Culture at the Crossroads: What You Can Do to Save America

By Alexandra York

In an era when it has become “politically incorrect” even to utter that term; when public discourse and protest forums are manipulated or anarchic; when movie house previews “approved for all ages” promote twenty minutes of violence; when candidates are elected for emotional appeal rather than for rational approaches to issues; when it is not possible for parents to trust schools to teach basic history let alone the three “Rs”; when Barack Obama is still trying to “transform” — destroy — America by infiltrating municipalities with community organizers like himself trained in “change” tactics via his nonprofit Organizing For Action (OFA) founded in 2013 while a sitting president; and when citizens are evenly split along collectivist versus constitutional lines, then a crossroads (or cultural “critical mass”) has been reached.

Government is setting the course now, so in 20 years this nation will be fully totalitarian unless “average” Americans mobilize to fight for the values of liberty and individualism, of rational thought and judgment, and the morality of personal integrity. The challenge is great for those of us who embrace the core tenets of our Western-civilization-Enlightenment heritage, who labor to pay our own way in this world, and who wish for government in its limited constitutional role of protecting individual rights (not privileges). To meet this challenge we need viable methods to effectively engage in the battle to win this life or death culture war in which we find ourselves today. Make no mistake: we are in a life-or-death battle to recoup the ideals of Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness because America’s internal conflict in every arena is a war of ideas that will play out in real life for better or worse over the entirety of the developed world.

By this late date, most otherwise-common-sense Americans have been pummeled into silence by PC muzzling that has lulled them into 1) accepting group-think as superior to independent reasoning, 2) defining their identity by tribal membership (race, gender, religion, age, etc.), and 3) viewing democracy as “a level playing field” of economic egalitarianism. Over the past few decades we have witnessed the best of traditional American values — honesty, independence, excellence, accountability, productivity — being diluted, denigrated, or plainly upended into near oblivion.

Perhaps most lethal in creating this myopic cultural zeitgeist, an agenda-driven media, the public school system, university level academia, and the entertainment industry have dominated virtually all avenues of communication to the general public, pouring collectivist propaganda into every cranial nook and cranny. As more Americans are waking up to the damage wrought by these message machines, however, rumblings of resistance are signaling a “perfect storm” brewing across the land. This is encouraging because the only hope for a free future is to inform and inspire Americans dedicated to individual rights and rational values to take meaningful action against the rising tsunami of tyranny. Fortunately, history shows that a perfect storm of colliding ideas is often a perfect timefor such action because every crisis offers opportunity.

The immediate imperative to combat the increasing force of government dictates is to identify, evaluate, and provide specific action plans in order to empower every citizen to effectively fight a 21st century War of Ideas. Wars of ideas are not new, and many individuals and citizen-groups nationwide now know something is very wrong. The few who try to oppose are no match for professional manipulators, agitators, or public-relations-marketing teams with degrees in behavioral science who systematically invade not only federal and state governments but also aid in turning our communities into tiny tyrannies.

So what to do? Four short “must reads” will alert concerned citizens to the fact that those who would “transform” America into a homogeneous wasteland are not just political power-lusters. They seek whole-culture control by challenging and then altering belief and value systems via community “guidance” and all levels of education (controlling the mind); dictating healthcare and sexual subjects (controlling the body); housing demographics (controlling property); employment requirements (controlling economics); Internet and IRS snooping (controlling privacy). In short, they aim to obliterate the great experiment that is The United States of America.

Here’s the reading list to become informed:

1. “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky (Barack Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s, and other progressive activists’ go-to handbook for destroying American freedom from the ground up).

2. “From Shadow Party to Shadow Government: George Soros and the Effort to Radically Change America” by David Horowitz and John Perazzo.

3. “Push Back!: How to Take a Stand Against Groupthink, Bullies, Agitators, and Professional Manipulators” by B.K. Eakman.

4. “LYING AS A WAY OF LIFE: Corruption and Collectivism Come of Age in America,” by Alexandra York. (I would rather recommend another book that quickly but thoroughly lays out the 100+ year purposeful march to cultural/moral demise and political collectivism in America, but I cannot. I wrote this e-book for the urgent purpose of disseminating largely unknown information that provides understanding of our present peril and how we got here. Although I list my own work — a $0.99 giveaway — last, I suggest reading it first because it deals with the other three books and sets the historical stage for understanding their importance. I also list 19 specific actions that can be taken by anyone to protect their person, property, and privacy.

Fair warning: We all have our own soul to report to. If any one of us fails to become informed and fight, that individual is part of the cause of America’s demise. If each one of us takes action no matter how small, we have joined the fight to save our country.

20th century novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand said, “Those who fight for the future live in it today.”

This is a clarion call, and the battle lines are clear: Freedom or force. Constitution or collectivism. Reason or rations. Life unfettered or death by regulation. The hour is late.

[First published at Newsmax.]

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Liberal Socialism Is Another False Utopia

By Richard Ebeling

Very often bad and failed ideas do not die, they simply reappear during periods of supposed social and political crisis in slightly different intellectual garb, and offer “solutions” that would merely help to bring about some of the very types of crises for which they once again claim to have the answers. Socialism in its various “progressive” mutations represents one of the leading ones in our time.

The latest manifestation of this appeared on August 24, 2017 in the New Republic online in an article by John B. Judis on, “The Socialism America Needs Now.” He is heartened by the wide appeal, especially among younger voters, that Bernie Sanders received during the 2016 presidential contest. He thinks that this may herald a rebirth and a renewed possibility for a socialist alternative to the current American political and economic system.

Having traveled over the decades from the 1970s to the present from being a radical, revolutionary socialist to a more “moderate” one today, Mr. Judis admits that the Marxian-style socialism of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries is now long passé. The embarrassing experience of “socialism-in-practice” in the form Lenin and Stalin created in the Soviet Union or by Chairman Mao in China will not fly anymore.

From Soviet Central Planning to “Liberal Socialism”

Central planning seemed not to work too well, and the “communist” variation on the socialist theme also had a tendency to be “authoritarian” with some drawbacks for human life and liberty. (He tactfully avoids mentioning that Marxist-inspired regimes in the twentieth century murdered well over a 100 million people – with some estimates suggesting the number might have been closer to 150 million or more in the name of building the “bright, beautiful socialist future.” See my article, “The Human Cost of Socialism in Power”.)

He turns his mind and ideal to the “democratic socialist” parties and regimes in Western Europe in the post-World War II era, or as Mr. Judis prefers to call it, following John Maynard Keynes, “liberal socialism.” What makes this form of socialism “liberal”? It is belief that there can be a “socialism with a human face.” In other words, a form of “economic” socialism that leaves in place democratic politics with a respect for a broad range of personal and civil liberties.

We have heard this all so many times before. While Mr. Judis wishes to suggest that there is no real or definitive definition of “socialism” (any more than there are of “liberalism” or “democracy”), the fact is that throughout the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, virtually all socialists condemned and called for the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, and in its place some form of socialist central planning directed by government in the name of “the people.”

Mr. Judis actually more or less admits this, and that the only great debate among socialists and communists in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries was over how the socialist utopia would be brought about – through violent revolution or through the democratic ballot box. The Russian Marxists led by Vladimir Lenin insisted that only revolution and a “dictatorship of the proletariat” could bring “the workers” to power and assure their permanent triumph over the exploitive capitalist class. The German democratic socialists opted for democratic means to power and rejected the dictatorship of Lenin and later Stalin.

