The Ohio Federation of Republican Women

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About the Authors

Sandy Calvert

OFRW Political Education Committee Chair



Kate Burch

OFRW Political Education Committee Co-chair






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January 7, 2018


Term-Limited Ohio Lawmakers Weigh Options;
Some Hope To Swap Chambers

Term-limited lawmakers are beginning to scope out landing spots as the new year - an election year - gets underway.

A total of 20 House members and 10 senators are term-limited heading into the 2018 elections. While some are eyeing statewide, congressional and local positions, a handful are hoping to stick around the Statehouse by swapping chambers.

Lakewood Democrats Sen. Michael Skindell and Rep. Nickie Antonio have confirmed they're running for each other's current seats, for example.

Other attempts to exchange seats could occur between Sen. Gayle Manning (R-N. Ridgeville) and her son, Rep. Nathan Manning (R-N. Ridgeville), Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-N. Canton) and Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), and Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) and Rep. Andy Brenner (R-Powell).

All the aforementioned House members have said they plan to seek Senate seats, but the upper chamber members haven't been as quick to announce future plans.

Sen. Manning said she has strategy meetings set for this month that will give her a better idea of where to head next.

"I've talked with people about doing something locally, county-wide or statewide. I'm just looking at all my options and trying to find the best fit for where I can help out my district most," she said.

Term-limited Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) is also eligible to run for Sen. Manning's seat, but hasn't announced plans to do so.

Sen. Oelslager, meanwhile, declined to comment about his intentions for 2018.

If he and fellow longtime Stark County lawmaker Rep. Schuring swap seats, it would be for the third time. They traded chambers in 2003, with Mr. Schuring moving from the House to the Senate and Mr. Oelslager going to the House. They were elected to their current seats in 2011.

Rep. Schuring said he has taken out petitions but has not yet filed.

"The voters will decide whether or not I go back to the Senate," he said. "I'd be honored if they would decide to elect me as their senator, but we'll have to wait to see what the outcome will be."

Meanwhile, term-limited Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) said she's already determined she's ready to leave the Statehouse and won't seek a seat in her House district, currently held by Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo). (See Gongwer Ohio Report, December 8, 2017)

Rep. Ashford, who is also term-limited, is looking to fill an upcoming vacancy as Lucas County treasurer, clearing the way for term-limited Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), who has announced she will campaign for the open Senate spot to represent the Toledo area. If successful, it would be her second move from the lower to the upper chamber, where she previously served from 2003-2011 after being elected to one term in the House.

Looking to stay closer to home is Sen. Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), who said he'll file to run for a Miami County Commissioner seat that will be vacated by Republican John "Bud" O'Brien, who is seeking to represent the 80th House District.

That seat is currently held by second-term Rep. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), who is expected to face off against former state Rep. Gene Krebs in a Republican primary to replace Sen. Beagle.

Rep. John Boccieri (D-Alliance) is also hoping to move on from the House after just two terms and return to the Senate, where he previously served one term. He is campaigning to replace term-limited Sen. Joe Schiavoni, who is one of a handful of Democrats who've announced gubernatorial runs.

The seat belonging to term-limited Sen. Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) will also be up for grabs, but no House members have announced plans as of yet to leave the lower chamber early and pursue a Senate spot.

Sen. Tavares said she's not certain what her political future holds, but she won't be out of a job completely come 2019 if she decides not to campaign for a different post. Since 2015, she's served as the CEO of the federally qualified Columbus Neighborhood Health Center.

"I've always been a policymaker that kind of looks on the landscape and thinks about how my skills and talents could be better utilized or where I think there's a void, but at this time I haven't' made a decision beyond completing my term in the Ohio Senate," she said. "I enjoy what I'm doing and still have some unfinished business that I'd like to get addressed before I leave."

Meanwhile, term-limited Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) are also looking to parlay their legislative careers into statewide positions. Both are running for the secretary of state.

Likewise, Sen. Kevin Bacon (D-Minerva Park) is aiming to have a greater political reach by taking a shot at replacing U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Galena), who is resigning next month to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable. He is one of several people eying the 12th Congressional District, which is opening up with Rep. Tiberi's planned resignation to take the reins of the Ohio Business Roundtable.

Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) have declared their candidacies for the respective seats left open by Sens. LaRose and Bacon.

"I really enjoyed being a state representative because I believe that the work we've done has helped strengthen Ohio; not only as a state today, but for the future and I want to continue that work that was started," Rep. Roegner said, predicting that the race for her open seat could involve a multi-way Republican primary.

"I know of at least four who have indicated very strong interest in running," she said. None have filed petitions.

The deadline for candidates to file petitions with county boards of elections is Feb. 7.

It's common practice to seek election in the opposite chamber in the age of term-limits. However, there are a number of term-limited lawmakers who are unable to do so because the seats are not up for election.

Among them are: Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), who has mentioned the possibility of running for a Clinton County commissioner seat, and Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati), who could take the helm of the Cincinnati U.S.A. Convention & Visitors Bureau, according to local reports.

Others who are in the same boat but have yet to announce plans include:

Rep. Duffey said he'll focus on the upcoming capital budget before making a decision about how to proceed with his career. He does know, however, that the near future won't likely include campaigning.

"I'm not looking at running for other office right now at this point. Never say never, but that's not my plan," the term-limited lawmaker said.

As for Rep. Anielski, she said all options are on the table, including lobbying or working in the administration or the private sector.

"I think there are a lot of options for me and I'm just going to be evaluating which option would be best for me and my family," the former mayor said. •


~ Sandy Calvert


Januray 5, 2018

Without an Anchor

I read this morning a headline about the cratering sales of “organic” milk.  At first, I thought it a positive sign that perhaps people had begun to wake up to the fact that paying a premium for so-called organic foods is a waste of money and comparable to buying a purse with a designer logo so that one may be perceived as somehow special or superior to others.  Then, when I read the article, I found that was not the case; that increased demand for “milk” made from almonds, soybeans, cashews, and the like has caused the decline in sales of the “organic” variety.  Apparently, we are nowhere near seeing the end of people needing to demonstrate their specialness by requiring special foods.  Part of this need to be special comes from a feeling of being unsafe or threatened.  People not afflicted with celiac disease convince themselves that they are  “sensitive” to gluten; or they believe that they are “lactose intolerant” without having the clinical signs and symptoms; or they fear that foods produced by large-scale agricultural methods will cause them harm absent evidence that such is the case.
This issue is of a piece with the larger and pervasive question of identity politics.  We see today, very prominently in colleges, but also in society at large, people ragefully claiming victim status by virtue of their sex (real or imagined), their skin color, their sexual proclivities, ethnicity, religion, and other aspects of identity.  The rage is palpable, real, often infantile and terrifying.  We have seen “demonstrations” devolve into violent riots with murders, assaults, looting and property damage.  We have seen speakers at universities and public events not only heckled by those who disagree, but harassed and assaulted, needing at times to flee in fear for their safety or their very lives.  School administrators have responded to their student “victims” by providing “safe spaces” and other comfort measures when they claim to feel threatened or offended by ideas that are different from their own.  At least one public official has famously called for allowing violent demonstrators “space to destroy.”  
Along with the social unrest, there is significantly rising incidence of mental illness in young adults; and of course the opioid “epidemic” that affects youth, but also people into middle age.   I first saw references to rising levels of psychopathology in children in the psychological literature about twenty years ago.  My guess was that a causative factor might be children being brought up by strangers in the daycare culture while their parents were both working and then too exhausted to provide attentive and thoughtful care.   I still think that’s a driver.  Clearly, these young people are miserable.  But why?
In America today there is ongoing,  large-scale destruction of humanity’s most basic institution, the family, disrespect for American symbols, and discrediting of the shared values and ideals that have embodied the American identity.  While America is still predominantly Christian, at least nominally, we also see more and more in the popular media warnings about the threat posed by Christians and Christianity.  I am convinced that undermining the institutions that provide a secure and healthy identity is purposeful and part of an ongoing program that started more than a century ago and relentlessly labors to transform the world according to Marxist ideology.   
The sexual revolution unmoored sexual congress from reproduction and opened the floodgates for the factors that have caused so much damage to the family: out-of-wedlock births, abortion, and fatherless homes.  It might also be mentioned that people of color and those in lower socioeconomic groups have suffered from these social pathologies to the greatest degree.  Anyone who has experienced family breakup or parental abandonment, or who has been closely acquainted with those who have, knows the rage and sadness and feelings of worthlessness, disconnectedness, and grief that are associated with a broken family.  It’s a huge question, obviously, but it makes sense to me that a young person who is deprived of the security of family, primarily, but also deprived of encouragement for patriotism, and even for positive religious identification, is going to be angry, and will be vulnerable to seizing on an unhealthy or pseudo-identity that will provide not security, but rather a wellspring of rage.  
~ Kate Burch


January 2, 2018


What an interesting idea.  Good food for thought/discussion.
Kate Burch


ARCHIVED (from previous website)


