Urban Design and Social Complexity by SANDY IKEDA

Urban planning always risks draining the life out of what it tries to control.

This week’s column is drawn from a lecture I gave earlier this year at the University of Southern California on the occasion of the retirement of urban economist Peter Gordon.

One of my heroes is the urbanist Jane Jacobs, who taught me to appreciate the importance for entrepreneurial development of how public spaces—places where you expect to encounter strangers—are designed. And I learned from her that the more precise and comprehensive your image of a city is, the less likely that the place you’re imagining really is a city.

Jacobs grasped as well as any Austrian economist that complex social orders such as cities aren’t deliberately created and that they can’t be. They arise largely unplanned from the interaction of many people and many minds. In much the same way that Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek understood the limits of government planning and design in the macroeconomy, Jacobs understood the limits of government planning and the design of public spaces for a living city, and that if governments ignore those limits, bad consequences will follow.

Planning As Taxidermy

Austrians use the term “spontaneous order” to describe the complex patterns of social interaction that arise unplanned when many minds interact. Examples of spontaneous order include markets, money, language, culture, and living cities great and small. In her The Economy of Cities, Jacobs defines a living city as “a settlement that generates its economic growth from its own local economy.” Living cities are hotbeds of creativity and they drive economic development.

There is a phrase she uses in her great work, The Life and Death of Great American Cities, that captures her attitude: “A city cannot be a work of art.” As she goes on to explain:

Artists, whatever their medium, make selections from the abounding materials of life, and organize these selections into works that are under the control of the artist . . . the essence of the process is disciplined, highly discriminatory selectivity from life. In relation to the inclusiveness and the literally endless intricacy of life, art is arbitrary, symbolic and abstracted. . . . To approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it into a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life. The results of such profound confusion between art and life are neither art nor life. They are taxidermy.

So the problem confronting an urban planner, and indeed government planning of any sort, is how to avoid draining the life out of the thing you’re trying to control.

The Trade-Off Between Planning and Complexity

Viewing cities as spontaneous orders and not as works of art helps to explain the trade-off between scale and order. In general, I believe the larger the scale of a project, the fewer the discoveries and subtle connections the people who use that space will be able to make.

Placing an apartment building in a commercial block will change the character of that block in unpredictable ways, but the surrounding urban environment can usually absorb the repercussions and the problems are relatively small. A block-sized mall, however, constrains much further how people can use that space and has a disproportionately larger impact on the neighborhood. And a mega-project that takes up many blocks severely limits the diversity and range of the social connections, as it challenges the planner to substitute her genius for the genius of many ordinary people using their own local knowledge to solve problems only they may be aware of. Making something bigger increasingly limits what people can do and whom they can bump into in the space that it occupies. Scaling up narrows the range of the informal contacts that drive creativity and discovery.

And for a given size or scale of a project, the more the planner tries to predetermine the kind of activities the people who use it can do in it, the less likely that her design will complement the spontaneous contact that generates and diffuses new ideas. That’s what made a lot of traditional downtowns so important. Over time the combination of diverse uses of public space (in the sense I mean here) brought people with different skills and tastes together in large numbers. Design can of course complement that informal contact to a point, but beyond a fairly low level, human design begins to substitute for it.

Of course, small is not always beautiful, and big is sometimes unavoidable. But that makes it even more important that planners appreciate how ramping up scale and intensifying design influences a complex social order.

Private Planning Is Much More Limited in Scale

And I’m not just talking about government projects. Private projects could, in principle, have the same “taxidermic” impact on urban vitality. But as long as a planner’s design is small compared to the surrounding space, the loss of complexity and intricacy isn’t severe. It’s usually when government somehow subsidizes private projects, softening up the budget constraint, that the scale becomes massive and the downside very steep. An example of this can be found about a mile from where I live in New York. Barclays Center, the new home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, grew to an enormous size once the local and state governments offered eminent domain and other large subsidies. Building on a massive scale in an already dense urban environment is typically too expensive, even for a wealthy private developer, without such legal privileges.

A planner can’t build an entire city (or neighborhood even) because she can’t begin to design and construct the necessary diversity and social intricacy that happens spontaneously in a living city. And I don’t think she should even try to because it can irreparably damage, even kill, the living flesh of a city. What can government do? In the ordinary course of its activities a government can perhaps at best refrain from doing the things that would thwart the emergence of the invisible social infrastructure that gives rise to that diversity, development, and genuine liveliness.

The rest is mostly taxidermy.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?

Governor Rick Scott fully supports in-state tuition for illegal aliens

Governor Rick Scott, Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Bob Martinez called on the Florida Senate to lower tuition for all Florida students and their support SB 1400. This means Governor Scott has caved into pressure to provide illegal aliens in-state tuition. All Florida students means illegal aliens at the expense of legal resident students.

According to a press release Scott, Bush and Bob Martinez are advocating for lowering tuition by advancing SB 1400, which would allow all Florida students, regardless of their background (illegals), to qualify for the in-state tuition rate.

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) notes that, “When immigration is viewed only racially and culturally, limits and legality will never be imposed.  The debate must focus on limitations and lawfulness, otherwise open borders will make the United States a marketplace and not a country.”

FILMEN states, “The bottom line nationally is that illegal immigration continues to hurt American families, take away jobs and depress wages of fathers and mothers who desperately want to support their children without going on welfare. The bottom line here in Florida is HB851/SB1400 will cause an unknown number of legal students to be displaced from college by illegal alien students. There is absolutely no estimate of the fiscal cost of college tuition subsidy for illegal aliens.”

Governor Scott said, “Students who have spent their childhood here in Florida deserve to qualify for the same in-state tuition rate at universities their peers and classmates do. We want our students to stay here in Florida when they go to college and when they choose a career, and that means we must make college more affordable for all those students who call Florida home. The Florida Senate should take immediate action to move SB 1400 forward.”

Forget the US and Florida Constitution. If you come to Florida you are now “entitled” to in state tuition.

Governor Bush, supporter of Common Core and potential presidential candidate in 2016, said, “We must keep and capitalize on the talent of all Florida students who want to attend our exceptional colleges and universities.  Punishing some children for their parents’ acts by creating obstacles to a college degree isn’t in their interests, or ours.  I urge the Florida Senate to do the right thing for our state and pass SB 1400.”

Governor Martinez said, “For Florida to continue to be a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom to people from all backgrounds, we must ensure our future generations are prepared for success. As a university trustee, I know this often starts with having access to a great higher education. I hope the Florida Senate and the full Florida Legislature support SB 1400 as a critical measure to continue to move our state forward.”

Nice sounding words but lackluster in defending resident and legal student slots in Florida universities and colleges.

RELATED STORY: Latest Trick for Illegal Immigrants: Granting Amnesty in Return for Military Service

Common Core Is Losing. Pass It on!

In “Pushback Continues: States Grow Increasingly Wary of Common Core” Brittany Corona writes, “Common Core is on the ropes. More and more states are pulling back from the national standards as the 2014–15 school year implementation deadline looms near. In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal (R)—formerly a Common Core supporter—is now encouraging the legislature to remove the state from the Common Core aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) test. And if they don’t act, he will.”

