Thursday, January 31, 2013
By Alan Caruba
In the wake of the 2012 reelection of Barack Obama, I began to wonder how influential conservative talk radio is.
Serendipitously, I received a copy of Fred V. Lucas’ new book, “The Right Frequency: The Story of Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment” ($18.95, History Publishing Company).
Throughout the 1980s and 90s I was a guest on television and a lot on talk radio thanks to a popular media spoof, The Boring Institute, that offered lists of The Most Boring Celebrities of the Year, the Most Boring Films, et cetera. After 9/11 I put the Institute on hiatus and then ended it.
This was, coincidently, the same era that saw the rise of talk radio and, in particular, the rise of conservative talk radio stars such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others with audiences in the millions. What has me wondering about their influence, however, is the latest election in which Obama gained a sufficient margin to defeat Mitt Romney despite what is arguably the worst economy since the Great Depression, the passage of Obamacare over the protests of millions of Americans, and similar issues that would ordinarily have rendered him a one-term President.
Perhaps the 2008 election was just an anomaly, given the novelty of a Black candidate and the intense support of the mainstream media. But that pattern repeated itself in 2012 and, despite the 24/7 conservative radio chatter, it did not sway voters.
As Lucas noted, “Of listeners to the news talk format of radio, 77 percent voted in the 2008 presidential election, according to the 2010 Talk Radio Research Project conducted by Talkers Magazine, which covers the talk radio industry. That does not mean Limbaugh or for that matter Ed Schultz is the reason certain people vote…it is quite likely that the entertainment value of talk radio—a mixture of satire and commentary—has made ordinary Americans more engaged in politics than they would be if talk radio did not have such a large reach, even if some of those listeners are just tuning in to argue with the host.”
Some statistics are helpful. According to the 2010 Talk Radio Research Project, 81% of all news talk radio listeners are 35 years or older. “Interestingly, just 28% identify themselves as Republicans, while 54% identify themselves as independent.” Politically, 40% identified themselves as either conservative or ultra-conservative, while just 15% identified themselves as liberal or ultra-liberal.” Talk radio is essentially preaching to the choir.
The lack of liberal talk radio suggests that liberals are less involved with the medium and the failure of Air America Radio with hosts that included Jeanine Garafolo and Al Franken was impressive. Lucas said it was “a chaotic mess from its launch with changing ownership, a revolving door of management, and worse yet, a corruption charge.” In 2005 it filed for bankruptcy.
For my part, I make a point of listening to the first ten or fifteen minutes of Limbaugh, knowing that he will spend the next three hours exploring a particular theme on any given day. Where I live on the East Coast, WABC radio provides lots of conservative talk and, in the evening, I watch Fox News, but often do not watch for long. Most of the news I absorb daily comes from Internet news sites and my daily reading of The Wall Street Journal.
Is Rush Limbaugh influential? Obama seems to think so because Rush has now replaced George W. Bush as his favorite bogyman and punching bag.
It’s worth noting that Rush does not endorse candidates and was lukewarm towards both McCain and Romney during the past two elections. Lucus quotes him as saying “I don’t say that I have influence. I was totally opposed to the 1990 budget deal and it still happened. I am not an activist…this is entertainment.”
That, I suspect, is Limbaugh’s great appeal. He is very entertaining. It does not, so far as I can see, translate into influence at the polls because many of Rush’s devoted “Ditto Heads” may, as they did in the last election, decided to stay home.
The Obama White House knows it has the mainstream media in its pocket. They have become little more than a megaphone for its policies and, these days, an instrument of liberal propaganda. The White House political agenda is advanced by a no-holds-barred attack on anyone who oppose their policies and, of late, a deliberate effort to undermine the Republican Party that is still reeling from the 2012 loss.
Obama’s thuggish politics these days involves attacking the leading conservative news outlet. In an interview with The New Republic, Obama continues to denigrate Fox News and Limbaugh, claiming that “the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word.” This is a President who has demonstrated no inclination to compromise on anything and a disdain for Congress and the Constitution.
The end of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine in 1987 that required equal time for opposing political views marked the rise of conservative talk radio. Today it can be heard locally and in syndication from coast to coast. Reagan vetoed legislation to make it the law of the land calling it unconstitutional.
That does not mean, however, that conservative talk radio is influential because it appeals to an older, better educated audience, a demographic that leaves out those under 35 and low income listeners, an increasing percentage of whom are on some form of government dole.
A significant portion of “low information” voters who elected Obama were not listening to conservative talk radio. The popularity of Fox News does not appear to translate into any effect on Congress or the White House. They were all over the Benghazi scandal and it has fizzled.
Despite dwindling newspaper circulation, despite the rise of the Internet as a provider of news, and despite the popularity of conservative talk radio, it would appear that the mainstream media is winning by parroting the daily White House “talking points” and by burying White House scandals such as the Benghazi cover-up. The recent Sunday “Sixty Minutes” interview with the President and out-going Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is testimony to the slavish support of the mainstream media.
It does not help that the Republican Party is struggling to put forth a cohesive and persuasive agenda or that it lacks the kind of leadership that reflects the kind of adulation and support the President continues to enjoy.
The numbers that do listen and watch to conservative talk radio are impressive, but it is not translating into an impact on Capitol Hill and none in the White House. And that is the definition of influence.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
By Alan Caruba
I was fortunate to know both sets of grandparents, people who immigrated from Russia and Italy. It was not until they had passed on and I was older that I realized that they never spoke of their nations of origin. In the late 1800s they were nations that offered little opportunity and America was all about opportunity.
In the “Atlas of Human Migration” it says that “The message of this book is so important that it bears repeating here at the outset: migration is the history of the world. Humans are born migrants; human evolution is linked to the very act of moving from one habitat to another and then adapting to that new environment.” Migration scholars have called the last twenty years the “age of migration.”
