Archive for October, 2014

The Top 10 Liberal Superstitions

Friday, October 31st, 2014

http://online.wsj.com/articles/kate-bachelder-the-top-10-liberal-superstitions-1414713015?mod=hp_opinion
The Top 10 Liberal Superstitions

By Kate Bachelder
Oct. 30, 2014 7:50 p.m. ET
A hallmark of progressive politics is the ability to hold fervent beliefs, in defiance of evidence, that explain how the world works—and why liberal solutions must be adopted. Such political superstitions take on a new prominence during campaign seasons as Democratic candidates trot out applause lines to rally their progressive base and as the electorate considers their voting records. Here’s a Top 10 list of liberal superstitions on prominent display during the midterm election campaign:
1. Spending more money improves education. The U.S. spent $12,608 per student in 2010—more than double the figure, in inflation-adjusted dollars, spent in 1970—and spending on public elementary and secondary schools has surpassed $600 billion. How’s that working out? Adjusted state SAT scores have declined on average 3% since the 1970s, as the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson found in a March report.
No better news in the international rankings: The Program for International Student Assessment reports that in 2012 American 15-year-olds placed in the middle of the pack, alongside peers from Slovakia—which shells out half as much money as the U.S. per student.
Someone might mention this to North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is knocking State House Speaker Thom Tillis for cutting $500 million from schools. Per-pupil K-12 spending has increased every year since Mr. Tillis became speaker in 2011, and most of what Ms. Hagan is selling as “cuts” came from community colleges and universities, not the local middle school. Mr. Coulson’s Cato study notes that North Carolina has about doubled per-pupil education spending since 1972, which has done precisely nothing for the state’s adjusted SAT scores.
2. Government spending stimulates the economy. Case in point is the $830 billion 2009 stimulus bill, touted by the Obama administration as necessary for keeping unemployment below 8%. Result: four years of average unemployment above 8%. Federal outlays soared in 2009 to $3.5 trillion—a big enough bump to do the Keynesian trick of boosting aggregate demand—but all we got was this lousy 2% growth and a new costume for Army Corps of Engineers mascot Bobber the Water Safety Dog. Every Senate Democrat voted for the blowout, including the 11 now up for re-election who were in Congress when it passed.
3. Republican candidates always have a big spending advantage over Democrats. Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor recently to deride the Koch brothers as “radical billionaires” who are “attempting to buy our democracy.” Yet the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has raked in $127 million this cycle, about $30 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Democrats have aired more TV ads than Republicans in several battleground states, according to analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Meanwhile, Mr. Reid’s Senate Majority PAC has raised more than $50 million. As this newspaper has reported, between 2005 and 2011, labor unions—linchpins of the Democratic Party—spent $4.4 billion on politics, far outstripping any conservative rival.
4. Raising the minimum wage helps the poor. The president wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25, with the tagline “Let’s give America a raise.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the hike would cost 500,000 jobs, one blow to the low-wage earners it claims to help. Employment aside, only 18% of the earnings benefits of a $10.10 hike would flow to people living below the poverty line, according to analysis from University of California-Irvine economist David Neumark. Nearly 30% of the benefits would go to families three times above the poverty line or higher, in part because half of America’s poor families have no wage earners. Minimum-wage increases help some poor families—at the expense of other poor families.
You won’t hear that from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who in September lived on $79 for a week to show his public-relations solidarity with minimum-wage earners. Keep in mind: Only 4.7% of minimum-wage earners are adults working full-timetrying to support a family, and nearly all would be eligible for the earned-income tax credit and other welfare programs.
5. Global warming is causing increasingly violent weather. Tell that to Floridians, who are enjoying the ninth consecutive season without a hurricane landfall. The Atlantic hurricane season in 2013 was the least active in 30 years. Oh, and global temperatures have not increased for 15 years.
