Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Did SCOTUS Give Us a Gift -- a Tip from "Frozen"

OK, I'll be very candid.  I care a great deal about winning the presidency in 2016.  There will be Supreme Court slots to fill, no doubt, and I sure as Hades don't want Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders nominating the candidates.  And we have to concede the possibility that the Senate may be lost back to the Democrats, given that the number of seats to be defended by the Republicans offers a challenge much like the one that turned the Senate Republican in 2014.

So listen on this one -- it is very possible that the Supreme Court of the United States has actually done something that will help the Republican candidate next year, if only he or she is able to take proper advantage of the SCOTUS ruling.

I'm referring to the ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage in the USA, regardless of state laws barring it and, well, the will of a large percentage of Americans.  No, I'm not saying that it is such a contentious issue that anti-gay-marriage voters will rise in a tsunami of public opinion and votes and drive the Democrats out of the White House in force.

Quite the opposite, actually.

No, I think that SCOTUS handed the Republicans a gift in that, essentially, they have taken an issue that was a polarizing one, with the capacity to drive Democrats to the polls and split Republicans, and utterly removed it from the national debate.  Yes, in that, according to five unelected Ivy League lawyers, marriage can be between two (or three or more) of pretty much anything, there is nothing more to fight.

Can we -- and our presidential candidate -- take advantage?  Well, it beats the heck out of me.  But I've written over and over and over that the Republican candidate should focus on defending the USA, balancing the budget, creating jobs in the private sector, protecting our borders and other things that are like, actually, important.  So if our desire is to shift the chatter away from contentious moral issues -- at least during our campaigns -- and run on what really matters, then isn't that a good thing?

I know there is a real reluctance on the part of a lot of us to do as the song from "Frozen" tells us, and just, you know, "Let It Go."  Many of us find the idea of wilting the traditional definition of marriage to be a contemptible act on SCOTUS's part.  [Aside -- I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but whether gay couples have a piece of paper or not is not going to cause me to lose a lot of sleep -- they're still going to be together either way]

But there is only one fix to this, and it is a legislative one.  A legislative one, it should be pointed out, that is not going to happen, at least anytime soon.  That leaves the gay marriage issue as, for all intents and purposes, "settled law" as they like to say around the White House -- and the Kremlin.

So fine.  Let it go. Maybe some day the moral tide will turn, and maybe it will never turn.  Let's get real.  Are not the things I wrote above that the Republican candidate should focus on -- and which are winning platform planks -- far, far more important?

If a Republican wins the White House, and the Republicans hold both houses of Congress, is the first thing that you want them to do to pass a law banning gay marriage?  Seriously?  For me, it is so far down the line of what needs to get the attention of the legislature, that it's not even on the event horizon.

We have been handed a great opportunity for which we should, perverse as it may sound, be at least a little bit thankful to SCOTUS.  They have removed a distraction from the 2016 debate -- the correct Republican answer to any question on the gay marriage topic is now "Well, that would appear to be a moot point now, eh?  Let's talk about $18 trillion that we've borrowed and can't pay back."

I know we're not too happy, most of us.  But you know what?  There's a silver lining to all this, as the Court decisions and others like them gradually take silly distractions off the table and leave the real, important issues to the serious debate -- debate that Democrats cannot win, at least without a great assist from the ovine, simian press.

Let it go.  Let it go.  Turn away and slam the door.  It just is not that big a deal, by comparison.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Let the Candidates Fix What the SCOTUS Wouldn't

I suppose that by now, we all have our opinions on the Supreme Court decision last week that somehow left in place the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.  I'm not a lawyer; I don't play one on TV and only a few times played one on stage.  So I hesitate to make a blanket statement as to whether the Court acted properly in reading the Government's view in King v. Burwell and taking their side as the correct answer.

I know that I read Justice Scalia's explosive rebuttal in the form of a dissenting opinion.  In it, I found the selfsame logic that one would have reached on one's own -- that the version of Congress which shoved through Obamacare absolutely meant to punish states that did not set up insurance exchanges.  The penalty was that their citizens would not be able to get taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay for their insurance.  Its loudest architect, Jonathan Gruber stated as much.

So if Justice Scalia saw it that way, and it was the same way we saw it and interpreted it after Gruber's admission, then what are we to make of the fact that other members of the Court saw it opposite to that?  How do we decide what is "right" if part of the Court feels one way and another part feels passionately contrary?  Are we, as Justice Scalia wrote (and also Justice Thomas the next day in dissenting from the gay-marriage ruling), to be subject to nine "east and west coast lawyers all educated at Harvard and Yale, none a Protestant"?

The answer, apparently, is "yes."

We will not fix that.  We can, however, fix the law that they ruled on.  There are Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and it is certainly possible that the White House may be occupied by a Republican as early as January 2017.

I would encourage all 14 announced Republican candidates for the presidency, and the others who may jump into the fray shortly, to declare precisely what they would have Congress do with Obamacare if elected.

Here's why: the left and the press (I repeat myself) have set the agenda and the talking points among the public as far as Obamacare.  Repeal the law, they say, and millions of people will lose health insurance, and that would be a tragedy.  Never mind that that's a fallacy, and never mind that most of those people only recently even got coverage, many did not want it, and no one was going without actual care anyway.

We on the right need to focus on the law itself.  By citing the parts of it that we would change, and how we would do it, we could move the public debate.  Instead of the left getting to say "No, you can't do that; people would lose coverage", they would be forced to defend the onerous provisions, one by one.  If we make a list of what we would change, and remove the word "repeal"from the debate, we force the left to be on the defensive.

Republican candidate: "As of now, the law requires people as old as 64 to pay for maternity coverage.  We will change that to a lower age, and we will allow couples who have undergone sterilization, such as vasectomies and hysterectomies, no longer to have to pay for such coverage.  Mr. or Mrs. Democrat, you have to agree with that, right?"

Republican candidate: "As of now, the law requires that people with no children, or with no dependent children in their household, pay for pediatric dentistry coverage.  We will change that to remove the requirement for such coverage from any adults with no children.  People should not be paying for insurance for non-existent children.  Mr. or Mrs. Democrat, you have to agree with that, right?"

Republican candidate: "As of now, the law sets mandatory minimums for coverage that forces healthy people to buy expensive plans with low deductibles.  This is silly.  Grown Americans can decide for themselves how much risk they are willing and able to take on.  If they want to get a plan with a high deductible and a much lower cost, we should let them.  After all, if they have to pay for heavy coverage, they're going to feel obliged to use it, and those increased doctor and hospital visits will drive up costs.  Mr. or Mrs. Democrat, you have to agree with that, right?"

So you get the idea.  Let's get our candidates to start addressing what they would do with Obamacare by picking off, one by one, the stupid, the pernicious, the inefficient and ineffective parts of the law.  By doing so, we stop talking about the nicey-nicey parts and can make the narrative about the stupid, pernicious and inefficient.  Let's see Hillary Clinton try to explain why I am paying dental insurance for children I don't have, but don't get dental coverage myself.

The Supreme Court didn't do the USA any favors last week.  It remains for the Republican candidates to take up the task and explain the legislative remedies that they will propose.  First, of course, they need to set the narrative.

And I just gave them the first talking points.  Available for hire, anytime.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Getting Over It -- John Hinckley and Another Guy

In a story that certainly doesn't appear to be getting much in the way of headlines, John Hinckley, Jr., the attempted assassin who shot several people in 1981 including Ronald Reagan, is the subject of some legal processes this week.  His lawyers and government lawyers are negotiating terms of an agreement under which he can live outside of the mental facility he has been assigned to for over 30 years.

I remember the date quite well, as the night before, which was Easter, my wife went into labor with our second and last child; he would be born the next day, the 30th of March 1981.  We spent our first day in the hospital with our son watching the TV reporting of President Reagan's condition, surgery, the condition of the others who had been wounded, and praying for their recovery.  In those grand, Twitterless days, we relied on network TV to give us the facts, and waited for them to correct their own errors hours later.  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. 

Digression aside, let us return to Mr. Hinckley.  He is 60 now, but back in 1981 he was a young man with what was diagnosed by psychiatrists as some type of personality disorder.  Trying to get the attention of the actress Jodie Foster (in what turned out to be a terribly misdirected affection), he fired at the group including the president, thinking it would give him a platform to declare his feelings for her.

