Live Report and Commentary From Miami: Defending Florida’s Marriage Amendment in Court By John Stemberger

I was in Miami yesterday afternoon and evening to attend the court hearing where six same-sex couples are suing the Miami Dade Clerk of Court asking the judge to strike down Florida’s Marriage Amendment which was passed by just under 5 million voters in 2008 when 62% of Floridians defined marriage between one man and one woman.

The courtroom was an older but beautifully ornate room that has been totally restored and is actually the same courtroom Al Capone was tried in years ago.   The courtroom was packed with about 60% supporters of marriage and about 40% gay rights activists.  There was an overflow courtroom with about another 150 people watching by video who were mostly our supporters.  Marriage supporters wore small signs saying “Respect my Vote”.

I appeared on behalf of Florida Family Action as “Amicus” (friend of the court) and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel represented us.  I also presented an affidavit to the court which gave a very personal and detailed account of my motivation for leading the four year effort to pass the amendment.  The “Stemberger affidavit” was referred to several times during the hearing.

Overall, the legal arguments presented for same sex marriage were surprisingly weak.  After the first short legal argument, the other lawyers arguing spent a lot of time reading stories, citing antidotal evidence, misrepresenting the impact of multiple cases, and generally dispensing an assortment of inappropriate political rhetoric before the court.  In contrast, Mat Staver had a command of the law, the Constitution, legal procedure and the social science research.  His case was compelling and clear.  Not surprisingly, none of the plaintiff’s gay-rights lawyers ever cited let alone mentioned the only clear and controlling legal precedent before the court – Florida’s Constitution and its marriage definition.

One of the lawyers for the Plaintiff’s made the stunning statement that when we as voters amended the constitution to define marriage that this represented the “tyranny of the majority”. Seriously?  Amending the constitution is tyranny?  It was hard not to just LOL.

He then claimed that studies show “two parents are better than one” and that “gay people and straight people make equally good parents”.  But that is not the issue.  The comparison is not the mere quantityof parents — one vs two.  The issue is whether a mom and a dad are superior to two moms and what isbest for children.  And an enormous body of social science research is crystal clear.  Having both a mother and a father produces the highest levels of human flourishing for children.  And the absence of a mom or a dad produces significantly increased levels of social maladies.  This exposes the real weakness and problem with same sex marriage.  Their position devalues the uniqueness and importance of gender in the rearing of children.  Their Position has to be that two moms are just as good as a mom and a dad– and this is empirically false.  With all due respect to Mr. Mackelmore, (the white rapper) the love of a father is not the “same love” as a mother.  And law and policy should reflect the opportunity for children to have the best chance of having both a mom and a dad.

I was very thankful that the Attorney General’s office moved to intervene in the case and had a lawyer appear in person.  But it was disappointing that the lawyer only made one point in a couple of minutes and then quickly sat down.  Much was made by the other lawyers and the judge about the inadequacy of the AG lawyer’s response in the case but it was still good that they asserted the rights of states (through the people) to define marriage.

Lawyers for the Dade County Clerk of the Court who were sued as the Defendant stated that they were “neutral” in the matter and not taking a position.  But then in the next breath they reminded the court that Florida marriage license applications have the words “husband” and “wife” and asked the judge to tell them what to do if the court enters an order and same-sex couples go to get licenses with forms that are not “gender neutral”.  Neutral?  Not so much.

Even Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer had a lawyer representing the City Council (using our local tax dollars) saying that they were in support of homosexuals marrying.  They argued that because Florida was an “anti-gay” state that we were losing “millions and millions” of dollars a year in revenue from same sex couples who might otherwise get married in Florida.  Between Disney “Gay Days”, Key West’s year round gay celebrations, no less than 25 gay-pride weeks and parades all over the state and the “gay-friendly everything” that goes on in Dade and Broward Counties, it was honestly hard for me to not just burst out in open court with laughter hearing this all argued with a straight face.  Anti-gay Florida?  The left plays fast and loose with the facts and indeed with reality itself.

After the hearing there was a heated demonstration outside on the steps of the courthouse. Check out this video to the left linked into the image which shows the back and forth between the crowd.  The natural marriage supporters clearly out numbered and even dwarfed the homosexual rights protesters.  With the crowds shouting in the background I also did several TV and radio interviews and made statements in a press conference with Mat Staver.  The crowds were shouting back and forth to each other and were divided between yellow caution tape.  It was quite a circus and both emotions and security were high.

The high point of the whole day for me occurred after my last TV interview.  A young, neatly dressed reporter asked me several insightful questions and unusually inquisitive follow-up questions.  I did my best and gave him the most honest and sincere responses I could.  After the interview he pulled me aside and asked to speak with me privately.  He said, “Listen, I am an openly gay man.  But I want you to know how much I appreciate the answers you just gave to me and how respectful you were in talking about gay persons not even knowing that I am one of them.” Wow– Thank God for whatever grace he has given me to be able to make that kind of an impression on this young reporter.  Please pray for this man.

The judge did not rule from the bench after the hearing and it is unclear when she will rule.  The real concern here is that if the judge were to rule against our position (finding some new right of marriage out of thin air, defying the highest law of the land-Florida’s Constitution) then the six same sex couples could immediately run down to the courthouse and get marriage licenses.  Unless the Attorney General’s office files a motion to stay (halt) the judge’s order until the federal lawsuits are heard then the couples could be granted illegitimate marriage licenses based on a single judges opinion before any appeal and final hearing of the matter.

The judge sounded unapologetically warm and inviting to the plaintiff’s pro-gay rights positions.  Honestly, she sounded so biased it felt like she was coaching the oppositions attorneys and helping them to not forget certain points, etc… I was really taken back by how comfortable she felt just coddling the other side’s arguments in an open and public court.  Sadly, from my perspective she did not even try and attempt to appear neutral in her demeanor and questioning.  At this point we can only pray that she does the right thing.

But the bottom line is this–if the judge does her job and follows the law in Florida we will prevail.  If she ignores the constitution and ignores the will of the people, then she could rule against us and with a stroke of a pen strike down the vote and intentions of millions of Floridians.

Please continue to pray for us and for this case and follow us on Twitter and check out all of the photos of the hearing and rally on our Facebook page.  Stay tuned for further updates and news on this historic and developing story.  Thanks again for your faithful support of our mission to fight for life, marriage, family and liberty.

RELATED VIDEO: WSVN-TV – 7 NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News

Bill Gates and Localizing Common Core and Standardized Testing by Paul DiPerna

“Innovations that are guided by smallholder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and environment will be necessary to ensure food security in the future.” – Bill Gates

The Andrew Carnegie of our time—and as a native of Pittsburgh, I say that respectfully—may want to consider how that same approach can augment education reform. In 2014, the “de facto organizer” of the contentious Common Core State Standards Initiative is now a witness with the rest of us to the mounting challenges to that grand framework—and they’re emerging from local sources.

Indeed, in recent months, outcries have inspired Indiana, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to depart (to varying degrees) from the Common Core, committing to “homegrown” state-based standards and/or tests. As the Hechinger Report and Education Week reported, of the original 45 states that signed up for one of the two big assessment regimes tied to Common Core, 36 states as of now are still participating.

Is that 20 percent drop in state participation the start of a larger reactionary theme to standards, testing, and accountability in education?

To find out, we asked a nationally representative sample of the general population (“American Adults”)—in the latest installment of the Friedman Foundation’s “Schooling in America Survey”—their attitudes and opinions about:

  • developing and implementing academic standards;
  • Common Core (with and without context);
  • standardized testing;
  • who (respondents believe) are accountable to tests; and who (respondents say) should be accountable to tests.

Just as Bill Gates has recognized in agriculture, our findings indicate that local ownership—exemplified by parental input/action and teachers’ roles —also matters enormously in education:

When it comes to developing and implementing academic standards, Americans believe teachers and school district officials should take the lead. Respondents suggest it may be preferable for parents to play a larger role in development rather than implementation. Government officials at the state and federal levels should take a backseat in both.



Interviews suggest a mixed message about the Common Core State Standards. 
Without any context, Americans say they oppose Common Core. However, when providing some context, support increases substantially while the opposition remains about the same.

  • Certain demographic groups set themselves apart either in their support of or opposition to Common Core. Groups most inclined to be supportive with the highest positive margins are: Midwest region (56 percent favor | +21 points), urbanites (60 percent favor | +26 points), Democrats (58 percent favor | +26 points), and African Americans (57 percent favor | +22 points).
  • The views on Common Core are more negative among school parents (44 percent favor | -5 points) and middle-income earners (43 percent favor | -5 points).

