Now that the Minnesota state government shutdown has ended, details of the compromise between Governor Mark Dayton and the Republicans are now public — and no one is happy. At issue was the $5-billion shortfall between revenues and spending. Liberal Governor Mark Dayton had his own plan for bringing in more revenue: “I believe the wealthiest Minnesotans can afford to pay more taxes,” he commented. Conservative Republicans in the state House and Senate, including House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, dug in their heels on any tax increase whatsoever. In the end, both sides lost. As noted when the Minnesota state government shut down, the real bottom-line question had little to do with taxes and spending, and everything to do with the proper role of government. Political science professor David Schultz at Hamline University in St. Paul observed: “There’s just a huge gulf here basically between Dayton and the Republicans over their view of government. This is a … dispute over what the role of government should be.” In other words, is government the servant, or the master? Can spending actually be cut? Will legislators stick to their guns?  
While it is true that the majority of black Americans lean leftward, and while it is no less true that the majority of black American intellectuals are full blown leftists, there are black American thinkers who have decidedly — and decisively — repudiated leftist ideology. Thomas Sowell is one such thinker. Sowell is a conservative in the classical or traditional sense of that term. That is to say, Sowell’s thought is located squarely within the intellectual tradition of which Edmund Burke is widely recognized as the inspiration.  
Restricting the freedom of movement is a commonly cited example of a tactic used by despotic governments to exercise absolute control over their citizens. Soon Americans may experience this brand of paternalism more than ever before. The U.S. government now requires a passport in order to travel to Mexico or Canada. While such rules may seem a minor inconvenience, even such an arguably minor abridgment of the liberty of movement could become the first step of an incremental decline into increasing subjection.   While obtaining a passport is neither unusual nor particularly burdensome, there is a fee involved (and it increases annually), and every application must be approved by the State Department; typically one waits weeks to receive this essential document.
A conservative legal advocacy group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of high school students in Roswell, New Mexico, charging that the Roswell Independent School district retaliated against members of a Christian club after they distributed doughnuts with Bible verses to members of the faculty. According to a press release by Liberty Counsel, in addition to giving away doughnuts to teachers, members of the Christian group Relentless in Roswell had, in the past, distributed chicken salad, hot chocolate, and candy canes to both faculty and students. In an effort to use their faith to reach out to others the club had been involved in such projects as assisting teachers with trash in their classrooms, helping fellow students with their trays during lunch, and distributing rocks with encouraging messages such as “U are wonderful” painted on one side and the Bible reference “Psalm 139” on the other. But members of the group had also made bold statements about their moral and pro-life beliefs by “distributing abstinence wristbands and plastic models of babies at 12 weeks gestation, bringing attention to the life of the unborn,” noted Liberty Counsel. Those actions prompted school officials to give some of the students school suspensions, and to bully other students into toning back their witness, the press release related.
The Constitution and the early organization of the federal executive branch properly limited the scope of government activities to a few areas. Education was left to the states or to individual Americans. The Northwest Ordinances, originally adopted under the Articles of Confederation, did set aside some land for the support of education, but that was minimal and that was all. Energy, which then meant wood, coal, and water power, was entirely in the hands of private citizens and companies. No funds were used to fight a “war on terror” or to spy on other nations or to try to bribe other nations with foreign aid.  America participated in no international organizations at all. Welfare did exist, but not public welfare, and what public help for the poor government gave came from state, county, or city governments. There was no such thing as drug enforcement (although taxes were imposed on alcohol) and no warning labels required on tobacco. Public health, like public welfare, existed at the local level and it was typically confined to matters such as quarantine of infectious diseases.
Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), a mainstay of Christian outreach ministries at universities across the U.S. for the past 60 years, is changing its iconic name because “the word ‘crusade’ has negative associations with the bloody Christian conquests of the 11th to 13th centuries,” reported the New York Times. In a press release, the organization itself explained that it was changing its name to simply “Cru” in an effort to “overcome existing barriers and perceptions inherent in the original name.” CCC’s late founder, Bill Bright, was aware of the perceived problems inherent in the group’s original brand and, said his wife Vonette Bright, “actually considered changing the name 20 or 25 years ago.” She added that with the new name the group hoped “to remove any obstacle to people hearing about the most important person who ever lived — Jesus Christ.”
The head of the legal defense team representing the man suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting spree in November 2009 at Ft. Hood, Texas, has taken a “leave of absence” from the case. John Galligan, a former Army colonel, did not appear with Major Nidal Hasan at Hasan’s arraignment on Wednesday in Ft. Hood. In fact, the accused informed the court that he would now prefer to be represented by military lawyers from the Judge Advocate General corps. Given the phrasing of Hasan’s statement and attorney Galligan’s own words in a letter explaining his departure, it is unclear whether Galligan was fired by Hasan or whether his stepping down was the result of a mutually agreed upon change in the relationship. Galligan’s letter reads as follows:
Those raised overseas can testify as to how comforting it is to be able to go on American military installations and eat pizza at Pizza Hut or eat a burger at Burger King. While the Pentagon has certainly done a good job taking care of its troops' gastronomical needs, many feel it has done a very poor job of taking care of their fundamental right to vote. According to a new report, fewer soldiers and their dependents cast absentee ballots in the 2010 midterm congressional elections, despite attempts by the legislature to alleviate some of the difficulty associated with the process. There is some evidence that the assist from Congress is being blocked by the inept implementation of the applicable laws by the Obama administration.
Perhaps responding to the increasing criticism for its unconstitutional policies, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced major changes to its privacy policies. According to the agency, they will be utilizing newer technology in several U.S. airports. With the new equipment, when a passenger goes through a "naked body" scanner at a security checkpoint, a generic outline of a person is shown instead of a naked body. The new technology is intended to address concerns posed by the advanced image technology (AIT) that has exposed naked pictures of travelers who enter the body scanners. Unsurprisingly, the scanners and the naked images that were produced by them provoked concerns regarding privacy rights. Wired provides some background regarding the controversial scanners:
Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. Because Diamond Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that the FDA didn’t approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, “Your walnut products are drugs” — and “new drugs” at that — and, therefore, “they may not legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug application.” The agency even threatened Diamond with “seizure” if it failed to comply. Diamond’s transgression was to make “financial investments to educate the public and supply them with walnuts,” as William Faloon of Life Extension magazine put it. On its website and packaging, the company stated that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts have been shown to have certain health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. These claims, Faloon notes, are well supported by scientific research: “Life Extension has published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts”; and “The US National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 35 peer-reviewed published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce heart attack risk.”
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