Monthly Archives: December 2016

U.S. Economy May Revive in 2017

The First of a two-part series

Can the American economy revive with the change in the White House? It’s a question being asked across the nation, and across the world.

In 2007, the “Great Recession,” brought about in large part due to policies that compelled financial institutions to provide loans to those without proven means to afford them (a policy begun under President Carter and expanded under President Clinton) caused a major disruption in the U.S. economy.  Despite claims to the contrary, America never truly recovered. Growth has failed to average 3% in a decade. During President Obama’s second term, the average growth in the U.S. economy was a mere 2.2%. Middle-income employment remains moribund. Business startups are weak.

Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis notes “The number of startup businesses continues to slide. In 1977, the share of US firms that were less than a year old was at 16%. In 2014, the latest data, the percentage was 8%.” The Wall Street Journal  reports: “The U.S. economy is inching along, productivity is flagging and millions of Americans appear locked out of the labor market. One key factor intertwined with this loss of dynamism: The U.S. is creating startup businesses at historically low rates… government data shows a decades-long slowdown in entrepreneurship. The share of private firms less than a year old has dropped from more than 12% during much of the 1980s to only about 8% since 2010. In 2014, the most recent year of data, the startup rate was the second-lowest on record, after 2010, according to Census Bureau figures released last month, so there’s little sign of a post-recession rebound…The share of employment at such firms, meanwhile, has slipped from nearly 4% to about 2% of private-sector jobs…If the U.S. were creating new firms at the same rate as in the 1980s, that would be the equivalent of more than 200,000 companies and 1.8 million jobs a year.”

The continued sluggishness is not the result of a downward business cycle nor a natural disaster.  It is the result of government policies that have overregulated and overtaxed, and provided disincentives to hiring full-time staff.

A Guardian review suggests that changes under the new White House administration will include “…sensible tax reforms, such as an amnesty for multinational companies that repatriate foreign profits, will finally become law. …The Republicans’ hegemony will enable easy agreement on tax cuts… boost to economic growth… will come from deregulation.”

While a number of policy changes could result in significant economic growth, the potential, (according to Trump, the promise) of deregulation may prove to be among the most significant factors.

The House Freedom Caucus has released a large list   of what they describe as burdensome regulations that should be repealed within the first 100 days of the Trump Administration.  In releasing the list, the office of Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) stated:

“The report contains over 200 rules and regulations, many of which have been implemented by the Obama administration, that have been devastating for working families, businesses, and taxpayers – including the overtime rule, fiduciary regulations, and heavy environmental restrictions. Rep. Meadows has been in touch with members of the Trump transition team and intends to encourage and work with the new administration to roll back these regulations within the first 100 days of President-elect Trump’s term. [According to Rep. Meadows] “These last 8 years, we have seen a disturbing trend of the federal government unnecessarily inserting themselves more and more into the lives of hardworking Americans – and the results have been economically disastrous…When the American people spoke on November 8, they provided conservatives with an opportunity to restore order in our government and to remove the out-of-control bureaucratic red tape that so often stunts the growth of otherwise successful Americans. My colleagues and I look forward to helping President-elect Trump in any way we can as we work toward the most productive ‘first 100 days’ in modern history. To the working people who have felt the burden of these last 8 years so heavily — help is on the way.”

The Report concludes tomorrow

Many Relieved To See 2016 End

Many are rightly content to bid farewell to 2016 this weekend.

The year that concludes Saturday proved to be a difficult one for America.  Sharp divisions in our society created a more contentious environment than at any time since the Civil War, even dwarfing the unrest during the 60’s, when Civil Rights legislation and the Vietnam War roiled society.   The positive results of that combative era a half-century ago included legislation to attack racial bias, and, after a decade of weakness, the election of an optimistic new president in 1980 who helped lead America into a safe and prosperous period in which it became the planet’s sole superpower.

While sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans and ideological camps continued in the closing decades of the 20th Century, there was, at least, a tacit agreement on the need for some unity to accomplish key goals, even if the preferred means to achieve them differed based on which school of thought or political party one ascribed to. Despite clashes, the Reagan Administration in the ‘80s and the Clinton Administration in the ‘90s found ways to work with political adversaries.

