Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Exercises in Irony






















And finally, perhaps the best example of irony -- or maybe that could better be classified as hypocrisy.




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return for 2017 for Folks Who Insist Donald Trump is Not Their President


For all of those good folks that think President Obama's $40 payroll tax cut was wonderful, but President Trump's overhaul of the tax system to really increase deductions for the middle class are chump change and a give away to corporations, the new alternate 1040 federal tax form is now out for your usage.  The particularly relevant part is highlighted by the red arrow.  Cheers!


H/T: To friend T.T.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Professor Amy Wax: Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real Problems?

I ran across this article and thought it was excellent in articulating the growing problem of a lack of tolerance and critical thinking from many folks in academia, and indeed in society in general.  As we have seen on my own infinitesimally small corner of the universe here on Saving Common Sense, any orthodox, conservative, or politically incorrect opinion is often met by the wailing and gnashing of teeth by some folks on the far left.  

Instead of always addressing the merits of the arguments presented, more often than not, the responses from some people are typically nothing more than epithets of racism, fascism, authoritarianism, and so forth.  There no longer exists a platform for civil debate and indeed that is what the extremism of the far left seemingly hopes to achieve.  They don’t want an exchange of ideas and ideals.  They want the extermination of any opinion that runs contrary to their own.  This is done in an Alinsky-like manner through ridicule, demonization, and marginalization of those with whom they disagree.

Professor Amy Wax spoke at Hillsdale College on this very topic recently, and her speech was adapted into the following essay.  It perfectly encapsulates the problem at hand and shows the dangerous path this lack of tolerance for free speech from some of our brothers and sisters on the left has in its deleterious effect on our society.  Either we address this and overcome this knee-jerk intolerant reaction and begin to teach critical thinking in academia and in society again, or we will continue to sink even deeper into the divided cesspool this intolerance has created.  Enjoy.

“There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with plenty of lip service being paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them. 
The op-ed, which I co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University Of San Diego Law School, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9 under the title, ‘Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture.’ It began by listing some of the ills afflicting American society: 
‘Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.’
We then discussed the ‘cultural script’—a list of behavioral norms—that was almost universally endorsed between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s: 
‘Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.’ 
These norms defined a concept of adult responsibility that was, we wrote, ‘a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.’ The fact that the ‘bourgeois culture’ these norms embodied has broken down since the 1960s, we argued, largely explains today’s social pathologies—and re-embracing that culture would go a long way toward addressing those pathologies. 
In what became perhaps the most controversial passage, we pointed out that cultures are not equal in terms of preparing people to be productive citizens in a modern technological society, and we gave some examples of cultures less suited to achieve this: 
‘The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.'
The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large.”

Continue reading…

Monday, January 22, 2018

Schumer Shutdown, DACA, and Roe v. Wade

Things have been hectic for me lately so my writing has unfortunately taken short shrift again accordingly.  That said, I wanted to share a few thoughts on important topics to me.  Each of these issues is deserving of a more thorough article, but instead, with the constraints on my time, I am forced to give you the Reader’s Digest versions.

First, the asinine and cynically corrupt fools that participated in the Schumer shutdown of the government should be held accountable with the loss of their seats of power, if there were indeed any justice left in this nation.  Why these folks would vote against a spending bill which funds all the pet projects that the Democrats adore and contains nothing of substance for which they loathe is beyond me.

They have chosen, under the “leadership” of Senate minority leader Schumer to place the desires of DACA people over that of all other Americans.  The truly ironic fact that displays the cynicism of these folks that care more for illegal aliens and expanding their own political power through the immigration of more future Democrats is that congressional work on DACA was proceeding well already.  There was no need to attach a non-related immigration rider onto this spending bill.

Perhaps President Trump is right.  The senate may need to use the nuclear option and return to a simple majority to end debate and pass spending bills.  Oh, and by the way, Senators of both parties, why don’t you ALL do your damned jobs and pass a yearly budget for once and stop running the government on these continuing resolutions and then we wouldn’t be faced with these impending shutdowns every so often.  I am disgusted beyond belief with the Senate, and particularly with those that would fail to fund our nation’s defenders by holding them hostage if we don’t allow more illegal immigrants into our nation.

Second, regarding DACA, this is an issue which absolutely needs to be addressed, and should be the next priority after the Schumer shutdown is put to rest.  I have just listened to this blowhard asshat Schumer on TV blame the president, the Republicans, and everyone but himself and his cynical power-hungry crew, for this unnecessary shutdown.

