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Diminishing Returns

I have lived in the same medium-size rust-belt city almost all of my life, and I have been amazed to observe, over the last couple of decades, the growth of the physical structures of the area’s two universities.  Along with the remarkable enlargement of these facilities has been an increase in amenities and improved esthetics.  And this has happened concurrently with a steady decrease of our population, starting in 1978 and continuing today. 

The universities have endowments amounting to about half a billion dollars for one school and about half that much for the other.   They also have been on the receiving end of a steady stream of federal dollars for many years.   It seems to me that they are, frankly, awash in cash. 

This richesse, however, pales in comparison to the condition of the Ivy League.  I read yesterday that Princeton has an endowment of more than $22 billion!  Conservatively estimating the return on the investment of those funds results in a total income of $220 thousand for every student enrolled, every year! 

As the money, and the prospect of ever more money, have rolled in, the institutions sought higher and higher enrollments.  The numbers alone, which include many students of lower ability, have called for lowering standards, so as to assist retention.  It is not a news flash that the quality of the product has declined.  I saw it first-hand in my psychological practice when people would come to me for psychoeducational assessment to help determine why they were unable to perform adequately in their jobs.  I found that these individuals typically could not demonstrate proficiency in necessary skills consistent with the number of years of schooling that they had finished.  Sometimes the gap was huge, as in a college graduate’s having less than high school-level proficiency.  This failure of our schools to produce what they promise hurts everyone, not least the graduate who has received false assurance of his or her preparedness. 

There are many facets to the problems with the educational system in our country.  One issue, which will be addressed by proposed legislation, is the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act, proposed by Utah Senator Mike Lee and by Florida Representative Ron DeSantis.  This legislation would reform the current college accreditation system, allowing states the opportunity to establish their own accrediting systems, rather than the current, one-size-fits-all system developed and overseen by the U.S. Department of Education.  The system, as it stands, requires that students attend an accredited school in order to qualify for a federal student loan, and it does not allow for the accreditation of individual courses.  Students thus must sign on for an entire, accredited curriculum, rather than tailoring a program that would suit their individual talents, proclivities, and needs.  A student who might become prepared for meaningful and productive work with less than the standard four-years-long slog, for example, is barred from receiving any financial help to do so.  Online courses, similarly, are excluded.  Besides the waste of time and money, the system has also contributed to decline in quality, as accreditation, once granted, is almost never lost, and many programs of questionable academic value and quality are included under the umbrella of rigid accreditation.  So, the student enrollments and the student loans continue to fill the coffers of the accredited schools while many students drop out early or finish with a meaningless degree and crushing debt.  I understand, also, that the schools are not required to repay the funds they have received for a student who fails to complete the program. 

The HERO Act would decouple student aid from the current accreditation system; allow states the right to designate an accrediting body; and allow credentialing of programs of study, rather than institutions.  It would help bring down costs, increase flexibility in designing educational and training programs for students, and eliminate many barriers to innovations in education. 

It’s a start.

November 13, 2017     

Are We Having Fun Yet?

In the early days of the flood of stories about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation we read that fashion designer Donna Karan, an old friend of the Weinsteins defended him, suggesting that some of the young women he targeted might have been “asking for it” by dressing and behaving seductively.  She quickly was harassed and shamed into apologizing for her remarks by accusations that she was “blaming the victim.”  I even heard a nationally famous conservative talk radio host express outrage about this victim-blaming.

Let me say right now that I agree with Donna Karan.  She stands on the shoulders of numerous social critics, secular social scientists, and other people of good sense and accurate perception who see the ugly outcomes of the sexual revolution. 

Separating sexual congress from reproduction was supposed to make us all happier.  It was supposed to reduce rates of abortion, make marriages happier and more stable, decrease poverty, and empower women.  Instead, we have seen our population and those of other Western countries age and birth rates fall so low that some European ethnic groups are beyond salvaging.  In some large cities, such as New York, more babies are aborted than are carried to term.  The negative psychological impact of abortion on the women who have them is well-documented.  The “hook up” culture is convincingly linked to increased rates of anxiety and depression among female college students.  Sexually-transmitted diseases, of course, cause great physical and emotional harm.   There is subtle coercion by governments to get people to use contraception.  I can foresee the day when prenatal testing for genetic abnormalities could be mandated, and coerced abortion of “defective” fetuses.  It is inarguable that the institution of the family is in serious trouble, and this fact is directly related to female impoverishment.  Would anyone dispute that the level of morality and respect for women have been lowered? 

Apparently, many girls and women want to have it both ways: they blatantly advertise their wares and more or less overtly offer sex without any expectation of commitment or even of a meaningful relationship; then they affect injured innocence and claim victim status.  I am reminded of the situation in California two years ago in which a college athlete was  prosecuted and his life pretty much ruined after he was discovered, drunk out of his mind and having sex with a young female who was herself drunk to the point of insensibility outside of a fraternity party.  Mind you, this young woman had gone to the party well-fortified (with alcohol) before she arrived, drank more at the party, and then stayed on when her female companions left.  We don’t know exactly what happened leading up to the sexual encounter, but to my mind she was at least playing with fire.  Males have an insistent sex drive for the good reason that it is in support of species preservation, and a young woman who is drunk and without an armada of sisters at a fraternity party is not exercising even a scintilla of sense.  Add the disinhibiting effect of the young man’s intoxication, and disaster is likely. 

The irony is that attitudes that people are entitled to have sex without responsibility or consequences, and that men and women are the same in their sexual desires and that women want sex without attachment has led, not to liberation, but to victimization and degradation of women.  This is not going to be solved by protests, marches, and legislation, but only be women reclaiming the moral high ground and respecting themselves. 

October 28, 2017

ObamaCare Subsidies Rob the Middle Class
by Alieta Eck, MD

As the controversy rages between those Republicans who want full repeal and those who want to retain what might be “good” about ObamaCare, we are not asking the right questions. While they are arguing whether or not to keep the ObamaCare subsidies (or the equivalent as “tax credits”), is anyone asking what it is we are subsidizing?

Why has medical care in the United States gotten so expensive? Why did the cost of a hospital stay go from an average of $17,000 in 2000 to $33,000 in 2010, while the average length of stay declined? Why do our hospital stays cost three times more than in other industrialized countries?

The dirty little secret is that having insurance might be a guarantee that the insured pays MORE. And because  deductibles have risen dramatically along with premiums, a family needs to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before insurance kicks in. But how does this work?

Most insurance companies have networks of “preferred providers.” One would assume that a “preferred provider” is a doctor or a lab that gives better rates, but the opposite is the case. As an example, one patient spent a day in the emergency room where the total bill came to $12,000. The “preferred provider” rate brought the bill down to $10,000, which happened to be that patient’s deductible. Upon further scrutiny, the breakdown of the bill showed a lab fee of $3,500—labs that would have cost less than 100 cash on the outside.

When the hospital patient advocate was queried, the answer came back, “Your insurance company negotiated $10,000 and, since you have not met your deductible, you are bound it pay it. Paying the cash price is not an option.” She acknowledged that this seemed unfair, but would not budge.

Another patient discovered that his insurance had lapsed and was given a cash price of $75 for an office visit. Once insurance was restored, the submitted fee was $275. Since he had not met his deductible, he was expected to personally pay the higher fee.

Since 92% of people will not incur more than $5,000 per year in medical expenses, the middle class has been fleeced under ObamaCare in so many ways. Many patients have received subsidies. But this just means that taxpayers are forced to pay part of their premiums, and the patients are still stuck with those deductibles and the higher negotiated fees.
So what is really happening?

Insurance premiums have soared, and the insurance companies love it. They keep a percentage of the bloated premiums for “operating costs.” Hospitals are buying physician practices, and Medicaid and Medicare have agreed to pay the hospitals higher fees for the same service in the same location. No government official has been able to explain why.
The ratepayers and taxpayers are the “forgotten men” in our medical system. Hospital and Insurance executives are now commanding compensation that exceeds $1 million. One CEO of a consolidated hospital system in central New Jersey receives $9 million per year. What exactly does he do to merit this high salary? The usual reason for lavish executive pay is that the official brings lots of revenue into the business. The big hospital systems are businesses that profit massively at the expense of patients and taxpayers—although the excess might be called something other than profit if the hospital is tax-exempt (allegedly “nonprofit”).

Our politicians are complicit in this heist, as last year insurance companies and hospitals were among the ten greatest contributors to the campaigns of legislators who allow this scam on the middle class to continue.

The best recommendation would be for patients with high deductibles to hide any connection with an insurance company and negotiate the best cash prices for services. Find a physician who is in no network and who can help navigate where to find cash-friendly sources of medicines, labs, and x-rays.

Patients with their doctors need to take control of medical care once again

August 30, 2017

 GOP Roots in Ohio ─ Anti-Slavery

This Could Work!

Probably no one above the age of ten is unaware that we are in the midst of a “heroin epidemic.”  That is actually a misnomer, as heroin is no longer the most dangerous drug of abuse.  Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, And the drug that killed the performer Prince, is now the most circulated and most abused addictive drug.  Its derivative, carfentanil, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and an amount roughly the size of a poppy seed can be lethal.  In Ohio, there are now about ten deaths from overdoses daily, and drug overdose has surpassed traffic accidents as a leading cause of death. 

The actual drug users are not the only victims.  Addicts often steal, of course, to support a drug habit.  Families are torn apart and placed in jeopardy:  currently, in our county, half of the children placed in protective custody are there because an addicted parent cannot care for them.  Municipal and county resources are overstretched by emergency runs to help overdose victims, to the extent that people with other medical emergencies may face long wait-times for assistance.  The costs of these interventions, and of the arrest, prosecution, treatment, and incarceration of drug abusers, are immense.  This is not to mention the costs of wasted lives: people whose human potential is never realized because they are in thrall to, and often destroyed by, opioids.  Babies of addicted mothers are born addicted and, if they survive, very often have significant developmental problems and may never grow up to become productive, contributing adults.

The financial incentives for trafficking in this deadly substance are huge.  A gram of carfentanil can be purchased via the “dark web” from China for around $3000.  Its street value is in the millions, since an extremely minute quantity (about 3 ten-thousandths of a gram) may be lethal.   I learned from a Sheriff’s deputy that 79 pounds of carfentanil have been seized in our county in 2017.  That amount, calculating from the above figure, would be enough to kill roughly 1, 185,000 people! 

We have been quite unsuccessful in our attempts to treat addictions.  Treatment facilities for addicts who are in the criminal justice system are inadequate in number, and the duration of treatment is too short.  The success rate hovers around 6%; one might as well say it’s a futile effort.  We know that the most effective treatment is accomplished through the twelve-step programs.  This requires, however, real commitment and fortitude on the part of the abuser.  While relapses, early on, are common, the twelve-step group model can provide the support for people to continue, and we know that sustained abstinence of three years is associated with 90% decrease in the risk of relapse.   The twelve-step model really requires a moral conversion: giving up pride, acknowledging one’s need for God and others, and willingness to be unflinchingly honest with self and others.  In my professional experience as a psychologist, some of the very best people I came to know were those with substance abuse problems who were seriously and honestly “working the program” because they were genuine, and they had learned to function within a mutually caring community.  Mandated participation in a twelve-step program, however, has a low likelihood of effectiveness because it is viewed as punishment, rather than opportunity, and the coerced individual is likely to merely “talk the talk” and never “walk the walk.” 

So, what to do? 

In Ohio, legislation has been proposed to tackle one part of the drug abuse problem: that of individuals who become addicted when they use prescribed drugs for chronic pain.  This proposed law would target primary care physicians and require that, if they wish to treat chronic pain patients with opioids, they would have to: offer drug dependence/addiction treatment in their practice; complete a one-time course of 8 hours of continuing medical education on addiction; complete 2 hours of CME yearly regarding prescribing of opioids; and use an electronic medical records system that is directly connected to the state’s automated prescription reporting system.  This law seems like a bad idea to me, as it places a heavy hand on a whole class of professionals in response to the misdirected or criminal behavior of a very small minority of physicians. 

There is another bill, introduced by Ohio Dist. 41 Representative Jim Butler, that seems to me to be extremely reasonable, and to have a real chance for success.  This legislation provides for “Intervention in Lieu of Conviction” for addicts who have been convicted of or pled to a non-violent offense.  It would provide for a period of residential treatment in an Addiction Treatment Facility for up to three years.  This time is determined by the findings that three years of abstinence is associated with 90% reduction in chance of relapse.  Those who are deemed by medical professionals to have a strong likelihood of staying “clean” may be released early for continuation in an outpatient treatment program including mandatory, non-removable GPS tracking bracelets; mandatory sustained-release injections of naltrexone (non-addicting drug that prevents the euphoriant effect of opioids); randomized drug screening; prescribed counseling and other therapeutic activities; and physical relocation at least five miles from previous residence. 

This legislation would also significantly increase penalties and constraints on drug traffickers.  Current Oho laws addressing trafficking are too lax.  The new law would raise the seriousness of trafficking offenses; permit law enforcement officials to search individuals on probation without probable cause; and it would allow judges to impose restrictions on where convicted traffickers may be, so as to curtail open-air drug deals. 

This law would require weaning patients from addictive prescribed drugs within two months.  It would also increase availability of naltrexone, or equivalent drug, and training in its use. 

This proposal offers much promise.  It is sound from a mental health perspective, as the extended period of residential treatment allows for the establishment of a therapeutic community, giving time for an individual to begin to think more clearly and to see mutual aid within the community as a lifeline and an opportunity to build a safer and more satisfying life.  Effective response to the current crisis is essential to save lives, make our communities safer, and stem the flood of resources that are now being diverted from other, necessary services.

August 17, 2017    

Who Are We, Anyway?

I have a son whose job has required that he and his family live in Europe for the past four years.  I recently went for a visit, and they took Grandma along for a family vacation to Israel.  This was an extremely generous gift and the fulfillment of a long-held wish to see Jerusalem. 

I was profoundly moved to learn about and experience the holy sites in Jerusalem.  However, the most compelling impression that was made on me during the Israel excursion was about the spirit and character of the Israeli people.  Without exception, Israelis greeted us and interacted with us in a friendly, warm, and hospitable manner.  What’s more, they appeared to be happy and relaxed. This experience belied the concerns expressed by some of my friends who feared it would be unsafe to be in that corner of the world. 

I was reminded of several nuggets from my reading that helped me to make sense of the experience:

Several years ago, I read a book by the former Soviet “refusenik,” Medal of Freedom winner, writer and statesman Natan Sharansky, entitled “Defending Identity.”  The book, which affected me quite powerfully, explained how a strong national/cultural/religious identity is vital to sustaining an effective and vigorous democracy. 

I recalled reading about a year ago an article, which I have since found in the May 16, 2016 Wall Street Journal, about how Israel (Jews and Arabs alike) rank very high on international ratings of happiness and life satisfaction.  This despite their being under unremitting threats to their individual and collective survival.

On the airplane traveling to Europe, I read a book by Leo Maasburg, “Mother Teresa of Calcutta.”  Mother Teresa, asked how she could bear working with people in hopeless poverty who were filthy, literally sleeping naked on the streets, explained that the worst poverty she had encountered was suffered by people in developed nations who had no sense of being loved or of belonging. 

I am convinced that the Israelis, reverencing their shared history, culture, accomplishments, and purpose have something that we Americans have squandered and are in danger of losing entirely.  Universities and media and many “leaders” revile our history, our culture, and our traditional values.  Children are indoctrinated early with false notions that ours is a rapacious, careless and destructive country, rather than a “shining city on a hill” that was the Founders’ dream and intent.  Morals and values and institutions that have been universally accepted and pursued for millennia are overturned.  People have no anchor when it is denied that objective truth exists, rather than “truth” being merely a matter of opinion.  Anchorless people are lonely, unhappy people.  People are marrying later, if at all, and birth rates are too low.  There is less participation in civil society: less community engagement; less church attendance and involvement; even less visiting and acquaintanceship with neighbors.  People who, one would think, have everything turn to drugs and pornography rather than building relationships.  Alienation feeds the sense of being aggrieved and outraged.  People protest without having even a clear notion of what they want. 

Perhaps our nation will need to suffer real adversity before people come to their senses and recognize the crisis of morals and values we are experiencing.  I hope not.  Our Founders, geniuses who were grounded in serious study and understanding of history, devised a system that, if followed, ensures human flourishing, protecting the God-given rights of every human being.  They knew that the success of self-governance requires commitment, involvement, and virtue, else we will live under tyranny.  They knew that we are prideful, envious, venal and slothful creatures, and that those who wish to govern us must be held in check and the rule of law, rather than privilege must prevail.  It’s a good system, an inspired system, the most successful system the world has known.  Let’s not lose it.  Let’s regain pride in being Americans.  Let’s be happy again!

June 19, 2017

Who’s In Charge Here?

As our representatives work to craft legislation to provide a replacement for the abomination that is “Obamacare,” I fervently hope and pray that they will be guided by our Constitution.  I was powerfully reminded of the need for a focus on liberty when I read Sohrab Ahmari’s  March 4 interview in the Wall Street Journal of Liz Carr, creator of a dark-comedic offering, “Assisted Suicide: The Musical” that is currently playing to enthusiastic audiences in Britain.  Performances of this anti-euthanasia work get standing ovations despite the growing acceptance of assisted suicide in Western nations. 

Liz Carr, a woman in her mid-forties, has a severely disabling genetic condition that involves fibrosis and contractures of multiple joints with resulting limitations on strength and mobility.  She considers herself lucky to have been born before the time when she might have been a victim of abortion or cajoled to opt for assisted suicide.  Her physical disabilities notwithstanding, Ms. Carr excelled academically, and she has had a very successful career as an actress, a stand-up comic, a disability advocate, and now a playwright. 

This inspiring woman makes the point that those who promote assisted suicide as positively aligned with values of self-determination and choice are—wittingly or not—wrong because, even in states that allow assisted suicide, the physician is the one who ultimately decides whether to grant the request.  Recently, there was a sad case in the Netherlands, where permission for assisted suicide has led to greatly increased suicide rates, in which a physician was acquitted of murder charges after she directed family members to smother their elderly relative who had requested a lethal injection but changed her mind at the last moment.  The physician was acquitted because the court determined that she had acted in good faith.  Ms. Carr’s position is that legalizing euthanasia is inherently disempowering of patients because of their unequal power in the doctor-patient relationship, and that this fact is ever more problematic in the modern welfare state.

Ms. Carr’s life story should bring up short those people who consign those with physical disabilities; those with congenital cognitive limitations; patients with dementia; the frail elderly; and the unborn unlucky enough to have mothers who do not want them to a status that is lacking in “dignity” or in other words less than human.  Those who make our laws should remind themselves not only of the tragic history of the Eugenics movement (of which Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a proud proponent, remember), but also of the very real danger of coerced, rather than “assisted” suicide and of coerced, rather than elective, abortion, with government control of our health care. 

March 9, 2017


Who Profits?

The recent closing of ITT Tech was the latest of a series of successful assaults on for-profit colleges by the Obama administration.  Our benevolent leaders claim, of course, that they are simply trying to protect students from predators in the marketplace who will charge high tuition rates, leave the students with piles of debt, and provide less chance of gainful employment than state-funded institutions.

While there are, of course, some for-profits that cheat, the statistics actually reveal higher graduation rates and higher post-graduation employment numbers for those who complete programs at for-profit schools. 

We are all aware, also, of the huge increases in tuition costs and accompanying dismal results of the public colleges.  And aren’t many of us dismayed to observe the ballooning numbers of staff and burgeoning infrastructure of our schools?  These schools are in competition, it seems, to offer the most luxurious accommodations and amenities to their potential customers, all the while affording sketchy prospects post-graduation.  We see plenty of examples: the new Ph.D. working as a barista, the unemployed 30-year-old still living in Mom’s basement; a Women’s Studies graduate with no prayer of ever putting that degree to use. 

With colleges, as with elementary and secondary schools, while more federal funding has flowed in, the costs keep getting higher.  Federal subsidies actually make costs higher because they result in increased enrollment, more building, and administrative bloat.   There are now whole departments, such as IT, that deal with functions that previously were handled by professors.  Many professors actually teach very little, spending their time instead doing research and writing (which may be read by no one); this brings about the need to hire many adjunct faculty.  Excessive and onerous regulations tied to federal aid and involvement add to costs.   Whatever government touches tends to become more expensive, less accessible, and of lesser quality. 

An important issue is the dysfunctional belief that everyone should go to college.  If college is to be genuine higher education, it is an endeavor that is appropriate only for those who are intellectually equipped for scholarship—about one-quarter of the population.  This sounds elitist, and it is.  In truth, a person does not become educated by warming a seat in a classroom and passively receiving information imparted by an instructor.  Learning is something that one accomplishes through individual effort and practice, with appropriate guidance and consultation, as needed.  Attempting to make “higher education” available to all can have no other outcome but dilution and degradation of the commodity.  It is not news that the performance of students coming out of our public elementary and secondary schools is bad.  It’s also worth considering that the prolonged dependency of young people who are expected to be in school and out of the work force until their mid-twenties presents their parents and society with a tremendous and unnecessary burden. 

One approach that would be beneficial would be more emphasis of real-world training for useful work, instead of marketing of frivolous and useless degrees.  Most jobs still do not require higher education. 

