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The official blog of the National Center for Public Policy Research, covering news, current events and public policy from a conservative, free-market and pro-Constitution perspective.

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Trump's Newest Executive Order Shows He Appreciates Law Enforcement

Project 21 member Council Nedd, who is also a Pennsylvania State Constable and an Archbishop, says President Trump’s newest executive order shows he appreciates law enforcement officers.

“I think it’s incredibly telling about where President Trump’s heart is on this particular issue, that one of his first acts was to voice public support and put out an executive order in support of law enforcement,” said Nedd this morning on the Preston Scott Morning Show on WFLA-AM, Tallahassee.

Nedd also discussed his experience with illegal immigrants since he’s become a constable, how President Obama divided Americans on issues of race, and how everyone can fight stereotypes in their day-to-day lives.

Listen to Nedd’s entire appearance below:


Does the Government Think You Can Handle the Truth?

Can you trust the government to tell you the truth about smoking?  Jeff Stier, the Director of the Risk Analysis Division at the National Center for Public Policy Research, says a new Department of Defense anti-smoking program - - won’t admit that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes.

On Vicki McKenna’s 1310 WIBA radio show today, Stier and McKenna also discussed a report that some patients are being turned down for surgery because they are smokers. 

Here is Stier’s appearance in full:


Horace Cooper Ridicules Idea that Trump Immigration Order is 'Muslim Ban'

Horace Cooper, co-chair of the Project 21 black leadership network and legal fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, appeared today on “Wake Up!” with Steve Curtis on KLZ 560 AM to discuss the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ treatment of President Trump’s immigration executive order.

A few notable quotes from Horace:

On the Ninth Circuit: “There’s a reason that many times people refer to that particular circuit as the ‘Ninth Circus.’  It is unbelievable how many times the United States Supreme Court ends up having to overturn the Ninth Circuit. Their approach seems not to be so much grounded in what the LAW says about a particular issue, but in many instances, what is the most fair way for us to exercise equity power.”

On whether President Trump’s immigration executive order was a ‘Muslim ban’: “If you look at the specifics of the executive order, over 80% of all Muslim nations are completely unaffected as a result of this executive order.  It’s a curious ‘Muslim ban’ in that it allows the overwhelming majority of Muslims to continue entering. The reality is that the nations that have been identified were nations that the outgoing Administration had indicated were problematic nations.”

On why President Trump may not want to appeal the 9th Circuit decision to SCOTUS: “The apprehension that I believe the Justice Department has is that we are not confident that if this got to the Supreme Court before July of this year, that the present makeup of the Court would be open to following just the law, and partisanship might break out.”

On how he would deal with the existing executive order: “I would rewrite the executive order so that it just omitted… several of the issues that the media has identified as most problematic.  (And by the way, just because the media identifies something as problematic has nothing to do with whether or not it is legal.) And what that would do is it would allow this underlying first case to continue. If you expressly overrule the existing executive order, then that case is dismissed.  I believe it would be of value to the American people, to the legal system generally, for us to get this decision overturned because it is THAT lawless.”

Listen to Horace’s full interview below.


NOAA Created Fake News by Manipulating Climate Data

On “The Vicki McKenna Show,” broadcast February 16 on 1310 WIBA Madison, National Center for Public Policy Research fellow Bonner Cohen revealed how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used taxpayer money to knowingly falsify climate data in order to make climate change seem worse than it is.

“NOAA was putting out fake news before fake news became fashionable,” noted Cohen.

Listen to Cohen’s radio appearance in full below:


Why Would Taiwan Ban E-cigarettes?

The body of scientific evidence keeps getting more robust. E-cigarettes are dramatically less harmful than cigarettes, they are helping smokers quit, and are not a gateway to smoking.

Yet ideological opposition persists, and is influencing governments around the world. Last month, the government of Taiwan proposed an all out ban on e-cigarettes as part of their revision to their Tobacco Hazards Prevention and Control Act.


Below, are the comments that the Risk Analysis Division submitted to the Health Promotion Administration at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

I am the director of the Risk Analysis Division at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C. As a expert on public health policy with a particular focus on tobacco policy, I share the government’s interest in taking steps to reduce the harms caused by smoking cigarettes. For this reason, I would like to share a perspective that may not have been fully considered when the proposed seven-point revision to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act was first written.

My concerns are focused on the proposed ban of e-cigarettes and other alternatives to cigarette smoking. I believe the ban on these lower risk products will have the unintended consequence of doing the opposite of what the government hopes to achieve- reducing the harms caused by smoking.

I have provided testimony on these issues before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the White House and lawmakers both at the federal and local levels. I have found that when forward-thinking policy-makers take the time to understand the issues, they realize the benefits of a regulatory approach which allows adult smokers to consider these products as a much lower risk alternative to smoking.

The evidence is increasingly clear: e-cigarettes and emerging non-combustible tobacco products are dramatically less harmful than cigarette smoking and have helped people around the world quit smoking. Without access to these choices, people who would have used these products to quit smoking are left with a terrible choice: “quit or die.”

Cigarettes are uniquely harmful because combustion of tobacco creates harmful chemicals that are responsible for almost all of the harms caused by tobacco and nicotine products. In fact, nicotine is medically approved throughout the world to help smokers quit. Unfortunately, these medicinal products have not been effective for most smokers.