As you recall, or can look up on Wikipedia (which also did not exist then, nor did PCs to any extent, or laptops, or wireless, or the Web), Hinckley was charged with various crimes but was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity, and was remanded to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for treatment after being released from prison custody.

Now, I don't have much use for the "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict and wrote a few months ago on the subject.  But that's what it was for Hinckley and that's where we are now.  So 34 years after a young man with psychiatric issues tried to kill the president of the United States, he is probably going to be released from living primarily at a mental treatment facility.

Have we forgiven him?

That's really the question at hand.  My gut reaction is to applaud efforts to keep him confined, principally because anyone who tries to kill someone else, let alone the president, ought to be put away.  In Hinckley's case, if his punishment has to be lifetime institutionalization rather than incarceration, well, so be it.  Crimes are to be punished, not treated, at least that's my gut reaction.

The more I think about it, the less I care, and the more I would like to rely on the professionals treating him to decide whether or not there is a shred of residual threat -- at least I would if I trusted psychiatrists all that much.  If they all agree that he is not likely to try to impress Jodie Foster any more, then OK, let him out, maybe check in with him once in a while.

What I don't know because, at least at the publication date of the article I referenced, there were zero comments, is what the nation thinks.  Anyone?  Bueller?   Bueller?

I do indeed care, because I'm looking for hypocrisy, as usual.  I went back to some earlier articles about Hinckley but wasn't really able to glean whether liberals or conservatives were more or less likely to want Hinckley locked up for good based on their own political leaning.  So, with every effort to avoid this becoming a strawman, here is my point of comparison.

He committed an act a number of years ago that is universally condemned.  He is much older now than he was at the time of the incident, especially relative to the state of his development and maturation since.  His victims have either forgiven him or have long since moved on, especially relative to the incident and their association of him with it.  His actions at that time do not reflect the person he now is.  There is almost no likelihood or expectation of him committing it again.

At this point, you can easily be thinking that the italicized paragraph above was a summary of the situation regarding the aforementioned John Hinckley, Jr., all of it being obviously an accurate description of him and his status.  But it isn't.

I'm talking about Josh Duggar.

Yes, all the above is every bit as legitimately said in regard to the eldest child of the 19 Kids and Counting family, as it is to John Hinckley.  May we please, each of us, look into our hearts and decide where we innately come down on whether:
(A) John Hinckley, Jr., now 60, should be given his release from residing at a mental treatment facility and allowed to live a normal life; and
(B) Josh Duggar, long past his early teens, should be given back his job, apologized to by the press, and allowed to live a normal life.

What we appear to be told is that Hinckley is no longer a threat to anyone, he has grown out of, or been treated out of, his illness and we are prepared to accept that as the truth.  We are also told that since the age of at least 16, Josh Duggar has not made improper actions toward girls, and in his entire adulthood he has behaved perfectly normally, and we are prepared to accept that as the truth.

So tell me if your feelings on this, whether you are liberal or conservative, are different relative to the two men.  I haven't been able to find enough data to see whether, say, the same people who would like to see Hinckley jailed forever are quick to give Duggar a pass.  I haven't been able to tell whether those who got their ear lobes in a knot about Josh Duggar are ready to forgive and forget as far as Hinckley is concerned.

It's just that the more I think about it, the harder it is to come up with a moral stance that doesn't treat the two situations pretty much the same way.  The arguments for feeling one way or the other toward one of the two play pretty strongly toward the other guy.

I guess I'm one of those who figured that, while what Josh Duggar did as a teenager was pretty bad, he grew out of it and no longer needs to be defined by it or repeatedly punished for it.  So if that's the case, then John Hinckley, if he has grown out of the disturbed person he was in his 20s, and specifically given that he does not have a conviction to deal with, should get the same view from me.

I still think he should have been judged "guilty by reason of insanity" and his treatment assigned to the state (or District in this case), but I guess I have to be morally consistent and equally willing to concede the possibility of his having long since grown out of his issues.

Moral consistency ... perhaps a platform plank for someone in 2016.  Bueller?

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Even More on Messages

Yesterday I questioned the validity and necessity of "messages" in a presidential campaign, and suggested that Hillary Clinton not even bother to have one.  I'm sure I was right about her, first because I'm convinced that she has none and would be damaged by tossing out something that could be challenged and, second because her rationale for running -- she just "wants" to be president -- would not lend itself to messaging very well.

But when we get to the Republican side, I admit that I feel a bit differently.  After all, conservatives have a message that can be crafted, that sums up, as I did write, our philosophy of government, our view of the role of government in the USA, and the role of the USA in the world.

There is a message to be presented there.  Though it may vary among the 7,665 candidates for the Republican nomination, there is enough definable there that someone who can articulate such a message, and defend it in the face of bizarre, Stephanopoulian challenges from the leftist press, can get the nation's voters on the side of such a candidate.

Should we, though, project a message?

I believe so.  I believe so, because whether we want to or not, conservatives will have a message associated with us.  It's simply a matter of whether it is going to be our version of it, or something written in the redolent bowels of the Democratic National Committee and its affiliates at the national networks and major newspapers.  We need to seize the day.

How do we craft that message?

It should not be that hard.  Having conceded that "messaging" should refer to the philosophical elements noted above, it remains simply to present it clearly and definitively, and for one or more of the candidates -- all of whom can see this blog --to decide to adopt it and promulgate it.

Fortunately I have, among the regular readers of this site, one who responded to yesterday's piece with an excellent presentation of how that concept of government and role of the USA would be implemented.  Since I couldn't have done it better myself, I will offer you this version of what he wrote as a core message, in the form of a pledge for any of the Republican candidates who choose to adopt it:

I, [candidate name], want everyone who works for a living and does their best to succeed.  As President, I will help that along by promoting:
   (1) A rational tax structure that doesn't penalize you for working 
   (2) A regulatory structure that doesn't harass you for trying to run your business, nor discourage you from creating jobs.
   (3) A foreign policy that strives for free trade and a level playing field with our trading partners, and helps our friends in freedom-loving democracies while challenging totalitarian states to reform
   (4) A defense policy that prevents our enemies from harming us or our allies.
If you are willing to work for what you want to have in life, you are a part of my constituency regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual preference.  If, however, you expect me to use the Federal government to steal from other people to give you free stuff, look elsewhere.       

Ronald Reagan's greatness lay in the fact that he had unalterable principles that he never wavered from.  If confronted with choices, he would reliably default to his core principles as his starting point and rationale.

Would that we could look up to a president with the firm conviction in what the USA and its government can and should do.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Forging a Message ... What the Heck For?

I was listening to a radio talk show last week, during which the host ran a clip of someone talking about how Hillary Clinton, after her 17th campaign relaunch, needed to "forge a message" that would resonate with voters of different types and backgrounds, in order to get elected.

So let's set aside the fact that the election is pretty much only about Florida, Ohio, Nevada and 2-3 other states that have a chance of going either way.  Let's talk about "forging a message."

When exactly did any candidate "forge a message" that meant anything in the context of governing or even leadership?  I'm not talking about slogans like that hopey-changey thing that Obama used, or "Morning in America" or any of those others.  Those are slogans; they're just words.  I'm talking about an actual message.

Now I remember back to the Eisenhower administration, born during the Truman administration. I remember Ike, and the ten presidents since.  When was the last time that there was a cohesive, themed governing philosophy associated with a president?  Maybe Ronald Reagan?  I mean, it's hard to say someone did or did not have a message, until you define what a "message" actually is.

We give credit to Reagan and say that he ran on the idea of returning government (and capital) to the people, and hiring Cabinet secretaries and department heads to go out and do just that.  So don't you have to credit Obama with having the message that we are no different from Uruguay or Sierra Leone, morally equal to Russia, and that he would do everything possible to minimize the footprint of the USA on the planet?  That's an execrable message, but it was a message, and he certainly has followed it.

But here's the important thing -- Obama didn't run on that message!  No; he ran on that hopey-changey thing that was meant to imply that he would open the Treasury and give everyone money and jobs and phones and stuff.  He never actually said that explicitly, but a bucketload of people inferred that, enough to make him president twice.

