Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ideas on citizenship and abortion reveal the left’s extremes

Commentary by James Shott

Hillary Clinton devalues citizenship

Apparently, nearly anyone who wants to be a full-fledged citizen of the United States ought to be able to gain citizenship, regardless of who they are or how they got into the country, with a few notable exceptions, according to Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

She recently said, “We can’t wait any longer. We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship” for those who crossed our border illegally or deliberately over-stayed their visas.

Demonstrating how one’s strong opinions can change due to political considerations, Mrs. Clinton reversed her previous position, likely to appeal to Hispanic voters. Last June, she said that children who traveled from South America to the U.S. through Mexico should be sent back where they came from.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked her, “So should they be sent back?” 

“Well, first of all, we have to provide the best emergency care we can provide,” Mrs. Clinton said, but “they should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are.” She also said, “We need to do more to provide border security in southern Mexico.” And perhaps on our southern border, too?

“We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay,” she said. “So we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws...” By that reasoning, adults who sneak in or stay beyond the limits of their visa ought to be sent back, as well.

But that was last year. Now her thinking is if they sneak in, oh, well. If they sneak their kids in, well, we can’t keep families separated, you know? Therefore, award citizenship to them.

And no Clinton campaign would be complete without a degree of distortion and exaggeration. “This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side,” she said. “Make no mistakes — today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status…”

What Republican candidates generally support is granting legal status, but then legal immigrants can follow a path to citizenship, like the system that millions utilized to become citizens in the past.

American citizenship once was something of extremely high value. People came here through the approved process and they adopted American principles and values and made the country better.

Now more people than ever want to come here, but for the wrong reasons. Our foolish policies about immigration and pandering to illegals have turned citizenship into a path to welfare. Today there are more than 11 million illegal aliens in the country, and more coming every day.

The March for Life Rally in Ottawa

Organizers of the March for Life rally in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada said the rally drew 25,000 people and was the largest in the event’s 18-year history. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, however, pegged attendance at a much lower 8,000, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

However large or small the pro-life contingent was, it dwarfed the faction of pro-abortionist demonstrators on hand for the event, which was estimated to be between 50 and 100. One thing must be said for the abortion lobby, however: What they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in support of their radical position.

A TV interviewer named Marissa Semkiw talked with an abortion supporter named Alex, who made some startling claims about what he thinks ought to be the universally accepted position on unwanted pregnancy. Carrying a sign that read, “Guess What, A Woman’s Body Is Her Own F***ing Business,” Alex proceeded to defend his statement. And he took it to a level that no moral person should be able to support.

Advancing the idea that the only person involved in the decision of whether and when to end pregnancy is the pregnant woman. When asked by Ms. Semkiw if a woman should have the right to end her pregnancy one month before the child was born, Alex said that the woman alone should make that choice. Asked if a woman should have the right to end her pregnancy one week before child was born, he gave the same answer. And Alex gave the same answer when asked if the woman ought to have the right to end her pregnancy one day before the child would be born.

And finally, asked if after the child was born a woman ought to have the right to have the baby’s life ended, Alex said, “I’m not advocating for murder of any kind — again, it’s not my choice.” But apparently it is the woman’s choice.

Abortion at any time is radical enough a position. Is it now the position of abortion advocates that a child’s life can be ended even after birth?

Two points: First, if when we die the heart stops beating, what do we call it when the heart starts beating? Life? And second, have you noticed that everyone who advocates for unfettered abortion has already been born?

