Monthly Archives: July 2014

Indoctrination Isn’t Education

Many of America’s schools are becoming places few feel comfortable in, both in terms of what they teach and how they are administered.

Rather than reflect the principles of honesty, accuracy and fairness that should be the hallmark of every educational endeavor, they are increasingly being used to push a partisan agenda that is distinctly disdainful of the United States as a nation and western civilization in general.

Of particular concern is the lack of instruction in history and civics. Authors Robert Poniscio, Gibert Sewall and Sandra Stotsky, writing for the Pioneer Institute  detail the lack of performance of U.S. students in these crucial areas. They cite a number of reasons, including the reduced amount of time devoted to these studies, and increased emphasis on radical-oriented areas such as race and gender studies.

While some may allege that this curriculum choice is more inclusive, the facts speak otherwise. One example: The Washington Times reports that a student recently complained that sites lauding Islam and left-wing policies were easily accessed on school computers, but equivalent sites about Christianity or conservative issues were blocked.

The harsh reality is that too many of America’s centers of learning are being used to indoctrinate, not educate.

Why Cities Fail

Progressive policies destroy cities.

At first, it sounds like a deeply parochial analysis made by a Republican partisan.  And, indeed, GOP leaders have often made the statement. Brian Carey reports that former House Speaker and past Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich has stated that “every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats.  Every major city.”

While the intent may be partisan, the reality is that left-wing governance has clearly failed to help, and has indeed hurt, America’s great metropolises. An Independent Journal Review  study found that the top ten cities with the highest poverty rates (with populations over 250,000) including Detroit, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, St. Louis, El Paso, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Newark all have had Democrat mayors for at least the last two decades.

The reasons why are relatively simple.  To win elections, Democrats rely on promises of increased aid, higher salaries and benefits, and more regulations over businesses. They seek to finance that assistance and oversight through comparatively higher taxes and fees.  This results in attracting or keeping those in need, while encouraging those producing revenue through profit or salary (other than municipal staff) to seek less costly venues.

There are reasons beyond dollars and cents, as well.  While Chicago is not on the top of the list for financial crises, its liberal attitudes towards crime are not conducive to building enterprises or retaining tax-paying middle class families.  Astoundingly, a WND report found that the rate of death through violence in Chicago (4,797, from 2003 through 2012) exceeds that of American soldiers in Afghanistan (2,166, from 2001—2013.)

A very clear example is New York.  As America’s largest city with significant geographical assets and the “home away from home” for many foreign investors, it is not in the top ten list of poverty rates.  But after decades of an unbroken string of leftist mayors, capped off by the very liberal tenure of David Dinkins, New York, despite its extraordinary advantages, was on the brink of ruin. Observers suggested that it was “ungovernable.”

But the city was pulled back from the brink by a significant change in course brought about by the election of a fiscally conservative mayor who emphasized low taxes and vigorous, tough, anti-crime policies. Under Rudolph Giuliani, the “ungovernable city” was transformed into “The capital of the world.”

It will be difficult for America’s endangered cities to pull back from the brink and avoid the fate of bankrupt Detroit. Their remaining populations are now tailor-made to continue supporting candidates who are politically astute enough to continue making promises that cannot be paid for. It remains to be seen whether the proximity of disaster will bring more success to common-sense candidates, whether they be Republican or more practical Democrats.

White House’s Double Taxation Attempt

Over $ 2 trillion is earned abroad and not returned to the American national economy because it will be taxed a second time at one of the highest rates in the industrialized world.  This disincentive has also been a major reason for trillions of dollars more to be invested abroad and not at home.

Because there is no rational plan to repatriate these monies and keep investments at home, the economy suffers the loss of  much needed revenue  which could grow the economy, create full time jobs with high wages and begin the rescue of the middle class from future decline.

To escape uncompetitive corporate tax rates and earn the largest honest profit they can for their shareholders, which is their principal corporate responsibility, domestic firms are merging with smaller foreign companies and moving their new corporate identity overseas where they are no longer subject to the anti-business/ ant-profit  policies that this administration is famous for. These mergers and relocations are called inversions.

The Obama Administration’s response is to initiate legislation to punish inversions by making them pay US taxes, on top of foreign taxes, if  domestic  ownership in the new entity is greater than 50%.  The prior threshold was 80%.  In short they want to, yet again, criminalize capitalism.

Schemes such as this are the hallmark of failing governments and oppressive regimes.

Larry Allison, co-host of the Vernuccio/Allison Report & contributing columnist for the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, filed this report.

American Middle Class: An Endangered Species

For over half a century, the American middle class has been the bulwark of prosperity and stability not only in the Unites States, but throughout the planet as well.  It is an entity that has become increasingly endangered over the past five years.

When Mr. Obama took office, the real median household income was $53,760.  It has since dropped to $53,385.