“Some people—mainly the residents of the rich countries of the world—are allowed, even encouraged, to move. Others—the nationals of poor countries—are not. This exposes the stark social inequities that result from globalization and migration control policies.” The result for the United States and Europe has been the rise of “illegals”, people who find a way to access a better life in a better place. Some, however, have brought with them a variety of social problems. Some—Muslims—have demanded changes to their adopted nation’s laws to accommodate the oppression they experienced in their home countries. Quotas worked in the past, but are rejected today.
Since 1986 when President Reagan signed an amnesty act—which he regarded as one of the worst mistakes he made—America has been grappling with a migration of illegal immigrants that includes not only those from Latin America, but also from Islamic nations.
As a recent Wall Street Journal editorial noted of the previous effort to address immigration that the reform “offered citizenship to (then) current illegal immigrants but it failed to set up a process for future legal immigration to meet the needs of fast-moving labor markets. Thus it created an incentive for foreigners to arrive illegally and never leave lest they never be able to return to the U.S. if they did go home. Avoiding that mistake should be one of the main goals of this or any other immigration reform. On that point, the Senate framework has promise, but also has a long way to go.”
The current bipartisan bill owes much to the fact that Hispanic immigrants voted three-to-one against Republican candidates in the last election. Politically, that changing demographic cannot and should not be ignored. The Republican sponsors of the proposed bill are the now-classic “RINOs”—Republicans in Name Only—as comfortable with Democratic initiatives as any of their own party.
As just one example, the Huffington Post recently reported that “Hispanics for the first time will become California’s largest ethnic group by the end of the year, according to a report on California’s shifting demographics contained in Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-2014 budget proposal.” Hispanics now represent 20% of California’s electorate. There were 5.9 million eligible Hispanic voters in 2012. As reported in The Hill, “Comprehensive immigration reform could make millions of people suddenly eligible for assistance under President Obama’s healthcare law, assuming a final deal paves the way for undocumented immigrants to receive papers.”
What was true in 1986 is true today. Illegal immigrants will continue to come to America and clearly legislation to address this is likely to fall short of deterring them. The expansion of the federal government to address the problem has failed and we’re told that a larger one will be needed to process the newly empowered illegals with a means to work here and gain citizenship.
There is little discussion of building a fence long enough and high enough to deter the traffic across our southern border and even less of the well-worn trails and areas that are known to provide access.
The cliché is that “America is a nation of immigrants”, but those who arrived before and since the 1800s were different in ways than today’s. They were eager to assimilate, learn English, and to prosper. They brought skills and labor necessary to the expanding industrial base of the nation. They did not have a panoply of government programs to provide them with healthcare insurance, food stamps, financial assistance for housing and other benefits. Today’s do and that puts further pressure on a nation that is already in serious financial trouble.
The reality is, however, immigrants—legal and illegal—will keep coming and some effort must be made to integrate them into our society. We cannot send eleven million people back to their home countries. We cannot export their children who have been born and grown up here. We must address the problem of “anchor babies” born here for the purpose of securing citizenship for their entire families.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial says, “A path to citizenship would also assist the process of assimilation that has been one of America’s historic strengths. The U.S. should not want a permanent class of residents who can never be citizens and thus have less incentive to adapt to U.S. cultural mores, speak English, or move out of segregated ethnic enclaves.”
With or without immigration reform, history demonstrates that people will migrate, so our response to the current population of illegals and some kind of reform is now a priority.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
By Alan Caruba
Most Americans know the economy is in bad shape even if a majority voted to reelect the man most responsible for making a bad economy worse. And, no, it was not George W. Bush who is responsible for the 2008 financial crash. It was the government with its housing programs that encouraged giving mortgage loans to those who could not afford them and then bundling those “toxic assets”, and selling them to banks who then found themselves in trouble for investing in them.
Another partner in the nation’s financial woes has been the Federal Reserve, a banking cartel given the right to literally print money. The Fed recently released the fact that its holdings in U.S. government debt has increased by 257 percent since President Obama took office! Those holdings are at an all-time record of $1,696,691,000,000 at the close of business on Wednesday, January 23. The other major holder of our debt is China at $1,170,100,000.000.
It’s worth taking a few minutes to see how the policies of President Obama, whether a deliberate effort to ruin the economy or just the result a lack of understanding of how the U.S. economy works, has put the U.S. on the precipice of failure comparable to what is occurring in Europe. It is a global, as well as national problem as the central banks of the EU desperately transfer billions among themselves to stave off a catastrophe that will destroy the wealth of their citizens.
The federal government ran a deficit (the difference between what it owes and what revenues it takes in) of $292 billion for the first two months of fiscal year 2013—October and November 2012—amounting to $4.8 billion of borrowed money every day. The Congressional Budget Office reported that federal revenues rose by $30 billion—a ten percent increase over last year—but spending increased even more, going up by $87 billion (16%).
Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security was about 7% higher--$8 billion than last year. For years, Congress has resisted reforming these “entitlement” programs and Obamacare has only exacerbated the problem. In order to fund its establishment, the Obama administration took $716 billion from the Medicare funds. The Social Security funds have been “borrowed” by Congress for years while the numbers of eligible senior citizens has steadily increased as “baby boomers” come of age.
The call for higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” has fallen hardest on the middle class, in reality increasing taxes on them. The reality is that the middle class taxpayer pays 25% of their income in federal income tax these days, but when you add in 13.3% in the federal Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, it adds up to 38.3%. According to the Tax Foundation, the average state’s income tax rate on the middle class is 4.82% (not all states have an income tax in addition to the federal government.) That brings the total to $43.12% of middle class income drained off to pay taxes.
Add in all the other taxes we pay on gasoline, telephones, and other necessities, and the middle class is being tapped for half their earnings.
The Republican Party, in power in the House of Representatives, has offered legislation to bring some relief to middle class and other taxpayers. It has sent annual budgets to the Senate where they have died for the past three years.
All this has been happening during the first term of the Obama administration. In a January 25th commentary posted on AmericanThinker.com, Steve McCann noted that “As of the end of 2012, the United States has experienced the worst five-year period—which includes, as the end of the final four years, Obama’s first full term—since 1928-1932 and the start of the Great Depression.”
