The TEA Party is Wanted: Dead or Alive

Greetings from Houston, Texas where yesterday I had the pleasure to address the C Club on the topic of a “Conservative Policy Agenda” as it relates to economic, energy, and national security. I’m heading up to Dallas to speak at a dinner event this evening. Tomorrow I’m off to Jackson County (Spring Arbor) Michigan to speak at the annual Lincoln dinner there.

Anyway, we just came through the big primary season “Super Tuesday” and it’s interesting to hear all the post-primary election pundits. Most interesting are the conflicting assessments on the constitutional conservative grassroots movement, the Tea Party. First of all, this isn’t not a political party, it’s an ideological movement.

On one side we hear the Tea Party is done, dead, stick a fork in it, because its candidates aren’t successful. Not too long ago many were singing the praises of Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse who won his primary in the Cornhusker State. Now, after yesterday, the sentiment is that the Tea Party isn’t an influencer and irrelevant.

The thing is, it’s not about individual candidates, but about influencing a policy agenda — and that’s what makes this conservative grassroots movement so very viable. How is it that anyone can disagree with the fundamental principles of America; limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual sovereignty, free market system, strong national security, and traditional values?

And with that comes a policy agenda that focuses on fiscal/economic reforms, monetary policy reforms, governmental structure and organization reforms, development of an energy security plan and program, and a focus on strengthening our foreign policy and national security that promotes peace through strength and military deterrence.

Well, that’s in direct opposition to a progressive socialist agenda that has exploded our debt and deficits, but more importantly has expanded a welfare nanny-state and dependency society all as a means of political bribery using the largesse of the public treasury. I find it quite interesting that during the Bush administration when the average price of gasoline hit $2.50 the liberal media went apoplectic — heard from them recently?

And so, it is in the same vein that we have liberal progressives such as Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who says there’s a “civil war” in the Republican party and the Tea Party has overtaken the party — what?

So is the Tea Party losing and irrelevant or is it running the Republican Party? Can’t be both!

It’s obvious The Tea Party has become the “boogeyman” — the Alinsky target for the liberal Left, all because they fear a strong grassroots movement, and what happened in 2010.

That’s why this administration unleashed a government agency, the Internal Revenue Service, against everyday American citizens who seek to participate in the political process of their country — heck I thought that was a fundamental principle of America? But then again I forgot we’re in the midst of a “fundamental transformation.”

I can tell you one simple thing. Americans are hurting — and that’s not Democrat or Republican. And the American people are seeking principled leaders who will provide a better way ahead, a Reaganesque “Morning in America.” I like to think of it as the “Dawn of a New America.”

The restoration of this Constitutional Republic is happening, and it’s not about this candidate or that candidate. It’s about one thing, the one thing that should matter: the American people — not the poll-tested politically-manipulated collective being subjugated to a growing federal government.

Constitutional conservatism is rooted in America’s fabric. It is far from dead, quite to the contrary. It is quite alive, and quite impactful.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM #3 – Equality Serves the Common Good by Lawrence W. Reed

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government.

Our society is inundated with half-truths and misconceptions about the economy in general and free enterprise in particular. The “Clichés of Progressivism” series is meant to equip students with the arguments necessary to inform debate and correct the record where bias and errors abound.

Leaders and experts who support free enterprise and who understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship will author the pieces. A book will be released in 2015 featuring the best editorials in the series. The opinion editorials and columns will be published weekly on the websites of both YAF and FEE: www.yaf.org and www.FEE.org.

See the index of the published chapters here.

Clichesofprogressivism (1)

#3 – Equality Serves the Common Good

“Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.”

I wish I could remember who first said that. It ought to rank as one of the great truths of all time, and one that is fraught with profound meaning.

Equality before the law—for instance, being judged innocent or guilty based on whether you committed the crime, not on what color, sex, or creed you represent—is a noble ideal and not at issue here. The “equalness” to which the statement above refers pertains to economic income or material wealth.

Put another way, then, the statement might read, “Free people will earn different incomes. Where people have the same income, they cannot be free.”

Economic equality in a free society is a mirage that redistributionists envision—and too often are willing to shed both blood and treasure to accomplish. But free people are different people, so it should not come as a surprise that they earn different incomes. Our talents and abilities are not identical. We don’t all work as hard. And even if we all were magically made equal in wealth tonight, we’d be unequal in the morning because some of us would spend it and some of us would save it.

To produce even a rough measure of economic equality, governments must issue the following orders and back them up with firing squads and prisons: “Don’t excel or work harder than the next guy, don’t come up with any new ideas, don’t take any risks, and don’t do anything differently from what you did yesterday.” In other words, don’t be human.

The fact that free people are not equal in economic terms is not to be lamented. It is, rather, a cause for rejoicing. Economic inequality, when it derives from the voluntary interaction of creative individuals and not from political power, testifies to the fact that people are being themselves, each putting his uniqueness to work in ways that are fulfilling to himself and of value to others. As the French would say in a different context, Vive la difference!

People obsessed with economic equality—egalitarianism, to employ the more clinical term—do strange things. They become envious of others. They covet. They divide society into two piles: villains and victims. They spend far more time dragging someone else down than they do pulling themselves up. They’re not fun to be around. And if they make it to a legislature, they can do real harm. Then they not only call the cops, they are the cops.

Examples of injurious laws motivated by egalitarian sentiments are, of course, legion. They form the blueprint of the modern welfare state’s redistributive apparatus. A particularly classic case was the 1990 hike in excise taxes on boats, aircraft, and jewelry. The sponsors of the bill in Congress presumed that only rich people buy boats, aircraft, and jewelry. Taxing those objects would teach the rich a lesson, help narrow the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” and raise a projected $31 million in new revenues for the federal Treasury in 1991.

What really occurred was much different. A subsequent study by economists for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress showed that the rich did not line up by the flock to be sheared: Total revenue from the new taxes in 1991 was only $16.6 million. Especially hard-hit was the boating industry, where a total of 7,600 jobs were wiped out. In the aircraft industry, 1,470 people were pink-slipped. And in jewelry manufacturing, 330 joined the jobless ranks just so congressmen could salve their egalitarian consciences.

Those lost jobs, the study revealed, prompted a $24.2 million outlay for unemployment benefits. That’s right—$16.6 million came in, $24.2 million went out, for a net loss to the deficit-ridden Treasury of $7.6 million. To advance the cause of economic equality by a punitive measure, Congress succeeded in nothing more than making almost all of us a little bit poorer.

To the rabid egalitarian, however, intentions count for everything and consequences mean little. It’s more important to pontificate and assail than it is to produce results that are constructive or that even live up to the stated objective. Getting Congress to undo the damage it does with bad ideas like this is always a daunting challenge.

In July 1995 economic inequality made headlines with the publication of a study by New York University economist Edward Wolff. The latest in a long line of screeds that purport to show that free markets are making the rich richer and the poor poorer, Wolff’s work was celebrated in the mainstream media. “The most telling finding,” the author wrote, “is that the share of marketable net worth held by the top 1 percent, which had fallen by 10 percentage points between 1945 and 1976, rose to 39 percent in 1989, compared with 34 percent in 1983.” Those at the bottom end of the income scale, meanwhile, saw their wealth erode over the period—if the Wolff study is to be believed.

On close and dispassionate inspection, however, it turns out that the study didn’t tell the whole story, if indeed it told any of it. Not only did Wolff employ a very narrow measure that inherently exaggerates wealth disparity, he also ignored the mobility of individuals up and down the income scale. An editorial in the August 28, 1995, Investor’s Business Daily laid it out straight: “Different people make up ‘the wealthy’ from year to year. The latest data from income-tax returns . . . show that most of 1979’s top-earning 20 percent had fallen to a lower income bracket by 1988.”

Of those who made up the bottom 20 percent in 1979, just 14.2 percent were still there in 1988. Some 20.7 percent had moved up one bracket, while 35 percent had moved up two, 25.3 percent had moved up three, and 14.7 percent had joined the top-earning 20 percent.

If economic inequality is an ailment, punishing effort and success is no cure in any event. Coercive measures that aim to redistribute wealth prompt the smart or politically well-connected “haves” to seek refuge in havens here or abroad, while the hapless “have-nots” bear the full brunt of economic decline. A more productive expenditure of time would be to work to erase the mass of intrusive government that ensures that the “have-nots” are also the “cannots.”

