Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bin Laden's Death is a Dangerous Anniversary

By Alan Caruba

Thursday, May 2, is a day to be especially watchful. Jihadists are particularly fond of celebrating anniversaries and on that day in 2011 Seal Team Six found and killed Osama bin Laden. September 11. 2001 is now an indelible part of U.S. history and on September 11, 2012, jihadists attacked and killed an American ambassador and three others.

The threat that Islam presents to America in particular and the world in general is beginning to influence what non-Muslims think of this death cult.

In a recent commentary, the Dr. Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, referred to the process by which opinion in democratic nations turns against Islam as “education by murder.”

Dr. Pipes was sanguine regarding the American response to the Boston Marathon attack. He did not foresee any increase in security measures or a greater preparedness for what he called “sudden jihad syndrome” violence. Even so, he said “High profile terrorism in the West—9/11, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London—moves opinion more than anything else.”

A new report about the Islamist terrorist threat, “Al Qaeda in the United States”, issued by the Henry Jackson Society, a British-based think tank, noted that, of the 171 al Qaeda related or inspired acts of terrorism from 1997 to 2011, 54% were by American citizens, some naturalized, but more than a third (36%) were born in the U.S., concluding that this statistic dispels the myth that the terrorist threat is primarily external.” 

I keep wondering how long it will be before Americans will begin to take seriously the threat that Islam represents. The list of attacks is a long one such as the 1982 attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut and the 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks after Reagan sent them there as peacekeepers. The first attack on the World Trade Center was in 1993. In October 2000, the USS Cole was attacked. On September 11, 2001, the second attack killed 3,000 Americans. When George W. Bush came into office, he told his national security advisor, Condoleeza Rice, that he was “tired of swatting flies.”

President Obama’s approach to Islam was initially one of outreach and accommodation. The fact that his father was a Muslim and that he had spent his youth in Indonesia as the adopted son of a Muslim no doubt influenced this and many believe he remains a Muslim despite his denials.

Despite the fact that the search for bin laden began following 9/11, Obama took credit for the having found and killed him. No credit was publicly given to Bush who he had relentlessly criticized for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

My friend, Amil Amani, has labored long and hard to educate Americans about Islam. At one point, responding to a critic who defended Islam, he said “Islam is a culture of death. Islam is a comprehensive totalitarian form of slavery. It is the opposite of freedom. Its very name, Islam means submission or surrender. True to its name, Islam strives for nothing short of enslavement of the body of humanity as well as the bondage of its mind. This non-negotiable surrender to Islam requires the individual, as well as the society, to disenfranchise themselves of many of the fundamental and deeply cherished human rights.”

In 1998 the founder of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, issued a World Islamic Front statement, “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders”, meaning Christians. He quoted Mohammed. “I have been sent with the sword between my hands to ensure that no one but Allah is worshipped, Allah who put my livelihood under the shadow of my spear and who inflicts humiliation and scorn on those who disobey my orders.”

Bin Laden issued “the ruling to kill Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa mosque (Mecca) from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”

President Obama labored through his first term to remove American troops from Iraq and has sent 2014 as the year they leave Afghanistan.

Bin Laden’s call and the instructions of Mohammed are the driving force behind the efforts of Muslims in nations throughout the world to wage war and we are witnessing that effort. So long as President Obama remains in office the effort to thwart that war will be muted.

His closest advisors and those in his cabinet such as Janet Napolitano, in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, will continue to tell Americans that a successful effort is being waged. It is not.

On May 2 and every day for a very long time to come, Americans will be on the front lines of the war on terrorism, the war between Islam and America, the war against the world.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Benghazi Lies



By Alan Caruba

At an April 17 session before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, lightly dismissed the assassination of a U.S. ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya, saying “I don't think anybody lied to anybody. And let's find out exactly, together, what happened, because we need -- we got a lot more important things to move on to and get done.”

This has been the party line of the White House since the attack occurred on September 11, 2012. The initial response was to send out the hapless lackey, then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, to tell absurd lies about a video that incited the attack. Even the Libyan president dismissed that.

Operating on the belief that the longer the attack recedes into the past, the less likely it will be a political problem, the administration continues to stonewall. That’s not going to happen. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), speaking on Fox News on April 27 promised “explosive” congressional hearings regarding the Benghazi attack, saying they are “coming soon.”

 Larry Bell, a Forbes columnist, noted that “The House interim report states that ‘reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, up to and including Secretary Clinton.’”

A group, Special Operations Speaks, recently sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, raising the following questions:

Why was there no military response to the events in Benghazi?

Were military assets in the region available? If not, why not? If so, were they alerted?

Were assets deployed to any location in preparation for a rescue or recovery attempt?

Was military assistance requested by the Department of State? If so, what type?

Were any US Army/Navy/USMC assets available to support the US diplomats in Benghazi during the attack?

What, if any, recommendations for military action were made by DOD and the US Africa Command?

What, if any, non-military assistance was provided during the attack?

How many US personnel were injured in Benghazi?

Why have the survivors of the attack not been questioned?

Where are the survivors?

Who was in the White House Situation Room (WHSR) during the entire 8-hour period of the attacks, and was a senior US military officer present?

Where were Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey during the crisis, and what inputs and recommendations did they make?

Where were Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor, Denis McDonough, his deputy, Valerie Jarrett, and John Brennan during the attacks, and what (if any) recommendations or decisions did any of them make?

