Thursday, July 31, 2014

Climbing Back Up

Up is the direction we want to go. In the Spherical Model, up is always a good thing: freedom, prosperity, and civilization. We’re experiencing too much tyranny, poverty, and savagery here in our beloved America than we should. And there’s even more of those bottom-of-the-sphere experiences around the world.
Twice now Americans have elected a socialist, anti-American president. Why would Americans do that? Why, when the choice is so stark, do so many not see with clarity enough to make good decisions? I see that solutions are not likely to come from political leaders. Nevertheless, whom we elect matters, because political leaders can do so much to make things worse, if their power is not held to constitutional limits.
Just another everyday mountain meant for climbing, in Utah
So I have been looking for something uplifting—literally and figuratively. One of the optimists I read was Andrew Klavan’s “Klavan on the Culture” post for July 4, 2014, "What I learned on the Trail." Here’s an excerpt:
I am a skilled hiker, but a week or so ago, I made a perilous error. Carelessly neglecting my clear and accurate guide, I mistook a side path for the main trail down the mountain. As I descended along the narrow track, the way became steeper and steeper until, abruptly, it ended at a sheer cliff above a long fall. Short on water, out of breath, weakened by the blistering heat, I looked up and saw my only other option was a dauntingly vertical climb back to the main trail above. My heart misgave me. 

Then three words came into my mind unbidden:  Don’t be afraid. 

I know who speaks those words to me. I said a quick prayer to him for courage and felt myself promptly flooded with the stuff. I began the climb, and though the way was very difficult, and even dangerous once or twice, I was surprised how quickly I found myself back on the main trail, the way home. 

Our country has made a similar error, and equally perilous. We have carelessly neglected our clear and accurate guide to the governance of a free people. We have gone by another way into a steeper and steeper decline. Soon, we will reach a point where the only choice is between a catastrophic fall and a long, hard, upward journey. Our hearts may tell us the climb is impossible. 

Don’t be afraid. 

I had a similar experience many years ago, as a young adult. I was just hiking, not rock climbing, up atop the hill/mountain overlooking the lake where I was camping with my family in the Uintah Mountains. I’d hiked it before and didn’t think it was a dangerous thing to do the hike alone. But I took a different route down, on the face nearest the lake. It wasn’t really a path, but I thought with the lake in view I wouldn’t get lost. But I did get stuck. Suddenly I was unintentionally rock climbing. And suddenly I couldn’t reach a next foothold down. Feeling slightly panicky, I saw that going back up was my only option, because a “catastrophic fall” was the other option. My upper body strength isn’t great, but with a quick prayer, I found a surprising amount of muscle to get myself back up to the last ledge. And from there I breathed away the panic and made my slow way back up to where I could take the more traditional route back to camp. 

The climbing metaphor is so applicable in our country today. So is the source of strength for the “dauntingly vertical climb.”  

That has to be the answer: Turn to God. Pray for courage, strength, and direction. Fearlessly move upward. 

In the Spherical Model, we know that much hinges on individuals and families living civilized, moral lives. Enough do that, and you have a moral, civilized community. Enough communities do that, and you have a moral, civilized state. Enough states do that, and you have a moral, civilized country again. And as we know from our history, a moral, civilized America has a tremendous impact for good in the world. 

Prosperity in the economic sphere is dependent on the morality of the people. Here’s economist Thomas Sowell saying so: 

There are no magic solutions [to getting out of poverty], at least none that I know of. Common sense, common decency, work and honesty are about all I can come up with. These things are not fancy or new or politically correct. But they have a better track record than much that we are doing today.—Thomas Sowell, “Poverty and Snowstorms,” May 20, 2014 

And then you connect the economic sphere to the political sphere, as economist Friedrich Hayek does here: 

To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. . . The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson in humility, which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society—a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.—Friedrich Hayek, “The Pretense of Knowledge,” Nobel Prize lecture 1974 

Let’s go full circle and tie the political sphere back into the civilization sphere:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.—2 Corinthians 3:17
Start upward climb with love of God and family, honesty, obedience to the Ten Commandments. From there add some hard work and ingenuity, and you get prosperity. If you have government to protect your God-given rights and limit government from infringing on them, then you have freedom to build your civilized world.

What we need to do is known, and it’s simple. But it isn’t easy. And in a world that is twisting the meaning of good and evil, right and wrong, it takes courage to do the simple but hard things. But, with God’s help, the climb back up is doable, and not as daunting as it looks from below.

A favorite Mormon hymn, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," gives words of encouragement in a hard journey: "Fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake." God is up there, in the civilized upper portion of the sphere, reaching to help pull us up. He wants us thereenjoying civilization, prosperity, and freedom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Reality vs. Perception