Cross-posted from Observations

Monday, May 18, 2015

Decriminalizing Criminality: progressives new approach to crime

Decriminalizing Criminality: progressives new approach to crime


Justice in Maryland is no longer based on facts, procedures or the rule of law. Instead this profoundly blue state has moved beyond the realm of civilized society. Mob rule has instilled itself both on the streets and in the government that empowers the criminal element. Recent riots in Maryland’s largest city, Baltimore, display a city at the mercy of nocuous politicians and an uncivil electorate that supports them. Border to border Baltimore is a city that bleeds daily. Listed as one of the most violent in the “World” little has been done to stem the blood flow from those who are being victimized. Contrary to rational mindset the police not the looters, arsonists, drug dealers and murderers have become the focus of the problems razing Baltimore. In the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death the city became a virtual war zone. Under the auspices of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake police were told to stand down allowing street violence to become unhinged. The few arrested were either released quickly or given lighter charges than their actions deserved. In essence criminality was debased leaving in its wake lawlessness condoned by City Hall.


Left wing pundits jumped at the chance to knock the police. Guilty was their verdict before the charges dried on paper concerning Freddie Gray’s death. President Obama gave another of his diversity lectures as Hillary Clinton claimed mass arrests should stop. Both were far afield of the problems which engineered the riots of those days. In their minds and others of the same ilk crime should be decriminalized. That is, actions of thugs and street vermin should be looked upon as exercises in redefined freedoms not criminal activity. With recent riots in other cities few were arrested and fewer appropriately charged. Progressives trumped law and order relinquishing the responsible from the guilt of their actions. Worse police were given a black eye by those who should be backing them most, government officials. Politicians in Maryland and elsewhere allowing mob rule have set a precedent. In the event the judicial system does not side with those on the streets looting, arson and other crimes should be expected. Why? Because those who want to move up the food chain granted them the right to riot uninhibited by the men and women in blue. Police should reconsider their positions in hotbeds of hate towards them such as Baltimore. Let the mob govern themselves. This is what they want and deserve.


Mark Davis author of Demons of Democracy and Obamacare: Dead on Arrival, A Prescription for Disaster. President of Davis Media and Writing Services.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Does America have free speech, or only “sometimes free speech”?

Commentary by James Shott

Recently, more words have been added to the list that our betters say we can’t use anymore. Most recent is the word “thug,” following the riots in American cities after the deaths of African-American males in confrontations with police officers. News reports describing broken windows and looting of some businesses, burning buildings and cars, etc., by some of the rioters contained that word in what clear-thinking people would accept as accurate usage.

But it immediately was labeled a no-no, because some had decided that it was being used to replace the “N” word. That, of course, falsely assumes that the only people who behave like thugs are black.

One of Hillary Clinton’s support groups virtually dared media folk to use any of 12 descriptive words in discussing her, because doing so, they say, is sexist.

What these folks, so quick on the trigger to ban words they don’t like, forget is that here in America millions of us take the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech seriously. Just because you are offended by something someone said, you don’t get to dictate what people can and cannot say.

And now the Garland, TX event that resulted in two Muslim extremists getting their just desserts before they could murder participants and the event’s sponsor, Pamela Geller, has ignited a furor over whether the Muhammed Art Exhibit and Contest event crossed the boundaries of free speech.

Ms. Geller’s critics say “yes, she has the right to have this contest, even though it is highly offensive to Muslims, but she should not have had the contest because it drove those two Muslims to violence.” Translated into plain English, these critics are saying, “If someone might react violently to what the First Amendment guarantees you the right to say, you shouldn’t say it.” And, they imply that the two now-dispatched murderous Muslim thugs aren’t the ones who did wrong, Ms. Geller is.

In that realm of illogic, what is or is not legitimate free speech depends upon how someone might react to it, and the speaker is responsible for how some maniac might react to what he or she said. That standard, if adopted as law, would lead eventually to darned near everything being ruled improper speech, because these days being offended now rivals baseball for the title of National Pastime.

For those ignorant of the founding principles, a refresher on why there is a free speech clause in the First Amendment might be useful. Since no one cares about restricting speech that they like and approve of, the First Amendment must have been created for a different purpose.