We should also think about what might be the motivation for the political class to stand so stalwartly for public education, and to demonize any training or educational program that is not under state control.  Could it be that those who represent the state have a vested interest in ensuring that students will be taught or led to believe only what the state wishes them to believe: that they must trust the government, rather than their parents; that striving to excel is somehow unfair; that they must give unquestioning obedience to the state?  Many well-meaning people truly believe that government-controlled education is a public good.   I guess that depends on your definition of good.  As William T. Harris, one-time U.S. Commissioner of Education, said, “Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening.  The average American (should be) content with their humble role in life…” 

Sticks and Stones

Living or working on today’s college campus must be, for one who is not a member of a protected group, something like navigating a mine field.  One may, while totally lacking malevolent intent, commit a “microaggression” or otherwise be guilty of insulting or disparaging, or even “harassing” another by simply offering a compliment or remarking about an interesting characteristic of someone—if the other person perceives it, or claims to perceive it, as disparaging or somehow threatening.  A professor in Louisiana was fired recently for alleged sexual harassment because she used off-color humor.  At the University of Kentucky one may be, I read, subject to investigation if accused of making critical remarks about a smoker.

I am willing to bet that white, middle-class students, particularly males, are seldom if ever going to be the beneficiaries of official policies that punish someone who may have hurt their feelings.  They, after all, are “privileged” and deserve to be taken down a peg or two.  

Such stifling of free speech and expression may at last—we may dare to hope--have peaked.  According to “FIRE” (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the proportion of public colleges with speech codes that ban constitutionally protected speech has dropped significantly.  Unfortunately, the schools with these “red light” speech codes still constitute almost 40% of public colleges.  The situation at private colleges is somewhat worse, since they are permitted under the law to restrict speech, not being bound by the First Amendment!  A number of schools have even established reporting systems that encourage students to report on other students and faculty members who show “bias” in their speech or expression.

We are permitted to criticize and disparage people in public life, and those who go into politics or become celebrities must accept that being targets of such criticism is just part of the life.  When people in public life, however, disparage ordinary people, as did Hillary Clinton in her famous characterization of Trump supporters as “deplorables,”  it is clearly unacceptable, and that remark certainly wounded her and her chances of prevailing at the polls. 

Restriction of free speech is harmful when it is used, not as a reasonable guarantor of public safety, but in support of the political cause du jour, to protect a favored group, or to further an ideological agenda.  When it gets really dicey is when one may not speak the truth about an actual threat or real harm to the public safety, because of “political correctness.”  The recent example of the radicalized Somali immigrant student at Ohio State who attempted to kill other students by running them down with his car and slashing and stabbing them with a knife, is illustrative.  A student journalist who had interviewed this radical Islamist and written about his “soft-spoken” and “friendly” manner despite his feeling at risk of attack for practicing his religion, wrote after the mayhem of November 28 that the student, Abdul Artan, must have “snapped” due to the Islamophobic attitudes of the Ohio State student body.   Josh Earnest,  the president’s press secretary, expressed similar ideas.   Another example is the official designation of the Fort Hood massacre as “workplace violence” when it was clearly a terrorist attack by a radicalized Islamic extremist who wanted to kill infidels.  Abundantly documented, but still denied by officials. 

Censorship has been a useful tool of tyrants since people began organizing governments.  The First Amendment was a tremendously liberating law, one of the most effective ways of getting people out from under the yoke of oppressive government.  Why, now, are people insisting on imposing censorship? 

December 2016

Issue 21

reviews history  and abuses of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Click HERE for a very interesting blog

December 2016

Quack, Quack

Beyond the Politics of Anger

"This is not politics as usual. The American Presidential election, the Brexit vote and the rise of extremism in the politics of the West are warnings of something larger, and the sooner we realise it, the better. What we are witnessing is the birth of a new politics of anger. It is potentially very dangerous indeed.

No civilisation lasts forever. The first sign of breakdown is that people stop trusting the ruling elite. They are seen as having failed to solve the major problems facing the nation. They are perceived as benefiting themselves, not the population as a whole.

They are out of touch and surrounded by people like themselves. They have stopped listening to the grassroots. They underestimate the depth and breadth of popular anger. That happened in both Washington and Westminster. The governing class fail to see the blow coming. That is how the party of the status quo is defeated by the candidate of the angry party, however incoherent his or her policies actually are."......
at  "Mercatornet"

December 2016
Trumped Up, Trickle Down Outrage

"We write just a few days after the 2016 American Presidential election. About half of those who voted were pleased with the result. The other half were displeased: approximately 60 million on each side. It’s not clear that a dispassionate observer would grasp that fact, however. For the loudest, most strident, most uncompromising voices are heard almost exclusively from one side of this divide: the losing side.

This is not the place to comment on the politics of the election. But the extraordinary response from those whose candidate lost an open, democratic contest reminds us that elections can uncover cultural as well as political fault lines...."

To Continue reading, click HERE at "The New Criterion"
December  2016

A Sigh of Relief

To my mind, Democrat-party leadership in general, and the actions of the Obama administration in particular, have meant erosion of our most fundamental rights as American citizens: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The womb has become a parlous place under Democrats.  Frank encouragement of elective abortion is a national disgrace and not only violates the right to life of the most vulnerable, but also contributes to moral numbing and coarsening of our culture.  Government takeover of health care inevitably necessitates rationing and euthanasia for those who use too many resources—the elderly and those with expensive chronic illnesses and disabilities.  I can easily imagine, too, imposition of mandatory prenatal testing and forced abortion of “defective” fetuses. 

Basic liberties concerning free exercise of religion, free speech, and the right to peaceably assemble have been under serious assault.  We have not been able to feel confident of protection against unreasonable search and seizure of our personal information and effects (think mandatory reporting of income and assets;) due process (RICO statutes, for example;) or assurance that private property seized under eminent domain is actually for public use and not just for corporate profits (Kelo.)  The Left’s relentless assault of Second Amendment rights not only abridges liberty, but can also be construed as endangering the right to life.

The “pursuit of happiness” is usually understood to refer to the right to use one’s knowledge, talent, and drive to achieve material success and to maintain and control the fruits of one’s labors.  Confiscatory taxation and onerous regulatory laws seriously impede innovation and the creation, building, and sustenance of business enterprises. 

The American people have resoundingly rejected the Left’s agenda.  Now we pray that our new President and the members of the legislature, thankfully turned a little bit redder, will get the message and not betray us.  Donald Trump does not need to get rich through government service.  That gives me hope. 

Novewmber 2016

Progressives - 

the artists formerly known as liberals

Any differences?

A Messy Revolution

September 4, 2016
The Moral Preeners vs. Nearly Everyone Else

August 13, 2016

An Excess of Caution

Recently General Mills, “in an excess of caution,” has voluntarily recalled, more than ten million pounds of flour, and also some baking mixes containing the targeted lots of flour, because of the possibility that the flour was contaminated with a particular strain of E. coli bacteria.  This bacteria causes acute gastrointestinal symptoms, sometimes including bloody diarrhea.  In weakened individuals or the very young or the elderly, it may cause renal failure, and even death.  While E. coli contamination of grains is rare—meats and produce being more usual sources—it can happen if grain crops are irrigated with tainted water.  There were thirty-eight cases of illness caused by the E. coli strain in twenty different states.  Ten were hospitalized, none developed renal failure, and all recovered.  

Attempts to trace the genesis of such illness by the FDA include genetic typing of the organism and interviews with victims asking them to recall everything that they have consumed in the previous seven days.  Two cases involving genetically identical organisms are considered to constitute an outbreak.  In this case, about half of those who were afflicted reported having cooked something at home using flour, some reported using a General Mills flour product, and some admitted to possibly having consumed raw dough.  E. coli is destroyed by cooking, and General Mills flour products have a prominent warning, in red ink, on the packaging against eating it raw.   It should be noted here that, though heating does destroy pathogens, heat treating also damages properties of flour that affect its behavior in the cooking process.  Good-bye home baking.  

 According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, "To date E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products…"  Nevertheless, to protect their brand and fend off lawyers, General Mills made the recall, at considerable cost to the company and, ultimately, to consumers.

Does this seem like overkill to you?  Does it remind you of the famous case in which a woman successfully sued McDonald’s when she placed a cup of scalding hot coffee between her thighs while driving and suffered burns when the coffee—wonder of wonders—spilled?  Does it remind you of the rule at many schools barring any peanut containing foods in the building because one percent of the U.S. population has a peanut allergy?  Does it remind you of the current imbroglio over public restrooms in which we are asked to place our children at risk of affront or assault to accommodate a truly tiny slice of the populace?  Does it remind you of the insistence on providing “safe spaces” to mollify the habitually indignant?  Does it remind you of a bartender being sued because he served a person who drove away with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and was involved in an accident?

How much responsibility, really, does society as a whole have to accommodate the peculiar vulnerabilities, exaggerated sensibilities, or personality aberrations of a tail of the distribution when such accommodation causes marked inconvenience, distress, or economic harm to the vast middle?  I believe that full disclosure of ingredients in prepared foods is essential, but I also believe that the parents of a child with peanut allergy are responsible for teaching their child the appropriate preventive measures and appropriate intervention to avoid problems.  Warnings on labels about potential risks, such as from eating raw flour, are appropriate and pro-social.  Consumers, and not the providers of a good or a service, however, must be responsible for heeding warnings and exercising common sense.  

July 22, 2016

Acting Stupidly

Not so Fast, Mr. Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan has condemned, and even threatened to sue, Donald Trump over Mr. Trump’s promise to impose a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.  Mr. Ryan, and others on both sides of politics, have claimed that such a ban would be unconstitutional and in violation of our values and traditions as Americans.

In truth, there is much precedent for restrictions on immigration, both by Congress and by the President acting alone.  The Plenary Power Doctrine, articulated by the Supreme Court, gives Congress broad and deep power over immigration law.   Under powers granted by Congress, the President alone may suspend the entry of “any class of aliens as immigrants” if their entry would be detrimental to the nation’s interests. 

The 1952 MrCarran-Walter Act, devised in response to the threat posed by Communist infiltration of the United States, passed with broad, bipartisan support and over the veto of President Truman.  The Act allowed deportation of immigrants or naturalized citizens who engaged in subversive activities, and also allowed barring immigration by suspected subversives.  McCarran-Walter remains in effect, though it has been modified by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Hart-Celler), which gave preference to immigrants with needed work skills and family relationships with U.S. citizens; and by the Immigration Act of 1990, which aimed to increase the diversity of immigrant groups and to eliminate exclusions viewed as inhumane, such as of homosexuals.  President Carter invoked McCarran-Walter in 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis.  He ordered that there would be no visas issued to Iranian citizens except for humanitarian reasons or in the service of our national interest; Iranian students in the U.S. were ordered to report to the INS, where they were questioned with regard to their support for Ayatollah Khomeini, and thousands of them were deported.  The ACLU and other left-wing groups accused Carter of fearmongering and of engaging in a witch hunt, and a lawsuit was filed on First Amendment grounds, but Carter’s ruling stood. 

Some critics object that Trump is targeting a religion, rather than a nationality.  There is, however, much to be said in support of the assertion that Islam is as much a political system as a religion.  Islam was actually founded on political grounds, when Mohammed was asked to be the ruler of the city of Medina because he was considered capable of resolving conflicts among several Arab tribes.  He was made leader, then proclaimed to be the Prophet of Allah.  Throughout its history, Islam has sought to extend the caliphate and impose Sharia Law on the world.  In more recent times, Islam has militated against Western “imperialism,” mostly focused on Western economic and cultural hegemony. 

Finally, it is important to recall that the rights confirmed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights are the rights of Americans, and cannot automatically be invoked by non-citizens.  Though we would like all peoples of the world to enjoy the natural rights enumerated in our founding documents, not all peoples or political systems agree, and some would prefer to destroy what we have, rather than to join with us in living lives as free men and women.  It behooves us to protect what we have. 

June 18, 2016
Anomie v.2

May 31, 2016

Cui Bono?


The Food and Drug Administration, through its newly-released regulations on electronic cigarettes, sounded the death knell for the numerous start-up businesses that are developing and marketing the devices.  The regulations forbid marketing of an e-cigarette until the FDA has approved an application  that provides proof that the product: 1.) is safer than regular cigarettes; 2.) that it helps smokers to quit; and that 3.) these benefits are substantial enough to outweigh the risk of e-cigarette “vaping” being taken up by nonsmokers.  The costs of compliance with these regulations are acknowledged by the FDA to be “burdensome,” with costs of at least $330,000. For each product!  What small business wishing to market at electronic cigarette can survive in this situation?   The big tobacco companies, which have been gobbling up the e-cigarette market, can survive, of course.  Hmmmm….

Worse, the new regulations seem to be totally wrong-headed in that they are meant to actively discourage development and use of e-cigarettes, which seem clearly to be a much safer alternative to tobacco smoking.    A barrier is erected that impedes research and development of improvements to the technology so that it could be even more effective in lowering the health risks of tobacco use. 

This is just the latest of a number of regulations imposed, purportedly in the public interest, that benefit entrenched interests or political favorites and do no or little good, and often great harm.

Consider the ethanol mandate, for one.  It has been convincingly shown that producing ethanol from corn consumes more energy than the energy saved by using it to replace part of the gasoline for motor vehicles, and that it damages the engines, besides.  Diverting this vital food crop has also resulted in the deaths of many from starvation, I read.  Distortion of markets is another result of this real ripoff that benefits a few powerful agricultural interests.

“Green energy” is another example.  Remember the frustrated and outraged citizens who were told that they must stop using incandescent light bulbs.  The dangerous “curly fry” fluorescent, now thankfully being superseded by vastly superior LED technology, was the product of General Electric, a huge political donor.

The Dodd-Frank legislation, which was supposed to be a means of financial “reform,” was almost certainly the main driver of the 2008 financial crisis.  There is much evidence of financial benefits to politicians and their friends associated with Dodd-Frank.

I could cite many more.  Some of the ridiculous and harmful regulations and laws foisted upon us result, no doubt, from legislators’ ignorance or lack of sophistication about the issues involved, especially the scientific aspects.  Other times, laws and regulations are passed out of hysterical overreaction to dangers or the hyping of trivial or nonexistent danger.  The banning of DDT, a time-tested and relatively benign pesticide when properly used, occurred in reaction to a non-factual scare-book, “Silent Spring.”  Unavailability of DDT has been directly responsible for millions of needless malaria deaths around the world.

Probably always a major contributor, though, is the fallen nature of human beings: vain, venal, and envious.  Albert Jay Nock, American Libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic, wrote more than eighty years ago, “Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional criminal class.” 

 May 14, 2016

A Whack Job on Reality

Pretty Simple, Really

I read with great interest recently an op-ed by Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of the Success Academies network of charter schools in New York City.  Ms. Moskowitz described a pattern of criticism of the charters by the press and by many Education professors because they enforce what the critics paint as overly strict discipline.  The charters’ strict approach, including students being required to walk in orderly fashion in the halls and to follow a speaker with one’s eyes; and pushing students to achieve their potential create a safe, productive learning environment that supports student success, in Moskowitz’ opinion.  She compared as evidence the 90% math-proficient rate in Success Academies’ Central Harlem schools to the 15% math-proficient rate in Central Harlem’s district schools.  About ten times as many apply for admission to the charter schools as there are places available.  District schools, meanwhile, are under-enrolled.  Ms. Moskowitz wrote that parents know that lax discipline in schools puts their children at risk of bullying; of being robbed of learning time by disruptive behavior by others in the classroom; and even of being subjected to violent attack.  The parents who apply for Success Academies for their kids, and then hope and pray they will be accepted, know the difference between a good deal and a bad deal. 

As a Baby Boomer who attended parochial schools, I never sat in a classroom with fewer than forty-five students.  Seats were in rows; all stood and greeted the teacher; unruliness was not tolerated; and movement through the halls was orderly.  No one questioned that the teacher was in charge, and one teacher had no trouble managing the large number of students.  Outcomes were expected to be good, and they were.  Recently, I spoke about elections to a Civics class composed of students from a homeschool group.  They were informed and prepared; they asked many excellent questions; and they were extremely polite, to the extent of each one thanking me as they exited the classroom.  Clearly, those kids knew what was expected of them, and they delivered.

Many public schools, as we all know, have gone seriously over the edge.   Not only are many inner-city schools scenes of frequent threat and sometimes almost incredible mayhem, but students have little incentive to work hard, unless they have strong parents pushing them, because no one is allowed to fail.  Vast amounts of money are thrown the schools’ way, with no resulting improvement in outcomes.  

Yes, teachers must be accountable, and there should be well-conceived incentives in place for teacher excellence.  But students, also, must be held accountable, and incentives put in place for their behavior.  Teaching children is a most important service done for them, and education must be a collaborative endeavor.   A student’s presence in the classroom should be considered an earned privilege, rather than a prison sentence.  Students who neither maintain calm, orderly, attentive, and respectful behavior; nor demonstrate compliance with assigned work, should be excluded, with the expectation that they earn their way back into the classroom.   Issues would, arise, surely, with children who have incompetent parents, but basic student accountability must be upheld so that the classroom is a place wherein learning can take place. 

March 19, 2016
Another Way to Make America Great Again

February 29, 2016
Antonin Scalia R.I.P.

When I learned, Saturday, of Antonin Scalia’s sudden death, I was shocked and saddened.  This brilliant, witty, principled, and humane Supreme Court Justice was a national treasure.  One of the best.  Ever.

I was also frightened, as I immediately could predict the reaction of the administration and the Democrats: literally licking their lips as they contemplated the prospect of replacing Scalia with another leftist jurist to help them advance the agenda that is inexorably leading us down the path toward frank socialism. 

Then, I was reminded of one of the many famous quotes from William F. Buckley, iconic conservative thinker and pundit, founder and long-time editor of National Review magazine: “A conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’”

For many years, we have been experiencing the gradual destruction of our culture, our institutions, and our national character as the left pushes, pushes, pushes, and the right never pushes back enough.  Justice Scalia steadfastly fulfilled the “yelling ‘Stop!’” function by interpreting the Constitution as it was intended by its writers, not according to his personal values, or guided by the idea that our Constitution should be considered a “living,” malleable document.  He was able to resist the temptation to dictate matters of values and morals from the bench—those issues, such as homosexual “marriage,” affirmative action, and capital punishment for example, that are more properly matters for democratic debate and voting.   

Critics of our Constitution complain that it does not include enough “rights,” such as a minimum wage or “free” health care and education.  These people would like to use the Constitution to bludgeon those who are not, in their view, sufficiently enlightened, no matter how much such action violated the rights of the bludgeoned.  The freedom from coercive government guaranteed by our Constitution has served us very well, creating the most powerful engine of prosperity in the history of the world and, consequently, an amazing panoply of American contributions to the world in medicine, communications, pure science, engineering, and even arts and letters.  I personally believe that our Constitution has fostered the creation, as well, of a unique American character that is, despite what they are telling our kids these days, pretty benevolent and moral. 

The all-powerful state that owns everything and controls everything cannot coexist with a people who are educated and involved.  I read this morning that Gallup 39 percent of Americans surveyed had “never heard of” Antonin Scalia.  The same source cited a CBS/New York Times survey from 2010 that found that only 16 percent of millennials were able to define, in their own words, the word “socialism.”  (30 percent of those over age thirty and 57 percent of Tea Partiers were able to do so.)   Such ignorance is a national disgrace, and a clear danger.  Thomas Jefferson told us, “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic.  Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.” 

Antonin Scalia was an example of a man who loved the law; who took seriously his commitment to thoroughly know and understand the law; and to interpret and apply the law as written in the Constitution and made by the representatives of the people.   I hope that someone can be found to fill his very big shoes. 

February 16, 2016

Killing the Goose

How Do They Get Away With It?

In an outrageous but depressingly predictable ploy, Hillary Clinton, other Democrats, and the media are blaming Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for the contaminated water supply to Flint, Michigan.  The Governor, a la Harry Truman, has acknowledged that the buck stops at his desk and it is his responsibility, as the chief elected officer in the state, to address the problem.  But that gesture cannot be taken to mean that he, or Republican “neglect” are responsible for a catastrophic failure of local and federal government. 

The back story:  Flint, an auto factory town like Detroit, has suffered from decades of declining population while the bloated pensions and union health benefits roll on.  At present, 40% of Flint’s residents are officially in poverty, and the union benefits consume one third of every dollar in the city’s general fund. 

Flint, for years, had purchased drinking water from Detroit.  The (Democrat) city council decided to join a regional project to pipe water from Lake Huron, hoping to save millions of dollars.  Detroit (under Democrat rule seemingly forever,) apparently feeling dissed, retaliated by cutting Flint off long before the projected completion of the new pipeline.  Someone—it’s not clear who, and all likely suspects are denying responsibility—decided to rely temporarily on water from the Flint River.   Problem: the pipes are old, the people running the show had no clue how to control for corrosion, and lead and other contaminants began leaching into the water.  Residents started complaining immediately about murky water.  Officials offered assurances and temporized.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA both were aware many months before this story hit the press of the lead contamination, but that buck was passed and passed and passed.  As the Wall Street Journal opined, “If contaminated water had flowed somewhere inhabited by a manatee, the feds would have sped to Michigan.”  Too bad the good people of Flint did not merit similar protection. 

This kind of lead contamination is a real problem, unlike many other distorted or grossly exaggerated risks touted by the EPA.  The people of Flint cannot drink their water without harm, and the damage that has been done to the infrastructure by mismanagement will not be easily or quickly fixed.  This is a true emergency, and how it will be resolved remains to be seen.  Finger pointing won’t serve. 

I think we can all agree that governments do have responsibility for infrastructure and for protecting the health of the public.   When entrenched interests and butt-covering bureaucracy get in the way of basic protections and services we have a real problem. 

