Monday, February 29, 2016

The Choice Between Two Evils Dilemma

A hypothetical situation has been coming up in conversations lately—a hypothetical I hope never happens, but that media keeps telling us is inevitable. That is, a boorish egomaniac with lots of money is lying, deceiving, and bovine-excrementing his way to the nomination of a party that used to stand for freedom through small government and strong defense, prosperity through free markets, and civilization through decent people living good lives. So the hypothetical situation is, “If the election comes down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who will you vote for?”

The answer is neither. I’ve said this before. I’ve had conversations with people who, while they support Ted Cruz and hope for a miracle, are aware Trump might be shoved down our throats. But they would vote for him to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president. And they are shocked that I would not. I do not think Trump is the lesser of two evils in that case; I can’t be sure he is not a worse evil. Either one would mean ignoring our Constitution and our rights, and damage our great nation for at least a generation and possibly beyond repair. I will not vote to condone either choice that leads to that same end.

I was encouraged when I had this conversation with son Political Sphere, who agrees with me, and has a good way of putting it:

Say someone’s pointing a gun at my head, and they say, “You have to choose, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, or I’ll shoot you.” I’d say, “Then shoot me now.”
Yeah. That’s how I feel.

Over the weekend, I was surprised to learn we are far from alone. Apparently there were protesters at the Houston debate last Thursday, with signs representing their campaign: “I don’t know, not Trump, though.” (You can buy yard signs and T=shirts.) And over the weekend, a top trending hashtag on Twitter was #NeverTrump. It means people are refusing to vote for this man, no matter what.
Product image, from here

I’ve read a couple of good explanations of this viewpoint. One is from a blog called RhymesWithRight, which appears to be written by a social studies teacher in Seabrook (between Houston and Galveston). He titles his piece “Why #NeverTrump Is the Only Moral Position.” He starts out acknowledging that Republicans are having this conversation: “What do we do if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee in November?”

This question probably comes up in some form every election cycle, but the overwhelming answer in the past has always been to go ahead and support the nominee, however imperfect. That even included John McCain in 2008, and Bob Dole back in the 90s. But this time it is coming at us as a moral dilemma.

RhymesWithRight says,

It is a fundamental tenet of traditional Christian moral teaching that one may not choose to commit an objectively immoral (malum in se) act. If an act is gravely and objectively morally evil, one cannot do it, even if the result of doing it might be good or better than the alternative.
He gives an example of what that means. Then he applies it to the election:

When approaching the ballot box, one has the obligation to vote in a manner that is objectively moral. In most elections, this is an easy task, for there is usually at least one non-corrupt candidate whose positions and promises are, if not perfect, within the realm of moral acceptability. If there is more than one acceptable candidate, it is acceptable to vote for any one of them—though the more virtuous act is to vote for the greater good. If there is not such a candidate, it is the obligation of a moral person to abstain from voting for any candidate—a vote for the lesser evil is still a choice to do evil, and the choice to do evil is always objectively wrong. The utilitarian argument that one should choose the lesser evil must be rejected.
And he explains why Trump is an unacceptable evil:

Why can't a Christian—or any individual with a functioning moral compass—vote for Donald Trump? That's easy—Trump combines the hostility to freedom displayed by both Democrats with Hillary's personal corruption and Bernie's totalitarian tendencies. Add to that a thin-skin and personal vindictiveness that rivals the character flaws of Barack Obama and you have a perfect storm of political evil. Many commentators—not just on the Left, but also on the Right—have called Trump a fascist…. At a bare minimum, it is fair to label Trump a proto-fascist. On that basis alone, it is morally unacceptable to vote for him, because the racism, support for violence against opponents, and efforts to intimidate and control the press are objective evils which we cannot legitimately support.
What is the voter to do? The options are, leave that race blank on the ballot, or vote third-party or write-in. Hopefully, good options will occur before we’re faced with such an eventuality.

If you want someone more well-known, let’s turn to Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. I’m really beginning to like this guy. He was having this very discussion on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend. Yesterday he did a long Facebook post explaining his position. He acknowledges the frustration of the voters. He then makes sure they know how he got to the Senate, and why no one should say he is “establishment.” Then he says,

My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.
And he explains why. Here’s the introductory essence:

Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation. Much like President Obama, he displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances, with three separate but co-equal branches of government. And the task of public officials is to be public “servants.” The law is king, and the people are boss. But have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word “Reign”—like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually. Nebraskans are not looking for a king. We yearn instead for the recovery of a Constitutional Republic.
He gives some good teaching about parties, about the Constitution, and about the president’s job to “Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Constitution.” About the meaning of America, in words Christians and other religious people understand, he says,

Government exists only because the world is fallen, and some people want to take your property, your liberty, and your life. Government is tasked with securing a framework for ordered liberty where “we the people” can in our communities voluntarily build something great together for our kids and grandkids. That’s America. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of speech—the First Amendment is the heartbeat of the American Constitution, of the American idea itself.
Then he asks, “Do you believe the beating heart of Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been a defense of the Constitution? Do you believe it’s been an impassioned defense of the First Amendment—or an attack on it?” which he follows with numerous examples of Donald Trump’s public statements that show he’s in attack mode on our rights.

What will Senator Sasse do in this hypothetical? “If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate—a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.”

I’m with him on that.

There are more #NeverTrumpers. Hobby Lobby founder David Green, whose company is under duress by the Obama administration to go against religious beliefs, says he will never vote for Trump. And Senator Marco Rubio began using the hashtag. Poor Donald had to face this while the news that he wouldn’t denounce David Duke and the KKK went viral, and suspicions about his fraud case, his refusal to reveal his taxes, and some unsavory, possibly mafia business connections have been bubbling up. Not a good weekend for him.

There are also comic sources of #NeverTrump. One is comedian John Oliver, on Last Week Tonight. In his 21-minute monologue, Oliver expresses what many of us feel:

At this point, Donald Trump is America’s back mole. It may have seemed harmless a year ago, but now that it’s gotten frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it.
Yes. Why didn’t we do something long before the weekend before Super Tuesday? (Oliver adds information about the Trump name, being changed at some point from Drumpf--which he thinks we should return to, just for the sound and look of it, in case you're interested.)