But it is nonetheless the case that well into the post-World War II period this was a dispute over political means and not ideological ends, which remained for both branches of the socialist movement the abolition of capitalism and the imposition of socialist central planning. Communists wanted to bring about this transformation of society in one fell swoop through violent means and imposed dictatorship.  The German Social Democrats and the “Fabian” socialists in Great Britain proposed democratic means, with socialism coming more gradually and through incremental extensions of government control and planning over more and more parts of society. But for both, the end result would be the same: centralized government direction of economic affairs and social change.

As the 1950s turned into the 1960s and 1970s, more and more “democratic” socialists in Western Europe grudgingly accepted the fact that comprehensive socialist central planning was a failure as practiced in the Moscow-dominated Soviet bloc countries; and it brought little of the prosperity that government planning promised to provide as an escape from poverty in the “third world” countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Plus, the tyranny and brutality of Soviet-style socialism made it ethically difficult to defend. So the democratic socialists turned to the interventionist-welfare state to achieve their “social justice” ends without nationalizing all the means of production or centrally planning all economic activity in society. (See my article, “Barack Obama and the Meaning of Socialism”.)

In Search of Socialist Utopias Elsewhere

But those communist regimes were not so repulsive that many, if not most, of these democratic socialists in the West would not continue to still give moral indulgence and wishful hopes that, maybe, somehow, Marxian socialism would still finally work and fulfill its promise in, first, Mao’s China, then in Castro’s Cuba, or Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam, or in the Sandinista’s Nicaragua, or  . . . The collectivist dream and delusion springs eternal. Plus, after all, even a rude, crude and rough Marxist regime isn’t the United States – please, please almost anything other than capitalist America!

Even today, the enlightened “progressive” can take a tour of Castro’s Cuba with the leftist magazine, The Nation. Don’t miss out! This November 2017 you can go with The Nation and, their advertisement promises, “learn about the Cuban Revolution from experts at some of its most pivotal locations, including the Moncada Barracks, the site of the first armed assault by Fidel Castro and his band of rebels on July 26, 1953.” The progressive political pilgrim to the collectivist promised land will be spending his or her “days meeting with prominent Cuban professors, government officials,” including “urban planners” and “health care workers.” Don’t miss on your chance to visit one of the remaining socialist “utopias” before global capitalism succeeds in taking it away.

No doubt, these “social justice” tourists will not be taken to La Cabana prison, where Che Guevara was assigned by Castro the role of state prosecutor against “enemies of the people,” following Fidel’s triumphant entrance into Havana and seizure of power in January 1959. In the role as unrestrained judge and jury, Che arbitrarily sent hundreds to their death, sometimes literally by his own hand.

Nor are they likely to have quoted to them Che’s words that, “My ideological training means that I am one of those people who believe that the solution to the world’s problems is to be found behind the Iron Curtain.” And that “I can’t be the friend of anyone who doesn’t share by ideas.” Or that Che was the one who in 1960 instituted communist Cuba’s system of forced labor camps. This would not fit in with the heroic face of Che on the t-shirts that, no doubt, some of these “progressive” travelers to utopia would be wearing. After all, Fidel and Che did it all for “the people,” and, well, they did have “good intentions.”

Of course, while such political pilgrims are pleased to visit these places and bask in the moral satisfaction that the few remaining communist regimes in the world are still trying to make that “better world,” even if with the heavy hand of dictatorship, censorship of art, music and political views, the imprisonment of political opponents, and torture and execution of “enemies of the people” (all of which they still mostly turn a blind eye), they prefer to live in their own Western countries and dream the “liberal socialist” dream, as clearly Mr. Judis is doing.

Liberal Socialism as the Regulatory and Redistributive State

What, precisely, is this democratic or “liberal” socialism to which Mr. Judis hopes a younger generation of Americans will turn in the years ahead? It turns out to be the same “utopia” of the interventionist-welfare state that Western countries have been following since the end of the Second World War, though, admittedly, to different degrees in different places around the world.

Mr. Judis wants the government to intensively and pervasively regulate, command, restrict and direct various aspects of the private enterprises in society, while assuring that American society can still take advantage of the self-interested incentives and innovations that can improve the material conditions of life. But the direction, form and extent to which private enterprisers shall be allowed to do those productive and innovative things with their businesses will be confined to and constrained within those avenues that serve the “higher” and “non-market” values and purposes of “society.”

Matching the regulatory and interventionist state must be the redistributive welfare state. The excessive and unnecessary income and wealth of the businessmen and private sector investors of America must be taxed, and heavily, to assure greater material egalitarianism, and to fund all the social services and government-provided safety nets, which “would bring immeasurable benefit to ordinary Americans. A good watchword is economic security – something that is very lacking to all except the wealthiest Americans.”

At this point, it might be wondered what, then, marks off Mr. Judis’ “liberal socialism” from the already existing modern American “liberal” interventionist-welfare state? It turns out that it is all a matter of intentions and the intended recipients. In Mr. Judis’ view, mainstream modern American liberals have lost their way; they too frequently sleep with the enemy (think Bill and Hillary Clinton) in the form of excessively collaborating with businessmen and bankers to the latter’s benefit; American liberals and progressives have stopped sufficiently emphasizing “economic justice” for middle America with their increasingly primary focus on “identity politics.”

Liberal Socialism and Democratic Politics Without Romance

Also, unlike the communists and many radical socialists and some progressives, Mr. Judis calls for moving towards his notion of a better socialist future through a more active participation in the Democratic Party. The task is to nudge and shove mainstream modern American liberals in the Democratic Party further to the socialist left, which in many of their hearts these people already know is right. And to use the Democratic Party as the vehicle to propagandize and persuade more in society that socialism is good and just and the best for them.

In other words, Mr. Judis calls for using the methods of the earlier German Democratic Socialists and the British Fabians, only do so in a way that does not seem to be as threatening or undermining of all the institutions of existing society as those earlier groups often did with their call for the total abolition of capitalism.

Mr. Judis’ “liberal socialism” is really just the existing interventionist-welfare state placed – “democratically” – in the “right” elected hands, so those manning and managing the machinery of government will do what he wants political authority to do, rather than what it is currently being done by Republicans and the current Democratic Party establishments.

A way for Mr. Judis to more easily defend his desire and ideal is to suggest that the existing political-economic system in America today is a free market, “neo-liberal” capitalism, rather than what the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) once more accurately labeled it: “bourgeois socialism.” That is, a system of government regulation, redistribution, favors and privileges that benefits many in the private enterprise sectors of society rather than a more “proletarian socialism” that simply would take from “the rich” to give to “the workers” and “the poor.”

What is sometimes called “crony capitalism” is just Pareto’s “bourgeois socialism.” Pareto also understood, in the 1890s, with amazing clarity one of the insights of modern Public Choice theory, that “participatory democracy” of the community as a whole is a theoretical and practical illusion in an complex society. Politics in an unrestrained democracy always becomes a contest among special interest groups capable of gaining concentrated benefits from State intervention and redistribution at the diffused expense of the rest of the society.

