Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fearing the Success of Religion

By Alan Caruba

I know any number of atheists and they are generally cheerful, law-abiding, moral people. The ones I know don’t go around demanding that symbols and acts of religious devotion by others be restricted.

I like the atheists I know even if they don’t believe in God or identify themselves as Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, or any other faith group. It’s their choice. The more militant atheists, however, should let others make their choices, too. They should be able to get through a brief, public moment of prayer without being upset about it.

Atheists sometimes refer to the “wall” between state and church, but that is not in the Constitution. There is, however, a restriction on the “establishment of (a state) religion.” The Founders were all religious to a greater or lesser respect. Abraham Baldwin, a delegate from Georgia was an ordained minister. They started each session with a prayer.

George Washington expressed the view of the delegates when he said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Thomas Jefferson, who is often quoted for his statement in a letter about the need for a wall between state and church, said “A studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”

In any group of people there are those zealots who are not content to hold their own beliefs, but insist that they be imposed on all others. This is true of the “secular humanists”, a term atheists use to describe themselves. In the June/July issue of Free Inquiry, a publication for atheists, the editor of the magazine, Thomas W. Flynn, asks “Is Religion Dying?”

Flynn began his editorial noting the vast media attention paid to the recent selection of a new Pope after the former one resigned. “For the span of one long month, the world’s biggest news story was that an institution that styles itself as the representative on Earth of a deity who does not exist would name a new leader.” Flynn described himself as an “old-time atheist…who began his childhood in the uber-traditional, pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church.”

Flynn addressed the younger generation saying, “just because you have been lucky enough not to experience religion at its worst, don’t be too quick to decide that this wolf has no teeth.”

Suffice to say that the Catholic Church has over a billion faithful worldwide and that would be sufficient reason for the media to pay attention to the election of a new Pope, but Flynn makes no mention of Islam, a religion of comparable size that has been in the news for the killing of “infidels” (unbelievers) for several decades (if not centuries). It seems like hardly a day goes by when Muslims are not killing infidels in England, France, Sweden, and, of course, most recently in Boston. In Iraq and Syria, they are killing each other.

He described the major religions, which would include Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, saying, “most of the world’s existing creeds are in varying measures ahistorical, reactionary, authoritarian, misogynistic, and repressive—nonetheless, religion and religious institutions are hugely influential, in culture and (unfortunately) politics as much as they are in the domain of faith.”

Suffice to say, Flynn has a deep distrust of religion no matter what form it takes, but it has surely played a major role throughout the history of civilization for good or ill. He acknowledged that “Religion still matters.”

Flynn worried that “memes newly afoot in our movement—some concerning younger nonbelievers, others circulating principally among them—suggest that traditional free-thinker attitudes of vigilance toward religion may be losing relevance. Advocates note that in recent surveys 20 percent of American adults now disdain any religious identification; among the eighteen to twenty-five set, more than a third do so.” Memes are defined as "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."

“Do the math,” said Flynn. “If 20 percent of adults have no religious identity, that means 80 percent still do. If a third of the young are not religious, that means two-thirds of the young still are. Religious believers are very much in the majority, and they are still enormously powerful.”

So, Flynn answers his question, “Is religion dying?” and the answer is no.

Its return to Russia after decades of Communist repression speaks to that. Its growing strength in China worries its Communist leaders. The spread of the Catholic and Protestant faiths in Africa is a real phenomenon. The Islamist attacks on Copts, an ancient Christian faith in Egypt is just one example of the way Christians throughout the Middle East are being killed and forced to flee.

Flynn addressed younger atheists saying the “religious majority still is both pretty devoutly religious and in the majority. Recognize that within it, a still-vital religious Right continues scrabbling to hang onto power—and in some areas is continuing to expand. America’s more conservative churches are home to millions of believers who think we’re all going to hell and don’t think God will mind if they figure out new ways to curtail our civil liberties.”

I see little evidence—none in fact—that the Religious Right wants to curtail civil liberties; that’s what the Left does. Most certainly they were not the ones that militantly opposed a moment of prayer in schools to begin the day or oppose symbols of Christian faith in the public square. Many people of faith remain opposed to abortion that, since 1973, has killed more than an estimated 54 million unborn and some that were born. Humanists have a strange way of showing their regard for fellow humans.

In America Flynn is free to hold and publish his opinion, one that includes his own admission that religion is alive and well in America.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May is $10 Month

A word of thanks to the many visitors to Warning Signs who demonstrated their support for my commentaries. May has been designated $10.00 Month to encourage a small donation, although there's a special tip of the hat to one reader who celebrated his 88th birthday with a donation of a dollar for every year of his life!

If you have been thinking about making a donation, finish up May with one of $10.00 or more.

Alan C.

Too Pooped to March?

