Statues Represent History and Provide Lessons To Be Learned – Good Or Bad Statue of Controversial Surgeon to Be Moved From Central Park Alicia Ault January 17, 2018 The statue of gynecologic surgeon J. Marion Sims, MD — steeped in … Continue reading
Thank you Mr. President for honoring your oath of office by protecting and defending the original intention of the Constitution of the United States of America!
November 13, 2017
If Republicans don’t appreciate Donald Trump now, they will later. That’s when his biggest accomplishment — the courts — will reap the most rewards. For the last 10 months, the White House has been working at a frantic pace to confirm originalist judges, a quest that’s not only making history — but securing it.
Not since Richard Nixon has any president moved faster or more strategically on judicial nominees than Donald Trump. And while the Supreme Court is what captures most people’s attention, the real work is being done a step below — on the appellate level. That’s where, experts say, the real genius comes in.
In a fascinating article, even the New York Times can’t help but notice (with reluctant admiration) how the Trump team has intentionally gone about balancing the courts from the Obama years. “There has never been anything like what we’ve been able to do together with judges,” the president said recently. He’s right. By filling the appellate courts with constitutionalists, Trump’s team is making sure that Americans get a fair shake from the judges who hand down the majority of the country’s rulings. As the Times points out, “The 12 regional appeals courts wield profound influence over Americans’ lives, getting the final word on about 60,000 cases a year that are not among the roughly 80 the Supreme Court hears.”
While most of the country only tunes in to the SCOTUS fights, the reality is that most of these hot-button issues are being decided in the circuit courts below. That makes the president’s focus all the more important. In its interesting article, “Trump is rapidly reshaping the judiciary. Here’s how,” the Times explains that this plan dates back to last year, when legal experts huddled to talk about a “secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.” With the help of Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Republicans have delivered plenty of victories on that front, confirming eight — with more on the horizon. Thanks to Grassley, the Senate has kept up with the White House’s frantic pace, despite the Democrats’ stalling tactics.
And while the GOP is used to obstruction from Democrats, it was surprised to see some from its own party. For reasons few understand, Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) is standing in the way of Trump’s ninth federal court win — Kyle Duncan, the White House’s pick for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a rare move, the senator from my home state refuses to endorse Duncan, a man many call a “conservative superstar.” As a solicitor general and law firm partner, he expertly tackled some of the most difficult issues, including marriage, the HHS mandate, bathroom bills, and gender identity. The Judicial Crisis Network calls him “one of the best lawyers of his generation.” I would hope that Senator Kennedy would join his fellow Republicans in moving on Duncan’s confirmation — and send another stellar judge to the bench.
In the meantime, conservatives who said the courts were the deciding factor in the 2016 elections have to be happy with the results. Even the New York Times can’t help but notice: “Mr. Trump is poised to bring the conservative legal movement… to a new peak of influence over American law and society.”
For more on the president’s judicial accomplishments (and otherwise), cut through the fake news with this Daily Wire’s column, “Trump’s First Year in Office Has Been Wildly Successful.”
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Branden Camp / Stringer
November 10, 2017
A full 365 days of covfefe have passed since Hillary Clinton grudgingly conceded the 2016 presidential election. According to Democrat press releases and the mainstream media — but I repeat myself — the nation lies in ruins. Reality tells a different story.
On the economic front, consumer confidence has hit its highest level in 17 years. Over one million jobs have been created. The post-election stock market rally is the second largest since the Kennedy administration. The destructive tariffs and trade wars conservatives feared have not materialized. Tax reform awaits congressional Republicans’ whipping the votes.
On the so-called social issues, Trump repealed the Obama mandate that forced states to fund Planned Parenthood, and he reinstated the Mexico City Policy that protects U.S. taxpayers from having to fund abortions overseas. Unlike his predecessor, Trump has refrained from refashioning the White House into a giant glowing rainbow to celebrate activist judges’ abuse of the Constitution. Quite to the contrary, Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, an originalist justice in the tradition Antonin Scalia. He’s also appointed 12 other textualist judges to the lower courts, and many others who await confirmation.
On immigration, President Trump has added more agents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He’s expanded deportation priorities, moved to end Barack Obama’s executive amnesty program DACA, and signed an executive order directing the Justice Department to defund sanctuary cities. As a result, illegal immigration rates across our southern border have dropped to a 45-year low, according to the acting chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. On corruption, Trump has imposed a five-year ban on lobbying the government by former White House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for foreign governments by former White House officials.
On foreign policy, while we were promised President Trump would recklessly plunge us into nuclear war, instead he’s wrangled trade concessions and collaboration on North Korea out of China. Trump ably handled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s chemical test of American resolve five years after Barack Obama failed to follow American threats with action. Trump oversaw the return of American high school student Otto Warmbier from North Korea, dropped the “Mother Of All Bombs” on ISIS, over which Syria just yesterday declared victory. He approved the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines after years of Obama-era red tape and pulled the United States out of the environmentally ineffectual Paris Climate Accord. Obama’s strategies of “strategic patience” in North Korea and “leading from behind” in the Middle East are finished.
On the environment, at the EPA Scott Pruitt has overturned 52 burdensome regulations. While a net 13,000 new federal restrictions have been added annually for the past 20 years, under Trump, the number of net new regulations sits around zero. The New York Times, a “former newspaper”, summed it up in May: “Trump Discards Obama Legacy, One Rule at a Time,” including Barack Obama’s disastrous so-called Clean Power Plan, which as the Heritage Foundation explains, would have resulted in higher energy prices, fewer jobs, less growth; disproportionately hurt poor families; and offered virtually no environmental benefit.
Most important of all, Trump has cracked the patina of credibility that Democrat operatives masquerading as journalists once enjoyed and “sophisticated” Republicans once indulged. As a result, nearly two-thirds of Americans now recognize that mainstream outlets shill for Democrats rather than present unbiased reporting. And Hollywood lies in rubble as the preening moralizers who hold their countrymen in contempt are caught, literally, with their pants down.
All in all, an unexpectedly covfefe year. And if you’ve enjoyed all of these improvements — the protection of our First and Second Amendment from the claws of Hillary’s Supreme Court pick, less government, more freedom, and credibility abroad — thank a Trump voter.
On OCTOBER 15, 1788, James Madison warned:
“As the COURTS are generally the last in making the decision, it results to them, by refusing or not refusing to execute a law, to stamp it with its final character. This makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was NEVER intended and can NEVER be proper.”
On OCTOBER 15, 1991, the U.S. Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas as a Justice on the Supreme Court.
When questioned during the hearings by Senator Thurmond regarding judicial activism, Clarence Thomas replied:
“The role of a judge is a limited one. It is to … interpret the Constitution, where called upon, but AT NO POINT to impose his or her will or … opinion in that process.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote to Abigail Adams, September 11, 1804:
“Nothing in the Constitution has given them (judges) a right to decide for the Executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them …
The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional … not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislature and executive … would make the judiciary a DESPOTIC BRANCH.”
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary included in it definition of “Despotic”:
“DESPOTIC: ABSOLUTE and ARBITRARY AUTHORITY … Absolute in power … Arbitrary in the exercise of power … Unlimited and uncontrolled by men, constitution or laws, and depending alone on the will of the despot.”
Thomas Jefferson to William Jarvis, September 28, 1820:
“You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the DESPOTISM of an oligarchy …”
“Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so …. and their power (is) the more dangerous, as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.
The Constitution has erected NO SUCH SINGLE TRIBUNAL, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruptions of time and party, its members would become DESPOTS.”
President William Henry Harrison warned in his Inaugural Address, 1841:
“The great danger to our institutions does … appear to me to be … the accumulation in one of the departments of that which was assigned to others. Limited as are the powers which have been granted, still enough have been granted to constitute a DESPOTISM if concentrated in one of the departments.”
