Categories
Islam Media Truth

WATCHDOG WATCH: The Media’s Smiley Face Islam

By Rod Thomson

Smiley face Islam.

That seems to be how the media is determined to depict the face of Islam. The media has unacknowledged, and at times unknown agendas on multiple fronts. It’s the perfectly natural outcome when a large group of people have essentially the same worldview and their check and balance on that worldview is each other.

There is not going to be much of a check or balance. In a word, bias.

The bias in Muslim coverage seems to be ensuring that all Muslims are painted as exactly like every other American, and that Islam as a religion is depicted the same as any other religion. The truth is that Islam is a mixed bag in 2017 unlike any other religion. There are many productive, pro-American, peaceable Muslims in the United States. We probably have the most moderate Muslim population in the world, on a whole, and a majority fit into the American culture.

But while polls show that American Muslims are some of the least radicalized in the world, they also show that Islam worldwide does not fit the media narrative and hundreds of millions believe Sharia law, for instance, a legal system antithetical to American beliefs. And that raises questions of immigration.

Yet the media persists in describing Islam as an overtly peaceful religion that preaches tolerance, and the thousands of adherents to Islam that participate in atrocities are not really Muslims. No real reporting on the millions that support atrocious behavior, but do not participate directly.

So the truth is there really exists a smiley face Islam. But there also really exists a hateful, murderous Islam. Both are true, but the media highlights one.

 

The happy face example

An example that beautifully illustrates this bias was published a little over a year ago in a well-regarded Florida daily newspaper. In fact, this particular Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper helpfully directed readers with the headline, “The Face of Islam in Southwest Florida.”

Here is the lead:

“Imam Yousuf Memon is the face of Islam in Sarasota and Bradenton — and it’s a face that smiles constantly and is quick to laugh.

“Memon, only 24, shatters the stereotype of a Muslim cleric.

“Before services Friday, he was dressed in a trendy Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie, jeans and flip-flops.

“He admits he’s much younger than most Islamic clergy, but in the eight months since he became Imam of Sarasota’s diverse Muslim community, his efforts have drawn wide acclaim.”

The brave Imam — truly a brave young man — condemns violence in the name of Islam and says if he got wind of radicalized Muslims in his community, the first thing he would do is report them to the authorities. Here here! That is precisely the type of leadership many Americans hope for from Muslim clerics. So that’s all great and may God protect him.

 

What is missing journalistically

But as to the journalism…this story is one big promotional puff piece for smiley face Islam on Page 1 of a newspaper. Paid advertising is only mildly more overt. There are verrrrrrry long quotes (which you rarely see) by the Imam explaining that his view is true Islam and not the violent views of others around the world and occasionally in the United States. That’s legitimate, except that there is zero balance in the story.

What is missing? No normal journalistic push back. No context. No actual tough questions or topics, which are abundant with the Muslim issue. As a former journalist, I would ask some basics such as:

— Do you believe in Sharia law?

— Do you think it is safe to let in Syrians?

— How have ISIS and others gained such huge followings in your religion, particularly when no other religion has anything like this going on?

— Why do such large percentages of Muslims around the world support Sharia and even support terrorism and terror organizations in many instances?

That used to be basic journalism. But none of those were asked — or were not reported if they were asked, which seems unlikely. Instead, we got a happy face Islam promotional piece ignoring all the tough questions.

This type of coverage played out recently in President Trump’s 90-day ban on people traveling to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The first day of the ban, 109 people were detained because of it, out of 325,000 who entered the country that day. All were released within 48 hours. But the media reported chaos at the airports (which was caused in part by a major computer outage at Delta) and referred for a while to the “Muslim ban” (an absurd characterization) while endlessly quoting people about the inhumanity and civil rights violations and un-Americanism of it all.

This is a constant within media coverage, and driven by a monolithic worldview that sees Islam as peaceful, violence as not Islamic, and Christian extremists are an equal threat as Islamic extremists. This is done in two ways: One, equating maybe half a dozen terrorist acts attributed to Christians in the past 30 years, to literally thousands of acts attributed to Muslims in the past 10 years. The false equivalence muddies the waters and makes way for the second way, smiley face Islam the reality.

There are obviously Americans like Imam Yousuf Memon who is an important and productive part of his communities. If all Islam were like him, obviously there would be no conversation. But the data overwhelmingly demonstrates that is not the case.

You just won’t get that in most media reporting.

Categories
America Politics Truth

Neil deGrasse Tyson is Wrong. Very Wrong

By Rod Thomson

It’s not everyday that you get to tell a world-renowned physicist that he is wrong. Really, really wrong.

Popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a best-selling author and television personality, is a witty and engaging man — hence his TV popularity. Unfortunately, he’s also got a stringent political worldview based on atheism and leftist politics, and despite his style, his words often reveal the elitism that drives away those not of his political persuasion.

This was most recently revealed in a tweet to his 6.5 million followers (that is a very popular astrophysicist!)

 

 

That is an astonishingly inaccurate implication from a scientist — and note the tens of thousands of retweets and likes. For a man who is constantly promoting truth over what we want to be true — that’s generally a shot at religion — it is easily shown to be false.

But this is part and parcel with his worldview; varying degrees of a anti-Americanism, or maybe pro-globalism. But certainly not accepting the idea of American exceptionalism, despite overwhelming evidence.

Here are several areas showing Tyson is just dead wrong in his downer assessment of the past 45 years. And to a degree so is President Trump, in that America never stopped being great, and this shows it.

