Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Don't be an April 'Earth Month' Fool

By Alan Caruba

The annual calendar is filled with days and months designated for the purpose of calling attention to some event, personality, or cause. The U.S. celebrates the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington that fall close together. There’s Mother’s and Father’s Day, Labor Day and Veteran’s Day, Valentine’s, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas.

But who decided that April was “Earth Month” or that April 22 is “Earth Day”? 

Why are we expected to worship the planet that was here billions of years before we showed up and will likely be here long after we manage to destroy ourselves with cataclysmic wars. And it is worship that is at the heart of these two events. That alone should tell you how essentially pagan they are.

This Earth Month will celebrate its 45th anniversary, having begun in 1970 and, not surprisingly, its theme is “Our planet in peril.” Our planet is not in peril. It’s been around for 4.5 billion years and short of a rogue asteroid or our getting sucked into a black hole, the planet will be around several billions of years more. The galaxy in which we live is relatively predictable and stable, so the notion that the Earth is in peril borders on idiocy.

Well, idiocy, if you think that it is in peril from us, the human species. This is at the core of the environmental mindset. It appears that merely using the Earth as a place to live is reason enough to hold us responsible for everything that naturally occurs to it.

Environmentalists do not like the human race and will not hesitate to tell you there are too many of us. They do what they can to reduce the population through disease by, for example, banning DDT and any other chemicals that protect us from insect and rodent pests that are major vectors for the transmission of disease.

According to the 2015 Earth Month Network, Inc. announcement “There are literally hundreds of problems and issues plaguing our global environment, i.e., climate change, global warming and their effects; and the continuation of polluting our delicate ecosystem just to mention a few.”

Which is it? Climate change or global warming? There hasn’t been any dramatic global warming in the past 19 years during which the planet has been in a natural cooling cycle, along with the Sun which we depend upon to warm us. So anyone claiming the Earth is warming is blowing smoke up your skirt.

As for climate change, that has always been occurring. Short term it’s called the four seasons. Long term it takes the form of ice ages, major glaciations that have occurred every 140 million years, and other eras such as the Great Permian Extinction, the largest in Earth’s history that wiped out an estimated 95% of every kind of life-form on Earth. It was one of four mass extinctions over the course of the 3.5 billion years that life has existed on Earth. Remember the mammoths? They died a mere 11,500 years ago.

Last year, the Earth Month theme was “Returning to Nature.” Do you really want to return to nature? No electricity. No shelter other than a nice cave. No food except for the animals or fish you would have to catch for dinner. No vegetables or fruits except those you could find wherever you lived. That’s right, no supermarkets! And, if you want to go anywhere, you will have to walk.
Yes, nature sounds wonderful and, in its own way, is wonderful, but the human species has devoted a great deal of time to finding ways to survive it.

I was reminded that April was Earth Month when I received an email from the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa which said this Connecticut site was “excited to offer a special package to honor Earth Day.” It is “a Certified Green Hotel” and you will be treated to a “unique Ecotourism Getaway” that provides an “environmentally friendly stay without sacrificing comfort.” Why would you want to pay them for their special package if it didn’t include comfort and lots of it? Mostly what Saybrook Point wants is your money, just like any other perfectly ordinary inn and spa that isn’t “certified.”

One can be confident that we are going to be regaled with all manner of “environmental” messages and events throughout April, all of which have the same theme: the Earth is in danger from YOU!

Do yourself a favor. Ignore them. Get in your car and go where you want. Go to the supermarket and don’t worry about the plastic packaging or the plastic bags. Set the temperature in your home or apartment to a level of comfort that you like. It’s your life and you pay good money to benefit from all the conveniences of modern life.

Let’s appreciate the Earth, not worship it.

Environmentalism is one of the great scams of the modern era. Its emphasis on “renewable energy” has been a huge, expensive failure. Its claims of disappearing forests are bogus and its demands for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will only harm all vegetation everywhere. The Earth needs CO2 in the same way you and all other living creatures need oxygen.

Let’s celebrate mankind’s mastery of the Earth in the form of agriculture, ranching, sophisticated shelters from the log cabin to the skyscraper, the channeling of rivers to produce energy and the technology that provides clean water for us. And, yes, manufacturing. You can’t even imagine what the world was like before the discovery of coal, oil, and natural gas.

The Earth is not in peril, only the truth and common sense are.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015

Diet, Gain Weight, Diet, Gain Weight

By Alan Caruba

My Mother taught gourmet cooking, haute cuisine, for three decades in the local adult schools, first just to women and later with courses just for men as they too wanted to learn how to make succulent dishes, delicious sauces, and to bake as well. She also wrote a cookbook, “Cooking with Wine and High Spirits”, as well as one filled with dishes that the colonial Americans enjoyed.

Meanwhile, at home, my Father and I dined daily like royalty and neither of us got fat. Why? Because eating well means listening to your body when it is hungry and not eating when it’s not. What we are never told amidst the hourly deluge of print and broadcast advertising and reports is that we are each quite individual in terms of inherited genetic traits and that our bodies have different needs as we age,

Instead we are told over and over again that we must be “thin” and that our bodies are not what the culture says is “beautiful.” Try watching television for an hour without getting this message. It starts early and, currently, the First Lady is dictating what school children should or should not eat. It’s none of her business, but it is most certainly big business when you calculate the billions earned by physicians giving nutrition advice, pharmaceutical companies, diet companies offering pre-prepared dinners, others saying their foods are healthier,  and all  the others that have climbed on the multi-billion dollar gravy train.