World War I fighter Ace Eddie Rickenbacker, who was owner of the Indianapolis Speedway and Eastern Airlines, told the Chicago Economic Club in 1961 (Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century, by W. David Lewis, The John Hopkins University Press, 2005):
“Every time the liberals discover a brand new misinterpretation of the Constitution, every time they invent a new way to circumvent the constitutional limits of the Federal power, they pile up more power in Washington at the expense of individual liberty across the land.”
Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, 1835, warned:
“The President, who exercises a limited power, may err without causing great mischief in the State. Congress may decide amiss without destroying the Union, because the electoral body in which Congress originates may cause it to retract its decision by changing its members. But IF THE SUPREME COURT is ever composed of IMPRUDENT MEN or BAD CITIZENS, the Union may be plunged into ANARCHY or CIVIL WAR.”
The Union was plunged into a Civil War by Democrat appointed Justice Roger Taney, who gave the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857 that slaves were not citizens, but property.
President Abraham Lincoln alluded to this decision in his First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861:
“I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court … The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made … THE PEOPLE will have CEASED to be THEIR OWN RULERS, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of the eminent tribunal.”
Jefferson warned Mr. Hammond in 1821:
“The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in … the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body … working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be USURPED from the States.”
Jefferson lamented, September 6, 1819:
“The Constitution is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”
Jefferson explained to Supreme Court Justice William Johnson, June 12, 1823:
“On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be SQUEEZED OUT out of the text, or INVENTED AGAINST IT, conform to the probable one in which it was passed … But the Chief Justice says, ‘There must be an ULTIMATE ARBITER somewhere.’ True, there must … The ULTIMATE ARBITER is THE PEOPLE.””
The Tennessee Supreme Court stated in Carden v. Bland, March 9, 1956:
“Great stress is laid upon the need of maintaining the doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’ … but it should not be tortured into a meaning that was never intended by the Founders of this Republic, with the result that the public school system of the several states is to be made a Godless institution.”
Baron Montesquieu, the most quoted writer by the Framers of the Constitution, warned of the dangers of uncontrolled judicial power in his Spirit of the Laws, 1748:
“Nor is there liberty if the power of JUDGING is not separated from legislative power and from executive power. If it were joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of the citizens would be arbitrary, for the JUDGE would be the legislator. If it were joined to executive power, the JUDGE could have the force of an oppressor. ALL WOULD BE LOST if the same … body of men … exercised these three powers.”
Mercy Otis Warren in wrote in Observations on the new Constitution, & on the Federal and State Conventions, 1788:
“The origin of all power is in the people … They have an incontestable right to check the creatures of their own creation … And if certain selected bodies of men … determine contrary to the wishes and expectations of their constituents, the people have an undoubted right to reject their decisions.”
Regarding the danger of concentrated power, Colonial leader John Cotton stated:
“For WHATEVER transcendent POWER IS GIVEN, will certainly OVER-RUN those that GIVE IT … It is necessary therefore, that all power that is on earth be limited.”
James Madison stated at the Constitutional Convention, 1787:
“All men having POWER ought to be distrusted.”
John Adams wrote in his Notes from an oration at Braintree, Massachusetts, Spring 1772:
“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with the power to endanger the public liberty.”
President George Washington stated in his Farewell Address, September 17, 1796:
“And of fatal tendency … to put, in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party – often a small but artful and enterprising minority …
They are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to SUBVERT the POWER OF THE PEOPLE and to USURP for themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
President Andrew Jackson, July 10, 1832, stated in his Bank Renewal Bill Veto:
“It is easy to conceive that great evils to our country and its institutions might flow from such a CONCENTRATION OF POWER in the hands of a few men irresponsible to the people. Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding questions of constitutional power.”
James Madison summed up the dilemma in Federalist Paper #51:
“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
President Andrew Jackson stated in his Seventh Annual Message, December 7, 1835:
“All history tells us that a free people should be watchful of delegated power, and should never acquiesce in a practice which will diminish their control over it.”
Lord Acton, April 5, 1887, wrote in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton:
“All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
President Woodrow Wilson stated in 1912:
“Concentration of power always precedes the destruction of human liberties.”
Yale President Ezra Stiles stated in 1783:
“Most states of all ages … have been founded in rapacity, usurpation and injustice …
The Nimrods … (were) the first invading tyrants of the ancient ages … The spirit of conquest had changed the first governments …
All succeeding ones have in general proved one continued series of injustice, which has reigned in all countries for almost 4,000 years.”
Boasting of concentrated power, King James I told Parliament in 1609:
“Kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon earth and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself they are called gods …
Kings are compared to the head … of the body of man …
It is sedition in subjects to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power …
The king is overlord of the whole land, so is he master over every person that inhabiteth the same, having power over the life and death of every one of them … so the power flows always from himself.”
France’s Louis XIV, the “Sun King,” reportedly stated:
“It is legal because I wish it.”
“I am the State” (“L’État, c’est moi”).
Santa Anna declared himself Mexico’s dictator-for-life and insisted he be addressed by the title “Most Serene Highness.” He wrote to U.S. minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett:
“A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty … a despotism is the proper government for them.”
Franklin Roosevelt stated of Stalin, February 10, 1940:
“The Soviet Union … is run by a dictatorship as absolute as any other dictatorship in the world.”
Describing America’s colonial founding, President Franklin Roosevelt stated in 1939:
“Rulers … increase(d) their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers.”
Yale President Ezra Stiles stated in 1783:
“All the forms of civil polity have been tried by mankind, except one: and that seems to have been reserved in Providence to be realized in America.”
President Millard Fillmore, December 6, 1852, explained of America’s founding freedoms:
“They were planted in the free charters of self-government under which the English colonies grew up …
European nations have had no such training for self-government, and every effort to establish it by bloody revolutions has been, and must without that preparation continue to be, a failure.”
President Franklin Pierce stated in his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1853:
“The dangers of a CONCENTRATION OF ALL POWER in the General government of a confederacy so vast as ours are too obvious to be disregarded …
Liberty rests upon a proper distribution of power between the State and Federal authorities.”
President William Henry Harrison stated in his Inaugural, March 4, 1841:
“The TENDENCY OF POWER TO INCREASE ITSELF, particularly when exercised by a single individual … would terminate in virtual monarchy.”
President Harry S Truman stated April 3, 1951:
“Without a firm moral foundation, freedom degenerates quickly into selfishness and … anarchy. Then there will be freedom only for the rapacious and … more unscrupulous than the rank and file of the people.”
President James Monroe stated in his Inaugural 1817:
“When the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate … they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. USURPATION is then an easy attainment, and an USURPER soon found.”
President George Washington stated in his Farewell Address, 1796:
“USURPATION … though … in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
Secretary of State Daniel Webster stated in 1852:
“Are we of this generation so derelict, have we so little of the blood of our revolutionary fathers coursing through our veins, that we cannot preserve, what they achieved?
The world will cry out ‘shame’ upon us, if we show ourselves unworthy, to be the descendants of those great and illustrious … men, who fought for their liberty, and secured it to their posterity, by the Constitution of the United States …”
“The Constitution has enemies, secret and professed …
Friends of the Constitution must rally and unite …
I hardly know … the manner of our political death …
We shall die no lingering death … An earthquake would shake the foundations of the globe, pull down the pillars of heaven, and bury us at once in endless darkness. May I never live, to see that day!
May I not survive to hear any apocalyptic angel, crying through the heavens, with such a voice as announced the fall of Babylon.”
Lies and Deceptions Accompanying Atrocity
Repeating the statement from our article on The Myth That Climate Change Created Harvey, Irma, “The [mass slaughter in Las Vegas] drew the liberal elite, pundits, and politicians out of their holes. Spewing the continuous lies and deceptions promoting their liberal agenda, they again ignore [truth, reality,] and valid history.”. Following the horrible tragedy accompanying the sounds of evil raining down on the innocent in Las Vegas, the same irrational voices, moving beyond reason, place blame on the weapons used to commit crimes rather than the cause of the evils that have plagued humanity throughout history.
Stephen Paddock is a perfect example of why gun control legislation or any attempt to legislate morality will never work. He was entirely off the grid. More, all studies have shown that criminals obtain illegal weapons illegally. How hard is that to understand???? Hitler’s medical experiment atrocities pale compared to partial birth abortion!!!!!
