Muslim Brother promotes Grover Norquist at CPAC

Hey America, as promised in Episode 8, we tracked down Mr. Sami Al-Arian-owitz and interviewed him at the 2014 CPAC event in the Washington DC area.  Yes, The United West has figured out how to travel back in time but the important point is that this Muslim Brotherhood Imam is Grover Norquist’s number one supporter.

So as we continue on with our hard-hitting investigative series, The Wizard of “K” Street, exposing Grover Norquist as an ideological enemy of the state we add to our in-depth research a little bit of our classic, “edutainment.”

Of course we want you be persuaded by the evidence against Grover, proving that he is NOT the super-conservative he makes himself out to be, but we also want you smile a little bit at the absurdity of how far the Wizard of “K” Street’s spell is cast over so many Congress members.

Folks, it’s time to give Grover his retirement gold watch and let him finally make his long desired Hajj.

As we move through this micro-series you will see how Norquist’s nefarious work impacts YOU on a daily basis in the areas of: IMMIGRATION, ISLAM, ISRAEL, IRAN

ACTION STEP

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Florida Attorney General Files Motions to Intervene in Homosexual so-called “Marriage” Lawsuits!

MIAMI, FL – After months of hard work, the Christian Family Coalition Florida (CFCF) announced today a stunning turn of events as Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed motions to intervene in two seditious state lawsuits that are trying to overthrow Florida’s voter-approved constitution which respects marriage as the union of one man, one woman.

As other attorneys general, most recently in Oregon and Pennsylvania, are abandoning their states voters by refusing to intervene, such as in Oregon, or appeal decisions against voter-approved state constitutional amendments, such as in Pennsylvania; General Bondi is on the right side of history and the law by faithfully upholding her sworn duty to uphold the laws of the land.

As she recently stated in a piece written for the Gainesville Sun, “Defending the wishes of the voters who enacted Florida’s marriage amendment necessarily requires me to make good faith legal arguments. Anything less than the best defense of our voters’ policy preferences would disenfranchise the electorate, and undermine the judicial process, this court should ‘exercise great caution when asked to take sides in an ongoing public policy debate’ and leave Florida’s important policy determinations to Florida’s citizens.”

In 2008, approximately 5 million Florida voters approved our state’s constitution respecting marriage as the union of one man, one woman, by a whopping 62% – 38% margin. Approval numbers among Hispanic and African-American voters were even higher, 62% and 71% respectively!

Christian Family Coalition Florida (CFCF) issued the following statement:

“We commend Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for her courageous decision to uphold her oath of office and protect Florida voters right to amend their own state constitution respecting marriage as the union of one man, one woman. As the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Windsor, this is a question of public policy, not the constitution, as homosexual extremists who are trying to overthrow the will of the people falsely claim.”

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.

WARNING: Dangerous Carbon Dioxide Shortage!

WARNING: The following column may awaken feelings of apprehension, fear, and panic if you believe there is a climate crisis approaching due to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

You’ve certainly heard from ABC, CBS and NBC that there is a developing crisis that is the most serious that the world has ever faced. Our Secretary of State, the Honorable John F. Kerry, likens it to the most terrible weapon of mass destruction. President Obama has vowed to make it the highest priority of the remaining two and one-half years of his administration. (Not the limping economy, not the Mullahs’ quest for The Bomb, not the Putinization of Europe.)

This crisis is due to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, presently 400 parts per million by volume (400 ppmv), or 0.04% of the atmosphere. This is dangerously low, far less than it has been for most of Earth’s existence, and both human policy and natural climate processes threaten to reduce it below an essential minimum. Nothing bad – certainly nothing catastrophic – happened in the golden eras while CO2 was at several thousand ppmv.

The same crackpots insist that the Earth is becoming much too warm. This is also untrue. The Earth is presently much colder than it has been for most of its history, and is likely to become even colder – eventually much colder. Like previous eras of abundant CO2, nothing bad happened when Earth was warmer. But, in cold eras, glaciers destroy whole countries, agriculture suffers, humans and wildlife die in cold and snow, and large parts of Earth become uninhabitable. A cold climate, such as we have now, makes life much harder for all.

As you see in the below diagram, CO2 content has usually been much higher than now, usually over 2000 ppmv, five times the current value. Food plants– the source of all food on this Earth – evolved in an environment of much higher CO2, and have had to deal with an ever more hostile environment, as CO2 has declined. As any nursery or garden store will tell you, they maintain a plant-friendly environment of 1,000 ppmv. Ever wonder why YOUR flowers don’t look as strong and beautiful as they did in the store? You’re starving them; they’re not getting enough of the food they need – CO2. Go breathe on them for five minutes a day; your exhalation is about 40,000 ppmv of CO2. That’s one hundred times as much CO2 as they get from the air in your home. They’ll love it. [Hat tip to Joe Bastardi for the diagram.]

2014-06-19-2361171c

For a larger view click on the chart.

In fact, plants are so unhappy in our present (last 25 million years) low-CO2 environment that a new, low-CO2 vegetation type has evolved, the C4 crops, such as maize and millet, which can conduct photosynthesis with less atmospheric CO2. Older forms of vegetation, the C3 crops, such as wheat, rice, barley, evolved when atmospheric CO2 was higher. Plants gather CO2 through stomata, openings in their leaves; however, they also lose water vapor (H2O) through those stomata, especially in a dry climate, so it’s a tradeoff. Getting food production underway with less need for carbon and less water loss is a great evolutionary advantage. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection works for vegetation too. It’s also good for humans, since every carbon atom in every human body came from a molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere. And, of course, every cell in your body is replaced every seven years. Do you really want to minimize atmospheric CO2?

Before Watt’s invention of the coal-burning steam engine, CO2 content is estimated to have been about 280 ppmv, or 0.028% of the atmosphere. The necessary minimum to sustain global photosynthesis is thought to be 200 ppmv. We weren’t far from a massive die-off of vegetation, and we may approach this dangerous level again. So far, we have reversed the disastrous decline of atmospheric CO2 by burning coal, the fuel richest in plant nutrient. Multispectral NOAA satellite data reveals the increase of vegetation since the 1970’s, due to our coal-based greening of the world. CO2 is good for humans and for the natural world.

One of the things Mr. Gore demonstrated in An Inconvenient Truth is that there’s a correlation between temperature and atmospheric CO2 content. He “forgot” to mention that it’s a lagged correlation; first the temperature goes down, then – 800 years later – atmospheric CO2 content goes down. Cold oceans absorb CO2 out of the atmosphere, to the detriment of plant growth – the growth we depend on for food. As you can see on the graph, we’re now both cold and low on CO2.

This is the most important lesson to learn from Gore’s movie, though it’s certainly not what Gore meant to teach: cooling oceans take out of the atmosphere the CO2 that is essential for the growth of our food. Of course, cooling also shortens the growing season. There’s a double whammy in declining temperatures.