Obama was elected on an assumption, not a message.  He didn't need a message.  George W. Bush certainly didn't have a unifying message the first time around and Bill Clinton's might have been "I'll leave your wife alone if you elect me."  OK, maybe that was a slogan.

You get the idea?  It's not about "message", it's about -- or should be about -- philosophy of government, the role of the Federal presence in the USA, the role of the USA in the world.  It should be about those things, because those are what govern the president's judgment in hiring his Cabinet, in leading his legislative initiatives, in dealing with the world.

It should be about those things, which the Democrats cannot win on, because they consistently fail at it.  So it will be about abortion and gay marriage and minimum wage hikes and transgendered Martians and other irrelevancies.  It will be about those things because the Democrats and their flunkies in the press will keep it about those things (I'm looking at you, George Stephanopoulos).

Hillary Clinton would only need to "forge a message" for the purpose of winning an election, but no message will help her.  Quite the contrary, Democrats and the left specifically need not to have a message, because messages are unifying.

Hillary does not want unifying of anything.  She needs the Democratic voting blocs all to vote for her even though they have internally opposing views -- multiple victim groups compete for the same benefits; unions are innately bigoted; the immigrant Latinos take jobs from black citizens; affirmative action towards females disadvantages male Latinos, blacks and gays; trans-racial weirdos like Rachel Dolezal take racial preferences away from -- what, "cis-racials?" (pardon my M.I.T. chemistry minor kicking in); and the list goes on.  

So it is interesting that all the advisers hollering for her to "forge a message" will likely be pushed aside by the smarter advisers, quietly telling her to eschew the message and just toss out a good slogan. 

Because there is no message out there that represents what Hillary Clinton would be as president.  That president would, of course, be the same politically-motivated, insanely egocentric person that the Secret Service couldn't wait to write about and tell stories about -- the same person so convinced that she is above the law, that she would plan to hide her communications as Secretary of State by setting up a home-guarded email server the day of her confirmation hearing. 

No message needed, Hillary.  Just wave your gender around and try to ride it back to the White House.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Ironic Irrelevance of the $10 Bill

The Obama Administration has announced that it is going to put a female on the face of the ten-dollar bill in the next scheduled redesign in around the year 2020.  The silliness of deciding that a uterus is more important than service to the country notwithstanding, you have to wonder at the way this is going to be decided.

Back when the Government -- oops, the Jimmy Carter Administration -- was devaluing the U.S. dollar on a regular basis by failing to protect its citizens against inflation and attendant high interest rates, it made a similar decision.  "We will create a one-dollar coin", they said, "and put a woman on it."

Of course, we are not Canadians, and it is not in our nature to carry around pocketfuls of loonies and toonies.  Accordingly, when the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was created and released -- apparently the Carter people couldn't come up with a woman in the 203 years since our founding who had done more than she -- the coin flopped mightily.

The Susie didn't last but a couple three years, and production was halted.  The next attempt at a dollar coin was hilariously called the "golden dollar", because its color resembled gold even though it was made of lots of non-gold metals.  It featured the Indian guide Sacagawea -- they needed another female face, since this was an initiative of the later Clinton presidency, and it had to be a female he had not ever ... well, you get the idea.

The "golden dollar" was immediately renamed, colloquially, the "squawbuck", and almost as immediately disappeared from circulation as the populace hated the idea.  Surely you recall putting a $20 bill into a stamp machine at the Post Office and getting a bunch of squawbucks in change.  I don't cuss, but a few choice ones certainly crossed my mind each time that happened to me.

So here we are again -- Democratic president foisting a currency redesign, and again trying to find a female American to put a face on it.  There is a set of polls out there to select a face, but none appears to have just a blank with "Who should be on the redesign?" on it.  No, there is a set of choices, hand-picked by ... well, just look at the list.

I would ask them simply to name someone who had done more for the country than Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who would be replaced on the ten, if they actually go through with this.  Name someone, with or without a uterus, who had done as much or more.  Or even close ... I could deal with close.

But I suppose it doesn't matter.  The ghosts of Susie and Sacagawea will rise again no matter who the Obama people plaster on the ten.  Because, much like the case with the two failed dollar coins, the USA will end up putting a female on an item of currency that no one will use.

Am I sure of this?  Pretty much.

I don't think the ten-dollar bill has ever really been nearly the "big seller" that its fellow paper currency denominations have been.  The twenty (Andrew Jackson) is the primary "big" bill in use. If there needs to be any further validation, the twenty is what is dispensed in ATMs and has been since I programmed bank electronics in the late 1970s. It is the case, simply because its denomination is large enough to make it useful for a wide range of transactions, and small enough that you're not always asking for change that you don't want, as you would with the $50 or $100. 

Note that I say "change that you don't want."  See, that's the thing.  We carry around a lot less cash, now, than we did when Carter tried to jam Susies down our pockets, and even less now than when Clinton gave us the squawbuck.  The proliferation of the debit card, with all its protections, has vastly trumped the money clip full of twenties (not tens), with no protections at all.

I love the debit card.  My sons, 34 and 41, never carry cash around for daily transactions.  Heck, I'll use a debit card for a $2.50 pack of beef jerky at the gas station, or for a buck or two for a McDonalds burger, without a moment's thought.  The vendor has already built the processing fee into the cost of the merchandise, so I feel no guilt -- and I'm not carrying cash around.

And that is just 2015, this year.  This is what they call a "trend", and trends that are worthwhile, that have value (like the ability not to carry annoying and risky cash around), tend to last.  This one is growing -- money for daily transactions has become very much predominantly electronic, and will continue as such until paper currency is far, far less prevalent.  Check out the Mint's production rates for paper currency vs., say 1985.

So we're already rapidly cutting back on our use of all pocket cash.  The $10 bill is already rather low on the list of usefulness for those who actually do carry paper currency, relative to the other denominations.  What, then, do we foresee by 2020, when the "new" ten is released?

The answer is patently obvious.  Whoever the woman is, whose face is on the 2020 ten -- and you can guarantee that she will be selected for some cause that suits a liberal narrative -- she will find herself adorning a piece of paper rarely to be seen.  It may not be cussed at like the dollar coins, since we do already have $10 bills and are at least "used to them".  But much like we have to think to remember that Alexander Hamilton is the current resident of the ten, we will quickly forget who is on the new one, since we'll rarely see it.  Eleanor who?

Of course, if they have to put a woman on the ten, I would quickly reply that the outstanding deceased female citizen of the USA, in terms of rendering good to the world (if not particularly this country) would be Mother TeresaShe was indeed a citizen of our country, and certainly is second to none in the good done for the world in her lifetime by deceased female American citizens.

Moreover, along with the hopey-changey thing that Barack Obama ran on -- OK, given the tenor of this piece, perhaps "change" isn't such a great thing -- he stands for nothing more than a global-centric USA and against a USA-centric USA.  Who more represents "good for the world", done by a now-deceased female citizen, than Mother Teresa?

Of course, since the ten will be as useless in 2020 as the Iraqi Army and Obamacare are now, I suppose that proposing putting Mother Teresa on the ten is offensive to her memory.

So put Hillary on it.  Obama can do an Executive Order waiving the rules about depicting living people on currency.  He's done that sort of thing before on more important issues, and we'd love to see Mrs. Clinton "honored" by plastering her face on a piece of useless paper.

Or better yet, Obama can pull a Rachel Dolezal, call himself female and put his face on it.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Let Us Demystify Symbols and Get Happy

This past week has seen one of the most remarkable events in recent history take place in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina.  I'm not talking about the horrific murder that took place in a historic black church there by a disturbed young man with a very apparent racist motivation.

I am talking about the incredible response by the most deeply affected in the community -- the families and fellow parishioners of the victims of the killings.  Their reaction, heartfelt and clear, was a Christian message of forgiveness for the killer and a desire to accept what had happened without hate, without desire for revenge and with love for one's fellow man.  I wanted to cry as I heard their words; I wanted to be a part of what they have.  Good, good people.

In the couple days afterwards, the media took pains to point out things they don't understand -- one going so far as to ask whether the Confederate flag, which also is flown in South Carolina, would also be brought down to half-staff along with the State and US flags.

