Monday, November 30, 2015

About the Children

Section seven of Ryan T. Anderson’s book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom discusses families. In particular, the outcome for children raised by two parents of the same sex, which was imposed on the American people in June, on the whim of a wavering Justice Kennedy.

The book lays out research on children of gays (COGs), reports from children so raised, and various other opinions—which Justice Kennedy had in hand and dismissed as unimportant. Anderson’s presentation is always logical. I’ll leave it to you to read his version. But for today I’d like to offer a few passages I took note of.

One story comes from an essay by Robert Oscar Lopez, “a bisexual Latino intellectual,” who was raised by his mother and her female partner. His essay, first published in the online journal Public Discourse, is titled “Growing Up with Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View.” Lopez recounts the hole in his young life because of the absence of a father. His friends, he said, learned how to approach life from a man and a woman.

They learned, typically, how to be bold and unflinching from male figures and how to write thank-you cards and be sensitive form female figures. These are stereotypes, of course, but stereotypes come in handy when you inevitably leave the safety of your lesbian mom’s trailer and have to work and survive in a world where everybody thinks in stereotypical terms, even gays.
Not only did he lack a male role model, his mother and her partner were not traditional mothers either. He makes the valid point that, while gays and lesbians have been pushing for so-called “marriage equality,” they have cavalierly favored depriving children of either a mother or a father, even though, he says, “Many gays don’t realize what a blessing it was to be reared in a traditional home.”

Lopez has been silenced and maligned for expressing his experience and opinions, which do not align with the movement’s agenda.

As Anderson comments, “Gay activists use intimidation to shut down debate about their agenda, and no one has faced more attacks on their characters than the children of gays and lesbians who oppose gay marriage.”

Katy Faust is another such voice, a grown woman who was raised by two women. She wrote, in an amicus brief in the Obergefell case,

There is no difference between the value and worth of heterosexual and homosexual persons…because we are all humans created in the image of God….[But] when it comes to procreation and child-rearing, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are wholly unequal and should be treated differently for the sake of the children.
She reminds us, “Each child is conceived by a mother and a father to whom that child has a natural right.”

I noticed this line, because it aligns with a sentence from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”: “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
Faust goes on:

When a child is placed in a same-sex-headed household, she will miss out on at least one critical parental relationship and a vital dual-gender influence. The nature of the adults’ union guarantees this. Whether by adoption, divorce, or third-party reproduction, the adults in this scenario satisfy their heart’s desires, while the child bears the most significant cost: missing out on one or more of her biological parents.
When she became a mother, she came to realize this fact: “Kids want their mother and father to love them and to love each other.” And she adds,

Now that I am a parent, I see clearly the beautiful differences my husband and I bring to our family. I see the wholeness and health that my children receive because they have both of their parents living with and loving them. I see how important the role of their father is and how irreplaceable I am as their mother. We play complementary roles in their lives, and neither of us is disposable. In fact, we are both critical. It’s almost as if Mother Nature got this whole reproduction thing exactly right.

It isn’t that same-sex parents are bad at parenting. Both may be good and devoted parents. But there is still something missing. As the research shows, children raised by divorced parents, or single parents (never married, the father not in the picture), or by in vitro reproduction through a donor, or are abandoned by parents—these children all ache for the missing parent. Their lives are not whole. So, if that is true, Faust asks, “How can it be possible that they are miraculously turning out ‘even better!’ when raised in same-sex headed households?” In reality they aren’t.

She concludes, “The onus must be on adults to conform to the needs of children, not the other way around.”

Heather Barwick, another child of two moms, adds her story. “I’m writing to you [the gay community] because I’m letting myself out of the closet: I don’t support gay marriage….It’s not because you’re gay…..It’s because of the nature of the same-sex relationship itself,” which always deprives a child of either a mom or a dad."

There’s something wrong with adults who think it’s all right to reorder society to meet their desires when those desires necessarily deprive a child of what the child is entitled to, and will feel the absence of. Barwick said,

A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I love my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost…. It is a strange and confusing thing to walk around with this deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man, in a community that says that men are unnecessary….
[A legal system that redefines marriage] promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting.
Children of divorce are free to say that they miss having their parents together, or they miss the parent they don’t get to live with. That makes sense to us. But these children, purposely raised without a father, or without a mother, don’t even get to voice their pain; it’s not politically correct to bring that up. Barwick says, “If we say we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater.” Children who love their gay parents are labeled homophobic for missing something children are naturally made to expect—both of their biological parents.

