Monday, September 30, 2019

No One Has the Right to Rule Over Us

I don’t know if it’s obvious, but I don’t spend a lot of time covering the top news stories of the week here. This is more about the principles that lead to freedom, prosperity, and civilization—which come under the category of political philosophy, rather than actual politics.

One of the principles of freedom is that the people grant government its powers, not the other way around. And we should always beware of power mongers—tyrants, who feel an inherent right to rule over other human beings.

So, this week’s news has been distracting me, as it probably has most people. But the underlying point is to understand and prevent tyranny.

To sum up,

·         The Democrats put announced there was a whistleblower’s report that a phonecall between the newly elected President of Ukraine and President Trump was a quid pro quo, pressuring Ukraine to investigate corruption that could be a political advantage to Trump. The call was simultaneously transcribed by several workers, whose words are then aligned to create as accurate record as possible. The whistleblower was not one of those transcribers, but apparently heard a leak that came, presumably, from one of them, each of whom would have had a security clearance that such a leak would violate. (Why is no one talking about the illegality of such a leak, and finding out who leaked?)
·         President Trump, with permission from the Ukrainian president, within a day put out the full unredacted transcript of the 30-minute phonecall, about 10 minutes of which was under question. Obviously, what was claimed about the phonecall was not actually spoken or done. No pressure. No quid pro quo.
·         Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced, the day after the whistleblower’s claim came out, that there would be an “official” Impeachment inquiry—a re-labeling of six committees already involved in a search for misconduct of the president. That is, not investigations into actual wrongdoing, but various searches for wrongdoing. Calling these already existing investigations officially an impeachment inquiry changes nothing about what they were doing, but it puts the word “impeachment” front and center. By the time she made this pronouncement, the transcript of the phonecall in question was already public, but she’d already set her plan in motion.
·         When it was clear the phonecall itself was not what they’d claimed, they then said the President was blocking the actual whistleblower report. So he had that released, with mild redactions (for national security and protection of names in the intelligence community). The additional claims were that there was a delay in giving certain aid, or selling certain arms, to Ukraine—with a claim that there was an implied quid pro quo of withholding those things until Ukraine followed through on the corruption investigation Trump advised in the phonecall.

In order to believe the claim that there was an impeachable offense, one must attribute motives and thoughts to the President that were not spoken and mostly do not coincide with records and timelines.

The “whistleblower,” who had no direct knowledge, observed some things that, if they were connected, might be construed to be pressure on a foreign government. But the whistleblower account reads much more like analysis than factual reporting.

Such analysis happens all the time. Think back to Jack Ryan, the analyst in Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October. He sees some facts, and, based on his background understanding of one of the people involved, comes up with the theory that the Russian submarine Red October isn’t intending a renegade attack; it’s attempting to defect. It’s a wild speculation. In the meeting in which Jack Ryan presents it, his superior is concerned at how foolish such a wild speculation makes them look. But, because it’s fiction, the analysis gets traction, and the rest of the movie ensues.

An analysis isn’t a whistleblower report; it’s one person’s speculation about the meaning surrounding facts based on the analyst’s experience and biases. If it isn’t convincing to his superiors, it’s just another data point, set aside unless and until something more comes along to make it worth a second look. This “whistleblower,” reportedly someone in intelligence with an anti-Trump bias, wasn’t satisfied with his/her theory/speculation not being taken as fact, so he/she put it out as if it were a stifled whistleblower report (something that required a change in rules concerning whistleblowers in order to qualify).

People read the phonecall transcript differently, depending on how much they hate having Trump as our president. That doesn’t make it a fair reading.

I think it’s a fair assessment that the whole situation is evidence that there is indeed a Deep State—officials within government working toward wielding their own power, regardless of who the people elect—and that’s power mongering, which is antithetical to our constitutional republic.

