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Inconvenient Truths Denied By Climate Faithful

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 18
Publish Date: 
Thu, 09/11/2014

 

At the tumultuous summer’s close, when throat-slashing, genocidal jihadists and economic malaise dominated headlines and our psyches, Hillary Clinton announced her preoccupation.

 

"Climate change is the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face," she proclaimed, adding, “no matter what the deniers try to assert” -- thus dismissing from polite society those inclined to Think Again about America’s greatest concerns.

 

Like Clinton, members of the “Church of Settled Science” invoke the moral equivalent of Holocaust denial to reject those deeming climate change less dangerous than other threats, like the Islamic State, a nuclear Iran, a debt-laden stagnant economy, or record levels of poverty.

 

Their Church gospel considers it “anti-science” to believe climate change is a naturally reoccurring phenomenon to which mankind has always adapted, and still can. After all, as Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore said before congress, because “frost and ice are the enemies of life…. a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one.”

 

Nevertheless, it’s an excommunicable sin to oppose tax and regulatory policies that would barely limit global emissions but would increase economy-wide prices, retard economies, and reduce standards of living -- disproportionately among the poor.

 

According to their dogma, it’s blasphemous to oppose giving unaccountable bureaucrats (in the EPA or internationally) unprecedented power to centrally plan and control economic life, without even a vote of Congress.

 

That’s because the faithful overlook the stunning failure of their doomsday-predicting models to forecast warming’s nearly 18-year pause (confirmed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), or Al Gore’s 2007 prediction that polar bears’ Arctic habitat would be ice-free by 2013.

 

Thankfully for children fearing polar bear extinction, current satellite readings by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center reveal Arctic ice larger than when Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his global warming activism -- an Alaska-sized expansion since 2012.

 

Clearly scientists don’t yet understand the relationship between rising CO2 levels and global warming -- now conveniently called climate change, rendering all planetary events explainable by a theory whose falsification is impossible.

 

Unfortunately, the skepticism required for scientific discovery is now punished, as MIT professor of atmospheric physics Richard Lindzen described. “Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse,” he wrote. “Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.”

 

Today, skepticism is synonymous with greed and immorality to Church adherents who bask in the influence and profits they derive from sermonizing and policy advocacy. Yet, they ignore the “inconvenient truth” that their policies adversely impact the lifestyles of the budget conscience.

 

So, who are the heretics?

 

Are they alarmists intent on circumventing scientific inquiry and the free and open debate on which national consensus in a pluralistic democracy depends, or skeptics “not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead,” as Thomas Jefferson encouraged?

 

“It is error alone which needs the support of government,” Jefferson believed, because “truth can stand by itself.”

 

In his Farewell Address noteworthy for military-industrial-complex warnings, President Eisenhower articulated the modern version of Jefferson’s concern. “A government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity,” he said, and “the prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

 

The modern era is awash in government–abetted tragedies precipitated by theories claiming to advance the human condition but which, in fact, involved anti-poor and anti-progress policies. Thomas Malthus’ theory that population would always outstrip resources justified 19th-century British tax and regulatory policies to constrain human aspirations. The result was poverty-induced famine in Ireland and India, and 20 million victims.

 

Ensuing in the 20th-century were even more deadly policies – derived from Malthusian-based eugenics and resource depletion theories -- proving Jefferson’s observation that “even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

 

Malthus’ theories are as wrong as they are immoral. Since his time, world population grew seven-fold as well-being (world GDP per capita) grew 50-fold, thanks to human ingenuity and economic freedom.

 

Today, life-enhancing devices unimaginable to Malthus – refrigerators, phones, air-conditioning, cars, and televisions -- are commonplace, except among the poorest.  Why decrease their affordability by increasing the cost of the energy required to make, distribute and run them?

 

The truth is, affordable energy and the economic growth and well-being it enables are the keys to addressing our greatest concerns, including the environment, joblessness, poverty, and indebtedness – even terrorism. 

 

Think Again – To pass a secure, prosperous and clean world to future generations, shouldn’t we encourage – not constrain -- the scientific inquiry that informs and unleashes boundless human creativity?

 

It's Right Versus Wrong, Not Left Versus Right

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 14
Publish Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2014

 

Imagine a 4th of July tradition like Hollywood’s where each year the Oscars pay homage to fallen stars.  Liberty-loving Americans would fete public servants who’ve honored Thomas Jefferson’s rule to “leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.”

 

Might celebrating trustworthy stewards inspire Americans to Think Again about our founders’ insights, ingraining a culture that prizes democratic accountability and lawful government, the one that transformed our risky political experiment into history’s freest and most prosperous society?

 

We’d be celebrating two recently passed stalwarts who put country and constitutional order before party: Senator Howard Baker, the Senate Watergate Committee’s ranking Republican who famously asked “what did the President know and when did he know it,” and Johnnie Walters, President Nixon’s IRS commissioner, who refused to target his “enemies list.”

 

Like our Founders, Baker and Walters understood that where equality under the law goes, so goes freedom. Therefore, the greatest threat to civil society and human potential is a powerful, deceitful and unaccountable government where the few rule the many.

 

That’s why the Founders designed a liberty-preserving system that fragmented and checked government power among equal, competing branches, conferring ultimate authority upon the people -- not our representatives.

 

Respectful of Jefferson’s rule, unlike many in today’s “Ruling Elite,” it’s doubtful Baker or Walters would stomach the IRS targeting Americans for their political beliefs, or the evaporation of email evidence critical to congress’ investigation -- called “a conspiracy theory” by the White House. 