Why were F-16 fighter aircraft based in Aviano, Italy (less than two hours away), never considered a viable option for disruption (if not dispersal) of the attackers until “boots on the ground” (troop support--General Dempsey’s words) arrived?

Were any strike aircraft (such as an AC-130 gunship) in the area or possibly overhead that would cause former SEAL Tyrone Woods to laser-designate his attacker’s position and call for gunship fire support, thereby revealing his own location that led to his death?

Who gave the order to “STAND DOWN” that was heard repeatedly during the attacks?
   
What threat warnings existed before the attack, and what were the DOD and DOS responses to those warnings?

What data (which will reveal exact timelines and command decisions) is contained within the various SITREPS, records, logs, videos and recordings maintained by the myriad DOD, Intelligence Community and State Department Command Centers that were monitoring the events in Benghazi as they unfolded? 

Why did the Commander-in Chief and Secretary of State never once check in during the night to find out the status of the crisis in Benghazi? 

What was the nature of Ambassador Stevens’ business in Benghazi at the time of the attack?
What guidance has been provided to survivors and family members since the time of the attack, and who issued that guidance?

Why are so many agencies now requiring their personnel who were involved in or have access to information regarding the events that took place in Benghazi sign non-disclosure statements?

“As veterans of Special Operations, we find this deeply troubling.” All Americans should find the Benghazi attack and the total lack of response and seeming indifference to it at the highest levels of our government deeply troubling.

If it turns out that the alleged witnesses to the attack begin to turn up dead that would be especially troubling.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Toxic Syria

By Alan Caruba

A protocol to the Geneva Convention outlaws the use of gas in warfare. This did not stop Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from using it during his eight-year war with Iran. In one infamous incident Saddam ordered the use of poison gas against Kurdish guerrillas and civilians in the border town of Halabja, killing 5,000 people at the height of the Iran-Iraq war. His cousin earned the nickname “Chemical Ali” and was later hanged after Saddam was overthrown.

During the course of the Syrian civil war, charges from both sides that poison gas has been used were traded. The latest, aired April 24, is the first time the U.S. confirmed that poison gas, most likely Sarin, was used by the forces of Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the president of Syria. He keeps referring to the forces arrayed against him as terrorists even though Syria has been ruled by the use of terror for decades and has supported Hezbollah, an organization widely identified as terrorist and which currently is in charge of Lebanon.

President Obama went on record not long ago saying that the use of poison gas was a “red line” that would subject Assad’s forces to possible intervention by a coalition of national forces, presumably led by the U.S., NATO, or as a UN mission. In its wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. may have done most of the fighting, but was accompanied by other nations, primarily from Europe.

A report in the April 27 edition of the Telegraph, a British newspaper, noted that “the fight for al-Safira is no ordinary turf war…Inside what looks like a drab industrial estate is one of Syria’s main facilities for producing chemical weapons—and among its products is sarin, the lethal nerve gas that the regime is now feared to be deploying in its bid to cling to power.” Moreover, “among the rebel lines in al-Safira flutters the black flag of the al-Nusra Brigade, the jihadist group that recently declared its allegiance to al-Qaeda.”

Obama will now likely be assailed if he does commit U.S. fighting forces and if he does not.

I don’t much care for anything Obama has done while in office, but I like his reluctance to get the U.S. involved in a civil war or an insurgency that will turn out badly no matter who emerges as the winner. Assad is getting a lot of help from both Russia, who wants the use of Syria’s port on the Mediterranean, and by Iran for whom it has long been an ally. Let them waste their resources there.

This is not to say that Assad has not been utterly ruthless in his effort to put the insurgents to flight and retain the power he inherited from his father, Hafez al-Assad who had ruled Syria for thirty years since 1971. The son has ruled since 2000, having been reelected in 2007, thanks to no opposition.

Syria, of course, poses problems for its neighbors Turkey and Jordan, both of which have had to absorb and provide humanitarian aid to what is likely more than a million Syrians who fled for their lives. An estimated 80,000 to 90,000 Syrians have been slain in the conflict that began on March 15, 2011 with popular demonstrations that were nationwide by April. Suffice to say, both sides of the conflict have engaged in brutality, sparing neither women nor children.  

The nations of northern Africa, also called the Maghreb, erupted into protests that have come to be known as the “Arab Spring.” Tunisia, where the initial protests in 2011 against an autocratic president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, led to his overthrow, has done the best job of transitioning to become a functioning democracy, but in Libya a low level conflict continues and, in Egypt, the population is having serious regrets after having elected a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, to replace the ailing and imprisoned Hosni Mubarak.

Complicating things further in Syria is the presence of elements of al Qaeda as part of the force opposing the Assad regime. This accounts for the reluctance of the U.S. to arm those forces even as Russia and Iran sends arms to Assad and, in the case of Iran, military assistance as well.

Syria is a rat’s nest even if the U.S. had the ability to identify who among the opposition to support. Then there is the question, if the opposition were to prevail, whether that would encourage elements of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, leaving Israel even more vulnerable. It would not surprise me to see Israeli forces join with the Jordanians to sustain the monarchy.

After the United States withdrawal from Iraq it has been experiencing an increased level of internal conflict as the Sunnis seek to punish the Shiites who replaced their control under Saddam. Bombings are a daily event. Scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014, the U.S. can ill afford the cost of a military involvement in Syria, nor can the European member nations of NATO. The United Nations, as always, is totally useless. Their so-called peacekeeping forces have all abandoned Syria, exiting via Israel.