Another story comes from Doug Mainwaring, a homosexual male who married a woman, left the marriage to pursue a homosexual lifestyle, and then came back for the sake of the children. He says, “(1) Creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.”  He said, “I do not get to throw away the mother of my child as if she is a used incubator.”

And Mainwaring added, “When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest…forever.”

Anderson concludes, “For all of Justice Kennedy’s concern about conferring the ‘dignity’ of marriage on same-sex couples, there’s little concern about conferring suffering on the children raised in such relationships. A relentless focus on adult desire has left us astonishingly calloused.”

That callousness—which fits into what we refer to here at The Spherical Model as southern hemisphere savagery—is the legacy of this redefinition of marriage.

Those of us who know what real marriage is have an obligation to remember, to speak up regardless of negative backlash, and to find ways to express the truth and keep it from being buried. The next section of the book talks about how to build a movement of marriage, to help our society recover.

The downward movement started decades earlier, with “the sexual ideology that undermined the rational foundations for the marital norms of permanence, exclusivity, and monogamy.” What took decades to deconstruct will take decades to rebuild.  Anderson paraphrases Pope Benedict XVI, who “reminds us that while intellectual arguments are important, people are moved more by beauty and holiness….So the first thing we need to do is live the truth about marriage ourselves.”

That’s a starting place. We’ll leave it at that for today, and talk about organization and activism another time.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Come, Ye Thankful People

When God commands His children, it is for their benefit. So if we are commanded to be grateful in all things, it must be for our sake. If we are grateful, we will be happier. 
Last year's plentiful feast,
because this year's isn't photo ready yet.

Mounting social science bears that out. So does common experience. As the song says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” And, in reference to the song in the title, "Come, ye thankful people, come. Raise the song of harvest home."

We set a day aside, to remind us of the blessings of being thankful. More important that the bounty of food are the family and friends we share it with.

We’re busy cooking, watching sports, and hanging out together as a family. But I want to express my gratitude here, just briefly, with a quote, and a few scripture verses especially meaningful today.

"Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy."–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Psalm 100
 1 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
 2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
 3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
 5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Luke 17
11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

Mosiah 2
19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
 20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

Alma 34
38 … and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

Doctrine and Covenants 59
7 Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.

Doctrine and Covenants 78
19 He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Quote File

The Political Sphere
I continue to keep a quote file. It’s about the size of a book now, growing since 2010 or so, but I haven’t shared much of it in a while. It’s random. I add on whatever I happen to come across. All the quotes in this collection relate in some way to the Spherical Model—either to political freedom, economic prosperity, or civilization, or sometimes how they interrelate, and sometimes to specific events in the news that relate somehow.

Today’s post isn’t an organized, themed collection of quotes. It’s just the random last few pages, more or less unedited and without comment. Just a glimpse into some of the thoughts accumulated here at the Spherical Model, in hopes they will be enlightening.

Nobody can be a great economist who is only an economist….and I am even tempted to add that the economist who is only an economist is likely to become a nuisance if not a positive danger.—F. A. Hayek

You know, in the oath that brand-new citizens take, it contains six different references to ‘the law.’ If it’s good enough for us to ask brand-new citizens to affirm their devotion to the law, is it too much to ask that the president do the same?—Trey Gowdy, speech before Congress, July 2014

Mr. Speaker, the House of Representatives does not exist to pass ‘suggestions.’ We do not exist to pass ‘ideas.’ We make LAW. And, while you are free to stand and clap when any president comes into this hallowed chamber and promises to ‘do it’ with or without you, I will NEVER stand and clap when ANY president, no matter whether he is your party or mine, promises to  make us a Constitutional anomaly and an afterthought. WE…MAKE…LAW.—Trey Gowdy, (same as above) speech before Congress, July 2014

While not all Muslims or all leftists seek, or support those who seek, Israel’s destruction, virtually all those who do are either Muslim or on the left.—Dennis Prager, “The Genocide Label,” July 29, 2014

Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core.—Frank Meyer

Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles—and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities—have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking.—Kevin D. Williamson, “Who Lost the Cities?” August 15, 2014

Blacks are only 12 percent of the population in America. But 36 percent of the babies aborted are black. That means that of the more than 3000 babies aborted per day in America over 1000 of them are black.—Mike Adams, “Hands Up! Don’t Abort” 8-25-2014

In the words of one distinguished ambassador, General Carlos Romulo, as he left our shores after serving his government here for nearly a score of years. He said, “I admire and love America…. What I have to say in parting is both a tribute and a warning. Never forget, Americans, that yours is a spiritual country. Yes, I know that you are a practical people. Like others, I have marveled at your factories, your skyscrapers, and your arsenals. But underlying everything else is the fact that America began as a God-loving, God-fearing, God-worshiping people, knowing that there is a spark of the divine in each of us. It is this respect for the dignity of the human spirit which makes America invincible.”