 

Journalistic sleuths Woodward and Bernstein know that government accountability derives from an active media and an informed citizenry.  In comparing the IRS and Benghazi scandals to Watergate, they criticized the media for abandoning its constitutionally protected watchdog role, appearing instead to protect the government from Americans.

 

Public servants may arrive eager to drain Washington’s cesspool, but after harnessing governmental power and dispensing money and favors, they discover it’s a hot tub made inviting by politicians, bureaucrats, public-sector unions, lobbyists, donors, and the media.

 

Our greatest challenge -- and the biggest threat to the world’s oldest (and shortest) constitution -- isn’t a left versus right tug-of-war, but a struggle to wrest power away from those who collude at the citizens’ expense.  

 

Incentivized to invest in influence instead of innovation, Big Business (currently enjoying record profits) can buy access to trillions in spending, tax and regulatory favors. The result is a heavily indebted citizenry and a stagnant economy warped by cronyism, as evidenced by the 2.9 percent plunge in first-quarter U.S. GDP -- the worst non-recession contraction in over 40 years.

 

Not surprisingly, the small business sector that accounts for two-thirds of net new job creation is suffering as “business deaths now exceed business births for the first time in the thirty-plus-year history of our data,” according to a new Brookings Institution report on declining business dynamism.

 

While Wall Street and Washington boom, the rest of America suffers crisis levels of income stagnation, underemployment, economic immobility and government dependency, with a record 50 million living in poverty.

 

Yet as the American Dream slips beyond reach for ordinary citizens, those who oppose the Ruling Elite are labeled extremists, proving George Orwell’s adage that “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”

 

Consider last month’s Mississippi Senate run-off that spoilsman Thad Cochran narrowly won, thanks to crony donations and promises to keep the gravy train running, unlike his “extremist” opponent.

 

But who are the extremists? Those who advocate free markets, equality under the law, fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, in God we trust, and peace through strength – the campaign platform of David Brat, Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s vanquisher – or the Ruling Elite who subvert these guiding principles?

 

Though distressed Americans clamor for law, order and security on our southern border, slack immigration-law enforcement has accelerated unlawful migration. Exacerbating the lawlessness are lawmakers like Nancy Pelosi who called the deluge of illegal immigrants an “opportunity.”

 

Unfortunately, the opportunity is at the expense of working Americans, considering all employment growth since 2000 went to immigrants (legal and illegal), the Center for Immigration Studies reported.

 

Meanwhile, with Congress requiring border security prior to any amnesty, President Obama intends to act alone, as he did in 2012 when he indefinitely suspended deportations of 550,000 alien youths, granting them work permits. 

 

Commenting on Obama’s intentions following his twelfth unanimous Supreme Court rebuke for federal power over-reach, constitutional law professor and Obama-voter Jonathan Turley explained, the President “can’t say the solution to gridlock is you simply have to resolve it on my terms.”

 

Having overthrown King George’s unfair and arbitrary rule, our Founders established an America of, by, and for the people – not Ruling Elites -- stipulating that presidents “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

 

Think Again – wouldn’t a shared allegiance to our constitutional order be the best way to realize a more perfect union, for “ourselves and our posterity?”

 

 

Leadership: What Difference At This Point Does It Make?

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 9
Publish Date: 
Thu, 06/19/2014

 

If character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking, WWII General Dwight Eisenhower radiated it on D-Day’s eve, writing ”any blame … is mine alone” in never-delivered remarks known as “In Case of Failure.”

 

In making one of history’s toughest and most consequential decisions -- unlike those chronicled in Hillary Clinton’s new memoir “Hard Choices” -- Eisenhower prepared for the worst as 150,000 men readied for a veritable suicide mission 70 years ago this month.

 

Willing to shoulder failure’s blame, even without knowing its reason, Eisenhower publicly attributed the anticipated victory to liberty’s cause and the Allied troops’ “courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.”

 

Trusting him to put the national interest before his own, Americans liked Ike, twice electing him president, assuring America’s reliability as a guarantor of peace, prosperity, stability and freedom.

 

Unfortunately, as a parade of disturbing scandals and glaring incompetence engulf Washington and our national psyche, one thing is certain – Eisenhower’s style of servant-leadership is in short supply today. 

 

More prevalent are self-serving leaders who routinely do the wrong (yet politically advantageous) thing – even in the Rose Garden when everybody’s looking -- while refusing to Think Again about their misdeeds, never mind assume responsibility or apologize.

 

As if in the Soviet Union where dissidents joked, “The future is known; it’s the past that’s always changing,” today’s national leaders promise the unattainable, spin the news cycle with false narratives, stonewall investigations, smear adversaries, and label self-inflicted controversies “phony scandals.” Absent honest disagreement or accountability, the “truth” becomes any story that sticks as they coast on benevolent intentions, above the devastation.

 

Through successive controversies – Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, Syria’s red-line, Obamacare, and the Veterans Administration -- this responsibility-evading strategy has worked, thanks to a mythologizing media who “censor or block stories that don’t fall in line with the message they want sent,” as former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson described.

 

Now comes the Bergdahl Swap in which the Obama Administration – perennially unwilling to negotiate with Republicans they’ve called “hostage-takers” – struck a deal with hostage-taking terrorists to trade five Taliban commanders for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl.  

 

Presidential author Bob Woodward called the decision “nefarious and stupid” because it ignored military and intelligence recommendations and flouted federal law requiring congressional notification. Like Benghazi, administration Svengalis crafted and “bull horned” fraudulent talking points, this time to cast a likely deserter as a war hero who “served with honor and distinction.”

 

But unlike Benghazi, the story didn’t stick and a bi-partisan uprising ensued. Without a YouTube hate-video to blame for the spontaneous demonstration, President Obama dismissed it as “a controversy whipped up in Washington” for which he’ll “make no apologies.”