March 2009 Anti-Obamacare Protest
By Alan Caruba

There have been twenty-seven marches in Washington, D.C. since President Obama took office in 2009. The most recent was on February 13 called “Forward on Climate” in which an estimated 40,000 people demanded action on “climate change” and was largely devoted to protesting the expansion of the Keystone pipeline.

The weather that day was brutally cold and it probably did not occur to participants that humans can do nothing about the climate or that they used lot of gasoline, an oil derivative, to get to and from the march.

The only march in which I participated was the Vietnam Moratorium march on November 15, 1969. It drew 600,000 people and there were comparable marches around the nation that day in which some two million participated. It was a very unpopular war, having been vastly expanded under President Johnson and continued into the Nixon years. There were a dozen major marches opposing it, starting in 1965 and lasting until 1974 when an estimated ten thousand people rallied for the impeachment of Nixon. The war ended in 1975.

Between 1950 and 1999, there were forty-five marches that merited being cited as being of some significance. The most famous was the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a civil rights march during which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I have a dream” speech. An estimated 250,000 participated. It had been preceded in 1957 by the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom during which Dr. King demanded “Give us the ballot.”

Other marches over the nearly fifty-year period were devoted to demands for women’s rights, a pro-life march, and gay and lesbian rights.

Between 2000 and 2009 there were nearly forty marches, quite a few of which were anti-war marches protesting the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In March 2009, the largest march ever staged by fiscal conservatives as a protest against high taxes and big government—the proposed Obamacare legislation—was held, estimated to have drawn between 600,000 and 800,000 participants, though others put the figure at a million or more. It was notable for the way the mainstream media largely ignored it, though it was broadcast on C-SPAN.  Its sponsors included the 9-13 Project, Freedom Works, the National Taxpayers Union, The Heartland Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, Tea Party Patriots, and ResistNet. It was also one of the most orderly and peaceful such rallies, and by far the largest since the days of the Vietnam War protests.

From 2010 to the present, one of the marches was the absurdist Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear held by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of the Comedy Channel. It drew an estimated 200,000 people, mostly young, mostly just happy to have something about which to march. In 2011 there was a Right2Know March for Genetically Engineered Foods demanding that GMO foods be reported on the label. In November, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators marched in Washington and New York against the extension of tax cuts, claiming they benefitted the rich.

2012 was a low point for marches on Washington, D.C., with only four. They were largely ignored by the mainstream media; one called for the closing of Guantanamo and another for continued funding for Public Broadcast.

The lack of marches of any consequence, with the exception of the March 2009 event protesting Obamacare begs the question of why such events have been so few. The answer may lie in the way the Internet’s social media permits people to rally electronically instead of physically showing up in the nation’s capital. It may also speak to the mood of the nation, both on the Left and Right, which reflects its depressed economic conditions of high unemployment, and the lack of an issue to mobilize people.

That could change. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq plays to a war-weary public, the frequent cause for marches during the Vietnam War years. The gathering storm of Obama administration scandals, however, could mobilize public protests.

Will we see another big march in Washington, D.C. this year and the remaining years of President Obama’s second term? Stay tuned.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Abortion, Money, and Free Speech

By Alan Caruba

The conclusion of the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, convicted of first-degree murder in the killings of aborted babies and involuntary manslaughter in the drug-overdose death of a patient, ignited a renewed national discussion of abortion in America. The discussion has not been aided by the mainstream media that, for the most part, ignored the trial.

According to a report in a British newspaper, a Houston doctor, Douglas Karpen, has been accused by four former employees of delivering live babies during third-trimester abortions and killing them by either snipping their spinal cords, stabbing them in the head with a surgical instrument, or twisting their heads off with his hands. The accusations are being investigated by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1973, known as Roe v. Wade, ran counter to the widespread belief that abortion, except in the case of saving the mother’s life or as the result of rape and incest, should not be permitted. The Court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment included her decision to have an abortion. The right to an abortion, however, did not extend to what the Court deemed “viability”, the ability of the baby to live outside the mother’s womb. The seventh month, 28 weeks, was cited, though the Court noted it could occur at 24 weeks.

Pro-life advocates believe that a fetus is a human being at the moment of conception. Modern technology has confirmed that a fully formed fetus is indeed a human being in every way short of the birth process.

It has been just over forty years since the Court’s decision. In 2012 The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) released a report that estimated the number of abortions at 54,559,615 based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. According to the CDC, in 2010 there were 3,999,386 births in the U.S., a rate of 13 per 1,000 of the population. Of these, 40.8% were born to unwed women.

No matter how you look at such statistics that is a lot of dead babies and it can be argued that a society that permits what amounts to mass murder has lost its moral bearings. A society in which many babies are born to single mothers is inviting a raft of social problems. I didn’t give much thought to the Supreme Court decision in 1973 and, in retrospect, I should have.