This economic equality thing is not compassion. When it’s just an idea, it’s bunk. When it’s public policy, it’s illogic writ large.

 

Lawrence W. Reed
President
Foundation for Economic Education

 

Summary

  • If people are free, they will be different. That reflects their individuality and their contributions to others in the marketplace. It requires force to make them the same.
  • Talents, industriousness, and savings are three of many reasons why we earn different incomes in a free society.
  • Forcing people to be equal economically may make misguided egalitarians feel better, but it does real harm to real people.
  • For further information, see http://tinyurl.com/m4rwevwhttp://tinyurl.com/k9mpesc, and http://tinyurl.com/lk6avaw.

20130918_larryreedauthorABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Obama’s phony “anger” at Chinese cyber attacks

It’s not anger, it’s fear.

The Obama administration is furious at China, supposedly for cyber attacks.

But China has hacked our government and businesses forever and no one ever complained. Why now?

Here is the secret no one in the MSM will mention, and it is obvious:

Russia (which the US has started a cold war with over Ukraine, even though the Kiev disturbances were made in USA and EU) just signed with China a huge deal for around $400 billion under a gas supply contract for the piping of gas to China for at least 30 years. This is designed by Russia as a stopgap measure in case Europe decides at some point to stop buying Russian gas, which is a real threat. The West sees this deal as a threat to their economy. But since signing energy contracts does not rise to the level of an act of war, a pretext had to be concocted.

The alleged cyber attacks came in handy.

But it’s worse than just a gas supply deal: China and Russia have long been planning to dedollarize (as reported in numerous sources in both the English language and foreign–including Russian–media). That means international sales would be transacted in currencies other than the dollar. A look at the shambles the Fed has created and especially a look at the QEs, i.e., the insane issuing of dollars in the trillions with no backing in noble metals, goods, services, or anything of value at all except the brand name US dollar, will help you understand why they see this as necessary. Issuing unbacked currency for any purpose other than replacement of worn out notes and coins, is like adding water to the soup when unexpected guests show up. It gets the host out of a tough spot but spoils the dinner. Guests tend to stay away next time.

Recent reports that I have seen do not state whether this gas deal that was just signed will be in a currency other than the dollar, but most likely the contract will be denominated in the yuan or the ruble.

This is the true source of the anger in Washington, but anger is hardly the right word. Call it fear.

Well, folks, the US government could have reined in the NGOs in Ukraine (including Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Don’t take my word for it. It’s proudly mentioned on Soros’ own web site!) and it didn’t have to spend $5 billion of our money (as Victoria Nuland foolishly blurted out in a meeting) on destabilizing Ukraine via USAID. Nor did it have to send the ancient lunatic John McCain (who never met a war he didn’t like) to meet with a known Nazi in what must have been a deliberate provocation of Russia, a country that lost millions of its people and millions of dollars worth of infrastructure to the Nazis. To the average Russian, there is nothing more hated than a Nazi, and with good reason. And now the US and the EU are schmoozing with Nazis in Kiev. (Please note that Russians never never never give up. Which is largely why Hitler and Bonaparte saw the bulk of their armies devoured by Russian vultures.)

No one made the US government accept the Wolfowitz doctrine of encirclement of Russia. Russia had traditional economic and diplomatic ties to every country surrounding it and there was no rational motive for trying to harm it economically as long as it was cooperating with the US, as it was. But we meddled in each one, even grooming a president for Georgia. It was deliberate provocation.

Some people believe implicitly that “war is good for the economy.” They never stop to think why they think that. This is because it has nothing to do with cognition. It is a cliché that became popular after WW II, when FDR implemented Keynesian stimulus. The war was his biggest stimulus experience, and it worked, but only because the US was industrialized, unlike today, and we had a captive market in countries whose infrastructure was destroyed and hence could not produce their own manufactured goods.

Those conditions no longer exist. And further, a group of economists at UCLA have shown that FDR’s Keynesian policies, far from stimulating, actually delayed the recovery from the depression by about 7-8 years. Yet the foolish politicians in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, believe the ‘stimulus’ myth implicitly.

But here is a pattern that has been followed by such Keynesians in the past in times of severe crisis: bailouts of business and banks, paid for by the tax payer failing that, issuance of unbacked dollars failing that, war.

What makes Keynesians so feckless is that their approach to all of these reflexive steps is wholly unscientific. When scientists test new drugs, for example, they generally propose a mechanism that would explain why the drug would most likely be efficacious. That is usually the start, before the rats get their doses of the samples. But Keynesians are not scientific. They are religious fanatics who do not question anything. No one could possibly explain a mechanism by which the standard forms of “stimulus” work because there is no logic or reason behind these elaborate Ponzi schemes. Clearly, throwing money away will not bring more money into the treasury; it will only more quickly empty it out.

It is clear that China and Russia are aware of this error, and probably the rest of the BRICS nations are as well. Yet arrogant Western powers demand that they behave as recklessly as we do. To these nations, that must be seen as provocation.

Now ask yourself: If you told your teen not to go out to the bear cave and taunt the mother bear by stealing her cubs, what would you expect to happen if he disobeyed you? And would your teen be blameless if he failed to heed your warning and got mauled or eaten?

We were at peace with the Russian bear. Now that peace is troubled. It didn’t have to be this way.

The bear has shown its claws, and they are scary. No one expected it, but then they never do expect the unexpected consequences. They think they are dealing with a circus bear and are used to it sitting up and begging.

Don’t get me wrong. We desperately need a war. But it ought to be between the political and corporatist class in the West on the one hand and We the People on the other, not between us and a scapegoat country under a narrative concocted by our keepers.

The US has lost war after war since the 50s, including the ones we ‘won.’ Will we be fooled again?

God grant us wisdom this time around.

Michelle Obama Tearing Down the White Man the Old Fashioned Way

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco — and Michelle Obama left her brain in 1954.

Addressing graduating high-school students the other day in the Topeka, Kansas, school district, the federal lunch lady said, referring to the Brown v. Board of Education decision, “[Y]our experience here in Topeka would have been unimaginable back in 1954….” And perhaps this is true.

It also would have been unimaginable back in 1554 or 954. After all, the institutions making that experience possible hadn’t been birthed yet.

You know, those institutions created by European/European-descent civilization.

That civilization that Darth Vegan is tacitly impugning with her racial agitation.

The point is that if you’re going to talk about the past, don’t tendentiously cherry-pick it for destructive ideological purposes. It’s as much as a discussion about slavery. Not only is the focus always on the less than one percent of the history of slavery that was written in the United States (it’s one of the world’s oldest institutions), but the most significant point is missed: Whites were not the first to practice slavery.

But they were the first to abolish it.

If some take offense at this, they can pound sand. I take offense at the constant derision aimed at my civilization by critics who should get down on their knees, kiss the ground trod by our ancestors and thank God for our civilization’s existence. Where else could effete ne’er do wells complain about injustice while living a life of silk, satin and Sidwell Friends and dining on Kobe beef?

Really, this all reminds me of how no good deed goes unpunished. This focus on a group’s sins to the exclusion of its triumphs is much like trying to epitomize a cracker-jack golfer by some of his three-putts while ignoring his many championships; it’s like condemning a great rocket engineer over a few failed trial launches and ignoring that he got you to the moon.

M. Obama also said to the students, “We know that today in America, too many folks are still stopped on the street because of the color of their skin….” This is absolutely true. Just this past Mother’s Day weekend a white family was stopped and beaten by a black mob because of the color of their skin.

Of course, these black-on-white racial attacks — already a frequent but largely unreported phenomenon — will only worsen with racial hustlers such as the Obamas peddling their “series of agreed-upon myths,” to use Napoleon’s characterization of history.

jfk quote

For a larger view click on the image.

And this agitation has its effect. Just consider the testimonial Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, president of the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny (BOND), gave about how race-hustling affected his attitude prior to his religious conversion. He said in a 2013 Los Angeles Times interview, “I believed the lie that because I was black, I wasn’t going to be able to make it because of the white man… I was listening to people like Jackson and Louis Farrakhan…. He talked about the blue-eyed devil, and I believed him. I started hating white people.” And since most people don’t experience religious conversions, what’s the result of this brainwashing?

It’s that now, “not all but most black people are so racist toward white people,” Peterson explained.

And this explains the Obamas. They are obsessed with race.

Obsessed.