 

Clinton also dislikes questions and apologies. Asked on her book tour if she’ll turn over her Benghazi-related notes to the congressional committee charged with investigating the murders of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate, Clinton instead suggested they read her memoir – called “a newsless snore” by Politico’s Mike Allen.

 

With genocidal insurgents overtaking Iraq and beyond, Clinton may regret her flippant response to a question about the swap. “These five guys are not a threat to the United States,” she asserted, as if 9/11 wasn’t hatched in the very petri dish to which the jihadists are returning.

 

With such out-of-touch and unaccountable leadership, it’s no surprise nearly two-thirds of Americans say we’re headed in the wrong direction, a new Bloomberg poll revealed. 

 

But as Clinton might ask, what difference at this point does it make?

 

A decisive one, as the trouncing of Eric Cantor – the first Majority Leader ever to lose a primary – testifies. Fellow special-interest crony, Senator Thad Cochran, will likely be next.

 

Cantor got caught in a perfect storm of anti-Washington fever, economic unease and resentment over serial controversies including the refugee crisis on our southern border caused by derelict enforcement of immigration laws. Even a 25-to-1-money advantage couldn’t overcome the perception that Cantor favors Wall Street and K-Street over his Main Street constituents.

 

That his campaign donors support immigration policies that are magnets for low-income workers suggests Cantor doesn’t care about depressing the wages and job prospects of Americans already devastated by economic stagnation. Politicians who discuss immigration in terms of how we can assist those who break our laws are largely responsible for our illegal immigrant problem.  

 

The reality is democracy doesn’t work without the right leadership, which accounts for other crises menacing Americans -- dying vets, released terrorists, refugee children, IRS harassment, NSA snooping, health care chaos, and murdered U.S. diplomats and border guards.

 

Amid so much failure, Americans must deny politicians amnesty for their incompetence, selfishness, dishonesty, and abuse of power. 

 

Think Again -- To preserve liberty for successive generations, don’t we need leaders who are prepared to declare “any blame is mine alone?”

Inequality and A Tale of Two Ukrainians

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 7
Publish Date: 
Thu, 02/27/2014

 

Last week, as Ukrainian émigré-turned-tech tycoon Jan Koum prepared to cash a multi-billion dollar check from Facebook -- acquirer of his start-up “WhatsApp” -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was checking-out of his Gatsby-esque estate where he’d cached his stolen plunder.

That the two Ukrainians derived their riches under diametrically opposed systems – free enterprise versus banana republic – Illustrates why all income inequalities are not created equal.  

Most don’t resent the rich -- only the undeservedly rich – as a recent Venezuelan protest sign conveyed: “These Castro-Chavistas speak like Marx, govern like Stalin, and live like Rockefeller, while the people suffer!”

Koum’s affluence springs from a free society in which everyone has a God-given right to go as far as their work and talent will take them. Yanukovich’s hijacked wealth is exploitive, depriving others of dignity, opportunity, and economic mobility. One system disperses power as it champions an individual’s right to pursue happiness; the other concentrates it while stifling human potential.

There will always be a top 1%. The question is: will they be hardworking and productive people whose value creation benefits society – think Steve Jobs and JK Rowling -- or cronies living off perks extracted from the labor of the little people? 

In America, we have increasing numbers of both which is why we must Think Again before allowing policymakers to concentrate more power in the name of social justice. In fact, economic liberalization is the real cure.

Economically freer countries enjoy greater growth, opportunity, civil rights and health, as evident in the yawning gap between North and South Korea, and in Asia where hundreds of millions have escaped grinding poverty.

To secure their freedoms, Ukrainian protestors resemble Koum’s mother. She fled Kiev for California in 1992 with 16-year-old Jan in search of religious liberty, privacy from Ukraine’s surveillance state and the opportunity to realize a better life.

Though they struggled upon arrival, relying on public assistance, Jan’s climb from food stamps to Facebook fortune was jagged and improbable -- a journey he honored by signing the $19 billion sale agreement outside the building that once housed the food stamp office.

The Koum tale is a triumph made possible by America’s system of free enterprise and limited government, which produced human history’s most dynamic and decent society.

Today the American Dream is increasingly out-of-reach for those stuck in government dependency or struggling to survive amidst stagnant wages, declining job mobility, and ever-increasing health care, food and energy costs. 

Confusing the symptom with the disease, President Obama rails against income inequality, pronouncing it “the defining challenge of our time.” But he has it backwards -- economic stagnation causes income inequality, not vice versa.

Obama also ignores the social mobility-impairing trend of single motherhood, which exploded from 4 percent in 1960 to 42 percent currently, accounting for 50 percent of chronic poverty.

Instead of targeted policies to eradicate poverty – eliminating welfare’s marriage penalty and allowing parents to choose the school that’s best for their child --- Obama’s proposed minimum wage hike and unemployment-insurance extension are mere Band-Aids on the cancer of opportunity inequality.

Five years of Obama’s trickle-down-government policies have buoyed Wall Street, corporate America and Washington, DC where seven of America’s wealthiest counties reside – like the capital of “Hunger Games” whose powerful aristocracy lives off the tribute paid by impoverished citizens in the territories.

Despite trillions of stimulus and War on Poverty spending -- causing debt to swell 63 percent -- the nearly five-year economic recovery has one-quarter the GDP growth rate of the Reagan recovery. Though the stock market has doubled, median household income fell 6 percent, labor force participation hit a 35-year low, and a record 47 million Americans now live in poverty.