Still, something must be done! On Monday, the Hill reported that an internal memo circulating among five environmental groups detailed plans for spending to support candidates “who want to act” to combat climate change. “We are on track to spend more than $85 million overall including more than $40 million in just six Senate races,” the memo said. The beneficiaries include Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.), who got $12.1 million, and Rep. Bruce Braley (D., Iowa) with $7.2 million.
6. Genetically modified food is dangerous. Farmers have been breeding crop seeds for 10,000 years, but the agricultural innovation known as genetic modification makes liberals shudder. Not a single documented illness has resulted from the trillions of meals containing “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs, that humans have consumed since the mid-1990s. The technology has been declared safe by every regulatory agency from the Food and Drug Administration to the European Commission.
But insisting on labeling food containing GMOs has turned into a liberal cause. The California Democratic Party platform in 2012 added a demand for GMO labeling; more recently the Oregon Democratic Party climbed aboard. In May 2013, self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced a farm-bill amendment that would allow states to require GMO labeling for food; co-sponsors of the amendment, which failed, included Sens. Mark Begich (D., Ala.) and Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.).
7. Voter ID laws suppress minority turnout. More than 30 states have voter-ID laws, which the left decries as an attempt to disenfranchise minorities who don’t have identification and can’t pay for it. Yet of the 17 states with the strictest requirements, 16 offer free IDs. The Government Accountability Office this month released an analysis of 10 voter-ID studies: Five showed the laws had no statistically significant effect on turnout, four suggested a decrease in turnout (generally among all ethnic groups, though percentages varied), and one found an increase in turnout with voter ID laws in place.
The Democratic Senate candidate in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, has nonetheless been running radio ads in urban areas claiming that “Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are trying to take away our right to vote,” based on a 2007 voter-ID amendment the minority leader introduced.
8. ObamaCare is gaining popularity. President Obama said in a speech earlier this month that fewer Republicans were running against ObamaCare because “it’s working pretty well in the real world.” Yet the law’s approval rating hovers around 40%, and 27% of people told Gallup this month that the law was hurting them, up from 19% in January, while only 16% reported it was helpful.
Don’t even ask doctors about it: 46% of physicians gave the Affordable Care Act a “D” or “F”, according to a recent survey by the Physicians Foundation, and less than 4% of respondents gave it an “A.” Yet some Democrats are die-hards: 36% of their House candidates have voiced support for ObamaCare on the campaign trail, according to a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution.
9. The Keystone XL pipeline would increase oil spills. Let’s check out what President Obama’s State Department had to say: In 2013 pipelines with a diameter larger than 12 inches spilled 910,000 gallons. Railroad tankers spilled 1.5 million gallons. Yet pipelines carry 25 times the oil that tankers do, as environmental analyst Terry Anderson has noted in these pages. Blocking Keystone and forcing more oil to be shipped by rail guarantees more harm to the environment. But on the campaign trail emotion often overrules the facts, and so we have Rick Weiland, the Democratic Senate candidate in South Dakota, adamantly opposing Keystone (“If I lose because of this issue, so be it,” he told the Nation magazine last week). Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is running for re-election after having voted against Keystone in the energy committee in June.
10. Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. The mother of all liberal superstitions, this figure comes from shoddy math that divides the average earnings of all women working full-time by the average earnings of all full-time men, without considering career field, education or personal choices. When those factors are included, the wage gap disappears. A 2009 report commissioned by the Labor Department that analyzed more than 50 papers on the topic found that the so-called pay gap “may be almost entirely” the result of choices both men and women make.
Yet here’s Colorado’s Sen. Udall: “It is simply unacceptable for businesses to pay women less than men doing the same work,” citing his support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which might be better titled the Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act. One irony: The Washington Free Beacon did a little number crunching and discovered that women in Sen. Udall’s office earn 86 cents on the dollar compared with men. Whoops.
Ms. Bachelder is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.