Today on Andrew Klavan’s show [partial video on Facebook, entire audio podcast at The Daily Wire], he talks about this pretty accurately. Here’s the transcript from his Big Idea segment:

Andrew Klavan, September 30, 2019, screenshot from here

In a world of fake news, it’s important sometimes to remember the real news, the story that’s not being covered. And that story is this: The heads of the intelligence community, under Barak Obama, used Russian disinformation, bought and paid for by the Democrat Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign, to launch a spying operation on an opposition candidate, namely Donald Trump. They then engineered and launched a two-and-a-half-year investigation into a Russia collusion hoax in order to distract from their incredible act of American subversion.
Today, as the Department of Justice Inspector General prepares his report on these doings and his DOJ Prosecutor John Durham leads a separate investigation, a completely meaningless story about Trump and the Ukrainian president, has replaced the collusion hoax as the tool of distraction, and is being covered by the press with the same breathless and reckless hysteria as the Russian hoax—and for the same reasons.
It’s as if the Russian hoax had never been exposed, but it has.
Now, why do I say the Ukraine story is meaningless? I say it because no one cares. Zero percent of the population of the United States cares if our loudmouth president said stupid stuff to the president of Ukraine. To put that in numerical terms, no people care. None.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are people who care very deeply about hobbling Trump and getting him out of office. And they care very deeply about what they hope to get out of the Ukraine story. And there are people who care very deeply about defending Trump from the Deep State, and they care about disproving the story. But no one cares about the substance. It makes absolutely no difference to anyone if Trump was nudging the Ukrainian president to investigate Hunter Biden’s obviously nepostistic sinecure with their stupid gas company, and Joe Biden’s likewise obviously compromised integrity because of it.
At the very worst—and I don’t believe this at all, by the way—but at the very worst, Trump was organizing a jerry-rigged, tape-entwined version of what Obama did to him using the full power of the government. It’s the exact story that the press, not only won’t cover, but is covering up what Obama did to Trump. And now Trump—if the worst of this is true—is sort of, kind of, maybe a little trying to do that to Joe Biden—which is absurd, because he would have much rather run against Joe Biden than Elizabeth Warren.
Now, you may say, well this could still be serious if it leads to impeachment. And we know that would be serious, because people keep saying that it’s serious. Reporters, politicians, commentators. Just listen to them. They all keep saying impeachment is a serious business. But, in fact, nothing is serious if it’s not done seriously. An impeachment show about something no one cares about, that will not result in the president leaving office, is only serious in the sense that it disgraces a legislature that no longer actually legislates, but spends all it’s time in politically motivated investigations and show trials when it’s not raising the debt ceiling to pay for the politically motivated investigations and show trials.
Want to know the news? Follow the Obama story—Obamagate. It’s a big scandal, and a dangerous scandal. And if anyone actually covers it and investigates it, it may begin to root out a Deep State that is willing to do and say anything to cover up the fact that it has gotten way, way out of control.
A bit later in the podcast, Klavan shares a couple of montages. First is one minute of a five-minute montage of the press fawning over Obama. Next is the media dishing up the “impeachment” idea, starting in November 2016, before Trump had taken office, on up through this past week.
from the montage included in the Klavan podcast
screenshot from here

What we have is a segment of society—and media, politicians, and other elites fit in here—that refuses to accept the results of an election. It was an election Hillary Clinton, with the help of a sitting president, attempted to secure through illegal means, and yet she lost. My guess is that Nancy Pelosi’s giving in to talking about impeachment now, after three years, when an election will come up before an actual impeachment could take place, is a desperation move intended to taint the president, because, based on the state of the economy and the increase in personal freedoms after Obama, the Democrats greatly fear Trump will be reelected, despite all their efforts.

As Klavan says later, this isn’t about any of the things they claim it is about:

The target is you. The target is to teach you a lesson: "Do not vote for whom we do not want you to vote for."
Those who feel they have the right to rule over us are tyrants, who should be kept as far away as possible from any of the reins of government.

If there is anything good that can come out of this, I hope it’s that truth will reveal the nefarious works of those trying to undermine the best and most important experiment in self-government in the history of the world.

Trump is not the enemy of our freedom. Maybe, as unpleasant as he is in the Twitter world, he’s exactly the tough leader we need to stand up to the tyranny. I hope he wins this particularly uncivil war against him, against us, and against our constitutional republic.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

How Dare You!