Its purpose was to guarantee the people the right to say pretty much anything they might want to say, however unpopular, vile or hurtful it may be to some. Specifically, the right to speak against government and those involved in it was high on the list. Imagine the futility of declaring independence from an oppressive master, fighting a bloody war to achieve independence, and then not providing mechanisms that guarantee that the citizens of the new nation can think and speak like the Founders did.

Where religion is concerned, consider that Andres Serrano received $20,000 of taxpayer support from the National Endowment for the Arts for the “work of art” titled “Piss Christ,” a crucifix sitting in a container of urine. Millions of Christians and others condemned this as highly inappropriate, but no one tried to kill him, or to rewrite or redefine the First Amendment.

Contrast that with renderings of the prophet Muhammad, whom the Encyclopedia Britannica said was “founder of the religion of Islam, accepted by Muslims throughout the world as the last of the prophets of God.” The episode in Garland, TX, the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, where two Muslim men took exception to the idea of using Muhammad as the subject of art works and showed up with assault rifles, stands in sharp contrast to the Piss Christ episode.

There are some exceptions to free speech, among them the commonly cited “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” which would spark a panic that would likely hurt people. Drawing pictures of Muhammad, however disgusting they may be, or calling thugs “thugs,” or using certain words to describe Ms. Clinton fall well short of that threshold.

We cannot and will not allow self-appointed censors to cleanse the lexicon of imagined offensive thoughts and words, whether the goal is to protect a political candidate, or because certain words or deeds are likely to offend someone.

The United States has not survived and thrived for more than 200 years by letting a bunch of ideological nannies control their every word, thought and deed.

We should expect and encourage people to use good judgment in their words and deeds, but we cannot persecute them when their legal behavior strays beyond our preferred boundaries.

The United States has its way of doing things that has worked well for a long time, including guarantees of free speech, freedom of religion, and other important individual rights. Those principles are not going to change every time a small, disenchanted group wants a change.

Cross-posted from Observations

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Washington State and Seattle set the nation’s highest minimum wage

Commentary by James Shott

   Since 1998, Washington State has led the nation in both local and statewide minimum wage levels, which attracted the attention of Labor Secretary Tom Perez who praised the state for having “the highest minimum wage in the country for the last 15 years.” But the full picture is much less rosy than Secretary Perez would have us believe.
   In an article on the Freedom Foundation’s Maxfeld Nelson put things in perspective. “Although the state’s overall job growth has remained strong since adoption of the high minimum wage, growth in industries with a prevalence of low-wage workers has slowed,” he reports. Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data he writes that while Washington State’s share of the nation’s population increased by 5.7 percent from 1998 to 2014, and its share of total U.S. jobs increased by 6.3 percent, the state’s share of U.S. hotel and restaurant jobs, which could have been expected to rise commensurately, fell by 5.7 percent. Those industries are where thousands of people the higher minimum wage was supposed to help were once employed.
   In fact, while Washington’s teen unemployment rate had roughly paralleled national trends prior to the 1998 minimum wage hike, every year since then it has been substantially higher, and at one point reached 34 percent above the national rate.
   Not content with the state’s $9.47 minimum wage, SeaTac, a small city that depends heavily on businesses benefitting from its airport, decided to raise its minimum to $15 an hour in a close vote in a 2013 election. “Although the narrow drafting of the ordinance and ongoing litigation have limited the law’s scope to a mere handful of businesses and employees,” Mr. Nelson writes, “it is still having consequences. A parking company has added a ‘living-wage surcharge’ to its rates. One hotel closed its restaurant and laid off 17 employees. Employees at another hotel reported losing an array of benefits, with one stating that the $15 minimum wage ‘sounds good, but it’s not good.’”
   And now Seattle has hopped on board that bandwagon with a phased-in minimum wage, raising the minimum to $11 an hour April 1, and the rate hike will be fully implemented by 2025. Some businesses, however, are on a sped-up schedule, like Ritu Shah Burnham’s Z Pizza restaurant.
   Even though she has only 12 employees, her business is classified as part of a “large business franchise,” putting her on the fast track to raising the minimum. “I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1. I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she told a local TV station. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit; there’s no other way to do it.”
   One of her employees was initially excited at the advertised benefits of getting a raise and having a better life. “If that’s the truth,” he told the TV outlet, “I don’t think that’s very apparent. People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.” He will only get to enjoy the higher pay until August, when Ms. Burnham has determined she must close her business. “I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board,” she said.
   Jake Spear, the director of 15 Now Seattle, a wage hike advocate group, was unmoved at the plight of these 12 employees. It’s just one restaurant, after all. “Restaurants open and close all the time, for various reasons,” he said.
   Back during the flower child era of the 1960s and 70s, the operative slogan was, “If it feels good, do it!” That slogan has more recently been co-opted by pandering politicians, labor union leaders, and others more interested in the immediate rewards of increased numbers of fawning, adoring voters and thankful union members than with the reality of lost jobs, higher consumer prices, and struggling businesses. They have another favorite slogan, as well: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”
   The fallacy in the minimum wage debate is that so many people – liberal feel-gooders, people new to the workforce, people in the most basic jobs and/or with the lowest skill levels, along with pandering politicians and union bosses – don’t understand the significance of varying wage levels. It eludes them that wages must be earned, not merely given like a gift, and that higher wages require more training, knowledge, skill and experience from workers than lower wages do. There is more involved in earning a high wage than just getting hired and showing up for work. You have to contribute something positive to the business you are fortunate enough to work for, and the greater your contribution, the more you are able to earn.
   A mandated high minimum wage contributes to the entitlement mentality, where people expect to exist without having to contribute very much to their own well-being. This is not a positive development for a society that was built by generations of Americans who were hard working and self-reliant.
   Detroit and Baltimore are graphic examples of the failure of liberal policies, and now we see Washington State and Seattle heading down that same path.