There is no mixed message about the most intense reactions to the Common Core items in the survey. Respondents who hold hardened views on Common Core are mostly likely to be negative rather than positive—with or without context.

  • The intensity (defined as the difference between “strongly favor” and “strongly oppose” responses) is negative against Common Core. Without any context and on first impression, 24 percent say they “strongly oppose” versus 11 percent who say they “strongly favor” (-13 points). Even with context, 25 percent say they “strongly oppose” versus 16 percent who say they “strongly favor” (-9 points). The intensity improves with further information but it still is considerably negative.
  • Intensities are more heavily negative than positive for most groups. Just four observed demographics have a positive intensity (and it is relatively mild): urbanites (+6 points), Democrats (+4 points), African Americans (+6 points), and Latinos (+3 points).
  • Intensity against Common Core is strongest among school parents (-21 points), small-town residents (-16 points), rural residents (-18 points), Republicans (-17 points), and middle-income earners (-17 points).

A plurality of Americans (36 percent) said the amount of time spent on standardized testing is “too high,” compared with 24 percent who said “too low.”
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  • Nearly half of high-income earners believe there is too much testing in America’s schools (49 percent too high vs. 15 percent too low). This group registers the highest level of resistance among observed demographics.
  • The groups inclined to say there is not enough standardized testing are low-income earners (24 percent too high vs. 31 percent too low), African Americans (21 percent too high vs. 34 percent too low), and Latinos (28 percent too high vs. 35 percent too low).
  • The most ambivalent groups on standardized testing are westerners (31 percent too high vs. 28 percent too low), urbanites (31 percent too high vs. 28 percent too low), and young adults (31 percent too high vs. 29 percent too low).

More than two out of five Americans (42 percent) believed students spend at least 16 days or more of the school year—roughly 10 percent of the year—on standardized testing activities.

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  • This response—16 or more school days—is even higher among school parents (51 percent), middle-age Americans (50 percent), and high-income earners (53 percent).


The average American believes teachers are being held most accountable to test results today, more so than other school officials, and far surpassing the proportion who believe students are held accountable to tests.

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Americans appear to support some degree of test-based accountability and believe the focus should be on teachers, students, and school district officials.

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Common Core and standardized testing will remain flashpoints for policy debates in K-12 education. For now, when weighing the most adamant views on testing and Common Core, Americans are resistant and likely to be negative. Interestingly, the parents of school-age children appear to be the most negative toward Common Core and resistant to the current level of standardized testing.

Politicians, especially local ones, tend to respond to the most vocal constituents and grassroots groups. The implications of our polling suggest that Common Core—and standardized testing to a lesser degree—will continue to face loud local and state-level opposition for months to come.

We’ll find out this November and in early 2015, once legislatures convene, whether such upheavals threaten the future of standards-based reform.

It seems Bill Gates and his foundation are taking it seriously, as evidenced by their suggested moratorium on “high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new (Common Core) standards.” Perhaps that signals Gates’ belief in the power and influence of local forces isn’t limited to farming. Regardless, our survey can provide some additional food for thought.

For more on what Americans think about other education-related topics, including how Common Core would affect their electoral considerations, read the full “2014 Schooling in America Survey: Perspectives on School Choice, Common Core, and Standardized Testing.”

ABOUT PAUL DIPERNA

Paul DiPerna is Research Director for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. He joined the Foundation in September 2006. Paul’s research interests include surveys and polling on K-12 education and school choice policies. He has developed and issued more than 20 state polls and other survey projects over the last four years. His other responsibilities include directing and managing all research projects commissioned by the foundation.

Deterring Terror Tactics: Israel’s Kidnap Problem

Israel’s Strategic and Political Context

Israel is facing an adversary that has proven extremely capable, displayed a total disregard for human rights and the laws of war and is pursuing asymmetric warfare utilising the full spectrum of strategic pain points.  The murder of the three teenagers by Hamas near Jerusalem is indeed a “reprehensible act of terrorism” (according to Ed Miliband) and an “appalling and inexcusable act of terror” requiring Britain to stand with Israel (per Prime Minister Cameron), but it is also a botched operation in a much larger war Hamas is fighting to destroy Israel.

Israel faces the most acute and existential threat out of any nation by the rise of radical Islam.  The brutality and annihilationist antisemitism these movements bring to bear is a crucial starting point when considering what is fundamentally a zero-sum game of survival that is difficult to fully comprehend from the relative security that other Western democracies such as the United Kingdom enjoy.

The Israeli electorate is committed to the search for peace based on a two-state solution, supported by an overwhelming majority, but is simultaneously aware of the historical rejectionism – the ongoing, systematic refusal by the Palestinians and much of the Arab world to accept Israel’s basic right to exist as a Jewish state – as well as the growing threats their country now encounters. Hamas is now part of a unity Palestinian Authority government in Gaza and the West Bank. Hezbollah, a terrorist organisation which shares Hamas’s annihilationist aims, menaces Israel from the north, and whilst Hezbollah is at war with ISIS in Syria (an Al-Qaeda offshoot that now also threatens Jordan – a potential calamity for Israel’s security), all three agree on the destruction of the Jewish state as a primary goal.

Tactical Utility of Kidnap Operations in the War on Israel

President Obama joined the chorus of British political leaders, condemning the murder of the teenagers as “a senseless act of terror”.  Soothing though the concept may be, there is nothing senseless about it once seen through the lens of the openly declared war the terrorist movements that surround Israel have been waging against the country.  Indeed, terrorist abduction-murders have a long history in the tactical arsenal of Hamas and Hezbollah’s war against Israel.

As early as 1989, Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin encouraged the tactic of kidnapping and murdering Israelis in order to use their bodies to negotiate prisoner releases – an implicit recognition of the value Israel places on its citizens’ lives.  Hamas has gone as far as publishing handbooks on how to conduct abductions effectively, including the ideal targets and hideout locations.  In 1994, after Yassin was arrested for terrorist offences, Hamas kidnapped a 19-year-old American-Israeli to demand his release for 200 of its own prisoners. Less than a week later, the hostage’s Hamas captors killed him during an IDF rescue attempt.

The most prominent application of the kidnap tactic came in July 2005 with the capture of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit.  After five years of captivity, Shalit was released in a prisoner exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners – many of them with Israeli blood on their hands.  Hamas’ leaders are on the record citing the kidnap operation a huge success – its Political Bureau Chief and top decision-maker Khaled Mashaal touted it as a “great achievement” and publicly promised more to come.

In 2006 Hezbollah – a Shia terrorist organisation created by Iran and based in south Lebanon – attempted its own version of the tactic, mounting an attack to abduct Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips.  Having killed five Israeli soldiers and captured two wounded troops, it badly miscalculated Israel’s reaction to its latest blackmail attempt, sparking the month-long Second Lebanon War.  After the war ended, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah was forced to concede that he had miscalculated the consequences and would not have ordered the abduction had he known the scope of Israel’s reaction.  Israel’s unexpectedly strong response cost Nasrallah significant support and re-established Israel’s deterrent power against the asymmetric threat posed by those seeking its annihilation, with a clear impact on their calculations vis-a-vis Israel to this day.

A Botched Terrorist Operation and Its Consequences

The abduction of the three Israeli teenagers appears to be a Hamas operation gone badly wrong. Israel has identified two suspects in the abduction-murder, both of them well-known Hamas operatives:  Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu-Isa. The first suspect hails from the Kawasmeh tribe, a Hamas-affiliated clan of whom at least 9 members have blown themselves up in suicide bombings, killing scores of Israelis.

Though the Hamas leadership praised the operation, as it became clear it had gone awry they began to insist they had no information about it, nor were involved in any way.  The Palestinian President’s advisers, drawn from the Fatah movement that governs alongside Hamas, made clear to journalists that Hamas would pay a steep price for the operation.  President Abbas then went public condemning the kidnapping as an action that hurts the Palestinians, before attempting to build a preemptive coalition of international support to condemn any action Israel might take to defend its citizens.  Once it became clear the operation had been badly botched, Hamas announced preemptive threats in their usual vivid terms of “opening the gates of hell” for any Israeli security operation against Gaza.  Both President Abbas and Hamas are well aware that this is a deadly tactical game Hamas has instigated, and the Lebanese experience meant they know fully the risks Israeli defensive actions carry, meaning such calculations can go very badly wrong.