January 22, 2016
The Ongoing Assault

In the midst of pervasive turmoil: the terrorist massacre in San Bernardino, potential rioting in Baltimore over the Freddie Gray matter, bomb threats and active shooter situations on the news nearly every day, it is too easy to neglect attending to last Saturday’s Paris climate agreement and its potential for extreme economic harm to the United States. 

In fact, looking into it, one has to think that this looks like one more failure to protect the interests of the United States by those who are charged with that duty.  Or, more darkly, to even think that this agreement represents willful compliance in a program to decrease and delimit the wealth, power, and influence of our country. 

The Paris agreement was lauded by President Obama as bridging “the old divides between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for so long.”  U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon touted it as “a truly universal agreement on climate change.”  Unfortunately, these statements are not true.  The fact is that the agreement obligates developed nations to progressively ratchet up their contributions to undeveloped nations, whether or not those nations do anything.  This is new; previous agreements did not bind parties, as this one does, to “successive nationally determined contributions (that) will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition.”  In addition, the agreement contains no “escape hatches” for developed nations to use in case the economic damage turns out to be more severe even than expected.  The costs for the United States would be crippling, possibly fatal.

The big question is whether Obama will bypass Congress—again-- and ratify this agreement which, although it is not called a treaty, meets the 1969 Vienna Convention definition of a treaty: an “international agreement concluded between states in written form and governed by international law.”  Ratification by executive decree would be in violation of Article Two of the U.S. Constitution, which constrains the president by requiring the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senators to ratify a treaty.  He will at least be sorely tempted to take such action, and the history of his contempt for the Constitution does not console.   A Republican president installed in 2017 would surely reverse the agreement but, should Hillary Clinton be elected, all bets would be off. 
December 17, 2015
Too Much of a Good Thing

The astounding level of support for Donald Trump in this political season seems to be attributable, in large part, to his stated positions about dealing with immigration.  His promises to take measures to stop the influx of illegal aliens, enforce our immigration laws, and provide no path to citizenship for illegals resonate with many Americans who are rightly concerned.  These Americans see the rapid and accelerating change in our demographic picture, and they fear losing the common customs, mores, values, and even language that have constituted our national character.  They see young people earning expensive degrees and then being unable to find work in their field of study or even to find work at all, and living in their parents’ basement.  They are outraged to then read that companies want to bring in more foreign graduates to fill a dearth of qualified people.  They correctly perceive that it is more difficult, especially, for those without higher education to get jobs.  They feel threatened, vulnerable, and angry when they see the evidence of incompetent scrutiny and inappropriate admission of prospective immigrants, such as Tashfeen Malik, one of the pair of San Bernardino shooters and when they read of “sanctuary cities” and a clamor to welcome “refugees” who they believe may often actually be dangerous radicals who wish us harm and are just looking for a way to get into the country.

The administration and most elected Democrats accuse Trump, and others who are concerned about these matters, of bigotry and racism.  The President mouths platitudes about an attitude of acceptance toward all comers as being part of “who we are.”   People on the Left extol multiculturalism and insist on bilingual education, rather than expecting that immigrants become assimilated into American culture.  They seem quite willing to accommodate cultural-religious preferences for the immigrant, such as foot baths and prayer rooms for Muslims in universities and excusing Muslim employees from performing tasks such as handling pork products, when Christian students might be forbidden to have a chapel and all other employees must be available to perform any jobs to which they are assigned.  The President wants in the worst way to shield illegals from deportation; luckily he is being impeded somewhat by the federal courts.  Supporters of free-and-easy immigration deny that immigrants take Americans’ jobs, insisting that immigrants perform jobs that Americans are unwilling to take on.  They pooh-pooh concerns about abuse of our social welfare programs by illegal aliens, while people see around them the evidence that the system is being stressed to the breaking point. 

Is it any wonder that many are suspicious that this overly welcoming attitude and excessive accommodation of immigrants are part of a program to grow the base of Democrat voters by giving out lots of free stuff or, more ominously, reflect an active animus toward America as she stands and a compulsion to “fundamentally transform” our country? 

A few facts may prove enlightening. 

During our history, there have been successive waves of immigration, with quiescent times in between, which allowed for assimilation and intermarriage, adding to the richness of American “melting pot” culture.  Since 1965, when the passage of the Hart-Cellar Act established chain immigration, there has been an unremitting deluge of immigration to the point that immigrants and their children now constitute one-quarter of the U.S. population.  The mandate to focus on family reunification rather than bringing in people with needed skills has created an immigrant population that is poorer, less educated, and less skilled than before.  The presence of a generous safety net often is a disincentive to immigrants’ acquiring more education or skills.

At present, a number of occupations generally believed to employ the immigrants who “will do jobs that Americans won’t do” are actually filled by a majority of native-born Americans.  These include the jobs of maid/housekeeper; taxi driver; landscape worker; construction worker; porter, bellhop and concierge; and janitor.  As immigrants fill growing percentages of these jobs, fewer of them are obtained by Americans seeking them. 

Between 1970 and 2013, the immigrant population has more than tripled.  Concurrently, income for the bottom 90% of tax filers has decreased by almost 8%.  One could reasonably conclude that current immigration policy has brought about loss of income for the bottoms 90% of earners and has actually increased the gap between higher-and-lower earners that the Left likes to blame on “greed.”  

The Heritage Foundation tells us that in 2010 the average illegal immigrant family received $24,700 in Federal benefits, while contributing only $10,300 in taxes.  Hardly sustainable.

Some recommend strictly limiting immigrants with low education and skills as a way of increasing job security for those in low-end jobs.  This does not address the problem of all of those American college graduates, many in those vaunted STEM disciplines, who are unable to find suitable employment because jobs are taken by educated immigrants whom employers can hire at lower pay. 

Maybe we should just pause.  And take a breath. 
January 5, 2016

Who Would Have Imagined...?

What Lives Matter, Really?

We were recently shocked and dismayed to learn that over the fifteen-year period, 1999-2014, the death rate for U.S. whites, ages 45 to 54 with no more than a high school education increased by 25 percent!  During the same period, death rates for the same age range in other groups in America and other wealthy countries declined.  Economists attribute these deaths to suicides and alcohol and drug-related causes.   And read again the age range.  These are not troubled or rebellious adolescents but, rather, people whose age range suggests that they should be settled and stable. 

What in the world is going on?

A look at, as a recent example, the vital statistics of Russia during the long downfall and final collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath, provides a clue.  Over one four-year period in Russia, the average life expectancy, of both men and women, declined by five years, overall.  For men, it reached a low of 57 years.  The years immediately following the end of World War II saw similar catastrophic changes in health and life expectancy for European populations. 

Economic and social instability; increased abuse of alcohol and tobacco; poor nutrition; depression; and deterioration of the health care system are causes advanced to explain these sad realities.

Right, but to speak about and attempt to address these conditions only, without looking for the underlying causes, is like chasing one’s tail. 

I am convinced by the thesis put forward by Charles Murray in his 2012 book, “Coming Apart” that whites in America (he intentionally focused only on whites to avoid the confounding effects of race) have become stratified into two classes: one successful group that endorses and lives by the founding American values of marriage, work, education, and religion; and another group that has failed to embrace those values and has almost no chance of success.

I am also convinced that the root causes of this flight from virtue and success can be laid at the feet of the cultural mavens and media celebrities who seek to dismantle traditional norms and rules for a normal life.  They wish to eradicate gender roles and expectations about family life that allow people to know who they are and to have an acknowledged place in the world.  They promote abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.  They wage a “war on drugs” that is totally ineffective in controlling commerce in and use of drugs, and actually causes increased crime and death.  Or they promote ill-conceived drug-legalization schemes with far-reaching damaging effects.  They place the interests of teachers’ unions above the welfare of children in our schools.  They seek to outlaw and punish free expression of religion and adherence to religious edicts.  Adding insult to injury, excessive regulation, licensing laws and fees, and complicated and costly rules about compensation and taxes make it extremely challenging for a would-be entrepreneur to start a small business. 

Those four values: marriage, work, education, and religion, are simple, really.  They underpinned our founding, and allowed the United States to be the most successful and prosperous nation in the history of the world.  Rededicating ourselves to those values and demanding public policy that supports them may give us a chance to get back our game. 

October 8, 2015
Click HERE to read a very good article: "Deadly Progressivism" by R. R. Reno

October 7, 2015
Guilty Pleasures versus the Pleasures of Guilt

Most of us succumb, at least occasionally, to the lure of a too-big slice of flourless chocolate cake; or maybe for you it is marathon watching of a TV series; playing video games for hours; perhaps smoking an expensive cigar; or falling prey to the latest fad in shoes.  The kinds of things that we know aren’t really good for us, that we don’t need, that waste time, or that others do not hold in high regard can be very tempting nonetheless and, if not indulged to excess, these yens are harmless.

An indulgence that is truly harmful is the self-righteousness resulting from supporting and participating in some policies touted as advancing “fairness” or compassion but which are actually destructive in the long run.   I am thinking of the people who believe that they are morally superior because they support allowing unrestricted and unlawful entry into our country; confiscatory taxation that cripples our economy; regulations that make energy crushingly expensive and thus harm the poor; and laws that handicap economies and destroy livelihoods in the name of protecting an endangered species or “saving the planet.”   These people, encouraged by those currently holding the reins of power, believe that our nation is morally culpable for the sorry state of the “third world” nations; that somehow our economic success over the years our country has existed has been achieved on the backs of those who have not been successful.  They fail to recognize that the standard of living of the world in general has been improved by the unbelievably powerful engine of growth and prosperity that has been the United States of America.  They wish to atone for this spurious guilt by seeking to limit our wealth, our influence, and our prospects. 
I say “spurious” guilt because guilt requires not only that one feels uncomfortable as a result of an action, but that the action be one that is morally wrong.  I believe that, often, what is perceived as “guilt” is in reality a fear of being envied or resented for what we possess or what we have achieved.  One striking example is the case of “survivor guilt,” in which a person who was present, but unscathed, in a situation where others suffered death or injury suffers emotionally afterwards on account of his good fortune.  I know people who still suffer from feelings of unworthiness and “guilt” because the lottery system did not catch them during the conscriptions for the Vietnam War.  Clearly, these people did nothing wrong, and one would think they would feel gratitude, yet they experience what they identify as guilt.
One can make a good case that a feeling of “guilt” over one’s good fortune in avoiding the draft or other misfortunes; one’s higher standard of living or superior education; or even possession of greater health or intelligence is in reality a fear of being thought less worthy, or of being envied and resented, and the potential social consequences of such imagined appraisals by others.
 At a deeper psychological level, we can discriminate between “guilt” and “shame.”  Shame refers to a negative feeling based upon who or what we are, rather than what we have done.  Shame, in my view, is pretty much always an unhelpful emotion, as we are all children of God, equally endowed with human rights and capable of living in faith and virtue.  Guilt, on the other hand, requiring that we have done something wrong, can serve as a powerful spur to self-examination, repentance, atonement, and growth in goodness. 
Unfortunately, the big actors in the business of government include some people who are highly skilled in the techniques of manipulating people by inciting envy, resentment, guilt, and shame.   They do this quite knowingly in order to advance their programs, and the current regime has the assistance of media and academia in their grand project of social engineering.  The use of words like “social justice,” “compassion,” and “fairness” earns an immediate endorsement from many who do not really think through to the potential and likely evil consequences of the policies so advertised.  This group includes many highly intelligent people, and many who have undeniably good intentions.  They often believe that what the liberal intelligentsia thinks must be the last word, and if they align themselves with that class, they will be well-regarded by others and able to rest content in their own rosy self-appraisal.
The motivations of human beings are often quite complex and even tangled.  It seems to me that it is important to use our analytical minds, informed by a careful reading of history, to decide what leaders and what policies to support, rather than making emotionally-fueled decisions.  Oh, and a little humility helps, too. 

October 9, 2015

Obamacare and the Culture of Death

The Dark Night of the Animas

Around 1988, my husband and I took a road trip to the West.  In Colorado, we had the delightful experience of riding on the narrow-gauge railway from Durango to Silverton, an old mining town.  The train tracks for quite a while hugged a vertiginous cliff overlooking the Animas River, and we could, scarily, look down and watch kayakers on the rapidly moving waters.  It struck me at the time that the name, Animas, Spanish for “soul,” was fitting for this river that, if not treated with respect, could assist with the journey of one’s soul to its final reward.

The Animas River has, of course, been in the news lately because of the EPA’s disastrous negligence, allowing a “blowout” of toxic mine waste that has caused major economic disruption and loss to millions of people over a wide area. 

And what are the consequences for the malfeasance of the EPA?  Nada.  Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, has issued a statement that she is “absolutely, deeply sorry this ever happened.”  Thanks for that, Gina, but there is something here that just isn’t right.
The EPA is shielded by federal law against prosecution of the agency and the employees at fault.   The same EPA is entitled to criminally prosecute individuals and companies that it finds are in violation of EPA regulations, even when the violation occurs accidentally.  Enormous fines and long prison sentences can and have been imposed on people who have had no intent to violate laws or regulations, even on people who have made stringent attempts to remain in compliance with the laws.  One case that was publicized involved a supervisor of a quarrying project who was criminally prosecuted and imprisoned because a backhoe operator accidentally struck and ruptured an oil pipeline, allowing 1,500 gallons of oil to flow into a river.  The “felon” was neither on duty nor operating the backhoe, but since his contract said he was responsible for safety at the site, the EPA succeeded in making an example of him. 

And, it’s not only the EPA.  Government agencies at both federal and state levels increasingly criminalize activities that should be handled through civil law or administrative action—or ignored.  An ordinary person who is doing his best to be respectable and law-abiding, may commit, I have read, three felonies a day all unwittingly.  
Our law is based upon English Common Law and, farther back, on the Ten Commandments.  It used to be understand that an action had to be “malum in se,” or naturally and obviously evil; and that an individual had to have “mens rea,” or evil intent, in order to be held criminally culpable.  The huge explosion of regulatory law, and especially the criminalization of regulatory violations, has brought us to the place where we truly are no longer a nation of laws, but more a nation of men, in which certain groups and individuals are favored over others, and one’s life and livelihood may be ruined through government caprice. 

September 10, 2015
New Newspeak
“1984,” George Orwell’s dystopian novel about a totalitarian state, Oceania, described the language of this country,  “Newspeak,” which was devised as a means of limiting freedom of thought, and squelching ideas that posed a threat to the regime, such as freedom, self-expression, and individuality.  This new language served to shape the thinking of the populace and create a political orthodoxy that was strictly and violently enforced.  Some examples included: “goodthink,” for orthodox thought; “joycamp” for a forced labor camp; “prolefeed” for the steady stream of mindless entertainment produced to distract and occupy the masses; “thinkpol” for the thought police; and “rectify” for the state’s procedures to rewrite history.

Today, we have “politically correct speech,” and many people think of it as almost a joke.  Consider the witticisms we hear about “vertically challenged” or “non-traditional success” as replacements for the plain-English words: “short” and “failure.”  Good laugh lines, yes, but the underlying purpose of political correctness is deadly serious.

The movement we call political correctness started in Germany in 1923.  Originally named the Institute of Marxism, the name was changed to The Institute of Social Research because Marxism was not, at that time and place, politically correct enough to pass muster.  The purpose of this institute was to advance the spread of communism by finding ways to overcome the belief in the dignity and worth of the individual, and the validity of an individual’s ideas.  In communist theory, the individual counts for nothing, and valid ideas come only from the collective.  This group believed that the way to spread communism was to undermine the foundations of Western Civilization by chipping away at individual rights and traditional institutions.  One way to achieve their goal was to change speech and thought patterns by planting the idea that expressing one’s beliefs is disrespectful and must be avoided to make up for past injustices.  The Institute moved to the U.S. when Hitler took over Germany, and a number of its intellectuals became entrenched in American universities and became major influences on contemporary thought.

Some examples of politically correct speech that clearly are intended to bring about social change and advance the aims of the command-and-control state are:
“Undocumented immigrant” vs. illegal alien
“Pro Choice” vs. pro-abortion
“Privileged” vs. successful
“Provider” vs. physician or other health care professional
“Disadvantaged” vs. poor
You can think of others. 

One who dares to question the nonsensical nature of some of these distortions of language will be shamed and vilified by those who are bent on stealing our freedom. 

Those of us who are determined to preserve our God-given rights and defend the United States Constitution would do well to resist this new Newspeak by, for example, calling “Affirmative Action” what it is, which is a program designed to give preferential treatment to a designated group; speaking of “broken homes,” rather than “dysfunctional families;” and even “criminals” versus “behaviorally disordered individuals.”

 Has anyone besides me wondered, by the way, why it is still OK to refer to “white trash?”

August 27, 2015
The Sausage Factory

Many people of the Right are upset with members of the legislature who do not seem to accomplish what their constituents want of them.  They complain, especially those who work hard to recruit, support, and campaign for conservative candidates, that after those candidates are elected and arrive in Washington or Columbus they cave to the Democrats or fail to advance legislation in keeping with our values and concerns.

There is an old saying, the “Sausage Principle,” to the effect that people who love sausage and respect the law should never watch either one being made.  The process of crafting and passing legislation was designed by our Founders to be slow and deliberate.  It is also often extremely messy.  With any bill, there are many opportunities to amend it and make it more favorable—IF the members of the legislature behave within the usual constraints and are not able to pre-empt the process.  We all have awful memories, of course, of the under-cover-of-darkness, deceptive, stonewalling tactics that were used to push through Obamacare.   This president, to be sure, has been able to frequently circumvent the legislature by imposing Executive Orders, and many fault Congress for failing to stop him.  We hate the cronyism and corruption that has been too often in evidence, even under Republican control of Congress.  It is objectionable that bills in Washington are written with such complexity and at such length that legislators may not even have time to read—much less digest—them before a vote is called. Legislators certainly should not allow themselves to be in thrall to special interests.  Even when their party holds a large majority, legislators should consider carefully the costs and benefits of strictly partisan lawmaking versus that which will have the support of the populace and, above all, do no harm.
Absent the hanky-panky, the process still takes time and contains a number of steps. 

Both the U.S. Congress and the Ohio General Assembly operate on two-year cycles, beginning in the odd-numbered year.  The Ohio General Assembly will introduce over 1,000 bills during each session. Anyone may draft a bill, but only members of the Assembly, or of the U.S. Congress, may introduce and sponsor bills in those bodies.  With both bodies, legislation that is introduced during a particular session of Congress (or the General Assembly in the case of Ohio) is active only until the end of that term.  Unpassed, it dies and must be reintroduced in a new term.  Many, many more bills are introduced than ever become law; lacking strong support, legislation “dies in committee.”  There are four basic types of legislation:  bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions.  Each is given a number, House bill numbers preceded by “HR” and Senate bills by “S,” and referred to a committee. 

The bill is placed on the committee’s calendar, and it may be referred to a subcommittee or considered by the committee as a whole.  The committee considers likelihood of passage and, if it does not act, the bill is effectively killed.  If the bill is referred to a subcommittee, it will be studied, and hearings held putting on record the opinions of various experts, public officials, supporters and opponents.  In Ohio, if a bill has enough support from the committee or caucus leadership, it is sent on to the Reference Committee.  The Reference Committee, which is run by top legislative leaders, decides which bills will be placed on the calendar for a full House or Senate vote.  This is the stage at which interested citizens may apply to testify for or against a bill.

The committee structure, at both the state and national levels, allow for in-depth review of issues, debate, and amendments of proposed legislation.  Members of Congress and the Ohio General Assembly are assigned to committees by legislative leadership, and the leaders also appoint the chairperson of each committee.  Some committee assignments are more desirable than others because they may offer a member the opportunity to have a more significant impact on public policy, give them more visibility, or give them access to a wider range of potential contributors.
The subcommittees and committees do what is called “marking up” bills, and this process of negotiation may result in moving the legislation up the chain and finally to the full House or Senate—or not.  If not, the bill dies, and this is the fate of most proposed legislation.

After the work of the committee(s) is finished, and the bill is reported to the full House or Senate, that body will then debate the bill, perhaps make additional amendments, and then vote on the measure.

The entire process must then be repeated in the other chamber.  Once the two chambers have succeeded in passing the bill, the two versions must be reconciled.  The two versions, because amendments are likely to have been made in the second body, will likely differ.  If the original chamber accepts the amendments from the second chamber, the bill will be forwarded to the Executive for signature or veto.  If the two chambers disagree, a conference committee, including members from both bodies, will be formed to work out the differences and achieve reconciliation.

Considering the arduousness of this process, it is a wonder that so many new laws are actually passed in a session. 

August 31, 2015

Deliberate Harm

All is Not Lost

At our house, we joke about morning prayers consisting, at least in part, of sitting with our coffee and the daily newspapers, saying repeatedly, “Oh, God!”

Yesterday, especial fervency was provoked by some disheartening news about Voice of America.  Started in 1942 as a means of countering Nazi propaganda, VOA is a taxpayer-funded broadcasting system that has as its mission providing news that is “accurate, objective, and comprehensive.”  It broadcasts in English and 41 foreign languages.  During most of its long history, VOA has seen itself as being a means of getting the truth and the light of hope to closed societies.  It did just that for many under Communist rule during the Cold War, and for people such as the Chinese dissidents at the time of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. 

