Friday, March 6, 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Hillary Will Not Run for President


By Alan Caruba

The revelations, reported initially in the most left-wing newspaper in the nation, The New York Times, that Hillary Clinton used her own private emails to conduct public business, suggests that there are forces within the Democratic Party that do not want her to be its candidate for President in 2016.

It’s not like Hillary did not know she was supposed to use the State Department’s email system for reasons of national security; her private emails could have been hacked by forces unfriendly to the U.S.  All government employees are routinely briefed on the laws that require this.

For the record, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. On September 18 of last year, I wrote a commentary titled “Go Away, Hillary” in which I asked “Other than earning her law degree, name one thing that Hillary Clinton has accomplished on her own. Her accomplishments—slim as they are—have been achieved on the coattails of either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.”

Beyond Hillary, what I object to is the necessity to raise millions with which to secure either Party’s nomination and a billion to run for the presidency. We are electing someone who has literally bought the election courtesy of donors who have made the selection for the rest of us. There is something fundamentally undemocratic about that.

That said, I don’t think Hillary Clinton will run in 2016.

That may surprise you, but it surprises me as well. And, yes, I could be wrong, but the revelations about her patently illegal email use while Secretary of State suggests that there are forces within her Party that want to end her candidacy now rather than later. They are sending her a message.

Ron Fournier is the Senior Political Columnist and Editorial Director of National Journal. Prior to that, he worked at the Associated Press for 20 years, most recently as its Washington Bureau Chief. On March 3rd, he wrote an opinion piece titled “Maybe she doesn’t want to run in 2016, top Democrats wonder. Maybe she shouldn’t.”

“Two weeks ago,” wrote Fournier, “we learned that the Clinton Foundation accepted contributions from foreign countries. Assurances from the Obama administration and Clinton aides that no donations were made during her tenure as Secretary of State were proven false.”

“Now The New York Times is reporting that Clinton used a personal email account to conduct government business as Secretary of State, an apparent violation of federal requirements that her records be retained.” He quoted one unnamed “senior Democrat” as saying “This story has legs as long as the election”, noting that many senior Democrats “are angry.”

“My concern,” wrote Fournier, “is that Clinton does not see this controversy as a personal failing. Rather, she sees it as a political problem that can be fixed with more polls, more money, and more attacks.” He described her problem as “a lack of shame about money, personal accountability, and transparency.”

If there is one thing to which the Democratic Party is totally dedicated, it is winning the White House and control of the Congress. Ever since President Obama has been in office, it has taken a beating as voters have relentlessly transferred power to the Republican Party in Congress and in many States. It is an unmistakable trend and one that must keep Democrat strategists up at night.

In January 2014, a Pew Research poll found that 69% of women who identified themselves as Democrats hoped to see a female President in their lifetime, compared to only 20% of Republican women. In April 2014, a Rasmussen poll found that “51% of likely U.S. voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Clinton, while 44% view her unfavorably.”

The Huffington Post analysis of the Pew poll concluded that “not wanting Clinton in office is the only one explanation for Republican woman’s relative lack of enthusiasm about electing a candidate of their own gender”, adding that “It may be that (the) gender of a candidate has simply become a less compelling factor for voters…”

Six years of having a President who was elected primarily because he is black have taught voters that race and gender are insufficient factors on which to base one’s vote.

Six years of a sluggish economy, massive unemployment, declining wealth among the Middle Class, and a disaster called foreign policy will influence 2016 votes along with, of course, whoever the candidates may be.

So I will return to my conjecture that Hillary, no matter her desire to be the first woman U.S. President, will also have to address the practical realities of politics. Opposition from within the Democratic Party will likely be a deciding factor. She has put off announcing her intentions until April. If she puts it off again that would suggest some deep misgivings.

If you had the choice between a life of great wealth and fame as opposed to the daily inquisition and criticism that comes with the presidency, which would you choose?

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's All Bad News for ObamaCare


By Alan Caruba

On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court will hear the King v. Burwell case. It is likely to deliver a death blow to ObamaCare when the decision is announced in a few months. About the only good thing ObamaCare demonstrated is that the federal government should be kept from taking over sectors of the nation’s economy that are working just fine without it.