Confirming their unjust, morally bankrupt political agendas promoting their attack on America, those who choose to ignore truth and reality continue to try to blame the President for even this. As God used Cyrus, the President elected by a political miracle has attempted to keep every promise he made to the American people during his campaign. His fight with the political establishment, both Republican and Democrat, in his attempt to “drain the swamp” is only partially reflective of the intention of the moral majority electing him trying to free itself from the slavery of the culture of unrighteousness corrupting and contaminating this one Nation under God.
2 October, 2017
“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get”, Hillary Clinton tweeted, adding, “Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again”.
The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas began around 10 p.m. local time, or 1 a.m. EST. Eight hours later, Clinton dropped her tweets.
And she wasn’t the only one to quickly promote gun control in light of the terrible news about the shooting, which has left at least 58 dead and another 500 wounded.
While the facts are still entirely unsettled as of this writing, that didn’t stop gun control activists from immediately jumping to conclusions or answers on how to fix everything.
And while too little is known about the Las Vegas shooting to make judgments about what could or could not have prevented it, the reality is that gun ownership does not lead to more crime in the United States.
Yet, in the chaotic wake of the horrific mass shooting that took the lives of at least 50 in Las Vegas, proponents of gun control quickly turned the event to fit their agenda.
For instance, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., accused those who didn’t act on shootings of “cowardice.”
Other lawmakers on the left weighed in as well. And, there were numerous other hot takes from nonelected politicos and celebrities that veered into various levels of blaming gun rights supporters for allowing events like Las Vegas to happen.
And all of this before even the most basic facts have been ascertained. The Associated Press reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the FBI says there is no connection. The details of the case are simply a confusing mess and it is difficult to ascertain the shooter’s motives, how he acquired the firearm(s), or even what firearm(s) he used to conduct the attack.
While it is unwise to draw too many conclusions about what happened in Las Vegas, in the face of the relentless assault on gun rights and misinformation it is important to note some false narratives that have been spread in the last 24 hours.
Take Clinton’s claim about silencers. She was immediately denounced for this statement as being “ignorant” of how suppressors work. Even a Washington Post reporter wrote that the debate over silencers “isn’t really relevant” to what happened in Las Vegas.
And, both The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler and conservative pundit Dana Loesch pushed back on Clinton’s claim. Kessler tweeted, “Actually, even with a silencer, it’s pretty loud. An AR-15 rifle would have a noise equivalent to a jack hammer, and Loesch concurred in her tweet, “Suppressors only reduce by a few decibels, still same decibel level as a jackhammer”.
A study released earlier this year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found that while there were 1.3 million registered suppressors in the country last year, there were only 44 suppressor-related crimes recommended for prosecution.
However, federal laws dating back to the 1930s already on the books strictly regulate the sale and purchase of these kinds of firearms.
Sean Davis at The Federalist did an excellent job of explaining how tightly controlled automatic weapon sales are in the United States:
Only licensed entities are permitted to manufacture, sell, or own [fully automatic weapons]. Private civilian ownership of machine guns is illegal unless the individual has been explicitly permitted by the federal ATF to own them. All fully automatic weapons must be registered with the federal government in a central registry with no exceptions.
There is also a tax on these items—and they’re not cheap since only weapons produced before 1986 are allowed to be sold.
Of course, with the right tools and skills, it is still possible to create a fully automatic weapon, which some experts say may have been what the Las Vegas shooter did to carry out his murders.
Nevertheless, these weapons are incredibly difficult to obtain.
The events that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night were an atrocity. But it must be noted that wicked individuals have found ways to conduct mass murder and terrorism through a variety of means both legal and illegal: guns, knives, acid, planes, and trucks.
The list goes on and on.
As numerous studies have shown, gun ownership is not necessarily connected to crime rates, and in fact may make crime go down. A 2016 report from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action noted that:
As gun ownership has risen to an all-time high, the nation’s total violent crime rate has fallen to a 44-year low and the murder rate has fallen to an all-time low. Since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, the nation’s violent crime rate and its murder rate have decreased by more than half, as Americans have acquired over 170 million new guns, roughly doubling the number of privately owned guns in the United States.
Furthermore, concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding of any demographic group in America.
For these reasons and many others, gun control has fizzled as an issue even as its proponents continue to push the narrative.
The fact is, a majority of Americans just don’t see gun control as the answer to crime, violence, and terrorism.
As Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., put it on Twitter, we live in a fallen world and ultimately can’t regulate evil.
Congress Has Failed Again
America is in the economic and political crisis in which it finds itself, because those elected to represent us have failed to protect and defend the original intention of the Constitution of the United States of America.
We are engaged in a great new civil war raging here in our homeland and around the world. It is a war of ideologies seeking the hearts and minds of those responsible for authorizing their political power to those holding the reins of political power. We the people, bribed and deceived by the politicians seeking political power, are responsible for our government. Swayed by the false propaganda of the liberal media, we have failed to hold those we elect to an immutable standard of truth and justice for all.
The soon to be released book, Set My People Free, written by the author of The Attack on America and Beyond Reason, details where the governments we empower have failed us. Relying on the truths revealed by adhering to the confirmations of science and valid uncorrupted history, the new book discusses, in detail, solutions and alternatives to reclaim the heritage intend by the Framers and Founders. We have had the privilege of reviewing Set My People Free before publication.
Among the bureaucracies and institutions stealing our freedom and robbing us of justice ignored by government is the Social Security system. As the unjustly rich become richer and working Americans become poorer, the Social Security system established by Congress is failing. Most relevant to that issue is the fact that those we elect to represent us have exempted themselves from the retirement security they have imposed on working Americans. This is not an entitlement. Working Americans have earned their right to retire by contributing their wages to it. To have the fruits of their just labors stolen by government is criminal.
Mary Jordan, Kevin Sullivan
30 September, 2017
People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade, and at a far faster rate than any other age group. Today, 9 million senior citizens work, compared with 4 million in 2000.
While some work by choice rather than need, millions of others are entering their golden years with alarmingly fragile finances. Fundamental changes in the U.S. retirement system have shifted responsibility for saving from the employer to the worker, exacerbating the nation’s rich-poor divide. Two recent recessions have devastated personal savings. And at a time when 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, Social Security benefits have lost about a third of their purchasing power since 2000.
Polls show that most older people are more worried about running out of money than dying.
“There is no part of the country where the majority of middle-class older workers have adequate retirement savings to maintain their standard of living in their retirement,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who specializes in retirement security. “People are coming into retirement with a lot more anxiety and a lot less buying power.”
As a result, many older workers are hitting the road as work campers — also called “workampers” — those who shed costly lifestyles, purchase RVs and travel the nation picking up seasonal jobs that typically offer hourly wages and few or no benefits.
Amazon’s “CamperForce” program hires thousands of these silver-haired migrant workers to box online orders during the Christmas rush. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Walmart, whose giant parking lots are famous for welcoming RV travelers, has hired elderly people as store greeters and cashiers. Websites such as the Workamper News list jobs as varied as ushering at NASCAR tracks in Florida, picking sugar beets in Minnesota and working as security guards in the Texas oil fields.
In Maine, which calls itself “Vacationland,” thousands of seniors are drawn each summer to the state’s rocky coastline and picturesque small towns, both as vacationers and seasonal workers. In Bar Harbor, one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations, well-to-do retirees come ashore from luxury cruise ships to dine on $30 lobsters and $13 glasses of sauvignon blanc — leaving tips for other senior citizens waiting on oceanfront tables, driving Ollie’s Trolley buses or taking tickets for whale-watching tours.
The Devers have noticed this economic divide. They found their campground jobs online and drove here in May, with plans to stay until the season ends in October. On a recent day off, they took a bus tour near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, where the tour guide pointed out the oceanfront Rockefeller estate and Martha Stewart’s 12-bedroom mansion.
