Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Great Defunding Obamacare Debate

By Alan Caruba

Congress is going on vacation in August and the President will be taking another one in Martha’s Vineyard where the very rich and the extremely rich pass a summer’s day. When both return they will have until September 30 to pass a continuing resolution; the way the government has been funded for many years.

On the table will be the need to raise the debt ceiling to allow the U.S. to borrow enough money to pay off the largest debt in U.S. history. In his first term, Obama borrowed more than all preceding Presidents combined. His “stimulus” package didn’t work and neither has anything else that might pass for an economic policy. The nation has been stuck in a rut of very low, inadequate growth for five years during which Obama spent the first four blaming George W. Bush and the last year blaming the Republicans.

Looming ahead to further exacerbate the nation’s economic decline is the implementation of Obamacare. Nobody seems to like it much. Major unions have written Obama, telling him to “fix” it and hardly a day goes by that we don’t learn some new horrid thing about it. Nearly half the states refused to set up the insurance exchanges it requires. By nearly everyone’s assessment, it is unworkable.

How bad is Obamacare? As far back as 2009 the Democrats in Congress tried to get themselves and their staffs exempted from it.

There is a debate raging among Republicans over whether to defund Obamacare as a way of avoiding its full implementation and driving a stake through its heart until it can be repealed. The White House is, as usual, lying to the public, saying this would “shut down” the government. It would not. The only services that would be affected would be those deemed “non-essential.”  

Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has maintained that repeal of Obamacare is the only solution. It is not the only answer. Defunding its implementation has been an option since it was signed into law. Boehner (R-OH) has been sharply criticized for not putting this option before the House. Now there’s a momentum growing in both the House and Senate to defund Obamacare.

“Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House need to stand on this issue, need to refuse to budge,” says Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), “because we will be complicit in Obamacare…if we provide funding for the administration to do that.” Defunding would be a victory for the Tea Party movement that was instrumental in electing Senators Ted Cruz (R-Cruz), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others.

Leading the effort to defund Obamacare, the Heritage Foundation reports that it is closing in on securing enough co-sponsors of the Defunding Obamacare Act of 2013 to achieve “critical mass in the House”, but notes that “the Washington Establishment is more interested in striking a deal with President Obama on immigration, taxes, and spending than fighting to defund Obamacare.”

The House, which has passed any number of bills to repeal Obamacare at this point, controls the “purse strings” because all laws involving spending can only be initiated there. The bills, however, never go farther than the House.

Obama knows that the last thing Republicans on Capitol Hill want is to be blamed for causing the government to “shut down.” Political pundits recall that when it happened in 1995 everyone blamed then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and the GOP, but what they don’t remember is that, in 1996, the party picked up seats in the Senate and continued its control of the House. That could be a 2014 scenario, but these are different times with different players involved.

The problem the Republican Party has, in addition to a whole bunch of very squishy members in Congress, is a media that will defend Obama and Obamacare by framing the situation as one of intransigence and a blind desire to punish the President who bested them in 2012 by getting reelected.

The bigger problem, however, is Obamacare.

In my opinion, the Republicans in the House will likely not vote to defund it because they are looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections. It is easier to fuss about the debt ceiling, get a few spending cuts, and use Obamacare as an issue to secure political control of Congress next year. Only then would the GOP be in a position to repeal Obamacare. To politicians on Capitol Hill, it is a less scary scenario. I would never bet on the courage of politicians.

One possible outcome for Obamacare would be something comparable to the fate of Prohibition, the national ban on the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol that was the law of the land from 1920 to 1933. It was enacted by the 18th Amendment and repealed by the 21st due to its unpopularity. It too was unworkable.

The only thing we know for sure about Obamacare is that it will ruin the best healthcare system in the world and it will end up killing people.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Israel's Borders

By Alan Caruba

When you look at a map of the Middle East, one of the smallest nations is Israel. With the exception of Jordan, it is surrounded by enemies with Lebanon and Syria to the north and Egypt to the south. The Gaza strip, controlled by Hamas, has been a staging ground for rockets and the disputed West Bank, known in ancient times as Judea and Samaria, has both Israeli settlements and is home to Fatah, the other Palestinian faction.

The Israelis are famous for their internal disputes about how to deal with the Palestinians and respond to the likes of Hezbollah to the north. Secretary of State John Kerry has been expending a lot of time and energy to getting the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table, but if he expects the former to return to their 1967 borders, he is smoking some serious dope. If he expects the Palestinians to accept Israel as a sovereign nation, he’s in for a long wait.

At present, while the Israelis enjoy prosperity the rest of their region of the world is engulfed in turmoil. The horrendous slaughter in Syria is characterized by its regime as a war with “terrorists”, primarily al Qaeda. It is likely that the Israelis are quietly hoping the regime wins its civil war, the result of the regime’s terrible agricultural policies that impoverished a large part of its population, arousing its anger.

Would you believe that Syria is among the nations seeking a seat on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council when elections are held on November 12? Among the others are China, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. The Council reflects that UN’s empty and hypocritical definition of human rights. It is corruption personified.

Jordan has become a refuge to a half a million Syrians that fled the fighting. It is hopefully receiving a lot of international aid to respond to their needs. Meanwhile several Gulf nations are covertly shipping arms to the Syrian rebels and the U.S. has moved some military assets to Jordan. Israel has moved its defense forces to its border on the Golan Heights, captured in the 1967 war, and with Lebanon. A lot of jihadists have been flooding into Syria and could decide to head south at some point.  