While not Yanukovich-style graft, our government transfers hundreds of billions of dollars annually to the affluent, thanks to cronyism, corporate welfare and entitlement programs that don’t distinguish between ordinary Americans and corporate jet owners.

Last year, America’s richest 10% captured the greatest share of pre-tax income growth since the Roaring 20’s, according to University of California-Berkeley economist Emanuel Saez.  He also showed the top 1% capturing 95 percent of income gains during the Obama Recovery (2009-present), compared to 65 percent during the Bush expansion (2002-2007).

That so many Americans have fallen behind is both appalling and avoidable, and a reflection of America’s deteriorating freedoms.  Formerly second in the Wall Street Journal/Heritage Index of Economic Freedom behind Hong Kong, America is now twelfth -- below Estonia.

Bequeathing our children an economically stagnant America is a choice, not a destiny.  Our real “defining challenge” is to restore the growth that creates jobs, opportunity, social mobility and future Jan Koum’s.

Think Again -- Shouldn’t our goal be to unleash the dreams and talents of all Americans – especially former food stamp clients – so they can lead fulfilling and happy lives?

 

Women: Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places?

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 17
Publish Date: 
Thu, 02/13/2014

“Life’s greatest happiness,” Victor Hugo wrote, “is to be convinced we are loved.”  As most experienced couples know, love-induced happiness is a year-round triumph, not the outcome of a singular, mass-marketed Valentine’s celebration – the one Jay Leno calls “Extortion Day.”

 

But men ignore this expectation-filled Hallmark holiday at their peril, which is why it’s become a $16 billion industry. More than heart-shaped bling, women savor attention -- a lesson noted by politicians.

 

Just as women beware of transient Romeos, they must Think Again about politicians who whisper sweet nothings into their ears, over-promising before an election and under-delivering after winning their commitment.

                                         

A frequent refrain of President Obama’s -- asserted as earnestly as “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” -- is the claim repeated in his State of the Union address that women “make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” Promising to close the “embarrassing” gap he declared, “Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”

 

While discrimination can’t be ruled out, should it be the default explanation? Are whites the victims of discrimination because they earn less than Asians? If women do the same work for less, why would anyone hire a man?

 

Playing honest broker and mindful of research studies, feminist Hanna Rosin wrote in Slate, “I’ve heard the line enough times that I feel the need to set the record straight: It’s not true.”

 

Though the rhetoric is as empty as the calories in a box of Valentine’s chocolates, it sells, 51 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act to prohibit gender-based wage discrimination.

 

Equally delicious are Orwellian-named laws like the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase the risk of costly litigation for employers, discouraging the hiring of women whom the law purports to protect.  That’s because “employers could not use fewer hours, less education, and lower performance to evaluate salary differences,” explained Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the Labor Department.

 

Nevertheless, opposing labor market-imperiling legislation – sops to the trial-lawyer lobby that kept tort reform out of Obamacare – is worse than overlooking Valentine's Day. It's a “War on Women.”

 

Yet asserting that women make less than men for the same labor without considering hours worked, education, industry, job tenure, and marital and parental status, is like saying women are cheated out of food because men consume more.  

 

That men and women possess different minds and bodies, have distinct interests and life goals and make unique choices largely explains gender-gaps, though many feminists resist these truths.  Incredibly, sex differences are also overlooked in medical research and treatment, a dangerous oversight attributed to feminism in a recent 60 Minutes report. 

 

Women make less than men, Rosin posits, because they “don’t want to work the same way men do” – a theory confirmed by a 2007 Pew survey in which 79 percent of working mothers preferred part-time or no work, compared to only 12 percent of fathers. They’re also happier working part-time, according to an American Psychological Association study.  

 

Additionally, women consciously choose the least lucrative college majors and enter less demanding and lower-paying occupations, even in medicine where men predominate in higher-paid specialties requiring more training and hours.

 

Economic studies that consider these differences report a full-time wage gap as small as 5 percent. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported, women earn 10 percent more than men for part-time employment involving 5 to 39 hours.

 

"The point here,” Rosin argues, “is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we’ve missed the actual challenges."

 

Those challenges include the feminization of poverty triggered by an explosion of single-motherhood (42 percent overall and 73 percent among blacks), and a declining standard of living caused by falling wages, less work and skyrocketing healthcare, food, and utility costs.

 

Nearly five years into an economic recovery the AP labeled the feeblest since the Great Depression, we have 4 million fewer jobs than in 2008 (despite working-age population growth of 14 million), crisis levels of government dependency, and severe underemployment. Though women have regained more jobs than men, Census data shows a record 17 million live in poverty compared to 12.6 million men.

 

There are programs that could help women rise out of the safety net onto the ladder of opportunity -- if targeted with cupid-like precision -- though intact families are the best remedy. Ultimately, the ideal bed of roses is a robust economy, higher-paying jobs and the disposable income boost that comes from lower prices – all of which are undermined by current policies.

 

Most importantly, women mustn’t allow suitors to romance them with bouquets of sweeping government programs that wilt at the challenge, but never die. 

 

Think Again – Aren’t pandering politicians who mislead in pursuit of one-night stands on Election Day the ones waging the War on Women?

 

Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman: Profiles in Greatness

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 11
Publish Date: 
Thu, 01/30/2014

 

“It's hard to be humble,” Muhammad Ali rationalized, “when you're as great as I am.”


In Sunday’s contest between number ones, the Super Bowl’s two most visible faces – Bronco’s Peyton Manning and Seahawk’s Richard Sherman – are case studies of Ali’s theory.


Manning is football’s undisputed heavyweight champion whose aww-shucks humility belies – and explains – his unrivaled ownership of five NFL MVP awards. Quick to credit his teammates, even after a 7-touchdown performance, the 13-time Pro-Bowler and comeback king leaves it to others to laud his game.