And what, America, did you expect when electing a far-left, radical, black-liberation-theology-church-attending, Marxist-leaning, terrorist-consorting ex-socialist-party member who cut his political teeth in the Chicago machine? Mr. Smith goes to Washington?

Well, it was actually Uncle Sam goes to Hell.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

Too Much Gay Everything

I like to think of myself as a tolerant person. I have, however, one prejudice that is based on biology and history.

Michael Sam, the first openly gay professional football prospect, made history when he was filmed by an ESPN crew giving his lover, Vito Cammisano, a long, lugubrious kiss to celebrate being selected in the National Football League draft on May 10th. The sight of two men kissing passionately was not something I and a lot of other folks wanted to see.

A spokesman for GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination, called the kiss “a significant milestone”, describing it as “touching.” No it wasn’t. It was nauseating to any heterosexual having to witness it or explain it to their children.

We need to understand that being gay is not normal. Biologically, species exist because the male and female genders exist for the purpose of procreation and propagation. Historically, gays have been held in disdain in every era of civilization. Today in the Islamic Middle East you can be killed for being gay, but you can also be killed for being Christian. In the West both actions are an abomination.

One gets a variety of estimates regarding how many gays there are in America. To the question, how many gay people are there in the United States, “The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, a sexual orientation law and public policy think tank, estimates that 9 million (about 3.8%) of Americans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (2011). The institute also found that bisexuals make up 1.8% of the population, while 1.7% are gay or lesbian. Transgender adults make up 0.3% of the population.”

Being as generous as one can with such estimates, it still means that 96% of Americans are heterosexual.

In terms of the news generated by gays and their depiction in films and especially these days on television, one might be inclined to think that they were a far greater part of the population, but they are a minority within other minorities. My own guess is that there a large number of gays in the news profession and most certainly in the world of entertainment. And now we are being informed of gays in the world of sports.

I don’t want to hear much about gays for any reason. The kiss was not something I would want young people to see on television or anywhere else. The bigger problem is that our younger generation, progressing through our schools, is being systematically taught to accept homosexuality as just another version of normality.

A group called MassResistance was created in response to an assault on the Massachusetts school curriculum and GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is hard at work in all fifty states! As MassResistance points out, Its agenda is to ensure that “a wide range of psychologically penetrating homosexual and transgender programs (and) activities into the schools,” while “organizing and training teachers to integrate their techniques throughout the curriculum.”

In early April, GLSEN held an all-day conference in Boston with speeches and workshops. It was attended by approximately 325 people, approximately two-third of whom were students. “The GLSEN Conference is run by adults and is meant to train adults. But they go to great lengths to bring in as many students as possible, no matter how young. They come from schools across the state and usual seem part of a ‘gay club’ or affiliated with a homosexual activities on the school’s staff, such as a teacher or guidance counselor.”

The opening session included two keynote speeches, both which were directed at the students. “A general message we got from both speeches,” reported MassResistance, “was there is no sense of truth, or reality, or of right and wrong. Any way you want to express yourself in life is fine.” The problem for gays and lesbians is that they do not have a choice about their sexual orientation, any more than they have a choice over being right or left-handed.

Being a youngster of any age is stressful enough, but being young and gay just adds to the stress and someone should tell them they will live with that for the rest of their lives.

Most certainly parents do not send their children to our public schools to learn about homosexuality, bisexuality, or being transgendered.

What a very large portion of the heterosexual population objects to is the appalling and aggressive effort of the homosexual minority to redefine marriage. Anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells knows that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is an assault on the traditional, historical and global understanding of marriage, the keystone of any society.

It is not something the courts can or should determine. The “equal protection of the law” in the 14th Amendment does not refer to, nor infer the right to marry someone of the same sex. Interpreting it to mean that is a distortion that must intentionally ignore the intent of the Constitution as regards the specific rights it enumerates.

That’s not what’s being taught the current generation in our schools. It’s not mentioned in the countless news stories about “gay marriage” and the many depictions of gays on television sitcoms and other shows.

I don’t want to see another kiss like Sam and his lover shared on television. I don’t care what they do in their private lives, but I want it to remain private.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORY: Judicial juggernaut on ‘gay marriage’ continues

A Question for those Who Believe in Homosexual Scouts

Not satisfied with having pressured the Boy Scouts of America into lifting their prohibition against openly homosexual scouts, activists now want homosexual scoutmasters to be allowed as well. Equality, you know, is the order of the day. Yet the truth is that virtually all of you who advocate this social change operate with a certain bias — you just don’t realize it.

Let’s put aside for a moment the issue of homosexuality’s moral status; for argument’s sake, I’ll accept the supposition that homosexuality is the equivalent of heterosexuality. But if this is so and it’s okay for a homosexual man be a troop leader and go on camping trips with 11 and 12-year-old boys, why isn’t it okay to have a heterosexual man be a Girl Scout troop leader and do the same with the girls?

Yes, I know that men are responsible for most sex crimes, but the homosexual man is a man, too. So why the double standard? Homosexuality and heterosexuality are equivalent, right?

It has often been said that fears of homosexual BSA leaders are unwarranted because there’s a difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. But then fears of men as Girl Scout leaders would be unwarranted, too, as there’s also a difference between heterosexuality and pedophilia, correct? After all, homosexuality and heterosexuality are equivalent.

Some activists might also aver that homosexual scout masters are vetted adults who will behave responsibly. But then the same could be said about male Girl Scout leaders, no?

As for the scouts themselves, if it’s okay for a 13-year-old boy with same-sex attraction to sleep in a tent with other 13-year-old boys, why can’t a heterosexual 13-year-old boy go camping with 13-year-old girl scouts? Homosexuality and heterosexuality are equivalent, right?

By the way, the BSA was once sued by a girl who wanted to be a “boy scout,” and there are people who say that separating the sexes in such ways is intolerable inequality. Besides, those on the cutting edge of sexual activism contend that “gender” is a personal choice, anyway, and one feminist professor insists that “gender” (I believe her theory means this to include “sex” also) doesn’t even exist. So allowing what I’ve outlined does seem like an imperative of progressive thought’s latest iteration.

Some activists also say that it’s silly to fear homosexual activity among boy scouts because the kids won’t indulge such things unless they’re inclined to do so in the first place. But the same could be said of teen boys with girl scouts — the girls won’t do anything they’re not inclined to. And homosexuality and heterosexuality are equivalent, right?

Of course, you may have a problem with all this if you understand that there is such thing as temptation and that precautions should be taken to minimize the chances of sexual activity in youth programs. If this is your attitude, though, then it follows that the exact same standards — and prohibitions — that apply to occasions of heterosexual temptation should apply to occasions of homosexual temptation.

Because as we all know, homosexuality and heterosexuality are equivalent.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

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Too Much Gay Everything

Climate science in chaos due to shortage of scary synonyms

Experts in the world’s only settled science are up in arms today as a blunder committed by a staunch ally threatens their efforts to raise taxes and save the planet.

On a recent visit to Washington DC, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told President Obama and Secretary of Climate John Kerry, “we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos.” The remarks came less than a week after the White House released its 829 page National Climate Assessment which introduced the term “climate disruption.”

“That French cretin wasn’t supposed to use ‘climate chaos’ yet!” screamed a government-funded climate scientist at a leading research facility, as he was polishing his hockey stick. “We just started using ‘climate disruption’ last week and hadn’t even come close to getting all the money and regulations we wanted from it yet. Dammit!”

His colleague, a computer scientist, who was busy cooking fudge to mix with temperature data, concurred: “Fabius ruined our best new synonym by springing it far too early. The only good one we have left to use is ‘catastrophe.’ Good synonyms don’t grow on trees, you know. Thanks to morons like him, nothing else will either!”

Many in the climate science racket downplayed the damage. One expert, addressing a UN conference on sustainability via telephone from his 10,000 sq. foot mansion, told the only-mildly-inebriated delegates that there were still some good synonyms left to use, such as “calamity.”

“Besides,” continued Mr. Gore, “as someone once said, ‘What’s in a name? Bulls**t by any other name would still sell as sweetly.'”

But others were not so sure. “You can’t use ‘calamity’ after you use ‘chaos’ and ‘catastrophe’,” said one Hollywood environmental activist during a save-the-earth orgy. “It’s a step down! It’s like driving a Tesla Model S and then having to use a Chevy Volt. You might as well plug it in and let the whole garage burn down.”