Non-combustible products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco can deliver nicotine, but do not deliver the dangerous chemicals produced by combustion.

In the largest government report ever produced on the issue, Public Health England concluded that “that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.”

In particular, the tobacco control experts who wrote the report found that “the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking.” The report also found that “there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers.”


Further, the esteemed Royal College of Physicians now recommends that doctors “promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking.” With such advice, it’s no surprise that smoking rates in the UK are declining as more smokers switch to these dramatically lower risk products.



New products coming to the market which heat, rather than burn tobacco are also promising. The heat releases nicotine aerosol, but not the chemicals of combustion. The evidence from Japan suggests these products appeal to many smokers who want the nicotine, as well as the smoking behavior, but not the smoking-related diseases.

In order to properly protect public health, it is imperative that policy-makers are able to distinguish nicotine from smoking. Without a full understanding of the science, it is easy to put all nicotine products in the same category as cigarettes, since for too long, cigarette smoking has been the most common way people consumed nicotine.  This is tragic because we’ve known for a long time that people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar.  

The arrival of products which deliver nicotine without the tar represents perhaps the most exciting development in the campaign to help addicted smokers quit. Policies should encourage switching, especially for smokers who haven’t been able to quit using other approaches.

I would be happy to provide any additional information that would help you as you continue to learn more about the issue. You may reach me at



"Greatest Constitutional Mind" Horace Cooper Dissects Ninth Circuit Court Decision

On his Newsmax TV show, host Jack Burkman introduced National Center legal fellow Horace Cooper as “the man I think is America’s greatest constitutional mind” and “my next pick for AG or the Supreme Court.”

In this clip, broadcast on February 11, 2017, Burkman asks Cooper to dissect the 9th Circuit Court’s recent decision about President Trump’s executive order on immigration.


UC-Berkeley Riots: Free Speech, Not Violence, Protected by the Constitution

When Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to give a speech at University of California-Berkeley, riots broke out that caused more than $100,000 worth of damage. Then the school newspaper published five essays supporting the violence. Are these riots protected under free speech? Which is protected under the Constitution, potentially offensive speech or violent demonstrations?

Horace Cooper, legal fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and co-chair of Project 21, appeared on the Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor” February 10.  He referred to a famous sit-in in civil rights history, then flipped it on its head:

“If five people go to a Woolworths restaurant to peaceably demonstrate that they believe that they have a right to be there, the rhetoric that was demonstrated in these op-eds and the behavior that we saw at Berkeley means that it would have been ok for masked intruders to go to Woolworths to beat the hell out of them because they don’t agree with what they’re standing for. The first Amendment’s purpose is for us to have a civil disagreement, to bring the strong argument, not violence… And if they are this bright, then this is dangerous, a sign of where we’re headed.”

Later Cooper again said that violence is not justified when someone disagrees with someone’s message, refuting that “something someone is going to say gives me a heckler’s veto not just to interject myself, but to burn the place down, to threaten and assault and attack people.”

“What if this had been a gay pride event on the campus,” Cooper continued, “and some individuals decided to put masks on and they were going to shut this down because they didn’t agree and they were going to do it with violence? This is unacceptable.”

Cooper’s full appearance can be seen below:


President Trump Already Better Than President Obama Regarding Terrorism, Says Project 21's Nedd

Project 21’s Council Nedd II discussed President Trump’s immigration executive order as part of a townhall panel on the Fox News Channel program “The First 100 Days” on February 3, 2017.

“We had eight years of an Obama Administration, who was pretending that there were zero problems with regard to Islamic terrorism, problems in the Middle East; he completely turned a blind eye to it,” said Nedd.

“Now people might have some issues with the nuances… regarding President Trump’s new immigration policy,” he continued, “but at least he’s actually trying to do something.”

You can watch Nedd’s comments in the video below, and watch the entire program here.


Corporations That Supported ObamaCare Need to Now Help President Trump Repeal and Replace

Will Walgreens and other corporations that formerly backed ObamaCare now reform their ways and help President Trump with his health care reform initiatives?

One J.D. discussed it with another J.D. on “Newsmax Prime” on January 27, 2017, as former Rep. J.D. Hayworth interviewed Justin Danhof, director of the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

First Danhof explained the purpose of the Free Enterprise Project:

“When you look at the landscape of corporate America, what we often see is large corporations teaming up with the federal government and kind of forming this very big symbiotic relationship. And in this circle, what’s missing is very often the voice of the American people. The American people get crowded out; their voice isn’t heard.  When you have the most powerful government in the history of the world teaming up with large corporations, they’re setting the rules.”

Danhof continued, “What we do is we go in and we try and break that symbiotic wedge and be a voice for the American people, a voice for liberty, a voice for the Constitution, a voice for freedom.”

“There is no greater example of the power of big corporations in the federal government to team up and crowd out the American people than with ObamaCare.  The pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies - they weren’t on the opposite side of ObamaCare; they were actually helping to craft ObamaCare.”

“And who got the taxpayer bailouts from Obamacare? The large health insurers. Who got exemptions from the Obamacare mandates?  It wasn’t the American people; it was politically-connected corporations and unions that got all of the waivers from certain ObamaCare mandates. Again, the American people’s voice wasn’t being heard.”