The human toll is appalling, but there are few good reasons for the U.S. and others to be drawn into the Syrian conflict. If Bashar al-Assad survives, he will still be an ally of Russia and Iran. Lebanon will still be a Syrian satellite. It would take years to rebuild the nation reducing a military threat to Israel.

There is, however, a compelling reason to mount a mission to secure Syria’s poison gas arsenal. If nothing is done, it would further embolden Iran to continue its nuclear arms program. A limited show of force to isolate and remove its poison gas arsenal would be a warning to Iran whereas further sanctions are of little value.

If al-Qaeda gains access to Syria’s stores of poison gas, no city in America would be immune from an al Qaeda attack using it.

For now, the “red line” that Obama spoke of is likely to have been written in invisible ink, disappearing with every passing day.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Idiot



By Alan Caruba

What kind of idiot would write, “Until we fully understand what turned two brothers who allegedly perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombings into murderers, it is hard to make any policy recommendation other than this: We need to redouble our efforts to make America stronger and healthier so it remains a vibrant counterexample to whatever bigoted ideology may have gripped these young men.”

“Whatever bigoted ideology”? This is what Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times wrote on April 21.

Friedman had spent years in Lebanon, first as a reporter for the United Press International from 1979 to 1981. From 1975 to 1990, Lebanon was convulsed by a civil war between its Christian population and Palestinian forces aligned with Syrian-backed Muslims. In 1981 he was hired by the New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon after years of Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel. He also won the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting.

He would serve as the Times Bureau Chief in Jerusalem from June 1984 to February 1988, receiving a second Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the first Palestinian intifada. He witnessed Islamic terrorism first hand and learned nothing from it.

If that is not sufficiently moronic, his column, “How to Put America Back Together Again” was devoted to “healing our economy” and his answer was higher taxes in general and a carbon tax in particular. “We need to raise more revenues, in the least painful way possible.”

No, Mr. Friedman, what we need to do is stop spending more than the nation takes in by reducing spending, fixing the tax code, and reforming entitlement programs, but that is never part of the liberal agenda.

He called for a “‘radical center—one much more willing to suggest radically new ideas to raise revenues…the best place to start is with a carbon tax.”  This tax is based on the false assertion that greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, are causing global warming and/or climate change. It would raise the cost of the use of energy for everyone. It would raise revenue for “investment” in more failed solar energy companies and other crony capitalism that has become the hallmark of the Obama administration.

“A phased-in carbon tax of $20 to $25 a ton could raise around $1 trillion over ten years, as we each pay a few more dimes and quarters for every gallon of gasoline or hour of electricity.” This is easy to say if you are a highly paid Times columnist, author, and public speaker. It is also a formula for inflicting pain on an economy that is dependent for its growth on the use of energy; a nation in which its total recoverable oil, along with Mexico, exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels. That’s the equivalent, based on current use, of enough oil for the next 242 years.

He covered his proposal saying “Yes, a carbon tax is not painless. We would have to, and easily can, cushion the poor from its impact.” Nonsense! Even the poor must purchase gasoline and electricity. And the poor to whom he refers includes the millions of Americans who are unemployed because of Obama administration policies that restrict economy growth. Obama isn’t helping the poor; he is increasing their numbers and increasing more government spending and dependency with food stamps and comparable programs.

Obamacare is already causing companies and businesses to not hire and to put existing staff on a part-time basis. It is driving up the cost of health insurance premiums. It will cause hospitals to close and physicians to stop practicing.

This is typical of the pie-in-the-sky liberal answer to all problems; suck more money out of the pockets of Americans in the name of “infrastructure, preschool education, community colleges and research…” Preschool education is liberal code for earlier indoctrination of a new generation raised to believe that America is the cause of the terrorism directed against it.

His column was laudatory of President Obama and his recent budget proposal, the first since he took office in 2009, but America is suffering as the result of his policies and Friedman thinks he is the answer to our problems, not the cause.

How can a reporter look at Obama’s America where one out of every five families is on food stamps, the actual number of unemployed is estimated to be twenty million or more, and see a nation in need of MORE taxes? Little wonder one of his books is titled “The World is Flat.”

A reporter who spent years covering the war between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon and then later reported from an Israel under siege from the PLO, still cannot comprehend “whatever bigoted ideology” is killing Americans and others around the world and should not be writing columns giving out advice on raising our taxes in the name of an utterly deceitful, environmental attack on energy use.

To understand everything that is wrong with liberalism in America, by all means, read Thomas L. Friedman.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cartoon Round Up





Termites 101

By Alan Caruba

Since the late 1980s, I have received an education about various aspects of pest control as the public relations counselor to the New Jersey Pest Management Association. Most people are unaware of how much damage pests do—particularly the ones that invade a home and settle in to eat parts of it.

“It’s an annual ritual of spring,” says my friend Leonard Douglen, the Executive Director of the NJPMA. “Along with the warm weather, thousands of homeowners will discover that they have been playing host to colonies of termites.”

“In the springtime the most visible evidence of a termite infestation are the winged “elates”, those termites whose job it is to start new colonies. This mating flight of hundreds and, in some cases, thousands, usually lasts from three to five days.”

Here’s a quick guide to what to do if you discover winged swarmers, usually gathering around windows as sunlight streams in. It is a guaranteed sign that the structure has a termite colony.

Estimates of the nationwide cost of the damage termites do every year range between five and six billion dollars.

