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Notes on Cultural Collapse

By 2.9.16

That Donald Trump, in his quest to lead us back to national greatness, feels free to brag, distort, lampoon, defame and empty his personal trash on every political doorstep is one sign — but hardly the only one — of a few changes in America’s moral makeup over the past half century.

There’s also the current dust-up in Dallas, Texas, over the city’s alleged inability to block a “sex expo” in the local convention center. The mayor wants to bar the door to “Exxxotica,” as the convention calls itself. Various local groups second the motion. “Can’t do it,” wail officials of the convention center. “That would be to Restrict Free Speech in Defiance of Our Precious First Amendment! And get us sued in the process.”

See what I mean? We’re engaged, all around, in prying from our windpipes the dead hands of the Founding Fathers. Get those guys out of here! They’re dead!

I expect Trump, from the rear of his medicine show wagon, would voice hearty approval of that viewpoint. These days we say what we want to — never mind the forgotten obligations of citizenship, civility, and morality.

The Public Policy

Toxic Entitlements

By 2.9.16

During this election year, we are destined to hear many words that are toxic in the way they misrepresent reality and substitute fantasies that can win votes.

One of these words is “entitlement.” To hear some politicians tell it, we are all entitled to all sorts of things, ranging from “affordable housing” to “a living wage.”

But the reality is that the human race is not entitled to anything, not even the food we need to stay alive. If we don’t produce food, we are just going to starve. If we don’t build housing, then we are not going to have housing, “affordable” or otherwise.

Particular individuals or groups can be given many things, to which politicians say they are “entitled,” only if other people are forced by the government to provide those things to people who don’t need to lift a finger to earn them. All the fancy talk about “entitlement” means simply forcing some people to work to produce things for other people, who have no obligation to work.

It gets worse. If we are all “entitled” to things, irrespective of whether we produce anything ourselves, then the question becomes: Why are some people getting so much more than others?

The Right Prescription

Obamacare, Cruz, and the Trump Crack-Up

By 2.8.16

Most of us who have followed the GOP nomination contest expected Donald Trump to show his posterior pursuant to his loss to Senator Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses, but it’s unlikely that many expected him to crack up after only one defeat. Nonetheless, that seems to be what’s happening. Even when he reverted to his trademark antics only one day after an uncharacteristically rational concession speech, few students of the Donald’s weird campaign could have been surprised. It’s difficult, however, to escape the conclusion that Trump is losing it when he claims that Cruz foisted Obamacare upon the nation.

At Large

Altruistic Evil in the West Bank

By 2.8.16

Hussein Abu Ghosh, 17, and Ibrahim Yusef Allan, 23, both students at the West Bank’s Bir Zeit University, climbed over the fence at the Jewish village of Beit Horon intent on achieving martyrdom by killing innocent Jews.

In a well-planned attack in a busy village grocery, the assailants first scuffled with a middle-aged man who managed to fend them off with a grocery cart. Then the “heroes” found two defenseless women to stab, one of whom, Shlomit Krigman, 23, later died from her wounds.

Their plan included detonating three pipe bombs, but security guards shot the killers dead before they were set off.

There will be inevitable denunciations from Sweden and the Arab nations that the “students” could have been taken alive. After all, they only had knives and homemade pipe bombs.

Loose Canons

The Wrong Stuff

By 2.8.16

It was almost comforting to hear the Republican candidates try to outdo each other on Saturday night, saying they’d pour money on the problems of our military to solve them. As if that solution ever worked. One of the biggest problems we have is that we’re doing some really dumb things.

Some are so dumb it beggars the imagination. Other things are so costly — and dumb — that they are going to beggar the Pentagon budget for decades. We’re buying the wrong stuff.

Three examples prove this theory. First is President Obama’s recent executive order to the Army directing it on how to buy a rifle to replace the old M-16. Second is the continued machinations of the Air Force and Navy to justify buying the combat-ineffective F-35. And third is the Navy’s insistence on buying more of the Littoral Combat Ships (“LCSs,” aka the “little crappy ship”) which can’t survive in combat.