“During the Obama Administration, we tried to hold the feet to the fire of the corporations that promoted and supported ObamaCare.  And one of those corporations was in fact Walgreens. Walgreens promoted ObamaCare to customers while at the same time its own employees were dropped from their private healthcare plans because of some of the high compliance costs related to ObamaCare.”

What I wanted to do at the Walgreens shareholder meeting yesterday was ask a very simple question: ObamaCare is going to be repealed and replaced.  You supported that law.  As a company, you promoted that law.  A lot of harm befell millions of Americans. If they liked their doctor they couldn’t keep their doctor; if they liked their health plan they couldn’t keep their health plan.”

“President Obama and his team deserve plenty of the blame, but they’re gone now.  These corporations are still here, so I wanted to hear from them, basically on behalf of the American people, whether they’re going to reform their ways, seek forgiveness from the American people in a sense, and work with the Trump Administration on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.”

So what’s next?  “We’re going to follow up” with Walgreens leadership, said Danhof.  ”He wasn’t specific and we need specifics. President Trump and his team want to move fast to repeal and replace ObamaCare. We’ve got the political will in DC that we haven’t had in a very long time for reform that can actually help the American people. And corporations that teamed up to support ObamaCare, they now need to get in on the fix of the problem that they helped create.”

Danhof’s appearance can be seen in full below.


Why I Marched

I have always been pro-life, and I grew up in the D.C. suburbs.  Yet until last week, I had never attended the March for Life.  Why did I go this year?  Two important reasons:

1.  I wanted a place where I felt I belonged. Though several of my pro-life colleagues attended the Women’s March on Washington the week before, despite having their sponsorships revoked, I believed that the vast majority of Women’s March participants would despise my participation.  That’s a shame, and a strange strategy.  If liberal feminists really want to make electoral gains in four years, it doesn’t make sense to immediately tell half of American women that they can’t be part of their clique because abortion opposition doesn’t meet their litmus test for being a feminist.

2.  I wanted my children to attend the March for Life, and due to the end of the marking period, my kids were off school last Friday.  A full day in D.C. with a double stroller and complaining kids was difficult, to be sure, but I am so glad they came with me.

My oldest child is nine, and due to my work with my local pregnancy resource center, we have already had many conversations about abortion, the difficult choices facing women in crisis, and why it is important to stand for life.  I wanted her to be witness to the March.

My second child is seven and on the autism spectrum.  He had no idea what the March was about, but it was important for me to have him be a living testimony to the value of ALL human life.  About 2/3 of American women choose to have an abortion after learning their child may have Down’s Syndrome.  In Denmark, that number is 98%, and many Danish people celebrate that Down’s Syndrome is thus being eradicated from their society — through abortion, mind you, not through true medical advances.  Someday there may be a prenatal test for autism, and that will no doubt cause many autistic children to never have a chance at life.  Let me tell you, friends, parenting an autistic child can be difficult — but it can also be incredibly rewarding.  My son’s life is intrinsicly and incredibly valuable, and I marched to proclaim that to the world. 


Do you know who else marched?  Let me show you in pictures. 

1.  A LOT of young people!  And they were from all over the country!

This group is from the Diocese of Springfield, IL

This group is from the Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, OH

This group is from Hillsdale College, Michigan.


2.  Some segments of American society that you wouldn’t automatically connect with the pro-life movement!

It was a peaceful, supportive march.  Instead of being jeered and harrassed by fellow women at the Women’s March, I encountered thoughtful, considerate people who helped me with my stroller and cheered for each other.  I look forward to attending again in the future, and hope many of you will join me to stand for life.


Shining a Light on Midnight Regulations

Much has been made about the unprecedented number of Obama Administration “midnight regulations,” those rules issued between Election Day and the Trump inauguration.

The Obama administration issued an estimated $157 billion worth of midnight regulations, according to the American Action Forum, headed by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office.

And that doesn’t include dictates that circumvented the formal rule-making process.

Certainly, it is within a president’s power to issue midnight orders and regulations until the last day of his term. Presidents from both parties have historically ramped up regulations as lame ducks.

But, especially for controversial policies published in not only the final months and weeks, but days and hours, of an administration, extra scrutiny is not only justified, but urgently needed.

 On January 19th, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the use of traditional, lead-containing ammunition and fishing tackle on all lands and waters subject to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service control. The ban didn’t go through the rule-making process, but was rather an order by an agency, so it wasn’t subject to the review and comment period required by law. Nonetheless, agencies frequently consult with those who would be most effected, in an effort to narrowly tailor the approach to meet the policy objective.

As was often the case in the Obama administration, those interests weren’t consulted.

 “This directive is irresponsible and driven not out of sound science but unchecked politics,” said Lawrence Keane, of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries. 

“The timing alone is suspect,” according to Keane. “This directive was published without dialogue with industry, sportsmen and conservationists. The next director should immediately rescind this, and instead create policy based upon scientific evidence of population impacts with regard to the use of traditional ammunition.”

Industry isn’t the only group up in arms. Nick Wiley, president of The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, which represents local government agencies, stated, “This action flies squarely in the face of a long and constructive tradition of states working in partnership with the Service to effectively manage fish and wildlife resources.” 