In democratic societies it takes the form of coalitions of special interest groups who succeed in offering campaign contributions and votes to politicians desiring elected political office, who then fulfill their campaign promises to those groups once in the actual halls of political power. In totalitarian societies such as in the former Soviet Union, it took the form of hierarchical position within the Communist Party and within the central planning bureaucracy, including the state enterprise managers, who had the decision-making power over access to and use of the socialized means of production; thus, the communist “classless society” had one of the most intricate social webs of power, privilege, favoritism and plunder ever seen in human society.

This “politics without romance,” to use Nobel Laureate, James M. Buchanan’s (1919-2013) phase, shows why the notion of “the people” owning, controlling, regulating and overseeing the collective direction of an economy is pure illusion and deception concerning the reality of how and why political power works the way it does.

What Mr. Judis and, far too many who share his views about capitalism and some form of socialism – “liberal” or otherwise – fail to understand is that any and all forms of planning, regulation and political redistribution in fact takes power and decision-making out of the hands of the people about whom they express their concerns.

Real Participatory Liberation under Free Market Liberalism

It is the open, competitive market economy that, precisely, gives each and every individual wide latitude and liberty over his own personal affairs. It is the market that enables each of us to make his own choices concerning the profession, occupation or productive calling to pursue. It is the market that enables each and everyone of us to have the freedom to make our own choices to earn an income and spend that income as we consider best in terms of the values, beliefs, purposes and desires that we think may bring meaning and happiness to our individual lives.

It is the free society of individual liberty and voluntary association that provides truly participatory opportunities to form organizations, clubs, and groupings of almost any type to further the goals and ends outside of the narrower arena of market transactions to better our lives materially, socially, culturally and spiritually. (See my article, “Individual Liberty and Civil Society”.)

At this point, no doubt, Mr. Judis would reasonably ask, but what about those who are unable to provide for themselves, due to personal tragedy, unfortunate circumstances, or simply bad luck? Is this not the reason why enlightened and decent societies had to move “left-ward” to establish and financially provide for those unable to personally meet the essentials of everyday life and to have opportunities to fulfill their potentials as a human being? Is not the welfare state of “liberal socialism” the inescapable necessity of having a humane society?

The classical liberal responds that these very concerns can be far better and more successfully solved and served through the voluntary institutions and associations of civil society than to turn such tasks over to the government. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, before the modern welfare state, all such “social problems” were handled with wide and positive affect by charities, philanthropies and for-profit organizations in places such as Great Britain and the United States. That their workings and successes are virtually unknown to most people in modern society shows the extent to which their history and social nobility has gone down a memory hole of collectivist misinterpretation and misunderstanding of what a society of liberty did and could provide. (See my article, “A World Without the Welfare State”.)

Furthermore, the transfer of such welfare responsibility to the government reduces each and every recipient to a ward of the State. It is politicians and bureaucrats who decide the education your children will receive in government schools; they are the ones who determine the retirement possibilities you will have; the healthcare to which you will have access and its type; the wages and work conditions under which you may be allowed to be employed or unemployed, and the forms and types of associations you may enter into and the activities and membership you permitted.

The “liberal socialism” about which Mr. Judis dreams is not the path to liberation but a continuing servitude and obedience to the those with political power and who have the arrogance and presumption to imagine that they know better how people are to earn a living, care for their own lives and that of their families, and associate with other members of society better than those individuals deciding all of these matters for themselves. (See my article, “Democratic Socialism Means Loss of Liberty”.)

One would have thought that after more than seven decades of the interventionist-welfare state as the political left’s “liberal socialist” alternative to Marxian socialist central planning, it would be realized that it is just another constraining and corrupt manifestation of the unworkability of any collectivist system of control and command.

Mr. Judis’ program for a socialist America also shows the intellectual bankruptcy of those on “the left.” The revolutionary transformation of society, for which they yearn, ends up being nothing more than the existing interventionist-welfare state, just with the desire that people who agree with Mr. Judis should be at the helm of political power rather than those with whom he disagrees.

[Originally Published at the Future for Freedom Foundation]

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Leftist Ideologues Use Big-Lie Technique to Slam School Choice

pinocchio liars

By Robert Holland

Led by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-wing think tank founded by John Podesta, who later served as chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the political left is attempting to smear the modern school-voucher movement as the offshoot of a racist scheme to keep black children in segregated Southern public schools in the 1960s.

That is such a gross distortion as to be a damnable lie.

CAP’s propagandists focus on the shameful attempt of one Virginia jurisdiction, rural Prince Edward County, to thwart court-ordered desegregation by closing its public schools in 1959. While the county’s whites could obtain public tuition grants to attend an all-white academy under a hideously misnamed “freedom of choice” plan, black civil rights leaders declined to participate in taking such handouts obviously designed to perpetuate a segregated system. Not until President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy joined Virginia leaders in marshaling support behind a stopgap Prince Edward Free School in 1963 did black children have access to formal schooling. In 1964, the Supreme Court finally ordered the Prince Edward public schools reopened.

A CAP-affiliated “news” blog called ThinkProgress opened the smear campaign on January 10, 2017, by praising U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for exposing the “racially charged history” of school choice vouchers. That blast came in the context of Warren harshly criticizing Betsy DeVos, who was then the education secretary nominee. Warren insinuated because DeVos is strongly pro-voucher, she would surely would be weak on civil rights enforcement.

On July 12, CAP followed up with a turgid 11-page white paper titled, “The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers,” which was mostly devoted to the sad Prince Edward saga (as was the ThinkProgress piece).

Hypocrisy alert! Warren herself co-authored a book in 2003 that advocated for a school voucher system, in part to save middle-class families from buying homes beyond their means in order to be zoned to desirable public schools. Moreover, the progressive Senator didn’t envision just a partial subsidy but rather private-choice vouchers paying “the entire cost of educating a child.”

In advocating for a voucher system, was Warren aligning herself with a long-rotting racist scheme? Or is her perception of history no more clear-minded than her unsubstantiated claim of Native American heritage?

As a young writer just out of journalism school, I lived with and through a significant portion of the education history in question, settling into Prince Edward residency as a news-bureau chief for the Richmond Times-Dispatch just as the Free School was coming to fruition and remaining there through the death throes of the unwise and unjust school-closing scheme. Therefore, I am confident I know more about what went down in Southside Virginia than Elizabeth Warren ever will.

In regular chats with town and county officials, police officers, everyday citizens, and leaders of the local black community (notably, the Rev. L. Francis Griffin), I came to understand that most whites saw the civic and social structure they and their forbears had always known crumbling around them. Fear, more than hatred, occupied their hearts. In adopting the wrong-headed course of closing the public schools, their leaders took their cue from the policy of “massive resistance” to racial integration espoused by Virginia Sen. Harry F. Byrd—the Democratic boss of a formidable political machine—in the wake of the Supreme Court’s historicBrown v. Board of Education decision.

Never once did I hear one of Prince Edward’s inner circle mention the voucher concept, first broached by economist Milton Friedman in his 1955 paper “The Role of Government in Education,” as the inspiration for their resort to a phony free-choice plan based on state tuition grants. If they had, the hypocrisy would have been even thicker than Liz Warren’s. Friedman championed universally available private-choice vouchers with the goal of breaking down statist barriers and creating opportunities for all within an educational marketplace. The segregationists’ objective was to use government dishonestly to preserve white privilege.