With his legacy on the line in his third Super Bowl, Manning is a sentimental favorite, even in Las Vegas where bettors pushed Manning’s Broncos from underdogs to favored team.


There’s also anti-Seahawk sentiment, fueled by Sherman’s nationally televised Ali-like rant. The breast-beating cornerback’s noise rivals Seattle’s “12th-Man,” and with an NFL-leading 20 interceptions since debuting in 2011, Sherman’s bite is as fierce as his bark.


Moments after his acrobatic championship clinching play in the “Bully Bowl” against San Francisco, Sherman trumpeted, “I’m the best corner in the game,” calling vanquished receiver Michael Crabtree “me-di-o-cre.” His unsportsmanlike conduct sent Twitter aflutter prompting even John McCain to declare for the Broncos “because I don’t like that ‘loudmouth’ from Seattle.”


Before accepting the oft-tweeted critique that Sherman is an overpaid, classless embarrassment to professional sports, Think Again.  Judge the hyper-competitive Sherman on the content of his character, not the color of his commentary. Beneath the braggart’s veneer is an inspiring life story derived from disciplined parenting, academic focus, hard work, and earned success. 


A Denver billboard boasts, “Denver has a Champ, but Seattle has a Chump,” referring to Bronco’s star cornerback Champ Baily. It resonates, even for Sherman who has studied and admires Baily. Chastened by blistering criticism and an NFL fine, the brainy sparkplug of Seattle’s intimidating secondary – Legion of Boom – regrets that his adrenaline-infused, déclassé post-game antics overshadowed his team’s football feats. 


Sherman’s braggadocio also eclipsed his life’s remarkable trajectory from drug and gang-infested Compton, California, to high school salutatorian, to Stanford scholar-athlete, to renown as one of the NFL’s best defenders – and he’s only 25-years old. Squeaky clean and devoid of profanity, Sherman’s one brush with scandal -- a suspension last year for using the amphetamine Adderall – was dismissed.


In contrast to the sporting world’s men-children, Sherman is a magnetic and thoughtful personality whose social-media posts reflect well-ordered priorities:


Family orientation.


“Blanket Coverage,” the name of his charitable foundation which supports at-risk youth.


#GivingBackToTheCity (a frequently used Twitter hash tag), which he did on Christmas day at Seattle Children’s Hospital.


Motivational messages like Muhammad Ali’s maxim, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”


And gratitude, like the post: “Blessed to make the Pro Bowl with my brothers! We had this goal at the start of the year and accomplished it! To God be the Glory!” 


There are few who rival Sherman’s ability to reach and reform kids like those he still counsels in Compton. This is the African-American community’s greatest challenge, considering black males suffer the highest rates of fatherless homes, high school dropouts, poverty, arrests, incarceration and unemployment in America.


Though a compelling role model, No. 1 NFL draft pick Manning was born with a pigskin-covered spoon in his mouth as the scion of a football dynasty headed by NFL quarterback Archie Manning.


Peyton’s path to greatness was paved with hard work, intelligence, and perseverance in overcoming career-endangering neck injuries. But as the son of a garbage-truck driver, Sherman’s impressive story is more likely to inspire black youth. Like Ali, Sherman is a driven, up-from-nothing champion eager to prove his worth in a world where he’s felt doubted -- being a late-round draft pick still plagues him.


In an era littered with narcissistic celebrity-seekers eager to parlay airbrushed personas into power and money, Sherman stands out as authentically accomplished, albeit in need of a Dale Carnegie course. As disgraced New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez and Texas governor aspirant Wendy Davis proved last week, those who appear perfect are usually the best deceivers.


Sherman isn’t perfect. He just lacks humility, which Manning can easily remedy by throwing a touchdown past the formidable ball hawk. Then Sherman can learn what a more sage Ali eventually concluded. “I never thought of losing,” he mused, “but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me.  We all have to take defeats in life.”


To realize his life-coaching potential -- and be deserving of adulation -- Sherman needs the humility that comes with defeat.  To achieve legendary status, pundits insist Manning must win this Super Bowl. 


Think Again – Wouldn’t it be nice if both Sherman and Manning achieved the greatness they deserve? Go Broncos!

On Masculinity and the War on Poverty

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 22
Publish Date: 
Wed, 01/15/2014

 

As a binge-TV watcher, I’ve relished devouring serial dramas in advertising-free gulps. But “Breaking Bad” -- the story about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher turned clandestine meth-cooking badass – didn’t appeal.


Then Anthony Hopkins declared it an “epic work” with “the best actors I’ve ever seen.”

 

Midway through Season 2,  I understand why Walter White is heroic. As men increasingly check out of work, marriage, and fatherhood, it’s hard not to root for a man fiercely determined to secure his family’s future before dying – despite his morally abhorrent methods.  

 

That there are dramatically fewer men willing and able to safeguard family prosperity is perhaps America’s greatest – and unrecognized -- problem.

 

Consider Sunday’s “Shattering the Glass Ceiling” discussion on ABC’s “This Week.” Lamenting unrealized opportunities and unsolved problems when “women aren’t fully utilized,” businesswoman Carly Fiorina and co-panelists were oblivious that two times more men than women aged 25-34 languish in their parents’ basement far below the glass ceiling, according to US Census data, and that women now outperform men in nearly every measure of social, academic and vocational well-being.

 

Rather than apply Band-Aids to the cancer of male-underachievement -- like unemployment insurance extensions and minimum wage hikes -- political elites must Think Again. 