His predecessor, Harry Reid, was a liar of such magnitude that he would make Hillary blush.  He was completely without any sense of honor or decency.  I had hoped that Senator Schumer would restore some sense of honor to the leadership of the senate on the Democrat side.  This speech doesn’t bode well for that notion, but I digress.

It is my opinion, that people who were minors when brought to the United States by their illegal alien parents should not be forced to leave the United States.  A bill should be passed that allows them and their parents permanent legal status to work and enjoy all of the rights and responsibilities of the United States with the exception of not being allowed to vote -- EVER for the parents and at least for ten years for the DACA child in question.  No, it is not the fault of these dreamers that their parents brought them illegally to the U.S., but a price must still be paid for breaking our immigration laws.

Further, as these good folks are granted legal status, an end to extended chain migration MUST be a non-negotiable part of this new law.  No aunts, uncles, third cousins and so forth should be granted legal immigration status simply on the fact that a related minor child was illegally brought into this country.  Of course this will not ever pass congress, as the very reason the cynical Democrats want passage of this is not out of any altruistic caring for the people in question, but because of the largely supported assumption that these people will become reliable Democrat voters.  THAT is the truth of which they will never publicly admit.

Finally, today, January 22, 2018, marks the 45th anniversary of the egregious Roe. V. Wade decision by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.  Since this “right” to kill our unborn children was dubiously discovered within the United State Constitution by our Supreme Court, over 60 MILLION children have been “legally” killed by abortion.  Further, this pernicious evil has occurred in defiance of our founding document as a nation, the Declaration of Independence, which states that we are endowed by our Creator with the inalienable right to life.   
               
Our third President and author of our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, once stated, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  And while the great Thomas Jefferson was referring to the evil institution of slavery, of which he paradoxically participated, the concept of God’s justice is still as valid today as it was those several hundred years ago.

When a nation destroys our innocent unborn, while God may not smite us all from the heavens above, He will allow us to suffer the consequences of our evil actions when it comes to our support of abortion.  And just like we had to suffer through our bloodiest war that nearly ripped our country asunder at the loss of over 600,000 American lives to finally end the evils of slavery, one wonders what the cost of justice will be for 60 million innocent unborn lives?

Oh, and on this horrific anniversary, ironically there is a blessed silver lining for me.  Happy birthday to my amazing daughter!

UPDATE:  It has now been reported as of mid-day today that Senator Schumer and his crew have duplicitously "ended the Schumer shutdown" by basically striking a deal with Republicans that mirrored the exact same deal offered on Friday night.  They basically shut things down to get a guarantee on a DACA vote that was not stalled and was moving forward.  This was nothing more than cynical political posturing.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Guest Post: Israel's Accomplishments and Contributions to the World

Contributed by Carrie

A bit of research points out that Israel is the best ally we have had since WWII! Whether you know it or not, many of the triumphs listed below have benefited you in one way or another.
Israel is driven to help others around the world. This tiny nation’s accomplishments have been shared world-wide to benefit humanity, no matter the politics. Just look at the sample list of highlights of this amazing nation’s achievements.

1. The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year.  Israeli date trees are now yielding 400 pounds per year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or a short ladder.

2. Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can lay claim to the following:
     a. The cell phone was developed in Israel by working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.
     b. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft - Israel.
     c. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium - 4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.
     d.  Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.
     e.  Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.
     f.  The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

3. Israel has the fourth largest air force in the world (after the U.S, Russia, and China). In addition to a large variety of other aircraft, Israel's air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16's. This is the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft outside of the United States.

4. Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined.

5. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

6. According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry's most impenetrable flight security. US officials now look (finally) to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.

7. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

8. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin - 109 per 10,000 people - as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.

9. In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute numbers, Israel has the largest number of start-up companies compared to every other country in the world, except the U.S.! (3,500 companies mostly in high-tech).  With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world, apart from the Silicon Valley, U.S.

10. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the U.S.
Outside of the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies.

11. Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East.

12. On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

13. Twenty-four per cent of Israel's workforce holds university degrees, ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland.  Further, 12 percent hold advanced degrees.

14. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

15. In 1984 and 1991, Israel airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews (Operation Solomon and Moses) at Risk in Ethiopia to safety in Israel.