Across its border with Egypt, specifically the Sinai, a military coup has overthrown the Muslim Brotherhood president and the new leadership is getting ready to address the lawless Sinai Peninsula with an operation ironically called “Desert Storm.” A refuge for Islamic extremists, the clear loser thus far has been the Brotherhood. Six of their leaders have fled to Gaza to prepare for another uprising.

Despite the U.S. State Department’s squishy wish that the new government in Egypt include the Brotherhood, Middle East expert, Daniel Pipes, succinctly says that breaking the Brotherhood’s neck “is good for Egypt, the region, and not least ourselves.”

The turmoil in the Middle East suggests that many of its Muslims have grown tired of life under Islam and, in particular, life dictated by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

The other fact of life is the inability of Arabs to unite around any single goal. Left to their own devices, they return to killing one another as is the case in Iraq these days. The Sunni-Shiite divide is the most obvious cause, but one should never lose sight of the billions in oil revenue that is more likely at the heart of the bloodshed.

Egypt holds out the prospect for an evolving Middle East that is tired of its ancient traditions of corruption and oppression. Turkey, that was for decades a secular nation, voted in a president who has tried to move it back toward Islam’s sharia law, but he has run into a lot of opposition. Everywhere in the Middle East there is a desire for a decent, honest, functioning economy.

The most interesting element of all this has been the Obama policy of withdrawing U.S. military from Iraq and, next year, Afghanistan. There truly does not seem to be much justification to spend treasure and blood in the region and, at this point, America has few friends there.

All of which seems to be working to Israel’s advantage. This is not to say that there isn’t peril to address, but for all its internal debates about how to deal with the Palestinians and what to do about the fighting in Syria and Egypt, the Israelis seem to have figured out how to address these issues. I would not want them as an enemy.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Over-Sexed Democrats

By Alan Caruba

The stars have aligned to present two of the most loathsome Democrats we have witnessed in a long time, Twitter-sex addict, Anthony Weiner who at this writing is still running for Mayor of New York and Bob Filner, Mayor of San Diego, a serial groper who gives no sign of resigning.

Is it just a coincidence that both current offenders of the public’s sense of decency are both Democrats? Is it just a coincidence that the most beloved Democrat politician is former President Bill Clinton who got into a heap of trouble over sexcapades in the Oral—er—Oval Office?

Democrats seem to fall prey to sex addictions and peccadillos more than Republicans.

In 2001 before leaving office Clinton pardoned Rep. Mel Reynolds, an Illinois Democrat who was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault with a 16-year-old. He took a job with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. And Rev. Jesse made news for fathering an out-of-wedlock child. Jesse Jr. is currently in jail for misuse of campaign funds.

I am not saying that only Democrat politicians get caught in such situations, but I am saying we tend to hear more about them than their Republican counterparts. Perhaps this is due to the traditional values that conservatives embrace?

A short stroll down memory lane reminds us that the late Sen. Daniel Inouye was accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s by numerous women. The Senate Ethics Committee dropped its investigation. The same committee decided not to pursue disciplinary action in 1990 when Rep. Gus Savage was accused of fondling a Peace Corps volunteer in 1989 while on a fact-finding trip to Africa.

Who can forget that former Rep. Barney Frank had a male prostitute running a service from Frank’s residence in the 1980s? Frank was openly gay and from Massachusetts where the schools these days are becoming platforms for indoctrination about homosexual and transsexual sex. Rep. Gerry Studds, also from Massachusetts, was censured for sexual relationships with an underage male page in 1983. The voters returned him to office for six more terms!

The 1970s were filled with news of Democrat office holders who couldn’t keep their pants zipped. Rep. Fred Richman was arrested in 1978 for soliciting sex from a 16-year-old. And he won reelection even though he eventually resigned in 1982 after pleading guilty to tax evasion and drug possession. The most famous Congressman from that era was Wayne Hayes from Ohio who hired a “secretary” who couldn’t even type, but who reportedly provided him with sex.

In more recent years, New Jersey’s former Governor James McGreevey resigned in 2004 after acknowledging a homosexual affair with one of his staff, but he has done an admirable job of redeeming himself through good works.

Back across the Hudson, when Anthony Weiner isn’t hogging the headlines, former Governor Elliot Spitzer is running to be New York City’s comptroller. Spitzer gained fame for patronizing prostitutes.

After a bogus campaign against Republicans, accusing them of waging “a war on women”, the Democrats sat on a bill for more than a year that would help law enforcement quickly track down violent sex offenders. It had been introduced in March of 2011 by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as the “Finding Fugituve Sex Offenders Act to give the Marshalls Service the tools it needed to track down sex offenders. It was finally passed in November 2012. 

One notable Republican let love and lust got the better of him. Former North Carolina Governor Mark Sanford fell for an Argentinian beauty. It cost him the job and his marriage, but the voters forgave him and sent him to Congress. There may be other Republican office holders who have yielded to their desires, but they appear to be far fewer than their Democrat counterparts.

For now, Weiner will provide enough fodder for the late night TV comedians and all others, but the fact is that the more you see and hear him, the more he makes your skin crawl. 