 

45 years later, quality of life is soaring
  • 45 years later, extreme poverty globally has been slashed, perhaps the greatest achievement of the second half of the 20th century. In 1980, 43 percent of the world population lived in extreme poverty. But due to more capitalistic economic reforms and streams of technological advances — driven primarily by the United States —  extreme poverty globally is down to 17 percent and continuing to decline, according to the World Bank.
  • 45 years later, we’ve all but eradicated hunger and poverty in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, “The U.S. stands head and shoulders above the rest of the world. More than half (56%) of Americans were high income by the global standard, living on more than $50 per day in 2011…Another 32% were upper-middle income. In other words, almost nine-in-ten Americans had a standard of living that was above the global middle-income standard. Only 7% of people in the U.S. were middle income, 3% were low income and 2% were poor.”  
  • 45 years later, the infant survival rate is up 70 percent since 1972. It’s still too high, but the decline has been precipitous.
  • 45 years later, life expectancy has soared. In 1972, life expectancy in the United States was 71. Today it is 80. In 1966, average life expectancy globally was only 56 years. Today it’s 72, a 29 percent increase, according to Human Progress. Huge.
  • 45 year later, the computers we carry in our pockets as smart phones are more powerful than the array of computers that put man on the moon. Our ability to google information is transforming knowledge. Even in third-world countries, cell phones are everywhere. There are 7 billion cell phone subscriptions on earth.
  • 45 years later, pollution has plummeted in the United States. Between 1970 and 2000, the American population grew by 36 percent and energy consumption by 45 percent, but air pollutants decreased 29 percent. U.S. pollution has continued to decline since 2000.

 

45 years later, space accomplishments are breathtaking
  • 45 years later we have a fully manned space station. Mankind has been constantly living in space for many years, now. That’s kind of wow.
  • 45 years later, we have probes on Mars, tooling around the red planet of science fiction fame and sending back images and data. From Mars!
  • 45 years later, we managed to land a robot on an icy comet barely two miles wide, 300 million miles away. Oh, and the comet was hurtling through through space at 50,000 mph. Pretty amazing accomplishment

One would think an astrophysicist like Tyson would think such things were pretty impressive, and not to be hidden in the periods of a snarky ellipsis.

And then there was this.

 

 

But he tweets things that are demonstrably not true. The consistency is that they fit a predictable worldview. He takes the position that since he is smarter than everyone else (which he might be, but smart does not mean right, and it sure doesn’t necessarily equate to wisdom) then we should all just accept what he says.

Well, no. And his tweets show why.

This final example tweet reveals his elitist gene in full bloom.

 

 

This is why worldview matters. While Tyson is an engaging man and trained astrophysicist, it is his worldview that informs the anti-American sentiments, from us not accomplishing anything noteworthy in 45 years to taking a shot at the most popular sport in the nation.

But worldview also may explain the example he chose from 45 years ago. In our long list since 45 years ago, none of them were high-profile, big government operations such as the moon landing. They were largely incremental increases of the market driven by private-sector capitalism.

And that is a truth unacceptable to some worldviews.

 

Categories
Politics Trump Truth

Treating Trump Derangement Syndrome — Part 2

By Rod Thomson

Well Part 1 of our treatment options for Trump Derangement Syndrome was popular enough that we are jumping right in with Part 2. Plus, the symptoms keep multiplying. Treatments will need to keep up. This could be an ongoing process.

Most of us are now aware of the worldview epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome, which can be defined as an irrational level of hatred of Donald Trump the man, the businessman, the husband, the father, the candidate, the President. All things Trump. All hatred. That is Trump Derangement Syndrome.

One of the overt symptoms of those suffering falls under the hashtag #theresistence. When you see that you need to take immediate treatment steps to help the sufferers.

We saw that 66 members of Congress consciously chose not to attend the inauguration, which is unprecedented since perhaps Lincoln. A clear sign of the Trump Derangement Syndrome contagion spreading to the upper levels of government. But it is among friends, family and neighbors too. There’s no cure beyond a worldview revelation and some historical context, which will be difficult to realize while suffering under this. But there are treatments to lessen the severity of certain symptoms.

Part 1 dealt with three symptoms. We pick it up there.

 

Symptom 4: Fight the Oppressor!

The claim that Donald Trump was a great oppressor gained currency weeks before he was elected. A businessman with no power and who had no effect on almost anyone’s life, and was given awards alongside Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks, was protested as a racist oppressor before he had any power whatsoever. That’s TDS.

Treatment: It’s important that those suffering from this symptom be treated with some honest context. While Trump had no power to oppress, President Obama did. And did.

First, the Obama Administration sicked the most feared of U.S. institutions, the IRS, directly on his political opponents. Any group seeking tax exempt status that had Tea Party or Conservative in its name was targeted for denial through attrition. Dozens of those applied — a relatively quick and simple process — but were run through the wringer, some for years, until they ran out of money to keep filing. They never received that and so could not raise money to oppose President Obama’s 2012 reelection. Obama denied Americans their Constitutional rights to further his personal political career. That was oppressive.

Second, Obamacare fines people for not buying a product President Obama decided Americans should buy. That’s oppressive and would have been unconstitutional but for a politicized Supreme Court.

 

Symptom 5: Protests, threats of impeachment before he’s president

I wanted to start a pretend pool on how long it would take for sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome to call for impeaching Trump after the moment of inauguration. Measured in months, weeks, days, hours or seconds. Well, I was too late, because calls for impeachment began before he was sworn into office. No matter, there will be members of Congress who will call for it within days, weeks at the longest

Treatment: Inform the TDS sufferers that there are actually tight controls on impeachment, and they do not include vulgar behavior or ideas with which opponents disagree.

Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution, is helpful here: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

 

Symptom 6: 66 members of Congress boycotted the inauguration

Clearly, Trump Derangement Syndrome has affected the highest levels of our government — if not the actual strongest of our people. A rather astounding 34 percent of the Democrat members of Congress boycotted the inauguration and were cheered on by other fevered sufferers of TDS. It was a tragic moment for them and an embarrassment.