Any doubt about that in a young reporter’s mind was erased upon awakening August 6, 1964, and finding that a substantial part of Prince Edward’s white adults had gone to local banks in the dead of night to collect $180,000 in tuition-grant payments. The county’s leaders put together this hush-hush payout for whites only because they feared the NAACP was on the verge of securing a court injunction on further payment of tuition grants to Prince Edward residents. Civil rights lawyer Samuel W. Tucker aptly described this sleazy operation as a “midnight raid on the public treasury.”

By complete contrast, the vouchers envisioned by Milton Friedman have advanced in the light of day and with major backing from minority families. Consider:

  • An African-American state legislator and Jesse Jackson supporter, Polly Williams, pioneered the advent of private-choice vouchers for disadvantaged Milwaukee schoolchildren in 1990. Choice has expanded greatly in the city and state since then.
  • Research studies have shown voucher recipients attending private schools are more likely to be in racially integrated classes than are their peers in public schools.
  • Polls have consistently shown that black and Hispanic parents overwhelmingly favor vouchers—and by larger margins than do parents from other racial/ethnic backgrounds.
  • When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark 2002 case (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) vouchers are constitutional, the case before it was from Cleveland, where the vast majority of children benefitting from choice came from low-income black or Hispanic homes.

In truth, vouchers (or “opportunity scholarships”) are impeded by a legacy of bigotry rather than being propelled by one. An honest history lesson CAP could teach—were it interested—would show how anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments inserted into many state constitutions in the late 19th century continue to block some families from freely choosing faith-based schools, Catholic or otherwise. Of course, CAP is blind to that injustice because its allegiance is to those with vested interests in government-monopolized education.

[Originally Published at American Thinker]

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Illinois’ $15-per-hour Minimum Wage Proposal Is Just ‘Pie in the Sky’

With the multitude of financial problems facing Illinois, legislators still had time to pass a $15 minimum wage bill now on Rauner’s desk following the Senate’s approval on May 31, 2017.

Presently Illinois is facing junk bond status and is in danger of entering a financial death spiral, with an unpaid backlog of bills now $14.6 billion and growing.  Illinois also has the worst pension crisis in the nation.  Junk status for Illinois would increase the cost of borrowing, worsening the deficit and making it even harder for taxpayers to dig out of the hole. Illinois is even late in paying utilities bills for its own capitol city of Springfield.

Just one day from now, on July 1, which marks the beginning of the next fiscal year, billions of dollars in road projects are scheduled to grind to a halt. On Wednesday of this week, June 28, Rauner even threatened to keep the IL General Assembly in extended special session if the legislature fails to send a balanced budget package to his desk by today.

A Pie in the Sky Idea?

Illinois’ legislators proposed a $15 per-hour minimum wage bill, to be realized by 2022, under the assumption that it would benefit workers at jobs that were never meant for heads of households in the first place, but instead were often entry level job for teens.

Did it ever occur to lawmakers that the unfunded mandate would mostly be imposed upon small businesses, that the wage increase would set into motion a push to raise the wages of others who were at or near to the $15-per-hour wage level, and that if businesses are unable to find money in their budget to pay for the wage hikes, robots, which don’t have to paid either benefits or salaries, will take the place of humans?

The $15 Minimum Wage movement had its fourth anniversary on November 29, 2016.  On this anniversary thousands of Fight for 15 supporters calling for a fairer minimum wage, marched, sat in and got arrested in 340 cities across the nation, including Chicago.

At first the Fight for 15 movement was all about fast-food workers, but it has now expanded to include airport workers, childcare workers, adjunct professors and more, making the movement one of the nation’s largest progressive movements alongside movements by undocumented immigrants, Black Lives Matter and environmental activists fighting global warming.

House and Senate pass bill $15 minimum wage bill

The Illinois House passed a bill on May 30, 2017, on a vote of 61-53, that over five years increases Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2012.  Illinois’ current $8.25 minimum wage is more than the federally mandated $7.25 an hour.   Here’s how the House voted on Senate Bill 81.   Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, in sponsoring Senate Bill 81, noted how Illinois residents should have a wage they can live on.

A day after the House passed its $15 minimum wage bill, the Senate followedsuit on May 31, with its proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage of $8.25, incrementally, until it reached $15 in 2022.  Democratic Senator Kimberly Lightford, the bill’s sponsor, described the bill as the best chance to raise wages and improve living conditions for many Illinois residents.

Even though tax credits would be available to businesses with 50 employees or fewer to help cover the costs, Mark Grant, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, in a written statement, warned that businesses would have limited options in dealing with the wage increase.

If the government dictates an increase in the cost of labor, employers have two options. They can raise prices, or they can try to get by with fewer workers.  If you can’t afford as many workers, you’re going to be very careful about the workers you do hire. You’re going to want employees you know can do the job. You can’t afford to take a risk on people with little or no experience.

Minimum wage policies promoted as boon for the poor, but are they?

Evidence exists that show minimum wage laws both fail to accomplish the results they were created for and even increase burdens on those they were intended to benefit.

Illinoisans have reason to be very concerned about the $15 minimum wage bill should Rauner sign the bill.  Recently a bombshell report was released about the impact of minimum wage hikes in Seattle, Washington. In a  study   conducted by economists at the University of Washington, it was determined that Seattle’s minimum wage laws significantly decreased employment for lower-income workers and also decreased their average work hours. The original proposal was for a $15 minimum wage, the national minimum wage benchmark for advocates.  An even more drastic result would have resulted had Seattle’s minimum wage law of 2015 been set at $15 instead of $13.

A separate study found that a significant number of middle-tier restaurant closures occurred after an increased minimum wage came into effect in San Francisco.

Impact of $15-per hour minimum tax on Illinois

Mandatory $15-per-hour starting wages was once considered a fringe idea, but union-backed campaigns have pushed the idea into the mainstream.  Might Chicago unions likewise have pushed for this bill as a way to inflate their already high union wages?

Heritage Foundation study indicates that in Illinois a $15-per-hour starting wage would eliminate more than 300,000 jobs. It is a misconception that creating jobs and reducing poverty is achieved by forcing employers to pay higher starting wages.

Another study reported by Melissa Bush for Illinois New Network on May 19, 2017, indicates that raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour would not only lead to 93,000 fewer jobs across Illinois by 2027, but would also reduce the state’s production output by more than $56 billion over a 10-year period.

The report further shows that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour from its current level is equivalent to raising the cost of labor for employers of minimum wage workers by 82 percent. Nearly 56 percent of the anticipated job losses would be in the small business sector of the economy.

Can Illinois afford to lose more jobs or impede businesses from expanding or creating jobs, when according to the U.S. Department of Labor Illinois has added only a net 100 jobs since the year 2000? That means Illinois employers have added 1 new job every two months.  Not only will the young find it more difficult to get first jobs, but technology will replace employees because of increased cost.

More criticism of Illinois’ proposed minimum wage hike

Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, had this to say:

The proposed 82 percent hike in the state’s minimum wage will make Illinois’ [minimum] wage the highest in the nation and lead to further exodus of businesses.  For the last three years, Illinois has led the nation in out migration of people, largely because of the inability to find good jobs.

Since Illinois manufacturers pay an average of $75,000 per year with benefits, Denzler further urged legislators to look beyond the minimum wage and try to focus on helping Illinoisans get good-paying manufacturing jobs.

On May 31, 2017 Ben Gitis, Director of Labor Market Policy at the American Action Forum, released research that summarized job implications of a $15 minimum wage in Illinois.

