Monday, December 17, 2018

California says all city buses have to be emission free by 2040

California says all city buses have to be emission free by 2040

California says all city buses have to be emission free by 2040

On the heels of a dire government report published last month about climate change and its devastating impacts, many cities and states are scrambling to find ways to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten their air quality, not to mention their economies.
As is often the case, California is leading the charge, yesterday becoming the first state to mandate that mass transit agencies purchase fully electric buses only beginning in 2029, and that public transit routes be populated by electric buses alone by 2040.
The new rule is expected to require the production and purchase of more than 14,000 new zero-emission buses.
Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air and Resource Board (CARB) that voted unanimously to make California the first state with such a commitment, told the outlet Trucks.com earlier this month that California has “to push standards that are more progressive” than the federal government because of the state’s chronic air pollution, which is linked to asthma and heart disease, among other things.
The move is reportedly the result of several years of CARB’s work with industry and public-health groups, and it flies in the face of moves by the Trump administration to push for lower fuel efficiency standards and to instead promote the use of fossil fuels.
Indeed, the Trump administration has questioned from the outset how much the U.S. is responsible for cutting back emissions, and the newest government report seemingly didn’t alter anything for the President. Asked last month about the government’s findings that, unchecked, global warming will have catastrophic implications for the U.S. economy, he said, “I don’t believe it.” He added: “People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers.”
Instead of wait on the administration to change its mind, California’s new Innovative Clean Transit rule will force California’s public bus lines — many of which currently run on natural gas or diesel fuel — to shift to either electric power or hydrogen fuel cells.
The move could be a boon for electric bus companies like Proterra, a 14-year-old, Burlingame, Ca., company that has raised roughly half a billion dollars from investors to build its zero-emission, battery-electric buses. It could also potentially help the publicly traded Chinese automaker giant BYD, which, as TC has reported, has been on a partnership spree with cities across China to electrify their public transportation systems and is now extending its footprint across the globe.
The new ruling is not the only line of attack that California is adopting. As The Hill notes, earlier this year, California also voted to become the first state to mandate new homes be retrofitted with solar panels. In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will require the state to transition to a 100 percent renewable energy electric grid by 2045.
CARB has also worked to advise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which last month announced what it called its Cleaner Trucks Initiative. EPA officials say that via the initiative, the agency plans to revise truck pollution standards in a way that lowers their nitrogen oxide emissions while also doing away with requirements that the industry has complained are financially onerous.
As reported by the L.A. Times, despite the announcement, no one yet knows if the EPA is planning more stringent emissions limits or anything as strict as the 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide pollution that CARB has said is needed to clean smog to health standards.