The Urgency of Deterrence for Israel

As Israel’s Security Cabinet deliberates over what action to take, it will be acutely aware of the outrage the Israeli electorate feels over this latest atrocity.  The Lebanese and Shalit cases have established the kidnap problem as a now intolerable dynamic for Israelis and they are calling for effective measures to deter future attacks.

Israel’s actions in Lebanon have effectively put its enemies to the north on notice about the severity of the response they can expect when trying to test her defences, but the dynamic inside the country with Hamas is different, given the complexities of the political landscape.  Israel has enjoyed good security cooperation with Fatah elements of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, working together to keep Hamas from establishing a foothold.  With the advent of the Fatah-Hamas unity government, the situation became increasingly complicated for the Israelis, and with this latest terrorist attack it is likely that the security balance will not hold.

The Way Forward

In seeking to defend itself from an asymmetric, existential threat, Israel will be forced to take strong actions to re-assert its deterrence power.  Diplomatic attempts at even-handedness, or reflexive condemnations of the ‘cycle of violence,’ are strategically and morally myopic: the random murder of Israeli civilians demands an equally strong, or stronger, response. Denunciations of the Israeli ‘occupation’ are also misdirected: the abduction was conducted in a ‘consensus’ settlement bloc the PA recognises will remain Israeli after a future peace deal, despite Hamas’s claims to all land between the Jordan Valley and Mediterranean Sea.  That is why politicians worldwide were so clear in their denunciation of this terrorist attack.

As Israel seeks to deter its foes from further attacks on civilians, it is crucial the United Kingdom, United States and other Western world leaders give Israel diplomatic cover in the international arena – in particular, in the ever-biased forum of the United Nations. A country with a keen appreciation for life has implemented targeted operations – not a collective punishment as has been claimed by Hamas and others.  Israel has conducted air strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip and arrested its leaders in the West Bank, targeted action against an organisation classified as a terror group by the United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and even Arab states like Jordan and Egypt.  Should Jerusalem deem additional action necessary against Hamas, she must be given the time and space to do so.

For its part, Hamas has never disavowed terrorism against Israel but rather encourages it at every opportunity. The organisation continues to deny Israel’s right to exist and to abide by previous Palestinian agreements with the Jewish state. Hamas therefore fails all three conditions set by the Quartet of international peacemakers (the US, EU, UN and Russia) for inclusion in negotiations with Israel.

The unity government struck between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas just days before the kidnapping is therefore itself illegitimate. The West’s tentative recognition of it – by the Obama administration, the EU, and Britain’s Conservative and Labour parties – is credulous and destined to fail. Rather than leading to further ‘dialogue’, bringing Hamas into the government has simply allowed Hamas to carry out its terrorists activities under the auspices of a legitimate body.

Instead, the same Western actors must enforce conditions they themselves set out: until Hamas explicitly meets those pre-conditions, it must not be included in any diplomatic process. It is important to recall that the Oslo Accords could not have been sealed until the PLO recognised Israel and disavowed terrorism (at least rhetorically). There is no strategic justification for lowering the induction criteria for the extremists of Hamas.

As for Fatah, it too needs to prove it is committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Despite its reputation as the ‘moderate’ alternative to Hamas, Abbas’s faction has itself glorified the abduction, posting images to its official Facebook page depicting the teens as captured rats and of young Palestinians triumphantly holding up three fingers. Fatah’s own school textbooks and media routinely incite Palestinians to terrorism and portray convicted murderers as national heroes. This time, Fatah social media sites triumphantly posted photos of Israelis mourning for the three victims, erroneously referred to as “soldiers”.  Moreover, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority continues to pay the salaries of Palestinian terrorists in prison, regardless of the brutality of their crimes.  These payments are in part funded by UK taxpayers whose aid contribution to the Palestinian Authority in light of the latter’s policy of doling out terror stipends has been a serious diplomatic bone of contention between Israel and the United Kingdom for some time.

President Abbas should be praised – as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done – for condemning the abduction, but he and his Fatah faction must now match words with deeds. First and foremost, its unity government with Hamas must be declared null and void until and unless Hamas meets the necessary conditions for inclusion. It must redouble security cooperation with Israel against Hamas in the West Bank. It must demonstrate its good faith by ending incitement and the glorification of terrorists in its textbooks and media. Lastly, it must stop paying salaries to prisoners convicted of terrorist crimes. Twin bills circulating in committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would cut Washington’s funding to the PA by nearly half-a-billion dollars for precisely the PA’s failure to meet those conditions as long as an unreformed Hamas remains a partner in it. Similarly in the UK, it should be inconceivable that our taxpayers’ money is going to support a terrorist organisation. The United Kingdom, other EU member states and all parties interested in Middle East peace should stand behind their democratic ally in the region and must send a clear signal that an unreformed terrorist organisation such as Hamas, actively engaged in a pan-Radical Islamic war of annihilation against Israel can under no circumstances be a partner to any diplomatic process.

To find out more about the work of The Henry Jackson Society, visit our website: www.henryjacksonsociety.org

How Government Makes Us Fatter by Jenna Robinson

The government, with its accomplices in the food lobby, has helped to make and keep us fat. Through subsidies and misguided food suggestions, Congress, the FDA, and the USDA have made it more difficult for Americans to make smarter dietary decisions.

It’s not as if we don’t care. Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services. At any given time, 45 percent of women and 30 percent of men in the United States are trying to lose weight. And yet Americans are more out of shape than ever.

Obesity is a major health risk in the United States, where 65 percent of adults are overweight. The prevalence of obesity rose from 14.5 percent in 1980 to 30.5 percent today. The percentage of children who are overweight is at an all-time high: 10.4 percent of two- to five-year-olds, 15.3 percent of six- to 11-year-olds, and 15.5 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds.

Misinformation

Remember the food pyramid? In 1982, government authorities told Americans to reduce fat consumption from 40 percent to 30 percent of daily intake—and we took their advice. Instead of fats, Americans began eating more carbohydrates: an increase of 57 grams per person from 1989 to today, according to UCSF Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Robert Lustig. Today, the typical American diet is about 50 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, and 35 percent fat.

At the same time, a committee at the Food and Drug Administration awarded sugar “Generally Recognized As Safe” status—even for diabetics—despite internal dissent from the USDA’s Carbohydrate Nutrition Laboratory. As part of the 2011 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Congress legislated that pizza sauce can count as a vegetable in school lunches.

Setting aside the issue of whether such government recommendations are correct, its actions as food nanny essentially absolve Americans from the responsibility of making their own nutrition decisions. In the 1990s, American women blindly gobbled up low-fat Snackwells desserts masquerading as sensible treats. After all, Snackwells cookies met government standards: They were low in fat and contained “safe” sugar. Parents send their kids to school assuming school lunch contains healthy fruits and vegetables—never stopping to ask what their kids are actually eating each day.

Government recommendations also dissuade private nutrition groups from attempting to compete with “official” advice. Consider Dr. Atkins’ critical reception when he wrote Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution; although a best-seller, it was panned by the nutrition establishment. The USDA’s Agricultural Resource Service still warns that the diet started out as a “gimmick” and hedges on whether it’s ultimately “worthwhile or worthless.”

Over the years, government recommendations have contributed to the replacement of lard with trans-fats (the latter of which are now considered deadly), the substitution of margarine for butter and back to butter again, and conflicting recommendations about eggs, orange juice, vitamins, certain types of fish, and the temperature at which it’s safe to eat meat. Is it any wonder that Americans are no closer to their health goals?

Subsi-diets

Farm subsidies reinforce the government’s recommendations. Most go to just a few crops: soy, corn, rice, and wheat—all of which can be converted into cheap, highly processed foods.

Take the case of corn. Starting in the mid-1980s, government subsidies made corn profitable for farmers even when market prices for corn were low. So farms across the Midwest began to produce it in abundance. Food companies funneled this cheap corn into the production of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a replacement for more-expensive sugar—the price of which had been artificially sweetened by tariffs, import quotas, and subsidies meant to shut cheaper foreign suppliers out of the United States.

HFCS then made its way into previously unsweetened foods. Today, the average American eats 41.5 pounds of HFCS per year—financed by U.S. corn subsidies. That’s in addition to the 29 pounds of traditional sugar the USDA reports we eat on average.