That period came crashing down following the turn of the millennium. The reaction to the war to oust Saddam Hussein provoked massive dissension on the Left, so extreme that many termed it “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Bush’s’ successor, Barack Obama, brought about a change in governing philosophy on the Left far more radical than Ronald Reagan did on the Right.  Obama dismissed central tenets that had unified America since the end of the Second World War, including a belief in the necessity of a strong military and international presence, and abandoned principles that had been key far longer, including adherence to Constitutional procedures, especially regarding the separation of powers.

All of which appeared to come to a boiling point in 2016. Widespread dissatisfaction with the dismal results of business as usual in Washington led to the success in the Republican primary of an outsider candidate, Donald Trump.  In sharp contrast, a deeply establishment candidate on the Democrat side, with the (some would say inappropriate) assistance of key party leaders, took that party’s nomination. The sharp contrast between the two galvanized the combatants on both sides of the sharp ideological, perhaps even cultural, divide.

As 2017 begins, the essential question is whether the nation can be brought together to tackle the unprecedented array of challenges that now confront it. Differences will always, and should always exist; they are a vital part of the governance of a free nation. But the way in which those differences are debated can either unify or dismantle the country. The political parties and ideological camps need to establish ground rules for their competition.

America would be well-served by a resolution to fight more fairly going forward.  During the past eight years, the many attempts by the Left to gain an advantage over political adversaries by limiting their freedom of speech not only defied the Bill of Rights; it also, justifiably, enraged the opposition. Using excuses such as campaign finance reform, political correctness, “fake news prevention,” and “micro-aggressions,” The Obama Administration, college administrators and the establishment media sought to censor those they disagreed with.

A more comprehensive approach to discussing issues would also be effective in bringing together a fractious nation.  Far too often, both the White House and its traditional and social media allies did not present a thorough review of the facts.  The failure to include information that tended to cast doubts on their perspectives was, bluntly, dishonest.  Examples included fudged scientific data concerning global warming, intentionally ignoring Russian and Chinese arms buildups, neglecting to honestly describe terrorist attacks, and the true unemployment situation, particularly regarding middle income jobs.

It is highly inappropriate to exclude the public from the intricacies of a legislative debate.  This was best represented by the intentional obfuscation of the details of Obamacare, best represented by then-Speaker Pelosi’s “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” comment.

The give and take of differing viewpoints can produce a more valid approach to solving problems.  But the debate must adhere to a commitment of intellectual honesty and the acceptance of fair play and Constitutionally acceptable guidelines if 2017 is to be more successful and  congenial than its predecessor.

Grave Consequences of Ignored Defense Errors

The news that U.S. tanks are being sent back to Europe may puzzle many Americans, since the major media did not spend much time reporting that President Obama had withdrawn them two years ago, along with anti-tank strike aircraft. The New York Analysis of Policy and Government, following information from the Stars and Stripes military news source, was among the few sources that substantially discussed the risky and unorthodox move.  The Washington Times noted that the President’s action left the U.S. with few options for countering Moscow’s invasion of the Ukraine.

In 2014, the New York Analysis of Policy and Government  noted:

“The news is quite startling: There are no longer any American tanks stationed in Europe. The story has been largely ignored by the major media. The information was provided in an article in the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes... According to current plans, by 2020, there will be only 30,000 American troops in Europe, approximately one-tenth of the maximum strength during the first Cold War. This spring, further cuts to U.S. military infrastructure in Europe will be presented…These actions take place in the face of massive new funding for the Russian military, as well as exceptionally aggressive behavior on the part of the Kremlin.”

Despite the highly newsworthy nature of Mr. Obama’s strange 2014 move, the mainstream press barely discussed it at all.

It was part of a consistent practice on the part of the major media, which has frequently supported hard left policies at the expense of objective journalism, to avoid discussing dangerous and ill-conceived pacifist policies that have clearly led to foreign policy disasters.

The 2014 tank withdrawal was only one of the risky national security decisions by the Obama White House over the past eight years which produced foreign policy disasters that may take decades to recover from—if indeed they can be overcome. Others included:

  • The premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq created a vacuum which allowed ISIS to become a major force.
  • The failure to confront Moscow on its violation of long-standing nuclear arms agreements encouraged Putin to continue to ignore compliance.
  • U.S. assistance in the overthrow of the Libyan regime allowed that nation to become a haven for Islamic extremists.
  • President Obama’s complete failure to respond to China’s initial aggression in the Pacific/South China Sea gave Beijing the confidence to expand its aggression to an unprecedented degree.
  • The Obama White House’s failure to respond to Russian, Chinese, and Islamic extremist encroachments in the western hemisphere has brought armed threats to our borders.
  • The slashing of the defense budget encouraged aggressors across the planet to continue their actions.
  • Mr. Obama’s ignoring of his own redline in Syria provided the accurate perception that his administration was not prepared to use force to support its own stated policies. The end result has been an enormous increase in the power and influence of both Russia and Iran in the Middle East, and the survival of the despotic and murderous regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria.  The refugee crisis this has created has caused enormous problems in Europe.