Diminishing Returns
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
I have lived in the same medium-size rust-belt city almost all of my life, and I have been amazed to observe, over the last couple of decades, the growth of the physical structures of the area’s two universities.  Along with the remarkable enlargement of these facilities has been an increase in amenities and improved esthetics.  And this has happened concurrently with a steady decrease of our population, starting in 1978 and continuing today.  
The universities have endowments amounting to about half a billion dollars for one school and about half that much for the other.   They also have been on the receiving end of a steady stream of federal dollars for many years.   It seems to me that they are, frankly, awash in cash.  
This richesse, however, pales in comparison to the condition of the Ivy League.  I read yesterday that Princeton has an endowment of more than $22 billion!  Conservatively estimating the return on the investment of those funds results in a total income of $220 thousand for every student enrolled, every year!  
As the money, and the prospect of ever more money, have rolled in, the institutions sought higher and higher enrollments.  The numbers alone, which include many students of lower ability, have called for lowering standards, so as to assist retention.  It is not a news flash that the quality of the product has declined.  I saw it first-hand in my psychological practice when people would come to me for psychoeducational assessment to help determine why they were unable to perform adequately in their jobs.  I found that these individuals typically could not demonstrate proficiency in necessary skills consistent with the number of years of schooling that they had finished.  Sometimes the gap was huge, as in a college graduate’s having less than high school-level proficiency.  This failure of our schools to produce what they promise hurts everyone, not least the graduate who has received false assurance of his or her preparedness.  
There are many facets to the problems with the educational system in our country.  One issue, which will be addressed by proposed legislation, is the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act, proposed by Utah Senator Mike Lee and by Florida Representative Ron DeSantis.  This legislation would reform the current college accreditation system, allowing states the opportunity to establish their own accrediting systems, rather than the current, one-size-fits-all system developed and overseen by the U.S. Department of Education.  The system, as it stands, requires that students attend an accredited school in order to qualify for a federal student loan, and it does not allow for the accreditation of individual courses.  Students thus must sign on for an entire, accredited curriculum, rather than tailoring a program that would suit their individual talents, proclivities, and needs.  A student who might become prepared for meaningful and productive work with less than the standard four-years-long slog, for example, is barred from receiving any financial help to do so.  Online courses, similarly, are excluded.  Besides the waste of time and money, the system has also contributed to decline in quality, as accreditation, once granted, is almost never lost, and many programs of questionable academic value and quality are included under the umbrella of rigid accreditation.  So, the student enrollments and the student loans continue to fill the coffers of the accredited schools while many students drop out early or finish with a meaningless degree and crushing debt.  I understand, also, that the schools are not required to repay the funds they have received for a student who fails to complete the program.  
The HERO Act would decouple student aid from the current accreditation system; allow states the right to designate an accrediting body; and allow credentialing of programs of study, rather than institutions.  It would help bring down costs, increase flexibility in designing educational and training programs for students, and eliminate many barriers to innovations in education.  
It’s a start.
November 13, 2017     
Are We Having Fun Yet?
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
In the early days of the flood of stories about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation we read that fashion designer Donna Karan, an old friend of the Weinsteins defended him, suggesting that some of the young women he targeted might have been “asking for it” by dressing and behaving seductively.  She quickly was harassed and shamed into apologizing for her remarks by accusations that she was “blaming the victim.”  I even heard a nationally famous conservative talk radio host express outrage about this victim-blaming.
Let me say right now that I agree with Donna Karan.  She stands on the shoulders of numerous social critics, secular social scientists, and other people of good sense and accurate perception who see the ugly outcomes of the sexual revolution.  
Separating sexual congress from reproduction was supposed to make us all happier.  It was supposed to reduce rates of abortion, make marriages happier and more stable, decrease poverty, and empower women.  Instead, we have seen our population and those of other Western countries age and birth rates fall so low that some European ethnic groups are beyond salvaging.  In some large cities, such as New York, more babies are aborted than are carried to term.  The negative psychological impact of abortion on the women who have them is well-documented.  The “hook up” culture is convincingly linked to increased rates of anxiety and depression among female college students.  Sexually-transmitted diseases, of course, cause great physical and emotional harm.   There is subtle coercion by governments to get people to use contraception.  I can foresee the day when prenatal testing for genetic abnormalities could be mandated, and coerced abortion of “defective” fetuses.  It is inarguable that the institution of the family is in serious trouble, and this fact is directly related to female impoverishment.  Would anyone dispute that the level of morality and respect for women have been lowered?  
Apparently, many girls and women want to have it both ways: they blatantly advertise their wares and more or less overtly offer sex without any expectation of commitment or even of a meaningful relationship; then they affect injured innocence and claim victim status.  I am reminded of the situation in California two years ago in which a college athlete was  prosecuted and his life pretty much ruined after he was discovered, drunk out of his mind and having sex with a young female who was herself drunk to the point of insensibility outside of a fraternity party.  Mind you, this young woman had gone to the party well-fortified (with alcohol) before she arrived, drank more at the party, and then stayed on when her female companions left.  We don’t know exactly what happened leading up to the sexual encounter, but to my mind she was at least playing with fire.  Males have an insistent sex drive for the good reason that it is in support of species preservation, and a young woman who is drunk and without an armada of sisters at a fraternity party is not exercising even a scintilla of sense.  Add the disinhibiting effect of the young man’s intoxication, and disaster is likely.  
The irony is that attitudes that people are entitled to have sex without responsibility or consequences, and that men and women are the same in their sexual desires and that women want sex without attachment has led, not to liberation, but to victimization and degradation of women.  This is not going to be solved by protests, marches, and legislation, but only be women reclaiming the moral high ground and respecting themselves. 
October 28, 2017
ObamaCare Subsidies Rob the Middle Class
by Alieta Eck, MD
As the controversy rages between those Republicans who want full repeal and those who want to retain what might be “good” about ObamaCare, we are not asking the right questions. While they are arguing whether or not to keep the ObamaCare subsidies (or the equivalent as “tax credits”), is anyone asking what it is we are subsidizing?
Why has medical care in the United States gotten so expensive? Why did the cost of a hospital stay go from an average of $17,000 in 2000 to $33,000 in 2010, while the average length of stay declined? Why do our hospital stays cost three times more than in other industrialized countries?
The dirty little secret is that having insurance might be a guarantee that the insured pays MORE. And because  deductibles have risen dramatically along with premiums, a family needs to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before insurance kicks in. But how does this work?
Most insurance companies have networks of “preferred providers.” One would assume that a “preferred provider” is a doctor or a lab that gives better rates, but the opposite is the case. As an example, one patient spent a day in the emergency room where the total bill came to $12,000. The “preferred provider” rate brought the bill down to $10,000, which happened to be that patient’s deductible. Upon further scrutiny, the breakdown of the bill showed a lab fee of $3,500—labs that would have cost less than 100 cash on the outside.
When the hospital patient advocate was queried, the answer came back, “Your insurance company negotiated $10,000 and, since you have not met your deductible, you are bound it pay it. Paying the cash price is not an option.” She acknowledged that this seemed unfair, but would not budge.
Another patient discovered that his insurance had lapsed and was given a cash price of $75 for an office visit. Once insurance was restored, the submitted fee was $275. Since he had not met his deductible, he was expected to personally pay the higher fee.
Since 92% of people will not incur more than $5,000 per year in medical expenses, the middle class has been fleeced under ObamaCare in so many ways. Many patients have received subsidies. But this just means that taxpayers are forced to pay part of their premiums, and the patients are still stuck with those deductibles and the higher negotiated fees.
So what is really happening?
Insurance premiums have soared, and the insurance companies love it. They keep a percentage of the bloated premiums for “operating costs.” Hospitals are buying physician practices, and Medicaid and Medicare have agreed to pay the hospitals higher fees for the same service in the same location. No government official has been able to explain why.
The ratepayers and taxpayers are the “forgotten men” in our medical system. Hospital and Insurance executives are now commanding compensation that exceeds $1 million. One CEO of a consolidated hospital system in central New Jersey receives $9 million per year. What exactly does he do to merit this high salary? The usual reason for lavish executive pay is that the official brings lots of revenue into the business. The big hospital systems are businesses that profit massively at the expense of patients and taxpayers—although the excess might be called something other than profit if the hospital is tax-exempt (allegedly “nonprofit”).
Our politicians are complicit in this heist, as last year insurance companies and hospitals were among the ten greatest contributors to the campaigns of legislators who allow this scam on the middle class to continue.
The best recommendation would be for patients with high deductibles to hide any connection with an insurance company and negotiate the best cash prices for services. Find a physician who is in no network and who can help navigate where to find cash-friendly sources of medicines, labs, and x-rays.
Patients with their doctors need to take control of medical care once again
August 30, 2017
 GOP Roots in Ohio ─ Anti-Slavery
From OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
August 30, 2017
This Could Work!
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