Wheat, rice, and soy are turned into similarly processed food products. Wheat is extruded, robbing it of its protein, or milled and bleached into mineral-free white flour. Rice is stripped of its vitamin-packed bran to make it cook more quickly. Soybeans are mashed, pulped, extruded, and pressed into thousands of products.

And government subsidies make these foods very, very cheap—much cheaper than unsubsidized raw produce, fish, or meat. Naturally, Americans respond to these low prices by buying in bulk. Today, 23 percent of Americans’ grocery budgets go to processed foods and sweets (compared to 12 percent in 1982).

Getting Government Out of the Grocery Aisles

Nutrition is far from settled science. Various researchers recommend low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, “whole” food, or simple calorie-counting diets as the route to weight loss and improved health. But one thing is clear: Government interference is steering us in the wrong direction—toward sweetened and processed foods that no doctors, nutritionists, or researchers recommend. To improve the “Standard American Diet,” the first thing government can do is get out of the way.

ABOUT JENNA ROBINSON

Jenna Robinson is director of outreach at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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

Florida: Pro-Marijuana Activist calls those who oppose its legalization “Nazis”

On June 26, 2014 representatives from the pro-marijuana group Florida CAN visited AMVets Post #301 in Ellington, FL to hold a forum on Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in the Sunshine state for medical use. Support for Amendment 2 is dropping in the polls. Approximately twenty-five people attended the forum, of which six were veterans.

The title of the presentation was “Let’s Talk About It: Open Forum on Cannabis in Florida.” The “let’s talk about it” part of the forum was one sided. The event was not an open forum. There were no opposing views presented and those who raised questions about the known negative impacts of marijuana use, especially by children, were shut down. The wife of one veteran who attended asked some hard questions was confronted by members of the panel after the forum.

During the forum the panel members used emotion rather than facts on the use and abuse of marijuana to make their case. The used cherry picked data and made misleading, and possibly false statements, to those in attendance to push for passage of Amendment 2.

Watch this video by Kevin Sabet, President Obama’s former Drug Czar and author of “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana.” After watching this video you will see how the forum panel members repeated some of these myths, like marijuana is harmless and non-addictive. To read all of the seven great myths about marijuana click here.

Kara Kampmeyer, President of Florida Angels of Mercy

Kara Kampmeyer, President of Florida Angels of Mercy

Panel members included: Kara Kampmeyer, President of Florida Angels of Mercy, Haydon Fouke a cancer survivor, Cathy Jordan and Robert Jordan, Mo Barnhart, CannaMom, Renee Petro, CannaMom, A.J. Bowman and Ryan another cancer survivor.

Kara Kampmeyer heads up the non-profit organization Florida Angels of Mercy to assist people in purchasing marijuana. It was Kampmeyer who stated that denying Floridians access to marijuana was akin to what “the Nazis did to the Jews.” She encouraged veterans to contact her if they need assistance with purchasing marijuana.

Mo Barnhart and her 3-year-old daughter Dahlia discussed the benefits of cannabis oil in treating her daughter’s brain cancer. After the forum Mo stated that while she was for using hemp oil to help Dahlia, she did not want her 12-year old son to have access to marijuana. She was against its general legalization.

Renee Petro said she was illegally utilizing hemp oil for her 12-year-old son. The Florida Department of Children and Families (FL-DCF) came to her house and questioned her children about her ability as a mother. Petro told them, “We are not criminals. As an American do we have rights? We do, but we don’t.” It appears FL-DCF gave her a pass for breaking the law by giving her children illegal drugs.

A.J. Bowman stated his concerns that even if Amendment 2 passes, Florida counties may opt-out as a “dry county?” Hayden Fouke stated, “I don’t care who uses it for whatever reason. There is a movement to keep cancer patients from having quality of life. We can’t let all the confusion of money at the last minute scare people.”

Fouke then said that marijuana is “the only drug on the market to improve the appetite.” He said, “I use a quarter of a brownie every day to kick-start my appetite.” At the same time Fouke said that marijuana helps people to lose weight, stating “From a patient standpoint, I can assure you that this [marijuana] works. It does not allow the (inaudible) in your stomach to hold the fat, so people who use marijuana have smaller waistlines. I am not some burned out hippie.” So which is it, a drug to gain weight or lose it?

Ryan, who shared his cancer story, believed that marijuana is the only reason he is still alive.

The moderator showed slides from 2011- Florida Medical Examiners Report summary of drug related deaths stating there are zero deaths from marijuana and marijuana is “Not a big gateway drug.” The facts are that the 2011 report shows 894 deaths from Cannabinoids and the 2012 report shows 384 deaths caused by Cannabinoids. According to the National Institute of Health Cannabinoids are the chemical components of cannabis (marijuana).

The following is a audio tape of the one hour forum:

True The Vote Files Suit Against Mississippi, State Republican Party

OXFORD, MS. — July 1, 2014: True the Vote (TTV), the nation’s leading voters’ rights and election integrity organization, today filed suit in federal court against the Mississippi Secretary of State and the State Republican Party, asking the Court to immediately order that election records be shared to inspect for illegal votes ahead of certification for the June 24 U.S. Senate Primary Runoff Election (True the Vote, et. al v. State of Mississippi, et. al. (3:14cv144-MPM-SAA)).

True the Vote and associated plaintiffs argue that the defendants failed to properly abide by federal election record maintenance and open records provisions codified in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Records made partially available to the plaintiffs indicated “double-voting” from Democratic to Republican primaries — potentially diluting votes in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

“All we are asking is that the MS State Republican Party follow the law; allow their designated county representatives to inspect the poll books and ballots, give them the review time they are permitted by law, and allow them to uphold their responsibility to MS voters,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “True the Vote has been inundated with reports from voters across Mississippi who are outraged to see the integrity of this election being undermined so that politicos can get back to business as usual. Enough is enough.”

“This isn’t about personality, party, or politics. Senators come and go,” Engelbrecht continued. “What must withstand the test of time is the integrity of the process by which we elect our representatives and establish our government. No candidate or party should ever be allowed to twist election laws or subvert voters’ rights in the interest of political ambition.”

True the Vote has closely followed developments surrounding the Mississippi Republican Primary Runoff from the beginning. On June 21, TTV released figures demonstrating unusual voter turnout patterns based on historic data. On June 25, the organization formally requestedthat MS Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef delay certification of the election and share voting records for independent review. Finding no assistance from the state party, TTV and the collected 13 plaintiffs were left no option but to pursue the matter in federal court.

True the Vote’s lawsuit consists of three counts:

Count One: Violation of NVRA’s Public Disclosure Provision. Shortly before the Republican Primary Runoff Election, True the Vote, via its volunteer base, made a valid and timely request to review voter rolls and poll books under the NVRA, but it was denied access to those records.

Count Two: Individual Plaintiffs Allege a Violation of NVRA Based on Conflict with State Laws.Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the NVRA preempts any state requirement calling for public election information to be redacted at the cost of the requestor.

Count Three: Individual Plaintiffs Allege an Equal Protection Violation. Discovering potential instances of “double-voting” between Democratic and Republican primaries are unlawful dilutions of individual votes.

True the Vote engaged legal representation with the firm of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons L.L.P. TTV’s complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division.

A copy of the complaint has been made available here.

ABOUT TRUE THE VOTE

True the Vote (TTV) is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) voters’ rights organization, founded to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

Intolerance Florida Style: In any War of Ideas support the Civilized man (or woman)

When tolerance on any issue becomes a one way street then civil society is at risk. Case in point, tolerance is something that homosexuals demand.

Homosexuals demand that everyone embrace their unhealthy lifestyle as something good and “gay.” They demand schools allow children to access homosexual websites in the name of their “particular needs“. They demand that Christians, Jews and Muslims not follow their religious beliefs and speak out against sodomy. They demand that those who support traditional marriage be singled out and demonized for being intolerant. They demand an “equal right” to marry, when there is none.

This issue is becoming a political hot potato in Florida.

Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage is a plank of Republican Party Platform. The What We Believe 2012 Republican Party Platform states, “The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social studies that traditional marriage is best for children.”

Fort Lauderdale TEA Party member Danita Kilcullen sent out an email which pointed out that Republican Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and Republican school board candidate Heather Brinkworth, who Governor Rick Scott recently appointed to the Broward County School Board, marched in the gay pride parade in Wilton Manors on June 21, 2014.

