Thursday, August 28, 2014

America, Our Debt-Ridden Nation


By Alan Caruba

Let’s look at just some of the latest news about the U.S. economy:

# According to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Services, the federal government paid $2,007,358,200,000—over $2 trillion—in benefits and entitlements in the 2013 fiscal year, October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. Most of the benefits, 69.7% came from non-means tested government programs that provide them to recipients who qualify regardless of income. That would include Medicare, Social Security, unemployment compensation, veteran’s compensation, and railroad retirement, to name a few.

# The total federal government spending in 2013 totaled $3,454,253,000,000—over $3.4 trillion—encompassing defense, highway and transportation costs, public education, immigration services, and government worker salaries, to name a few.

# An astonishing amount of that spending constitutes wasted taxpayer money. In July the Government Accountability Office (CAO) testified before Congress that federal agencies made more than $100 billion in improper payments in 2013. That is an amount comparable to the combined total budgets of the Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Border Patrol, Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Agency, et cetera. Improper payments result when people collect money from government programs for which they are ineligible.
 

# By August, the total U.S. federal debt had increased to more than $7 trillion during the five and a half years since Barack Obama has been President. That is more than the debt increased under all U.S. Presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton—combined! More debt than was accumulated in the first 227 years from 1776 through 2003.

# During the time President Obama has been in office the number of unemployed reached 37.2%, a 36-year high for those 16 or older who do not have a job and are not actively seeking one. From December 2013 through May of this year, the labor participation rate had been at 62.8%. The last time the labor participation rate was that low was February 1978 when Jimmy Carter was President.

# As the nation sank deeper into debt by the end of 2012 there were 109,631,000 Americans living in households that were receiving one or more federally funded “means-tested programs”, more generally referred to as welfare. Combined with those receiving non-means-tested benefits and it added up to 49.5% of the population.

It is always tempting to blame everything on the President and, despite the usual rebound from a recession that has occurred in the past, it has not occurred during his first term, nor into his second at this point. In fact, the latest data reveals that the U.S. economy shrank at a 2.9% annual rate during the first quarter of 2014. Its long-run average rate of growth has been 3.3%, but the highest since Obama took office was 2.8%.

According to the World Bank, in 2013 the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, the value of its goods and services, was $16,800,000,000,000. The federal, state and governments took their share via taxation on income and/or property. The rest was saved or spent by those either holding a job or receiving government benefits; very nearly half of the population old enough to be employed if there were jobs for them.

The problem that affects all of us is the imbalance of the U.S. budget where more money is going out than coming in. The difference is deemed the “deficit.” In order to pay bills, Congress has to agree to raise the limit on how much the nation can borrow.

Nick Dranias, the constitutional policy director for the Goldwater Institute, has come up with a proposal, “The Compact for a Balanced Budget”, and it was been published by The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, in July.

As Dranias points out, “The U.S. gross federal debt is approaching $18 trillion. That figure is more than twice what was owed ($8.6 trillion) in 2006, when Barack Obama was a junior U.S. Senator from Illinois and opposed lifting the federal debt limit.” It represents more than $150,000 per taxpayer.

“What if states could advance and ratify a powerful federal balanced budget amendment in only twelve months, asks Dranias. His proposal is “a new approach to state-originated amendments under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

Two states, Georgia and Alaska, are expected to establish a Balanced Budget Commission, an interstate agency dedicated to organizing a convention—before 2014 ends—to propose an amendment to achieve a balanced budget. The amendment would put “an initially fixed limit on the amount of federal debt.” It would ensure Washington cannot spend more than tax revenue brought in at any point in time, with the sole exception of borrowing under the fixed debt limit. It would force Washington to reduce spending long before borrowing reaches its debt limit, preventing any default on obligations; something threatening many other nations as well.

Suffice to say, the proposed amendment involves some complex elements and, if the Compact does not receive sufficient support from many more states than just the two that have signed on, it won’t see the light of day.

What the rest of us understand, however, is that federal spending is out of control at the same time as the amount of money it takes in is more than what it “redistributes.”  Add in a sluggish economy, not growing at its usual rate, and you have a recipe for a lot of trouble ahead.