“Climate science needs to start thinking out of the box on this,” stated Secretary of Climate Kerry. “Now Senator Reid, he suggested ‘Climate Koch Brothers’… I think he’s on the right track but I’m not sure it’s quite what we need at this crucial hour in earth’s history.”

Many in the movement are pushing the idea of using a phrase instead of a single word.

“The problem has gotten much too big for just one word,” said a state-approved media climate expert. “We’ve got to go bigger, something like ‘Climate Totally Bad F*cking Sh*tstorm’… that would get the deniers’ attention.”

But there are problems with that approach as well. “It wouldn’t fit on a bumper sticker” said one activist. “At least, not if you drive a Chevy Volt.”

Ultimately, the final decision will rest with the climate science community’s spiritual mentor, Climate-Scientist-in-Chief Barack Obama.

Mr. President, the world awaits your Tweet…

A lesson for the young: How Demagogues Con People

How do you know you’re being had by a slick politician? Writing in Mein Kampf about how to manipulate people and win power, Adolf Hitler said that since the average person had a very limited memory and a “slowness of understanding,” it was necessary to use only short, catchy slogans and repeat them often. Sound familiar?

Hope and Change!
Forward!
Choice!
Diversity!
Equality!

Of course, this tactic isn’t restricted to any one leader, but is as old as demagoguery itself. Slogans are very effective, which is why they are the heart of advertising: “Coke is it!” “Just Do It” “Mmm mm good”     “They’re G-r-r-r-r-eat!” “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” (setting things to rhyme or music facilitates memorization; this accounts for the rhythmic meter and repetitive structure in the Iliad and the Odyssey and why the Homeric bards were able to memorize such tomes). Sure, producers could sometimes provide technical explanations for why their products are superior, and often they couldn’t, but it doesn’t matter because they aren’t trying to appeal to the intellect. They want to engage you emotionally.

The reality of emotion’s power is why we have the Jesuit saying, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” and the Bible’s counsel, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It’s why Boston College education professor William Kilpatrick wrote, quoting Plato on the Greek method for youth formation, that an “imaginative education” providing “examples of nobility and grace” “paves the way” for a “reasoned morality” by creating “an ‘erotic [emotional] attachment’ to virtue” and “making it more likely that the grown child will happily accept the dictates of reason.” Shape a person’s emotions when he is still wet clay and continue the process until he hardens, and he will likely be hardened on either virtue or vice, as the case may be. And, barring some vessel-shattering trauma or conversion, that will be the shape of the man.

Of course, young adults and older ones can be manipulated emotionally, too, especially when the approach appeals to their already hardened moral framework. And one of the most important aspects of self-examination is asking, “How have my emotions been shaped?” Am I embracing my beliefs because they are right or simply because they feel right? Am I, at least on certain issues, a person who cannot be reasoned out of a position because I have not reasoned myself into it, to paraphrase Ben Franklin?

One clue you’ve been manipulated emotionally is simple: Valid arguments are never just one word. Oh, commands can be one word. Emotional triggers can be one word. Demagoguery can be one word. But there is a reason why great philosophers wrote vast works: an explanation of a truth is invariably longer than the expression of the truth. It’s one reason why a catechism is far longer than the Ten Commandments.

I’ve also never seen a valid argument encapsulated in just one slogan or even saying. It’s surely true that “Boys will be boys,” but the psychological explanation of how exactly they act, or why, requires more than four words.

And just imagine that we applied what we accept from politicians to other areas in which we need expertise. Let’s say you went to a doctor and, upon asking for his prescription, he screamed “Health!” Or imagine you booked a lesson with a tennis instructor and his only advice for improvement was “develop skill!” I doubt you’d think the experience was worth the fee.

Now we come to the issues. Your position on, let’s say, marriage, abortion or immigration may or may not be valid, but if one word or slogan is all you have to back it up, you don’t have a valid argument for it. And if that is truly all you have, chances are that you were won over in an invalid manner — through sloganeering. Again, this is true even if the position you arrived at may happen to be valid.

“Equality!” or “Choice!” isn’t an argument; it’s a word. “Marriage equality!” or “Our strength lies in our diversity” isn’t an argument; it’s a slogan. By the way, the same applies to “liberty.” I surely believe man should have appropriate freedoms and that they’re being trampled today, but shouting “liberty!” tells us nothing about what “appropriate” freedoms would be exactly, how this is determined or how they can be secured. Note, this isn’t to say that battle cries aren’t sometimes useful and necessary. But the subject here isn’t rallying the troops but intellectual and moral growth.

Now, when analyzing whether we have arguments or just slogans, there is a trap we can easily fall into: thinking that arguing with others is synonymous with having an argument. Sure, if someone contradicts us on an issue we’re passionate about, we’ll certainly have our retorts. But the question is, if we were simply asked, without being challenged egotistically, to explain the reasoning behind our position, would our response amount to little more than a slogan? Do we instinctively fall back on slogans or reasoned arguments?

Having said all this, the medicine this article administers is insufficient for many of the patients it aims to reach. For it is not a slogan but is appealing to slogan-oriented people; it is the using of an intellectual appeal to address an emotional issue. It was understandable why Debby Boone sang “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right,” for something that appeals to the intellect but cannot touch the heart (either because of its deficiencies or because the heart is hardened to it) can never “feel” as good as what grabs the emotions because the intellect doesn’t “feel” at all. This bane of humanity is what C.S. Lewis spoke of in The Abolition of Man when writing, “Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.”

So a better first step would be to help people develop an “erotic attachment” to virtue, “erotic” meaning “passionate” in this sense. But this is very difficult to do with adults in any case, and it’s not the purpose of reasoned commentary.

Regardless, those who have ears to hear and eyes to see should take heed. As with the late Christopher Hitchens, whose great reasoning powers became clouded when discussing religion, even the best of us can have areas where we’re governed by that most unwise of helmsmen: passion. And whether individually or as a people, the more powerless we are against the animal organism, the more animalistic we become.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

Are “free thinking” Hollywood Liberals turning on the Obama Administration?

Recently Mel Brooks in an interview with Yahoo.com criticized political correctness in Hollywood. On the 40th anniversary of his movie “Blazing Saddles” Brooks said, “They can’t make that movie today because everybody’s so politically correct. You know, the NAACP would stop a great movie that would do such a great service to black people because of the N-word. You’ve got to really examine these things and see what’s right and what’s wrong. Politically correct is absolutely wrong. Because it inhibits the freedom of thought. I’m so lucky that they weren’t so strong then and that the people that let things happen on the screen weren’t so powerful then. I was very lucky.”

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Photo courtesy of Breitbart.com.

Breitbart’s John Nolte did a column on “Blazing Saddles”, a movie classic. Nolte wrote:

I caught all kinds of entertaining hell (Kos is especially perturbed) for my review of the new 40th Anniversary Bluray of “Blazing Saddles” and for a follow-up piece, both of which stated the obvious: That today’s Left has become a bunch of  insufferable, joy-killing, censorious, fascist Church Ladies who would never allow “Blazing Saddles” to be made today and that they will someday try to have the film banned.

It looks as though Mr. Brooks agrees with my first point. That’s because Mel Brooks is a free-thinking liberal, not a freedom-stifling, controlling, free speech-hating leftist.

The difference between a liberal and a leftist is not the how they vote. Liberals don’t use phrases like “the debate is over,” “the science is settled,” “ban bossy” or “ban anything that might offend anyone who isn’t a white Christian male.” Fascist leftists do.

But things may be changing in Hollywood. The free thinking liberals in Hollywood may be making a comeback.

Sonny Bunch in a Washington Times column writes, “If it’s summer movie season, that means it’s time for me to make some counter intuitive claims about the blockbusters in our midst. Last year, I made the case that Star Trek: Into Darkness was accidentally a pro-drone-strike parable and that Matt Damon’s Elysium was actually an anti-Obamacare warning. Let’s get things going this year by suggesting that Godzilla, which looks like it will open to a big box office debut, is actually a message to humanity to chill out about global warming, everything’s going to be okay.”

Bunch notes, “As the film progresses, the intellectual center of the picture is revealed to be Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), who takes an almost zen-like approach to the MUTOs [mutants]. He believes that Godzilla, who he has been searching for his entire adult life, is not a threat to humanity but a part of Earth’s natural biosphere. The giant lizard exists to ‘restore balance.’ Serizawa also laments the ‘arrogance of man’ for thinking he can control nature; the good doctor believes that the only way to stop the rampaging MUTOs is to let Godzilla fight them and kill them, to let nature run its course. The leaders of men disagree, opting to try and gather all three of the giant creatures into the same area off America’s west coast, where they will be destroyed by a thermonuclear warhead. This plan backfires, leading to a nuke threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans.”