Wiley, whose group speaks for government agencies in even the bluest of states, said “The association views this order as a breach of trust and deeply disappointing given that it was a complete surprise and there was no current dialogue or input from fish and wildlife agencies prior to issuance.”

Surprise was the order of the day throughout mid-January. One of the Obama administration’s final regulations was rushed out the door on January 9, in the form of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) rule creating standards for occupational exposure to beryllium. 

Rules on beryllium exposure have been under consideration since 1975, but Republican and Democratic administrations alike didn’t act, despite pressure from activist groups who rarely believe in any safe level of chemical exposure, no matter the science.  

Back in 2015, OSHA announced a proposed rule on the issue, giving stakeholders from every perspective adequate time to review and analyze the data and policy goals of the proposed rule.  

The proposed rule did not apply to beryllium in construction and maritime use, presumably because only trace amounts of beryllium are present, and those industries are already subject to stringent worker protections.

But when the final rule was published on January 9th, OSHA announced that it had dramatically cut allowable exposure levels across the board, much more than was in the proposed rule. It also completely changed course on the scope of the rule, deciding for the first time to include the abrasive blasting industry under the beryllium regulations.

It’s akin to an agency spending decades considering regulations on transportation, and only after publishing a proposed rule on airplanes, at the last minute, and without notice or opportunity for comment, it tightens the rules and, oh, also applies them to cars.

Central to the rule-making process is the idea that the public, including stakeholders, can review the record and analyze the data and analysis behind a proposed rule. But that wasn’t the case for the construction and maritime industry, which had been exempted from the proposed rule, for good reason. Beryllium in abrasive blasting is fundamentally different from beryllium exposure in other occupational settings, and is subject to entirely different regulations already in place.

In fact, OSHA’s justification for the overhauled version of the rule was never shared with the public, even when the revision was made public in the last day of the Obama administration.

For instance, OSHA’s assertion that the rule “will save 94 lives from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year, once the effects of the rule are fully realized” is completely undocumented in the OSHA announcement of the final rule.

The OSHA regulation was an exclamation point on President Obama’s farcical claim that his administration would be the most transparent in history.

Our system provides a wide range of checks against the very type of rushed regulatory oversteps for which the Obama administration’s waning days will be remembered. 

First and foremost, elections have consequences. Certainly, Trump administration agencies could quickly reverse certain policies, such as the ammunition rule, which was not part of a formal rule-making. But for formal regulations, the process of unwinding them through new rule-makings, would be a time-consuming, costly, and a potentially unnecessary process.  

The rarely used Congressional Review Act (CRA), signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, was established for just circumstances like those we now face. The law allows a simple majority of Congress to  “disapprove” of new rules. But this check has a balance: it has to be signed by the president. And presidents don’t like being overturned. That’s where electoral consequences come in. 

As James Gattuso, the senior research fellow in regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation and his colleague Daren Bakst wrote on Dec, 26, 2016, “In 2017, however, the stars are aligned for the CRA to play a much greater role.”   

Despite major rifts between congressional Republicans and the new Republican president, the need to roll back, in toto, midnight regulations, is something that should unite them. And while their votes aren’t practically required, many Democrats, especially those facing re-election, are likely to agree.


What Should the Feds Do About the Chicago 'Carnage'?

Can President Donald Trump really “send in the Feds” to deal with the skyrocketing murder and crime rates in Chicago?

Horace Cooper, legal fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and co-chair of Project 21, appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” on 1/24/17 to explain how President Trump can legally intervene in Chicago.

“Absolutely the Feds can do this,” Cooper began. “There has been a wholesale failure on the part of the state and local community to address this really serious problem. I don’t know another word besides ‘carnage’ to describe the devastation that’s been taking place.”

So how can President Trump legally intervene in Chicago without stepping on state and local authority?

“He sends a Justice Department directive that says to the U.S. attorneys in that jurisdiction, in Cook County, that they are going to work directly with the prosecutors. They are going to have the FBI and local law enforcement work together, and they’re going to pick which cases.. that they’re going to prosecute directly. This doesn’t require a change in law, this simply requires will.

“In any bank robbery case the Feds are able to step in, in any kidnapping case they’re allowed to step in,” said Cooper, referring to federal crimes. Local murder isn’t a federal crime, “so what you do… - and we’re seeing these numbers overwhelmingly in Chicago - you say, ‘if we find an instance when you’re a felon and you’re in possession of a firearm, you’ve now got a federal beef. We’re going to take those prosecution cases.’”

Cooper also believes those convicted should be sent to federal prisons, probably not even in Illinois, since state and local courts and prisons have been quick to release convicted criminals.

There was immediate Twitter buzz about Horace’s appearance.  One response addressed President Trump directly:

Watch Cooper’s entire appearance below.


Repeal the Antiquities Act of 1906

RJ SmithR.J. Smith

As people in Utah and Nevada (and other places!) can tell you, it's too bad Congress is so bad at taking advice.

With President Obama's new designations of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, millions more acres of land are now being locked up by the federal government. This is only possible because Congress never repealed or reformed the 1906 Antiquities Act after Presidents of both parties started misusing it.