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Drowning in Sea Level Nonsense

By Alan Caruba

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D) and forty members of Congress believe the sea levels are rising, that a panel should be created to determine what should be done, and, of course, to throw billions of dollars at a problem that does not exist. Politicians were eager to scare the public with the discredited global warming hoax and now they have found a new one.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a $20 billion flood barrier system to protect the city from future hurricanes and rising sea levels. Well, hurricanes like tropical storm Sandy are real, but rare. Rising sea levels, however, represent no threat at all.

William Happer who researched ocean physics for the U.S. Air Force and is currently a physics professor at Princeton University notes that “The sea level has been rising since 1800, at the end of the ‘little ice age’”, a cooling cycle last from around 1300 to 1850. Far from heating up, the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996 or so.

Harrison Schmitt, a former Apollo 17 astronaut, U.S. Senator, and a geologist, says “Predicting a sea level rise of seven feet over the next few thousand years would seem too risky a prediction on which to spend tax dollars” and that is surely an understatement. Wasting billons on “climate change”, however, is the new siren call of the Obama administration, but the National Research Council is warning, as Fox News reported, “that those kinds of subsidies are virtually useless at quelling greenhouse gases.”

In fact, as the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas—alleged to “trap” heat—has risen and has had zero effect on the cooling cycle.

A recent article in the British newspaper, The Register, reported on a study by scientists in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, that was published in “Nature Geoscience” that concluded there was no “scientific consensus” to suggest the rate of the seas’ rise will accelerate dangerously.

The notion of the seas rising, swamping coastal cities, and creating havoc is the stuff of science fiction, not science. This is why spending millions or billions on the assertions of some who have a real stake in keeping the public frightened is a very bad idea.

At the center of the global warming scare campaign is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its most recent report said that “no long-term acceleration of sea level has been identified using 20th-century data alone” but that does not discourage the IPCC from forecasting an increase due to global warming. This organization should be disbanded and, if I were in charge, many of its leaders would be in jail right now for fraud.

Who can you believe? One such person is Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, the former chair of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is the past president (1999-2003) of the International Union for Quaternary Research Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution. He has been studying sea level and its effects on coastal areas for more than 35 years. I cited his credentials because others making predictions lack the same level of authority.

Dr. Morner acknowledges that “sea level was indeed rising from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year. (Emphasis added). Get out your pocket ruler and look at what one millimeter represents. It is small. It is very small. Not surprisingly Dr. Morner is very critical of the IPCC and its headline-grabbing doomsday predictions. He scorns the IPCC’s claim to “know” that facts about sea level rise, noting that real scientists “are searching for the answer” by continuing to collect data “because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!”

A recent paper reviewed by CO2 Science finds that sea levels have risen from 2002-2011 at a rate of only 1.7 millimeters per year over the past 110 years, the equivalent of 6.7 inches per century. This is close to Dr. Morner’s assertion that, at most, there has been a rate of increase that tops out at 1.1 millimeter per year. The review concluded that there is no evidence of any human influence on sea levels.

Even so, in early July a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Josh Willis, told Fox News, that “There is no question that the time to prepare for sea level rise is now…We will definitely see seven feet of sea level rise—the only question is when.” And who funds NASA?

Between the scientists trying to gin up more government money for their agencies and departments and the politicians trying to find a new reason to spend more money, the public is left wondering if the oceans are rising and whether that represents something worth worrying about. The answer is (a) yes, sea levels are rising in infinitesimal amounts and (b) no, we need to stop spending money based on such claims.

It’s not the sea level rise you should worry about. It is the rising levels of national debt and the deficit.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What "Phony" Scandals is Obama Talking About?

By Alan Caruba

It is absolutely astonishing that Obama could refer to “phony scandals” when the list of genuine scandals keeps growing. Despite the best efforts of the mainstream media to deflect attention from them, they have become a constant factor from Obama’s first term to his second. To dismiss them as “phony” is a display of arrogance that is breathtaking.

In May, writing about the revelations that the Justice Department (DOJ) had seized the telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors without informing them, Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, observed that “A President sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.”

This DOJ’s actions are not a “phony scandal.”

Noonan was particularly prescient because, when the Internal Revenue Service scandal involving the deliberate denial of tax exempt status to conservative groups became known, the White House said it was the work of a few rogue employees in the Cincinnati office. That has since unraveled to reach right up into the office of the highest political appointee in the IRS and, in all likelihood, it reaches into the White House.

The IRS scandal is not a “phony scandal.”

Already filed and forgotten is the “Fast and Furious” scandal, the name taken from an ATF program intended to track weapons bought in the U.S. and “walked” into Mexico. In the process, the ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, some of which were used to kill a U.S. Border agent and countless Mexican citizens. “Fast and Furious” was back in the news on July 5 when the Los Angeles Times reported that “A high-powered rifle from Fast and Furious was used to kill a Mexican police chief in the state of Jalisco earlier this year, according to internal Department of Justice records.” To stop further investigation of the program, Obama issued an executive order.

“Fast and Furious” is not a “phony scandal.”

The signature legislation of the President’s first term is Obamacare, a two-thousand-plus page law that was passed with a straight Democrat vote by Senators who had obviously not had enough time to read it. Since then, virtually all the promises made by the President have been proven to be lies. Not only have premiums risen, but its impact on employment has been catastrophic, leading companies to either not hire or to lay off workers to avoid a key element of the law. Without any legal right to do so, the employer mandate element was then delayed until 2015, after the 2014 midterm elections.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was found to be soliciting donations from companies HHS might regulate to fund the signing up uninsured citizens.

Obamacare is not a “phony scandal.”