Treatment: Remind TDS sufferers that one of the greatnesses of the United States is the peaceful transition of power between political opponents. Since the Civil War, this has always been the case. The Obamas, the Clintons, the Carters, along with the Bushes, all participated in this American truth. All handled with dignity and class — which could not have been easy for Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. But they did it.

We will update symptoms and treatment as they become visible and available.

Categories
Trump Truth

Treating Trump Derangement Syndrome — Part 1

By Rod Thomson

I suspect all of us who are on social media, or are known to have voted for Donald Trump, have felt the escalating malice and name-calling from Trump-haters, now nobly referring to themselves as #theresistance. Yeah, they’re the flippin’ French Underground fighting the Nazis.

What we are seeing is the worldview epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome, which can be defined as an irrational level of hatred of Donald Trump the man, the businessman, the husband, the father, the candidate, the President.

All hate all the time, to the point that many are professing upfront that they will never accept him as president (including sitting congressmen such as John Lewis) and plan marches against the Great Oppressor before he is even sworn in as president. Yes, the derangement reached the point that a businessman who had no effect on almost anyone’s life, and was given awards for his work with the inner city (see picture) was protested as an oppressor before he had any power whatsoever.

Since this contagion is spreading among one type of political person, and they live among us all, herewith are some treatment options you can try on those suffering from the disease. There’s no cure beyond a worldview revelation and some historic context, which will be difficult to realize while suffering under this, but there are treatments to lessen the severity of certain symptoms.

 

Symptom 1: Trump is an illegitimate president

The disease here forces its sufferers to undermine a newly elected United States President before he is inaugurated. This means making the case that the President of the United States is not really president. Dangerous to the country, delusional for the individual.

Treatment: Suggest that this overt anti-patriotism is unbecoming of Americans who have a history of pulling together after an election, even Republicans after the two elections of Barak Obama. No Republicans acted in such ways. Further, point out that the last newly elected Republican president that bitter Democrats did this to was Abraham Lincoln. Heads will spin. Spittle may fly. But Trump Derangement Syndrome is not contagious by touch. It’s an infection of the rational thought process.

Further treatment for this syndrome is listing all of the items that have been blamed for Trump’s win (none of which ever actually include Hillary Clinton.) The first thing blamed was the racist Electoral College. (Sorry, but you just need to understand that sufferers see everything as racist.) The popular vote is what should count! Hillary is our President! Well, no. The rules are the rules and we don’t change rules after a game is concluded because the losers don’t like the results. Then it was fraud in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Jill Stein was going to uncover it. There was fraud all right, but not committed by Trump voters. Then it was another try at FBI Director Jim Comey. If not for Comey, Hillary would have won. Well, if she hadn’t played the Nixon card and deleted 33,000 emails from her unsecured server that had classified documents and more on it, there would have been no need for Comey. And now finally, it’s the Russians.

The disease comes with a fever.

 

Symptom 2: Putin/Russia hacked the election

Since Russia “hacked” the election on Trump’s behalf — or so the claim goes — then Trump will be in the back pocket of the Russians and will go easy on them.

Treatment: Very easy. Treat with context. Point out that he couldn’t go easier on them than Obama/Clinton did. After the embarrassing “reset” button — remind them how terrible they claimed relations were because of Bush to set the first context — point out that the Obama administration did nothing when Russia invaded and took over Crimea; nothing when Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and appears to have annexed it; and nothing in Syria despite the cries for help, allowing the Russians to go back in for the first time since the Cold War to help their old ally crush the rebels ruthlessly. This gave us the humanitarian disaster that is Aleppo.

Trump could hardly do worse than this record.

 

Symptom 3: Outrage over a foreign nation interfering with our elections

This is meant to keep focus on the nefarious Russian nemesis that now owns Trump and further the narrative that the Trump presidency is illegitimate. (Actually, Russia really is a problem that Obama’s weakness enabled and emboldened and is now leaving for his predecessor.)

Treatment: Easiest yet. Casually point out that the Obama Administration overtly worked to defeat Brexit and made threats that Britain would no longer enjoy its trade status under a Bexit approval. No outrage though by those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Add that Obama’s campaign team was sent to Israel to work on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponent. Again, no outrage by those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. In 1996, the Clinton Administration tried to bolster the election of Boris Yeltsin by endorsing a $10.2 billion loan from the IMF that was to be linked to privatization, more open trade policies further steps toward capitalism. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster support among voters. And, once again, no outrage by those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. This symptom is a classic case of selective outrage and reveals mere partisanship and nothing higher.

It’s unknown the course this syndrome will take, but with treatment, we hope it can be managed and those suffering from it will over time regain their proper faculties.

Part 2 is here!

Categories
Politics Trump Truth

Secular Puritans Want to Shut Down Trump’s Tweets

By Rod Thomson

The slim veneer of fake tolerance continues to slide off the American progressive, exposing the ugly underbelly of authoritarianism.

I first heard this idea on Facebook from a liberal Democrat friend. It has since spread like the plague from liberal publications like Daily Caller to reliably lefty outlets like Salon to “mainstream” media such as the Washington Post  

If you google “Twitter should” the first result is “ban Trump.”

That’s a lot of folks googling it.

This is not an outlier action. And it is not due to mere Trump Derangement Syndrome (although that is obviously a real thing.)

 

The authoritarian worldview

This is a reflection of Progressivism’s knee-jerk authoritarian streak. And it is not new. College campuses have long been the leaders in this with Orwellian speech codes. It is also reflected in political correctness that runs a tech company founder out of a job for daring to think gay marriage is a bad idea; in the idea that it is acceptable for certain races to use verbiage that others are not allowed to use or one gender to have opinions that the other gender cannot; and the FBI purging all references to Islam and terrorism from old documents. (Fun reference: That was Winston Smith’s job for Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984. Seriously, read 1984.)