Most of us (the roughly 70-75% of Republican voters who vote against Trump in primaries) are stunned that there is support—in the party supposedly of good guys who love freedom, prosperity, and civilization—for this corrupt crony capitalist with a potty mouth and nonexistent moral compass. We’re in shock that he’s not just laughed off the political stage. Especially when we have had an array of not only acceptable but even exemplary candidates. Especially Ted Cruz, who was born and raised for such a time as this.

How can we even be in a position where we have to worry about this dilemma?

Angry, unthinking, uneducated voters who watch too much reality TV, is the answer.

But since it’s close enough to cause grave concern, it’s a good time to go through the thinking—before we feel like a gun is pointed at our heads. What will we do? What line will we not cross? How firm are we in our principles?

I pray this hypothetical never materializes. But it’s good, right now, to think things through. Party loyalty is only valuable if it gets us to our goal—back to the Constitution. But we will not sacrifice our beloved, inspired Constitution for someone who recently, temporarily, claimed to belong to our party while mocking who we are and what we stand for. I won't be "guilted" into party loyalty under these circumstances.

So, in short, #NeverTrump!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Government and God

This post isn’t about religious freedom, exactly. I just came across some words from scripture worth sharing as we’re in the midst of choosing future leadership.

I know who to trust—the giver of our rights.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.—Psalm 92:2

We need good leaders, because:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.—Proverbs 29:2

I’m concerned about where we are in some cycle. I would prefer a reprieve from more tyranny, poverty, and savagery:

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.—Book of Mormon, Helaman 5:2

And then there are these basic principles about the role of government, and what kind of leaders to seek:

1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic….
4 …We do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.
—Doctrine and Covenants 134:1-4

I’m not quite without hope in the people of America. We need to do all we can to choose leaders who uphold our inspired Constitution, and who will keep their word and act on principle. We have that option in this presidential election. It should be an obvious and easy choice. But it should have been an easy choice four years ago.

I pray there are enough of us truly seeking what is right that God will have mercy on us and deliver us from those—of either party—who seek to impose their will on us. We want, have prayed for, and can choose a leader who will “seek not for power, but to pull it down,” who will “seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of [our] God, and the freedom and welfare of [our] country” (Book of Mormon, Alma 60:36).

If you haven’t yet gotten the confirming spirit of the Lord telling you in your mind and in your heart whether you are making a wise choice, “lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), but get God’s will in your heart before you cast your vote. For the sake of all of us.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Primary Recommendations, Part II

On Thursday, in Primary Recommendations, Part I, we covered the statewide and some Harris County positions. Today we’ll cover the judicial races, any other county positions, and the four propositions on the ballot.

This is going to be long, but I’m not going to split it into another post, because early voting is already halfway over, and people are waiting for my information. So, if you want to go about this the short way, look for the races and my choices in bold. Again, to get your own sample ballot in Harris County, go to

I’m going to start with the few random races we didn’t cover already, so we can cover the judicial races all together. I’m still referring to the endorsements from various groups and friends, including the summary of such the matrix of endorsements put out by SREC SD7 Committeeman Mark Ramsey. For judicial races, I’m adding in recommendations from a friend who works in the DA’s office and has some inside information. Some of the candidates I have met and researched on my own as well. And for most of the judicial races, I worked through the information with son Political Sphere, who is working as a prosecutor now. An additional source you might use for statewide judicial races is

County Attorney

According to the official website, “The Harris County Attorney's Office represents the County, its departments, elected and appointed officials, and employees in all civil matters that involve county business. Our Office also represents the Harris County Hospital District, the Harris County Flood Control District, the Harris County Appraisal Review Board, and the Greater 911 Emergency Network, which are separate legal entities.” One public case they handled was a suit against Volkswagen for violations concerning their fraud to avoid clean air measurements.

This has been a challenging position to decide. I’ve changed my mind even after my discussion with Political Sphere, based on meeting the two candidates on Saturday.
Jim Leitner for Harris County Attorney
Photo from Cypress Texas Tea Party Facebook

Jim Leitner receives endorsements from Steve Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Harris County and Gary Polland’s Texas Conservative Review—all the others on Mark Ramsey’s list go to Chris Carmona. Hotze’s and Polland’s magazine slates are least likely to convince me in the absence of people I know personally to be conservative. However, Leitner also got the nod from my prosecutor friend who knows him.

So Political Sphere and I did some online research. Leitner is older and clearly more experienced. He has worked in the DA’s office. In his private practice he manages several employees. I looked for a website and found only a video on YouTube, which listed a website on it, but that site does not exist. Not helpful.

Carmona is much younger. He has business experience prior to his law practice, beginning in 2010. His practice covers family law, personal injury, and other normal solo practice work. He does have a website.
Chris Carmona for Harris County Attorney
Photo from Cypress Texas Tea Party Facebook

After that look, we wondered why the conservative groups, like CCHC [Conservative Coalition of Harris County, which includes a number of people I know personally) gave Carmona a near endorsement of 67%. [70% is considered an endorsement.] Maybe it is because he is a strong constitutional conservative, we supposed. However, the US Constitution doesn’t come up much in this job.

So, we were leaning toward Leitner, even against the odds, pending Saturday’s Tea Party meeting. Both spoke. Leitner first. He made me uncomfortable. In the brief 10 minutes he had to convince us of his qualifications, he connected himself with Pat Lykos, the previous DA who was ousted in the primary a couple of years ago by Mike Anderson (who died of cancer the year after being elected, and was replaced by his wife, Devon Anderson). He accused Mike Anderson of creating a specific scandal to blame on Lykos to oust her. I had never heard of the particular scandal; there was much else against :sudden accusation against Mike Anderson, who seemed to me very principled by all reports. Leitner did exclude Devon Anderson from the accusation.

Leitner seemed defensive—when I was unaware there was any reason for him to be.