 

Focus on the real gender gap: millions of males, especially less-educated, are “unhitched from the engine of growth,” according to a recent Brookings Institution report.  Women gained all 74,000 jobs added to payrolls last month, and among the world’s seven biggest economies, America is now last in the share of “prime age” males working – just behind Italy. Why isn’t widespread male worklessness a priority for policymakers, given the massive economic, fiscal and social costs?

 

Fifty years after President Johnson declared the War on Poverty “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities,” we’ve spent an inflation-adjusted $20.7 trillion on 80-plus welfare programs -- $916 billion, or $9,000 per beneficiary, in 2012.

 

Yet 2013 ended with rates of government dependency and chronic joblessness near 50-year highs. Meanwhile, though inflation-adjusted GDP-per-capita has more than doubled since 1969, men’s average annual earnings dropped 28 percent, according to Brookings.

 

Since 1960, the percentage of married Americans plunged from 72 percent to 51 percent, while the rate of unwed motherhood skyrocketed from 4 percent to 41 percent, causing 24 million boys to be raised in fatherless homes – ominous trends considering children of single mothers experience less economic mobility.

 

As the New York Times explained, the ensuing vicious cycle means less successful men “are less attractive as partners, so some women are choosing to raise children by themselves, in turn often producing sons who are less successful and attractive as partners.”

 

Two recent books, both “cries-de-coeur” in support of men, chronicle the male achievement gap and propose remedies – “The War Against Boys,” by American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, and “Men on Strike,” by psychologist Helen Smith.

 

Citing myriad studies, Sommers details how educational reforms and ideologies that deny gender differences have created hostile environments for rough-and-tumble boys, causing a serious academic achievement gap.

 

Out: structured, competitive, teacher-directed classrooms that best support boys’ learning; and outlets for natural rambunctiousness, including conflict-oriented play like cops and robbers. Last year, 7-year-old Coloradan Alex Smith was suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade at “bad guys.”


In: behavior-modifying drugs designed to make boys attentive and controlled.  

 

Distressingly, boy-enthralling, job-directed schools -- like Aviation High School in the Bronx, which specializes in teaching and graduating at-risk kids -- are under assault because females are under-represented. Sommers laments that “male-specific interventions” -- including masculine readings, single-sex learning opportunities, and teachers trained in boy-friendly pedagogy – “invites passionate and organized opposition” from feminist groups.

 

As young men disengage from school, alarming numbers are opting-out of post-secondary education, considered by Sommers the “passport to the American Dream.” Women disproportionately possess these passports, having earned post-secondary degrees in the following percentages: associate’s (62), bachelor’s (58), master’s (60), doctorates (52).

 

Expanding on Sommers’ argument, Smith taps into her counseling experience to explain that by opting-out of family life, risk-averse men are responding rationally to social institutions that offer fewer rewards and more costs.

 

The pendulum has swung too far, Smith argues, when male victims of statutory rape and paternity fraud are made liable for child support, or when collegiate men are assumed sexual predators before proven innocent (see the Duke Lacrosse case).

 

America’s young men aren’t “Breaking Bad” drug dealers, but they are suffering bad breaks in a society rife with misguided policies. The answer is not to “raise boys like we raise girls,” as Gloria Steinhem suggested, but to recognize that while the sexes are equal, they’re naturally different – and that’s beautiful.

 

Every human being arrives on earth with unique gifts, and our short life’s mission is to realize them. Shouldn’t society’s goal be to enable this process?

 

Think Again – isn’t closing the gender gap the true definition of feminism?

 

If You Like Your Freedom, You Can Keep It

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 13
Publish Date: 
Thu, 12/05/2013

 

In the waiting room of Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s radiation treatment center, I discovered that in the race of life, those running to stay on the track are among the most determined, hopeful, and courageous. They’re also grateful, for it’s in the sanctuary of sympathetic and expert care where cancer patients experience calm and clarity after the storm of diagnosis and decision-making.

 

As if living with cancer-induced anxiety weren’t enough, many Sloan-Kettering patients must Think Again about their treatment since the cancer center is among many prominent hospitals no longer “in network” for most Obamacare-compliant insurance plans.

 

Americans already have the world’s best health care system. The question is how to make it broadly accessible, especially to the most vulnerable.  Claiming a monopoly on moral and political virtue and disparaging as uncompassionate obstructionists those who opposed the 2,700-page Affordable Care Act, lawmakers drove its passage promising increased access, lower costs and, “if you like your doctors, you can keep them, period.”

 

Now it’s broken hearts and spirit -- not just broken promises, websites, and insurance systems -- that plague intrepid patients, to their providers’ frustration. Meanwhile, healthy Americans laboring under stagnant wages are recoiling from sticker and doc-shock, proving CS Lewis’ maxim that “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” 

 

“Pay more for less” isn’t a winning slogan, but it’s the truth. The collusion of government and insurance companies to limit competition and consumer choice has impaired Americans’ freedom to be value-oriented shoppers and imperiled our property and privacy rights.

 

Americans want patient-centered and patient-owned health care and an array of competitive choices to assure price stability, service quality, and access to all. But rather than consider targeted and less disruptive changes like insurance portability, tort reform, tax credits and high-risk pools, Obamacare proponents further straightjacketed the healthcare system with one-size-fits-all mandates, taxes, and micro-management by an inept bureaucracy.

 

Yet lawmakers won’t wear the straightjacket they designed for Americans. Senator Reid’s staff is exempted from Obamacare and, according to the Los Angeles Times, Congress and staffers enjoy “more generous benefits packages, VIP customer service from insurers and the same government-subsidized premiums they’ve always enjoyed.”