Those who push for such speech controls, and set themselves up as the arbiters of the controls, are uniformly on the left side of the political spectrum. It wasn’t always thus. The liberal 1960s agitators for anything-goes free speech are now the authoritarians wanting to shut down speech they find inappropriate. They are modern secular Puritans — but without any of the Puritans’ good stuff.

Everyone says they favor free speech in the theoretical, in the philosophical. But that’s the relatively cheap position. The costly stance is favoring it when people say things you find abhorrent, offensive, mean, stupid, ignorant. Is there still free speech then? If all speech is not free, none is.

But Trump is being irresponsible!!! they declaim through rolling hysterics. This misses the point that the love of free speech means that even the President should be allowed to say stupid things (maybe better they are said publicly then erased from tape or deleted emails?) Those promoting the idea that Twitter should ban Trump are assuming a position of superior judgment in deciding what is acceptable and what is not.

Their defense is that they are not advocating the government shut down free speech (although public universities are government-run) but that private enterprises should in this case, and presumably others they find distasteful. That is why this is not talking about First Amendment. But it also misses the point. The instinct remains to want to shut down disagreeable free speech. Considering that this is held by the same people whose ideology is that government is the solution to problems, the likelihood that the line would easily be crossed seems pretty high.

Holding the opinion that Trump tweets irresponsibly is fine. Trying to forcibly stop him or others from employing free speech that you dislike is at its heart authoritarianism, whether it is through government or corporations. One is a violation of the First Amendment, both are an affront to free speech.

It really is that simple.

 

More threats: Facebook and fake news

Presumably these same people are in favor of Facebook deciding what is “fake news” by using mainstream media decision-makers — who are similarly having conniptions over Trump’s tweets, posts, ideas and methodologies.

Facebook’s choice of liberal organizations as the final arbiters of what is “fake” news is hardly satisfying to conservatives who are always being shut down for unpopular opinions in liberal arenas — from universities to newsrooms to Twitter. The mainstream coverage of Jill Stein’s recount farce, which was all about her own publicity, was fake news from the start. But no fake news will go unreported if it is negative of Trump. But consider: What if the Facebook crew decided it was the Stein stories were fake news (which they never would have), should they have blocked those stories?

Of course not. It seems obvious when put in that context. All this would do in the end is expand the speech police further. There should be a deeper distrust of Twitter, Facebook or any others imposing speech codes.

How about this: We let the American people be adults and choose what to believe and not believe. You know. Freedom. And no, the President doesn’t lose his free speech because he says stupid things.

Here’s a fun prediction: If Twitter were to ban Trump, which I doubt they will, Trump or someone on his behalf, would start a new social media platform that he would use. The media would be forced to report on what he Trumpeted, and it would explode in popularity. Twitter would take a huge hit and there would be a further information silo effect.

The best route remains wide open, unfettered political free speech.

 

Categories
Government Media Politics Truth

9 Predictions That Will Come True. Guaranteed.

By Rod Thomson

If there’s anything we learned from 2016 it’s that we simply cannot predict the future in such uncertain times. With that, The Revolutionary Act now predicts the future.

OK, actually these are more extrapolations of the surreal reality we have been living in for decades. No guesswork. No crystal ball. No polling. Much of what will happen in 2017 is an extension of precisely what has been slapping us in the face for a long time.

Launch:

Honey, I shrunk the media

The media will continue to march toward diminishing significance in American life, dwindling in both influence and numbers. This endless march of self-inflicted decline won’t ever actually end the mainstream media as liberals and activist Democrats will continue to imbibe it heartily and think it the only true and faithful way of honest information. But the industry’s unwillingness to confront the overt worldview biases that have long infiltrated its ranks and pervade journalism will spell its ultimate minimization.

 

To the walls!

Democrats will be more obstructionist, more hyperbolic, more shrill and faster to Hitler than ever. And the party will be less effective than ever. They will be cheered on by their core base, and hysteria will be amplified by a fellow-traveling media, with whom they are joined at the hip. But it will actually hurt Democrats. Voters who went over to Trump will not be moved by post-election histrionics when they were not by pre-election ones. They will get sick of it and tune them out. The “boy who cried wolf” saying will be replaced by the “Democrats who cried Hitler” saying. This will accrue to the harm of Democrats and the media.

 

Unceasing and unacceptable

The radical left will unrelentingly push the LGBTQIAetc agenda, again with an approving media that itself is overly represented by LGBTQIAetc journalists, and continue to strongarm reasonable Americans far beyond where they are willing to go. We saw this in 2016 with the transgender bathroom issue.

Despite the blowback on that, activists will continue to march and push, apply economic pressure and get spineless PC organizations in professional sports and some corporations to go along, legitimizing increasingly bizarre and dangerous behavior. The media will write one-off stories about a little boy who felt like a girl his whole life, thereby enabling what has always been and is still understood by most professionals to be a mental condition. Side note here: psychiatrists and their related associations will too quickly cave to the will of LGBTQIAetc activists and re-label the conditions as lifestyle choices. And untold young people will be damaged for life.

 

When narcissism is just not self-absorbed enough

Mark it down, self marrying will become a thing. It sounds absurd — and, of course, it is — but there are no boundaries to absurdity when it comes to the American progressive left.

There are “solo wedding” packages that include a wedding gown of your choice, bouquet, hairstylist, limousine service, a hotel stay and a commemorative photo album all for $2,500. There’s even the option to rent a “decorative” man — not groom. The stated goal of these (besides obviously making money) is to encourage “positive feelings” for single “brides.” Interestingly, only women seem to be interested in these.