Then Chris Carmona spoke. He pointed out that, while his opponent has more years of experience, Carmona actually has considerably more experience in the issues handled by the County Attorney’s Office. He seemed positive, conservative, and trustworthy. After the dark and scary speech we’d just heard, I could see clearly why so many conservative friends went with Carmona.

He changed my choice. I’m voting for Chris Carmona.

Constable, Precinct 5

There are eight Constable precincts in Harris County. This is a law enforcement division. A large part of their budget comes from contracts with homeowners associations. They patrol the neighborhoods and answer house calls. They write citations for violations—and, just to clarify, none of that goes to their budget, so they do not have quotas, nor would they have any reason to. They do other law enforcement as well as needed, supporting the other law enforcement divisions: the Sheriff’s office, Houston PD, other incorporated city PDs, and anything I’m forgetting.

Precinct 5 is in west and northwest Harris County, south of Hwy 290. (Technically, south of the railroad alongside 290; and Precinct 4 is just to the north, so also of interest to our Tea Party.) The two candidates are Ted Heap and Al Hoang. Phil Camus, the current Constable, is retiring at age 80.
Ted Heap is the Chief of Precinct 5. He has been a cop for 32 years, holding every position from the ground up in the precinct. He’s aware of the growth, and believes he understands how to handle it efficiently, which doesn’t necessarily mean more money and more cops. He has worked with the budget, which is about $37.5 million.
Ted Heap, for Constable of Precinct 5
photo from Cypress Texas Tea Party Facebookf

His opponent is a defense attorney with no law enforcement experience. If he were elected, he would have to spend his first nine months going through academy training in order to qualify.

It may be that much of the job is administrative. Being a cop isn’t required. But it sure is helpful. If nothing else, for morale. You have experienced, hard-working police officers, and instead of bringing in someone to lead them who has been one of them and understands them, you bring in an outsider who doesn’t understand what they go through. That makes it hard to feel respect going both directions.

Hoang has an interesting history, much of it as an activist in Viet Nam. He has run for state rep. before. I couldn’t find a website for his campaign and didn’t meet him. There is some information here.

Ted Heap was at Saturday’s meeting. (We’ve been getting half a dozen candidates at every meeting for months.) He struck me as the quintessential lifetime good-guy Texas cop. I’m persuaded he’ll do a good job.

I haven’t studied Precinct 4, nearby, but endorsements across the board are going to Mark Herman, rather than Rolf Nelson. There’s probably good reason for that.

Harris County School Trustee

There are two positions up for vote, Position 1 Precinct 2, and Position 2 Precinct 4. My ballot includes only Position 2 Precinct 4. (These are not the same precincts as the Constable race, nor the voting precinct.) Eric Dick gets recommendations across the board. Danell Fields bravely came to speak at our Tea Party a while back. She loves kids and education, but she was woefully unaware of any of the issues we are concerned about with the HC School Board and its very existence. So, Eric Dick gets my vote.

Statewide Judicial Races

Texas’s Supreme Court has two divisions, by purpose. The Supreme Court and The Court of Criminal Appeals. There are three Supreme Court positions up for election this primary: place 3, place 5, and place 9. And there are three Court of Criminal Appeals positions: place 2, place 5, and place 6.

Supreme Court Place 3 and Place 9 are fairly clear-cut decisions. For Place 3, Michael Massengale gets 100% endorsement from CCHC (my friends), as well as most of the more conservative sources, and my DA friend. Debra Lehrmann gets a few of the magazine slates. Lehrmann is the incumbent, and yet she has this much opposition. Many who supported her when she was elected are against her now. She has tried to undo tort reform, using personal leanings rather than the law. If tort law needs changes, pretending she has the power to do it from the bench is not the way. Meanwhile, Massengale has been excellent on the court of appeals in Houston. I’m going with Massengale.

In the Place 9 race, the logical choice is Eva Guzman. She writes well-reasoned decisions. She receives unanimous support from all the groups and individuals I’ve gotten recommendations from. Her opponent, Joe Pool, is the son of a famous Democrat congressman from the Dallas area. He’s a trial lawyer who has tried three separate times running for a supreme court position, never garnering more than 30% of the vote. There’s no reason for him to get more than that this time either.

The Place 5 race is a little more confounding, not least because both candidates have the same last name: Paul Green and Rick Green.

Paul Green is the incumbent. Rick Green is a legislator and radio commentator, and speaker for WallBuilders, which puts him in favor with homeschoolers and constitutional conservatives, which is a good fit for me personally. So it’s not surprising he’s getting some attention. He has a particular complaint against Paul Green, regarding the Texas v. Naylor case. It was a case in which a lower court judge granted a divorce and division of property and child custody to a same-sex couple—which implies that Texas recognized the marriage as valid, before the SCOTUS ruling last summer. Paul Green did not concur that the decision was correct, but that there was no one with standing attempting the appeal. It was law related, not necessarily his personal feelings. Rick Green is asserting he is against family values.

I don’t understand getting standing. But my son tells me that in general Paul Green writes reasoned opinions and is well respected.

Meanwhile, Rick Green has very little patience for disagreement, and possibly very little patience or personality for the nitty-gritty boring detail of ruling on the actual law as written.

I can see why those who favor Rick Green are doing so. But in this case I’m avoiding a gut reaction and going for reasoned experience. I’ll be voting for Paul Green.

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2 has three candidates: Mary Lou Keel, Ray Wheless, and Chris Oldner. Keel is the incumbent. The endorsements are about half and half for Keel and Wheless. However, looking at their experience, both Keel and Oldman have board certifications in criminal trials. That implies they have had a number of years’ experience in the particular field of the certification and have met other qualifications. Wheless is board certified in civic trial and personal injury law. Keel has handled 279 criminal appeals, including 5 death penalty cases; her experience is considerably better than Oldner’s. Wheless might be good for another type of court, but his experience isn’t a good fit for this one. I’ll be voting for Mary Lou Keel.