Now, however, the VOA appears to have been turned into yet another partisan propaganda instrument, along with the mainstream media and the academic establishment.  Sohrab Ahmari wrote for the Wall Street Journal about the Persian-language broadcasts to Iran concerning the Obama administration’s nuclear deal.  Coverage of the July 23 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing included almost exclusively the arguments by John Kerry and other supporters of the deal.  During statements by opponents, the program shifted to a call-in show on fashion in Iran.  English-language coverage has also been problematic, citing “experts” in support of the deal, but failing to quote any critics to give the opposing views.  Such incomplete and biased coverage cannot be encouraging to Iranis who oppose the current regime and yearn for a freer, more Westernized way of life.

Another article by Matt Ridley catalogued some of the costs, economic as well as in harm to the environment; and morbidity and mortality, of the scare tactics and heavy-handed proscriptive regulatory measures of the EPA. In the name of protecting the environment, radical environmentalists and their servant, the EPA, are causing real and sometimes disastrous harm.

Then, my eye fell on a lovely piece written by William McGurn, “What Motivates a Modern Nun?”  He described attending and being moved by the ceremony in which eight young women took their final vows as sisters in the relatively new Catholic order, the Sisters of Life.  The sisters of this order take a fourth vow, in addition to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience: to protect the sacredness of every human life.  They open their convents to pregnant women who have nowhere else to go, and support and sustain them during their childbearing experience.  These women consecrate their lives to God and devote themselves to providing loving service to women who may never have experienced love in their lives.  And all without a dime of taxpayers’ money.

In these days, when the gargantuan state undermines charity, generosity, and neighborliness and instead incites envy and resentment, it is wonderful to find evidence of people finding joy and fulfillment in serving others. 

August 15, 2015
Death By a Thousand Cuts
Last week, our dishwasher went on the fritz and, before the repair was accomplished, the water heater sprang a leak!  There’s nothing like washing dishes by hand in cold water and taking cold showers to make one appreciate modern conveniences.
When we went to look at water heaters, we were surprised at how much the prices had increased.  The salesman and the installer shook their heads and said that, yes, the prices had increased by 25% due to EPA regulations.  They added, “Everything’s going up except wages.”

My daughter, coincidentally, lost air conditioning in her condo, and also had a water heater failure.  Because of the new EPA regs, she could not get an air conditioning unit that would be compatible with her furnace, so she had to get both replaced, to the tune of $8000 plus.  The price for her new water heater was even more than the price for ours.  She was not happy.

We do not have choice about paying more for dishwashers that don’t use enough water to clean the dishes; gasoline with ethanol that gives considerably lower mileage and harms engines to boot; toilets that give only a mini-flush—I could go on.

So it was with chagrin that I read about findings reported in a recent National Bureau of Economic Research document.  The authors point out that implementation of Energy Efficiency policies in no way yields expected results in terms of economy and emissions reductions.  The predicted desirable results are based upon projections from engineering models, you see (similar to the way predicted warming of the globe comes from computer modeling).  In the real world, as exemplified in the reported sampling of more than 30,000 households in Michigan, upfront added costs for “energy efficient” appliances, house weatherization, and such were about twice the actual energy savings.  The energy savings projected by the engineering model were about 2.5 times the actual savings.  The investigators checked for “rebound effect,” or increased use of energy in response to decreased costs, and they found no evidence of significantly higher indoor temperatures in weatherized homes.  Bottom line: costs outweigh benefits, with an average annual rate of return of about -9.5%.

Some of you will recall the era when American auto manufacturers, in a cozy collusion, built monster cars that guzzled gasoline and were in the shop every other week.  Then, Japan got into the market with smaller, more efficient, and better quality cars, and Detroit got into line.  Free markets really do work, calling upon human ingenuity and the forces of competition to produce products that are not only better, but more affordable.  Government types, I’m sorry, just want to take your stuff and control your life. 

August 1, 2015
"Good Government" (my eye!)

The so-called “liberals” who are outraged by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision have received a major smackdown in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  These same people insist that there is no problem with heavy governmental regulation on political speech; that free speech in general is not thereby imperiled; that they only seek “good government.”  They also were, some of them, responsible for shocking and outrageous persecution of supporters of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  The Democrat District Attorney of Milwaukee, one John Chisholm, “investigated” the Governor’s supporters by such tactics as email surveillance and seizure of personal and financial documents; SWAT-style raids of their homes, armed with battering rams and subpoenas; and threats of reprisal should they speak about what was being done to them.  It turns out that the wife of Mr. Chisholm, a teachers’ union shop steward, was upset by proposed reforms of public unions, and Mr. Chisholm “felt it was his personal duty” to stop those responsible. 

The justification offered for the tactics used by Governor Walker’s political opponents against his activist supporters was that his supporters violated campaign finance rules that forbid coordination between independent groups and candidates.  This theory was found by the Supreme Court to be “unsupported in either reason or law.”  I think that it is worthwhile to quote here a few lines from the decision:  “The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection.  The special prosecutor’s theories…instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished…It is fortunate…that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution.” 

The “John Doe” investigations started in 2011, and they have finally been completely shut down by the high court. The mainstream media, of course, has reacted with studied blindness, deafness, and muteness.  Spread the word.  It was a good day for liberty. 

July 25, 2015

Silence is Not Golden

Judge Not...

The ongoing frenzy to remove every symbol, every artistic representation, of the Confederacy from public view provides yet another example of what fallen creatures we humans are.  Fallen creatures and, too often, fools as well.  Politicians and pundits of the Left, especially—you know, the ones who tell us that we should have a “nuanced view”—are pronouncing the Confederate flag a “symbol of hate,” and even opining that merely seeing that symbol can incite people to racial violence, so of course it must be eliminated from the public square.

Those who wish to rename parks, streets, even colleges; to deface or destroy monuments (I haven’t yet heard anyone propose sandblasting away the bas-reliefs of Lee, Jackson, and Davis on Georgia’s Stone Mountain, but that’s coming); and to ban books and films would rather erase history than try to understand it.   They tried that with book burnings in the Middle Ages, and it really didn’t work.

The people in the American South in the 1800’s were not demons.  They were people, living in their particular context.  Slavery was part-and-parcel of their agricultural system at the time.  It was not only morally repugnant, but also economically extremely flawed and doomed to failure, but it was what they had at the time, and, like most people, Southerners did not want to have the rug pulled out from under them and lose their self-determination and their livelihoods.  We should also remind ourselves of several uncomfortable facts.  One is that slavery had existed throughout the world for millennia. The word, “slave” is from the word, “Slav,” reflecting the fact that most slaves were not, and still are not, of African origin.  Another is that Africans very happily captured and sold other Africans to slave traders for transport to other countries.  Yet another is that the United States and Great Britain were the only countries in the world at the time to outlaw slavery, fulfilling the intent and the promise of our Founders.

The darker aspects of this movement involve continued efforts to fan the flames of racial animus for political gain by professional race-baiters and manipulators who understand the weakness, laziness, and sensation-seeking of the populace. Keeps them in a job. To the excitable masses, getting on board with a program to eliminate the Confederate flag can let them feel good about themselves with very little effort. It would be so much better to stop, take a breath, and consider the words of Matthew, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own?”

July 10, 2015
Some Thoughts on Obergefell v. Hodges
Listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday as I was doing some scutwork in the house, I heard him ask why there was no public outrage, no flurry of demonstrations in the streets, following the Supreme Court rulings last week, particularly the one requiring all states to license and recognize same-sex “marriage.” 

For a fact, there is plenty of outrage, but I think there is also plenty of resigned hopelessness.  We saw the totally inappropriate floodlighting of the White House with rainbow colors; an unrestrained celebration that also sent a cautionary message to those who would dare protest.  We learned that Father Jonathan Morris, a Fox News contributor from the Bronx, was spat upon as he walked to dinner dressed in his clerical garb by two participants in an LGBT celebratory parade following Friday’s ruling.  We have read how more and more nations have passed laws legitimizing something that is really impossible and nonsensical, and we conclude that it is futile to push back—that destruction of the basic institution of society is inevitable, and we had better just get used to it.  We see that the “Progressive” juggernaut has thoroughly infiltrated public education and the media; that our children are early indoctrinated with the new orthodoxy and young people whose primary source of news is their devices are informed by the left-leaning spokespeople alone.
As not only the definition and meaning of marriage, but even of gender is twisted and distorted beyond recognition, one may determine one’s status on the basis of feeling, not reason and reality.  As a mental health professional, I was there when the powers-that-be bowed to, or enthusiastically embraced, reassignment of homosexuality to a “normal variant” rather than a disorder.  To call a condition that afflicts less than 3% of the population “normal” constitutes violence upon the English language.   As it stands now, people who want to undergo a sex change based on their unhappiness with being male or female, are still officially deemed to be suffering from a mental illness.  We won’t have long to wait, I fear, before we will have another new “normal variant.”

Marriage is much, much more than a matter simply of “who you love.”  The nature of the human person, created as male or female, remains unchanged and unchangeable.  Marriage is, of its nature, the union of one man and one woman in the only arrangement that brings forth children.  Marriage is the institution that connects children to their mothers AND THEIR FATHERS, providing for their safety and for their healthy development.  Marriage is not merely an arrangement for the legitimization of inheritance and transfer of benefits and decision-making authority—those issues can be dealt with easily without a marriage contract.   The state should not concern itself with whether people with same-sex attraction cohabit and designate their partners as their heirs or their beneficiaries.  Neither should five unelected lawyers presume to turn reality upon its head.

The likely dire consequences of the tragic mistake made by the Supreme Court last week for our First Amendment rights to religious liberty are not difficult to predict.  It has started already.  Francis George, the recently deceased Catholic Cardinal of Chicago, said, in part, in 2010, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

It is for those of us who believe in the Constitution, and who believe that there is objective truth and will not be distracted by the newest shiny thing, to reach out with love and support to all people and to promote and defend the authentic and immutable meaning of marriage.  The last sentence of Cardinal George’s 2010 statement was, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
July 3, 2015

Civil Forfeiture at Airports Too

Beware of Those Who Do Things in the Name of Good

Harold Hamm, chairman of the domestic Energy Producers Alliance, points out in the June 22 Wall Street Journal that the ban on exports of U.S. crude oil, left over from the Nixon era, has done great harm to the American economy and is hobbling the boom in U.S. oil production due to fracking.  Fully 28% of American oil refining capacity is foreign-owned.  Producers from other countries started buying into American refining in the 1980’s and the refineries have mostly been configured to process heavy crude oil, rather than the light “sweet” crude produced in the U.S.   These foreign entities have taken advantage of an ill-conceived law based on the erroneous belief that we were running out of oil, to ensure continued demand for their product and keep us from becoming energy-independent.  Rescinding this ban on exports, according to Mr. Hamm, is an urgent need, not only to allow us to get out from under the thumb of OPEC, but also to prevent our allies from being forced, at some hazard, to buy their oil from Russia and Iran. 

What jumps out at me is that this export ban is yet another example of a law passed on the basis of insufficient or erroneous information that ends up causing harm, rather than benefit.   Some laws of this kind are hysterical overreactions, such as the ban on DDT, passed in reaction to Rachel Carson’s polemic, “Silent Spring.”  The DDT ban has since been directly responsible for millions of preventable deaths from malaria.  Other such laws result from special interests convincing gullible legislators or, in some cases, buying politicians.  The mandated addition to gasoline of ethanol, which we have seen not only harms car engines, but consumes more energy in its production than it saves in its use, comes to mind.  Pro-ethanol lobbyists, we know, have worked very hard to advance the interests of Midwestern corn producers.  You could probably think of a dozen or so such laws in a few minutes.  

Perhaps, if we could somehow return to the Founders’ ideal of “citizen legislators” and Congress convened for only, say, six long weekends per year, they would do less mischief.  (Sigh.)

June 23, 2015
In recent times Americans have been roiled, it seems to me, by increasing alienation, unhappiness, anger, and unrest.  By my lights, the president who promised to bring us together has only increased racial tension and animosity.  Policies touted as benefiting all have damaged the polity, diluted liberty, and caused loss of opportunity and economic harm to many

The administration has made lightning-fast responses to incidents in which people of color were killed in police actions; always assuming that the police acted with malice and asserting that unfair or excessive targeting of minorities by police was a matter of course.   Even after total exoneration of the officer in the Ferguson case, influential people in government and media have perpetuated the false “Hands up. Don’t shoot” meme.  We saw outright encouragement of lawless behavior by the Mayor of Baltimore when she said that the rioters and looters were to be given room to “destroy.”

Ordinary people, owners of small businesses, have been deprived of their livelihoods for refusing to participate in activities that are counter to their religious beliefs.  Pharmacists have been fired for refusing to dispense abortifacients.

The apparently untouchable IRS has violated the rights of and economically harmed individuals and groups who disagree politically with those currently in power.  Their tactic seems to be to stonewall in the face of investigations and ride it out until the end of Obama’s reign.

Citizens have had their property appropriated by inappropriate use of eminent domain or suffered under crushing penalties for ridiculous environmental offenses.

The victims of the terrorist massacre at Fort Hood were, until very recently and under strong pressure, deprived of honors and benefits. 

Almost immediately after the recent mass murder of nine people in a traditionally black church in Charleston, the president used the event to advance a political purpose.

Then, on Friday, there was a ray of hope when five relatives of those killed in the Charleston church confronted the accused killer and…forgave him!  These beautiful, gracious people, exemplars of the love of Christ, advanced their own reconciliation and healing and provided a priceless model of maturity and constructive behavior as they told Dylann Roof that he had wounded them gravely; that he had done great harm; but that they forgave him and prayed for his soul.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that their great generosity will touch the hearts of the nation and help mend our lacerated spirit. 

June 20, 2015

Taxing Times?

Exploiting Human Weakness

Full disclosure:  I have never bought a lottery ticket; never gone to Vegas or even a casino; never bet on a horse at Keeneland when I have gone there to enjoy a day with friends or family.  That sort of risk-taking just does not appeal to me.  It is true that people from all walks of life and all income levels do engage in gambling, but it is far more costly and risks far more devastating consequences for those with lower incomes.  Studies I have read indicate that the poor are twice as likely to buy lottery tickets than those with greater means.
Some character traits that keep many in poverty include impulsiveness, risk-taking, and difficulty deferring gratification.  (Risk-taking and impulsiveness may also, it is true, be associated with great success, as with some investors or an entrepreneur who risks all in the service of developing and promoting a great idea.)  These negative traits motivate gambling for many.  It has also been shown that one motive for purchasing lottery tickets is the perception that it is an equalizer: that a person with less income, less education, and less ability has just as much chance of being a winner as a rich, educated person.

Using games of chance or lotteries to raise money for good causes has a long history.  I was surprised to learn that the Jamestown settlement was partly financed by lotteries held by the Virginia Company of London, and that lotteries provided funding for public works, colleges, and rebuilding after the Civil War.  The modern state-run lotteries, which usually provide some funding for education and other public programs, are rightly seen as a tax on the poor.  Some defend them because they are voluntary, as opposed to coerced, taxes.  They are also exploitive, taking advantage of those with get-rich-quick fantasies who have trouble saving or allocating their money to more productive ends.

Nevada was the first state to legalize casinos and other forms of gambling as a way to stimulate tourism.  Other states have followed, to the extent that the market is being saturated.  Privately-owned casinos, despite their being magnets for organized crime, have at least provided jobs and large tax revenues.    Government-owned casinos are another matter.  I read that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, facing the urgent need to come up with $1.1 billion this year to pay the public worker and teacher pension bill, wants the Illinois legislature to authorize a Chicago-owned casino whose revenues would exclusively fund the pensions.  This desperate move would put the taxpayers at a pretty substantial risk, as the not-unlikely failure of that proposed casino would put them on the hook.

There are some promising recent findings concerning ways to actually use lotteries in pro-social ways to incentivize the poor to budget and save.  That is a subject to cover in more detail elsewhere.  For the state of Illinois, the biggest problem is the bleeding.  Stanching the flow will require very tough measures to rein in public employees’ benefits and create incentives for business development, such as taken by Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin.  The alternative may be that Chicago will become another Detroit.

June 6, 2015
Not Only Broken Windows
James Q. Wilson, who died in 2012, was one of America’s most consequential political scientists.  Among a number of positive contributions, he developed the “broken windows” theory of policing which was used to extremely positive effect by Rudolph Giuliani during his tenure as Mayor of New York.  The theory was that, if police diligently address minor infractions of the law, such as defacing public buildings with graffiti and minor property damage, more serious criminal acts will be averted.  This is because such pro-active policing reduces the feeling of lawlessness and the sense that things are out of control in a neighborhood.  Potential miscreants are on notice that they will not get a pass, and ordinary citizens feel empowered to keep their neighborhoods livable.  Most people agree that Giuliani’s adherence to this policy led to an astonishing decrease in all varieties of criminal behavior in New York.  It was actually possible, again, after many years of fear, to enjoy a stroll in the City, including crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and doing some enjoyable people watching.

What a change since we now have leadership that accuses law enforcement officers of criminality while excusing or even encouraging infractions of the law!  Did you find it almost incredible when the Mayor of Baltimore asked that the rioters be given “space to destroy?”   Have you wondered how to counter the “Hands up. Don’t shoot” crowd who continue to promote a fiction that seems at least partly motivated to incite violence against the police? 

I am now reading of an upward spiral in crime rates in a number of cities around the country.  Baltimore has had a 60% increase in gun violence compared with one year ago.  In Milwaukee, Homicides are up 180% over last year.  Shootings in St. Louis were up 39%; robberies 43%; and homicides 25%.  Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles report similar increases.  One New York precinct in East Harlem has experienced a 500% increase in shootings compared to one year ago!

These statistics are appalling, certainly.  But is it any wonder, really, when people at the top assert, against the evidence, that there is anti-Black bias in law enforcement; reinforce “doubts” about acquittals of police officers involved in perpetrator injuries or deaths; and discourage criminal penalties for many crimes? 

Politicians and activists who tar “broken windows” policing as racist or unjust fail to notice or acknowledge that the law-abiding residents of at-risk neighborhoods are its most enthusiastic proponents.  That is because, pure and simple, it makes their lives safer and more pleasant.  It makes me sad to consider the prospect of being unable to move about freely in a large city without fearing for my personal safety or loss of my property. 

May 31, 2015


The 9th Annual Defending the American Dream Summit is headed to Columbus, Ohio on August 21 and 22! The event moves around the country each year and it’s a chance for thousands of defenders of freedom to come together to learn, be inspired, and celebrate our liberty. This year’s conference will be one of the most exciting, educational, motivational and inspiring events you have ever attended.

The agenda will be packed with dozens of business and civic luminaries, public officials and national media personalities, who all have stories to share about the American dream and insights into how we can work to preserve it.

Since the 2014 Summit, we’ve made great progress in many states, and even on some federal policies, when it comes to achieving our limited-government agenda. But we still have many challenges ahead of us and many opportunities to advance economic freedom in our communities—and it can’t happen without you!

Come to Columbus and connect with other like-minded activists. Discover how to counter the policies of the left and get the training you need to help reform America. Be a part of the grassroots movement that continues to spark new ideas and is creating a path for the future that will bring wellbeing and prosperity to you, your family and your business.

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The Land of the (Formerly) Free
Americans today live under a burden of laws and regulations so complex, convoluted, and contrary to common sense, that it is probably impossible for anyone not confined to bed, unconscious, in a nursing home to get through the day without breaking laws, even without the knowledge or intention of doing so.  The huge expansion of the regulatory state has been accompanied by a corresponding explosion of statutes and regulations including, just at the federal level, 4,500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminally punishable regulations written by unelected bureaucrats (such as the head of the EPA.)  The Heritage Foundation describes some shocking examples of unwitting lawbreaking, including the story of an eleven-year-old girl who saved a woodpecker from being eaten by a cat.  Her mother agreed that she could keep the bird at home and nurse it back to health, thus running afoul of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  The mother was fined $535.00 and faced up to one year in prison until public outcry forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to drop the criminal charges.

We have strayed quite far from the ideal, expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural address, that “good government...shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”  It used to be that criminal law dealt with acts that anyone who had attained the age of reason would know were wrong, and also that one must be shown to have had “mens rea,” or criminal intent, to be found guilty.  Today, in many cases, a person’s ignorance of the statute or regulation, or even accidental violation, will not protect him from a criminal conviction.  The government acts to constrain behavior that, in some bureaucrat’s mind, may possibly have bad consequences, rather than acting to address, after the fact, behavior that has actually resulted in harm to another. 

The regulatory laws also frequently cause real harm, most often economic, but sometimes affecting health or even life.  You have probably read about how the rash and short-sighted action to totally ban the insecticide DDT has directly caused the deaths of millions around the world from malaria.  A newly-proposed regulation (championed, of course by Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren) would subject financial retirement advisors to new standards that, if implemented, will put the advisors’ services out of reach for many seniors because the compliance costs will force them to charge more for their help.  As a personal example of heavy handed and ridiculous implementation of regulations:  my husband once ran a company that did, among other things, electroplating.  The EPA inspector said that the effluent from the plant contained an unacceptably high level of copper, and the company must correct it.  Puzzling was that fact that the electroplating process involved no copper.  It turned out that the amount of copper in the plant’s effluent was exactly the same as the amount of copper in the water coming into the plant from the city’s water supply.  That did not matter to the EPA!  The ensuing “fix” of a non-problem, certainly cost the company money that could have been much better spent.

Licensing laws are another example of regulations that, while touted as protecting the public, actually bar millions of people from performing jobs, such as hairdressing, manicuring, locksmithing, interior design, and others, because they must pay for unnecessary “training” and stiff fees to obtain licensure. These laws are clearly meant to protect entrenched interests by keeping out the “riffraff,” as well as providing yet another revenue stream for the government. 
How far must the Leviathan state go before people decide that enough is enough?