 And this, too, is my tribute to America. We all know that material and physical things are not the source and substance of safety, strength, and freedom of our beloved country."—Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, General Conference 1976

Improve your community by active participation and service. Remember in your civic responsibility that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). Do something meaningful in defense of your God-given freedom and liberty.—President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1988

Your love of liberty, your respect for the laws, your habits of industry, and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.—George Washington

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.—Frederic Bastiat

Men cannot improve a society by setting it to fire: they must seek out its old virtues and bring them back into the light.—Russell Kirk

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.—Thomas Jefferson

A good moral character is the first essential in a man[…] It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.—George Washington

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.—George Washington

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.—Soren Kierkegaard

All the opportunity for self-government through the rule of the people depends upon one single factor. That is the ballot box. . . . The people of our country are sovereign. If they do not vote they abdicate that sovereignty, and they may be entirely sure that if they relinquish it other forces will seize it, and if they fail to govern themselves some other power will rise up to govern them. The choice is always before them, whether they will be slaves or whether they will be free. The only way to be free is to exercise actively and energetically the privileges, and discharge faithfully the duties which make freedom. It is not to be secured by passive resistance. It is the result of energy and action. . . .

Persons who have the right to vote are trustees for the benefit of their country and their countrymen. They have no right to say they do not care. They must care! They have no right to say that whatever the result of the election they can get along. They must remember that their country and their countrymen cannot get along, cannot remain sound, cannot preserve its institutions, cannot protect its citizens, cannot maintain its place in the world, unless those who have the right to vote do sustain and do guide the course of public affairs by the thoughtful exercise of that right on election day.—President Calvin Coolidge

Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.—Winston Churchill

It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.—Henry George (1839-1897)

We’ve got a choice. You grow the government economy, or grow the American economy.—Bobby Jindal. Presidential debate October 28, 2015

Long after Barack Obama is gone and ensconced in warm-weather golf-course mansions, the country will remain divided. The them/us splits are the real Obama legacy that tops even his $20 trillion in debt, chronic zero interest rates, a wrecked Middle East, stagnant growth, a hemorrhaging medical system, and record labor non-participation rates.—Victor Davis Hanson, “Community Organizing America,” Nov. 1, 2015

We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds ... [we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our mis-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers....

And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another] ... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery.... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and, in its train, wretchedness and oppression.—Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Compassion vs. Self-Preservation

Syrian refugees are being brought into the United States. A first group of arrivals were placed in Louisiana earlier this week. The president says we should simply trust him. But since there is almost nothing in which he has earned our trust, that will not do.

Add to the decision the knowledge that five Syrians jihadists were just apprehended in Honduras, with false Greek passports,, on their way to America. Plus three were three more apprehended in St. Maarten, on their way to the US. Plus there were eight more apprehended (turned themselves in?) in Laredo, TX, on their way into the US. All just this week. We can enumerate those apprehended, but we don’t know how many weren’t caught.
5 Syrian men escorted by Honduran police Nov. 18
photo from Reuters

I listened to a discussion about the Syrian refugee question on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday evening. His guest was Professor John Eastman, Fowler School of Law, Chapman University, Dean Emeritus. Hewitt refers to him as one of The Smart Guys, but the other one wasn’t available that day. The short conversation covers several of the important questions about the refugees. So I’ll follow up on a couple of points after the transcript (starts 25 minutes in during hour 2):