McCann cited that fact that, since January 2008, the employment age population has increased by 11.7 million, yet there are 3.0 million fewer Americans employed. “Factoring in the population growth and 2008 labor participation rate, the unemployment rate for December 2012 would be 11.4% as compared to 4.9% in December of 2007.”
“At the end of 2007, the median household income was $54,489 (inflation adjusted); at the beginning of 2012, it had dropped to $50,020—a decline of nearly 9%.” During this same time, while incomes were eroding, the cost of living increased 20% from December 2007 to September 2012.
There are other stark statistics that the mainstream media tends to under-report. In December 2007, there were 26.5 million Americans on food stamps at a cost of $30 billion. By December 2012, 47.4 million were using this program and the federal government was running advertising to get more to apply for it. During Obama’s first term, food stamp recipients increased at a rate of 11,133 per day!
No matter how one measures the U.S. economy, the news is bad and holds little promise of improving. Economic growth is anemic as Obama increased debt $50,521 per household in his first term, more than the first 42 presidents in 53 terms combined.
An excellent monthly publication, Budget and Tax News, published by The Heartland Institute, is a very good way to gain the information and insight you need to understand these issues.
No need to wonder why Obama wants to increase the debt ceiling and no need to wonder why his policies continue to cripple the economy, whether it’s the failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline or to rein in an avalanche of economy-killing regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. Obamacare contained 18 hidden taxes when it was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress that didn’t even read its more than 2,000 pages.
At some point this combination of increased taxes, low employment, and stagnant economic growth has to implode. That outcome can be avoided, but the nation is running out of time.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
By Alan Caruba
Rush Limbaugh has predicted the end of the National Football League and sees its demise drawing closer.
Is it really any surprise that Obama is leading the charge to make football “safe”, given that it is a sport where there is a lot of physical contact, often resulting in the occasional injury? Americans do not watch football to see players get injured. They watch because it is a version of war. It is fought in stadiums. The field of battle is well defined. And men outfitted like gladiators engaged in a modified version of combat.
The key word here is “men.” Nobody wants to watch two teams of women play football.
Obama is a girly man. When you think of Reagan, he is astride a horse at his ranch. When you think of Obama, he is riding a bicycle.
The latest manifestation of an effort that pre-dates Obama, the “chickification” of America, is the decision by the Department of Defense to allow women to engage in battle alongside their male counterparts. There are few ideas more idiotic than this. Forget the usual arguments put forth about upper body strength and such, even the Israeli Defense Force, famous for including women in its ranks, uses them auxiliary functions in order to free up the men to do the actual fighting.
No civilized nation wants to send women into combat. No military that depends on unit cohesion and morale wants to put the two sexes together in close proximity because the two sexes tend to do what comes naturally in close proximity. They’ve been holding hearings in Congress about the problems this has created in our military services. We have, however, compounded this idiocy by opening the ranks to openly gay service members. There have always been gays in the military, but in the pre-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell days, they kept that to themselves.
In an earlier era, the roles of men and women were well defined. Women, indeed, had fewer choices and, to the degree that they now have more, that is a good thing. To the degree that they are in the workplace it also means that both marriage and children are impacted in ways that the 50% divorce rate and the numbers of single mothers were predictable.
It is troubling to me that women in films and on television have been increasingly portrayed in roles where, rather than being the damsel in distress of former times, they are now gun toting, karate smashing characters on a par with men. This undermines traditional values from chivalry to the instinct of men to come to a woman’s aid, to be protective.
I fully understand that culture is always subject to change, but some aspects of culture are worth retaining and this is particularly true in light of the glaring fact that women are different than men. Even women know that!
What bothers me is the creeping effort to turn men into women in terms of their attitudes. Part of the push to permit gay marriage, an element of the Democratic Party agenda, is the constant pressure on heterosexual men to “accept” homosexuality as “normal”, when it has never been regarded as normal. Homosexuals are approximately 3.5% of the population. The Obama administration has made it clear it has no intention to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and now openly advocates gay marriage. It tears at the sinews of a society that knows that marriage is between a man and a woman.
As I was thinking about the changes occurring in our culture, I was reminded of a list of Communist goals that were read into the Congressional Record by Rep. Albert S. Herlong, Jr, (D-Florida) in 1963. There were 45 of them, based on a book by Cleon Skousens, “The Naked Communist.”
One was “Present homosexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as ‘normal, natural, and healthy.’” Another was “Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.” And “Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the ‘common man.’”
The Communist goals included taking over the nation’s educational system and infiltrating the press as well as gaining control of key positions in radio, television and motion pictures.
If these goals, revealed just over fifty years ago, sound familiar it is because they are being accomplished. They represent life in America today.
How football is played may seem insignificant. Encouraging gays in the military and women in combat may seem odd at best and idiotic at worse.
The bigger problem is the way the news and entertainment community, along with the capture of our educational system all conspire to undermine values that worked very well from the days of the U.S. Revolution to around the 1960s when the progressives, the liberals, and—yes—Communists began to gain positions of influence and power.
In 2008 and 2012, Americans even elected one.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Sunday, January 27, 2013
By Alan Caruba
It’s bad enough when major environmental organizations continue to lie about a “global warming” that does not exist in lieu of a planetary cooling cycle now entering its 17th year, but when those allied with the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are also in charge of producing a government report on it, the public is being lied to in ways that obscure their bias and agenda.
This is the case of the recently released draft report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) titled “Climate Change and the American People.” The majority of the thirteen senior scientists responsible for it are closely allied with the IPCC. No doubt, the final report will be cited by the IPCC as further “proof” that global warming is real.
The Liar-in-Chief about global warming—AKA climate change—is President Obama who, during his second inaugural speech managed to ignore any mention of the nation’s catastrophic debt in favor of warning that climate change is causing forest fires, drought, and powerful storms. Excuse me, but the climate has always included these natural events. They are not the result of a warming that is not occurring.