Probably no one above the age of ten is unaware that we are in the midst of a “heroin epidemic.”  That is actually a misnomer, as heroin is no longer the most dangerous drug of abuse.  Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, And the drug that killed the performer Prince, is now the most circulated and most abused addictive drug.  Its derivative, carfentanil, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and an amount roughly the size of a poppy seed can be lethal.  In Ohio, there are now about ten deaths from overdoses daily, and drug overdose has surpassed traffic accidents as a leading cause of death.  
The actual drug users are not the only victims.  Addicts often steal, of course, to support a drug habit.  Families are torn apart and placed in jeopardy:  currently, in our county, half of the children placed in protective custody are there because an addicted parent cannot care for them.  Municipal and county resources are overstretched by emergency runs to help overdose victims, to the extent that people with other medical emergencies may face long wait-times for assistance.  The costs of these interventions, and of the arrest, prosecution, treatment, and incarceration of drug abusers, are immense.  This is not to mention the costs of wasted lives: people whose human potential is never realized because they are in thrall to, and often destroyed by, opioids.  Babies of addicted mothers are born addicted and, if they survive, very often have significant developmental problems and may never grow up to become productive, contributing adults.
The financial incentives for trafficking in this deadly substance are huge.  A gram of carfentanil can be purchased via the “dark web” from China for around $3000.  Its street value is in the millions, since an extremely minute quantity (about 3 ten-thousandths of a gram) may be lethal.   I learned from a Sheriff’s deputy that 79 pounds of carfentanil have been seized in our county in 2017.  That amount, calculating from the above figure, would be enough to kill roughly 1, 185,000 people!  
We have been quite unsuccessful in our attempts to treat addictions.  Treatment facilities for addicts who are in the criminal justice system are inadequate in number, and the duration of treatment is too short.  The success rate hovers around 6%; one might as well say it’s a futile effort.  We know that the most effective treatment is accomplished through the twelve-step programs.  This requires, however, real commitment and fortitude on the part of the abuser.  While relapses, early on, are common, the twelve-step group model can provide the support for people to continue, and we know that sustained abstinence of three years is associated with 90% decrease in the risk of relapse.   The twelve-step model really requires a moral conversion: giving up pride, acknowledging one’s need for God and others, and willingness to be unflinchingly honest with self and others.  In my professional experience as a psychologist, some of the very best people I came to know were those with substance abuse problems who were seriously and honestly “working the program” because they were genuine, and they had learned to function within a mutually caring community.  Mandated participation in a twelve-step program, however, has a low likelihood of effectiveness because it is viewed as punishment, rather than opportunity, and the coerced individual is likely to merely “talk the talk” and never “walk the walk.”  
So, what to do?  
In Ohio, legislation has been proposed to tackle one part of the drug abuse problem: that of individuals who become addicted when they use prescribed drugs for chronic pain.  This proposed law would target primary care physicians and require that, if they wish to treat chronic pain patients with opioids, they would have to: offer drug dependence/addiction treatment in their practice; complete a one-time course of 8 hours of continuing medical education on addiction; complete 2 hours of CME yearly regarding prescribing of opioids; and use an electronic medical records system that is directly connected to the state’s automated prescription reporting system.  This law seems like a bad idea to me, as it places a heavy hand on a whole class of professionals in response to the misdirected or criminal behavior of a very small minority of physicians.  
There is another bill, introduced by Ohio Dist. 41 Representative Jim Butler, that seems to me to be extremely reasonable, and to have a real chance for success.  This legislation provides for “Intervention in Lieu of Conviction” for addicts who have been convicted of or pled to a non-violent offense.  It would provide for a period of residential treatment in an Addiction Treatment Facility for up to three years.  This time is determined by the findings that three years of abstinence is associated with 90% reduction in chance of relapse.  Those who are deemed by medical professionals to have a strong likelihood of staying “clean” may be released early for continuation in an outpatient treatment program including mandatory, non-removable GPS tracking bracelets; mandatory sustained-release injections of naltrexone (non-addicting drug that prevents the euphoriant effect of opioids); randomized drug screening; prescribed counseling and other therapeutic activities; and physical relocation at least five miles from previous residence.  
This legislation would also significantly increase penalties and constraints on drug traffickers.  Current Oho laws addressing trafficking are too lax.  The new law would raise the seriousness of trafficking offenses; permit law enforcement officials to search individuals on probation without probable cause; and it would allow judges to impose restrictions on where convicted traffickers may be, so as to curtail open-air drug deals.  
This law would require weaning patients from addictive prescribed drugs within two months.  It would also increase availability of naltrexone, or equivalent drug, and training in its use.  
This proposal offers much promise.  It is sound from a mental health perspective, as the extended period of residential treatment allows for the establishment of a therapeutic community, giving time for an individual to begin to think more clearly and to see mutual aid within the community as a lifeline and an opportunity to build a safer and more satisfying life.  Effective response to the current crisis is essential to save lives, make our communities safer, and stem the flood of resources that are now being diverted from other, necessary services.
August 17, 2017    
Who Are We, Anyway?
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
I have a son whose job has required that he and his family live in Europe for the past four years.  I recently went for a visit, and they took Grandma along for a family vacation to Israel.  This was an extremely generous gift and the fulfillment of a long-held wish to see Jerusalem.  
I was profoundly moved to learn about and experience the holy sites in Jerusalem.  However, the most compelling impression that was made on me during the Israel excursion was about the spirit and character of the Israeli people.  Without exception, Israelis greeted us and interacted with us in a friendly, warm, and hospitable manner.  What’s more, they appeared to be happy and relaxed. This experience belied the concerns expressed by some of my friends who feared it would be unsafe to be in that corner of the world.  
I was reminded of several nuggets from my reading that helped me to make sense of the experience: 
Several years ago, I read a book by the former Soviet “refusenik,” Medal of Freedom winner, writer and statesman Natan Sharansky, entitled “Defending Identity.”  The book, which affected me quite powerfully, explained how a strong national/cultural/religious identity is vital to sustaining an effective and vigorous democracy.  
I recalled reading about a year ago an article, which I have since found in the May 16, 2016 Wall Street Journal, about how Israel (Jews and Arabs alike) rank very high on international ratings of happiness and life satisfaction.  This despite their being under unremitting threats to their individual and collective survival. 
On the airplane traveling to Europe, I read a book by Leo Maasburg, “Mother Teresa of Calcutta.”  Mother Teresa, asked how she could bear working with people in hopeless poverty who were filthy, literally sleeping naked on the streets, explained that the worst poverty she had encountered was suffered by people in developed nations who had no sense of being loved or of belonging.  
I am convinced that the Israelis, reverencing their shared history, culture, accomplishments, and purpose have something that we Americans have squandered and are in danger of losing entirely.  Universities and media and many “leaders” revile our history, our culture, and our traditional values.  Children are indoctrinated early with false notions that ours is a rapacious, careless and destructive country, rather than a “shining city on a hill” that was the Founders’ dream and intent.  Morals and values and institutions that have been universally accepted and pursued for millennia are overturned.  People have no anchor when it is denied that objective truth exists, rather than “truth” being merely a matter of opinion.  Anchorless people are lonely, unhappy people.  People are marrying later, if at all, and birth rates are too low.  There is less participation in civil society: less community engagement; less church attendance and involvement; even less visiting and acquaintanceship with neighbors.  People who, one would think, have everything turn to drugs and pornography rather than building relationships.  Alienation feeds the sense of being aggrieved and outraged.  People protest without having even a clear notion of what they want.  
Perhaps our nation will need to suffer real adversity before people come to their senses and recognize the crisis of morals and values we are experiencing.  I hope not.  Our Founders, geniuses who were grounded in serious study and understanding of history, devised a system that, if followed, ensures human flourishing, protecting the God-given rights of every human being.  They knew that the success of self-governance requires commitment, involvement, and virtue, else we will live under tyranny.  They knew that we are prideful, envious, venal and slothful creatures, and that those who wish to govern us must be held in check and the rule of law, rather than privilege must prevail.  It’s a good system, an inspired system, the most successful system the world has known.  Let’s not lose it.  Let’s regain pride in being Americans.  Let’s be happy again!
June 19, 2017
Who’s In Charge Here?
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
As our representatives work to craft legislation to provide a replacement for the abomination that is “Obamacare,” I fervently hope and pray that they will be guided by our Constitution.  I was powerfully reminded of the need for a focus on liberty when I read Sohrab Ahmari’s  March 4 interview in the Wall Street Journal of Liz Carr, creator of a dark-comedic offering, “Assisted Suicide: The Musical” that is currently playing to enthusiastic audiences in Britain.  Performances of this anti-euthanasia work get standing ovations despite the growing acceptance of assisted suicide in Western nations.  
Liz Carr, a woman in her mid-forties, has a severely disabling genetic condition that involves fibrosis and contractures of multiple joints with resulting limitations on strength and mobility.  She considers herself lucky to have been born before the time when she might have been a victim of abortion or cajoled to opt for assisted suicide.  Her physical disabilities notwithstanding, Ms. Carr excelled academically, and she has had a very successful career as an actress, a stand-up comic, a disability advocate, and now a playwright.  