This probably won’t fall under the LGBTQIAetc agenda because this does not include any sex weirdness, or threats to others. But who knows in our up-is-down culture.

 

The omnipresent President

President Obama will go nowhere. He is setting up camp in Washington, D.C. to continue hounding the Trump administration after doing everything in his power to ensure the bumpiest transition possible. He will look for cheering college kids still buying his personable but failed shtik. The end result will be relatively strong approval ratings for Obama personally — because Americans find him likable and don’t want to be seen as disapproving the first black president — but the continued abatement of the Democrat Party if its leaders follow his rhetoric. Which, see above, it will.

 

The things that never change

The rallying cries of the left will be: racism! sexism! rich people! white males! This is the same slam-dunk prediction every year. Every. Single. Year. There are simply very few rhetorical tools in the Democrat toolbox because it is a tired, worn-out party. I mean, a disheveled 75-year-old was its change agent.

 

And the old will become new again

Back to the media, because it can drive so much; After lying largely dormant since the Bush years, the media will suddenly rediscover:

  • the homeless ‘crisis’
  • the replacement of full-time jobs with part-time jobs
  • the health care ‘crisis’ of the uninsured and costs of health care
  • the national deficit and dire threat that it is
  • the Iranian threat

 

Obamacare-free zone

The ridiculously named Affordable Care Act will be repealed and replaced with some hodge-podge of needed changes and political expediencies. But hair-on-fire leaders in California will create their own CaliforniaCare, or some such bankrupting silliness. It will include mandates and require illegals be covered and set the stage for one of two eventualities: the financial collapse of the state or the election of Republicans to fix things. My money is on the collapse option. But it will also ensure that illegals continue to vote Democrat in California, and that’s what really matters.

 

Easiest prediction of all

Islamist terrorists will maim and murder innocent people around the world by the thousands. They will quote the Koran, call on the name of Allah, be supported by a small but real minority of Muslims and be funded in part by Muslim-run nations. Meanwhile, the media and Democrats will tell us the terrorists have nothing to do with Islam. Those of us who make that connection will be labeled bigots.

Happy New Year!

Categories
Truth

A Response to Media Biases Against Restoring Checks and Balances

NOTE: Several liberal Florida newspaper columnists responded without research or thought to Rep. Julio Gonzalez’s proposal to create judicial accountability and restore governmental balance of powers. They were predictably snide and shallow. Some were just factually wrong. Here is Gonzalez’s response to one specific column— which they could have had if any had even called him for an interview.

By Representative Julio Gonzalez

This morning, I awoke to the displeasure of reading Tom Lyons’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune piece on my proposal for a legislative override of a judicial opinion, otherwise known as a Notwithstanding Clause. 

I was displeased, not at learning that Lyons disagreed with my proposal, as a robust discussion representing all sides of such an important matter is of central importance to the continued existence of a vibrant republic, but because of the shear negligence, disingenuousness, and ignorance displayed in Mr. Lyons article. 

For starters, Lyons purposely fails to inform his readers that it was not I who first identified this problem, but Thomas Jefferson. 

Looking to Jefferson

In 1820, Jefferson wrote a letter to Jarvis Williams regarding a series of essays Williams wrote where he mentioned the judiciary’s role in overturning laws it found to be unconstitutional.  Perfectly on point, Jefferson said, “to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” Moreover, Jefferson pointed out that the situation was made even more dangerous, “as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.  

As with so many other issues, Jefferson’s thoughts on this matter were prescient.

Lyons also neglected sharing that Canada has such a provision in its Constitution that has been working seamlessly since 1982. 

This information and so much more was available to Lyons, but he failed to disclose it to his readers. Fortunately, the facts he did not present are available in an article I wrote and published at therevolutionaryact.com and in my book, The Federalist Pages.

The fact is that Americans have been concerned over the courts’ plenary authority when speaking on constitutional issues for decades. They recognize that in a system characterized by checks and balances, there is no check on the Supreme Court. Contrary to Lyons’s ill-informed opinion, any serious constitutional law observer will tell you of the courts’ increasing activism over the past 100+ years. And it is an issue that was discussed at length in law school.

Recognizing the threat that giving plenary authority on any matter to a branch of government represents to a republic, Canada enacted a solution. And other variations exist in England, Israel, and Australia, among others, none of which are mentioned by Lyons. 

It’s time we have the same discussion about our own system.

Whether Florida, and indeed our nation, ought to implement a judicial override is a very serious matter, and if it is in anyway forehead-slap-worthy as Lyons states, it’s in the astonishment that it fell upon the physician/lawyer son of a Cuban immigrant who haphazardly landed in his state’s legislature to suggest it nearly 200 years after the problem was first identified. 

Let a thoughtful debate begin 

The Notwithstanding Clause is not a radical proposal, as Lyons calls it, nor is it the result of partisan strife as his article feeblemindedly suggests.  

No. The Nothwithstanding Clause is a serious proposal designed to address a quintessential threat to our American system of government and a loophole in the system of checks and balances the Framers built. And once again, I cannot take credit for identifying the threat, as George Washington spoke about it in his farewell address. He called such an intrusion into another branch’s function usurpation and said, “though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

I hope Floridians, and Americans in general, shut out the sophomoric rants from irresponsible and under informed pseudopundents like Lyons and learn more about this very important topic. Doing so will place them on a path of discovering more about our great foundational documents and of the people who proposed them. Once they do, I bet more than 60% of the people will agree with Jefferson, Washington, and countless others on the necessity and wisdom of an American Notwithstanding Clause.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon, lawyer and State Representative for South Sarasota County, Florida.  He is the author of The Federalist Pages, available at thefederalistpages.com or at Amazon.  He is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at [email protected].