Some believe that an effort is afoot to revive cap-and-trade legislation that would tax so-called greenhouse gas emissions despite the fact that they play no role in either climate change or the bogus global warming. Others think that the EPA will be used as the blunt instrument to restrict emissions.
It is troubling enough that a January 24 edition of The Wall Street Journal included a commentary by Bjorn Lomborg, author and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center in Washington, D.C., that criticized the President’s speech at the same time saying “This does not mean that climate change isn’t an issue. In the long run, the world needs to cut carbon dioxide because it causes global warming.”
No, carbon dioxide (CO2) doesn’t cause something that isn’t happening. It causes all the vegetation on Earth to thrive and that is why greenhouses increase it in order to stimulate growth. Reducing it via government regulation threatens the entire economy.
According to the NCADAC report, rising temperatures pose a health threat. They are not rising and countless retirees head to warmer states for the simple reason that warmer weather extends life while colder weather kills people. People who live in Florida and the Southwest are not moving to Minnesota or Alaska.
As Steve Gorham, the author of “The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania”, has pointed out regarding the NCADAC report, “The document uses the word ‘extreme’ more than 600 times to create an alarming picture of the future. It predicts ‘extreme weather events…extreme weather…extreme snowstorms…extreme winds…extreme drought…extreme floods…extreme rainfall’ and many other ‘extremes’, all claimed to be due to mankind’s relatively small emissions of CO2, a trace gas in the atmosphere. The report’s conclusions are based on computer model projections.”
Environmental studies professor, Roger Pielke Jr., notes that among those in charge of the latest government report are its chairman, biologist Jerry Melillo whose online bio cites his “long association with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” One of its vice chairmen, economics professor Gary Yohe has the same credential. Others affiliated with the IPCC are James Buizer, Sharon Hayes, Thomas Karl, Susanne Moser, Richard Moss, and Donald Wuebbles whose academic bio says he “shares in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the international Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
The connections between these folks and environmental organizations include the fact that vice-chair Gary Yohe is part of a World Wildlife Fund panel and Richard Moss used to be employed as a WWF vice president. The WWF is one of the leading advocates of global warming. James Buizer is on the board of directors of Second Nature a group whose mission is to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education. In other words, ensuring that yet another generation passing through our universities absorb the global warming hoax.
The federal government has been funding these bogus reports and “research” about global warming to the tune of billions of dollars for years. The entire purpose is to keep the hoax alive and it has ensured that agencies such as NOAA and NASA have participated. Other than Al Gore, the leading proponent of global warming has been James Hansen who continues to head NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
It is so bad at NASA that, in February 2012, a group of twenty former NASA scientists formed a group called The Right Climate Stuff to dispute and debunk the many lies associated with global warming.
Fundamentally, you cannot trust anything the federal government, nor its lackeys in the mainstream media, regarding anything you read or hear about global warming or climate change. It is a tsunami of lies.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Saturday, January 26, 2013
By Alan Caruba
The author of “1984”, George Orwell, once said, “The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.”
In the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, among the priorities listed is to “provide for the common defense” of the nation. After having fought a six-year war during the Revolution and replaced the failed Articles of Confederation, the framers of the Constitution, many of whom had fought beside George Washington, well understood the need for a standing army and navy to protect the new nation.
In the nation’s earliest years, Americans repeatedly elected Presidents with military credentials and experience. In addition to Washington they included Monroe, Jackson, Harrison, Tyler, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush41 and 43. FDR had served as Secretary of the Navy.
In recent times, two Presidents, Clinton—a draft dodger—and Obama have had no military experience to draw upon. Over the objections of their generals, both introduced policies to include and protect homosexuals in the U.S. military services. Now the doors have been opened to permit women to fight beside men. The military is not a place where one conducts social experiments. It’s a place where men go in harm’s way to protect the nation.
Today, thanks to the failure of the Congress to address America’s spending and growing debt problems, the U.S. military faces a draconian “sequestration”—massive cuts to the defense budget—that would so seriously decrease the nation’s ability to defend itself and project power globally, that it reminds one of the failure to maintain a strong military that required a massive effort to get up to speed after the Japanese Empire’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The WWII declaration of war included the Nazi Third Reich that threatened the United Kingdom, all of Europe, and Russia.
A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that 40% of likely voters “believe the United States spends too much on defense and national security” while only 22% disagree and 32% believe the amount spent is about right. This is a definition of stupidity.
A nation requires a standing army, navy, coast guard, and air force, along with a trustworthy banking system. After the 2008 financial crisis—the result of government policies regarding housing—we had to bail out the banking system to the tune of billions. Today we face the prospect of a military that is flying an aging fleet of airplanes, has a navy that has as few ships in service as we had at the end of World War I, and a volunteer military that requires that support of thousands of civilian personnel.
Out-going Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has been loudly warning that the result of any spending cuts would be “catastrophic.”
One can argue that we have spent a fortune in treasure and blood in the Middle East since 2001, but only the most foolish would argue that America and the West is not facing the greatest threat in its history since Moslem armies were defeated at the doors of Europe in 732 AD and 1529 AD.
In a recent press conference, Panetta said that the practical results of the proposed cuts in defense would be less training for units not imminently deploying to Afghanistan; less shipboard training for all but the highest priority missions; less pilot training and fewer flight hours; curtailed ship maintenance and disruption to research and weapons modernization programs. He described it as the hollowing out of the defense force of the nation.
Noting that members of our military are fighting and sometimes dying to defend our nation, Panetta said, “Those of us in Washington need to have the same courage as they do to do the right thing and try to protect the security of this country. We must ensure we have the resources we need to defend the nation and meet our commitments to our troops, to our civilian employees, and to their families, after more than a decade of war.”
Courage and common sense are two elements that are missing in Washington these days.