Before you read the rest of this piece, try a little quiz. Here’s the question: what percentage of the population do you believe is homosexual (same-sex attracted)?
In a minute, we’ll get to what others perceive that number to be. But first we’ll go ahead and look at some data.
Earlier this month the CDC reported the results of the first large-scale government study of the prevalence of homosexuality among Americans. They found that 1.6% of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% consider themselves bisexual. Added together, that’s 2.3%. A full 96.6% self-identify as heterosexual, while 1.1% declined to answer.
In my writings, I have leaned toward the 2% estimate, rather than the oft-used 3%, which is backed by pro-homosexual movement groups. So it appears now, a decade later, that the studies I was using were pretty accurate.
There’s an often used 10% number floating out there. That comes from a Kinsey Institute estimate. It was a guess, not based on a study at all, and no actual data comes close to that. But it’s used because that percentage makes the population of homosexuals appear so large as to get attention, too big to ignore. In other words, it’s propaganda only.
But what do people perceive the percentage to be? According to a poll taken in 2011: 20-25%. Fifty percent of us estimate that 1 in 5 (20%) are homosexual, and thirty-five percent estimate that 1 in 4 (25%) are homosexual. The poll involved interviews with 1,018 U.S. adults in all 50 states. Even if we go with the lower majority opinion of 20%, that is ten-fold the actual number.
If we round numbers, we can say there are 300 million people in America. Two percent is 6 million. Twenty percent is 60 million. Six million isn’t really close to 60 million. And twenty-five percent (which more than a third of us believe it to be) is 75 million, a difference of 69 million from the reality.
For comparison, Catholics make up roughly 25% of the US population (about 78 million). Chances are extremely high that you know some Catholics. Even in small towns. In some areas, you might get the impression that practically everyone is Catholic—like if you attend Notre Dame University. And chances are you know something about how they live—that they have priests who don’t marry, people go to confession, take communion, have mass, etc. They have a lot of parochial schools, and many Americans are taught by nuns and other teachers in Catholic schools.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, make up about 2% of the US population, pretty close to 6 million. Most of you have probably met some Mormons. But it’s possible many of you haven’t, or haven’t been aware of it. You may or may not know that Mormons don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, or smoke or take illicit drugs. You might not know they have no paid clergy. You might think you know they’re polygamous, which you don’t actually know since that isn’t true. Also, Mormons dress modestly but otherwise just like everyone else. Mormons dance, and sing, and participate in theater and other arts. And pretty much every legal pursuit you can think of. So you can find them in practically any job or neighborhood.
Here in Houston, we Mormons are about 2% of the population. However, in our particular part of town, we’re closer to 1%. A high school of 2500 students is likely to have only a couple dozen Mormon students. But the high school I went to in Utah was probably close to 70% Mormon. I remember a friend of mine asked one of our fellow choir members where he wanted to go on his mission (a common speculation among Mormon high school kids). He said, “Um, in my church, the missionaries wear black robes and can’t ever get married; I don’t think I’m going to do that.” He was Catholic. But there were so many of us Mormons, it was easy to assume everyone was Mormon.
Salt Lake City today is closer to about 50% Mormon, but an hour south in Provo, where BYU is located, it’s close to 88%. Fun fact: Did you know that Samoa is 50% Mormon? But in New York City, the percentage is .25%—that is, less than a quarter of a percent. You’ll find about 1 Mormon in every 400 New Yorkers. Catholics are 62% there, so you’d find almost two Catholics out of every three New Yorkers.
The percentage of Jews in the US is around 2%, almost the same as Mormons. (Their numbers worldwide are close as well: 13.3 million Jews, 15 million Mormons.) But chances are very high that you know one or more. And you certainly know of many. But in New York, where you have to hunt out the Mormons, Jews are over 20% of the population, so 1 in every 5 New Yorkers.
In other words, even though there are huge differences in percentages, there are places where perceptions are high.
So, if the perception of homosexuals in the population is off by a factor of 10, the question is why? Because we’ve been living through a long, well-funded, and pervasive campaign to saturate the media with homosexuals, so that people get the skewed perception that they’re everywhere you turn.
I could go through the list, but you see it. On Glee, a heterosexual was probably just someone who hadn’t considered being otherwise yet (and someone who would wait for marriage would need mental help). Almost every drama has at least a character or two that is homosexual, portrayed these days not with scorn or caricature, but positively and normally.
Most of us do encounter co-workers who fit those positive descriptions. It’s the rate of encounter that is skewed.
Also, there’s a movement toward the “they’re just like us” script. In reality, it is still as true as ever that homosexuals (not individuals, but statistically as a whole) are promiscuous, even when “married,” their relationships are temporary and non-exclusive, and they cannot reproduce nor provide male-and-female parent models for children.
Do they fall in love? I imagine they do. They say they do. It’s hard not to believe them. Still, the data shows that they mean something different from what most married heterosexuals mean—where 70% remain married for life (the 50% divorce rate comes from serial divorce seekers), and of those who remain married, 75% of men and 85+% of women are never unfaithful. Homosexuals in committed relationships who have an average of 8 casual partners per year (homosexuals not in relationships average 22 casual partners per year).[1] Few homosexual relationships are enduring (only 15 last 12 years or longer, even when not exclusive), and the vast majority end in five years or less.[2]
And what percentage of homosexuals consider themselves to be in a “committed” relationship? Hard to estimate, but we can extrapolate from places that have been doing this “same-sex marriage” thing longer than the parts of the US that have. In Sweden, for example, there are an estimated 140,000 homosexuals in a population of 3,679,317. Sweden has been registering same-sex partnerships (civil unions) since 1995 and giving them the rights of married couples (adoption and legal child custody) since 2003. There are 1500registered same-sex couples, or 3000 individuals. That is one in every 1226 persons in the country, that’s .08% of the population.
If we extrapolate those numbers to the US, we get more individuals (240,000), but the percentage remains. For 8 out of every 1000 Americans, we are being asked to deconstruct marriage—to change it from a contract of importance because of its effect on families through procreation, longevity, exclusivity, and male-and-female parenting models into something like a contract between any two individuals claiming to be in a romantic relationship for the time being, not necessarily long term and unable to reproduce or provide any child with male-and-female parenting models.
Let’s go back to the religious analogy for a moment. Every analogy breaks down at some point, and this one isn’t ideal, but suppose a group of about 2% of the population, say the Mormons, live a lifestyle that doesn’t include coffee. And say a subgroup of this population has an additional personal lifestyle that doesn’t even include caffeine (some Mormons actually do make this choice, but it’s personal, not part of Mormon doctrine or faith). Now suppose these 2% of the 2% insist that their lifestyle requires the greater society to do away with caffeine. No one gets to have it any more. Because it’s their “right” to live as they wish, in a world that shuns caffeine, and they claim it’s discrimination for the greater majority to deprive them of such a world.
I would say that marriage, with its influence on family—the basic unit of civilization—is more important to us than whether we have Coke, Pepsi, or Barq’s Root Beer. But the popular culture is dismissive of marriage as if it never had any value.
Think about the numbers as you watch the two short clips here of Ryan Anderson answering the question, “Why should I, as a gay man, be denied the same right to file a joint tax return with my potential husband that a straight couple has?”
Marriage still matters. No homosexual has been “banned” from marriage—but they are choosing not to engage in marriage as it has always existed, and are insisting instead that we redefine marriage to suit that 2% of the 2%. Their voice has been loud. It’s time we, the too silent 98% speak up while we still can.

