the Founders thought that democracy worked at the local level -- the town meetings of Massachusetts fame, for example -- they were deeply distrustful of democracy beyond that.

That is why, when they crafted our Constitution, the Founders allowed for direct democratic election of only 1/6th of our federal government, the members of the House of Representatives. Senators were to be appointed by elected Governors. The President was not to be directly elected, but rather a convention was to be held among people either locally elected or, at the State's choosing, appointed by the State to act as representatives at the convention. There, the representatives were to examine the candidates and make an informed decision before casting a ballot in an Electoral College. Once chosen, it was the President who would appoint Judges to the third co-equal branch of our government, but only with the consent of the Senate. At each level, our Founders tried to filter out the worst aspects of democracy, while still maintaining democracy as the foundation upon which our Republic is built.

We've certainly moved away from their vision and in the direction of greater democracy since the Constitution was drafted. We have had direct elections of Senators for the past century. Consequently, we've had a vast expansion of the federal government at the expense of state's rights, the Senators no longer being answerable to the Governors. And the electoral college is antiquated, effecting the selection of President, but with representatives pre-selected for candidates, it is now virtually a purely direct, democratic vote. Thus, the low information voter so feared by our Founders now plays an already outsized role in the formation of our government.

We've also had a vast expansion in suffrage. At the time of the Constitution was written, suffrage was extended only to white male property owners or those who paid sufficient taxes to give them a stake in the rate of taxes and the disposition of the public funds. It was both inevitable and necessary that, in a nation defined by it's aspirational statement that "all men are created equal," with God given rights to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," that suffrage would be extended to all irrespective of race, gender, and the like. It was not inevitable that the property or tax requirements would be removed, thus severing the link between those who funded the government and the control over taxes and the disposition of government funds, but in light of the misuse of these requirements to limit suffrage based on race, they too had to go. That said, one could make a strong argument today that, if strictly neutral application of the standards could be enforced, those standards should be returned.

Enter Obama, who would like to see all people required to vote, apparently believing that the left has a much greater edge among low information voters and those voters not paying into the tax base. Allowing his plan would be the final nail in the coffin of the form of government our Founders so carefully crafted. All of the dangers of democracy that they tried to filter out would become our modern reality.

And of course it is not just that which makes Obama's call for mandatory voting objectionable. There's also the little matter that forced voting would also be a violation of our First Amendment, which has been interpreted to protect against enforced "political speech." But it is not like Obama has shown the least amount of concern for our Constitution in other contexts.





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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Watcher's Council Forum: Is America In Decline? Why Or Why Not?



Each week, the Watcher's Council hosts a forum, in addition to holding a weekly contest for best posts among the members of the Council. I have been kindly invited to respond to this week's question. Update: The forum is up, with several different answers to the question, all worth your read.

It is beyond question that our nation is in decline. We stand mired in historic levels of debt, yet massive deficit spending by Congress continues unabated. Regulations are being pumped out by unelected bureaucrats at record pace, working fundamental changes to our nation that could never pass Congress. Yet Congress sits by and the odd Congresscritter only occasionally impotently complains in speeches. Medicare and Social Security threaten to bankrupt our nation in the foreseeable future unless reformed, yet Congress does not just nothing, but manages to compound the problems with Obamacare. We have a tyrannical President who unconstitutionally threatens our country's make up by unilaterally legislating the legalization of millions of illegal aliens, while an utterly supine Congress with the sole Constitutional authority to legislate is allowing this to happen. It appears that elections for either party no longer matter to change our national trajectory.

Our Supreme Court today sits as a sort of unelected Politburo deciding that the Constitution means whatever five of them want it to mean based on their whim of the day. What was supposed to be the least dangerous of our co-equal branches of government is now arguably the most dangerous. The left is using our military as a laboratory for insane social experiments, the worst being to allow women into front line combat units, something that can only be accomplished in any number by lowering the physical standards. And that does not even begin to consider the impact on unit cohesion. Space exploration as well as virtually everything to do with space is without doubt of incredible importance to our future. Moreover, it is vital that we continue to develop space defense technology to protect our many satellites upon which modern life is dependant. Space technology is an area where we have still a distinct advantage, yet Obama has killed our nation's space program. Lastly, our national security posture hasn't been this bad since the 1930's.