New Madrid Earthquakes

New Madrid Earthquakes

New Madrid Earthquakes

207 YEARS AGO TODAY- Eliza Bryan in New Madrid, Territory of Missouri, wrote the following eyewitness account.

On the 16th of December, 1811, about two o'clock, a.m., we were visited by a violent shock of an earthquake, accompanied by a very awful noise resembling loud but distant thunder, but more hoarse and vibrating, which was followed in a few minutes by the complete saturation of the atmosphere, with sulphurious vapor, causing total darkness. The screams of the affrighted inhabitants running to and fro, not knowing where to go, or what to do—the cries of the fowls and beasts of every species—the cracking of trees falling, and the roaring of the Mississippi— the current of which was retrograde for a few minutes, owing as is supposed, to an irruption in its bed— formed a scene truly horrible.
This is a reminder that today is the 207th anniversary of the New Madrid Seismic Zone Earthquakes of December 16, 1811.
The main shock that occurred at 2:15 AM on December 16, 1811, was a result of slippage along the Cottonwood Grove Fault in northeastern Arkansas. It was followed by at least three large aftershocks with magnitudes that ranged from 6.0 to 7.0 over the course of the next 48 hours. Despite the strength of the tremors, only minor damage to human-made structures was reported: from collapsing chimneys, falling trees, and cracking timbers in houses. Some areas sank, while others were uplifted. Fissures opened in the ground; some were filled with water from the nearby Mississippi River or wetlands, which was later expelled high into the air when the fissures closed. Soil liquefaction caused large sand blows that fouled farmland in Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas. On the Mississippi River itself, the shaking calved the soil along riverbanks and caused trees lining the river to fall into the water. Large waves formed on the water that capsized numerous boats and thrust others onto the land.
Since the rocks in the eastern United States have few active faults to interrupt the propagation of seismic waves, ground vibrations from earthquakes generated in the region may travel thousands of miles. Shortly after the earthquake began, ground shaking was felt as far away as Canada in the north and the Gulf Coast in the south. Eyewitness accounts noted that the shaking rang church bells as far away as Boston, Massachusetts, and brought down chimneys in Cincinnati, Ohio, about 360 miles (580 km) away. U.S. Pres. James Madison is said to have felt the seismic waves arriving in Washington, D.C. In 2011 the results of a report prepared by the USGS noted that residents within an area of approximately 232,000 square miles (about 600,000 square km) experienced very strong ground shaking, and people living in an area of roughly 965,000 square miles (about 2,500,000 square km) experienced shaking that was intense enough to frighten them.
The strongest aftershock, a magnitude-7.0 tremor that became known as the “dawn aftershock,” occurred later that day at 7:15 AM. The epicentre of the aftershock is a matter of some debate; some Earth scientists noted that it was located in northeastern Arkansas, whereas others maintained that it was located in northwestern Tennessee near the southern end of the Reelfoot Fault, a large fault running northwest-southeast within the Reelfoot Rift. Eyewitnesses reported that shaking from this temblor was severe, especially in New Bourbon, Missouri, but not as strong as the main shock. Like the main shock, however, seismic waves from this event were also felt in cities along the Eastern Seaboard.

Organic food worse for the climate


Organic food worse for the climate


From Eurekalert

Organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required. This is the finding of a new international study, published in the journal Nature