Corona notes that Jindal’s new stance comes after eight members of the Louisiana State House of Representatives sent him a letter, informing him of his prerogative to opt out of the standards and encouraging him to do so. As the New Orleans Advocate reported:

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that a gubernatorial order for the state to drop controversial Common Core tests is a ‘very viable option’ if state lawmakers fail to act. Jindal made the comment in response to a letter from eight House members who said the governor can opt the state out of the exams and should do that… ‘We believe you have the authority, as governor, under the 2010 PARCC memorandum of understanding, to opt out of the consortium,’ state Rep. Brett Geymann, (R–Lake Charles), and seven other legislators wrote.

In a statement released on Monday Jindal said,

We share the concerns of these [anti-Common Core] legislators and also of parents across Louisiana. We’re hopeful that legislation will move through the process this session that will address the concerns of parents or delay implementation until these concerns can be addressed. We think this course of action outlined in the legislators’ letter remains a very viable option if the Legislature does not act.

But as The Times-Picayune reports,

On a practical level, there is some question as to whether Jindal can unilaterally tear Louisiana away from the PARCC consortium, in which 16 states plus Washington D.C. participate. [Louisiana Superintendent] John White and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE] president Chas Roemer said their permission is also required to leave the consortium, and both White and Roemer—who also avidly supports Common Core—are unwilling to do so.

Meanwhile, this week in South Carolina, State Superintendent Mick Zais officially withdrew his state from the Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced (SBAC) tests.

In a letter to the State Board of Education, Zais wrote:

I want to have a high quality assessment that meets the specific needs of South Carolina, at a competitive price. If we continue to focus only on Smarter Balanced, we lose any opportunity to consider alternatives….

In consideration of the foregoing, and the discovery that I have the authority to withdraw South Carolina from its status as a governing state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and after full consultation with the Governor’s Office and appropriate members of the General Assembly, I am informing you that I am exercising that authority.

Oklahoma, too, is currently in a battle over Common Core. The state senate passed a bill earlier this month downgrading the state’s involvement with the national standards, although there is some difference of opinion as to whether it would fully remove Oklahoma from the standards, or merely change the name of the standards.

Governor Mary Fallin (R), a supporter of Common Core and chair of the National Governor’s Association which helped develop the standards, said in a statement that she “support[s] passing legislation that increases classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference…”

Meanwhile, the Missouri House of Representatives passed their bill to find a Common Core replacement.

“We’re going to create the process to have Missouri standards and Missouri assessments,” State Rep. Kurt Bahr (R), who introduced the measure, stated. The proposal requires that by October 1, 2014 the state board must develop new academic standards by the following October 2015, in place of the Common Core, and adopt and implement these standards by the 2016-17 school year.

Fifteen states have now made strides in halting or downgrading their involvement in the standards. Last month, Indiana became the first state to exit Common Core. This is promising momentum in the effort of states to reclaim their educational decision-making authority,” notes Corona.

RELATED VIDEO: Bill Gates on Common Core

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Zrp-Bu2SLp8[/youtube]

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Sara Caldwell/The Augusta Chronicle/ZUMAPRESS.com and Heritage Foundation.

Confronting Boston’s sex-change insurance proposal

The Boston City Council is proposing to require city employee health insurance to pay for sex-change operations and other “transgender” treatments.

On Wednesday, April 16, two members of the Boston City Council introduced an ordinance to require that health insurance for city employees cover “transgender” sex-change procedures, including hormone treatments and “gender reassignment” surgery. This is the latest demand of the homosexual / transgender movement in many cities across the country.

Who would have ever imagined something like this even a decade ago?

It was introduced by City Councilors Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley, two of the most liberal on an already left-wing Boston City Council. They worked closely with local homosexual activists, according to press reports. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, an aggressive pro-homosexual advocate, told the press that he is “wholeheartedly in support” of it.

Supporting her constituency.Michelle Wu, co-sponsor of transgender insurance ordinance, marches in Boston Gay Pride Parade in 2013.
[MassResistance photo]

It was applauded by the usual crowd. “This ordinance is a pivotal step toward ensuring that transgender city workers have access to comprehensive healthcare coverage just like all other city workers,” Kara Coredini, Executive Director of the LGBT lobbying group MassEquality told the press.

MassResistance reaction in the press

MassResistance gave its reaction — which was covered in the Boston Globe andChannel 5 TV. And we didn’t hold back for the liberal media.

Boston Globe coverage of ordinance featured MassResistance’s uncompromising reaction.

As the Boston Globe reported on April 14:

Not everyone sees the proposed ordinance as positive, or agrees that hormones and surgery are proper treatment for those who identify as transgender. The leader of MassResistance, a nonprofit conservative advocacy group in Waltham, called the proposed ordinance “a sad example of science fiction over science.”

“The medical community has always considered ‘gender identity’ confusion as a mental health issue,” said Brian Camenker, executive director of MassResistance. “Attempting to ‘treat’ someone with sex hormones or body mutilating surgery may please the political activists but only makes things much worse for the individual.”

That evening, Boston’s WCVB Channel 5 also did a report also featuring MassResistance:

Ch. 5 TV News:“Giving people hormones and body mutilation surgery only makes it worse. This is being done to please a political agenda,” Brian Camenker of MassResistance told Channel 5 News.

In other words: What other mental health issue is treated by amputating parts of the body?

Movement’s goal: Sex-change insurance coverage mandatory nationwide!

According to a number of sources, this is part of an overall strategy to eventually make coverage of transgender hormone treatments and sex-change surgery mandatory for all health insurance nationwide. The national groups “Human Rights Campaign” and “Lambda Legal” are providing ammunition for this push.

The tactics are similar to those the homosexual movement used pushing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” non-discrimination laws throughout America. In both cases, they started with private corporations, then some small cities and towns, then bigger cities in liberal areas, and eventually capturing entire states. In this case, they sometimes start with “lower level” mandates, such as hormone treatment, and then later push for full sex-change surgery coverage.

Mandating insurance support for sex “transitioning” is being seen across the country. As the Globe reported in its article:

Transgender city workers are guaranteed medical treatment by statutes in San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C.; and other US cities, according to Andrew Cray, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan educational institute in Washington, D.C . . . [R]egulators in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, and Vermont have mandated that private insurance plans in those states cover transgender health services for residents.

Trying to keep Boston’s “100% pro-LGBT” rating intact

As part of that push, the national radical LGBT group Human Rights Campaign now requires cities to include sex-change operations to get their coveted 100-percent pro-LGBT rating, similar to the rating they give large corporations. And the local radical lobby will not settle for anything less, and clearly has the power to enforce that.

As the Globe reported:

An attorney for the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights organization, said the group this year will begin to include transgender treatment coverage for city employees as a criterion in its Municipal Equality Index, which rates cities on their inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents and visitors.

Last year, Boston scored a perfect 100 on the scale, but it could not do so again in 2014 without mandating that coverage, said Cathryn Oakley, the organization’s legislative council for state and municipal advocacy.

Among other things, this policy would certainly attract some very disturbed people to work for the City of Boston. Is this really what the citizens want?

Is this the future?Men with hormone-induced breasts and women with hormone-induced beards march in downtown Northampton, Mass. in 2008.
[MassResistance photo]

Text of ordinance: false and misleading statements as justification

As usual for these kinds of political efforts by the sexual radical movement, the text of the ordinance includes as justification a number of statements presented as “fact” which are either grossly misleading or outright false — cleverly woven together to give the sense of serious medical data. It is Orwellian in its inversion of truth. For example:

1. It uses the weak term “gender dysphoria.” The older term, “gender identity disorder,” was previously the standard medical description until the LGBT movement pressured the medical community to water it down to a “dysphoria”.