An excellent book by Harriet Brown, “Body of Truth”, ($25.99, Da Capo Press) should be must-reading for everyone who has spent their life obsessing about every bite of food they eat. Based on extensive research, over twenty pages of notes citing her sources, she says what virtually any physician, nutritionist, or diet-peddler already knows. “Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that dieting makes people neither thinner, nor healthier. Quite the opposite, actually nearly everyone who diets winds up heavier in the long run, and many people’s health suffers rather than improves, especially over time.”

“Each of us thinks our obsession with weight and body image is ours alone,” says Brown. “We blame ourselves for not being thin enough, sexy enough, shaped just the right way. We believe we’re supposed to fit the standards of the day” and it starts very early in life; by as early as three to five years old.

This is not a personal issue,” says Brown. “This is not about your weakness or my laziness or her lack of self-discipline. This obsession is bigger than all of us. It’s become epidemic, endemic, and pandemic.”

“Weight-loss treatments are cash cows,” says Brown, “in part because they don’t work; there’s always a built-in base of repeat customers.”

In page after page Brown cites facts that too often do not make it into the pages of the newspapers and magazines we read, or on the radio and television we listen to and watch. For example, “The average American is in fact heavier (by about twenty pounds) and taller (by about an inch) than we were in 1960. And dire predictions notwithstanding, the rates of overweight and obesity leveled off around 2000. We’re not actually getting heavier and heavier; our collective weight has pretty much plateaued.”

Moreover, all those psychotropic medications we’re being prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, psychoses, and other mental health conditions “are known to cause weight gain, especially when taken over a period of time.”

We are constantly told that being overweight or even obese takes years off one’s life, but Brown’s research found that neither condition increased a person’s risk of dying prematurely and being mildly obese increases it only slightly. As you might already suspect, it is the lack of physical activity that poses a great health risk.

Brown cites studies that found that being physically unfit was as much or more of a risk factor for heart disease and death as diabetes, obesity, and other weight-based risk factors. Researchers argue that “it’s better to be fit and fat than unfit and thin.

If any of this hits home with you, if you find yourself criticizing a child for their size and weight, looking in the mirror and being displeased with your own, obsessing over everything you eat or serve, then Brown’s words should be embraced when she says “We’d do better for ourselves and our children if, instead of pushing diets and surgeries and medications, we look at real-world strategies for eating more fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, dancing, playing sports, and other joyful physical activities.”

“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.” 

“Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat something because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good.”

Listen to what your body is telling you. The message has been passed down from generation to generation of your ancestors through your genetic code. Eat what you want. Stop dieting. Stay active and fit.

There’s countless, endless messages about your weight and how your body looks. When you decide to feel good about yourself, you will be free to ignore them.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

But What Does the Supreme Leader Say?

Iran's Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali-Khamenei

By Alan Caruba

What Americans have a hard time understanding is that, for all the Iranian negotiators, the outcome of the nuclear arms deal that the United States is leading all comes down to just one man, Sayyed Ali-Khamenei, otherwise known as the Supreme Leader of Iran.

In the 21st century, it is hard to comprehend that a nation could be ruled by a man whose powers supersede that nation’s president, its civil government, its judiciary and its military. Iran has had only one other Supreme Leader since its founding in 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini who held the position until his death in 1989. The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran overthrew the Shah in order to secure greater freedom, but the Iranians ended up more servile than before.

This is who Obama and P5+1 team (France, Great Britain, Russia, China, plus Germany) is negotiating with as they move toward the March 31 deadline for the talks. Khamenei has already said that the only thing he wants is the immediately lifting of the economic sanctions that are credited with bringing the Iranians to the negotiation table.

The negotiations have to be seen in the context of Iran’s daily cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”  They have to be seen in the context of a history of Iranian aggression against America and Israel that has included the bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, attacks on U.S. embassies and countless other examples of their bad intentions, not the least of which has been its sponsorship of two anti-Israel groups, Hezbollah in Lebanon and, to a lessor extent, Hamas in Gaza.

Any nuclear deal that permits Iran to continue to enrich enough uranium to make its own nuclear weapons is a very bad deal. Netanyahu came to the U.S. at the invitation of Congress to make that point as the leader of the nation the Supreme Leader intends to destroy. We would be next.

All this is just slightly insane when one considers that President Obama has been obsessed with reaching an agreement with Iran before and since he took office in 2009. He has done everything possible to demonstrate his desire to remove the obstacles to conferring approval on Iran. In the process, he has made us look and be weak.

It is hopeful news, therefore, as reported in The Hill that “Congress is growing hostile to the emerging nuclear deal with Iran, leaving President Obama with little political cover as he approaches a critical deadline in the talks. Should a deal be reached, it would transform U.S. and Iranian relations and potentially give Obama the most important foreign policy achievement of his second term.”