Chalmers University of Technology

IMAGE: The crops per hectare are significantly lower in organic farming, which, according to the study, leads to much greater indirect carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation. Although direct emissions from organic agriculture are often lower — due to less use of fossil energy, among other things – the overall climate footprint is definitely greater than for conventional farmed foods. Credit: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology
IMAGE: The crops per hectare are significantly lower in organic farming, which, according to the study, leads to much greater indirect carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation. Although direct emissions from organic agriculture are often lower — due to less use of fossil energy, among other things – the overall climate footprint is definitely greater than for conventional farmed foods. Credit: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology
Organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required. This is the finding of a new international study involving Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, published in the journal Nature.
The researchers developed a new method for assessing the climate impact from land-use, and used this, along with other methods, to compare organic and conventional food production. The results show that organic food can result in much greater emissions.
“Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50 percent bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas. For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference – for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70 percent,” says Stefan Wirsenius, an associate professor from Chalmers, and one of those responsible for the study.
The reason why organic food is so much worse for the climate is that the yields per hectare are much lower, primarily because fertilisers are not used. To produce the same amount of organic food, you therefore need a much bigger area of land.
The ground-breaking aspect of the new study is the conclusion that this difference in land usage results in organic food causing a much larger climate impact.
“The greater land-use in organic farming leads indirectly to higher carbon dioxide emissions, thanks to deforestation,” explains Stefan Wirsenius. “The world’s food production is governed by international trade, so how we farm in Sweden influences deforestation in the tropics. If we use more land for the same amount of food, we contribute indirectly to bigger deforestation elsewhere in the world.”
Even organic meat and dairy products are – from a climate point of view – worse than their conventionally produced equivalents, claims Stefan Wirsenius.
“Because organic meat and milk production uses organic feed-stock, it also requires more land than conventional production. This means that the findings on organic wheat and peas in principle also apply to meat and milk products. We have not done any specific calculations on meat and milk, however, and have no concrete examples of this in the article,” he explains.
A new metric: Carbon Opportunity Cost
The researchers used a new metric, which they call “Carbon Opportunity Cost”, to evaluate the effect of greater land-use contributing to higher carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation. This metric takes into account the amount of carbon that is stored in forests, and thus released as carbon dioxide as an effect of deforestation. The study is among the first in the world to make use of this metric.
“The fact that more land use leads to greater climate impact has not often been taken into account in earlier comparisons between organic and conventional food,” says Stefan Wirsenius. “This is a big oversight, because, as our study shows, this effect can be many times bigger than the greenhouse gas effects, which are normally included. It is also serious because today in Sweden, we have politicians whose goal is to increase production of organic food. If that goal is implemented, the climate influence from Swedish food production will probably increase a lot.”
So why have earlier studies not taken into account land-use and its relationship to carbon dioxide emissions?