On the geologic time scale, Earth has been in a very cold era for about 25 million years, after continental drift positioned a continent over the South Pole and a blocking ring of continents around the North Pole. Both are impediments to the free circulation of equatorial oceanic currents across the poles. On top of that handicap, we are subject to long-term glacial conditions (90,000 years), interrupted by brief (11,500) interglacial periods, the Milankovitch Cycle. All of human history – art, science, music, philosophy, civilization itself – is contained within the current inter-glacial: the last 11,500 years. We’re nearing the end of the present relatively warm inter-glacial.

Other processes beside cooling remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Precipitation is one; you’ve probably noticed your lawn is greener after natural rain than it is after watering from a sprinkler. Raindrops pick up CO2 in falling through the air, becoming carbonic acid. That mild acid, over geologic time, wears mountains away and washes them into the sea. In the process, the CO2 becomes combined with calcium, forming calcium carbonate (limestone). This is one of the reasons the alarmists’ claim that “carbon dioxide is turning the oceans to acid” is untrue. The oceans have been basic (pH = 8.2) for millions of years and will remain so; the ocean bottoms are covered with huge amounts of limestone, which acts as a buffer against acidification.

Of course, when warm temperature and high CO2 content coincide, as in the Cretaceous Period, Earth experiences a profusion of vegetative growth. We’re enjoying the benefits of that past growth now, in the coal and natural gas that makes civilization and prosperity possible. Obama and Kerry are focused on reducing atmospheric CO2, under the leadership of the UN and a new, “better” Kyoto Treaty. They will try to commit the USA to this act of suicide in November, 2015, in Paris.

This self-inflicted wound would be bad enough, but Nature is already heading toward cooling temperatures – due to the declining solar cycle – and our descent toward the next Milankovitch Glacial era. This cooling will send more of the essential CO2 into the oceans, where it does humanity no good.

Climate Bonehead of the Week

This is always a hotly contested race. John Kerry is usually a contender, and Obama could rest on his laurels and still be near the front. But let’s be sporting about this; let’s recognize a new contestant, one who has earned distinction in a field even more beset with failure, i.e., “the dismal science.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Henry W. “Hank” Paulson, writing in the New York Times:

“We are building up excesses (debt in 2008, greenhouse gas emissions that are trapping heat now). Our government policies are flawed (incentivizing us to borrow too much to finance homes then, and encouraging the overuse of carbon-based fuels now). Our experts (financial experts then, climate scientists now) try to understand what they see and to model possible futures. And the outsize risks have the potential to be tremendously damaging (to a globalized economy then, and the global climate now).”

Does anybody believe Hank Paulson and government economists are “experts”?

States Push Back Against Common Core in Their Schools

It’s vacation time for the nation’s school kids and, while they play, states are beginning to push back against the latest effort of the federal government to exert total control over the nation’s schools; Common Core, whose curriculum standards and content rapidly revealed it to be a nightmare.

As I frequently note, the word “education” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution because the Founding Fathers knew full well that education was the job of localities and states to ensure quality and the opportunity that it provides everyone willing to learn the basics and beyond. From its earliest days, Americans would create a town, build a church, and follow up with a school. Until liberals complained about it, school days began with a prayer.

US-DeptOfEducation-SealLiberals know that whoever controls schools controls the future. Dictatorships of all descriptions in particular place heavy emphasis on raising new generations with the kind of indoctrination that only the early years in school can impart. It should come as no surprise that the last failed liberal President, Jimmy Carter, ushered in the creation of the U.S. Department of Education

Still largely unknown to the general public is the control of the Department by teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and their support of the Democratic Party. This accounts for much of the well documented decline of education in America. The union’s chief concern is higher pay and benefits for teachers, not the welfare of the children in their care. Their focus is on politics, not teaching.

In March, the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom issued a new study on “Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 years” which revealed that “the average state has seen a three percent decline in academic performance despite a more than doubling in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending.” Sometimes the spending increases are astonishing as in the case of New York State in which spending rose by 115%. California and Florida are not far behind with an increase of 80%.

Common Core has rapidly become a political hot potato as parents have let their state governors and legislators know how bad it is. Writing in the Heartland Institute’s May edition of its newsletter School Reform News, Joy Pullmann, its managing editor, reported that Indiana Gov. Mike Pense was the first to sign a bill in March rejecting Common Core national standards, “but the parents and curriculum experts whose criticism led to the change also criticized the first draft of replacement standards for looking very similar to the Common Core mandates it is meant to replace.”

commoncorebookIn a Heartland booklet, “The Common Core: A Bad Choice for America”, Pullmann notes that “States may not change Common Core standards, must adopt all of them at once, and may only add up to an additional 15 percent of requirements. The standards themselves have no clear governance, meaning there is no procedure for states to follow to make changes they feel are necessary. It is highly unlikely individual states would control or greatly influence any such process.”

At the very heart of the debate concerning Common Core is the notion that every single school in America should teach the exact same thing in the exact same way. That’s not how real education works and any teacher will tell you that different students learn at different rates and some require some extra help. Schools free of such one-size-fits-all thinking educated generations of Americans who made the nation the greatest economic power in the world.

Thus far, in addition to Indiana, state legislatures in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Missouri have approved measures to exit Common Core’s national standards. Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal in mid-June said “We want out of Common Core” and is taking steps to reject it.

Common Core is the fulfillment of liberal’s dream of education. It was developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It was quickly incentivized by the Obama administration with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top competitive grants and waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law for states that signed on. Minus the states that have rejected Common Core, there are still 42 who have adopted it.

Ron Paul, commenting on the Oklahoma opt-out, said “Common Core is the latest attempt to bribe states, with money taken from the American people, into adopting a curriculum developed by federal bureaucrats and education “experts.” In exchange for federal funds, states must change their curriculum by, for example, replacing traditional mathematics with ‘reform math.’ Reform math turns real mathematics on its head by focusing on ‘abstract thinking’ instead of traditional concepts like addition and subtraction. Schools must also replace classic works of literature with ‘informational’ texts, such as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Those poor kids!”

Common Core’s curriculum standards are testimony to why abandoning local control over a community’s or city’s educational program is a very bad idea and why, once again, the federal government has demonstrated why it makes worse virtually any program that should be left to the states.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

The United Way Now Promotes the Common Core

United Way Worldwide offers the following as its mission statement:

United Way envisions a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives.

Our mission: To improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.

The goal of the United Way is to “advance the common good.”

As of June 2014, it is an organization that is “advancing” a new “common”:

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Yep. That’s right.

And one guess who forked over $1.2 million to make that happen.

Bill Gates.