Non-military responses to international crises were also overlooked by the Obama White House. Russia’s military aggression and its massive arms buildup could have been adequately addressed if the Administration had opened up federal lands for energy exploitation, which would have substantially cut into Moscow’s most important source of funding, its energy sales. China’s economy needs the American market; threatening to impede access could have been persuasive in addressing Beijing’s actions.

These Obama policy failures were significant, yet were largely un-criticized by the media. Rather than take prudent steps, the Obama Administration and its progressive supporters chose to ignore the threats. Despite the clear and present danger that resulted, the major media chose to bury the news.

States Laws Passed in Fight Against Human Trafficking

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has released its 2016 report on human trafficking, which could also be known as the practice of slavery. It notes that “In 2003, Washington became the first state to criminalize human trafficking. Since then, every state has enacted laws establishing criminal penalties for traffickers seeking to profit from forced labor or sexual servitude. The laws vary in several ways including who is defined as a ‘trafficker,’ the statutory elements required to prove guilt in order to obtain a conviction and the seriousness of the criminal and financial penalties those convicted will face.”

The study notes that there are two common venues for human trafficking, one involving sexual activities and the other the labor market, based on research from the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“Common potential sex trafficking venues include: Hostess/Strip Club-Based; Residential Brothels; Street-Based; Online Advertisements; and Commercial-Fronted Brothels. Common potential labor trafficking venues include: Domestic Work; Traveling Sales Crews; Restaurants/ Food Service; Agriculture; Commercial-Fronted Brothels; and Health and Beauty Services.”

According to NCSL, “…State laws include a wide variety of activities under their definition of trafficking. Differences in trafficking definitions are critical to identifying who has criminal culpability. Most commonly, trafficking activities are defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons for the purpose of exploitation. Some jurisdictions have expanded their definition of trafficking by including activities like purchasing, benefitting or profiting… In order to obtain a trafficking conviction, state laws, in most instances, require that prosecutors prove traffickers compelled their victims into labor or sexual servitude. The majority of laws include the elements force, fraud and coercion, but their definition can vary greatly from state to state. For example, in some states, their definition focuses primarily on the use of physical force. Other states more broadly include psychological control, financial threats, legal harassment and drug addiction.”

In its 2016 Report on Human Trafficking, the U.S. State Department noted:

“In FY 2015, DHS [Dept. of Homeland Security] reported opening 1,034 investigations possibly involving human trafficking, an increase from 987 in FY 2014. DOJ [Dept. of Justice] formally opened 802 human trafficking investigations, a decrease from 835 in FY 2014, and DOJ’s ECM taskforces separately initiated 1,011 investigations. DOS [Department of State] reported opening 175 human trafficking-related cases worldwide during FY 2015, an increase from 154 in FY 2014. The Department of Defense (DoD) reported investigating at least 10 human trafficking-related cases involving U.S. military personnel, compared to 14 in FY 2014. DOJ initiated a total of 257 federal human trafficking prosecutions in FY 2015, charging 377 defendants. Of these prosecutions, 248 involved predominantly sex trafficking and nine involved predominantly labor trafficking, although some involved both. These figures represent an increase from FY 2014, during which DOJ brought 208 prosecutions charging 335 defendants. During FY 2015, DOJ secured convictions against 297 traffickers, compared with 184 convictions obtained in FY 2014. Of these, 291 involved predominantly sex trafficking and six involved predominantly labor trafficking, although several involved both. These prosecutions and convictions include cases brought under trafficking-specific criminal statutes and related non-trafficking criminal statutes, but do not include child sex trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes.