“There are surely many reasons. An important explanation, I think, is simply an earlier lack of good, easily applicable methods for measuring the effect. Our new method of measurement allows us to make broad environmental comparisons, with relative ease,” says Stefan Wirsenius.
The results of the study are published in the article “Assessing the efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate change” in the journal Nature. The article is written by Timothy Searchinger, Princeton University, Stefan Wirsenius, Chalmers University of Technology, Tim Beringer, Humboldt UniversitĂ€t zu Berlin, and Patrice Dumas, Cired.
More on: The consumer perspective
Stefan Wirsenius notes that the findings do not mean that conscientious consumers should simply switch to buying non-organic food. “The type of food is often much more important. For example, eating organic beans or organic chicken is much better for the climate than to eat conventionally produced beef,” he says. “Organic food does have several advantages compared with food produced by conventional methods,” he continues. “For example, it is better for farm animal welfare. But when it comes to the climate impact, our study shows that organic food is a much worse alternative, in general.”
For consumers who want to contribute to the positive aspects of organic food production, without increasing their climate impact, an effective way is to focus instead on the different impacts of different types of meat and vegetables in our diet. Replacing beef and lamb, as well as hard cheeses, with vegetable proteins such as beans, has the biggest effect. Pork, chicken, fish and eggs also have a substantially lower climate impact than beef and lamb.
See also earlier press release from 24 February 2016: Better technology could take agriculture halfway towards climate targets https://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/chalmers/pressreleases/better-technology-could-take-agriculture-halfway-towards-climate-targets-1325077
More on: The conflict between different environmental goals
In organic farming, no fertilisers are used. The goal is to use resources like energy, land and water in a long-term, sustainable way. Crops are primarily nurtured through nutrients present in the soil. The main aims are greater biological diversity and a balance between animal and plant sustainability. Only naturally derived pesticides are used.
The arguments for organic food focus on consumers’ health, animal welfare, and different aspects of environmental policy. There is good justification for these arguments, but at the same time, there is a lack of scientific evidence to show that organic food is in general healthier and more environmentally friendly than conventionally farmed food, according to the National Food Administration of Sweden and others. The variation between farms is big, with the interpretation differing depending on what environmental goals one prioritises. At the same time, current analysis methods are unable to fully capture all aspects.
The authors of the study now claim that organically farmed food is worse for the climate, due to bigger land use. For this argument they use statistics from the Swedish Board of Agriculture on the total production in Sweden, and the yields per hectare for organic versus conventional farming for the years 2013-2015.
Source (in Swedish): https://www.jordbruksverket.se/webdav/files/SJV/Amnesomraden/Statistik,%20fakta/Vegetabilieproduktion/JO14/JO14SM1801/JO14SM1801_ikortadrag.htm
More on biofuels: “The investment in biofuels increases carbon dioxide emissions”
Today’s major investments in biofuels are also harmful to the climate because they require large areas of land suitable for crop cultivation, and thus – according to the same logic – increase deforestation globally, the researchers in the same study argue.
For all common biofuels (ethanol from wheat, sugar cane and corn, as well as biodiesel from palm oil, rapeseed and soya), the carbon dioxide cost is greater than the emissions from fossil fuel and diesel, the study shows. Biofuels from waste and by-products do not have this effect, but their potential is small, the researchers say.
All biofuels made from arable crops have such high emissions that they cannot be called climate-smart, according to the researchers, who present the results on biofuels in an op-ed in the Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter: “The investment in biofuels increases carbon dioxide emissions”