“The ones who go on these ritzy, ritzy cruises to all these islands in Maine, I don’t know how they got all that money. Maybe they were born into it,” said Jeannie, 72. “And then you see this poor little old retired person next door, who can hardly keep going. And he’s got his little trailer.”
On Election Day last November, the Devers expressed their frustration. For more than 50 years, they had supported mainstream candidates in both parties, casting their ballots for John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. This time, they concluded that the Democrat, Hillary Clinton, would be no help to them. And they found the Republican standard-bearer, Donald Trump, too “mouthy.”
So, for the first time in their lives, they cast protest votes, joining legions of disaffected voters whose aversion to Clinton helped propel Trump into the White House. Richard voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Jeannie left her presidential ballot blank.
“We are all talking about this, but not politicians. Helping people build a nest egg is not on their agenda,” Jeannie said. “We are the forgotten people.”
‘This job is a blessing’
The Devers first hit the road in their 33-foot American Star RV when Jeannie turned 65. Since then, they have worked jobs in Wyoming, Pennsylvania and now Maine. In addition to their $10-an-hour paychecks, the couple receives $22,000 a year from Social Security, an amount that has barely budged while health-care and other costs have soared.
“If we didn’t work, our money would run out real quick,” Richard said.
On a recent Friday, the Devers met for lunch back at their RV, Richard’s plaid shirt and suspenders dusty from mowing the drought-dried grass. Jeannie had spent the morning working the front desk in the campground office, where she checks people in and sells bug spray, marshmallows and other camping essentials.
As usual, she had arrived a half-hour early for her 9 a.m. shift to make sure everything was tidy for the first customer. Full of cheer and wearing white sneakers, she shies from talking about her macular degeneration and arthritic knuckles. “This job is a blessing,” she said.
President Trump is one year younger than Jeannie and, she said, “has more money than we can even imagine.” She muses that he probably “will hand a lot down to his kids” — another generation of rich people who, Richard and Jeannie believe, tend to be born that way.
The Devers know how hard it is to make it on your own.
In 1960, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were running for president, Richard started repairing homes and Jeannie made root beer floats in a drugstore back home in southern Indiana, near the Kentucky border. Later, they ran a business that put vinyl siding on homes and a little start-up called Southwest Stuff that sold Western-themed knickknacks.
They raised two children and lived well enough but never had much extra cash to put away. After a lifetime of working, they have a small mobile home in Indiana, a couple of modest life insurance policies and $5,000 in savings.
The Devers are better off than many Americans. One in five have no savings, and millions retire with nothing in the bank. Nearly 30 percent of households headed by someone 55 or older have neither a pension nor any retirement savings, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
From the camper’s compact refrigerator, Jeannie pulled a tub of meatloaf she had cooked in her crockpot a couple of days earlier.
“Are you good with just a sandwich?” she called to Richard.
“Just a sandwich, thanks,” he said, emerging from the bedroom in a fresh plaid shirt, bought for $2 at Goodwill. His blue-striped suspenders dangled below his waistband.
Without a word, Jeannie leaned over and slipped them over his shoulders — a daily task that keeps getting harder for the man she married 55 years ago.
A Wall Street gold mine
While most Americans are unprepared for retirement, rich older people are doing better than ever. Among people over 65, the wealthiest 20 percent own virtually all of the nation’s $25 trillion in retirement accounts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Employers have gradually shifted from traditional pensions, with guaranteed benefits for life, to 401(k) accounts that run out when the money has been spent. Those accounts work best for the wealthy, who not only have the extra cash to invest but also use 401(k)s to shelter their income from taxes while they are working.
People with little financial know-how often find 401(k)s confusing. Millions of people opt not to participate, or contribute too little, or take money out at the wrong time and are charged huge fees.
Even people who manage to save for retirement often face a grim calculation: Among people between 55 and 64 who have retirement accounts, the median value of those accounts is just over $120,000, according to the Federal Reserve.
So people are forced to guess how long they might live and budget their money accordingly, knowing that one big health problem, or a year in a nursing home, could wipe it all out.
The system has been a gold mine for Wall Street. Brokerages and insurance companies that manage retirement accounts earned roughly $33 billion in fees last year, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Ted Benna, a retirement consultant who is credited with creating the modern 401(k), called those fees “outrageous.” Many people — especially those who need the money the most — don’t even know they are paying them, he said.
Compared with the old system of company pensions, the new retirement system does not serve the average American well, said Ghilarducci, the labor economist, who teaches at the New School in New York.
“It’s as if we moved from a system where everybody went to the dentist to a system where everybody now pulls their own teeth,” she said.
‘The rich help the rich’
A few miles up the road from the Devers, Joanne Molnar, 64, and her husband, Mark, 62, live in their RV and work at another campground.
For 21 years, Joanne worked as a manager for a day-care company in Fairfield, Conn. She said she paid regularly into a 401(k) account that, at one point, was worth more than $40,000.
By the time she left the company in 2008, however, its value had fallen to $2,000.
Molnar said the company’s owner thought he was doing his 100 employees a favor by managing their retirement accounts. “But he didn’t know what he was doing,” she said. Instead of being angry with him, she’s furious with the 401(k) system.
“It stinks,” she said.
As Joanne’s retirement account was further battered by the Great Recession in 2008, the Molnars sold Mark’s share of his piano-restoration business and their home in Connecticut, which had lost value but kept attracting higher and higher property tax bills.
They bought a 25-foot RV for $13,000 and started looking for work near their three sons, one of whom lives near Bar Harbor, and their six grandchildren. After finishing at the Maine campground this fall, they plan to look for work in Texas or Wisconsin, near their other children.
Like the Devers, the Molnars say they are frustrated that the problems of older Americans do not seem to register in Washington.
Last year, the Molnars grew more optimistic when they heard Trump promising in campaign speeches to help the “forgotten people.” Like a majority of older voters, Joanne voted for Trump. She said she thought maybe a businessman, an outsider, would finally address the economic issues that matter to her.
But the Molnars said that with each passing week of the Trump presidency, they are growing less hopeful.
“We’ll see. I’m just getting a little worried now,” Joanne said. “I just think he’s not going to be helping the lower class as much as he thought he would.”
The recent battle to repeal Obamacare was “kind of scary,” she said, noting that Trump supported legislation that would have slashed Medicaid and left more people without government-subsidized insurance. Although the effort failed, Joanne and Mark remain nervous.
“The rich help the rich, and I’m starting to think that not enough will fall down to us,” Mark said, as he methodically bolted together one of 170 new picnic tables.
Mark signed up to begin collecting Social Security this summer. Even with those monthly checks, he figures he’ll have to work at least 10 more years.
“Forget the government. It’s got to be ‘We the People,’ ” he said. “We’re on our own. You have to fend for yourself.”
‘It’s not fun getting old’
At the end of a long day at work, Richard and Jeannie Dever met back at their RV. After mowing the grass in the hot sun, Richard, who is just shy of his 75th birthday, was sweating under his baseball cap. He was tired.
“It’s not fun getting old,” he said.
Asked whether he was more worried about dying or running out of money, Richard thought about it, then said with a shrug, “I guess it’s a toss-up.”
Jeannie took off her sneakers and rested her swollen ankles. Richard recently cut back to 33 hours a week, but she was still working 40 hours, sometimes a few more.
A few days earlier, she had spent four hours cleaning a trailer where the guests had used a fire extinguisher to put out a small stove fire. She got down on the vinyl floor and lied on her stomach to reach the dust under the stove.
In the years ahead, Jeannie said, she hopes to find a job where she can sit down.
Taxation Without Representation – An Egregious Double Standard
Corporate and governmental bureaucracies combined with unbridled capitalism pursue the attack on America. Invoking the cronyism rampant in the unjust political arena, politicians and bureaucrats have sacrificed Americans loyal to the original intention of the Constitution to political power and ambition. Taxed without representation, the enemies of liberty and justice for all enlist the false propaganda of the liberal media to spew a smokescreen of lies and deceptions. The unjustly rich become richer, and the poor, enslaved by a welfare state instituted by the unchecked and unbalanced political power of the parasites feeding on their just labors, become poorer.