Really?  That's what you're concerned about?  The story is quite obviously the incredible goodness of the people in that church, their Christian charity and forgiveness -- that they were so good to this stranger sitting in their Bible study that, as he told the survivors, he almost didn't go through with his killing spree because the people were so nice to him.  But no, let's dwell on a symbol and try to make something of that.

I'll tell you what I took out of the press's stupid fascination with the Confederate flag.  I think it is time for us to demystify the message of some of those symbols and immediately defuse whatever negative impact they have.  So many black people get upset at the sight of that flag or, worse, a white robe and hood.  Jews recoil at the sight of a swastika.  You get the idea.

But as long as they are going to act that way, the ghosts of the Nazis of the '30s and '40s continue to win.  The spirits of the KKK celebrate their hold on the frightened.  The symbols retain their strength as long as the people affected by them continue to allow themselves to be affected.

And the solution is quite simple.  Do not remove the symbol from our consciousness; rather, change its meaning and its impact by adopting it and completely diluting the negativity in its meaning.

What if, in the next five years, black Americans started to fly the Confederate flag as a symbol of, say, their success in rising from slavery over 150 years, or racial pride, or whatever?  Make patches from it and wear them.  Have "white robe" parties and dances to show that they are perfectly capable of rising above the hatreds of the past.  Seize the initiative and the symbol so that it means something different -- or, ultimately, nothing at all.

Can you imagine if Jewish Americans, or gays, started wearing swastikas as jewelry, widely enough that it would lose all symbolism and crush the hatred that spawned its past use?  OK, so I have a hard time seeing that, but much stranger fads have gotten popular very quickly.  Maybe because it is so hard to accept, it would be news quickly, be accepted that much faster and, most importantly, have the quickest impact in completely defusing its effect ... and removing its capacity to cause fear.

I don't happen to belong to a group for which there is such a fearful but equally anachronistic symbol -- not even the NBA logo (all those tall people really do frighten me, but I can easily shut off the TV).  So I really can't tell you how hard it might be for a member of those groups to don the symbol that causes them the most distress, in the spirit of killing its capacity to instill fear forever.

But think of it this way -- absent the Internet, absent email and tweeting and Facebook, it took decades for these symbols to achieve the capacity they now have to represent what they do.  We have all those media elements today.  By 2020 the flag, the robe, the swastika could be so widely seen as the symbols of those who once feared them -- or of no one at all -- that it would have made our collective heads spin.

Perhaps the good-hearted people of Charleston and the Emanuel A.M.E. Church can start by raising the Confederate flag and declaring it to be the symbol of their love for each other and their fellow man, and that it shall be so forever.  I would jump in my car and drive there to march right along with them in Christian love and peace.

And those ghosts can just dry up and blow away.  Poof.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Friday, June 19, 2015

It's All Black and White, Except When It Isn't

I just told you that the whole Rachel Dolezal story was going to keep giving gifts in the form of columns, and I was right.

I had heard that Carly Fiorina was going to be a guest on "The View" this past Tuesday, that odd collection of women led by the black celebrity Whoopi Goldberg, who sit and talk about things five times a week on ABC.  I tuned in a few minutes before the scheduled Carly-time, and the five women were finishing a conversation about, you guessed it, Rachel Dolezal.

Remember that I said that the left would tie themselves in knots trying to decide what to make of our Rachel?  Well, Whoopi, who is certainly over there on the left, decided that it was perfectly fine for Rachel to decide that she "felt black."

I'd like to know if I were to "feel tall", whether Whoopi would go along with that?

But I digress.

There is a part of what Whoopi said that I have no trouble with. If Rachel Dolezal, of only German, Swedish and Czech extraction, wants to run around acting black, well, sweetie, you just have at it.  The rest of us just get called bigots when we try to define anything as being associated with blackness, so if you want to tan your skin, screw up your hair and listen to rap, well, whatever trips your trigger.  It's a free country.

But here's where I would love to hear the exchange if we were to seat Whoopi next to Rachel Dolezal and have Whoopi answer the following question honestly:

"Whoopi, you are sitting next to Rachel Dolezal, who is not one corpuscle black, but who has portrayed herself as black, got into a black college, works for the NAACP, tanned herself and adopted a black hairdo.  You said, on this show, that you are explicitly OK with her doing all that.  So what happens when you, or your daughter or brother or sister loses out on a job, or a college admission that was based on racial preference, to Rachel Dolezal, or to anyone else whose only claim to blackness is that she "feels black"?

And that, friends, is what is wrong with affirmative action and other racial preference in schools, employment and congressional redistricting.  Because no sooner than people become the gender they always wanted to be, others will try to become the racial type they always wanted to be, just like Rachel Dolezal. Since the preferences were put into place to address past injustices, then who actually is entitled to seek redress of those perceived injustices today by taking advantage of those preferences?

All of those lovely programs meant to address racial injustices of decades past will provide benefits not only to those who never experienced those injustices (e.g., the first-generation American Barack Obama getting into Harvard Law, five years after graduating college without accomplishment as an undergrad but having the right skin color), but those who, like Rachel Dolezal, aren't really even members of the racial type they claim to be!

Is this actually the last straw in the extreme that says you can be anything you call yourself?  Because if we simply are what we feel like, then it is absolutely time to divest ourselves of the burdens of racial preferences, of pernicious "cures" like affirmative action, of the must-interview-a-black-coaching-candidate "Rooney Rule" in the NFL.

We are all one, big happy family, this human race of ours, and we can just choose to be anything we want to be.  Hey, I have one -- who gets arrested if a white guy who says he feels black has a fight with a black guy who pulls the Michael Jackson thing and claims to be white?  Whose civil rights are violated?  Who gets to play the race card?

Oh, this is so much fun.  I can't wait for the Comments to fill up below.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

#200: Civil and Uncivil Rights: The Second Amendment

My older brother periodically texts me suggestions for topics for this column.  Since he taught me to do things like reading and riding a bike, I listen to him.  And so in his honor this, my 200th essay in this space, is on a topic not only suggested by him, but near and dear to his heart.  Merci, Richard.
_ _ _ _ _

What, indeed, are "civil rights"?

I have to wonder sometimes as the discussions around gun control keep flying along.  I suppose there is out there, on Al Gore's Amazing Internet, an actual definition of civil rights in the context of something legally definable.  I'll probably not do the research, but I'll assume there is one.

Would not such definition have to include rights that are explicitly guaranteed to Americans by the actual founding document of our republic?  I refer, of course to rights such as to a "trial by a jury of one's peers", and to be "protected from illegal search and seizure", and "free assembly".

And the right to keep and bear arms.

Now, I have a spotty relationship with the old Second Amendment.  I was an NRA member as a child, until around 1970.  Then I rejoined in 2012, some 42 years later.  I have never in my entire life actually owned a firearm myself; my Dad owned many and some were set aside for me to use in my teens, but I didn't actually own them.

The fact that I've never owned a rifle or pistol does not mean I don't know how to use one.  As a matter of fact, at 18 years old I held one of the highest competitive marksmanship rating levels in the NRA, and had shot rifle competitively in several different organizations -- including my high school team.

My sons both own pistols and know how to use them.  And maybe the first time we shot together at a range, I can't tell what surprised them more -- when their Dad (me), who had never owned a pistol, put five shots in a quarter-sized hole at 30 feet; or when their grandfather, my Dad, who was with us at the time, calmly did the same thing.  My father, who as they eventually learned, had been a champion marksman in the Army in the 1940s, was 93 at the time.

So I will share my view that the Second Amendment is a fundamental, constitutional right.  I believe the states have the right to enact reasonable statutes that may involve the management of the possession of firearms, yes.  But in no case should those statutes place an undue burden on law-abiding citizens in obtaining, keeping and bearing arms -- a view that would have, if obeyed by the particular State of New Jersey, likely saved the life of a lady murdered by an ex-boyfriend while she waited, beyond the mandated period, to be granted a permit.

I do not know what the late lady's family plans to do in this case, other than, as reported in the article, to push for fast-track legislation in Trenton to expedite the process more.  But I know what I think they should be thinking about.