[1] Xiridou, Maria, et al, “The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV infection among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam,” 1029-1038 AIDS, 17 (7) May 2, 2003.  “Those with a steady partner and those without reported having an average of 8 and 22 casual partners per year, respectively.”
[2] McWhirter, David P., and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple:  How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252, 3.  They reported that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to 37 years, only 7 couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years.  Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.  No “monogamous” relationship among men longer than the ones set out in this book have been documented.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Civilization vs. Savagery in Israel

If you think there is an Israeli occupation of Palestine, you need a primer. If you think both sides are equally culpable in their conflict, you lack information. If you think maybe it’s a good idea to support Israel, maybe for Biblical reason, but you don’t know how to describe your reasons, this might be a good time to get some useful facts.
Back in 2011 I wrote a six-part post on the history of Israel. It’s a pretty good primer.
·         Israel, Part I: Ancient History
·         Israel, Part II: Zionism and Migration
·         Israel, Part III: Conflict and Violence
·         Israel, Part IV:  Holocaust and Statehood
·         Israel, Part V: Refugees and 1967 War
·         Israel, Part VI: Continued Unrest
In Part VI I link a video that describes the history with animated maps—about six minutes. Worth seeing. This past week I saw a video by Jewish conservative radio host Dennis Prager, which also gives a brief history, posted on YouTube in June 2014, shortly before the recent missile out of Gaza began. It gives a 5-minute summary of the situation, reminding us that there has never been any state in that region that wasn’t a Jewish state; this is the third Jewish state. There has never been an Arab state, a Palestinian state, a Muslim state, or any other state.

As I mention in my Part VI, the terrorists fighting Israel are more Marxist than religious Muslim. Potential PLO leaders were trained in Moscow, East Germany, and Cuba, where they were specifically trained in subversion, propaganda, explosives, and terror tactics. They continue these tactics still. One of the PLO’s tactics was disinformation—lying propaganda. Repeating the lies over and over, through decades, in schools and in every news broadcast, has left a large part of the world unaware of the truth of events in the Middle East. The PLO is named less in media since the loss of Soviet support in the early 1990s. Now the entity in the forefront—still using those tactics—is the terrorist organization Hamas.
Steven Bucci, former Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, now with The Heritage Foundation, offered perspective in a piece July 17, 2014, “The Moral Difference between Israel and Hamas,” The Daily Signal July 17, 2014:
What most Americans—and the world—hear about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas goes something like this: “125 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed by Israel’s relentless assault on Gaza. No Israelis have yet been killed.” This may be true, but there is absolutely no context to it. One must look at the methodologies of the two sides.
Hamas sets up rocket launchers—as well as supply dumps and command-and-control sites—in the midst of apartment buildings, mosques and schools. From these sites, its fighters launch dozens of rockets in salvos, targeting population centers with no discrimination at all. They have been firing almost continuously of late. But normally, they fire when Israeli school children move from their homes, which have safe shelters, to their schools, which also have shelters. They do this deliberately to try and catch the kids in the open. They don’t seek to minimize collateral damage – they seek to maximize it.
Israel, on the other hand, fires only at specific, intelligence-derived military targets. Since these targets are deliberately intermixed with the civilian population by Hamas, Israel must take steps to minimize the collateral casualties.
Before the Israelis strike a building, every home in it gets a call on its landline phone, as do all the cell phones associated with the inhabitants of the building—the cells additionally get text messages—telling them that in a few minutes the building will be targeted. Finally, to make sure everyone gets the message, Israel drops a dud bomb—one containing no explosives—onto the roof of the structure. Minutes later, the building is destroyed. There is no instance in modern military history where a force has taken greater measures to give the innocents as much chance to get out of the way.
Similar information was shared in interviews with Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Ron Dermer. He was interviewed on Face the Nation July 13th TheWashington Post July 15th,  and CBS News July 18th.  Here’s a quote from the Washington Post interview:
As we’re trying to people out of harm’s way, Hamas is telling people to go into harm’s way. They’re actually telling their population to ignore the warnings of our military, as we drop flyers, we make phonecalls, we send text messages. We do things I’m not sure there’s another country in the history of the world, in warfare, that have gone to such great lengths to keep the civilians of the other side’s population out of harm’s way. We’re doing what we have to, to take the action to defend our people.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quote this past week, saying, “The difference between us is simple: We develop missile-defense systems to protect our citizens, while they use their citizens to protect their missiles.”
The Prime Minister did an impressive interview on Fox  News, with Bret Baier, on July 21st. All six minutes are clear and informative, but here’s a sample:
We asked these civilians before we went in, “Please leave.” We text them on cell phones. We drop leaflets. We tell them where to go. And those who left were safe. Now those who didn’t leave, you know why they didn’t leave? Because Hamas told them to be there. Because Hamas, while we try to avoid Palestinian civilian dead, Hamas wants Palestinian civilian dead. The more the better, so they can give you telegenic fodder. So this is the cruelest, most grotesque war that I’ve ever seen…. Civilian deaths are caused because they want them to be caused.
My daughter, Social Sphere, has a friend she met some years ago, as a teen in Texas, still in touch on social media. Danielle moved to Israel to serve in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Here are some of her recent posts [ID info removed]:
Of the 13 Israeli soldiers killed yesterday, one is a Texas boy—who moved to Israel with two of his best friends to join the IDF, giving him a “lone soldier” status. This means that even though he and his family did not live in Israel and he did not have to serve, he decided at a young age (in his case, 16) to move to Israel by himself so he can serve in the IDF. So he is alone in Israel. According to our friend—“These kids get most respect in Israel.” We are as honored that he came from Texas as Israel is to have received him.
Another day Danielle said, “The indoctrination of hate is one of the primary tactics Hamas uses to teach violence to children. This is child abuse. Hamas is a dangerous terrorist organization for Israelis, but they are toxic for Palestinian children and civilians as well.”
Another of Social Sphere’s Texas friends traveled to Israel recently to learn more about her ancestry. Rachel quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying one of the few things he has said that rang true: “No country could sit by and not take steps to try to deal with people who are sending thousands of rockets your way. The fact is that Hamas uses civilians as shields and they fire from a home and draw the fire into the home.”
Using human shields is a violation of the rules of warfare. So is targeting of civilians, as Hamas does, seeking to kill as many civilians as possible in Israel, while also delighting in any of their own people killed, because they use that in their propaganda.
I was thinking the word was getting out this time, but apparently not much beyond those who already know the truth. Despite the moral clarity between the two sides, the UN just decided to investigate possible crimes against humanity in this conflict—but will ONLY investigate Israel.
Israel deserves the support of the civilized world, not condemnation for keeping itself alive.
There’s one other video you ought to watch, new yesterday, July 23rd, from Bill Whittle: “The Case for Israel.”  He compares the two sides, one civilized and one barbaric (in the Spherical Model we use the word savage, but I think we can conclude they have the same meaning). In case you missed it, Hamas recently referred to the Jews as a little bit worse than Hitler. This quote responds to that ironic accusation:
The instant that Hamas or Hezbollah get their hands on a nuclear weapon, they will do with it what they do every day with their rocks and mortars and missiles. They will use it. On Israel. The Israelis have an estimated 500 nuclear weapons and could destroy the Arabs any time they chose. They don’t.
Those are not Nazis. Those are moral, civilized people.
Israel is an island of civilization in a sea of barbarity, and that is why it is being targeted. Uncomfortable with those words, “civilization” and “barbarity?”
He then gives a long list of evidences of Israel’s civilization status. The differences are stark, and ought to be noticeable by any civilized person. But disinformation, over time, has done its dirty business.
Anyone who thinks the Israelis keep all the goods and wealth for themselves and deprive their neighbors doesn’t know the history. Also, anyone who claims this attack from Gaza is caused by Israeli “occupation” is buying the propaganda. Israel left Gaza in 2005, leaving behind infrastructure, hospitals, schools, even greenhouses with plants growing. The response was to destroy everything and subject the people to poverty, and then blame the Israelis for their misfortune. Toward the end of the video, Whittle covers this bit of history, and refers to another concept we talk about when striving for civilization—“Thou shalt not covet.”

