Why Record Numbers of Americans Are Renouncing Their Citizenship

Would you give up your citizenship in order to keep your bank account?

That’s a question few Americans would ever want to confront, yet many Americans living abroad are now having to answer.

A little-known tax law, known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, has resulted in some foreign banks no longer serving Americans.

The law, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, was intended to make it harder for Americans to keep money overseas and out of the reach of the IRS. The primary target was rich Americans allegedly hiding money from tax collectors.

To find tax avoiders, foreign banks are conscripted by the U.S. government to serve as a compliance arm of the IRS. As a result, many of these stranded Americans have had to make the undoubtedly difficult decision to give up their citizenship just to continue to access their banking services.

Last year, 5,411 people renounced their U.S. citizenship, the largest number of published expatriates in one year, continuing a four-year streak of record-breaking numbers.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requires foreign financial institutions, such as banks, to identify and report to the United States most types of transactions for all American clients.

These new regulations are enforced by the threat of applying a 30 percent withholding tax on revenues generated in the United States by the noncompliant foreign financial institution.

The reporting burden and withholding penalty faced by foreign banks trying to comply with the new regulations has made it easier for some Americans to renounce their citizenship than to find a bank that is willing to bear the bureaucratic costs of complying with the law.

These penalties are not just hitting the rich, and they are not just harming tax dodgers. The cost of complying with this law hits every American living overseas, not just those targeted by the original legislation.

Middle-class Americans living abroad who are fully compliant with U.S. tax laws are losing their mortgages, business bank accounts, and personal banking services. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act has unintentionally ruined some Americans’ livelihoods.

To add insult to injury, the cost of implementing this law may soon outpace the money that it brings in.

Furthermore, the direct cost to taxpayers does not include the compliance costs to financial institutions. A legal challenge to the law in 2015 estimated compliance costs alone were on track to total more than the 10-year revenue estimates.

These regulatory costs can discourage international business, slow investment, and hamper the global economy.

The root of the problem is more than just compliance costs, it’s the U.S. government’s presumption that it is entitled to your money even if it’s earned in another country.

The U.S. is one of just a few countries that claims taxing rights on labor income earned abroad. Such a system of worldwide taxation hurts the American economy and makes it much harder for Americans to live abroad

Hopefully, relief from this law is around the corner. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently released a bill that would repeal the onerous regulations.

Congress and the IRS should focus on the U.S. domestic tax system and leave Americans living abroad alone. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is yet another example of continued government overreach.

Hopefully, tax reform will bring with it relief for all Americans—including those living overseas. (For more from the author of “Why Record Numbers of Americans Are Renouncing Their Citizenship” please click HERE)

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Former Obama Official Says Bureaucrats Manipulate Climate Stats to Influence Policy

A former member of the Obama administration claims Washington, D.C., often uses “misleading” news releases about climate data to influence public opinion.

Former Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin told The Wall Street Journal Monday that bureaucrats within former President Barack Obama’s administration spun scientific data to manipulate public opinion.

“What you saw coming out of the press releases about climate data, climate analysis, was, I’d say, misleading, sometimes just wrong,” Koonin said, referring to elements within the Obama administration he said were responsible for manipulating climate data.

He pointed to a National Climate Assessment in 2014 showing hurricane activity has increased from 1980 as an illustration of how federal agencies fudged climate data. Koonin said the assessment was technically incorrect.

“What they forgot to tell you, and you don’t know until you read all the way into the fine print, is that it actually decreased in the decades before that,” he said. The U.N. published reports in 2014 essentially mirroring Koonin’s argument. (Read more from “Former Obama Official Says Bureaucrats Manipulate Climate Stats to Influence Policy” HERE)

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White House Survey Asks Public: Should the Presidency Be Eliminated

While some survey options fall in line with the traditional Republican agenda, such as cutting the Department of Energy and the National Endowment for the Arts, others appear to flout the power of the Washington D.C., establishment. The CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Pentagon, and National Security Council are also options.

The survey allows users to select entire departments or bureaucracies within each department. It also features a question regarding which agencies survey participants would like to reform rather than eliminate.

Most surprisingly, however, is the option to eliminate the “Executive Office of the President” altogether. Users can also select smaller branches of the executive office and other agencies. Even U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are options under the larger umbrella of Homeland Security.

Users can select as many options as they like and are also provided write-in boxes where they can list their suggestions and ideas in more detail.

The survey is an apparent result of an executive order President Trump issued on March 13. According to the website:

On March 13th, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order that will make the Federal government more efficient, effective, and accountable to you, the American people. This Executive Order directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to present the President with a plan that recommends ways to reorganize the executive branch and eliminate unnecessary agencies.

It claims the president is seeking Americans’ input to achieve this goal. “President Trump wants to hear your ideas and suggestions on how the government can be better organized to work for the American people,” the website’s statement reads. The survey will remain online until June 12 of this year.

It is unclear whether or not the president, like any other politician, is actually eager to hear the ideas of his constituency and Americans in general. While that could be the case, the website appears to be a useful tool, at the very least, for creating the appearance of accountability and concern with what voters actually want.

As TIME pointed out, “As an online poll that can be easily gamed, the survey is hardly scientific, but it could be a useful tool for the White House to push its own ideas down the road.”

For now, the results of the survey are hidden, and the site does not specify whether the final results will be made public. Notably, however, a disclaimer at the bottom of the page warns users that the White House “may not respond to every comment that is submitted and submissions do not bind the Office of Management and Budget or the Administration to further action.” (For more from the author of “White House Survey Asks Public: Should the Presidency Be Eliminated” please click HERE)

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Was the Hill Hoaxed Over Its Attack on Steve Bannon?

On Thursday, I reported on how The Huffington Post was hoaxed into running a column. It called for white males, worldwide, to be stripped of the right to vote. Then it came out that the piece was actually penned by a white guy as a satire. So of course somebody got fired.

Not the editor who greenlit and defended the piece. The author, whom Huffington editors outed to his employer. The satirist lost his job with a think tank, and The Huffington Post yanked the column, which now it decided was hate speech. Because it didn’t want to yank people’s voting rights based on race. I’ll pause for a moment, to let the reader assimilate all that.

Did Steve Bannon Hoax The Hill?

And now, it appears to me that the online journal The Hill was the victim of a similar hoax. I believe, based on an analysis of internal evidence such as tone, logic, and content, that the April 20 column “America’s biggest enemy isn’t North Korea or Iran — it’s Steve Bannon” with the byline “Mark Feinberg” was written by Bannon himself.

Don’t put it past him. TIME magazine dubbed Bannon “The Master Manipulator.” That’s a cover story which the New York Times’ Frank Bruni believes helped to alienate Donald Trump. Assuming that Trump is the insecure, short-fingered doofus painted by liberal media, Bruni thought the article made Trump so defensive at the perception that Bannon was pulling his strings, that it led Trump to sideline Bannon.

That seems to me unlikely. But Bannon is certainly crafty. He catapulted Breitbart to the top of conservative media. Then he went on to take Trump’s stalled presidential campaign and make it a winner. Would you really put it past Steve Bannon to counter the constant media hammering he’s getting by trolling himself in print?

If you believe unsourced media speculation (and who among us doesn’t?), you’re convinced that Bannon and the rest of Trump’s campaign team have deep ties to the Kremlin. And an old standby tactic of Soviet propaganda was “disinformation.” The KGB raised it to a high art in its heyday. A favorite trick: releasing truthful but embarassing information in a crass, discredited source. Then if a real newspaper ever uncovered it, no one would believe it.

Is it really so surprising that Bannon would craft an attack on himself so over the top and absurd that it discredits mainstream criticism? Even better, that he’d get it in a staid, non-partisan venue such as The Hill? (It’s not a left-wing rag. I’ve written there myself.)

So Many Random, Unsupported Charges, the Author’s Clearly Kidding

Okay, so we’ve established plausibility. Bannon might be behind this. But where’s the evidence? The piece is riddled with it.

First of all, the title. “America’s biggest enemy isn’t North Korea or Iran — it’s Steve Bannon.” Could we go a little further over the top? So a mere presidential advisor is more of a threat than a nuclear-armed totalitarian state, and a leading sponsor of international terrorism.

Not just a threat, but an “enemy.” It’s not customary in America to call one’s political opponent an “enemy” of the nation. I don’t think Pat Buchanan ever said that of Bill Clinton, or Trump of Hillary. Even “screaming Howard” Dean didn’t say it about Mitt Romney. (Though Dean claims that Ann Coulter’s “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment. Maybe Coulter is secretly controlling Howard Dean — but that’s a topic for a future investigation.)

The Hill piece goes on to call Bannon “a dangerous figure.” The evidence offered? “Bannon reportedly works 18-hour days behind the scenes to promote a far-right, extremist, white nationalist agenda.”

No one has ever offered a speck of credible evidence that Bannon is a white nationalist, of course. His Jacksonian nationalism is race-neutral. Trump made as much clear in his first speech to Congress.

The Stream has explored Bannon’s views via his 2014 speech at the Vatican. Bannon does resent globalist influence-peddlers and crony capitalists. But those folks come in all colors. The charge that Bannon is an anti-Semite collapsed from a total lack of evidence. Then it was drowned out by Jewish conservatives rallying to his defense. Just another strand of spaghetti, peeling quickly from the wall.

Neo-Nazis Under the Bed

The op-ed takes the white nationalist charge as proved and quickly moves on. Next it asserts that Bannon is an “enemy of the Constitution.” So by having him as an advisor Trump is violating his Presidential Oath of Office. Read for yourself:

Like every president, Trump vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, and the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency depends on fulfilling that oath. This is why his hiring of Steve Bannon has tainted his presidency from the beginning: Trump vowed to fight enemies of the Constitution, not to hire them.

Even worse, Bannon was able to “transform Trump’s finely honed ability to insult and humiliate opponents into the leading edge of a multi-pronged, strategic propaganda machine.” Dear me. Did the article just say that … Bannon helped Trump campaign more effectively, and win? We can’t have people like that running around the White House, so close to the nuclear button.

So what is the hidden agenda of this “dangerous figure” that makes him an “enemy of the Constitution”? In fact it’s such a threat that he must be fired to save the “legitimacy of Trump’s presidency”? The article exposes the ugly “facts”:

[Bannon] shaped Breitbart into a unifying platform for a spectrum of hate, ranging from Tea Party racists to far-right extremist groups like neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white nationalists. The core shared goal among this spectrum of far-right extremist groups is to build a new muscular America as a white ethnostate.

You might think that those links lead to statements by Bannon that prove the author’s point. Or at least pieces he ran at Breitbart that express such sympathies. That’s the kind of evidence, if it existed, that a sincere critic of Bannon would compile and use to damn him.

But the author of this piece does not seem to be trying to hurt Bannon. So he sends readers off on a wild goose chase. The first link goes to a random piece from Mother Jones that lists crank neo-Nazis who offered Trump unwanted endorsements which Trump ignored. (Just so, Hillary Clinton ignored the endorsement of the head of the Communist Party, USA.)

The next link goes to an article about white race fetishist Richard Spencer, who has never been published at Breitbart. He had not the slightest link either to Trump or Bannon. He’s just a small time hustler trying to hitch his racist wagon to the nearest rising star. Clearly, the piece’s author is trying to frustrate readers and exhaust them.

Bannon Has a Potty-Mouth

For the next piece of “evidence,” the piece cites some emails from Bannon. In them, Bannon spoke with profane contempt about an anti-Trump congressman, Jason Chaffetz. These establish that Bannon has a temper and a potty-mouth. But they have nothing to do with the charges in the previous paragraph. Nor are they linked to anything asserted in the next paragraph. They’re just random information, with no connection to charges of racial or ethnic bias. None. Surely the author knew this. No one is this incompetent.

I could go on and on. Instead let’s finish with this paragraph:

It’s thus predictable that, in the White House, Bannon would be determined to move the hate-right agenda forward regardless of constitutional protections, legal restrictions or democratic norms. Bannon is said to have been the architect of the unconstitutional and doubly cursed Muslim ban; he over-ruled specific legal advice within the administration in doing so; and he has shown a proclivity to use aggressive threats to silence the press and bend members of Congress to his will.

“Doubly-cursed”? Come on. That’s the kind of language used in fatwas coming from Islamist sheiks in Egypt, not academics at colleges in Pennsylvania. Again, nothing the author asserts even tries to establish that Bannon is an “enemy of the Constitution.” He’s just a political figure promoting policies liberals don’t like. Even left-wing professors consumed with hatred for Bannon, Trump, and Trump’s voters aren’t this sloppy and incoherent.

“Mark Feinberg, Ph.D.” Indeed

No, this is a nasty caricature. A right-wing parody of progressive hysteria penned by the very man it pretends to attack. This column has Bannon’s nefarious ink-stained fingerprints all over it.

If “Mark Feinberg, Ph.D.,” really exists, and really is a “research professor of Health and Human Development at Pennsylvania State University,” as The Hill’s byline asserts, then I am really the Queen of Spain.

Good one, Steve. You had some people fooled! (For more from the author of “Was the Hill Hoaxed Over Its Attack on Steve Bannon?” please click HERE)

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America’s House Is Divided Over Faith. What Can We Do About It?

New research confirms yet again what many Americans already knew: The divide between Left and Right in America is widening even further.

A post entitled “Don’t Bet On The Emergence Of A ‘Religious Left’” from the Public Religion Research Institute’s research director, Daniel Cox, highlights how the American Left is becoming less religious at a much faster rate than the Right.

Cox explains:

Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) liberals are religiously unaffiliated today, more than double the percentage of the 1990s, according to data from the General Social Survey. In part, the liberal mass migration away from religion was a reaction to the rise of the Christian right. Over the last couple decades, conservative Christians have effectively branded religious activism as primarily concerned with upholding a traditional vision of sexual morality and social norms. That conservative religious advocacy contributed to many liberals maintaining an abiding suspicion about the role that institutional religion plays in society and expressing considerable skepticism of organized religion generally. Only 30 percent of liberals report having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in organized religion. Half say that religion’s impact on society is more harmful than helpful.

Of course, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, if one takes seriously the research in Rodney Stark’s 2015 book “The Triumph of Faith.” In the book, Stark – a sociologist at Baylor University – looks at the inherent flaws in a great deal of similar research and how its missed nuances skew the numbers away from a more accurate and detailed understanding of religious belief in the U.S.

But this research does indeed speak to an apparent truth to even the most casual observer: Religion on the Left is dying out. Furthermore, it also suggests that while organized religion on the American Right has also diminished over the past few years, the chasm between the faiths of the two poles of American political life is growing wider.

Even more, the philosophical frameworks in which we debate the issues of the republic are growing more and more different from each other, leading us to effectively talk past each other, not debate, on issues like religious freedom, marriage, abortion, and others.

It’s nearly impossible to deny that the Left is becoming not only less religious, but more anti-religious. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that liberal churches have been dying for some time while conservative denominations thrive.

This divide is evident most of all in how political coalitions have changed over the years. Cox says “religious liberals who once operated in the center ring may now have to come to terms with working outside the spotlight,” and he appears to be right.

While the Democrat Party and the greater political Left used to have a space for religious progressives, this wiggle room has all but disappeared. One need only look at the remaining handful of pro-life Democrats in Congress or the dramatically altered landscape regarding conscience rights between the 1993 passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and today to get a glimpse of a much larger picture.

The other side of this is where religious conservatives should take the most heed. While the increasingly irreligious Left may be out of political power, at least until 2019, it has cultural cachet in spades. This will naturally prompt a different kind of public engagement paradigm from that seen in past generations – ones that Rod Dreher, Anthony Esolen, and R.R. Reno seek to outline in recent books – the former two of which I am still digesting.

One thing is certain: In the present and future political landscape, culture and community will indeed have to be the new watchwords of political engagement for those who still hold fast to the classical triad of the true, the beautiful, and the good.

One clear implication for both sides of the divide, however, is a need to return to the tenets of our original federal system.

We have never in recent memory been more divided in our worldviews as fellow citizens. Ironically, we have also never in recent memory been so in need of a federal system that allows for different societies in this union to govern themselves while debating issues that affect us in the public square, and we have never been farther from it. In an era of such contrast among fellow citizens, good fences are necessary to good neighbors; it’s high time we mended them. (For more from the author of “America’s House Is Divided Over Faith. What Can We Do About It?” please click HERE)

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Netanyahu Welcomes ‘Great Change’ Under Trump During Mattis Visit

The leader of Israel is no longer hiding his relief that he gets to move on from the anti-Israel policies of former President Barack Obama.

Greeting U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis Friday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted the “welcome change” in the new administration under President Donald Trump.

Mattis is in Israel as part of a greater Middle East trip in which he has been meeting with American allies throughout the region. The retired decorated general turned secretary of defense had stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia before arriving in Jerusalem for the third leg of his trip. He will visit Qatar on Saturday and Djibouti on Sunday, before heading back to Washington.

“Israel has no better friend than America. America has no better friend than Israel,” Netanyahu said upon greeting Mattis for their joint press conference. “This is a partnership based on common values in the deepest sense of the word.”

Netanyahu praised Mattis and President Trump for their “clear and forthright” language used to describe the threat from the terrorist regime in Iran.

America and Israel face “twin threats” in today’s global security environment, Netanyahu explained, discussing how their common adversaries include the “Shiite extremists led by Iran and the Sunni extremist led by Daesh (the Islamic State).”

Mattis added: “Especially the week before Holocaust Remembrance [Day], I think it’s important that we remind ourselves that if good people don’t band together, then bad people can do a lot of damage in this world.”

Earlier, Mattis met with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. The two discussed the major threat posed by the Iranian regime’s use of terrorist proxies to achieve its goals, and how Tehran continues to threaten global stability with its nuclear program.

Israeli leaders, Netanyahu especially, appear relieved that they no longer have to deal with the Obama administration’s constant harassment of the Jewish state.

Obama accused Israel of “humiliating” Palestinians. His top diplomat, John Kerry, accused Israel of becoming an “apartheid” state, and claimed Israel could not be both Jewish and democratic. The Obama administration also delivered the theocratic regime in Iran over $100 billion in unfrozen assets, and empowered Islamic supremacists worldwide with his support of the Arab spring revolts. In Obama’s last days, he allowed the United Nations to pass an anti-Israel resolution that was so vehemently toxic even Democrats rebuked the former president for his hostility to Israel.

That’s why it surprised nobody when Netanyahu accepted what he called “a great change in the direction of American policy.” (For more from the author of “Netanyahu Welcomes ‘Great Change’ Under Trump During Mattis Visit” please click HERE)

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Sen. Lee Won’t Let the Left Rewrite the Story of American Slavery

Slavery was not abolished wholesale in the United States until 1867 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. So ended the great black mark of our republic. However, for the state of Massachusetts, that mark ended before the turn of the 19th century.

One of the most pivotal players in making the Bay State slave-free long before full emancipation was a slave herself. And as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, details in his new book, “Written Out of History” (Penguin Random House), she fought for her own freedom in court long before the outset of the Civil War.

In the collection of stories about forgotten figures in America’s founding, Lee tells the story of Mum Bett, who was a slave in the home of Colonel John Ashley in Massachusetts.

She longed for freedom, and the words of the Sheffield Declaration – which was mostly drafted in her master’s study – especially resonated with her. So much so, it eventually drove her to seek out the kind of liberty that people like Ashley were writing about and fighting for.

“Mum Bett heard those who gathered in her master’s house discussing the principles of freedom and liberty on which the new nation was being founded,” Sen. Lee writes. “Even as a slave, [she] … knew those words were meant for her also.”

For years, Bett waited and yearned for the realization of her God-given liberty, until one day, a particularly appalling run-in with Mrs. Ashley spurred her to take action.

The book recalls that Bett and her sister, Lizzie, were working in the kitchen when Mrs. Ashley spotted Lizzie eating crumbs and scraps from a batch of bread she had just made. Screaming, “Thief, thief,” Ashley went to the stove and pulled out a red-hot coal shovel, lifting it above her head.

The book described the rest as such:

As Mrs. Ashley swung to bring the shovel down on Lizzie, Bett dived forward and placed herself in between her sister and her crazed mistress, with her arm above her head. Her arm caught the force of the blow, shielding Lizzie. The pain was searing. Bett felt it start in her arm and immediately radiate outward, shocking her entire body. But she didn’t scream.

Bett summarily walked out of the house and down the road to enlist the aid of politician and attorney Theodore Sedgwick – who had helped Colonel Ashley with the Sheffield Declaration years before – to represent her in a lawsuit for her freedom. He took her on as a client.

Then it was on; the lawsuit began with another slave of Ashley’s son in a nearby town.

Eventually – after a long wait for the trial and some legal shuffling, the jury found that Bett was a free woman, and that no other human being had any claim to her ownership under the new constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Ashleys even had to pay damages.

Later, the liberated Mum Bett would become Elizabeth Freeman and would take a job as a paid servant of the Sedgewicks under her own volition, quickly becoming a “pillar of the household.” She would eventually die some years later in a home she bought with her own savings, leaving a legacy of liberty in our fledgling republic.

“When she won,” Sen. Mike Lee writes, “it was a victory for natural rights in the face of entrenched interests.

“When the first U.S. Census was taken in 1790, nine years after Mum Bett’s victory in court, her home state of Massachusetts was the only state in the new nation that was found to have no slaves among its population.”

Mum Bett – properly Elizabeth Freeman – is just one of a handful of forgotten figures memorialized in the pages of Lee’s newest work. “Written Out of History” follows two years after the publication of his previous one, “Our Lost Constitution,” and seeks to offer “a true, alternative history of our nation’s founding.”

By telling the stories of people like Freeman, George Mason, Aaron Burr, and others, the senator says that he hopes to remedy what he sees as an imbalance in our popular understanding of the Constitution – one which tends to err on the side of big government (and against liberty).

Lee contends all this is no accident; it is because of the framing of the founding by the Left. And that is what makes the all-but-forgotten history lessons of the book (to be released on May 30) so necessary.

Lee concludes with today’s hard truth: “If you don’t fit a certain version of history […] if your story is inconvenient to the notion that we all benefit from a strong central government in which every aspect of human existence can be regulated by bureaucratic experts in Washington, then you might run the risk of being written out of history.” (For more from the author of “Sen. Lee Won’t Let the Left Rewrite the Story of American Slavery” please click HERE)

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Protest All You Want, but Science Can’t Tell Trump How to Govern

[Yesterday], a group of concerned citizens participated in the March for Science, a gathering on the National Mall in Washington, DC, protesting the Trump Administration’s attitudes towards science, accompanied by the assertion that science should be a motivating factor in determining public policy.

The appeal to science is one of the progressive movement’s go-to tactics in the attempt to appear reasonable and unbiased. After all, science doesn’t have a political agenda, right? As Joe Friday said, it’s “just the facts, ma’am.” And since science is synonymous with learning, inquiry, and critical thought, the only people who would reject science must be ignorant, unintelligent, and superstitious.

The trouble with this line of reasoning is that it anthropomorphizes science into something that has opinions, conclusions, and recommendations. This not only fundamentally misunderstands the concept of science, but can lead down some pretty dangerous roads if we’re not careful.

First of all, let’s get straight what science is and is not. The word “science” is only a noun for grammatical convenience. In reality, science is not a “thing,” but a set of methods that, when applied appropriately, can answer certain questions about the world in which we live. Science is a process. It is not something you can “believe in,” and it cannot “say” anything. When you hear people claiming to believe in science or that science says the Earth is warming, they are misusing the term and projecting their own beliefs onto a set of abstract principles.

And while science is excellent at answering questions when applied properly, it can also be applied improperly, or used sloppily to give answers that don’t reflect reality. This is why it’s so ridiculous to assign conclusions to science. The conclusions are really those of certain fallible humans who have used certain techniques in an effort to answer questions. You can argue that their techniques were good or bad, but you can’t just declare an entire discipline in agreement on any questions of great import.

It’s all well and good to say that science should guide public policy, but what does that really mean? In one sense, this is basically the same as saying language should guide public policy. It’s so obvious as to be meaningless. Every road and bridge, every piece of military equipment, all telecommunications were designed and constructed using scientific principles. Without science, it would be impossible to have any public policy at all.

What these protestors really mean, of course, is that they want their particular conclusions on controversial topics to be the standard by which government operates, particularly when it relates to climate science. But even if we could all agree that climate change is caused by man and is something that will cause problems, science cannot tell us what to do about it. Decisions about tradeoffs between human welfare now and in the future, prioritizing some people over others, and central planning versus individual freedom are well outside the scope of the scientific method.

I cannot help but be reminded of our most scientifically minded president, Woodrow Wilson. The only president to hold a Ph.D., Wilson was eager to use science to guide the country forward, and this eagerness caused him to embrace some things that, in hindsight, were really, really bad ideas. The American eugenics movement, supported by Wilson, held that the nation could be improved by forcibly sterilizing the unfit, the criminals and the mentally disabled and allowing only the strongest to breed. Darwin’s theory of natural selection gave scientific credence to the idea that this was possible, and so-called enlightened men went along with it. Tens of thousands of Americans were forcibly sterilized before the horrors of World War II soured us on the idea.

The point of this story is not to say that global warming alarmism is akin to eugenics, but to point out that science cannot answer the moral questions, such as “Is it okay to rob people of their liberty for the good of the species?” That is the domain of philosophy. Personally, I would rather more energy be spent on ensuring that our president has a good philosophy of government than on flogging for science that can be misused and manipulated — and that ultimately can’t answer life’s most important questions. (For more from the author of “Protest All You Want, but Science Can’t Tell Trump How to Govern” please click HERE)

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The Firing of Bill O’Reilly

Fox News fired its most popular host, Bill O’Reilly, this week. The firing came after The New York Times reported details of more than $13 million paid to women who worked on or appeared on O’Reilly’s show. The women had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment. O’Reilly at first “denied the claims have merit,” but Fox apparently concluded otherwise.

It must have been a difficult conclusion at which to arrive. O’Reilly has been a ratings and economic juggernaut for Fox. He attracts about 4 million viewers, and in 2015 the program generated about $178 million in advertising revenue.

I do not want to put O’Reilly on trial here, but it is fair to say that Fox would not have made this decision unless the evidence was compelling. A statement released by Fox read, in part, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”

O’Reilly’s fans are attempting to paint him as a victim of a politically correct environment. Ed Martin, president of Eagle Forum, the organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, wrote: “O’Reilly is a folk hero to the regular folks in America who know the truth.”

I have a different perspective. I commend Fox for making a courageous decision that will no doubt cost it millions of dollars in the short term. What is sad is that a man many people saw as an effective spokesman for their values has been rendered impotent because of his character.

This story is not a new one, of course. Moses, David, and Samson are just three of many powerfully gifted men whose character flaws kept them from being and doing all that God intended for them. More recently, Roger Ailes and Michael Flynn have likewise risen because of their competence and fallen because of their character. Young media celebrities such as Tomi Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos have flamed out in spectacular fashion.

But National Review columnist David French has pointed out that the rises and falls of these conservative celebrities may be as much our fault as theirs. French writes that we have created a “toxic culture of conservative celebrity” in which we value not the character of our leaders, but rather their ability to inflict wounds on our political enemies. “Knifework, not character or integrity, is what we demand from our ideological gladiators,” French writes. “We’re paying the price.”

Lessons from the O’Reilly Episode

So what can we learn from the O’Reilly episode? Here are a few possible lessons:

First, we should demand character, not merely competence, from our political leaders and cultural spokesmen. Those who oppose conservative and Christian ideas will seize any opportunity to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. We should be careful about whom we look to as spokespeople.

Secondly, let’s remember that “conservative” does not always equal “Christian.” We live in an era in which the culture is trending away from Christian ideas and toward secularism. So conserving what came before often — not always, but often — means conserving Christian ideas. But when and where that is not the case, we should be careful to promote Christian ideals and not merely conservative ideology.

Thirdly, we should remember that the ends do not justify the means. The Christian worldview is true, but it is not merely true. It is also good and beautiful. If we resort to the ugly, the evil, and the banal in our public discourse and private lives, we undermine the truth of the story we want the world to hear.

Finally, let’s not depend so much on our media stars to do the heavy lifting of cultural change. Here at the Colson Center we talk often about “de-professionalizing” the work of the Gospel, including the work of cultural change. By that we mean that raising our kids means more than just sending them to the right youth group. And cultural engagement means more than following a media celebrity on Facebook or retweeting a clever meme.

I often speak to young people who are burning with enthusiasm to “make a difference” in the world. My counsel to them is usually “If you want to change the world, first make your bed.” We should remember that the best evidence for the transformative power of the Gospel is the testimony of our own transformed lives. Christians should live differently if we want our ideas to have credibility in the public square.

To conclude: I cannot say with certainty whether Bill O’Reilly is guilty or innocent of the sexual harassment charges, but the evidence we do have, and his spectacular fall from public favor, should lead to a teachable moment for the conservative movement and Christians in particular. We should take a good, long, hard look in the cultural mirror and remember Shakespeare’s words: “The fault . . . is not in our [media] stars, but in ourselves.” (For more from the author of “The Firing of Bill O’Reilly” please click HERE)

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March for Science a Dud

I am pleased to report the asinine March “for” “Science” has been a dud.

Organizers lit the fuse of what they thought was going to be an enormous stick of dynamite. Wait until you hear the boom, honey! But what they got was tiny pop from a damp ladyfinger.

Pop. No exclamation mark.

The Independent quoted some guy called Peter Lipke, who said, “I’m a science professor.” This prepped the reader, signalling some solid science was on its way. Lipke continued, “The current administration has shown complete disregard for facts and the truth.”

Now, scientifically, this is a dumb statement, because, of course, it is false. It’s not only false, it’s petulant fantasy. President Trump has only been in office a short while, and it’s not like he’s taken to television and said, “My fellow Americans. E equals M C-squared is inefficient. I propose to Make America Great Again with C-cubed.”

The most the perpetually “outraged” have on him is that his administration removed the global warming propaganda from the White House website. Big deal. Yet it was that “momentous” event that triggered the easily triggered into staging the March.

The insufferable and ever-smug Vox began its “explanation” of the March with a picture of a kid, maybe eight or so, holding the sign, “Climate change is real.”

As (ahem) I explained before, there isn’t anybody outside the walls of any medical institution that doesn’t believe that. So this poor young man could just as well held up a sign which read, “Ice is colder than steam.”

I bet he would have received a special award for that.

In the same Vox picture, a plain-looking woman is holding the sign, “Your global warming can’t melt this Snowflake.”

She’s right, you know. Given global-warming-of-doom has failed to materialize as predicted (over and over and over again), very few snowflakes are being melted.

Vox never disappoints. They checked the “fatuous” box by quoting a sociologist who “studies protest movements”, and she said — are you ready for more science? — “Protest is also an opportunity to create what we call ‘collective identity.’”

Who knew? I mean, who knew scientists were so smart?

That’s a real problem. The tasks and decisions ahead of us are far too important to be left to scientists. A scientist will tell you on Tuesday that “David Hume teaches us that ought cannot be derived from is,” meaning the moral and ethical consequences of any decision do not follow from any fact, such as what the temperature outside is.

But then on Thursday, this selfsame scientist will screech in your ear that “Climate change is real!” as if it is obvious what moral and ethical decisions we must make because of that fact.

Whether the scientist is right about Hume, her statement proves the real problem we’re facing is not one of science, but of philosophy (and religion). Science is tiddlywinks next to the metaphysical dilemmas gripping the West. But never mind. That subject is too much for us today.

Time magazine kindly supplied a video of high-pitched, ear-grating woo-wooing protesters (I still say the DOD was wrong to reject my proposal to weaponize the progressive protester voice). One guy held the sign, “Climate change cannot be undone by tweeting.” But it can be by holding up an idiotic sign?

A white lady, with what looked like tape across her mouth (it could have been a pacifier), held up the science sign, “White supremacists have melanin envy.” Dude, loosen the tape and have something to eat. Your synapses are running low on glucose.

In one of the satellite marches in Los Angeles, a good handful of people showed up, one carrying the sign, “Make wind, not warming.” Flatulence jokes in a science march? Where’s the respect?

In London, another sign: “Wake Up World! *Can’t eat money *Can’t drink oil. SCIENCE for a sustainable society.” This is true and scientific. But you can use money to buy oil and use it to farm lots and lots of food. And there is nothing more sustainable than well-fed people.

Australia. “I create knowledge. What’s your superpower?” Sarcasm.

Slate has a page devoted to March signs. They do not disappoint. One read, “Knowing Stuff is good. Seriously why do I even have to march for this geez.” Should I tell him or will you?

One (perhaps prescient) lady tweeted “#TheFutureisFemale” and showed the sign, “Women and the Earth have to tolerate a lot.” I wept in pity when I read that bit of science.

The Chicago Tribune tweeted the headline, “‘There is no Planet B!’ cried a 6-year-old girl during March for Science Chicago.” I cried too (the March has made me especially lachrymose), because this poor 6-year-old girl is wrong. Not only is there a planet B, but there is a C, D, … Why, there are nearly 4,000 other planets we know about!

Pagans were out in force. One lady held the sign, “I [heart] Biomimicry, Mother [earth] knows best.” In a freak coincidence, right next to her was another lady with the sign, “Mother knows best. Listen to her. #Biomimicry.”

These were the truest signs of the day. Nothing but mimicry as far as the eye could see. Everybody had exactly the same thoughts on everything. It’s science! (For more from the author of “March for Science a Dud” please click HERE)

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