Republicans are usually credited with being more financially prudent. If true, we need to elect a Congress controlled by the GOP in November and a Republican President in 2016. If we don’t, all bets are off.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Decapitating the U.S. Military


By Alan Caruba

Many Americans were shocked by the Islamic State video of the beheading of the photo journalist James Foley. Perhaps they had already forgotten the decapitation of Wall Street Journal journalist, Daniel Pearl in 2002. Most certainly, the memory of the murder of nearly 3,000 on September 11, 2001 with the destruction of the World Trade Towers has begun to recede.

What most do not know is that decapitation is a requirement in the Islamic holy war and holy book, the Koran.

“So when you meet in Jihad in Allah’s cause those who disbelieve, smite their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them…” (Surat 47, al-Qital—the Killing--, Ayat 4.

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks and smite them over all their fingers and toes.” – Surat al-Anfel (The Spoils), Ayat/Verse 12.)

If I were a jihadist who wanted to undermine the capacity of the United States of America to both defend itself and/or to wage war on those who regard us as their enemy, I would welcome what is currently occurring to weaken our military. It is exactly what President Obama and a compliant Congress has been doing for some time now.

In the name of the “sequester”, an across-the-board reduction in federal spending, the military has suffered the most despite being the single key factor to defend the nation and to project our power to protect our allies.

An August 26 article in Politico reported that the five leading U.S. defense firms, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing’s defense unit, and Northrop Grumman, have eliminated 70,000 jobs since 2008 through layoffs, buyouts, attrition, or, as Boeing did, moving employees to the commercial side of its business. “There’s little momentum in Congress to undo the current caps on discretionary federal spending and, facing a war-weary public, U.S. officials are pledging to avoid sending combat troops to today’s hotspots, including Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine.”

As reported by Bloomberg News in July, “The U.S. Navy can’t meet its funding needs for surface warships and a new class of nuclear attack submarines from 2025 to 2034 according to the service’s latest 30-year shipbuilding plan.” The Navy is just one element of the Pentagon’s current five-year funding plan “in an era of declining defense spending.” It will impact the need for new submarines, the planned full production of F-35 fighter jets, and a new long-range strike bomber.

In March The Washington Times reported that “President Obama is seeking to abolish two highly successful missile programs that experts say have helped the U.S. Navy maintain military superiority for the past several decades.” Obama wants to eliminate the famed Tomahawk and Hellfire missile programs. Why?

We have, however, billions for a variety of welfare programs, those devoted to “environmental research”, and countless other examples of sheer waste.

In January, commentator Mike Snyder raised the question, “Why are Dozens of High Ranking Officers Being Purged from the U.S. Military?”  He noted that “Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, high ranking military officers have been removed from their positions at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented. Things have gotten so bad that a number of retired generals are publicly speaking out about the ‘purge’ of the U.S. military that they believe is taking place.”

Retired Major General Paul Vallely was quoted as having said, “He’s intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon, and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged.”

Recognizing the threat that the Islamic State represents, even Secretary of State, John Kerry, has spoken of the need to destroy it, but he has for too long been saying that “climate change” is the most serious challenge the world is facing.

The U.S. has a full range of enemies such as Iran which since 1979 has declared the U.S. its enemy and continues a program to make its own nuclear weapons. Additional challenges include Russia’s actions in Russia in the Ukraine and China’s military power.

In July, Rowan Scarborough, a Washington Times columnist, warned that “An independent panel appointed by the Pentagon and Congress said that President Obama’s strategy for sizing the armed services is too weak for today’s global threats.” The National Defense Panel called on the President to “dump a major section of his 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review and write a broader strategy that requires the military to fight on multiple fronts at once.” That alone would require a larger military than we have now; one that is the size it was prior to World War Two!

How stupid is the Obama-Kerry climate change policy? In June, The Washington Times reported that “Some critics say such alarmist reports are causing the Pentagon to shift money that could be used for weapons and readiness. It is making big investments in biofuels, for example, and is working climate change into high-level strategic planning.”


The article quoted Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, as saying “The president’s misguided priorities with our national security can be seen in the $1 trillion defense cuts he has put into motion since taking office and then using the limited defense budget to support his green agenda.” Everything the President has said about climate change has been a lie.

 
President Obama has taken steps to open the military to homosexuals, a practice that was avoided for most of the nation’s history because of its effect on morale and he has advocated women in combat units in the name of “diversity.”

Questioned about it in 2013, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, referred to the requirement to introduce a “critical mass” or “significant cadre” of women into previously all-male units. Wars are not won by diversity. They are won by men who meet the physical standards and requirements of combat.