But you cannot understand Israel’s actions without understanding the pervasive, unrelenting, hate that surrounds that outpost of civilization. From Hezbollah rockets made in Iran, to BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] sanctions made in Berkeley and Santa Monica, the attacks on this country and its people cannot be understood without getting to the bedrock essence of the nasty, petty, small and mean-spirited emotion that drives anti-Semitism.
And that emotion is Envy.
Genesis, Chapter 26, verses 12 through 16:
And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
That was thousands of years before there was a religion called Islam. And when the Israelis, as a gesture of peace and goodwill, turned over the Gaza Strip in 2005 the first thing these modern-day philistines did was smash the windows of the greenhouses that had been handed to them by other people’s labor. Once again, they filled wells in the desert with sand.
Israel has survived miraculously in the past. I expect it to survive now. I want to be clear that I side with civilization, not savagery. And the differences right now couldn’t be clearer.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Prosperity vs. Poverty

Since I first posted the Spherical Model website, back in 2010, I’ve left it pretty nearly untouched. Today I’m contemplating a change—in how I label the Economic Sphere.
Each of the spheres has a positive goal north, and a negative goal south. The Political Sphere’s north is freedom, and south is tyranny. The Social Sphere’s north is civilization, and south is savagery. I often use the term Civilization Sphere, just as a shortcut to the goal.
Up until now I’ve been referring to the Economic Sphere’s north as free-enterprise economy, and south as controlled economy. That orientation won’t change, but free-enterprise is really the “how” of getting north. What we’re really aiming at is a northern prosperity, to avoid a southern poverty. [If you’re new to the Spherical Model, the spherical orientation does not coincide with our earth; the directions refer to a visual model for ideas, policies, and practices.]
Economic Sphere, with edits
I think it has been clear, prior to this post, that we were getting freedom, prosperity, and civilization by going north in all three spheres. A quick search shows I’ve used that exact phrase in 16 different posts. But I’m getting more consistent at making it a theme. Half of those posts came in 2014; another 5 in 2013. So I’m making the change to make it unmistakable: there is no path to prosperity in a southern economic model. In the south, instead of the one who earns the wealth deciding how to spend it, someone else decides: the tyrannical state (central planners) in the eastern quadrant, the tyrannical crime lords (mafia, mob, gangs, marauders….) in the chaotic western quadrant.
Are there examples of prosperity in the south? Probably, in history, here and there, depending on how you define it. In a monarchy, under the rule of law (as opposed to arbitrary ruler’s law), where there is access to natural resources, and trade, and a lot of autonomy among individual citizens, you’re going to see some prosperity. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a large economic success before the United States where even the poor are so unlikely to starve or be without shelter and clothing (subsistence), and probably have what other cultures would consider luxuries.
When you take away a person’s control over the money they spend their life to earn, you take away that person’s incentive to work hard, innovate, and risk savings. An economy that discourages hard work, innovation, and capital investment cannot lead to prosperity. It can’t even maintain a lack of poverty; once the capital from a better economy is used up, poverty either creeps in or crashes in.
With each of the spheres, you have a 45th parallel line in each hemisphere. So, in the Economic Sphere, above the 45th parallel is true prosperity. People are able to overcome the state of nakedness, shelterness, and lack of experience they were born with to become self-sufficient in providing for their needs—and many of their wants. They have life, liberty, and property, and are able to accumulate wealth according to their successful use of their capital. There will likely be people who cannot, through no fault of their own, take care of their own needs—the very old, the chronically ill or disabled—but there are enough willing charitable givers to keep those people fed, clothed and sheltered better than the poor in a southern hemisphere community.
Down south, below the 45th parallel is true poverty, with a lot of subsistence living—and some dying of hunger or lack of water, basic cleanliness, clothing, and shelter from the elements. And there’s very little hope of getting out of that miserable condition. There may be a few elites with great wealth, usually the ruling tyrants and their minions, who do not give freely to alleviate the suffering of the poor. This is the condition in much of the world—throughout history, and many places today.
We know the simple economic answer to poverty: allow individuals to control the wealth they make. You tie into the political sphere by having limited government to protect life, liberty, and property. You tie into the social sphere—civilization—with honesty, respect for property, family strength, avoiding covetousness, and encouraging voluntary charitable giving.
These answers are simple, and they’re proven. But the solution isn’t easy, because the world is oriented toward the southern hemisphere. The masses of humanity seem unaware of the northern hemisphere of possibility above them, so they oscillate between statist control and mob rule control. The regular workers out there would be happy to just be left alone to do the work they want, pursue their own path, take their own risks. It’s a natural yearning of the human heart to be free to pursue happiness our own way. But the discouragement and fear mongering offered up by the controllers have left them looking only down.