The Real Road to Fascism

The Real Road to Fascism

The Real Road to Fascism

The Huffington Post ran an article on December 7, titled Ocasio-Cortez Claps Back at Trump Jr.’s Meme with Reminder of Democrats’ Subpoena Power.  The headline voices the problematic fascism invading our culture and politics.  The article praises the “scorched” response from Cortez to Donald Trump, Jr., after he posted a meme correlating socialism to eventually eating one’s beloved dog.  More problematic than the historical accuracy of tried and failed socialism since Marx and Engel’s famous treatise for communism, in which socialism is the first step to dialectical Utopia, is the Post’s approval and celebration of Ocasio-Cortez’s blatant fascism.
Americans should look at Ocasio-Cortez’s threat in one of two ways. First, she might be threatening Trump, Jr., in the sense that those who disseminate unfavorable material about her will be punished, which is textbook fascism and communism.  Or, two, she is communicating that due to Mueller’s investigation and Don Jr.’s, involvement in the 2016 meeting with an alleged Russian national, Don Jr.’s meme is insult enough to goad her into punishing him with a subpoena.  Either way, we indeed have fascist ideology in our political system.
There are many problems with Ocasio-Cortez’s clapback (never mind the fact that she can’t subpoena citizens), but the greatest challenge is the culture of fascism that has infiltrated our Millennial (born between 1983 and 1998) and Gen Z (born between 1999 and 2015) populations.  Many young men and women in America look to Ocasio-Cortez as a hopeful prototype of leadership and change to usher in a new era of progressive politics that will unwittingly bring about Marx and Engel’s Utopia.  Other Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, etc., hope Ocasio-Cortez is simply a chimera, but that hope may be misplaced, too.
During an October episode of HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher", leftist thinkers Bill Maher and Jonathan Haidt exchange assertions on the recent problematic university culture developed, in part, to Gen Z college students.  One of the exchanges center around unparented and nondisciplined college graduates who become “the kid who’s screaming at the professor and then gets a job at the Huffington Post.”  Furthermore, Haidt affirms Maher’s assertion with “…and provides fodder for right-wing media…”  Maher follows up with, “…and the problem with liberals in general is they let those kids who are at the Huffington Post or whatever, write that insane woke (expletive).”
Ocasio-Cortez, like President Trump, utilizes her Twitter account to challenge other politicians or leaders like former representative Joe Crowley.  Cortez tweeted “My opponent seems to be avoiding a debate, and isn’t acknowledging me.  It’s just the 2 of us… I stopped by his office… asked for a debate in person.”  Yet turnabout is never about fair play. When Ben Shapiro offered Cortez $10k to debate him, she created propaganda via Twitter that implied Shapiro was sexually harassing her via “catcalling”.  As soon as she made this salacious claim, Ryan Saavedra surfaced the tweet of Cortez antagonizing Crowley.  Ocasio-Cortez does not only influence existing voters, but has the ability to influence future voters, like Gen Z. 
Jonathan Haidt, a center-left liberal, pointed out that parents are the reason Gen Z college students who scream at their professors did not receive the parenting needed to develop healthy, emotional and mental maturity to navigate the world.  Furthermore, Barna Group research reported in 2017, one out of two Gen Z identify their parents (Gen X) as their role model. Perhaps Gen Xer parents did not parent their children, yet instead made them better progressives.
According to Pew Research conducted in 2016, the Silent Generation (born between 1925 to 1944) leans 53 percent Republican compared to 40 percent Democrat.  The research concludes that Republican leaning is at its greatest since Pew began gathering data in 1992.  However, if one looks at the voter leanings of the Silent’s children, the Gen Xers (born between 1965 to 1984) dial in at 42 percent Republican and 48 percent Democrat.  What this indicates is Gen Xers decreased Republican voting by 11 percent compared to their Silent parents. Millennials (born between 1984 to 1998) lean 36 percent Republican and 57 percent Democrat while their Boomer (born between 1945 to 1964) parents lean 49 percent Republican and 45 percent Democrat.  That is a decrease of 13 percent from Republicanism from Millennial children to their Boomer parents.  If the 2018 mid-term elections are any indicator, 31 percent of ages 18 to 29 came out to vote, an increase from 21 percent in 2014.
Seeing the Republican leaning voting decrease between the generations, there leaves a possible reason:  the Silent Generation has not done a good job of communicating the conservative heart to their Gen Xer children.  Contextualize these statistics with universities dominated by Democratic-voting professors and two major financial crises.  Couple with a movement’s imperative to offer socialist programs to solve any future fears resultant in a plausible explanation as to why America is losing the ideological war for conservativism.
If the statistical trends mentioned above hold true, then Gen Z are even more likely to vote heavily Democratic in the 2020 presidential election, as they may be inclined to imitate their Gen Xer parents’ political ideology or continue the increased generational trend to vote Democratic. Arthur Brooks, author of The Conservative Heart, makes a pronounced indictment against conservatism in which he asserts that conservatives are not skilled at communicating the compassion and intelligence of the movement. Perhaps conservative parents failed to transfer and transmute the heart of conservativism from one generation to the next. Instead, what is resultant is an anxious, socialist-sympathetic, and fascist generation of young people whom even liberals like Maher and Haidt are not excited about. If America grows more fascistic, we may need to look to the parents of Gen Z for answers.

