Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
Every month, Cato puts out a new issue of Cato Unbound, an online journal that looks at various topics. This week, the topic is fusionism, something that has received quite a bit of attention here at United Liberty.
The format of Cato Unbound is quite simple. One writer contributes a lead essay, and then three other writers write response essays. Then, it descends into a furball as we all starting writing shorter response posts to each other. The discussion is not just there, however; blog posts elsewhere will be linked, and everyone—yes, including YOU!—is encouraged to join in the discussion.
Our lead essay this month is written by Jacque Otto, a friend of mine and a writer at Values and Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. She writes:
Yet another incident of Child Protective Services violating civil rights has emerged, this time in Sacramento:
SACRAMENTO, CA - A Sacramento family was torn apart after a 5-month-old baby boy was taken from his parents following a visit to the doctor.
The young couple thought their problems were behind them after their son had a scare at the hospital, but once they got home their problems got even worse.
It all began nearly two weeks ago, when Anna Nikolayev and her husband Alex took their 5-month-old boy Sammy to Sutter Memorial Hospital to be treated for flu symptoms, but they didn’t like the care Sammy was getting.
The mother had questions about what was going on with the care, but it soon escalated out of control:
Anna said Sammy suffers from a heart murmur and had been seeing a doctor at Sutter for regular treatment since he was born. After Sammy was treated for flu symptoms last week, doctors at Sutter admitted him to the pediatric ICU to monitor his condition. After a few days, Anna said doctors began talking about heart surgery.
“If we got the one mistake after another, I don’t want to have my baby have surgery in the hospital where I don’t feel safe,” Anna said.
Anna argued with doctors about getting a second opinion. Without a proper discharge, she finally took Sammy out of the hospital to get a second opinion at Kaiser Permanente.
“The police showed up there. They saw that the baby was fine,” Anna said. “They told us that Sutter was telling them so much bad stuff that they thought that this baby is dying on our arms.”
A blogger by the name of Allen Clifton over at “Forward Progressives” has put out a list of “facts” that annoy conservatives and Republicans, supposedly for fun. Allen writes:
I highly encourage all liberals to share this with their conservative friends. Then watch as they haplessly try and argue against each comment.
It’s irresistible. And, as I expected, it doesn’t actually make us look bad. It just shows that progressives like Mr. Clifton haven’t thought their argument the full way through. I’ll leave the points Mr. Clifton makes in bold and my responses below.
1. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say we’re a Christian nation.
2. In fact, no where in our Constitution does the word “Christian” appear even once.
These points are actually true, and I cannot argue with Mr. Clifton. The Constitution does not mention the word “god,” and while many of the Founders were religious, it is questionable whether they were hardcore Christians or rather deists (or, in Mr. Jefferson’s case and the case of others, Christian Deists.) There are mentions to God in the Declaration of Independence, but again, are these references to the Christian conception? The Declaration refers to “Nature’s God”—a deist term, not a Christian one. The only time the Constitution mentions God is in the dating: “ the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.”
That’s hardly grounds for making the Constitution a Christian document. That’s just how you told the date back then. These days, we replaced “Lord” with “Common Era.”
Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:
Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.
But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”
It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.
Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.
If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.
Freedom is nonpartisan. At least, that’s the message I got this morning from my Twitter timeline when these two stories appeared. The first is out of Alaska, where the local ACLU chapter is defending an…anti-abortion group?:
The ACLU of Alaska is urging Alaska Governor Sean Parnell to provide more information about some creative censorship by state workers earlier this month during a street protest in Juneau. The street protest was staged by a group called the Center for Bioethical Reform, a fringe anti-abortion group that displays explicit pictures of aborted fetuses in public places to get their message across.
That’s what they were doing early in April on the sidewalk across the street from Alaska state Capitol building. The protest wasn’t exactly a rally. The CBR group included between four and six people, as counted by the Press from videos and photos of the incident. The group was around the Capitol about four days total, and on Tuesday, April 2, some state workers grew tired of the banner featuring a giant photo of an aborted fetus.