Retired General Paul E. Vallely, U.S. Army, states the case bluntly. “President Obama is working very hard to destroy U.S. military superiority, consciously and unconsciously to the advantage (of) our global enemies in an attempt to seize control over national security and (in) another overt attempt to bypass Congress, the Obama administration may have already made this play as of this writing.”
Joined at the press conference by Army General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Dempsey described sequestration as “a self-inflicted wound on national security”, bluntly saying it was “an irresponsible way to manage our nation’s defense. It cuts blindly and it cuts bluntly. It compounds risk and it compromises readiness.”
Americans are largely unaware that our air fleet is the oldest in Air Force history, worn down by two-plus decades of combat dating back to the 1991 Gulf War. The average age of the fleet exceeds a quarter of a century. The U.S. Navy is a mere shadow of itself. Under normal operations one third of the fleet is in repair, one third is in port for the rest and relaxation of sailors, leaving approximately 90 ships to patrol the seven seas to protect American interests. There are about 800,000 civilians that provide support to our services and nearly 1.4 million in the active-duty military.
We have until March to know whether Congress will take action to repeal sequestration and replace it with the steps everyone with a lick of sense knows must be taken; reforming the nation’s tax code, reforming Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to avoid their impending failure, reductions in the spending and borrowing that has imposed more than $16 trillion in debt, and reform of the spiraling avalanche of regulations that are choking the nation’s economic recovery.
How serious is it? Gen. Dempsey warned that operations, maintenance and training will be gutted. “We’ll ground aircraft, return ships to port, and sharply curtail training across the force. (We) may be forced to furlough civilians at the expense of maintenance and even health care. We will be unable to reset the force following a decade of war.”
“Within a year, we’ll be unprepared,” said Gen. Dempsey.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Thursday, January 24, 2013
By Alan Caruba
If you passed through any school system since the 1960s, you are a lot dumber than you think you are. Those of us educated in the 1940s and 50s learned the fundamentals of literacy, history, civics, mathematics, and science in ways that no system relentlessly devoted to “self-esteem” ever could.
The takeover of the educational system, traditionally the responsibility of the states and individual communities, is part of the legacy of former President Jimmy Carter who reorganized the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, establishing a cabinet-level Education Department. He signed it into law on October 17, 1979 and it began operating on May 4, 1980.
The other factor was the rise of teacher’s union beginning in the 1960s. The unions feathered their nests, ensuring that costly retirement and healthcare benefits would burden state budgets until the present when a number of Republican governors in recent years began to reduce their power, based on spending millions to elect legislators friendly to their interests.
It is no accident that the Game Show network has a program, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Still another factor has been popular entertainment; in particular, television. For example, the programming of children’s shows are platforms for socialist propaganda, emphasizing the usual lies about the environment and other “progressive” agendas. As often as not, programs for an adult audience, particularly on the National Geographic channel, have engaged in the same dubious “science.”
Aside from the provision of sports and entertainment, television today is filled with programs that are designed to appeal to the lowest IQs. If you tune to the Arts and Entertainment channel (A&E) you will find yourself watching Parking Wars, Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty, and Finding Bigfoot. And why would you watch such shows?
The History Channel has little to no relationship to actual history with programs like Ancient Aliens that purport to show how visitors from other planets aided humans in long ago eras are responsible for the advances of human civilization. On TruTV you can watch Wipe Out as hapless fools try to get through a series of obstacles that knock them around or feel good about yourself with their World’s Dumbest series by watching people too stupid to take up space on planet Earth. Need cash? Watch Hard Core Pawn.
On the Life channel you can watch a show about hoarders, people so deranged they cannot throw out anything and on Biography you can watch Ghosts Caught on Tape. Cartoons directed at adults are filled with the crudest humor from South Park to American Dad and Family Guy. Watching The Real Housewives of anywhere is an assault on anyone’s intelligence as is Keeping Up with the Kardashians and any of its spin-offs.
Dance Moms and Toddlers and Tiaras are tantamount to child abuse. On TLC, there is the idiotic Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Meanwhile, entire generations of children can watch adults portrayed as idiots on shows such as The Office and Arrested Development, as well as popular sitcoms like Two and a Half Men.
This “entertainment” is barely offset by channels such as CSPAN or those on public television that must compete for viewers against this avalanche of moral decay. It says something about present fears and concerns when the most popular news channel, Fox News, retains some semblance of a conservative point of view though one must endure the liberal views of Juan Williams and Bob Beckel.
While the nation is roiled by talk of new gun control measures, most TV dramas feature all manner of killing with firearms to the extent that it doesn’t even register as “a problem.” Local news is almost entirely devoted to who was murdered or died in some accident that day along the weather and sports. This mayhem is so much a part of our lives that it does little more than create a generalized level of anxiety.
Various “man in the street” interviews display a frightening level of ignorance about national politics and events.
Considering that Congress is filled with the children of Baby Boomers and caucuses that include the Congressional Black caucus, the Zero Capital Gains caucus, and a caucus on the climate, among dozens of others that are often idiotic special interests, it is little wonder that this fundamental institution of our government now reflects the dictates of a Marxist President and the agendas of those seeking to strip our society of its moral values while also destroying the economy at warp speed.
You don’t have to watch these shows. You can turn off the TV and read a range of books that examine the issues of our times and of the nation’s extraordinary history. You don’t have to remain the victim of an educational system that has deliberately dumbed down Americans. You don’t have to believe the lies of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and their cohorts. In 2014 you can vote to put the brakes on the destruction of America.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
By Alan Caruba
If anything good comes from the Newtown massacre, it will be a national discussion of the role of various psychological medications that have been foisted on a generation or two of young Americans in the nation’s schools. Particularly dangerous have been a group called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
While the White House and other gun-banning groups grab the spotlight by putting the blame on guns, columnist Dr. Jerome R. Corsi recently reported that SSRIs have played a role in “some 90 percent of school shootings over more than a decade…according to British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy, a founder of RxISK.org, an independent website for researching and reporting on prescription drugs."