Health care expert Edmund Haislmaier and legal expert, both of The Heritage Foundation, provided an explanation of the case. “The question before the Supreme Court is whether the Obama administration overstepped its authority in issuing an IRS ruling that conflicts with the ObamaCare statute. The statute allows payment of ObamaCare subsidies only to individuals who obtain coverage ‘through an Exchange established by (a) State.’”

ObamaCare got such a cold reception nationwide that 34 States refused to set up an exchange, forcing the feds to do it. Those exchanges distributed subsidies to individuals participating in them, but the ObamaCare statute “seemingly did not authorize subsidies in such cases.” Suffice to say that ObamaCare health insurance is considerably more costly than what one could have previously purchased on one’s own; thus the need for the subsidies gambit. 

The February edition of Health Care News, published by The Heartland Institute was filled with articles attesting to the failure of ObamaCare. Here are a few excerpts from them.

Devon M. Herrick, Ph.D., a health economist and senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, noted “Obama touts the claim (that) millions more people are now covered under health care insurance policies through employer plans. However, research has shown exchange subsidies will cause employers to drop coverage…Mandatory benefits are not free; workers bear the cost in the form of lower wages.” 

Dr. Herrick added, “Obama said (in his State of the Union speech that) ‘in the past year alone about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage,’ but he neglected to mention roughly 6 million were coverage through Medicaid expansion and many of them were finding it difficult to find doctors willing to work for the paltry fees state Medicaid programs pay doctors for treatment.”

An article by Matthew Glans, a Heartland senior policy analyst, noted that “The Health and Welfare Committee of the Tennessee Senate voted on February 5 to reject a bill that would have allowed Gov. Bill Haslam to expanded Medicare under the Affordable Care Act.” 

Kenneth Artz reported that “A new study by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services found half of all providers listed in Medicaid managed-care plans are not available to new Medicaid patients, either because they are not at the listed location or aren’t accepting new Medicaid patients.” Feeling ill? “For doctors who are accepting new Medicaid patients, the average wait time to get an appointment is two weeks, with close to 25% of patient having waits of one month or longer.”

Tom Steward, writing for the Minnesota Bureau of Watchdog.org, contributed to Health Care News noted that “In a significant victory for religious liberty and economic freedom, the American Manufacturing Company received a permanent federal exemption from provisions of the Affordable Care Act that contradict the owner’s religious convictions.”

Sean Parnell, the managing editor of Health Care News, reported that “Rhode Island officials predicted up to 100,000 residents would use the state-created exchange established under the Affordable Care Act to buy health insurance in 2014. Data from the state show only 27,961 people enrolled during the 2014 open-enrollment period, a number that declined throughout the year as many enrollees failed to pay their first premium or later dropped coverage.”

ObamaCare is on critical care because it could die at any time. Not surprisingly, three Republicans, John Kline, Paul Ryan, and Fred Upton, chairmen respectively of the House Committee on Education and Workforce, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce, have put together a plan to address the likelihood that the Supreme Court decision will put an end to ObamaCare.

As they said in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “If the court rules against the administration, as any fair reading of the law would demand, millions of individuals and families will hit a major roadblock. They’ll be stuck with health insurance designed by Washington, D.C., that they can’t afford.”

“What we propose is the off-ramp out of ObamaCare toward patient-centered health care. It has two parts: First, make insurance more affordable by ending Washington mandates and giving choice back to the states, individuals and families. And, second, support Americans in purchasing the coverage of their choosing.”

What a unique idea! Let people choose the health care plan they want and that they can afford. That’s the way it used to be before the Affordable Care Act was passed entirely by Democrat votes because the GOP would not support it. That’s why Congress is controlled by the GOP these days. And that’s why this nation will return to the free marketplace.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Netanyahu and Jewish Survival


By Alan Caruba

In 1933, approximately 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe, representing 1.7% of the total European population which, in turn, was about 60% of the Jewish world population, estimated to have been 15.2 million.

By 1945, in the wake of the Holocaust, two out of every three Jews would be dead.

By 2012 the global Jewish population had reached 13.75 million. That is less than 0.2 percent of the world’s population.

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics reported that 43% of the world’s Jewish community lives in Israel. Sharing Israel as their home were 1,636,600 Arabs and a diverse population of Christians and non-Jews, numbering around 318,000.