Congress could have. At the very least, it could have tried -- sent a bill to the Preisdent's desk and taken the debate to the American people.

But no.

In this paper, issued in September 2016, National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith explains what the Antiquities Act was designed to do and why it matters greatly that it is now being misused. He explains in clear English how Congress can fix it, and why it is important that it do so immediately.

And although the paper does not cover the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, as they had yet to be designated, any new legislation must give future Presidents the clear authority to remove or trim past designations such as these.

The Antiquities Act was not intended to permit the federal government to control large parts of the country. Read R.J.'s paper and get the truth the Obama White House isn't telling you.


Bears Ears and Gold Butte National Monument Designations: Statement by Bonner Cohen

The following is a statement by Bonner Cohen, Ph. D., senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, on the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada by President Obama:

President Obama has yet again shown his disdain for Congress, the rule of law, and America's future energy development by unilaterally designating 1.655 million acres of federal land in the West as national monuments. By using the 1906 Antiquities Act, which was enacted to protect cultural sites of Native Americans, as an instrument of environmental policy, Obama has found a cynical way to block Americans' access to valuable natural resources. Monument designations are so restrictive that energy development within their boundaries is all but impossible. They are de facto wilderness designations. But under the Wilderness Act of 1963, Congress must approve such designations.

It is incumbent upon the incoming Trump administration to put an end to this abuse of executive power. President Trump should revoke the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. This will set up a titanic legal battle over the power of a president to revoke a monument designation of a previous administration, a fight that will ultimately be decided in the Supreme Court.

Dr. Cohen and National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith issued two press releases this past fall about President Obama's overuse of the Antiquities Act, available here and here.


Unto You Is Born This Day

Luke 2: 1-14

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

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And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Frustrated by Political Polarization and Division? Take a Lesson from History, and Begin the World Over Again

Thrilled or concerned about the incoming changes in Washington? Worried that the amount of political divisiveness in our country today is, except for the actual Civil War, unprecedented?

Joe Roche has a reminder for all of you – perhaps especially those of you with concerns on either point – that despite what Mrs. Obama says, there is reason for hope. Joe demonstrates with examples from our history that our present divisiveness is actually less than that endured in earlier eras and by some of the most revered names in our history. And he also has encouragement for those who believe the incoming Administration may not share their views, reminding them of a major historical figure who thought the same about a prominent president of his own era, and who nonetheless, because he didn't give up, ended up having a substantial impact upon the course of this nation.

As Joe has not written for this blog recently, a re-introduction may be in order. In the 13th years since this blog's debut, and very many worthy posts from many talented and knowledgable writers we are lucky to have, perhaps none of its writers have had a greater impact in its pages than Joe Roche. His posts here include what I believe is the first blog post ever quoted by a presidential nominee in his or her convention acceptance address (or maybe publicly by a president in any context, I don't actually know) and, as far as I know, the first blog post to be quoted in a Smithsonian Museum exhibit. And, of course, Joe's posts have been quoted in hundreds of newspapers and the media, as many other worthy bloggers have done.

This post heralds a return to our pages by Joe after a considerable absence spent in various endeavors in defense of our country, and is a refreshing message of dedication to our values that is especially timely during Christmas and Hanukkah.

Welcome back, Joe! And now, for his post...

Frustrated by Political Polarization and Division? Take a Lesson from History, and Begin the World Over Again

by Joe Roche

When Henry Clay faced crushing defeat in troubling campaigns for the presidency of the United States, he always turned from those defeats to upholding the quivering pillars of the Republic. That was his main purpose - defending & saving the Republic - so that even when the atrocities of Andrew Jackson were victorious over the Nation, it was Clay who saved the Republic over and over again. In the end Clay was given the greatest honors by the American people, and his legacies today are lasting and permanent, whereas Jackson's are completely gone, and Jackson is actually ridiculed in memory (for example, by being placed on the $20 bill - an ironic disgrace to Jackson's entire Bank War campaign, with Roger Taney as his Treasury Secretary).

Clay was known as Scaevola, for the Roman hero memorialized for dedication to duty regardless of being ostracized and alone in defeat. "I had rather be right than be President," Clay proclaimed in the face of his last, defeated, effort to become president. The Nation honored him by placing his body in state in the Capitol, the first time any American had been so honored - not even a president had been so honored previously.

The presidential campaigns of 1824, 1828 and 1832 were especially brutal, with vicious lies and slander on all sides. It was, in fact, worse than what we just saw in this campaign, and the wife of his nemesis, Andrew Jackson, died because of the attacks on her in the campaign. Is Melania Trump or any Clinton dying now? Yet, a mere four months after the 1832 defeat, in which Jackson had emerged supreme, violating laws, ignoring the Supreme Court, and doing all sorts of tyrant-like things that were unconstitutional, it was Clay who saved the nation over the Nullification Crisis with the Compromise Tariff of 1833.

Abraham Lincoln would speak of Clay as being the foundation for his own "mystic chords of memory" girding conviction in the Union.