Who Do They Think We Are? The administration’s Ebola evasions reveal its disdain for the American people.

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Declarations
Who Do They Think We Are?
The administration’s Ebola evasions reveal its disdain for the American people.
By
Peggy Noonan

Oct. 16, 2014 7:34 p.m. ET

Martin Kozlowski

The administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis continues to be marked by double talk, runaround and gobbledygook. And its logic is worse than its language. In many of its actions, especially its public pronouncements, the government is functioning not as a soother of public anxiety but the cause of it.

An example this week came in the dialogue between Megyn Kelly of Fox News and Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control.

Their conversation focused largely on the government’s refusal to stop travel into the United States by citizens of plague nations. “Why not put a travel ban in place,” Ms. Kelly asked, while we shore up the U.S. public-health system?

Dr. Frieden replied that we now have screening at airports, and “we’ve already recommended that all nonessential travel to these countries be stopped for Americans.” He added: “We’re always looking at ways that we can better protect Americans.”

“But this is one,” Ms. Kelly responded.

Dr. Frieden implied a travel ban would be harmful: “If we do things that are going to make it harder to stop the epidemic there, it’s going to spread to other parts of—”

Ms. Kelly interjected, asking how keeping citizens from the affected regions out of America would make it harder to stop Ebola in Africa.

“Because you can’t get people in and out.”

“Why can’t we have charter flights?”

“You know, charter flights don’t do the same thing commercial airliners do.”

“What do you mean? They fly in and fly out.”

Dr. Frieden replied that limiting travel between African nations would slow relief efforts. “If we isolate these countries, what’s not going to happen is disease staying there. It’s going to spread more all over Africa and we’ll be at higher risk.”

Later in the interview, Ms. Kelly noted that we still have airplanes coming into the U.S. from Liberia, with passengers expected to self-report Ebola exposure.

Dr. Frieden responded: “Ultimately the only way—and you may not like this—but the only way we will get our risk to zero here is to stop the outbreak in Africa.”

Ms. Kelly said yes, that’s why we’re sending troops. But why can’t we do that and have a travel ban?

“If it spreads more in Africa, it’s going to be more of a risk to us here. Our only goal is protecting Americans—that’s our mission. We do that by protecting people here and by stopping threats abroad. That protects Americans.”

Dr. Frieden’s logic was a bit of a heart-stopper. In fact his responses were more non sequiturs than answers. We cannot ban people at high risk of Ebola from entering the U.S. because people in West Africa have Ebola, and we don’t want it to spread. Huh?

In testimony before Congress Thursday, Dr. Frieden was not much more straightforward. His answers often sound like filibusters: long, rolling paragraphs of benign assertion, advertising slogans—“We know how to stop Ebola,” “Our focus is protecting people”—occasionally extraneous data, and testimony to the excellence of our health-care professionals.

It is my impression that everyone who speaks for the government on this issue has been instructed to imagine his audience as anxious children. It feels like how the pediatrician talks to the child, not the parents. It’s as if they’ve been told: “Talk, talk, talk, but don’t say anything. Clarity is the enemy.”

The language of government now is word-spew.

Dr. Frieden did not explain his or the government’s thinking on the reasons for opposition to a travel ban. On the other hand, he noted that the government will consider all options in stopping the virus from spreading here, so perhaps that marks the beginning of a possible concession.

It is one thing that Dr. Frieden, and those who are presumably making the big decisions, have been so far incapable of making a believable and compelling case for not instituting a ban. A separate issue is how poor a decision it is. To call it childish would be unfair to children. In fact, if you had a group of 11-year-olds, they would surely have a superior answer to the question: “Sick people are coming through the door of the house, and we are not sure how to make them well. Meanwhile they are starting to make us sick, too. What is the first thing to do?”

The children would reply: “Close the door.” One would add: “Just for a while, while you figure out how to treat everyone getting sick.” Another might say: “And keep going outside the door in protective clothing with medical help.” Eleven-year-olds would get this one right without a lot of struggle.

If we don’t momentarily close the door to citizens of the affected nations, it is certain that more cases will come into the U.S. It is hard to see how that helps anyone. Closing the door would be no guarantee of safety—nothing is guaranteed, and the world is porous. But it would reduce risk and likelihood, which itself is worthwhile.

Africa, by the way, seems to understand this. The Associated Press on Thursday reported the continent’s health-care officials had limited the threat to only five countries with the help of border controls, travel restrictions, and aggressive and sophisticated tracking.

All of which returns me to my thoughts the past few weeks. Back then I’d hear the official wordage that doesn’t amount to a logical thought, and the unspoken air of “We don’t want to panic you savages,” and I’d look at various public officials and muse: “Who do you think you are?”

Now I think, “Who do they think we are?”

Does the government think if America is made to feel safer, she will forget the needs of the Ebola nations? But Americans, more than anyone else, are the volunteers, altruists and in a few cases saints who go to the Ebola nations to help. And they were doing it long before the Western media was talking about the disease, and long before America was experiencing it.