The family of the late Carol Bowne should file a civil suit against the Chief of Police of Berlin Township, New Jersey, and the township itself and, conceivably, the State.  They should be charged with conspiring to deprive her of her civil rights as defined in the U.S. Constitution, specifically the right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.  The evidence is in their callous disregard for and denial of her rights, as shown by their failure to issue a permit to own a handgun in the prescribed period of time set by law, even though she was known to have been threatened.

Really -- even Michael Moore, the bizarre and grotesquely obese far-lefty movie maker, seemed to get the message in a recent tweet -- "Next demand: Disarm the police. We have a 1/4 billion 2nd amendment guns in our homes [for] protection. We'll survive til the right cops [are] hired."  Even he gets the right and, these days, the need to be able to be armed.

But it is not the recognition of the need to possess defensive firearms that is at issue.  It is the right not to have the state infringe upon one's acquisition and possession, the right that it is quite clearly in the Constitution itself.

If any claim to any "civil right" exists, there can be none greater, no more evident and unassailable civil right than those explicitly guaranteed by our founding document.  If any injury to any American due to loss of a civil right exists, there can be none greater than loss of one's life.  Clearly defined civil right ... injury ... lawsuit.  Voilà!

The process for obtaining a legal permit to acquire and possess a firearm in the State of New Jersey is explicit, its timing is in the law.  Thirty days for approval.  The township and the State failed to act in accordance with a law that mandated how Miss Bowne's right to bear arms was to be protected and implemented.

Therefore, Berlin Township and the State of New Jersey have violated the civil rights of Carol Bowne by infringing on her right to bear arms, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and by failing to operate in accordance with their own laws.  Their actions cost her her ability to defend herself and, because of that, their actions cost her her life.

This is a lawsuit for deprivation of civil rights waiting to happen.

I hope there are hungry lawyers reading this.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gravity and Income Inequalty: Fighting the Inevitable

I think it has been a while since I did one of those essay titles with a colon in it, the way that Ph.D. candidates title their doctoral dissertations to make them sound like, well, other people's doctoral dissertations that resulted in actual degrees.  A radio commentator I am a big fan of is fond of reading from published books and articles, and pausing dramatically after the title if it has a colon, saying "The left loves colons."

This topic seemed particularly colonic.

I know I have addressed aspects of income inequality before, but lest my points languish like a congressionally-mandated study on a shelf somewhere, let's dust them off and add some seasoning.  I would certainly refer you to this piece and then over to this one as introductory material, but I want to get to today's point pretty quickly.

You know that I've written that the left loves to talk bout "fixing" income inequality, because it resonates with their far-left base, which wants government to take from the "rich" and give to the "poor", as if that will solve anything at all, let alone solve anything for any length of time -- give a man a fish, as Jesus said but Hillary does not believe.

To "fix" something, though, you not only have to have the ability to repair the perceived problem, but a sense of what you will end up with -- the "end state", as I like to call it.  The left never talks about an end state, because it is important for them always to perceive a problem.  If  anything is ever actually fixed, there is no need for more and more government.  And in the view of the left, we always need more government, if not an ability to pay for it.

When you build a house, you end up with a house, and an expectation that its foundation will survive for 200 years, and its roof for 15 years, its frame for a hundred years, whatever.  The materials are selected, and the construction planned, both with the expectation that at the conclusion of the process the house will be there and be done.

But God forbid that the left, whether from the mouth of Hillary Clinton (were she ever to answer any question, let alone this one) or Bernie Sanders, or Michael Moore, actually define the operating, final state when income inequality is actually fixed, and at an acceptable level -- in their view.

"Mrs. Clinton", I would ask, if she would deign to look my way, "You have railed about income inequality and want to fix it.  Since income is a simple, quantitative measurement and nothing else, it should be really easy to decide what the USA will look like when all your policies fix it.  So answer this multi-part question: 
- In actual, numeric terms, how will we know when we are "done fixing"?  
- Are we done when the highest income that anyone can earn -- including, by the way, you, your husband, George Clooney, Michael Moore, Tom Brady and Mark Teixeira -- is no more than two times the income of the poorest American?  Three times?  Five?  What multiplier is fair, and why?
- Are we done when individuals' incomes are capped?  Would that be when the maximum income of anyone is $50,000 per year?  $100,000 per year?
- What laws do you propose to force that to happen?
- How will you incentive diligent, intelligent, talented Americans to work hard, if their income is capped along with lazy, stupid and incompetent ones?
- How is the result of your approach any different from the Soviet Union?

She can't possibly answer that, because it is an immutable law of human nature that people gravitate toward a position of best return.  If you drop an apple, it will fall to earth, pulled by the natural law of gravity.  If you are diligent, intelligent and/or talented, you will be attracted to a situation where your capability is rewarded and wild horses won't be able to keep you away.  If you are lazy and/or not as intelligent, you will be attracted to a situation where your smallest effort produces the biggest return, whether it is via a low-level job in the Federal government, reproducing subsidized children or just accepting welfare as your lot.

Human nature is a tough force to fight, much as is fighting gravity.  If, for example, Mrs. Clinton were to achieve her end and take all the capital in the USA (except hers, of course) and completely redistribute it to the 300+ million Americans equally, within five years it would manage to assort itself right back to the various levels it was before her interference.  The formerly high earners and wealthy would set up high incomes all over again due to whatever got them there before.  The lazy, dumb and untalented would squander whatever they got and be right back here they were.

If, on the other hand, Mrs. Clinton were to implement wage cap laws or other liberal legislative pap that did not allow the diligent, intelligent and talented to earn whatever they can, eventually they will all leave for Canada, or New Zealand, or Mars, taking their assets with them, along with their talents, skills and intelligence, before she can confiscate them.

It is really that simple.  Trying to "fight" income inequality is exactly like opposing gravity, or teaching a pig to sing (it's not worth the effort, and it annoys the pig).  Trying to "fight" income inequality without an actual plan, and without a vision of what you want to end up, with is not only stupid, it is corrupt.  And if that is what you want from your leaders, you'll have a chance to vote for it in 2016 by pulling the "D" lever.

Now, if you happen to see Hillary, please ask her those questions before she walks away.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Fallacy of Helping the Middle Class

Hillary Clinton is all over the middle class these days as she tries to convince the American public that she knows what they want, or cares.  I'm sure that as she and Bill sent their staff to the bank to deposit their $100 million or so in speaking fees they've gotten, it is the "middle class" that they're thinking about.

She's certainly not thinking about them more than she did Ernest Dymond, the police officer who was run over by her driver at Westchester County Airport shortly after 9/11, when she ordered her Secret Service driver to ignore a security checkpoint.  [The linked article does not mention that when the Secret Service came back to the checkpoint to check on the injured officer, they apologized that the former first "lady" had ordered them to run the checkpoint to get to her private jet.]

But I digress.

In order to help the "middle class", you have to do a couple things, and it doesn't matter if you are Hillary Clinton or an actual caring human being.  First, you need to define what the middle class actually is.  Then, you have to decide what they have sufficiently in common, that you can determine a "need" to decide to address.

There is, of course, no right answer on what "middle class" means.  I think we are middle class, but whether we are, or not, pretty much depends on what the next defined level down or up is.  "Poor"?  "Working Poor"?  ""Comfortable"?  "Filthy Rich"?  "Whatever the Clintons Are"?  I don't know.

I do know that however most people think of  "middle class" without actually, you know, defining it, it could encompass an inordinate variety of people.  And no matter how you define them, they will have both an inordinate variety of situations and an inordinate variety of opinions on how much fixing they actually want.  I think a piece I wrote last September covers that part pretty well.

You probably want to start by defining "middle class" in terms of income, and I can't say that I blame you.  But gee, if you're making, say, $50,000 a year and live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, your lifestyle is one heck of a lot different from your twin sister making $50,000 and living in Manhattan.

4312 W Lennox Loop, Coeur D Alene, ID 83815

Hint: the above picture is of an actual four-bed, three-bath house under ten years old, on 1/3 acre, that is for sale in Coeur d'Alene for $284,900.  The same $284,900 in Manhattan will get you a steak dinner with champagne, but no side dishes.  And the champagne will be domestic.  Mortgages not available.