Straight from the Gates Grants search engine:

Date: June 2014
Purpose: to build support for the Common Core State Standards by engaging stakeholders and community leaders nationally and locally
Amount: $1,212,571

In a March 2014 interview,  Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post questioned Gates’ motives in financing CCSS. After some tense interaction, here is his response:

I’m saying, and I’ve, I hope I can make this clear, I believe in the Common Core because of its substance and what it will do to improve education, and that’s the only reason I believe in the Common Core. And I have no, you know, this is giving money away. This is philanthropy. This is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity had. [Emphasis added.]

Gates had an education that defies the agenda he promotes for public education.

Both he and his children attended a private school in Seattle, Lakeside School.

Read here to see the utter absence of anything resembling CCSS at Lakeside.

And yet, Gates continues to enlist major organizations to “build support” for that which he and his children will never know firsthand.

RELATED COLUMNS: 

Common Core Memorandum of Understanding Not Just for “Development”
Transcript of Gates’ March 2014 Washington Post Interview

ABOUT MY NEW BOOK

Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education.

NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE.

Liberty: Come Play on the Lawn by Steven Horwitz

We all have to be good stewards of liberty’s intellectual commons.

The directions in which young libertarians are taking the movement seem to have caused a backlash among some of the libertarians of my generation, threatening to turn us into the old guys telling the kids to get off our lawn.

The problem is that it’s not our lawn. It never was.

It wasn’t our predecessors’ lawn when we overran it either. It belongs to hundreds of years of the classical liberal tradition. The libertarian movement has seen significant changes in the last few years, and I believe that those changes have broadened and diversified libertarianism in ways that are the inevitable and desirable products of our growth.

The success of organizations like Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty in bringing more young people into the movement has meant that the issues they are interested in are the ones that are getting increasing attention. Gender, race, and sexuality are part of that, but so are peace and privacy. That this generation of young libertarians wants to talk about all of those things is good, even though I might not personally think that everything they have to say about them is good. For example, I don’t want a libertarianism full of either incessant calls to check my privilege, nor little boy brutalism.

But thinking in terms of what I want, or what any other person wants, is exactly the problem: Those of us in our 40s and 50s (and beyond) simply have to realize that we don’t own the movement and that we can’t centrally plan it. The liberty movement has always been a spontaneous order that has grown and evolved in uncontrollable and unpredictable ways. We all have our views of what that direction should be, and because spontaneous orders emerge from the various intentional actions of those who constitute them, we are perfectly free to keep arguing for our own visions of where we should go. However, we must also simultaneously recognize that we are but one voice in a growing multitude and that our control is limited, despite any leadership roles we might play.

We should also think about the ways in which the growth of the liberty movement affects the production of good and bad work and our perceptions of it. By analogy, consider how the proliferation of new TV networks and falling costs of production have meant there’s just more “stuff” on TV than ever before. Thanks to HBO and Netflix and others, one result is that there’s never been more great TV than there is right now, but Orange is the New Black is competing with tons of terrible reality shows and all the rest. TV’s signal-to-noise ratio might be lower than in the past, but the absolute amount of high-quality programming has never been higher.

I would argue the same is true of libertarianism. As we’ve grown, there’s just a lot more libertarian “stuff” out there, including a lot more nonsense. Our signal-to-noise ratio is lower than when we older folks were young. But there’s also never been more good stuff. Libertarian ideas are being taken seriously in academia, public intellectual circles, and the media because we’ve done good work. And even when our ideas aren’t treated well, it remains true that a lot of smart people seem to think they have to respond to libertarian arguments. That’s a huge sign of growth and of increasing quality.

That increased public presence means that we need to be our own harshest critics. As Bastiat said, there is nothing worse than a good cause ineptly defended. For starters, we should feel no obligation to support, rather than criticize, other libertarian writers because they are libertarians (or because they are women, or gay, or anything else for that matter). We should be seeking out the best work and promoting it from the rooftops. And we should be merciless in our blunt, though civil, criticism of inferior work—including that from our friends.

Young libertarians who write for social media have to realize that they are putting their ideas into the broader public discourse on those topics, and this means they have to do real research and hone their arguments carefully because they will be held accountable for lousy work. They are not helping the cause of liberty by defending it ineptly. You cannot go from an undergraduate degree to serious libertarian pundit without actually knowing something about the history of classical liberal thought and the major contemporary work about which you’re writing. We elders who have a significant public intellectual presence got there because we did the hard work of reading lots of old books as well as plenty of new research. There’s no shortcut from the “collect underpants” of a BA to the “profits” of being taken seriously as a public intellectual.

Young libertarians also need to get used to serious criticism if they wish to compete in the arena of ideas. Whining that you’re being treated unfairly, especially because of gender, age, race, sexuality, or other trait, will simply not cut it. It’s your arguments and evidence that matter. Stop complaining. Revise your work. And try again.

That young libertarians want to talk about issues that previous generations didn’t, or make up lists of the top 20 hottest libertarian women and men, doesn’t mean that the barbarians are at the gate. Focusing on the increasing quantity of weak libertarian writing out there can easily lead us to ignore the unseen: the simultaneous increase in high-quality work. Rather than complaining about silly lists on social media and telling the kids to get off our lawn, we old folks should let the kids do what kids have always done—push the boundaries set by the previous generation. We should, however, also be holding them to the highest standards of argumentation and evidence.

Come play on the lawn, kids. Bring your new ideas and modes of expression. That lawn belongs to all of us, and it’s yours to help the rest of us landscape as you see fit. We old folks will just keep reminding you how precious an asset it is and that it takes hard work, dedication to quality, and deep knowledge of the fundamental  ideas to keep liberty’s lawn fertilized, beautiful, and productive. That’s how our elders treated us, and it’s the least we can do for the generation in whose hands the future of the liberty movement will soon rest.

ABOUT STEVEN HORWITZ

Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective, now in paperback.

A Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From: A government agency gets creative with arts funding by Bruce Edward Walker

There’s a new patron in the arts world, one without a name as lofty as The American Arts Council or National Council on the Arts. In fact, it’s a one-word synonym for missed connections, interminable delays, stale candy bars, filthy restrooms, and stained seats. That’s right: Amtrak has decided it’s going to become a veritable Louvre.

Amtrak’s gameplan involves deftly blending individual donations and foundation grants with money from the National Endowment for the Arts and in-kind contributions of its own (tax-funded, for-profit) services.

True, trains are a significant part of the American culture, featuring prominently in ethnic folk songs, country music, and early rock; Buster Keaton, Western oaters, and Thin Man-franchise film classics; and even Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. However, the trains were one subject of the art created rather than the progenitor. In other words, Woody Guthrie, Junior Parker, and Hank Williams wrote songs and Jack Kerouac authored a novel (partially) about riding the rails or hearing the “high, lonesome sound” of the train whistle as both metaphorical and real. In each instance, the train provided some unbidden inspiration for enduring art rather than seducing artists with handouts.