Categories
Constitution Government Truth

House Joint Resolution 121: Amending Florida’s Constitution to Restore the Balance of Power

By Representative Julio Gonzalez

Today, I introduced House Joint Resolution 121 calling for the submission of a proposed constitutional amendment to Florida’s voters that would allow the Legislature, within a period of five years, to override a ruling of the Florida Supreme Court.  I am also filing an accompanying communication to Congress that asks that a similar proposed amendment for the United States Constitution be passed. The necessity for such a provision, both at the state and national levels, is obvious.

 

Acknowledging the humanity and fallibility of judges

At its implementation, our system of government was truly exceptional on the world stage because, among other reasons, its power was vested on the will of the people. Key to the protection of this reliance was the separation of power into three separate and coequal branches of government restricted by a robust system of checks and balances.

Specifically not in the Constitution was an assignment to the judiciary of serving as the ultimate authority on the constitutionality of laws. And although the Legislature could always revamp a law the judiciary interpreted as meaning something different from what the legislature intended, there was no provision that would allow the Legislature to override a ruling where the court voids a law as unconstitutional.

With what most of us are taught about our government and our nation’s history, it is difficult to conceive that the Supreme Court would not have such plenary authority in determining what is constitutional and what is not. After all, the members of the highest court are learned individuals inhabiting positions designed to insulate them from the world of politics and partisanship.

However, the fact is that these men and women, learned in the nuances of law as they may be, are neither insulated from the world of politics nor free of partisanship. One need only recall the consistent apportionment of Republican and Democrat justices on issues of gun control, redistricting, abortion, school choice, religious liberties, the scope of federal power, states rights, and religious education to realize that these predictable divisions amongst the various factions of the courts represent more than mere differences in legal opinion. In fact, Thomas Jefferson foresaw this harsh reality back in 1820 when he wrote,

 

Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so.  They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.  Their maxim is “boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem,” and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. 

(Thomas Jefferson to William Charles Jarvis, Sept. 28, 1820)

 

Indeed, we have seen these encroachments play out on countless occasions. Supreme Court rulings have mandated that religious symbols be taken down from public places or be replaced with others. They have placed prohibitions on prayer in public schools, commencement ceremonies, and athletic events. Negations of laws prohibiting the desecration of the American flag have made the unconscionable legally acceptable, and judicial prohibitions on federal term limits have overturned the will of the people of a state, even if that will is enshrined in the affected state’s constitution. And recurrently, the distributions of votes in these opinions largely mirror the party affiliations of its members.

And let us recall that these members are generally appointed to their positions without oversight by the electorate and generally remain there for the rest of their lives.

 

The finality of a Supreme Court’s opinion on matters of constitutionality

But an even greater threat than the inherent shortcomings of any court or its members is the finality of a supreme court’s decision on constitutional matters.

When a supreme court writes an opinion on the issue of constitutionality, its decision has the same effect as if its author had written a note upon the face of the document, permanently changing its meaning, and in certain instances, its intent.  Upon doing this, there is nothing the legislature, chief executive, or the electorate can do to reverse course other than to undertake the daunting task of amending the affected constitution. Needless to say, this is a Herculean endeavor, which is overwhelming in scope for most court-enacted constitutional changes. Consequently, the effects of court rulings on matters of constitutionality stand unchallenged, permanently changing the supreme law of the land, and by extension, the society which it governs.

In light of these considerations, shouldn’t a court’s opinion be subject to affirmative checks and balances just like the actions of any other branch of government?

The answer, of course, is yes. And the Framers would have agreed!

First, consider that the Framers never expressly gave the Supreme Court final authority on determining a law’s constitutionality. Article III of the United Sates Constitution gave the courts “Judicial Power” over all cases and controversies arising out of the Laws of the United States and the Constitution. However, it does not say that the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority on the Constitution.

The federal Supreme Court’s plenary authority in deciding issues of constitutionality was actually imposed upon it by its own actions. In the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison, one of America’s sentinel cases, John Marshall singlehandedly declared, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Consequently, any act of the legislature the court determines is repugnant to the Constitution will become void.

And with that, the Supreme Court of the United States gained the absolute power to overrule the legislature in issues of constitutionality.

But who overrules the Supreme Court?

The people? No, not unless they can mount a massive amendment process that we have already seen is excessive to the task.

The executive? No, except by the ability to replace justices as their positions become vacant through death, retirement, or impeachment (and add term limits-or advanced age in the cases of some state supreme courts).

The legislature? Absolutely not. Like a game of rock-paper-scissors, John Marshall said the court beats the legislature.  Period!

Then what?

Nothing.

But this answer is not only inconsistent with the system of checks and balances the Framers developed for our government, it appears that such a conclusion was not what the Framers envisioned. The most direct commentary on the matter comes from Thomas Jefferson himself when commenting to William Jarvis on a book of essays Jarvis had written and sent to Jefferson for his consideration. In it, Jarvis wrote of the importance of the American judiciary to nullify a law it found to be unconstitutional. Jefferson took umbrage with that observation, writing, “to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” Further, he warned, “The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.”

George Washington also warned of the dangers of relying on the courts to modify and craft the policies of government in no lesser instance than in his Farewell Address:

“If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates.  But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

Clearly, allowing the judiciary to act without direct restrictions is not only contrary to the visions the Framers had for our fledgling nation, but carries with it a real danger of encroachment upon the authorities of the other branches of government and ultimately upon the power of the people to control their own destinies.

The only remaining question then, is what can be done to remedy this situation?

 

Correcting a deficiency

Many corrections can be designed to address the issue of judicial overreach, but perhaps the most direct and effective of these is one that should have been instituted at the very inception of our nation’s Constitution and inscribed into that of each state: the existence of a legislative override of a Supreme Court opinion.