HH: John, earlier today five Syrians were arrested in Honduras carrying Syrian passports. They were on their way to the United States. Earlier today, ISIS released a video of New York that had been made since the French attacks, featuring new video of al-Alam showing pictures of New York—maybe they were file photos, maybe they’re not—threatening explosions. I think maybe the country’s position is going to change a little bit on metadata collection. What do you think?
JE: Well, I think so. And also some very serious federalism questions on whether the states just have to accept whatever the federal government imposes on them in the way of immigration. I think we’ve got a real eye-opening window about to open up here.
HH: Now, let’s talk about what Speaker Ryan said today. “We have no religious test; we have a security test.” They are drafting a law that will go to the Senate, and they expect to pass it before they leave on Thanksgiving vacation, because they want this vetting that the president promised via a tweet, but no one believes is going on. Do you believe it’s going on?
JE: Well, I don’t believe it’s going on; I don’t believe they’re capable of it going on. Let’s talk about the Syrian refugees for a moment. The federal law allowing the president to vet and designate who can receive refugee status requires that we engage in an investigation, a vetting, to make sure we’re not bringing in terrorists and also people with communicable diseases and other threats to our security and to our health and safety in this country.
There is no ability for the president or any of his minions in the executive branch to conduct that kind of vetting process with respect to a regime that is in the middle of a perpetual state of war. And we do not have the capability to check even if these are convicted felons from their own country. You can’t exactly pick up the phone and ask al-Assad, “Hey, is this a good guy or a bad guy that we’re about to admit into the United States?”
And that means the statutory requirements cannot be met. And therefore by law the president can’t be designating these folks as refugees.
HH: That’s very interesting. I hadn’t heard that. And by the way, if they caught five in Honduras, how many do you think they didn’t catch?
JE: Well, Honduras… I don’t know what you figure. One out of a hundred we catch? One out of a thousand? Who knows?
Let me go back to the question on religion, though, because we do have a religious test, and Speaker Ryan’s not quite right about this. It’s not the kind of, we’re only going to allow certain religions and not other religions—that’s not what the test is. But the requirement for asylum and the requirement for refugee status is not just that you be fleeing a war torn country; everybody, of course, would like to flee that. The requirement, the statutory requirement that is binding on the president is that you have to be seeking asylum or refugee status because of persecution or a well-grounded fear of persecution based on your religion or ethnic heritage or what have you. And if you don’t meet that criteria, then you are not eligible for asylum or refugee status under the law.
HH: So asylum actually comes to the Yazidis and the Assyrian Christians pretty easily, since the alternative is staying there and losing their heads.
JE: That’s right. And it’s because of their religion that they would lose their heads if they stay there. Not true for a lot of people just fleeing because they don’t want to be in the war area. And so our law is very clear. And the Supreme Court has routinely recognized that the plenary power to describe, to define that stuff, that legal requirement, is vested in Congress, and the president cannot ignore those statutory requirements….
HH: John, in light of the ISIS video threatening New York, released today, in light of the five Syrians arrested in Honduras carrying false Greek passports, listen to what the president said yesterday in the Philippines:
(audio of Obama): These are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they’re so tough that, uh, just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL or using some additional rhetoric somehow is gonna solve the problems out there. But apparently they’re scared of widows and orphans coming in to the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. Now first they were more afraid about the press bein’ too tough on ‘em during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me. They’ve been playing on fear in order to score political points, or to advance, uh, their campaigns. Uh, and it’s irresponsible. And it’s contrary to who we are. And it needs to stop, because the world is watching.
HH: So, John Eastman, the president is petulant, childish, and dictatorial, telling people it needs to stop. I mean… I’ll just give you the last minute and a half to respond to that.
JE: It’s astounding to me. We’ve got evidence across the world of people coming in, masquerading as refugees in order to commit acts of terror against our civilian population. The president’s first job is not to be compassionate to anybody he feels he would like to be; his first job is to protect the security of the American people, particularly on our homeland. And if folks are masquerading as refugees, then we darn well better start questioning refugees to make sure we’re not letting potential jihadist terrorists into this country. And in fact, the federal statutes require that he engage in that.
And so, this is not about wanting to be discompassionate to widows and orphans. I mean, that’s just demagoguery by the president of the United States. And we ought to quit tolerating this guy’s demagoguery. The federal statute requires them to vet potential refugees, to make sure that we are not letting in people who pose a threat to the United States—a health threat, a physical threat, a jihadist threat. And we know particularly from the Paris attacks that these folks can pose a jihadist threat. And we have no ability currently in place to vet who these people are. And the kind of wholesale importation of 10,000 from Syria, and 100,000 refugees total without any vetting process in place is unbelievably foolish. And it’s kind of a disregard of the most fundamental duties of the president of the United States.
Earlier in the program, Hewitt had a caller ask the question: If they’re supposedly vetting already, then how many are being turned away, and where are they ending up? I think the assumption behind that question is that we can pretty well disregard the president’s claim that they are carefully vetting; they’re not.

Syrian refugees arriving in Louisiana, 70% males of military age,
not widows and 3-year-olds as the president claims,
photo from here

This shouldn’t be a partisan question. Anyone who loves America and has enough awareness to see what just happened in Paris ought to be wary about allowing Muslim refugees fleeing ISIS into the US. Add to that the law that must be followed (by a law-abiding president) concerning granting refugee status.