“Penalties imposed on convicted traffickers ranged from five years to life imprisonment. NGOs [nongovernmental organizations]  continued to call on federal prosecutors to vigorously seek mandatory restitution for victims of trafficking. During the reporting period, one NGO reported an increase in labor trafficking cases in some jurisdictions and increased federal coordination on labor trafficking cases. NGOs continued to report, however, that federal, tribal, state, and local authorities did not vigorously investigate labor trafficking cases and called for more systematic efforts to prioritize forced labor prosecutions. Further, advocates reported state and local law enforcement demonstrate uncertainty regarding their authority over forced labor cases and called for formal structures to increase the identification of such cases. In addition to federal laws, state laws form the basis of most criminal actions, which makes adoption of state anti-trafficking laws key to institutionalizing concepts of compelled service for local police officers. Even though at least 34 states have “safe harbor” laws, NGOs reported most of these states did not provide victims immunity for prostitution offenses and reported trafficking victims faced criminalization for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. While some states already had vacatur or expungement laws, several others introduced or began considering these laws to reduce the harm to victims. Other states created specialized courts for cases involving minors; however, advocates were divided on the effectiveness of these courts.”

The Global Slavery Index  2016 statistics estimate “that 45.8 million people are in some form of modern slavery in 167 countries. The countries with the highest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by the proportion of their population are North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar. In North Korea, there is pervasive evidence that government-sanctioned forced labour occurs in an extensive system of prison labour camps while North Korean women are subjected to forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation in China and other neighbouring states. In Uzbekistan, the government continues to subject its citizens to forced labour in the annual cotton harvest.

“Those countries with the highest absolute numbers of people in modern slavery are India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Several of these countries provide the low-cost labour that produces consumer goods for markets in Western Europe, Japan, North America and Australia. The countries with the lowest estimated prevalence of modern slavery by the proportion of their population are Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Belgium, the United States and Canada, and Australia and New Zealand. These countries generally have more economic wealth, score higher on government response, have low levels of conflict, and are politically stable with a willingness to combat modern slavery.”

ISIS has been particularly active in the practice of slavery.  According to a Brookings study, “The Islamic State not only celebrates the revival of slavery as a major step in the return of Islamic law, which the group wants to impose in its totality. The group also hails the renewal of slavery as ‘one of the signs of the Hour’ or Day of Judgment…The Islamic State now proudly celebrates the return of the practice to public view and distributes the captured Yazidi women as sex slaves to its members.”

More Young Adults Living with Parents

Young adults are living with their parents in greater numbers than the prior generation, according to a study completed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  An average of 33.1 percent of respondents to the study in the 1979 generation were living with parents (shortened in the report to “LWP”) compared with 36.7 percent of respondents in the 1997 generation—a difference of 3.6 percentage points.

Not starting an independent household can have implications for the health of the economy.

The Fed cites housing costs and business-cycle conditions, which explain up to 70 percent of the difference in household-formation rates. Shifting attitudes toward living  with parents also play a role.

The authors of the report, Daniel Cooper and Marie Luengo-Prado, found that the percentage of those living with their parents share is noticeably higher at nearly every age for the 1997 generation (called a “cohort” in the report) compared with the 1979 generation.

Social factors play a role as well as economics. The study notes that “we find that even though economic conditions were difficult at times for members of both cohorts, whether or not individuals are living with parents (LWP) in the 1997 cohort is much more sensitive to economic conditions than in the 1979 cohort. We conjecture therefore that attitudes toward LWP have become more favorable over time. The survey shows both increasing attachment over time of individuals to the …place where they grew up and more favorable views of “older people sharing a home with grown children.”

The analysis focused on individuals 23–33 years old. 23 was selected because younger individuals may be attending college.

Race and ethnicity also is a factor. There have been shifts by race in the share of respondents LWP over time. In the 1997 cohort, non-black/non-Hispanic and Hispanic youths, regardless of age, were more likely to be LWP than their 1979 counterparts, while the rate of LWP for blacks was unchanged. In addition, the differences across cohorts in the share of respondents LWP by race are economically meaningful. For example, a Hispanic youth in 1997 is roughly 20 percentage points more likely to be LWP than a non-black/non-Hispanic youth in 1979. Overall, these results show that there is important variation in household formation by race both within a given cohort and over time—a result that suggests it is important to consider demographic shifts in the racial composition of the U.S. population when thinking about future patterns of LWP and/or household formation.

Geography also is relevant. A The disproportionate percentage of LWP respondents is especially true in California, the Northeast, and the mid-Atlantic areas, where higher housing costs and other factors in recent years have likely made it more difficult for young adults to live independently than in the 1980s. The research also reveals an increasing level of attachment over time to the geographic area in which individuals are raised.