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5 has four candidates: Sid Harle, Brent Webster, Steve Smith, and Scott Walker. There is no incumbent. The choice among everyone I know is between Harle and Webster. Harle oversaw a rather famous case in which Michael Morton was exonerated, leading to the Michael Morton Act, to protect against the problems that led to his incarceration. A prosecutor withheld evidence of a second person in the house in which the murder took place. Some years later that second person murdered again, using the same MO. Eventual DNA evidence proved who the real perpetrator was, and Michael Morton was released. The prosecutor, who had moved on to be an elected judge by then, was sent to prison.

One concern about Harle is that, in general, some who work in defense go on to focus more on criminal rights than on victim rights and applied justice. That doesn’t necessarily mean this is true of Harle, just a stereotype. Webster has some prosecutor training. But he’s younger and may not be experienced enough for this court. Political Sphere calls it a tough choice. Either might be good enough. My prosecutor friend goes with Harle, and that might tip the balance for me. I believe I’ll vote for Sid Harle.

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 6 has two candidates: Michael E. Keasler and Richard Davis. Keasler is the incumbent. He gets endorsements across the board. Keasler has been a good judge. However, he will be forcibly retired a few years into his term. He’s now 74. The age of retirement is 75, but if the judge turns 75 during his term, he has until the end of the first year after that. So in a couple of years he will be replaced with an appointee, who will then have the advantage of incumbency when first facing voters.

Richard Davis is younger, but not young. He has worked in the Burnett County DA’s Office, and is a guest lecturer at Baylor Law School. His county work gives him broad experience in civil and criminal law, including handling appeals work.

So, if you want to give Keasler support, I totally understand. But I’m persuaded that Richard Davis might be a better choice because of the forced retirement Keasler is facing. Mine is a vote for Davis as a choice of the people, not a vote against Keasler and his work.

County Courts

I am dealing here only with those with primary opposition. I am unaware of any unopposed Republican judicial candidates that shouldn’t be supported. And several of them I support enthusiastically. The time for vetting them is now, because, in November, Democrats tend to vote straight ticket, while Republicans hesitate to vote for anyone they haven’t vetted. If we don’t want Democrats to take over courts in our county, this is the time to get to know the judicial candidates.

14th Court of Appeals District, Place 2 is between Kevin Jewell and Bud Wiesedeppe. This is an open court. Both get about equal endorsements on Mark Ramsey’s matrix. Jewell gets 73% with CCHC, which is a full endorsement. He also gets the endorsement of my DA friend. I met him on Saturday. He has the right demeanor, and has good experience specifically in appellate law, since 1998. There’s a comparison of experience here, which is confusingly absent for Wiesedeppe, although Wiesedeppe has worked as an attorney at Woodfill & Pressler since 1997, which I believe is former Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill’s firm. They stand up on many challenging social issues. However, I’m not seeing his appellate court experience. I’ll be voting for Kevin Jewell.  

80th Judicial District Judge has two candidates: Ken Shortreed and Will Archer. Shortreed gets 100% endorsement from CCHC and a number of others, although Archer gets some endorsements as well. He gets my DA friend and personal friends as well. I’ve met him in person and feel good supporting him. He reminds us “Near the bottom of a long ballot, there’s a Shortreed.” There’s a comparison here

125th Judicial District Judge has two candidates: L. A. Olson and Sharon Hemphill. Sharon Hemphill spoke to us on Saturday. She said the Democrat on the court now had only been involved in 8 cases prior to becoming a judge, and is near the bottom of the poll ratings. Complaints are that he doesn’t understand the law. She has 25 years of experience, representing in 378 cases, including in district courts as well as family, criminal and federal courts. She is mediation trained—which she has been involved in since 1991, long before it became common practice. As experienced as she is, Leif Olson also has good experience. (Comparison here.) It was some time ago that we saw him at our Tea Party, but he has impressed more of my friends, including my DA contact. It’s close to a toss-up; either will be a huge improvement over the Democrat incumbent. But I’m going with Olson.

151st Judicial District Judge has two candidates: Jess Hastings and Aaron Gabriel Adams. Hastings has been attending our Tea Party meetings for years, and I’ve always thought he was worth supporting. Adams has ten years of experience in intellectual property and real estate law. Hastings has 25 years of experience with a wide variety of civil law, including much more court experience. Hastings gets endorsements across the board. I’ll be voting for Jeff Hastings.

178th Judicial District Judge has four candidates: Xavier Alfaro, Phil Gommels, Nile Bailey Alfaro is qualified—and has the right kind of experience—he’s a better bet.
Xavier Alfaro for 178th District Judge
photo from Cypress Texas Tea Party Facebook
Copeland, and Bash Sharma. Alfaro gets most of the endorsements of friends. I’ve also met Gommels and Sharma at recent Tea Party meetings. Sharma wasn’t impressive. I liked Gommels. But my DA friend comments, “Gommels would be very defense oriented; Alfaro has been a prosecutor and defense attorney.” That stereotype is there for a reason. Since

339th Judicial District Judge has two candidates: Mary McFaden and Antonio Benavides. McFaden has 14 years of experience as a prosecutor. She gets endorsements from all on the matrix who have endorsed, plus my prosecutor friend. I’ve met her at our Tea Party. Benavides’s endorsement page shows only the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston, which mainly endorses Democrats. I’ll be voting for Mary McFaden

County Civil Court at Law No. 1 Judge (unexpired term) has two candidates: Clyde Raymond Leuchtag and Gloria Cantu Minnick. Leuchtag is the appointed incumbent. The controversy in this race surrounds Minnick, who is running as a Republican while her husband, F. Richard Leach, is running for another position as a Democrat. She answered questions about this at our Tea Party, but not convincing us that she’s a conservative at her core. Leuchtag’s experience is good. He seems to be doing a good job. There’s no reason not to keep him there. I’m going with the entire matrix of endorsements, and the recommendations of my friends, and going with Clyde Leuchtag.


There are four propositions on the ballot. Propositions on a primary ballot are recommendations; they do not have the force of law if approved.

Proposition 1 concerns replacing the property tax system with a non-income-tax alternative (such as higher sales tax). Since property tax pays for local services, such as fire and police protection, and schools and local roads, it makes sense that property owners contribute. The alternatives are subject to changes to unbelievably high, bad for business, sales taxes, which we don’t want. So I’m voting NO.