Indeed, Canada already instituted such a provision. Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom amended onto the Canadian Constitution in 1982 allows, among other authorities, for the legislature or Parliament to declare an act operational notwithstanding the opinion of the court. In other words, if a sufficient proportion of a Canadian legislative body should find the opinion of the court inconsistent with the views of the electorate, the legislature could override or nullify the court’s ruling.

It is such a provision, modified and tailored to the state of Florida and to our national government, that I propose be presented to the people as amendments to their respective constitutions.

 

For Florida, such an amendment would read:

Any law, resolution, or other legislative act declared void by the supreme court, district court of appeal, circuit court, or county court of this state may be deemed active and operational, notwithstanding the court’s ruling, if agreed to by the legislature pursuant to a joint resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of each house within five years after the date that the ruling becomes final. Such a joint resolution is exempt from section 8 of this article and shall take effect immediately upon passage.

 

And for the United States Constitution, it would read:

Any law, resolution, or other legislative act declared void by the Supreme Court of the United States or any District Court of Appeal may be deemed active and operational, notwithstanding the court’s ruling, if agreed to by the legislature pursuant to a joint resolution adopted by a sixty percent vote of each chamber within five years after the date that the ruling becomes final.  Such a joint resolution shall take effect immediately upon passage.

 

It is my concerted view that such provisions, if enacted by the people would curtail the tendency of activist judges to manipulate the law to suit their political views and agendas. Equally as importantly, this would force the people to engage the legislature in enacting rectifications to current laws that they see as objectionable or flawed, restoring the natural relationship between the people and their legislative bodies. This would also force the electorate to more carefully look at their candidates and their actions during times of reelection.

 

Three counterpoints countered

The defense of an American Notwithstanding Clause would be deficient if it did not address some foreseeable objections, which include: 1) the effects this provision would have on America’s historic civil rights rulings; 2) the effect of a notwithstanding clause upon the separation of powers; and 3) the ability of the public to use the judiciary to overturn laws they presume to encroach upon the rights of free Americans.

First, to the issue of civil rights. Without question, the greatest stain in our nation’s fabric is the tragic tolerance of slavery in the United States Constitution. As we know, it took a calamitous Civil War pitting brethren against brethren to rectify this gross travesty of justice. Moreover, equally as unconscionable is the persistence of legal hurdles to the equal standing of the various members of our American society throughout the latter nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.  Indisputably, Supreme Court cases like the Brown decisions were instrumental in reversing the persistence of the racial injustices that gripped our nation. Indeed, the Civil Rights Movement either would not have survived or would have been greatly hampered were it not for the necessary interventions of the courts.

To help ensure that such decisions are never touched by an aggressive legislature, the provision I propose carries with it a reach back limit of five years. In other words, the legislature may only invoke a notwithstanding declaration within five years of the court’s ruling. In this way none of the sentinel cases of American jurisprudence already in existence can be touched by the various legislatures. Five years also gives the people the opportunity to change the electorate in the hopes of overriding a recent opinion.

The concern regarding an encroachment unto the separation of powers is equally as spurious, first because of the five-year reach back limitation that has already been discussed, and second because of the supermajority requirement imposed on the legislature in reversing a court’s decision. The reversal of a ruling would require such a high consensus that it would rarely be employed. Indeed, the Canadian experience has been one of rare impositions of the legislatures’ wills upon the judiciaries, and I expect it would be the same for the United States and its jurisdictions.

Moreover, the argument that the Legislature’s newly acquired authority would encroach upon the judiciary’s powers actually turns reality upon its head as presently, it is the judiciary that is improperly encroaching upon the people and their legislatures, and it is that encroachment that this amendment is designed to correct. Enactment of the Notwithstanding Clause would not intrude upon the power of the judiciary, but rather, it would act to restore the natural balance between the two coequal branches of government as originally envisioned by the Framers.

Finally, regarding the court’s abilities to protect our rights as Americans and free members of society, for the reasons previously outlined, I suspect the law will have no effect on cases where clear violations of rights have taken place. Where the Notwithstanding Clause will exert its effects is in those situations where parties misguidedly wish to invoke their will upon the people by bypassing the legislature through the manipulations of an activist court. Such actions are the usurpations of which President Washington spoke in his Farewell Address. It is my impression that once again, the Notwithstanding Clause will have a salutatory effect upon our nation and upon our countenance.

Our nation’s exceptional nature is based on, among other pillars, our government’s respect for the will of the people, our reliance on a robust system of checks and balances to preserve our separations of powers, and upon the reliance on generalized debate in deciding our nation’s future direction.

It is clear that with regard to our judiciary, our system has strayed away from this original framework and must be corrected. It is with this intent that I introduce the Notwithstanding Clause, initially for the legislature’s consideration, but ultimately for the people’s. I am excited about the conversation this provision will elicit and am hopeful for its ratification and for the beneficial effects it will have upon our Republic.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon, lawyer and State Representative for South Sarasota County, Florida.  He is the author of The Federalist Pages, available at www.thefederalistpages.com or at Amazon.  He is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at [email protected].

 

Categories
Truth

You Will Comply: The Regulatory Menace vs. America

By Rod Thomson

The regulatory hive centered in Washington, D.C., buzzes with a power and reach that even the Caesars never imagined. And they were considered gods.

Federal regulators can bankrupt companies, distort markets and shut down entire industries with their decrees — the rules that implement Congressional laws. They can also move or slow entire economies and prop up or undermine Presidents.

Not good.

Here’s how it works.

Laws are often and by necessity general. The rule-writing and rule enforcement is where the power is. Regulators, lifelong employees with little accountability to the people, write the rules and enforce the rules. If you as a private citizen or a business person have the misfortune of running awry of the regulators, you have virtually no recourse.

They are all powerful. Like gods of an industry. And like all people, they are given to ideology, partisanship and self-interest.