If the Iranians make good on their threat to “wipe Israel off the map”, presumably with nuclear weapons they would acquire by stealth and deception, the Jewish world population would be cut nearly in half.

All of this will be on Benjamin Netanyahu’s mind when, as the Prime Minister of Israel, he addresses a joint meeting of Congress. It will be his third such speech. On July 10, 1996, he said the world must act to prevent Iran’s nuclearization, since “the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”

In 2011 he returned, saying “When I stood here, I spoke of the consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out. The hinge of history may soon turn, for the greatest danger of all could soon be upon us, a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.”

So now it is 2015 and the only thing Netanyahu knows for sure is that the Iranians remain intent on being able to produce their own nuclear weapons.

The March 2nd edition of The Times of Israel reported that Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said “Iran has yet to provide explanations that enable the agency to clarify two outstanding practical measures”, a diplomatic way of referring to “alleged explosive tests and other issues related to research that may also be useful for military uses of atomic energy.” This is the same problem that the U.N. agency has with North Korea.

Netanyahu was worried about Iran’s nuclear weapons program in 1996, in 2011, and now in 2015; more than enough time for Iran to have made considerable progress toward their goal. At the heart of this third address to Congress is the survival of nearly half of all the Jews in the world because they live in Israel.

It’s no secret there is no love-loss between Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama, but this third effort to urge Congress to go on record supporting the survival of Israel is necessary because, for the first time since 1948, there is some cause to wonder whether a war-weary U.S. would come to Israel’s defense.

Obama has said in no uncertain terms that he wants to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, the world has learned that the gap between what he says and what he does is often wide or non-existent. It must be said, however, that past Presidents have decried North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, but that has not translated into any direct action because China entered the Korean conflict in the 1950s to defend it and no one wants a repeat of that.

Netanyahu does not speak for “all Jews.” He speaks for Israel and other than national survival the political divisions there are even more diverse than our own. The fact that he is running for reelection there is not a factor for his speech to Congress—timing is.

One suspects that the best intelligence both Israel and the U.S. have been able to secure suggests that, this time, Iran is very close to its goal of being able to produce its own nuclear weapons despite the sanctions that have been imposed.

Netanyahu is understandably concerned about the negotiations that Obama has relentlessly pursued with Iran, the result of which has alienated not only Israel, but Saudi Arabia and all of the Gulf nations. The P5+1 parties to the negotiations include Russia, China, France, United Kingdom and Germany. The negotiations have deadlocked in the past and may do so again despite the fact that both Russia and China have close ties to Iran.

Even if Iran agrees to terms that would supposedly slow or stop its nuclear weapons program, there is not a scintilla of evidence that they would fulfill their promises. Iran, after all, is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism worldwide.

The odds are that Netanyahu knows that Iran, this time, is very close to becoming militarily nuclear. Addressing Congress calls attention to the danger, not only domestically, but worldwide.

What Netanyahu also knows is that President Obama seems to have blind spot when it comes to the growing anti-Semitism that resembles what existed in the 1930s in Europe. When Jews in a French kosher supermarket were murdered, Obama referred to it as an act of “violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” 

Whoa! It wasn’t “a bunch of folks.” They were Jews buying food for the Sabbath meal.  And those “violent, vicious zealots” were Muslims, just like the ISIS Muslims beheading, crucifying, burning, kidnapping, and enslaving those they don’t kill for being Christian, Jewish, Yazidis, or just not Muslim enough!

Netanyahu’s speech will, indeed, be historic. It may not be his last visit to the chambers of Congress.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

Obama Negotiates Israel's Destruction


By Alan Caruba

The strangest thing about Obama’s efforts to achieve friendly relations with Iran, something he has tried to do since he first took office in 2009, is that Iran has made it abundantly clear since its Islamic revolution in 1979 that it hates America and, in tandem, Israel as well.

In an Iranian naval drill on February 25, Iran blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier near the entrance of the Persian Gulf. It was a full-size replica of the USS Nimitz. This is the antithesis of friendship, but just to make their position clear, Iranian Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, commander of its naval forces, let it be known that “We have the most advanced sea mines which cannot be imagined by the Americans.”