I think it would be fair to say we are not merely in decline, but rapidly approaching key tests during our descent that will determine our future. It is hard to say which will be the first key test, whether it will come in the form of severe economic stress as the interest rates rise on our outrageous national debt, or whether it will come in the choking of our economy by ever more far reaching regulations by the EPA and FCC, or whether it will come from foreign countries energized by our growing weakness. The only sure lesson of history is that the tests will come.

Our nation has proven resilient in the past, but in the past, we've been much better positioned to respond to challenges. In the past hundred years, we've faced the Depression and come through. But that was at a time when our massive excess industrial capacity sat untapped and we started from a point with no major deficits. We faced WWII and came through. But that was at a time when the other allied nations had strong militaries of their own, not the empty shells that they now have. We faced down the Soviet Union, but that was at a time when our military was at the pinnacle of its strength, not now when Obama has starved our military for funding, going so far as to change our national security posture from being able to fight two simultaneous wars to one. That was a change not based on any threat assessment, but rather a desire to divert the savings to his various welfare programs. And he has likewise overseen the devolution of our nuclear capacity -- something that has maintained the peace in Europe for 75 years -- because of his insane, utopian vision of a world without nuclear weapons. Somebody, please inform the North Koreans, the Iranians, and the other Middle Eastern nations now initiating their own nuclear weapons programs.

Bookworm Room has added her own cogent thoughts to this list above. To paraphrase, in the past, when challenges faced our nation, we had a fundamental love of country to join us. Our immigrants once came for the freedom to seek wealth. Yet today, "our immigrants come for handouts that they then wire to the tyrannies back home." And worst of all:

Our young people once thought that we brought freedom to the world; our young people now believe that we are evil. When a nation's young people think that they and their country are unworthy, the ink is on the suicide pact. And when they've been trained to think of themselves as fragile victims, you can bet that the first drop of blood spilled will seal that pact.

It is hard for me to believe that America will retain a dominant position in the world beyond another decade or so. Perhaps this would not matter if America was intrinsically evil as the left seems to think, or if those who would replace us were benign. The reality is that no nation is strong enough to take our place at the moment, and those who will vie for influence do not have a history of rule by law or democracy. Nor do I believe there is any leader we could elect in 2016 that could restore the Constitutional systems that have allowed us to flourish for much of the past two centuries.

That said, perhaps in response to the key tests and trials foreseeable on our national horizon, things might change. My pessimism is moderated by the reality that history has few straight lines, and great nations have rarely gone gentle into that good night. But my pessimism is made worse by the knowledge that, with key tests and trials come great costs in gold and in blood. The question is not whether America is in decline, but how low we must fall before we even begin to recover, and at what cost?





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Wolf Bytes



Sorry, been very busy of late, and thus the slight lull in blogging. At any rate, these are the things I have wanted to blog about the past few days but have just not had the time:

The important things in life: Things You Didn't Know About Guinness Stout

Persona non grata: Founder of Greenpeace - Why I am a climate change skeptic

Like any monopoly, Fox News could stand competition for its audience: Mickey Kaus Quits Daily Caller When His Criticism Of Fox News Is Pulled

They are not hiding it: How the Mad Mullahs Export the Iranian Revolution

More support falls off: The White House Has Even Lost Tom Friedman On Iran

The Obama Administration whitewashes the record: Iran erased from the list of terrorist sponsors in the 2015 DNI Assessment

Does anybody notice anything wrong with this picture: Khamenei calls ‘Death to America’ as Kerry hails progress on nuke deal

Israel is an example in the Middle East: Israel, the world's most vibrant democracy

An inexcusable double standard applied to Muslims: The PLO raisea a statue honoring a mass murderering terrorist in the middle of their capital while Obama and the West stay silent

If allowed to, I think the answer is "yes:" Will Obama Punish Israel For Reelecting Netanyahu?

So much of the environmentalist movement is built on sand and fury: Why no one trusts environmentalists

Giving nervous flyers a reason to white knuckle it . . . and wasn't this a plot line from 24: Ground control: Analysts warn airplane communications systems vulnerable to hacking

And lastly, an epic anti-Hillary rant from lesbian feminist, professor and author Camille Paglia:









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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Really Making Black Lives Matter

I've spent tons of pixels over countless posts explaining how the bargain between between blacks and the left has been a Faustian one. The left regularly shaft blacks when the interests of blacks come in conflict with other interests of the left, whether it be unions, teacher's unions, or the possibility of gaining millions of new Democratic voters with Hispanic amnesty. And yet blacks still vote upwards of 90% as a block for the left. My plea to my fellows on the right has been to make a concerted effort to reach out to blacks. However Stephen Smith of ESPN, a black man, has taken a different tack for blacks to start exercising the true political power that they hold. Every black person, he says, should vote Republican for at least one election:

On Tuesday, ESPN regular Stephen A. Smith spoke at the Impact Symposium at Vanderbilt University on the topic of “How You See It: Perceptions of (In)Equality.”