You’ve probably heard the teenage Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, with her quite good English, addressing the world from the Climate Action Summit 2019, as if she were an expert with something important to say. But it’s just an emotional screed. However, the first several sentences of her speech, surprisingly, I totally agree with. I’ll highlight the sentences I think are spot on:

Greta Thunberg, screenshot from here

This is all wrong!
I shouldn’t be up here!
I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean!
Yet, you have come to us young people for hope! How dare you!
You have stolen my dreams, and my childhood, with your empty words!
Yet, I’m one of the lucky ones!
People are suffering! People are dying!
Entire ecosystems are collapsing!
We are in the beginning of a mass extinction! And all you can talk about is money! And fairy tales of eternal economic growth!
How dare you!
For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear!
How dare you continue to look away, and come here, saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?
You say that you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But, no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that, because, if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil! And that I refuse to believe!
The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in ten years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. Fifty percent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution, or the aspects of equity climate justice. They also rely on my generation’s sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us—we who have to live with the consequences!
To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise, the best odds given by the IPCC, the world had 420 gigatons left to emit, back on January 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.
How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions!
With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within 8 ½ years. There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable—and you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is!
You are failing us! But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you! And if you choose to fail us, I say, We will never forgive you!
We will not let you get away with this! Right here, right now, is where we draw the line! The world is waking up! And change is coming, whether you like it or not!

That’s her entire speech. I transcribed, so it was my choice to put in the exclamation points, but I think I was fair and only did that when she was exclaiming. It’s 477 words. The speech took just under five minutes. So she spoke at a haltingly slow 100 words per minute. By comparison, average speeches are probably around 135-150 wpm. Ben Shapiro approaches 200 on a daily basis. English is not her native language, so we’ll give her some leeway for that, and also the occasional applause time she had to wait through. But a speech that slow has a particular purpose: drama.

This was about the optics of a girl, all emotion, drumming up sympathy for a particular way of thinking.

Her speech was written. By her? I’ve read a lot of student papers from people her age and up into college, and even in their native language, they’re probably incapable of inciting this much emotion. They are likely to contain about this many “facts,” or data points, not usually discovered themselves, but coming from some source they ought to cite, if they’ve produced something in writing. And one would hope for the majority of the facts to be actually true, if the piece is to be persuasive. But if you don’t have the facts on your side, then a poor child in pain over the existential worry is what you’ve got. What a bonus if you can get her to cry as she delivers the words!

In other words, I think someone wrote it for her. Which brings me to where I agree with her: How dare you! Whoever fed her this propaganda, and incited her to this much painful emotion, depriving her of her childhood, as she has pointed out—you are quite possibly just evil.

There are reasons that someone my age should not take science scolding from a teenager. Take a look at this cartoon—listing actual pronouncements.

Cartoon by Rick McKee, November 11, 2014

I remember these. If you’re familiar with George Orwell’s 1984, you remember how they rewrote history, replacing all past references and moving forward with new “truth,” as if the old words had never existed. We have watched this happen in my lifetime related to climate change.

image found here
Let me add that, when we were dealing with CO (carbon monoxide) emissions, an actual poison gas, it made sense to try to bring that down. We did. And then, quite suddenly, mention of CO turned into CO2 (carbon dioxide), which is not a poison. It is what we exhale and plants inhale. It’s a natural part of our environment. From the people who suddenly told us we were no longer worried about global cooling, but were supposed to be frantically worried about global warming, we were told to worry about the killing power of the air we and other living things breathe.

I’m experienced enough to be skeptical.

The cultish belief that our earth’s climate is doomed because of human activity, and the only way to preserve the earth is to sacrifice human lives and livelihoods—is NOT my religious belief. And, in a country that guarantees religious freedom, I resent having this pagan religion forced upon me—with scorn, name-calling, blame, shame, and coercion heaped upon any non-adherents.

The climate(s) around the world change. To slip in that term, instead of warming or cooling, which unreliably failed to happen as modeled, is a clever ploy—to anyone not paying attention.

Since I care about my environment, and the beauties of this earth that is my home, of course I want to take care of it. Not so that all creatures except humans can enjoy it; that is antithetical to the way any species should instinctively behave. But so that we humans can enjoy it.

image found here

So, cleaning up air pollution is worth doing. But when we do that and it’s never enough, and the only way to get even a tiny incremental improvement is to return to pre-industrial times—that doesn’t seem right. Especially since the evidence shows, the more industrialized a country becomes, the more capable it becomes of eradicating pollution and disease.