In May, The Washington Times reported that “These days, the U.S. military is only taking twenty percent of the applicants who walk into their local recruiter’s office intent on enlisting in the armed forces” noting that “the tough environment for potential recruits is due in large part to troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Pentagon’s plans to cut the size of the active duty Army.”  Cut the size?  At a time when we may need “boots on the ground” again in Iraq and a possible incursion into Syria?

Whether it is weapons systems needed by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, the Obama administration has waged its own war on America’s capacity to meet the needs of our national security currently and in the years ahead. It has waged an effort to alter the makeup of our military personnel, to reduce portions of it, and to eliminate many top officers to lead it.

It isn’t just the Islamic State’s American hostages that are being decapitated. It is the U.S. military.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Common Core Rapidly Losing Support


By Alan Caruba

As their children either start or return to school, parents are naturally concerned about the quality of education they receive from kindergarten through twelfth grade. In the past, before the teachers unions gained virtual control of the schools and before the federal government decided it had to impose “national standards”, it was the job of local boards of education to ensure students learned the basics—the three R’s—and, if history is any indicator, they did.

There should be no federal intervention in our school systems, but programs such as 2001’s “No Child Left Behind” and Obama's "Race to the Top" have conditioned people to accept its role. The most recent example is Common Core, but it is the creation of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The support it has received from the White House, the Department of Education, and voices on Capitol Hill has left many with the impression it is a federal program. That doesn’t make it any less awful.

If you want to learn the facts about it, read a brief analysis by Joy Pullman, “Common Core: A Bad Choice for America”, which you can download for free from The Heartland Institute’s website or purchase copies in quantity. Pullman, a research fellow, is the managing editor of Heartland’s “School Reform News”, published ten times per year. For the record,  I am a Heartland advisor.

As Pullman notes in her analysis, “In 2010, every state but Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia adopted Common Core education standards, a set of requirements in each grade in math and English language arts.” As school begins this year, four states, Indiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Carolina have already dropped the program. Watch other states such as Louisiana and Wisconsin do the same.

Here’s why. As Pullman notes in a recent article, for the first time the annual Pi Kappa Delta/Gallup poll revealed that “a majority of Americans—81%--has heard of Common Core. And 60% oppose it.”  As more Americans learn more about Common Core, they too will oppose it, but the most intriguing finding of the poll was that, among teachers, there was a drop of support from 76% last year to 46% this year! The poll demonstrated that “Majorities wanted local school boards to have far more control over what schools teach than state or federal governments.”

Pullman said, “Everyone is for ‘standards’ in the abstract. Everyone is not for ‘standards’ that, like Common Core, coerce teachers and schools, and impose bad education theories on the countries.”

“Nationalizing education, like nationalizing anything,” says Pullman “requires compromise to get enacted. And compromise inevitably sacrifices quality. Quality has to grow from the ground up, through cooperation and competition, or it will never exist.”

What teachers and parents subject to Common Core requirements have learned rather quickly is that the program has a number of serious flaws. It not only slows the process of learning multiplication, it dampens the development of the creative thinking process, and offers a skewed, leftist selection of reading materials about U.S. history.

Pullman says, “The most important thing to understand about education standards is that research has demonstrated they have no effect on student achievement. That’s right: no effect at all. A series of data analyses from the Brookings Institution found no link between high state standards and high student achievement.”

Any parent and any teacher will confirm that different students learn at different rates and some encounter problems in certain areas. Some are better at mathematics. Others are better readers and writers. Still others find science or the arts of greatest interest. People are different. It is foolish to think that children aren’t.

This is not to say that the states don’t have education standards. They do and local boards ensure that their curriculums meet them.

At the national level, Pullman points out that “the country already has a national testing program that sets cut scores: the National Assessment of Educational Progress” that is “a valid, well-respected measuring stick that already offers states and citizens the ability to compare schools’ progress across state lines without the intrusions and muddle curriculum Common Core introduces.”

I recommend you download Pullman’s analysis, but in the meantime let me offer a good way to understand Common Core. It is the Obamacare of education.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

What is the Difference Between the DNC and the CPUSA?


By Alan Caruba

On the home page of the Communist Party USA it says “A better and peaceful world is possible—a world where people and nature come before profits. That’s socialism. That’s our vision. We are the Communist Party USA.”

No, it’s not Socialism which is a watered down version of Communism. Real Communism is the kind that was practiced in the former Soviet Union. It can be found in Cuba and North Korea where the state controls all power and property,and the people have none.