There are ways to vet Syrian Christians. And it is evident they are being persecuted because of their religion, and their lives are in danger. So then the next hurdle is whether there is a health risk, which probably could be managed with a relatively short quarantine prior to bringing them here. There's still the question of using taxpayer dollars to relocate and support these individuals.

And there is still the question of whether transporting them halfway around the world is the only, or even the best, option. It might be for some of them. For most Syrians, bringing them here acts on an assumption that they will never be able to live in their homeland again, that ISIS has permanently won that land. That's pretty defeatist.

Other options include finding safe zones for them in nearby Middle Eastern countries, where they fit culturally and religiously. That acknowledges the possibility that the enemy radicals can be vanquished, and that the refugees have hope they can eventually move back home.

The president's accusation that anyone who disagrees with his wholesale importation of unvetted Syrians means we are hypocritically un-Christian is completely wrong.

What is more likely behavior for truly charitable people: find (or found) organizations[i] to assure people fleeing their war torn home country have shelter, food, clothing, and healthcare? Or expect their government to confiscate their tax money at a rate of about $16,000 (followed by  per refugee to uproot them and transport them to our country, with all its cultural differences?

Charitable people wouldn’t necessarily bring them here. Maybe a few, select persons who qualify for refugee status and have a strong desire to become Americans rather than return to their native home.
So why does the president—against the advice of his military and security leaders—insist on spending big money and foisting large numbers of foreigners on us, foreigners that would much rather be among majority Muslims living in the Middle East than in overwhelmingly Christian America? And why do people in his party almost exclusively ignore our safety and suddenly insist on “charity” to these people—while they have been ignoring the elimination of Christians in the area up until now? And why are they so “charitable” that they insist we give up our safety for it?

I assume it is the same answer as always: this president has a political agenda that has to do with transforming America away from freedom, prosperity, and civilization. Blindness must explain why he has followers.

Today the House voted on a bill to call for a pause in the importation of Syrian refugees. The vote was 289-137, which included around 50 Democrats who are awake enough to see the danger. There’s still the challenge of getting through the Senate and overcoming a veto.

I have an idealistic, unrealistic suggestion, to deal with the gap between what the president says is a thorough vetting process and what we assume is a mostly porous process. I suggest that the president stake his life on his vetting process. 

We want to be assured that no radical Islamists will come in among any Syrian or Iraqi refugees. The president could be held responsible if any radical Islamists make their way in. If it turns out that if even a single radical jihadist is found in our country because of being disguised as a refugee, the Obama, along with possibly some higher up minions, spends the rest of his life in prison. If it happens that a radical jihadist who got here by way of being a refugee participates in a terrorist attack in our country—regardless of size of the attack or extent of the damage—the president is subject to immediate capital punishment.

That would make more sense than having the president risk our lives, safety, and security, and saying, “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Let the risk and responsibility actually be his.

Or he could simply go along with Congress and all sensible people and stop inviting them.

[i] Here are two such organizations: LDS Charities, video of ongoing help here; The Nazarene Fund, a project of Mercury One (Glenn Beck’s organization). If I understand correctly, both of these organizations put 100% of your donations toward relief; they handle overhead with completely separated funding sources.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

France's 9/11

Friday, November 13, 2015, was a sad day. Our ally France underwent multiple terror attacks. The death toll has been uncertain, as high as 153, probably closer to 120, with around 350 more wounded. It was a multi-front attack in an act of war against innocent civilians. The enemy was radical Islamist terrorists, of course.

Gary Varvel cartoon, Sunday, November 15, 2015

When we suffered a similar act of war—a multi-front attack against innocent civilians—on September 11, 2001, France stood strong with us. They are a fellow NATO country. They had already suffered a terrorist attack not long ago, the Charlie Hebdo massacre. This was bigger.
The radicals trying to take over Syria and Iraq, which we have been referring to as ISIS, claim responsibility. At least one of the perpetrators was found to be a Syrian “refugee,” taken in by Greece.

France has spent the following days bombing ISIS strongholds.

How does America lead the world in standing strong with France?

Our current president continues to refuse to use the term radical Islam, he sets free five Guantanamo prisoners who had been held as enemy combatants (non-uniformed attackers of Americans caught in the act), and he arranges for 10,000 right away and as many as 250,000 Syrian refugees to be given plane fare, food, housing, and spending money to relocate to our country.