You get the idea.  We all would "feel" like the buyer of that house -- which a $50,000 income would let you get a mortgage for -- is "middle class", right?  I know I do.  I also know that the 208-square-foot apartment that you could get for the same price, in Manhattan, also comes with a $9,000 annual condo fee that would take it out of affordability, period.

So no, there's no dollar threshold for "middle class."  Perhaps we replace it with "the range between what a trash collector would make and what an accountant would make" wherever you happen to live, or some other range of professions -- a geographically neutral concept.

But then, you get into problem #2, which is -- OK, this is #2a -- that however you slice that range, and however narrowly you bound it, it will end up with a middle class without consistent needs.

Some will feel that educating their kids is a priority, so they will pay for private schools rather than set loose their heirs in schools taught by NEA types.  Some will be overwhelmingly focused on saving for retirement and have no kids.  Some want to maximize their home size; others are committed to public service.  None of that innately pushes you out of the middle class, nor defines you as being in it.  Their needs are different, which means the solutions are different.  No one size fits all.

Then there is #2b -- the middle class, however defined, includes the very conservative, the very liberal, and everything in between.  Whatever "solution" you come up with, not only will it help some and hurt others, but a healthy chunk of them will oppose, on principle, any solution or policy meant to help the middle class as defined by Hillary, or whomever.  In other words, they will not want what Government is trying to do for some part of the group they're supposed to be in!

In the simplest case, if Obama decided to borrow $300 billion from China to give a thousand to every U.S. citizen to "help the middle class", I would scream "NO!!!!" even though I could use the money.  It might be good for my best gal and me, but it would sure be bad for the USA.

If I am middle class, and I don't know what else I am, I will forgo a lot if what Government may do in the name of helping people like me, if it is in the name of a balanced budget.  That is important to me.  If you took away my mortgage interest deduction in the name of a flat income tax, I will happily wave it bye-bye.  My neighbor, of comparable middlehood, may scream bloody murder.  Get it?

So here's what I want, as a voter and a taxpayer.

If you are running for President, and you even mention that you want to help the middle class, then I ask that you start your entreaty to that middle class with these sentences, all of them:

(1) I, [candidate name], believe that the middle class is defined as: ..............................
(2) I, [candidate name], believe that the most pressing need of the middle class is: ....................
(3) I, [candidate name], believe that the solution to that most pressing need is: .....................
(4) And I, [candidate name], believe that the reason that solution to the most pressing need of the middle class will work is because [describe where it actually has worked in a real-life situation].

Now, I actually send links to these essays to many of the presidential candidates on the vague chance that someone in their entourages will actually read them and start thinking.  I think I'll add Hillary Clinton to the list for this one.

She'll appreciate the help, I'm sure, as long as she doesn't have her own hands on the steering wheel.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Monday, June 15, 2015

And I Thought I Was the First Caucasian Black Person

So by now you may have seen the bizarre story out of Spokane, Washington about the white woman, Rachel Dolezal, whose parents are descended only from Europeans and are certainly white, but who was and still is, at least reading, the president of the local NAACP chapter, who is, incredibly, defending her.

According to the story, she had been pretending to be black, said that she had a degree from Howard University, and currently teaches "Africana Studies [sic]" at Eastern Washington University.  Yes, to you and to my spell-check, that's the name of the course.  When asked directly by a reporter "Are you African-American", she answered "I don't understand the question" and walked away.

This all has been a fascinating exercise in dashing around the whole PC fun world.  If being black is so wonderful that someone would pretend to be black -- to the point of going to Howard, marrying (and divorcing) a black guy, getting a job with the NAACP and teaching "Africana Studies [sic]", then how do we deal with that?

Do we deal with it the same way that we deal with Bruce Jenner, who is a male human but has declared himself to be female, and intends for the rest of us to regard him that way?

Are we who, like her very confused parents in Montana, look at Rachel Dolezal as the white woman she always was and ask "Duh?", some kind of bigots (answer: the left will certainly find a way to make us bigots, so just go with "yes").

Is she different from Michael Jackson, who managed to grow from young black entertainer into a white adult somehow capable of siring Caucasian children?  I have a degree in biology and still can't figure that one out.  I seem to recall that our general treatment of that facet of the King of Pop's life was to laugh very hard at it, and then buy more of his records.  I also recall that I was more astonished that he could sire any children at all, let alone white ones.

But I digress.

More importantly, what do actual, genetically black people think when they read this?  Are they happy that some certifiable nut-case in Spokane, Washington has decided that it's their race she wants to claim to be?  Would they rather that she claim to be Vietnamese, or Maori, or Kalmyk?  Would they prefer that if some white person is going to be out there claiming to be black, that it be someone else, like Mark McGwire or George Clooney or Kate Upton, and not Rachel Dolezal?

This one is not going to end well for Rachel.  Since we all know that she is indeed quite white, she will have to deal not only with her ascent to the level of National Laughingstock, but with little things like falsification of government documents -- Spokane is now looking at her application to be a member of the city's police oversight commission and deciding whether to file charges, since she claimed to be black, or biracial, or something else contrary to fact, in her application.

But it is going to end up just wonderfully for me.  First off, I have a column today that practically writes itself, not that I have to search the world that hard to find things to write about -- or laugh about.  And as this story unfolds, and people can be relied upon to write and say immensely, superlatively stupid things as they scramble to decide how to react, I'm sure I will revisit it later -- two columns for the price of one.  The gift that keeps on giving columns, sort of like Obamacare.

Most of all, I get to laugh at Rachel Dolezal doing, very seriously, what I actually did so many years ago, as I write about in this piece.  Of course, I was not serious, and when I "became black", I did it for the money -- all eighty bucks and change that I got in the settlement, plus the right to say that a court has determined me to be adequately black to receive funds somehow from a race discrimination settlement.  That is although racially I am, well, not adequately black to be called anything other than "white."

So let us all, who are immensely sick of political correctness, pour an icy Corona, sit back and observe as the left and their PC police tie themselves into knots no Boy Scout can name. We'll enjoy the scene as they try to decide whether Rachel Dolezal is a charlatan, a contemptible poseur, a heroine of racial wars, a white person, a black person, a post-racial something-or-other, more like Michael Jackson, or more like Bruce Jenner. Or more like me.

Because in the view of the left, she has to be something.  They can't leave this one alone; it is too much of a teaching moment, if only they can tell us what the lesson is.

Either way, there are so few of us black white people.  Welcome to the club, Rachel.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Political Correctness of ... Joe McCarthy?

If memory serves, and it rarely does, it has been a while since we have seen the term "McCarthyism" bandied about to refer to someone finding dangerous folks under the desks in Washington.

We refer, of course, to the activities of the late Joseph McCarthy, who was until his death in 1957 a senator from the great state of Wisconsin.  McCarthy, so the story goes, was fond of providing lists, or at least making reference to having lists, of communists, communist sympathizers, gays and other risky types who were employed in sensitive positions in government, particularly in the State Department.

McCarthy, it may be presumed, at least for this piece, saw communists where there frequently may have been none.  At least for this purpose, we'll assume that he saw a lot more than were actually there, since that is the reputation and that is what the term "McCarthyism" refers to -- seeing threats that are not there.

Senator McCarthy was a Republican as well as an anti-communist, which means that it is the left that can be relied on to use that term a lot more, although there have not been a host of places for the left to trot it out lately.  Today's conservatives cannot often be accused of seeing things that aren't there.  Surely the left keeps the term in their available arsenal for the right moment, though.

The "right moment" to make the accusation of McCarthyism, however, is now, as much as it ever may have been.  But it is not the left who could make that claim; rather, it is they who have been behaving in a McCarthyistic fashion for a while now.

I refer to the left's fascination with political correctness, and its associated presumption that their opponents bear a deep-seated hatred for every group, whether non-white, female, Muslim, gender-unspecific or Martian.  In fact, just think of every word ending in "-ophobia" and the left presupposes that we all -- maybe they too -- bear a white-hot hatred for the group preceding the suffix.