Proposition 2 says we will comply with federal immigration laws—and not allow sanctuary cities. Cities that defy the law subject themselves to penalizing loss of state funds. This should be a given. The Harris County GOP recently supported this proposition. I’m voting YES.

Proposition 3 prohibits governmental entities from collecting dues for labor unions through deductions from public employee paychecks. I’m not a big union supporter in general. I’m especially not big on labor unions for public employees. That means that, from the wages we taxpayers pay them, the union confiscates a portion and uses it as it sees fit, regardless of how that goes against the taxpayer or the public employee. That should be stopped. I’m voting YES.

Proposition 4 says Texas should strongly assert 10th Amendment Rights; i.e., “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Governor Abbott fought for this as Attorney General. We need more assertion of our rights, as the federal government continues usurping our rights. So, while this doesn’t change any law, it does express our encouragement for our leaders to go forward asserting Texas’s sovereignty. I’m voting YES.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Primary Recommendations, Part I

The primary election is underway. Here in Texas, while voting day comes up Tuesday, March 1st, early voting began Tuesday and runs through February 26th. So I’m getting ready to vote next week, and sharing my decisions.

I expect we’ll do this in two posts: one for national, Texas, and Harris County races, and another for Texas and county judicial races.

I’ve gathered pamphlets, online info, endorsement lists from friends and groups, and I’m using a handy matrix of endorsements put together by Mark Ramsey, State Republican Executive Committeeman for Senate District 7 (my district), which he has been updating daily. 

From Mark Ramsey's Facebook Page 2-18-2016

I won’t spend a lot of time here, because I’ve written my opinion pretty clearly. [Read here, here, and here.] I endorse Ted Cruz. If I can’t have my way, I could settle for Marco Rubio. There were others in the race I could have settled for, but I don’t think Jeb Bush or John Kasich qualify. I generally like Ben Carson as a citizen, but I don’t think he has what it takes to be president. He is, however, better than many alternatives.

I won’t vote for Donald Trump—even if he were to become the nominee. I will not vote for the ruination of my country and the disposal of our beloved Constitution. Every day his behavior convinces me more thoroughly that he would be disastrous with power at his disposal.

Neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton is even conceivable as a president of this country. They would also be permanently disastrous to our country. They are so bad that people would be tempted to vote for whoever is running against them. But I can’t see that Trump would prevent the damage they would do; he might even do damage they haven’t thought of.

It would be awkward (understatement) to be a Republican Precinct Chair who refuses to vote for the nominee; I hope the party does not put me in that situation. I trust Ted Cruz will win handily in Texas, which is a winner-take-all-delegates state. We’re doing our part. But we depend on voters in other states to be wise as well.

US Representatives

My representative, Ted Poe, District 2, is unopposed. I support him.

I’ve been interested in a couple of nearby races. John Culberson, District 7, used to be my representative, until redistricting a few years ago. He hasn’t faced a primary in a while. This year he has two opponents: Maria Espinoza and James Lloyd. I’ve met them both at local Tea Party meetings. Both are impressive.

I was surprised at the urgency to run against Culberson, because he seemed conservative to me when I voted for him. I asked James Lloyd about that: Was I wrong about him? Has he changed? Or has our idea of what is conservative changed? He said he thought Culberson had changed. He had been conservative in the beginning. But he hasn’t faced opposition in a while. And sometimes, when you hear from business lobbyists all the time, and no one is paying attention, it gets easy to just give in.

I haven’t followed closely enough to give specifics on Culberson complaints, but his conservative ratings have dropped of late. When I heard from Lloyd, I was impressed with his experience at a young age. He was valedictorian at Rice Law School—and came out still conservative. Like Ted Cruz at Harvard. He also has experience in Washington working against terrorism. He’s young, but very impressive. I’d be happy to vote for him.

Looking at endorsements from various groups, Lloyd is endorsed by The Conservative View, Terry Lowry’s The Link Letter, Mark Ramsay SREC SD 7 Committeeman, and Gary Pollard’s Texas Conservative Review. Of those, Ramsey has the most sway with me. Espinoza doesn’t receive any of these club/group endorsement.

I think Culberson will probably win; incumbency carries a lot of weight. But the challenges might wake him to the need to respond to his conservative constituency.

When our elected officials remember that conservative principles lead to freedom, prosperity, and civilization, we back them up.

In the meantime, I hope we see more of Maria Espinoza and James Lloyd in the future.

Another contested race is Kevin Brady, District 8. I knew someone who ran against him in the primary a few years ago. People in his districts have similar feelings as Culberson’s constituents. He used to be conservative; what happened? His opponent is Steve Toth, who gets endorsements from Mark Ramsey, Terry Lowry The Link Letter, and Texas Patriots PAC. In the meantime, Brady has been hitting the airwaves with reminders of every conservative thing he’s ever done—same with Culberson. Maybe this challenge will help him to actually be more conservative.

Texas Representative

My representative, Duane Bohac, House District 138, is running unopposed. I have found him responsive and reliably conservative so far.

There are a couple of nearby races. The one getting the most attention is House District 150. Debbie Riddle has represented that district for fourteen years now. We cheered her on as a conservative. But something has turned lately. She isn’t my rep, so I haven’t looked too hard at the specifics, but the main concerns are that she failed to vote for preventing Sharia law from having a place in Texas courts, and she supports House Speaker Joe Strauss, whom we all know is conservative only when forced. Also, some think she worked against Right to Life issues.

There are a total of four on the ballot, but the main challenger is Valoree Swanson, who recently served as SREC SD 7 Committeewoman, and has worked for conservative causes for a long time. She gets endorsements from Steve Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Harris County, The Conservative View, CCHC PAC [Conservative Coalition of Harris County—has weight with me because I know several of them from my tea party; this is an unpaid group of volunteers who research and interview candidates and express their opinions by secret ballot], Kingwood Tea Party, Mark Ramsey, Texas Right to Life, Empower Texans, Texas Patriots PAC, and Conservative Club of Houston. Debbie Riddle gets Pollard’s Conservative Review and Houston Realty Business Coalition.
It’s hard to take out an incumbent, but I think Valoree Swanson has a good chance of winning this one. I would vote for her, if I were in her district.