Obama may have a rationale for that behavior—but I guarantee it is not because he has the best interests of America at heart.

The day before the attack, he said in an interview with George Stephanopolous, “What’s true is is that, from the start our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them.” Inconvenient timing.

He followed up by saying, “What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up…. I don’t have time for that.” It’s always a concern when this president includes the word “notion,” which is his shorthand for “everything my enemy, the conservatives, might say, as twisted by me.” But let’s take him at his word: he is not interested in “American leadership” or “America winning.”

The following day, at the Democrat presidential candidate debate, they responded to the attack as well.

Bernie Sanders expressed irritation that we are being sidetracked from the real threat—global warming. Hillary Clinton was asked if she would characterize the threat we have just witnessed in France as radical Islam. She went out of her way to say that not all Muslims are our enemies (which hadn’t been implied in the question, she was reminded), and said that anyone who used religion as a reason to attack others is wrong. So, no, she cannot/will not refer to the enemy by the term radical Islam.

This is the exchange, between John Dickerson of CBS News as the moderator, and Hillary Clinton:

JD: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned radical jihadists. Sen. Marco Rubio, also running for president, said this attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization “radical Islam?”
HC: I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists
JD: Just to interrupt, he didn’t say all Muslims. He said “radical Islam.”
HC: I think you can talk about Islamists who clearly are also jihadists, but I think it’s not particularly helpful to make the case that Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with that we’ve got to reach out to Muslim countries. We’ve got to have them be part of our coalition. If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam, that was one of the real contributions, despite all the other problems, that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, we are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression. And, yes, we are at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.
In other words, no, her answer is that she will not characterize the war radical Islamists have declared against us and acted upon as a war with “radical Islam.” She will ignore that and reach out to all Muslims as if ignoring the enemy will make it disappear.

Let me characterize this war in terms of the Spherical Model. We have tyrannists who love savagery at war against freedom and civilization. They literally consider human freedom—in almost any form from what to wear, what to say, what to think—as something to fight against, hate, and eradicate. They literally look at respect for life living together in peace, following the Ten Commandments according to our own conscience as abhorrent. They love killing, dying, beheading, destroying, disrespecting, chaos, pain, revenge, tribalism, anger, deceit, murder, rape—almost anything that would delight the prince of darkness.

They are literally savage.

I just finished reading the book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright. I’m just beginning the process of typing up my notes, so at some point I hope to share more from this enlightening book. But it starts with the story of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian whose writings became influential.

He [Sayyid Qutb] was Western in so many ways—his dress, his love of classical music and Hollywood movies. He had read, in translation, the works of Darwin and Einstein, Byron and Shelley, and had immersed himself in French literature, especially Victor Hugo. Even before his journey, however, he worried about the advance of an all-engulfing Western civilization. Despite his erudition, he saw the West as a single cultural entity. The distinctions between capitalism and Marxism, Christianity and Judaism, fascism and democracy were insignificant by comparison with the single great divide in Qutb’s mind: Islam and the East on one side, and the Christian West on the other (p.8).
Qutb spent several years in the United States. His Egyptian friends had hoped that would take the edge off his strident ideology; it didn’t. You could understand if he had spent his stay in some large inner city, surrounded by crime and decadence. But he spent most of his stay in Greeley, Colorado, in 1949:

Family life was the center of Greeley society; there were no bars or liquor stores, and there seemed to be a church on every corner. The college boasted one of the finest music departments in the country, with frequent concerts that the music-loving Qutb must have enjoyed. In the evenings, illustrious educators spoke at the lyceum….At last Qutb had stumbled into a community that exalted the same pursuits that he held so dear: education, music, art, literature, and religion (p. 18).
His sense of superiority was unquenchable by any amount of civilization before his eyes. When he returned to Egypt and told the Muslim world that America was a cesspool of all that is unholy, people who had never been to America or experienced the civilization we have believed him: America was the Great Satan, because we have freedom and modernity. Those two things blind the radical Islamist from seeing any goodness in us.

I trust that, just as the light of dawn overcomes the darkness of night, eventually the light of civilization will overcome the darkness of savagery. But during these dark ages we can expect more savage terrorist attacks. We should be vigilant and diligent in protecting ourselves. And we should continue to be civilized. We must honor God and encourage freedom of religion. We must value, support, and protect family and marriage. We must value life, property, and truth.