The study concludes: “We further show that an individual’s race noticeably impacts the likelihood of LWP— both within cohorts and especially over time. These results could be driven by cultural differences, proxied by race, in attitudes toward young adults who are LWP. For example, within certain communities, the choice of a young adult to live at home after finishing high school or college may be widely acceptable, whereas in other communities this preference may be viewed less favorably. Still, while acknowledging that the racial composition of the U.S. population appears to be important for accurately predicting household formation rates going forward, population demographics are slow to change. Hence, it is unlikely that a shifting racial mix in the United States can account for the sizeable decline observed in aggregate household-formation rates starting around 2006.

“The sheer magnitude of the employment losses during the Great Recession coupled with high housing costs can explain most of the decline in household formation, but even after controlling for local economic conditions, we cannot fully account for the…difference in individuals’ likelihood of living independently from their parents. To a certain degree, young adults seem inherently more likely to live with parents now than in the past, potentially due to shifting attitudes toward such co-habitation. We provide some evidence that this may be the case… Potential explanations for this shift in outlook include smaller family sizes and larger homes over time, which make it easier for young adults to cohabit comfortably with their parents.”

What’s the Cost of Protecting Illegal Immigrants?

As the Obama Administration’s time comes to an end, Democrats are desperately seeking to solidify the vast numbers of illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. during the past eight years.

Those they seek to protect range from those brought into the nation at a very young age (known as “dreamers”) to hardened criminals and gang members who pose serious threats to public safety.

60 Democrats, notes The Hill, have submitted two letters requesting President Obama to pardon approximately 750,000 youth who were brought to the U.S. by parents. While the President has the power to pardon individuals, legal questions could be raised about an act that appears to wholly offset existing law, as a mass pardon would.

Arguments about humanitarian actions for dreamers fall far short for other illegal immigrants. The City Journal  notes:

“Some of the most violent criminals at large today are illegal aliens. Yet in cities where the crime these aliens commit is highest, the police cannot use the most obvious tool to apprehend them: their immigration status. In Los Angeles, for example, dozens of members of a ruthless Salvadoran prison gang have sneaked back into town after having been deported for such crimes as murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and drug trafficking. Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in the country is a felony. Yet should a cop arrest an illegal gangbanger for felonious reentry, it is he who will be treated as a criminal, for violating the LAPD’s rule against enforcing immigration law. The LAPD’s ban on immigration enforcement mirrors bans in immigrant-saturated cities around the country, from New York and Chicago to San Diego, Austin, and Houston. These ‘sanctuary policies’ generally prohibit city employees, including the cops, from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities. Such laws testify to the sheer political power of immigrant lobbies, a power so irresistible that police officials shrink from even mentioning the illegal-alien crime wave. ‘We can’t even talk about it,’ says a frustrated LAPD captain.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) stated in April that in 2015, the Obama Administration released 19,723 people who had been convicted of a combined 64,179 crimes, including 134 sex offenses, 216 kidnappings and 196 homicide-related convictions. Despite that, advocates continue to impede efforts for the removal of the criminal aliens. Breitbart report reports that “Immigration advocacy groups are asking California Attorney General Kamala Harris to “block federal access” to the database containing names of gang members in the state.

There are, of course, issues beyond crime.  The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIRUS)  found that “Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments.”

Perhaps even more worrisome than issues relating to finance and crime is the problem of contagious disease.

The Southern Medical Association reports that There’s a growing health concern over illegal immigrants bringing infectious diseases into the United States. Approximately 500,000 legal immigrants and 80,000 refugees come to the United States each year, and an additional 700,000 illegal immigrants enter annually, and three-quarters of these illegal immigrants come from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Legal immigrants and refugees are required to have a medical examination for migration to the United States, while they are still overseas… Illegal immigration may expose Americans to diseases that have been virtually eradicated, but are highly contagious, as in the case of TB. This disease rose by 20% globally from 1985 to 1991, and was declared a worldwide emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1995. Furthermore, TB frequently occurs in connection with the human immunodeficiency virus…”“Troubling facts concerning health risks related to the wave of illegal immigrants who are crossing our southern border are coming to light…Historically, immigrants who legally sought entry to America (such as those through Ellis Island) went through a structured process that checked them for communicable diseases. In some cases, those found to present a health risk were quarantined until they no longer proposed a threat. In other cases, they were sent back to their country of origin. Today, Border Patrol agents have confirmed those now flooding across the border are not adequately checked for diseases because of the sheer volume, lack of proper screening techniques and lack of manpower…This is what we know. Immigrants coming here have been documented as having communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and swine flu. Because there is limited use of the vaccine for the former and limited effectiveness of vaccine for the latter (studies vary on the effectiveness of the swine flu vaccine; estimates range from 42 percent to 96 percent), individuals coming in contact with people with these diseases are at risk of becoming infected. Those most vulnerable to contracting illnesses from illegals are the first responders such as the Border Patrol agents. In turn, they may pass diseases and conditions on to their children, spouses, seniors and those with whom they come in contact who have compromised immune systems…It isn’t the diseases that we have been vaccinated against that are the most concerning, but ones like TB, which have developed multiple drug resistance, or tropical diseases such as Dengue fever that doctors may have difficulty diagnosing and for which there is no treatment.”