Politicians at every level, in every jurisdiction; corporate heads and governing boards have established a double standard displayed in the malignant cronyism, reeking of injustice, infecting our land. This is a swamp so contaminated that it must be drained to protect the public health.
Fred Lucas / September 29, 2017
President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced late Friday afternoon.
Price had been under fire for his use of private charter flights.
“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the president accepted,” Sanders said in a statement released just after 4:30 p.m.
“The president intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as acting secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2017. Mr. Wright currently serves as the deputy assistant secretary for Health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.”
Earlier Friday, Trump had said of Price, “He’s a very fine man,” but had added, “I certainly don’t like the optics. I’m not happy, I can tell you that. I’m not happy.”
He came under fire for many domestic private chartered flights, such as from Washington to nearby locations like Philadelphia and New Hampshire.
Some of Price’s controversial flights were used for travels to Africa to review progress on Ebola, and to participate in global health meetings in Europe.
In his resignation letter, Price wrote, “I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives.”
Because of the controversy Price had said he would pay more than $51,887.31 back to the U.S. treasury, a portion of the total transportation cost, which would exceed $400,000 for the private charter domestic flights. However, Politico also reported that the administration approved another $500,000 in costs for traveling on military planes for health conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe.
During the period from Jan. 20 to Sept. 19, the Trump administration authorized 77 military flights, while the Obama administration allowed 94 flights during the same time in 2009, Fox News reported Friday. Trump also noted this before boarding Marine One in the White House South Lawn.
“We put in an order that no more planes – if you look at past administrations, for instance, if you look at the Obama administration and take a look at the amount of time they spent in the air, they spent a lot of time in the air. But I felt very badly because Secretary Price is a good man. But we are looking into it and we are looking into it very seriously.”
In his resignation letter, released by the White House, Price wrote:
It is an honor and privilege to serve you as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Under your leadership, the Department is working aggressively to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. This includes working to reform a broken health care system, empower patients, reduce regulatory burdens, ensure global health security, and tackle clinical priorities such as the opioids epidemic, serious mental illness and childhood obesity.
I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives.
Success on these issues is more important than any one person. In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation as the Secretary of Health and Human Services effective 11:59 PM on Friday, September 29, 2017.
You may rest assured that I will continue to support your critical priorities going ahead because failure is not an option for the American people.
In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan called Price “a good man.”
“Price has spent his entire adult life fighting for others, first as a physician and then as a legislator and public servant. He was a leader in the House and a superb health secretary. His vision and hard work were vital to the House’s success passing our health care legislation.”
During the Obama administration, a 2013 Government Accountability Office report found a similar problem, in this case, by the Justice Department. Two luxury jets the FBI had said were needed for security against global terrorism were used instead by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Holder’s predecessors in the George W. Bush administration, Attorneys General Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales, also used the jets. It came at a total cost of $11.4 million, the GAO found.
The HHS secretary isn’t required to use non-commercial flights as some national security officials are.
Fox reported that Holder, in 2014, also took at government-owned Gulfstream and flew to the Belmont Stakes thoroughbred race in New York with family members and two security offices. The trip reportedly cost the government $14,440. Holder reimbursed the government $955. The Washington Times reported that while serving as CIA director, Leon Panetta refunded the government $630 for flights on luxury jets that cost about $32,000 per trip.
Price’s international travels had involved significant work on health issues. On May 17 and 18, Price traveled to Liberia to meet with the country’s leaders and health officials regarding the Ebola outbreak the ravaged the country in 2014. He met Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other top officials where he talked about the partnership with Liberia and United States government.
“Ebola survivors who met with the secretary described the significant stigma associated with the virus and continuing discrimination they face. Secretary Price shook hands with survivors, an important public gesture,” as said in a description by the Department of Health and Human Services.
He next traveled to Berlin to attend the G20 Health Ministerial Meeting, held on May 19 and 20. He met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Topics at the meeting included preparations to combat influenza and viruses with pandemic potential, antimicrobial resistance work with World Health Organization, or WHO. His next stop was the 70th annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, the 194-member government body of the WHO, where he spoke on May 22. The next major travel came Aug. 20-26, where he visited China, Vietnam, and Japan.
On Aug. 23, Price delivered the keynote address at the 7th High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Jarrett Stepman / September 26, 2017
The National Football League is now plunged into politics as players throughout the sport kneel for the national anthem and President Donald Trump continues to rebuke them publicly.
Undoubtedly, the situation has left many fans and non-fans of the league conflicted or angry. This fiasco may, however, open the eyes of the public to a serious and generally unchecked issue: billionaire NFL owners sponging enormous amounts of money from taxpayers through crony capitalist schemes. The fact is that a business that raked in $14 billion in revenue in 2016 is heavily subsidized by local, state, and federal money based on dubious claims about stimulating the economy.
The problem is rampant.
One report on Watchdog.org said that over the past two decades, the NFL has raked in about $7 billion of taxpayer money to spend on stadium renovation and building. Another study from the Brookings Institution showed that federal taxpayers have subsidized the construction of 36 stadiums at a cost of over $3.2 billion since 2000.
Michael Sargent, an infrastructure expert at The Heritage Foundation, wrote about how sports teams use specially crafted tax breaks to get the public to finance their massive projects.
“Tax-exempt municipal bonds are typically reserved for public-use projects such as bridges, water systems, and other infrastructure, yet because of a loophole in the tax code, private-use stadiums can take advantage of this tax break, and have done so prolifically.”
In fact, only a handful of NFL and other major league teams use privately-financed venues to host their games.
It would seem after sinking enormous investments into sports franchises, cities would reap serious financial benefits in return. But this isn’t the case at all. Research from George Mason University has shown that not only do communities gain almost no economic benefits from subsidized sports teams, but some findings “indicate harmful effects of sports on per capita income, wage and salary disbursements, and wages per job.”
Recently released polls show national anthem protests are deeply unpopular with the American people, but polls also show that the taxpayer funding of sports is also widely disliked. When likely voters in Nevada were asked if they favored or opposed using $500 million in taxpayer dollars to fund a stadium for the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas, they overwhelmingly said “no.” According to the KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll, 60 percent of Nevada voters opposed the funding, and only 28 percent supported it.
Given the massive discontent over national anthem kneeling and rampant politicization of the once unifying sport of football, perhaps now Americans will turn a more skeptical eye toward how their sports teams rely on public money and actually do something about it.
Colin Kaepernick started out taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, but his activism has since expanded to encompass a wide range of leftist causes, including a group named after a convicted cop-killer.
The Colin Kaepernick Foundation donated in April $25,000 to Assata’s Daughters, a Chicago “direct action” resistance organization honoring Assata Shakur, who escaped prison and fled to Cuba after being found guilty in the 1973 murder of Officer Werner Foerster.
The grant includes $2,500 for CopWatch, a program that trains volunteers to follow and video police, and $15,000 for teen training, part of the group’s commitment to “develop and train young people, ages 4-19, in the Black queer feminist tradition and in the spirit of Assata.”
Apparently Mr. Kaepernick is also a fan: He retweeted a July 16 message wishing Shakur a happy birthday.
The contribution came as part of Mr. Kaepernick’s pledge last year to donate $1 million over 10 months to “organizations working in oppressed communities.”
So far he has given $900,000 in grants to 31 organizations, including apolitical services like Meals on Wheels as well as advocacy groups pushing a left-of-center agenda on issues like abortion, climate change, criminal-justice reform and immigration.
Contributions include $25,000 for 350.org, a climate-change group dedicated to fighting fossil fuels, and $25,000 for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-choice advocacy organization.
The foundation gave $50,000 in December for a “health clinic partnership” at the now-defunct Dakota Access pipeline protest, and $25,000 to United We Dream in order to “keep DACA in force,” referring to President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback also has close ties to the Women’s March, including organizers Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour.
The Kaepernick Foundation donated in June $25,000 to the Gathering for Justice NYC, headed by Ms. Perez, while Ms. Mallory and Ms. Sarsour appeared at the Aug. 24 pro-Kaepernick rally outside NFL headquarters.