“By far the Subterranean termite species pose the greatest problem,” says Douglen, “because they are the most difficult to control and their nest may be below ground.” There are several species of termites throughout the nation. In addition, there are Carpenter ants which also cause comparable damage.

The most visible sign of an infestation are the mud tunnels termites build to access a structure, often against a foundation or pier post, and frequently visible in basement void areas under porches and other parts of the home.

Homeowners are advised to eliminate any water leaks in the roof and other areas, and have the system of gutters inspected to ensure they are keeping water away from wooden surfaces. Crawl spaces in attics or basements should be kept dry through ventilation or vapor barriers. “It is essential to eliminate all wood-to-soil contact,” says Douglen, “and to avoid having mulch against the structure.”

Based on normal feeding activity, it can take from three to eight years for a termite colony to do serious damage to any structure. Experts believe that, under ideal conditions, a termite colony of 60,000 workers will consume one foot of a 2-inch by 4-inch pine word in 118 to 157 days. Termites eat wood, flooring, sheetrock, wallpaper, plastics, paper products, and fabric made of plant fibers.

“One of the best investments homeowners can make,” says Douglen, “is an annual termite inspection by a certified, trained pest management technician to identify such potential points of infestation.” The bad news is that a colony of hundreds of thousands of termites may operate in different locations throughout a structure.

Douglen notes that people sometimes think the swarming termite alates, the winged reproductive class, are winged ants because “ants and termite swarmers not only look similar, but they come out at the same time, either to expand their colonies or to start a new satellite one.” The termite swarmer is drawn to any light source such as a window or where the sun is shining on a wall. The usually drop their wings. “A termite has a straight body compared to an ant which has a pinched waist. The termite’s antennae are straight while ants have an elbowed antennae.”

Douglen recommends gathering a few samples of the winged insects and seal them in a plastic envelope such as a sandwich bag. Then call a pest control firm. “They will send a technician who has been trained to identify various insect species.”

Pest control professionals recommend that you vacuum the uninvited winged invaders, but expect to have to repeat the process for several days. Mother Nature always deals in massive numbers.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Than a Decade Past 9/11 and the System Still Does Not Work



By Alan Caruba

It is axiomatic that we will never know how many terrorist plots against America our vast law enforcement and counterterrorism network of federal agencies have thwarted. We do know, however, about its latest failure, the brothers Tsarnaev.

We know, too, that political correctness allowed Nidal Hassan to serve in the U.S. Army until he killed thirteen victims at Fort Hood. We know of the Times Square bomber whose bomb failed to detonate as was the case with the Underwear bomber. Others have been arrested and convicted.

After 9/11 a commission recommended that U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies be permitted to communicate with one another, sharing information about people and plots. The result is huge lists of people suspected of potential terrorist intentions. The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) list is a data storehouse that feeds a series of government watch lists, including the FBI’s main Terrorist Screening Database and the Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly” list.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of names on these lists and nothing seems to trigger the process by which we can identify who among them will be the next bombers.

Meanwhile, in Congress, an effort is being made to pass another immigration bill that would add millions more to our population from among those who came here illegally, often for no more reason than a better life, but among them are surely those—Muslims—who may experience “sudden jihad syndrome”, self-radicalizing for the purpose of killing Americans. Others arrive here already radicalized with the same intent.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration and some in Congress are trying to pass new gun control laws that will make it more difficult for Americans to arm themselves for self-defense, hunting, and sport shooting. Americans are responding by buying weapons at a record pace. You can bet there wasn’t a household in Watertown, Massachusetts that didn’t want access to a gun while the search was on for the surviving bomber.

There are thousands employed by the federal agencies charged with protecting us and there are special anti-terrorism task forces in police departments in our major cities. They have a daunting task, but at the same time there are those in our State Department who are allowing anyone applying for visas to come here, to overstay, to become citizens, and to plot terrorist crimes against us. There is, in addition, a general failure to protect our borders, particularly our southern border.

And there is a “sequestration” that arbitrarily limits the budgets on which border control and other enforcement options depend. Instead of prioritizing our needs, Congress has made us more vulnerable. Instead of cutting billions in wasteful programs, Congress dithers.

Something is terribly wrong when Russian authorities can contact various elements of our government multiple times to warn about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, taking the warnings to the FBI and CIA without success.

As a FBI spokesman explained, “There was a concern he might have some kind of ties to terrorism. We did everything legally that we could do with the little bit of information we had. After we did, we found no derogatory information.” He came here from Chechnya, a hotbed of Islamic terrorism! The information the FBI could not find was available to anyone who accessed his Internet posts. Both he and his brother were on welfare so, in effect, we were paying for their lives here. Both were on watch lists.

Something is terribly wrong when we admit not only potential terrorists, but others who arrive without sufficient education or skills to contribute to the welfare of the nation, when colleges and universities cannot recruit potential terrorists fast enough to study here.

There is something terribly wrong when the first thing President Obama said of the Boston Marathon bombing was “not to jump to conclusions” and then took several days to finally utter the words “terrorism” and “terrorists” for the first time since he campaigned in 2008. You could count the number of people on one hand who didn’t immediately think of Islamic terrorism upon news of the bombings.

The threat of Islamic terrorism is not restricted to just our nation. It is worldwide and, in Europe, there are nations taking affirmative action to restrict Muslims from immigrating and passing laws regarding their behavior in their nations in recognition of the threat they pose. There is a “war on terrorism”, but it is more accurately a war being waged by Muslims against us and others.