This inspiring woman makes the point that those who promote assisted suicide as positively aligned with values of self-determination and choice are—wittingly or not—wrong because, even in states that allow assisted suicide, the physician is the one who ultimately decides whether to grant the request.  Recently, there was a sad case in the Netherlands, where permission for assisted suicide has led to greatly increased suicide rates, in which a physician was acquitted of murder charges after she directed family members to smother their elderly relative who had requested a lethal injection but changed her mind at the last moment.  The physician was acquitted because the court determined that she had acted in good faith.  Ms. Carr’s position is that legalizing euthanasia is inherently disempowering of patients because of their unequal power in the doctor-patient relationship, and that this fact is ever more problematic in the modern welfare state.
Ms. Carr’s life story should bring up short those people who consign those with physical disabilities; those with congenital cognitive limitations; patients with dementia; the frail elderly; and the unborn unlucky enough to have mothers who do not want them to a status that is lacking in “dignity” or in other words less than human.  Those who make our laws should remind themselves not only of the tragic history of the Eugenics movement (of which Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a proud proponent, remember), but also of the very real danger of coerced, rather than “assisted” suicide and of coerced, rather than elective, abortion, with government control of our health care.  
March 9, 2017
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
Many on the Left are outraged by the election of a hugely successful businessman as our new President. 
Some decry his lack of experience in government, implying that unfamiliarity with the arcana of Washington renders him ineffective as the chief executive of our country.  Others—those who believe that it is fundamentally unfair that some succeed and others fail, and that a government’s job is to equalize outcomes—despise Trump because of his legitimately earned wealth.  
Let’s take a look at these issues.  
Regarding the value of experience in politics: how much do the professional politicians who live in the Washington bubble really know about the everyday lives of the people who have elected them to be their representatives?  Some of us will remember the urban legend about George H.W. Bush staring in amazement at a supermarket scanner during his campaign for President.  That myth was used by the Left to illustrate how out-of-touch he was with ordinary Americans.  Meanwhile, the Left resists term limits and loves to have their people re-elected time after time, staying firmly planted in the government enclave.  These long-termers build up their fiefdoms and often succumb to the seductions of special interests and become corrupt and corrupting.  
Our founders never intended that governing should be a career.  The ideal was the “citizen legislator” who would agree to run for public office because he had peculiar expertise to fulfill a particular need for the state or the nation; or as a way to fulfill one’s civic duty.  People in public office had occupations and professions that were like those of the people they represented, and they were usually eager to return to their jobs and their real-world lives after performing government service.  Most of the Founding Fathers were entrepreneurs—people who started and operated their own businesses.  The list includes a number of lawyers and physicians, notably John Adams and Benjamin Rush.  There were also farmers, a shipper, a brewer, writers, and a songwriter.  Several were self-made men, starting out in trades like printing, shoemaking, carpentry, and accounting and through self-education and seizing opportunities, built their own fortunes.  Some, like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were true Renaissance men, with intellects that were wide and deep, whose greatness left indelible marks on our national character.  
And why would anyone think that a business executive lacks the skills to govern?  Successful business executives and administrators that I have known have had skill sets that are undeniably qualifying.  Success in large organizations demands cognitive keenness and understanding; mental flexibility; willingness to act boldly when necessary; and acceptance of responsibility for the consequences.  Success also requires the ability to work with people honestly, with willingness to listen and be supportive, while also fearlessly exercising legitimate authority.  People who can do these things foster trust, collaboration, and a positive working environment, and help people to develop to their full potential.  
The other cavil--that wealth earned in business is somehow illegitimate--is personally odious to me but, let’s just draw one comparison to illustrate the point.  Donald Trump did start out with some family resources, true, but he has demonstrated extraordinary skill, courage, and boldness in building his real estate empire and associated aspects of his “brand,” meanwhile creating many thousands of jobs and improving the lives of countless people.  He has accomplished this using his own resources.  Senator Harry Reid, a lifer in Washington, started out with hardly two nickels to rub together.  Now, as he finally leaves “his” seat, he has an estimated net worth of $10 million, much acquired through shady dealings with shadier characters, and exploiting the taxpayers of Nevada and the United States in the meantime.  
I have a dream that one day we may have citizen legislators again—people who live and work in their districts and meet in Washington only several times in each year for a long weekend, perhaps a week, and otherwise keep informed about the conditions of people within their constituencies.  Time spent with those they represent, rather than with professional lobbyists would help keep politicians honest as well as better-informed, and potentially limit the mischief that Congress could do.  
January  2017
Who Profits?
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
The recent closing of ITT Tech was the latest of a series of successful assaults on for-profit colleges by the Obama administration.  Our benevolent leaders claim, of course, that they are simply trying to protect students from predators in the marketplace who will charge high tuition rates, leave the students with piles of debt, and provide less chance of gainful employment than state-funded institutions.
While there are, of course, some for-profits that cheat, the statistics actually reveal higher graduation rates and higher post-graduation employment numbers for those who complete programs at for-profit schools.  
We are all aware, also, of the huge increases in tuition costs and accompanying dismal results of the public colleges.  And aren’t many of us dismayed to observe the ballooning numbers of staff and burgeoning infrastructure of our schools?  These schools are in competition, it seems, to offer the most luxurious accommodations and amenities to their potential customers, all the while affording sketchy prospects post-graduation.  We see plenty of examples: the new Ph.D. working as a barista, the unemployed 30-year-old still living in Mom’s basement; a Women’s Studies graduate with no prayer of ever putting that degree to use.  
With colleges, as with elementary and secondary schools, while more federal funding has flowed in, the costs keep getting higher.  Federal subsidies actually make costs higher because they result in increased enrollment, more building, and administrative bloat.   There are now whole departments, such as IT, that deal with functions that previously were handled by professors.  Many professors actually teach very little, spending their time instead doing research and writing (which may be read by no one); this brings about the need to hire many adjunct faculty.  Excessive and onerous regulations tied to federal aid and involvement add to costs.   Whatever government touches tends to become more expensive, less accessible, and of lesser quality.  
An important issue is the dysfunctional belief that everyone should go to college.  If college is to be genuine higher education, it is an endeavor that is appropriate only for those who are intellectually equipped for scholarship—about one-quarter of the population.  This sounds elitist, and it is.  In truth, a person does not become educated by warming a seat in a classroom and passively receiving information imparted by an instructor.  Learning is something that one accomplishes through individual effort and practice, with appropriate guidance and consultation, as needed.  Attempting to make “higher education” available to all can have no other outcome but dilution and degradation of the commodity.  It is not news that the performance of students coming out of our public elementary and secondary schools is bad.  It’s also worth considering that the prolonged dependency of young people who are expected to be in school and out of the work force until their mid-twenties presents their parents and society with a tremendous and unnecessary burden.  
One approach that would be beneficial would be more emphasis of real-world training for useful work, instead of marketing of frivolous and useless degrees.  Most jobs still do not require higher education.  
We should also think about what might be the motivation for the political class to stand so stalwartly for public education, and to demonize any training or educational program that is not under state control.  Could it be that those who represent the state have a vested interest in ensuring that students will be taught or led to believe only what the state wishes them to believe: that they must trust the government, rather than their parents; that striving to excel is somehow unfair; that they must give unquestioning obedience to the state?  Many well-meaning people truly believe that government-controlled education is a public good.   I guess that depends on your definition of good.  As William T. Harris, one-time U.S. Commissioner of Education, said, “Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening.  The average American (should be) content with their humble role in life…”  
Sticks and Stones
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
Living or working on today’s college campus must be, for one who is not a member of a protected group, something like navigating a mine field.  One may, while totally lacking malevolent intent, commit a “microaggression” or otherwise be guilty of insulting or disparaging, or even “harassing” another by simply offering a compliment or remarking about an interesting characteristic of someone—if the other person perceives it, or claims to perceive it, as disparaging or somehow threatening.  A professor in Louisiana was fired recently for alleged sexual harassment because she used off-color humor.  At the University of Kentucky one may be, I read, subject to investigation if accused of making critical remarks about a smoker.
I am willing to bet that white, middle-class students, particularly males, are seldom if ever going to be the beneficiaries of official policies that punish someone who may have hurt their feelings.  They, after all, are “privileged” and deserve to be taken down a peg or two.   
Such stifling of free speech and expression may at last—we may dare to hope--have peaked.  According to “FIRE” (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the proportion of public colleges with speech codes that ban constitutionally protected speech has dropped significantly.  Unfortunately, the schools with these “red light” speech codes still constitute almost 40% of public colleges.  The situation at private colleges is somewhat worse, since they are permitted under the law to restrict speech, not being bound by the First Amendment!  A number of schools have even established reporting systems that encourage students to report on other students and faculty members who show “bias” in their speech or expression.