The Hoax of 'Climate Change'

The Hoax of 'Climate Change'

The Hoax of 'Climate Change'

Obama knows. John Kerry knows. And Al Gore, the man who has made an enormous amount of money perpetuating the biggest hoax foisted on the human race, knows.  Human-inspired “climate change” is a ruse.   It is all a control-grabbing, land-grabbing, money-grabbing hoax.   For instance, Al Gore, the king of carbon credits, whose home has a giant carbon footprint, and who flies all over the world in private jets, has raked in millions from his green investments and "sustainability research."   This, after preaching (An Inconvenient Truth) that fossil fuel is the culprit in “global warming.”
The real inconvenient truth is that the earth’s climate has been warming, cooling and dramatically changing since the beginning of time.  How many of us know that Chinese sea captains reported melting ice caps as far back as 1434?  Mega earthquakes and tsunamis as well as blizzards, raging fires, crippling droughts, powerful storms, horrific tornadoes and scorching heat waves have been around since antiquity.  “Climate deniers,” as the alarmists so lovingly refer to us, do acknowledge changes in the climate, but most of us do not accept the premise that human activity the cause.
Recently, the hoax has been ramping up.  President Obama, who has been likened to “Spock” by his climate change cheerleaders, exhorts that slow “climate change” progress can be blamed on “confused, blind, racists shrouded with hate Americans.”  Obama is a far cry from a cool, rational Spock character; his cynical rhetoric continues to divide Americans and cuts off debate.
The latest forecast from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change adds fuel to the fire.  Their scare tactic is to tell us that we are "doomed.”  The panel decries that carbon emissions must fall 45% by 2030.  Their forecast is, of course, more poppycock emanating from liberal progressives throughout the world.   And on top of that, in the Federal Climate Assessment report just issued, out has come a dire warning to Americans that climate change will negatively affect Americans physically, socially, and economically. That fact is elementary. Horrible weather does and has had severe ramifications for humans throughout the world since the beginning of time. 
“Rising sea levels,” “ocean change,” and “global warming,” (now referred to as “climate change”) have become part of the vernacular despite severely flawed global warming models.  However, local and global foot soldiers of the liberal progressive Socialist agenda that was hatched at the UN Brundtland Commission in 1987 continue to foster this ruse about "sustainable development," its principal buzzword.   And a word to the wise, changing code words faster than the weather does not change facts.
Liberal progressives very effectively created this giant hoax.   The UN and its sycophants realized, brilliantly I might add, that to continue their agenda, they would have to go beyond the Brundtland Report, and would then require the targeting of private property with oppressive regulations, had to be established on a local level first, e.g., Agenda 21.  Agenda 21 is not just a toothless socialist agenda, but rather, it is a radical extremist environmentalist agenda that poses a threat to our liberties.
Recognizing that local governments (Agenda 21) are agents of change, the UN began redrafting a so-called environmental constitution.  This “covenant,” as they call it, gives the UN authority over the entire globe. Unbelievably, it is being enforced despite the fact that the science behind the ruse is seriously flawed.   And, history affords us the inconvenient truth that historical facts put a giant hole in their “human inspired” climate change theory.
Environmentalists have been gobbling up land with regulations based on bad science and greed for years.  Consider the fact that if we get rid of fossil fuels by making them non-competitive, radical environmentalists, with their sketchy green technology, are poised to sashay in to take unprecedented control over private property and pocket billions of more dollars: “climate change” hype is a giant cash cow.
I wonder, do these environmentalists gone crazy, who have outstripped the reasoned environmentalists of the past, truly believe that carbon emissions interfere with the cycles of nature?   It is audacious to think that some of us, including a hefty number of scientists (whose numbers are shrinking) believe that humans, who are tiny in the scheme of things, have a whit to do with climate changes and sea-level rises and falls. The hubris here is mind-boggling.
Even James Lovelock, whose “Gaia Hypothesis” is the founding platform for global warming hysteria, and who predicted the death of billions of humans because of it, now admits that he was an alarmist and is debunking the entire cabal.  Lovelock has stated that the idea that humans are responsible for changes in the climate is not credible.   Lovelock further suggested that the modern green movement has become a religion that uses guilt to gain support.
The operative question is, do “We the People” of our great nation really want to be manipulated by the UN and its minions?  Do we care that the UN invasion into our country will ultimately strip away our freedoms?  Do we care that “climate change” hype is a sinister means of enforcing the idea that the collective takes a front seat to individual rights?
To make matters worse, liberal progressive socialists  have very effectively (as they always do…a la Saul Alinsky) demonized and dismissed the canaries in the coal mine as wacky, racist, paranoid, conspiracy theorists.  Not so fast.  The canaries understand that the invasion of the UN agenda, with the help of liberal progressives socialists has ushered in abuses, controls and illegal appropriations that the Constitution of the United States has warned would strip us of our liberty and freedoms.
Enough is enough.  Liberal progressive scientists and politicians, not science, are dictating our carbon regulations.  These modern environmental extremists have shot way past stewardship of the planet.  It is up to reasoned citizens of our great country to have our voices heard.
So what can we do?   The best place to have the voices heard from those of us who understand that private property is the most important guarantee of our freedoms is by taking seats on local boards and commissions.   Also of importance is to determine if your city or town is a member of Agenda 21. If yes, it is up to those who understand the ramifications of that to challenge the membership. 
And most importantly, although it's a monumental task, the youth of our nation who have been indoctrinated since grammar school, must come to understand that much of what they were spoon-fed in school is liberal progressive “save the planet” moral masquerading.   For their own edification, our youngsters might want to hear from the canaries exactly how the hoax will affect their future. Unfortunately, many of the youth in America suffer deep scars from years and years of indoctrination.  Inanition, anger, and arrogance, are some of the lingering effects of the sinister propaganda inflicted on our youth by liberal progressive socialists. But we must not give up trying.