Cross-posted from Observations

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Showdown in the city that bleeds

Showdown in the city that bleeds


Baltimore has been a tinderbox for many years waiting for the right moment to combust. That moment came when Freddie Gray died. His horrific death came while he was in police custody. As a result of this senseless tragedy emotions of city residents could not be contained. Many took to the streets in peaceful protests. Unfortunately many more used this as an opportunity to loot, vandalize and pillage throughout the city. Baltimore police were overwhelmed with the level of hostility embedded in the crowds confronting them. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake assuaged the mobs by requesting the police stand back allowing looters to destroy private property. She later back tracked on this policy when interviewed by the media noting her statements were taken out of context. City Hall and the police have been at odds concerning policing techniques for years. The current mayor has brought this controversy to a new level. Mayor Blake’s soft stance on crime and her inadequate support for the police have contributed to the riots now taking place in Baltimore.


Over the last several days life in Baltimore has come to a near standstill. The media’s false assumption that Mr. Gray’s death is responsible for all the chaos now viewed nightly is na├»ve at best. Baltimore has had an epidemic of crime for decades. Though city officials and the left wing press attempt to hide Baltimore’s problems behind smiling faces the facts bear out it is one of the most dangerous cities in America. After many nights of violent protests Baltimore’s Mayor finally conceded she could not manage the rioting that touched her city. She requested Governor Larry Hogan to call up the National Guard. Governor Hogan immediately called the Guard into force wondering aloud why Mayor Blake waited until the city was immersed in chaos. Resources from other jurisdictions within and outside Maryland have also agreed to help in the effort to quell the rioting. These protectors of the public must ask themselves is the risk worth the effort.


Interviewed on the streets protesters provide various views why violence has erupted in their city. Some of their reasoning is amorphous and garbled.  Others note police have no respect for community members therefore the violence is necessary to shake them up. From this perspective looting is the prime objective not police brutality as their leaders have stated.                                              Hostilities will not abate as along as the Mayor and City Council pander to those who commit crimes. Many believe agitators have come a distance to push their own agenda: which is complete disruption of city services. If that is the case they did not need to do much. Arrests have been kept to minimum to curry favor with the rioters. Mayor Blake needs to get her act together or Baltimore will become the Detroit of the East Coast.