Following are Gitis’ summary points:

  • Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Illinois could cost the state 382,200 jobs by 2025, virtually erasing all job growth over the next decade.
  • Illinois is in no position to absorb this shock, as its struggling labor market already lags the rest of the United States.
  • The proposed tax credit for businesses with fewer than 50 workers will likely do little to mitigate these negative consequences because most minimum wage employees work for businesses with more than 50 workers and the tax benefit itself is small and temporary.

The report concludes:

While raising the minimum wage is very popularit is important for policymakers to understand that it has a major cost. The proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Illinois would be particularly problematic, costing the state 382,200 jobs. With employment only growing 0.3 percent last year, the Illinois labor market is in no position to absorb this shock. Moreover, the tax credit proposed to help small businesses afford the minimum wage increase will not be able to save more than a handful of jobs. This is mainly because it is temporary and its design is flawed, illogically reducing assistance as the magnitude of the minimum wage increase grows. There simply is little reason to think that the tax credit would help businesses or their workers afford an 81.2 percent minimum wage increase.

Final thoughts

A report published by The Los Angeles Times on April 25, 2016, complied though exhaustive research done over the past few decades, suggested that raising the minimum wage had little negative impact on overall employment.  Perhaps this was the report read by Illinois legislators to conclude that raising Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 would help low-income workers?

Admitted, however, was that since past wage hikes had been relatively modest, no data existed to predict what would follow if the minimum wage were set at $15 per hour.  At the time of the report’s release, wage increases planned in CA and New York had not yet been fully implemented.

Following is one result experts predicted would happen, that did happen:  It may increase unemployment among minority youth:  If policymakers blame high crime in cities such as Chicago on steep poverty and unemployment, should they still advocate for a high minimum wage that might reduce jobs for the youth and exacerbate social problem.

Should Illinois be a part of what is a grand social experiment?  Few situations are more destructive to individuals and society than the lack of meaningful work for large swaths of the population.  Even a low-paying job is better than no job or opportunity at all.

Read here how Illinois became the most messed up state in this nation.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Officials Demand More Climate Hysterics

On Thursday, June 1, 2017, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, negotiated by President Obama and 195 countries in Dec. 2015, which elicited howls of protests from the likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel and others eviscerated Trump for refusing to honor Obama’s commitment, a treaty which Obama declined to submit to the Senate for ratification.

In the Rose Garden announcement, the president made this remark:

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.  Withdrawing represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”

What exactly does the agreement entail that would infringe on the ability of this nation to grow its economy and create jobs?

Under the agreement, the United States was required to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and provide billions of dollars in funding to the United Nations’ Green climate Fund.  A NERA Economic reportshowed that meeting the carbon-dioxide targets imposed on the United States would force the premature closing of many of the nation’s least-expensive power plants, would cost the U.S. economy nearly $3 trillion, and by 2040, the United States would have lost 6.5 million industrial-sector jobs, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs.

Push Back Against Trump’s Withdrawal

It took only a day for a California-led alliance of dozens of corporations, states and cities across the country to respond to Trump’s attack on the worldwide agreement. Banding together, a loose coalition has been formed, whose intent is to try and meet US greenhouse gas emission targets set by the pact without Washington, D.C.

Three hundred and thirty-one U.S. Mayors, including Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emanuel, agreed to intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy. As quoted in the article:

We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.  And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks.  The world cannot wait — and neither will we.

A week later, Friday, June 9, Illinois Democrat constitutional officers — State Treasurer Mike Frerichs and other top elected officials — joined with radical environmentalists to demand that Governor Rauner join the California-led Climate Alliance. The letter, in part, read (no Republican signed on):

“As governor, your decisions affect life within our borders and in the world at large, and many people throughout our state are looking for your leadership on this issue. To date, we have not heard your stand on this issue.  We encourage you to join your peers from California, New York and Washington and lead in combating global warming, drought, stronger storms and other catastrophes that would decimate Illinois’ economy from Southern and Central Illinois farms to Chicago’s lakefront.”

Paris Climate Accord Sets Unreachable Targets

It will be a heavy lift. States and cities would need to meet a pledge to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, America’s self-declared target under the Paris Accord deal. Even with these efforts, the estimated effect on global temperature, by the year 2100, is about 0.2 degrees Celsius.

Illinois produces only about one-third of the energy it consumes, including petroleum, coal, natural gas and electricity. The rest is imported from a few states like North Dakota and Texas, which produce more than they consume. Implementation of Illinois’ version of the Paris Accord will cost jobs and cause businesses to flee to adjoining states and southern states who value jobs over ideology.  Those remaining will be increasingly forced to move to large urban areas, like Chicago, to reduce cost.  People will have to follow, because transportation will be crippled and road construction will be greatly reduced.  Housing prices will tumble even more than they already have, as more people move out or to the city and in from other states.

Democrats and environmentalists that insist that the entire state of Illinois should adhere to the Paris Accord goals, by their extremist beliefs, only assure that Illinoisans will become economically trapped, unable to flee higher taxes, and confronted with more regulations and lower wages. That leaves Mike Madigan and others who control Illinois free to further pursue Illinois’ trajectory of debt and self-destruction.  In that the most fundamental freedom of all is the ability to vote with your feet, that right is always the first to go under a despotic government.

For many years coal was the second largest electricity provider in Illinois, with ample coal reserves in Southern Illinois, but as a fossil fuel which emits CO2, coal is now the whipping boy of the environments and those who believes that renewable energy sources can replace fossil fuels.  In 2016, coal provided less than one-third of new power generation.

Wind power and sun as substitutes for coal or nuclear power? 

The sun doesn’t shine at night (and in Illinois, not every day either). The wind is unreliable too. In traveling thorough the windmill belt in Illinois and Indiana, many times the windmills are idle. That’s why ComEd wanted a peak usage fee to make up for their losses as backup to the whims of nature.

A windmill generator produces 2.5 to 3 MW and needs needs 8 mph to operate and must be shut off above 25mps because they vibrate too much. A small nuclear reactor produces 1000 MW.  It would take at least 330 windmills to replace one nuclear plant.  As windmills must be spaced 7 diameters apart, or 2100 feet, we wouldn’t cover the state, but we wouldn’t need to go far to spot a windmill.  Should windmills be the means to supply Illinois with the amount of electricity consumed in a year — 14,712 thousand MWh or 1697 MW — it would require at least 567 windmills, running 24/7 and producing 3 MW each.

According to State Profile and Energy Estimates, Illinois was sixth in the nation in terms of installed wind capacity in 2016, with more than 4,000 megawatts on-line. Solar power provided less than 0.1% of the state’s net electricity generation.   study by the IER (Institute for Energy Research), which notes the status of renewable Energy in all states, indicates that Illinois is not on track to meet its mandate of 25% from renewables by 2025, mandated by a state bill signed by Governor Rauner in December of 2016.

Meanwhile, Illinois leads the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power. About half of all net electricity generation in Illinois is produced by the state’s six nuclear power plants with their eleven reactors.  Because of economic issues in the electricity market, two stations were scheduled to closein 2017 and 2018, but the Illinois legislature in late 2016 approved measures to keep the stations operating another decade. As a typical nuclear plant is 800-1000 MW. Closing two nuclear plants would have placed Illinois at the breakeven point or with a net deficit for electricity.