Aggression (modified by opulent sensuality)

Today, though, Amtrak provides something a lot closer to commissions than inspiration. It even shelled out for a painter to blast neon paint on buildngs alongside the tracks. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Amtrak, in tandem with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, commissioned German artist Katharina Grosse to subject her “psychylustro” form of art to 34,000 daily riders exposed to seven sites along the Philadelphia-New Jersey railway corridor.

Art in America described Grosse’s artistic abilities thusly:

Unlike the Action Painters or Expressionists, with their convulsive brushwork and gestures, Grosse never comes into direct contact with the surfaces. Her physical if not psychological detachment seems related to Conceptual art. However, her technique involves a machismo stance, with aggression modified by a kind of opulent sensuality.

The project is expected to cost just under $300,000. Funding comes from a variety of sources, several of them public. Regardless of what one thinks of Grosse’s art, an unprofitable transportation company reliant on public dollars is in no position to patronize something as subjective as artwork.

Training artists and bureaucrats

As I’ve argued in the past, no government or even quasi-government agencies governed by those employed in the arts can predict whether commissioned pieces may or may not present anything of merit. Nor should public monies be spent on exercises appealing to only a few, arbitrated by committees composed of a narrow cross-section of contemporary aesthetics. And what of the artists who toil incessantly without government largesse?

“I can’t remember the last time public art turned out to be a good idea,” Larry Kaufmann told me. Kaufmann is president of The Liberty21 Institute, a new think tank dedicated to promoting a culture of liberty.

“Artists seem inevitably to go for shock value and transgression, and these qualities were already in ample supply the last time I visited an Amtrak station,” Kaufmann said. “I suppose it would be nice if they commissioned something that captured the glory of train travel in the past—but even that would be romantic nostalgia, not anything that captures the reality of today’s Amtrak.”

Kaufmann continued: “Fundamentally, I don’t understand why we’re spending federal funds we don’t have to beautify a transportation service that no one uses outside the Acela corridor. The arts budget would clearly be put to better use elsewhere.”

Even if Grosse’s effort is of merit, it won’t last long. The WSJ reports the installation has a shelf life of only three weeks, as the work involves coloring the outdoors. “After that, the piece will be subject to elements, both human and natural—from erosion to possible gentrification. Its lifespan may vary from a matter of weeks to several months or, potentially, years.”

Not included in the $300,000 price tag are the salaries of the Amtrak engineers who “are overseeing the action at every site during the artwork’s installation.” Further: “For the next six months, the Mural Arts Program and the City of Philadelphia’s Graffiti Abatement Team have pledged to maintain ‘psychylustro’ and protect it from defacement.”

“Fuel your sense of adventure!”

Writers can also get into the act with the Amtrak Residency. The program, according to the website,

Will allow for up to 24 writers to take long-distance trains to work on their projects. Each writer’s round-trip journey will include accommodations on board a sleeper car equipped with a bed, a desk and outlets. We hope this experience will inspire creativity and most importantly fuel your sense of adventure!

Oh, goodie. The New Republic’s Adam Kirsch writes:

As it happens, right around now is the time poets across America are wrestling with the unbelievably complicated online application process for NEA grants. By contrast, the ease and speed with which Amtrak decided to dispense its largesse feels positively humane. There is a certain PR benefit for the railroad company, of course—this is probably the first time in ages that Amtrak has made the news without the words “accident,” “delay,” or “cost overruns” in the headline. But there is also a sense that the people running the railroad actually responded to the idea that, somewhere in America, there are passengers for whom the idea of riding Amtrak is a dream, not a chore.

But, of course: Solipsism is the artist’s stock-in-trade, is it not? Or, at least it is at Amtrak and The New Republic. And, it seems, at The Paris Review, which published an essay from the program’s first free rider, Jessica Gross, featuring the following bout of navel-gazing:

I’ve always been a claustrophile, and I think that explains some of the appeal—the train is bounded, compartmentalized, and cozily small, like a carrel in a college library. Everything has its place. The towel goes on the ledge beneath the mirror; the sink goes into its hole in the wall; during the day, the bed, which slides down from overhead, slides up into a high pocket of space. There is comfort in the certainty of these arrangements. The journey is bounded, too: I know when it will end. Train time is found time. My main job is to be transported; any reading or writing is extracurricular. The looming pressure of expectation dissolves. And the movement of a train conjures the ultimate sense of protection—being a baby, rocked in a bassinet.

All in all, not bad, and, in fact, close to the woolgathering works I commissioned from authors as editor of several high-minded, small-circulation magazines back in the day. Keep in mind the magazines I edited relied on subscriptions and advertising revenue to stay afloat, and my small stable of writers and their expenses were paid from those proceeds rather than from government handouts. Remarkably, these magazines recognized a profit for their shareholders, to whom I was accountable.

Amtrak, seemingly, is accountable to no one.

So what will taxpayers get for their $300,000? For three weeks, a few Amtrak riders will soak in all the color, verve, and perplexity that comes with Grosse’s pink pigments on old fences and rail yard walls. Then it’ll all be washed away in an ocean of red ink.

ABOUT BRUCE EDWARD WALKER

Bruce Edward Walker writes on the arts and other topics from his home in Midland, Mich.

How large should the population of the U.S. be?

immigrationprotestjuly2014

For a larger view click on the image.

The United States is the third most populated country in the world behind India and China and on a path to increase our population from a current estimate by the Census Bureau of 316 million to 458 million by the 2050 and to as much as 1.1 billion by 2100 with all of the growth stemming from immigration. We have 5% of the world’s population but 20% of all immigrants.

Interestingly the greatest number of legal as well as illegal immigrants are from Mexico but the second and third greatest numbers are from China and India. What message should we get when the second and third largest populated countries citizens are leaving their countries to come here?

The rapid growth of the growth primarily fueled by legal and illegal immigrant growth raises major questions about the future of our country. We believe an independent commission be appointed to study immigration. We need questions answered such as:

  1. What is the purpose of mass immigration? Immigration has customarily been used throughout time to settle virgin lands of which we have none. A large part of the immigration population is considered family reunification but that should not be what an immigration policy should be based on and the Jordan Commission in 1996 concluded the same and said it should be eliminated.
  2. What should the maximum ideal population of the country be? Things like traffic congestion, natural resource shortages such as water, overburdened congested cities, loss of open space and a deteriorating quality of life are some of the important considerations that need to be determined.
  3. Refugee, Diversity, and Protected Status Programs all need to be evaluated. We have a cap of 85 thousand refugees to bring into the country every year and there are many organizations vying for the opportunity with the UN basically choosing who does get to come which is a program rife with payoffs and corruption. The refugees are brought and dumped in communities without their knowledge the refugees are arriving. Every refugee we bring in at an initial cost of $20 thousand paid for by the taxpayers amounts to $1.7 Billion a year. The Director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees Roger Winters estimates 500 refugees expenses could be covered for the cost of bringing one refugee here. Simple mathematics of 500 times 85,000 means without a refugee program we could handle the expenses for 42,500,000 refugees overseas for the same amount of money. The Diversity program is an embarrassment. Please find another country in the world with a more diverse population. Likewise the so-called “Temporary” Protected Status Program is anything but temporary. Over 200 thousand El Salvadorans were brought here in 2001 following an earthquake in the country. They are still here and will probably never leave. This is a program that should immediately be terminated.