At the Ebola hearings Thursday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) said, I guess to the American people: “Don’t panic.” No one’s panicking—except perhaps the administration, which might explain its decisions.

Is it always the most frightened people who run around telling others to calm down?

This week the president canceled a fundraiser and returned to the White House to deal with the crisis. He made a statement and came across as about three days behind the story—“rapid response teams” and so forth. It reminded some people of the statement in July, during another crisis, of the president’s communications director, who said that when a president rushes back to Washington, it “can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people.” Yes, we’re such sissies. Actually, when Mr. Obama eschews a fundraiser to go to his office to deal with a public problem we are not scared, only surprised.

But again, who do they think we are? You gather they see us as poor, panic-stricken people who want a travel ban because we’re beside ourselves with fear and loathing. Instead of practical, realistic people who are way ahead of our government.

PULLING NO PUNCHES What the ‘gay marriage’ debate is really about

Friday, October 10th, 2014

PULLING NO PUNCHES
What the ‘gay marriage’ debate is really about
Exclusive: Matt Barber warns, ‘The courts are tossing around spiritual nitroglycerin’

Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).

It’s called Pandora’s Box.

And the Supreme Court just opened it.

Did you actually think the debate over “gay marriage” was about marriage? Have you really come to believe that this cultural kerfuffle has anything to do with “civil rights” or “equality”? Have you bought into the popular premise that this is a legitimate discussion on federalism – that it’s a reasonable disagreement over whether the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause requires that newfangled “gay marriage,” something rooted in same-sex sodomy, a deviant and disease-prone behavior our Constitution’s framers officially declared “the infamous crime against nature,” be made law of the land?

A lot of people have, so don’t feel bad. A lot of reasonable, well-meaning and even, at times, intelligent people have taken the bait.

But that’s all window dressing. It’s superficial. It’s collateral. It’s chaff, a diversion, a squirrel. Don’t chase it.

At its core, this increasingly heated fight over “gay marriage” is about two diametrically opposed and profoundly incompatible views of reality (or lack thereof). It’s the modern manifestation of a millennia-old clash between worldviews. This ugly cultural conflict is, in reality, neither legal nor political in nature, but, rather, is fundamentally a philosophical debate. Ultimately, it derives from, and is illustrative of, deep-seeded spiritual warfare. Quite simply, the clash over “gay marriage” is emblematic of the larger, and much older, clash between good and evil.

And it’s reaching critical mass.

On the one hand, on the natural marriage side, we have a worldview that recognizes absolute truth – that acknowledges the fixed moral and natural law, authored and enforced from time immemorial by the sovereign and loving Creator of the universe. This same Creator, incidentally, just happened to design and define the very institution over which we quarrel. Those with this worldview concede that every man, woman and child is accountable to this sovereign Creator and will, one day, stand before Him to face final judgment for what they did or did not do during their infinitesimally short-lived stint here on earth.

This, though not a comprehensive representation, is the biblical worldview.

On the other hand, on the unnatural marriage side (or the “marriage equality” side as these self-styled “progressives” euphemistically prefer), we have a worldview that denies absolute truth. It imagines there are no fixed lines of demarcation between right and wrong – that morality, that reality, is entirely relative and, therefore, the very notion of good and evil, right and wrong, sin and repentance are but false and limiting constructs concocted in the narrow minds of a dull bevy of sheepherders some thousands of years ago.

Since those with this worldview either deny God’s very existence altogether or, alternatively, believe that some version of god, like marriage, can be defined, or redefined, in the mind of the beholder, they claim accountability to no one (except goddess political correctness) and, thus, declare reality to be that which they, the secular-”progressive” intelligentsia, proclaim it to be (e.g., that manmade, credulity-straining, reality-warping and oxymoronic counterfeit called “same-sex marriage”).

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who happens to be both a big fan of unnatural marriage and one of the aforementioned intelligentsia, summarized this worldview neatly when he wrote the following in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He did so while attempting to rationalize government-sanctioned child sacrifice, the evil twin to “gay marriage”: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” he pontificated.

Right. Lay off the ‘shrooms, dude.

In other words, man is the measure of all things. Man is god, and there is no god but man. According to Kennedy, and as was first suggested by a garden snake a very long time ago, truth is defined by man’s “individual concept of existence.”