Joe Roche and Senator Mitch McConnellJoe Roche with Senator McConnell of Henry Clay's home state

It is notable that, starting from before the revolution of the 1770s all the way to the start of the Progressive Era more than a century later, the American people championed and celebrated DEFENSE attorneys, not prosecutors, as we obsess over today! That says a lot about how protective we were for our freedoms back then, but have now turned to just seeking protection instead. John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and even Abraham Lincoln are examples of defense attorneys. So too was Clay. And in the face of Jackson's monstrous abuses and violations of the law, Clay used his legal defense attorney skills to pursue the causes of liberty, justice, and integrity in the law. In contrast, today "defense attorneys" has almost a negative connotation. What a huge flip we have taken from our founding passions!

Though Jackson and his proteges would dominate for decades, hold the White House most of the time until Lincoln, and dominate many elections for decades, Clay would remain like Scaevola, always dedicated to the ideals, mission, and purpose of the Republic. The great Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall heroically led the Supreme Court through most of its most seminal rulings creating the Republic and defining the Constitution, so much so that while James Madison was called the architect of the Constitution, John Marshall has been known as the definer of the Constitution, the one who really stood-up the principles of the American Republic from mere hopes to actual pillars of institutions. As a consequence of Marshall's focus to erect a lasting union and Republic, his last years were focused on issuing a series of rulings meant to prevent the Jacksonian Democrats from destroying the republic.

This was an abusive, slanderous, and polarizing time, much more so than we see today. Americans forget their own history at their peril when they deceive themselves into thinking things are unprecedentedly bad today. Not so. There is no excuse for giving up now. For example, so polarized was the nation during the entire presidency of John Quincy Adams, the son of a Founding Father who had perhaps the most brilliance and thorough preparations for office of any president in American history, that Congress, dominated by Jacksonian Democrats, refused to work with him on anything, and completely defeated all of his policies, making his a failed presidency.

Jackson's apex of unconstitutional abuses reached several high moments, such as during the Bank War, hailed by his demagogic followers as "the Second Declaration of Independence," while throwing the nation into an unending series of financial panics. Jackson, whose only claim to the presidency was his noble victory in the Battle of New Orleans over a decade earlier (there was nothing to his campaign agenda, unlike the candidates of our just completed election), focused on reversing many of Marshall's key rulings, such as McCulloch v Maryland, which established the Necessary and Proper Clause, and also Marbury v Madison, which established Judicial Review. McCulloch, in fact, was only saved from being overturned by the untimely death of the Jacksonian president William Henry Harrison in 1841. Its reversal would have devastated many of the epic legislative achievements of Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, New Deal, Civil Rights, and the Reagan Revolution. Jackson himself had ignored Marshall's rulings blatantly, such as Worcester v Georgia, when Jackson ordered the unconstitutional and executive power abuses of the Cherokee Indian Removal, resulting in the sad bloody scar on American history of the Trail of Tears. Using a line that would be repeated in the 20th Century by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as he was crushing Eastern Europe, disdaining Winston Churchill's appeals by flaunting the lack of military divisions controlled by the Pope, Jackson would simply say in regard to violating Marshall's Supreme Court rulings, "now let him enforce it!"

Another Jacksonian follower, Martin Van Buren, later would pack the courts so as to politically bend and shape rulings his way. No, FDR wasn't the first to try this with court-packing during the New Deal era. In fact, most of the abuses we imagine as unprecedented today were begun during this era, such as when states were gerrymandered specifically to remove Federalists from Congress in Virginia! And so politicized were the courts, for example, that the first SIX Supreme Court Chief Justices were all chosen for political partisanship and advocacy, a few of whom either held or ran for political offices while they were on the Supreme Court, including one (Oliver Ellsworth) who was simultaneously a candidate for president! Yes, this includes George Washington's first Chief Justice, who ran for New York governor while presiding over cases in the Supreme Court. Where the myth comes from that the Founding Fathers never allowed politicization of the courts to happen is simply a lack of historical awareness. It's not that there isn't merit to this ideal, but it is certainly not rooted in this Nation's founding.

Nonetheless, Clay also said that, sometimes in order to maturely and effectively move on from past abuses and slanderous times, it is necessary to throw "a veil over the past for the sake of the future." This was necessary for Lincoln and the Reconstruction age when the legacies of Marshall had to be resurrected from Jackson's decades of attacks. Marshall, in fact, had been relegated to obscurity, the famous landmark rulings we know today so well had been ignored and were basically unknown to the nation for many decades after Jackson until Lincoln's followers picked up on Clay's work, and brought back Marshall's legacy in order to promote freedom, voting rights, the end of slavery, and later, with women's suffrage, and many other key American freedom movements.

Were Clay to have given up during the many times he was politically defeated by Jacksonian Democrats and their law-breaking abuses, it would have been impossible for Lincoln, let alone Martin Luther King, or even Sandra Day O'Connor, to have found firm foundations for their causes by citing John Marshall's Supreme Court. The late Antonin Scalia, according to Lee Liberman Otis, one of his law clerks, saw Marshall's ruling in Marbury in particular as "integral to how Justice Scalia saw his job - not as the shaper of the Constitution, but as its servant."