It is instructive that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg spoke at the University of Chicago Law School on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in early May and had some strong reservations about the decision that occurred before she became a member of the Court. “The court made a decision that made every abortion law in the country invalid, even the most liberal. We’ll never know whether I am right or wrong…things might have turned out differently if the court had been more restrained.”

The fact that there still remains active opposition to abortion is a tribute to those who still believe that morality is important, that issues regarding the sanctity of life count for something. There are, however, those for whom this and other issues, the right to express one’s views, and the ability to fund the sharing of those views, must be oppressed.

The Catholic Church in America comes to mind for its steadfast opposition to abortion. For others there is the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). I recently received a copy of a letter the NRLC sent to U.S. Senators regarding the “Follow the Money Act of 2013” (S.791).

The issue, however, was not about abortion per se, but the ability of the NRLC to raise funds for the advocacy of its views. I was astounded to learn that, in the wake of revelations about the way the Internal Revenue Service has been used to thwart organizations that include the Tea Party movement, others self-identifying as “patriots”, and still others who engaged in educating people about the Constitution, from receiving a tax exempt status that would aid their ability to raise funds to advance their views.

Even the Supreme Court has ruled that money is, in many ways, the equivalent of free speech.

The NRLC letter was signed by David N. O’Steen, PhD, its Executive Director and Douglas Johnson, its Legislative Director.

“The ‘Follow the Money Act’ would be better titled the ‘IRS Political Speech Overseer Act of 2013.’ The bill is a 47-page compendium of devices for government intimidation of nonprofit advocacy organizations that communicate with the public about federal public policy issues, and about the positions and votes of those who make our laws. The bill would make the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Secretary of the Treasury (a political appointee), into overseers of an ever-expanding maze of restrictions on independent speech about legislative and political matters, and into executioners for nonprofit groups that offend the powers-that-be.”
The sponsors of S. 791 are Senators Wyden (D-Oregon) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) and the bill was introduced on April 23 before the IRS scandal broke into the news.
Citing an analysus of the bill by the Center for Competitive Politics, the letter quoted it, noting that  “The bill would radically expand the reach of government regulation on speech critical of elected officials and force many, if not nearly all, advocacy groups to register and file burdensome reports with the federal government. The registration and reporting scheme also includes the threat of stiff tax penalties on groups and individuals, along with an organizational death sentence that could be imposed by the IRS for errors. If enacted, this bill would dragoon the IRS into a role as political campaign enforcer, a role the IRS is ill-equipped for and does not want. . . .”

The bill defines “Independent Federal Election-Related Activity (IFERA) to include: “any expenditure that...considering the facts and circumstances, a reasonable person would conclude is made solely or substantially for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence the nomination or election of any individual to any Federal office (including an expenditure for a public communication that promotes, attacks, supports, or opposes a candidate)…” (Emphasis added)

Influencing who gets nominated or elected in America is a very good definition of the democratic process and the right of any citizen to participate in that vital outcome. It is the essence of free speech.

Forgive the pun, but S.791 is an abortion. It is a bill that would throttle public advocacy and the blunt instrument it would use to do so is the Internal Revenue Service, the same government agency that is now in charge of administering Obamacare.

The enemies of free speech are numerous and we are already witness to the way the Obama administration is seeking ways to throttle it in America. The Follow the Money Act must be defeated or your voice and your vote will be silenced and neutered.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

The World a Century Ago: 1913-2013

By Alan Caruba

At some point I suppose we all wonder what it must have been like to live a century ago. Just how different was it? In this new millennium can we rightly claim to be more enlightened, more sophisticated? Do we have wiser leaders in America and around the world? Are we more secure? As in 1913, the answer to these and other questions is no.

The historian, Charles Emmerson, undertook to examine all aspects of life around the world in 1913 and the result is his new book, “1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War” ($30.00, Public Affairs). If you like reading history, you will love reading this book. If you want to know what your grandparent’s world was like, you should read this book.

On a personal note, my Father was a lad of 12 that year and my Mother was a girl of 10. Both were first generation Americans thanks to the decision of their parents to leave the Old World of Italy and Russia. Their parents were not alone, hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the same decision, some fleeing persecution, others seeking opportunity in America. In my office my maternal grandfather’s certificate of citizenship hangs near my desk.  It is dated 1909.

Emmerson was born in Australia and grew up in London, graduating top in his class from Oxford University. He is currently a senior research fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs.

In 1913 America was a dynamic nation that had stretched its borders from coast to coast. To the north and south our borders had been determined and among the great riches beneath our soil were coal and oil. Above, it was agriculture. It was, however, to Europe that Americans still looked for innovations in fashion and the arts. Europe was a major trading power and home to the great empires, the colonies of Great Britain, France, and Germany.

“To be a European…was to inhabit the highest stage of human development,” says Emmerson. “Past civilizations might have built great cities, invented algebra or discovered gunpowder, but none could compare to the material and technological culture to which Europe had given rise, made manifest in the continent’s unprecedented wealth and power. Empire was this culture’s supreme product, both an expression of its irresistible superiority and an organizational principle for the world’s improvement.”