Since doing this Kilcullen has been demonized. In an email to Kilcullen, Carolyn Kelly states (WARNING: Graphic language):

Open letter to Danita…

Nice to see after all these years that you have turned into a good “Jesus loving, God fearing compassionate conservative”!! Danita as we get older most of us have figured out that life is too short to worry about this shit! Let everyone live their lives as they choose and if marriage is part of it, gay or straight, hallelujah! Danita your world view is about as small as a grain of sand on the beach…you and your “believers” cannot put the lid back on the can…life moves forward…its not static or going back two-hundred years as you and your tea bag minions would like it to!

Your group of people, the T-party (tea baggers) did not exist until after Obama was elected President…we all can read between the lines on that one, which reads racists and bigots! It is also is readily apparent that tea baggers as a group must be very miserable people by preaching so much hate to the world under the guise of Christianity. I feel sorry for you that you are so unhappy in your personal life that you have to exert this much energy to preach hate from a soapbox everyday of your life. You would like nothing more to bring the rest of us down to your level. Your message that you project is…if you aren’t white and straight please go back to the closet! Sorry Danita that your life so f*****g miserable that your blatant hatred for so many groups of people has not only ruined your life, but most of the people around you.

It turns out Carolyn Kelly used to be David Eckert. Kilcullen writes:

Carolyn Kelly once was David Eckert who married my best friend, Susan Roberts. David also became our best friend during their courtship and Brian & I were best-man/woman at their outdoor wedding on the intracoastal and our son, Julian, 3 or 4 years old was ring bearer. The marriage was troubled from the start and even during their dating period. They divorced and we tried to remain friends with both. Eventually we stopped hearing from David and he would not return phone calls. A couple of years later I got a phone call on my birthday from David saying he was ready to talk to us. We wondered if he might be gay.

The following day when we were supposed to meet him in one of all of our favorite restaurants, Brian came home and said, “Get ready… it’s worse than you can even imagine,” and told me he was wearing lipstick, had long fingernails, etc. I was already in tears on the way to the restaurant and said I could not go in. Brian said just come for as long as you can and we’ll leave when you need to. We walked in and I did not see him. I took a seat in a booth and Brian walked around looking for him. All of a sudden from out of the bar, walking toward me was a 6’2″ long-haired blond in blue jeans and a white, puffy, long-sleeved blouse, carrying a purse. He slid into the booth across from me and I instantly fell apart. He had breasts and obviously had been taking hormones and his voice was higher pitched. He said he had known since he was small (he was adopted). He said he had been receiving counsel for more than a year, that his family had abandoned him and that is what he was told to expect from both family and friends.

Then he told us he would be flying to London for the sex change. I sobbed the entire time we were there. When we left, I knew that David was dead and for me, it really was as if I’d been to a funeral. For two months I cried and grieved. That was our last contact.

Brian continued to try to talk him out of the surgery and had lunch with him a couple of times. Believe me when I tell you he was freak show and I did not want Brian seen with him, even though he was trying desperately to save him.

David had his surgery and until today we have had no contact. But because I fight this issue, he calls me a “hater.” I do not hate him.

There are two kinds of people. The loving and tolerant and the hating and intolerant. From this one email thread I think you can see the stark differences. One is civil, the other a savage. Ayn Rand wrote, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” In this case support the civilized woman against the savage man, now a woman.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of The Peoples Cube.

An 11 year-old asks: Which Parent Don’t I Need, My Mom or My Dad?

Grace (age 11) bravely reminded the Minnesota House Civil Law Committee that redefining marriage sends the message that one of her parents doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law.

Jenifer Marshal writes, “Earlier this month, 11-year-old Grace Evans appeared before a panel of Minnesota lawmakers considering a redefinition of marriage in that state. She testified to the significance of her mother and father and the different contributions each makes to her life. Then she ended with a simple question: “Which parent do I not need, my mom, or my dad?” It’s a question proponents of same-sex marriage cannot answer.”

Attorneys will echo Grace when they appear before the Supreme Court to defend two marriage laws defining the institution as the union of one man and one woman. The Court hears arguments on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 on California’s Proposition 8 and Wednesday, July 2nd on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Marshal notes, “Americans are free to live and to love as we choose. And we’ve learned to make do in many circumstances when, for one reason or another, a mother and father cannot permanently be together with the children they’ve brought into this world. But we have continued to give unique status in law to the union of a man and a woman—the only relationship that produces children—as a permanent, monogamous, and exclusive relationship. We uphold this ideal in the interest of children, of limited, constitutional government, and of America’s future.”

Is all love equal?

“Love is Love,” same-sex “marriage” advocates are fond of saying. At a recent protest in Weyburan, Saskatchewan, Canada, a pro-“gay” activist said, “It doesn’t matter who you love, it just matters that you love.” The implication is that homosexual sex and relationships are equivalent—morally, practically and health-wise—to natural sex and relationships (i.e., marriage) between a man and a woman. But is that true?

Americans for Truth About Homosexuality says no, it is not.  Below are the reasons why:

Capacity to Produce Life

Sex between men or between women alone can never produce children.  “Gay parenting” requires a previous heterosexual relationship by one or both of the same-sex partners, or adoption or artificial means to acquire a child.  That child will then intentionally be denied a father or a mother.  In contrast, heterosexuality and natural marriage produce children, families and future generations.

‘HIV Is a Gay Disease’

Homosexual sex between men is the biggest risk factors for HIV/AIDS. A stunning 94-95 percent of all HIV diagnoses in 2011 among boys and young men were linked to homosexual sex, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports.[1] A 2008 CDC study of “gay” men in 21 major cities found that nearly one in five were HIV positive while 44 percent of those did not know it. [2] Facts like these have led some homosexual activists to admit that, “HIV is a gay disease.”[3] Yet students rarely are educated on the heightened health risks associated with homosexual behaviors.

CDC slide demonstrates the strong correlation between

CDC slide demonstrates the strong correlation between “male-to-male sexual contact” and HIV among adolescent boys and young men. To view the full CDC slide presentation, go HERE; to read the related AFTAH article, go HERE. Yellow highlighting did not appear on original CDC slide.

Viral Hepatitis and High-Risk Homosexual Sex

“Among adults, an estimated 10% of new Hepatitis A cases and 20% of new Hepatitis B cases occur in gay or bisexual men,” the CDC reported in October 2013. The disproportionate risk is linked to high-risk sexual behaviors by “men who have sex with men” (MSM). The CDC reports: “Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from an infected person. Among men who have sexual contact with other men, Hepatitis A can be spread through direct anal-oral contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person.”[4]

Sex Practices Common Among Homosexual Men Are ‘Highly Efficient Ways of Transmitting Disease,’ Says ‘Gay’ Writer

“Some practices common among gays–especially rimming [mouth-to-anus sex] and anal intercourse–are highly efficient ways of transmitting disease.”–”Gay” writer Jack Hart, Gay Sex: A Manual for Men Who Love Men [5]

CDC-table-Intimate-Partner-VIolence

A 2010 CDC study on “Intimate Partner Violence” among homosexuals and bisexuals found higher rates of “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking” among lesbians and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women–and higher rates of “sexual violence” among homosexual and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men. Go HERE to read CDC report summary.

Domestic Partner Violence Higher for Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals

“Rates of some form of sexual violence were higher among lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual women and men compared to heterosexual women and men,” the CDC reported in 2010.

“Forty-four percent of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, and 35% of heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime…

“Four in 10 gay men (40%), nearly half of bisexual men (47%), and 1 in 5 heterosexual men (21%) have experienced SV [sexual violence] other than rape in their lifetime. This translates into nearly 1.1 million gay men, 903,000 bisexual men, and 21.6 million heterosexual men.” [6]

Anal Cancer

“The incidence of anal cancer in gay men is approximately 80 times that of the general population.” [7]

Syphilis

“In 2012, 75% of the reported primary and secondary syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men (MSM)/” the CDC reported. [8]

Dr. Stephen Goldstone

Anus: ‘Highest Risk Place for STDs,” Says Homosexual Doctor 

“[An] anus is the highest risk place for STDs [sexually transmitted diseases].”–Dr. Stephen Goldstone, The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex: A Medical Handbook for Men [9]

Sources:

1. ”CDC: 94 to 95 Percent of HIV Cases among Boys and Young Men Linked to Homosexual Sex,” AFTAH website, September 11, 2013 [link HERE]; links to CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] presentation, “HIV Surveillance in Adolescents and Young Adults,” National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatisis, STD and & TB Prevention, Div. of HIV/AIDS Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/statistics_surveillance_Adolescents.pdf.