The cleanest, safest energy source we have is nuclear. Most of Europe knows this. But climate activists here have fought the building new nuclear plants for decades. (There are, however, two under construction since 2017.) Instead they want more solar and wind—which, at this point both are more costly to the environment than coal and natural gas energy and remain unreliably dependent on wind and sunlight.

I used to live where we had both nuclear and hydroelectric power. We never had a power outage, in the nine years we lived there. Other than the occasional tree falling on a power line, no one else in the vicinity had outages either. But hydroelectric was fought against for the sake of the fish. And nuclear was fought against—because it scares people who don’t understand it. (See this expression of reasoning by presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.) 

Young Miss Greta Thunberg, you have been deceived. Someone told you that the science is settled and has been crystal clear for 30 years; it is not, and you do not even have the life experience to know better. Someone told you that humans producing CO2 is an existential threat; it is not. Someone told you all the things you’re upset about, and convinced you that you’re now some kind of expert. You’re not. I could join you, but for this opposite reason, and say to them, “How dare you!”

Found this in my representative's Facebook
But, for the sake of your education, and the many others who have been likewise duped into traumatic existential misery, I suggest you educate yourself on what you’ve missed.

A good starting point is Prager University. These five-minute videos, presented by actual scientists, who don’t all agree even with each other, is worthwhile. Take the quiz and look up the study guide attached to each one. There’s even a transcript, if you need it in writing:

PragerU Videos

·         Climate Change: What's So Alarming?  Bjorn Lomborg      
·         Climate Change: What Do Scientists Say?  Richard Lindzen   
·         Can Climate Models Predict Climate Change?  Will Happer  
·         Is Climate Change Our Biggest Problem?  Bjorn Lomborg   
·         Do 97% of Climate Scientists Really Agree?  Alex Epstein   
·         What They Haven't Told You about Climate Change  Patrick Moore  
·         What's the Deal with the Green New Deal?  Alex Epstein  

There’s more. Just this month, probably because of the Climate Action Summit 2019, my newsfeed filled up with pieces by others, like me, with a little more perspective to safeguard us from yet another wolf cry of existential threat within a decade unless we turn over all power to the government—which, you might suppose is the purpose of those cries. Here are a few pieces worth reading:

·         Canada’s global warming models threw out actual historical data and substituted models of what the temperature should have been,” Thomas Lifson, for American Thinker, September 22, 2019. He asks, “If global warming is not a fraud, why do the promoters of it so often do the sorts of things that fraudsters do?” 

·         Doomsdays that didn’t happen: Think tank compiles decades’ worth of dire climate predictions,” Sam Dorman, for Fox News, September 18, 2019. 
·         Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions,” Myron Ebell and Steven J. Milloy, for Competitive Enterprise Institute blog,  September 18, 2019 
·         NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice SheetGreater than Losses," last updated August 6, 2017, by NASA Official Brian Dunbar, edited by Rob Garner.  The report is a few years old, but updates continue.
·         Socialism, Not Climate Change, Is the Real Threat,” Emma Roberts, for RealClear Politics, September 24, 2019. 

That last one is by a 17-year-old homeschooler from Liberty, Texas. A lot less emotion, a lot more data. Good to see in someone so young. While I don’t, as Thunberg accuses, “go to young people for hope,” not even sure what she means. But this Texas teen inspires hope.

There’s a book a came upon a year or two ago, when the author spoke at a local gathering. It makes no attempt to be politically correct, but it contains a wealth of data—all from known sources. The list of further reading in the back, plus the notes documenting every chapter, could keep you reading on up through college. It’s The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism, by Steve Goreham, © 2012, New Lenox Books, available at

I could probably dig up a few more very good pieces I’ve accumulated over the years. But I think this is enough to get a person started on the path to freedom from the cultish indoctrination.

I don’t really know what the climate will do. No one else does either. But being in abject fear over people driving cars or using plastic straws—that’s not a good way to live a life. No young person should be deprived of their childhood just because they’re an easy emotional target due to their lack of knowledge and perspective. Education—and time—are a cure for that condition.

Monday, September 23, 2019

A Parent's Nightmare

I have two questions:

·         Do parents have the God-given right to determine the care and upbringing of their children?