 

This is government over the people – not our founders’ vision of government of, by and for the people.  They wanted America to be the exception to human history’s rule where tyranny, bondage and stifled human potential defined life for the vast majority. While French revolutionaries were sticking dissenters’ heads on bayonets, America’s revolutionaries established self-government and enshrined popular consent and human equality – the idea that no one by nature can be the ruler of anyone else – in our founding documents.

 

To preserve individual freedom, they designed a government system that separated political powers and dispersed authority, pitting “ambition against ambition” to check political impulsiveness. To force consensual deliberations and thwart large mistakes like Obamacare, the Senate was to be the “necessary fence” against the “fickleness and passion” of the House where transient majorities rule.

 

But lawmakers more interested in advancing partisan agendas than assuring government’s legitimacy and durability have chipped away at the system that enabled American society to become the freest, most productive and most decent in human history. 

 

They’ve passed massive, lobbyist-written and unread laws on party-line votes; concentrated power in the Executive branch and the unaccountable administrative state; and most recently, activated the “Nuclear Option” in the Senate to eliminate the filibuster (a 60-vote threshold requiring consultation with the minority) on Presidential nominees – a two-century old tradition.

 

Ironically, Americans aren’t so polarized. Though politicians exploit wedge issues to foment divisions, we’re united in wanting to limit the size, power and cost of government. We know that to overcome our challenges, individual citizens must wrest decision-making authority away from Washington.

 

Fifty years ago, on the one-hundredth anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, President Kennedy was en route to Dallas where he was assassinated.  In commemorating these anniversaries, Americans recall why these leaders are revered – because they united us around shared values, summoning us to assure liberty’s survival for subsequent generations. 

 

Kennedy declared, “the cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it,” imploring us to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for our country.” Lincoln roused a fractured citizenry to finish the soldiers’ work so that “these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 

Exhausted by democracy’s follies, we should recall these words and heed their advice.

 

Think Again – rather than allow politicians to divide us, remember we’re all freedom-loving Americans eager to realize our full potential in the race of life.

High Noon Lessons For America's Lawmakers

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 12
Publish Date: 
Thu, 09/26/2013

 

With several political climaxes looming, it serves to recall “High Noon” starring Gary Cooper as Will Kane, the beleaguered marshal who single-handedly confronts paroled murderer Frank Miller and his gang. As civil society’s elected protector, Kane is a reluctant hero, abandoned by his cowering and self-interested townsfolk. Improbably victorious, he departs town, flinging his badge with contempt for the citizens who wouldn’t defend the rule of law on which their freedom, prosperity and security depend.

 

Though protagonists in our national Kabuki Theater claim to care about us, Think Again before allowing them to join Kane on the moral high ground. In verbal shootouts over Obamacare, the continuing resolution, the debt ceiling and Syria, our lawmen resemble Kane’s fair-weather constituents for whom self-interest trumps the common good. By failing to anticipate and resolve America’s imminent threats before they reach High Noon climaxes, politicians undermine America’s interests and squander their legitimacy. 

 

There’s a Kane-like resentment smoldering in far-flung territories for lawmakers who trade political favors for donations; pass incomprehensible, lobbyist-written, and unread laws; and grant ever-increasing authority to the intrusive and unelected bureaucracy.  Lawmakers may arrive in Washington believing it’s a cesspool, but after harnessing governmental power and dispensing billions, they discover it’s a hot tub made inviting by the collusion of big government, big business and big special interests.

 

Yet while Washington booms, Americans endure depressed wages, economic stagnation, and high unemployment. To stimulate the sluggish economy, the Federal Reserve is continuing it’s near-zero interest-rate policy, cushioning the accounts of stock-market investors and bankers, while crushing the financial plans of ordinary Americans, imperiling retirement savings, and exacerbating income-inequality.   

 

Though Washington manufactures little beyond economically injurious legislation, regulations, and bills for taxpayers to fund, it enjoys the nation’s highest median household income, up 23 percent since 2000, compared to a 7 percent decline nationally.  That’s because federal spending ($3.5 trillion) now absorbs nearly one-quarter of the economy, up from 18 percent ($1.76 trillion) in 2000, causing a tripling of the national debt – a growth rate the Congressional Budget Office says is unsustainable. Furthermore, with unfunded liabilities exceeding $75 trillion and without reforms, Social Security and Medicare won’t exist for younger Americans.

 

Given this fiscal picture, and with tax revenues hitting a record high, can we trust politicians like Nancy Pelosi who now assert “the cupboard is bare; there’s no more cuts to make?” How can lawmakers claim to be for hardworking families and younger Americans without addressing the unsustainability of our growing debt and entitlement obligations, knowing these taxpayers must pay the bills?

 

Lawmakers’ rank hypocrisy and lawlessness were exposed this month when the White House agreed to grant Congress and its staffers a special exemption from Obamacare – the 2,700-page law they imposed on the citizenry – by continuing special taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies. This Washington self-dealing comes after granting over 2,000 waivers to political allies and illegally suspending major parts of the law, including the employer mandate and subsidy verification requirements -- fiats that invite rampant fraud at taxpayer expense.

 

So concerned with the law’s unintended consequences, the AFL-CIO declared it “will lead to the destruction of the 40-hour work week” while devastating “the health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.” As the New York Times reported last week, "having an insurance card does not guarantee access to specialists or other providers." Furthermore, as businesses skirt Obamacare’s expensive provisions by eliminating jobs and reducing hours, what difference does coverage for pre-existing conditions and 25-year old children make to those who lose their plans and doctors?

 

You know something's wrong with a healthcare law that results in fewer doctors, nurses, and hospital beds, but more IRS enforcers. And for those who insist the government stay out of your bedroom, steel yourselves to answer intrusive questions about your private life for data mining purposes -- or pay hefty fines.