To the tune of billions, many of the “alternative energy” companies that received government loans went bankrupt throughout the first term, sticking the taxpayers with the losses. Similar losses accrued from the bailout of General Motors whose stockholders and bondholders were left with nothing for their investment while the auto unions and the government took a major position in the company’s ownership.

Green energy company failures are not a “phony scandal.”

A similar loss occurred in the “Pigford” scandal in which an Agriculture Department program that began as an attempt to compensate black farmers who had allegedly been discriminated against turned into a program in which billions were disbursed to thousands of additional minority and female farmers who had little or no grounds for claiming discrimination.

Pigford was not a “phony scandal.”

There are so many scandals and breaches of judgment and behavior by federal employees and management during the first and second term that there is even a website exclusively devoted to tracking them. You can visit it at

The greatest scandal of all in the minds of many Americans is the terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which our ambassador and three members of his security team were killed on September 11, 2012. Staged on the anniversary of 9/11, the White House claimed it was “spontaneous” and the result of some video no one had seen. Ongoing House investigations have since revealed that orders were given that closed down any effort to protect and rescue those under attack. The White House has refused to say what the Commander-in-Chief did the night of the attack.

Benghazi is not a “phony scandal.”

The ultimate scandal may well be the election—twice—of a man who lacked the credentials to hold the office; a man whose birth certificate and Social Security number have been independently investigated and are alleged to be fraudulent. Virtually all other records of his life have been sealed from any inspection. A man who apparently had a lot to hide is now holding the highest office in the land.

The sheer weight of these scandals and the continuing revelations disputing the facts put forth by the White House may yet lead to Obama’s removal from office or, at the very least, see another transfer of power in the Congress to the Republican Party should it gain control of the Senate and hold onto the House in the 2014 midterm elections.

For now, the greatest phony in the U.S. government is named Barack Hussein Obama.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

2.8 Million Views and Growing!

This week “Warning Signs” passed 2.8 million page views as a sign of its popularity and I anticipate it will reach 3 million by the end of 2013. In addition, it is widely syndicated on many conservative news and opinion websites and blogs, bringing its daily audience up to an amount I hazard to estimate because it is huge.

Naturally I am pleased by this, but I must also ask that you consider sending a donation to the blog by way of helping maintain it and ensure that the time and effort to research its commentaries continues. From Sunday through Friday, “Warning Signs” provides data on a wide range of topics that either are front page news or which provide the background information you need to understand some often complex issues.

Through “Warning Signs” I want to empower you to make informed choices regarding events in Washington, D.C., and around the world. Your donation empowers me with the time to do this.
Thank you,
Alan Caruba


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Obama Committing Treason?

By Alan Caruba

I have been trying to remember a president that someone did not want to impeach. An effort was made to impeach Andrew Johnson but failed by one vote. Nixon resigned when he was informed that he would face impeachment for the Watergate scandal. Bill Clinton faced impeachment, but even Republicans did not want to vote for it, fearing the blowback and the prospect that Al Gore, his Vice President, would replace him.

The general feeling of anger and impotence that opponents of Obama feel will gin up renewed efforts to impeach him with some believing he has engaged in treasonous acts. It will not succeed, nor will Obama’s new insistence that all the scandals emerging from his administration are “phony.” But is it treason?

The Constitution is quite clear about treason. It is consists “only in levying war against” the United States “or in adhering to their enemies.” There is no evidence that the President has engaged in either of these activities although one can, by inference, conclude that he has by action or inaction aided the nation’s enemies.

The failure, as Commander-in-Chief, to send military assistance to the U.S. Ambassador in Libya when informed he was under attack and then concocting a false story about the reason for the attack surely raises some questions, but does it rise to the definition of treason?

The Constitution specifies the causes for removal from office as “impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Since treason is off the table and bribery is not likely to be proven, that leaves high crimes and misdemeanors.

Is failing to take appropriate steps to revive the economy, thereby leaving millions unemployed or underemployed a high crime? If that were the case Franklin D. Roosevelt would have been removed from office because, from his first term in 1933 until he died in office in 1945, the nation was stuck in the Great Depression that was relieved only with the advent of WWII.

Obama’s failure, now into his second term, cannot be attributed entirely to bad judgment. The steps he took in his first term added trillions to the national debt and deficit, caused the nation’s credit rating to be reduced for the first time in its history, and squandered billions on “renewable energy” loans to companies that did not produce much electricity or many jobs as one after another declared bankruptcy.

What raises my deepest suspicions, however, was his recent speech in which he elevated doing something about “climate change” at a time when the nation faces far greater, actual problems.

On June 25, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, “The Carbonated President”, led off saying “President Obama’s climate speech on Tuesday was grandiose even for him, but its surreal nature was its particular hallmark. Some 12 million Americans still can’t find work, real wages have fallen for five years, three-fourths of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck, and the economy continues to plod along four years into a quasi-recovery. But there was the President in tony Georgetown, threatening more energy taxes and mandates that will ensure fewer jobs, still lower incomes and slower growth.”

If Obama was deliberately trying to crash the economy, he could not have found a better way to do it. It may not be treason, but it surely comes close to being a high crime. Addressing climate change at a time when, despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for going on seventeen years is a thorough-going deceit. It would cost billions to absolutely no effect.

Moreover, Obama has declared a war on coal. As the editorial notes, “Coal accounted for more than half of U.S. electricity as recently as 2008 but plunged to a mere 37% in 2012. In part this tumble has been due to cheap natural gas, but now the EPA will finish the job and take coal to 0%.