The goal is to spread the message: look up. We can all have better than tyranny, poverty, and savagery. Follow the right principles, and we can move on up north to freedom, prosperity, and civilization.

Friday, July 18, 2014

SCOTUS Annual Review

The past two years, I have put together data comparing the conservative vs. liberal tendencies on the court. The first time was in 2012, ahead of rulings, to see if there was any way to predict the outcome of the Obamacare ruling. In 2013 I gathered the data (Part I, Part II, Part III) after the session. It turned out that there wasn’t a lot of predictive power, although there’s a fair amount of predictable sticking together of voting blocks. There was a surprising amount of agreement on the Court, more than expected.
I considered repeating the exercise this year. But I came upon a data source that goes well beyond what I was doing. I haven’t seen a chart of making the exact comparison I did, but the data is in there. So, for now, we’ll turn to that data, and sum up a bit.
That data source is StatPack from SCOTUSBlog. (SCOTUSBlog is not an official news source of the Supreme Court; it is a law blog that looks at the Court, and is handy to turn to.)
Page 18 (of 63 pages of data), titled "Strength of the Majority," charts some useful totals. There were 73 cases decided during the October 2013 Term (which ended in June 2014).  Of those, 48 were unanimous. That’s agreement among all 9 justices 66% of the time. They were unanimous on two out of every three cases. By comparison, last year there were 74 cases, and 35 were unanimous—a little under 50%. So we saw greater agreement overall this term.
There were two cases with a majority of 8 and minority of 1. (The average single-dissent cases between 2006 and 2012 was 6.4, so there was less going alone this year.) There were seven cases with a majority of 7 and a minority of 2. There were six cases with a majority of 6 and minority of 3. And there were ten cases with a majority of 5 and a minority of 4.
Our interest tends toward the cases with more disagreement. The ten 5-4 cases this year, is below the average of 17 between 2005-2013. It matches 2013, however. Of those ten decisions, four were decided with the usual conservative block: Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, and Kennedy (the swing vote). Two were decided in favor of the usual liberal block: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Kennedy.
Then there were four that had mixed ideological blocks.
·        Navarette v. CA                       Roberts, Kennedy Thomas, Breyer, Alito (conservative block missing Scalia, adding Breyer)
·        Scialabba v. Cuellar de Osorio             Roberst, Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsberg, Kagan (even split)
·        Michigan v. Bay Mills              Roberts, Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan (liberal block missing Ginsburg, adding Roberts)
·        Paroline v. US              Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Kagan (liberal block missing Sotomayor, adding Alito)
So, if we were scoring the blocks, conservatives led 5 times; liberals led 4 times, and there was one ideological tie. Another detail is to notice how often some predictable justices were in the majority on the 5-4 divided cases. Scalia and Thomas were in the majority 50% of the time. Breyer and Kagan were in the majority 50% of the time. This year's 50% conservative victory is slightly better than usual. The average between 2005-2013 is 46%, and only in 2006, 2009, and 2010 did the conservatives have the majority on 5-4 cases 50% of the time or higher. So, it wasn’t a terrible year for the Constitution. But again, I say the Court is balanced on a knife edge.
On July 11th, I mentioned there were 19 cases concerning the HHS mandate within Obamacare, so far. And every single time the decision went against HHS and for the plaintiff. That’s an extraordinary score. You would think that the attorney general, defending the executive branch’s position, would be demoralized with such a score. But that doesn’t appear to be true for Eric Holder; he seems as unyielding and free of self-reflection as ever. So I was thinking about that.
You’ve probably heard the Thomas Edison quote, in which he says, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Maybe Eric Holder has that kind of attitude.
We feel strong having thwarted the assault on our rights each of these times so far. But we are required to win 100% of the time; the Constitution’s enemies only have to win once.
Great Wall of China
Mr. Spherical Model took this photo in 2013
Think of the Constitution as a high wall protecting our liberties—visualize the Great Wall of the Constitution. Eric Holder is among the enemy Radical Socialist Hordes trying to invade. Picture Eric Holder, with grappling hook and long rope in hand. He throws the hook time after time. Each time, the metal hits the wall and falls to the ground. He picks it up and throws it again. Nineteen times so far. But he’ll keep throwing. All he has to do is throw it hard enough to catch one time. Then he can climb the rope, secure it further, and allow one invader after another to follow him. And they can bring additional ropes up, and secure them when they get to the top, so more invaders can come at the same time.
The failed throws aren’t evidence that he’s a failure and should stop trying; to him it is just part of the process of the invasion effort.
The wall is vast. It’s hard to monitor every single span of length. We don’t know where the enemy will try its throw without our awareness. We just maintain the wall as best we can. Is it inevitable that the enemy will breach the wall? Not necessarily. So far we’ve been blessed by people standing up for their rights, which strengthens the wall. But fighting for justice is expensive in time and treasure. We need to thank those who have taken on the fight, and let them know we support them.
If there is any lesson in the balance in split cases, it is that we absolutely need the next appointment to the Court to be a person who loves and understands the Constitution, and the rights it was written to protect.