Thriving civilization may be the war target of savagery. But the way to peace is not to succumb to savagery; it is to thrive in the face of it and defeat it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Press Delete

I don’t want to talk much about Tuesday’s presidential debate. But that’s the inspiration source for today’s post. Ted Cruz offers a plan to get rid of five federal departments: the IRS, Energy, Housing, Education, and Commerce. (Yes, he accidentally listed Commerce twice in the debate; big deal.) It got big cheers. So maybe it’s worth looking at the suggestion.

Cruz's logo for the plan to get rid of these five departments

Cruz’s point is that the way to get the budget under control requires discontinuing expenditures for things that aren’t authorized in the Constitution, and combine that with major tax reform—to a flat tax. That simplification and relief to businesses would leave more money in the private sector, freed up to be used in a growing economy.

The way things are budgeted in Washington is different from your household. In a lot of ways. One way is that they only look at revenue estimates, not how leaving money in the hands of citizens will affect the economy. So, in Washington, a tax cut must be “paid for” to be revenue neutral. You’re supposed to ignore the Laffer Curve and assume you get less revenue with a lower tax, even when that is known not to be so.

You do spur the economy with a tax cut. And you get more taxpayers willing to pay the tax rather than find tax shelters. So you can get more revenue. But the government will still have trouble making ends meet if it keeps up the same spending rates.

The Spherical Model suggestion all along has been to spend only on what the Constitution enumerates as part of the federal government. So I’m happy to see a candidate who agrees, and spells out some of the first steps toward that end.

Cruz additionally suggests other means of eliminating extra-Constitutional expenditures. But for today’s discussion, we’ll just look at the five biggies he mentioned in the debate.

Do we need the IRS? 

We didn’t have an IRS from 1776 to 1913, when the income tax was instituted. There’s a treasury department, and revenue comes in somehow. The income tax was sold with a promise that it would affect only the most wealthy, and would never go above 7% (the original rate was 1% on income above $3,000 to 7% on income above $500,000). That promise was thrown out the window within just a few years, when it suddenly seemed necessary for everyone, and at a rate up to 95%.

So, anyway, the IRS wasn’t necessary before the income tax. Is it necessary with an income tax? Not if the law is simple enough, which a flat tax is. You still need a way to collect the taxes. How do states do it? There aren’t state-level IRS agencies. What is the mechanism? Probably a revenue department, connected to a department of the state treasury. There will be codes and forms, and formulas. There’s no doubt that a state can come up with a way to collect their revenue.

But there’s no IRS, and particularly no IRS that targets individuals and organizations for political reasons. And no IRS that can used for either targeting or favoring various earners.

I can imagine a country after deleting the IRS, and it looks lovely.

Do we need the Department of Energy?

The stated mission, according to the government website, is: “to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.” 

So the question is, what does the Constitution say about energy? That would be nothing. But, then, gas-powered engines hadn’t been invented at the time, and certainly nuclear power wasn’t being considered.

But, just as the IRS generates no income (it merely confiscates it from citizens), the DOE generates no energy. As for ensuring America’s security, that comes under the Department of Defense, and possible the State Department through diplomacy. Does the Constitution require the federal government to ensure prosperity? Not actually. It does expect the federal government to ensure the right conditions—fair and consistent laws, standard medium of exchange, for example. But it doesn’t require the federal government to get involved in energy development or any other commodity or utility. The government has “volunteered.” It takes our tax dollars, and distributes billions to companies it decides to favor (remember Solyndra). It subsidizes, in an attempt to alter the market, rather than trusting that the market will lead to the greatest innovation and best result for the people.

The DOE became a cabinet-level department in 1977. Its purpose was to combine the Defense purpose of developing nuclear weapons with the possibility of creating nuclear energy. We used to live near the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State—and felt quite safe there. It was part of the DOD when we got there, with both energy purposes and development of nuclear storage (vitrification was the main method, still underway I believe). But it was in the conservative corner of the state, and when Bill Clinton became president, he placed the site under the DOE. If felt much like the oil industry does when gasoline prices drop below $2 a gallon: people get laid off, or leave for other opportunities. Those who stay miss the days of growth, rising pay, and security.

It is likely that the free market, if not stifled by the DOE, would innovate and provide all the energy we need—with plenty to export as well.

We would still have energy—probably more—without the DOE. Let's delete the DOE?

Do we need Housing and Urban Development (HUD)?

What does the Constitution say is the federal government’s responsibility related to providing housing and building urban areas? It’s silent on that too? Hmm.