Mark Davis MD, President of Davis Writing Services. Author of Demons of Democracy and Obamacare: Dead on Arrival, A Prescription for Disaster.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Commentary by James Shott

Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and former U.S. Senator from New York, is unquestionably an ambitious lady. As husband Bill’s term in the Oval Office was winding down in 2000, she ran for and won a New York Senate seat, ran for the 2008 Democrat nomination for president, losing to Barack Obama, and then became Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 in the administration of her recent political opponent. Now she is running for president again.

She is a polarizing figure, with large numbers of people who adore her on one side, and large numbers who just want her to go away on the other, due to both her past ideas as well as the more recent ones. Following her period as Secretary of State we see a calculating, disingenuous personality addicted to secretive practices, both characteristics of someone who will do anything to win whatever challenge they may be facing.

Campaigning again for the Democrat nomination, her over-confident demeanor and insincere responses to questions about her recent past suggest she sees her nomination as inevitable. And despite the numerous scandals raging around her, she feels entitled to the Oval Office. Should someone so out of touch with reality be President of the United States?

There. I have used all of the “forbidden” descriptors, banned from use in discussing Hillary Clinton: polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable, entitled, over-confident, secretive, will do anything to win, represents the past, and out of touch.

This edict comes from the group "HRC Super Volunteers," which promises to keep an eye out for the use of words it holds to be sexist code words, and even went so far as to warn Amy Chozick of The New York Times. The email sent to Ms. Chozick read, "You are on notice that we will be watching, reading, listening and protesting coded sexism...”

All of which goes to justify using several of those descriptors, even if the Super Volunteers prefer to not see them. Truthfully, it is difficult to discuss Hillary Clinton without these descriptions coming to mind.

She spoke to the sixth annual Women in the World Summit recently. In her speech, she said the following: “Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” she said. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will.”

A couple of things in that statement reflect some of those “qualities,” but what came next goes even further: “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Cultural codes do change, but they do so slowly over time, as the things people value ebb and flow, and structural biases also often evolve as cultures change. Neither, however, changes at the command of someone believing they are entitled to make such a demand.

The third element in that statement, religious beliefs, is a completely different matter. Religious tenets are hallowed, deep-seated and long-standing, and in most cases were developed centuries ago. They are a pact between people and their Creator, and as such rise above having to yield to the disapproval of, or recommendations for change by, Hillary Clinton, or any other person or faction.

To suggest that religious beliefs ought to be changed to conform to some recent social whim that contradicts those beliefs is the height of arrogance and hubris.

Furthermore, in the United States, the sanctity of religious beliefs is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

P.J. O'Rourke, political satirist, and journalist, said this about the Founders and their ideas: “Our Founding Fathers lacked the special literary skills with which modern writers on the subject of government are so richly endowed. When they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, they found themselves more or less forced to come to the point. So clumsy of thought and pen were the Founders that even today, seven generations later, we can tell what they were talking about.”

Given the plain language of the Constitution and its Amendments, recent court decisions obviously breach the Constitutional protections of valued religious tenets, such as that people whose religion rejects homosexuality can be forced to provide services through their business that contradict their religious beliefs. When a conflict exists between the desires of a gay couple for wedding services and the religious beliefs of business owners requested to provide those services, laws that punish the business owners for honoring their beliefs and denying the requested services plainly violate the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion.

The ideology of the hard left seems to know no bounds; nothing trumps the desires of the left, not even the U.S. Constitution. Founding principles and sacred ideals are respected only as long as they are useful to the left. After that point has been crossed, long-held and respected values are thrown in the trash in favor of new temporary values.