2. It uses the transgender organization World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) as if it were a legitimate medical resource, but in fact it is a group of radical transgender activists and medical professionals who intimidate other medical associations into accepting their “findings” (in order to be seen as non-discriminatory).

3. It lists several prominent national professional associations (American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, etc.) that they say have “consensus” that hormones and body-mutilating surgeries are “appropriate” and “effective”. But none of these groups’ statements point to any legitimate studies. Instead, they just commit to non-discrimination in “treating” transgender patients. But themanner of treatment is left undefined.

4. It claims that the surgery and other treatment is “the only safe and effective medical treatment option” for some people. But is it? The phenomenon of hormone injections and surgeries is so new — only done in the last few decades — that it is virtually impossible to claim long-term positive health outcomes. In fact, the AMA and APA admit that transgender health care is still a “controversial” area.

5. It claims that not providing these treatments brings higher risk of suicide. Where are the studies confirming that? Some research suggests the opposite. In 2010 the Journal of Homosexuality reportedon a review of studies that suggest that people having “gender reassignment surgery” commit suicide at alarmingly higher rates than average. There is no question that people with gender identity disorders have a much higher suicide rate (as much as nine times higher) than the general population. Common sense would suggest that the best treatment is a mental health counseling approach, not a physical body change approach.

6. What it doesn’t tell you: Over a decade ago, Johns Hopkins University Hospital completely disbanded its “sex-change” program. The program’s director, Prof. Paul McHugh, wrote, “I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment . . . We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.” We couldn’t agree more.

But will anyone in the Boston City Council challenge any of this nonsense? We don’t think so.

The huge need to tell the truth

How do you fight this? As we have shown, there is at least one thing that everyone can do that makes a difference: Tell the truth without backing down.

This ordinance is an example of how the Left’s world is built on lies and intimidation. They depend on the silence and fear of regular people to push their agenda. Any textbook on confronting a totalitarian environment always begins with the requirement of telling the truth without any compromise. If you just do that, you’re having a positive effect! And not doing so gives their side a tighter grip on the public’s perceived definition of reality.

There is a disturbing trend by pro-family groups around the country to be moderate and inoffensive when dealing with this issue, so as not to antagonize the LGBT movement and the media. They either (1) avoid the subject entirely; or (2) concede major points but quibble with a minor part of it, such as saying that transsexuals may “need” surgery but it ought not be paid for by the taxpayer; or (3) simply say that the whole thing is something they “disagree with” because of “religious freedom” or similar non-threatening reasoning. Thus, handing a victory for the other side.

Even in seemingly overwhelming circumstances like this, it is necessary to continue fighting harder than ever. We are convinced that in the long run it’s worth it.

Potential (or current?) City of Boston employees marching in the Gay Pride Parade (left) and attending a transgender bill public hearing at the State House (right).
[MassResistance photos]

Whitewashing Republican Support of Civil Rights

One of the best kept secrets over the past 50 years is that, proportionately, Republicans in Congress supported passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act by a much wider margin than Democrats.

As CNN.com reported, “The Guardian’s Harry J. Enten broke down the vote, showing that more than 80% of Republicans in both houses voted in favor of the bill, compared with more than 60% of Democrats. When you account for geography, according to Enten’s article, 90% of lawmakers from states that were in the union during the Civil War supported the bill compared with less than 10% of lawmakers from states that were in the Confederacy.”

This is from a report from CNN, not FOX, the network despised by liberals.

There was another interesting tidbit in the CNN report:

“Ohio’s Republican Rep. William McCulloch had a conservative track record – he opposed foreign and federal education aid and supported gun rights and school prayer. His district (the same one now represented by House Speaker John Boehner) had a small African-American population. So he had little to gain politically by supporting the Civil Rights Act.”

“Yet he became a critical leader in getting the bill passed.

“His ancestors opposed slavery even before the Civil War, and he’d made a deal with President Kennedy to see the bill through to passage.”
The article noted, “’The Constitution doesn’t say that whites alone shall have our most basic rights, but that we all shall have them,’ McCulloch would say to fellow legislators.”

But you would not know any of this if you relied on the official ceremonies at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library last week marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights. The three-day summit at the University of Texas featured President Obama and former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Other speakers included Black Democrats such as Julian Bond, the former NAACP chairman; Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta, and former UN Ambassador Andy Young, among others. (To see a full list of speakers, go to: http://www.civilrightssummit.org/program/.)

How can you have a discussion of Civil Rights and not have one Black Republican? How could you not have Robert J. Brown, top aide to President Nixon and one of Dr. King’s closest confidants?

What about former Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Sara J. Harper? Last year, she was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame. She was also the first Black to graduate from Case Western Reserve University’s Law School. Is it really that easy to overlook the first Black National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, Colin Powell? Really?

They even had my good friend, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as one of their speakers (a White southern male). So, they had White Republicans, but no Black Republicans. WOW!

As George Orwell wrote his book, 1984, “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

If the summit were your sole source of information, you would think no Black Republicans were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Arthur Fletcher is known as “the father of affirmative action.” Though he is deceased, his work lives on – and should have been recognized.

Former Secretary of Transportation Bill Coleman was a proud Black Republican but just as proud of his support for civil rights. And so was former Senator Ed Brooke of Massachusetts. The list goes on and on – except at the LBJ ceremonies in Austin.

Am I the only one that noticed this intentional rewriting of history?

As usual, the media has been woefully and willfully negligent in not covering this angle. These supposedly bastions of journalistic integrity such as The Root and The Grio have caught a bad case of laryngitis. Melissa Perry and Joy Reid on MSNBC have suddenly forgotten how to speak English.

The LBJ library and Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for prostituting the real bi-partisan history of the Civil Rights Movement. This should have been one event that was truly reflective of the real history of America – the good and the bad.

Slavery and racism are still the biggest blemishes on American history; but because we are Americans and showed resolve, we also have one helluva story of redemption to tell. We have come a long way from the days of slavery and Jim Crow. We have Blacks making millions of dollars in sports, music, business, science, and education. Blacks have been to the moon and back. We even have a Black president.

In the very moment when we should have been celebrating the journey America has taken, we have been forced to reflect upon the willful deceit propagated upon the true history of our nation.

America’s Deadly Loves: Booze and Pot

In 1919 the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of “intoxicating liquors” in the United States and by 1933 the era of prohibition was over when the Twenty-First Amendment rescinded it. Alcohol consumption was and is a social problem, but sometimes the government is not the right vehicle for dealing with them.

The United States is a huge market for what are deemed illegal drugs and, for many years, marijuana has been among them. That prohibition is now going the way of the earlier effort to make alcohol consumption illegal. Questions remain as to whether this is a good thing or not.

A study by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health whose results were released in February examined automobile deaths resulting from marijuana use while driving. The data was gathered from six states that perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal accidents. It found that drugs played an increasing role in such accidents, accounting for more than 28% in 2010, 16% more than in 1999 and marijuana was the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12%, compared to only 4% in 1999.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said Dr. Guohua Le, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of a driver who is not, but the driver under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana then increased to 24 times that of a sober person.”