His most significant foreign policy failure, however, has been his betrayal of Israel, the only ally in the Mideast that the U.S. truly has had. Declassifying information about Israel’s nuclear arms was pure treachery. That said, it was no secret and no doubt has protected Israel against apocalyptic destruction.

Consider the Middle Eastern foreign policy failures Obama has had to date. The Saudis and other Gulf States have abandoned hope that Obama would resist the Iranian proxies taking over Yemen. They are pursuing their own military operation there. Egypt which replaced the Muslim Brotherhood with a U.S.-friendly president has not seen any renewal of the former friendly relations that existed. Iraq is in turmoil thanks to Obama’s removal of U.S. troops in 2011 and even has Iranian military units fighting ISIS. Syria has been in a civil war that has killed thousands. It’s a long list but it comes down to Obama’s ending of the U.S. role in the Mideast.

Just as the Iranians are controlled by their Supreme Leader, we have a President who sees himself and his role in a similar way. He has demonstrated his dissatisfaction with the Constitution and the limits it puts on the Executive branch. He has ignored Congress and has been experiencing reversals of policy by the judicial branch. In the case of the Iran negotiations Congress has been kept in the dark along with the rest of the American people.

The Secretary of State, John Kerry, has declared that any outcome of the negotiations would legally non-binding. If so, why are they being pursued? Such negotiations at the treaty level have always required the consent of the Senate, but the Obama regime is seeking to by-pass that mandatory factor.

On the other side of the table, it has been reported that the main stumbling block to agreement has been Iran’s failure to cooperate with a United Nations probe into whether it tried to build atomic weapons in the past. If United Nations inspectors, in the future as in the past, are unable to verify that Iran is not continuing its nuclear weapons program, there is no way an agreement of any kind could be achieved.

On March 26, the Washington Examiner reported “The Obama administration is giving in to Iranian demands about the scope of its nuclear program as negotiators work to finalize a framework agreement in the coming days, according to sources familiar with the administration’s position in the negotiations.”

You can be very sure that the Supreme Leader is watching this closely. If he can continue to get the kind of negotiations—an accord—that will result in Iran becoming a sanctions-free, nuclear-armed nation, he will permit the deal to proceed.

The Iranians, as always, will cheat on any deal to achieve this goal. Sadly, everyone at the table knows that, but Russia and China have strong economic reasons to pretend otherwise.

If the Supreme Leader gets what he wants the prospect for war in the Middle East would increase immeasurably. The threat level to the U.S. and Israel would be off the charts.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Terrifying the Republican Establishment

Ted Cruz announces candidacy

By Alan Caruba

Would you vote for a man who openly says he would repeal ObamaCare?

Would you vote for a man who openly says he favors a fair tax and wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service?

Would you vote for a man who opposes Obama’s efforts to offer illegal aliens amnesty and promises to secure the borders?

Would you vote for a man who decries a federal government “that wages an assault on our religious liberty”?

Would you vote for a man who wants a federal government that “works to defend the sanctity of human life” and would “uphold the sacrament of marriage”?

Would you vote for a man who defends our Second Amendment rights and condemns the effort ban ammunition?

Would you vote for a man who condemns a federal government that seeks to dictate school curriculums and wants to repeal “every word of Common Core”?

Would you vote for a man who would stand “unapologetically with the nation of Israel”?

Would you vote for a man who has pledged that he would do everything he could to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon?

Would you vote for a man who openly says he would do everything he could to defeat radical Islamic terrorism?

I said I would on May 6, 2013 when he was beginning to get attention. Columnist George Will said he was “as good as it gets” when it comes to being a true conservative in Congress.

I am of course speaking of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who has announced his candidacy to be the presidential candidate of the Republican Party. 

I suspect that his announcement probably terrifies the Republican “Establishment” who have managed to serve up some good men, but poor candidates, to be President. When Republican voters stayed home, we got Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Now they want to get the Party faithful to vote for Jeb Bush, but from my vantage point, the real base is ready to vote for anybody else, Sen. Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Walker, and Sen. Rubio come to mind.

First of all, there is no Tea Party in the sense of a political party with its own candidates. What there is are Republicans who believe in the U.S. Constitution, small government, fiscal prudence, strong national security, and all those other values outlined in Ted Cruz’s speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

As Cruz said in an email about his announcement “Washington, D.C. has become completely disconnected from the values of real Americans. That’s why we are now more than $18 trillion in debt, why wages have stagnated, and why our foreign policy is an absolute mess.” That pretty much sums up what Obama has delivered.

Does it surprise anyone that Cruz’s candidacy was instantly attacked, not just by Democrats, but by a number of leading Republicans? Rep. Peter King, appearing on CNN’s “Situation Room” with host Wolf Blitzer, said, he’d “jump off that bridge” when he got to it if Cruz becomes the GOP candidate. He also accused Cruz and Rand Paul of being “counterfeit conservatives.”  Nonsense!

The March 24 Wall Street Journal had a lengthy editorial devoted to “The Cruz Candidacy” noting that on most issues with the exception of immigration they found themselves in agreement with him and offered an upbeat view that “The good news for GOP voters is that their field of candidates in 2016 is going to be deep, offering many varieties of conservative leadership” but ending with reservations about “his polarizing style” which was another way of saying he is not a wishy-washy centrist.