It is obvious special interest groups like the Chamber of Commerce want ever more immigrants coming to satisfy the corporate wants for cheap labor and ever increasing markets but that is not is what is in the best interests of the citizens.

Will you support an independent commission to study immigration and its long term impacts on our quality of life?

Blacks Need More Racists

A few weeks ago, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) made a stunning announcement that caused a lot of consternation in the Black community. UNCF had accepted a $25 million contribution from Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation.

Under normal circumstances, David and Charles Koch – the brothers who control the two entities – would be applauded for their generosity.  But some Blacks have labeled the Koch brothers as racist simply because they are White, conservative, and libertarians who believe in smaller government, lower taxes and ballot integrity.

However, when the critics are asked to specify what has the Koch family done that is racist, they draw blanks. They equate philosophical disagreements with being a racist. Even if that were the case, why reject money that will actually benefit Black students? The gift is one of largest in the history of UNCF. The UNCF is the primary fund-raising organization for students at private, historically Black colleges. UNCF President Michael Lomax had no problem accepting the check, saying, “… We believe that our cause is a cause that all Americans can and should support regardless of their views on other matters.”

The money will be allocated as follows:

$18.5 million will be used to create the UNCF/Koch Scholars Program, which will provide funds to “exemplary students with demonstrated financial need and an interest in the study of how entrepreneurship, economics, and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society;” $6.5 million will provide general support to the UNCF and historically black colleges of which $4 million of those funds will be reserved to help the 37 UNCF member institutions help students who have been hurt by the denial of PLUS loans (a parent loan program).

Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the UNCF, is being criticized for accepting these funds from the Koch brothers  essentially because they oppose virtually everything Obama stands for – and are willing to spend billions of their own money to help their cause. It’s their money and they can do what they please with it. Everyone should be happy that they chose to support Black colleges.

Many are quick to criticize the Koch brothers but don’t have the courage to criticize  the brother in the White House. Obama’s policies have had a devastating impact on Black colleges.

Last month, I wrote a column titled, “Why Black Men Need More White Women.” I pointed out that two conservative White women were supporting policies more beneficial to African Americans than the nation’s first Black president.

Now you have two Koch entities trying to correct a different policy from the same Black president that is destroying the Black community.

In October of 2011, Obama’s Department of Education quietly and without public notice changed the underwriting standards for the very popular PLUS loan.  The changes created more stringent requirements on a parent’s ability to secure a loan for their child.  This shifts in PLUS eligibility standards has resulted in many parents of students at Black colleges having their loan applications denied and those denials have been cited as the reason many Black students have dropped out of school.

According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Finaid.org, “Based on last year’s trends [2011], nearly half of would-be PLUS borrowers this academic year [2012] might be turned away…The denials have hit particularly hard at historically black colleges and universities, presidents of those colleges, as well as higher education associations, say. They have warned that some students might not return because they can’t get the loans to pay for college.”

When the Education Department switched entirely to direct lending, the high approval rates for direct loans continued. In 2010-11, the first year when all loans were direct loans, 72 percent of PLUS applicants were approved, and just 28 percent were denied, according to department data. At the same time, the loans continued to grow, from $7.6 billion in 2008 to $10.4 billion in 2011, according to Education Department disbursement data.

“The change was made quietly — the department didn’t convene a rule-making panel or issue a letter to colleges explaining it — but the impact was dramatic,” Kantrowitz said. “Some creditors will put accounts in collections if a payment is only 30 days late. Parents who had previously been eligible for the loans found they had now been turned down.”

“Denials for PLUS loans jumped after the new requirement took effect, midway through the 2011-12 academic year. According to preliminary Education Department data, 38 percent of applicants for the loans were denied — 10 percent more than in the previous year.”  If the new criteria had been in effect all year, Kantrowitz estimated, 44 percent of applicants would have been turned down.

At least $4 million of the Koch contribution will go towards trying to remedy this Obama created disaster for these worthy college students.  It is estimated that this money will help 3,000 students stay in school.  So once again, we have a White persons coming to the rescue of the Black community when their supposed “leaders” have come down with laryngitis yet again.

Governor Rick Scott Makes History Signing 5 Pro-gun Bills

On, Friday, June 20, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed 5 pro-gun bills into law.  A strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Governor Rick Scott has now signed more pro-gun bills into law — in one term — than any other Governor in Florida history.

The bills are as follows:

HB-89 Threatened Use of Force
  by Rep. Neil Combee/Rep. Katie Edwards and Sen. Greg Evers

SB-424 To Stop Insurance Discrimination Against Gun Owners
  by Sen. Tom Lee and Rep. Matt Gaetz

HB-7029  Zero Tolerance/Pop Tart Bill
  by Rep. Dennis Baxley and Sen. Greg Evers

HB-523 Concealed Weapon/Firearms Licenses Fast Track
  by Rep. James Grant and Sen. Wilton Simpson

HB-525 Protection of Concealed Weapons/Firearms License Holder Information
 by Rep. James Grant and Sen. Wilton Simpson

A news article on Guns.com titled Florida governor signs five pro-gun measures into law, including “Pop Tart” and “Warning Shot” bills by Chris Eger on June 21, discusses these bills.  To read this article, please click here.

According to NRA/ILA:

It was a great session, marred only by the defeat of  SB-296/HB-209 by Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen. This was the bill to allow law-abiding citizens to carry their firearms with them during a mandatory evacuation under a declared state of emergency, rather than leave them in their homes for theft by looters or destruction by hurricanes or other disasters. However, the Florida Sheriffs Association and numerous anti-gun sheriffs fought to kill the bill. They were not successful in their efforts in the House, because Representatives put your safety and your rights above anti-gun sheriffs who didn’t support the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

However, in the Senate, Sen. Jack Latvala became the champion of the Florida Sheriffs Association and supported their efforts to kill this gun owner protection bill.  Sen. Latvala pulled together a coalition of Republican Senators who were willing to sacrifice your rights and to pander to anti-gun sheriffs and help kill the bill.

Remember these names. Some are up for re-election this year. Some are not up for re-election until 2016.  Do not forget them.

Sen. Jack Latvala (R)  SD-20
Sen. Charlie Dean (R) SD-5
Sen. Nancy Detert (R) SD-28
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R) SD-40
Sen. Rene Garcia (R) 38
Sen. Denise Grimsley (R) SD-21
Sen. Alan Hays (R) SD-11
Sen. John Legg (R) SD-17
Sen. Garrett Richter (R) SD-23

Florida Jews and Christians Outraged by Presbyterian Church (USA) vote to Divest Israel

On June 23, 2014 the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to divest from three American companies because of their sales to Israel, by the very narrow margin of 310-303.

“This divestment decision is simply outrageous.  We at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee are disappointed, hurt and saddened.  But we are not surprised, given the animus that a determined core group of Church officials has demonstrated against both the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said Howard Tevlowitz, Executive Director of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. “This decision will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on the relations between mainstream Jewish groups and the national Presbyterian Church (USA).  We hold their leadership accountable for failing to isolate and repudiate the radical, prejudiced voices of their own denomination.”

“We will continue to show pride in Israel and be grateful for the many amazing products and technological advances that continue to originate in Israel.  And we will focus more and more of our efforts on supporting Israel, regardless of these misguided actions” added Rabbi Howard Simon and Pastor Joey Mimbs, Co-Chairs of the Federation’s Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative.

“The action by PC USA,” continues Rabbi Simon and Pastor Mimbs, “like the BDS movement as a whole, which claims to support a peaceful resolution of the complex conflict, in reality hurts the prospects for peace. It does not promote the goal of creating two states for two peoples that Israel has embraced. Instead, it places exclusive blame on Israel while ignoring the numerous times the Palestinians have refused to negotiate in good faith, oftentimes turning to violence and terror instead.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, “It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful. You know, you look at what’s happening in the Middle East, and I think most Americans understand this: They see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions.  Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians. Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. So most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation.  You know, I would suggest to those Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour. Go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice: One is make sure it’s an armor-plated bus. And, second, don’t say that you’re Christians.”

Tevlowitz concludes, “nonetheless, we at JFSM are deeply disappointed that the national leadership of a prominent group has taken such counterproductive measures, but we remain committed to challenging these growing assaults on Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist as a Jewish state.”

RELATED ARTICLES: 
Presbyterian Church USA joins BDS movement
Presbyterian Church USA Defeats Motion to Care for Babies Born Alive After Abortion
Israeli Leader Criticizes Presbyterian Divestment Decision (AP)
It’s Time to Leave the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Read a lengthy explanation via Huffington Post
Former KKK Grand Wizard Congratulates Presbyterian Church USA on Israel Divestment Vote

Benghazi: An Iranian Act of State Sponsored Terrorism?

Sunday, Lisa Benson and I interviewed Kenneth R. Timmerman, author of Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi. It is a gripping expose, replete with evidence of deception and cover up, about who perpetrated the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans Ambassador Chris Stevens, communications aide Sean Smith, ex-Navy Seals CIA-contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty on 9/11/2012. Dark Forces conveys the thesis that the attacks in Benghazi were preventable. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bears responsibility for ignoring those warnings, and preventing a military response. Ambassador Stevens and his security team had repeatedly warned Clinton of the precarious security situation in Tripoli and Benghazi requesting additional resources. Clinton for reasons of her own opposed any military response to the attacks. U.S. Special Forces operators on the ground 9/11/2012 could have saved the Americans who perished, but were told to “hold in place” during the opening moments of the attack.

Benghazi was the hub of the U.S. covert arms smuggling to Islamist groups in Libya and Syria.

  •   The Administration supplied weapons to fight Qaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria knowing full well that many of the rebel leaders were al Qaeda operatives.
  •  The White House sent members of the National Security “Staff” (ex NSC) to Libya on operational missions to negotiate arms buybacks from Libyan rebel leaders in an apparent violation of the National Security Act of 1947.
  •  A Minimum of 2,500 Surface to air missiles (MANPADS) went “missing” in Libya. Many of them – upgraded with CIA Technology-have fallen into the hands of al Qaeda terrorists.

The Iranian regime coordinated the Benghazi attack.

  • The group that took credit for the Benghazi attack, Ansar al Sharia, was trained and equipped by the Quds Force, the overseas expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.
  • Both the CIA in Benghazi, the Delta Force and Special Operations troops in Tripoli were actively monitoring Iranian operations in Benghazi. They warned their chain of command – including Ambassador Stevens – that Iranians were preparing a terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. However, they were deceived by a faked kidnapping of Quds Force operatives posing as humanitarian workers by paid Ansar al-Shariah operatives.

Timmerman called the Benghazi attack “an act of state terrorism” by Iran’s Quds Force on yesterday Salem Radio Network program. Listen to the Lisa Benson Radio Show interview with Timmerman, here.

This weekend, Timmerman authored a New York Post article drawn from his book to be published tomorrow. In it he revealed the shadowy figure who planned and paid for the Quds Force attack that killed the four Americans; its commander, Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleymani, The shadowy Iranian spy chief who helped plan Benghazi . Suleymani is the nexus of the Iranian global terrorism campaign aimed at destabilizing the Middle East.

Source:  New York Post composite graphic 6-22-14

In the New York Post article, Timmerman reveals the extensive planning, deception and use of the Ansar al-Shariah militia for the Quds Force attack on the night of 9/11/12.

Here are some excerpts:

Qassem Suleymani is the head of the Quds Force, an organization that acts as a combination CIA and Green Berets for Iran, and a man who has orchestrated a campaign of chaos against the United States around the world.

Today, the Obama Administration has allied itself with Suleymani to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In this case, Iran’s goal — a Shi’ite-friendly government in Iraq — coincides with America’s hope that the country doesn’t fall apart.

Timmerman cites a former Iranian intelligence source saying:

“Iran wants chaos. They want to generate anti-American anger, radicalize the rebels, and maintain a climate of war,” a former Iranian intelligence chief for Western Europe told me. “They are very serious about this. They want to damage the reputation of the United States as a freedom-loving country in the eyes of the Arabs.”

“In Libya, Iran wanted to block US influence, which they saw as a threat,” the intelligence chief said. “They saw the uprising against Khadafy — and the Arab Spring more generally — as an opportunity to accomplish this.”

Timmerman reveals Suleymani’s central role in the Iranian global terrorism campaign and the murders in Benghazi:

Suleymani has orchestrated attacks everywhere from Lebanon to Thailand. The US Department of Justice accuses him of trying to hire a Mexican drug cartel to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the United States while he was in Washington, DC.

My sources, meanwhile, say Suleymani was involved in an even more direct attack on the US — the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya.

Suleiymani’s record of killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“The team in operational command in Benghazi were Qassem Suleymani’s people,” the former Baghdad deputy chief of station, John Maguire, told me. “They were a mature, experienced, operational element from Iran. These guys are the first-string varsity squad.” And they were playing for keeps.

