Monday, June 30, 2014

Obama Continues his Attack on U.S. Energy

By Alan Caruba

The delay of the Keystone XL pipeline is a perfect example of the way President Obama and his administration has engaged in, not just a war on coal, but on all forms of energy the nation has and needs. Even his State Department admits there is no reason to refuse its construction and, as turmoil affects the Middle East, there is an increased need to tap our own oil and welcome Canada’s.

The latest news, however, is that Canada has just approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a major pipeline to ship Canadian oil—to Asia.

The pure evil of the delay is compounded by the loss of the many jobs the pipeline—that will not require taxpayer funding—represents to help reduce the nation’s obscene rate of unemployment and to generate new revenue for the nation. That’s what oil, coal, and natural gas does.

Less visible has been the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency that has, since Obama took office on January 20, 2009, issued 2,827 new final regulations totally 24,915,000 words to fill 24,915 pages of the Federal Register. As a CNSnews article reported, “The Obama EPA regulations have 22 times as many words as the entire Harry Potter series which includes seven books with 1,084,170 words.” Every one of the EPA regulations affects some aspect of life in America, crushing economic development in every conceivable way.

The worst part of the EPA regulation orgy is the fact that virtually all of it is based on a hoax. As reported by James Delingpole, a British journalist, “19 million jobs lost plus $4,335 trillion spent equals a global mean temperature of 0.018 degrees Celsius. Yes, horrible but true. These are the costs to the U.S. economy, by 2100, of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory war on carbon dioxide, whereby all states must reduce emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants by 30% before 2005 levels.” 

Citing a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Delingpole reported that the new regulations will cost the economy another $51 billion annually, result in the 224,000 more lost jobs every year, and cost every American household $3,400 per year in higher prices for energy, food, and other necessities.”
This is an all-out attack on industry, business, and the use of electricity by all Americans.

There is absolutely no reason, nor need to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas on which all life on Earth depends because it is to vegetation what oxygen is to all living creatures. It is the “food” on which every blade of grass depends. More CO2 means more crops and healthier forests.

Disastrously, even the Supreme Court—the same one that signed off on Obamacare as a tax—has not ruled against the EPA’s false assertions about CO2. In late June, however, it did place limits on the EPA’s effort to limit power plant and factory emissions blamed for a global warming that does not exist. The Earth has been cooling for seventeen years, but the Court ruled that the EPA lacked authority in some cases to force companies to evaluate ways to reduce CO2 emissions.

As Craig Rucker, the Executive Director of the free market think tank, CFACT, points out, “The Court served notice that the Executive Branch cannot unilaterally write its own laws. This is an important principle. However, the United States still remains fated to suffer most of the economic damage EPA’s regulations will cause. True reform will require congressional action.”

Thanks to the lies that have been taught about “global warming”, now called “climate change”, in the nation’s schools to a generation of Americans, and the deluge of lies about the environment that have been repeated in the nation’s media, too many Americans still do not make the connection between the use of the nation’s vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, and their personal lifestyles and the nation’s economic growth.

The attacks on the energy industries by environmental organizations have been attacks on all Americans who turn on the lights or drive anywhere. Their mantra has been “dirty coal” and “dirty oil” along with lies about the way energy industries contribute billions to the nation’s revenue in taxes.

An example of these attacks have been those directed against “fracking”, the short term for hydraulic fracturing, a technology that has been in use for more than a half century and whose development has generated a boom in natural gas these days. Claims about fracking pollution have no basis in fact.

A new book, “The Fracking Truth—America’s Energy Revolution: The Inside, Untold Story”, by Chris Faulkner is well worth reading for the extraordinary way he explains fracking and the facts he provides about energy in America. It is published by Platform Press.

America has huge reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. “This phenomenon of energy abundance and efficiency,” says Faulkner, “makes it almost a certainty that the cost of powering our nation—already a bargain by international standards—is going to become even less of a burden for our economy for many decades to come.” But not if the EPA and other Obama government agencies such as the Department of the Interior have their way.

One example: “According to the American Petroleum Institute, at least 87% of our federal offshore acreage is off-limits to drilling. API commissioned the consultancy Wood Mackenzie to assess the foregone offshore opportunity in specific terms. The upshot: Increased access to oil and gas reserves underlying federal waters could, by 2025, generate an additional 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, add $150 billion to government revenues, and create 530,00 jobs.”

“In fact, since 2007, about 96% of the increase in America’s oil and gas production occurred on private lands in the United States. Meanwhile, oil and gas production on federal lands declined to a ten-year low in fiscal years 2011-2012.”

Who is forcing coal-fired electricity plants to close? The Obama administration. Who is denying access to vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas on federal lands? The Obama administration. Who continues to lie about “climate change” pegged to carbon dioxide emissions? The Obama administration. And this is happening as China and India cannot build new coal-fired plants fast enough and Europe abandons wind and solar energy.

Who is the enemy of energy, current and future, in the United States? Barack Obama.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

What Economic Recovery?

By Alan Caruba

You have to know that the Obama administration has run out of excuses for destroying the U.S. economy when it starts to blame it on the weather.

According to the Commerce Department, the economy based on its Gross domestic product--the value of its goods and services--fell at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of this year. That was the largest recorded drop since the end of World War II in 1945!

The June 20 edition of The Wall Street Journal’s article, “Economy Shrank Rapidly in First Quarter” led off by reporting that “Weather disruptions at home and weak demand abroad caused a contraction in the U.S. economy in the first quarter, renewing doubts about the strength of the nation’s five-year-old recovery.”

What recovery? When the economy stays in the basement for five years you are looking at an on-going stagnation based on too much government interference with growth, the decline of the nation’s middle class, the lack of new start-up businesses, and the reluctance or inability of consumers to spend money, if they have any to spend.