 

As the country churns from Obamacare’s impacts, the clock approaches High Noon on budget and debt ceiling decisions to which escalating health care costs are central. Yet, the President declared Washington a negotiation-free zone, a curiosity since real outlaws like Russia’s Putin and Syria’s Assad are now negotiating partners.

 

Will President Rouhani of Iran, the planet’s largest exporter of terrorism, be next? Assad may now avoid using chemical weapons, but how many more innocents will die conventionally because two-years of American calls for Assad’s ouster -- and other saber rattling -- were empty cowboy rhetoric? 

 

With strategic planning and leadership, these policy cauldrons have solutions, though not when elected officials scurry from their moral duties, like High Noon’s townspeople.  There are scores of courageous Marshal Kane's in every town across America, except the one where the nation needs them most.

 

Think Again – wouldn’t you rally around this kind of leadership to avoid devolving into the Divided States of America?

 

 

Injustice Isn't "Justice for Trayvon"

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 13
Publish Date: 
Thu, 07/18/2013

 

 

“Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy,” remarked F. Scott Fitzgerald, as if alluding to the fatal confrontation between George Zimmerman, the watch guard of a beleaguered and oft-burglarized neighborhood, and the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who President Obama said would look like his son, if he had one.

 

To prevent this painful case from jeopardizing social cohesion, Americans must Think Again before lining up behind their preferred tragic-hero, like rabid fans of opposing sports teams. “All the world’s a stage,” and on the rainy night of their deadly clash, neither Martin nor Zimmerman followed a heroic script. “Merely players” in a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, they each displayed impulsiveness and bad judgment, sealing a heartbreaking fate.

 

It’s a fate consuming African-American men aged 15 to 34 years, and murder – 90 percent of which is black-on-black – is its number one cause. Though blacks represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 54 percent of U.S. murders between 1976 and 2005, the majority in cities with black mayors and police chiefs. In historical perspective, the Children’s Defense Fund reported that since 1979, 44,038 black children were murdered, or 13 times more than all the black people killed by lynching between 1882 and 1968.

 

These startling statistics garner little attention, yet Martin’s killing sustains saturation coverage, activating divisions not seen since Rodney King. “Justice for Trayvon” campaigners like Rev. Al Sharpton exclaimed, “we’re tired of going to jail for nothing and others going home for something,” while Zimmerman backers quipped, “if the head is split, you must acquit” -- apparently a key argument for jurors who found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter because prosecutors couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman didn’t act in self-defense.

 

Martin sympathizers who don’t accept the difference between not guilty and innocent believe that if Martin were white, jurors would have found Zimmerman guilty. Zimmerman backers maintain that were he black, prosecutors wouldn’t have been pressured to charge him, to which Rep. Charlie Rangel countered that if Zimmerman were black, the police “would have beat him to death.”

 

Conjecture notwithstanding and before outside intervention, law enforcement officials believed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Zimmerman for murder. Legal experts concurred, including Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz who called it “a classic case of self-defense…. with reasonable doubt written all over it.”

 

Nobody knows for certain who struck the first blow or called for help during the lethal struggle. Trial evidence suggested Martin was atop Zimmerman, banging his head against concrete, when he was shot. But like any “he-said, he-said” dispute, without instant replay or Martin’s testimony, no one knows what actually happened.

 

Nevertheless, ratings-hungry media and ideologues discuss the tragedy as if they were there, inflaming passions and prejudicing Americans. They’ve transformed the tragedy into a hate-crime, as if 14-year-old Emmett Till -- whose horrifying 1955 lynching and murder went unsolved -- encountered Bull Connor, the notoriously bigoted and violent Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner.

 

Spinning a black and white morality tale -- like the Duke lacrosse faux-rape case, the Tawahna Brawley hoax, and Paula Deen’s debacle -- the media slant the news to fit their narrative. Depicted in 5-year-old photos, Martin is youthful innocence embodied, not the school-suspended, pot-smoking teen. Zimmerman, whose mother is Peruvian, is “white Hispanic,” an absurdity akin to calling Obama “white African-American.” Poisoning public opinion further, NBC doctored Zimmerman’s 911 call, portraying him as racist.

 

Upset by the verdict, the “Justice for Trayvon” mob insist the Justice Department charge Zimmerman with civil rights violations even though an FBI investigation confirmed there’s no evidence Zimmerman was driven by racial animus. If there is an investigation, Dershowitz believes “it ought to be of [Special] Prosecutor Corey… who violated Zimmerman’s civil rights” and whose “conduct bordered on criminal.”

 

Rather than uphold her duty to safeguard the rights of all citizens – even the accused -- Corey sidestepped the customary Grand Jury investigation, filing a false affidavit that excluded exculpatory evidence to obtain a second-degree “depraved mind” murder charge. After she hindered defense lawyers’ access to evidence, a whistleblower exposed her misconduct, resulting in his firing.

 

To the “Justice for Trayvon” mob, these injustices appear not to matter. More interested in vengeance, their prescriptions would hurt – not cure – what ails African-Americans. By advocating unequal application of the law and selective civil rights, today’s activists resemble their predecessors’ opponents, not the courageous leaders whose moral claims touched America’s conscience.

 

In 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed for protesting Connor’s unjust tactics. Writing from his Birmingham cell, King spoke for all Americans, regardless of hyphenated ethnicity: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 

 

King’s moral and unifying voice prompted President Kennedy to declare, “Race has no place in American life or law,” a principle from which we mustn’t retreat.

 

Think Again – wouldn’t that be the best way to deliver “Justice for Trayvon?”

 


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