We will hear more such accusations and criticisms and, as often as not, they will come from the GOP Establishment.
The GOP Establishment regards real conservatives as unable to secure election, preferring RINOs, Republicans in Name Only, and candidates who move as close to the center politically as possible. It seems to have escaped their notice that the Republicans elected in the last two midterm elections were sent to Washington, D.C. by Tea Party and other serious conservative voters.

It has been a long time since a real conservative Republican, Ronald Reagan, was elected President, but it can happen again as serious voters, particularly those who are independents, join with those who find Sen. Cruz a refreshing voice, Will he get the nomination? We are a very long way from the 2016 election, but at least we know it won’t be a boring one!

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Death Throes of Common Core

By Alan Caruba

Americans are learning the hard way that the federal government should not be permitted to impose one-size-fits-all standards to education. It was never intended to play a role in education and the absence of any mention in the Constitution is proof enough that education was intended to be supervised by the states where the school districts, schools, and parents are closest to the process.

Common Core is going to play a large role in the 2016 elections and that is likely to impact former Governor Jeb Bush the most. At the heart of the unhappiness with Common Core has been its emphasis on testing.

A March 20th Wall Street Journal article, “Bush Faces Test of Exam Policy”, reported that “A Rasmussen Reports nationwide survey in February found that 52% of respondents thought there was too much emphasis on testing in schools and 69% believed there was too much ‘teaching to the test.’”

The transformation of the nation’s educational system began when the Department of Education was signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1979 and began operating in 1980. It continued with the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the name given to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It requires all public schools receiving Title 1 federal funding to annually administer a state-wide standardized test to all students. NCLB was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA) and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH).

President George W. Bush was a leading NCLB advocate and signed it into law on January 8, 2002. Each state was expected to develop its own standards because NCLB did not impose a national one. This year when its reauthorization came up for consideration, it was pulled from the House floor in February. The Heritage Foundation deems it “outdated, ineffective, and prioritizes government standards over the needs of individual students.”

According to Neal McCluskey, Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, “There is no compelling evidence that No Child Left Behind, and federal intervention overall, has produced much good, while it is very clear it has cost substantial money and is unconstitutional.”

In Missouri, circuit court Judge Daniel R. Green, ruled in February that the state’s payment of more than $4 million in membership fees as part of a standardized testing consortium was illegal. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium “is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate” Article 1 and 10 of the federal Constitution. It dealt a blow to Common Core.

It’s not just Missouri. In January the Mississippi Board of Education voted to withdraw from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium which is one of the two tests aligned to Common Core. A full repeal of Common Core standards is under discussion.

By June 2014, two months before its implementation date, 19 states had either withdrawn from the tests or had paused implementation of the standards. Four of the 19, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana had completely exited the national standards. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia never adopted it.

Gov. Bush is beginning to put some distance between himself and Common Core. His spokeswoman, Kristi Campbell, said “There is such a thing as too much testing.” Reportedly “he says the federal government shouldn’t impose particular tests or curricula on states.” Meanwhile, in one state after another, Common Core is being rejected.

On the political front, the Heartland Institute’s monthly newsletter, School Reform News, reported in March that “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a front runner in the contest for the Republican nomination for president, made bold reforms of elementary, secondary, and college education a prominent part of his proposed 2015-17 budget.”

“The budget, presented on February 3, would remove the cap on the state’s school choice program, eliminate state funding for Smarter Balanced tests tied to Common Core State Standards, and cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin over two years in exchange for greater autonomy for the system.”

On Capitol Hill, four Republican senators including Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Roberts of Kansas have introduced a bill that would prevent the federal government from strong-arming states into adopting education standards such as Common Core and, presumably, NCLB. The bill is called learning Opportunities Created at the Local Level Act. As reported in the Daily Caller.com, it “would limit the federal government’s ability to control state educational standards and curriculums through financial incentives, grants, mandates, and other forms of influence.”

There’s no way to know when Common Core will die or whether No Child Left Behind will suffer a similar fate but the trend nationwide is obvious. Parents, teachers, schools and districts want to determine the best curricula for the children in their systems. They want the federal government out and that is a very good thing.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Obama Anti-Semitic?

A poster in Israel

By Alan Caruba

President Obama made no secret of his displeasure that Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected to be Israel’s Prime Minister. Only David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and one of the nation’s founders, served longer.

Obama lives in some parallel universe apart from the lessons of history and the realities of what is actually occurring. On May 18, 2009, not long after Obama had been in office and Netanyahu was visiting the White House, Obama was demanding that he endorse Palestinian statehood and freeze the settlements on the West Bank.

Considering that the Palestinians had refused statehood from the day the United Nations endorsed Israel’s independence that has been a fool’s mission no matter who was President or Prime Minister.

As for Obama’s demands about settlements, who is Obama to tell the Israelis in 2009 where and if they can build the housing needed for its growing population? And yet Netanyahu, seeking to accommodate Obama, endorsed Palestinian statehood shortly thereafter and then announced a ten-month freeze on settlement development.