We are permitted to criticize and disparage people in public life, and those who go into politics or become celebrities must accept that being targets of such criticism is just part of the life.  When people in public life, however, disparage ordinary people, as did Hillary Clinton in her famous characterization of Trump supporters as “deplorables,”  it is clearly unacceptable, and that remark certainly wounded her and her chances of prevailing at the polls.  
Restriction of free speech is harmful when it is used, not as a reasonable guarantor of public safety, but in support of the political cause du jour, to protect a favored group, or to further an ideological agenda.  When it gets really dicey is when one may not speak the truth about an actual threat or real harm to the public safety, because of “political correctness.”  The recent example of the radicalized Somali immigrant student at Ohio State who attempted to kill other students by running them down with his car and slashing and stabbing them with a knife, is illustrative.  A student journalist who had interviewed this radical Islamist and written about his “soft-spoken” and “friendly” manner despite his feeling at risk of attack for practicing his religion, wrote after the mayhem of November 28 that the student, Abdul Artan, must have “snapped” due to the Islamophobic attitudes of the Ohio State student body.   Josh Earnest,  the president’s press secretary, expressed similar ideas.   Another example is the official designation of the Fort Hood massacre as “workplace violence” when it was clearly a terrorist attack by a radicalized Islamic extremist who wanted to kill infidels.  Abundantly documented, but still denied by officials.  
Censorship has been a useful tool of tyrants since people began organizing governments.  The First Amendment was a tremendously liberating law, one of the most effective ways of getting people out from under the yoke of oppressive government.  Why, now, are people insisting on imposing censorship?  
December 2016
Issue 21
reviews history  and abuses of the Environmental Protection Agency. 
Click HERE for a very interesting blog
December 2016
Quack, Quack
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
The word, “canard” in French, means “a duck.”  In English, the word means a baseless rumor.  Since Donald Trump’s election, we have heard much quacking from those who object to his being the President-elect.  These people say that they fear that Muslims, people of color, and people with sexual proclivities that are out of the mainstream are going to be targets of violence by Trump supporters now unleashed and granted license to act out their malicious impulses. Professional journalists check respectability at the door when they toss about vile imprecations about Trump:  “he’s a racist…a white supremacist…a misogynist…an Islamophobe…a homophobe—while avoiding any pretense of presenting credible evidence for such accusations; a balanced comparison of candidates; or focusing on issues or policy differences.  People who voted for Trump have been painted as bigots and “haters” by influential journalists, pundits, and celebrities.  
We read of university students requiring exemption from classes or delay of exams because they were turned into emotional basket cases by the election results.  “Safe spaces,” even Pla-Doh and puppies, were provided to assist these tender little souls in coming to terms with the imminent apocalypse.  University leaders support and encourage this flight from reality and maturity and do violence to the First Amendment and the value of lively discourse by collaborating in preventing their students’ exposure to any voices that would challenge their shared prejudice.  
First of all, let’s consider where the much-feared violence is actually occurring.  “Protests” by anti-Trump forces have resulted in considerable property damage; beatings; terrorism; and at least one shooting.  Cold weather and riot-fatigue have diminished these displays, but we may see more of them at Inauguration time.   Little or nothing of this sort of thing has occurred on the other side.  
It’s not just a biased media, acknowledged by almost every thinking human being, even in the media, to be essentially a cheerleader for “progressive” policy and big government.  The growth in size, scope, and power of the central government itself leads to the development and imposition of a “network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate.” (Alexis deTocqueville, “Democracy in America”)  This network, what we call “political correctness,” keeps citizens “in perpetual childhood.”  It also leads directly to political persecution.  Think of the re-education camps and forced “psychiatric” hospitalizations for dissenters in communist regimes.  Think, also, of the political persecution of dissenters by IRS audits and the calls for actual prosecution of climate “deniers” by the left in our own country.  
We are living in a nation and a time in which the forces of progressivism have made great strides in their campaign to overturn traditional standards of morality, traditional institutions, and the notion that one may advance on the basis of merit and then be entitled to his accomplishments.  Slander and persecution of those who retain those traditional values and ways are given the gloss of “social justice” thus fanning the flames of division and hatred.  
Now that we have a president-elect who is working hard—already—to put in place reasonable policies that are pro-growth and pro-American, the little ducklings are knocked seriously off their game, and their shock and awe are expressed in primal screams of rage.  
December  2016
Beyond the Politics of Anger
"This is not politics as usual. The American Presidential election, the Brexit vote and the rise of extremism in the politics of the West are warnings of something larger, and the sooner we realise it, the better. What we are witnessing is the birth of a new politics of anger. It is potentially very dangerous indeed.
No civilisation lasts forever. The first sign of breakdown is that people stop trusting the ruling elite. They are seen as having failed to solve the major problems facing the nation. They are perceived as benefiting themselves, not the population as a whole.
They are out of touch and surrounded by people like themselves. They have stopped listening to the grassroots. They underestimate the depth and breadth of popular anger. That happened in both Washington and Westminster. The governing class fail to see the blow coming. That is how the party of the status quo is defeated by the candidate of the angry party, however incoherent his or her policies actually are."......
Click HERE To continue reading this article at  "Mercatornet"
December 2016
Trumped Up, Trickle Down Outrage
"We write just a few days after the 2016 American Presidential election. About half of those who voted were pleased with the result. The other half were displeased: approximately 60 million on each side. It’s not clear that a dispassionate observer would grasp that fact, however. For the loudest, most strident, most uncompromising voices are heard almost exclusively from one side of this divide: the losing side.
This is not the place to comment on the politics of the election. But the extraordinary response from those whose candidate lost an open, democratic contest reminds us that elections can uncover cultural as well as political fault lines...."
To Continue reading, click HERE at "The New Criterion"  
December  2016
A Sigh of Relief
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
To my mind, Democrat-party leadership in general, and the actions of the Obama administration in particular, have meant erosion of our most fundamental rights as American citizens: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The womb has become a parlous place under Democrats.  Frank encouragement of elective abortion is a national disgrace and not only violates the right to life of the most vulnerable, but also contributes to moral numbing and coarsening of our culture.  Government takeover of health care inevitably necessitates rationing and euthanasia for those who use too many resources—the elderly and those with expensive chronic illnesses and disabilities.  I can easily imagine, too, imposition of mandatory prenatal testing and forced abortion of “defective” fetuses.  
Basic liberties concerning free exercise of religion, free speech, and the right to peaceably assemble have been under serious assault.  We have not been able to feel confident of protection against unreasonable search and seizure of our personal information and effects (think mandatory reporting of income and assets;) due process (RICO statutes, for example;) or assurance that private property seized under eminent domain is actually for public use and not just for corporate profits (Kelo.)  The Left’s relentless assault of Second Amendment rights not only abridges liberty, but can also be construed as endangering the right to life.
The “pursuit of happiness” is usually understood to refer to the right to use one’s knowledge, talent, and drive to achieve material success and to maintain and control the fruits of one’s labors.  Confiscatory taxation and onerous regulatory laws seriously impede innovation and the creation, building, and sustenance of business enterprises.  
The American people have resoundingly rejected the Left’s agenda.  Now we pray that our new President and the members of the legislature, thankfully turned a little bit redder, will get the message and not betray us.  Donald Trump does not need to get rich through government service.  That gives me hope.  
Novewmber 2016
Progressives - 
the artists formerly known as liberals
Any differences?
"In 1988, in one of the presidential debates against Michael Dukakis, George H. W. Bush disparaged "liberals". The next day the  Mass Media celebrated what they regarded a a fatal gaffe by Bush, using "liberals" as a derogatory term. Much to their surprise, the public agreed with Bush and that agreement grew in the 90s to the extent that labeling something "liberal" hurt the cause to which was attached. I believed that was the reason "progressive" started appearing in contexts where we previously had seen "liberal."
I did my due diligence and asked Google: "What is the difference between liberal and progressive?"
The search turned up varying responses. Instructive was a discussion of classical liberalism [think Edmond Burke] and progressive liberalism."...
Click HERE to continue reading  at "I Really Miss Reagan - Musings from Malibu"
November 2016
A Messy Revolution
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
Now that we have seen the spectacle of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner relapsing into his addiction to the sexual perversion of exhibitionism, thereby totally destroying his marriage and his career, and possibly seriously traumatizing his young son, it is high time that we honestly assess and seriously work to turn back the damage done to our people by the reign of the terribles that was birthed by the “sexual revolution.”  
Factors underlying the profound changes we have seen in sexual mores are many, but probably the linchpin was the development of reliable contraceptive methods, unlinking sexual relations from reproduction and family creation.  Many of us were frightened by specious warnings about “overpopulation” into thinking that limiting family size was a dire necessity.  But, those who celebrated the prospect of sex without responsibility and without guilt have caused degradation and erosion of our culture.  Boys and men are devalued and girls and women are objectified.  Women are allowed, and even encouraged, to kill their unborn children.  Marriage is denigrated, distorted, and trivialized.   Societal messages are contradictory and confusing.  On the one hand, young women are taught that college campuses are infused with a “rape culture,” and on the other hand they face threat of social marginalization if they do not participate in “hooking up.” Apparel for girls, even young girls, is inappropriately revealing and seductive.   When my daughter’s girls were young, she appreciated my sewing most of their clothes because it was difficult to find modest but attractive clothing at the mall.  