In May, writing on his blog, Economic Collapse, Michael Synder pointed to “27 Hugh Red Flags for the U.S. Economy” noting, for example, that according to government numbers, “everyone is unemployed in 20 percent of all American families.” The other indicators include:

# Sales for construction equipment were down 13% in April and have been down for 17 months in a row.

# During the first quarter of 2014, profits at the office supplies giant, Staples, fell by 43.5%

# Foot traffic at Wal-Mart stores fell by 1.4% during the first quarter of 2014.

# It is being projected that Sears will soon close hundreds more stores and may go out of business altogether.

# Existing home sales have fallen for seven of the last eight months and seem to repeating a pattern witnessed back in 2007 prior to the last financial crash.

# The home ownership rate in the U.S. has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

You do not have to be an economist to understand that President Obama’s economic policies are flat-out failures that include a “stimulus” that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars without stimulating the economy, nor that having a $17 trillion debt means anything other than a nation teetering on a massive economic collapse.

In May, CNSnews reported that “A record 92,594,000 Americans were not in the labor force in April as the labor force participation rate matched a 36-year low of 62.8 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

This is not my definition of a “recession” although we are told that it ended in 2009. This is a “depression” for millions of Americans. The labor force participation rate has gone from 63.5% to 63.3%, the lowest since 1979, but the Obama administration keeps telling us that it is “improving.”

Consumer spending is down. Exports are down. Employment is barely increasing. The only thing that is up is inflation.

Edward C. Prescott, a 2004 Nobel Laureate in Economics and Lee E. Ohanian, a professor of economics UCLA, writing in the June 26 edition of The Wall Street Journal, noted that the declining GDP rate was “the worst productivity statistic since 1990. And productivity since 2005 has declined by more than 8% relative to its long-run trend. This means that business output is nearly $1 trillion less today than what it would be had productivity continued to grow at its average rate of about 2.5% per year.”

“Lagging productivity growth is an enormous problem because virtually all of the increase in Americans’ standard of living is made possible by rising worker productivity.”

The Obama administration would have you believe that the economic decline in the first quarter was due to a harsh winter. They will be blaming it on a hot summer come autumn.

This is an administration whose main theme these days is the threat of “climate change”, but it has nothing to do with the climate and everything to do with vast government spending and borrowing, an explosion of regulations that have slowed or stopped the creation of new businesses, a “war on coal” that is forcing a decline in the production of electricity, and a widespread perception that the President is the worst to have held office since the nation began.

There is no recovery. There is a return to the factors that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that bought up all the sub-prime mortgage loans and packaged them as assets are still in business. Credit card companies are reaching out to sub-prime users, signing them up. Nobody seems to learn anything from the past, even if it is the recent past.

If the control of the U.S. Senate cannot be wrested away from a Democratic Party led by Harry Reid and a GOP increase in the U.S. House that was led by Nancy Pelosi until the 2010 elections cannot be achieved in the forthcoming November elections, the President’s continued attack on the economy—which includes a massive increase in illegal immigration—the nation’s economy will remain tenuous.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

James Madison: The Indispensible Founder

By Alan Caruba

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. … If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one. …

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. … The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general.

Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. … There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

- James Madison

When people are asked to name the Founding Fathers of the nation, they usually reel off Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, the first, second and third Presidents in addition to their earlier role in guiding the Revolution to success.

Occasionally, someone who, like myself, loves history will add Madison, the fourth President, but Lynne Cheney’s new biography of Madison rightly identifies him as the man most responsible “for creating the United States of America in the form we know it today.” It was Madison who guided the process by which the Founders arrived at the Constitution, contributing the fundamental principles it incorporated and writing the Bill of Rights, amendments that ensured its ratification by the original states.

Cheney’s biography, “James Madison: A Life Considered” ($36.00, Viking) benefits not only from her scholarship, but from her facility with the written word, making it a continual pleasure to read for a book of 563 pages, including its notes, bibliography, and index. If you were to set aside the summer to read just one book, this would be the one I would recommend.

If Cheney’s name rings a bell, it is because she is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, but she is also a Ph.D. who has been studying Madison since 1987 when she was a member of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution. These days she is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Cheney’s reside in Wilson, Wyoming. She is making the rounds of radio and television shows to promote her book and, most notably, interviewers tend to ignore her book in order to pry an opinion out of her about current events and politics. One gets the feeling that most did not read her book.

Those short in stature and, compared to the other Founders, quite young, all who came to know him swiftly developed a profound respect for his intellect and his knowledge of how governments were structured with some succeeding while others failed. When Madison spoke, they listened. There were in those days “factions” (which today we call political parties) that opposed his and the other Founder’s views.

“Jefferson,” wrote Cheney, “would later say that it was a wonder that Madison accomplished so much as he had, given that he faced ‘the endless quibbles, chicaneries, perversions, vexations, and delays of lawyers and demi-lawyers’” and Madison himself was often struck “by the way that ‘important bills prepared at leisure by skillful hands’ were treated to ‘crudeness and tedious discussion’, and he had seen legislative tricks of the most blatant sort.” So the politics of Madison’s time was not unlike much of today’s.

After the Constitution was written to replace the failed Articles of Confederation it needed to be vigorously defended. America benefited greatly from the fact that its population was highly literate and it was the Federalist papers, a series of essays mostly written by Madison was the way its principles and protections were explained to the public. Chaney notes that the Federalist essay that would eventually become most famous was the first one Madison wrote.

“In Federalist 10, published November 22,1787, he set forth the failures of ‘our governments’ (rather than ‘our states’ where, after all, the Constitution would be ratified), noting the instability and injustices that had caused good citizens across the country to increasingly distrust those governments and feel ‘alarm for private rights.’”