May 24, 2015

Government Rail?

Voodoo Nutrition

Last week the Chipotle restaurant chain decided to remove genetically modified components of menu offerings nationwide.  Whether this will turn out to be an effective marketing ploy for Chipotle remains to be seen.  It certainly will mean that their prices will have to increase.

There was also, last week, a decision by a federal judge in Vermont  declining to issue a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of a 2014 Vermont law mandating labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients.  This decision also will increase costs to consumers, especially if other states follow suit and create a patchwork of labeling laws.  The judge’s rationale was that the state has an interest in ensuring food safety.  In truth, the labeling law will do nothing of the sort.  Genetically modified foods have been in use for decades, and there has been not a single incident of illness caused by a GMO.  All major scientific and health organizations that have investigated the issue have concluded that GMO’s are safe, and that they are as nutritious as any other foods. 

The anti-GMO claque is one of several groups that have a need to consume special foods.  Others are those who believe that they must live gluten-free; and the rather large group that insists on purchasing only “organic” foods.  (Really, now, can you think of a foodstuff that is not organic?)

Food faddism has been prevalent in the United States for quite a long time.  In the nineteenth century, one Horace Fletcher gave his name to a practice, “Fletcherism,” that was followed by many and consisted in part of chewing each bite of food at least 32 times as a means of aiding digestion.  Nope, it didn’t work.  John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the cereal company, led an impassioned group of food faddists who, of course, believed that grains were the most essential for health, but also enjoyed such things as yogurt enemas.  Over the last few decades, we have been told that salt was bad for us, then that it presents a hazard only for those with a predisposition to hypertension.  They said that butter clogged the arteries, then that the trans-fat-containing substitutes are bad and butter is good.  We were told that a low-fat diet is essential for health, then we saw the increase in obesity from people substituting high-carb foods for those with some satiating fat.  You get the picture. 

Some food faddism can be credited, at least in large part, to marketing.  Why wouldn’t food producers, in a time of plentiful and cheap food, want to create a market niche by convincing people that expensive “organic” foods displayed in a special store or a special area of the produce section are to be preferred over those readily and cheaply available to anyone.  And one can’t fault egg producers for attempting to make large numbers of people believe that they have the secret to getting hens to lay eggs that are superior and charging at least twice the going price to the gullible.  Marketers have also had big success in convincing people that their bottled water, costing hundreds of times more than tap water, is superior to tap water.  The dirty secret has been that some bottled water is simply tap water, bottled. Wanting to buy more expensive and exclusive foods is as much a mark of high status as carrying a Louis Vuitton bag.

The widespread fear of GMO’s or “Frankenfoods” results from marketers exploiting the human desire to deny death and disease.  If only we could find the magical elixir that would allow us to have eternal youth and eternal life.

I’m sure all who do grocery shopping have noticed the increased shelf space allocated to “gluten-free” foods, and perhaps noticed how expensive they are.  People who have a metabolic disorder known as celiac disease or sprue definitely need to eliminate gluten to the extent possible or face unpleasant and debilitating digestive symptoms and malnutrition.   Less than 1% of the U.S. population, according to figures I have read, are so afflicted, yet we have enough people wanting to believe that a gluten-free diet makes them feel better, and willing to spend large amounts of money to indulge that belief, that it makes sense for the supermarket to give gluten-free products valuable shelf space.

All people have needs for status, and spending more for a product and consuming it conspicuously can help to satisfy that need.  Many people suffer from uncomfortable and troubling emotions, and it is my belief that a proportion of these people may attempt to assuage these miseries by their food choices.  Expensive, yes, but cheaper than therapy.  Who knows?  Maybe it will even work, at least for a time.  

May 8, 2015
What a Difference Three Decades Make
This morning, I watched a 3-minute video of a speech by Ronald Reagan lauding the self-sacrifice of American veterans.  It flooded me with emotions of gratitude, admiration, national pride, grief, awe.  And nostalgia.  A lot of nostalgia.

I miss the kind of leadership that inspires; that calls on us to be our best selves and to thereby build an ever better nation and share in growing prosperity.  That expects that we will care for our brothers and sisters, but that does not place the boot of big government ever more heavily on our necks to take from us the fruits of our labor for redistribution.

I read that our colleges are experiencing large increases in the numbers of students who are in need of care for mental health problems.  When I was still working as a psychologist, and regularly exposed to the professional literature, I read some alarming things about the rising incidence of mental health problems in adolescents, including depression and psychopathy.  We read that, for the first time, young Americans believe that they will not be as successful or prosperous as their parents.   And this is aside from the groups of idle, mostly young, people who are throwing rocks and setting fires in the streets.  What is going on?
Barack Obama campaigned on a promise of “Hope and Change.”  Excuse me, but are we hearing much that inspires hope, much less confidence, optimism, or pride?  Change seems to be occurring with almost dizzying rapidity, but is it the kind of change that supports and fosters human flourishing and maintains the health and strength of our nation?

It seems to me that the rhetoric from the current leadership is aimed more toward inciting envy, resentment, and anger than encouraging patriotism, pride, achievement, and virtue.   And Mrs. Clinton, with breathtaking cynicism, asks us to buy her populist message while we learn more about her personal enrichment through dealings that were almost certainly illegal and possibly treasonous.  This woman also says she stands for strong families, while supporting and promoting abortion, infanticide (late-term abortion,) homosexual “marriage,” and euthanasia. 

I pray that a leader will emerge who believes in the greatness of our country and our people.  Someone with vision.  Someone with a plan.  Someone with courage.  Someone who will lead.

Apriil 29, 2015

Who Will Stand For Us?

The Death of Divided Government

When Iranian President Hasan Rouhani accused the U.S. Congress of meddling in the negotiations over his country’s nuclear program, he was simply reiterating the attitude of the U.S. President.  Rouhani said that the only parties with any right to be heard are the seven nations involved in the talks.  Now, some may say that his speech on Iranian state television shows only that he does not understand how our government works.  Unfortunately, however, Barack Obama has been doing quite a job of making the Congress irrelevant, trashing states’ rights, and incinerating individual liberties.   It’s no wonder that Rouhani would get the idea that Congress had no place at the table when clearly Barack Obama believes himself entitled to rule by fiat.

The Executive and the Judiciary seem to hold sway, and Congress often seems to merely carp ineffectually before ducking its head.   We learn now that U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ron Machen, on his final day in that job, pronounced that he would not file the contempt charges made by Congress against Lois Lerner.  This, according to the Wall Street Journal, shields Ms. Lerner from a grand jury probe.   Does this mean that the truly outrageous offenses of Lois Lerner against ordinary American citizens will go unpunished?  How can this be?

When government assumes that it can rule us rather than serving its assigned role of protecting us and securing our God-given rights, we have strayed far from the essence of America’s constitutional framework.  State legislatures are hamstrung, able to pass laws only if the federal regulators agree, or risk losing that precious federal funding.  Even K-12 schooling has been nationalized, and the push for the Common Core Curriculum will even further advance the loss of parental control over their children’s education. 

Our legislators are the bulwark against despotism, but only if they grow spines and do their duty to the people who have elected them.   Will people come to realize that the old joke about one of the world’s biggest lies: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” really is true, and insist that that government get off our backs?

April 16, 2015
It Was a Pretty Bad Week
Sometimes it’s hard not to be dispirited.  First there was the spectacle of the new fascisti  persecuting and financially ruining small business owners in Indiana in their campaign to force mainstream acquiescence to the homosexual activist agenda.  How is it that a small, vicious special interest group, purportedly representing 1-3% of the population, (though, actually, they are probably merely committed troublemakers) gets to run over the rights of peaceable people to live their religious values, causing absolutely no real harm to anyone?

Then, there was the Iran “framework of a deal.”  One can only speculate about the possible motives for the concessions that have put Iran in the catbird seat, but it’s pretty obvious that the world is a lot less safe because of them. 

For some reason, Iran, that “tiny” country, according to the president, has been allowed to totally hijack the negotiations, relentlessly violating U.N. resolutions by increasing the number of their centrifuges from 100 to 20,000 during the course of the negotiations; and behaving as if deigning to sit at the table, all the while refusing to make any good-faith efforts, should be gratefully received by us.  That tiny country has shown, and has been crowing, that it triumphed in Lausanne. 

The framework is quite problematic with regard to verifiability and enforceability.  Iran gives up none of its equipment or facilities, and there are no firm requirements regarding proposed constraints and inspections.  Meanwhile, sanctions will be lifted, allowing Iran to improve its economy and oh, by the way, its ability to threaten and subdue its neighbors.

Once sanctions are lifted and some of our European allies resume trading with Iran, will they be quick to “snap back” sanctions when it inevitably becomes known that Iran is in violation? 

Iran’s neighbors, will likely perceive that the United States is willing to allow a nuclear weapons capability to a nation that they consider to be their principal threat and adversary.  A Mid-East arms race is the only expectable outcome, and Saudi Arabia has already signaled that it will undertake development of nuclear arms.  Not only has Iran stated, clearly and on numerous occasions, that it opposes Western values and wishes “death to America,” but it is also entrenched in sectarian enmities that have endured for centuries and will not be modified by attempts at diplomacy.  Not only are Iran’s Middle-Eastern enemies put at serious risk by this likely nuclear proliferation, but also you and me.
Whoever succeeds Barack Obama as President will have a real mess to clean up.  I don’t envy him, or her.

This is What Leadership Looks Like

Coming Soon: The Federal Food Police

Former NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg’s banning of super-size sugared soft drinks was just the camel’s nose under the tent.  The new “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” report, jointly issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services looks like much more than “guidelines.”  We have heard rumblings about government spying on our communications, our energy use, our garbage recycling habits, etc.  Now, this new report not only recommends severely limiting all animal products in the American diet (sustainability, you know), but actually says, “In order for policy recommendations such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to be fully implemented, motivating and facilitating behavioral change at the individual level is required.  These goals will require changes at all levels of the social-ecological model through coordinated efforts among health care and social and food systems from the national to the local level.”  These means of forcing compliance include taxing desserts, banning advertising for certain foods, sending trained obesity “interventionists” to your workplace (!), and electronically monitoring how long you sit in front of the television.   Every time I start to think that there can be no more breathtakingly outrageous examples of government arrogance and overreach, I am made to think again. 

Setting aside that this is yet another frontal assault on freedom, what evidence exists that these people actually know what they are doing?  We have been through quite a number of dietary recommendations that have later been found to be ineffective and even unwise with regard to their health effects.  Margarine used to be favored over butter, and then it wasn’t.  At one time, we were all supposed to limit salt intake, then it was found that hypertension is more a matter of genetics than diet.  Ditto for hypercholesterolemia; diet doesn’t seem to matter.  The anti-fat craze of a few years ago arguably was a major contributor to the increase in obesity, because limiting fat in the diet makes people hungrier.  Now carbs are supposed to be bad for you.  Seems to me that good nutrition is actually pretty simple for most people: eat a wide variety of foods; with higher levels of animal protein if you are still growing, healing from injury or illness; pregnant or nursing; don’t major in foods with high concentrations of fat or sugar; enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables, well-prepared; and above all, enjoy it! 

The other intolerable aspect of this report is that it is as much or more about advancing the “green” agenda as it is about nutrition.  The report states, “Current evidence shows that the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, and energy use, compared to (other) dietary patterns.”  I am more and more convinced that the relentless push toward “sustainability” is not about saving the planet at all, but more about increasing central command and control over our lives. 

The Dreaded VAT
The VAT, or Value Added Tax is a national sales tax on goods and services that is applied at each stage of production.  It is widely used in Europe and some other developed nations.  Rates, naturally, rise over time, despite politicians’ promises to the contrary.  VAT rates in Europe, according to accounting firm Ernst and Young, average 21.6%, up from 19.4% in 2008.  This is on top of income taxes!  Politicians on the left side of the aisle in our Congress want to add the VAT here.

Of course liberals and statists love the VAT, primarily because it is a hidden tax that can be manipulated willy-nilly by politicians rewarding their cronies or punishing their enemies, all the while feeding the beast.  We see today the consequences of that other stealth measure, automatic withholding, in that unsophisticated taxpayers have no idea how much they are paying, and actually believe that they are receiving a gift when they file and get a tax refund.  These same people will blindly and happily vote for ever-increasing spending and taxes.

Proposed legislation for the FairTax (H25, S155) has been in existence since 1995, and is slowly gaining ground, but is a tough sell because it removes from politicians their favorite tool, the tax code, for accumulating power and riches.  The FairTax would involve repeal of the 16th Amendment, abolishing the income tax.  The Federal Government would instead be funded by a national retail sales tax in lieu of, not in addition to, the income tax.  This tax would be SIMPLE, as the rate (23% and designed to be revenue-neutral) would be the same for all purchases.  It would be TRANSPARENT, as the amount of tax paid would be clearly indicated on the sales receipt for all new goods and services (used goods would not be subject to the tax.)  It would be FAIR, because every consumer, including tourists, illegal aliens, and those involved in criminal or under-the-table dealing, would pay the same rate. 

The FairTax is morally defensible, unlike the income tax, and it also would set in motion an economic boom like none we have seen for many years.  It would also incite public pressure for greater economy in government.  I can hear the objections coming--I have heard them all in my years of being a grassroots advocate for the FairTax.  But look it up; there has been a boat load of research on this plan which can be easily accessed via the website: www.fairtax.org., and that will convince reasonable people that everyone would be better off under the FairTax.  Our nation needs it.  

~ April 8,  2015 

The Day Fast Approaches

Religious Intolerance

The uproar following passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by the Indiana legislature and its signing by Republican Governor Mike Pence may be making you shake your head.  Wasn’t the United States of America founded on principles of liberty and God-given human rights?  Doesn’t this law, which is simply the state version of the federal law signed by Bill Clinton in 1993, simply afford citizens full protection under the law? 

Actually, yes.  This assertion that this law represents a “license to discriminate” is largely political, and represents an opening salvo in the 2016-election-related drive to paint all Republicans as driven by hatred and compelled to discriminate against homosexuals, those who do not hold to traditional sexual mores, and those in currently favored groups, such as Muslims.
Do not be fooled.  The RFRA merely reasserts and makes explicit longstanding First Amendment protections in and for the state of Indiana.  It does not give anyone the right to “discriminate” or deny service to anyone else.  All it does is ensure that religious freedom is one factor to be weighed when making court decisions about the common good.  Under the law, plaintiffs must demonstrate that their religious liberty has been “substantially burdened,” and the government, in its turn, must show that its actions represent the “least restrictive” means to achieve a “compelling” state interest. 

The cases that have been widely and hysterically reported, such as a baker refusing to make a cake for a homosexual wedding and a photographer refusing to provide service at another homosexual ceremony, have been ruled against the baker and the photographer.  Existing public accommodation laws present an impossibly high hurdle for the rare individual who might wish to deny a hotel room or restaurant service to a member of a particular group.  Tougher cases involve pharmacists being required to dispense abortifacients against their religious beliefs or risk losing their jobs, and employers being required to provide coverage for abortions.  Those of us who worry about this fear the day that physicians will be required to perform abortions or euthanize terminally ill patients. (This is already happening in Canada, I read.)

The truth here, it seems to me, is that the current brouhaha displays the extreme intolerance of the people on the left who want everyone to endorse their anti-Christian, sexually libertine, and anti-life views.  And the cry for tolerance certainly does not cut both ways.  Imagine, if you will, suing an establishment that keeps to strict Muslim dietary restrictions for refusing to cater your party with alcohol and pulled pork sandwiches.  Zero chance that such a suit would prevail.

Twenty years after the federal RFRA was passed with strong Democrat support, the Left’s renunciation of the same law can be explained only as a sign of intolerance and cultural warfare. 

~ March 31,  2015 

Some Are More Equal Than Others
It was reported yesterday that Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) warned against “blaming the victim” in the case of the fraternity brothers falsely accused of rape at UVA.  The bogus story of the rape, written by a gullible Rolling Stone writer, has been completely discredited, though the magazine is yet to print a retraction. 

Now, just who, do you suppose, is the victim in Senator Gillibrand’s eyes?  If you said the young men, their reputations and lives seriously affected by being falsely accused of a major crime, you would be wrong.  The victim, she says, is this misguided young woman who was apparently acting out of frustrated romantic yearning.

Gillibrand says that blaming her would discourage actual rape victims from coming forward.  She claims that many young women who are raped fear engaging with law enforcement because they think that they will be blamed or that they will not be taken seriously.  As to the suggestion that the young fantasist in question be prosecuted for the harm she has caused, she answers, “Totally inappropriate.”  The correct response to this regrettable occurrence, she says, is for colleges and universities to work even harder to combat the “rape culture” on campus.

This senator is actually a trained lawyer, but she has a record of accepting allegations of rape as true without a shred of evidence.  There can be no need of due process, I guess, for young, hormone-crazed and narcissistic males who would as soon rape you as look at you.  These monsters apparently do not deserve equal protection under the law.

This whole, sick story is a piece of the radical feminist belief system that males have, throughout history, abused women; that women are perpetual victims of the “patriarchy.”  Some even go so far as to say that there is no sexual behavior between a man and a woman that does not qualify as rape, even consensual marital sex.  They have succeeded to a significant degree in a campaign to denigrate males and masculinity.  We see today some of the bitter fruits of this agenda in boys and young men who are discouraged from or punished for engaging in typical masculine behaviors.  Some collapse, others react by becoming more aggressive.  I would venture that the greatly lowered, and declining, ratio of males to females in higher education settings has something to do with the march of radical feminism.

Some in the social sciences have striven mightily to demonstrate that gender differences in behavior are strictly culturally determined; efforts to prove this hypothesis have failed.  Males and females are different, and there is a range of attitudes, behaviors and virtues typically aligned with each sex (though, of course, with much overlap.)  Neither is superior.  We need both for a healthy society. 

~ March 25, 2015

The Army's Fort Hood Disgrace

~ March 19, 2015

Will We Get Right to Work in Ohio?

Recently, Governor Scott Walker signed a new law making Wisconsin the 25th Right to Work state.  This means that workers cannot be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs.  Our Governor has not been enthusiastic about Right to Work legislation, despite strong evidence that Right to Work law has improved the economies of several neighboring states.

Union membership in the U.S. reached its peak in the years after passage of the “Wagner Act” (National Labor Relations Act) in 1935. This “progressive” legislation was deliberately crafted to put employers at a disadvantage vis-a-vis employees, and its creature, the National Labor Relations Board was empowered to interpret the law and define and police “unfair labor practices.”  Under these conditions, millions of workers were organized.  The AFL/CIO, empowered and emboldened, engaged in numerous disruptive strikes after the end of World War II, attempting to strengthen and make permanent the gains they had made during the war.  Their excesses led to executive action, by even the liberal Harry Truman, to seek injunctions to break crippling strikes in the coal and railroad industries. 

Public reaction to these too-powerful unions led to a huge Republican wave in 1946, and passage of Taft-Hartley (the Labor-Management Relations Act) in 1947.  Taft-Hartley made it so workers could not be required to maintain membership in a union, though they could still be required to pay the portion of their union dues used for collective bargaining.  It also allowed states to abolish the requirement that workers join a union or pay any dues.  This “right to work” provision has been vilified by unions who complain that it allows nonunion workers a “free ride.” 

Today, about one third of public employees and less than 7% of private sector employees belong to unions.  Clearly, the unions have not convinced the majority that they offer good value for the price. Public unions survive mainly because the employees are smart enough to realize that, being funded with a seemingly unending stream of taxpayer dollars, their pay is high enough to make union dues relatively trivial.  That, along with the fact that public union dues fund political causes that not all members like, is part of another set of problems that deserve a second column.  Passage of Right to Work legislation in Ohio would force unions in the private sector to do a reset, making themselves attractive to their consumers, or die a natural death. 

~ March 19,  2015

The Truth Will Out
Many of us have long suspected that Global Warming/Climate Change (or whatever) is a scam.  Some of us, including my physicist husband, have known that it is a scam.  Demands that we common folk reduce our “carbon footprint” while the elites conspicuously consume have raised suspicions and ire.  The waste of billions on subsidies to failed “green” energy upstarts like Solyndra have troubled many.   Recent pronouncements by the administration that climate change presents a greater threat to Americans than Islamic terrorism have impressed probably most people as incredible.  In short, there are more and more indications that the whole story is unraveling.

Now, just in this month, I’ve seen several articles that provide rather remarkable information countering the warmists’ claims. 

On February 7, an article in the Telegraph by Christopher Booker revealed widespread “adjustment” of official surface temperature records to suggest much more warming than had actually occurred.  One example is of the published temperature graphs of three weather stations in Paraguay.  Here an actual 60-years-long cooling trend had been changed to one that showed a marked warming.  Similar “adjustments” have been found in South Africa and across the Arctic, between Canada and Siberia.  Booker also reports that the “vanishing” of polar ice is not due to rising global temperature at all, but rather to warmer water brought in by a cyclical shift in a major Atlantic current.

It was reported on February 10 in an Investors’ Business Daily editorial that Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said while speaking in Brussels two weeks ago that the goal of environmentalists is not to save the planet, but rather to destroy capitalism. 

Even environmentalists like Bjorn Lomborg, while he still asserts that the earth is warming and that it is a problem, admits that the predicted temperature increases and alarmist warnings about more frequent droughts and hurricanes have just not happened.  He writes these days about the greater importance of promoting economic growth in poor countries as a means of helping them cope with natural disasters.  He said, in a February 2 piece in the Wall Street Journal, “...for at least the next two decades, solar and wind energy are simply expensive, feel-good measures that will have an imperceptible climate impact.” 