Others are not so sure that Godzilla is anti-global warming.

In his column “The New ‘Godzilla’ Is Science Fiction — and Climate Fiction“, Scott Blakeman writes:

A genre of film is emerging in the movie industry: climate fiction, or, “cli-fi” for short. It plays on fears and anxieties (and myths, quite frankly) about drastic climate change caused primarily by humans. The “Godzilla” remake that opens in theaters today should give people a sense of what cli-fi is all about: climate change hyperbole designed to make a buck at the box office.

A.O. Scott wrote a review of “Godzilla” for The New York Times explaining that in the film, the “focus of global anxiety has shifted from nuclear annihilation to climate change and related problems.” Scott notes that there’s a certain overtone throughout the movie that “we’ve made a big mess of things with our missiles and our power plants, but Godzilla is nature’s way of restoring balance.”

Great. Cli-fi is a purveyor of climate change propaganda. However, the sweet irony in the cinematic genre of cli-fi is that the name reveals an underlying truth: The sensationalism surrounding climate change is simply fiction.

I recently watched Elysium and took away the impression that it was about the elites (e.g. Congress, unions and those with money) having access to first rate medical care while the masses suffered. There are two ways to view this, one as a populist film, the other as a film against the growing centralization of power over the lives of the masses via government programs like Obamacare.

I guess cinematic beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

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What Freedom of Speech?

In a telephone conversation recorded on April 9, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, engaged in a heated exchange centered on her friendship with a number of current and former professional basketball stars, including Magic Johnson.

In the recorded conversation, obtained by TMZ Sports, Stiviano, who is half black and half Mexican, apologized for the color of her skin, to which Sterling replied, “That isn’t the issue. You’ve missed this issue… The issue is we don’t have to broadcast everything.”

When Stiviano protested that she’s wasn’t broadcasting anything, Sterling asked, “… And why are you taking pictures with minorities…why?”  He went on to explain that “there’s a culture.  People feel certain things.  Hispanics feel certain things towards blacks.  Blacks feel certain things toward other groups.  It’s been that way historically, and it will always be that way.”

To which Stiviano replied, “I’m a mixed girl, and you’re in love with me.  And I’m black and Mexican, whether you like it or not, whether the world accepts it or not.  And you’re asking me to remove something that’s part of me and in my bloodstream because the world thinks different of me and you’re afraid of what they’re going to think (or) see because of your upbringing?  You want me to have hate towards black people?”

Sterling replied, “Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.  Do you have to? … I don’t want you to have hate.  That’s what people do, they turn things around.  I want you to love them… privately.  In your whole life, everyday, you can be with them… every single day of your life.”

Puzzled, Stiviano asked, “But not in public?”

Sterling replied, “How about your whole life, everyday, you could do whatever you want.  You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that… and not to bring them to my games.”

When Stiviano suggested that Sterling was being negative, he responded, “There is no negativity.  I love everybody.  I’m just saying, in your lousy f_ _ _ ing Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people…”

The conversation set off a firestorm of controversy in the major media, including the normally level-headed and common sense journalists of Fox News.  What no one seemed to notice in the rush to crucify Sterling was that, although his attitude toward blacks might have been a popular view among Democrats in the mid-19th century, his 1st Amendment free speech rights were being totally trashed for expressing the same views in the early 21st century.

Because the conversation was based on race, the NBA was panicked into taking immediate action.  In a New York press conference on Tuesday, April 29, Commissioner Adam Silver yielded to the law of political correctness and dropped the hammer on Sterling.

In a prepared statement, he said, “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful.  That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.  Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic league.

“I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and cause former and current players, coaches, fans, and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league…

Effective immediately, Silver imposed the following punishments on Sterling:

  • He is banned for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA,
  • He is prohibited from attending any NBA games or practices,
  • He is banned from participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the Clippers,
  • He is barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings or any other league activity,
  • He is required to pay a $2.5 million fine.

In addition, Silver announced that he will urge the NBA Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team, and that the $2.5 million fine, the maximum allowed under the NBA constitution, will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and its Players Association.

Although I share none of Mr. Sterling’s feelings toward any group of people based on the color of their skin, I would defend to the death his right to feel as he does and to express those feelings, either publicly or in private conversation.

Yes, the NBA has a set of rules freely agreed to by all of the team owners.  Under those rules, it is within the power of the NBA to ban him for life from any association with the Clippers or any other NBA team; it is within the power of the NBA to ban him from any business or player personnel decisions of the Clippers; it is within the authority of the NBA to bar Sterling from attending and participating in NBA Board of Governors meetings; and it is within the power of the NBA to fine him $2.5 million for bringing discredit upon the NBA.  However, the NBA does not have the power to prohibit his attendance at NBA games.  Just as the league may not dictate what Sterling thinks or says, neither can they prohibit his freedom to buy a ticket to any sporting event of his choosing.

So far as the $2.5 million is concerned, it remains to be seen which organizations are chosen to receive a portion of those funds.  I would suggest that organizations such as the NAACP, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, and Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push organization would fail to qualify under the parameter dictated by Commissioner Silver.  None of those organizations can claim to be free of racial bias; none can lay claim to racial or political tolerance.

The fact is, I feel just as strongly about liberals and Democrats as Mr. Sterling feels about black people… perhaps moreso.  It is through the profound ignorance of Democrats and other “low information” voters that leftist radicals such as Barack Obama ascend to power, so if I had a teenage daughter and I found that she was dating a Democrat… whether an intellectually  committed socialist or a typical non-thinking, low information zombie… I would not be happy.

The damage that Sterling does by voicing his dislike of black people is inconsequential.  The only real harm it does is to tarnish his personal reputation as a highly successful entrepreneur.  But to pull the Democrat lever in election after election, in support of candidates who provide moral and political support for the likes of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, does real harm to the country.

What has been largely overlooked in the Donald Sterling “tempest in a teapot” is the fact that he has every right not to like black people.  Unfortunately, amidst all of the sound and fury, no one has thought to ask exactly what it is that he doesn’t like about them.

In the decades since the New Frontier and the Great Society, a great many minorities have been cynically lured beneath the smothering blanket of the welfare state… and not because liberals and Democrats give a damn about the welfare of black people.  Democrats are interested in black people only to the extent that they pull the Democrat lever on Election Day.  And what better way to keep them pulling the Democrat lever than to offer them an endless variety of “freebies” out of the federal treasury.  Unfortunately, in yielding to the irresistible temptation of the welfare state, most blacks have rejected the limitless opportunities that the capitalist system holds out to those who rely on education, hard work, good behavior, and perseverance.

In the process, liberals and Democrats have created a highly unflattering stereotype of black people in the minds of many whites.  Is it that stereotype that motivates Sterling’s attitude toward blacks?  Surely he has an answer to the question, but has anyone thought to ask him?  Certainly, if someone were to ask me what it is that I have against liberals and Democrats, I could speak for hours on the subject… then I’d have to rest for a few minutes before speaking for several more hours.

RELATED VIDEO:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/AlfFhqvW5h8[/youtube]

Spirit of Ambassador Stevens Doesn’t Want Benghazi Investigation

TPC News, Washington DC – In an effort to cooperate with Republican calls to investigate the events leading up to the attack on Benghazi, House Democrats on Thursday took the unusual step of going straight to the source of the controversy.

“Only one person can answer all their questions,” explained Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, “and though he has passed on, Ambassador Stevens can still be summoned from the beyond, and this is what we did.”

“No one whom Republicans want to investigate was actually in Benghazi as a witness. So this is nothing but a desperate attempt to win political points for the next election. When they tried to get House Democrats to participate in their grandstanding and pretend it’s anything other than political theater, we decided that enough was enough and went to the only person that could clear things up. We went to Mme. Blavatsky,” Pelosi said.

Mme_Blavatsky.jpg Mme. Blavatsky, a long time resident of Washington DC, is a trusted spiritual medium of the old school, who conducts seances by special request. With very few people outside the Beltway familiar with her name, Mme. Blavatsky is nonetheless a highly influential figure in the salons of the Democratic Party.