Those numbers will rise in the years ahead because two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational use of marijuana and twenty states allow medical use. Observers of the trend predict that a dozen more states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form over the next several years. One study has projected a $10 billion legal marijuana industry by 2018.

More than a dozen members of Congress have sponsored legislation aimed at reforming federal marijuana laws and the federal government allowed Colorado’s and Washington’s laws to take effect last year. Medical use has gained public acceptance and the Federal Drug Administration recently gave the green light to a clinical study in its efficacy in children with severe epilepsy. The Department of Health and Human Services has approved a study that will examine its effect on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

President Obama recently signed a Farm Bill that legalized “industrialized hemp production” for research purposes in the twelve states that permit it after a decades-long war on cannabis that is clearly winding down.

The use of marijuana took off in a big way in the 1960s, a decade famed for many liberal causes and a generation of young people that rejected opposition to it. In many ways, legalizing marijuana has been a liberal cause.

In early April, the Washington Times reported that “Billionaire philanthropist George Soros hopes the U.S. is going to pot, and he is using his money to drive it there. With a cadre of like-minded, wealthy donors, Mr. Soros is dominating the pro-legalization side of the marijuana debate by funding grassroots initiatives that began in New York City and end up affecting local politics elsewhere. Through a network of nonprofit groups, Mr. Soros has spent at least $80 million on the legalization effort since 1994.” The American Civil Liberties Union has been a leading advocate of marijuana legalization efforts.

The legalization can be seen as a liberal versus conservative political issue, but I think it is more an issue of public opinion regarding the use of marijuana, particularly as regards the fines and jail terms that have been imposed. We do this for those who abuse alcohol and logic suggests such laws will be applied to pot users as well, reducing the more aggressive fines and jail terms.

A new Time magazine polls found that 75% of Americans believe that the sale of marijuana will eventually become legal across the nation whether they supported legalization or not. The Pew Research Center conducted the polls in mid-February among 1,821 adults, finding that the number of people in favor of legalizing pot continues to grow. Four years ago 52% percent said they thought marijuana use should not be legal, but now 54% are in favor of legalization.

Most believe that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. While 69% believe that alcohol was more harmful to society, a large majority, 76%, believe that people convicted of possession of small amounts of pot should not have to serve jail time. I concur with that. I also support its use for medical purposes.

For better or worse, all societies evolve and change. The Prohibition era gave rise to organized crime to provide the booze Americans wanted to drink and the efforts to decriminalize marijuana now reflect a growing acceptance of its use for either medical or recreational use.

More drivers will die as a result, either from its use or from being in fatal accidents with those who do. Its use in the work environment will cause accidents that range from minor to fatal. It is extraordinarily curious that, while Americans have been subjected to a huge campaign to restrict smoking, the restrictions on marijuana use are being eliminated. I am not sure I see any difference here.

Americans love booze and love pot. What the long term effects on our society will be are unknown, but there will be effects.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORIES:

Mom, 44, shot dead ‘in front of kids by husband who was hallucinating after eating a marijuana cookie
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Teen narrowly escapes death after smoking synthetic marijuana – CNN
Marijuana Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment

EDITORS NOTE: The features photo “Booze Cruise at The Pink Palace in Greece” was taken by Keith Parker. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Was Pope Francis Calling Out Common Core When Criticizing “Guinea Pig” Education Programs?

I just received an email from one of the leading pioneers and advocates against the “Curse of Common Core”, Dr. Karen Effrem, MD. I have yet to meet her. I am not even sure where Karen lives. I think somewhere near the Tampa area…Don’t know her age, religion or how many children she has. All I know is that I read every single thing she has ever put out via e-mail about the ever-controversial, government-led fiasco of Common Core. Karen knows her stuff. She is President of Education Liberty Watch and also happens to be the Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc. Karen is bold about her stance against this “socialist disease” and maybe one day – when we finally “reverse the curse” and put Common Core to rest – I may have to track her down and give her a big hug and one of my popular Christian on a Mission pens!!

Her latest Education Liberty Watch Newsletter article is titled “Was Pope Francis Calling Out Common Core When Criticizing “Guinea Pig” Education Programs? I believe it is her first article in regards to the Catholic schools, Pope Francis and how Common Core fits in…or, should I say, “does not fit in”? I was so happy to see her write about Pope Francis’ comments about education, especially with his famous “Guinea Pig Education” comment. Not only has Pope Francis come out strong the past two weeks with his fearless stance against abortion – but, now, the pope has also begun focusing on health & human rights issues, as well as EDUCATION. And, I am talking about education in the United States.

VIDEO: Pope Francis talked about the right of children to a mother and a father, and the right of parents to determine their children’s moral education:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/6tNN1Dnp7zo[/youtube]

 

Now, this is the best news that I have heard since I began my personal fight against Common Core almost 10 months ago. Only because way back in October, myself and a group of adamant advocates against the “Curse of Common Core” from all over the country, wrote a powerful letter to each and every single Archbishop & Bishop in the United States, stating to them in a most prayerful & professional manner that “Common Core had no place in our Catholic schools because it was unconstitutional, unethical, unnecessary and unGODLY”… We also included that powerful letter from the “132 Catholic Scholars” who echoed our sentiments and truly laid it on the line. I honestly believe that those two things have made a huge difference in the way the Catholic schools are now questioning Common Core. The Holy Spirit is now working full-time and with Pentecost Sunday (my all-time favorite Feast Day), only “55” days away – we know that something powerful is bound to happen between now and June 8th…

We know for a fact that many of these Bishops who received our letter were probably caught by surprise at what they learned from us. In all honesty, I believe that the good majority of them had no idea that Common Core was part of the intrinsic evils that attack our society daily in a fierce manner – embracing abortion, same sex marriage and all sorts of liberal, sexual & political views. And, it still behooves me how the most powerful institution in the world decided to implement this corrupt and unproven, government-instituted education standards without even knowing what Common Core is. Across the board, all Catholic schools decided to implement Common Core into their school curriculums without knowing what the future consequences are going to be. They simply put the buggy before the horse – and that horse is bucking something awful right now…

Friends: I went to every single Catholic source in our country to get to the bottom of this – from the top (the USCCB in D.C. to the FCCB in Tallahassee to our local Dioceses in Florida) – and as GOD as my witness on this Holiest of all weeks in the Catholic calendar – way back on August 15th, 2013 – to my recollection, nobody at any of these levels really knew what is truly behind Common Core. They only knew a tiny bit about it. Only the tip of the iceberg, with no idea what lurked below. A Titanic mistake. Not one of them was aware of the face, funding and foundation of it all – as in the “Pro-Abortion” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the “abortion giant”, Planned Parenthood; the ever-radical United Nations; the sneaky agenda of Agenda 21; and GOD only knows how many crooked politicians and school leaders who were involved in “sneaking this socialist disease” into our beloved schools. A stealth operation, with the patient not ever knowing what the surgeon was doing behind his back.