Monday, July 14, 2014

America--Worth Seeing, Worth Saving

Read the book, watch the movie.
This past weekend we finally got to see Dinesh D’Souza’s movie America—Imagine a World without Her. For someone who loves America, it was beautiful. For someone who hates America, they probably didn’t go, but they need to.

It’s always been puzzling to me that people hate America and list all these evils we’ve done, some of which I have personal memory to disregard, but some are supposedly the history that was glossed over in my education.
The first two thirds of the movie specifically deal with these accusations, or indictments, against America. I don’t know how D’Souza accomplished it, but he spends a lot of time with spokespeople for the various indictments, to give them latitude to express their point of view, without comment or debate, just building their case. It’s kind of painful, because, sitting there, you get the urge to defend. Only knowing who did the movie gives you the patience to sit through this painful part.
Visually, with each of the indictments, he takes a symbol of America and dissolves it—literally uses CGI to turn the symbol into tiny particles that fall to smithereens. He does this with Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty. I’m probably missing some.
Then he takes the indictments, point by point, and gives a different side. He doesn’t erase the accusations, but he does give perspective that changes the sense of anger and shame to something much closer to “way to go, America!”
It was dark in the theater, so I couldn’t take notes. I had bought the book the day before (at Sam’s Club, as a statement against Costco, which had temporarily taken the books off their shelves for obviously political reasons, until the backlash shamed them into reordering the books—but in fairness, I have a Sam’s membership because it is nearby, and don’t have a Costco membership, because it’s a half hour drive). I had hoped, for the sake of this post, that the book would be arranged in the same way as the movie. I haven’t read it yet, but a cursory glance doesn’t give me that straightforward list of indictments. So I’ve probably missed something (I think there were five or six), and won’t say them as well as the movie does:
·         America stole the land from Native Americans.
·         America stole half of Mexico.
·         America earned its wealth on the backs of slaves.
·         America has been imperialistic throughout the world.
·         Capitalism steals from the poor.
D’Souza is surprisingly calm throughout the assault of indictments. I guess that’s how he persuaded the haters to participate in his movie. But they must have known he would go on to give the other side. Which he does quite beautifully.

He identifies much of these indictments coming from a “history” book written by Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States. Early in the book D’Souza says,
This is probably the most influential history book of the past half century. Zinn makes no effort to conceal his perspective. “I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees, of the Civil War as seen by the New York Irish, of the Mexican war as seen by the deserting soldiers of Scott’s army, of the rise of industrialism as seen by the young women in the Lowell textile mills, of the Spanish-American war as seen by the Cubans, the conquest of the Philippines as seen by black soldiers on Luzon, the Gilded Age as seen by southern farmers, the First World War as seen by socialists, the Second World War as seen by pacifists, the New Deal as seen by blacks in Harlem, the postwar American empire as seen by peons in Latin America.”
Zinn is not afraid to give a one-sided picture. He does not believe there is such a thing as objective history; therefore, he wants to present his side. And what is his side? Zinn believes in global economic equality, looking forward, as he puts it, to “a time when national boundaries are erased, when the riches of the world are used for everyone.” (pp. 13-14).
Zinn wants worldwide socialism, with America totally out of the picture. He wrote a “history” book as a persuasive tool toward that end. Zinn’s book is widely used in high schools and colleges—as a text, not as supplemental reading of a different point of view. But he isn’t a history scholar; he is a man with an anti-American agenda, and he cherry-picks details to form propaganda that will serve his ends. In the movie, D’Souza interviews a historian, whose name unfortunately I don’ remember (and haven’t uncovered yet in the book), who verifies that Zinn is not a historian; Zinn is content with distorting facts and context, and even putting forth verifiable untruths as “facts.” Zinn is nothing more than a public opinion manipulator--unfortunately a successful one.
An obvious point here is, if young people are being taught Zinn’s America-is-guilty-of-great-evil theme, they’re being duped. And the lies need to be laid bare, so we can see America clearly. [May I add here—this is yet another reason to homeschool.]
The most beautiful part of the movie came at the conclusion of the defense against the indictments. D’Souza debunks them point by point, with evidence. And then, with that done, he “rebuilds” the symbols. From disintegration, Mount Rushmore re-solidifies into reality, as do the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty and the rest. And we are so relieved to see them as they are again.
Mr. Spherical Model suggests the movie, up to this point, could easily be shown in schools, as a nonpolitical educational movie. I even thought for a moment, while viewing the movie, that this was the end. It would have been satisfying with just that much.
But then I remembered that the previews had suggested the movie would talk about, “Obama didn’t create this movement; the movement created him.” So there had to be more.
The remaining third of the movie answers the question, Why do people choose to hate America? A stunning point in the movie comes during D’Souza’s interview with America hating professor Ward Churchill. D’Souza asks him, if America is indeed as guilty of the evils he claims, would it be “just” to destroy America with a nuclear bomb. Churchill seems to be thinking through the full line of his reasoning, and then concludes the answer is yes. He believes America—even while he lives in it—should commit suicide.
The movie covers the plotting of Saul Alinsky, with his Rules for Radicals, including its dedication to Lucifer. A young Hillary Rodham Clinton was introduced to Alinsky and given his book as a gift. Her later contribution was to take his ideas, which worked first to manipulate public opinion through community organizing, and push them through politics, which she saw as a quicker means to the socialist end. A young Obama was attracted to these radical socialist ideas, sought them out, and then went to serve the cause in the central headquarters for idea manipulation through community organizing: Chicago.
One of the interviewees is Stanley Kurtz, who wrote Radical in Chief, about Obama and his connections to a long, interconnected list of these extremists. I wrote about the book, during the first month of this blog, back in 2011 (Part I, Part II, and Part III). I knew enough of the details in 2008 to know who Obama was. The information is there, for anyone with eyes open and willing to see. But for those who have kept themselves unaware, this portion of the movie is a pretty clear indictment, especially following the first two-thirds of the movie.
It was kind of painful, however, to go on from the “We have reason to love America” conclusion, and wade right into “We’re surrounded by elected officials, media, and other powerful elites that are trying to destroy the America we love.”
But we have to see the truth of where we are, diagnose it, see it clearly—so we can take action to restore America after the decay.
God bless America! I pray that we can restore her.
Here’s one of the movie trailers:


Friday, July 11, 2014

Case Studies on the Sphere

The Supreme Court decisions have kept me thinking. We could avoid the knife-edge possibility of catastrophe for our civil society by following the principles of freedom, prosperity, and civilization. So I thought I’d take a look at the collection of cases related to religious freedom and the Obamacare mandate. We’ll start with a quick review of the principles required for being north on the Spherical Model, mainly in relation to federal government. 
Supreme Court
2013 photo from NPR

Political Sphere:  Following the principles leads to freedom—the northern hemisphere.
·         Is the policy being debated something that an individual has the God-given right to do, and therefore has the right to delegate to government?
·         Does the policy infringe in any way on the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights?
·         Is the policy a proper role of government; i.e., some aspect of protection (including defense, protection from interstate crime, enabling international and interstate commerce, standardized weights and measures and currency, the judiciary that guarantees the protective laws) as enumerated in the Constitution? 

Economic Sphere: Following the principles leads to prosperity—the northern hemisphere.
·        Separate God-given rights from privileges, or wants.
o   God grants rights to all individuals, regardless of government. Government doesn’t grant rights.
o   We are all born naked, impoverished, and inexperienced—conditions we overcome by growth, hard work, and gaining in expertise.
o   We are born with the right to life, the right to live free (not enslaved), and the right to pursue our own path to overcome the naked impoverished state.
·        The person who earns the money gets to decide how to spend it.
·        There will be those who are unable to care for themselves to overcome their naked impoverished state; philanthropy must fill this need, not government.
Social Sphere: Following the principles leads to civilization—the northern hemisphere.
·        Every civilized society is a religious society.
o   This absolutely does not mean state-sponsored religion or lack of religious freedom, but the opposite.
o   Freedom of religion is essential, and the flourishing of religion must be encouraged.
o   The required religious beliefs include the essence of the Ten Commandments:
§  Honor God, who has granted us our lives and our rights.
§  Honor parents (honor family).
§  Do not murder (value life).
§  Do not have sex outside of marriage (preserve family integrity).
§  Do not steal (value property rights).
§  Do not lie.
§  Do not covet (i.e., want what belongs to someone else, which is a precursor to theft).
§  When wrong is done, a wrongdoer must confess and make restitution in order to restore his place in civilization.
·        Family is the basic unit of civilized society.
o   Family perpetuates life and passes on the principles of civilization, freedom, and prosperity.
o   Family integrity must be protected by society, including laws.
o   Marriage is an essential societal good.
§  Sex outside of marriage is always wrong.
§  Exceptions must be rare and repented/repaired. 

That’s a lot to hold in your mind all at once. But you can see that the three spheres interrelate. If a policy violates freedom, it will lead toward loss of prosperity and decay of civilization toward savagery. When a person claims to be an economic conservative but not a social conservative, they are revealing their ignorance of how those social principles are essential for economic prosperity and freedom. 

So, now, let’s relate these to the recent and upcoming SCOTUS rulings.  

The Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Woods decision came down the last of June. The Court ruled that RFRA applied (Religious Freedom Restoration Act). This was important. RFRA says that, if government is to breach the religious freedom of someone, it must have a compelling reason (something related to protection of life, liberty, and property of Americans that could be affected), and also must show that they have taken the least invasive approach. 

The Court didn’t deal with whether the government had a compelling reason, because it was disqualified by failing on the “least invasive” approach. The government had already given exemptions and accommodations to millions, for both political and religious reasons. So why not for these organizations? 

That was the sum total of the ruling. It didn’t decide the “accommodations” being considered in dozens of other lawsuits were appropriate; it only ruled that, since there are other options, burdening religious people was not acceptable. 