·         Is it possible to tell the good guys from the bad guys?
Sunday’s Houston Chronicle had a lead investigative piece starting on the front page. It’s about the difficulty medical professionals have in identifying and dealing with possible child abuse.

Much of the piece centers on a particular case, a boy named Tristan Timmerman. The nightmare started when he was four months old. At 3:00 AM the dad woke his wife, panicked because their baby was limp, not responsive, with eyes rolling back in his head. The mom, barely taking time to put on pants (no shoes) quickly drove their baby to the hospital while dad stayed home with their two older boys.

The boy was transferred to a children’s hospital, and brain scans were done. A neurologist assured them it was probably related to a difficult delivery and believed the condition would resolve in a few days, which it did.

But the ordeal wasn’t over. Another doctor looked at the scans and saw the possibility of shaken baby syndrome. This doctor, assigned to specialize in identifying child abuse, didn’t get the neurologist’s report.

As the Chronicle story says, “In their zeal to protect children, some child abuse pediatricians also have implicated parents who appear to have credible claims of innocence, leading to traumatic family separations and questionable criminal charges.”

That’s a nightmare on top of a nightmare.

In the Timmerman’s case, the child was not allowed to return home with the parents, who were now under investigation by Child Protective Services. The mother’s parents were able to take him and allow for the parents’ supervised visitations. After the first two weeks, they were asked how things were going, and in the questioning were asked what they thought had happened. They said truthfully that they did not believe the baby had been shaken—which was “not the answer the child abuse pediatric team was looking for.”

The mother reports that the pediatric team’s note, “read like a call to place her baby in foster care, or worse, an effort to persuade her parents to turn against her husband.” Fortunately, the baby wasn’t taken from the grandparents and put into foster care.

The Timmermans’ battle for their family lasted seven months, with much of the Timmermans’ time spent in attending court-ordered appointments and researching similar cases, discovering the many times certainty about shaken baby syndrome turned out to be not only uncertain by just plain wrong.

It took two months to get the baby returned to his mother, but an additional four months before the dad was allowed to be around his baby unsupervised. A few weeks later Child Protective Services dropped the case. And a year later they reviewed evidence and reversed the original findings of the investigation. In the meantime, the Timmermans had spent $200,000 to defend themselves against a case that should never have been brought against them.

Pardo family, image from
There’s another case going on here in Texas that Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) has been helping with. Four-year-old Drake Pardo was illegally removed from his home, without warning or charges, on June 20th.

The boy has a number of health issues. During a recent hospitalization, his doctor had failed to even visit the patient. So the parents transferred his care to another doctor. This seemed to be a triggering factor. A doctor (the one who had failed to visit, or it may have been another at the hospital; I'm unclear on that), who had not seen the child nor reviewed his entire records, suspected that something like Munchausen Syndrome was going on—non-necessary medical treatment because of a mental illness of one of the parents. The doctor asked a question, which triggered an investigation.

But rather than do an actual investigation, CPS jumped to the wrong conclusion that the child was in imminent danger. Even the doctor with the suspicions never believed there was imminent danger or suggested the child should be removed from the home. She just asked for CPS to facilitate a meeting with the parents.

CPS refused for two weeks to reveal to the parents, or their representation, what the charges were. Eventually the doctor’s concerns were alleviated when the parents provided the fuller record of the diagnoses, which had been done by other doctors at that hospital and were readily available. At this point the doctor was fully satisfied, which should have ended the investigation and any problems.

But CPS decided they were going to keep the child, regardless. As they put it, the child was getting the same medical treatment the parents would be giving. No harm; no foul. They failed to create a family plan, as required by law, while insisting that the parents sign a statement admitting to their mental illness, or they would not be given access to their child. The parents couldn’t sign such a statement, since it would be a lie.

The Texas Supreme Court is stepping in on this case, which is very unusual. CPS has its own appellate court system. This intervention by the executive branch—the solicitor general and state attorney general—happens only rarely for CPS cases. There was supposed to be a response last Wednesday, but I believe it was CPS that asked for a continuance. That means something should happen this week. Meanwhile, the parents get occasional one-hour supervised visits, and their son gets no explanation for his trauma.

You can help with the family’s legal defense by donating at

CPS’s suggestion that the only thing the parents need to concern themselves with is whether their child is getting adequate medical care feels like some dystopian world.