2. CDC Press Release: “1 in 5 men who have sex with men in 21 U.S. cities have HIV; nearly half unaware,” National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention; “The CDC study tested 8,153 MSM in 21 cities participating in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS).” [link HERE]

3. Sharon Bernstein, “HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience,” Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2006: “the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center had embarked on a controversial ad campaign with this stark declaration: ‘HIV is a gay disease,’ with the tag line ‘Own It. End It.’ on billboards and in magazines.” [story link HERE].

4. CDC, “Viral Hepatitis: Information for Gay and Bisexual Men,” October 2013; http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Populations/PDFs/HepGay-FactSheet.pdf.

5. Jack Hart, Gay Sex: A Manual for Men who Love Men (Revised & Updated, Second edition, October 1998). Published by [now defunct] Alyson Books (Los Angeles, New York), pages 194, 212-213. [AFTAH link HERE] Full quote by Hart, a homosexual, is below:

“Many sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) occur more often among gay men than in the general population. Several factors contribute to this difference: Gay men have the opportunity to engage in sex with more people than do most heterosexual men, and some practices common among gays–especially rimming [oral-anal perversion*] and anal intercourse–are highly efficient ways of transmitting disease….”

6. NISVS: “An Overview of 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation,” The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_victimization_final-a.pdf

7. HIV Essentials 2013 (Sixth Edition), by Paul E. Sax , Calvin J. Cohen, Daniel R. Kuritzkes, (Jones & Bartlett Learning: Burlington, MA, 2013), p. 132. [Amazon book link HERE]

8. CDC, “Syphilis & MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) – CDC Fact Sheet; page last updated: January 7, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-MSM-Syphilis.htm

9. Dr. Stephen Goldstone, The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex: A Medical Handbook for Men, (Dell: 1999), p 16; in the passage, Dr. Goldstone, a homosexual and “gay” advocate, is urging condom use. For more quotations by Goldstone, see this AFTAH article. [Amazon book link HERE]

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What Economic Recovery?

You have to know that the Obama administration has run out of excuses for destroying the U.S. economy when it starts to blame it on the weather.

According to the Commerce Department, the economy based on its Gross domestic product–the value of its goods and services–fell at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of this year. That was the largest recorded drop since the end of World War II in 1945!

The June 20th edition of The Wall Street Journal’s article, “Economy Shrank Rapidly in First Quarter” led off by reporting that “Weather disruptions at home and weak demand abroad caused a contraction in the U.S. economy in the first quarter, renewing doubts about the strength of the nation’s five-year-old recovery.”

unemployment graph

For a larger view click on the graph.

What recovery? When the economy stays in the basement for five years you are looking at an on-going stagnation based on too much government interference with growth, the decline of the nation’s middle class, the lack of new start-up businesses, and the reluctance or inability of consumers to spend money, if they have any to spend.

In May, writing on his blog, Economic Collapse, Michael Synder pointed to “27 Hugh Red Flags for the U.S. Economy” noting, for example, that according to government numbers, “everyone is unemployed in 20 percent of all American families.” The other indicators include:

  • Sales for construction equipment were down 13% in April and have been down for 17 months in a row.
  • During the first quarter of 2014, profits at the office supplies giant, Staples, fell by 43.5%
  • Foot traffic at Wal-Mart stores fell by 1.4% during the first quarter of 2014.
  • It is being projected that Sears will soon close hundreds more stores and may go out of business altogether.
  • Existing home sales have fallen for seven of the last eight months and seem to repeating a pattern witnessed back in 2007 prior to the last financial crash.
  • The home ownership rate in the U.S. has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

You do not have to be an economist to understand that President Obama’s economic policies are flat-out failures that include a “stimulus” that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars without stimulating the economy, nor that having a $17 trillion debt means anything other than a nation teetering on a massive economic collapse.

In May, CNSnews reported that “A record 92,594,000 Americans were not in the labor force in April as the labor force participation rate matched a 36-year low of 62.8 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

This is not my definition of a “recession” although we are told that it ended in 2009. This is a “depression” for millions of Americans. The labor force participation rate has gone from 63.5% to 63.3%, the lowest since 1979, but the Obama administration keeps telling us that it is “improving.”

Consumer spending is down. Exports are down. Employment is barely increasing. The only thing that is up is inflation.

Edward C. Prescott, a 2004 Nobel Laureate in Economics and Lee E. Ohanian, a professor of economics UCLA, writing in the June 26 edition of The Wall Street Journal, noted that the declining GDP rate was “the worst productivity statistic since 1990. And productivity since 2005 has declined by more than 8% relative to its long-run trend. This means that business output is nearly $1 trillion less today than what it would be had productivity continued to grow at its average rate of about 2.5% per year.”

“Lagging productivity growth is an enormous problem because virtually all of the increase in Americans’ standard of living is made possible by rising worker productivity.”

The Obama administration would have you believe that the economic decline in the first quarter was due to a harsh winter. They will be blaming it on a hot summer come autumn.

This is an administration whose main theme these days is the threat of “climate change”, but it has nothing to do with the climate and everything to do with vast government spending and borrowing, an explosion of regulations that have slowed or stopped the creation of new businesses, a “war on coal” that is forcing a decline in the production of electricity, and a widespread perception that the President is the worst to have held office since the nation began.

There is no recovery. There is a return to the factors that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that bought up all the sub-prime mortgage loans and packaged them as assets are still in business. Credit card companies are reaching out to sub-prime users, signing them up. Nobody seems to learn anything from the past, even if it is the recent past.

If the control of the U.S. Senate cannot be wrested away from a Democratic Party led by Harry Reid and a GOP increase in the U.S. House that was led by Nancy Pelosi until the 2010 elections cannot be achieved in the forthcoming November elections, the President’s continued attack on the economy—which includes a massive increase in illegal immigration—the nation’s economy will remain tenuous.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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Somebody Picked the Wrong Girl

Pitchfork Patriots writes, “In a new commercial that’s sure to get some liberal panties in a bunch, Glock has held nothing back. It’s amazing how conservative companies that liberals consider so controversial (like Glock or Daniel Defense) make such ‘safe’ advertisements and are still called out as controversial. There are no partially clad women, no violent altercations, no edgy language… but somehow because these gun manufacturers make guns, they are inherently controversial. Newsflash, folks! If we didn’t have gun manufacturers we wouldn’t have guns, and if we didn’t have guns what would be the point of our RIGHT to bear arms?”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/a2gCFOtaZPo[/youtube]

The Only Thing Dumber than Speaker Boehner Suing President Obama is a Republican Who Thinks it’s a Good Idea

This foolish political stunt undermines Republican political philosophy, convolutes Constitutional principles, and hands Obama and the Democrats a public relations victory… on a silver platter.

The DCCC sent out an email today stating, “We just found out that we’re within reach of breaking the record for our best online June EVER! Boehner certainly wasn’t bargaining for that when he announced his big plan to SUE President Obama last week. As of 9am, we’re 33,988 donations away from making grassroots history in our campaign to defeat Boehner’s Tea Party majority.”

Actually, Speaker Boehner should SUE HIMSELF, which is logically more consistent as it is HE who is the solution to the intent of his asinine lawsuit. All Boehner and the spineless majority Republicans in the House of Representatives have to do is SHUT THE DAMN MONEY FAUCET OFF TO OBAMA!

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

 

QUESTION: Where are Republicans who still believe in classic Republican political theory… and still want to live by those principles?

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Michele Obama, Jill Biden: Their Husbands are Firing our Military at an Alarming Rate

There are many stories being written about the shoddy care our military veterans are receiving from the Veterans Administration. The untold story is that of how President Obama is firing our military by the hundreds of thousands. This is a crisis for those military members and their families who are suddenly out of a job.

These reductions-in-force have created a national crisis that is turning into a national scandal. A jobs crisis for U.S. military veterans. Jobs is the top issue with these recently fired veterans, just ask any veterans service organization, they will tell you it is all about jobs.

So, President Obama created this crisis and his wife Michele and Jill Biden, the Second lady, have decided to make political hay while the sun shines. They are trying to turn lemons into lemonade with their hire a veteran radio promotions under the “Joining Forces” campaign. On the Joining Forces website Michele and Jill plead, “Support for our Heroes -Let’s make sure no veteran has to fight for a job at home after they fight for our nation overseas.” You may have heard Michele and Jill on iHeartRadio stations asking business to hire veterans, as their husbands continue to reduce our military to pre-WWII levels.

