Thoughts on Trump’s Inaugural Address

Today, Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

The ceremonies were meh. Everyone knew what was going to happen ahead of time – who was going to pray, who was going to read Scripture, who was going to sing and play music.

The real attraction was Trump’s inaugural address. America was eager to hear the vision Trump would offer for our nation. Trump’s address started and closed with appeals to national unity, sandwiching more policy-oriented statements. Let’s take a moment and unpack exactly what he said. Continue reading →

A Comprehensive List of Every Trump Flip and Flop since Election Day

America has put Trump into the Oval Office. It’s now on us to hold Trump accountable, and keep abreast of what he says and does. We owe it to America and our posterity to do our part as engaged and informed citizens.

This post is an effort to do so. If Trump makes a campaign promise, then reneges on it, that’s something the people of America deserve to know.  Continue reading →

Why a Ban on Semi-auto ‘Assault’ Rifles is a Dumb Idea

Photo by on Flickr

A slew of deadly school shootings took place this October. In response, Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, proposed a blanket ban on all semi-automatic rifles, which he labeled ‘assault’ weapons. He cited support from the ‘vast majority’ of Americans.

“Instead of people yelling at each other, we have got to come together on commonsense approaches which, in fact, the vast majority of the American people support. [… There is] widespread support to ban semiautomatic assault weapons, guns which have no other purpose but to kill people.”

Bernie Sanders

However, his logic is fundamentally flawed. Here are six concrete reasons why. Continue reading →

Why Trump Will Not Make America Great Again

Donald Trump’s catchphrase is “I’m gonna make America great again.” On the surface, he’s got a lot to back it up. He’s a wealthy businessman. He knows how to handle a crowd, get attention, and say the right words to fire up crowds. He’s moderately conservative, with ultra-conservative stances on immigration balanced out with moderate stances on Planned Parenthood, guns, and gay rights, thus well-positioned to keep the right happy while stealing moderate voters from the left.

But his ‘ability’ to “make America great again” is shallow, and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. His business savvy and crowd appeal is only a mirage. Even supposing he manages to make the Republican nomination, and by a miracle beats the Democratic nominee, his four years in office will sink America’s foreign policy and financial policy. Continue reading →

Guns in schools

On October 1, 1997, 16-year-old Luke Woodham began to shoot his fellow-students and classmates at his school – Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi. Earlier that day, he had murdered his own mother, then retrieved a .30-30 lever action deer rifle and ammunition. As soon as the gunshots began to ring through the school facility, Vice Principal Joel Myrick ran to his truck to retrieve his Colt .45 pistol to fight back. While he did so, Principal Roy Balentine called 9-1-1.

Woodham’s rifle was neither semi-automatic nor automatic, requiring reloading after each shot. Woodham methodically thumbed rounds into the gun, “all business, no play […] just shooting and reloading, shooting and reloading.” (Laugesen, “A Principal and His Gun”) He shot until he could hear police sirens, than ran to his car to escape. Woodham later confessed that he had planned to drive to Pearl Junior High School and shoot even more kids until the police could show up. This plan was foiled by Principal Myrick. Two people had already been killed and seven more injured before Myrick returned to find Woodham racing to his vehicle to escape to Pearl Junior High. Myrick drew his pistol on Woodham and brought him to bay. Continue reading →

Should States Invest in Universities That Violate Basic Rights?

Today, college and university students are facing a crisis involving their basic rights.

For decades, the highest courts of America have recognized that the Constitution broadly permits the freedom to express one’s opinions. However, this basic right that is absolutely fundamental to democracy is under attack. The right to free speech is the first and most fundamental civil liberty. It enables us to engage in social discourse and provide input on government decisions. No society that compromises free speech will ever be truly free.

The thesis of this article is simple. Lawful expression ought to be protected on college and university campuses that receive state funding.

The Supreme Court has constantly upheld the basic principle: “It is axiomatic that the government may not regulate speech based on its substantive content or the message it conveys.” Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 828 (1995). In other words, government agencies are not allowed to restrict what a person says. The only proper restrictions are on how a person expresses their opinion. If students are allowed to post to a public bulletin board, all student communications regardless of content or viewpoint must be allowed.

These prohibited restrictions are called ‘content-based restrictions’ because they control the content of what a person says. Federal courts have not minced words when condemning this type of restriction, explicitly holding that “Content-based restrictions are presumptively invalid.” Roberts v. Haragan, 346 F.Supp.2d 853, 867 (ND Tex. 2004). According to the ACLU, “The First Amendment to the Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Restrictions on speech by public colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution.” Countless federal cases have held that only restrictions that pass the highest standards of scrutiny are permitted.

Speech codes created by university officials pose a threat to our rights protected by the Constitution. In many cases, these speech codes go far beyond the bounds of prudence, and enter the area of unconstitutionality. According to a study done earlier this year by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), over 90% of America’s universities have speech codes that are either unconstitutional on their face or are phrased unconstitutionally vaguely.  Many of these schools accept public funding.

The problem is clear. American taxpayers are funding colleges and universities that actively deny basic rights to their students.

The solution is likewise clear. States have a responsibility to ensure that the colleges they invest in do not violate the rights of that state’s citizens. Consequently, states should withdraw all state investments in any college that fails to cease unconstitutionally restricting free speech. The federal government should also take the same steps.