16. When Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, she became the world's second elected female leader in modern times.

17. When the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day and consequently saved three victims from the rubble.

18. Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship, and the highest rate among women and among people over 55, in the world.

19. Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity.  (Hundreds of thousands from the former Soviet Union)

20. Israel was the first nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an international standard that certifies diamonds as "conflict free."

21. Israel has the world's second highest per capita number of new books.

22. Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert!

23. Israel has more museums per capita than any other country in the world.

24. Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.

25. Regarding the medical field, an Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment.  Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.

26. Israel’s Given Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. It is used to view the small intestine from the inside to spot cancer and digestive disorders.

27. Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the camera and helps doctors diagnose a heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.

28. Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U. S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions, Israel places first in this category as well.

29. A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the Clear Light device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct, all without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

30. An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant in southern California's Mojave Desert.

31. Israel has proven itself as a world leader in desalination after decades of research and entrepreneurship. Despite the criticism that it is expensive, (Israel is working on this issue too) desalination is being used globally as a major solution to water shortages. As a world-leader in water technologies, Israel’s experts are helping communities around the globe to harvest water from the ocean.


All of the above have been accomplished while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other county on earth.

Thanks to Carrie for contributing this post!

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Destructiveness of Identity Politics

In 1998 a brilliant engineer friend of mine called me and enticed me to come to work for him in starting up a new wireless network engineering consulting firm based out of the San Francisco area.  I was intrigued, so I jumped into my pickup and left Dallas, and gladly sped out to this most paradoxically amazing city.  It was a beautiful place with many interesting people.  It was also a mess and its intrinsic progressivism was not helping to make it better.  That said, the company got off to a good start in spite of this as we had signed several big contracts with large national wireless carriers in the region for our engineering and tower construction services despite the local governmental red tape.

One particular day, my friend and I met with a perspective new client that had agreed in principle to retain our services.  We were sitting together at a business lunch as my friend provided the resumes and profiles of several of the engineers we were offering for the project.  First were the two brothers from South Korea who were smart and knew how to get things done.  Next was the gentleman who was born in Nigeria and educated in the United States.  Then there was the young girl who was a recent college graduate, and then a white gentleman who was originally from the upper mid-west.

The client looked at the profiles, which included pictures, and then commented that he was impressed by the diversity of our engineering staff we had offered and thought very highly of this.  My friend and I looked at each other with a slightly confounded look on each of our faces.  It never occurred to either of us that we were presenting Asians, African-Americans, women, and a token white guy as a matter of filling some diversity quota, but rather these were the people that interviewed with us whom were best qualified for the job.  While obviously being aware of identity politics, it was the first time that it really came clearly into my conscious focus; it was my first real first-hand experience demonstrating that many of our leftist brothers and sisters do indeed look at people first through the prism of race and gender.

Identity politics has continuously crept into American society and has indeed been an integral part of most college curriculums and cultures for decades now as the militant Left in academia have taken the reigns of control over most of our universities and colleges.

Author Bruce Bawer in The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Politics and the Closing of the Liberal Mind regarding this leftist infestation in our institutions of higher learning, wrote the following, 
“The point [became] simply to ‘prove’ – repetitively, endlessly – certain facile, reductive, and invariably left-wing points about the nature of power and oppression.  In this new version of the humanities, all of Western civilization is not analyzed through the use of reason or judged according to aesthetic standards that have been developed over the centuries; rather, it is viewed through prisms of race, class, and gender, and is hailed or condemned in accordance with certain political checklists.”  
But why?  What was the reason and supposed necessity for the Leftist ascendancy of identity politics?

Matthew Continetti, the editor-in-chief of the Washington Free Beacon gave a speech last October that provides some insight as to why he thinks this came to be:
“The beginnings of identity politics can be traced to 1973, the year the first volume of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago – a book that demolished any pretense of communism’s moral authority – was published in the West.  The ideological challenge of socialism was fading, its fighting spirit dwindling.  This presented a challenge for the Left: how to carry on the fight against capitalism when its major ideological alternative was no longer viable?
The Left found its answer in an identity politics that grew out of anti-colonialism.  Marx’s class struggle was reformulated into an ethno-racial struggle – a ceaseless competition between colonizer and colonized, victimizer and victim, oppressor and oppressed.  Instead of presenting collectivism and central planning as the gateway to the realization of genuine freedom, the new multiculturalist Left turned to unmasking the supposed power relations that subordinated minorities and exploited third world nations.” 
And so the Left began indoctrinating our impressionable college students during the genesis of this nefarious ideology.  English classes became the study of texts to uncover power relations hidden within them.  History courses became “people’s history and their oppression”.  And of course we saw the rise and development at nearly every university of African-American Studies, Women’s studies, Chicano Studies, Queer Studies, and so forth, as we further tried to balkanize our national populace into disparate sub-groups of Americans. 