Notwithstanding that the environmentalist activists have pretty well captured the educational establishment, and that the mainstream media are all on board with them, information to contradict the “big lie” of climate change is available and, we can hope, will gradually reach more people and ease this threat to our prosperity and our position in the world. 

~ February 18, 2015

Tax Reform Should Be Job One

~ February 15, 2015

A Note and Invitation From:
Debbie Georgatos

Hi Kate and Ginny,

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the Greater Dayton Republican Women’s Club, and appreciate all of the efforts you went to so that the meeting was so successful. I also still remember and appreciate the homemade grilled cheese sandwich before I went to the airport :)

You likely know that in addition to speaking about my book, I host a conservative talk radio show called Ladies, Can We Talk? (LCWT), from 6 to 8PM, on 660AM The Answer every Sunday night. While the show airs on radio in North Texas, anyone (in the world!) can tune in and hear it live online.   Information about hearing the show on live radio, online, via Phone app, and via podcast, is in the box below.  My reason for hosting LCWT is the same reason you dedicate so many hours to political activism: to preserve liberty and our precious country.

Today I’m writing to ask you a favor: would you share some exciting news about my show with your club members and colleagues? Carly Fiorina will be our guest on the February 15th show at 6:00pm, to talk about her potential presidential run! Past guests include former Congressman and NCPA President Allen West, Congressman Mike Burgess, Independent Women’s Forum founder Heather Higgins and dozens of other liberty-minded movers and shakers.

Success for LCWT means success in spreading the conservative message, a goal you and I share.  I am enlisting the support of like-minded Republicans and conservatives, asking you and your friends to please tune in, call in to the show at 866-660-5759 (whether listening online or radio), “Like” the “Ladies, Can We Talk” FB page and comment there, check out the ladiescanwetalk.org website for podcasts and postings, and follow me on Twitter at @DebbieCanWeTalk.  Your forwarding of this email to your club members and friends will help to expand the numbers of Americans tuning in, and their calls and online commentary will add energy to the show.

Thank you for all that you do for liberty and America, and for your consideration.
My producer and assistant, Lorie Medina, may periodically reach out to you to share exciting news and developments about the show.
 To tune in:
  • Ladies, Can We Talk? is live Sunday evenings, 6-8PM (CST) on 660AM The Answer, in North Texas.
  • Nationwide, anyone can hear the show live either by online live-streaming, click HERE, or on any mobile device by downloading the “660AM The Answer” App.
  • Podcasts of all previous shows, posted within 48 hours after the live show, are available by clicking HERE

Debbie G

Debbie Georgatos
Host: Ladies, Can We Talk?
660AM The Answer
Sundays 6 to 8pm
Call in to the show: 866-660-5759
[email protected]

Gearing Up for Class Warfare?
The President’s forays into flyover country have lately involved touting his “Middle Class Economics” programs—programs that he says are designed to give everyone a shot at achieving the American Dream.

Problem is, his proposals, such as universal child care and free community college seem geared more toward expanding the dependent class than giving a leg up to those who can thereby become self-supporting.  More growth of government and increased spending, accelerating the slide into dysfunction typical of the collapsing European welfare state, is the last thing we need.
The vast “middle”—those between the top fifth (earning more than $105,900. in 2013) and the bottom fifth (earning less than $20,900.) includes people who differ tremendously in their characteristics and in their prospects.  This group has historically shown great fluidity with regard to economic status, depending on many circumstances, some within their control, others not.  The group earning less than $40,000. comprises what used to be called “lower middle class.”  Though many of them are hurting now because of high unemployment, they are much more likely than the chronically poor to have a high school diploma and the characteristics and connections that allow for upward mobility.

The political scientist Charles Murray, in his book “Coming Apart,” identified four characteristics that are reliably associated with success in America: marriage, work ethic; respect for the law; and religious observance.  These characteristics do not grow out of a government program, but are built in the context of stable families and values-based education and training. 

“Middle Class Economics” seems more like a way to bolster the President’s commitment to demonizing and penalizing the “rich” and his false promise that taking and redistributing their wealth can cure poverty, than an effective means of building the middle class.  His apparent desire to lump everyone in the middle together and make them all equally dependent on government largesse would likely have the effect of impairing economic mobility within that “middle.”

Policies and programs that encourage growth of business and productivity; that support marriage and family; and that encourage respect for the law and our institutions are much better ways to ensure that people can achieve success. 

~ February 14, 2015

Something Else the 

Media Didn't Tell You

~ February 8, 2015


~ January 19,  2015

What makes Democracy work??

This 90 second video is interesting - particularly the last comment.

Click HERE

Facts are Stubborn Things

~ January 13, 2015

And We Pay, and Pay.

And Pay...

~ December 31, 2014

OFRW Political Education and Legislative Chair
Kate Burch
Letter Published in Wall Street Journal
"I read with great interest Ms. Rabinowitz’s piece, not least because my friend, fellow psychologist and retired Army Reserve Col. Dr. Kathy Platoni, was present during the Fort Hood massacre. She was actually one of Nidal Hasan’s prime targets, having been newly assigned to supervise him. By pure luck she was in a different building when the shooting started, but five of her people weren’t so lucky, one dying in her arms.

Dr. Platoni is a nationally recognized expert on post-traumatic stress disorder and a passionate advocate for veterans. She has been vocal in her outrage over the unforgivable neglect of the needs of the victims and their families. She describes some of them having been made destitute by their medical expenses that are not provided for them because of the government’s refusal to designate the attack an act of terrorism.

Dr. Platoni’s retirement wasn’t her choice; she was separated from the Army as part of a downsizing, leaving the Army Reserve with a number of mental-health professionals arguably inadequate to meet the need. It does make one wonder when the government seems bent on disrespecting, neglecting and even, frankly, harming the people who actually act in the service of their fellow Americans.

Kathleen J. Burch, Psy.D.
Dayton, Ohio"

  ~ December  17, 2014

Unfree Inquiry


An organization that you might find interesting to investigate is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire)  www.thefire.org.  The group focuses primarily on First Amendment rights in colleges.

Those of us who look into issues in greater depth than that provided by USAToday have been aware of pervasive restrictions of free speech on campus.  Examples include establishing “free-speech zones” that are located in remote areas; sanctions and punishments for “bullying;” and suspensions and even firings of faculty for “violations.”  A particularly egregious example was in New Jersey’s Bergen Community College, where a professor was placed on leave for posting a “threatening” picture of his seven-year-old daughter doing yoga while wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt.  And perhaps you recall Larry Summer being hounded out of his position as president of Harvard because he had the audacity to speak about research findings on gender differences that the radical feminist coterie found offensive.  At the University of Hawaii, students were barred from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the “free speech zone;” they sued and the university amended its policy.

The good news is that, though Fire’s recent survey found that 55% of the colleges examined maintained “severely restrictive” policies, that represents a decrease from a survey seven years ago when 75% maintained severe restrictions of free speech. 

Still so much work to do….

~ December 13, 2014

Congressional Research Service─ An Agency You Should Know About

~ December 2, 2014

Cedarville University's

Religious Freedom Summit

Thank you for your patience as we uploaded all of the audio and video contrent from the Summit. It is now available for you to hear or view.

Click HERE

  ~ October 30, 2014

America Is ‘War on Women’ Weary

By Kimberley A. Strassel

"Don’t tell Harry Reid , but the “war on women” theme is losing political altitude. Don’t tell the entire Democratic Party, in fact, which this year chose to elevate this attack—that Republicans are hostile to women—to the top of its political strategy."

Click HERE to continue reading

~ October 10, 2014

Arrogation of Power

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

Conservatives have been repeatedly outraged and stymied by assaults on the rule of law during this Administration.  The president has frequently made use of executive orders, excusing his bypassing Congress by asserting that “we can’t wait” for implementation of his self-perceived wise and humanitarian measures.  He has illegally used the recess appointments power to appoint high-level government officials when the Senate was not, in fact, in recess.  He violated federal bankruptcy law to benefit the autoworkers’ union in preference to bondholders, who had priority.  He has continued and amplified the practice of appointing “czars” to evade the Constitutional requirement that high officials receive Senate approval.  He has extra-legally granted amnesty and work permits to thousands of illegal aliens.  He has refused to cooperate with congressional committees tasked to oversee various parts of the executive branch, and has prevented punishment for the perpetrators of the IRS scandal.

The people of the Left argue that a modern, complex society cannot be bound by an outmoded Constitution.  They eschew the fixed principles as expressed by the Federalist Society “that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”  Rather, they align themselves with the progressive American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, which “promotes the vitality of the U.S. constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy, and the rule of law.  The abiding principles are reflected in the vision of the constitution’s framers and the wisdom of forward-looking leaders who have shaped our law throughout American history.”

Clearly, politicians on the Left and progressive jurists fancy themselves to be these “forward-looking leaders.”  They cite their Ivy League credentials and endorsements by other leftist-progressive world and national figures as certification that they are entitled to make decisions for us and rule us.  As pointed out by Philip Hamburger of Columbia Law School in a speech delivered at Hillsdale College, the extra-judicial power exercised by this Administration and others of its ilk is absolutist in the purest sense.  He cites the central elements of the absolutist governance that incited the American Revolution as: extra-legal (the people are bound not by law but by other means such as pronouncements) power, supra-legal (the king expected judges to defer to him) power, and the consolidation of power (uniting all government powers—legislative, executive, and judicial—in the king or in his appointees.)

As citizens, we have the duty to be informed, to be vigilant, and to exercise with integrity our voices and our franchise.  Otherwise, we are likely to lose our tradition of self-governance and our freedom.

  ~ October 11, 2014

Government Monopoly

    Anyone who is concerned about the ceaseless encroachment upon private enterprise by the federal government should pay attention to the case of Corinthian Colleges of Santa Ana, CA.
    Here is a video from the summer that will explain phase one of the Administration’s program to destroy educational institutions that are not under their complete control.
    Today’s Wall Street Journal lead editorial describes phase two. 
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an Orwellian title if ever I read one) is now trying to bankrupt the company’s shareholders and creditors by suing the schools for “predatory lending.”
    In fact, Corinthian Colleges had a student loan program that was available to all students regardless of credit records, usually to provide assistance in addition to that from government student loans.
    The interest rate, 9%, was substantially lower than the rate on bank unsecured loans.  The school did not profit from these loans, as there has been about a 60% default rate. Apparently, students will pay off government loans first, as the government may garnish the wages of a debtor in default, while a for-profit may not.  This is predatory? 
    Another complaint by the administration is that Corinthian graduates were frequently unable to find permanent employment consistent with their educational preparation.  Excuse me, but it seems that in this economy most new grads are underemployed, at least for a while.
    The Administration is playing hardball, ordering Corinthian to cease enrolling new students and seeking a court order for them to forgive more than $569 million in private loan debt.
    As the Editor says, “All of this resembles a hyena pack dismembering a wildebeest carcass, which seems to be the point.  The Obama Administration wants to show other for-profit operators what could happen if they resist its new regulations.  The real tragedy is that the destruction of Corinthian will make it harder for graduates to get a job.”

~ September 27, 2014

Capitalism is Clean(er)

Red isn’t green.
Strange thing about Flood Wall Street, the financial-district protest that followed the People’s Climate March: Nobody had much to say about the climate — what they came to talk about was capitalism. “Stop Capitalism,” “End Capitalism,” “Capitalism Kills,” the placards read. Kshama Sawant, the socialist Seattle city-council member who funds her crusade against capitalism by being married to a man with Microsoft money,

,....... to continue reading this great commentary, Click HERE

~ September 25, 2014

Stealing Elections

How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy

By John Fund


    The No. 1 issue is keeping our national, state and local elections free and honest, so that those elected were actually the choices of the voters.
    The research I did, and what I found, made me almost sick.  Not only is voter fraud discovered in every national election, but a majority of the American people believe that many of our elections are rigged.  Ballot security MUST be preserved in our country.  Period.  Otherwise, who knows what influential organizations, with lots of money, can force down our throats.
    Even in my state of Oklahoma, where we have the most up-to-date voting machines, we have recently found that some non-citizens had voter ID cards! 
    However, some other states have had and continue to have problems every election cycle: 

  • In the presidential election of 2008, the city of Houston, Texas, threw out 235,000 votes which were found to be fraudulent.  230,000!  That could have swung the entire state of Texas to a different candidate.  That is HUGE, and something not to be taken lightly. 
    • This type of fraud can easily be done when no ID is required, by giving a different name and address in multiple precincts, and then voting in each of those precincts on election day.  (In 2010, Texas passed one of the strongest Photo ID laws in the country.)
    • There was a man on Fox News after the 2008 election who said he registered and voted OVER 40 TIMES in Indiana. 
  • Nursing home/retirement home absentee voting:  In nursing homes, residents with failing mental capacities make them an easy mark.  An unscrupulous director could register and vote by absentee for any number of guests in the home.
  • Military absentee votes in 2000 were originally not counted and it wasn’t until a court ruling that these defenders of democracy had their votes counted.  Oregon has gone to 100% absentee ballots, and in Maine, you can vote absentee up to THREE MONTHS before election day.
  • “The lack of in-person, at-the-polls accountability makes absentee ballots the tool of choice for those inclined to commit fraud,” According to the Florida Dept. of  Law Enforcement in 1998  a mayoral election in Miami was thrown out when it was learned that “vote brokers” had signed hundreds of phony absentee ballots.
  •  Every state determines its own election laws.
  • Pets and the cemetery vote.  Every election in some states are found to have registered pets, deceased voters and even Mickey Mouse!
  • 2006, employees of the now-defunct ACORN organization submitted 1,805 names to the King County (Seattle) Election Board.  Over 97% of those names were found to be invalid.  This also occurred in Kansas City and St. Louis,  Missouri.  Missouri has often been a “swing” state, so that these fraudulent votes could amount to a complete change in the way the legal voters of Missouri voted.
  • In Madison, Wisconsin, a college town, over 3500 people registered, using the address of one of the college dorms.  They registered on the day of the election, and these ballots were supposed to go in the Provisional ballot box.  After the election, it was discovered that the dorm housed only 700 students, and amazingly enough, it was also discovered that those provisional ballots WERE COUNTED on election day and included in the results.  College towns are a great place to perpetuate voter fraud.

Absentee and Early Voting 

by John Fortier

Didn’t almost everyone in the country see the three large camouflage-clad men out front of a polling place in Pennsylvania in 2008?  Their job was to “discourage” any voter who might not be voting their way.  Surprisingly, these men were never charged for interfering with a free election. 

Party operatives “tend to target people who are elderly, infirm, low-income, non-English-speaking,” says Jeffrey Garfield, Exec. Dir. Of Connecticut’s Election Enforcement Commission.  He noted that absentee ballot fraud has been a persistent problem in his state for years, and in Hartford, eight city politicians have been arrested for voter fraud.


The Solution

 Voter (preferably photo) ID should be required in every state.  Thirty states have passed it. 

In “blue” states, we need to be able to reach out to conservative or moderate Democrats to show them the benefit of Voter ID.  We can point out that most voter fraud can be attributed to Democrats, but the fact is that Republicans have also been guilty of voter fraud.  The moderate Democrats should realize that this might just hurt their party at any time in the future.

  ~ September  22, 2014

Leapfrogging the Democrats' Tech Advantage

Updated Sept. 21, 2014 6:55 p.m. ET


"No evidence exists that Francis Bacon made it to Ethiopia, but in a back room of the Republican National Committee building there is a lot of evidence that Azarias Reda absorbed one of the English philosopher's more famous observations: scientia potentia est. The 28-year-old data evangelist is helping lead the effort to transform the GOP's knowledge of voters into the power to win elections.

"Republicans got thumped in the 2012 elections in no small part because of a voter-data failure. The Obama team crushed the Romney campaign and the RNC: on turnout, on targeting and in social media. Democrats are betting heavily that their operation will once again save the day—turning out enough voters in key states to save their Senate majority in November
                                                              ..........to read the full article click HERE

Property Rights? Right!

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
A group of local women with whom I’m associated are particularly concerned about “Agenda21,”  the United Nations-led program to bring about the end of national sovereignty in favor of global governance by a technocratic elite.  Various programs that have names like “smart growth,” “sustainability,” etc. are part of this program.  They include the use of eminent domain to confiscate private property.  The ultimate aim is to “nudge” people into common housing in cities; to get people out of their automobiles and onto bicycles; and to have the major part of land owned by the government.  The sad story of Mary Granato, a local woman and her family, illustrates the human tragedy attendant on this program. 

This group of women recently made this video.  Please watch it.  Please share it with your friends.  Mary’s story deserves to be known.

Click HERE

Granato stuff for the Malcontents within us all…

by Greater Dayton Republican Women's Club Predsident Robin Dodge

Here is Martha's latest offering, It is brilliant!   Brilliant in it's simplicity. 
  1. Read the letter - choose the LONG or SHORT version, make it yours. 
  2. Go to the LIST, find your representative. - this is Miami Valley Regional planning,  so not limited to Montgomery, Miami, Greene, counties etc.  or click HERE - you can find addresses for each member in the second column of the website's spreadsheet under "Organization"  
  3. Go to the MVRPC website and find a meeting. 
  4. Include that date in your letter.  "Looking forward to seeing you at the ....... meeting."
  5. Print it off, sign it, and send it off.
  6. Go to the meeting and ask questions, or smile and wave at your representative, Wear a Mary Granato Button and tell everyone the story.  LOUDLY.  works every time. 
Please pass this brilliance around and do a little follow up nagging (friends and family must forgive you). 

~ September 16, 2014

Feckless, at Best
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

  ~ August 11, 2014

Wishful Thinking

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

The governance of Barack Obama, consistent with his writings since his college days, exemplifies a view of the United States as the primary cause of the world’s problems.  He criticizes and bemoans U.S. interventions as if they were imperialist/colonialist attacks and power grabs, rather than the responses to aggression and chaos that they actually have been.  His mental furniture has never been rearranged from the configuration set when he was a late-adolescent Cold War dove writing in the student newspaper at Columbia.  He has used the “Cold War” comparison numerous times in his speeches and decries a “war mentality” when his political opponents express concern over American inaction in Syria, Iraq, or the Ukraine; or complain about his passivity in the face of the growing inevitability of a nuclear-armed Iran.

At a recent fundraiser in Seattle, Obama admitted, “Part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world, the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on that sense of “common humanity.”  Being on the side of “common humanity” is great.  But failing to act to defend humanity and the forces of civilization emboldens our enemies and various bad actors around the world to engage in terror, genocide, and oppression. 

Obama’s conceit that he can solve the world’s problems through mediation reveals a failure to understand human beings and the world we occupy.  Other leaders: Benjamin Netanyahu certainly, Stephen Harper in Canada, and Tony Abbott in Australia, do understand that in order to remain free and autonomous, a nation must be ready and willing to defend itself.  And for the United States to remain the preeminent force for good in the world, we must also remain willing and able to give meaningful aid—not just lip service and MRE’s—to people who struggle to be free.

We have come to the sorry state where Western civilization itself is in danger of being destroyed.  It is up to Republicans to take a stand; to educate people about the dangers we face; and to make it clear that the United States will no longer cooperate in its own demise.  

~ August 5, 2014

The Approaching Storm

A budget deficit that grows with each passing second!

A partisan health care plan that threatens to destroy what is left of the American middle class!

A mess in the Middle East!

An absolute crisis on our Southern border that has the "smell" of something that was intentially inflicted by a divisive, power mad administration!

Governor Rick Perry has evidently had enough! He has elected to go it alone, in an effort to secure his 1200 mile stretch of the border. After years of pleas for help, the conclusion is, "Washington doesn't plan on helping!" If it is to be done, then Texas, with hopefully some help from other states, will attempt to stem the flow of undocumented souls pouring into our country!

.... to continue reading, click HERE

~ July 21, 2014

Smile and Wave, Boys. Just Smile and Wave!
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

  ~ July 14, 2014

7 Things Liberals REALLY MEAN When They Cry “Racism”

by John Hawkins

Racism used to mean hating someone because of his race.

No more.

Today, 99 times out of 100 in politics, the word “racist” is used purely for political reasons without any regard to whether something bigoted was actually said.

That doesn’t mean that racism doesn’t exist. It CERTAINLY DOES and sometimes it’s right out in the open, like the Left’s “Black Americans are way too stupid and incompetent to get voter ID like all the other races” canard. But, if we were to define “racism” as offensive statements about someone of another race that wouldn’t be automatically excused if Joe Biden, Harry Reid, or Bill Clinton said them, then there’s so little “racism” in politics that it’s barely worth mentioning.....
Read the full article
Click HERE

~ July 10, 2014


Watch, and let this sink in! The person in this video is a professor (Ph.D.) 

at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. 

Click HERE


The law:  Click HERE

~ July 6, 2014

The Profit Police

Make the Left do their math and show their work.

"Properly understood, all economic values are subjective. Some items have useful applications, but the relative value of those applications is itself subjective; there’s nutritional value in a pound of cauliflower, and there’s nutritional value to an ounce of Beluga caviar, and the difference in the price between the two is based on no objective criterion. Even scarcity does not explain the difference: There are more diamonds in this world than there are autographed photos of Anthony Weiner, but try giving your wife the latter for your anniversary and you’ll get a short and possibly violent lesson in the subjectivity of value."....
  ~ July 3, 2014

The Language of Despotism

by Bruce Thornton

"To paraphrase Thucydides, words like “borders” and “occupation” have had their ordinary meanings changed, and been forced to take meanings that serve tyranny and aggression. And we who accept those new meanings are complicit in the resulting injustice that follows."........