Colleges and universities should certainly be allowed to use basic constitutional restrictions, but they’ve demonstrated their willingness to go far beyond what the Constitution permits. According to research from FIRE cited earlier, many of our colleges and universities have speech codes that are blantantly unconstitutional. They openly restrict the content and viewpoint of speech. Others have speech codes that are so vague that they can be and are enforced in an unconstitutional manner. When this happens, the college or university should be cut off from public funding.

Almost a century ago, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes made the famous statement: “if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought-not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” U.S. v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644, 655 (1929). Holmes recognized that its not enough to protect only the speech we like – free speech is meaningless unless we’re willing to also protect speech with content we disagree with.

In the words of the ACLU: “How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When we grant the government the power to suppress controversial ideas, we are all subject to censorship by the state.”

If we are unwilling to act to defend our liberties, we are complicit in the erosion of our liberties. We certainly have an obligation to protect the rights of university and college students, but if we fail to make a stand on this issue, we also compromise the integrity of our own rights.

America was built on the principle that every person should have the freedom to express their opinions freely. Our policies should uphold that fundamental founding principle, rather than encouraging its erosion. We have to act on this issue before it’s too late.

Jeremy Wang is a scholar of law with Oak Brook College of Law, having completed three years of doctorate-level study.

Review: Anker 21W PowerPort Solar


Rated: 3/5

Reason for rating: Works, but with a catch.

The panel charges unsteadily. It doesn’t deliver a steady charge, unless you leave it stationary under direct sunlight.

I planned to use this when I go hiking or backpacking, by throwing it on the back of my pack to get some juice while on the go, but I doesn’t seem like this panel will be ideal for that use.

I tested the panel by putting it under the rear window in my four-door Camry sedan on a sunny day, when it would almost constantly be in the sun. I drove my regular commute to work, while my phone was plugged into the panel (instead of the cig lighter charger I usually use).

When I was driving under direct sunlight, my phone would charge beautifully. However, if I went into shade, even for a moment (like driving under a tree or past a building), my phone would stop charging and start again once I passed the tree/building/obstruction. During my whole commute, my phone kept disconnecting and reconnecting every time I passed any sort of obstruction that blocked direct sunlight.

By the end of my commute, my phone actually had less battery than before, because the screen would turn on and the phone would play a sound effect every time it started or stopped charging.

I’m usually a fan of Anker products, but this issue with the panel is going to be a big problem for me. It makes it almost unusable for my intended use, because if I even turn around to face the sun for a moment with the panel on my back, my phone/battery pack/tablet is going to stop charging and restart when I turn around.

It shouldn’t be difficult for Anker to build in functionality to ensure that the panel charges steadily, even when taken out of direct sunlight briefly.

I later tested the panel again by leaving it stationary under direct sunlight, and it worked great then. It charged my phone faster than I would have expected, but the problem with getting a steady charge when hiking/backpacking/going mobile is going to be a pain for me.

Don’t Forget the Rest of Your Ballot

Early voting began on Friday in Washington, and ballots should start showing up in your mailbox in the next few days.

This year, the presidential race has been brutal and nasty. I’m personally backing a third party candidate, but I know many are seriously considering leaving the President and Vice President slots on their ballot blank. I sympathize with them, even though I don’t fully understand their choice.

Regardless of where you stand on the presidential election, though, one thing should be indisputable for all American voters, and that is that the down ballot matters.

The message of this post is simple – don’t forget the rest of your ballot. Vote the down ballot, and get informed about the down ballot. Continue reading →

LIVE BLOG: October 19, 2016 Presidential Debate

Tonight, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off in the final official presidential debate of the 2016 election.

This debate could prove critical for Trump and Clinton, but even more is at stake for the entire nation. A major misstep by Clinton in this debate could dramatically erode her gains from the last few weeks, whilst a major blunder by Trump could seal Clinton’s victory in November.

I will be live-blogging my reactions to the debate on this post, starting at 9pm EST (6pm PST).

The debate itself is free to watch – a live stream provided by YouTube and NBC is embedded below for your convenience.

Header photo originally by ABC News. Used under the fair use doctrine for nonprofit educational purposes.

I-1501 – The Trojan Horse Initiative

I-1501 is an unnecessary bill that doesn’t do much of anything, except benefit unions and special interests.

I strongly urge a NO vote on this Trojan Horse initiative. It uses public sympathy for victims of identity theft to pass a highly specific union-backed policy change. Several bills incorporating that same mandate were introduced in the state legislature, but failed to pass. The people of Washington should accept the judgment of their elected representatives, and vote down this dangerous initiative. Continue reading →

LIVE BLOG: October 4, 2016 Vice Presidential Debate

Tonight, Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence will face off in the first Vice Presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. They are the Democratic and Republican candidates for Vice President of the United States.

They both face the same difficult task – persuading disaffected and undecided voters to join their side and vote for their ticket. Pence has the dubious distinction of running alongside Trump – he therefore has the responsibility for salvaging Trump’s disasters last week. Kaine has the unenviable job of defending Clinton and her policies from Pence’s attacks.

I will be live-blogging my reactions to the debate on this post, starting at 9pm EST (6pm PST).  Continue reading →