Constitutional Opinions

Disputed Texas Case Exemplified Judicial Restraint, Not Activism

By 2.8.16

As I have discussed previously (here and here), all judges in Texas are subject to partisan elections, and an incumbent justice on the Texas Supreme Court (all nine members of which are Republicans) named Paul Green is facing a March 1 primary challenge by an evangelical speaker and radio talk show host named Rick Green. The potential for name confusion may be deliberate, since two other seats on the court (neither held by a justice named Green) are also on the ballot. Rick Green, who has no prior judicial experience (and very little relevant legal experience) claims that he was motivated to run against Justice Paul Green, an 11-year veteran of the Texas Supreme Court, because — out of the thousands of cases he has participated in — Paul Green joined the court’s 5-3 decision in Texas v.

The Public Policy

Don’t Fence Us In: Western States Seek Return of Land From D.C.

By 2.8.16

According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly half the land in the Western United States is owned by the federal government. This includes 84.9 percent of land in Nevada (hiding UFOs requires lots of space), 64.9 percent of Utah, 61.6 percent of Idaho, 61.2 percent of Alaska, 52.9 percent of Oregon, 48.1 percent of Wyoming, and 45.8 percent in California. Meanwhile, the federal government owns only about 5 percent of the land in states east of the Mississippi River. Altogether, Uncle Sam owns roughly 640 million acres of land.

Letter From San Francisco

Condom-Nation Hits Middle Schools

By 2.8.16

The San Francisco Unified School District’s board is poised to expand its Condom Availability Program for high school students into middle schools. The school district no longer offers Algebra I as an eighth-grade course — Algebra I has been folded into a two-year, eighth-grade and ninth-grade class that is supposed to be more comprehensive. But the board is ready to bring a high school program to middle school by handing out condoms to sixth-graders.

What could possibly go wrong?

Superintendent Richard Carranza backs the proposal to distribute condoms to middle schoolers “in conjunction with a session with a school nurse or social worker to identify risk factors and provide referrals or resources as necessary.” The idea, supporters say, is not to encourage preteens to have sex, but to make sure that the estimated 5 percent of San Francisco middle schoolers who are sexually active protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies.

Special Report

Rubio’s Debate Disaster

By 2.7.16

I’ve said repeatedly that Marco Rubio is potentially the best Republican communicator since Ronald Reagan. But Saturday night’s GOP debate in New Hampshire left me wondering whether the only candidate I’ve contributed to in this cycle is instead just so well-rehearsed with talking points, brief sound-bites, and longer speeches that I may be hearing great memorization rather than what I thought were true insights into the man’s character, philosophy, and policy priorities.

Early in the debate, Senator Rubio was asked about his accomplishments in politics. He gave a short answer naming a few mostly unmemorable items and then strangely turned to this: “Let’s dispel once and for all this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country.”

Iowa and New Hampshire Skew the Primary Process

By 2.5.16

Republican and Democrat candidates for president have been trekking to Iowa and New Hampshire for over a year in hopes of making a good showing in the first two presidential primaries. Yet why in the world are we so concerned about what the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire think? 

Political pilgrimages to these two idiosyncratic states have been the Holy Grail of presidential politics over the past six decades. Which raises the obvious question, why Iowa and New Hampshire? Why not give some other states a shot at going first in the primary sweepstakes and having a real voice in nominating our presidential candidates.

I’m sick and tired of hearing about what voters in Iowa and New Hampshire think about the candidates for president. Who really cares what they think? After all, Iowa and New Hampshire will have very few delegates at the respective conventions. So, why should those two states have such an unwarranted impact on the presidential primaries?

Unfortunately, Iowa and New Hampshire all but choose our nominees for us. But, neither state is a good bellwether for the other 48 states. They are smaller, older, whiter, and more rural than other states.