Maguire had matched wits with Suleymani, the Quds Force commander, for two years in Iraq and came away with a healthy respect for his capabilities. “He is talented, charismatic. His people are competent and well trained. They have all the operational traits we used to value. And they are committed to this fight for the long haul.”

[…]

The faked kidnapping in Benghazi was a typical Quds Force op. They used a local militia that on the surface detested Shias, just as they used the Taliban in Afghanistan and manipulated al Qaeda.

“They are very good at deception operations,” Maguire told me.

And our side didn’t have a clue. The CIA chief of base and his deputy fell for it hook, line and sinker.

The details of planning, recruitment of the Ansar al-Shariah militia and the leaders of the Benghazi, Quds Force officer Ibrahim Mohammed Joudaki and Hezbollah operative Khalil Harb are detailed in Timmerman’s New York Post article.  Timmerman concluded with this comment:

This is the deadly deception we face from Iran. Suleymani may work with us to battle ISIS, but don’t believe for one moment that he’s our friend.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

How President Obama is “Cocking-up” U.S. Foreign Policy

According to Merriam-Webster cock-up means “a situation that is complicated, unpleasant, or difficult to deal with because of someone’s mistake.” This best describes how President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry are dealing with U.S. foreign policy.

What is their collective primary foreign policy objective? To promote homosexuality on a global scale.

That’s right, not addressing the persecution of Christians and Jews, the spread of the Islamic ISIS sword, the existential threat of China and Russia, the illegal alien crisis on America’s Southern border. Job one is spreading the homosexual lifestyle where ever and when ever possible.

Weekly Standard journalist Jeryl Bier reports, “With much of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in tatters, John Kerry is clear on at least one goal he hopes to achieve by the end of his time as secretary of state: having lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors representing the United States.  In remarks to a GLIFAA (formerly Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies) Pride event in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department, the secretary ran through a litany of accomplishments by the Obama administration that benefit the “LGBT/gay community.” During his speech, Kerry said that, if confirmed, Ted Osius (nominated by President Obama for the post in Vietnam) would be the sixth openly gay U.S. ambassador currently in service:

So I am very proud of the progress that we are now making even in appointing LGBT ambassadors. I worked with the committee here at the State Department – with the D Committee, and I worked with the White House. And as a result, Ted Osius, sitting here, whom I’ve known a long time, and his family I know, will be the first openly LGBT officer nominated to serve as an ambassador in Asia. And on confirmation, he’s going to join five openly gay ambassadors who are now serving their country. I’m working hard to ensure that by the end of my tenure, we will have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors in our ranks as well.

As he began his talk, Kerry recognized GLIFAA event moderator, Robyn McCutcheon, as the “first transgender Foreign Service officer to come out on the job”.

Before Kerry, Hillary Clinton did the same. CNN’s Frida Ghitis reported, “As Hillary Clinton makes a whirlwind round of appearances in her last days as secretary of state, one groundbreaking aspect of her work deserves a moment in the spotlight: In a bold departure with tradition, Clinton made the promotion of equality for gay people a core value of U.S. foreign policy.” [Emphasis mine]

If this is not “cocking-up” (no pun intended) U.S. foreign policy then I don’t know what is. But it gets worse.

In a Huffington Post article titled “John Kerry To Send Homosexuality ‘Experts’ To Tackle Uganda Anti-Gay Law”, Shadee Ashtari reported:

Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Tuesday [March 18, 2014] U.S. plans to send homosexuality “experts” to Uganda to discuss the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act with President Yoweri Museveni, according to Buzzfeed.

“I talked personally to President Museveni just a few weeks ago, and he committed to meet with some of our experts so that we could engage him in a dialogue as to why what he did could not be based on any kind of science or fact, which is what he was alleging,” Kerry said during a University Town Hall meeting at the U.S. Department of State. “He welcomed that and said that he was happy to receive them and we can engage in that kind of conversation… maybe we can reach a point of reconsideration.”

The Ugandan president signed the law, which includes up to lifetime imprisonment for homosexuality, in February after a team of Ugandan scientists informed him that there was no genetic basis for homosexuality.

Homosexuality experts? Now if that is not cocked-up, I don’ know what is. It would seem that sending experts on dealing with the many other human tragedies in Africa, and else where, should be Secretary Kerry’s priority.

Perhaps President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Secretary Kerry should look at what diplomat, statesman and former President Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the Democrat party, thought about homosexuality. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, drafted a bill concerning the criminal laws of Virginia in which he directed that the penalty for sodomy should be castration.

Time to castrate U.S. foreign policy? What do you think?

RELATED ARTICLES:

12 Ways Homosexual Adults Endanger Children
AOL.com Article – Obama expands government benefits for gay couples
Texas Gov. Rick Perry Compares Homosexuality To Alcoholism In San Francisco Appearance « CBS San Francisco

How Covering up Minority Crime Leads to Gun Control

Commenting recently on the Elliot Rodger killings, arch-leftist Michael Moore wrote that while “other countries have more violent pasts…more guns per capita in their homes… and the kids in most other countries watch the same violent movies and play the same violent video games that our kids play, no one even comes close to killing as many of its own citizens on a daily basis as we do….” From a man who used to take the simple-minded gun-control position “fewer guns=less homicide,” it was surprising evidence of growth. After making his point, however, Moore made a mistake in following up with, “and yet we don’t seem to want to ask ourselves this simple question: “Why us? What is it about US?” It’s not, however, that we don’t want to ask the question.

It’s that we don’t want to hear the answer.

We can begin seeking it by asking another question: Why is it that Vermont, with approximately the same rate of gun ownership as Louisiana, has less than one-eighth the murder rate? Even more strikingly, why does New Hampshire have both a far higher gun ownership rate and a lower murder rate than England, Piers Morgan’s favorite poster-boy nation for gun control?

Professor Thomas Sowell provided more of these seeming contradictions in 2012, writing:

When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks.

… [There are also] countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States.

You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.

So what’s the answer we don’t want to hear? The critical difference among these regions and nations is explained right in Sowell’s title: it’s “not guns.”

“It’s people.”

What “people” differences are relevant? Let’s start with race and ethnicity. In the cases of homicide in 2012 in which the races of the perpetrators were known, 55 percent were committed by blacks, 62 percent of whom were under 30 years of age. Black youths are 16 percent of the youth population, but constitute 52 percent of those arrested for juvenile violent crime.

The statistics for Hispanics are more difficult to ferret out because, unbeknownst to many, law enforcement agencies tend to lump them in with whites in crime statistics (the FBI has announced that it will finally categorize Hispanic crime — in its report on 2013). However, there is some information available. Examiner’s Ken LaRive tells us that “Hispanics commit three times more violent crimes than whites,” but that the disparity could be even greater because of their often being classified as white.

The National Youth Gang Survey Analysis reports that gang members are approximately 49 percent Hispanic, 35 percent black and 10 percent white. And while whites are 35 percent of NYC’s population, blacks and Hispanics commit 96 percent of all crime in the Big Apple and 98 percent of all gun crime.