Cross-posted from Observations

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Slices of life in America, 2015: The Good; The Bad, and The Ugly

Commentary by James Shott

The Good: Jordan Speith, 21 year-old Masters golf tournament champion - In this day of giant egos among athletes, entertainers and politicians, we hardly ever expect to see someone behave with dignity and humility when they have a big success.

But following his magnificent win at the Masters on April 12, where he shot a 2-under-par 70 in the final round to finish with an 18-under 270, four shots ahead of three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.

This was his fourth win worldwide in four months, placing him No. 2 in the world. But no self-congratulatory, boastful behavior comes from this young man. “It's the most incredible week of my life," he said. "This is as great as it gets in our sport. … This isn't an honor that's carried lightly.”

He is as even when things don’t go so well. A bad tee shot on the 16th hole in Sunday’s final round elicited a disgusted "dang it!"

"He's just a classy guy," Phil Mickelson said of him on Saturday. "He just represents the game very well and at a very young age, and he's just got a lot of game. So if he were to come out on top, it would be wonderful for the tournament, wonderful for the game."

The Bad: Silly enforcement of a San Antonio ordinance - It’s another case of government run amok, sometimes seeing the good things people do as bad, and following sometimes-silly rules that interfere with religious freedom and the good works people do.

San Antonio lawyer and author Joan Cheever owns The Chow Train, a licensed non-profit food truck that she uses to provide hot, healthy meals to the homeless each week. She has been doing this since 2005, feeding between 25 and 75 homeless people each time. But four of San Antonio’s Finest took exception to this voluntary effort to help those less fortunate, and issued Ms. Cheever a $2,000 ticket.

When she told one of the officers she was merely following the tenets of her religion, he responded, “Ma’am, if you want to pray, go to church.” The officer apparently is not familiar with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which clearly allows one to freely practice their religion whether in church or not, something that is of a higher authority than city ordinances.

Charitable works have been under attack for decades by a growing attitude among big government advocates that holds, despite dramatic evidence to the contrary, that government can do it better. And now in San Antonio government directly halts a private sector effort to help people in need, people that the city government is not feeding once a week, as does Ms. Cheever.

She will appear in court on June 23 to defend herself, and plans to argue that this expression of her religious convictions is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Let us hope the court will see the value of her works, and allow her to follow her charitable impulses to help the less fortunate unimpeded.

The Ugly: Two examples - “Ugly” is a term with a variety of meanings, and applications: very unattractive, disagreeable, unpleasant, objectionable, morally revolting, threatening or dangerous, mean, and is applied to things that are really dumb and defy common sense.

With that in mind, two ugly items:

* A New York Police Department officer who drove his replica of the General Lee car from “The Dukes of Hazard” TV show to work has been told by his superiors not to drive it to work anymore. Why? Because the General Lee has a Confederate flag painted on its top, and some might consider that offensive. According to a local TV news report, a police spokesman said, “due to the fact that its presence at the NYPD facility may be considered offensive and/or inappropriate, the registered owner is being instructed that the car should not be parked on NYPD property.” Maybe the officer should be forced to sell the car as a provision of continued employment, so he can’t offend anyone, even when he’s off duty. No one must be offended. Ever.

* A Virginia college girl and two friends were set upon in her car in a store parking lot after making a purchase by seven plainclothes officers of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency. The girls did not realize the un-uniformed people were law enforcement agents, and got scared when the agents aggressively approached their car. They tried to escape, prompting one officer to pull a gun and another to try to break out a window with a flashlight. In the effort to escape, the driver brushed two of the officers. She was later charged with three felonies and spent the night in jail. What had these girls done? The officers “thought” they “might” have bought beer and “might” have been under age. They had bought bottled water, not beer. Eventually, the charges against the girl were dropped. Who thinks hiding in store parking lots waiting to catch under-age customers buying beer is efficient use of ABC resources and taxpayer money?

Cross-posted from Observations