Renewable are Costly

Electricity prices are already nearly 40 percent higher in States with renewable electricity mandates. Illinois ranks 21st in the cost of electricity.  The idea that the U.S. economy can be run solely with renewable energy — a claim that leftist politicians, environmentalists, and climate activists have endlessly promoted — has always been a fool’s errand.

This report by the Center for Data Analysis (CDA) provides a comprehensive economic analysis of what a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), if imposed at the federal level, would really cost Americans:

  • Raise electricity prices by 36 percent for households and 60 percent for industry;
  • Cut national income (GDP) by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035;
  • Cut national income by $2,400 per year for a family of four;
  • Reduce employment by more than 1,000,000 jobs; and
  • Add more than $10,000 to a family of four’s share of the national debt by 2035.

Should Illinoisans tolerate the defiance exhibited here in Illinois to follow the dictates of the economic disastrous Paris Climate accord, given the near junk bond status of the state, and when the accord has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with punishing the US for being too industrial, too successful, too Western, and a host of other supposed evils that cause leftists to become unhinged?

This comment by Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director at the Heartland Institute, sums up the situation:

Everything Illinois does to cut emissions will simply punish its citizens with no benefits whatever. It is just plain stupidity, which the Left embraces, as it will help bring capitalism states and cities to their knees. Let them do so, and maybe one day Illinois voters will get wise.

Rauner must ignore Illinois’ “Dumbocrats” who are intent on imposing Chicken Little nonsense on the citizens of Illinois, as it’s a recipe for disaster.

[First published by Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold at Illinois Review.]

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Climate Alarmists: Abort Your ‘Extra’ Children

Over the past few years, outlets such as NPR, the Atlantic Monthly, the Huffington Post, and the Guardian have written articles with headlines like “Should We Be Having Kids in the Age of Climate Change?,” “The Climate Change Solution No One Will Talk About,” “Voluntary Birth Control Is a Climate Change Solution Nobody Wants to Talk About,”  and “Though Climate Change is a Crisis, the Population Threat is Even Worse.”

The NPR story highlights a 2016 paper by philosophers and bioethicists at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University, titled “Population Engineering and the Fight against Climate Change,” which argues in favor of penalizing families for having children via a progressive tax that would increase with each child.

In his new Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” the show’s eponymous host asked a group of panelists, including one of the Georgetown professors, “Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?” The question from Nye, of course, is a rhetorical one. (Strikingly, unlike normal humans, none of the panelists found it creepy and disturbing that Nye said “extra kids.”)

Not content to let Nye hog all that creepiness for himself, ur-feminist Gloria Steinem charged the “patriarchy” with causing climate change by forcing women not to have all those abortions they secretly want, leading to overpopulation and “climate deprivation.” This unfortunately low number of abortions, according to Steinem, is “the fundamental cause of climate change.”

“People around the world are beginning to address [climate change] by reducing their carbon footprint through less consumption and better technology,” wrote the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “But unsustainable human population growth can overwhelm those efforts, leading us to conclude that we not only need smaller footprints, but fewer feet… Long-term population reduction to ecologically sustainable levels will solve the global warming crisis and move us to toward a healthier, more stable, post-fossil fuel, post-growth addicted society.”

After the Census Bureau reported on May 7, 2017, the U.S. population surpassed 325 million people for the first time, CBD, most well-known, if at all, for its Endangered Species Condoms, put out a press release quoting itsObersturmführer — excuse me, its “population organizer” — who said, “Hitting this population record highlights the danger of the Trump administration’s attacks on reproductive healthcare and environmental protections. We’re crowding out wildlife and destroying wild places at alarming rates, and Trump’s reckless actions will worsen the effects of our unsustainable population growth, overconsumption and urban sprawl.”

Doomsday predictions about overpopulation stretch back to Thomas Malthus’ 1798 book, An Essay on the Principle of Population. Because food production only grows arithmetically while population grows geometrically, Malthus reasoned, the planet’s burgeoning population growth would eventually outstrip food supplies, leading to famine and mass starvation. “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race,” he wrote.

Twentieth-century neo-Malthusianism would be taken up by environmentalists after World War II, gaining steam after the publication of Fairfield Osborn’s Our Plundered Planet and William Vogt’s The Road to Survival in 1948. “It is obvious that fifty years hence the world cannot support three billion people,” Vogt wrote. “Unless population increases can be stopped, we might as well give up the struggle.” Vogt was wrong: Seventy years after this forecast, Earth is supporting not merely 3 billion but 7.5 billion people.

Twenty years after Osborn and Vogt, Paul Ehrlich — in his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb — predicted mass starvation in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” he wrote. “In the 1970’s the world will undergo famines –hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash program embarked upon.” These famines and mass human die-offs never materialized.

Doubling down on this, Ehrlich argued in a speech before the British Institute for Biology in 1971 that “by the year 2000, the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people… If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Fortunately for Britons, Ehrlich is a notoriously bad gambler. (Just ask Julian Simon.) In 2000, the United Kingdom was home to 58 million people with a per-capita gross domestic product of $26,400. At $1.555 trillion in gross domestic product, it was the world’s fourth-largest economy. Even in 2017, Dear Old Blighty continues to be the opposite of the poor and starving world envisioned by Ehrlich in 1971.

The number of people living in “extreme poverty” ($1.90 or less per day) fell below 10 percent for the first time in human history in 2015, according to the World Bank. As David Harsanyi explained in The Federalist, “not only are fewer people living in extreme poverty, but fewer are hungry than ever; fewer die in conflicts over resources, and deaths due to extreme weather have beendramatically declining for a century… Over the past 40 years, our water and air has become cleaner, despite a huge spike in population growth. Some of the Earth’s richest people live in some of its densest cities.”

Indeed, the Earth is cleaner and safer today than at any point in the lifetime of anyone now living. Technology and human ingenuity have dramatically reduced the human impact on the environment. For example, by increasing crop yields (thanks GMOs!), we are growing more food while devoting less land to agriculture. Human innovational and technological advancements have improved both the lot of humanity and the environment.

Population growth is also slowing down dramatically after reaching its peak in 1970.

According to the United Nations, global fertility will slow from 2.5 children per woman in 2015 to 2.0 children in 2050. Eighty-three countries, accounting for 46 percent of the globe’s population, already had below-replacement fertility levels between 2010 and 2015, including Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

Forty-eight countries are also projected to see their populations decline through 2050. Of these, 11 are expected to see their populations decline by more than 15 percent, including Japan and most of the countries of Eastern Europe. The United Nations projects global population to level off somewhere between 9.5 billion and 13.3 billion around the year 2100 before beginning to drop.

As this short history of failed predictions reveals, prominent environmentalists have been using fears of famine and ecological disaster to promote a population-control agenda for many years. Recent claims that man-made global warming might be yet another disaster to be laid at the feet of population growth are no more credible.

The Club of Rome, in Mankind at the Turning Point, its 1974 doomsday follow-up to 1972’s doomsday book The Limits to Growth, literally says, “The World Has Cancer and the Cancer is Man.” Robert Zubrin, in his book Merchants of Despair, writes “this idea [that] humans are cancer upon the Earth, a horde of vermin whose unconstrained aspirations and appetites are endangering the natural order… is the core idea of antihumanism.”