I’m currently reading Son, by Lois Lowry, the concluding book in The Giver series. The premise is, in this extremely controlled community within our contemporary world, a nebulous “they” makes all decisions for the very compliant people. At age 12, each child is given his or her life work assignment, and goes on to get whatever training that entails. As adults they can apply to be given a spouse, who is assigned to them. Couples may be granted up to two children, which are birthed by "vessels" called birthmothers—those assigned that responsibility, who are kept separate from the population, and who are inseminated with the child they carry. Nurturers take care of the new children from birth until the annual ceremony at which the babies are assigned to their families. It is at this point the babies are given names, rather than numbers, also assigned by the collective leaders.

In The Giver, there’s one boy, Jonas, who is selected at age 12 to receive the knowledge that the Giver, an older wise man, maintains. He is the only one to see color, to feel emotions beyond very simple innocuous feelings, or to experience real pain. In that book, Jonas’s father, a nurturer, brings home a baby that is failing to thrive, to have him sleep at their house so as not to disturb the night workers at the nurturing center. At the end of that book, Jonas realizes they are going to euthanize the child, and he makes an escape, taking the baby with him.

In Son, we follow the story of the baby's actual mother, Claire. Her parents were disappointed, as was she, that her assignment was only to be a birthmother, which, while valued as a necessity, is considered what they assign people to if they have no other aptitude. Her birth went badly and had to be done cesarean, and the decision was made to reassign her. She gets sent to work in a fish hatchery, where she has no particular interest.

She happens to discover where her baby went, what his number is, and keeps track of him—none of which is ever supposed to happen. No one is supposed to be interested in such information.

The summary on the book cover suggests that most of the story is mainly about the time after her baby son is taken from the community (by Jonas, so we’re looking back to The Giver), and Claire follows. So the rest of her story is beyond the community. But I’m 100 pages in, and that escape hasn’t happened yet.

There’s a part where Claire has visited her baby boy in the nurturing center, where she has volunteered from time to time to see him. No one knows she has made the connection with her son, which would not be permitted. As she leaves, she chokes back tears. She can’t enjoy her meaningless life at the fish hatchery; she’s obsessed with her son:

She wanted only to be with the child, to feel the warm softness of his neck as he curled against her, to whisper to him and to sense how he listened happily to her voice. It was not right to have these feelings, which were growing stronger as the weeks passed. Not normal. Not permitted. She knew that. But she did not know how to make them go away.
This is a dystopian novel. Of course a mother feels an affinity for her child, an aching to hold him. The novel is showing us that centralized control doesn’t work for human beings—that’s the point.

But here we are, in real-life Texas, and some CPS workers claim to have as great a right to control the care and upbringing of a child as the child's parents. They dismiss the reality that the parents and children have a right—even a need—to be together and love one another. They wonder why anyone is complaining. After all, the child is getting the right medical care. What else is there to be concerned about?

I can hardly imagine how painful this must be for good, loving parents. This preventable trauma should never happen to these families.

There are times when actual abuse does happen. It’s surprising how often those stories appear in the news. Children are left in dangerous situations until the unthinkable happens. Heavy caseload is blamed, to excuse the social workers who were vaguely aware of the danger but didn't act.

And yet these overworked CPS employees have time to pursue families in which the child is in no danger. Why?

Every session the legislature looks at CPS reforms. Maybe there are tiny, incremental improvements. But to the regular citizen out here, we don’t understand why a CPS worker can’t tell the difference between a truly abusive situation and a healthy, loving family.

I think that, unless and until CPS workers can tell the difference between good parents and those who are actually harming or neglecting their children, they should cease and desist. Maybe we could require CPS workers to prove that they have this discerning capability before they are allowed to do any casework. If that’s fantasy (and it probably is), then we need better guidelines. Something that will safeguard the good families while exposing the bad. And, as we see from the Chronicle story, trusting "experts" isn't all that useful.

In the meantime, when CPS makes a mistake that deprives a family of their child, they should be liable for damages—including all defense costs for the family, after-care to deal with the trauma, and damages that would at least be a token compensation for the pain of kidnapping the child. My knee-jerk reaction is to give the CPS workers jail time for kidnapping. If you can talk me out of that, then at minimum the workers involved should lose their jobs—and maybe they should be held personally responsible for at least some of the damages.