In America, however, the government for the past four years has sought to eliminate any references to Islam and terrorism from its official documents and has instituted political correctness as a national policy. We have a CIA director who refers to terrorism as a “tactic”, not a strategic threat.

We have a President whose father was a Muslim and who lived in Indonesia as the adopted son of a Muslim. His outreach to Muslims has been a failure. His foreign policies have seen the spread of Islamic radicalism. His response to the Benghazi attack was a fabric of lies.

A person of interest, a Saudi, Abdul Rahman Alharbi,  picked up immediately after the bombing, was on a watch list and yet he was almost instantly deported so that no intelligence could be secured from him. The State Department process by which Saudis can secure a visa to the U.S. has recently been streamlined.

The obvious conclusion is that our system for identifying and dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorists is so huge that even the agencies charged with addressing it are unable to “connect the dots” and there is little desire to deport those who should not have been allowed entry.

There are steps that could be taken, but the sheer weight of bureaucracy and administration policies is making taking those steps impossible. The current system is not working. The endless blather about “diversity” threatens the nation’s security.

Mere steps from where the former World Trade Center existed, Muslims are seeking to build a mosque. Al Gore has sold his television channel to Al Jazeera. There are school books and teachers in our schools that blame America for the hatred directed against the nation. The Transportation Safety Agency is contemplating letting people bring knives onboard planes.

The system is not working.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The EPA Snake Pit

By Alan Caruba

Under President Obama, two women have been the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner, who served in the Clinton administration and was one of the "czars" Obama appointed; her acolyte Lisa Jackson, and up for the post is Gina McCarthy. Browner and Jackson went out of their way to conceal their internal communications from Congress and McCarthy lied to the committee considering her nomination.

How bad is the EPA? The Society of Environmental Journalists, on the occasion of the April 11 hearing on McCarthy’s nomination, released a statement that said, “The Obama administration has been anything but transparent in its dealings with reporters seeking information, interviews and clarification on a host of environmental, health and public lands issues.” The SEJ accused the EPA of being “one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press.”

Apparently, the primary consideration for the job of EPA Director is an intense desire to destroy the use of hydrocarbons, oil, coal and natural gas, for transportation and all other forms of energy on which our economy depends. Obama, when campaigning in 2008, made it clear he wanted end the use of coal to generate electricity. At the time, fifty percent of all electricity was produced by coal and now that figure is in decline as coal-fired plants are being forced to close thanks to EPA regulations.

If Ms. McCarthy has her way, the cost of driving cars and trucks will go up in the name of protecting the health of Americans. As Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, recently noted, “Since 1970, America’s cars have eliminated 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes.” Joel Schwartz, co-author of “Air Quality in America”, points out, “Today’s cars are essentially zero-emission vehicles, compared to 1970 models.” The EPA’s latest attack on drivers is the implementation of “Tier 3 rules” intended to reduce sulfur levels to achieve zero air quality or health benefits.

Suffice to say that the air and water in America is clean, very clean. Whatever health hazards existed in the 1970s no longer exist. Like all bureaucracies, the EPA now exists to expand its budget and its control over our lives. The Heritage Foundation has calculated that Obama’s EPA’s twenty “major” regulations—those that cost $100 million or more annually—could cost the U.S. more than $36 billion per year. Obama’s EPA has generated 1,920 new regulations.

Don’t think of the EPA as a government agency. It is a weapon of economic destruction.

This has not gone unnoticed. A recent Wall Street Journal opinion by John Barrasso, a Republican Senator from Wyoming, noted that “During President Obama’s first term, EPA policies discouraged energy exploration, buried job creators under red tape, and deliberately hid information from the public.”

“Many EPA regulations,” said Sen. Barrasso, “chased microscopic benefits at maximum cost,” noting for example that “The EPA has proposed dropping the acceptable amount of ozone in the air from the 75 parts per billion allowed today to 60 or 70 parts per billion. The agency concedes that the rule would have a minimal effect on American’s health, but says it would cost as much as $90 billion a year. A study by the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation estimated it would eliminate up to 7.3 million jobs in a wide variety of industries, including refining.”

The other sector in the EPA’s bull’s eye is agriculture. Not content with laying siege to auto manufacturers, oil refineries, coal-fired plants, and all other energy users that might generate carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, Barrasso noted that the EPA “has gathered personal information about tens of thousands of livestock farmers and the locations of their operations” which it then shared with environmental groups.

Writing in The Daily Caller, Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist and currently the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, characterized the EPA as “a miasma populated by the most radical, disaffected and anti-industry discards from other agencies,” adding that there was “entrenched institutional paranoia and an oppositional world view.” 

“Unscientific policies and regulatory grandiosity and excess,” wrote Dr. Miller, “are not EPA’s only failings; neglecting to weigh costs and benefits is shockingly common, noting that “The EPA’s repeated failures should not come as a surprise because the agency has long been a haven for scientifically insupportable policies perpetrated by anti-technology ideologues.”

Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writing in Forbes magazine, pointed out Gina McCarthy, the nominee to direct the EPA, “has a history of misleading Congress and the public about her agency’s greenhouse gas regulations. “At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October 2011, McCarthy denied motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards are “related to” fuel economy standards. In doing so,” said Lewis, “she denied plain facts she must know to be true. She did so under oath.”

“The EPA has no statutory authority to regulate fuel economy. More importantly, the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations ‘related to’ fuel economy.”