Smith believes that every black person in America should vote Republican at least once so that both parties could address their interests.

“What I dream is that for one election, just one, every black person in America vote Republican,” he said. “Because from what I’ve read, and I’m open to correction, but from what I’ve read, Barry Goldwater is going against Lyndon B. Johnson. He’s your Republican candidate. He is completely against the Civil Rights Movement. Lyndon B. Johnson was in favor of it. What happens is, he wins office, Barry Goldwater loses office, but there was a senate, a Republican senate, that pushed the votes to the president’s desk. It was the Democrats who were against Civil Rights legislation. So because President Lyndon B. Johnson was a Democrat, black America assumed the Democrats were for it.”

He also added, “Black folks in America are telling one party, ‘We don’t give a damn about you.’ They’re telling the other party ‘You’ve got our vote.’ Therefore, you have labeled yourself ‘disenfranchised’ because one party knows they’ve got you under their thumb. The other party knows they’ll never get you and nobody comes to address your interest.”

Meanwhile, in the latest example of how the left makes use of the race card, here is Dick Durbin, on the floor of the Senate, charging Republicans with racism for holding up a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General until after the left agrees to terms on a particular bill.



Why is there no one following him up to the podium and calling him out on this? There is not the slightest hint of evidence that the right is holding up Lynch's nomination because of racial animus. Until people act with the courage of their convictions and start becoming absolutely vociferous in responding to these kinds of scurrilous charges, the race card will remain effective for the left. And if no one responds, what are people left to think?





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The Magna Carta



Eight hundred years ago, in 1215, King John of England, because of his tyrannical misrule, faced a revolt of his barons. To quell the revolt, he agreed to the terms of the Magna Carta. It was a seminal event in the history of freedom. By signing, King John made himself subject to the laws of the land and agreed to rule only with the consent of the barons. This from the site Mental Floss:

To celebrate the 800th anniversary of the creation of the Magna Carta, the British Library has created two animations—narrated by Monty Python's Terry Jones—about the groundbreaking "Great Charter." The first . . . explores the document's history. The second . . . outlines why the charter was created and what it says.





It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the Magna Carta. The rights set forth in the Magna Carta, especially the limitation on the power of the King to lay taxes without consent of the barons, lay at the heart of the American Revolution. A direct line can be drawn from the Magna Carta to our democracy, our Republican form of government, and our Bill of Rights.





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Awe, Wonder & Stardust



When the shy star goes forth in heaven
All maidenly, disconsolate,
Hear you amid the drowsy even
One who is singing by your gate.
His song is softer than the dew
And he is come to visit you.

O bend no more in revery
When he at eventide is calling.
Nor muse: Who may this singer be
Whose song about my heart is falling?
Know you by this, the lover's chant,
'Tis I that am your visitant.

James Joyce, When the Shy Star Goes Forth In Heaven

I can recall a night many years ago, clear and bitter cold on top of a mountain near the border with North Korea. It was a cloudless night, and no artificial light could be seen. I remember looking up into the night sky and just being awed by the brilliance. It was a black infinity populated endlessly by tiny points of varying colors of light. It was very different from the sky one normally sees in America, where the brilliance of the sky is washed out by artificial light. It effected me on such a visceral level that, to this day, whenever I look to the night sky, I am left in awe and wonder, pondering the universe, our world, and our being.

The "Big Bang" theory developed by the Catholic priest and physicist Georges Lemaitre tells us that, 14 billion years ago, all energy and matter in the universe expanded from a single point.



In time, gasses and dust coallesced, and in that mix, stars were formed, stars that then clustered into galaxies.



It is impossible to truly comprehend the size of what the Big Bang unleashed. There are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable Universe, stretching out into a region of space 13.8 billion light-years away from us in all directions.



Our own corner of this immensity is the Milky Way galaxy.



Heavy elements formed in the most massive stars. And when those stars collapsed to a critical mass, they exploded in a supernova, spreading their elements throughout all of space.



And the stardust from those explosions coalesced to form our own planet.



We sit atop that ball of stardust, spinning around its axis at 1,037 mph, spinning around the sun at 66,660 mph, and in a solar system that is travelling at 514,000 mph around the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The feeling of standing still is an illusion. Yet stand we do, and look out into the heavens from where we came.