Parents do have the God-given right to see to the care and upbringing of their children. It’s one of those Tenth Amendment rights reserved to the people without the need to spell them out, because no one questioned that the people had those rights. Until we have the power to discern between good and bad, government shouldn't be in any sort of position to infringe on that right.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Constitution Quiz

image from here
A couple of days ago, September 17, we marked 232 years since we got our US Constitution.

In honor of that, I thought we might do a pop quiz. This is open book. You can use your pocket Constitution, or a printed copy, or an online copy. The answers will follow, below.

Some of the questions are about the history and intent and surrounding information, but much of it will come from the Constitution itself. For questions that ask “where in the Constitution” do you find something, you can answer with Article and Section numbers, or Amendment numbers.

Constitution Quiz

1.     What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?

2.     What year was the US Constitution signed?

3.     What was the purpose of the Declaration of Independence?

4.     What was the purpose of the US Constitution?

5.     What are the three branches of government?

6.     What does bicameral mean, and what does it refer to in our government?

7.     What chamber represents the people by population—that is, a representative for a set number of people?

8.     How many Senators are in the Senate, how were they originally chosen, and how are they chosen now because of which Amendment?

"The Connecticut Compromise,"
by Bradley Stevens, 2006
9.     During the original Constitutional Convention, what is referred to as the Great Compromise, or the Connecticut Compromise?

10.  Does the Constitution grant legislative powers to the executive or judicial branches? Based on your answer, how do you explain the Environmental Protection Agency or Roe v. Wade?

11.   What are the eligibility requirements for being President of the United States; give article and section number for your answer.

12.  Does the President have the power to create the budget? Explain.

13.  What number of justices for the Supreme Court is designated in the Constitution?

14.  What is the Bill of Rights and where is it found?

15.  Where does the phrase “separation of Church and State” appear in the Constitution, and what does that mean?

16.  Where does the Constitution say, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”? And what does this mean?

17.  What is the purpose of the right to keep and bear Arms?

18.  Explain the compromise surrounding counting slaves as three-fifths of a person, and where is this found? What was it changed to, and where is that found?

19.  What is the Electoral College? What is its purpose? Where is it described in the Constitution?

20.  Where do you find the enumerated powers? For each of the following, indicate whether it is an enumerated power or not:[i]

a.     Lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises.
b.     Govern education.
c.     Fix the standard of weights and measures.
d.     Offer charitable services (welfare).
e.     Raise and support armies and navy.
f.      Require purchase of a service or product (such as health insurance).
g.     Establish post offices and post roads (mail system).
h.     Target industries in accordance with a social agenda (gun manufacturing, automobile manufacturing, nuclear energy, oil and gas, fast food or sugary drinks).
i.       Lay and collect taxes on income.
j.       Favor or disfavor individuals or groups for hiring, educational opportunities, or other purposes based on their race or religion.
There’s plenty more to ask, but if you know—or can learn—the answers to these questions, you might know enough to be a good citizen and an educated voter. And we can always use more of those.

May our Constitution outlast all those enemies within and without who misunderstand, misconstrue, and even purposely thwart her sacred purposes.


1.     1776

2.     1787

3.     To declare independence from Great Britain.

4.     To form a “more perfect government,” and we could add, as the Preamble does, “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” to those founders and their posterity.

5.     The legislative branch, the judicial branch, and the executive branch.

6.     It means two chambers. It refers to the two chambers of our legislature: the House of Representatives, and the Senate.

7.     The House of Representatives, which are apportioned following the census every decade. Since 1910 the number of representatives has been capped at 435, which means that the number represented per Congressman continues to grow. Each state has at least one representative, no matter how low the population. There are also additional non-voting representatives from Washington, DC and several other American territories.[ii] A new representative is apportioned for an average of approximately 700,000 people. [iii]

8.     Two Senators per state, regardless of population size of the state. Originally, they were chose by the respective state legislatures. That changed to popular statewide vote with the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.