Am I that wrong?  Michael Brown robs a convenience store, bullies the clerk, smokes some weed, walks up to a cop in a car and tries to get his gun to shoot him, then walks away, turns and charges the cop and gets shot to death while charging the cop.  Is Brown, to the left, the villainous thug he actually is (or was)?  Nope, he's the gentle giant of Ferguson, Missouri!  The cop?  Yep, he's the villain, and he gets accused so viciously of racism -- that had zippo to do with the case and which, in any event, no one ever corroborated -- that he has to quit the police force and go into hiding.

How is that not McCarthyism?  Accusing someone, this time actually identified by name, of something in his heart and soul for which there is no evidence at all?

Is it not McCarthyism to ascribe racism to the cop in McKinney, Texas who got a bit excessive in responding to a complaint at a pool party there?  What about the  people who find the whole Bruce Jenner thing -- particularly receiving a "courage award" from ESPN -- to be a bit over the top?  Have you seen the responses to the brave folks who express those opinions?  The left is out there trying to invent a phobia, to ascribe to (and use to shame) those who don't want to give courage awards to people for being males-who-aren't-really-gay-but-feel-better-as-a-female-and-may-or-may-not-choose-a-surgical-approach-which-would-make-them-lesbians.

Aside -- I have such friends, including a very close friend who actually is one of the latter.  Were he to read this, I would want him to know that he would be my friend no matter what.  I do not, will not, and have never judged him, except as a human being -- who the heck am I to judge anyone?  As a human being, he is a blessing to my life and he will be my friend tomorrow and the day after that.

Political correctness -- the idea that you may not offend even one in a million for being, well anything at all -- is nothing more than McCarthyism redux, 60 years later.  Because you may not offend, and we all do so whether we're trying to or not, we all can be accused of being closet haters -- not of communists as in the 1950s, but of anyone not like us.  Like, you know, tall people in my case.  I hate those folks who can reach the top shelf.

Al Sharpton can blithely accuse the American policeman of being inherently racist and be not a shred less despicable than McCarthy was ... but he gets away with it (I have a list, too, of people avoiding huge tax bills, and the "reverend" is right at the top, but I digress).

My point is that in in the '50s, because of McCarthy, people who should have had nothing to fear were insanely careful about whom they met with, or talked with, or associated with, lest they be called a communist for associating with someone who had, I don't know, used "Soviet Union" in a sentence.  That was a pretty scary time in some agencies.

Today, people who also should have nothing to fear are also keeping our mouths closed lest we let slip a comment that could be construed, incorrectly of course, as being racist, sexist, ageist, stonerist, LGBTQXYZphobic or, God forbid, anti-Muslim.  A black man in McKinney, Texas who witnessed all the events at that famous pool party, and came down on the side of the cop, gets death threats.  Toe the line, Brother.

We keep our mouths shut because of the legion of leftist PC police, intent on making themselves look better by finding fault in those around them, kind of like a homeowner's association meeting. 

And if you can't easily find fault, just invent one.

It is certainly easier than thinking.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gratitude to Our Neighbors to the North and Far West

On Monday, it was announced in the Toronto Star, with some glee, that Canada and Japan had managed to block the rest of the "G7" executives, or leaders of a defined part of the "free" world, from pursuing an initiative against "global warming."

The leaders of the two nations had successfully watered down the text of a statement that would have suggested that this particular subset of the world's many nations would lead in the de-industrialization of the world.  That would be disguised as preventing "climate change", but there is no doubt, as I wrote most entertainingly last October, that the purpose was to grind industry to a halt.

The Canadians and the Japanese, at least their leadership, appear to have recognized a few things.  One is that for the G7 to decide to tell the rest of the 200+ countries what they can and cannot do is rather pompous.  Another is that the non-represented nations, like the Russians, the Chinese and the Indians, are as likely to cut their fossil fuel consumption as I am to wake up six feet tall in the morning.

Finally, our Japanese and Canadian colleagues clearly looked at the idea of the G7 nations compromising our economies for the sake of a couple degrees of temperature over a hundred years (aside: God has done that Himself plenty of times; not too long ago Scotland had grapes growing in areas inhospitably cold to them today), and said "No, thanks."  I suspect they also said something, hopefully out loud, to Barack Obama, like "Sure, Barry; we'll kill our industry and gut our own nations in the hope that the Chinese, Russians and Indians will follow.  Kind of like your negotiating with Iran, isn't it?  Hope as a strategy, eh?  How's that working out?"

I just wonder what the citizens of the G7 countries are thinking as they observe that spectacle.  Angela Merkel, who leads Germany, was actually the outwardly driving force behind this G7 global warming charade.  Do we think that the average German is comfortable converting his Mercedes to solar power so China can stay cooler in 2097?  No, I don't either.

Obviously, we won't get a statement from the Canadian delegation in regard to their brave action stalling this nonsense.  So we don't necessarily know why they opposed the initiative, and we probably aren't going to hear about it.

But I would really, really like to hear from the Canadian leader, the prime minister Stephen Harper and, since I doubt we will, here is the speech I'd like to hear:

"As you are aware, during this week's G7 Summit, the topic of global warming was raised, and what we, as the leading industrialized nations, could do about it.  I don't want to get into the science of it; rather, I wanted to note that I attended the summit as the representative of Canada, and to promote and defend the interests of the people who have elected me to office.

"It is my firm belief that the purpose of all the ruckus about global warming is an attempt by the troglodyte faction of the world's leftists, to slow down and ultimately destroy the economy of Western nations, to the presumed relative benefit of other large and some poorer countries.  Neither I, nor the people of Canada who rely on fossil fuels, believe it wise to sit idly by and allow this obstructionist movement to prevent our country's economic development.

"More importantly, there can be only two outcomes of continued production and consumption of fossil fuels -- the global average temperature will rise, or it won't.  If it does not, then every anti-industrial, counter-productive step we have taken will have been for no gain, and we will have riled up the populace for nothing.

"If indeed the temperature does rise, then outside of Russia it is hard to imagine a country which would benefit more than Canada.  We have a tremendous land mass which could produce an agricultural bounty the world has never seen, if only it weren't so blasted cold up there, eh?  No single action could aid the world more in feeding its hungry than were Canada to be warm enough to support a much larger variety of agricultural products.

"Accordingly, I have acted in the best interest of my country -- and, serendipitously, the hungry of the world -- by acting to stop any movement on the part of my poor, misguided peers to keep the globe cool.  I trust that my fellow Canadians will honour me with their support in this position."  

I have to say, as many Canadians as it has been my privilege to know over the years, I'd have to think that, were Mr. Harper to make that speech, glasses would be raised from Vancouver to Halifax and up to Inuvik, all saluting his belief in putting his nation first.

And either way, Barack Obama will crawl back to the USA wondering why no one follows him.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Deserving to Get Fired -- Really

I'm not a cold, heartless beast who wants innocent, poor children to starve.  You may not think so after this piece, but I assure you that I'm actually a really nice guy.

Last week there was a briefly-aired piece on television highlighting a lady in Denver named Della Curry.  Della Curry worked in an elementary school near Denver, Colorado until she was fired for giving free meals away to students who did not qualify for the Federal school lunch program.

You can read the CNN version of the story, which is relatively non-threatening to the school district, and which also noted that their policy provides for some modest capacity to cover children who have no lunches.  Apparently Miss Curry had repeatedly provided school food on her own initiative, a few times too often, and she was eventually fired, giving her the opportunity to tell her tragic story on ABC's morning show and presumably elsewhere.

According to the article, she said sometimes students simply forget their lunch money and noted that, on occasion she even went into her own pocket to pay for lunches.   Let's not forget that.

Now, Della Curry sounds like a nice lady.  She did a nice thing when she paid for kids' lunches when they forgot them.  I would be perfectly happy to have Della Curry live next door to me.  But the suitability of her actions deserves a tad more scrutiny which, since no one else will offer and write it, I will.  There are two sides to everything, so yell at me, I can take it.

The existence of an itemized deduction for charitable contributions on our tax returns exemplifies a principle of charity -- government allows you, the taxpayer, to decide what charitable cause you donate to, and grant you a tax deduction as long as it is certified as an actual charity by ... well OK, it was Lois Lerner, but you get the idea.