Modified versions exist in China, Russia, Venezuela, and other nations where some aspects of Capitalism are maintained for the sake of their economies. In the West Socialism was incorporated by both the U.S. and Great Britain, and other nations via various social welfare programs.

Capitalism is about profits, innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. It is about the freedom to acquire wealth. It emphasizes work, not welfare. It is the reason America has a dynamic economic system---when it is permitted to prosper, free from federal interference.

In America, conservatives have always been acutely aware of Communism, but the 47% who still approve of Barack Obama and those who are members of the Democratic Party are the dupes of those whose quest for tyrannical power permits them to tell the most appalling lies, particularly about Republicans.

The Democratic Party is so politically corrupt and devoid of moral standards that it is currently engaged in seeking to harm potential Republican presidential candidates with an utterly bogus indictment of Texas Governor Perry and the slanders leveled against New Jersey Governor Christie. It is a tactic of those who fear a loss at the ballot box.

It is the Democratic Party and its elected officials that have advanced the global warming hoax, now called climate change and the CPUSA website refers to the “Accumulation of greenhouse gases (as) a ‘planetary emergency’” This is what both the President and the Secretary of State are saying, but there has been no warming on a planet that is now 17 years into a cooling cycle.

As for those "greenhouse" gases, nitrogen and oxygen are the most abundant in the atmosphere, followed by nothing more dangerous than water vapor! Carbon dioxide is a very minor gas at 0.04%. And most importantly, the Earth is not a greenhouse. When the Sun's radiation is reduced due to its own natural cycles, it gets colder.

Tied to the climate change message is an agenda that includes Obama’s “war on coal” and his refusal to permit the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from our neighbor Canada, among other measures to restrict access and use of America’s vast energy reserves. This is an attack on the nation’s economy in the name of “nature” or the “environment.”

The CPUSA wants “No new sanctions on Iran” and the administration’s negotiations with Iran to slow or end its nuclear weapons program have dropped some sanctions to get them to the table, but no one believes that Iran will stop because they are openly avowed enemies of America and Israel.

If you wanted to harm America, you would undermine its southern border so that thousands of illegal aliens could join the estimated eleven million already here. That is what President Obama has done and he is joined by former Democratic Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said of the illegals, “We are all Americans.” No, they are not.

The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, continues to push for amnesty for illegal aliens saying “It isn’t about politics at all. They (illegal aliens) essentially have become the backbone of the economy.” The Center for Immigration Studies has documented the many jobs that have gone to illegal aliens, leaving native-born and naturalized U.S. citizens with fewer employment opportunities.

In July Gallup reported that “With thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the nation’s southern border in recent months, the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17% this month, up from 5% in June, and the highest seen since 2006. As a result, immigration now virtually ties ‘dissatisfaction with government’ at 16%, as the primary issue Americans think of when asked to name the country’s top problems.”

The Affordable Patient Care Act—Obamacare—is the perfect example of Socialism in its government control of what once was the world’s finest healthcare system and is being destroyed by a law for which only Democrats in Congress voted.

President Obama has illegally asserted more power than the Constitution grants the executive branch, unilaterally altering Obamacare. It is the reason the House of Representatives is suing him.

For several generations since the last century, Americans have been indoctrinated to accept an ever-growing central government, but even so an August Reason-Rupe survey poll found that fully 54% favored a smaller government providing fewer services. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 75% disapprove.

Though education is never mentioned in the Constitution, we have a Department of Education and the same applies to the Department of Energy, both created by Jimmy Carter. A Nixon executive order brought about the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency that is masterminding an attack on private property along with the manufacturing, agricultural and energy sectors of the economy.

If one looks at the Democratic Party today, there is often scant difference between it and the self-professed Communist Party USA which twice endorsed the election of Barack Obama, a man whose father was a Communist, whose grandparents who helped raise him were Socialists, and who was mentored in his youth by a card-carrying member of the CPUSA.

We have a President who believes that the problems throughout the world have been caused by America. His disdain for the nation and the military that serves to protect it is on full display. And the Democratic Party twice chose him as its candidate.

If you want to see what Communism looks like, acts and says, watch and listen to the Democratic Party.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Freedom OF Religion, Not Freedom FROM Religion


By Alan Caruba

The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution do not abandon religion, they embrace it. They do not, however, require that Americans believe in God, nor punish them for failing to do so.