9.     There were those who believed in representation strictly by population—meaning big states would get much more representation than little states. The little states wanted to emphasize their state sovereignty by having representation by state, regardless of size. These smaller states had no incentive to belong to a union that disregarded them. So there had to be a compromise. The bicameral legislature was born out of this dilemma. The upper chamber was the Senate, with equal representation for each state regardless of population; the lower chamber was the House of Representatives, with representation based on population size. So population matters, but state sovereignty also matters.

10.  Legislative powers, or law-making powers, are solely granted to the legislative branch. The EPA is an arm of the executive branch, with regulatory powers, nominally granted by the legislature, but not constitutionally so. Roe v. Wade is often referred to as the “law of the land,” but the judicial branch does not have law-making powers. Hmm.

11.  The president must be a natural born Citizen (not a naturalized citizen), at least 35 years of age, and residing within the United States for fourteen years. This is found in Article II, section 1, the fifth paragraph. About the fourteen years: It was not uncommon for people to spend extended time overseas for various reasons, as Thomas Jefferson was doing during the Constitutional Convention, for example. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin also spent years doing diplomatic duties in Europe. This is saying a person can’t spend a whole life abroad and then show up to try to lead America. They were trying to make certain that the President would always have total loyalty to our country.
12.  No. Budgets originate in the House and are then passed by the Senate, and finally signed by the President. (See Article 1, Section 7.) The President can, however, outline a budget that would meet his priorities, which the legislature can use or discard as it sees fit. Since 2006, when Democrats regained the majority in the House, budgets have mainly been a series of continuing resolutions, which means something like, “We’ll just keep the same budget priorities as the past budget, with perhaps a percentage increase.” Even during the few years the Republicans regained the majority, threats of stonewalling until there were government shutdowns allowed continuing resolutions to become a habit.

13.  No number is given. Nine is the traditional and current number. There was a time that FDR threatened to “pack the court,” to add as many judges as he wanted to attain his desired political outcomes. The court at that time resisted for a while, but then gave in to his demands rather than subject the court to overt, permanent political partisanship.

14.  The Bill of Rights make up the first Ten Amendments. They weren’t originally included, because they were understood as obvious to the people at the founding. But then some worried that, if they weren’t included, a later people might not recognize these rights. The government does not grant these rights. Rather, government is strictly limited so that it does not infringe on these God-given rights. There are other God-given, or “natural” rights, such as parents’ rights to the care and upbringing of their children. In fact, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments make it clear that government only has those rights enumerated in the Constitution; all other rights are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

15.  Trick question: it does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. It appears in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, assuring them that no preferential treatment would be given to any other religious sect, thus negatively affecting them. Jefferson meant that government would do nothing to interfere with the various churches; churches were safe from government intrusion. It does not mean that any appearance of sympathy toward religion or religious people is prohibited. Nor is this phrase a part of US law. In fact, at the time of the founding, several states had state religions, which was not prohibited by the Constitution.

16.  This is the beginning of Amendment I to the Constitution. These two parts mean, first, that there will not be a state-endorsed religious sect—as was found in Britain and many European countries (and elsewhere) that the people in America had come from. Second, the federal government is to make no law that interferes, stops, hinders, prevents, or otherwise prohibits the free exercise of religion for people in the United States.

17.  In short, self-defense. You could add that, as the founders spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, a people needs to be able to defend against a tyrannical government.

18.  Article I, Section 2, third paragraph talks about counting population for purposes of representatives and taxes. The states with slaves wanted to count all their slaves as persons for representation, but not allow them to vote. The non-slave states worried that granting this advantage to the slave states would make it impossible to ever eliminate slavery. So they came up with this compromise—not to demean the worth of slaves, but to make it possible to eventually end slavery. Passed in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment, section 2, eliminates the three-fifths phrase referring to slaves, because slavery had been eliminated through the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Two years later, in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote, “regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

19.  The Electoral College is the way in which we elect the President. It allows for the people in their respective states to elect persons who will cast their votes according to the choice of the people in the state. A state’s number of electors equals the number of their Representatives plus their two Senators. The Electoral College procedures are described in Article II, Section 1.

20.  The powers are enumerated mainly in Article I, Section 8, with some additional enumerations added in Amendments 15, 16, 24, and 26.

a.       Yes

b.       No

c.       Yes

d.       No

e.       Yes

f.        No

g.       Yes

h.       No

i.     Yes

j.       No