Middle income families are under siege from rising prices for the staples of life, including food, energy, shelter and medical care, needs which must be paid for with declining income and despite high taxes. They are also facing assaults on the non- materialistic front as well.

Key examples:

Red meat, pork, fruit and dairy prices have increased substantially from last year. Center cuts of beef with bones have jumped 18.9%, pork chops 18.8%, and numerous other pork choices by a startling 23.4%.  Bacon is up 14.5%. Romaine lettuce has risen 25.7%.  Dairy prices have jumped an average of 4.7%.

Increased prices for homes and rates for mortgages, as well as higher rental charges, have produced a significant squeeze to families, who also must contend with student debt reflecting the enormous and unjustified cost increases in college tuition over the past two decades.

A Forbes magazine study notes that “Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever… The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the ‘increases are largely due to changes under the ACA [Obamacare.]”

Gas prices constitute a major challenge for American families, jumping from an average of 2.42 in 2009 to 3.52 currently.  Despite high energy costs throughout the nation, the White House continues to roadblock the exploitation of energy resources on federal lands.

The most obvious indicator of middle class status, home ownership, has recently fallen 4.9%, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The problems aren’t restricted to ownership.  A U.S. News review reported that the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that affordable rent is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

The dwindling American middle class has lost its distinction of being the world’s most affluent, according to a New York Times report. One statistic hasn’t changed, however; despite the vast sums spent both on Mr. Obama’s “stimulus” and his mammoth increases in welfare-type programs, the Washington Times notes that the  poverty rate has remained at 15% for three consecutive years.  According to the Russell Sage Foundation  the median wealth of American households has dropped from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013.

These problems didn’t arise by accident. Although a portion of the increases in food may be attributable to weather fluctuations, (another portion is attributable to increasingly inane EPA policies) poor policy choices must bear the burden of the blame.

The White House has steadfastly refused to allow access to the riches of oil and gas on its vast land holdings, resulting in higher energy prices and fewer jobs.

America has the world’s highest corporate tax rate, deeply affecting employment. The increase in welfare-type benefits, especially those which can be accessed by relatively young, healthy individuals, has reduced the labor force participation to its lowest point in 36 years and has placed an enormous burden on working, middle income families who now pay taxes which are mostly spent on entitlement programs.

High taxes and EPA regulations combined with reduced financial support for the military has slashed many middle-class industrial jobs.

The bad news isn’t only on the economic front.  Middle-class values have been consistently mocked by academia, Hollywood, and the progressives.  The very concept of family self-sufficiency has been replaced with the leftist mantra of “it takes a village to raise a child.”

The stability and patriotism of middle class families is the bedrock upon which rests American success.  Its diminishment will indeed, in President Obama’s words, “profoundly transform” the nation, and not for the better.

White House Adviser Works Against U.S.

While the specifics of international diplomacy occasionally require a degree of discretion, the broad outlines of policy in a free nation require the consent of an informed citizenry.

In its dealings with Iran, the Obama Administration continues to pursue a path mostly hidden from the American public.  Largely, this appears due to the influence of White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Ms. Jarrett has had extensive personal ties with Iran and Iranian personnel. It has been reported that she has pursued extensive hidden negotiations with Tehran that have had a significant role in clandestinely shaping U.S. Middle Eastern policy.

An example of Ms. Jarrett’s influence can be seen in the odd refusal of the White House to support Iran’s “Green Revolution.”  Although Mr. Obama supported just about every other “Arab Spring” movement, (elements of which were not in U.S. interest) he failed to support the attempt by Iranians to modify the extremist and totalitarian policies of their nation, which would have greatly benefited both America and Middle East peace in general.

Among the more egregious results of this has been the softening of sanctions, which have allowed Iran to move forward with its nuclear weapons program.

Iran is behind much of the turmoil in the region.  Notably, it has supplied rockets to Hamas  which has led to the current turmoil between Israel and Gaza.

Clearly, Ms. Jarrett’s agenda, accepted by the Obama Administration, is directly detrimental to American interests, and is kept in the shadows for that reason.

A National Debate Based on False Premises

Analysts frequently opine that America’s problems appear intractable, that the nation is too divided to agree on common approaches.

A significant part of the problem is that, quite bluntly, much of the national debate is based on faulty information and premises that simply are not accurate.  Here’s a sampling:

Human-made global warming:  By far, the belief that human caused global warming is “undisputed by science” is the most propagated myth of our time.  President Obama has stated this on numerous occasions. Ex-politicians such as former Vice President Al Gore have literally made millions on this this premise.  The problem is, it is simply not scientifically accurate. Recently, 31,000 scientists signed a petition  objecting to this unproven belief.  Research clearly disputing the concept has been censored or hidden. And the facts don’t support it.