Part of the Kaepernick Foundation’s $33,000 donation for the Lower East Side Girls Club was designated for travel and lodging for the Women’s March convention in October.
The Women’s March returned the favor with a shoutout Sunday on Facebook with a post saying, “#TaketheKnee [is] on the right side of history today — not just NFL players, but all of YOU. Show your support for the athletes siding with justice.”
The Women’s March has its own Shakur connection: The group came under fire in July for a tweet celebrating the birthday of Shakur. Shakur was placed on the FBI’s most-wanted list as a “domestic terrorist” who belonged to an “extremist group,” the Black Revolutionary Army.
The backlash included a tweet from Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, who said, “Unbelievable that anyone would idolize a cop killer.”
Assata’s Daughters has been upfront about its admiration for Shakur, saying on its website that it “carries on the tradition of radical liberatory activism encompassed by Assata Shakur.”
“Basically our organization is a part of a much larger movement that is fighting for the abolition of prisons, police and anti-blackness itself,” said Assata’s Daughters adult coordinator in a video.
Shakur, who was wounded in the 1977 shootout on the New Jersey turnpike that left two dead, including the officer, has argued that her murder conviction and life sentence were part of a “political prosecution” at the hands of a “racist legal system.”
Formerly Joanne Chesimard, she has since become a martyr on the left, drawing support from high-profile activists, like Angela Davis.
In 2015, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on the Obama administration to extradite her after normalizing relations with Cuba.
Assata’s Daughters described its role as “one of helping to escalate, deepen and sustain the Black Lives Matter movement.” “We believe it is our duty to fight for our freedom,” the group says on its website. “We come together in struggle as radical Black feminists and organizers, under the shared respect, love and study of Assata Shakur.”
During the 2016 NFL season, Mr. Kaepernick touched off a political uproar over his refusal to stand for the national anthem, citing high-profile shootings of black men by police and what he called “systematic oppression” of U.S. minorities.
Mr. Kaepernick later faced criticism for his defense of former Cuban strongman Fidel Castro and wearing a T-shirt showing a 1960 meeting between Castro with Malcolm X.
The disasters of Harvey and Irma drew the liberal elite, pundits, and politicians out of their holes. Spewing the continuous lies and deceptions promoting their liberal agenda, they again ignore real science and valid history. Moving from the bankrupt imagination that CO2 is even the primary cause of global warming, they ridiculously suggest that mankind has any ability to control global warming.
Then, they put forth the more ludicrous suggestion that global warming caused Harvey and Irma, specifically where it hit. All true scientists acknowledge various climatic condition’s effects on such factors as intensity, etc.
Nicolas Loris / September 08, 2017
Climatologists Roger Pielke Jr.’s and Jessica Weinkle’s graph from from a 2012 article in the Journal of Climate showed no trends in global tropical cyclone landfalls over the past 46 years.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in its most recent scientific assessment that “[n]o robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes … have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin; … there are “no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency”; and further, “… confidence in large-scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones [such as ‘Superstorm’ Sandy] since 1900 is low.”.
Other media outlets tying Harvey to climate change took a more measured approach. For instance, Vox wrote that man-made global warming did not actually cause Harvey, but simply exacerbated the natural disaster by creating heavier rainfalls.
But this claim is discredited by University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass, who after examining precipitation levels in the Gulf found that “[t]here is no evidence that global warming is influencing Texas coastal precipitation in the long term and little evidence that warmer than normal temperatures had any real impact on the precipitation intensity from this storm.”
Mass went on to explicitly refute those who attribute Hurricane Harvey to climate change:
“The bottom line in this analysis is that both observations of the past decades and models looking forward to the future do not suggest that one can explain the heavy rains of Harvey by global warming, and folks that are suggesting it are poorly informing the public and decision makers.”
Further, these policies will destroy economic wealth, meaning fewer resources would be available to strengthen infrastructure to contain the future effects of natural disasters and to afterward.
Instead of blaming man-made greenhouse gas emissions, climate catastrophists should see natural disasters for what they really are: natural.
If policymakers want to take a page out of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “never let a crisis go to waste” playbook, they should worry less about costly nonsolutions to climate change and focus on natural disaster response, resilience, and preparedness.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
It is more than a little disturbing.
Before the rains had ended, dozens of media outlets had published stories suggesting that global warming forced by humans (mainly by emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere) played a significant role in producing the heavy rainfall and resulting flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey.
Most of the stories were not based on data or any kind of quantitative analysis, but a hand-waving argument that a warming earth will put more water vapor into the atmosphere and thus precipitation will increase. A few suggesting that a warming atmosphere will cause hurricanes to move more slowly.
This blog will provide a careful analysis of the possible impacts of global warming on Hurricane Harvey. And the results are clear: human-induced global warming played an inconsequential role in this disaster.
Why did Houston Get So Much Rain?
The proximate cause of the disaster is clear: the extreme rainfall was the result of a hurricane/tropical storm that pulled in huge amounts of water vapor off the Gulf of Mexico (and beyond), and which came into the Texas coast and then stalled for days. All tropical storms/hurricanes bring large amounts of rain during landfall. What was different here was the stalling and sitting over the same region for days.
So if you want to explain why this event was so unusual, you must shed light on the lack of motion after landfall of this strong hurricane/tropical storm.
And how much rain? Here are the 7-day totals around Houston and the general area. Over 20 inches in the region surrounding Houston (gray color), with the central areas getting 30-50 inches. An amazing event.
Let’s analyze the two key questions:
- Did global warming juice up Hurricane Harvey, producing unusually heavy precipitation?
- Did global warming cause the storm to stagnate for days?
First, let us examine what we call the thermodynamic effects: increasing temperatures and moisture.
As air warms it can “hold” more water vapor, which can lead to heavier precipitation as the air enters a storm and rises. In fact, more water vapor can also help rev up a storm as well, since when it condense it releases “latent” heat.
There is a well known relationship between temperature and the maximum amount of moisture air can hold, the Clausius Clapeyron (CC) relationship, which says that air can hold about 7% more water vapor for every 1°C increase in temperature.
It turns out that there is a lot of theoretical and modeling work that suggests that extreme precipitation in storms might increase at roughly the same rate. So increase the temperature of the air 1C and extreme precipitation might increase as much as 7%. Keep this number in your head…it will be important.
For the Texas coast, the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico will be critical, because the air that reaches the Texas coast will have passed over the water.
So how much has surface water or air temperature warmed up during the past decades? One can go to the NASA GISS website and get the surface temperature change over the past 50 years during August. The Gulf warmed by .5-1 °C between 1967 and 2016. Pretty modest. Some of this was natural and some of it was forced by mankind.
But what was the SST anomaly (difference from normal) during the period that really counted here: the week before the hurricane. The NOAA sea surface temperature anomaly for August 20 to 26th showed .5 to 1 C warming above normal in the sea surface temperature for the northern Gulf of Mexico. Less for the southern coast and right off Texas.
So Hurricane Harvey developed in an environment in which temperatures were near normal in the atmosphere and slightly above normal in the Gulf. The clear implication: global warming could not have contributed very much to the storm.
OK, let me go out on a limb. Let us assume that all of the .5C warming of the Gulf was due to human-caused global warming. That NONE of it was natural. And that the air was warmed by the same amount. Using the scaling described above implies an increase of 3.5% in the extreme precipitation of this storm. So for places that received 30 inches, perhaps 1 inch resulted from global warming. Not much. Immaterial regarding impacts or anything else.
Well, some of you might ask. Is there any evidence of global warming producing heavier precipitation along the Texas coast? Surely, if warming was evident and it was significant, precipitation would be increasing over time!
Well, here is the July to October (hurricane season) precipitation for the coast around Houston for the past 50 years. Lots of ups and down but no trend. In fact, if there is any trend it might be down.