Herein is a note of warning to America in 2013. Few anticipated World War I in 1913, but “The world went to war in 1914. The hopes and dreams of a generation were ground into dust by the pounding of artillery shells. Families were ripped apart. Humanity looked into the abyss and, peering into the depths, found its own dark, disfigured reflection staring back.”

America emerged from World War I a global power (along with Japan). The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires that existed in 1913 would end.

Emmerson described the world in 1913 as one “a world of order and security, a world unknowingly on the brink of the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

He ends his book saying “it provides us with an opportunity to consider our own times in fresh perspective, to take stock of our past and consider our future, not as a foregone conclusion, not as a pre-determined course of events, but as a future we have yet to build.”

In the last century, the primary threats were fascism and communism. Communism would take control of Russia in 1917 and a “Cold War” with the U.S. and Europe would ensue from 1945 to 1991 until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Europe and America have not learned from the failure of communism as an economic system. These days, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid currently represent 62% of the FY 2012 budget. Obamacare will vastly expand the size and role of the U.S. government.  By contrast, China which embraced Communism in 1949 would retain it as a form of government, but reject it as an economic system.

Today the primary threat is a resurgent, radical Islam. The prospect of nuclear arms being used gives this a dimension unknown in history.

Decisions to downsize the U.S. military and withdraw it from forward bases will likely exact a high price. The refusal to even name the enemy will not make it go away.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Obama Runs Away from the War on Terrorism

By Alan Caruba

“You may not be interested in war, but war may be interested in you.” -- Leon Trotsky

If you think about the presidents who we remember and honor the most, it is those who faced war and rallied the nation to victory. Our first president, George Washington, sustained the Revolutionary War for eight long years against daunting odds, including a Continental Congress that often provided little support for the men under his command that were fighting to create a new, free nation.

Washington’s reputation in war and peace is the reason that the Constitution designates the President as Commander-in-Chief. He was so highly regarded for his conduct of the Revolution that the Founders concluded that future presidents had to be free to wage war, but only after Congress declared that a state of war existed.

America, however, has not formally passed a declaration of war since WWII and then because it had been declared against us first. Since then wars have often been fought under the sanction given by the United Nations as was the case in the Korean conflict and the two Gulf wars, an erosion of our national sovereignty.

Lincoln is revered for having preserved the Union during the bloodiest conflict this nation ever fought. Franklin D. Roosevelt earned his place in our history for mobilizing the nation prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, assisting Great Britain prior to entering the World War II, and then pursuing an aggressive policy to defeat the Axis nations.

Quite a few of our presidents gained fame in various conflicts, from Washington to Grant to Eisenhower. Other presidents presided over wars both long and short.

In a speech on May 23, given ironically at the National Defense University, President Obama did his best to run away from war. His opposition to the war in Iraq, his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, and his efforts to close Guantanamo will likely be seen in the same way as the Clinton policies of the 1990s when Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States on behalf of al Qaeda and subsequently attacked the World Trade Towers twice, in 1993 and on September 11, 2001. Weakness always encourages aggression.

In an application of magical thinking, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the entire U.S. military was instructed not to use the term “global war on terrorism”, replacing it instead with “overseas contingency.” The Obama administration has refused to identify the May 22nd murder of a British soldier on the streets of London by an Islamist as terrorism.

Obama spent his first term and now his second insisting that al Qaeda has been defeated despite ample evidence that it has not. He has never ceased to downplay any event that suggests we and the rest of the world are not engaged in a war with radical Islam.

The Benghazi scandal arose out of an effort to claim and cover-up that the attack was “spontaneous” and the result of an anti-Islam video despite the fact that it occurred on September 11, 2012. Earlier, an attack on soldiers based at Fort Hood was declared “workplace violence.” The bombing in Boston was glossed over as a criminal act, not a terrorist act of war.

The absurdity and the danger of not describing the many instances of the Islamic jihad is a failure of major proportions and not being willing to take preemptive action against its perpetrators suggests it will grow, not diminish, and not cease to threaten the homeland and the world.

In a scathing May 24 analysis of his speech, “President Obama is Tired of Fighting Terrorism”, the Heritage Foundation said that “even as new fronts in the war on terrorism sprang up, the Administration continued to argue that it was winning” despite the Benghazi attack, despite the Boston bombing, despite the attacks in Afghanistan. Time and again Obama has said that the assassination of Osama bin Laden marked the end of al Qaeda and that the isolated drone attacks have reduced its ability to wage jihad. It has not, but Obama proposed scaling back the use of drones.

“The war of ideas,” said Heritage, “was completely banned from the Obama lexicon. Islamist terrorism became ‘violent extremism.’ Terrorism became ‘senseless violence.’ In 2011, however, Obama shifted course dramatically."