So here is the dynamic: Ideological, partisan, all-powerful regulators write and enforce rules and are unaccountable to the people. This is why so many conservatives want deregulation, in addition to the job-creating economic boost.

Their power is really stunning. Because of that, we have the armies of lobbyists. People mistakenly think the lobbyists are only interested in persuading the politicians. Actually what they are looking for is language that will help their industry or hurt their competitors — when the regulators write the rules. They can also lobby — unofficially — the regulators themselves.

What we have seen in spurts with FDR and Nixon was a corrupting of certain federal regulators. But what we have seen in recent years is a wholesale corrupting of regulatory agencies along ideological and partisan lines. Here’s a few.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice selectively enforcing laws
  • The IRS in blocking the non-profit status of tea party and conservative organizations, thus eliminating their influence
  • The Environmental Protection Agency used on multiple levels to achieve political aims
  • The Department of Homeland Security body-patting grandma while allowing burka-covered Muslim women through in the name of multicultural correctness
  • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency that refuses to enforce immigration laws and allows millions of people to come and live here illegally
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture targeting of small farmers and closing down “undesirable” farmers and ranchers

 

Abuse by the EPA undermine Trump

And so now we come to this moment. The EPA regulators have changed the agency’s report on fracking in groundwater contamination to make it more difficult for future approvals.

In last year’s draft version, the EPA reported that there were no “widespread systematic impacts on drinking water.” That report said the number of contaminated sites was quite small compared to the number of fracking sites and concluded the impact to be minimal. Good for the fracking industry, jobs, energy costs and energy independence.

However, that did not make the anti-fracking environmentalists happy, and those conclusions are now gone from the final report that just came out — one month before the new president is sworn in. Now the same EPA — based on the same data — reports that there is not enough evidence to dismiss the water contamination threat and says more vaguely that fracking activities “can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances.”

This is regulatory abuse at its clearest, because it is supposedly relying on scientific evidence to tweak the wording. But what it does is empower regulators to deny permits, allow stronger legal challenges to fracking and, probably most specifically, undermines Trump’s stated desire to open up more fracking to create American jobs and energy independence.

 

Abuse by the Fed undermine Trump

The Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates to spur the economy or try to slow it. The supposedly politically independent organization has kept interest rates at record lows for almost the entire Obama presidency. Obviously the economy needed all the help it could get, and it still wasn’t enough.

But interestingly, right before Trump takes office the Fed is planning a rapid series of rate increases. Either the Fed leadership knows exactly which policies goose the economy (Trump’s, not Obama’s) or they are actively trying to undermine a Trump recovery.

We never know what is going on inside of the secretive Fed, but given that Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellin chaired Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and was appointed to the Fed’s top seat by Obama, who appoints fellow ideologues, it seems likely that it is not suddenly a clear view of what is good for the economy. If that is right, then this is another abuse of one of the most powerful and unaccountable of regulators.

This will not be the end of the Regulatory State’s attempts to undermine Trump at every turn. We saw this regularly in the Bush Administration, particularly in the State Department.

Americans should not have to fear the federal government and whatever local regulators show up at the door. But many do. And virtually all businesses do. Now, Republican presidents also must deal with the menace.

This needs to stop. But that will be a Herculean task, requiring a commitment to substantially reducing the size and scope of the federal government through agency elimination and deep funding cuts.

 

Categories
Christmas Culture Truth

Slicing Through the “Real Meaning” of Christmas Nonsense

by Rod Thomson

Two things happen culturally every Christmas nowadays.

  • We are treated to a parade of cultural insights on the “real meaning” of Christmas
  • We get lectured by the smart set about how Christmas is an amalgam of pagan holidays just overlayed with Christianity and isn’t even the right time of year for Jesus’s birth!

Yes, we get it. Christians are toothless Neanderthals to the elite coastals and wannabes. Turns out, we actually know the history of Christmas, and the timing, which is why we talk about it being the time of year we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Enough with the smug condescension already. Thank you.

As to the real meaning of Christmas, it easy to understand why Charlie Brown was confused. There is ton of effort to call it everything except what it is. Christmas’ real meaning is usually postulated along the vague lines of being thoughtful, giving gifts, family togetherness, a general benevolence. Each one is dramatically stated to be the real meaning of Christmas. These are all wonderful, but no, they are not the real meaning.

Frankly, it’s kind of a lot of effort to go through when the actual reason for Christmas just stares slap in the face. So let’s just swing the scythe through all the dense overgrowth of weedy nonsense and get to the actual “real meaning of Christmas.”

 

Unparallel-able act of love

The bottom line: Christmas is a celebration of the one true God leaving eternity and tucking himself into the flesh of a man to save all mankind — an act of sacrificial love both unparalleled and unparallel-able.

Why? God is defined as always having been and always will be. No beginning. No end. He existed before material creation (where did that infinitely dense mass that exploded at the Big Bang exist if all of time and matter consisted within it?) and he will exist after material creation in whatever iterations there may be.

God, consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is spirit by biblical description. He is often described as abiding in the spiritual realm, but I rather more think he is the spiritual realm.

Mankind screwed up creation with unending torrents of sin. Still do. Christmas celebrates the moment at which the world began to inexorably change forever. Eternally. The birth of Christ began the chain of events that included his perfect, sinless life, his teaching of the kingdom of God, his unjust crucifixion and his ultimately striking down death by rising from the grave to return to the spiritual.

Christ built the bridge over an uncrossable chasm. The construction launched with his birth and it is eminently worth celebrating with great joy and hope.

So as we all watch and see and hear the platitudes about the real meaning of Christmas, remember there is only one right answer. The remembrance and celebration of God changing history through the greatest of all acts of sacrificial love.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:8-14