I could show you a lot more, but bottom line in all this is:
There is no evidence that global warming is influencing Texas coastal precipitation in the long term and little evidence that warmer than normal temperatures had any real impact on the precipitation intensity from this storm.
Now, lets examine the second question. Is there any evidence that global warming caused the storm to slow down? Some of the media stories had all kinds of hand-waving speculations. Such as the jet stream would be weakened and become “lazy” due to global warming.
Quite honestly, none of this is supported by observations or models.
The wind pattern that produced the stagnation is shown in the figure below, which shows the zonal (east-west) wind anomaly (difference from normal) at mid-levels in the troposphere (500 hPa) for August 18-25th. A reasonable level to evaluate the steering flow for the storm. Note that the zonal winds are more negative than normal (blue colors) over the Gulf, which implies stronger flow from the east (the convention is that winds going west to east are positive). In contrast, there are greens and yellows over central Texas and to the west, implying more westerly (from the west winds), which would tend to slow the storm down. So the large scale flow might accelerate the storm towards the coast and then slow it down.
But do we expect global warming to produce such a pattern of anomalous winds wind over the Gulf? Are some of the media and “activist” scientists correct in saying that winds over the Gulf will slow down under global warming? Let’s find out.
First, let me show you the change in zonal winds over the Gulf of Mexico for the past 50 years at 500 hPa. No real trend. Other levels showed the same thing.
Tom Hamill, a scientist at NOAA ESRL, plotted the average hurricane speed in the region (20-30N, 50-100W), which I show below. He also shows (wisely) the number of samples (hurricanes) each year, since the reliability of the average declines when there are few samples. It is clear that there is little trend, particularly when one only considers the years with decent samples.
Let me stress that it is the trend over the entire period that would suggest an impact of global warming, NOT some transient change over a few years.
What about the future? Atmospheric scientists run global climate models driven by increasing CO2, with a large collection of runs being available (the CMIP5 effort with around two dozen models). I did a paper with Matt Brewer analyzing these models (published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Climate) and below is figure from it, which shows the difference in the zonal (east-west) wind at 500 hPa between the late 20th and 21st centuries for July and August. Little change over the Gulf and that is AT THE END of the 21st century. Little would change now.
The bottom line in this analysis is that both observations of the past decades and models looking forward to the future do not suggest that one can explain the heavy rains of Harvey by global warming, and folks that are suggesting it are poorly informing the public and decision makers.
They are using hand-waving arguments to push an agenda, which observations, theory, and modeling show to be incorrect. Global warming is a serious issue and mankind must deal with it, but hype and exaggeration of the current effects is counterproductive in the long term.
By the end of the century, increasing atmospheric moisture will increase the intensity of heavy rain in many locations, including the Northwest. Although there is no evidence of increased hurricane frequency during the past several decades, some studies suggest enhancement of the number of the strongest hurricanes by the end of the century.
One does not need global warming to explain extreme weather–sometimes the factors come together to produce an unusual event… think of it as a meteorological royal flush.
What the media SHOULD be discussing is the lack of resilience of our infrastructure to CURRENT extreme weather. Houston has had multiple floods the past few years and poor planning is a major issue. When you put massive amounts of concrete and buildings over an historical swamp, water problems will occur if drainage and water storage is not engineered from the start.
China may be ahead of us in such planning, with a huge investment in their sponge cities program in which they are investing hundreds of billions of dollars. Blaming global warming makes it easier to neglect the infrastructure investments that are required to protect our cites.
Can you imagine if President Trump announced an infrastructure program to make our nation more resilient to CURRENT extreme weather? A bipartisan effort to deal with extreme winds, flooding, rain, drought, and other severe weather?
14 August, 2017
Photo: Michael Nigro/ZUMA Press/Newscom
I picked quite a time to go on a weekend trip to Charlottesville.
What was supposed to be a nice getaway with my wife turned into a journey through the eye of a national media storm.
On Saturday, clashes between “Unite the Right” protestors and “anti-fascist” counterprotesters at the foot of a Gen. Robert E. Lee statue—which the City Council had voted to remove from a local park—turned violent.
One woman was killed when an Ohio man allegedly associated with the white nationalist marchers rammed his car through a wave of people. He has been charged with second-degree murder.
The clash between Nazis and leftists in the streets was an ugly and surreal scene one would associate with 1930s Germany, not a sleepy American town in the heart of central Virginia.
A City, and Country, in Shock
The attitude of people around Charlottesville—the silent majority—deserves to be noted. They were almost universally upset, blindsided, and resentful that these groups showed up in their community to drag down its reputation and fight their ideological proxy wars.
Albemarle County, which includes Charlottesville and a few other small towns, is deeply blue in its most populated centers around the University of Virginia and dark red on the outskirts. It’s politically purple. Yet everywhere I went, the attitude toward the protests was similar.
As a thunderstorm rolled in on Saturday evening, a waitress at a restaurant I ate at said, “Let’s hope this washes the day away.”
A local gas station attendant told my wife: “These people from out of town, Nazis, [Black Lives Matter], they’re all hate groups to me.”
In the aftermath of the events, most townsfolk walking in the Charlottesville downtown area appeared stunned and shaken. The overall feeling in the area was resentment—certainly not sympathy for any of the groups involved.
It would be a mistake to blow the events in Charlottesville too far out of proportion by linking either side to a mainstream political movement. In the grand scheme of things, it was a small-scale clash between groups who clearly represent an extreme minority in this country.
Even calling the gathering of a couple hundred people a “movement” would be a stretch. The overwhelming media attention given to these fascist, racist groups even before violence took place served as a conduit for the views of this handful of people.
The media’s role in blowing this event out of proportion is lamentable and predictable, but it doesn’t excuse what took place.
What the event does demonstrate is the looming danger of identity politics run amok. This is what is in store if we are consumed by the tribal politics that have destroyed so many other countries.
In June, I wrote about why I think politically incorrect historical monuments—even Confederate ones like the Lee statue in Charlottesville — should stay.
At the time I wrote:
In our iconoclastic efforts to erase the past, we rob ourselves of knowing the men who forged our national identity, and the events that made us who we are. This nation, of almost incomprehensible wealth, power, and prosperity, was created by the decisions of men like Lincoln — and Lee, too.
The zealous march to obliterate America’s past, even parts we dislike, will leave us a diminished civilization.
Though many have now jumped to conclude that the events in Charlottesville show the need to give in to the desire of people to tear down statues, this will only serve to strengthen and embolden the radicals—on both sides—to step up their efforts to plunge the nation into constant social unrest and civil war.
Identity Over Individuals
In a sense, the “alt-right” and leftist agitators want the same thing. They both seek to redefine the battle over American history in racial and tribal terms in direct opposition to the most basic ideas of our national existence.
Such was the case in the unsightly scene in front of Charlottesville’s Lee statue.
The real individuals whom these statues represent simply ceased to matter.
It was telling that a counterprotest erupted in Washington, D.C., in front of the Albert Pike memorial. Pike had been a Confederate general, but the memorial itself was simply dedicated to his work as a freemason and not his military career.
That fact was irrelevant.
Only the war over identity mattered. Pike must be plucked out and purged.
In a country of 320 million people of stunningly diverse ethnic backgrounds and philosophies, this is a fire bell in the night for complete cultural disintegration. The end result will be uglier than the already sickening events that took place this weekend.
The Federalist’s publisher, Ben Domenech, rightly noted what this means for the direction of the country: “[I]t is the open conflict of a nation at war with itself over its own character. This war will end badly, no matter how it plays out. And the way this story ends is in demolishing [Thomas Jefferson’s] Monticello brick by brick.”
There is no arc of history bending perpetually on its own toward justice. History is instead a series of twists and turns, influenced by cultural and social forces as well as individuals and communities.
America has never been a perfect nation. It has benefitted from great ideas advanced by imperfect men, and almost miraculously formed a great and good national community out of widely disparate elements.
This history is worth remembering and even celebrating. It shouldn’t be buried because a few evil men have twisted it to serve their causes. Nor should it be used to attack and haunt the living.