Pornography has always been with us, and if only sexually explicit materials intended to cause or enhance sexual arousal were involved, and if former attitudes that kept pornography out of the family room and the department stores, and kept it “under the counter” in book stores and, figuratively, on the internet were still in place, it might not be a huge problem.   If porn is generally viewed as sleazy and as at best a vice, public opprobrium and shaming tends to keep it in line.
However, today it is difficult to escape being constantly assaulted by sexual images.  Additionally, these pornographic images are very often shockingly exploitive, portraying acts of degradation, punishment, and violence as sex.  Popular literature portrays men as abusive and controlling, and usually also powerful and rich; women are sexually naïve and ready to do or accept anything the man wants, even infliction of pain or bodily damage, to please a man and be sexy.  How does this square with the campaign for equal rights for women?  Girls and women are persuaded that to be desirable they must be “pornified,” and that seductive attire is necessary to demonstrate that they are comfortable with their bodies.  
There is growing evidence that pornography is addicting, and some argue that it should be treated as a public health concern.  There are documented changes in the brain associated with frequent and compulsive viewing of pornographic images.  There is evidence that affected people have at least as much difficulty quitting an addiction to porn as addictions to marijuana, and almost as much difficulty getting freed from porn as from heroin.  There is now a recognized urologic disorder, porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED, affecting significant numbers of men.  Leonard Sax, in his book, “Boys Adrift,” writes of the growing numbers of young men who are not interested in dating real women, but rather use internet porn as their preferred sexual outlet.  There is also evidence that men’s perception of women becomes more negative with consumption of pornography.  
Healthy sexuality involves engaging with another real person in an ongoing, committed, loving, and fruitful relationship.  Preoccupation with forms of sexual “gratification” that are purely focused on momentary pleasure; that are exploitive, endanger children, and encourage oppression of women; that interfere with normal sexual response and performance in men; and that bring about loneliness, alienation, corruption, and unhappiness must be discouraged.   People must be educated about the dangers of pornography and other perverted notions stemming from the sexual revolution.  It is up to those of us who believe in the value of life and life-affirming relationships to appeal to the self-interest of others by living our lives in ways that clearly demonstrate the enduring rewards of committed relationship.  
September 4, 2016
The Moral Preeners vs. Nearly Everyone Else
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch 
I read this morning that Syrian refugees who end up in Virginia are being resettled in that state’s poorest communities, action that will certainly strain already overstretched resources and probably cause at least concern and possibly harm to the residents of those areas.  This seems to me a very good example of what is a frequent pattern:  our elites implementing policies that make them look good among their peers, totally regardless of how their actions may increase hazards and the miseries of average Americans.  The elites, of course, arrange things so that they and their children can remain in the bubble and not suffer the consequences of dangerous urban spaces; failing and frequently unsafe public schools; oppressive regulatory laws, etc.
The members of the ruling class, abetted by the media and reinforced by government-controlled educational institutions, hew to the shibboleths grown from sixties radicalism that they believe make them morally and intellectually superior.  It is actually a pretty serious form of narcissism to think that we humans are destroying the planet by using coal or petroleum for energy production--or that we can save the planet at all--yet our rulers make laws that cause actual starvation by diverting corn to ethanol production, impoverish millions by destroying whole industries, and even result in the deaths of otherwise protected species of birds.  They continue to warn about overpopulation, when population control policies have actually caused irreversible doom to ethnic groups such as Italians and Greeks that have very low birth rates and have set China up for severe social unrest because of the scarcity of potential wives for their overrepresented young men.   The elites, channeling John Lennon, are so bent on making nice with a country that vows every day to destroy us that they place us all at risk of nuclear annihilation—meanwhile eliminating our means of defending our country from such attack.   Perversion of the principle of natural rights to the notion that anything that one longs for or desires is a right has resulted in legitimate authorities being stripped of reasonable power (think of the idiocy of college students dictating which professors are qualified to teach them) and weakening of our defense, as in police forces being cowed and thereby rendered less effective in stopping violent crime.
Somehow, no matter the bad outcomes of the conditions imposed on us, correct thinking insulates the elites from blame or criticism.  Those who think differently risk not only opprobrium, but perhaps much more than that.  As the system of checks and balances has been almost destroyed and the executive and judicial branches have arrogated unprecedented privilege and power, that power is being used more and more to reward friends and punish enemies.  It is utterly shocking, for example to know that the U.S. Attorney General is actually considering pursuing civil actions against “climate change deniers.”  Will a re-education camp be coming soon to a neighborhood near you?  
August 13, 2016
An Excess of Caution
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
Recently General Mills, “in an excess of caution,” has voluntarily recalled, more than ten million pounds of flour, and also some baking mixes containing the targeted lots of flour, because of the possibility that the flour was contaminated with a particular strain of E. coli bacteria.  This bacteria causes acute gastrointestinal symptoms, sometimes including bloody diarrhea.  In weakened individuals or the very young or the elderly, it may cause renal failure, and even death.  While E. coli contamination of grains is rare—meats and produce being more usual sources—it can happen if grain crops are irrigated with tainted water.  There were thirty-eight cases of illness caused by the E. coli strain in twenty different states.  Ten were hospitalized, none developed renal failure, and all recovered.  
Attempts to trace the genesis of such illness by the FDA include genetic typing of the organism and interviews with victims asking them to recall everything that they have consumed in the previous seven days.  Two cases involving genetically identical organisms are considered to constitute an outbreak.  In this case, about half of those who were afflicted reported having cooked something at home using flour, some reported using a General Mills flour product, and some admitted to possibly having consumed raw dough.  E. coli is destroyed by cooking, and General Mills flour products have a prominent warning, in red ink, on the packaging against eating it raw.   It should be noted here that, though heating does destroy pathogens, heat treating also damages properties of flour that affect its behavior in the cooking process.  Good-bye home baking.  
 According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, "To date E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products…"  Nevertheless, to protect their brand and fend off lawyers, General Mills made the recall, at considerable cost to the company and, ultimately, to consumers.
Does this seem like overkill to you?  Does it remind you of the famous case in which a woman successfully sued McDonald’s when she placed a cup of scalding hot coffee between her thighs while driving and suffered burns when the coffee—wonder of wonders—spilled?  Does it remind you of the rule at many schools barring any peanut containing foods in the building because one percent of the U.S. population has a peanut allergy?  Does it remind you of the current imbroglio over public restrooms in which we are asked to place our children at risk of affront or assault to accommodate a truly tiny slice of the populace?  Does it remind you of the insistence on providing “safe spaces” to mollify the habitually indignant?  Does it remind you of a bartender being sued because he served a person who drove away with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and was involved in an accident?
How much responsibility, really, does society as a whole have to accommodate the peculiar vulnerabilities, exaggerated sensibilities, or personality aberrations of a tail of the distribution when such accommodation causes marked inconvenience, distress, or economic harm to the vast middle?  I believe that full disclosure of ingredients in prepared foods is essential, but I also believe that the parents of a child with peanut allergy are responsible for teaching their child the appropriate preventive measures and appropriate intervention to avoid problems.  Warnings on labels about potential risks, such as from eating raw flour, are appropriate and pro-social.  Consumers, and not the providers of a good or a service, however, must be responsible for heeding warnings and exercising common sense.  
July 22, 2016
Acting Stupidly
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
Human beings very early learn and begin to implement behaviors that will help them to minimize risk and optimize safety.  Some examples:  infants who are just beginning to crawl possess depth perception and an awareness of danger of falling so that they will not venture onto a sheet of glass covering a depression; at eight or nine months, infants start to cry rather than smile at unfamiliar persons; in situations of abuse or trauma, even very young children will protectively withdraw in order to avoid psychological pain.  These behaviors are universal, and are countered and overcome only with further learning.
Responsible, pro-social, thoughtful black citizens are justifiably distressed by their awareness that they are often, on a first encounter, treated with wariness or outright suspicion by whites or people of other ethnicities.  One man wrote about women clutching their purses tighter when he stepped onto an elevator.   This is heartbreaking.
Those who are not so responsible or pro-social loudly complain that they are targeted by law enforcement because of their skin color.  They assert that they are hated and oppressed, not only by police, and politicians who pander to them encourage retaliation, outright violence, even killing in response.  
The truth is that a certain wariness is a rational response to the facts.  Blacks commit violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, and assault, at rates that are seven to ten times higher than rates for whites.  Even Jesse Jackson, in a remark that he would rue if it were widely reported, said some years ago that if he were walking down a Chicago street at night and saw a black stranger walking toward him, he would cross to the other side.   Even more than being a thought-out, rational response, it is a reflection of some hard-wired human behaviors that are in support of survival.  
So, if additional learning is necessary to overcome the self-protective behaviors of white people, is it likely that violent assaults and murders will be effective?  Talk about acting stupidly…
July 2016
Not so Fast, Mr. Ryan
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
