Liberty vs. Safety: The vaccine debate heats up in a fledgling campaign year

Rand Paul vaccine

The last few years have seen an acceleration of medical vaccines as a hot button political issue. As formerly dormant diseases have resurfaced along with communities that shun science and common sense, the backlash has been fierce. A USA Today columnist is even calling for criminal prosecution and jail time for those who don’t vaccinate their children. But in the land of the free is that really appropriate, no matter the public health risk? And do we really want our politicians weighing in?

If You Don’t Believe the Constantly Changing Climate Change Truths, You are One Evil Hater. Apparently.

Polar Bear on Ice

Leaving off foreign policy for a moment — and there is a lot going on with that right now — let’s keep Friday light by visiting our favorite propaganda machine, the Fox-news hatin’, lefty marchin’ order spewing, modern political broadsheet known as Media Matters.

Disclosure: I love Media Matters. It’s a fascinating look at how the accidentally transparent swim in their own lack of self-awareness. (Hey guys — we’re on to you…)

Anyway, one of their favorite topics is, of course, climate change. Or, more to the point, the insanity of the climate change denier who, bless his/her heart, actually wants their data to match their hysteria. Anyway, Media Matters felt the need to clean up after all the hand-wringing over (with love and thanks to The Daily Show) The Storm of the Century of the Week that didn’t actually happen. Of course, for MM, the conservatives — sigh — just don’t get that just because the storm didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean climate change isn’t a real thing. Jerks.

Blizzard Forecasts For New York City Proved Inaccurate; But That Doesn’t Affect Climate Science. New York City experienced less snowfall than weather forecasters predicted, but this does not affect the legitimacy of climate models or the scientific consensus on global warming. The New Republic’s Rebecca Leber explained how despite conservatives’ “jump[ing] at the opportunity to compare weather forecasts to climate change models,” climate science and weather forecasting are different because they use different models, examine different data, and operate on different time scales:

More evidence that gridlock, not Obama policy, is fixing the economy

Washington Gridlock

From the 2012 election to the recent State of the Union Address, President Obama has claimed responsibility for the growing economy and job creation. His dutiful praetorian guard in the press has defended his claims. But there’s just one problem: The Republican House majority elected just two years into his first term kept most of Obama’s policies from being implemented. A new study released this month provides even more evidence that the failure of Obama policies to be passed has improved the economy, not the policies themselves.

The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, measured employment changes across the states over 2014 after unemployment benefit extensions were not reauthorized by Congress in the late 2013 budget deal. The extensions were opposed by Republicans but supported by Democrats and were ultimately left out of the deal that Obama signed.

As common sense and Econ101 would suggest, the study found that when you stop paying people not to work, they tend to go back to work.

In levels, 1.8 million additional jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut. Almost 1 million of these jobs were filled by workers from out of the labor force who would not have participated in the labor market had benefit extensions been reauthorized.

Your political horoscope: Week of January 26

political horoscrope*

Aries - March 21 - April 20

Not being upset about the death of King Abdullah does not make you an Islamaphobe. Your racism is what makes you an Islamaphobe.

Taurus - April 21 - May 21

You work under the table, so why do you keep pretending like you would get paid more if they raised the minimum wage?

Gemini - May 22 - June 21

You know you’re a conservative if you support “property rights” and despise eminent domain, but you want the President to hurry up and approve Keystone

Cancer - June 22 - July 22

Just because you love Obama, doesn’t mean he made gas prices go down.

Leo - July 23 - August 21

You grow basil that you bought from the grocery store; stop applying for farm subsidies.

Virgo - August 22 - September 23

Reading the WSJ doesn’t make you “a good conservative.” You stole it from your neighbor, making you “a good liberal.”

Libra - September 24 - October 23

Don’t pretend you can’t own a gun because you’re scared of them. Felons can’t own guns.

Scorpio - October 24 - November 22

Your boyfriend knows that your biological clock is ticking. Not because you’re getting older, but because you’re promoting School Choice Week as if you had kids. But… also because you’re getting older.

Sagittarius - November 23 - December 22

You are not a women’s rights activist just because you believe that men and women should have equal rights. You are just a regular American.

Government to Christians: You’re Not Welcome Here

Church and State

Perhaps at no other time in America’s history has religious freedom suffered under such a sustained assault as today. And by “religious freedom,” I mean Christianity. This assertion may seem a bit dramatic to many without sufficient historical knowledge of this nation’s Christian heritage, or when compared to the persecutions suffered by Christians in other nations, but a brief perusal of recent occurrences should elicit no small amount of concern for those who, like George Washington considered “religion and morality” to be the “indispensable supports” anchoring the American republic.