These alarms are reflected in our times by concerns that the President is bypassing Congress to govern by executive orders, is failing to enforce laws with which he disagrees, and that we have a Department of Justice and an IRS that cannot be trusted to apply laws fairly, acting against groups and individuals with whom they disagree such as the Tea Party movement and other conservative organizations. A rogue agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency is so out of control that Congress must at some point exert powerful restraints on it.

What is remarkable about Madison’s time was the fact that he, Jefferson is lifelong friend, and Adams, all lived long lives unlike the bulk of the population. Madison would devote his life to the creation of our extraordinary government and, throughout the early presidencies including his own, to ensuring the existence of the new nation, challenged as it was by Great Britain, first during the Revolution and then in the War of 1812.

On his last day as President, Madison vetoed an improvements bill, “arguing as he had since the days of The Federalist that the general government did not have general powers. It had specified powers, and recognizing its limits was essential to ‘the permanent success of the Constitution.’”

Cheney wrote that Madison understood that “if the limits the Constitution imposed on government were unrecognized, ‘the parchment had better be thrown into the fire at once.”, but Madison was all about protecting the Constitution and the new nation. For that he is owed the gratitude of all the generations that have followed him.

It is now our responsibility to protect it because freedom and liberty always have domestic and foreign enemies.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Obama Presidency Implodes

By Alan Caruba

The first time I heard the term “military advisors” it was being used by John F. Kennedy and they were being sent to South Vietnam. A strong anti-communist, in 1961 Kennedy approved financing an increase in the size of the South Vietnamese army from 150,000 to 170,000 along with sending a thousand U.S. military advisors to help train them. We all know how the Vietnam War ended.

Earlier, the North Korean attack on the South had ended in a stalemate. Technically a state of war still exists.  Since 1953, the U.S. has maintained a military force in South Korea. In the wake of World War II, we still have a military presence in Europe and Japan to aid in their defense.

Obama’s announcement that 300 military advisors are being sent to Iraq is too little, too late.

As of this writing Americans are witnessing what happened when Obama withdrew from Iraq and are anticipating the same result when we withdraw from Afghanistan. Yes, we were and are war-weary, but we do not like what we’re seeing in Iraq and the President’s foreign policy failures are compounding by the day.

We are weary, too, after six and a half years of the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. It has taken this long for all the predictions regarding his lack of experience and competence to come true.

The polls taken during the past week provide evidence of this. Gallup’s job approval poll of June 9-15 showed that 42% of “national adults” approved. Over at Rasmussen Reports, Obama’s job approval on June 21 was 48%. Asked by Rasmussen if the nation is headed in the right direction or not, 67% of likely voters said it was not. Reacting to the immigration invasion crisis a Gallup found that 69% thought he was doing a poor job.

Depending on events, polls rise and fall, but the numbers indicate a growing loss of confidence in Obama’s decisions and actions to date. I suspect that what they do not show is a growing sense of the man as utterly untrustworthy and increasingly distant from the demands of the office.

We are witnessing the implosion of the Obama presidency.

All presidencies have a scandal or two, usually relatively minor in the grand scheme of national management. Watergate was considered minor initially and took two years to materialize into the scandal that forced Nixon to resign. Obama, however, has generated directly and indirectly enough scandals for their combined weight to begin being noticed even by those who pay little attention to Washington, D.C.

The worst of the latest has been the revelation of how the Internal Revenue Service was politicized to attack organizations that were deemed to be affiliated with the Tea Party movement and patriotic objectives. The “loss” of Lois Lerner's emails and others smells of the destruction of evidence Congress has demanded. The one element of the government that virtually all Americans interact with is the IRS.

Other scandals like Solyndra, representing the waste of billions on wind and solar companies, many of which went bankrupt after receiving all manner of grants and loans, did not registered in a similar fashion. The wiretapping of Associated Press reporters’ phone calls likewise did not evoke widespread concern. The failure of the “stimulus” that spent billions without producing an uptick in the economy was seen as just another way the government wastes our money. Even “Fast and Furious” in which thousands of weapons were purchased and transferred to Mexican drug cartels did not evoke more than a short expression of dismay.

Benghazi, however, in which a U.S. ambassador died along with three others, remains an unresolved scandal as much for the lies about a video as its cause as for the tragedy of the abandonment of those killed. The release of five leaders of the Taliban from Guantanamo without letting Congress know has piled on the previous scandals to a point where serious concerns about both Obama’s judgment have arisen.

What remains now is a combination of the President’s increasing use of Executive Orders to create as much mischief as possible along with the perception that he simply does not care what Americans in general and Congress in particular thinks about what he is doing. There is talk in the House of bringing a legal suit against the President regarding his heavy use of Executive Orders to bypass Congress while initiating policies that require congressional inclusion and oversight.

Those of us who pay close attention to what the President is doing know that the ultimate aim of his actions in office has been to harm the nation in a variety of ways from reducing our military to pre-World War Two levels to destroying a large element of the nation’s electrical energy supply by forcing coal-fired plants out of business.

Ultimately, the implosion of the Obama presidency has been the realization that he has put the nation at risk of the world’s bad actors by causing America’s global leadership position to erode. Americans have been accustomed to being a leading military and economic power since the end of World War Two and he has been undermining that in every way possible.

Voter payback is likely to see a major shift of political power in Congress away from the Democratic Party in the forthcoming midterm elections and would enable Republicans to slow or stop further damage to the nation. Failing that, the fate of the nation will be a great risk.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

States Push Back Against Common Core in Their Schools

By Alan Caruba

It’s vacation time for the nation’s school kids and, while they play, states are beginning to push back against the latest effort of the federal government to exert total control over the nation’s schools; Common Core, whose curriculum standards and content rapidly revealed it to be a nightmare.