"More than dumping the war of words, the White House signed off on a new counterterrorism strategy that amounted to running away from Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible and limiting the offensive campaign to whacking top-level al Qaeda with drone strikes”, noting that “The new strategy was bound to fail, fighting the last war while al Qaeda evolved into a global insurgency that has spread from Pakistan to Nigeria.”

The Heritage analysis concluded that Obama “is sick of fighting. Unfortunately, America’s enemies are not.”

The buildup of the paramilitary strength of the Department of Homeland Security and its identification of patriots, veterans, and others critical of the Administration has led many Americans to believe it now exists less to protect Americans than to institute plans to impose a dictatorship.

Obama’s fear of attacks at home and conflicts abroad was reflected in his speech. “Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.” 

His Administration has already “defined” Islamic attacks to the point of not calling them Islamic attacks. His concern and reluctance to use the powers of the presidency to protect the nation ignores the new nature of war with a stateless entity called al Qaeda. Indeed, he wanted his war powers scaled back!

In his speech, Obama said “This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

The Islamic jihad began in the seventh century and has not ended since then. Our democracy and the future of Western civilization depends on conducting a war to end the current aspects of it until today’s Muslims conclude that jihad as a religious duty is too painful to pursue. That’s how this war will end.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our Honored Dead

By Alan Caruba

In the town I called home for more than sixty years, among my earliest memories was joining my Father to attend the annual Memorial Day ceremonies. There was always a march to the appropriately named Memorial Park. It included veterans, scout troops, police and fire contingents, and the high school band.

My childhood years were marked by World War II, beginning when I was just four years of age and ending when I was eight, both fought far from our shores. My Father and I would listen to the reading of “In Flander’s Fields”, a poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD, a member of the Canadian Army, commemorating those who fell in World War I combat.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

I was too young to grasp the meaning of the poem. America had reluctantly entered World War I, trying to stay out of what was regarded as yet another European conflict. It had begun in 1914. America entered it on April 6, 1917, joining its allies, Britain, France, and Russia. The infusion of two million U.S. soldiers on the battlefields of France led Germany to sue for peace.

A holiday called Armistice Day would commemorate the end of World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of eleventh month in 1918. After World War II the name was changed to Veteran’s Day.

America’s losses in combat for World War I numbered 116,516. For World War II, the losses were 405,399. Memorial Day was previously known as Decoration Day, established after the Civil War to honor both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that great conflict. By comparison, the Civil War had cost the lives of 625,000, more than the combined dead from World Wars I and II.

On July 4, 1913, veterans of the American Civil War held a reunion at Gettysburg. It was attended by President Wilson, the first Democrat to have been elected since the Civil War had ended in 1865. He would be reelected in 1916 on the campaign motto, “He kept us out of the war.”

In his new book, “1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War”, historian Charles Emmerson takes the reader on a tour around a world that had no idea that it was barely a year away from the most transformative war of the last century, ending the Ottoman Empire and the rule of some European royal families. The Treaty of Versailles gave free rein to the British and French to create new nations in the Middle East (mostly in the interest of controlling their oil), dividing up the region in ways that still reverberate to today. It was a war that set in motion the causes for World War II.

War has been an integral part of America’s history, a nation that began with a long, eight year conflict from 1775 to 1783 in which an estimated 25,000 died. On this Memorial Day most Americans will be thinking of the casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that followed in the wake of 9/11. Our troops are stationed all over the world because, after World War II, the nation’s mission has been to ensure peace, but they have fought since then in Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, in the first Persian War (1990-1991), intervening in Somalia, Bosnia, an air campaign in the former Yugoslavia, and the Middle East where our troops have since been withdrawn from Iraq (2003-2011) and will be out of Afghanistan in 2014.

President Obama has been the most war-averse Commander-in-Chief in the history of the nation and is caught up in a scandal resulting from a September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left an American ambassador dead, along with three security personnel. No military assistance was dispatched to aid them.

No student of history, the President called for an end to "the war on terrorism", but it is a war that Islam brought to our shores, to England this week, and wherever Muslims are found in any numbers. For Islam, the jihad has no end until they conquer everyone. Not wanting to fight is nothing less than surrender.

Memorial Day is a day to remember that the history of war is also the history of civilization; wars fought for conquest and as often as not initiated by those whose thirst for power was the cause. War is often called the interval between periods of peace. The Romans used to say “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” If you want peace, prepare for war.

Those of us who have worn the uniform of our armed forces have a special bond with those who preceded us.

It is astonishing how many men sacrificed their lives for an America striving to be born and one that has had to engage in a number of conflicts to maintain itself; to expand from coast to coast; to preserve the Union and. in the last century and the beginning of this one. to protect those around the world seeking relief from oppression.

We have not seen the end of war, nor will our grandchildren.