House District 128 is open, with the retirement of Allen Fletcher. Tom Oliverson and Kay Smith are running. Oliverson gets endorsements across the board on my list of groups. CCHC gives him a 67% support, which is less than an endorsement. Kay Smith gets 33%. She is a longtime active member of our local Tea Party, former member of the county school board, and energetic activist. I don’t know Oliverson, so I was surprised at how that race is going. I suggest looking at both of them and making an informed decision: Oliverson’s website. Smith’s website.

Texas Railroad Commissioner

The Texas Railroad Commission is a three-person regulatory committee over energy, which in Texas is mainly oil and gas. There is one place on the ballot this year, with seven Republicans running (with some added confusion, because Lance Christian and Wayne Christian have the same last name).
This full list, in alphabetical order is: Lance Christian, Wayne Christian, Gary Gates, Doug Jeffrey, Weston Martinez, John Greytok, and Ron Hale.

Ron Hale attended our tea party back in November, which seems forever ago. My notes aren’t very revealing. Two years ago I was leaning toward Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner, and I know people who still support him. But the majority of recommendations I typically turn to support Weston Martinez. I’ve looked at his website, and he seems easy to support. The CCHC PAC supports Martinez with 55%, not an endorsement, and give Wayne Christian 36%. Another 9% go to John Greytok. The magazine slates—Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of HC, Terry Lowry’s The Link Letter, and Polland’s Conservative Review all support Gary Gates, but that doesn’t persuade me without anyone I personally know supporting him.

At this point I’m leaning toward Weston Martinez, subject to more information by the time I vote next week.

Harris County Sheriff

Harris County, where Houston is located, is one of the largest law enforcement jurisdictions in the country—the third largest sheriff’s office. The county is almost exactly 50% Democrat, 50% Republican. The previous sheriff, Adrian Garcia, resigned in 2015 to run for mayor (he did not win). The County Commissioners appointed Ron Hickman, who had been Precinct 4 Constable prior to the appointment. He is now running, and his main opponent is Carl Pittman, who ran for sheriff in 2012.

Both talked at a recent Cypress Tea Party meeting. Carl Pittman went first. I liked him last time he ran, but he wasn’t my final pick (my pick didn’t win in November either). He has been here, supporting tea party ideas, with his big smile and healthy handshake. I wanted to be able to vote for him this time. He talked about the need for better technology, and better ways for law enforcement to work across jurisdictions (the five constable precincts, and various incorporated cities). He seemed convincing.

Then Ron Hickman spoke. He’s been working in the job for about nine months already. He was appointed, so we don’t have to think of that as an incumbent position. But he has a pretty long record of incorporating technology. As Precinct 4 Constable, he instituted laptops in patrol cars, and paperless warrants. It looks like he’s already doing the things that Pittman says need to be done.

Pittman is getting big help from Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sheriff Richard Mack, both big names, but both from somewhere else. There are accusations going both ways in this campaign. I don’t like to see that, and I pretty much tune it out. It’s unpleasantness that I hope will stop filling my email inbox very soon.

I’m still trying to get an inside view from a local sheriff’s deputy. But, looking at the various groups, but everyone across the board has endorsed Ron Hickman, including 100% endorsement from CCHC, and also Mark Ramsey. I have individual friends going with Carl Pittman. Either one I believe would be better than their predecessor, Adrian Garcia. But right now I’m leaning toward Ron Hickman.

Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector

Mike Sullivan is the incumbent. Don Sumners [I didn’t find a website for his campaign] was the assessor before losing to Sullivan several years ago. Don Sumners claims to be a watchdog for the taxpayer. But Paul Bettencourt, now our Texas Senator for District 7, who was truly a watchdog for the taxpayer when he held the Tax Asssessor position, and was all about paying less and paying with ease, is supporting Mike Sullivan. In fact, Sullivan is getting endorsements across the board. The CCHC PAC is supporting him with only 60%, which isn’t quite an endorsement. Still, if all of these people are satisfied, I’m not sure I can see a good enough reason to replace him with a 76-year-old who held the job previously. So, I’m going with Mike Sullivan.

Harris County Republican Chair

We elected Paul Simpson just two years ago. He’s done a lot to better communications, technology, and outreach. He has two challengers, but I’m willing to let him keep working.

We’ll look at Texas Supreme Court and Appeals Court in the next post, along with county judicial races, and anything else we haven't yet covered.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Great Words from a Great Mind

It’s President’s Day, so I thought I’d share a few favorite quotes from the greats: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I’ve done that in past years, however [here and here]. And, while they’re worth repeating every Presidents’ Day, with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia this past weekend, I’m changing plans and quoting him instead.
Justice Antonin Scalia
image from here

He was quotable in interviews and speeches, and maybe regular life. But many of his memorable words come from SCOTUS decisions, particular his dissents. Here are a few.

In reference to the bad decision on King v. Burwell, June 2015, which upheld the Obamacare question concerning state exchanges:

The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so….
This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. In order to receive any money under §36B, an individual must enroll in an insurance plan through an “Exchange established by the State.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State. So an Exchange established by the Secretary is not an Exchange established by the State—which means people who buy health insurance through such an Exchange get no money under §36B….
If the subsidy would be given for any exchange, then it would be odd to keep referring to the subsidy coming in relation to a state exchange under §36B. There are places in the vast law, cited by Justice Scalia, that refer to both the state exchanges and those provided by the secretary of HHS, and sometimes together those are referred to as “exchanges,” but never in relation to §36B (the subsidy, dealing with the IRS). Every time the subsidy is referred to, the full phrase includes “state exchange” and the reference to the part of the law. Not just a time or two, but I believe it was seven times. That’s not an accident; it’s clearly to delineate when such a subsidy can be given.
Here is one of the more important lines:

Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State
is “established by the State.”
There’s more:

Perhaps sensing the dismal failure of its efforts to show that “established by the State” means “established by the State or the Federal Government,” the Court tries to palm off the pertinent statutory phrase as “inartful drafting.” This Court, however, has no free-floating power “to rescue Congress from its drafting errors.”