As I frequently note, the word “education” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution because the Founding Fathers knew full well that education was the job of localities and states to ensure quality and the opportunity that it provides everyone willing to learn the basics and beyond. From its earliest days, Americans would create a town, build a church, and follow up with a school. Until liberals complained about it, school days began with a prayer.

Liberals know that whoever controls schools controls the future. Dictatorships of all descriptions in particular place heavy emphasis on raising new generations with the kind of indoctrination that only the early years in school can impart. It should come as no surprise that the last failed liberal President, Jimmy Carter, ushered in the creation of the U.S. Department of Education

Still largely unknown to the general public is the control of the Department by teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and their support of the Democratic Party. This accounts for much of the well documented decline of education in America. The union’s chief concern is higher pay and benefits for teachers, not the welfare of the children in their care. Their focus is on politics, not teaching.

In March, the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom issued a new study on “Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 years” which revealed that “the average state has seen a three percent decline in academic performance despite a more than doubling in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending.” Sometimes the spending increases are astonishing as in the case of New York State in which spending rose by 115%. California and Florida are not far behind with an increase of 80%.

Common Core has rapidly become a political hot potato as parents have let their state governors and legislators know how bad it is. Writing in the Heartland Institute’s May edition of its newsletter, School Reform News, Joy Pullmann, its managing editor, reported that Indiana Gov. Mike Pense was the first to sign a bill in March rejecting Common Core national standards, “but the parents and curriculum experts whose criticism led to the change also criticized the first draft of replacement standards for looking very similar to the Common Core mandates it is meant to replace.”

In a Heartland booklet, “The Common Core: A Bad Choice for America”, Pullmann notes that “States may not change Common Core standards, must adopt all of them at once, and may only add up to an additional 15 percent of requirements. The standards themselves have no clear governance, meaning there is no procedure for states to follow to make changes they feel are necessary. It is highly unlikely individual states would control or greatly influence any such process.”

At the very heart of the debate concerning Common Core is the notion that every single school in America should teach the exact same thing in the exact same way. That’s not how real education works and any teacher will tell you that different students learn at different rates and some require some extra help. Schools free of such one-size-fits-all thinking educated generations of Americans who made the nation the greatest economic power in the world.

Thus far, in addition to Indiana, state legislatures in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Missouri have approved measures to exit Common Core’s national standards. Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal in mid-June said “We want out of Common Core” and is taking steps to reject it.

Common Core is the fulfillment of liberal’s dream of education. It was developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It was quickly incentivized by the Obama administration with $4.35 billion in Race to the Top competitive grants and waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law for states that signed on. Minus the states that have rejected Common Core, there are still 42 who have adopted it.

Ron Paul, commenting on the Oklahoma opt-out, said “Common Core is the latest attempt to bribe states, with money taken from the American people, into adopting a curriculum developed by federal bureaucrats and education “experts.” In exchange for federal funds, states must change their curriculum by, for example, replacing traditional mathematics with 'reform math.' Reform math turns real mathematics on its head by focusing on 'abstract thinking' instead of traditional concepts like addition and subtraction. Schools must also replace classic works of literature with ‘informational’ texts, such as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Those poor kids!”

Common Core’s curriculum standards are testimony to why abandoning local control over a community’s or city’s educational program is a very bad idea and why, once again, the federal government has demonstrated why it makes worse virtually any program that should be left to the states.

© Alan Caruba, 2014 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fifty Years Later, Being Black in America

By Alan Caruba

Fifty years ago, 1964, the civil rights movement that had begun in the 1950s achieved its goal with the Civil Rights Act and a year later with the Voting Rights Act.
A remarkable book, “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed”, by Jason L. Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board who is black, should be must-reading by Afro-Americans and white Americans to understand that, while there has been progress for those blacks who achieved an education and moved into the middle and upper classes of America, far too many blacks have embraced a culture that has doomed them to poverty, prison, and a sense of victimization.

Having lived through the civil rights movement, observing it from the vantage point of having seen the segregation and prejudice that had afflicted blacks prior to it, I was not surprised by the evidence put forth in Riley’s book of self-inflicted failure to embrace the opportunities as other groups have done.

On June 16 Riley wrote an opinion article, “How Not to Help Black Americans”, saying that “The Obama presidency is evidence that blacks have progressed politically. But if the rise of other racial and ethnic groups is any indication, black social and economic problems are less about politics than about culture. The persistently high black jobless rate is more a consequence of unemployability than of discrimination in hiring.”

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012 are testimony to the progress black Americans have made since 1964. Out of 313 million Americans, blacks constitute 44.5 million and 83.2% of blacks age 25 and older had a high school diploma while 18.7% had a bachelor’s degree or higher; 1.6 million had an advanced degree. Blacks can take pride in their 2.4 military veterans.

However, the median income of black households in 2012 was $33,321, compared with the rest of the nation at $51,017 and the poverty rate was 27.2% while nationally it was 15%.

Referring to the vast welfare state in America, Riley said “One reason that Uncle Sam’s altruism has not been successful is because the government is attempting to do for blacks what blacks can only do for themselves.”

The most depressing statistic, however, is the 40% of some 2.1 million male inmates in jails and prisons in America who are black. Statistically, blacks are far more likely to be the victims of crimes by other blacks than by non-blacks. In his book, Riley says “Black cultural attitudes toward work, authority, dress, sex, and violence have also proven counterproductive, inhibiting the development of the kind of human capital that has led to socioeconomic advancement for other groups.”