The point of this exercise is demonstrate that the EPA is the very definition of a “rogue agency” for which neither laws, nor science, are of any consequence as it pursues policies that do incalculable harm at a time when the nation is deep in debt and in need of economic growth, not regulatory strangulation.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

We're Doing Something Wrong


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spineless Americans Accept Airline Delays

By Alan Caruba

Why is it that everything that has Obama’s fingerprints on it has an expensive and idiotic component to it? The latest are the airline delays, but spineless Americans simply wait around as delayed flights steal their time and productivity, and harm the economy.

Sequestration was Obama’s idea, a device to force a bi-partisan congressional committee to accept budget cuts based on the Simpson-Bowes Commission’s recommendations. The committee failed thanks to the political gridlock in Washington. We are afflicted by 100 Senators and 435 Representatives who are incapable of applying common sense and fiscal solutions to an economy whose problems can too often be traced back to existing government programs.

The problem is too much spending. The problem is too much waste. The problem is the mismanagement of government agencies. The problem is huge entitlement programs in need of reform. The problem is an entrenched bureaucracy. The problem is a failure of oversight by Congress.

The sequestration cuts mean that the Federal Aviation Administration’s 47,000 employees now face a day of furlough per two-week period, meaning that on average there are 10% fewer workers on any given day. There are 14,750 air traffic controllers, including trainees. Do Americans really want to travel under such conditions? No, but there has been no vocal outrage, no demands to restore the FAA budget to avoid needless delays? And no demand for stronger congressional oversight of how it spends its public funding.

Starting Monday flights were delayed an average of up to two hours or more across the nation, the first weekday in which airlines labored under the air controller cuts. The New York Times reported that “airline executives were furious over how the aviation agency was seeking to impose the maximum possible pain for passengers to make a political point. The airlines had hoped that Congress would intervene and restore some of the financing, but so far lawmakers had not acted to help the FAA”

The delays are political. Sequestration is political. The failure of the President and Congress is political.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said last week that the FAA “has made zero effort” to avoid the furloughs. “The FAA’s decision is a dangerous political stunt that could jeopardize the safety and security of air travelers.”

In March The Wall Street Journal reported that “The sequestration requires the FAA to cut $637 million or 5% of the $12.5 billion of its annual budget that is not exempt. Because the cuts have to be made by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, instead of over the whole year, they are closer to 10%.”

The delays suffered by the traveling public are the most obvious problem, but it is much larger. A study released by the Aerospace Industries Association and Econsult Corporation estimates that FAA budget cuts could cost up to 132,000 aviation jobs, sap $80 billion a year annually by 2035 from the nation’s gross domestic product, cause an annual decrease of 37 to 73 million enplanements, and strip almost two billion pounds of freight capacity out of an air cargo system that is already bulking at the seams.

The study forecast losses in output to the U.S. economy to reach $9.2 to $18.4 billion, with $2.7 to $5.4 billion lost in wages and salaries.

A former Secretary of Transportation and Congressman, Norman Mineta, said “The FAA is a critical safety organization that regulates our national air transportation system. Putting it at risk is folly beyond comparison.”

While the President flies around the nation on Airforce One, attending events resulting from the Boston bombings, the West, Texas explosion, going to fundraising events (next one on Thursday), and on vacations, he has taken scant notice of the impact of sequestration on air travel and has had little, if anything, to say about it.

He will, however, as we close in on the 2014 midterm elections, blame everything on the Republicans because that’s what he’s good at, blaming others.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Talk of Impeachment is just that--Talk

By Alan Caruba

Only two Presidents have faced impeachment. One was Andrew Johnson in 1868 and the impeachment was defeated by one vote. Cited for violating the Tenure of Office Act, it was later found unconstitutional. The other was Bill Clinton in 1998, charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, the Senate voted against impeachment on either charge.

In retrospect, if Clinton had been removed from office, the nation would have had Al Gore replace him. I have often wondered if the Senators at that time had that in mind in giving Clinton a pass. Fast forward to today and the removal of Obama would leave us with Biden.

In the wake of the Watergate Scandal Richard Nixon resigned from office rather than face impeachment. His Attorney General went to jail along with others involved, but Nixon skated. He would be pardoned by President Gerald Ford.

There has always been talk of impeachment of presidents and other federal officers by those who believe they have grounds to bring such action in the House. It is rare, however. The House has initiated proceedings only 64 times since 1789 and only 19 resulted in Articles of Impeachment that were then submitted to the Senate for a vote.

President Obama has generated a lot of talk of impeachment, but it is my view that impeachment is such an inherently political act, that few in Congress have wanted to grapple with the indictments. Impeachment is a politically radioactive option spelled out in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, citing “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” as cause.

In January Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) said he would initiate impeachment proceedings against President Obama if he should implement new gun regulations via executive orders or actions. Speaking to Fox News in January, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, said “If he tried to override the Second Amendment in any way, I believe it would be an impeachable offense.”

The political reality of our present times is that the Senate is controlled by Democrats and they are unlikely to vote to convict President Obama. Should power in the Senate shift to Republicans in 2014 and should they retain power in the House, Obama would face the possibility of impeachment, but one suspects both houses of Congress at that point would want to concentrate on repealing Obamacare and reducing the nation’s growing debt.

A lengthy article, “The Growing Case for Impeachment of Obama”, posted on World Net Daily on February 10, called on the legal expertise of several scholars and, in general, they found grounds for impeachment in only a few instances.