It all started way back in January of 2002 with President George W. Bush signing on to “No Child Left Behind”. Seven years later, it evolved into “Race to the Top” with the ever-exuberant President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, signing on the dotted line on July 24th, 2009. And, as of June 1st of this year, all monies from these grants will be depleted – so every state will be on their own. Needless to say, these 45 states are stuck with the “Curse of Common Core”. A magic trick right before our very own eyes by a “magician in the White House who cannot get booed or impeached, no matter how bad or evil his tricks are”. Folks, this was NOT “Voluntary”. Those 45 states that “inherited” Common Core did NOT sign up for Common Core! Let’s get that straight right now. They signed up for these two other now-defunct programs. What they got was this fiasco of Common Core – which is the “sloppy seconds” of these two programs. I would go as far as betting my life today that if each and every one of those 45 states was asked if they would “voluntarily” sign up for Common Core today – that at least “40” of them would tell Common Core to take a hike…They would want no part of it! The cat is out of the bag and I just pray that it does not have “9 lives”. Let’s finally put this educational fiasco to rest.

Bottom Line: Over the past 10 months, we caring & devout activists have literally educated our own educators. These prominent educators may have the degrees, but we know the water temperature better. And, there is nothing wrong with sharing the Truth. As long as there is education & communication going on – we must put our pride and egos away and do what’s best for our schools, our churches, our communities, our country and our beloved children. We have kept this all in prayer from Day I as I cannot tell you how many rosaries we have prayed at our “America’s Finest Hour” every Tuesday evening since August 1st at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius for our school leaders, superintendents, church leaders and Bishops. Countless prayers for every single Archbishop & Bishop in our country.

So, let’s all finally come to our senses; put our differences away; keep it all in prayer; and see what Pope Francis is going to come up with between now and Pentecost Sunday, since he is now focusing more on “education across the board”. He has made it a point to look into this “experimenting with our beloved children” educational approach much closer that pretty much spells out Common Core, as that is essentially what Common Core is – an unproven experiment. I have a strong feeling that although he may not know exactly what Common Core is and he may not use that term – our Holy Father knows what good education is. And, better yet, he knows what GOD education is. Now, it’s up to our Catholic school leaders to follow his courageous lead and follow the Catholic Church teachings, and focus on the Almighty Father as opposed to the Almighty Dollar – and “reverse the curse” as soon as possible.

As I have said from day one – we are all in this struggle “Twogether” not only for the greater good – but, for the GREATER GOD…And, Father knows best…He’s our best teacher.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photograph of Pope Francis was produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.

Western Washington University Wants Fewer Whites — Fears “Mediocrity”

If you thought the “educator” who saw “racist” intent behind offering someone a peanut-butter sandwich was a loon, consider Western Washington University (WWU) president Bruce Shepard. Always on the lookout for ways to improve his institution’s academic integrity, he recently circulated a school-wide questionnaire and asked, “How do we make sure that in future years ‘we are not as white as we are today?’”

Apparently, Shepard has been gnashing his teeth over this problem for quite a while. As Kaitlyn Schallhorn at Campus Reform reports, el presidente said in a 2012 speech, “Every year, from this stage and at this time, you have heard me say that, if in decades ahead, we are as white as we are today, we will have failed as university.”

Hey, forget the old measures of academic success, such as if students know what’s in the Constitution, have a grasp of basic history and civics, can perform rudimentary mathematical calculations and properly use the language (for Shep’s benefit, I refer to English). It’s now all about melanin content.

And if you disagree with this thesis, then hope you’re just an ignorant rube. Because the alternative, according to el presidente, is far worse. As he wrote in a January blog post, if you disagree, you “have not thought through the implications of what is ahead for us or, more perniciously, assume we can continue unchanged.” Lions and tigers and pernicious! Oh, my! For graduates of WWU, in calling those who’ve thought things through but nonetheless cling to their misbegotten notions “pernicious,” Shep is accusing them of being “ruinous; injurious; hurtful.” Well, off to the re-education camp with you.

And WWU’s got that covered: Campus Reform also tells us that el presidente has already junked “standard performance reviews” in favor of “sensitivity training and hosts workshops” to better serve illegal aliens. Hey, doubleplusgood for you, Shep.

But Shep is just looking to the future. He also warned on his blog, “In the decades ahead, should we be as white as we are today, we will be relentlessly driven toward mediocrity; or, become a sad shadow of our current self.” Would that be a White Shadow?

But I’m hip. We certainly wouldn’t want to be mediocre like the white guys who forged Western civilization, founded the US, created the modern world and gave us most of what makes our lives better.

Now, given that WWU was founded in 1886 and originally called the Northwest Normal School, I have a feeling it’s already a shadow of its former self. But, question: if WWU became what it is today while being intolerably white, how could remaining so make it a shadow of its current self? I know, I know, our strength lies in our diversity, our smartness lies in our stupidity, and academics lie constantly.

But I have a couple more questions. Does Shep still want the mediocre white alumni’s money? And since WWU has printed information on how to more effectively “recruit and retain faculty and staff of color,” will the colorless Shepard lead by example and give his presidency to a member of the color replete? Or is this where, as with Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Warren, we suddenly learn that Shep is really a Cherokee named Peddling Bull.

Anyway, it’s not hard to figure out how to reduce the number of whites at WWU: just eliminate the affirmative action for whites.

Oh, wait….

Alas, mediocrity may not remain restricted to WWU’s presidency after all.

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

The Case for Voluntary Private Cooperation by Michael Munger

We don’t need nations, flags, and armies to make us prosperous.

When I tell Duke freshmen my version of the argument for liberty, they often scoff, “If this is right, how come I’ve never heard it before?” I try to be conciliatory. I offer the kids time to go text their parents. They need to sue those elite private high schools for failing to educate them in even the basics of how societies work, and why so many societies fail to work.

Okay, so that’s not all that conciliatory. And my answer plays to mixed reviews, at best.

But it’s the truth. How can it be that some of the world’s most educated young people have never heard the concise version of the argument for voluntary private cooperation? I want to present here the version I have found most useful. And by “useful” I mean profoundly unsettling to people who hear it for the first time.

“Markets” Are Not the Point

To start with, the argument for liberty is not an argument for “markets.” The market vs. State dichotomy was dreamed up by German sociologists in the nineteenth century. Don’t buy into that dichotomy; it’s a rhetorical straitjacket, and in any case it’s not our best argument.

The question is how best to achieve the myriad benefits of voluntary private cooperation, or VPC. Markets are part of that, a useful way of achieving prosperity, but a variety of other emergent social arrangements—more properly viewed under the rubric “society”—are also crucial for prosperity.

The first argument I usually hear, especially from people hearing about VPC for the first time, is this: “If markets are so great, why is most of the world poor?” The problem is that poverty is not what needs to be explained. Poverty is what happens when groups of people fail to cooperate, or are prevented from finding ways to cooperate. Cooperation is in our genes; the ability to be social is a big part of what makes us human. It takes actions by powerful actors such as states, or cruel accidents such as deep historical or ethnic animosities, to prevent people from cooperating. Everywhere you look, if people are prosperous it’s because they are cooperating, working together. If people are desperately poor, it’s because they are denied some of the means of cooperating, the institutions for reducing the transaction costs of decentralized VPC.

So forget about explaining poverty. We need to work on understanding prosperity.

There are two reason that VPC is the core of human prosperity and flourishing.

1. Exchange and cooperation: If each of us has an apple and a banana, and I like apple pie and you like banana crème pie, each of us can improve our lot by cooperating. I give you a banana, you give me an apple, and the world is a better place. And the world is better even if there is no change in the total size of our pies. The total amount of apples and bananas is the same, but each of us is happier.