Though the press is rarely present at such Democratic Party events, this one warranted extensive media coverage. The invited journalists and bloggers were asked to stay behind the roped-off area in complete silence, as high-ranking House Democrats sat at a large round table holding hands, with the striking Mme. Blavatsky at its head.

“Shhh!” she said after a long silence, and called on everyone at the table to close their eyes and concentrate.

The seance went through the usual standard operating procedures (we mustn’t bore our readers with those details), and within a reasonable period of time Mme. Blavatsky was alternately speaking tongues, laughing, weeping, and gossiping with famous dead people who were idling their time in the beyond.

The trivial chatter eventually shifted to Benghazi and her wish to speak to Ambassador Stevens.

As Mme. Blavatsky went quiet, the House Democrats at the seance table became noticeably fidgety. Many opened their eyes and saw an amazing thing happen.

As if all of a sudden, a doorway to an adjoining room opened, revealing a spectral figure of a bespectacled man. He appeared old and worn, looking more like Harry Reid than Ambassador Stevens. Did Stevens wear glasses?

“I am Ambassador Stevens,” the shadowy shape said. “Why do you summon me?”

Mme. Blavatsky explained the situation.

“Benghazi?” said the spectral form in the doorway. “Please, I ask that you don’t investigate that unfortunate misunderstanding. There’s nothing to be gained. You’ll only aggravate old wounds. I know better than you, as I am a spirit, and again I ask you to stop the investigation.”

With that desperate plea from beyond, the seance seemed to be over. Mme. Blavatsky thanked the spirit for dropping in, fully expecting him to skedaddle. The high-ranking Democrats around the table seemed to expect the same thing, lowering their hands and beginning to chit-chat.

But the ethereal spirit didn’t seem to have gotten the memo.

“If you want to investigate anything,” he said, showing no intention to vanish back from whence it had come, “you should investigate those Koch brothers. I’ve been up here in heaven for a while and I’ll tell you God doesn’t like those Koch brothers. I’ve got it on good authority from up there, at the highest levels of heaven, that the Koch brothers are doing the work of the devil and that’s why they’re behind global warming. I ask from beyond the grave here: stop this right-wing Koch-fueled conspiracy about Benghazi and investigate those damn evil Koch brothers from hell! I repeat, investigate the Koch brothers!”

Just then the lights suddenly went out and security hurriedly led the assembled press corpse out of the mansion and back into the light of day with a news story, which boiled down to one sentence: Spirit of Ambassador Stevens asks the Democrats to stop investigating Benghazi and start investigating the Koch brothers.

Pop Quiz: Which of these does the Left think is an agent of “white privilege”?

During his White Islamophobia workshop at the White Privilege Conference, Amer Ahmed personally attacks Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer for their work fighting back against the radical Jihad movement in America.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/6sWu68OVeQU[/youtube]

Transcript of the above video, from Progressives Today:

We have these peddlers. These Islamophobes who make it their career now peddling hate. We have Robert Spencer… and he’s with Pamela Geller who gets access to media. It’s interesting because Muslim people are a group of people you can vilify and there isn’t an outrage. She put up these posters in subways and things like that, that say, “In the war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.

Here is my response:

Long before the international media and Michelle Obama woke up to the evil of Boko Haram, the only people calling attention to their evil and violent actions were those of us who were accused of being “racist” for opposing jihad terror and Islamic supremacism. The ridiculousness of equating resistance to jihad terror with white privilege was epitomized recently by Hamas-linked CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man, lecturing Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a black Somali ex-Muslim, about her “Islamophobia.” Who was the bearer of “white privilege” in that exchange? And in general, who speaks for the black and brown victims of jihad terror? Only the people who are being charged with “white privilege.” This shows the absurdity of the entire Leftist perspective on jihad terror.

And here is Pamela Geller’s:

It is absurd to mention me and my work in the context of “white privilege,” and shows how deeply dishonest the entire “Islamophobia” initiative really is. Is it “white privilege” to speak out in defense of the victims of Boko Haram’s jihad in Nigeria? The world knows about the abducted schoolgirls, but for years I was one of the very few people who were chronicling their numerous atrocities, and defending their victims. Is it “white privilege” to stand up for the victims of the Westgate Mall jihad massacre in Nairobi? Or the Mumbai jihad massacre in India? Or the thousands of victims of the jihad in Thailand?

This is a ridiculous attempt to perpetuate the myth that opposing jihad terror is “racist.” What race is jihad terror? What race is hijacking planes and flying them into buildings? What race is abducting schoolgirls? By condemning opposition to jihad as “white privilege,” the people at the white privilege conference were aiding and abetting murder and oppression.

RELATED STORY: Wisconson taxpayers to help fund White Privilege Conference

Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything by George C. Leef

Our Legal System Poses a Grave Threat to Our Liberty.

In the gigantic theater that is American politics, one of the favorite roles for politicians to play is that of the tough guy who is determined to “crack down” on something or other. Such actions are predictably cheered by whatever voting groups the politician wants to curry favor with. An often-heard campaign line is, “Vote for me and I’ll push legislation to make it a crime to. . . .” We already have an enormous criminal code, but adding one more thing to it serves to show the voters that the pol really means business.

Like most features of our politics this mania for the criminalization of behavior is harmful. As is usual with government, the unseen problems dwarf the seen benefits. The more we criminalize conduct that voters dislike, the more we put people who never intended any wrongdoing into the quicksand of criminal prosecution. With legions of prosecutors who are more interested in making names for themselves than in doing justice, Americans are living in an increasingly dangerous country.

That’s the point of Go Directly to Jail, edited by lawyer and Cato Institute writer Gene Healy. “At one time,” he writes, “the common law doctrines of mens rea (“guilty mind”) and actus reus (“guilty act”) cabined the reach of criminal sanctions, but those protections have eroded dramatically over the past 50 years. Today it’s possible to send a person to prison without showing criminal intent or even a culpable act. . . .”

Consider this case. Edward Hanousek worked for a railroad in Alaska. One day, a backhoe operator working under his supervision accidentally ruptured an oil pipeline while removing some boulders from the tracks. Hanousek, who wasn’t even at the site of the accident, was nevertheless prosecuted for having violated the Clean Water Act, which makes it a crime if a “negligent failure to supervise” leads to any discharge that might pollute water. Hanousek was convicted for someone else’s accident. His case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to review this legal abomination. Americans must now worry about criminal prosecution for all sorts of conduct that a few decades ago hardly anyone would have thought should be illegal.

The book has six chapters by different authors. Erik Luna’s “Overextending the Criminal Law” explores the unfortunate tendency for politicians to use criminal sanctions as an all-purpose tool of social control. It’s impossible to disagree with Luna’s assessment that “When the criminal sanction is used for conduct that is widely viewed as harmless . . . the moral force of the penal code is diminished, possibly to the point of near irrelevance. . . .”

In the second essay, “The New Criminal Classes: Legal Sanctions and Business Managers,” James V. DeLong observes that the spread of criminalization means that nearly anyone can fall victim to prosecution for some regulatory crime, and often the defendant finds that the law accords him a lower degree of protection for his rights than do old-fashioned criminals who rob and murder. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments have been subverted in the crusade to send people like Ed Hanousek to jail.

Legal scholar Timothy Lynch, in “Polluting Our Principles: Environmental Protection and the Bill of Rights,” shows that the incentives for environmental regulators to produce “results” (that is, convictions to prove how dedicated they are to safeguarding the environment) lead to terrible travesties of justice. The vagueness of many environmental regulations gives the enforcers almost unfettered discretion to prosecute business people. Lynch notes that individuals accused of environmental crimes are often subjected to procedures that the courts would not tolerate for normal criminal defendants. He calls it the “environmental exception to the Bill of Rights.”

Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner discusses criminalization in medical care, specifically, the dangerous trend toward criminal prosecution in the futile crusade against Medicare and Medicaid fraud. An especially frightening feature of the law here is that the enforcers get to keep a percentage of the fines they impose.

Editor Healy contributes a chapter on the rampant federalization of crime. To provide just one example, President Bush’s Project Safe Neighborhoods has led to a surge in federal prosecutions for illegal firearms possession. Healy writes that this law “violates the Tenth Amendment, clogs the federal courts, encourages a mindless zero tolerance policy and opens the door for every special interest group in Washington to politicize criminal justice policy.”