It is not treason to deliberately single out the production and use of coal for destruction, but it surely is misfeasance; the improper and unlawful execution of an act that in itself is lawful and proper.

At this point I have not even mentioned the misuse of the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes, the executive order cover-up of the “Fast and Furious” program to run guns to Mexican drug cartels, the failure to investigate what occurred in Benghazi or hold anyone responsible, and other questionable actions encouraged or taken by the President.

Unless some unforeseen event should occur, we will have Obama for the next three and a half years.

I am inclined to believe, however, that Obama will continue to lose the support even of his base with the exception of some thirty percent of hardcore liberal voters.

As for those who, by the 2014 elections, will decide that change is needed, he can forget about the support of Catholics, offended by his efforts to undermine their moral objections to abortion. He can forget about evangelicals who may have stayed home during the last election due to the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, but each of these faith groups and others will be reinvigorated by their opposition to gay marriage.
Those who fear his efforts to eviscerate the Second Amendment will vote for change. A lot of the unemployed may be inclined to vote for anyone who offers an alternative to their present plight.

His poll numbers are dropping and, if this continues to be a trend, he will spend the next years as the most unpopular President to have ever held the job.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Economy? It Must be the GOP's Fault, Right?

By Alan Caruba

Oh goody, the President is about to launch another series of speeches to address the economic stagnation for which he is to blame. Just what we all need—another speech. He is going to blame Republicans for the failure of his economic policies and he going to do it because it works. We know it works because his approval rating continues to hover around 47%, but dipped to 41% in a recent poll.

Obama spent the four years of his first term blaming George W. Bush until it became a joke along with his dependence on Tele-prompters. The only question facing the White House and all of the rest of us is how long will it take for this stagnant, nearly moribund economy to turn around? Don’t hold your breath.

The public is remarkably docile and history tells us that our grandparent’s generation endured the Great Depression from 1929 until the beginning of World War II in 1941. Because of his great popularity, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected four times, starting in 1932, despite the obvious failure of his economic policies. Like Obama, the media of that era loved FDR.

The current economic malaise has affected everyone in some fashion—losing a job, having a job converted to a part-time status, having work hours limited, possibly facing foreclosure on their home, experiencing extremely low interest rates on their savings, the higher cost of gas and groceries, all without seriously affecting Obama’s job approval ratings or popularity.

Obama is going out on the road to maintain and bolster what popularity he retains because there is a huge portion of the population that continues to ignore the failure of his stimulus program, the Benghazi scandal, the growing scandal within the Internal Revenue Service, the revelation that the NSA is tracking and retaining records of all our electronic communications, and most obviously the lavish lifestyle of Obama that permits him take his family on an “official” trip to Africa that cost of $100 million, soon to be followed by another vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

Some economists are beginning to write about an economic recovery, but as experienced by most people, it is a phantom recovery. On July 15, Mort Zuckerman, the editor-in-chief of US News & World Report, had a commentary published in The Wall Street Journal titled “A Jobless Recovery is a Phony Recovery.” He noted that the failure to recover from the financial crisis of 2008 has been “the longest and worst recession since the end of World War II”; one that has “been marked by the weakest recovery from any U.S. recession in that same period.”

Zuckerman said “the jobless nature of the recovery is particularly unsettling” and cited surveys that demonstrated the lack of fulltime versus part-time jobs. While the official government unemployment figure is 7.6%, Zuckerman cited data that, as of June, put it at 14.5%, up from 13.8% in May. “The 7.6% unemployment figure so common in headlines these days is utterly misleading.”

That, however, has been Obama’s special genius. He knows how to mislead people and he does so effortlessly, telling lies that a school child would not get away with or, in the case of the Benghazi scandal, drowning it in lies and then putting distance between the event long enough to see it sink below the public radar or even concern. The mainstream media has long since abandoned any coverage of it.

Not even the nation’s soaring debt merits coverage by the mainstream media. It now stands at $17 trillion dollars, exceeding the Gross Domestic Product by easily three trillion, meaning that the nation is taking in far less than it is spending. Indeed, the nation has avoided even more debt only because of the draconian “sequester” that capped government spending. After Congress returns from its August recess, the battle over raising the debt limit will ensue.

As the Heritage Foundation recently calculated, your personal share of the national debt is $53,769. This debt will cause families to lose up to $11,000 of their income every year at the same time high government spending will eliminate opportunities for career advancement, will paralyze job creation, and lower wages and salaries. Many will not be able to borrow money as interest rates increase.

It’s not like there haven’t been voices in the political wilderness warning of these outcomes. One notable voice has been David A. Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s budget director from 1981 to 1985, and currently the author of “The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America.”

“Over the last 13 years,” Stockman wrote in a New York Times opinion editorial, “the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000-dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later—within a few years, I predict—this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by the egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.”

The largest bankruptcy of an American city, Detroit, just made the headlines and it wasn’t caused by Republicans. Democrats have run Detroit since January 1952. In combination with its public service unions, its mayors and city government, all Democrats, destroyed the city.

President Obama is going to hit his perpetual campaign trail to tell Americans that the economy is turning around, is gaining momentum, and that his policies of the first four years have worked. They have not.  At some point enough American will have to stop listening to Obama’s siren call—“Who you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Devine Look at America

By Alan Caruba

For a few years I was a regular contributor to Conservative Battleline on the website of the American Conservative Union (ACU) Foundation, edited by a fellow I knew only as Don Devine. He was always unfailingly supportive and liked my commentaries.