One black who has succeeded is Barack Hussein Obama, twice elected President of the United States of America. It is likely he will be the last black American to hold that office for a generation or more to come because he has done more harm to the nation in six and a half years than any previous President. The only part of the population that does not seem to grasp this has been black Americans.

Ironically, the results of a survey by Rasmussen Reports released in July 2013 found that “Americans consider blacks more likely to be racist than whites and Hispanics. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of American adults thought most black Americans are racist while just 15% considered most white Americans racist. Just 30% of all Americans thought that race relations in America were good or excellent. Race in America has been a contentious issue from the days of the founders and earlier.

The black community in America has some truly outstanding leaders these days such as former Representative Allen West and Dr.  Ben Carson, and there has been a generation of blacks who have risen to success in the corporate world or as entrepreneurs and professionals.

America’s first black President has done little to improve the lives of black Americans, resisting charter schools and vouchers to free them from failed public schools, and embracing the same tried-and-failed liberal social programs that continue to keep too many in poverty or in jail. Obama’s two terms in office will be remembered for their scandals and for their attacks on the liberty and freedom that all Americans value.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Saddam, the Good Old Days

By Alan Caruba

I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but sometimes I miss Saddam Hussein.

Yes, he was a cruel despot. Between September 1980 and July 1988 he pursued an eight-year war against Iran that killed an estimated combined million troops on both sides and achieved nothing. He had ruled from 1979 until 2003 when George W. Bush decided to remove him by invading Iraq, believing as other nations did that he had weapons of mass destruction. Had he not posed a constant threat to neighboring nations, he might still be in charge. He was hanged in 2006, but the U.S. would stay on until our troops were withdrawn by Barack Obama in 2011.

In places where troops have remained like Germany, Japan and South Korea, a long state of peace has existed. At their invitation we have military installations in 130 nations around the world.

“The Great Big Book of Horrible Things” by Matthew White provides a brief review of Saddam’s dictatorship, noting that “Iraq is an artificial country with borders that were drawn to suit the European colonial powers rather than to reflect local allegiances.” He could say the same thing of Syria what owes its borders to decisions made following World War One by the British and French.

Saddam maintained control by propagandizing himself as a great hero and by killing or imprisoning anyone who disagreed. There was no end to the barbarism he imposed. The Kurds were blamed for the loss of the war with Iran and it is estimated he killed anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 Kurds between February and September 1988; some of them with poison gas. In 1991, after an American-led coalition drove Saddam out of Kuwait, the Shiite Arabs of the southern marshes rose in revolt and some 50,000 were massacred. The Kurds were driven into the mountains of the north and American air cover helped them establish an autonomous zone.

Libya experienced a similar dictatorship by Muammar Gaddafi who took power in 1969 until overthrown during the “Arab Spring” in 2011, a revolt that has left a barely functioning nation. Like Saddam he exercised the same repression to control the nation’s tribes.

Not a classic dictator like Saddam and Gaddafi, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, a former air force general, kept tight control there from 1981 to 2001 thanks to the support of the military. He was a major U.S. ally. After Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed in the wake of Mubarak’s removal, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, another general was elected to the office of president.

An ongoing civil war in Syria has killed an estimated 160,000 to date and Bashar al-Assad is the son of its previous dictator, Hafiz, who had seized power in 1970 and was elected president a year later, never to relinquish the office until he died in 2000. Al-Assad presently controls about forty percent of the nation, supported by his tribe, the Alawites and military aid from Iran.

What these dictators had in common was a Middle East that did not directly challenge the United States or the West. They were more interested in selling oil. The opposition they encountered was the combination of opposition to the oppressive nature of their rule and the rise of a resurgent Islamist movement that believed their nations should embrace Sharia law.

The war to force Russia out of Afghanistan had led to the creation of al Qaeda and subsequent Islamist groups like the Taliban that divide into Sunni versus Shiite loyalties. The newest of these groups is the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq/al Sham (ISIS). The brutality of the ISIS warriors is the latest horror story, but it is a very old story as far as the Middle East is concerned.

Before we begin to feel good about ourselves as highly civilized citizens of Western civilization, we should address the fact that, in the last century alone, an estimated 200 million people died in its wars, large and small. European history is one of wars with interludes of peace. The West’s technological advancement enabled wars of massive death for soldier and civilian alike.

In his book, “The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War”, David Livingstone Smith, reflecting on the last century, noted that “The frequency of armed conflict across the globe and throughout history is staggering.” Published in 2007, Smith said that “Looking at forty-one modern nation-states between 1800 and 1945, we find that they average 1.4 wars per generation and 18.5 years of war per generation.” It gives a whole new meaning to the term “endless war.” 

“We are extremely dangerous animals,” Smith concluded, “and the balance of evidence suggests that our taste for killing is not some sort of cultural artifact, but was bred into us over millions of years by natural and sexual selection.” We are, however, “ambivalent about killing and it is impossible to understand the relationship between war and human nature without taking this into consideration.”

Matthew White notes that the twentieth century has been the bloodiest on record, particularly when you include the millions killed by Hitler, Stalin and Mao, the latter two, who in addition to waging war also killed millions to establish Communism in Russia and China. 

Hitler not only waged war but engaged in the genocide of Europe’s Jews, killing an estimated six million and another five million gypsies, homosexuals, unionists, and others that were regarded as “enemies of the state.” In the last century, the Japanese Empire mastered Western warfare and sought expansion, waging war against Russia and China, and engaging in World War Two.

Why did the world break into an unprecedented wave of killing in the last century? White narrowed it down to three reasons: (1) Because they could. (2) Because they wanted to and (3) because everybody else was doing it.