Among the grounds cited was the White House cover-up of Operation Fast & Furious, an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms program that managed to lose approximately 2,000 weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border, presumably to drug lords, and tied to the deaths of as many as a hundred people, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Congress eventually held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, but a U.S. attorney ignored Congress and did not bring charges against Holder. Despite invoking executive privilege, President Obama would not likely be impeached.

Sen. Rand Paul made some history with his filibuster concerning whether the President has the right to use drones to kill anyone deemed a terrorist on U.S. territory. He has already used drones in other nations to kill al Qaeda leaders, including a U.S. citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in September 2011. The White House issued a “white paper” justifying the use of drones and Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano said it was so vague that it could be cited should Obama take such action in the U.S.  One of the WND legal scholars, Bruce Fein, argued that the killings were “tantamount to murder.” Fein said, “You can’t have a democracy and the rule of law if you never get to know what the facts are and you just have to accept what the government says there are.”

What Obama and earlier Presidents have learned is that Congress has always preferred to delegate decisions to the chief executive or let government agencies write any regulations they want rather than exercise strong oversight. This is a serious breach of its constitutional duty.

Among the other actions by Obama cited as grounds for impeachment are his appointment of “czars” to advise him, none of whom were subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. He ran afoul of Congress when he made recess appointments to the consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board. Subsequently, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the NLRB appointments violated the Constitution because the Senate was, in fact, in session. The appointments remain intact, sinking into the morass of Congressional indifference.

Suing Arizona for enforcing federal law with one of its own, issuing an executive order illegal-alien amnesty for those brought here by their parents, refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and, most potently, conducting war against Libya without consulting Congress. The cover-up of the Benghazi attack with its subsequent lies would seem grounds, but here again those in Congress trying to secure information about it have been largely stonewalled.

Steven Goddard, whose Real Science blog is must reading, recently noted “a few things Obama forgot to mention before the election”

# He didn’t plan to balance the budget.

# He planned to kill Americans on US soil without trial.

# He planned to trash the Bill of Rights.

# He planned to confiscate American guns.

# His primary goal for the next two years as to trash Republicans ahead of the 2014 elections.

# He planned to ban coal.

# He planned to personally control the climate.

# He planned to do everything by executive order and bypass the Congress.

A weak or indifferent Congress, aided by a compliant press, has surely led Obama to believe that he can get away with infractions of the Constitution and to conclude, at least until the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, that he can get away with it.

Impeachment? Not likely.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Hypocrisy

 
 
Obama is rapidly reaching the limits of hypocrisy.
Soon enough no one will believe anything he says.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Media Overkill and Official Obfuscation



By Alan Caruba

The Boston Marathon bombing was, by any measure, a major news story. It occurred on Monday, April 15. In the days that followed, Americans were surely interested in the effort to find and arrest the two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsaraev, identified as the perpetrators.

With specific regard to television news coverage, why that involved preempting all other news as well as scheduled broadcasting on the major networks, defies the imagination. Even the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion got short shrift. Compounding the 24/7 coverage was the fact that so little was known during most of the week. Reporters began to sound like they were lobotomized.  

I knew within moments after the identification of the Tsaraev brothers as immigrants from Chechnya that they were Muslims. I not only didn’t need an expert to tell me that, but as the week continued, the real mystery is why news reporters and anchors were so silent on this obvious fact. Chechens have a long history in the intelligence community as being among the leading volunteers wherever al Qaeda is engaged in terrorism or warfare.

At one point it was reported that “a foreign nation” had aided the U.S. with regard to information about the brothers, but it was pointedly left unidentified. It was, of course, Russia, that not only fought a war in Chechnya but was the victim of some vicious terrorist acts. It has since been reported that Russian counterintelligence had alerted our authorities about Tamerlan some two years ago!

It came out that Boston has a large Chechen community and, given their recent history in Russia, one really has to wonder what geniuses at the U.S. State Department thought it was a good idea to let them in. We are still giving out student visas like candy bars. Is there no place else they can get a higher education? The entry process for Saudis virtually comes complete with a limo to pick them up at the airport.

All this points to a lethal “political correctness” in the press and by the Obama administration that continues to obfuscate the fact that the terrorists, whether lone wolves or in cells, have been almost universally Muslims engaged in an Islamic jihad; one that has been going on since the seventh century.

In the weeks to come it would be a good time to do some reporting on the Muslim-American organizations that often appear to be little more than a protective veneer for the threats that have been around since the 1990s when the initial attack on the World Trade Center occurred. How many of these organizations are little more than a means to collect funds to be sent to jihadists? Why don’t we know more about them?

Indeed, how many mosques are hotbeds of potential terrorism protected as places of worship? Were it not for the cooperation provided by courageous, patriotic Muslims infiltrating and reporting back to law enforcement authorities, we might not be able to anticipate the next attacks.

The President’s warnings that we “not jump to conclusions” did not help anyone come to grips with the latest example of Islamic insanity and it would be well to remember that, even after 9/11, George W. Bush made a real effort, if not to exonerate Muslims in the U.S., at least to ensure they did not suffer collective blame. In the years since, there have been less than a handful of incidents directed against U.S. Muslims. This is, after all, America and we don’t engage in such behavior.

Concluding that the Boston Marathon bombings were the acts of jihadists was hardly a big jump. Contrast this with the deliberate agenda of the Obama administration to eliminate any mention of Islamic terrorism from all aspects of official statements and to install it as a domestic policy to the point where an obviously deranged U.S. Major Nidal Hasan was not cashiered out of the Army before the Fort Hood murders. He has yet to have been brought to trial as the lawyers continue to delay the process.