What I didn’t know was that Don was Dr. Donald J. Devine, the author of eight books on aspects of political science and had served as President Ronald Reagan’s Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management where he helped cut 100,000 bureaucratic jobs and save more than $6 billion by reducing generous benefits.

If you think the federal government is too big, Don would surely agree. The Washington Post called him Ronald Reagan’s “terrible swift sword of the civil service” and The New York Times called him “the Grinch.” Both liberal newspapers were simply reflecting the progressive viewpoint that there is no such thing as a federal government that was, even then, too large.

Before and after his government service, Don had been an academic, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland and for a decade, a professor of Western civilization at Bellevue University. I always enjoyed reading the commentaries he contributed to the ACU because they were timely, cogent, logical, fact-filled, and reflected our shared conservative values.

I confess it never occurred to me to inquire much about “my editor” and, if I had, I likely would have been astonished to know that I was exchanging emails with a man whose curriculum vitae and resume would have made me feel like the village idiot. From reading his commentaries I was at least smart enough to recognize that Don possessed a superb intellect.

I confess further that I have always harbored some serious concerns about intellectuals. I never considered myself to be one. I was an “ink-stained wretch” who followed college and service in the army with a career that began as a journalist and segued into become a public relations counselor, mainly writing magazine articles regarding products, services, and issues. It was a great education, but it was nothing to compare with graduate school and years of teaching.

All this came together as I read Don’s latest book, “America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution” ($29.95, ISI Books). I have been a book reviewer for some fifty years and accustomed to reading at a fast clip and blessed with the knack of retaining most of what I learn in the process. I had to slow down to read “America’s Way Back” and you will too. This is not some journalist’s amusing observations on life in Washington, D.C. or a dumbed-down introduction to the Constitution. This one makes you think on every page!

The great value of Don’s book is the way he illustrates the differences between progressives and conservatives, a branch of which includes the libertarians. You will gain some invaluable insights to why, given the history of how Reagan restored and grew the economy during his two terms, when progressives get in power, they wreak havoc on the economy. The latest example is, of course, President Obama.

Earlier progressives included Woodrow Wilson who kicked off the present day mania for governments that, in his view, were supposed to apply “scientific” management to the affairs of government. Progressives, however, not only manage to expand it in a desperate effort to solve problems that should have been left to the states and communities, but also to throw trainloads of money at them to no avail. President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” is the template for Obama’s “stimulus” and, of course, Obamacare. Too big. Too complex. Too costly. And ultimately a brake on the economy accompanied by mind-boggling waste.

Before Wilson, a Republican named Teddy Roosevelt, was also a progressive and after him came, of course, Franklin Roosevelt whose New Deal set in motion the expansion of government with which we live today. Despite being elected four times, FDR’s policies never ended the Great Depression. World War Two did that. Without going through all the presidents that followed FDR, suffice to say that several Republican ones from Nixon through the two Bush presidencies also exhibited progressive inclinations and choice.

President Obama’s policies are the apotheosis of liberalism and they are not working. Democrats now worry that Detroit’s bankruptcy foreshadows what can happen to the entire nation if we keep spending insanely. They are right to worry. The problem is that those of us who have been conservatives for a long time have been warning anyone who will listen that this can and will happen.

The problem also is that most, not all, those in Washington, elected to high office in Congress and to power in the White House, are not listening, nor capable of bi-partisan efforts to stem the tide. Even the Supreme Court seems overwhelmed and confused when interpreting the Constitution.

All this is discussed in Don’s book and, though dense with detail, it also offers up some fundamental truths. “No one can possibly know how to regulate something as complex as the nation’s whole economy” and “allowing freedom to readjust the complexity is the way the market should operate.”

For all of Obama’s dedication to redistributing the wealth of the nation and imposing government control over all aspects of the economy, Don points out that “Second only to the rule of law as an influence on how well nations develop economically is the amount of government spending. The World Bank study showed that the greater the percentage of national income government spent, the more prosperity for the general population was frustrated.”

There are gems of insight and information in Don’s book, but you will be required to read it with more care and focus than most books. It is worth the effort. You will gain more insight to the way we are governed today—and why—than a whole shelf of comparable books on history, economics, the Constitution, the rule of law, the role of religion and other American traditions.

“Is not the current crisis actually the opportunity to transform the moribund welfare state into a truly vibrant free and good society?” asks Don. My answer is yes.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Too Much Trayvon and George

By Alan Caruba

I can only speak for myself, but I want to be relieved of having to change the channels in order to get away from too much talk about Trayvon Martin and too much talk about George Zimmerman.

From all that I have read and heard, Trayvon was a wannabe street thug with a taste for drugs, tossed out of school a couple of times, and George was a wannabe police officer who ended up on his back, getting his head pounded into the cement, and concluded Trayvon might just kill him. George should have left after calling the police. Trayvon should have kept going too. But people make bad decisions and it sometimes gets them killed or on trial.

The trial was a self-defense case from start to finish. That’s what the jury found even though Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law wasn’t even introduced by Zimmerman’s attorneys and, even though race was not introduced as a factor during the trial by either the prosecution or defense.

The trial, though, was all about race.