Did we have housing before HUD? Well, government-provided housing was a Roosevelt invention in 1937, and became a cabinet-level department in 1965. We had housing before that, clearly. In fact, housing is what individuals have built in response to the basic need for shelter wherever people settle.

The free market is pretty good at providing “affordable” housing. Intervention, to provide “affordable” housing—as with every other intervention of the federal government beyond its proper role—causes prices to remain high. It interferes with supply and demand. Cities with the most interference tend to have the least affordable housing—putting even relatively high earners in the category of those who can’t afford housing. Without the interference, the market would settle the price at what people are willing and able to pay. What a concept!

So, let’s delete HUD.

Do we need a Department of Commerce?

Again, what does the Constitution say? There is actually a role, referred to as the commerce clause. It refers to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, which gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

So then we need to know what regulate means. Back in the day, when the Constitution was written, it was commonly used to mean made regular, functioning as expected. A well-regulated clock, for example, would be set to the correct time, wound up, and allowed to keep accurate time. A well-regulated militia would be one that had members of the citizenry armed and practiced in their ability to work together in defense.

So well-regulated commerce would mean commerce that happens regularly, smoothly, without hindrances getting in the way. And the federal government was supposed to make sure that regular free commerce could happen internationally, interstate, and with Indian tribes.

Unfortunately, the meaning of regulate has been twisted over time to mean the government micromanages, controls, limits, and makes all decisions concerning. So we’re spending $10B a year to have the government favor cronies around the world.

If we go back to the original meaning, suddenly there’s no need for a cabinet-level department. All we need is an expectation of free trade within the United States, and treaties that lead to free trade abroad.

Deleting the Commerce Department would mean deleting mounds of red tape, and actually lead to the free trade the Constitution intended. Press Delete.

Do we need a Department of Education?

We’ve only had this department since 1980—under Jimmy Carter, not Reagan, who was elected that year but didn’t take office until January 1981. Did we have education before 1980? Yes. I am an example of a student who went through my entire public school and college education before there was a Department of Education.

Does the Constitution require the federal government to educate the populace? No. It’s not mentioned. There are those who can argue that government has an interest, and therefore a role, in an educated populace. But even those who successfully argue that viewpoint can’t justify a federal government takeover of something that is a parental responsibility, possibly aided by local government, or state government as the least local.

As always happens when the government steps beyond its proper role, the goal of more efficiently and effectively educating students is exactly what fails. Scores are lower. Graduation rates are lower. Preparation for the job force is compromised. And the cost for this outcome is triple per student what it was before the Department of Education was created. And lately they make the fallacious claim that Common Core is a national solution—providing standards that will improve our educated place in the world. Whenever the federal government says something like that, you can trust they are heading 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

The Department of Education has also stuck their fingers into higher education, with the purported purpose of making college more affordable. So you know it would do exactly the opposite. Since its “help” began, the cost of tuition has increased at a rate 2 ½ times the rate of inflation. If you’re having trouble with the math, because of your education, that simply means it’s a lot more expensive to get a college education than when the government stepped in to “help.”

If it were only money, we could almost forgive the government for being wrong but well intentioned. But it has overstepped boundaries to impose social engineering. It tries to force schools to allow biological males into dressing rooms with underage females. It controls curriculum and accreditation. And it has a stranglehold on hiring in higher education, so that your young person is at least three times more likely to hear the opinions of a leftist (i.e., southern hemisphere tyrannist) than a conservative (northern hemisphere freedom lover). If education is meant to teach students to think, the Department of Education is meant to force students to think what the government wants them to think. That’s not education; this is brainwashing.

If you value education, delete the Department of Education. Return the money and the decisions to the local level in contact with the actual students, and let the free market, with its innovation, adjust the price.

So, yes, let’s select the IRS, DOE, HUD, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Education, and press Delete. And then empty the trash bin so they can never be brought back.

If you’re wondering how a President Cruz would accomplish this deletion, and how disruptive or sudden it would be, here’s what he says:

To do that, I will press Congress relentlessly. And I will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose central charge will be to lead the effort to wind them down and determine whether any programs need to be preserved elsewhere because they fall within the proper purview of the federal government. I do not anticipate lists to be long.
And in addition to these big five, which he calls “Five for Freedom,” he’s also planning on deleting an additional 25 specific agencies, bureaus, programs, and commissions. And then he’ll look further, and get rid of everything that exists in defiance of the Constitution—which he has known from memory since his early teens. He knows the law. And I agree with him that America thrives whenever it abides by our brilliant, inspired Constitution.