One thing came out of the news coverage and that was the sophistication and cooperation of our law enforcement agencies from the federal to the local level. It was very impressive and praiseworthy.

On June 16, 2011, I wrote a commentary, “The Terrorist Next Door”, based on a book by Fox News reporter, Catherine Herridge, titled “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits.” 

I wrote: “These days the National Counterterrorism Center must process a daily volume of information ‘between eight thousand and ten thousand reports.’ The threat made ‘sharing data a matter of survival,’ says Herridge. They include ‘at least forty threats and distinct plots.’ Perhaps the worst part of what an army of intelligence analysts determined was that the jihad and the terrorist’s mind set was that “it’s not a generational issue, it’s a forever issue.”

I am inclined to think that America will see an uptick in the number of attacks on “soft targets” by terrorists like the Tsaraev brothers. I also expect the bulk of the mainstream media to ignore or soft peddle the Muslim connection and try to portray the brothers as misguided youths.

After four years of President Obama’s apologies to Muslims in the Middle East and everywhere else, his fumbling of the “Arab Spring” which saw the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt and, of course, the lies surrounding the Benghazi attack, our enemies have drawn their own conclusions about the weakness at the very top of our government.

How na├»ve were Americans to vote—twice—for Barack Hussein Obama?

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Coincidence?

 
 
I don't think it is a coincidence that Earth Day annually falls on the anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's birthday. Do you?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Earth Day's Big Lie


By Alan Caruba

Monday, April 22, is Earth Day. Begun in 1970, it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. It is the global platform for the Big Lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing the Earth to warm and the basis of the environmental movement’s ceaseless efforts to reduce the use of energy for any reason.

Carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has been increasing, but the Earth has been cooling due to reduced solar radiation. CO2 has virtually no relationship to the climate except to show up well after a significant change has occurred.

On April 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that the International Energy Agency had announced that, despite spending “more than $2 trillion in investment into renewable-energy projects…the world had made almost no progress over the past 20 years in reducing the carbon content of its energy supplies.” It has never needed reduction. How many hospitals, schools, bridges, and other useful things that could have been built instead?

According to Wikipedia: “Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. It is present in all known life forms, and in the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen.] This abundance, together with the unique diversity of organic compounds and their unusual polymer-forming ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, make this element the chemical basis of all known life.” (Emphasis added)

Not one single piece of vegetation can exist without CO2. Without vegetation all animals and all humans would die. The Earth would look like Mars. One of the pillars of environmentalism is that humans are the greatest threat to the existence of the 4.5 billion-year-old Earth. The essence of Earth Day is that you are the enemy, primarily for your use of energy (coal, oil, and natural gas).

A global propaganda campaign will glorify Earth Day and its message is that you must change your life to accommodate the lies that sustain the environmental movement and permit government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency to strangle the economic life of the nation.

On Earth day there will be thousands of events to promote its anti-energy, anti-technology, and anti-humanity message.

There are thousands, of environmental organizations. Here, for example, are some Earth Day recommendations from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 # Wash clothing in cold water. According to the NRDC, “this saves a great deal of money as the bulk of the energy tied to clothes washing is used to heat water.”

 # Cut clothes dryer energy by 20 to 40 percent. “It is more efficient to spin water out of clothing than bake it out in the dryer.”

 # Select the ‘normal’ or ‘standard’ picture setting on your TV.

 An environmental group called the Food Tank recommends the following:

 # “Get in touch with agriculture. “This time of year, many people are starting to plan vacations.” Forget Disney Land; instead choose a “farm-stay” in which participants spend a few days or weeks living with a host family…helping around the farm in exchange for free food and lodging.”

 # “Buy food with less packaging.” This ignores the fact that modern packaging ensures the safety of the foods you purchase. Even ancient civilizations either burned refuse or created landfills.

 # Do-it-Yourself projects such as “turning old t-shirts into produce bags to save plastic, starting seeds in eggshells…”

Behind the many Earth Day suggestions is the environmentalists’ insistence on a general return to an era when household tasks were undertaken without machines that used electricity, before the ubiquitous benefits of plastic, and less cars were on the roads. In the 1940s my late mother had to wash clothes by hand and hang them in the back yard or basement to dry. Food was kept cool in an ice box before the invention of refrigerators. This is Earth Day’s idea of saving the Earth.

Everyone wants clean air and clean water. We have it. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of the 1970s have achieved their goals. Substituting “clean energy” such as solar and wind power has proven to be expensive and impractical as neither of these produce sufficient energy (about 3% at present) to power America. Taxpayers have lost billions in the government loans made to solar and wind power companies while traditional sources of power contribute billions to the economy.

The Earth is not endangered, nor should it be worshipped as a pagan religion.

Behind environmentalism is panoply of schemes intended to enrich those who advocate “global warming” and/or “climate change.” Governments around the world are abandoning “clean energy” programs and returning to traditional and abundant forms of energy.

The “science” behind climate change and the claim of a “consensus” among the world’s scientists is a lie. Computer models have been rigged to produce “warming” data while the planet has been in a natural cooling cycle for the last seventeen years!

On Earth Day, you will be assailed by these and countless other claims, but you will do yourself and the Earth a big favor if you ignore them.

© Alan Caruba, 2013