As a student of history, I and others can tell you that race has always been a factor in the life of the nation. In America it divided the states and required a horrendous war to resolve. Even then, after the end of the Civil War and for a century more, despite Constitutional amendments to end slavery and extend full citizenship, race remained an ugly factor, especially in the South where Jim Crow laws were especially obnoxious. In the 1960s the nation had to revisit the issue of civil rights.

I know all that, but I still want the endless discussions about race to end now that the jury has arrived at a perfectly common sense conclusion that Zimmerman, straddled—not by a “child”, but by full grown young man—had no real option other than to shoot him or risk suffering further injury and possibly death.

I know I am contributing to the millions of words written and spoken about this case at this point and I wish I were not. I don’t want to write about how weary I am of the media orgy that continues to feed off the way a minor incident in Sanford, Florida, metastasized into a trial and a national discussion of what has been discussed to death—race relations.

It is passing strange to me that the killings of white men and women, boys and girls—often killed almost randomly—have not evoked such supposed “outrage” in neither the black, nor white, community. Indeed, they are treated as little more than brief local news. Why do we expect, barely report, and not even publicly condemn such killings when the racial component is reversed?

Whites watched the Saturday protest rallies in cities across the nation with the resignation that comes with having concluded that nothing they say or do is going to have any effect on this kind of political, racial, kabuki theatre. Indeed, the Zimmerman-Martin affair was deliberately turned into a political event even though local police investigating it had concluded no crime had been committed. That was the jury’s conclusion as well.

What rankles are the “Justice for Trayvon” posters and chants. Trayvon Martin got justice. George Zimmerman got justice.

What Zimmerman has not gotten is a President who should not have intruded himself before and after the trial. I don’t really care that Obama is the first black President, even though he is half-white. He should have kept himself out of the discussion. Instead his community organizer instincts and not his degree in law kicked in. Nothing he said before and after the trial was helpful and all seemed to have little purpose than to stir up the divided passions on both sides, black and white.

I do not want to hear or read any more of this event. I do not want to hear more about Trayvon Martin. I do not want to hear more about George Zimmerman.

This nation is on a runaway train to the kind of bankruptcy that we just saw occur in Detroit. If it isn’t reversed—insane government borrowing and spending—then it won’t matter what color you are.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Living in a Communist Economy

By Alan Caruba

In the former Soviet Union, the joke was “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” It took over four decades of the Cold War to finally put an end to the lie that Communism as an economic system works. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Soviet Union came to an end on December 25, 1991. By then Communism worldwide had killed hundreds of millions of people.

Now, it is true that America is not a Communist nation, but by doggedly pursuing the theories put forth by Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, as well as the historically failed theories of Keynes, a British economist who believed that the government must pump money into the economy to keep it afloat, Obama has been trying to turn our Capitalist economy into a Communist one,

Calling our economy “Communist” may seem unduly harsh, but under Obama and his predecessors, the government is in charge of the banking sector, the health and insurance industries, General Motors was nationalized, the government is deeply involved in mortgage lending and now controls student loans. Now stand back and ask if the government—the State—is not now more Communist than Capitalist?

Wedded to failed economic theories, Obama has utterly failed to turn around the economy after the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession.
Writing in the August 2012 edition of Forbes magazine, Louis Woodhill said, “If mismanaging an economic recovery were an Olympic event, President Obama would be standing on the middle platform right now, accept the gold medal. Deep recessions are supposed to be followed by strong recoveries, but, under Obama, the worst recession since the 1930s has been followed by the slowest economic recovery in the history of the republic. In a very real sense, there has been no recovery at all—things are still getting worse.”

Obama still has three and a half years to make things ever more worse than they are. A Marxist in every sense of the word, Obama is so wedded to his belief in “redistribution” of wealth, that he spent the first term blaming his failed economic policies in George W. Bush and blathering endlessly about “millionaires and billionaires.” If the government confiscated all their wealth, it would barely pay for its operation for a month, if that.

The way most people experience a bad economy is whether they are employed or not. The self-employed feel it in reduced income, It is always one of the best indicators of the success or failure of whether things are improving or not.

As of July 2013, the United States has been in 54 straight months with an unemployment rate at 7.5% or higher. As Terrence P. Jeffery, the managing editor of CNSnews, recently noted, it is “the longest stretch of unemployment at or above that rate since 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started calculating the national unemployment rate.”

Under normal circumstances, Obama would have been defeated by Bozo the Clown in 2012, but he has had the support of the mainstream media from the day he started campaigning for the presidency. That is a powerful instrument of influence, but there is nothing to say it will continue what Bernard Goldberg called its “slobbering love affair” with Obama.

In June CNSnews reporter Elizabeth Harrington noted that there is still “a near record 89 million Americans not in the labor force.” The BLS put the number at 89,705,000 in May. “9.3 million Americans have left the workforce during the presidency of Barack Obama.” When broken down into categories, it means that Afro-Americans saw a rise in May to 13.5% or 11,599,000. Even the employer of last resort, the federal government, saw a decline to a mere 20,361,000. In a Communist society, in theory everyone works for the state.

Where the government becomes the source of all good things, it is worth noting that, as of April, the Department of Agriculture reported that a record number of 23 million households in America are now on food stamps. There are, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 115,310,000 households, meaning that one in five is receiving this government handout.

Virtually everyone knows someone who has lost their job and is searching for a new one., but life under Obama has been especially harsh for the newest generation coming out of high school and college. Generation Opportunity, a non-partisan youth advocacy organization announced its “Millennial Jobs Report” for June, specific to 18-to-29 year olds. With the overall unemployment rate at 7.5%, for this cohort, it is 16.1%!