What did Netanyahu get in return? Nothing.

In 2014 when the Israelis responded militarily to months of rocket attacks from Gaza, it contacted the Department of Defense to request Hellfire missiles and Obama reportedly personally blocked the shipments.

The talks with Iran that have been Obama’s obsession since he took office have continued despite his promise not to “have talks forever.” This has been his pattern of behavior since the day he took office. As Wall Street columnist Brett Stephens observed, “The President collects hard favors from allies and replays them with neglect and derision. This is the mentality of a peevish and callow potentate.”

Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress left the White House deeply angered and his reelection probably stunned them. The Israelis are accustomed to being underestimated.

At this point, Obama has given plenty of evidence that he is both pro-Islam and anti-Israel. Michael Haltman has written a timeline of events, “Obama’s Israel Hatred”, that reflect Obama’s attitudes in terms of the people with whom he associated before his 2008 run for the presidency and the events that followed thereafter.

Unspoken, but widely suspected, is the question of whether Obama is also anti-Semitic. As Haltman points out “Obama has spent his entire life surrounded by haters of Israel, from the former Palestine Liberation Organization, Rashid Khalid to former Jimmy Carter National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Bazinski. Most famously people became aware of Rev. Jeramiah Wright whose church Obama attended and where he was married. Wright has been quoted saying “Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me.” 

The question of anti-Semitism is complicated by the fact that Obama has surrounded himself with Jews in the White House.

The Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, is Jewish. As is Gene Sperling, the Director of the National Economic Council. Janet Yellen, the Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve is Jewish as is a senior advisor, David Plouffe, as well as a dozen others. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff is Jewish as was his former senior advisor, David Axelrod. At least fifteen other Jews formerly held high office in the administration.

For anti-Semites, that would be “proof” that the White House is “run by Jews”, but that would not only be absurd, it would ignore the Muslims that Obama has put into positions of power and influence throughout his administration. Obama's Jewish personnel choices all share his very liberal views.

I define anti-Semitism as a serious or general dislike of Jews. It can be either overt or covert. As in most cases in life, you can make your own conclusion based on a person’s actions, not words.

There is little doubt, however, that Obama shares an antipathy to Israel that is widespread among world leaders and many others. After two thousand years, the reemergence of Israel as a sovereign state in 1948 has no doubt baffled and irked those who hold Jews in contempt. Up until the election of Obama Israel had been supported by whoever was in the White House and understood to be an ally.

Now that he is in the final years of his presidency, Obama does not have to hide his antipathy to Israel, nor did he make much effort to do so in this first term.

The White House suggestion that they might take the two-state issue to the United Nations Security Council reflects Obama’s pique over Netanyahu’s speech to Congress opposing the Iran nuclear deal and his reelection. By contrast, his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, is now in the 11th year of his four-year term. Who needs elections in Palestine? And the Palestinian Authority is now linked with Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist group.

Seeking United Nations involvement is a last ditch effort to harm Israel, but it hardly matters what the United Nations does or does not do because it is the most obscenely anti-Israel international institution.

What troubles most people, irrespective of any real or assumed anti-Israel or anti-Semitic element, is Obama’s pursuit of a deal with the Iranians that would permit them at some point to make their own nuclear weapons. It quite simply makes no sense to anyone except Obama. Iran has made no secret of its wish to “wipe Israel off the map.”  Netanyahu left no doubt that Israel would use military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. In the past they destroyed such facilities in Iraq and Syria.

As for the Iranians, they don’t care how the negotiations turn out. They have gotten a respite from the sanctions and had funds that were frozen returned; securing money and time to continue their nuclear ambitions.

As for the destruction of Israel, Iran has both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza as their proxies to threaten Israel, so they can wait for a nuke to finish off the job. And who did the U.S. just remove from its list of terrorist nations and groups? Iran and Hezbollah!

I suspect that once Obama returns to civilian life, we will learn more about his views about race and religion. What we have learned at this point is that he doesn’t like an America that is a world power and the leader of the free world. His policy of retreat has caused allies and enemies alike to distrust him.

Anti-Semitic? Anti-Israel? Regrettably his words and actions demonstrate that this can be said of Obama with relative ease.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Israelis Send Obama a Message

By Alan Caruba

When the news of Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection victory was announced I factitiously posted on my Facebook page that the Israelis had “sent Obama a two-word message and it wasn’t happy birthday.” It took him two days to call and congratulate Bibi.

I don’t think we have ever had a President so ignorant of the Middle East and that includes the neo-cons that got George W. Bush into a war in Iraq to rid that nation of Saddam Hussein and presumably create a democracy to replace him. Liberals tend to forget that Bush had actually accomplished that until Obama pulled out all of our troops and consigned Iraq to anarchy and ISIS.

A simple understanding of the last century would presumably tell any President that the U.S. had troops all around the world for the purpose of maintaining the peace that various tyrants would challenge. As far as Obama is concerned, the sooner America retreated to his own borders and eliminated its nuclear arsenal, the safer the world would be. Only an idiot would believe that.