This, of course, is empirically and manifestly stupid.

And so both of these worldviews cannot be right. It’s impossible. The law of non-contradiction precludes it.

So who is right?

It’s simple. Those who acknowledge objective reality, natural morality and absolute truth are right. Those who recognize that there are fixed biological, moral and natural laws – that despite the rebellious machinations of fallen man, can be neither altered nor ignored – won the debate before the debate even began.

There is no debate.

Yet the debate goes on.

As for the continuing kangaroo courtrooms overseeing and facilitating the destruction of marriage via judicial fiat, I fully expect that additional reality-denying judges will call up down, black white and evil good. They’ll declare a “constitutional right” to sodomy-based marriage.

It’s all the rage right now.

Still, there is no legitimate legal argument to be made in favor of this absurdity. The common law, natural law and reality itself preclude any man, any court, any government, even state governments, from presuming to redefine the institution of marriage to exclude the necessary element of binary male-female complementarity.

Mankind can no more redefine marriage to include same-sex parings than can he suspend the laws of gravity.

Yet these arrogant, godless, black-robed autocrats presume to do just that.

The courts are tossing around spiritual nitroglycerin here. It’s the stuff that brings down entire civilizations. Here’s the bad news: The aforementioned Justice Kennedy is the swing vote in favor of imposing fuax marriage on everyone.

Here’s the good news: God will not be mocked.

Media wishing to interview Matt Barber, please contact media@wnd.com.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/what-the-gay-marriage-debate-is-really-about/#8j3S0WjZ6I1ucXik.99

Unlawful Obamacare IRS Regulations Struck Down By Federal Court

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Judge: IRS Obamacare Rule ‘Is Arbitrary, Capricious, and Abuse of Discretion’
October 2, 2014 – 1:10 PM
By Craig Bannister

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Ronald White concluded Tuesday that the IRS rule altering the Obamacare law and providing billions in subsidies is “arbitrary, capricious and abuse of discretion”:

“The court holds that the IRS rule is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.706(2)(A), in excess of summary jurisdiction, authority or limitation, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalidation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.”

In September 2012, Oklahoma was the first of several states to challenge the legality of an IRS rule that caused billions in subsidies to be paid out, despite Congress having never authorized those payments.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt hailed the state’s victory in its lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Affordable Care Act:

“Today’s ruling is a consequential victory for the rule of law. The administration and its bureaucrats in the IRS handed out billions in illegal tax credits and subsidies and vastly expanded the reach of the health care law because they didn’t like the way Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act. That’s not how our system of government works.”

Pruitt said the ruling proves that the administration can’t change a law by executive fiat:

“The Obama administration created this problem and rather than having an agency like the IRS rewrite a law it didn’t like, the administration should have done the right thing and worked with Congress to amend the law. Oklahoma was the first to challenge the administration’s actions and today’s ruling vindicates what we recognized early on and that is the administration can’t rewrite the Affordable Care Act by executive fiat.”

He said the victory is just the beginning, because he fully expects the case to, ultimately, be decided by the Supreme Court:

“Today’s ruling is a huge win for Oklahoma, but it’s just a first step. Since Oklahoma filed the first lawsuit in 2012, others have followed our lead and made similar claims in other jurisdictions. It’s likely this issue will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. We look forward to making our case and continuing the effort to hold federal agencies accountable to their duty to enforce the laws passed by Congress.”

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) also praised Judge White’s decision, saying that the Obama Administration is trying to fix a legally-dubious law using waivers and exemptions:

“Today’s decision is a reminder that the President’s broken promises of affordable, accessible health care are the result of broken policy. The Obama Administration has tried to make the law work with waivers and exemptions, but the courts continue to confront the legality of this legislation that was rushed through a Democrat-controlled Congress.”

“While it will undoubtedly take time for Oklahoma’s case to play out in the federal court system, I am confident in Attorney General Scott Pruitt and that our state’s argument will prevail.”

Tuesday’s decision is the latest in a wave of court losses for Obamacare.

Currently, over a hundred lawsuits have been filed against Obamacare – and Obamacare has lost 91% of the cases decided to-date, (71 losses out of 78 decisions), according to the latest tally by The Beckett Fund.