Read the full article
Click HERE

~ July 1, 2014

The Teachers Are Not Helping

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

    The Common Core Curriculum was designed to impose uniform standards of performance on students nationwide, in the hope of bringing the achievement of U.S. students up to the level of other developed countries.  A noble goal, but what are the facts?
    If declaring what students should know would translate into their actually knowing it, things would be wonderful.  However, experience under No Child Left Behind is that many students have failed to reach proficiency even in states with weak standards. 
    It should be clear to anyone who thinks about it that educational improvement requires not only standards of performance, but also a willingness to cooperate and exert effort on the part of the student and capability and effort on the part of the teacher. 
    There are cultural attitudes that contribute to educational success.  We see the examples of students of Asian ethnicity and Jewish faith who perform at significantly higher levels than some other groups.  Here, attitudes, values, aspirations, and work ethic inherent in the particular subculture appear to play a primary role.
    Research has shown that strong accountability systems for teachers: rewarding effective teachers and eliminating ineffective or harmful teachers; as well as providing for choice by parents about where their children attend school, help in boosting student achievement. 
    Unfortunately, we seen evidence across the country of teachers unions working to eliminate or suspend teacher evaluations and school test accountability by pleading that they need time for teachers to prepare for the new, government-imposed tests.  The unions argue that it would be unfair to judge teachers on student performance when the standards and tests are in the process of being changed. 
    What is more important: teachers being protected from fair evaluation and performance-based advancement (or not); or policies that will effectively promote improved student achievement? 

~ July 1, 2014
History of Global Warming
 "Weather Channel Founder Explains History of Global Warming"
If you can devote a half-hour of your valuable time to watching this video, by an impeccable authority, you will be well rewarded. It explains the genesis and development of the global warming campaign, as well as the link between the environmental movement and those who want one-world government and the role of the complicit media in advancing the agenda.
To view this blog post, visit:
Click HERE for the complete article.

~ July 1, 2014

We Have Been Warned

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

If the relentless progress of the ISIS jihadists does not frighten you, it should. 

In Sunni Iraq, the group has control of most major cities; they have taken over the border crossings with Jordan, and they are now establishing political and economic control.  If ISIS succeeds in taking Baghdad and fulfilling their plan to establish it as the seat of a new caliphate, it will be the first time that has happened since the Mongol hordes overran Baghdad in the year 1258. 

Establishing this new caliphate was the life’s work of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, current al Qaeda leader, has said that a new caliphate would turn the world “against the empire of the United States and the world’s Jewish government.”  The master plan of terrorist Abu Musab as-Zarqawi, killed by U.S. forces in 2006, was to culminate in the “declaration of the …Islamic state” sometime between 2013 and 2016, which would be followed by “total war.” 

If ISIS succeeds in co-opting Iraq’s economic assets it could potentially dispense social services to win more hearts and minds and recruit and finance a powerful jihadist army. 

In the face of this peril, President Obama shows no sign of having a strategy or even of having a goal of defeating ISIS.  He speaks, instead, of “asking hard questions before we take action abroad” and of refusing to “play Whack-A-Mole.”

~ June 28, 2014

The IRS Scandal

Obama’s IRS Sent the FBI 1.1 Million Pages of Taxpayer Documents: An Update 

by John Hinderaker

 "one of the Obama administration’s most appalling scandals has gone largely unremarked. In the Fall of 2010, as part of its effort to stem the conservative uprising that was occurring at that time, the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of Lois Lerner and Sarah Ingram, sent the FBI 21 disks containing 1.1 million pages of taxpayer filings. The IRS’s purpose was to give the FBI ammunition with which to investigate and prosecute conservatives." ....to read the complete article, click HERE

~ June 25, 2014
Mr. Piketty's Big Book of Marxiness
This  is Jonah Goldberg’s analysis of the book that everyone is talking about. 

Click HERE for the complete article.

~ June 25, 2014


Some Facts about the religions practiced in America

Click HERE for some surprises

~ June 23, 2014

A Community Special Report
A Commentary Special Report by Abe Greenwald - He's Made it Worse: Obama's Middle East

Click HERE for the complete article - a great analysis of Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East.

~ June 19, 2014

Some Facts about the VA Scandal

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

Does anyone other than the president’s most fervent apologists believe that accepting (probably demanding, actually) Eric Shinseki’s resignation is anything more than a gesture?  Does anyone at all believe that the president was caught flat-footed by news of the manipulation of wait-lists and the many other scandalous instances of waste, fraud, mismanagement, and dereliction of duty?

It has been noted and known for years that the VA system is an ever-increasingly bloated and dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Since 2005, spending by the VA has increased 76%--from $32.5 billion to $57.3 billion—while the number of veterans seeking care has risen 18%.

Only one of 435 VA executives in 2012 received a less than “fully satisfactory” review.

According to the GAO, 80% of the VA’s medical providers received performance bonuses, despite there being no discernable link with quality of service. More and more cases of large bonuses being given to clearly underperforming personnel are reported: including the $11,874 bonus to the Dayton VA Medical Center Director despite confirmation that a dentist on his staff had failed to change his gloves or sterilize instruments over an eighteen-year span.

Two-thirds of the VA workforce is unionized. In 2012, the VA paid 258 employees—the majority of whom were health care professionals—to perform only work for the union, sometimes at home in their jammies, rather than providing health care, even as the VA struggled to fill hundreds of jobs and had to pay overtime to other staff.  Of these 258, 17 had six-figure salaries. Union contract-related work rules contribute directly to the unconscionable wait times.  In a letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal last week, a surgeon described, among other things, being disciplined for getting his patient’s medical records from storage on his own after being told that the staff “couldn’t find them.” And of course, the unions blast any attempts to “outsource,” referring veterans to private facilities or even to non-VA union members.

Abraham Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural Address, spoke of the duty “…to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and for his orphan…”  Let us pray that our leaders will rise to the challenge and craft meaningful and effective reform.

~ May 31, 2014


The situation in Ukraine is fluid, as the citizens attempt to maintain their freedom and sovereignty against ongoing assaults by Russian separatists.  

Petro Poroshenko, who supported the February revolution, was elected president with an impressive majority, winning across the country, even in the parts of the Russian-speaking east that were allowed to vote.  There were efforts by agents of Vladimir Putin to prevent voting by destroying ballot boxes and closing voting precincts.  Despite this, turnout was 60% nationwide, and the two pro-Russian candidates together won only 6% of the vote.  

Continued efforts by the separatists to cause trouble raise the likelihood of civil war; and Kiev must regain control of its borders.  Despite the specter of a shrinking economy and higher energy prices, Ukraine has shown that it wants to join the West and be independent, while co-existing peacefully with Russia.  

Will this administration help this friendly democracy defend itself against Russian aggression, or will it allow Putin to absorb Ukraine into what he seems to desire: a reconstituted Soviet Union?   

~ May 27, 2014
A Champion of Economic Freedom
The Cato Institute honors Leszek Balcerowicz, free-market savior of post-Communist Poland.

Click HERE for the complete article - a worthwhile read.

~ May 22, 2014

Editorial Submitted to the Wall Street Journal

by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch

“The Bureaucrat Sitting on Your Doctor’s Shoulder” was a great, first-person account of some of the life-and-health-threatening consequences of top down, command and control health care.  As a psychologist, I know the damage done to health by destroying the doctor-patient relationship; and as a consumer, I share Dr. Pollard’s frustration. A podiatrist prescribed orthotics to treat my bunions.  Medicare would not cover the orthotics; it would cover surgery, which was not indicated and which would have had a price tag many times higher than the orthotics (not to mention the risk, the pain, and the weeks-long disability attendant upon bunion surgery.)

The root of the problem is government interference in a sphere totally out of its legitimate purview.  Law of post-World War II vintage that allowed employers to provide--tax-free-- employee health insurance as a hiring incentive, was the beginning of the disconnect betweenlthe health care service and the price.  As the insurance companies grew their business and offered more and more “benefits,” patients no longer had a need to know prices, shop for the best price, or negotiate with the physician.  This lack of a financial contract between doctor and patient has been the main driver of the incredible upward spiral of health care prices.  In contrast, the charges for elective procedures, such as cosmetic surgery, not covered by insurance, have remained stable or fallen under pressure of competition.

The government casts “greedy” physicians, other health care practitioners, and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment producers as ready to bilk the public unless they are regulated.  Now, instead of greedy physicians, we have greedy bureaucrats and attorneys at the trough.  We also have, as the article implies, great incentive for fraud.

The answers seem clear, if wrenching to many of the entrenched:  first, repeal the abominable “Affordable Care Act;” next, remove the tax advantage for employer-provided health insurance and expect that people behave like grownups and purchase their own health insurance.  In this case, health insurance would quickly revert to what the name says, rather than remaining what it has become: a third-party payment system that incentivizes price inflation.  The prices of health maintenance and non-catastrophic care would fall to what the market would bear.  The costs of health insurance plans: ditto.  Other details, such as providing a safety net for those who are chronically in need and uninsurable, could be worked out.

Kathleen J. Burch, Psy.D.
Dyton, OH

~ May 22, 2014

Click HERE for the WSJ article referenced by Kate in her above letter.

...and the Beat Goes On

    May 7, 2014 the House voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer lawmakers' questions about alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups seeking non-profit tax status. 
    The next step, according to Federal law, is referral to the local U.S. attorney, a Justice Department official.  It would then be the duty of the U.S. attorney to bring the matter before a grand jury. While that would not guarantee an indictment, expect much resistance and obstructionist maneuvering from the Justice Department. 
    Republican lawmakers believe that Ms. Lerner violated the rights of the groups by failing to process their requests, and there is evidence from emails that her political leanings motivated her uneven handling of applications.  There is also evidence that Justice Department officials were working to coordinate prosecutions with Ms. Lerner. 
    The House also approved a separate resolution urging the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor.  Rep. Jim Jordan said, "The only route to the truth is through the House of Representatives. That's why this resolution is so important." 

Don't expect this to go away anytime soon.

~ May 8, 2014

Democrats: Still Making
Us All Poorer and Less Safe

    You probably already know that the energy bill co-sponsored by Senators Rob Portman and Jeanne Shaheen (D. NH) was defeated Monday by Harry Reid’s refusal to allow a vote on GOP-sponsored amendments.  Several of those amendments were supported by Democrats, including Joe Manchin and Mary Landrieu.  Reid’s fear was that the amendments would pass with bipartisan support, making the expected presidential veto politically hazardous.
   Reid’s antics have changed the Senate from a body in which, through the amendment process, legislation that was truly bipartisan could be passed, to a deliberate obstacle to the democratic process of debate and political accountability.  In this most recent case, it has also further delayed the vote on the Keystone Pipeline, harming the nation economically and putting lives and the environment at risk.
    Terry L. Anderson, writing in the Wall Street Journal, pointed out that, contrary to the dire warnings from the EPA, oil spills from railroad tank cars are greater than pipeline spills, despite the fact that pipelines carry 25 times more oil than the railroads transport.  He cites a State Department report predicting far, far more human injuries and fatalities from rail transport vs. pipeline.  Pipeline spills are more easily controlled and cleaned up than tank car derailments.  The recent Lynchburg, VA derailment caused a 17-mile oil slick, directly disturbing the river bed and banks and the wildlife and plants.
    We all have to just endure the environmentalist Left’s influence over the administration until they are gone, but do not be taken in by their claims to want to “save the planet.”

~ May 15, 2014
Charter School Supporters
Take to the Barricades in Illinois

    Legislative attempts to curb the growth of charter schools in Illinois have incited mass protests at the State Capitol.  Bills being considered would limit where charter schools can locate; ban them from marketing themselves; and abolish a commission that can overrule local school boards and grant charter licenses, among other things.  The dustup in Illinois follows similar incidents in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and New York. 
    Teachers’ unions typically oppose charters because they hire non-union workers and, they argue, drain money from struggling traditional public schools.  Proponents say charter schools offer parents a choice and can adopt innovations such as lengthening the school day and year, and lay off teachers who perform poorly. 
    The charter school movement is growing, with the number of charters more than doubling over the last decade.  Still, with close to 6,500 charter schools enrolling an estimated 2.6 million children, charter schools account for only about 5% of public school K-12 enrollment in the U.S. 
    Even Democrats have been increasingly supportive of charters, as their performance has outstripped that of the traditional public schools.  Teachers’ union leaders claim that the charter schools “skim” higher performing students, but this claim is not substantiated. 
    One mother of two charter school students who attended the rally at the Illinois Capitol said that parents should have the right to choose the best school for their children.  “I am not going to get a lot of second opportunities when it comes to educating my kids,” she said.

~ April 9, 2014
Fallen Angels

    We all know, don’t we, that Detroit is the U.S. city that has suffered the worst economic collapse?  
    Actually, according to the Wall Street Journal, the numbers for Los Angeles are far worse.          Since 1990, Los Angeles has lost 3.1% of its employment base, overall, compared to -2.8% for Detroit and -0.2% for Cleveland.  The numbers are shockingly different between the wealthier and economically depressed areas of the city, with West L.A. having had a payroll job growth of 3% while the rest of L.A. took a 5.1% hit in job loss.  Unemployment in Manhattan Beach is 3.1% compared to 8.9% for Los Angeles County and north of 10% for the poorer east suburbs, which are predominantly black and Latino.  
    Public unions with their unsustainable pension and benefits costs have sunk some Eastern and Midwestern cities.  In Los Angeles, the slide appears to be due to high cost of living, low human capital, and an unfriendly business environment.  Los Angeles has also strictly limited new building permits, driving up housing costs and making it harder for middle-income workers to live there.  The contraction of the aerospace industry has resulted in mass exodus of high-skilled workers, and the public schools have failed to produce more talented labor to fill the gap.  Los Angeles gets below-average or even failing marks in surveys of small business friendliness, compared to flourishing communities, such as Houston and San Antonio.  Those metro areas also have low-educated work forces, but they make up for it by their business-friendly policies.  
    California Governor Jerry Brown claims, in his re-election campaign, that California is resurgent.  However, this does not square with the facts that Los Angeles County experienced a net domestic migration outflow of 115,651 residents between 2007 and 2011; and that the hostile business environment has harmed the poor and middle classes much more than the affluent.    
    California’s legislature is overwhelmingly peopled by Democrats.  How’s that working out?  

~ April  9, 2014

Indiana Rethinks Common Core

On Monday, March 24, Indiana became the first state to officially dump the Common Core standards for math and reading that have been adopted by 45 states. Governor Mike Pence said, “Indiana has taken an important step forward in developing academic standards that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high.”  The Common Core Curriculum, written by a group of governors, state education leaders and other experts, dictate what students should know from kindergarten through 12th grade.  While the Obama administration has used its $4.35 billion Race to the Top initiative to entice states to adopt the standards, they have come under increasing attack in at least a dozen states by conservatives who see them as intruding on local control and furthering a “progressive” agenda.  Supporters of the new law in Indiana also argue that the Common Core is weaker than Indiana’s previous standards.  Others emphasize the importance of states maintaining control over their own education systems as a way of maintaining state sovereignty.  Other state governors may be emboldened to push back against this aspect of increasing federal control by Indiana’s example.

~ April 2, 2014
Democrats Target Women Voters

Women have become the most powerful force in the electorate and, unfortunately, polling reveals that women overall favor a Democrat-controlled Congress. 

Even though the Democrat propaganda about unequal pay for equal work by women and raising the minimum wage is manipulative and non-fact-based, it resonates with many women voters.  Many Democrat candidates, wishing to avoid the stink from Obamacare, are hoping to attract women to the polls by focusing on abortion rights and free birth control, as always, but also on equal pay, a rise in the minimum wage, and “affordable child care.” 

The results of these appeals to women have given the Democrats encouragement.  In 2012, Obama ran an unprecedented number of nationwide TV ads vowing to protect access to abortion and birth control, and he carried women voters by 11 percentage points.  Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe promoted the same issues in 2013 and credited his win in part to a 42-point advantage among single women. 

Women are a primary focus of a $60 million project by the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm to register and mobilize voters to make the November turnout look like 2012, rather than like 2010. 

~ March 22, 2014
Hurrah ─
The Employment Numbers are Improving!

The job-creation number for February, 2014 was 175,000.  This was higher than the 129,000 new jobs created in January, though lower than the prior year’s average of 189,000 new jobs per month.  The administration, of course, cited this number as evidence that its economic policies are working to improve the economy.

The fly in the ointment is a decline in the average workweek.  In September, 2013, the average workweek was 34.5 hours, and it has fallen to 34.2 hours as of February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Small changes in the average workweek make for large changes in total hours worked nationwide, and this measure is a better measure of the labor market’s strength and economic activity.  The decline in the average workweek, offset partially by the increase in the number of people working, means that real labor usage fell by the equivalent of 100,000 jobs since September.  

Possible explanations for the declining average workweek include statistical rounding errors—contradicted by the fact that the decline has been small but steady over a months-long period; and the impact of harsh winter weather.  The numbers are already seasonally adjusted, however, and the shortening of the workweek began well before harsh weather set in.  Which leaves us with the possibility that the Affordable Care Act has had significant effects on the average workweek.  That law encourages businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees (30 or more hours per week) to keep the number of hours low to avoid having to provide health insurance.  The jury is still out.  

~ March  18, 2014

(Information herein summarized was taken from a March 17, 2014 op-ed by Edward P. Lazear in the Wall Street Journal.)

Click HERE to download a printable .pdf file of the above folder

~ March 6, 2014
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

On March 5, the President ordered yet one more delay of the ObamaCare mandates for individuals and small businesses—just in time to possibly save the bacon of some vulnerable Democrats in the midterm election. 

The previously scheduled deadline of January 1, 2015 would mean that insurance cancellations would begin in October, in compliance with the insurance regulations that require prior notice of cancellation.  This would create, of course, some discomfort for officeholders whose constituents would be very unhappy about cancellation of their health care coverage. 

Barack Obama to the rescue!  It was announced Wednesday evening that the mandate suspension has been extended until 2016. 

If anyone has any doubt about the political motivation of this delay, HHS distributed information to reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal, that noted that the new rule was “developed in close consultation with members of Congress,” and then went on to mention by name several very vulnerable Senators, including Mary Landrieu, Mark Udall, Mark Warner, and Jeanne Shaheen; as well as nine House Democrats. 

~ March 6, 2014
The Continuing IRS Circus

It’s probably no news to most of you, but Lois Lerner again invoked the Fifth Amendment on March 5 and refused to testify about IRS targeting of conservative groups.  The Democrats are hoping that the controversy will just go away, and Lerner’s lawyer is complaining about Ms. Lerner being treated unfairly by the “completely partisan” House Oversight Committee.  Even more over the top, Democrats are now calling for Chairman Darrell Issa’s removal because he adjourned the meeting when Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, protested that he wanted to make another statement. 

~ March 06, 2014
New Developments on IRS targeting of grassroots groups

On Wednesday, fighting back against the proposed new IRS regulations to further stifle free political speech, the House passed a bill to delay implementation of the regulations for one year.  The president, of course, threatened a veto, though the bill will not likely even be brought to the floor in the Senate.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has said that the new IRS rules are a blatant attempt “to legalize and institutionalize targeting” of tea party and other groups.  Civil liberties and even environmental groups have also objected to the proposed regulations.

After the IRS targeting was exposed by a report from the IRS inspector general, the Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel revealed his plan for correcting the situation.  Far from a remedy, his proposed interventions would make the situation worse.  Targeted groups would be offered an “expedited” process for getting 501(c)(4) status, that would amount to those groups agreeing to limit to 40% both the amount of spending and time spent on political activity.  Current 501(c)(4) rules, those remaining in place for non-targeted groups, allow political spending up to 49% and have no “time” restrictions. 

Even the so-called “investigation” of the IRS abuses by the Justice Department are politically tainted, as evidenced by the selection of Barbara Bosserman, an Obama donor, to handle it. 

These shocking attempts to abridge First Amendment rights through the use of an agency from which citizens have every right to expect nonpartisanship, give further evidence for the dire need to replace the current administration and its minions. 

~ February 28, 2014
Update on Elections

On February 21, Governor Kasich signed legislation that eliminates the “Golden Week,” when people could register and cast an early ballot at the same time, trimming early voting by a week and regulating the mailing of absentee-ballot applications.   The new laws will take place after the May 6 primary election, but before the November election. Now early voting will start only after the voter registration period ends.  The second measure requires that absentee ballots be sent to registered voters by the Secretary of State, not by county officials; and it requires elections officials to disqualify absentee ballots that have an incomplete identification section. 

Predictably, the Democrats are howling that these laws constitute “voter suppression,” and threaten to challenge them in court. 

In other news, both the Republicans and the Democrats are working to influence Secretary of State races as a way of influencing elections.  The Democrats have launched a new PAC entitled iVote, which aims to unseat lawmakers who support “restrictions” on voting.  They want to expand online voter registration, early balloting, and updated electronic voting equipment.   Conservatives have established a super PAC, “SOS for SoS”  which plans to support Secretary of State candidates who are in favor of policies like requiring voter ID and proof of citizenship, and removing ineligible (and deceased, I surmise) voters from the rolls. 

Races in focus for this super PAC include Ohio (remember Jennifer Brunner?), Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Kansas.  Republicans currently hold 29 of the Secretary of State offices nationwide.  18 Republican-held seats are up for election in 2014.   