To put it succinctly, Obama has been wrong about Iraq, wrong about Syria, wrong about Egypt when he supported the Muslim Brotherhood, and is very wrong about Iran, a fact that has Israel and all the other Middle Eastern nations seriously concerned. If Putin hadn’t concluded that Obama is a fool and a weakling, he might not have invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimea.

This is, after all, a President who sent five high level terrorists back to join their Taliban colleagues in Afghanistan in exchange for a U.S. Army sergeant, Bowe Bergdahl, who defected from his unit to join the Taliban and was held prisoner for five years. If you haven’t heard anything more about him it’s because that’s the standard operational procedure of the Obama White House. First they screw up and then they wait until they hope everyone has forgotten.

If that wasn’t obscene enough, in the latest Worldwide Threat Assessment submitted to Congress by the director of National Intelligence, both Iran and Hezbollah, a terror state and its proxy in Lebanon, were removed from the list of global terror threats.

Throughout his two terms to date Obama has demonstrated unremitting animosity toward Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular. His demand for a two-state “solution” ignores that fact that the Palestinians have refused to initiate a state of their own from the day Israel declared its independence in 1948.

IDF Soldier in Hamas Tunnel
The “land-for-peace” policy provided the Palestinians with the whole of Gaza. Instead of building a thriving homeland, they used it to rocket Israel until it was forced to respond with enough force to reduce the threat. Land-for-peace? How about the land through which the Palestinians were tunneling into Israel for the purpose of attacking Israelis on the Gaza border?

These people have been incorrigible for 67 years since Israel’s founding. These days Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of Israel and funded by Iran. Netanyahu’s decision reflects the minds and hearts of the Israelis who reelected him and the Likud party to power.

So what is Obama’s response? He wants to go to the United Nations to force Israel to cede land to a Palestinian nation that the Palestinians have refused to create. Ironically, if you want to find a nation full of Palestinians, you need only visit Jordan which, along with Egypt, has had a peace treaty with Israel for decades.

If you want to find a nation with a million-plus Muslims, then visit Israel which is their home. Arabs and Jews have lived together there in peace for a long time.

Someone needs to tell Obama about the Hamas assassination plot against Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that was disrupted in early March when his forces raided nine PA-ruled towns in the West Bank to detain 550 Hamas suspects. By initiating mass riots as Hamas had done in Gaza in order to seize power from the PA, the overthrow of Abbas was intended to give them control over the West Bank as well.

Someone might also inform Obama that 2014 was the deadliest year for terror attacks in 45 years. The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in late February told Congress that “When the final counting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled.” Worldwide, from January to September, around 13,000 terror attacks were carried out, killing 31,000 people.

While Obama obsesses about Israel, he continues to do little about ISIS, the Islamic State, that has been expanding from Iraq and Syria into the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and South Asia. The report says “ISIL’s rise represents the greatest shift in the Sunni violent extremist landscape since Al Qaeda affiliates first began forming, and it is the first to assume at least some characteristics of a nation state.”

No one knows better than the Israelis who have fought wars and intifadas that the major menace to the West is to be found in the Middle East. Instead of demanding that Israel commit territorial suicide, Obama should be supporting the greatest ally America has in the Middle East, but that is perhaps too much to ask of this ignorant, arrogant, former community organizer.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Let the Budget Battles Begin

By Alan Caruba

The announcement of a new fiscal budget for the U.S. government always sets the stage for struggles between the spenders and those trying to put some limits on the spending. The spenders usually win because politicians—particularly progressive ones—love to tap the national treasury in order to reward their supporters.

As the Speaker of the House John Boehner said on the occasion of the March 17 announcement, “For 53 of the last 60 years, the federal government has spent more than it has taken in. It is unacceptable.” Not so unacceptable that one Congress after another has not seen fit to ignore common sense and fiscal prudence.

The sheer enormity of the budget tends to overwhelm and I suspect that most voters pay little attention to it and the issues it represents except to want assurances that their benefit check arrives. Rarely mentioned or largely unknown is the size of the nation’s unfunded liabilities, long term obligations in Medicare and Social Security. In 2014 they reached nearly $49 trillion with a “T”.

Our annual Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) what the U.S. takes in for goods and services is about $14 trillion. Our current national debt is $18 trillion and growing. Regarding the unfunded liabilities, Romina Boccia of The Heritage Foundation noted last year that they were “nearly three times the size of the total national debt or more than $150,000 for every person in the U.S.” He predicted that “even the most vulnerable Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries would see their benefits drastically cut after 2030.”

Here’s another way of looking at our debt. When interest rates return to normal WE are going to be paying several hundred billion in interest on our current $18 trillion debt. In short, we have to desperately start cutting spending NOW to reduce that debt. Or else!

The 2016 budget announced by House Budget Chairman Tom Price represents Republican values. As the Wall Street Journal noted, it “would cut spending by $5.5 trillion relative to the status quo over the next decade, reducing federal spending to 18.2% of the economy by 2024. The share today is 20.3% and is headed toward 22.3% in a decade on present trend.” It’s useful to keep in mind that every dollar the government collects and spends is one less dollar that the private sector can spend on starting and expanding businesses large and small.