They made Congress, not this Court, responsible for
both making laws and mending them.
And this memorable line:

We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.

And this:

This Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years…. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.
Justice Scalia speaks at Roger Williams University
law school; image from here

I came across this next quote in a PJMedia piece today. It concerns a 1996 free-speech decision, which I believe was to overturn a ban on internet pornography. Scalia wrote in his dissent:

The court must be living in another world. Day by day, case by case,
it is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize.

Justice Scalia had plenty to say following the Court’s invention of a right for same-sex couples to marry each other, in his Obergefell v. Hodges dissent:

So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

And further in:

When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so. That resolves these cases. When it comes to determining the meaning of a vague constitutional provision—such as “due process of law” or “equal protection of the laws”—it is unquestionable that the People who ratified that provision did not understand it to prohibit a practice that remained both universal and uncontroversial in the years after ratification.

Followed by:

Since there is no doubt whatever that the People never decided to prohibit the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples, the public debate over same-sex marriage must be allowed to continue. But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even a thin veneer of law. Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to protect.

And to put a finer point on it:

A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Justice Scalia was nominated by President Reagan in 1986. He was completing his 29th session on the Supreme Court this year. I’ve mainly quoted from a couple of recent opinions. There should be books—and probably are or will be—documenting his opinions. And probably more books retelling his wit and wisdom. Those of us who love our country and our Constitution feel a bit bereft right now. We needed him on the Court.

Cartoon by A. F. Branco

As for replacement, the speculation is just beginning. There is plenty of precedent to avoid seating a justice in the last lame-duck year of a presidency. Replacement this far into the term—near the time when opinions are beginning to be written, and most briefs read and considered—is too late for a new justice to come up to speed. Cases resulting in a 4-4 ruling can be reheard in the next term. It is better to have the Court down a number than to have cases badly settled by an unprepared guess.

The next term begins again in the fall, just before the election. There is no hurry from either party to grant the power to name a new justice to an outgoing president, instead of the one to be sworn in in January. A new president can be ready to name a replacement immediately, allowing maximum time for serving in the coming term.

To those of us who valued Scalia’s adherence to the Constitution, it is imperative that we have a justice who reads, understands, and abides by the law, rather than wavering according to the whims of the time.

Postponing the appointment gives us reason to hope. But it depends on the Senate standing firm. Scary thought. But that is what we must pray for. That, and a next president who knows what to look for in a justice.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Defining Socialism

We spent some time recently defining conservatism, which is a path to freedom, prosperity, and thriving civilization. I thought it might be useful to define the opposite: socialism.

It goes by other names: liberalism, progressivism, communism. There may be some slight flavor differences among these, paid attention to by those who prefer a certain appellation over another. But in Spherical Model terms, they are all southern hemisphere: some far away authority decides how to spend the wealth created by individuals, and may decide what work individuals may do. In some varieties (USSR Communism, for example) private ownership and private means of production (business ownership) are eliminated.

The Soviet Union fell about 2 ½ decades ago. That means that young people have grown up unaware of what that enemy of the United States (and enemy of freedom around the globe) meant. Now, here we are with a democrat party choosing a nominee who will be either an Alinskyite covert socialist calling herself a progressive or a curmudgeonly old guy who boldly labels himself a socialist. And they are treated by media as if they are mainstream.

So maybe we need a lesson. Let’s be clear: socialism is incompatible with freedom, prosperity, and civilization. Socialism will—it always has and always must—lead to tyranny, poverty, and savagery.
And then this hypothetical conversation happens.

“No, no,” you say; “We just want to even things out, so the system is fair for everyone.”
You want freedom, you say, equality before the law?
“Well, but the way things are, there are people who game the system, and the little guy gets screwed. That’s why there’s such an income gap.”
And by income gap, you mean that’s a bad thing, that people should have the same amount of money?
“Yes, pretty much. The rich are only rich because they’ve exploited other people.”
And poor people are only poor because…?
“Because they haven’t had the same opportunities. Everybody should get the same education advantages, and good job opportunities, and health care so they don’t get wiped out by some accident or illness.”
OK, so, no poor people are poor because they do less valuable work than people who make more money?
“Are you trying to blame the poor?”
No, I’m just asking. So, what if you’re someone with a valuable skill, and you think up something really brilliant that everyone wants. Should you be allowed to profit from it, or share any profits equally with everyone else who didn’t think it up?
“You’re just not getting it.”
No, I’m not. Because I’m aware of how much misery a controlled economy has caused in the world.
“That’s just because it wasn’t done right. We would do it right.”
And how is it you can be sure of that?
“We just would. We’re smarter.”
Among the current Berners (Bernie Sanders fans), they fail to think of forced labor camps, rationing toilet paper (happening in Venezuela currently), the millions starved to death, not to mention the millions killed outright for being unwilling to submit, or trying to escape. No, they think about northern European socialist countries, like Sweden or Denmark, which they think is a utopia we should emulate.

They seem unware that those countries are becoming less controlling—because they have run out of money. As Britain’s Margaret Thatcher accurately said, while opposing socialist in her own country, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”

And how do you make money? Or build wealth? You create something of value beyond what is necessary for survival. Someone needs to do the wealth building, the work.

Recently I came across a piece written by a young man in Denmark, sharing what free stuff feels like there.

Denmark, photo from here

It starts out,

I have noticed a lot of well-meaning Americans praising Denmark for our happiness and our welfare system. We’re praised for our free education, free healthcare, free childcare, short workweek and all the other things that the goodness-industry is proclaiming to define us Danes.
Then he goes on to talk about what “free” means:

“Child- and healthcare is free and students are paid to study in Denmark!” That’s a line I’ve heard a lot. It’s a truth that needs a lot of modification. A lot!
If by ‘free’ you mean ‘paid for by someone else’ you are right in the assumption that healthcare, childcare and education are almost free of charge.
He spends the rest of the article talking about where the money comes from.