Over the weekend, July 5th, you may have heard the additional kerfuffle coming from the Court. The majority ruled to offer a stay to Wheaton College, a religious affiliated organization that has refused to accept the “accommodation.” The three female members of the Court, all liberals, railed against the majority—with vitriol, calling them liars. The phrase “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” [Matthew 13:42] should come to mind. While members of the Court consistently disagree, this failure of congeniality is remarkable. 

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to fast-track legislation to undo the recently sustained RFRA law. He says, because “five white men” shouldn’t have the power to deprive women of their health care. Now, that’s a little insane in a number of ways. First, he just called Justice Clarence Thomas white. Second, the ruling deprived exactly zero women of health care. It simply allowed Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Woods, and related plaintiffs to be able to refuse paying for the 4 forms of birth control they consider as taking human life—abortifacients. The Court acknowledged that government could find other ways to provide those things. Even without government, all of those things are available, at relatively low cost, to consumers without any need for insurance or payment, mostly over-the-counter without even a doctor’s prescription.  

So why the emotionalism? Because they realized they lost what the whole Obamacare business is about—the power of government to impose its rule over the will of the people. 

Hugh Hewitt had a couple of good interviews this week with Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, who have been involved in many of these cases. In Wednesday’s interview with Alan Sears, Hewitt asked about the over-the-top response. And Sears answered: 

They realized they had lost. This is about forcing other people to deny their conscience. Our conscience, a well-formed conscience doesn’t have an option or a choice on how it responds to these kind of decisions. People of faith, of conscience, cannot comply. You mentioned Bonhoeffer. There was a line which he could not cross. Time and again we’ve seen, through cultures, and time and place, where people of faith could not cross certain lines. In this case it’s, once again, it’s being asked to take just a little dip of incense, drop it in the lamp to tell Caesar that he is lord. And I think that’s what really led the dissent here. It’s that they did not have five votes to deny people their conscience. 

There was an additional part of the discussion about the miraculous David v. Goliath win, similar to what I wrote about Monday.

Hugh Hewitt: …the size of the ACLU, the size of these other groups… 

Alan Sears: The size of the Obama justice department. I mean, one of the things that’s just absolutely amazing to me, because of the, quite frankly, the prayers, the faith, the support and the financial support. We have gone, as we talked about earlier, just on the HHS mandate for a group of, more than this many plaintiffs, but gathered into 19 different lawsuits, we’re 19 and zip. 19 to 0 against the Eric Holder Department of Justice, against the White House, against the Department of Health and Human Services. These are gigantic operations. DOJ is the largest law firm in the world. 

That’s something to notice: a score of 19 to zero. We have to be vigilant against Goliaths the size of this DOJ and White House combination. Still, it’s heartening to know how many times, so far, right has prevailed. 

In an earlier Hugh Hewitt interview with ADF attorney David Cortman, Cortman details the Wheaton issue, about the refusal to accept the “accommodation.” 

[T]he form that the government has you sign is a specific legal form that amends your contract with the insurance company. So while they’re saying, “Oh, yeah, we’re keeping you out of this; all you’re doing is telling us that you have a religious objection,” what they’re doing is saying, “Give me your authority, company or family, give me your sole authority, and sign it over to this other person so that we can actually include these items in your plan without you.” So that’s the problem with this accommodation. It’s not taking you out of the picture. It’s taking your authority and granting it to someone else, which makes you complicit in the abortion evil that you believed in the first place. 

David Cortman later asks a pertinent question:  

First of all, why did the government even pick this fight? You know you’re forcing people who have these well-known objections who’ve carried them forever, forcing people to fund abortion-inducing drugs. I mean, that’s incredible for a government to be able to do, and then turn around and say no, no, everything’s fine, just look the other way.

It is incredible. Why would the government refuse to offer an exemption to any but actual churches (which they had to be pressed to do)? And why would they then offer “accommodations” only to religious non-profits with objections—while the “accommodation” is still causing the non-profits to consent to something against their conscience? And why did they refuse any kind of a way out for religious for-profit business owners?  

They’re wrong on every count, according to the Court. But why wasn’t it self-evident to this administration? Because they do not sustain liberty; they seek tyranny. That is what Obama meant by transforming America. 

Let’s briefly go through the exercise of measuring the policies against the Spherical Model. 

·        We do not have the natural right to force our neighbor to pay for something we don’t have. That would be theft. We therefore can’t grant that power to our government. So, we cannot grant government the power to force anyone to pay for someone else’s contraceptives or abortifacients.
·        We are born with the right to freedom of religion. It is the first right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Refusing to allow a person to live according to his own conscience is to enslave that person even more than physically imprisoning him would do. It’s an attempt to enslave his heart and mind.
·        At some point the government will have to “prove” that providing free contraceptives and abortifacients is a compelling interest; it has not yet done so. Whatever the Court eventually rules, forcing people to buy a product, let alone forcing them to buy someone else’s product, is never going to be a proper role of government.
·        Any attempt to control how people spend their money will lead to less prosperity, never to greater prosperity.
·        Claiming that providing contraceptives and abortifacients is equivalent to protecting life and liberty is diametrically opposed to civilization.
o   The government is claiming that sex outside of marriage—and sex without consequences within or without marriage—is a human right and public good. They want a savage world.
o   The government is claiming that its interest in providing sex without consequences is greater than anyone’s religious belief. They want a savage world. 

David Cortman offers a summary of the situation: 

This law in and of itself is an unjust law. Anytime that you force people to violate their religious belief, this law is bad for everybody….This is a great win for religious freedom, but people need to understand anytime the government forces any group of people to violate their beliefs, you could be next. 

Indeed. It’s getting harder to find a civilized, thinking citizen whose beliefs haven’t been violated by this administration. We need vigilance and courage. I honor Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Woods, Wheaton College, Tyndale Publishing, Little Sisters of the Poor, Alliance Defending Freedom and the many other organizations and their supporters who have stood up to the federal government Goliath this year.