Michele and Jill write in a Fortune Magazine op-ed, “But the challenge of giving them that chance is only becoming more urgent. In the coming years, more than a million service members will be hanging up their uniforms and transitioning to civilian life. That’s on top of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses already out there looking for work.”

Millions more of our military will be fired. But don’t be alarmed, we will back-fill them with homosexuals, cross dressers and transgenders. Like the new recruitment effort using the transgender “Warrior Princes“, the former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, now Kristin Beck.  Bill Gertz from The Washington Times reports:

“Who’s paying for this?” the official asked. “Especially in these trying fiscal times with reduction-in-force boards, selective early retirement boards and early terminations for our enlisted ranks, someone is wasting money by mainstreaming a transgendered veteran?

Ms. Beck said she is not “pushing” for transgender integration in the military. “I am speaking about being a ‘human’ and the value of people in the armed forces,” she stated in an email. The military is looking at allowing transgenders in the military and “I am giving them correct information instead of stereotypes and misguided information of the past,”

Ms. Beck said, adding that 13 nations permit transgenders in their armed forces.

Read more…

Never let a good crisis, particularly one that you created, go to waste.

EDITORS NOTE: Below are the top 10 military employers in the country, based on Payscale’s skilled labor criteria.

1. Booz Allen Hamilton

Business: Provides consulting services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence, and civil markets, and to major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “Booz Allen has maintained a deep and long commitment to the nation’s military community that began with our work assisting the U.S. Navy at the dawn of World War II and continues today with the Military Health System, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and our many engagements with the Department of Defense and armed services.”

2. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

Business: Fortune 500 company provides scientific and technical products and services that contribute to the security and well-being of communities throughout the world.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “SAIC has a long-standing commitment to supporting military veterans and their families. The company currently employs more than 10,000 military veterans, comprising nearly 25 percent of SAIC’s workforce, and was ranked No. 24 on G.I. Jobs Magazine’s Top 100 Military Friendly Employers
list.”

3. Northrop Grumman

Business: Designer, systems integrator and manufacturer of military aircraft, defense electronics, precision weapons, commercial and military aerostructures.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “We employ thousands of veterans worldwide and are committed to hiring and assisting our military-experienced candidates and employees. You bring a unique set of skills to our company, and have a first-hand appreciation for our business, products, and services. We value the training and
leadership development that candidates gain from their military service and experience.”

4. L-3 Communications

Business: L-3 is a prime contractor in Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C3ISR) systems, aircraft modernization and maintenance, and government services.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “L-3 is proud to employ more than 15,000 veterans of the U.S. military, helping them use their unique training and skills to meet our customers’ needs. Many of L-3’s top business leaders are former military personnel who provide critical insight and support for using L-3’s advanced technology and
services to protect our country’s freedoms.”

5. Lockheed Martin

Business: Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin focuses on Aeronautics, Electronic Systems, Information Systems & Global Solutions, and Space Systems.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “At Lockheed Martin, we have a long-standing commitment to successful job transition for America’s veterans — providing opportunities for them to continue contributing to the security of our nation even after their military service.”

6. U.S. Department of Defense

Mission: As the nation’s largest employer, the Department of Defense provides the military forces with what is needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.

7. BAE Systems

Business: BAE Systems is a global defence, aerospace and security company with approximately 100,000 employees worldwide and a primary focus on five home markets: the US, UK, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Australia and India.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “At BAE Systems, ‘We protect those who protect us’ is a mantra that we take to heart. It defines our commitment to our customers, our employees and especially to those individuals who have contributed to ‘protecting us’ directly as a member of the military service. It is our goal to provide
mission-centered work that veterans and reservists alike can identify with, contribute to, and become passionate about.”

8. Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)

Business: CSC is a leading information technology (IT) services company.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “Whether through recruitment, philanthropy or volunteerism, CSC is proud to support our heroic military service members and their familes. CSC values America’s military community for its loyalty, diversity and strong work ethic. We will help you realize your professional aspirations through valuable career choices.”

9. CACI International

Business: CACI International provides professional services and IT solutions needed to prevail in the areas of defense, intelligence, homeland security, and IT modernization and government transformation.

Mission Statement for Veterans: “CACI employs veterans at every level of the organization, from staff to senior leadership. We work side by side with the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies, providing professional services and IT solutions to solve their problems and secure our nation’s interests. We take great
pride in service to our country and to those who have served in the military, recognizing that you have the talent, character, and commitment to duty that will help make our clients’ missions successful. As a military professional, you understand these priorities and possess skills that translate to what we do at CACI. We invite you to explore our job opportunities to find the right fit as you take the next step in your career.”

10. The Boeing Company

Business: Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems.

Keynes = Marx to the Power of Ten

The Von Mises organization recently published an article showing how Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pronounced Ah‛-bĕ) is severely damaging the Japanese economy through his Keynesian economic policies, borrowed from Uncle Sam, who has had equal “success” with them. Abe introduced a program of currency issuance of unprecedented magnitude that immediately led to an equally unprecedented sales tax increase that has drastically curtailed household spending.

When it comes to economics (and foreign policy in some ways), the libertarians (represented, for example, by the Von Mises Organization) are essentially on the money. Unfortunately, they are miles from the mark in social terms, advocating as they do, for example, unlimited immigration, which they say will be controlled once we get rid of socialism. They seem not to have noticed that we have not yet gotten rid of socialism, inasmuch as their adherents in politics are anxiously striving to establish “immigration reform,” i.e., code for amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Nor do they explain how undocumented workers who cross the border illegally for work would be daunted by a lack of welfare payments (for which they are not eligible anyway). Likewise, they advocate legalizing heretofore illegal drugs, based on the untested postulate that the problem will go away if they can just make drugs legal, because illegality makes them more attractive.

The problem with all –isms is that they degenerate from ideas to religions, and ignore reality. Like all –isms, libertarianism pointedly ignores the real world models, as I have pointed out here and here with regard to addictive drugs and here with regard to prostitution.

But libertarianism is not the only –ism that ignores reality when shaping policy.

The broader point that you should be able to infer from this (knowing what you do about fascism, Nazism, Marxism, etc) is that the scientific method of inquiry is shelved by ideologues of all stripes, who rely solely on propaganda and lofty theoretical writings, speeches, press releases and slogans whose net result is to keep people ignorant of the true effects of their policies and ideologies and to keep their pet ideas safely out of the clutches of serious inquiry. In many cases, we are even told that a highly questionable idea is “settled science,” the ultimate inquiry quencher.

I had outlined previously why the scientific method is key and have pointed out that it is, ironically, almost universally rejected or neglected in those areas where it is most urgently needed.

If a political party could be put together with a libertarian economic platform and a conservative social platform ─ with both being based on real world models and not ideology, it would be a formidable force for revitalizing the Western world in economic, social and cultural terms.

In fact, were all professionals, particularly journalists, and politicians to adopt a scientific approach to reporting facts and ideas, the world would change tomorrow, knowledge would blossom and most of the untoward effects of ignorance would be roundly defeated.

Unfortunately, libertarianism has degenerated into anarchy. Literally. The Von Mises Organization endorses something called Anarcho-Capitalism, as I pointed out and debunked in an article appearing in American Daily Herald.

In addition to adopting a rigorous scientific approach to reporting, what America needs to do right now is stress two issues that politicians on both sides have always been reluctant to touch, and that is, sovereignty (the libertarians ignore it but so do the Dems and Rs) and Keynesianism.

We need to fight hard to recover our American sovereignty (protecting American culture and borders, declaring and defending our independence of groups like the UN and the CFR that remain consistently aloof to the grassroots, abolition of bureaucracies like the Department of Education, Agriculture, Homeland Security, NSA, etc, and restoration of monetary autonomy — freedom from the Fed). And we need to free America from Keynesianism, which is a sophisticated form of Marxism, only more dangerous because it is a virus infecting the entire globe, spreading poverty everywhere. Both of the main US parties are Keynesian through and through, which is why our economy is failing. (That’s why voting indiscriminately for GOP candidates won’t save us until we can successfully launch an anti-Keynesianism campaign that makes words like “stimulus” and policies like government job creation anathema to the public).

The article linked above handily dispatches Keynesian “stimulus” (in this context, we must never write that without quotation marks. Economic “stimulus” as commonly construed only stimulates poverty, nothing else) and shows how it is slowly eroding the Japanese economy, which is the U.S. economy on steroids.

no_new_keynes_marxism_shirtThis is scary, Folks. It is where we are headed if we can’t get rid of most of our politicians and kick out any lawmaker who votes for “stimulus” or suggests that jobs can be created by government.