What should we do in Iraq? In my opinion we should bomb the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq to oblivion. ISIS wants to establish an Islamic caliphate from which it would extend its barbaric belief system to the world. If Saddam was still the Iraqi dictator, he would never have permitted ISIS to exist. Now we must destroy it. No troops on the ground, just American air power. We have it and we must use it before ISIS becomes an even greater threat. It’s not about Iraq. It’s about us.

And, yes, we are, indeed, the most dangerous animal on planet Earth. The Romans understood this, saying “Si vis pacem, para bellum.”  If you want peace, plan for war,”

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The EPA is America's Other Enemy

By Alan Caruba

While our attention is focused on events in the Middle East, a domestic enemy of the nation is doing everything in its power to kill the provision of electricity to the nation and, at the same time, to control every drop of water in the United States, an attack on its agricultural sector. That enemy is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Like the rest of the Obama administration, it has no regard for real science and continues to reinterpret the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. It has an agenda that threatens every aspect of life in the nation.

As Craig Rucker, the Executive Director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) recently warned, “True to her word,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, “is busily grabbing powers for EPA that Congress specifically chose not to grant, and that the Supreme Court has denied on multiple occasions.”

“The federal bureaucracy under the Obama presidency has a voracious appetite for more power. It despises individual liberty and drags down the economy every change it gets,” Rucker warns.

In addition to implementing President Obama’s “war on coal” that is depriving the nation of coal-fired plants that provide electricity, the EPA has announced a proposed rule titled “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act”, redefining, as Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise reported in the Washington Examiner “nearly everything wet as ‘waters of the United States or WOTUS—and potentially subject us all to permits and fines.”

The President has made it clear that the rule of law has no importance to him and his administration and this is manifestly demonstrated by the actions of the EPA. “This abomination,” says Arnold, “is equivalent to invasion by hostile troops out to seize the jurisdictions of all 50 states. WOTUS gives untrustworthy federal bureaucrats custody of every  watershed, creates crushing new power to coerce all who keep America going and offers no benefit to the victimized and demoralized tax-paying public.”

In response to the EPA’s new power grab, more than 200 House members called on the Obama administration in May to drop its plans to expand the EPA’s jurisdiction over smaller bodies of water around the nation. A letter was sent to EPA Administrator McCarthy and Department of Army Secretary John M. McHugh (re: Army Corps of Engineers) asking that the proposal be withdrawn.

“Under this plan, there’d be no body of water in America—including mud puddles and canals—that wouldn’t be at risk from job-destroying federal regulation,” said Rep, Doc Hastings (R-Wash), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “This dramatic expansion of federal government control will directly impact the livelihoods and viability of farmers and small businesses in rural America.”

Nearly thirty major trade associations have joined together to create the Waters Advocacy Coalition. They represent the nation’s construction, manufacturing, housing, real estate, mining, agricultural and energy sectors. The coalition supports S. 2245, “Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act” which would prevent the EPA and Corps of Engineers from issuing their “Final Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act.”

What has this nation come to if the Senate has to try to pass an act intended to prevent the EPA from extending control over the nation’s waters beyond the Clean Waters Act that identifies such control as limited to “navigable waters”? You can’t navigate a water ditch or a puddle!

There are acts that limit agencies such as the EPA from going beyond their designated powers. They are the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.  The coalition says that the EPA and Corps “should not be allowed to use guidance to implement the largest expansion of Clean Water Act authority since it was enacted. Only Congress has the authority to make such a sweeping change.”

In two Supreme Court decisions, one in 2001 and another in 2006, rejected regulation of “isolated waters” by the EPA.

It does not matter to the EPA or the Obama administration what the Supreme Court has ruled Congress has enacted in the Clean Water Act, nor the Clean Air Act.

We are witnessing an EPA that is acting as a criminal enterprise and it must be stopped before it imposes so much damage on the nation that it destroys it.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Obama's Legacy Threatens America's Future

By Alan Caruba

Americans are feeling the same fear for the future that preceded the Civil War when the incompetent James Buchanan left the mess that Abraham Lincoln had to address. I don’t think we have ever had a President with less knowledge of history than Barack Obama and less ability to solve domestic economic problems and address threatening foreign ones.

“Rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” said former Vice President Dick Cheney, along with his daughter Liz, in a June 18 opinion published by the Wall Street Journal. Liz has been a deputy assistant secretary of state for eastern affairs.
My fear now is that the President is not, as I originally assumed, driven just by ideology, but that he keeps demonstrating the illegal use of powers that he does not have under the Constitution, coupled with a disdain for the other branch of government, the Congress.

If Obama is eminently impeachable, but Congress is so divided that this is not an option.

Despite what his Justice Department told him, Obama disobeyed a law requiring him to give Congress a 30-day notice for the exchange of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay. His use of executive orders may meet some legal standard, but they are often his way of getting around legal limitations such as his wish to open America’s borders to the flood of illegal immigrants we are seeing.

There is some comfort in being someone who warned against electing him both times, but there is no comfort in reviewing the harm he has done to date. Only a major Republican victory in the November midterm elections will offer any protection against him until he leaves office.

Let’s just do a quick review:

He traded five members of the Taliban’s highest ranked detainees from Guantanamo for an alleged prisoner of war who deserted his unit in Afghanistan, negotiating with the Islamic criminal group, the Haqqani, known for extracting high ransoms but no mention of money has been made.

Having initiated negotiations with Iran in a futile attempt to get them to cease seeking their own nuclear arsenal, there is conjecture the U.S. will enlist Iran’s help in addressing the jihadist attack on Iraq, but Iran has been the declared enemy of the United States since it seized our diplomats in 1979 and held them hostage until President Reagan was sworn into office. Iran is the world’s greatest supporter of terror. It was behind the truck bomb that destroyed our embassy in Beirut in 1984 and a few months later killed U.S. Marines in an attack on their barracks there. It provided weapons to our enemies during the Iraq war.