The book’s final chapter, again by Erik Luna, examines the nation’s sorry experience with federal sentencing guidelines, which he argues “saps moral judgment from the process of punishment.”

The U.S. is off track in many, many ways. Go Directly to Jail leaves no doubt that our legal system is careening out of control and poses a grave threat to our liberty.

ABOUT GEORGE C. LEEF

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

RELATED STORY: ‘She’s Just a Child’: 9-Year-Old Taken Away in Handcuffs

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

4 Things You Should Know About Mass Incarceration by Daniel J. D’Amico

It’s now common knowledge: The United States is the world’s leading nation when it comes to imprisonment. With an estimated 1,570,400 inmates by the end of 2012—and an incarceration rate of 716 prisoners per 100,000 citizens—the United States holds more human beings inside cages, on net and per capita, than any other country around the globe (and throughout history). In general, we build more prisons, we spend more money on prisons, we employ more prison workers, and we utilize imprisonment for a wider variety of behaviors than anyone else.

Nations like China and Russia likely use more corporal punishment and execute more people. Removing that context from their incarceration rates might make them look less punitive than they really are. Still, it is revealing that only totalitarian regimes, past and present, are serious contenders with the “land of the free” when it comes to the business of incarceration.

Today’s total American prison population exceeds the estimated amount of citizens detained within the Gulag system under the former Soviet Union. If we include those sentenced but not yet incarcerated, as well as those released upon probation and parole, there are more young black men embroiled in the American criminal justice system than were estimated to be enslaved in America circa 1850. These statistics are not to say that the United States is totalitarian, or based on chattel labor. Instead, these numbers emphasize that, insofar as despotism requires enforcement, our own government is more than capable of imposing serious and pervasive social control.

The terms “mass imprisonment” and “mass incarceration” typically refer to the uniquely modern characteristics of the contemporary prison system, including its rapid growth and racial disparities. The United States is the archetypical case. While the recent media attention given to mass imprisonment is a step in the right direction, facets of mass incarceration still remain relatively misunderstood and unrecognized.

Here are four things those interested in free market economics and the classical liberal tradition should keep in mind when thinking critically about modern global prison trends.

1. Private prisons did not cause mass imprisonment.

Private prisons are derided for profiting off of high crime and for creating corporate incentives to foster tough punishment policies. These statements are both true and disconcerting. But private prisons don’t, by themselves, explain the origins, extent, or long-term effects of America’s mass incarceration.

For starters, there just aren’t that many private prisons as a proportion of the American total. Of the over 1.5 million inmates recorded in 2012, only 128,300 (approximately 8 percent) were held in private facilities, 96,800 of them federally as opposed to state-contracted facilities. Several other nations with significantly lower total incarceration rates utilize private contractors at higher percentages: for example, England and Wales 14 percent, Scotland at 17 percent, and Australia at 19 percent.

Private prisons do stand out, though, because the most pronounced area of prison growth has occurred at the federal level—which is where most of the privatization is concentrated.

At both the state and federal levels private prisons represent a sort of budgetary coping mechanism. With high rates of sentenced inmates, but thin budgets incapable of supporting new prisons or their labor forces, states turn to contractors as cost-saving alternatives without significant quality degradations. “Private” (read: state-contracted) prisons tend to hold specialized populations such as juvenile offenders, aging inmates with more extensive medical needs, illegal immigrants, and organized crime leaders because these groups have unique logistical needs that regular facilities can’t always accommodate. When objectively compared on a variety of performance margins, there’s almost no quality difference between public and private prisons. What matters is the quality of monitoring, accountability, and liability processes. For private firms, running afoul of those constraints often means losing contracts to alternative agencies. For public workers placed by appointment and sometimes election, though, necessary feedback can be vague and ineffective.

While for-profit prison models do appear conspicuous for creating incentives to lobby for tougher penalty regimes, the incentives that public employees face throughout the criminal justice system are not systematically different. There’s no group larger, more concentrated, or more vested in tougher penalties than the employees of service industries surrounding publicly financed and managed criminal justice institutions and penitentiaries.

2. Marijuana legalization is not a panacea.

Drug sentencing has accounted for about a third of the new American prison growth since the late 1970s. Marijuana charges produced a significant proportion of those sentences. But it does not follow that marijuana legalization or clemency would alleviate the problems associated with mass imprisonment. First, even if nonviolent marijuana violators were released, America would still be a world leader in incarceration rates and expenditures. Second, simply put, people adapt.

Marijuana legalization, without broader judicial, legislative, and or penal reform, may create new opportunities for drug production, consumption, and enforcement, thus shaping outcomes in unforeseeable ways. From the perspective of drug sellers and users, the risks of arrest and incarceration are obviously costs; but complying with formal regulations and licensure under a more legalized regime may also be costly. Higher costs means less of a behavior and visa versa. But the relevant question is whether a new, legalized regime would be perceived as a higher or lower cost for buyers and sellers than status quo prohibition. It’s difficult to predict the outcome with precision. But such a regime would differ structurally from the current one. It wouldn’t simply cut marijuana arrests out of the total number.

Take medical marijuana. People with ailments that marijuana can alleviate will benefit from a regime that allows for prescriptions rather than across-the-board prohibition. But a decriminalization regime for just marijuana will shift supply and demand in other markets. For example, current users who are underage under the new regime may end up facing more difficulty accessing weed relative to the status quo. That could lead to decreased consumption, or it could lead them to substitute other drugs. Similarly, current black-market sellers will likely face lower prices and smaller profit streams for producing and selling pot with competition from legal sellers, making other drug markets more appealing. Just as pot becomes harder for some people to get, other drugs—such as prescription painkillers or mood-altering drugs (such as Xanax)—could become more readily available.

This last point seems also bolstered by the fact that a new network of legal and regulated marijuana sellers will represent a newly concentrated and vested interest group in favor of suppressing the illegal production and distribution of marijuana. I doubt current illegal pot growers and sellers will be the same individuals awarded the privilege of growing and selling weed under legalization. If legitimate production is to be regulated, regulation will require enforcement. It could be the case that enforcement costs and complexity will grow amid marginal decriminalization.

Last, targeted legalization to individual substances without matching fiscal, legislative, and or penal constraints may simply free up enforcement resources for tougher enforcement of the remaining prohibitions. The potheads freed from prison might simply be replaced by more junkies and cokeheads and their suppliers. Hence the associated inefficiencies and social consequences of prohibition in those drug markets will likely grow, adapt, and tend toward unique and unforeseeable equilibriums.

Prohibition against the pot trade is riddled with bad incentives and inefficiency and should be addressed as such; but many of the most challenging aspects of the criminal justice system—especially mass imprisonment—seem to transcend the relatively smaller issue of illegal weed. Simply legalizing marijuana does not untangle the myriad, complex incentives that allowed for prohibitions initially or the ballooning of the War on Drugs. This tangle of incentives explains the lag between policy reform and the advent of significant public approval for legalization and decriminalization. As long as those incentives and opportunities persist, we should expect political entrepreneurs to manipulate policies and resources for private gain.

3. The problems of prison growth transcend drug prohibition.

Again, at first glance much of America’s prison growth appears to have come in lockstep with the War on Drugs. But other trends suggest drug prohibition is neither the only, nor the essential, cause of mass imprisonment. Repealing prohibition across substance types would eliminate many of the adaptive problems at play with piecemeal legalization, but that doesn’t have enough public-opinion support to make it politically viable. After all, drug prohibition came into being in part because enough of the public wanted it.

Assuming political opinion away for the moment, drug legalization still does not fully resolve the challenges of mass imprisonment. After releasing all nonviolent drug offenders, the United States would retain an extremely large and expensive prison-industrial complex, a bloated and inefficient criminal justice system, and a political process that systematically leverages the tendencies of a largely vengeful public. Instead, some theory and evidence suggests that both drug prohibition and prison growth are likely similar symptoms of broader trends surrounding governments’ power to administer violence and regulate social behaviors.

Everyone around the world criminalizes drugs. Only the United States literally fights a war on drugs, and fights it at the federal level both financially and managerially. The production, distribution, and usage of the standard list of illegal drugs (marijuana, heroine, cocaine, methamphetamines) is generally illegal everywhere on Earth (save for Portugal and Amsterdam). What sets the United States’ relationship with drugs and drug enforcement apart, however, is how we organize our legal and enforcement processes surrounding prohibition.