But there is no reason to fetishize exchange. (That’s the “markets vs. social/state” dichotomy; don’t give away the farm here.) Nobel Prize-winner James Buchanan’s central insight was that cooperative arrangements among groups of people are just “politics as exchange.” Nonmarket forms of exchange, in which we cooperate to achieve ends that we all agree are mutually beneficial, may be even more important than market exchanges. Banding together for collective protection and taking full advantage of emergent institutions such as a language, property rights, and a currency are all powerful tools of VPC.

If we cooperate, we can use existing resources much better by redirecting those resources toward uses people value more. So even if we are only thinking of cooperation in a static sense, with a fixed pie, we are all better off if we cooperate. Cooperation is just a kind of sharing, so long as every cooperative arrangement is voluntary. The only way you and I agree with a new arrangement is if each of us is better off.

2. Comparative advantage/division of labor: Still, we don’t need to be satisfied with making better use of a static pie. Working together and becoming more dependent on each other, we can also make the pie bigger. There is no reason to expect that each of us is well-suited to produce the things we happen to like. And even if we are, we can produce more of it by working together.

Remember, I like apples and you like bananas. But I live on tropical land in a warm climate that makes producing apples difficult. You live in a much cooler place, where growing your favored bananas would be prohibitively expensive. We can specialize in whatever we are relatively best at. I grow bananas, you grow apples, and we trade. Specialization allows us to increase the variety and complexity of mutually beneficial outcomes.

Interestingly, this would be true even one of the parties is actually better at producing both apples and bananas; David Ricardo’s “comparative advantage” concept shows that both parties are better off if they specialize, even if it appears that the less productive person can’t possibly compete. The reason is that the opportunity costs of action are different; that’s all that is necessary for there to be potential benefits from cooperation.

But there is no reason to fetishize comparative advantage. In fact, true instances of deterministic comparative advantage are rare. The real power from specialization comes from division of labor, or the enormous economies of scale that come from synergy. Synergy can result from improvements in dexterity, tool design, and capital investment in a production process composed of many small steps in a production line, or from innovations, using the entrepreneurial imagination to see around corners. Synergy is not created by the sort of deterministic accidents of weather, soil quality, or physical features of the earth that economists obsess about. Producing wool and port depend on location; human ingenuity can create synergy anywhere that division of labor can be promoted. All the important dynamic gains from exchange are created by human action, by VPC.

The Street Porter and the Philosopher

Entrepreneurs are more likely to be visionaries than geographers or engineers. Argentina has a comparative advantage, probably an absolute advantage, in producing beef, because of its climate, soil conditions, and plentiful land in the pampas. But Argentina is poor. Singapore has next to nothing, and doesn’t produce much. But Singapore built both physical (port facilities, storage, housing) and economic (rule of law, property rights, a sophisticated financial system) institutions to promote cooperation. And Singapore is rich because those institutions help give rise to powerful synergies.

One could argue, of course, that Singapore has a comparative advantage in trade because of its location at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, connecting the Strait of Malacca with all of East Asia. But other nations not blessed with such location rents have used the same model. Portugal in the fifteenth century, Spain and Holland in the sixteenth, and England in the eighteenth century all built huge, prosperous societies by channeling the energies of citizens toward cooperation. None of these countries played well with others, perhaps, but internally they built synergies, so that for each their prosperity and importance in the world was multiplied far beyond what you would have expected just by looking at their populations, their climates, or their soil quality.

Humans build synergies by fostering VPC. Adam Smith’s example of the philosopher and the porter is sometimes quoted, but not well understood. The benefits to specialization need not be innate: The street porter might well have been a philosopher if he had had access to the tools that promote VPC. Education and social mobility mean that where one is born has little to do with where one ends up.

The plasticity of human abilities is at least matched by the malleability of social and economic institutions. Human societies need only be limited by what we can think of together. The development of specialization and the consequent increase in productive capacity is a socially constructed process, like Smith’s “philosopher”—the result of thousands of hours of study, practice, and learning. Smith’s porter didn’t fail to become a philosopher because of comparative advantage. The porter just failed (or was denied a chance, by social prejudice) to specialize.

To Be Useful, Cooperation Must Be Destructive

The flaw in division of labor is also its virtue. Division of labor and specialization create a setting where only a few people in society are remotely self-sufficient. Further, the size of the “market”—more accurately, the horizon of organized cooperative production—limits the gains from division of labor and specialization. If I hire dozens of people and automate my production of apple pie filling, I can produce more than you, your family, your village, or perhaps even your entire nation can consume. I have to look for new customers, expanding both the locus of dependency and the extent of improved welfare from increased opportunities to trade.

The same is true for the benefits of specialization. In a village of five people, the medical specialist might know first aid and have a kit composed of Band-Aids and compression bands for sprains. A city of five million will have surgeons who have invented new techniques for performing complex procedures on retinas, the brain, and exotic enhancements in appearance through plastic surgery. A village of 250 people may have a guy who can play the fiddle; a city of 250,000 has an orchestra. Division of labor, and specialization, is limited by the extent of the VPC.

The power of that statement, taken directly from Adam Smith, is the basis of the argument for VPC. People are assets, not liabilities. Larger populations, larger groups available to work together, and more extensive areas of peaceful cooperation allow greater specialization. Four people in a production line can make 10 times as much as two people; 10 people can make a thousand times more. Larger groups and increased cooperation create nearly limitless opportunities for specialization: not just making refrigerators, but making music, art, and other things that may be hard to define or predict.

VPC allows huge numbers of people who don’t know each other to begin to trust each other, to depend on each other. Emile Durkheim, the famed German social theorist, recognized this explicitly, and correctly noted that the market part of division of labor is the least important aspect of why we depend on it. He said, in his masterwork Division of Labour in Society, “the economic services that [division of labor] can render are insignificant compared with the moral effect that it produces, and its true function is to create between two or more people a feeling of solidarity.”

That “feeling of solidarity” is society—voluntary, uncoerced, natural human society. We don’t need nations, and we don’t need flags and armies to make us prosperous. All we need is voluntary private cooperation, and the feeling of solidarity and prosperous interdependence that comes from human creativity unleashed.

ABOUT MICHAEL MUNGER

Michael Munger is the director of the philosophy, politics, and economics program at Duke University. He is a past president of the Public Choice Society.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock. The below quote by Walter E. Williams, American economist, commentator and academic, is worthy of note:

WEW

Pro-life bill overwhelmingly passes Florida House with bipartisan support

The Christian Family Coalition Florida (CFCF), Florida’s premiere human rights and social justice advocacy organization issued the following statement upon passage by the Florida House of one of its two legislative priorities:

“We are proud to announce that the Offenses Against the Unborn Bill, one of two CFCF legislative priorities for the 2014 session, was overwhelmingly approved by a bipartisan majority of the Florida House on Friday, April 11th.

It is historic to see an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans, 64%, voted to adopt this common-sense legislation. During our 2014 Day at the Capitol, our CFCF citizen lobbyists identified thirteen (13) co-sponsors and supporters for the Offenses Against the Unborn Bill.

CFCF states, “We know these efforts contributed to passage of this much-needed legislation. We would like to thank Rep. Larry Ahern (R – District 66) for his courageous effort in sponsoring this legislation in the House.”