But the Americans—in this case the President of the United States and his negotiators—have been making every concession they can to get an agreement that would limit Iran’s ability to produce its own nuclear weapons. Dr. Norman Bailey, an adjunct professor of economic statecraft at the Institute of World Politics, Washington, D.C., recently wrote that “The U.S. looks set to present its allies with a dangerous fait accompli on Iran’s nuclear program.”

“The most recent deadline of March 24th means only one thing,” Dr. Bailey wrote in a World Tribune commentary. “A deal has been reached between the U.S. and Iran, which will be announced to the other five participants when the Obama administration decides it is convenient to do so.” The other five obviously have nothing to say regarding the negotiations. At one point, the French foreign minister stormed out of the initial meeting proclaiming “This is a fool’s deal.”

It’s worse than a fool’s deal. It is a deal that is predicated on the nuclear destruction of Israel and, after that, the U.S. is next. One might think that Obama knows this and one might be right. People like Mayor Rudy Giuliani have long noticed that Obama doesn’t seem to like America very much.

A commentary by Lawrence Sellin, PhD, a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve, and tours of service in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Major General Paul E. Vallely, U.S. Army, retired, noted that the nuclear agreement did not include measures that would prevent any cooperation between Iran and North Korea or other rogue states. This has not gone unnoticed by the Israelis. Intelligence Minister, Yuval Steinitz, has noted that “We all know that Iran, Syria and North Korea are very close to each other.”

North Korea has its own nuclear weapons program and, as Dr. Sellin and Maj. Gen. Vallely, warned, “Unless specifically prohibited and enforced within the terms and conditions” of the deal, “Tehran may attempt to sidestep the protocols by ‘outsourcing’ parts of the bomb production process to North Korea, Iran’s long-term partner on everything from launch missiles to guidance systems to nuclear war head technology and other required components.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, a party to the negotiations with Secretary John Kerry, met with a visiting North Korean deputy foreign minister, Ri Gil Song, shortly after February 2014 Vienna discussions. Fars News reported that their meetings were devoted to “bolstering and reinvigorating the two countries’ bilateral ties.”

Anyone recall George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil”? It was Iran, North Korea, and Iraq.

In case you are less than confident of Iran’s intentions, in 2013 before the previous nuclear negotiations were concluded, according to the Fars News Agency, the regimes’ outlet run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, said “America’s interests and all of Israel are within the range of the Islamic Republic and there is not the slightest doubt among Iran’s armed forces to confront the American government and the Zionists (Israel).”
 
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. On September 29, 2014, he addressed the United Nations. The message will be the same. Any deal with Iran will be a bad deal for Israel which has been in the crosshairs of the Iranians since they came to power in 1979. This isn’t an “existential” threat. It is a threat that can and will destroy Israel if permitted to occur. Obama’s negotiations will leave Israel no other option than to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

If the U.S. Congress has the means to deter and render Obama’s negotiations null and void, they had better do so.  On September 26, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed legislation by a vote of 76-22 designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. The long record of Iran and its state-sponsored terrorism can be found by visiting Wikipedia.

What we are witnessing is a level of insane appeasement comparable to that of the 1930s when European nations refused to acknowledge Nazi Germany’s clear intention to conquer them.

Iran’s intentions are known to Obama and no doubt to our Congress. They are surely known to Israel and the Gulf nations. If history is any guide, these negotiations will put the world on the path to a cataclysm that defies the imagination.

© Alan Caruba, 2015


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Green Slander


 
By Alan Caruba

It is a sure sign that the advocates of the “global warming” and “climate change” hoaxes know that the public no longer believes that the former is occurring or that the latter represents an immediate, global threat.

Even though the “climate skeptics”, scientists who have produced research proving false methodology and the conclusions based on it are quite few in number, an effort to silence them by smearing their reputations and denying funding for their work has been launched and it is based entirely on a lie.

Scientists are supposed to be skeptical, not only of other scientist’s findings, but their own. Good science must be able to reproduce the results of published research. In the case of the many computer models cited as proof that global warming was occurring or would, the passing years have demonstrated that none were accurate.

As Joseph L. Bast, president of The Heartland Institute and Joseph A. Morris, an attorney who has fought in several countries to defend free speech, wrote in a February 24 commentary, “The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon”, of an article co-authored with Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs, and David Legates, and published in the Science Bulletin, a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences “The article reveals what appears to be an error in the computer models used to predict global warming that leads models to over-estimate future warming by a factor of three.” (Emphasis added) Their commentary has been downloaded more than 10,000 times!