A visit to one of Dr. Healey’s websites, ssristories.com, provides more than 4,800 news stories involving some level of violence in which antidepressants are mentioned. SSRIs include Prozac, Zoloff, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, and Luvox. Others include Remeron, Anafranil, Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq, as well as the dopamine reuptake inhibitor antidepressant Wellbutrin, marketed as Zyban. If you listen closely to television ads for medications to stop smoking and address other problems, you will hear warnings about the way they can cause serious mental disabilities.
In a recent article on CanadaFreePress.com,Tom DeWeese, the president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots activist think tank, he said that “Today more than 7,000,000 children have been labeled, tamped and registered as permanent patients of the school system; 10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages of 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD (Attention deficit disorder). One in every 30 Americans between the ages of 5 and 19 years old has a prescription for Ritalin.” The corollary diagnosis is ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Think of it is millions of tiny time bombs in the schools and banning certain kinds of guns or limiting how many bullets can be in a clip has nothing to do with the mental illness that causes mass murders.
For a decade I was the communications director for the American Policy Center and was appalled to learn how the nation’s educational system had been altered from schools that concentrated on academics to schools whose purpose was behavior modification. In 1965, the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Act opened the doors to a legion of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and “the psychiatric programs and testing needed to validate them.”
DeWeese reported that “To date, there has never been issued a single peer-reviewed scientific paper officially claiming to prove ADD/ADHD exists.”
Columnist Ann Coulter characterized the latest Second Amendment debate, noting that “Consequently, whenever a psychopath with a million gigantic warning signs commits a shocking murder, the knee-jerk reaction is to place yet more controls on guns. By now, guns are the most heavily regulated product in America.”
The gun debate, however, serves to obfuscate the true cause of a rash of murders in America—some of which have been spectacular mass murders such as in Newtown, in the Colorado movie theatre, and on college campuses—the thriving industry of antidepressant medications.
As Dr. Healey points out on his website, “Antidepressants have been recognized as potential inducers of mania and psychosis since their introduction in the 1950s. Since the introduction of Prozac in December 1987, there has been a massive increase in the number of people taking antidepressants.” By way of grasping how widespread they are, Dr. Healy notes that “Before the introduction of Prozac, less than one percent of the population of the U.S. was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression.” That number has risen to 4.4 percent, almost one out of every twenty-three people in the U.S.
Dr. Healey’s index of more than one hundred categories lists the top thirteen as including school shootings and incidents, women teacher molestations, murder-suicides, and even road rage cases.
The collection of 4,800 media reports include a lot of school-related incidents such as one in March 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a student shot and wounded a member of the staff when his plot to blow up the school with homemade bombs was discovered. In February 2010, a student at the Discovery Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama, killed a fellow student. In November 1999, Kip Kinkel was sentenced for killing to students at his high school in Eugene, Oregon. Now, multiply this with the many other comparable incidents and you have a problem related to psychological drugs that is not getting the attention it should.
The killer at Sandy Hook elementary school allegedly was prescribed Fanapt, one of many such drugs that, instead of inhibiting psychosis and aggressive behavior, tends to initiate it. The psychological side-effects of Fanapt were known to include restlessness, aggression, and delusions along with hostility, mood swings, and panic attack, as well as other behaviors that signal serious problems. Why it is still available is a question, given that its first producer dropped it, was picked up by another, initially rejected by the FDA, then later picked up and mass produced. Its adverse side-effect was said to be “infrequent.”
It’s not the eighty million gun owners in America that are a danger. It’s the legion of “educational psychologists” in our nation’s schools that routinely diagnose ordinary behavior such as a lack of attention or restlessness as psychological disorders and prescribe from a laundry list of medications in order to keep our nation’s classrooms filled with docile, drugged students, some of whom will end up killing their schoolmates, teachers and staff.
When you fill our highly regimented government schools with students who find the curriculum boring or who display the usual energy of youth and then identify them as suffering from non-existent psychological disorders, you get events like the Newtown massacre. There will be more to come.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
By Alan Caruba
It has taken four years of Obama’s first term, but Europe in particular and every other nation in general understands it is being told “You’re on your own.” The once great superpower that other nations looked to for defense and support is increasingly an island surrounded by two great oceans.
In a recent article in The Telegraph, a London newspaper, Janet Daley summed it up in the wake of the events in Algeria and Mali, two African nations under attack by al Qaeda. “The money which once went into missile silos in Europe—or troops patrolling the Afghan border, or defending existing regimes in countries under threat from jihadi militants—will be spent on Obamacare and the entitlements programs which are close to bankruptcy.”
Pointedly, Daley noted that “During the presidential election campaign, the mainstream media expressed almost no interest at all in the fact that an American ambassador had been killed at his post (for the first time since 1979) by a terrorist mob in Libya.”
By contrast, the Algerian government responded to the attack on a gas processing plant in Amenas with extreme force, killing most of the al Qaeda terrorists involved. In the process, most of the remaining hostages were killed by the jihadists, but kidnapping and ransoming hostages has been a lucrative industry for years now and goes back decades since the emergence of al Qaeda.
The Algerians also responded in force because Amenas is just thirty miles west of the Libyan border and because Algeria is Africa’s largest gas producer and major supplier to Europe. They were aided by the French in contrast to the limited role that America has exercised since the beginning of the “Arab spring” in Egypt, Libya, and now Mali.
As the U.S. draws down its involvement in Afghanistan, the rest of the world, but Europe in particular, has concluded that the U.S. will be a very limited power in the coming decades in which a war of attrition must be waged against al Qaeda. Begun in response to the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, al Qaeda has now spread into many other nations and, at present, is the focus of attention in the Maghreb, the northern tier of nations in Africa.
In 2005, Martin Meredith’s book, “The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair” chronicled fifty years of independence that former European colonies achieved in the wake of World War II. At the time, Meredith concluded “But even given greater Western efforts, the sum of Africa’s misfortunes—its wars, its despotism, its corruption, its droughts, its everyday violence—presents a crisis of such magnitude that it goes beyond the reach of foreseeable solutions. At the core of the crisis is the failure of African leaders to provide effective government.”