Those who gave their lives to ensure our freedom are surely worth honoring.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

By Alan Caruba

From its earliest days, even before the Revolution, Americans valued their newspapers and understood they played a crucial role in the issues and events of the times in which they lived. It would take a while, however, before newspapers evolved from highly partisan advocates of the early political factions to their role as watchdogs of government.

A literate population depended on them for news that revealed the increasing futility of dealing with a British monarchy and parliament that found new ways to tax the essentially independent colonies. Newspapers became the glue of the new nation, eagerly read in every state, providing news of Congress and the presidency.

By contrast, authoritarian governments understood the need to keep a tight control over the news and none more than the Third Reich of the Nazi Party and in the Soviet Union.

On May 21st, Kirsten Powers, writing in the Daily, borrowed from words of pastor Martin Niemoller, a German who witnessed their rise to power and who framed the manner in which the Nazis targeted, jailed and killed all those they deemed enemies of the state.

His poem, “First they came” was echoed by Powers who wrote “First they came for Fox News, and they did not speak out—because they were not Fox News. Then they came for government whistleblowers, and they did not speak out—because they were not government whistleblowers. Then they came for the maker of a YouTube video, and—okay we know how this story ends. But how did we get here?”  The “we” to whom she referred are the nation’s journalists.

“Turns out,” said Powers, “it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president pushing to ‘delegitimize’ a news organization to threatening criminal prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to spying on Associated Press reporters.”

“Where were the media when all this began happening?" asked Powers. “With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet enablers.”

This is what I and many other conservative observers and analysts of the President and his administration have been saying since 2009 and earlier. “These series of ‘warnings’ to the Fourth Estate,” said Powers, “were what you might expect to hear from some third-rate dictator, not from the senior staff of Hope and Change, Inc.”

In his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler demonstrated his contempt for the public. “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”  Obama’s 2008 slogan was “hope and change.” He was vague about the change he had in mind, but we have been learning about it since his election.

Hitler and his minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, set up a department that dealt solely with newspapers. An instructive history of the press in the Third Reich can be found on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“When Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the Nazis controlled less than three percent of Germany’s 4,700 newspapers.” The elimination of the German multi-party political system ended hundreds of newspapers that would offer any opposition to the Nazi Party. What followed in the first weeks of 1933 was the systematic use of radio, press, and newsreels to stoke fears of a pending “Communist uprising.”  This occurred in a pre-television and, of course, pre-Internet era, but it was effective when backed up by the thuggish behavior of Hitler’s paramilitary units that were used to “brutalize or arrest political opponents and incarcerate them in hastily established detention centers and concentration camps.”

Not unlike the popularity and influence of Fox News, the well-known Berlin daily, the Vossische Zeitung, was targeted, along with the Berlin Tageblatt. The former employed 10,000 people, but in 1933, its owners, the Ullstein family, were forced to resign and, a year later, sell the company assets. The latter newspaper was owned by the Mosse family that published a number of major liberal papers “much hated by the Nazis.” When Hitler took power, the family fled Germany.

This is not to suggest that Fox News or the Associated Press will suffer a similar fate, but it is no accident that their reporters are being intimidated by an administration that has seized telephone records as a message to their owners and editors to curb any criticism, any investigation of what they are doing.

Asserting that James Rosen, a Fox reporter, engaged in criminal behavior for doing what any reporter would do, seek out information about the government, has outraged many in the press, but whether they will stand firm or buckle under remains the real question. In Germany, the press became an arm of the Nazi regime.

If history is any guide, we have real cause to fear the intent of the Obama administration—one now distinguished by its leadership for having no memory of any steps they have undertaken to oppress organizations that oppose its agenda, mobilizing the IRS and Department of Justice.

We are looking into a tyrannical abyss and it is time to be afraid, be very afraid.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mother Nature's Message to Mankind

By Alan Caruba

After a tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma in 1999, people returned and rebuilt their homes and other structures destroyed by it.

Many of the homes, instead of including a basement, were rebuilt on concrete slabs that offer no protection when high winds tear them loose. The elementary school was believed to be strong enough to protect students, but it wasn’t. No lessons were learned from that tornado, although meteorological systems have been put in place to provide some warning.

I did not have to wait for the usual pronouncements from various environmental organizations and individual “experts” that the tornadoes that struck Oklahoma were the result of “global warming” or “climate change”, but tornadoes are a product of weather systems all around the world and have occurred for the millennia of Earth’s existence.

Typical of the way Greens exploit every dramatic weather event,, a liberal website, posted an article by David Sirota repeating all the usual environmental lies. “Was the severe weather system culminating in yesterday’s Oklahoma City intensified—or even created—by climate change? That question will almost certainly be batted back and forth in the media over the next few days. After all, there is plenty of scientific evidence that climate change intensifies weather in general, but there remain legitimate questions about how—and even if—it intensifies tornadoes in specific.” This is the worst kind of balderdash; utterly without merit.