All that money represents opportunities for waste that are mind-boggling. A recent article in CNS News reported that “Medicare and Medicaid made a combined $77.4 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2014, a 20.4 percent increase from fiscal 2013, according to data published by the Government Accountability Office and the federal paymentaccuracy.gov website.” Twelve government programs that wasted money made the Government Accountability Office list including the school lunch and public housing/rental assistance programs.

The good news about the new fiscal budget is that it openly calls for repealing ObamaCare. It also outlines deregulating Medicaid to give governors more flexibility. It is a terrific fiscal burden. The budget took note of the fact that there are too many duplicative government programs such as 92 antipoverty programs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that consolidating such programs would increase real GDP per capita by 1.5% in 2015. Eliminating a whole bunch of them would save even more.

Jane M. Orient, M.D., the Executive Director of American Physicians and Surgeons, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, warned that “there seem to be some good first steps, such as block-granting Medicaid to the states. But even Republicans aren’t admitting that their budget also involves fighting over money that we don’t have, that the Federal Reserve will create out of faith and credit.”

“Also absent,” said Dr. Orient, “is recognition of the crushing burden of regulation, especially EPA rules to destroy a huge portion of our electrical generating capacity, with heavy subsidization of costly, unreliable, environmentally destructive wind and solar projects that can’t possibly replace coal, nuclear, or natural gas. Or recognition of the destructive impact of the Department of Education. How about devolving environmental protection and education back to the states, too, along with Medicaid?”

“This new House budget,” said Peter Ferrara, a Heartland Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy, “shows the passing of the Age of Obama and the broad gulf of difference between today’s conservative Republicans and the modern, ultra-Left, extremist, neo-socialist Democrats. Reagan-life, the plan would balance the budget without tax increases, while modernizing our increasingly dangerously lagging military.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out that, “As important, failing to pass a budget would also deprive Republicans of the procedural tool known as reconciliation. This allows the GOP to pass a final budget with a simple majority in the House and Senate, and thus it will be crucial to putting larger reforms of ObamaCare or taxes on Mr. Obama’s desk. A vote against the budget is in that sense a vote for the ObamaCare status quo.”

In sum, the proposed budget represents a serious effort to enact reforms that are long overdue. These and other measures are needed to encourage economic growth, the heart's blood of the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It's Not "Global Warming." It's "Springtime."

By Alan Caruba

After decades of environmental claims that “global warming” would plunge the planet into catastrophic harm to its human and other inhabitants—at the same time blaming humans for causing it—the sheer arrogance and ignorance of these claims always ignores the real power that is represented by the Earth itself and the beginning of Spring should be proof enough for anyone paying any attention.

This year, Spring begins in the northern hemisphere on Friday, March 20 at 6:45 PM EDT. In the southern hemisphere it marks the beginning of Autumn.

Spring manifests itself in ways we take for granted yet it is a combination of many events that should make us marvel if we gave them any thought. For example, where does all the snow go? The U.S. and the rest of the world set records of snowfall levels throughout Winter.

As noted by the U.S. Geological Service, “in the world-wide scheme of the water cycle, runoff from snowmelt is a major component of the global movement of water.”

“Mountain snow fields act as natural reservoirs for many western United States water-supply systems, storing precipitation from the cool season, when most precipitation falls and forms snowpacks…As much as 75 percent of water supplies in the western states are derived from snowmelt.”  Snowmelt ensures sufficient water for all of us and for the Earth that depends upon it for the growth of all vegetation. 

How do the flowers know it is Spring? In a 2011 article for the Inside Science News Service, Katherine Gammon noted that “Just in time for the birds and bees to start buzzing, the flowers and the trees somehow know when to open their buds to start flowering. But the exact way that plants get their wake-up call has been something of a mystery.”  A molecular biologist at the University of Texas, Sibum Sung, has been trying to solve that mystery and has discovered “a special molecule in plants that gives them the remarkable ability to recall Winter and to bloom on schedule in the Spring.”

Nothing on Earth happens by accident. It is a remarkable inter-related system to which we give little thought. The sheer power of all those blooming flowers and trees should tell us something about the power of Nature that dwarfs all the claims that humans have any influence whatever on the events of Spring or any other time of the year.

Then think about the role of the animals with whom we share the planet. In the Spring many come out of hibernation in their dens, while others such as birds make lengthy migrations from the warmer climes to those in the north. The huge migration of Monarch Butterflies should leave us speechless. Spring is a time when many animals give birth to their young.

A sign of the Spring that leaves us breathless is the way it is the season for the aurora borealis. Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA notes that “For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. From Canada to Scandinavia they provide a great show.

“Such outbursts are called auroral substorms and they have long puzzled physicists,” says UCLA space physicist Vassilis Angelopoulos. They represent “a potent geomagnetic storm.” The equinox in Spring and Autumn is a time when magnetic connections between the Sun and Earth are most favorable.

One book, “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson, first published in September 1962, started the environmental campaign against pesticide use for any reason, leading most famously to the ban on DDT in the U.S. What Carson neglected to tell readers was how they were supposed to cope with the trillions of insects that come with the advent of warm weather.