Crime has been a relatively local issue in most nations throughout time. Neighborhoods, counties, and other smaller jurisdictions generally finance and manage police forces, criminal court systems, and even prison construction and operation. In the United States, the war on drugs is one of several federally managed criminal enforcement strategies, along with immigration controls, homeland security, and tax enforcement. The federal government incarcerates more inmates in federal facilities than does any individual state, and its activities represent one of the largest sectors of prison expansions in recent decades. Second, if one looks at which states are most plagued by mass incarceration, it is easy to notice they are most often border states like Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and California. Those states must enforce their own laws as well as federal sanctions pertaining to drug importation and immigration.

In short, imprisonment patterns and trends lag behind policy and strategic changes. At the same time, central financing and management of the criminal justice system produces harsher prohibition regimes and sets the trend for drug policy.

4. Mass imprisonment transcends the American experience.

Contemporary prison growth has been a relatively global phenomenon. From 1997 through 2007, prison populations grew in 68 percent of nations researched around the world. Developed, Western nations have led this growth in incarceration rate. So what does this mean?

Maybe there’s something about American society that just requires more prisons. Or, given similarities in crime trends across countries, maybe the United States is simply overpaying somehow.

Or maybe the United States isn’t all that unique, considering just the countries that have experienced a proportionally similar increase in prison populations. Maybe this group of countries shares a characteristic feature that relates to imprisonment.

Recent scholarship on crime, punishment, and mass incarceration has converged upon a mild conclusion familiar to modern macroeconomists: Institutions matter. Nations with similar institutions tend to foster similar cultures, similar criminal justice regimes, and similarly sized prison populations. But the question remains: What particular institutional arrangements have contributed to the prison status quo and associated problems? And how can they be reformed?

Conclusions

Mass incarceration is not an isolated social problem to be understood devoid of context. The fiscal and quantitative trends surrounding mass imprisonment are paralleled by similar growth trends in drug enforcement, the length and complexity of the criminal code, military interventionism abroad, the adoption of militarized police equipment and tactics domestically, the governmental gathering and storage of information about citizens without warrant or consent, and several other similar trends.

The financing and administration of violent power, measured by all of these trends, has pointed to increased governmental authority. This was true throughout the twentieth century, and became especially true in recent decades. Since the beginning of the 21st century, such centralization has been mirrored throughout the size and scope of government. Hence measured estimates of economic freedom have sharply declined in recent years, particularly in America.

Various research and theories regarding the causes of crime and punishment imply that they’re predominantly shaped by unplanned and complex social factors. Adam Smith and other early writers in the classical liberal tradition believed simple prosperity was the factor most responsible for maintaining low crime rates. Broken-window theories and eyes-on-the-street models suggest these early liberals were correct. When streets are clean, well lit, and filled with commercial and civic activity, there is little opportunity for crime to occur and strong incentives for citizens to participate in the justice process. Steven Levitt infamously demonstrated a statistical correlation between abortion policies and lower violent crime rates. John Lott and Bruce Benson tend to emphasize private activity, like growing gun ownership and increased investment in the security industry.

All imply similarly that punishment policies are probably very difficult to plan strategically, effectively, or optimally. Again, such pervasive trends in the growth of government are not unique to the American context. So changes in particular policies and/or changes in partisan power are likely limited in their abilities to bring full or effective reform. For example, a candidate taking office who is opposed to marijuana prohibition is not likely to change the very real and vested incentives that have allowed the War on Drugs to escalate as it has. Mass imprisonment seems more an endemic feature of how governmental institutions are arranged and have changed throughout the modern era. To promote reform and social change regarding imprisonment will first require a sound and thorough understanding of how institutions, individual behaviors, and social processes relate.

ABOUT DANIEL J. D’AMICO

Daniel J. D’Amico is William Barnett Professor of Free Enterprise Studies and an Associate Professor of Economics at Loyola University. He writes about the intersection of Austrian Economics, Public Choice Theory and New Institutional Economics, as well as current trends in incarceration.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

An Open Letter to the Anti-Defamation League

Robert Tanen, Associate Regional Director
Anti-Defamation League, Florida

Dear Mr. Tanen:

adl director with imam

Robert Tanen (right) with Imam

Your alert about the peril of the Nazis on April 20 was brought to my attention in good time, but I was so busy alerting friends about the Muslims that I forgot. As it turned out, I was more correct than you, which is a shame, since you’re an associate regional director of the ADL, Florida, and one would expect that you would be far more informed than I.

I’ve been busy reading about all the Muslim activity against Jewish kids throughout the country, particularly on the west coast, but also in your state. (Do you know about Florida Atlantic University – FAU?) Jewish students are in danger at most colleges and universities these days, from Muslims and sympathizers, and I find the lack of reference to be unnerving.

I’m reminded of an outreach event I attended at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in my state, Ohio, where one of the two guest speakers was an imam – and not just “any imam,” but the director of ISNA – that’s the Islamic Society of North America. In case, you haven’t heard, ISNA is the largest Muslim organization in the US (and Canada), and it has been around since 1963. The attacks against the Jewish kids are perpetrated by the Muslim Student Association, which is under the ISNA umbrella. ISNA was one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist-financing case, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood with ties to the terrorist Islamic Association of Palestine and Hamas. In fact, Sami Al-Arian, an assistant professor at University of South Florida, who was called a “master manipulator” by a federal judge, pleaded guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to make or receive contribution of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist.” (I believe he served no time but agreed to being deported.)

ISNA and this Imam, Mohamed Magid, have been providing the US Bureau of Prisons with extreme orthodox Wahhabist clerics who promote their radical political, ideological, and theological agenda; and he provides as much as 79 percent of the imam clerics for North American mosques. Aren’t you wondering why the Maltz Museum hosted this fiasco? I did.

Everything this imam said was a lie, but Islam (not Nazism) is at war with the Jews, Christians, and all non-believers of Islam, and Islamists far outnumber the Nazis. I knew to expect his rhetoric, lies and propaganda, because these are Islam’s weapons of war, at least for now. However, there’s plenty of proof that once the Muslims hit a certain percentage of the population, then they can start their riots, threats, rapes, and all-out bloodshed. The evidence is obvious in France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Nigeria, and … Actually, proof abounds that Islam is at war with five religions in about 40 countries.

What really bothered me most, Mr. Tanen, was the rabbi, Robert Nosanchuk of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. He must be getting his information from your sources. No matter what the imam said, the rabbi sat there, quietly. It appeared that he agreed that Islam and Judaism have the same God. He also sat quietly while the Imam said that Sharia law (the harshest legal system on the planet – that controls everyone’s life, torture and death) is like Kashruth – an extremely compassionate method of preparing animals for food. Jews don’t even slaughter animals the way Muslims slaughter their own citizens – their own children, in fact!

And anyone with half a brain should know that the Qur’an demands Muslims not befriend Jews or Christians, except as a method of conquest, and the rabbi just sat there, both of them discussing their 10-year-friendship. Of all the social justice issues that interest him, not once did the rabbi mention the situation of Jewish students. His compassion also didn’t reach out to women, as this was just shortly after Ayaan Hirsi Alli was disinvited from Brandeis University. I raised this question during the Q and A, and was dismissed – the rabbi looked completely in the dark. In fact, they both had a very practiced method of ignoring questions they didn’t want to answer, or they answered in such a convoluted way, that baffled everyone and foiled challenge. Believe it or not, there was a charge for this mess; I’d rather the money had been directed to victims of Islamic programming and terrorism.

Are you and Nosanchuk naive? Hoodwinked by the dishonesty in the media? I even suggest that the rabbi is at war with the Jewish people – since he does nothing of value for our people. The temple over which he presides is Reform… so he may well be affiliated with J Street. J for Jihad, I figure.

What is the ADL doing these days? Is this organization protecting anyone at all? Are you contacting the learning institutions to advise them of Islam, or remaining focused on Nazism? Have you tried speaking out against the Common Core books that are so Islamized and sexualized that our kids don’t have a chance of getting a decent education? I have reviewed several current history textbooks and they are so distorted and whitewashed, that this generation will be the least intellectually capable of dealing with the subversive threat to our country, coming from the Muslim Brotherhood, its American Islamic supporters, and the Bill Gates Progressives. But they’ll be very non-thinking, compliant workers for an increasingly tyrannical regime.

I’d welcome your comments, Mr. Tanen, if indeed the ADL is doing something of value for our people.