Some state employees parked delivery vans on the street, in between the protest banner and the capitol building. Rather than move their banner, the CBR protesters held their ground and began making video of the rather awkward attempt at censoring the graphic images. It’s “attempted censorship” because the CBR protesters could have simply walked to another part of the sidewalk. Alternatively, they could have recruited more than a half-dozen people to help them display graphic images of bloody fetuses in public places.
A couple of weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul did a courageous and unusual thing by visiting Howard University in DC. Howard is what is known as a “historically black university,” founded in the wake of the Civil War to provide opportunities for higher education to African-Americans. It’s not exactly home turf for Republicans, but that’s precisely why Paul went, in order to bridge a massive gap that is hurting the GOP.
Response to his visit was mixed, but yesterday, NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous wrote a generally supportive op-ed on CNN. Although noting that Paul missed his target in most areas, there is one area that has promise:
Paul struck out when he tried to equate today’s Republican Party with the party of Abraham Lincoln, while ignoring much of the 150 years in between. (He even acknowledged his mistakes shortly after). But his willingness to step up to the plate can provide a lesson for a GOP struggling to get on top.
Republicans will not win black votes by paying lip service to party history while attacking social programs and voting rights. But they can make inroads by showing a commitment to civil rights, something Paul managed to do briefly in his remarks.
Usually, when people bleat about spending money on other countries, it’s about humanitarian aid. But we spend far more money on other nations than just humanitarian aid; we also spend billions and billions of dollars subsidizing other nations’ military defense.
So when you file your tax return today to your overlords at the IRS, just remember, you’re paying not only for our military, but for the military of NATO, of South Korea, of Japan, and many other countries, and letting them freeload off of you. Every time a liberal points to European socialism and says we should be more like that, just know a lot of that socialism comes because they don’t have to spend on their military—we do it for them.
Here’s the infographic and the blog post from the Cato Institute to prove it:
Last week, a scary new report came out from the Associated Press on the drug cartels presence in the continental United States:
Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
Cartel activity in the U.S. is certainly not new. Starting in the 1990s, the ruthless syndicates became the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, using unaffiliated middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin beyond the border or even to grow pot here.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.
You may have heard about the recent slaying of a Texas district attorney and his wife in their home. It follows the brazen daylight killing of a prosecutor in the same county, and it has everyone on edge. This is what local law enforcement is going through:
The judge was on the phone.
“Yep, I said I’ll do anything,” Bruce Wood told the person on the other end, rubbing his forehead. “They asked me to do a eulogy. I don’t know what I’m going to say.”
Elsewhere in the Kaufman County Courthouse, a sheriff’s deputy was handing out bulletproof vests. “I brought the smallest one,” he said to a secretary, who stared at the khaki armor as he explained how to adjust the side straps should the need arise. “These have the neck for a female.”
Outside, two armed guards escorted a white-haired judge from his parked car to the mirrored doors of the yellow brick courthouse in a county where little seemed the same anymore.
“Judge! How are you doing?” shouted a reporter.
“Everybody is making do as best as we can,” he said.
In 2012, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent $22 billion on subsidy programs for farmers. Introduced in the 1930s to help struggling small family farms, the subsidies now routinely draw condemnation from both left and right as wasteful corporate welfare. While the number of farms is down 70 percent since the 1930s—only 2 percent of Americans are directly engaged in farming—farmers aren’t necessarily struggling anymore. In 2010, the average farm household earned $84,400, up 9.4 percent from 2009 and about 25 percent more than the average household income nationwide.
What’s more, a handful of farmers reap most of the benefits from the subsidies: Wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton have always taken the lion’s share of the feds’ largesse. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that “since 1995, just 10 percent of subsidized farms—the largest and wealthiest operations—have raked in 74 percent of all subsidy payments. 62 percent of farms in the United States did not collect subsidy payments.”
That is completely wasteful spending right there, something we could drop immediately and wouldn’t be hurt for it. In fact, repealing agricultural subsidies would have a very beneficial effect on the poorest of Americans: