Missouri Amendment 1: the right to farm – a bad idea

Missouri voters have the opportunity August 5 to add a “right to farm” provision to the Missouri Constitution. The wording on the ballot is this:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?”

The text of the proposed amendment as taken from the House and Senate resolutions:

Section A. Article I, Constitution of Missouri, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 35, to read as follows: Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.

We have five principal objections to this proposal:

  • It continues a deplorable trend to constitutionalize political disputes
  • It addresses a non-problem
  • The legislature should have addressed this issue with legislation
  • Constitutionalizing political issues invites court challenges and tit-for-tat amendments
  • If the amendment can prevent bad regulation, it can also prevent good regulation

Continue reading


Obama the incompetent President – June 18 update

Two recent articles pinpoint Mr Obama’s incompetence specifically with respect to the disastrous situation in Iraq We encourage you to read both. The links are here and here. A few extracts will give the flavor of the articles.

The first article is The world continues to confound our clueless President. Paul Mirengoff of the Powerlineblog writes:

Many of President Obama’s foreign policy failures are the product of his badly misguided ideology. But some flow simply from his inability to understand how the world works. (The two defects are, of course, related).

The President foolishly calls for Maliki, the Shiite Prime Minister of Iraq, to cede more political power to the Kurds and Sunnis, guaranteed to alienate his Shiite base in the face of Sunni terrorists threatening to take Baghdad. He even is negotiating with Iran, our implacable enemy and the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism, to send in military assistance to help repulse the Sunni ISIS.

Mr Mirengoff continues:

 But… this is not the time to attempt a political do-over. Rather, it’s the time for a military mobilization. And it’s the time for nations that purport to care about Iraq to engage militarily. Military engagement doesn’t suit Obama. But it suits Iran perfectly. Thus, it will be Iran, if any nation, that comes out ahead. And afterwards, don’t expect Iran to press Maliki for a kinder, more inclusive government. That’s not how the world works, Mr. President.

 The second article, The Collapsing Obama Doctrine, by Dick and Liz Cheney, published in the Wall Street Journal, is harder hitting, devastating really.

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.

 Government officials in the Near East are puzzled:

 “Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don’t the Americans care?” Our president doesn’t seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing.

 According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled. In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America’s adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

 President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.   Troglo


Media bias — shifting the point of view

This very common kind of bias is all the more effective because it is subtle.

Out-and-out left-wing bias is too obvious and has become rare. But the harder to spot point of view bias has largely replaced it. Objective, unbiased journalism should have these characteristics:

  • The subject of the story receives the bulk of the attention
  • Exact quotation is preferred to indirect summaries
  • The point of view of the subject dominates the beginning of the story
  • Balance is provided by briefly citing the opposing side at the end of the story
  • Any comments from the journalist should be germane, necessary, and completely neutral

One way to shift the point of view of a story devoted to A is to spend more time elaborating the point of view of favored B than unfavored A. This is commonly found when under the guise of balance the journalist gives A a brief point or two and then gives more space to B’s rebuttals. Another way is for the journalist to bring in an omniscient speaker, rebutting the unfavored point of view. Editorial comments can only be justified to supply new, neutral information needed to understand the story, but not needed to express the journalist’s personal notion of the truth or the facts. It should be free of weasel words like “nevertheless,” “however,” “but,” “despite,” and the like. But it is all too easy to drop in information from B’s talking points or to introduce (errors in) mathematics or statistical interpretation favoring the journalist’s point of view.

Recent examples are the reporting of the differences between the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature and the Democrat Governor. Stories about proposals and legislation passed by the Legislature are always viewed through the lens of the Governor’s objections. Sometimes much more ink is devoted to what the Governor and Democrats think about the proposals than to the reasoning behind them. Needless to say, when the headlines dealt with the Governor’s issues, the point of view in the stories was not Republican. If Republicans are allowed to speak for themselves, it is usually only at the end of the story.

A weekend story from the Associated Press affords a good opportunity to highlight this bias. The headline is:

Emboldened House Conservatives Planning Next Steps

AP dispatches are commonly edited by local papers. Your local paper’s version may be different. From the headline we expect that the point of view will be that of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives. But – surprise – much of the reporting is from an unidentified, but clearly not conservative point of view. The second paragraph – since most stories are not read to the end, the earliest paragraphs are most important – talks of ‘slim hopes for ambitious bills on immigration and voting rights.’ Who harbors these ‘slim hopes’? Certainly not conservative Republicans. Those are Democrat issues. Two paragraphs later we read that Cantor’s loss ‘dashed any dimming prospects for far-reaching legislation.’ Given a Democrat Senate and President, any far-reaching legislation would have to be from the Democrats’ agenda. The words ‘dashed,’ ‘slim’ and ‘dimming’ betray the point of view of partisans of Obama’s legislative agenda. The casual reader expecting neutral journalism is invited to join ‘most people’ in thinking that Cantor’s defeat and conservative plans are really not favorable developments.

We would welcome comments documenting other instances of left-wing bias.        Troglo