Abolish the Senate and Electoral College? Why Not Tear Up the Constitution?

Abolish the Senate and Electoral College? Why Not Tear Up the Constitution?

Abolish the Senate and Electoral College? Why Not Tear Up the Constitution?

Former Congressman John Dingell, Jr., a partisan Democrat whose immediate family has controlled the same seat in the House of Representatives for 86 years, has some suggestions for fixing Congress.  We should abolish the Senate and the Electoral College because they're undemocratic, "despite the constitutional hurdles of doing so."  In 2015, Dingell retired from the U.S. House seat he's held since 1955, the seat he inherited from his father, John Dingell, Sr., who first won it in 1932.  The seat has passed to John Jr.'s much-younger wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell, who was just re-elected in November.  (Full disclosure: For 20 years, my wife and I have lived in Dearborn, Michigan, which is inside the Dingell fiefdom and looks as though it may be in perpetuity.)
Dingell is kvetching about "the complete collapse" of respect for government since he first held office and "an unprecedented cynicism about the nobility of public service itself."  Things were much better in 1958, when "73 percent of Americans trusted the federal government 'to do the right thing almost always or most of the time.'"  Now it's down to 18%, and Dingell blames this decline mostly on Republican wrongdoing like Watergate, the Iraq War, and "Ronald Reagan's folksy but popular message that government was not here to help."  "[W]orst of all by far," he writes, is "the Trumpist mind-set" held by "jackasses who see 'deep state' conspiracies in every part of government[.]"
What really burns Dingell is how his party's numerical electoral advantage – widely expected to continue growing as caravans of illegal aliens flood into the country – isn't translating into an America run strictly according to Democrat ideas.  Why not?  Because "sparsely populated, usually conservative states can block legislation supported by a majority of the American people."  Flyover Republicans, and the protections for political minorities built into the Constitution, are holding up progress!  This is especially the case in the Senate, where California's 40 million people have only two senators, "while the 20 smallest states have a combined population totaling less than that ... have 40 senators."  We have this "antiquated" and "downright dangerous" political imbalance only "because of an 18th-century political deal" – a deal, it should be noted, that someone thought should be preserved under glass at the National Archives.
Dingell never specifies how the current structure of the Senate is "downright dangerous," nor does he explain why the Great Compromise over Senate representation made sense in the 18th century, when a tiny Rhode Island could object to being bullied by Massachusetts, but it's now "plain crazy" for the 20 smallest states (and a lot of the bigger ones) to resist being bullied by California.
It's obvious that Dingell positively resents the minority, whom he variously describes as "usually conservative," a "vocal rump ... of obnoxious asses [who] can hold the entire country hostage to extremist views."  He dismisses 63 million Trump-supporters as "jackasses ... a minority of a minority ... the weakest link in the chain of more than three centuries of our American republic."  (That makes twice in one article he calls Americans who won't vote Democrat "asses."  Did I mention I'm one of his family's constituents?)
The reality remains that while Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote with 48%, Trump still won 46%, which isn't the insignificant minority Dingell imagines.  He shares the conceit of his party that Democrats' less than half of the electorate constitutes "a majority of the American people" and that the slightly smaller less than half of us is a negligible fraction of extremists.
Other proponents of erasing the Senate, like Parker Richards at The Atlantic, point to the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh as evidence of Senate "disproportionality," because the majority "represented just 44 percent of the country's population."  Jay Willis at GQ has the same complaint.  "An undemocratic body yields undemocratic results.  The 50 senators who voted to confirm the wildly-unpopular Brett Kavanaugh represent only 44 percent of the population."  Yes, Kavanaugh's unpopularity was wild – wild, baseless, and irrational, stoked by false witnesses, a lying media, and a hyper-cynical Senate minority willing to destroy an innocent man to mollify their abortion-industry backers.  The speed with which a credulous public was turned into a hysterical mob baying for Kavanaugh's blood on no evidence whatsoever reveals the genius of the Framers' interposing a safeguard between the often naked madness of an inflamed majority and what James Madison called "the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions." 
To say the Kavanaugh confirmation is proof that the Senate is undemocratic is essentially to say that a truly democratic body – reacting to the shrieks of the #MeToo movement and a public opinion distorted by sound bites and Twitter – would have denied the nomination.  That result might have been more democratic, but it would also, based on false witnesses and the slanders of the mob, be the kind of "pernicious" result Madison wanted to prevent.
Dingell says the "jackasses" who share Trump's mistrust of government are "the weakest link in the chain" of the republic, but he's wrong.  People who mistrust government understand the republic better than he does, because it was people who mistrusted government who created it.  "If men were angels," wrote Madison in Federalist 51, "no government would be necessary."  As it is, while the people are "the primary control on the government," because people aren't angels "experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."  But if it's progressives trying to throw off those precautions, and not we, how are we the weakest link? 
On the other hand, Democrats are growing increasingly exasperated with how the Constitution's auxiliary precautions keep putting the brakes on their agenda.  In 2001, when Barack Obama was an Illinois senator and law professor, he complained about the Constitution as an impediment to the goal of radical income redistribution.  While it dictates "what the Federal government can't do to you," he said, it fails to command "what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf."  This past year has seen the sudden rise of mainstream Democrats wanting to abolish ICE, which enforces constitutionally mandated naturalization and immigration laws.  Large segments of the party are embracing democratic socialism, heedless that socialism requires the extinguishment of guaranteed individual liberties.  Nearly 40% of Democrats support repealing the Second Amendment.  Now John Dingell, the "Dean of the Congress," in addition to abolition of the Senate and Electoral College, is calling for the "elimination of money in campaigns" at the expense of the First Amendment.
Oddly, Dingell repeats Ben Franklin's warning about "constant vigilance" if we're to protect the "precious but fragile gift" the Founders gave us.  But their gift was a Republic, "if you can keep it."  Some of us are trying to keep it.  Dingell and many of his fellow Democrats sound awfully anxious to throw it away.