The overthrow of despots ruling Tunisia, Libya and Egypt was the root cause of the uprisings in those nations, but also playing a significant role was the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, both of which are dedicated to imposing an Islamic caliphate on the world.
Meredith warned that “Even when regimes have changed hands, new governments, whatever promises they made on arrival, have lost little time in adopting the habits of their predecessors.”
Daley was unsparingly accurate in her analysis of the present and growing crisis, in part a response to its withdrawal from the battlefield. “But what does mean?”, she asked rhetorically. That this White House will become actively, militarily engaged in the hunt for the fragments of al Qaeda which continue to wreak havoc? American politicians of all parties now seem more interested in the next chapter of the fiscal cliff saga than they are in their country’s role in the world, which is just an expensive and exasperating distraction.”
“And this president, as has been widely noted, seems particularly uninterested in Europe…So there it is; a world made safe for U.S. trade and economic recovery, paid for by the peoples who have relied for too long on American military force.”
That military force is on the brink of mandated budget cuts—the sequestration—that will reduce it to a level of unpreparedness for the next major or minor conflict anywhere in the world within a year or so. Designed and equipped for traditional warfare, it is now in the era of guerilla warfare waged by small bands of terrorists intent on destabilizing vulnerable governments in the Middle East and Africa.
The President has been telling us—ever since the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011—that al Qaeda is in decline, but the facts reveal otherwise. In a lengthy “overview” published on January 20th in The New York Times, the article cited the many elements of al Qaeda in the Maghreb and the growing Islamic terrorism in nations like Nigeria. Aside from the occasional drone strike on al Qaeda leaders, we are not only not seeing much progress led by the U.S., but are perceived by European and other nations as withdrawing from the global battlefield.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Monday, January 21, 2013
By Alan Caruba
In his second inaugural speech, Barack Obama said, “We must respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”?
To what “climate change” is Obama referring? Is it the now thoroughly debunked “global warming” hoax? Is it the climate change of the 11,500 years since the last ice age? Or is it “the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms” to which Obama referred?
If it is the latter, does anyone actually believe that these natural events can be mitigated by anything Americans or the entire population of the world can do? Did any among the thousands in attendance at the inauguration, shivering in the frigid weather, wonder what the President was talking about or why?
After more than three decades of being told that the Earth was dangerously heating up by people like Al Gore and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there are more voices warning that the current cold cycle that will last, at a minimum, several decades.
The public continues to be misled to the mainstream media and, more importantly, by the federal government whose increased environmental regulations are based on the global warming lies, so who can you believe?
Publications such as Science magazine have been so politicized at this point as to be virtually useless. Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies, recently released a study that updates his study of the magazine, noted that “In a 2009 paper I documented that Science magazine published 40 editorials critical of the Bush Administration during its two terms, and only 1 such critique of the Clinton Administration’s previous 2 terms. I have just updated this analysis through the first term of the Obama Administration, and found no editorials critical of the Obama Administration.”
It should be noted that Obama routinely refers to “climate change”, the new name for “global warming”, and has already wasted billions on “renewable” energy, wind and solar, including algae, otherwise known as pond scum. The Obama EPA is releasing an avalanche of new regulations based in part on the “global warming” myths and dubious “science” regarding levels of pollution that are worthless.
Recently I received a book by John L. Casey, “Cold Sun: A Dangerous ‘Hibernation’ of the Sun Has Begun” ($14.50, Trafford Publishing, softcover), the president of the Space and Science Research Corporation (SPSC). It is essentially a one-man operation and Casey’s book is an effort to warn the public about the fact that the sun has entered a cycle of very low sunspot activity. More sunspots mean warming weather and fewer mean cold weather. SPSC has the support of a number of scientists who concur that the planet has entered a cooling cycle, something well known to meteorologists, climatologists, and solar scientists, even if it remains generally unknown to the public.
Casey has been issuing press releases since 2007 warning of a decades-long period of cooling that will likely have some extremely serious effects on the planet that include droughts, increased volcanic activity, earthquakes, and the death of millions as the history of such events in the past demonstrates. He is candid about his credentials and the lack of response he has gotten from the media and those in the government he has tried to inform.
Of one release, he says that “In fact, it was seen with even less credulity since it was proposed by someone essentially unknown in the professional climate science community, a person without any past record of university research and not one published paper in any scientific journal.” It would be easy to dismiss Casey, but he has been a consultant to NASA, “performing space shuttle and space station analysis” and done studies for the Department of Defense “performing rocket launch studies.” He has a BS degree in physics and mathematics and a MA in management. So it can be said he has extensive experience in areas that require a sound body of knowledge.
Others are also forecasting a serious cold cycle. In January 2012, Habilbullo Abdusamatov, a scientist from the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences predicted a sharp drop in temperature starting in 2014 and a new “little” ice age that will last at least two centuries with a peak in 2055. It would be the fifth such event over the past nine centuries, the last of which lasted from 1300 to 1850 when the last warming cycle began.
In January 2012, Wall Street Journal science columnist Matt Ridley, noted that the cycle of warm weather between ice ages that the Earth has been enjoying “is already 11,600 years old, and it must surely in the normal course of things, come to an end.”
One of the leading authorities on ice ages, Robert W. Felix, author of “Not By Fire, But By Ice”, like Casey, became fascinated with ice age cycles and spent eight years studying them before publishing his book in 2005. He maintains a website, www.iceagenow.info that is well worth visiting as he documents the weather events of our current cold cycle and the advent of a new ice age.
Casey’s book reflects his mission to educate the public to the dangers of a sun whose low number of sunspots (magnetic storms) is well known among solar scientists and generally under-reported. “This particular solar cycle (#24) peak is one of the lowest since cycle #14 in 1906 which had approximately 64 sunspots,” Casey told me. “We measure each solar maximum every eleven years to determine the average of solar activity by sunspot count. We have had solar maximums in the past there were over 200 sunspots and some as low as 50. The relevance of information about the number of sunspots is that when the count goes below 50 we enter a much colder climate era.”