We are not merely looking at the stars, we are them. We are composed of stardust. From whence came the spark of life?

Whenever, at night, I look to the sky, it is with awe and wonder.





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Poverty & The Moynihan Report



During the Presidency of, first John F. Kennedy and then Lyndon B. Johnson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was employed as the Assistant Secretary For Labor charged with developing policy for the "war on poverty." At the time, as it is today, poverty was a national problem, but also a particular problem for blacks. Fifty years ago this month, Moynihan issued a report, The Negro Family: The Case For National Action. For the temerity of saying that the problems of black poverty were cultural and systemic, Moynihan was savaged as a racist by the many on the left and his report ignored.

Fifty years later, many of the problems identified Moynihan do not merely remain, they've gotten worse. The attempt to solve the problem of poverty without addressing squarely the systemic problems underlying poverty has failed, and not just for blacks, though they were Moynihan's focus. In virtually all cases, the systemic problems are the same -- a breakdown in two parent families.

Several good columns and articles look back on the report today. First, there is Nicholas Kristof writing at the NYT, When Liberals Blew It:

Fifty years ago this month, Democrats made a historic mistake.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, at the time a federal official, wrote a famous report in March 1965 on family breakdown among African-Americans. He argued presciently and powerfully that the rise of single-parent households would make poverty more intractable.

“The fundamental problem,” Moynihan wrote, is family breakdown. In a follow-up, he explained: “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families ... never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos.”

Liberals brutally denounced Moynihan as a racist. He himself had grown up in a single-mother household and worked as a shoeshine boy at the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street in Manhattan, yet he was accused of being aloof and patronizing, and of “blaming the victim.” . . .

From George Will, The Prescience of Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

. . . The broken correlation of improvements in unemployment and decreased welfare dependency shattered confidence in social salvation through economic growth and reduced barriers to individual striving. Perhaps the decisive factors in combating poverty and enabling upward mobility were not economic but cultural — the habits, mores and dispositions that equip individuals to take advantage of opportunities.

This was dismaying because governments know how to alter incentives and remove barriers but not how to manipulate culture. The assumption that the condition of the poor must improve as macroeconomic conditions improve was to be refuted by a deepened understanding of the crucial role of the family as the primary transmitter of the social capital essential for self-reliance and betterment. Family structure is the primary predictor of social outcomes, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan knew in 1965.

Fifty years ago this month, Moynihan, then a 37-year-old social scientist working in the Labor Department, wrote a report, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," that was leaked in July. The crisis he discerned was that 23.6 percent of African-American births were to unmarried women. Among the "tangle" of pathologies he associated with the absence of fathers was a continually renewed cohort of inadequately socialized adolescent males. This meant dangerous neighborhoods and schools where disciplining displaced teaching. He would later write: "A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority ... that community asks for and gets chaos." . . .

From City Journal, The Black Family: 40 Years Of Lies (reposted from 2005)

. . . By now, these facts shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Almost 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Those mothers are far more likely than married mothers to be poor, even after a post-welfare-reform decline in child poverty. They are also more likely to pass that poverty on to their children. Sophisticates often try to dodge the implications of this bleak reality by shrugging that single motherhood is an inescapable fact of modern life, affecting everyone from the bobo Murphy Browns to the ghetto “baby mamas.” Not so; it is a largely low-income—and disproportionately black—phenomenon. The vast majority of higher-income women wait to have their children until they are married. The truth is that we are now a two-family nation, separate and unequal—one thriving and intact, and the other struggling, broken, and far too often African-American.

So why does the Times, like so many who rail against inequality, fall silent on the relation between poverty and single-parent families? To answer that question—and to continue the confrontation with facts that Americans still prefer not to mention in polite company—you have to go back exactly 40 years. That was when a resounding cry of outrage echoed throughout Washington and the civil rights movement in reaction to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Department of Labor report warning that the ghetto family was in disarray. Entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” the prophetic report prompted civil rights leaders, academics, politicians, and pundits to make a momentous—and, as time has shown, tragically wrong—decision about how to frame the national discussion about poverty. . . .

Fifty years on it's time to admit that the attempt to solve the problem of poverty largely through welfare has failed. While the welfare system has provided a necessary safety net, it has not broken the cycle of poverty that effects far too many in our nation. That is going to require a new effort. And that effort should begin with dusting off the Moynihan report.



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