~ February 24, 2014
Do Women Really Need Unionization
in Their Homes?
Click HERE  to read this, and many other great political articles pertaining to things of interest to women.
~ February 22, 2014
This impending IRS Regulation would give Unions a free hand in election participation and cripple others
Lodge your opinion (see below)
Can't We All Just Put On
Our Big Girl (and Boy) Pants?

New Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, acceding to President Obama’s wishes that the Fed pursue policies that his administration believes will do more toward reducing unemployment, rather than keeping prices stable, has indicated she will continue the policies of Ben Bernanke.  Many fear that economic growth is being impaired by the Fed’s bond-buying and near-zero interest rate policy.  Monetary policy should be independent from political considerations, but it seems we are looking at further deferment of a collision with reality---putting off higher taxes, higher prices, and harder times for everyone--- in the service of keeping the current administration from feeling the heat.
Ms. Yellen, testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on Feb. 11, asserted that the inflation rate must be raised to 2%, or even higher.  This would let the dollar lose more than 20% of its value each decade.  She reasons, as a Keynesian true believer, that workers want the higher nominal wages that would result, even though their increase is totally wiped out by higher prices; she thinks it is better to accept the illusory benefits of 2% inflation than to risk slipping into a deflation and accompanying rising unemployment.  
Ironically, this “concern” for wage earners justifies money pumping by the Fed that ultimately benefits those with hefty stock portfolios and hurts everyone else, especially those on fixed incomes.  
One might also be excused for feeling insulted by the condescending attitude of the “wizards of smart” who want people to believe not only that they know what they are doing, but that they can be trusted to look out for our interests.   As Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig vonMises have so convincingly explained, and as the historical record has borne out, free people operating in free exchange create the greatest prosperity for all.  

~ February 13, 2014

The Battle Over Taxpayer Funding
of Abortion Goes On

On January 29, the U. S. House passed H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This Act was brought to the floor to correct provisions of Obamacare that Sidestep established law, including the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting federal payments for elective abortion (except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest) and federal subsidies for health plans that include coverage for abortion.  

H.R. 7 codifies the principles if the Hyde Amendment on a permanent, government-wide basis.  It also provides that Obamacare language be revised to eliminate secrecy about abortion coverage so that consumers may be fully informed about abortion coverage and associated surcharges on health insurance plans sold on the exchanges.

Unfortunately, chances for the Act getting through Committee, or being passed in the Senate, are deemed to be about zero.
~ February 7, 2014
The Impact of Stopping
Federal Jobless Benefits

It is expected that new figures will show that the U.S. unemployment rate fell again in January.  The expiration of federal jobless benefits has likely led to some ceasing their search for employment, thereby taking them out of the counted ranks of the unemployed.  Others have probably taken jobs they would have turned down if benefits had been continued.  There also may be more people finding jobs regardless of the effect of the federal unemployment benefits ending.  

The picture is quite muddled and confusing, and the experience of North Carolina does not really provide much help in understanding the situation.  NC saw extended federal benefits cut off in July because its unemployment insurance program failed to meet federal guidelines.  Since that time, the unemployment rate in the state plummeted from 8.9% to 6.9% in December, far faster than the national rate and more than any other state.  Employment increased 1.28%, compared to 0.21% nationally.  But others stopped looking, lowering the state’s labor force participation rate down 0.8% to 61.2%.  The national labor force participation rate—the percentage of adults holding or seeking jobs—is 62.8%.  

The shockingly low rate of labor force participation reflects unavailability of jobs, generally, and also lack of jobs that demand specialized skills and training.   Recent data indicates that the percentage of people working at minimum wage jobs is 50% higher than ten years ago; 71% higher for college graduates.  This includes an estimated 30,000 people with masters’ degrees.  If a person takes a job that does not make use of his or her education, training, and skills, it does not hurt the employment figures, but it is a personal tragedy for that individual.    

Without policies that support investment and new job creation, the future for our nation may be grim, indeed.  

~ February 3, 2014

Fighting Back

Some Congressional Republicans are seeking remedies through the courts following Obama’s assertion that he will use executive power to accomplish his agenda against the will of the people. 

Legal actions have been initiated to challenge the president on issues ranging from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. 

GOP lawmakers argue that the administration’s selective enforcement of Obamacare is unconstitutional.  They are specifically targeting the contraception mandate, as well as executive decisions to delay health insurance requirements, cap out-of-pocket costs, and expand the employer mandate penalty.  The Office of Personnel Management is being sued for allowing legislators and their staff to receive federal subsidies for their coverage rather than following the same rules as the rest of the country. 

Sen. Rand Paul plans to file a class action lawsuit against the NSA over its surveillance programs. 

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in an effort to limit the administration’s power to unilaterally restrict carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. 

The biggest drawback to legal action, according to Sen. John McCain, is that it may take years to be resolved.  The legal challenge to Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board was mounted in January, 2012 and is just now getting attention from the Supreme Court, after having been ruled unconstitutional by three federal appeals courts.  In addition, there is uncertainty about the ability to acquire standing in court. 

Speaker Boehner said that Republicans, however, will not sit idly by as the president takes unilateral actions like raising the minimum wage for federal contractors.  “…there’s a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him, and following the Constitution is the basis for House Republicans,”  Boehner said. 

~ February 3, 2014

Retirees Are Better Off Than You Think
Op-ed by Kate Burch
If a distortion---or an outright lie--- is repeated enough, people accept it as the truth.  Democrats and other statists, with an eye toward even further expansion of the federal government, have been pushing the story that Americans have had their retirement income dramatically reduced over the past thirty years.  They claim that the shift from defined-benefit pensions to defined-contribution savings plans such as 401(k)s has caused this decline. 

The story is largely based on data from the Current Population Survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Trouble is: the definition of “income” used by the Census Bureau includes only payments received on a regular, periodic basis, not withdrawals that people make as needed from 401(k)s or IRAs.  Even considering this, the resources available to retirees is grossly misrepresented.  For example, for 2008, the CPS reported $5.6 billion in individual IRA income, while retirees themselves reported $111 billion to the Internal Revenue Service.  Federal tax filings for that year showed $457 billion of pension or annuity income, while the CPS showed only $222 billion in pensions or annuity income.  

The CPS states that only around half of American workers are offered a retirement plan by their employer.  This estimate is based upon responses from individuals.  However, a 2011 analysis of retirement plan coverage by employers using tax records, done by the Social Security Administration, found that 72% of all workers in private business in 2006 were offered retirement plans.  This figure was 84% for firms employing 100 or more individuals. 

Despite the fact that the Social Security Administration is aware of this under-reporting of retirement income, the agency continues to publish summary reports based upon the fallacious CPS data.  This leads to calls for expanding Social Security and shifting away from the 401(k) and IRA saving systems that have performed much better than Social Security in producing income for retirees. 

(This post uses information from an op-ed piece in the January 24, 2014 Wall Street Journal by Sylvester J. Schieber, former chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board, and Andrew G. Biggs, a former principal deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.)

~ added January 26, 2014
New Findings on Economic Mobility

We have all heard lately that is has become less likely that a child from a low-income family will eventually climb to the higher rungs of the economic ladder.  A new study being published today by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that economic mobility in the United States among people born since 1971 has remained about the same.  This will probably not deter the President from continuing to insist that economic opportunity is the “defining challenge” of our time, or from making the issue the centerpiece of his State of the Union address next week. 

The report acknowledges that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest has widened.  It also shows, regrettably, that economic mobility--viewed as key to a healthy economy--in the United States is lower than it is in other developed countries.  

The President and Democrats call for raising the minimum wage and expanding access to college and preschool education.  Republicans, notably Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, have called for consolidating federal antipoverty programs and directing the monies to the states to spend based on their needs. 

Absent from the discourse is discussion of the disincentives to economic striving of prolonged absence from the workforce and the middle-class lifestyle possible for welfare recipients.

~ added January 26, 2014
Update:  Human Trafficking in Ohio

On Thursday, January 9, Governor Kasich announced a public-awareness campaign to address the serious human trafficking problem in Ohio.  Hoping to increase public awareness regarding the signs of human trafficking and to provide information about reporting and getting help for victims, educational materials will be broadcast statewide.  The Ohio Turnpike Commission will but up posters in service plazas; the Department of Public Safety will distribute 5,000 posters; the Department of Youth Services and Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will post materials in youth and adult prisons; the Department of Health is making materials available in clinics for sexually transmitted diseases; and the State Library of Ohio will distribute posters to public libraries.  

Rep. Teresa Fedor of Toledo has recently introduced House Bill 130, which would outlaw advertising that includes depiction of a minor.  This legislation is aimed at advertisements for escort services and massage parlors.  
~ added January 12, 2014
! ! !

Did you know that Ohio has been one of the states with highest incidence of human trafficking? Sex slavery is not a third-world phenomenon, or even a problem restricted to cities. Conventional wisdom has had it that prostitutes freely choose the “oldest profession” because of moral failings. In truth, more than 90% of prostitutes and others in sex trades such as exotic dancers, are victims of sexual abuse and exploitation from an early age.

There are an estimated 100,000 children in the sex trade in the U.S., and thirteen is the most common age for girls to be introduced to the life of prostitution.

Fortunately, Ohio’s legislature, spearheaded by efforts by Attorney General DeWine and Representative Theresa Fedor, has responded with two laws which have made It easier to protect these children and to prosecute their exploiters.

SB 235 took effect in 2011, and established human trafficking as a specific criminal offense in Ohio. Sub HB 262, the “Safe Harbor” law, signed by Governor Kasich, made trafficking a first-degree felony and obstructing justice in human trafficking cases a second-degree felony.

Latest, still in committee, is HB 130, the End Demand Act, which authorizes appointment of a Guardian ad Litem for an exploited child; prevents easy return to parents convicted of human trafficking offenses; and imposes tougher sentences. The laws mandates training of law enforcement officers to recognize and appropriately deal with human trafficking cases.

There are eleven regional coalitions in Ohio dedicated to addressing this problem, as well as initiatives in a number of cities. Dayton, which has been a hub for human trafficking because of the I-70/I-75 interchange, has several citizen-supported and volunteer-staffed organizations to help victims.

SB 235 is currently stalled -- please urge your state representative and/or senator to take action in helping pass this into law.
A New Approach in the "War on Poverty"?
President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty January 8, 1964 in his first State of the Union address.  Now, fifty years later, we have a greatly expanded Federal bureaucracy and entitlements, significant social pathology among the “underclass,” over $13 trillion in debt, and—poverty statistics that have barely budged.

Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio called for a sweeping overhaul, streamlining “most of our existing federal anti-poverty funding into one single agency.”  He called for sending these funds to the states “so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity.”  He also proposed replacing the earned income tax credit with a federal wage-enhancement program that would pay a federal benefit, rather than a tax credit, to low-wage earners

~ By Kate Burch
  Political Education/Legislation Chair
        January 10, 2014
     New Program to Address Teen Drug Abuse

Drug abuse has risen to epidemic levels in Ohio.  Unintentional drug poisoning became the leading cause of injury death in Ohio in 2007, and that trend has continued.  According the Ohio Department of Health, five people, on average, die each day in Ohio due to drug overdose.  The problem is especially and most troublingly prevalent among youth.

Governor Kasich has begun to promote a new campaign to address drug abuse among Ohio’s young people.  Named “Start Talking,” and operating on the belief that preventing kids from starting to use drugs is the best way to solve the addiction problem, the campaign includes four programs:
  1. “5 Minutes for Life” brings Ohio Highway Patrol and National Guard members into high schools to talk to athletes about remaining drug-free and influencing other students to abstain.
  2. “Building Youth Resiliency” provides grants aimed at helping schools and nonprofits in low-income areas to launch and run drug prevention programs
  3. “Know!” will be a free service to mail out email messages twice monthly to parents and other adults about how to talk to teens about substance abuse.
  4. “Parents 360 Rx” is an 11-minute video developed to help adults learn about substance abuse and give them confidence to talk to their teens about it.
The program is reportedly paid for with existing budgets.  Arguing that stepped-up enforcement is not enough, the Governor said, “This is like trying to stop the flow of the ocean.  You just can’t bust enough people to solve this problem.  This problem has to be solved at the beginning.”

~ By Kate Burch
   Political Education/Legislation Chair
           January 10, 2014
Obamacare Troubles Continue
The website “glitches” were apparently only the beginning of the troubles for President Obama’s signature legislation.

So far, a high proportion of people signing up for new plans are older or have existing health problems; and too few young, healthy people are joining to pay for the care of their elders.  Without approximately 40% of healthy infrequent users of health care services paying premiums, the whole system is financially unsupportable.  Being frustrated by the website glitches, and also learning, as many have, that both their premiums and deductibles would increase, have likely led to the failure of these young persons to enroll.

Expansion of Medicaid was predicted under the law to serve as a backup for the poorest of the uninsured.  Many states have refused to expand Medicaid.  Adding to this trouble for the Administration, a new study found that a group of 10,000 low-income Oregon residents who recently obtained Medicaid coverage actually visited emergency rooms 40% more often than those without insurance.  These individuals visited ER’s for all kinds of problems, including those that could have been treated in the doctor’s office more appropriately and at much lower cost. 

The President has also unilaterally made changes to the law after the fact, exempting certain groups and changing deadlines.  On December 31, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ruled that a religious order was exempted from the contraception mandate. 

The confusion and uncertainty brought about by these factors would seem to imperil the future of this unpopular law.

~ By Kate Burch
  Political Education/Legislation Chair
  (posted 1.3.2014)
     On December 20, the Ohio Supreme Court gave a legal victory to Governor Kasich, whose push for expansion of Medicaid in Ohio has been opposed by many elected Republicans. The Controlling Board voted in opposition to the legislature, which had passed a budget that disallowed spending $2.56 billion in new Federal funds on expanding Medicaid. The Controlling Board consists of seven members: the Director of the Office of Budget and Management, the Chairs of the Senate and House Finance Committees, and a majority and a minority member from both the Senate and the House. The Controlling Board was established as a mechanism for handling certain limited day-to-day adjustments needed in the state budget. The Court voted 4-3 to uphold the vote of the Controlling Board. At issue is whether the Controlling Board exceeded its authority and harms the system of checks and balances; or whether the Controlling Board is a necessary means for the Governor to be able to use his veto power in the implementation of appropriations.

     Also in the news is an effort by Secretary of State Jon Husted to clean up the voter rolls and decrease vote fraud. He referred 17 cases of non-U.S. citizens illegally voting in Ohio to the Attorney General for investigation. Husted’s office found nearly 300 instances of noncitizens living in Ohio and registered to vote in 2012.
~ By Kate Burch
   Political Education/Legislation Chair
!!!  HEADS UP !!!
During Former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's term the so-called “Golden Week” (in which people can both register and vote at the same time at the Board of Elections - before their registration is verified) was initiated. These provisional absentee ballots are supposed to be checked after the election, before being counted.

But perhaps, one may be forgiven skepticism about the reliability of this process. Legislation to do away with Golden Week and reduce the time for early voting to 28 days from 35, S.B. 238, has been passed by the Ohio Senate and is currently in hearings in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, chaired by State Rep. Mike Dovilla. Your calls, emails, and letters to the Committee in support of this legislation would be most helpful. To contact your the members of the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, click HERE Click on each member's picture and then use that webpage to email him/her.
~ By Kate Burch
  Political Education/Legislation Chair
Just what is it that happened
recently in the U. S. Senate
The Nuclear Option On November 21, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid succeeded in passing changes to the 225-year-old Senate rules that will prevent the use of filibusters. The “nuclear option,” requiring only a 51-vote majority to pass on Presidential nominees (except those to the U.S. Supreme Court) is an historic change in rules that were intended by our Founders to maintain temperance in approving Presidential appointments.

President Obama stated that the Senate’s action was necessary, accusing Republicans of attempting to block his nominees based on politics: “This isn’t obstruction on substance, on qualifications. It’s just to gum up the works.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked, “…it’s a time to be sad about what has been done to the United States Senate.” Sen. Jerry Moran, director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee warned that Democrats would likely abuse the rule change to fill the courts and federal departments and agencies with advocates who would push further regulation, bureaucracy, and government intervention. Republicans agree that this action by the Democrat-controlled Senate makes it urgently necessary to regain a Republican majority in that body in 2014.

The Democrats are unlikely to be happy when the next Republican President is able, with this rule change, to sail nominees through the approval process. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

~ By Kate Burch
   Political Education/Legislation Chair
I am pleased to announce that 2014 calendar for the U.S. House of Representatives is now available. We’ve made it easier than ever to access the calendar anywhere you go — through Google and Outlook calendars, in printable versions and online at MajorityLeader.gov. Over the past three years, the legislative schedule has created certainty, increased efficiency and productivity in the committee process. This calendar helps ensures that elected officials never lose touch with their constituents while completing their work in Washington. It also allows for time back in the district for meetings with working families, seniors, veterans, and other local communities. This is why we will continue to provide Members with one full constituent work week in their districts each month. You can subscribe to the House Calendar by visiting: http://MajorityLeader.gov/Calendar
 Eric Cantor
 House Majority Leader

The Ohio Congressional Delegation
To find all of the members of the Ohio Congressional Delegation, their party affiliation and all contact information,
click HERE
Know what is happening in Congress
Tell them what you think!
Congressman Eric Cantor, (R-Va) has now removed any excuse we have ever had not to know about legislation in Congress and our ability to comment or send opinions on it. With one click we can all follow ongoing legislation, read the bills ourself, and share the information. Knowledge is empowering; sharing knowledge empowers others and this new service, via the web, gives us that knowledge to empower us and inform our opinions. Share the knowledge!

To access the "Citizen Cosponsor Project", click HERE.
Let Congress know what you support and why. It’s your government, make your voice heard.

To follow the
 floor schedule and legislative calendar
 of the
U. S. Senate
click HERE
Heritage Foundation has a very good website entitled
"Why We Fight -- The Scorecard for Conservatives"

All too often, lawmakers tend to talk one way back home and vote another way inside Washington. The hundreds of bills and many more amendments Congress deals with every year make it tough to see through the spin and know how Members of Congress really vote. Our legislative scorecard does just that. And lawmakers are paying attention. One publication covering Congress described our scorecard as "the hugely influential cheat sheet for determining conservative bona fides in Congress."
See their "hugely influential" cheat sheet, a legislative scorecard, and look up your members of Congress  here.
To track bills introduced by:
Ohio Houseof Representatives
during the 130th General Assembly
Click HERE and/or HERE

Ohio Senate
during the 130th General Assembly
Click HERE and/or HERE

What is the Electoral College?*

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators. Read more about the allocation of electoral votes.

Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “state” also refers to the District of Columbia.

Each candidate running for President in your state has his or her own group of electors. The electors are generally chosen by the candidate’s political party, but state laws vary on how the electors are selected and what their responsibilities are. Read more about the qualifications of the Electors and restrictions on who the Electors may vote for.

The presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. You help choose your state’s electors when you vote for President because when you vote for your candidate you are actually voting for your candidate’s electors.

Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation.” Read more about the allocation of Electors among the states and try to predict the outcome of the Electoral College vote.

After the presidential election, your governor prepares a “Certificate of Ascertainment” listing all of the candidates who ran for President in your state along with the names of their respective electors. The Certificate of Ascertainment also declares the winning presidential candidate in your state and shows which electors will represent your state at the meeting of the electors in December of the election year. Your state’s Certificates of Ascertainments are sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election. See the key dates for the 2012 election and information about the roles and responsibilities of state officials, the Office of the Federal Register and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Congress in the Electoral College process.

The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Your state’s electors’ votes are recorded on a “Certificate of Vote,” which is prepared at the meeting by the electors. Your state’s Certificates of Votes are sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election. See the key dates for the 2012 election and information about the roles and responsibilities of state officials and the Congress in the Electoral College process.

Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. Members of the House and Senate meet in the House chamber to conduct the official tally of electoral votes. See the key dates for the 2012 election and information about the role and responsibilities of Congress in the Electoral College process.

The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.

* From: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html For more information regarding the Electoral process, click HERE, or on any link in the above article.

Information on how
the Ohio Delegates are awarded─

    Ohio awards the sixty-six delegates it has been allocated from the RNC in a proportional manner.  Sixty-three of those delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday.  Forty-eight delegates are known as “District Delegates” and are awarded winner-take-all by congressional district.  There are sixteen congressional districts in Ohio and three delegates are allocated to each district.  For example, if Mitt Romney receives a plurality of the vote in the 10th Congressional District on Super Tuesday, he will receive all three of the delegates allocated to that district.  Rick Santorum failed to qualify for delegates in three Ohio congressional districts.  Therefore, nine of Ohio’s delegates are off the table for Senator Santorum.

    The remaining fifteen delegates awarded on Election Day, known at “At Large Delegates,” are allocated proportionally to each candidate based upon their share of the statewide vote.  In order to qualify for At Large Delegates a candidate must receive at least 20% of the statewide vote.  If any presidential candidate receives more than 50% of the statewide vote, they receive all fifteen At Large Delegates. 

    If you've been counting delegates, you might have noticed that we only explained how 63 of the 66 are awarded. That's because Ohio has three more delegates who get to back any candidate they choose. They are members of the Republican National Committee: two RNC committee members (Jo Ann Davidson & Bob Bennett), and Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine.

- Christopher Maloney, Ohio Republican Party
If you have comments regarding, or requests for, specific
political education topics, please contact
OFRW's Political Education Chair Kate Burch
by clicking HERE

The items on this page may be personal opinions and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the OFRW. They are presented for informational, educational and/or discussion purposes.
Please let us know how OFRW can be of service to your club ─ email President Lyn Bliss at: [email protected] ─ call/text: (937) 423-2299. Thank you!

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