Denmark, he points out, built up original wealth from Viking plunder and slavery. So they had a wealth base to draw on. And the rest of the “free” stuff comes from taxes. It’s not a simple thing to just say everyone pays X% in taxes. It depends on a lot of variables. But the writer takes us through a basic example of an ordinary working class Dane who makes $25,000 DKK a month (about $4,000, which would be $48,000/year).

Income tax is deducted automatically, before you see your money (like our withholding). These include 8% Arbejdsmarkedsbidrag, loosely meaning “labor market.” You pay this amount because you’re in the labor market. That’s 2,000 DKK.

Then subtract bundfradrag, or “bottom deduction.” This is, if I’m understanding, a tax on the part of your income that isn’t taxed. This differs year to year, but in 2015 was 41,400, which is 3,433 monthly. You subtract this from the 23,000 DKK you have left to spend in the month, which is 19,567 DKK.

Now come the Communeskat, or county tax. Counties differ, but the average is 24.9%. Which means you take away 4,872.18 from 19,567, leaving you 14,694.81 DKK.

Then comes Topskat, or “top tax bracket.” This is on over 37,000 DKK per month, or an additional 15% on anything over 449,100 DKK per year. Our example doesn’t have to subtract this, since the gross is 25,000 DKK per month.

Next comes the Sundhedsskat, or “health tax.” It changes annually, but in 2015 was 4%. That’s 782.68 in our example, leaving 13,784.32 DKK.

That’s the total of the “income tax,” that is deducted before you see your money. Our example paid 11,215.68, or about 44%.

Then come the many other taxes from various places.

Every time you pay a bill, you pay the government 25%. That means, if you buy something for 100 DKK, it will cost you 125 DKK, for the government to allow you to make the transaction. But you don’t really notice, because the price would read 125, with the tax already included, and the vendor collects and pays the tax, paying quarterly.

In essence, sales taxes, direct and indirect, mean you pay 25% of your remaining income. That’s 3,446.08 in our example, leaving 10,338.24.

Utilities have an additional Afgift, or tax. The writer’s recent 3-month electric bill was 994.64 DKK. Of that bill, 111.96 was what the electric company charges for 358 kilowatt/hours, and 30 DKK for membership (membership?), and a sales tax of 176.33 DKK. There are sales taxes involved to make the exchange, and additional taxes for use of the state-owned network, which I think is the electrical grid. In the end, out of 994.64, 853.58 DKK goes to the government—divided by 3 for 284.53 per month.

We’ll subtract that, leaving us with 10,053.71 DKK.

If you buy a TV, phone, computer, or radio, you can do so—with the usual 20% tax. (The writer sometimes says 20% sales tax, and sometimes 25%, so I’m confused, and that will mess us our numbers. But we’ll plow ahead and try to get an estimate anyway.) But if you own a device that can access some kind of transmission, you pay a Licens, or license to use Dansmarks Radio, the government-controlled media. If you own a device and don’t use it, someone will come to your door and force you to register the device. The license is 205 DKK per month. (It’s unclear to me whether that’s an additional 205 DKK per device, or a single license for all devices in the household.)

The writer refuses to own anything that needs licensing; he uses his mother’s computer and his friend’s phone. But for our purposes, let’s say you pay the license fee. That leaves you 9,848.71 DKK.

That is 39.39% of your original. You have paid 60.61% of your income. If you were wealthier, you would add 15% earlier in the process. Not far off from what Bernie Sanders thinks those terrible rich people ought to be paying here. But note that in Denmark everybody pays, no matter how little they make.

Socialism isn’t about getting free stuff; it’s about spending 60%  or more of your income on those “free” things, without market choice. Everyone pays it. There’s no getting away from it. If you’re healthy and would rather pay for minimal health care, so you can save up for a down payment on a house, you don’t get that choice. If you want faster internet or more media options than the single media company offers, you don’t get that choice.

But for all the lack of choice, you work until mid-July or later for the government and can only use what you make the rest of the year to support your food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and entertainment choices.

Meanwhile, the government is telling you how happy you must be, because of the good way the government takes care of you.

That’s the utopia. It’s also the country where Islamists went on a rampage because someone drew some cartoons they didn’t like.

Sweden has similar stories, as I wrote about in January. The solution seems to be to turn away from overtaxing and turn toward free market. Otherwise these utopian economies will collapse.

The real way to avoid tyranny, corruption, unfairness, and other aspects of oppression is to go in the exact opposite direction from socialism. Like we have in our US Constitution, guaranteed God-given rights, with free market economics, among a righteous people that take care of each other, rather than depending on government to do what charity should.

I had planned to write this piece on socialism for a couple of weeks. But this morning I found there are plenty of others who think it’s time we did some informing on the subject. One, linked today by Glenn Beck, is this 37-year-old video of economist Milton Friedman telling TV host Phil Donohue the difference between socialism and capitalism in under three minutes:

It includes this key point:

In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.
If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.
Another piece that showed up today is this post by United Families International, giving a primer on the difference between socialism and capitalism. It offers this summary:

Socialism is the Big Lie of the twenty-first century. While it promises prosperity, equality, and security, it delivers poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality is achieved only in the sense that everyone shares equal misery.
Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior. The failure of socialism in countries around the world can be traced to one critical defect: it is a system that ignores incentives.
All I can do here is skim the surface of the definitions. You might also read this post and this post, and it’s second part.

The deceived young people seem unaware that voting for socialism is voting to place yourself under tyranny of elected elites and their appointed bureaucrats. They need to be informed. Now. While there is time.

There’s growing data showing the failure of the so-called successes in northern Europe. There are books full of details about socialism. If you haven’t read Animal Farm since you were assigned it in school, it might be time for a reread, now that you’re old enough to understand it. And pass it along to someone who hasn’t read it yet.

No one should be allowed to vote for a socialist if they’re still so uninformed that they think it’s all about being social and about getting free stuff. The rest of us don't deserve to suffer because of their ignorance.