No pesticide use does not mean less mosquitoes, less termites, less flies, less ants, or less of any other insect species and the diseases they spread, property damage, and the damage they cause to crops of all descriptions. And, of course, the much of the pollination of crops and other vegetation depends on insect species.

Carson’s claims of a silent spring bereft of bird species was a blatant lie. Rich Kozlovich, an authority on pest management, noted that “Bird populations were never so high in North America” despite the use of DDT and other pesticides. “Carson’s claim about how the poor robin was going to disappear was not only wrong, she was deliberately lying.”

“Carson was a science writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and absolutely had to know that in 1960 there were 12 times more robins, 21 times more cowbirds, 38 times more blackbirds, 131 times more grackles, etc., compared to 1941 numbers.”

Spring is a time of renewal in the northern hemisphere and it occurs with enormous levels of natural power. Most people, however, are oblivious to that power as they enjoy the sight of flowers and trees blooming.

I could almost guarantee that you will read or hear about “global warming” or “climate change” being attributed to the arrival of Spring. Do yourself a favor. Keep in mind that those claims, like Rachel Carson’s, represent an anti-humanity, anti-energy, and anti-capitalism agenda of the environmental movement.

Instead, celebrate the seasonal renewal of life on Earth and give thanks for the energy that permits you to control the environment of the structures where you live and work, that provides you the means to get in your car and go anywhere, and that powers every device you use.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why Moral Values Matter

By Alan Caruba

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other."
-- John Adams (1735 - 1826), second President of the U.S.A.

It’s hard to consider the success of the book and film “Fifty Shades of Gray” without thinking that America has become morally bankrupt in terms of its views toward sexuality and, of course, in other ways as well.

At about the same time I was thinking this, a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal had an article titled “Unmarried…With Children.” 

Let me say up front that, having spent the bulk of my life in the last century, I have been a witness to the changes that have occurred and they portend a society that in many ways is in deep trouble. It is not one in which I would want today’s generation of children to grow up. That said, today’s children are drenched in all manner of information for good or ill that was simply not accessible to earlier generations. Since it reflects the views of popular culture, it often conveys the wrong lessons.

In my youth and up to around the 1960s, some thirty years, the America in which I grew up disapproved of casual sex, abortions, unmarried people living together, pornography, and comparable issues. That has changed.

The article cited the fact that “More than a quarter of births to women of childbearing age—defined here as 15 to 44 years old—in the past five years were cohabiting couples, the highest on record and nearly double the rate from a decade earlier, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2011 to 2013.”

And here’s a statistic that really caught my attention: “Cohabiting parents now account for a clear majority—59%--of all births outside marriage, according to estimates by Sally Curtin, a CDC demographer. In all, 40% of the 3.93 million births in 2013 were to unmarried women.” Moreover, “It is mostly white and Hispanic couples who are driving the trend, not black couples, experts say.”

“Affluent, highly educated Americans still largely marry before starting families, and single mothers remain more common among the poor.”  There was a time when the vast majority of Americans regarded marriage as the bond that had to first exist before a family was started.

There was a time when single motherhood was considered shameful from a moral point of view and understood to be harmful to society in general. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, a third of single mothers aren’t working, meaning they are likely to depend on government welfare. Feminists may call this “liberation”, but for those experiencing it, it is called poverty. The median income of working single mothers these days is $23,000 and 44% are never-married moms.

Demography, the study of how a society is composed, looks at the statistics related to age, gender, race, employment, earnings, and other factors may sound like dry stuff, but it reveals where a society is and where it is going.

In a 2012 article by Michael Snyder, “Which is Better—A Society with Loose Sexuality or a Society with Strict Rules for Sexuality?” the author notes that “Today, the percentage of U.S. adults who are married is at an all-time low. According to the Pew Research Center, only 51% of all Americans who are at least 18 years old are currently married at this point. Back in 1960, 72% of all U.S. adults were married.”

The U.S. has the highest divorce rate in the world “by a wide margin” noted Snyder. “What that means is that there are a lot less ‘family units’ than there used to be, and America has become a very lonely place.”

It is also a place which has huge rates of illiteracy. You may not connect literacy, the ability to read, and sexuality, but both relate to the behavior of people. For example, more than 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above the 4th grade level. It means that 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest two levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare. One in four children in America grow up without learning how to read.

Now the connection; teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are six times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently. These statistics are courtesy of DoSomething.org.

None of the statistics regarding sexuality in America are good for the future of America.

There are other issues that worry my generation. One of them is the legalization of same-sex marriage. The mere use of the word “marriage” to identify such a relationship signals the further destruction of the key element of any healthy society.

From the point of view of health, the legalization of marijuana use is another threat to the welfare of society. There was a reason it was considered dangerous and was illegal. A decade from now we will likely read about the affect it has had on the brains of young people now using it.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, currently 2.7 million Americans age 12 and older meet the clinical criteria for marijuana dependence or addiction.

For those of us old enough to remember an America where the statistics and trends cited here did not exist because public opinion guided people, particularly the young, toward a more cautious and responsible attitude about sex and marriage, what is occurring is troubling to say the least.

Morality may be ignored, but it never ceases to provide the foundation and guidelines for a healthy society.

© Alan Caruba, 2015