Thanks to decades of public “education” which has stripped all evidence of the Judeo-Christian principles that form the deep foundation of our form of government, many Americans have bought into this fallacious notion of “separation of church and state,” a phrase and concept appearing nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. It is ignorance of our religious heritage which I believe has led us to a point where religion is under attack in America, and many Christians feel it improper to defend against.

Americans face persecution by anti-Christian organizations seeking to force Christians to keep their faith only within the walls of their own home (and sometimes not even there).

Consider the following examples:

Turmoil in the Middle East Means the US Must Act, Proving Again Non-Interventionism isn’t as Easy as We’d Like to Believe

US Embassy Yemen

Word on the Middle Eastern street is the recent Shiite expansion into Yemen — a gathering of the “death to America” types that led to the resignation of nearly the entire Yemeni leadership — is being funded by our old friends Iran. And next door, of course, Saudi Arabia — most recently in the news for causing the extreme fluctuations in the price of oil — has a new king as former Bush ally King Abdullah has passed away at the age of 90. So what does all this mean for the US and our interests in that never-effing-ending hotbed of turmoil?

Well, given the Houthi Shiites largely successful moves to topple the Yemeni government, and given that Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni and is a rival of Shiite Iran, reports that Iran may be behind the unrest are plausible. At the very least, this time, we’re sending Biden to offer condolences to “the country more responsible than any other for financing the spread of the type of Islamist terror workplace violence that led to both 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo massacre,” writes Michael Rubin at American Enterprise Institute:

Gas Pains: Taxpayers Are Running Low on Fuel

Pumping Gas

At a Gasman station just outside of Middletown, Connecticut, Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy’s constituents can fill up their tanks for $1.99 a gallon.

Drivers 966 miles away in Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s state of Tennessee can fill up their tanks at the old Pilot on Interstate-40 for less even less: $1.69 a gallon.

In 39 other states across the nation, drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than two dollars while Americans enjoy the lowest gas prices in decades – and a couple extra Benjamins in their wallets from paying less at the pump.

Unfortunately, it appears that, for every step forward, taxpayers get shoved two steps back.

Recent proposals from a handful of Washington insiders, including Sens. Corker and Murphy, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), James Inhofe (R-Ok.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) have included gas tax hikes to fix the crumbling 59-year-old Highway Trust Fund (HTF), a source of revenue for the interstate highway fund that will expire in May.

Here’s how Republicans can fix their terrible State of the Union responses


This author will not waste time explaining how useless and obscene the annual State of the Union royal pageant is, nor how full of untruths, crushing debt, inviable proposals, and unfunded liabilities President Obama’s most recent iteration of the speech was this week. Instead, I’ll focus on the official Republican response given this year by newly elected US Senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst. If you can call it that.

As Shep Smith and Chris Wallace noted on the Fox News broadcast syndicated to their local affiliates, Obama spent several minutes than previous years after his delivery shaking hands in the chamber. This meant that the GOP response, officially scheduled for 5 minutes after the president leaves the room, would be pushed into local news broadcasts and therefore probably cut off in most television viewing markets. Intentional or not, that didn’t even give Republicans a chance to have their message heard, regardless of how good it may have been.

Obama Lied: Broadband speeds aren’t faster or cheaper in Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls, Iowa

The President’s claim that Cedar Falls residents can get a gig for less than many Americans pay for premium cable is untrue. His statement that the Cedar Falls Utility network is 100 times faster than the average American Internet connection is, at best, a misleading and contradictory exaggeration, and at worst, absolutely false.

Last week, President Obama said “we’re going to change” — i.e., preempt through federal fiat — state laws that prohibit their municipalities from owning broadband networks. (See embedded YouTube video at 14:00.) The White House supported his preemption plan with this “fact sheet” and a blog post listing “five things you need to know” about the President’s announcement. The problem is, several of the “facts” and other things the White House wants you to know are false, misleading, or contradictory.

U.S. use of unilateral “weaponization of finance” makes top ten geopolitical risks of 2015

Economic Sanctions

As much as I really wanted to write today about how confusing it is to be angry about American Sniper, especially from someone like Seth Rogen, who just had his right to freely make bad films defended by the same country Chris Kyle loved enough to protect, I might be too emotionally invested to be objective and, as this guy points out, it’s kind of a waste of breath or thought. But after I actually see it, maybe I’ll write a review…

So, instead, even though it’s less sexy, here’s the topic du jour, because I just recently came across the terminology, had no idea what it meant, and now am fascinated by the concept. Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group’s founder and president, has chosen as one of his top concerns for the coming year something he calls the “weaponization of finance”:

The U.S. is focusing largely on what Bremmer calls the weaponization of finance, one of his Top Risks for 2015. “The U.S. is becoming much more unilateral in the expression of its foreign policy and its national security. We see that with drones, we see that with surveillance. We also see it with the willingness to use the dollar and access to the American markets and the U.S. financial institutions as both a carrot and a stick.”…


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