Central to the liberties enshrined in these documents is the belief that they come from a higher power and America exists because of that belief. Without it there would have been no America. There are those among us who insist that, as a nation, we abandon faith in God and, if we do, America will cease to be a power for good in the world.

When Thomas Jefferson presented the Declaration to those who would pledge their lives and their sacred honor to achieve independence from England John Adams asked that it include the words “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” after the phrase “all men are created equal” and Benjamin Franklin agreed, suggesting that “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” be added as well.” In their 2004 book, “Under God” by Toby Mac and Michael Tait, said “The changes demonstrated Congress’s strong reliance upon God—as delegates added the words “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions.”

Aware of the dangers inherent in a state religion, the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” followed by freedom of speech, the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance.” There is no state religion in America, but reflecting the values that created it, its leaders have always acknowledged a greater power than government, the belief in God.

There would be no America if the Pilgrims who established Plymouth, Massachusetts had not left England in the quest for their right to worship as they wished, reflecting the Protestant Reformation. Another early settlement, Jamestown, was a business venture by investors to obtain wealth. Jamestown failed and Plymouth is with us today.

I am not a religious person per se, but I do believe in God. Always have and always will. I don’t insist that anyone else has to and neither do our founding documents. They do, however, acknowledge God and sought His protection to create a new nation; a republic with clearly stated protections for all its citizens.

There are, however, those who insist that any reference to God be removed from public documents and recognition. The leader among them is the Freedom From Religion Foundation and their most recent lawsuit is against the U.S. Treasury Department claiming they are discriminating against non-believers by including the phrase “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency. Their claim is that the government is prohibited from endorsing religion over non-religion.

“In God We Trust” on U.S. coins was first approved by Congress during the Civil War in 1864. In 1956, Congress passed a resolution to recognize the words officially as the national motto, replacing the de facto phrase, “E Pluribus Unum” and it has appeared on U.S. currency since 1957.

The Foundation’s intention is to make any acknowledgement of God illegal by any public institution. If that is true, then we might was well tear up the Declaration and Constitution. Atheists are not content to not believe in God, they insist that everyone else not believe as well. That is a form of tyranny we must not permit to exist in America.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation specializes in lawsuits to advance what it calls the separation of church and state, but this principle is enshrined in the Constitution along with the right to freely exercise one’s faith. Its lawsuits are designed to destroy religion in America. In 2012 the Foundation had total contributions of $2,726,316. Nearly 90% was devoted to its attack on the freedom of religion.

In 2013, the Huffington Post reported that In the past six years the Foundation’s paid membership had increased 130 percent. It was estimated at “nearly 20,000” members. Its co-president, Laurie Gaylor, said that recent high-profile legal victories had increased the foundation’s popularity.

There is still strong support in Congress for the freedom of religion. In 1993 it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. It was signed into law by President Clinton. In 1997 the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional if applied to states, ruling that it was not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. It does, however, still apply to the federal government. In response, some states passed their own religious freedom restoration acts.

The Act was recently cited by the Supreme Court that ruled that closely held companies may be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives in employee health insurance coverage if it contravenes their belief in the sanctity of life.

There are millions more Americans who belong to various religious faiths and who believe that America must protect their right to exercise their faith. A relatively small Freedom From Religion Foundation will continue to use the courts to impose their atheistic views on any public institution. They must be resisted if America is to remain a citadel to the world as a place where people of faith can live together and exercise the tolerance that the atheists will not.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Big Fat Lies About Fat


By Alan Caruba

Americans are obsessed with fat; either with eating it or being it. We’ve been told that we’re too fat and we’re told that eating fat is bad for you.

Being fat is your own business. You’ll feel better if you lose a few pounds, but you will enjoy your next meal if it has a fat content rather than being a bland cereal…which explains why so many cereals today have some surgery covering or content.

The fact is you can eat almost anything you like and remain a healthy weight if you just don’t eat too much of it. It’s not rocket science.

For politicians, however, controlling what we eat has become an obsession. A demented Democratic Representative, Rosa DeLauro, from Connecticut, has proposed a bill—the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act—SWEET for short, that would penalize people one-cent for every teaspoon of sugar used in their drink of choice. It’s none of her business, let along the government’s, what you want to drink.

This obsession with what we eat has been personified by First Lady Michelle Obama who championed the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kinds Act that overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than thirty million children in schools around the nation.

It authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set standards for all food and beverages sold during the school day. The law includes vending machines, snack cards, and daytime fundraisers. That now means that campus bake sales, the most popular fundraiser, now has to pay heed to a federal law that forbids selling cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.

Laws like this are a perfect example of how intrusive into the ordinary lives of Americans of all ages are laws that are slowly killing the concept of personal choice and personal freedom. They also demonstrate how wrong such laws are when they are written and passed by people who are clueless about nutrition.

A recent Gallup poll on “consumption habits” revealed that “Nearly twice as many Americans say they are actively trying to avoid fat in their diet (56%) as say they are actively avoiding carbohydrates (29%). However, fewer Americans are avoiding fat now more than a decade ago.”

Over the years as a book reviewer and avid reader, I have read “You Must Eat Meat” by Max Ernest Jutte, MD and Frank Murray, and “The Cholesterol Delusion” by Ernest N. Curtis, MD. Both books authoritatively debunk what Americans have repeatedly been told about meat and cholesterol, but my earliest advisor on these and other food related topics was Rebecca Caruba, my Mother, who taught gourmet cooking for three decades in local adult schools and who authored two cookbooks. She was a keen student of nutrition and early on warned students against margarine, telling them to use real butter and to enjoy all manner of meats, cheeses, and other foods we are constantly told are not good for us.

At this point I want to add Nina Teicholz to the list of heroes like my Mother and the authors of the two books mentioned above. A skilled journalist, she has written a 479-page book, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” ($28.99, Simon & Schuster). The fact that it includes nearly 140 pages of tiny, single-spaced notes regarding every detail in the book tells you why it took some nine years to write it.

Simply stated, everything Americans think they know about our diets is wrong, the result of a deliberate campaign to convince us that eating fat is bad for us when, in fact, creamy cheeses and sizzling steaks are the key to reversing the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease that affect too many Americans.

As William Davis, MD, author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health” said, “A page-turner story of science gone wrong…Misstep by misstep, blunder by blunder by blunder, Teicholz recounts the statistical cherry-picking, political finagling, and pseudoscientific bully that brought us to yet another of the biggest mistakes in health and nutrition, the low-fat and low-saturated fat myth for heart health.”

The myth began in the 1950s with Ancel Benjamin Keys, a biologist and pathologist at the University of Minnesota. He was searching for the causes of heart disease. The nation was extremely fearful about it and the heart attack that President Eisenhower had while in office only added to their fears. Keys concluded that cholesterol was a major factor, but as Teicholz points out “It is a vital component of every cell membrane, controlling what goes in and out of the cell. It is responsible for the metabolism of sex hormones and is found at its highest concentration in the brain.” 

Keys and other researchers, however, noting that cholesterol was the primary component of atherosclerotic plaques, assumed it to be “one of the main culprits in the development of coronary disease…This vivid and seemingly intuitive idea,” says Teicholz, “has stayed with us, even as the science has shown this characterization to be a highly simplistic and even inaccurate picture of the problem.” Keys would devote his life to advocating his misinterpretation of cholesterol and fat.

The problem with the word “fat” is that it has two very different meanings. One is the fat we eat and the other is the fat on our bodies. A book worth reading is “Fat: It’s Not What You Think” by Connie Leas, published in 2008 by Prometheus Books. As Ms. Teicholz notes, “A large number of experiments have since confirmed that restricting fat does nothing to slim people down (quite the reverse, actually), yet even so, the idea that there could be such a thing as ‘slimming fat’ will probably always seem to us like an oxymoron.”

I know that few will read Ms. Teicholz book, but you will surely welcome knowing that “saturated fat has not been demonstrated to lead to an increased risk of heart attacks for the great majority of people, and even the narrowing of the arteries has not been shown to predict a heart attack.”

The problem for all of us is that the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health both adopted the incorrect analysis of Keys et all, institutionalizing the diet-heart hypothesis and thus are setting the nutrition agenda.

My Mother cooked the most wonderful meals every day and more so on Sundays. She lived to 98 and my Father to 93, eating all manner of meat dishes along with fish and other choices. We all ate cheeses with gusto. And, yes, we loved pasta and Mother’s fabulous home baked breads and desserts. I am coming up soon on age 77 and my diet reflects what kept them alive and disease-free for all of their years.

If you or someone you know is seriously obsessed with their weight and health, recommend “The Big Fat Surprise” to them. I recommend it to you!

© Alan Caruba, 2014