House Speaker Paul Ryan has condemned, and even threatened to sue, Donald Trump over Mr. Trump’s promise to impose a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.  Mr. Ryan, and others on both sides of politics, have claimed that such a ban would be unconstitutional and in violation of our values and traditions as Americans.
In truth, there is much precedent for restrictions on immigration, both by Congress and by the President acting alone.  The Plenary Power Doctrine, articulated by the Supreme Court, gives Congress broad and deep power over immigration law.   Under powers granted by Congress, the President alone may suspend the entry of “any class of aliens as immigrants” if their entry would be detrimental to the nation’s interests.  
The 1952 MrCarran-Walter Act, devised in response to the threat posed by Communist infiltration of the United States, passed with broad, bipartisan support and over the veto of President Truman.  The Act allowed deportation of immigrants or naturalized citizens who engaged in subversive activities, and also allowed barring immigration by suspected subversives.  McCarran-Walter remains in effect, though it has been modified by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Hart-Celler), which gave preference to immigrants with needed work skills and family relationships with U.S. citizens; and by the Immigration Act of 1990, which aimed to increase the diversity of immigrant groups and to eliminate exclusions viewed as inhumane, such as of homosexuals.  President Carter invoked McCarran-Walter in 1980 during the Iranian hostage crisis.  He ordered that there would be no visas issued to Iranian citizens except for humanitarian reasons or in the service of our national interest; Iranian students in the U.S. were ordered to report to the INS, where they were questioned with regard to their support for Ayatollah Khomeini, and thousands of them were deported.  The ACLU and other left-wing groups accused Carter of fearmongering and of engaging in a witch hunt, and a lawsuit was filed on First Amendment grounds, but Carter’s ruling stood.  
Some critics object that Trump is targeting a religion, rather than a nationality.  There is, however, much to be said in support of the assertion that Islam is as much a political system as a religion.  Islam was actually founded on political grounds, when Mohammed was asked to be the ruler of the city of Medina because he was considered capable of resolving conflicts among several Arab tribes.  He was made leader, then proclaimed to be the Prophet of Allah.  Throughout its history, Islam has sought to extend the caliphate and impose Sharia Law on the world.  In more recent times, Islam has militated against Western “imperialism,” mostly focused on Western economic and cultural hegemony.  
Finally, it is important to recall that the rights confirmed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights are the rights of Americans, and cannot automatically be invoked by non-citizens.  Though we would like all peoples of the world to enjoy the natural rights enumerated in our founding documents, not all peoples or political systems agree, and some would prefer to destroy what we have, rather than to join with us in living lives as free men and women.  It behooves us to protect what we have.  
June 18, 2016
Anomie v.2
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch 
Pioneering French sociologist Emile Durkheim used the word, “anomie” in his 1897 book, “Suicide” to describe a situation in which the society’s standards and values are rapidly changing, causing people to feel confused, alienated, and purposeless.  He further wrote that significant changes in the economic fortunes of a society and especially a situation in which people are unable to achieve the commonly-held aspirations and values of the culture because of such changes, cause anomie and contribute to suicides.  His work was ground-breaking because he helped us to understand that societal factors, and not just individual pathology, could contribute significantly to self-destruction.
Today, we are immersed in a witches’ brew of disintegrative change, and the devastating impact on people is becoming more and more apparent.  I wrote a few months ago about the 15% increase in death rates of the white U.S. population ages 40-55—from drug-and-alcohol-related causes.  Murder rates rose nearly 17 percent in the nation’s 50 largest cities in 2015, following the ferment over Michael Brown’s likely “suicide by cop” in Ferguson, MO and the anti-police ideology pushed by our elites.  The suicide rate among middle-aged white women has risen by 80% in the last decade.  Among adolescent girls, ages 10-14, the suicide rate surged 200% between 1999 and 2014!  Incidence and prevalence rates of mental illness among adolescents have increased since the 1930’s, and today about one in five teenagers has a diagnosable mental illness.  
In the 100 years or more that the Progressives have gradually established the media and our educational establishments as their fiefdoms we have seen, in the name of creating a fairer and more just society, the growth of a truly monstrous regulatory state and a system of entitlements that have paradoxically damaged opportunities for personal development and entrepreneurship, hurt the cause of liberty, and sent us well down the path toward impoverishment.  Lower animals are given preferential protection and care over humans, to the extent that shooting a gorilla to prevent his killing a four-year-old boy is protested by thousands.  In the name of freedom, women are entitled to kill their unborn children, and there have been an estimated 56 million abortions since Roe v Wade (disproportionately killing black babies, by the way.)  Politicians whose behavior is breathtakingly corrupt, self-seeking, and dangerous to the nation get a pass if they cannot be proved to have literally violated a law.  The complete mismatch between radical Islam’s values and system of law and those of Western civilization is overlooked and their outright avowal of intent to conquer us denied.  A prospective employer cannot have confidence that a graduate of our public schools has developed the knowledge and skills required for successful job performance because everybody graduates, regardless of merit.  The schools teach students to be ashamed and apologetic about America.  Schools promote leftist propaganda, such as “climate change,” and encourage truly weird and destructive notions about sexuality and the family that further increase confusion in the young and cause fragmentation and isolation in our world.  Even basic sexual identity is now fluid and questionable. Religious liberty, the primary motivation for the creation of the United States of America, is denied in the name of forcing the public to pay for irresponsible life choices.  
Can it be that these changes are evolutionary?  Or are they part of a deliberate program?  George Orwell wrote, in “1984,”  “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”  
May 31, 2016
Cui Bono?
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
The Food and Drug Administration, through its newly-released regulations on electronic cigarettes, sounded the death knell for the numerous start-up businesses that are developing and marketing the devices.  The regulations forbid marketing of an e-cigarette until the FDA has approved an application  that provides proof that the product: 1.) is safer than regular cigarettes; 2.) that it helps smokers to quit; and that 3.) these benefits are substantial enough to outweigh the risk of e-cigarette “vaping” being taken up by nonsmokers.  The costs of compliance with these regulations are acknowledged by the FDA to be “burdensome,” with costs of at least $330,000. For each product!  What small business wishing to market at electronic cigarette can survive in this situation?   The big tobacco companies, which have been gobbling up the e-cigarette market, can survive, of course.  Hmmmm….
Worse, the new regulations seem to be totally wrong-headed in that they are meant to actively discourage development and use of e-cigarettes, which seem clearly to be a much safer alternative to tobacco smoking.    A barrier is erected that impedes research and development of improvements to the technology so that it could be even more effective in lowering the health risks of tobacco use. 
This is just the latest of a number of regulations imposed, purportedly in the public interest, that benefit entrenched interests or political favorites and do no or little good, and often great harm.
Consider the ethanol mandate, for one.  It has been convincingly shown that producing ethanol from corn consumes more energy than the energy saved by using it to replace part of the gasoline for motor vehicles, and that it damages the engines, besides.  Diverting this vital food crop has also resulted in the deaths of many from starvation, I read.  Distortion of markets is another result of this real ripoff that benefits a few powerful agricultural interests.
“Green energy” is another example.  Remember the frustrated and outraged citizens who were told that they must stop using incandescent light bulbs.  The dangerous “curly fry” fluorescent, now thankfully being superseded by vastly superior LED technology, was the product of General Electric, a huge political donor.
The Dodd-Frank legislation, which was supposed to be a means of financial “reform,” was almost certainly the main driver of the 2008 financial crisis.  There is much evidence of financial benefits to politicians and their friends associated with Dodd-Frank.
I could cite many more.  Some of the ridiculous and harmful regulations and laws foisted upon us result, no doubt, from legislators’ ignorance or lack of sophistication about the issues involved, especially the scientific aspects.  Other times, laws and regulations are passed out of hysterical overreaction to dangers or the hyping of trivial or nonexistent danger.  The banning of DDT, a time-tested and relatively benign pesticide when properly used, occurred in reaction to a non-factual scare-book, “Silent Spring.”  Unavailability of DDT has been directly responsible for millions of needless malaria deaths around the world.
Probably always a major contributor, though, is the fallen nature of human beings: vain, venal, and envious.  Albert Jay Nock, American Libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic, wrote more than eighty years ago, “Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional criminal class.” 
 May 14, 2016
A Whack Job on Reality
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
A Whack Job on Reality
What is the first thing we notice about a person we encounter?  Even if the person exhibits a feature that is outside of the average or normal range, such as extreme stature or girth, remarkable beauty or ugliness, a noticeable disability, or attire that stands out because it is unusual or very handsome or ugly, we are not likely to report to a friend, “I saw someone today who had the most incredible turquoise-colored eyes.  I don’t know whether it was a man or a woman.”  Yes, the first thing we notice about another is their gender and, seeing that, we are primed with a myriad of expectations about how that person will behave and relate, and also with behavioral “sets” concerning how we will relate to that individual.
A wealth of research in the fields of neurobiology, cultural anthropology, and evolutionary psychology have answered the question as to whether there is an objective and universal male and female nature.  The answer is a resounding “yes.”  Attempts to mute sex differences by giving young children gender-neutral playthings, for example, have failed.  Little boys are likely to see how far they can throw the baby doll or use the toy broom as a pretend sword, while little girls will wrap the toy truck in a blanket and put it tenderly to bed.   While males and females are certainly much more alike than different, we are different, and the differences are observed cross-culturally.  Differences exist not only in such obvious realms as body configuration, size, and strength, but also in patterns of mental aptitudes, abilities, and skills; reaction time; sensory-perceptual capacities; emotional functioning; interest and preference patterns; and interpersonal behaviors.  