Granted, there are organized giveaways by the government -- heck, that's probably half the Federal budget -- but we don't send our tax dollars to Washington, or Cherry Creek, Colorado, with the expectation that individual, low-level government employees will decide on their own to spend them differently from what their legislatures have budgeted, and beyond their warranted authorization to do so.

So while the idea of Miss Curry buying lunches out of her own pocket to feed students was laudable and suitable, and certainly admirable, the admiration grinds to a screeching halt when the charitable act is satisfied with -- let's face it -- other people's money.

I'm not Grinching here, I'm really not.  But it is not up to Della Curry to make those decisions.  If she wants to give kids money out of her own pocket so they don't go hungry at lunch time, as I said, I salute her for that.  But there is a program in place that the elected representatives of Cherry Creek, Colorado, as well as the state and Federal governments, put in to address that.

If Della Curry was seeing this sort of thing too often, the proper tack was not to take city assets and just give them out as she saw fit.  She should have stood up in front of the principal, the superintendent of schools, the town fathers and mothers of Cherry Creek, Colorado, and the mayor, and asked them to authorize the cafeteria staff to provide for anomalous situations, or put in a procedure for them to get permission in each case.  I'm quite certain it would be almost always granted and no one would go hungry.

See, here's the thing -- she knew what she was doing was improper (I hesitate to use the word "wrong"; we're talking hungry kids here).  It was improper because it is inappropriate to take government assets and use them other than in the manner authorized, and she knew that.  To her credit, she seems to be taking her punishment (firing) reasonably well.

At this point, you have to be asking why I even care enough to take what seems to be a terrible position on this.  Well, this incident is a tiny, tiny example that can easily become a rationale for government workers all over to decide, a little at a time, to use the taxpayers' assets as they see fit.  And when that government worker is not a kind-hearted cafeteria worker in Cherry Creek, Colorado, but, say, Barack Obama, well, your hand instinctively goes straight to covering your wallet.

Della Curry has said she will still try to get the local laws changed to make what she thought she had to do legal, and that's as it should be.  She no longer has a job, well, that job.  I'd like to think that she has gotten a new job or will soon.  And I hope that the next time she has to make decisions regarding her employer's assets, she stays within her role and the decision power she is given.

Because we want our government employees to remember for whom they work.  And it is for us.

Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Saints, Sinners and Duggars

There is a fable from my distant memory.  It may have come from a Sunday School story, but I kind of doubt it and, either way, though the details are hazy, the moral is not.

In the fable, a saint and a sinner are in the holding area waiting to be interviewed by St. Peter for their ultimate admission to Heaven, or condemnation to the other place.  First, the saint is brought forward; he led an exemplary life, helped others, believed in the Word and acted accordingly, a deserving candidate for Paradise in the view of St. Peter.

Then, up steps an ant to the witness area.  "Wait", the ant says.  "I don't know what he may have done the rest of his life, but I lived in his house and he stepped on me and crushed me to death."  St. Peter contemplated this additional testimony.  "Hmmmm .... I'll have to think about that", he announced.  "Take him back to the holding area."

Up next steps the sinner, and St. Peter starts reading off his record of sins, a long and very un-heavenly rap sheet.  But as he finishes and is ready to send the sinner to the hot place, an old woman raises her voice. "Wait", she says.  "I don't know what terrible sins this man may have committed to others, but I was walking home once in the rain and he put his coat on me to keep me dry, and walked with me to make sure I was safe."  St, Peter contemplates this additional testimony, and orders the sinner brought back to the holding area.

"There they sat", went the fable, "saint and sinner, awaiting their fate together."  The one leading an exemplary life put on hold for once stepping on an ant; the one living an execrable life on hold for a single act of kindness.

The moral of all that should be evident.  It is related to the 21st-Century form, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the very good" that we in the proposal-writing profession know all too well.

And from that, we come to the situation given us by the Duggar family of Arkansas.

We all know the Duggars from their reality TV show "19 Kids and Counting" which my better half watches although I really don't (I have a couple times).  Surely I can't tell you anything you don't already know; they're conservative, fundamentalist Christians with 19 children, whose family has had cameras in their house for several years.

And -- we also know that the eldest son, Josh, who is now in his late 20s, was just reported to have, while about 14, inappropriately touched several of his younger sisters and a baby-sitter, mostly while they slept.  We know that there is a brewing scandal over the release of what should have been sealed juvenile records.

We're also aware that the left is willing to blow up the American college fraternity system over allegations of rape that were shown to be completely made up and still won't publish the name of the lying female student -- but the same left has not issued a peep about the fact that the release of the juvenile records caused the identification of two of the sisters who were victims.  "Who cares", the left is clearly saying, "they're just the Duggars."

But others will fight that battle and I wish them well.

I'm simply asking why the TV show of their lives, produced by the TLC network, is now under suspension and may possibly be cancelled.  As I write this, no decision has been made, but "19 Kids" is off the air for the moment.

Saints and sinners, I have to think.

"19 Kids" -- which I note again, I don't watch -- is about a religious and very large family and the things they do.  Their oldest kids are in their 20s now, so there are a lot of shows where weddings and pregnancy and grandchildren are the predominant topic.  Another theme which is prominent, given weddings, pregnancy and children, is that the Duggar children are expected to be abstinent before they're married, no kissing until the altar, "side-hugging" only being permitted before marriage, no hand-holding until engagement, that sort of thing.

Saints?  No, not hardly.  Nor, it should be noted, do they claim to be.  Christians, as they say, or at least portray, are not perfect but, rather, are forgiven.  Sinners?  Certainly, in the sense of us all being imperfect.  I don't think I'd be too upset if they moved next door, except for maybe all those kids.  At the very least, I'd not be afraid of them, and I figure they'd be right there to help me if my family had an emergency.

But TLC has suspended the show, and is presumably considering cancelling it.  That would be based solely on the actions -- wrong though they were -- of one of the 19 children before turning 16, for which he has certainly apologized, seemingly has been reformed years and years earlier, has had no recurrence since, and for which the family has years earlier forgiven him and essentially forgotten as old news -- including the sisters.

While that is going on, let's see what actually is on reality television, with no one clamoring for its immediate removal.  We can start with, oh, Keeping up with the Kardashians, featuring, well, I really don't watch that one either, but it is all over the supermarket tabloids -- and I do shop.  Between the surgically amplified derrieres, the patriarch of the family becoming the matriarch, and, well, however you want to explain the existence of Kanye West, there appears to be plenty for Americans who watch the Duggars and "19 Kids" to shake their heads about.

But no one seems to be complaining that the Kardashians are on the air.

Also on reality TV are the Bravo series, the "Real Housewives of ... ", featuring a half a dozen ladies in each of several locations -- New Jersey, New York, Atlanta, LA and the like.  Now, I actually have watched a couple of these regularly.  So I can tell you that I once enjoyed the New York version, at least until the lewd behavior, the skinny-dipping by people who shouldn't, and the censored (but easily discernable) language finally got to be too much and we turned it off for good.  These are not, let's say, the greatest role models.

The New Jersey version has generally centered around the Giudice family, a loving Italian-American clan with four young daughters.  The daughters are now single-parented, and will be for five years.  That would be because the loving parents, Joe and Teresa, are serving consecutive terms in Federal prison, Teresa first, then Joe.  They are going to prison because they pleaded guilty to multiple charges including wire fraud, mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud and I'm not sure what else.

Those "sins" for which they were sent to the hoosegow occurred not in their teens, but as adults.  But you will see a new, happy season of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" coming to your local TV screen soon.  I don't know how much we'll see of any of the unincarcerated Giudices, but the show will be there.

Sinners aplenty will "grace" reality shows aplenty, and no one will offer a peep of protest.  Nor should they -- if there are enough viewers to warrant advertisers paying for it, then put it on TV and whoever is willing to watch will do so.

But it is immensely, amazingly hypocritical of TV in general and TLC in particular, to suspend "19 Kids" for a action of one of 21 regular cast members, a dozen years back and in his early teens.  Because if we are keeping the sinners, as it were, on TV, we have completely forfeited our role in deciding how much sin is or is not OK.  The relative "saints" are suspended for one sin, while the unapologetic sinners just go blithely on.

If we are dumping shows for the sinful behavior of its stars, we'll only need about two channels.

 Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
 Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."