He has driven the nation’s debt up so high that, for the first time in its history, its credit rating was reduced. That debt continues to grow and is pegged at $17 trillion. The price of food is beginning to soar.

Unemployment now affects the lives of those unable to find work—literally millions—and those who have ceased to look. Raising the minimum wage will only serve to further reduce job creation and opportunities. Millions are on food stamps while millions are receiving disability benefits. There is likely no way to know who legitimately deserves assistance and who does not. Increasing the rolls is seen as ensuring the Democrat Party gets their vote.

He reduced the funding of our military, reducing its fighting capacity to pre-World War Two levels in manpower and the arsenal of weapons it requires. He advocated the participation of homosexuals, a policy the military has long opposed for issues of unit cohesion and morale. He advocated more female participation in the military. Pastors and other chaplains serving the military were pressured to alter their message to the troops.

Obama is on record saying that “climate change” is the greatest enemy the U.S. military will face. Climate change has been occurring for billions of years and is entirely natural. It has nothing to do with waging war except for the circumstances on a specific battlefield and that is called the “weather”, not climate change.

Having done nothing to stem illegal immigration, the nation is now besieged by thousands of “refugees”, often very young, being bussed here from nations like Nicaragua and Guatemala. They in turn are being “dumped” in Arizona and other locations because the Texas immigration detention facilities are full. This situation is being attributed to Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that was initiated in 2012 to allow illegal immigrants who can to the U.S. as minors to escape deportation for two years. In early June an additional two years was tacked onto the program.

By pushing Obamacare—the Affordable Patient Care Act—through Congress, Obama has effectively destroyed the finest medical health system in the world, raising the cost of health insurance, interfering with the doctor-patient relationship, and causing several million Americans who already had health insurance to lose it. He lied to achieve this and the Democrats knew it. No Republican in Congress voted for it. By 2017 an estimated seven million workers will lose employer provided coverage.

Just as Obama’s indifference to fix the management problems of the Veterans Administration has resulted in needless deaths, Obamacare’s death toll will make that seem small when even policy holders are forced to wait for care because hospitals have closed or there are fewer private practice physicians.

Obama’s declared “war on coal” has already caused more than a hundred coal-fired plants producing electricity to close, reducing the production of electricity at a time the population is growing and the economy requires it for growth. The emissions from such plants had already been reduced by 90% at a significant cost. The EPA’s new regulations have no basis whatever in scientific fact. The cost of electricity is already rising for many Americans and U.S. coal is being shipped to China and India for their plants.

The nation’s moral standards have been harmed by the implementation of same-sex marriages which the President endorsed after reversing an earlier campaign position. His view that legalizing marijuana is okay will have serious implications that are already manifesting themselves at this point.

This is just a thumbnail review of what has been happening to the nation and to all Americans. We have survived incompetent presidents in the past, but Obama is unique, not just for his ignorance and incompetence, but for his reliance on lies to achieve his goal of reducing America as the one world power that has been relied upon to resist the forces of evil that threaten mankind.

Having begun with a quote by the Cheney’s, I will conclude with their view that “President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.”

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Obama Talks Climate Change While Iraq Implodes

By Alan Caruba

It is depressing beyond words that we will have to endure two and a half more years of an endless stream of lies about climate change from President Obama.

On June 14 he gave a commencement speech to graduates of the University of California at Irvine, using it to tell Big Fat Lies, not the least of which was that the Earth’s temperatures were rising when in fact they have been falling for nearly eighteen years.

It is an endless source of wonder to me that no part of the mainstream media disputes him when he says things like this. For years now they have been reporting the evidence of increasingly cold weather worldwide.
 On the same day the President was lying about warming, eight inches of snow fell in Rize, Turkey. It has fallen as well in South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia while closer to home snow fell on several cities in Idaho with cold freezes extending into Oregon. In June!

Obama used the speech to demand that politicians take steps to acknowledge climate change which used to be called global warming until it became undeniable to everyone except the charlatans lining their pockets with utterly bogus “research” that underwrites the source of the lies, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Obama continues to listen to his White House advisor, Dr. John Holdren, whose contempt for the human race is such he would happily see large parts of it disappear. In February, Holdren told reporters that all weather is impacted by climate change, but that is what climate change has done for 4.5 billion years. Not mentioned was that climate cycles are measured in centuries while weather is a short-term event. The most recent mini-ice age lasted from 1300 to 1850.

Holdren alluded to droughts affecting parts of the nation, claiming they were getting longer and drying. Two leading climate scientists, former NASA scientist Dr. Roy Spencer and University of Colorado climate scientists, Roger Pielke, Jr, called Holdren’s assertions “pseudo-science rambling.” “The idea that any of the weather we are seeing is in any significant way due to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions verges on irrationality,” said Spencer. Pielke called Holdren’s assertions “zombie science.”

While Holdren is warning about droughts that could cause famines, James M. Taylor, the managing editor of the Heartland Institute’s monthly, Environment & Climate News, took aim at the IPCC claims, noting that U.S. and global crop production, especially the most important staple food crops, corn, rice, and wheat, “have more than tripled since 1970. During the past few years, the United States has set crop production records for alfalfa, cotton, beans, sugar beets, sweet potatoes, canola, corn, flaxseed, hops, rice sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, peanuts and wheat, to name just a few.”

The worst part of Obama’s lies about the so-called “greenhouse gases” that we’ve been told for decades are warming the Earth is the way those lies are translated into government policies. The Obama administration, via the Environmental Protection Agency, has launched a war on coal-fired plants that produce 40% of the nation’s electricity claiming that their emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing a warming that is not happening. What is happening is a deliberate effort to drive up the cost of electricity for everyone.