Thomas Paine, the great revolutionary war hero, said that it is the birthright of every American "to begin the world over again," which is what we have today, whether you choose to advocate for the new president and his agenda, or for those in Congress and the courts who hold different views and may find challenge in the coming years. This is what Americans of every generation keep doing, the great birthright of all of us. And no greater practitioner of this was there than Henry Clay. Again, it wasn't in great elective office gains, because despite decades of shaping the United States in many ways in many different offices, he was always defeated bitterly and miserably every time he ran for the presidency.

Yet, it was Clay's ceaseless dedication, like Scaevola, to the Republic and the Constitution, that today inspires my friend, Senator Mitch McConnell, who often speaks of Clay's inspiration for his role as Senate Majority Leader. McConnell has faced great challenges over the past years, and surely will face equally dramatic challenges ahead. But as he has told me many times, from when I lived in Kentucky, to when we've seen each other here in Washington, D.C., that it is the commitment to continue working for the Republic, even when brutally defeated in campaigns, that Clay teaches us is most vital, admirable, and durable in eventual success.

The terrible unconstitutional abuses of Jackson, such as ignoring Worcester for Indian Removal, and many other violations of executive authority, would have become sacred and unassailable precedents for all leaders after him, were it not for Clay, who held Jackson's feet to the fire during Jackson's eight years as president, and then continued holding the metaphorical feet of every subsequent Jacksonian to the fire over the next few decades. By remaining dedicated to the Republic regardless of political calamity, Clay saved the nation over and over again, such as from the Missouri Compromise, to the Compromise of 1850. This is why Lincoln would resurrect Clay's "mystic chords" legacies to heal the wounds of the Civil War - not Andrew Jackson, but Henry Clay's legacies.

Jacksonian abuses reached an apex, for example, when Jackson's former Treasury Secretary and then Supreme Court Chief Justice appointed to replace Marshall, Roger Taney, issued the notorious Dred Scott ruling. Yet, when it was the turn of those seeking justice against such tyranny and abuse, such as when Benjamin R. Curtis resigned from the Supreme Court after issuing his dissent against the Dred Scott ruling - the only Supreme Court justice ever to have had the courage and integrity to resign after the court turned very wrong - or such as when all the poets and thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, or the Christian Second Great Awakening spread across the nation, they found precedent, argument and inspiration in one man, Henry Clay.

Gerard Magliocca, a modern historian of much of this, writes that, "reform leads to resistance, and resistance leads to reform," in which he explained "that is the central theme of the constitutional cycle" of this Nation. To which I ask, what would exist of this cycle were it not for Clay's dedication to always fight for the republic every time he was defeated in campaigns? What if Clay had retreated from politics, given up, and decided he had nothing more to contribute since he was so devastatingly defeated and humiliated in some campaign? I know many of you are tempted to feel this way, but you must not let our Republic lose you all because you have been humbled by the mechanisms under which our Nation operates. We have been conditioned to think things are worse now than ever, that abuses, negativity and polarization are worse than ever before. That isn't true. In fact, much of American history shows that the constant state of polarized division and gridlock since 1796 is also when great things can sometimes be accomplished by those who keep fighting even in defeat. Think of Henry Clay! Follow his example, so that if you are tempted to throw in the towel now, instead realize that the Republic may need you now more than ever before!!! This may be your time to be another Scaevola, either in support of our new president, or in support of the Republic when challenged by the new president. The causes are many, and you have to follow your conscience. But as I have learned watching Senator McConnell over many years, we have a wonderful legacy in Henry Clay that is beckoning YOU a great challenge to get back in the arena, and live Paine's articulation of our birthright "to begin the world over again."


Is Apple Going the Way of the Post Office?

Silver Apple Logo White

Hate to say it, but I think Apple, one of America's premier companies, may have its best days behind it.

Yesterday, I wrote about incompetence at the U.S. Postal Service. Today, it's Apple.

Used to be, you paid more for an Apple computer, but, in exchange, you got hardware that would last and an operating system that was superior, even if you did have to give up on a lot of software options because many developers only made their products for Windows or, showing my age here, MS-DOS.

I speak, obviously, of the Steve Job days, so I concede there was an exception for some years in the 90s (although we stayed loyal, even then).

I went for Apple -- which means the National Center for Public Policy Research went Apple -- in 1985, and we never looked back, despite some concern for the company's politics, and a well-covered contretemps with Tim Cook after we submitted a shareholder proposal examining the company's actual record on environmental issues versus the one the public hears about.

But last week, one of our laptops, purchased in 2015, wouldn't start up. We took it to an authorized Mac repair shop in Severna Park, MD. Bad logic board. Apple sent a replacement. It was bad also. Ever since, we've been trying to get Apple to ship a second replacement logic board to the repair shop. It won't. It says it will, or so we're told, but, every day, it doesn't.

I even called Apple myself to try to find out why it wouldn't ship the part, but got nowhere, because the person at Apple, while cordial, had no idea how to tell if Apple would ship the part and he told me he had no idea how to transfer me to someone at Apple who would know -- even though the repair facility gave me the order number so Apple could pull the record up on its computer system and trace the request.

The guy I'm speaking with at the repair shop tells me he worked for Apple itself for a decade, and he swears Apple has these orders on a computer (of course it does!), but the guy at Apple had no idea how to find us in the system, even with all our data on hand.

Once upon a time, when I needed Apple repairs (rarely) or upgrades (more likely), I actually would go to the back of the shop and watch them work, to learn how to do it myself.