Sirota then went on to blame “sequestration” for increasing the impact, citing “an 8.2 percent cut to the National Weather Service”, claiming falsely that there was no way it “could maintain around-the-clock operations at its 122 forecasting offices” and saying it means that its employees “are going to be overworked, they’re going to be tired, they’re going to miss warnings.”

This is the naked politicization of a human tragedy. Sequestration had nothing more to do with the deaths of some twenty children in Moore than the insane killing of children at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut that led to immediate calls for more gun control laws. This is typical of liberals for whom everything is about politics and power.

Sequestration, an idea put forth by President Obama and adopted by Congress as a process so idiotic and drastic that it was believed it would never be allowed to occur. It cuts the rate of federal spending, but not the amount of spending. As with the air controllers and meat inspectors, there have not been, nor will be, massive government employee layoffs. As Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) points out, one result was the curtailment of White House tours, but shortly after it was initiated, the Obama administration was still able to find millions to send to Egypt on top of the two billion it sends annually.

The government has responded to tornadoes and other weather-related events with an alphabet soup of agencies, from NASA and NOAA to FEMA. The National Weather Service (NWS) does its best to track and warn against tornadoes. According to Tuesday's The Wall Street Journal, “The National Weather Service estimates that 80% of tornadoes are ‘weak’—EF1 or less—and less than 1% are violent, meaning EF5 or higher.” Such tornadoes are rare. “If the storm is upgraded, it would be only the 59th EF5 since 1950—and the second in Moore…”

On a page from NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory offering “Tornado Basics”, it asks and answers the question “How do tornadoes form?” It answers by saying “The truth is that we don’t fully understand. The most destructive and deadly tornadoes occur from supercells, which are rotating thunderstorms with a well-defined radar circulation call a mesocyclone.”

Greens love computer models to justify their absurd claims, but the Severe Storms Laboratory says that tornado development “is related to the temperature differences across the edge of downdraft air wrapping around the mesocyclone. Mathematical modeling studies of tornado formation also indicate that it can happen without such temperature patterns, and, in fact, very little temperature variation was observed near some of the most destructive tornadoes in history.” Computer modeling is a poor substitute for Mother Nature.

What is known is that about 1,200 tornadoes annually and they generally occur in a stretch of the Midwest known as “tornado alley.” The worst of them do tremendous physical damage and kill people; which begs the question of why people moved back to Moore and rebuilt despite the 1999 tornado.

The real question is why people believe that humans have anything to do with the weather or the climate? Why does anyone believe that carbon dioxide (CO2) has anything to do with weather events or trends? The answer is that Al Gore, James Hansen, and a raft of other climate charlatans, along with countless Green organizations, have been lying to Americans and others around the world.

Since founding The National Anxiety Center in 1990 as a clearinghouse for information about Green fear-mongering, I have been a guest on countless radio shows. I tell listeners that Mother Nature has a message for mankind. It is “Get out of the way. Here comes a tornado, a flood, a hurricane, a blizzard, a wild fire.”

After the dead are totaled and a cost is estimated, there will still be tornadoes in Oklahoma and the rest of tornado alley. The primary lesson to be learned is that Mother Nature is infinitely more powerful than anything humans are alleged to do to affect it in any way because we have zero effect on it.

The other lesson is that America and other nations have wasted billions of dollars on idiotic “renewable energy” such as solar and wind projects that provide unreliable, costly alternatives to the energy on which a nation’s prosperity depends.

The opposition to “fossil fuels” and nuclear energy that Green organizations generate is an attack on human activity, along with their opposition to beneficial chemicals that can, for example, eliminate malaria and other diseases that afflict mankind demonstrates their core belief that it is humans that are responsible for harming the Earth. They are not.

To be Green is to seek to control and reduce humankind through an extensive matrix of lies.

Tornadoes are a “force majeure.” As Wikipedia explains, is “a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as war, strike, riot, crime, or an event described by the legal term, ‘act of God.”

The Moore, Oklahoma tornado was a force majeure.
(c) Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Silencing Free Speech on College Campuses

By Alan Caruba

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The enemies of these freedoms, as expressed in the First Amendment, have always been at work to narrow and eliminate them.

A recent, egregious example of this was the subject of an article by Hans Bader, a former attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. In 2003 he joined the staff of the Competitive Enterprise Institute as CEI’s Counsel for Special Projects after having service as Senior Counsel at the Center for Individual Rights.

On May 10, he wrote an article, “Federal Title IX Enforcers Effectively Define Dating and Sex Education as ‘Sexual Harassment’” based on the views expressed by Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

As we have seen of late, the federal government has been using the powers of the Internal Revenue Service to harass organizations identifying themselves as “Tea Party” groups, “patriots”, and even pro-Israel. The Department of Justice has come under fire for the way it accessed phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors.