As the late 19th-century poet Henry Van Dyke wrote:
I know that Europe’s wonderful, yet something seems to lack:
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the present is to make our future free —
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.
This is the spirit of our country, and it won’t change because a few thugs wish to turn our most fundamental principles on their head. We have a duty to repudiate them through a stronger dedication to the founding principles that have made this country great.
The America is under attack! (video) is actually a sermon entitled When God Judges a Nation by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago in 2014 which parallels the Jewish plight when turning from God to our situation here in America.
At no time since beginning publication in 2003 have members of this Committee For The Constitution expressed such outrage at politicians as when learning of the betrayal this past Thursday, 13 July, 2017 on the floor of the House of Representatives. Presumed to hold values and be in support of a platform intended to protect and defend the original intention of the Constitution, 23 GOP members of the House voted to side with liberals on a transgender policy for the military so extreme that only 23 percent of the country support it. Initiated in the unconcealed tyranny of the Obama administration, this band of defectors gave the Democrats the help they needed to keep Obama’s mission of dismantling the military alive by defeating Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-Mo.) amendment to prevent taxpayers from having to foot the $3.7 billion price tag for gender reassignment for those failing socialization 214-209.
In her argument on the House floor, Rep. Hartzler said that “It makes no sense to create soldiers who are unable to fight and win our nation’s wars and unfair to non transitioning individuals who must leave their families and deploy in their place.” She also said that service members who undergo surgical transition would be non deployable for up to 267 days and “regular hormone treatments renders individuals nondeployable into the future.”
Quoting former Congressman Lt.Col. Allen West, “The real question now is, what does it mean to be a Republican? Republicans don’t know, they are too busy acquiescing, compromising, and appeasing those who would never do the same for them. They are fundamentally confused as to who they are, and that for which they stand. The greater population of Americans are conservative – they believe in faith, family, individual liberty, economic freedom, better education opportunities, working hard to care for themselves, and being a strong and secure nation.”
If your Congressman has betrayed you, remove them from office. They are guilty of “taxation without representation”. Here is who they are, joining 190 Democratic traitors.
Justin Amash (Mich.), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Barbara Comstock (Va.), Paul Cook (Calif.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), John Faso (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), John Katko (N.Y.), Steve Knight (Calif.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Tom MacArthur (N.J.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), and no-show David Valadao (Calif.)
Working loyal Americans placed President Trump in the Oval Office. Now every citizen in every district and state in America deserves to know whether those elected to represent them has upheld their oath of office. We are asking that President Trump keep every voting loyal American apprised of whether they are being taxed without representation.
More than just the prior politically imposed injustice of the logistical burden of women indiscriminately injected into active combat, the whole transgender issue forced on the military by politicians extends far beyond any semblance of reason. In real combat, where the next bullet, IED, or any explosive ordnance might “have your name on it”, those offering to sacrifice their all for your freedom deserve to know that those engaging the enemy with them “have their back”.
The medically documented psychological dysfunction of homosexuality alone is in the 90+th percentile. In the middle of life or death combat is no place to wonder whether the person you are relying on to protect you is going to have any kind of a mental dysfunction. Having lived with and dealing with the daily dysfunction of any sort of mental incapacity, in training or after, does not engender confidence in the response of the dysfunctional to the ultimate stress of facing life or death.
From a purely economic and justice standpoint, the American taxpayer having to fork out the 130,000 dollars or the billions overall to promote the psychological dysfunction or failed socialization of homosexuals, transgenders, or any deviant is not just morally bankrupt, but unconstitutional and unjust. Errant politicians need to be reminded of President Washington’s words in his Farewell Address reiterating the Framers’ and Founders’ worldview that “Religion and morality are indispensible supports for our form of government.”. Neither can they be required to fund the ongoing pharmacologic requirements of sex change any more than they can justly be required to promote or sustain any addictive behavior.
The following article lends an additionally relevant perspective on the issue. Political correctness must never be allowed to silence the voices of Truth and Justice. Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media.
26 July, 2017
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” – President Donald Trump
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he wouldn’t allow transgender individuals to serve in the military.
I think he made the right decision—and as someone who lived as trans-female for several years, I should know.
When I discovered Congress voted earlier this month to not block funding for transgender-related hormone therapies and sex change surgeries, I wondered if it considered how devastating this will be to the fitness, readiness, and morale of our combat-ready troops.
In July, the House of Representatives voted down Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have banned the military from funding such treatments.
Paying for transition-related surgeries for military service members and their families is beyond comprehensible.
Perhaps they have forgotten that our military was forged to be the world’s strongest fighting force, not a government-funded, politically correct, medical sex change clinic for people with gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria, the common diagnosis for one who feels at odds with his or her birth gender, develops from prolonged anxiety and depression. People are not born that way.
The “proof” for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is having strongly held feelings—but feelings can and often do change over time.
The military is expected to prepare its members in warfare: to kill, destroy, and break our enemies. The most important factors in preparing a strong military are not hormone therapy, surgical sex changes, or politically correct education.
We need psychologically fit, emotionally sound, highly trained troops to protect our nation from its enemies.
While countless homeless vets are currently sleeping under cardboard boxes, or waiting for life-saving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, we learn that transgender military recruits now qualify for preferential coverage for sex change procedures that are scientifically unproven and extremely costly.
I myself was fully sex-reassigned from male to female, and eventually came to accept my birth gender.
I have over 70 years of firsthand life experience, eight years of living as a woman, 20 years of researching the topic, and 12 years of helping others who, like me, found that transitioning and reassignment surgery failed to be proper treatment and want to restore their lives to their birth gender.
Costly, but Not Effective
Transitioning can be expensive—up to $130,000 per person for numerous body-mutilating and cosmetic procedures over many months (or years) to fashion the body to appear as the opposite sex.
Yet, no matter how skilled the surgeon, or how much money is spent, it is biologically impossible to change a man into a woman or a woman into a man. The change is only cosmetic.
The medical community continues to recommend this radical “treatment” in the absence of scientific evidence that people are better off in the long run. This population attempts suicide at a rate of 40 percent.
Even after the full surgical change, they attempt to end their lives, or tragically succeed.
Over 60 percent of this diverse population suffer from co-existing mental disorders. Consider Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning), a former Army soldier who was so psychologically and emotionally unbalanced that he stole confidential documents from the military and forwarded them to WikiLeaks.
The Military Is a Fighting Force, Not a Gender Clinic
The military should not provide sex change surgery.
Through my website, sexchangeregret.com, I hear from people who experienced firsthand how damaging and unnecessary reassignment surgeries were. For them, the sex change failed to resolve the emotional and psychological disorders that drove the desire to change gender.
Many write after living the transgender life for years. They write to ask for advice on how to reverse the original surgical change and restore their lives to the original birth gender like I did, a process called detransition.
Some service members will come to regret having undergone the surgery and will want to detransition. Where will the military be then? Will the military pay for the sex change reversal procedure, too?
Failed “sex change surgeries” are not uncommon and will drive up the cost to care for the military transgender population above the projected $3-4 billion 10-year cost.
Beyond the financial cost, there’s the question of the service member’s military readiness during their transition or detransition, as the process often comes with a great deal of anxiety and emotional instability.
I know of many who have struggled to adapt to the new gender role for years after reassignment surgery.
In my view, as a former trans-female who works every day with regretters, allowing the military to pay for sex change surgeries will make a mockery of the U.S. military.
Advocates are relentless in their pursuit of making others, via the government and insurance companies, cover the cost of sex change procedures.
If the military had been forced to pay, the advocates would have used this as leverage to press every other entity—both government and commercial—to pay for sex change surgeries as well.
As a person who lived the transgender life for eight years, I can attest that assisting, affirming, or paying for hormone therapies and genital mutilation surgeries would not have strengthened our military. They would only have brought adverse long-term consequences, both for individuals and for our armed forces as a whole.
Walt Heyer is an author and public speaker. Through his website, SexChangeRegret.com, and his blog, WaltHeyer.com, Heyer raises public awareness about those who regret gender change and the tragic consequences suffered as a result.