“Antihumanism,” he states, “is not environmentalism, though it sometimes masquerades as such. Environmentalism, properly conceived, is an effort to apply practical solutions to real environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, for the purpose of making the world a better place for all humans to thrive in. Antihumanism, in contrast, rejects the goals of advancing the cause of mankind. Rather, it uses instances of inadvertent human damage to the environment as point of agitation to promote its fundamental thesis that human beings are pathogens whose activities need to be suppressed in order to protect a fixed ecological order with interests that stand above those of humanity.”

The call for population-control measures to fight climate change is at its core, anti-human. As Zubrin continues, “Since all human activity must perforce release [carbon dioxide], all human existence is a crime against nature. Therefore nothing we can do is right — and so, in the name of the Higher Good, we must be constrained to do as little as possible. Thus, the global warming argument recasts the basic Malthusian line in a novel form, but with the equivalent end result. Instead of claiming that human activity must be limited because there are not enough resources, it is said that what is limited is not resources, but the right to use resources. It all amounts to the same thing: there isn’t enough to go around, therefore human aspirations must be crushed.”

The Armageddon scenarios put forward by climate change alarmists are greatly exaggerated. Even if global population growth had not slowed, the human impact on climate has simply been too small to reliably measure against background variation. As long as human beings know how to innovate and apply those innovations to technology, “overpopulation” will never be a significant issue. Fear of climate change has, unfortunately, already led to the adoption of a plethora of taxes, regulations, and subsidies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. It doesn’t need to lead to population control as well.

[By Timothy Benson. Originally Published at American Thinker]

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Illinois Supreme Court Affirms Occupy Decision

Chicago Occupy

The Supreme Court of Illinois yesterday affirmed lower court holdings that eviction of the Chicago Occupy movement from public parks did not violate Federal or State constitutional protections of peaceful assembly.  The Court’s vote was 6-1, with Justice Garman writing for the majority and Justice Kilbride dissenting.

In doing so the Court visited the higher levels of State constitutional jurisprudence, inquiring, among other things, whether or not the provisions of the Illinois Constitution that protect peaceful assemblies are in “lockstep” with, or are broader than, similar, although differently worded, provisions of the Federal Constitution.

The Court also offered welcome insights into the difference that a comma can make.  (See pp. 11-13 of the slip opinion, addressing whether or not the phrase, “for the common good”, limited assembly rights as the wording, and attendant punctuation, have appeared in the succession of Illinois constitutions through history.)

[By Joseph Morris; first published at Freedom Pub.]

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Which President Colluded with Russia?

USA and Russian flag

Reporters have always been dependent on unnamed sources for their scoops.  That is especially the case in Washington where whistleblowers are afraid that if they come out of the shadows, their corrupt superiors will exact revenge on them.

But, clearly, things have gotten out of hand ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated. Those people are no longer in the business of trying to do the honorable thing for the sake of the nation. Both they and their partisan allies in the media and the corridors of Congress have no other agenda other than to stop Trump in his tracks and thus destroy Trump’s presidency, at a time when Islamic terrorism must be confronted, and health care and tax reform must be addressed in order to grow this economy and create jobs.

In a hugely anticipated congressional hearing that captured the country’s attention (into the broad matter that goes under the mainstream media’s headline of “collusion with Russia”) former FBI Director James Comey asserted on Thursday, June 8, in front of a Congressional committee, that President Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign, bluntly accusing the White House of spreading “lies, plain and simple.”  Comey also revealed that he’d orchestrated the public release of information about his private conversations with the president in an effort to further the investigation.

No Collusion or Obstruction

When all was said and done, it became obvious that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia; except for:

—  those who, such as the recently-indicted rabid Clinton-supporting Reality Winner, leaked classified information in efforts deliberately intended to injure the United States (or Donald Trump), and

—  those persons, as-yet-unfingered, who (to score political points against Mr. Trump) “unmasked” people, such as General Flynn, whose names turned up in passing in surveillance and other counterintelligence reports.

As an aside, where are the SNL skits about the time when “Reality Winner met Carlos Danger”?  It is reasonable to expect that if, after the divorce from Huma, Anthony married the indicted leaker, she’d be Reality Weiner?  Reality (by which I mean the real reality as opposed to the Hillary-crazed Reality) is often far funnier than the imaginations of Stephen Colbert’s gag-writers.

With almost certainly it can be predicted that the claim Donald Trump and his campaign “colluded” with Russians — whether Russian Presidents, Russian spies, or Russian hackers (hereinafter collectively referred to by the Russian word that embraces and means them all, “Putin”) — to affect the outcome of the 2016 election will find no support in the evidence.  But the lack of evidence won’t stop breathless conjecture, of course; Trump Derangement Syndrome feeds, it seems, on whatever it is that breathless leftists exhale, which certainly isn’t carbon dioxide as that would violate the Paris accords.

What the evidence shows

But the evidence already shows, among other things:

(1)  Julian Assange, Bradley / Chelsea Manning, the Wikileaks crowd, and others fed tons of highly-damaging, life-endangering information to thugs the world over, including the Putin team.

(2)  The Putin team made serious, although seeming unsuccessful, efforts in 2015 and 2016 to hack into the electronic systems of American electoral agencies including the Illinois State Board of Elections (where “hack” traditionally means something altogether different).

(3)  The Chinese government, meanwhile, successfully hacked into, and stole the entire contents of, the databases of the United States Office of Personnel Management.  (That may seem boring, except that they thereby obtained tons of personal identifier, address, background, financial, health insurance, and retirement data on every employee and every retiree of the United States Government — including intelligence personnel, among them clandestine agents such as the Interior Minister of Ikidyounotistan whose actual employment as an American agent would come to light only when it it noted that he has an OPM retirement account and an OPM life insurance policy the benefits of which, alas, will soon have to be paid out to his widow and children once the Chinese have tipped the news to certain Ikidyounotistani gunmen.

I write this [Joe A. Morris], mind you, as the former General Counsel of OPM, mindful that this obscure agency, treated by the last administration as an unimportant backwater, is responsible for all oversight of executive branch security and suitability investigations and determinations, and keeps the records on pretty much every non-military employee of Uncle Sam, including the secret ones.)  Is the Chinese government also a Putin subsidiary?  No;  far from it.  But they do collaborate and they do have a common Number One enemy:  the U.S.A.

Leaking and Hacking on Obama’s watch

Now, the evidence also shows that all this leaking and hacking took place on the watch of one President Barack Obama who, the evidence further shows:

  • Failed to protect the U.S. Government’s personnel records against foreign thieves.
  • Took no measures to assist American State and local electoral agencies to “harden” their digital systems against Putin’s hacking; heck, he didn’t even warn them.
  • Belittled his 2012 challenger, Mitt Romney, for insisting that Russia was a threat — in fact, Mr. Romney asserted, the “greatest threat” — to the United States;   in one of the 2012 debates Mr. Obama descended from Olympus to dismiss Mr. Romney’s concerns about Russia with the sarcastic line, “The 80’s are calling.  They want their foreign policy back.”
  • Was caught on a hot mic in March 2012 confiding to Mr. Putin’s stand-in President / Prime Minister / all-purpose puppet, Dimitry Medvedev, that he should tell Vlad, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
  • Was not much concerned about the impacts that the Assange, Manning, and other leaks, and the Russian and Chinese hacking were having upon the United States until it became apparent, during the 2016 campaign, that some of the disclosures accurately, if unlawfully, showed Mrs. Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic Party in very bad lights.
  • When leaving office granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, a fabulous parting gift, thus sending a message about the (wink wink) gravity of leaking and hacking against the United States, a message that no one seems to have noticed — except, perhaps, Vladimir Putin and Reality Winner.