Some will dismiss Casey for not having the credentials of climatologists and meteorologists. Many with these credentials jumped on the global warming hoax by way of securing grants and other funding. A courageous few debunked global warming until it became obvious that it was a lie. There will be those who will dismiss his warning as hyperbole. In “Cold Sun” he says “A historic reduction in the energy output of the Sun has begun. The most likely outcome from this ‘solar hibernation’ will be widespread global loss of life and social, economic, and political disruption.”
As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” It is very likely that as the current cooling cycle—now over 16 years old—wlll increase, Robert W. Felix’s, Casey’s, and others with traditional credentials in meteorology, climatology, geology and physics will eventually be heeded and the Big Chill will have become self-evident.
© Alan Caruba, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
By Alan Caruba
Traditionally, the nation celebrates an inauguration as a demonstration of the peaceful transfer or extension of presidential power, but for half of the nation’s voters Inauguration Day 2013 is more likely to be a day of mourning, a day of fear for the nation’s ability to survive Barack Hussein Obama.
Let’s start with the basics. As Terence P. Jeffrey points out in a recent commentary on CNSnews.com, “During Barack Obama’s first term as president of the United States, the debt of the federal government increased by $5.8 trillion, which exceeds the combined debt accumulated under all presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton.”
Jeffrey stopped at the two terms of George W. Bush because they included 9/11 and two wars, first in Afghanistan and later in Iraq. Wars are expensive, but neither evoked a great deal of protest at the time. Afghanistan was where al Qaeda planned 9/11 and Iraq was ruled by a despot who had invaded Kuwait in 1990 when Bush 41 was President and was believed to be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction by 2003. Though no WMD were found, it is a safe bet those in Syria today were transferred there by Saddam Hussein.
I am old enough to remember when the United States successfully concluded World War II in 1945 and entered into a long period of prosperity and, dare I say it, happiness. That began to end with the escalation of the Vietnam War by Lyndon Johnson in the late 1960s. Until Afghanistan, it would be the longest war in U.S. history and costly in both blood and treasure. It prompted repeated protest marches on Washington, D.C. and it caused Johnson to announce he would not run for President again. The 1960s and 70s saw the rise of the counter-culture movement symbolized by “hippies”, the glorification of drug use, and a slacker mentality.
Johnson was followed into office by two terms of Richard Nixon. The Watergate scandal allowed an unknown one-term Georgia Governor, Jimmy Carter, to be elected. “I will not lie to you,” promised Carter. He didn’t have to. What he produced was economic stagnation and, toward the end of his only term, he watched helplessly as U.S. diplomats were taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries. It was left to his successor, Ronald Reagan, to revive the economy, increase our military strength, and resist the Soviet Union. An invasion of Afghanistan by the Russians would lead to the demise of the USSR in 1991.
Bush’s second term ended with the 2008 financial crisis and opened the door to yet another unknown candidate, Barack Obama, to be elected. Americans were eager to show the world and themselves that an African-American could become President. He was young and said all the right things.
The problem with Barack Obama was that he was a Marxist with a Muslim father whom his mother divorced and who grew up in part in Indonesia with a Muslim step-father. In Hawaii, where his mother left him with her Leftist parents, he was mentored by a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA. Too many voters were either willing to ignore this or were unaware of it. It was a slim margin of these “low information” voters that reelected him with the help of Republican voters who stayed home, apparently more disappointed with their party than the “transformation” that Obama had imposed in his first term.
Obama’s reelection shocked conservative voters. It threw them into a state of depression from which they have not emerged. The media was blamed. There were claims the election was stolen. The GOP was blamed. Mitt Romney was blamed, but the fundamental truth is that not enough patriotic, conservative Americans showed up on Election Day.
Typical of second inaugurations, there will be fewer in attendance on Monday when the ceremonial swearing-in occurs. It is unlikely that his speech will reveal much though anyone paying any attention to his first one would not be surprised by the last four years.
Essentially, Obama has presided over the decline of America. The national debt and the annual deficits have seen our AAA credit rating reduced for the first time. The Obama administration has operated without a budget for the past three years. It has lavished billions on failed alternative energy ventures and “stimulus” spending.
Obama’s greatest legacy is the legislation dubbed Obamacare and it is causing insurance rates to rise for everyone, restrictions on hospital care, and reductions in the compensation of physicians, many of whom are thinking of leaving the profession. It was over 2,000 pages long, was not read by those Democrats who voted for it, and is generating tens of thousands of regulations that will strangle healthcare in America. It is forcing some employers to implement “part-time” working conditions and a reluctance to hire and expand.
Obama ended his first term heaping contempt on the Republican Party, accusing them of being the cause of the nation’s ills when, in fact, they gained control of the House in 2010 as the direct result of voter concerns over the economy and administration policies. He has refused to negotiate with Republicans in Congress and the Senate, under the leadership of Harry Reid, has produced less legislation than any previous one. All efforts by Republicans in the House to produce budgets and address the nation’s financial problems have been blocked in the Senate.
Historians will tell you that the reason many second terms did not do well can be laid to hubris, excessive pride, and the mistaken view of a “mandate” from the voters. Obama’s slim victory was no mandate. The two scandals of his first term, the gun-running program called “Fast and Furious” and the absurd cover-up of the Benghazi killing of a U.S. ambassador and three security personnel, remain. The out-going Secretary of State is scheduled to testify before Congress on the latter. Obama’s foreign policy has been a combination of retreat and isolationism.
Obama’s selection of replacements for his second term cabinet is likely to be judged even worse than their predecessors at State, Defense, the CIA, and EPA, among other posts.
So, this writer will not be celebrating on Inauguration Day. I will be mourning the potential demise of the nation, once the world’s leader in so many ways.
© Alan Caruba, 2013