The only legitimate and authentic job creation is the creation of jobs that pay employees out of earnings derived on the free market, not from the public treasury, and without competition-stifling cronyism. The only true stimulus is less government-business cronyism. We therefore desperately need to introduce and enforce the concept of separation of business and state.

Here’s an idea for a T-Shirt, bumper sticker, poster or the like: Keynes = Marx 10.

Florida: Sarasota County School Board Candidate calls those who question Common Core “conspiracy theorists”

Ken Marsh, Democrat candidate for Sarasota County School Board – District 1, has spent 30 years working as a government employee in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. According to Marsh’s biography for the last twenty-years he has worked for the Sarasota County School District. Specifically the positions Marsh held were: Director of Long Range Planning (11 years), Supervisor of the Office of Research, Evaluation and Assessment (5 years), Acting Director of Quality Assurance and Student Assignment (2 years), Project Manager (1 year) and Supervisor of Student Services (1 year). Marsh has never been in the private sector, run a company or signed a paycheck. All his paychecks were courtesy of Florida taxpayers.

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Ken Marsh, Democrat Candidate Sarasota County School Board – District 1.

During the last three years of his career he was a key member of the District staff that implemented Common Core State Standards in Sarasota County. If anyone knows Common Core it is Ken Marsh. Susan Nilon did an interview with Marsh about his candidacy and his position on Common Core. Marsh tries to avoid the question but then, at Nilon’s prodding, states:

“I don’t hold to some of the conspiracy theories out there that it [Common Core] is a federal government takeover, I don’t believe in that at all. The [Common Core] standards are there, the curriculum is being developed, teachers are being trained, it [Common Core] is being implemented and for their sake, we need to continue doing that for the time being.”

Here is the audio clip of Marsh’s Common Core comments:

What is interesting is that Marsh states on his campaign website:

In just the past few years, state governments across the country have loosened the regulations that have bound some state agencies. In contrast, the Florida Legislature and the Executive Branch have added more and more regulations on public school districts, and they have constricted the ability of local school boards to expend their limited revenues wisely. Typically, such regulations do not improve education and, in some cases, actually result in hiring additional staff just to comply.  We must work with our local delegation, with legislative leaders, and with the Governor’s Office to allow high performing districts – if not all districts – to be released from onerous and unnecessary regulations. [Emphasis mine]

Does Marsh think Common Core is a state take over of education? Apparently so, for it was the National Governors Association that pushed Common Core, at the behest of and with funding from the U.S. Department of Education Race To The Top (RTTT) funds. But March knows that, doesn’t he? If Marsh is correct then Common Core is the ultimate “onerous” over reach into local control by school boards by the state. It is the “unnecessary regulations” and testing that hampers the ability of teachers to teach, parents to have control of what their children learn and how school boards govern. But Marsh knows that, doesn’t he?

During the Nolan interview Marsh states, “I’ve been thinking about it [running] for about a year or so, as I got closer to retirement.” Is this not the ultimate government worker double-dipping?

Marsh is the only candidate who fully supports Common Core, unlike his opponents. Support it, heck he implemented it to a tee. The School Board can opt out of Common Core under the provisions of SB 864. SB 864 states, “The bill provides that a district school board has the constitutional duty to select and provide adequate instructional materials, and is responsible for the content of all instructional materials used in a classroom.”

Do Sarasota County voters really want a life long bureaucrat who supports Common Core on the School Board? We shall see on August 26, 2014.

EDITORS NOTE: To read all of the columns written by our contributors on Common Core click here.

Social Media used to promote pot to young boys and girls

“As most of you know, I do a lot of training regarding the influence of popular culture on drug use, especially as it relates to marijuana. Our children are surrounded by books, magazines, fashion, television, movies, music and the ever present celebrities [see Mia Farrow tweet above] who extol the virtues of pot. These factors, combined with the business of Big Marijuana, and pro-pot lobbying organizations that spend millions to sell the idea of surrendering to the drug culture, are undoing decades of drug education work in America – all while the federal government (and many states) turn a blind eye to the social, economic and legal chaos being inflicted upon us,” notes Jessica Spencer, Florida Statewide Coalition Director for VoteNo2.org.

In a new study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, new evidence has emerged regarding the prevalence of pro-pot messages through Twitter and other social media outlets.

pro pot tweetYouth Regularly receive Pro-marijuana Tweets

Hundreds of thousands of American youth are following marijuana-related Twitter accounts and getting pro-pot messages several times each day, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found.

The tweets are cause for concern, they said, because young people are thought to be especially responsive to social media influences. In addition, patterns of drug use tend to be established in a person’s late teens and early 20s.

In a study published online June 27 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the Washington University team analyzed messages tweeted from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, by a Twitter account called Weed Tweets@stillblazintho. Among pro-marijuana accounts, this one was selected because it has the most Twitter followers — about 1 million. During the eight-month study period, the account posted an average of 11 tweets per day.
“As people are becoming more accepting of marijuana use and two states have legalized the drug for recreational use, it is important to remember that it remains a dangerous drug of abuse,” said principal investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD. “I’ve been studying what is influencing attitudes to change dramatically and where people may be getting messages about marijuana that are leading them to believe the drug is not hazardous.”

Although 19 states now allow marijuana use for medical purposes, much of the evidence for its effectiveness remains anecdotal. Even as Americans are relaxing their attitudes about marijuana, in 2011 marijuana contributed to more than 455,000 emergency room visits in the United States, federal research shows. Some 13 percent of those patients were ages 12 to 17.

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For a larger view click on the image.

A majority of Americans favor legalizing recreational use of the drug, and 60 percent of high school seniors report they don’t believe regular marijuana use is harmful. A recent report from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said that more Americans are using cannabis as their perception of the health risk declines. The report stated that for youth and young adults, “more permissive cannabis regulations correlate with decreases in the perceived risk of use.”

Cavazos-Rehg said Twitter also is influencing young people’s attitudes about the drug. Studying Weed Tweets, the team counted 2,285 tweets during the eight-month study. Of those, 82 percent were positive about the drug, 18 percent were either neutral or did not focus on marijuana, and 0.3 percent expressed negative attitudes about it.

Many of the tweets were meant to be humorous. Others implied that marijuana helps a person feel good or relax, and some mentioned different ways to get high.

With the help of a data analysis firm, the investigators found that of those receiving the tweets, 73 percent were under 19. Fifty-four percent were 17 to 19 years old, and almost 20 percent were 16 or younger. About 22 percent were 20 to 24 years of age. Only 5 percent of the followers were 25 or older.

“These are risky ages when young people often begin experimentation with drugs,” explained Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry. “It’s an age when people are impressionable and when substance-use behaviors can transition into addiction. In other words, it’s a very risky time of life for people to be receiving messages like these.”

Cavazos-Rehg said it isn’t possible from this study to “connect the dots” between positive marijuana tweets and actual drug use, but she cites previous research linking substance use to messages from television and billboards. She suggested this also may apply to social media.

“Studies looking at media messages on traditional outlets like television, radio, billboards and magazines have shown that media messages can influence substance use and attitudes about substance use,” she said. “It’s likely a young person’s attitudes and behaviors may be influenced when he or she is receiving daily, ongoing messages of this sort.”

The researchers also learned that the Twitter account they tracked reached a high number of African-Americans and Hispanics compared with Caucasians. Almost 43 percent were African-American, and nearly 12 percent were Hispanic. In fact, among Hispanics, Weed Tweets ranked in the top 30 percent of all Twitter accounts followed.

“It was surprising to see that members of these minority groups were so much more likely than Caucasians to be receiving these messages,” Cavazos-Rehg said, adding that there is particular concern about African-Americans because their rates of marijuana abuse and dependence are about twice as high as the rate in Caucasians and Hispanics.

The findings point to the need for a discussion about the pro-drug messages young people receive, Cavazos-Rehg said.

“There are celebrities who tweet to hundreds of thousands of followers, and it turns out a Twitter handle that promotes substance use can be equally popular,” she said. “Because there’s not much regulation of social media platforms, that could lead to potentially harmful messages being distributed. Regulating this sort of thing is going to be challenging, but the more we can provide evidence that harmful messages are being received by vulnerable kids, the more likely it is we can have a discussion about the types of regulation that might be appropriate.”

This study was funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).