Click here to see vote: http://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/floorvote.aspx?VoteId=14746&BillId=51169

About the Christian Family Coalition (CFC)

The Christian Family Coalition (CFC) is a widely acclaimed human rights and social justice advocacy organization serving Florida’s children and families for over 10 years. Through its daily community outreach, political education programs, and voter registration, CFC effectively mobilizes thousands of fair-minded voters across the state and actively works with municipal, county, state, and federal elected officials to advance common sense, family-friendly, non-discriminatory values and public policies. The CFC is highly respected for its sought-after, educational voter guides consulted by thousands of houses of worship and their voters all across Florida.

Mainstream U.S. Muslim Jurists Association Sanctions Female Genital Mutilation

According to the World Health Organization, more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The African Women’s Health Center of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, report that approximately 228,000 women and girls in the U.S. have either suffered the procedure or are at risk of having it done to them. Many of these young girls are subjected to FGM when they vacation in a country that sanctions the practice. In other cases, circumcisers are brought into the U.S. – even though FGM is illegal in this country.

ACT! for America has been working diligently at the state level to see legislation passed so that no girl ever suffers the horrors of FGM – either on U.S. soil or elsewhere.

Mainstream U.S. Muslim Jurists Association Sanctions Female Genital Mutilation

By Andrew Bostom

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America’s (AMJA [1]’s) mission statement maintains the organization was,

…founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America…AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities…

A report in The Muslim Observer [2] published October 21, 2010 highlighting AMJA’s “seventh annual American conference of imams,” confirmed that the organization is accepted [2] as such by the mainstream American Muslim community. AMJA and its “training” conference for American imams were described [2] in these banal terms:

The organization AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America) has a list of scholars associated with it which stretches from Al-Azhar University to Virginia’s Open University, and back across the ocean to the professors at Saudi universities. Its website, amjaonline.com, provides fatawa on many issues and promises 24-hour access to scholars who can give legal opinions on the issues people face. AMJA focuses on providing fatwas to Americans, and believes it is able to provide culturally appropriate fatwas although many of their scholars are not American–because they have some American scholars and because of the technological ties that bind AMJA’s American scholars with those abroad. AMJA just had, in Houston, its seventh annual American conference of imams, and two local Michigan imams attended, namely Imam Musa of Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center, and Imam Ali of MCWS. Mr. Sadiqul Hassan of AMJA explained that “the event was the 7th annual imam workshop…” Mr. Hassan said that AMJA is “a fiqh council basically,” with “scholars who live abroad and inside the US; we have experts in different fields to educate about life in the US–fatawa are based on life in the US.”

AMJA rulings also support the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), which the United Nations has called [3] “a dangerous and potentially life-threatening procedure that causes unspeakable pain and suffering.” Fatwa #1639 [4] from Dr. Hatem al-Haj justified the horrific practice, by citing the canonical hadith [5] in which Islam’s prophet Muhammad endorsed its practice, stating:

[…] Some extremists from the west and their devout followers in the Muslim world like to brand all circumcision as female genital mutilation (FGM). For those, we say, why is male circumcision not MGM? Male circumcision is widely practiced in the west. Yet it would be considered by the Chinese MGM (Male Genital Mutilation).

The benefits of male circumcision are beginning to be more recognized in the medical societies, even though still contested by a few. Fifty years ago, no one knew that male circumcision has medical benefits. The same could be true with female circumcision. They may figure out the benefits of the practice in fifty or five hundred years. […]

Al-Haj then went on to implicitly sanction [4] the practice of taking a Muslim female outside of her American milieu to have the procedure performed—in violation of the US “TRANSPORT FOR FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION [6]” act.

The question is not to ban female circumcision because of the position of certain nations, but How do we regulate it as Muslims? What should we -western Muslims- do? For Muslims who live in the west, since it is not mandatory and it is at the same time illegal in the west, and would bring about harm to the people who practice it, I wouldn’t advise having it done, as long as you are a resident/citizen of the west. We however should never doubt anything in our religion because of the bad publicity the media creates about it.

A concordant fatwa [7] issued in Arabic (translation by Al-Mutarjim [8]) on the website [9] of the Secretary-General of AMJA and the chief member of its Resident Fatwa Committee, Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, declares that FGM is “an honor” for women, Al-Sawy also acknowledges that the procedure—in accord with a continuum of Islamic rationale [5] from al-Jahiz in the mid-9th century, to former Muslim Papal equivalent, i.e., Al-Azhar University Grand Imam Jad al-Haq through 1996—is explicitly implemented to reduce a woman’s otherwise unbridled “concupiscence,” i.e., lust:

But for the woman, the purpose [of circumcision] is the benefit that it has in lessening her lust, which is a wholesome request. There is no harm in removing it. In short, female circumcision is an honor (which) does not rise to the level of a duty, in clear language. Stated another way, it is neither forbidden nor required.

Starting Holy Week with Murders

There’s something very sad about the murders in Kansas City that began the holy week for Jews—Passover—and the forthcoming Easter for Christians. The two events are closely linked biblically and historically. The murders are a rebuke to both faiths.

There is irony and tragedy in the murder of William Lewis Corporon and his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood. Both were Christian. As of this writing, the third victim, a woman, is identified as a Jew. The first two were visiting a Jewish community center to participate in a music contest. The other victim was killed at a Jewish retirement community.

The alleged perpetrator is Frazier Glenn Cross who was identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as having been involved in the white supremacist movement for most of his life. Fox News reported that he “founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was its “grand dragon” in the 1980s before the Center sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against blacks.”

I cannot even imagine what it must be like to devote one’s entire life to hating blacks and Jews. Hatred is a corrosive emotion and the complete opposite of the values that both Judaism and Christianity embrace.

Michael Siegal, chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America, said “no community should have to face a moment such as this one. Today, on the eve of Pesach, we are left to contemplate how we must continue our work building a world in which all people are free to live their lives without the threat of terror.”

The key element in his statement is “all people.”

Around the world today terror is the primary weapon of those who would impose Islam on everyone while killing thousands of their own believers and, in the case of Israel, threatening death to an entire nation of Jews. It must be noted that thousands of Arabs are Israeli citizens as well.

It reminds one that the Nazi death camps and deliberate killing of others in the last century not only killed Jews, but millions of Christians as well. According to Wikipedia:

“In addition to Jews, the targeted groups included Poles (of whom 2.5 million gentile Poles were killed) and some other Slavic peoplesSoviets (particularly prisoners of war);Romanies (also known as Gypsies) and others who did not belong to the Aryan Herrenvolk “Aryan master race”; the mentally ill, the deaf, the physically disabled and mentally retardedhomosexual and transsexual people; political opponents such as communistssocial democrats and socialists; and religious dissidents, i.e. members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Taking into account all of the victims of Nazi persecution, they systematically killed an estimated six million Jews and mass murdered an additional eleven million people during the war. Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet civilian deaths would produce a death toll of 17 million.”

One can only conclude that humans are a very dangerous specie, inclined to kill its own for reasons that focus on religion, politics, and other factors.