Some will argue that those seeking to protect illegal immigrants are doing so out of a humanitarian impulse.  Others contend that, since statistics overwhelmingly indicate that new immigrants, legal or illegal, tend to vote Democrat,  the motives are self-serving. In either case, the increased danger from crime and contagious disease, as well as the added expense to taxpayers, requires that policies protecting illegal immigrants must be seriously weighed against the significant detrimental impact they impose.

The Judaeo-Christian Ethic and Freedom

The great Western religions celebrate major holidays this time of year, and they are seen as either commercial or religious events.   It is time to recognize the Judaeo-Christian ethic as a major philosophical turning point in human civilization.

In his book, “Inventing the Individual,” author Larry Siedentop describes how Christianity shaped the western world’s emphasis on the value of the individual. The Judaeo-Christian ethic profoundly influences the west’s belief that each human being has rights not as part of a group, but as an independent person.  This, of course, is anathema to those who adhere to the collectivist mentality which dominates Marxist and socialist philosophies.

Zenit, a Catholic religious publication, reports that Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s secretary for Relations with States told delegates attending a conference on Christianity and freedom that the concept of human rights has its original roots in Christianity. He stressed that “the concept of human rights itself originated in a Christian context’ and offered as an example St. Thomas More. The 16th century martyr, at the price of his own life, ‘bore witness to the fact that Christians, in the light of reason and by virtue of their freedom of conscience, are called to reject every form of oppression’ he said. ‘The link between Christianity and freedom is thus original and profound,’ he continued. ‘It has its roots in the teaching of Christ himself and Saint Paul appears as one of its most strenuous and brilliant defenders. Freedom is intrinsic to Christianity, for it was, as Paul says, for freedom that Christ set us free’,he said, adding that while Paul referred to interior freedom, this ‘naturally also has consequences for society.”

Dr. Max Stackhouse, speaking at a Pew Research forum in 2003, outlined his views on the relationship of the Judaeo-Christian ethic with human rights:

“I became fascinated with the way in which different ideational and social traditions treated human rights, including the interpretations of the United Nations Declaration of 1947 and its subsequent “Covenants.” Resistance to “Western” definitions of human rights were intense in the Marxist parties of Eastern Europe…since human rights ideas were formulated historically by those branches of the biblically-based traditions, especially Jewish and Christian…intellectual honesty demands recognition of the fact that what passes as “secular,” “western” principles of basic human rights developed nowhere else than out of key strands of the biblically-rooted religions. And while many scholars and leaders from other traditions have endorsed them, and found resources in their own traditions that point to quite similar principles, today these views are under suspicion both by some Asian leaders who appeal to Asian Values and by some communitarian and postmodern philosophers in the West who have challenged the very idea of human rights.

“Christians and many Jews [adhere] to the … because we believe that each person is made in the ‘image of God.’ That is, we have some residual capacity to reason, to will, and to love that is given to us as an endowment that we did not achieve by our own efforts.

“…the dignity conferred on us … demands both a personal regard for each person, and a constant drive to form and sustain those socio-political arrangements that protect the relative capacities to reason, to chose, to love that are given with this gift. Moreover, Christians hold that each person is called into particular networks of relationships in which they may exercise these capacities and to order these networks with justice, as God guides us to be just and loving agents in the world. We believe that in Christ, we learn how God wants us to re-order the institutions of the common life – sacramentally, or as others say, covenantally – that are necessary to preserve humanity, and how to make them and ourselves more nearly approximate to the redemptive purposes God has for the world. Those Christians who know the history of the development of the social and ethical implications of their faith, believe that the historical and normative defense of human rights derives from precisely these roots and that this particular tradition has, in principle, in spite of many betrayals of it by Christians, disclosed to humanity something universally valid with regard to human nature and the necessities of just social existence.”