“If the work of Soon et al is confirmed by other scientists, the ‘global warming crisis’ may need to be cancelled and we can all enjoy lower taxes, fewer regulations, and more personal freedom.” However, “having failed to refute the article, environmentalists turned to smearing the authors.”
 
Little wonder the “Warmists” are worried; the Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1996. People are noticing just how cold this record-breaking and record-setting winter is. 

The attack on Dr. Soon began with a Greenpeace news release that was republished on the front page of The New York Times on February 22nd. Despite its august reputation, The Times' coverage of climate issues has been an utter disgrace for decades. As public interest waned, it eliminated its staff of reporters exclusively devoted to writing about the “environment.”

Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic and director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted on February 27th that the Greenpeace attack on Dr. Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics claimed they had secured $1.2 million in funding for his research over the past decade and that it came from energy corporations, electric utilities, and charitable foundations related to those companies.  The truth, however, is “that the grants were made not to Dr. Soon but to the Smithsonian, which never complained while taking its sizable cut off the top.”

Columnist Larry Bell who is also an endowed professor at the University of Houston, disputed the Greenpeace claim, saying, “First, let’s recognize that the supporting FOIA documents referred to an agreement between the Smithsonian (not Dr. Soon) and Southern Company Services, Inc., whereby 40 percent of that more than $1.2 million went directly to the Smithsonian” leaving “an average funding of $71,000 a year for the past eleven years to support the actual research activities.”

Focusing on Greenpeace and its Climate Investigations Center which describes itself as “a group funded by foundations seeking to limit the risks of climate change”, Bell asked “Do these activist organizations make their estimated $360,000,000 annual funding publicly available?” Bell said “Ad hominem assaults disparaging the integrity of this leading authority on relationships between solar phenomena and global climate are unconscionable.”

In his article, “Vilifying realist science—and scientists”, Paul Driessen, a policy advisor to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), noted that in 2012 Greenpeace USA was the recipient of $32,791,149 and that this is true of other environmental pressure groups that in 2012 secured $111,915.138 for the Environmental Defense Fund, $98,701,707 for the Natural Resources Defense Council, $97,757,678 for the Sierra Club, and, for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, $19,150,215.

“All told,” noted Driessen, “more than 16,000 American environmental groups collect(ed) total annual revenues of over $13.4 billion (2009 figures). Only a small part of that comes from membership dues and individual contributions.”  With that kind of money you can do a lot of damage to scientist’s reputation.

They fear that the public may actually learn the truth about “global warming” and the fear-mongering claims about “climate change” does not stop with just the environmental organizations. At the same time The New York Times was printing the Greenpeace lies, U.S. Senators Ed Market (D-Mass), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined together on February 25th to send letters to 107 companies, trade associations, and non-profit groups demanding comprehensive information about all funding of research on climate or related issues.

Among the groups receiving the letter were two for whom I am a policy advisor, The Heartland Institute and CFACT, but others include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the American Energy Alliance.

Following The New York Times article, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to the presidents of seven universities asking them to provide details about seven professors who are either prominent global warming skeptics.

As Rich Lowrey, editor of the National Review, pointed out on February 27th, that "Science as an enterprise usually doesn't need political enforcers. But proponents of a climate alarmism that demands immediate action to avert worldwide catastrophe won't and can't simply let the science speak for itself."

This is not fact-finding. It is an act of intimidation.
 
And it looks like a carefully organized effort to quash any research that might dispute “global warming” or “climate change” as defined by the Greens and by both the President and the Secretary of State as the greatest threat we and the rest of the world faces.

The greatest threat is the scores of environmental organizations that have been exaggerating and distorting their alleged “science” in order to thwart development here and around the world that would enhance everyone’s life. Now they are attacking real scientists, those who are skeptical of their claims, to silence them.

This is what fascists do.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Last Day of Donation Week

 
 
Been thinking about making a donation to Warning Signs this week? Today would be a good day (and any other day!) to share your enjoyment of my commentaries by sharing what you can to help support this blog. Yes, we do have bills to pay. Your help will be greatly appreciated.
 
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