By contrast, Passover and Easter focus on survival and sacrifice in the face of evil. Both acknowledge and celebrate the role of our Creator. Holy week for both Jews and Christians is a good one to concentrate on the values that they both teach and uphold. It is also a week (among all the others) to dedicate ourselves to opposing those for whom hate is their only reason to exist.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Fany1988. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Miami, FL: Language arts teacher simulates Orgasm, Masturbates and gives Massages to students

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Christine Jane Kirchner

Ms. Christine Jane Kirchner is a language arts teacher and union steward at Coral Reef Senior High School, Miami-Dade public schools. Ms. Kirchner in 2008 was appointed by the Miami-Dade School Board to the Lesson Plan Development Task Group. Kirchner was elected Vice President At-Large and sits on the Executive Board of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD).

So what’s so special about Christine Jane Kirchner?

According to the April 4, 2014 DOE Education Practices Commission of the State of Florida report:

  1. During the 2012-2013 school year, Respondent [Kirchner] discussed inappropriate topics, such as sex, virginity and masturbation, with her language arts class. The conversations made several students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
  2. During the 2012-2013 school year, during a lesson with her language arts class, Respondent [Kirchner] simulated having an orgasm. The simulation made several students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
  3. During the 2012-2013 school year, Respondent [Kirchner] gave massages to students of her language arts class. The massages made several students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

Kirchner was found guilty of “gross immorality or an act involving moral turpitude” and that she violated “the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession.” Kirchner was found to have violated Florida State Statute 1012.795, paragraphs (1)(d) and (1)(j), respectively.

What is the punishment given Kirchner?

The Florida Department of Education accepted a “Settlement Agreement”. The settlement agreement consists of a letter of reprimand and placing Kirchner on two years probation. Kirchner accepted the Settlement Agreement.

Kirchner will return to her classroom at Coral Reef High School and retain her position on the Executive Board of the UTD.

Does the punishment fit the crime? We report, you decide.

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Florida: Providing in-state tuition to illegals is why politicians are held in such low esteem

Every session examples pop up so let’s examine what the Florida Legislature is on the verge of doing this session which clearly illustrates a disconnect between them and their citizen constituents.

The Speaker of the House started the session supporting In-State Tuition for illegal aliens. In short order HB 851 sailed through the House and was overwhelmingly approved with strong Republican support and unanimous Democrat votes. This is legislation that was defeated numerous times going back to 2003 when Marco Rubio co-sponsored a similar bill.

In the Florida senate SB 1400 has passed three of four committees with the strong help of Republicans who control the senate as well. Many of the same Republicans who voted in previous committees with unanimous Democrat support are on the Judiciary committee, so passage is imminent.

This is a perfect example of the point I want to make. There is absolutely no way the voters of Florida who are forced to educate, medicate and incarcerate illegal at a cost of $5.2 Billion annually would vote for another tax imposed on them to further educate children who cost taxpayers substantially more to educate than our own children. There is not one state poll that would show any meaningful support rather overwhelming opposition to the idea. I would be willing to wager a bet there is not one Republican that has voted for in-state tuition for illegal aliens when running for election said they would vote to do it. Not one!

It is pretty certain the bill will be passed and sent to the governor for his signature who has said he supports it. Remember him, he is the guy that got elected because he said he wanted to pass a bill like AZ 1070 promising mandatory e-verify for all business owners while after four years in office he has done nothing and we have 600,000 illegal aliens employed in the state.

Two Faced Politicians cannot be trusted to fulfill their promises to support what the majority wants that voted them in office. They deserve to be held in low esteem since they basically say the voters opinions don’t count.

We will see what happen on November 4th, 2014. When they go against the wishes of Floridians who elected them, they deserve to be sent back to the private sector. They are not worthy of the public’s trust.

RELATED STORY: Continued High Legal Immigration Steadily Erodes GOP Prospects

The Beat Goes On: Opposing Obama is Racist

Alas, another reporter asked me the same question I have been repeatedly asked for the past five years. “As an African American, why are you a member of the Tea Party?” It dawned on me to ask the reporter, “If you are a thinking patriotic American, why are you NOT a member of the Tea Party?”

It is stunning that reporters can not see the absurdity and racism against white voters in their assumption that Tea Party membership (push back against Obama’s agenda) equals racism.

For the first time in U.S. history are Americans required to submit to their president’s agenda or suffer the mainstream media and Democratic party branding an “R” on their forehead for racist? Does our president’s skin color repeal our right to disagree with government?

The MSM and Democratic party declaring all opposition to Obama’s agenda racist is a despicable divisive tactic. They are exploiting Obama’s skin-color to further their socialist/progressive agenda (full court press hostile government takeover of our lives).

Another question repeatedly asked by reporters is, “If the Tea Party is not racist, why are its members mostly white?” I reply, “Could it be that a majority of black voters are ill-informed, clueless and/or racist? Why are you making the Tea Party responsible for blacks not showing up?”

In 2008, when I heard presidential candidate Barack Obama tell Joe-the-Plumber that he wanted to spread the wealth around, I knew Obama was a socialist and the wrong man to lead my country.

To my utter amazement, who Obama is as a human being and his plan for America was totally irrelevant to my family, friends and 96% of black voters including some black conservatives and Republicans. It was a black code thing. Support the brother no matter what.

My decision to campaign and vote against Obama due to his far left radical associations, pro infanticide voting record and socialistic vision for my country made me an outcast and a traitor to my race. Is there a monolithic “racist” black vote? You bet there is. Black racism is as evil and unacceptable as white racism.

White liberals were equally outraged that I dared to judge Obama by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. White liberal paragons of fairness, tolerance and self-proclaimed champions of minorities called me a “stupid self loathing n*****” for not voting for Obama.

Along with millions of white Obama voters shocked and outraged over his unprecedented takeover of the auto industry, banks and repeated ignoring of the Constitution, I joined the Tea Party.

The MSM and Democratic party are insisting that we surrender our will and our country. They demand that we act like brain dead obedient supplicants of King Obama, less we risk public humiliation charged with racism. Heaven forbid.

Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron is the latest black celeb to call opposing Obama equal to being a member of the KKK. Hank, I love you bro. But your accusation is racist, evil and beneath you.

How are you, Mr Aaron, suddenly able to read the hearts, minds and intentions of the entire GOP and millions of Americans in the Tea Party? Can you not see how insidiously evil, intellectually vacant and tyrannical it is to brand all opposition to the president’s agenda racist?

And yet, to silence the GOP and conservatives, the mainstream media and Democratic party continues to promote the ridiculous narrative that “opposing Obama is racist”. This tactic has successfully rendered most of the GOP impotent, cowering in their boots, fearful of that hot “R” brand on their foreheads. Many well-intentioned Americans have been silenced.

I submit that we conservatives and Republicans rip the racism branding iron from the hands of the MSM and Democratic party and point it in their direction. They are the true racists.

White America, when the left calls you a racist for pushing back against socialism, let it roll off your back like water off a duck. America is far too precious to allow it to be destroyed (fundamentally transformed) by the MSM and Democratic party’s use of racial intimidation, race baiting and race exploitation. We can not allow ourselves to be silenced.

The MSM and Democratic party have no problem with setting back national race relations, polarizing Americans along racial lines to implement their mission of government controlling every aspect of our lives.

To defeat the MSM and Democratic party, you must support and vote for conservatives beginning with the 2014 elections.

We can and we must take back America.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of ThePeoplesCube.com.