The company in those days seemed organized and well-run, even though everyone swore it couldn't last.

This version of Apple seems to be in chaos.

Logic boards really should last longer than a year, but let's set that aside, and just say this: One ought to be able to get a replacement if it does go out. Apple's not claiming it has a shortage, or a backlog, of logic boards for late-model laptops. It just isn't sending the part after saying it will. Day after day.

How long will this go on?


Yet Another Post Office Story

post office boxThink you can just rent a post office box? Think again!

The news media is running yet another story about a postal worker throwing away the public’s mail — this time, in the woods.

The post office tells the news media that the man who threw the mail away is a part-time employee — as if that matters! He worked for the post office. He threw away the mail. A member of the public noticed; not anyone at the post office.

The country is going to continue to have mail service problems like this as long as the post office remains a monopoly. How many of these incidents are there that the news media never hears about, or hears about but does not report? My guess is that we in the public learn about only a small fraction of these incidents.

Our own institution has MANY post office malfeasance stories. For just one example, last year, we decided to switch over to using a post office box for our incoming mail.

We had to give up on the idea because the post office couldn’t carry it off. We rented a post office box the way everyone else does, but the post office only delivered a fraction of our mail to it. It sent the rest back to the senders. We realized this and did everything we could think of to set matters right, and the post office was unable to point to anything we were doing incorrectly (after all, it was a rented post office box - what is there for us to do wrong?) but the post office kept sending most of our mail back to the senders anyway.

Eventually, we closed the box and went back to using a street address because it was clear that for whatever reason, the post office authorities weren’t going to allow us to have a functioning post office box. I’m not saying they singled us out as ineligible to purchase a service everyone else in the country theoretically can purchase — although, who knows? But you have to assume they could fix the problem had they wanted to do so, and they did not fix it.

So when I see stories like this in the press, I think of one word: privatization.


Want to Buy Lawmakers? Hacker Guccifer 2.0 Releases Notes Purporting to Show It Being Done

The hacker known as "Guccifer 2.0" is the source of an intriguing new article in the online publication The Intercept. The article purports to reproduce notes taken by the staff of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the Democratic Party's arm dedicated to electing Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives) following DCCC meetings with various corporations, labor unions and industry and interest groups.

In one respect the document is unremarkable, as meetings like the one chronicled in the notes go on every day in Washington. On the other hand, it is remarkable that meetings go on like this every day in Washington.

DCCC General Electric MeetingSW

The notes for the DCCC's meeting with General Electric, for example, appear to show that GE is supportive of the DCCC's efforts ("GE wants to know how they can be helpful with the business community, messaging about what we are doing"). The notes say GE is pleased that Congressional Democrats have helped to reinstate and re-fund the Export-Import Bank, but GE isn't entirely happy. There are "headwinds" against more contributions because GE is not pleased with some of what Congressional Democrats have done (on federal budget issues) and not done (repeal ObamaCare's medical device tax).

ObamaCare's medical device tax raises health care costs

GE scanner

This organization very much agrees with General Electric that the medical device tax should be repealed (we oppose continuing the Ex-Im Bank).

We express our views on these by expressing our views on these, not by making or pledging donations. We also talked with General Electric, Stryker and Johnson & Johnson, and others, about possible ways to move forward -- without any money changing hands.

People outside of Congress should be able to present their thoughts about policy to elected officials and their staff members without promising them money.

Democrat Members of Congress are ardent backers of funding Planned Parenthood.

In these memos, the head of Planned Parenthood offers to be a surrogate speaker for DCCC-backed candidates "if that would be helpful." The notes show Planned Parenthood reminding the DCCC that it helped with $15 million in campaign contributions during the 2014 election cycle and asking the DCCC who "they should be helping early" with contributions in this cycle.

Coincidence? Perhaps.


People have gone to prison for giving lawmakers gifts. When was it determined that campaign contributions and support are not gifts?

The Ex-Im Bank was on the brink of death not long ago, but is clawing its way back to lending out your tax dollars so people overseas can buy expensive products from large American corporations such as GE and Boeing.

If it does claw its way back, will it be because lawmakers decided, with deep sincerity, that the Ex-Im Bank is good for America?

Or will it be because of campaign donations hinted about in meetings such as these?


Should Abortions Be Federally Funded?

Should taxpayer dollars be used for abortions? On the 9/30/16 episode of RT Network’s “The Big Picture,” one panelist suggested that abortion should be covered by the government through a single-payer system.

Horace Cooper, legal analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research and the co-chair of Project 21, responded: “This is a lesson… of socializing any area or any industry in the government… It is far better, if people are really concerned about what dictates government makes, to privatize areas… so people are free to make their own choices.”

Responding to host Thom Hartmann’s snarky comeback, Horace said, “I haven’t been reading stories about people in the military who are ‘dying like dogs in the dirt’ because they’re not able to have access to a federally-funded abortion. This is mythology on your part…. I think we should do to the abortion industry generally what you guys want to do to Wal-Mart. We should marginalize them, we should push them to the edge of the community, and we should find every regulation that we can to put them out of business.”

Other topics covered in this clip include teen pregnancy rates and raising the minimum wage. Watch below.