The most fundamental fear of the Founders was a central government grown too large and acquiring powers to itself not delineated or prohibited by the Constitution. That document is devoted to limitations on the federal government and the states at the time it was introduced demanded that a Bill of Rights be included before they would ratify it.

It is a precious legacy for all Americans, but it has also been the target for all manner of individuals and groups that want to impose their own interpretation on it and to expand it in ways that actually undermine it.

“In a shocking affront to the United States Constitution,” said Lukianoff, “the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have joined together to mandate that virtually every college and university in the United States establish unconstitutional speech codes that violate the First Amendment and decades of legal precedent.”

“In 2011, the Department of Education took a hatchel to due process protection for students accused of sexual misconduct.” Now college students have had speech codes imposed on them that are “so broad that virtually every student will regularly violate them,” said Lukianoff. In essence, the new codes would define as punishable, any expression of sexual topics that offends any person!

In effect this outlaws any expression of opinion regarding sexual activity to include debates about sexual morality, gay marriage, or a classroom lecture on Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.” It would outlaw any sexually themed joke that anyone might find offensive for any reason. It would criminalize any request for a date or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient, all defined now as “offenses.”

As Lukianoff warns, “There is likely no student on any campus anywhere who is not guilty of at least one of these ‘offenses.’ Any attempt to enforce this rule evenhandedly and comprehensively will be impossible.”

Bader said “No one would believe you if you made this up, but it’s now actually happened.” The definition is found in a May 9 Title IX Letter of Findings and Resolution Agreement involving the University of Montana” but which now applies to all colleges and universities in America.

Bader notes that what makes this especially troubling is that the Supreme Court has already ruled on this behavior, stating that isolated instances of trivially offensive sexual speech are not illegal and are not to be considered “sexual harassment” in even the broadest possible sense.

Silencing free speech on our nation’s campuses is the official policy of the Obama administration. The mandate must be overturned before countless students find themselves expelled from colleges and universities for the flimsiest reasons. It affects what can be taught and discussed on those campuses. It is in direct contempt of the freedom of speech embedded in the First Amendment.

On May 5th in a speech delivered to the graduating class of the Ohio State University, President Obama warned students that “Unfortunately you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warm of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s the root of all our problems; some of these same voices are also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

No, you should not reject these voices. Some come from the Tea Party movement. Others come from organizations such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for Individual Rights, among the many who keep an eye on what appears to be the most corrupt administration to have ever held power in Washington, D.C.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Morally Straight Boy Scouts of America

By Alan Caruba

 One of the goals of Communism is toPresent Homosexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as "normal, natural, and healthy".

It comes as no surprise that, during a CBS interview in February, President Obama supported having the Boy Scouts of America open its membership to gays and, presumably, those who lead scout troops as well. “My attitude, the President said “is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.” Spoken like a good Communist hiding the true intent of debasing the cultural and moral life of America.

It is worth revisiting the Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physical strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law is “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

These are attitudes and beliefs that have served generations of Scouts through life, inspiring them to maintain values that we admire in anyone and which benefit society.

On May 23rd, the BSA board of directors will vote on whether to change its policies to allow openly homosexual scouts as members and/or gay scout leaders. A survey of its members released in early May demonstrated that a majority support keeping the current, longtime policy of exclusion in place, prohibiting homosexuals from joining or leading the organization. Fully 61% favored keeping the current policy while 34% opposed it.

There is a compelling reason, beyond the cultural and moral issues involved. According to the Centers for Disease Control “gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV”, the virus that causes AIDS. “In 2010, MSM accounted for 63% of all new HIV infections.”

The Boy Scouts are one of the largest youth organizations in the nation with 2.7 million youth members and more than a million adult volunteers. Since its founding in 1910 as part of the international scouting movement, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA.

Its goals, as the Scout Oath reveals, is to train young men in citizenship, to develop worthy character traits, as well as self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, for older scouts, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. Cub Scouting is open to boys ages 7 to 10½ years, Boy Scouting for boys ages 10½ to 18 and Venturing for young men and women ages 14 through 21. It also offers Learning for Live that provides in-school and career education. Units are led entirely by volunteers.

The BSA holds a Congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code making it among a very small number of other patriotic and national organizations that are similarly chartered. Among them are the Girl Scouts of America, the American Legion, and the American Red Cross.

As attacks mounted against the BSA, the Supreme Court in 2000 ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that it and all other private organizations are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment of freedom of association to set membership standards. In 2004, the BSA issued a statement that “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations of the Scout Oath and Scout law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word and deed.”

The attacks on the Boy Scouts of America represent the many efforts by progressives to undermine the essential values of the nation and a review of Communist goals reveals the success in part that they are having. Many Americans believe the nation is threatened by moral decline and there is ample evidence to support that belief.

It is my hope that on May 23rd, the BSA board of directors will reject the inclusion of homosexuals as members and volunteer scout leaders. If it does not, many parents will not permit their young male children to join, nor should they.

© Alan Caruba, 2013