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from the New York Analysis of Policy and Government 

Voters Rebel Against White House-Media Collusion

The 2016 election may be seen as a popular revolt against the growing collusion of the elites in government and the media.

During the Obama Administration, there was a tacit collusion between the White House and its ideological allies in the press, who overlooked major presidential failures in national security, terrorism, economic recovery, race relations and other areas, as well as ignoring extraordinary scandals highlighted by the misuse of federal agencies for partisan purposes, most notably including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice.

In return for the biased media’s downplaying of policy failures, the White House attacked rivals of its sympathetic left-wing press friends with an unprecedented vigor.

Democrat officials on the Federal Communications Commission, in what may have been one of the most controversial programs ever initiated by a federal agency, initiated an effort entitled “critical information needs” (known as CIN) involving federal oversight of broadcasters and journalists throughout America. It would have placed government employees in the private internal conversations and meetings of journalists, media organizations, and even internet sites, thereby hobbling opponents of the Administration.

It came also in the form of legislation.  As previously reported in the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, two Democrat senators, Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Charles Schumer (D-New York), proposed a measure that would limit free speech protections as they pertain to campaign donations. The proposed legislation gained 43 Senate supporters—all Democrats. At a Senate Rules Committee  Schumer stated that “”The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute. By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans.”

The contemptuous attitude towards the First Amendment could be seen in comments by a Federal Elections Commissioner, Ann Ravel, reported in a Washington Examiner article. Ravel stated that Upholding constitutional principles is not an appropriate role for a member of the Federal Election Commission. As noted previously in the New York Analysis of Policy and Government,  the Democrat members of the Federal Election Commission attempted to impose a penalty on one news station that has been uniformly critical of the Obama Administration, based on a complaint from an obscure candidate that he wasn’t invited to a televised debate. Of course, those same commissioners have never considered imposing similar sanctions against the Democrat National Committee, which has inappropriately tilted towards Hillary Clinton in her primary effort against Bernie Sanders. The attempt was blocked by Republican Commissioners.

The tacit understanding between the Oval Office and the progressive-oriented mainstream media constituted one of the most significant threats against the First Amendment in U.S. history.  The extent of this is only now being openly discussed by some who maintained their silence during the past eight years. Attempts to suppress views contrary to the Obama Administration’s came from a number of sources.

The threat over the past eight years was recently noted by Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes  in a Hollywood Reporter article. “The threat to the First Amendment came from the Democratic side,’ Bewkes said during a conversation with Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget at a conference in New York in a session that was webcast… the Democratic party had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform.’ The CEO, continuing his theme, even acknowledged that the news media does, indeed, lean left, as conservatives have long complained. ‘That was worrying me more, because the press tends to miss that because they tend to lean that way, and therefore they were supporting what they were viewing, I think overly charitably, as something in cleaning up money in politics when in fact what it would do is restrain multiple voices…So, I thought the threat to the First Amendment came from the Democratic side more. I think there won’t be a serious effort on the Republican side.” Bewkes comments came in response to angry statements from President-elect Trump about media bias.

During the recent election, author David Limbaugh, quoted in Stream noted: “I don’t know how reasonable people can fail to recognize the overt collusion of the Obama administration, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party and the liberal media to shield Hillary Clinton from accountability for her many misdeeds and abundant corruption.”

The Free Thought Project notes: “After only a cursory search using Wikileaks invaluable database, ‘The Podesta Emails’ reveal not only direct evidence of media coordination, but an attempt to alleviate the damage expected to be wrought by the impending 2015 release of [the Clinton Cash] book by Peter Schweizer”  titled: “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”

Despite domination of the airwaves, printed news sources,  and social media by left-leaning ownership, more counties voted Republican than at any time since the Reagan election.

Megan Barth, Doug Giles on Vernuccio/Novak

Doug Giles, the Founder and Editor of ClashDaily.com, and author of the new book, A Coloring Book for College Cry Babies!  and Megan Barth, the Founder and Proprietor of ReaganBaby.com, and a nationally recognized political commentator and women’s advocate appear this week on the Vernuccio/Novak Report,