America runs on electricity and 68% of it is generated by fossil fuels, 20% by nuclear, and 7% by hydropower. So called “clean energy”, wind and solar, provides about 4% at far higher costs than the others and exists largely due to government subsidies and mandates.

Claims about increased severe storms, heat waves, and hurricanes simply have no basis in fact. In recent years there has been a record low in the numbers of tornadoes, hurricanes, no change in the rise of sea levels, but record gains in Arctic and Antarctic ice. None of this is reported by the mainstream media.

Yet Obama told graduates that rising temperatures and sea levels, as well as intensifying storm patterns represent “one of the most significant long-term challenges that our country and our planet face.” He said this even though his administration’s recent National Climate Assessment acknowledged that “There has been no universal trend in the overall extent of drought across the continental U.S. since 1900.” The report, however, is being used to justify carbon-related regulations.

While the world’s attention is on one of the greatest threats facing it, the takeover of northern Iraq by a barbaric Islamist group—one from which even al Qaeda disassociated itself—Obama is talking about non-existent climate threats to further policies that kill jobs in the U.S. and harm its struggling recovery of our economy.

While the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) seeks to expand its control of a major portion of the Middle East, Obama thought it was more important to lie about the climate to college graduates.

How much more damage Obama can inflict on the economy between now and the end of his second term in office is unknown, but what we do know is that his priorities, based on scare-mongering speeches about the climate will continue until he leaves office.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Israel Will Go to War as Islamic Fascism Spreads

Scenes like this ISIS execution remind Israelis of the Nazi genocide
By Alan Caruba

The Israelis are ready to go to war even if the United States is not.

The news out of the Middle East reflects how President Obama’s policies have led to an Islamic terrorist takeover of huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. No nation watches these events more closely than Israel. On June 6 the chief of the Israeli Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz cryptically remarked that the IDF is gearing up to address the growing numbers of terrorist forces on its border with Syria. He noted Iraq as well for good measure.

When Israel is in the news, it is usually because it is under attack or responding to one. The only other times have been news of “peace talks” between it and the Palestinian Authority (PA), but none of those talks over decades has ever achieved peace because, as the diplomatic community knows, the Palestinians do not want it.

Most recently, the PA announced “unity” with Hamas, a Palestinian organization that all nations identify as terrorist. As Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a fellow of the Middle East Forum, recently noted, “As long as the military branch of Hamas remains independent, there is no Palestinian unity.”

Why the PA would engage in this charade is known only to them. There are no advantages in it because they do not gain any presence in the Gaza Strip, the home to Hamas. As far as the U.S. and Europe are concerned, says Inbar, “the establishment of a real, stable Palestinian state (is) more unlikely than ever.” Hamas has already asserted itself by kidnapping three teenagers, one of whom is an American

Though most U.S. taxpayers are likely unaware of it, the U.S. gives an estimated $440 million in aid to the PA every year. They are not likely to be pleased now that the PA has entered into some form of unity with Hamas. Official State Department statements referred to something they called “an interim technocratic government…that does not include members affiliated with Hamas” and made it known the U.S. expects the PA “to do everything in its power to prevent attacks from Gaza.” A European Union spokesman said it would insist that the new government recognize Israel’s right to exist. That will not happen.

Israel’s initial response was to announce plans to build 1,500 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making it clear the decision was its retaliation for the creation of the Palestinian unity government with Hamas. Israel made it known it might withhold the taxes it collects on behalf of the PA. This is well short of a shooting war and, of course, the U.S. ambassador to Israel repeated the Obama administration’s longtime opposition to new settlement construction.

What exists at this point—and has for a long time—is an Israel that is an oasis of sanity in the Middle East in contrast to the conflicts occurring in the region’s other nations.

Syria is now entering its fourth year of civil war and Israel took notice that a small Hezbollah force took up position on June 5 on the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing directly opposite the Israeli Defense Force Golan deployment. It was the first known instance of such an occurrence and will likely precede a larger force because the al Assad regime attaches a high strategic importance to the town.

Lebanon, also to the north, has not been a source of conflict for many years and is controlled these days by Hezbollah. The U.S. designates it as a terrorist organization. Jordan to its east has felt the brunt of the Syrian civil war, having to absorb thousands of refugees as has Lebanon and as the fanatical forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) continues its takeover of Iraq, Jordan has to know it is in its sights for takeover. Israel is not likely to allow that to occur. It would put ISIS on its doorstep.

To the West, Egypt has been working its way through the “Arab Spring”, having just elected a new president, a former general, but one waging war against Hamas terrorists in its Sinai region while continuing to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood domestically.

Israel has long since abandoned any notion that the Obama administration is to be trusted. As Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, recently noted, the administration’s foreign policy decisions have “deliberately driven a wedge between Obama and Israel. President Obama’s priority is, and always has been, the Muslim world.”

The recent exchange of five high ranked Taliban leaders, set free from Guantanamo, for a single American soldier who is identified as a deserter suggests that Obama’s attitude and actions pose as great a problem for the U.S. as it does for Afghanistan and the entire Middle East.

Israel’s primary “existential” threat is a nuclear-armed Iran and, should the day arrive that Israel wants to stop that from occurring, it will take action just as it did in Iraq and Syria in past times.

Meanwhile, Mideast nations such as Saudi Arabia no longer trust the Obama administration any more than does Israel and some have been engaging in outreach to Iran, knowing that the current U.S. negotiations were doomed to failure from the start.

Israel is the only stable nation amidst the pandemonium that is the Middle East and it will defend itself.

© Alan Caruba, 2014