Now, given what the evidence on the record already establishes, which President is more likely to be guilty of “colluding” with Russians?

[Originally Published at Illinois Review: Authors, Joseph Morris and Nancy Thorner.]

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New York Times Take on GOP Assassination Attempt: Latest In A Long History Of Fake News

NY Times

The New York Times is simply a ridiculous publication. And has been for decades. It is hopelessly, blindly, willfully Leftist. And has been for decades. And to advance their Leftism, they have lied and lied again and again. For decades. They are the definition of fake news.

Just yesterday, their Editors en toto wrote about the Bernie Sanders supporter who went Republican hunting in Alexandria, Virginia – firing more than fifty rifle shots at GOP Congressmen and staffers on a baseball diamond. Included in that piece was the following:

“In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

This is a lie. A lie that was thoroughly disproven…in 2011. Loughner was not only insane – to the degree that he was at all political, he was a Leftist. And the odds that this insane, apolitical idiot had actually seen Palin’s website – were, conservatively, a trillion-to-one.

Nevertheless, here’s The Times SIX YEARS LATER – still telling the same lie.

Lying is a rich Times tradition. And has won them a slew of awards.

In the 1930s, The Times’ Walter Duranty covered uber-murderous Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union. And by covered – we mean covered-up. And won a 1932 Pulitzer Prize for it:

“From 1932 to 1933, a famine, known as Holodomor, killed as many as 10 million people in the former Soviet Union. The majority of those deaths were in Ukraine….During the Holodomor, Walter Duranty, then the New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief, wrote, ‘Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.’

 “In December of 1933, Stalin praised this so-called journalist: ‘You have done a good job in your reporting the U.S.S.R., though you are not a Marxist, because you try to tell the truth about our country.… I might say that you bet on our horse to win when others thought it had no chance and I am sure you have not lost by it.’”

Bizarrely, with this obnoxious history as a backdrop, The Times in February published a piece comparing President Donald Trump to…Stalin.

One: No – just no. This is simply stupid – and may incite things like…people hunting Republicans on baseball diamonds. Certainly it is more inspiring of violence than a Palin website which almost no one on the planet had seen. (Unless The Times’ readership is dramatically lower than I think it is.)

Two: How would The Times know what Stalin did? Unless they relied on more than just their own reporting.

Because The Times lies about the biggest of things – you know they lie about everything. To wit:

Outcry Over EpiPen Prices Hasn’t Made Them Lower: “You might recall EpiPen as last year’s poster child for out-of-control drug prices….So I was surprised when my pharmacist informed me, months after those floggings and apologies had faded from the headlines, that I would still need to pay $609 for a box of two EpiPens.”

Before we delve deeply into EpiPen prices, let us analyze The Times’ surface inanity.

People nigh always complain about the prices – of everything. We always want more for less – because…human nature. And we nigh always do said complaining – totally ignorant of the nine million market forces that collide to set these prices where they are.

So it is not at all shocking to almost anyone (outside of The Times’ newsroom) that people complaining about prices – nigh never lowers prices. Because complaints do not alter at all the nine million market forces colliding.

This Times’ assault on the EpiPen was published under their “Adventures in Capitalism” header – a section they have dutifully dedicated to attacking capitalism.

But as Reason Magazine points out – The Times’ ends up begrudgingly admitting that capitalism works. And that their headline and opening paragraphs – are a lie:

“Twenty-six paragraphs later, way down toward the very end of the article, Duhigg discloses, ‘In fact, the company says that since it came under attack in August, nearly 90 percent of EpiPen buyers have paid less than $100 per box because of insurance, discounts or coupons.’ So it sure looks as if, contrary to the headline, the outcry over EpiPen prices has made them lower.”

Reason raises another very reasonable point:

“An interesting question that the Times totally avoids is why Duhigg’s health insurance is such that he has to pay $609 instead of the less than $100 that I paid (out of pocket)…Duhigg’s column is 2,000 words long, but it somehow manages to avoid all of those questions.”

Reason here highlights the anti-human-nature third-party-payer health care system our government has warped into existence. When we pay out-of-pocket – we care a great deal about the price. When we only pay a $50 (or less) co-pay and insurance pays the rest – we do not. (And we then complain about the high out-of-pocket price of insurance.)

Reason also places the price of the EpiPen – in very reasoned, reasonable perspective:

“(C)onsider that for $609, or, for about 90% of people, less than $100 out of pocket, the company is offering a year’s worth of access to potentially life-saving medicine, in a reliable delivery system. Compare that to the pricing of The New York Times: $1,014 for a yearlong seven-day-a-week home delivery subscription to a newspaper that, rather than saving your life, might inflict life-shortening stress.”

Get that? It costs less for a year’s worth of EpiPen – that saves your life. Than it costs for a year’s worth of The Times – that lies to you.

So despite Grey Lady headlines to the contrary, the EpiPen – is a titanic bargain.

The ever-lying New York Times? Not so much.

[Originally Published at RedState]

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The Leftist Mob’s Trump Assassination Fantasy: Shakespeare in the Park

In this year’s Shakespeare in the Park in New York, Julius Caesar is portrayed in a Trump-like suit, with a Trump-like tie, and with Trump-like hair. He also has a tall, blonde wife who speaks with a slavic accent. The actors wear contemporary clothing, not togas.

In this play, the audience projects that the Senators doing the assassination are the good guys. The Trump-like Caesar is assassinated to applause. To make the assassination scene more hurtful, the Melania-like Calpurnia is made part of the scene.

A few years ago, the Acting Company (a black troupe) portrayed a black Julius Caesar, evocative of Barack Obama. In their play, the Obama-like Caesar is assassinated by white Senators. In their play, there is no applause when the Obama-like Caesar is assassinated. Plus, no Michelle-like Calpurnia is interjected into the assassination scene to make it more hurtful.

So, which is it, are the Senators good guys or bad guys? Should the audience applaud when Julius Caesar is assassinated?

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is ambivalent on the matter. In particular, Shakespeare portrays Brutus as a tragic character since, in attempting to defend the Senate, he ushered in a civil war that ended with the establishment of the Roman Empire.

In his play, there are three political tensions: Caesar, the Senate and the mob. The Senate represents the aristocracy. The Senate was the propertied class in an age when only a few owned property. They represent the elite and the privileged. And, they are suspicious of Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar had just returned to Rome in triumph after military victories abroad. To deal with the threat to Rome, Julius Caesar had been appointed Dictator, but this appointment was only short-term. Such an appointment wasn’t unusual, but the Senators feared Julius Caesar might usurp their powers on a permanent basis.

The other tension is that of the mob. They are easily swayed from one to another cause. In the following video clip, Charlton Heston, as Mark Antony, turns the mob around in the famous Friends, Romans, Countrymen Speech.

Some people say Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was a commentary on troubles in Great Britain contemporaneous with the play’s writing. We can see in it a timeless commentary on politics: tensions involving strong leaders, countervailing political powers, and the susceptibility of the masses to demagogues. Only today, we don’t have to resort to regicide. We have elections and, even, term limits.

[By Clifford Thies; first published at Freedom Pub.]

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