It is worth keeping in mind that a nation—any nation—with a large group of unemployed youths, the prospects for protests and other problems are a historic fact. They have a lot of energy and no place to apply it. They are also easily manipulated.

In addition to bad economic policies, the government is going all-out to impose thousands of new regulations on all aspects of the economy and our lives. Historian Niall Ferguson, writing in a June edition of The Wall Street Journal, cited the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews’ annual survey of the federal regulatory state, noting that “the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936, it was just 2,620.”

This is national death by regulation strangulation and the President recently unleashed the Environmental Protection Agency even more by declaring “climate change” is a top priority. The EPA is in the process of killing coal-fired plants responsible for just under 50% of all the electricity we use. It wants to increase the amount of ethanol in our gasoline, damaging our auto’s engines at the same time it reduces the mileage they produce.

So, if you think we are still functioning in a free market economy, it is as great an illusion as was Communism in the former Soviet Union. When it was no longer defensible, that nation collapsed and was replaced by a truncated former empire, the Russian federation.

If the United States should face total financial collapse, there will be no real freedom left anywhere in the world. Just as any true Communist would want.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Middle East Insanity

By Alan Caruba

There’s not much I like about President Obama’s policies, but I am beginning to think that his resolve to militarily withdraw the U.S. from the Middle East is likely based on his insights into the Islamic mind.

The last U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011 and they are scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014. The President has been reluctant to send arms to the insurgents fighting Syria’s regime on the grounds that they are likely al Qaeda or similar jihadist groups. Makes sense to me.

Using drones to target al Qaeda leaders wherever they can be found, Pakistan or Yemen for example, also seems a sensible application of limited force applied with extreme prejudice.

During the course of the nearly nine years the U.S. was involved in Iraq, the U.S. lost almost 4,500 troops there while the cost of Iraqi lives during that period is estimated to be 100,000.

I have been thinking about Iraq because the only news from that horrid nation has been about the constant bombings there. Not that long ago Iraq was front page news every day, but no longer. Recently two senior Arab journalists wrote about the war in Iraq and their views are quite instructive.

JihadAl-Khazen, a columnist for the London daily Al-Hayat, took the view in March that U.S. officials, including former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Chaney, and others, should be prosecuted and executed for “fabricating evidence to justify the war.” To Western eyes, the actions of the former Iraq dictator, Saddam Hussein, may have had something to do with Bush’s decision which came after 9/11 and had been preceded by the invasion of Afghanistan.

It was widely believed at the time that Saddam had stores of poison gas and it is now believed they were transferred to Syria to avoid detection. According to Al-Khazen, Bush’s decision was based on the “pro-Israel gang of war” otherwise known as the neo-cons in the Bush administration.

Also in March, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, the editor of the London daily, Al-Quds Al Arabi, took the opportunity of the anniversary of the U.S. invasion to opine that Arabs are the victims of a series of ongoing conspiracies against them; conspiracies meant to serve Israel, seize the Arab’s oil, and to sow sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites.

Moreover, this moonbat suggested that Saddam had been “tricked” into invading Kuwait by the then U.S. ambassador and several Arab leaders. The notion that Saddam wanted to get his hands on Kuwait’s oil apparently did not occur to Al-Bara Atwan.

I cite these two journalists by way of illustrating the intense level of paranoia and total lack of logic that permeate the Arab mind throughout the Middle East. Apparently nothing that occurs there has anything to do with the intense hatred between Sunnis and Shiites—a hatred that dates back to 632 A.D. when these Islamic factions were formed over the question of who was to be the caliph following the death of Mohammed.

The most recent bombing in Iraq occurred during Ramadan. As the Associated Press reported on July 15, “The pace of the killings has picked up since the Muslim holy month Ramadan began Wednesday, with daily mass-casualty attacks marring what is meant to be a month of charity and peaceful reflections.” What better way to celebrate Ramadan than to engage in the murder of fellow Muslims?

“Violence in Iraq has risen to its deadliest level since 2008,” reported the AP, “with more than 2,800 people killed since the start of April. The spike in bloodshed is growing increasingly reminiscent of the widespread sectarian killing that peaked in 2006 and 2007, when the country teetered on the brink of civil war.”

After being eager to see the U.S. military leave, Ali al-Moussawi, a media advisor to Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told the AP in late June that “Baghdad would welcome increased arms sales and faster weapons deliveries, along with U.S. training teams to help it confront rising regional instability and terrorist threats.”  Much of the violence in Iraq is attributed to its Sunnis. The government there is controlled by Shiites.

“Iraq,” the AP reported, “is struggling to contain a resurgent al-Qaeda that is one of the main drivers behind the country’s worst uptick in violence in half a decade.” Al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization founded by Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden’s close associate, Ayman al-Zawahiri, got his start in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and is directing al Qaeda’s present effort to overthrow Syria’s Basher Al-Assad and take over the entire Middle East and the Maghreb, northern Africa’s Muslim nations.

President Obama’s efforts to put some distance between the U.S. and the turmoil in the Middle East are beginning to look like a good idea. Blood will flow in Iraq, in Syria, in Egypt, in Afghanistan, and anywhere else on the map of that horrid Islamic madhouse. It makes one yearn for the good old days of strong dictators who kept a lid on it.

© Alan Caruba, 2013