Research over the last few decades has provided much understanding of the differences between male and female brains that underlie the observed differences in thinking, feeling, and behaving.  We are also learning more and more about the causes of anomalies such as same-sex attraction and gender identity disorder.  As most of you probably know, a newly-conceived human will inherit either two X chromosomes and, in the normal course of things, develop into a female infant; or an X and a Y chromosome and develop into a male infant.  But it is not only the chromosomal information that is necessary; there must also be an appropriate hormonal environment in the womb for normal sexual development of the fetus.  In the absence of testosterone, the XY embryo will be born looking like a normal female.  Conversely, an XX embryo exposed to testosterone in utero will be born looking like a normal male.  So, something extra is required for development of body and brain into the typical male pattern.  Additionally, there are stages of development of maleness or femaleness, in utero, mediated by bursts of testosterone, and if something goes awry in one or more of these stages, variations on the usual pattern will occur.  The stages of development may be thought of as corresponding to basic sex-linked behavioral patterns (aggressiveness vs. passivity;) sexual identity; sexual object choice (whether attracted to males or females;) and the control centers for the reproductive organs.  Male fetuses are thus more vulnerable to “mistakes” that may result in homosexuality, gender identity disorder, or other sexual anomalies.  Indeed, the incidence of both conditions is much greater among males than females.  
So, gender is much, much more than merely a social construct, as some wish us to believe.  There are people who are born with abnormal configurations of all aspects that make up one’s sexuality.  The proportions are small, however, and so if one has respect for the English language they must be designated as abnormal.  Mass media depictions have led to fabulously inflated estimates by young people of the prevalence of homosexuality.  One intelligent young man I recently encountered guessed that about 25% of people were “gay.”  The actual number is within the range of 1% to 3%.  Gender identity disorder is almost vanishingly rare at roughly one-twentieth of one percent of the population.  People so afflicted deserve our compassion and respect.  It is a good thing that people with same-sex attraction and those with gender identity disorder are met with greater acceptance and protected from unfair discrimination.  It is not a good thing when homosexual or transgender affectations or lifestyle are glamorized.  It is not a good thing when parents of young children who express a wish to be the opposite gender or show signs of confusion rush to conclude that their child is a transsexual and put in place medical and/or other “therapeutic” interventions to support a sex-change process.  In truth, gender “confusion” is fairly common among young children, and it almost always resolves within a few years.  It is not a good thing when large numbers of young people are given the impression that their sex, one of the most basic aspects of identity, is fluid, and that simply feeling uncomfortable in typical sex roles means that one is not really a man or a woman.  It is not a good thing to underplay the real peril that people with such abnormalities face, such as a 41% rate of attempted suicide with gender identity disorder.  It is not a good thing when there is agitation for unisex restrooms and locker rooms, creating perfect conditions for voyeurism, exhibitionism, and other forms of abuse of young girls and women subjected to predation by males posing as transsexuals.  
We can find, surely, ways to accommodate the needs of such people without violating the dignity and safety of others.  The Japanese and the French are ahead of us in designing public facilities that are private and even self-cleaning, and ingenious Americans will surely do likewise.  In the meantime, I hope that we can get free ourselves from ideological shackles concerning gender and come back to reality.  Vive la difference!  
April 2016
Pretty Simple, Really
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch
I read with great interest recently an op-ed by Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of the Success Academies network of charter schools in New York City.  Ms. Moskowitz described a pattern of criticism of the charters by the press and by many Education professors because they enforce what the critics paint as overly strict discipline.  The charters’ strict approach, including students being required to walk in orderly fashion in the halls and to follow a speaker with one’s eyes; and pushing students to achieve their potential create a safe, productive learning environment that supports student success, in Moskowitz’ opinion.  She compared as evidence the 90% math-proficient rate in Success Academies’ Central Harlem schools to the 15% math-proficient rate in Central Harlem’s district schools.  About ten times as many apply for admission to the charter schools as there are places available.  District schools, meanwhile, are under-enrolled.  Ms. Moskowitz wrote that parents know that lax discipline in schools puts their children at risk of bullying; of being robbed of learning time by disruptive behavior by others in the classroom; and even of being subjected to violent attack.  The parents who apply for Success Academies for their kids, and then hope and pray they will be accepted, know the difference between a good deal and a bad deal.  
As a Baby Boomer who attended parochial schools, I never sat in a classroom with fewer than forty-five students.  Seats were in rows; all stood and greeted the teacher; unruliness was not tolerated; and movement through the halls was orderly.  No one questioned that the teacher was in charge, and one teacher had no trouble managing the large number of students.  Outcomes were expected to be good, and they were.  Recently, I spoke about elections to a Civics class composed of students from a homeschool group.  They were informed and prepared; they asked many excellent questions; and they were extremely polite, to the extent of each one thanking me as they exited the classroom.  Clearly, those kids knew what was expected of them, and they delivered.
Many public schools, as we all know, have gone seriously over the edge.   Not only are many inner-city schools scenes of frequent threat and sometimes almost incredible mayhem, but students have little incentive to work hard, unless they have strong parents pushing them, because no one is allowed to fail.  Vast amounts of money are thrown the schools’ way, with no resulting improvement in outcomes.   
Yes, teachers must be accountable, and there should be well-conceived incentives in place for teacher excellence.  But students, also, must be held accountable, and incentives put in place for their behavior.  Teaching children is a most important service done for them, and education must be a collaborative endeavor.   A student’s presence in the classroom should be considered an earned privilege, rather than a prison sentence.  Students who neither maintain calm, orderly, attentive, and respectful behavior; nor demonstrate compliance with assigned work, should be excluded, with the expectation that they earn their way back into the classroom.   Issues would, arise, surely, with children who have incompetent parents, but basic student accountability must be upheld so that the classroom is a place wherein learning can take place.  
March 19, 2016
Another Way to Make America Great Again
by OFRW Political Education Chair Kathleen Burch 
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his 1835 book “Democracy in America,” cited the voluntary association as a significant force in building and sustaining the national character.  Tocqueville noted that Americans were committed to working together in clubs and mutual aid societies to help themselves and their larger communities.  We were different in this regard from the typical inhabitant of Europe, where the state had a much larger and more controlling role in the lives of ordinary citizens.  The voluntary association continued for much of our history to serve an important role in community-building and philanthropy.  One of the examples that I love is the construction of the Miami Conservancy District, a series of dams and levees designed to prevent recurrence of the disastrous 1913 flood in Dayton, OH.  This very successful project has a world-class reputation.  The striking fact is that it was built entirely from private subscriptions and local tax initiatives, rather than from federal dollars.  And, just last week, the Amish in a Pennsylvania town devastated by tornadoes worked together to set things right, raising the demolished school building within days. These examples demonstrate the effectiveness of involvement by those who are closest to the problem—who care the most—in addressing human concerns.
Contrast this to the deplorable state of education in America that has accrued since the federal government began taking a larger and more controlling role.  
A slender ray of hope shone through the clouds in December, with passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, replacing No Child Left Behind.  This long-overdue legislation provides for greater flexibility and decision-making at state and local levels and eliminates federal school ratings, federal teacher evaluation reform, and federal programs like Race to the Top.  It was accomplished with bipartisan support and, most astonishingly, there was also support and collaboration with the teachers’ unions!  We are accustomed to seeing the teachers’ unions in lockstep with those who want more central control in order to protect their turf (anti-school choice legislation and untouchable job protections, for example.)  
Does this mean that the teachers’ unions are paying attention to the desire of dedicated teachers in their membership to have more autonomy, more personal accountability, and a stronger connection with the community—to behave as true professionals?  I certainly hope so.  Does it mean that the leadership has become disenchanted with centralized, top-down control?  We’ll see.   Or, might it be that they expect that Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association, challenging the right of unions to assess fees for political advocacy from members who do not agree with the union’s political position, will be ruled in favor of the plaintiffs?  They might foresee that they would then need to make their organizations attractive to teachers by respecting them as professionals or risk catastrophic loss of membership.  We have seen, in states that have removed from unions the power of coercion by passing right-to-work laws, the unions bleed members.   Apparently, many people resent coerced union membership and do not believe that the benefits of union membership would be worth the expense.  
Unions were necessary and served an important purpose in their time.  Fundamentally, there should be no infringement of people’s right to create a voluntary association, in the form of a union, to make their lives better.  Conservative people have no quarrel with unions that advocate realistically for their membership and keep a strong focus on improving the profession or trade and the individual member’s practice.  Union activities that are problematic and potentially disastrous, are making demands that end up killing the business; and employing coercive practices that violate their members’ rights.  If the teachers’ unions truly are moving toward a model that is more practice-oriented and that has more of the character of a Tocquevillean voluntary association, we could expect to see real improvement in educational outcomes.  

FOR OLDER ARCHIVES, please direct your request to the Political Education Chair Kate Burch.