Another good indicator is international crime statistics. Hispanic countries dominate the homicide-rate rankings, with Honduras topping the list with a rate eight times as high as that of our worst state,Louisiana. Also note that there are no European/European descent nations in the top 20 and not one Western-tradition nation in the top 30 (Russia and Moldova are 24 and 28, respectively).

And what can we say about these “people” differences? It’s much as with the question of why men are more likely to be drunkards than women. You could explore whether the differences were attributable to nature, nurture or both. But it would be silly to wonder if the answer lay in men having greater access to bars, alcohol or shot glasses.

This brings us to why covering up minority criminality encourages gun control:

Americans won’t understand that the critical factor is people differences if they aren’t told about the people differences.

They will then — especially since most citizens aren’t even aware that there are nations with more firearms but less murder — be much more likely to blame guns. Of course, this is precisely what you want if you’re a left-wing media propagandist.

There is a question that could now be posed by the other side: if the main difference in criminality is demographics, why not outlaw guns? After all, it won’t make a difference one way or the other, right? I’ll offer a couple of answers to this question.

First, for a people to maintain just liberties, a freedom must always be considered innocent until proven guilty; the burden of proof is not on those who would retain it, but on those who would take it away.

Second, while private gun ownership and just law enforcement can’t turn barbarians into civilized people any more than excellent schools can transform dunces into geniuses, they can act as mitigating factors that minimize criminality as much as possible given the “raw material” with which the particular society has to work. It’s much as how you can maximize your personal safety: you may be safer in a great neighborhood with no martial arts training than in a terrible one with that training. Nonetheless, it allows you to be safer than you would be otherwise whatever neighborhood you choose.

And what do the stats show in our fair to middling USA neighborhood? Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck reported that guns are used by good citizens 2.2 to 2.5 million times per year to deter crime. That likely saves many more innocent lives than are lost in massacres every year, but these unseen non-victims don’t make headlines the way Sandy Hook tragedies do. That’s why I like to say, using a twist on a Frédéric Bastiat line, a bad social analyst observes only what can be seen. A good social analyst observes what can be seen — and what must be foreseen.

Lastly, one more truth becomes evident upon recognizing that demographics are the main factor in criminality: even if you do believe in gun control, imposing it federally and applying a one-size fits all standard is ridiculous. In terms of people and crime, there’s a world of difference between towns in New Hampshire or Vermont, with their England-level murder rates, and cities such as East St. Louis, IL, or Detroit, which rival El Salvador in citizen lethality. You can make gun control the same everywhere, but you can’t change the fact that people will be very, very different.

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

Florida — Don’t be Doped, Smoking Pot is NOT medicine

“Why should we care about pot?” by Veora M. Little, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

We sometimes hear kids ask: “Is marijuana really bad for you?  Marijuana is legal in several states, so doesn’t this mean it’s OK to smoke?”  Make no mistake; this push to legalize marijuana is affecting how children view drug use.  As the perceived risk goes down, marijuana use goes up.  Don’t kid yourself, our children are listening and watching!

Anyone who cares about children should know that marijuana use can lower IQ.  Research published by the National Academy of Sciences, shows regular marijuana use that begins in adolescence can have long lasting effects on the brain that may not be reversible.  The more one uses marijuana, the greater the IQ decline. For some, this means a loss of up to 8 points.  Since an IQ of 100 is the average, a decline this large is significant and creates lasting damage that places many individuals at below average or lower intelligence. Furthermore, states having medical marijuana are at the top of the list in terms of drug addiction and usage by 12 to 17-year olds, according to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services.

If you care about our public safety, you should also know that marijuana is the most detected illicit drug in auto fatalities.  Colorado, in particular, has seen double the number of drivers involved in traffic fatalities who tested positive for marijuana in recent years.

In your work environment, you should know that employees who use drugs impact the bottom line by increasing absenteeism, workplace accidents and higher healthcare costs.

Too many Floridians are unaware that Amendment 2 will legalize smoked marijuana as medicine and also creates other concerns for our state.  For example, the process to obtain medical marijuana is done by “recommendation” rather than a prescription by a physician. Only FDA approved medications demand a prescription.

In addition, none of the symptoms that marijuana claims to cure or help have the support of any major medical associations.  The Florida Medical Association; American Pediatrics Association; American Medical Association; American Cancer Society; American Academy of Ophthalmology; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Glaucoma Foundation are among the growing number of professional organizations opposed to legalizing marijuana.  The Florida Sheriff’s Association and Drug Enforcement Administration also do not support marijuana as medicine.

There are strict standards for what constitutes a medicine in this country.  It must be deliverable in exact doses, and must be made up of measureable amounts of compounds so it can be produced and controlled in its impact.  Marijuana potency and purity varies from plant to plant. It often contains harmful contaminants and when it is smoked or ingested in foods and beverages as is permitted in states with medical marijuana, the dosage can vary greatly.  Marijuana simply does not fit the basic definition of medicine. When it is self-delivered, the dosages frequently are random and inconsistent, as are the effects on the human body.

Current “evidence” supporting smoked/home grown pot, as medicine is self-reported and not scientifically or medically verified.  In an article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “The Role of the Physician in ‘Medical’ Marijuana,” and its companion Public Policy Statement concluded that smoked marijuana is not, and cannot be, a medicine.  ASAM explains that any chemicals in marijuana shown to be effective and recognized as safe for use as treatments for any illness, have already been available for over 20 years. These are standardized and characterized products in the U.S., approved by the FDA, dispensed by professional pharmacies like all other medicines.

All Florida voters should carefully consider the following issues with Amendment 2:

  1. No age limit- No parental consent required.
  2. No background check or training for personal caregivers.
  3. Pot shops – Marijuana will only be sold by storefront dispensaries, not in medically controlled facilities, and will not be monitored by pharmacists.
  4. Medical marijuana laws only require a physician recommendation, not a legitimate prescription (since it is not FDA approved, a physician can not write a prescription.)
  5. There is no consumer protection when it comes to quality, purity or dosage.

Let’s do it right! We are all compassionate and caring about our loved ones’ pain and suffering, but there are far too many unintended consequences with this current proposal.  Let’s move forward with continued research. Let’s keep our kids safe and let’s keep working to keep drugged drivers off our roads.

As a parent, grandparent, I take this issue very seriously, I remember the pill mills! Please know the facts about the dangers of marijuana and what the proponents of this measure ask you to consider. I ask you to consider voting No to Amendment 2.

Veora M. Little, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, veoralittle@gmail.com.

Additional sources: NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), www.drugabuse.gov, ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy, The White House), Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., Director, Drug Policy Institute and Assistant Professor, University of Florida College of Medicine, Division of Addiction Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Drug Addiction Treatment California.