Of course anyone having the temerity to point this out was met with being labeled a racist, just as this practice of playing the race card has persisted among our sisters and brothers on the far Left today.

This pernicious ideology of dividing Americans through identity politics has become increasingly pervasive in our national culture.  Indeed on May 5, 2010, Live Oak High School south of San Jose in the Bay area banned “white students” from wearing shirts and clothing with the American flag on it as being provocative to Hispanic students on the Mexican national holiday of Cinco de Mayo.  Never mind that the Hispanic students roamed the campus with a Mexican Flag in celebrating a day that is not an official holiday of their current home nation.  Instead of the principal using this as a teaching moment between Americans of different ancestry, he simply forbid the wearing or displaying of the American flag by students on May 5th. 

While I do find fault with any students attempting to be intentionally provocative and belligerent to their fellow students of Hispanic ancestry, the principal basically curtailed their free speech as Americans.  The case went to court, and the hyper-leftist 9th Circuit of course upheld the principal’s actions.  The Supreme Court later refused to hear the case.

If we continue down this mine-laden path of identity politics and thus continue to divide our citizens into myriads of hyphenated-American subgroups, how can we expect to continue this great American experiment?  How can we keep this melting pot of many various and diverse citizens all coming together as Americans and not as a conglomeration of balkanized sub-groups whom are wary, suspicious, and antagonistic towards other sub-groups?

Last year, Columbia humanities professor Mark Lilla, who is himself a liberal, wrote,
“Identity politics on the left was at first about large classes of people… seeking to redress major historical wrongs by mobilizing and then working through our political institutions to secure their rights.  But by the 1980’s, it had given way to a pseudo-politics of self-regard and increasingly narrow, and exclusionary self-definition that is now cultivated in our colleges and universities.  The main result has been to turn people back onto themselves, rather than turning them outward towards the wider world they share with others.  It has left them unprepared to think about the common good in non-identity terms and what must be done practically to secure it – especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.”
Of course Professor Lilla’s comments were condemned by others on the Left as racist.

The continuing ascendancy of identity politics on the Left has proceeded unabated, especially on the national stage.  In 2012 during the Democrat National Convention, the inclusion of God in their Democrat platform was booed, while issues such as transgender rights to use the restroom of their choice, forcing nuns to purchase health insurance that necessarily included abortifacients, and fining Christian Bakers who refused to use their artistic abilities to furnish a cake for a gay marriage all became pertinent and immediate issues to the Left.

When Hillary Clinton ran for the presidency in 2016, one could find on her campaign website any number of tabs for various ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, but not a single one about a shared vision of American unity.

It was a far cry from then-Senator Obama’s 2004 DNC keynote speech at John Kerry’s official nomination for president, “There’s not a black America and a white America and a Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

It is ironic that such a grand and unifying theme was later abandoned during his own presidency as President Obama seemingly intentionally pitted black and white Americans against each other.  Rather than bringing us together as the United States of America, he proceeded to stoke the flames of race and turned us more into splintered and suspicious groups more akin to the former Yugoslavia.

The Left’s often dismissive, insulting, and self-righteous stance on the issue of identity politics will only continue to further fracture our increasingly-divided nation.  We must return to a love of our history and founding principles as expressed by our founding documents that we are ALL created equal.  We are united by freedom and equality and we should strive to ensure that all of our American brothers and sisters are treated as such, regardless of race, faith, gender, or whatever other potentially dividing characteristic that can be exploited. 

Unlike my client decades ago who reviewed the profiles of perspective engineers to work on his project and saw only their skin color and outward physical characteristics, we should strive to see each other as Americans first and foremost always - as fellow brothers and sisters created in the likeness of God.

Our motto as an American nation is “E pluribus unum” – or “Out of many, one”.  That is the ideal we should strive once again to achieve in this American melting pot, and throw away the divisive and destructive ideology of identity politics into the ash heap of history where it rightly belongs.