Does Freedom of Religion Mean Satanic Displays in State Capitols?

Does Freedom of Religion Mean Satanic Displays in State Capitols?

Does Freedom of Religion Mean Satanic Displays in State Capitols?

 
In the Illinois Capitol Rotunda this month, several traditions are being celebrated.  We find a nativity scene for Christmas; a menorah for Hanukkah; and, alongside these displays, an arm holding an apple, with a snake coiled around it.  This snake sculpture is a gift from the Chicago branch of The Satanic Temple.  Called "Snaketivity," the work also has a sign that reads, "Knowledge Is The Greatest Gift."
This revolting travesty is a result of decades of decisions pertaining to the non-establishment of religion asserted in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  If a group of people incorporates as a non-for-profit religious organization to worship Medusa with her head covered with snakes, would those people be allowed to have a sculpture of Medusa in the Illinois Capitol?  Looking at her would turn one to stone.  Looking at Snaketivity turns this writer to stone-faced silence and outrage.
Next to these displays is a statement to the effect that "[t]he State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol[.] ... Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays.  The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speeches, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech."  So, we ask, why did they not impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions?
While speech must be allowed, speech must not necessarily be allowed wherever the speaker wants the speech.  There are rules where public events may be held, and said laws must be consistent with the public order and user-appropriate.  Lata Nott, an expert on free speech, has stated, "If you invite someone to speak on your campus and are a public university, you have to respect their First Amendment rights[.] ... That doesn't mean you can't put regulations on a speech, like dictating the time, place, venue and suggestions for subject matter.  It just means you can't do so in a way that discriminates against a certain point of view."
With this point in mind, it seems strange that no Christian or Jewish organization challenged the State Government of Illinois for allowing this complete mockery of the First Amendment.  It seems certain that the American Center for Law and Justice or the Rutherford Institute or Liberty Counsel would have taken up this fight. 
Hanukkah and Christmas have been celebrated in December for many hundreds of years.  Other religions do not have December events that are this significant, and especially the Satanic Temple, which is not even celebrating an event lifted up in the tenets, practices, or texts of its beliefs.  Therefore, the requirement that its "snake" be displayed alongside a menorah or a creche is wholly bogus.
The word "religion" comes from the Latin word ligare: to join or link, classically understood to mean the linking of human and divine.  There is no linking of the human and divine for the Satanic Temple.  There is no divine or supernatural appeal for the Satanic Temple.  Instead, in its "Canon," "Satan" is declared a "theological metaphor" for free inquiry.  When they say, "Hail Satan," they state that they are in effect hailing a metaphor, not a supernatural person.  Ironically, born-again Christians would understand that they are hailing a supernatural being, albeit one defeated by Christ and eternally defeated.  We understand that they are denying the very one they are praising.
In Satanists' "Seven Fundamental Tenets," there is not one reference to any supernatural being or to the promulgation of evil.  Rather, true to the biblical definition of Satan as someone who comes (masquerades) as an "angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14), their tenets name their raison d'ĂȘtre as fighting for justice, having control over one's body (a not so veiled support for abortion), compassion, empathy, reasonableness, conforming with science (climate change acceptance implied), and some tepid thoughts about doing one's best even though we make mistakes.  Their tenets finish with a call to the Stoic ideal of "nobility in action and thought."
These platitudes are pap from the lips of the Deceiver.  He is such a deceiver that he does not even claim to be ruler of "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 6:12), but takes a modest backseat as he proclaims himself just another secular humanist.
By failing to constrain the so-called "free speech" of the Satanists, the State of Illinois has increased the likelihood that the American Atheists will have displays alongside Christian and Jewish displays even though, as this article is suggesting, they do not have a legitimate claim to be a religious organization or to offer time-honored celebrations that are as historically significant as those of Christians and Jews.
The battle goes on and must go on.  It is a battle that must continue to be waged in courts and in the public arena.  It is a battle between the spirit of truth of Elijah and the wicked, impotent spirit of the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40).  We must remain alert to areas where the fight has not been waged and follow up.
This writer will send a copy of this article to all three great legal organizations mentioned and encourages the reader to do likewise.