Increased trade with China: Both Democrats and Republicans have advocated for increased trade with China in the belief that this will discourage Beijing from engaging in hostile actions.  There is no evidence that this theory has worked, and it is not backed by historical precedent. (Rome  and Carthage, Britain and Germany, are two examples.) China’s vast and rapid military buildup is clearly geared towards confronting the United States, and some of the expertise behind it has been acquired through trade with or espionage within the United States. Even as trade has increased, China has acted increasingly belligerent towards both its neighbors and the U.S.

The Cold War: President Obama, along with Secretary of State Clinton, diligently advocated a “Reset” in relations with Russia based on the belief that the last vestiges of the Cold War were gone. A lop-sided arms treaty was agreed to. American tanks were withdrawn from Europe. U.S. military spending was reduced. In response, Russia sharply escalated its military budget, returned to cold war bases in various parts of the world, re-established threatening anti-American relations in Latin America, invaded Ukraine, and engaged in joint war games with China. Although there has been some awakening to the errors behind the “Reset” thinking elsewhere, the White House and its firmest supporters continue to adhere to a foreign policy unsupported by the facts.

The New York Analysis will examine further faulty premises next week.

Hispanic View on Illegal Immigration

In an exclusive interview with the Vernuccio/Allison Report, Clara E. Del Villar, the CEO & Editor-in-Chief of the Hispanic Post, revealed her concerns about the current crisis of illegal aliens flooding America’s southern border.

Ms. Villar notes that Mexico’s exceptionally powerful drug cartels are using the exodus as a screen to infiltrate their power to the United States.  She has recommended the following common sense approach:

  1. Secure the border. Our border security system is irresponsibly broken. Building up and maintaining strong, effective resources to address security, monitoring, and manpower requirements should not be a work in progress. Why the delay in addressing this obvious and primary need? The children now clamoring at our borders should sound serious alarm bells about the consequences and dangers of inaction…

    2. Modernize the visa system. There are systems management technologies available to bring efficiency, scalability, and sensory tracking ability to major industries …

  2. 3. Help U.S. companies.  They need E Verify, a potentially complex online system, to verify their workers’ legality.

    4. Strengthen diplomatic efforts. Maintain real relationships with Central American and Mexican officials on these immigration issues and more. U.S.-Latin American relations have long been a secondary foreign policy consideration to our detriment.

    5. Enact new laws. Serious immigration resolution requires provisional legal status, or guest-worker registration, with probation after all the background checks, fines, and taxes. Yes, there are doubts that undocumented immigrants will come forward to register. But it is safe to say that more will come forward to register than appear out of the shadows for mass deportation. Any process that includes identification beats the unknowable status quo we remain mired in at this time.

    6. Fix the visa process. The H1B visa restrictions on foreign graduate students are unwieldy at best. Some rules are archaic, such as a 7 percent limit on permanent permits to any nationality. The notion of limiting H1B visas to 65,000 (a number selected during or just after 9/11) is incomprehensible in a free market society. Such a policy is arbitrary, inefficient, and creates no economic benefit.

China’s African Land Grab

There are those who say that China’s growing economic reach is not a problem, that it is indeed a development that should be welcomed.  Perhaps they should take a closer look.

Unlike capitalist nations, which have the traditions of free press,  freely elected governments, and companies which must comply with legal standards, China’s bid to gain a significant interest in resources abroad is unrestrained by ethical considerations.

In a report filed for the National Geographic magazine, Joel Bourne and Robin Hammond described the heavy-handed tactics of Chinese organizations and their interaction with corrupt third-world governments that have little respect for private property rights.

Writing from Africa, Bourne and Hammond note that local civil society groups are concerned that thousands of small farmers have lost their land to one Chinese company with the compliance of the Mozambique government.  Although some locals manage to get jobs with the new owners, they must work seven days a week with no overtime pay.

Research by the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Use Project indicate that China is not alone in this abuse.

“Much public attention has been paid to acquisitions from emerging economies, including China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar… the Land Matrix data show that private acquirers motivated by profit are also prominent among the top investors. These originate from traditional investor countries, as well as emerging economies such as Brazil and South Africa… large tracts of land can be acquired from governments with little or no payment.”

Respect for private property rights is a hallmark of free societies.  The influence of China on the international scene bodes ill for this vital aspect of freedom.

Journalists criticize Obama’s assault on free speech

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has frequently written of its deep concern over the growing attacks on freedom of speech and the recurring assaults on the press by the Obama Administration.  The attempt to place Federal monitors in newsrooms, the surrender of internet control to an international body with members favoring censorship, the “bugging” of reporters phones, the proposal to limit First Amendment rights in campaigns and other actions add to a significant chilling effect on this most basic and fundamental of American individual liberties.

The latest White House moves to prevent photos and interviews at sites where the huge influx of illegal aliens are being held is the most recent example.

After five-plus years of being tolerant of this deeply worrisome behavior, journalists have finally become sufficiently offended at this unacceptable behavior—this “fundamental change” in the relationship between the press and the White House—that they are publicly reacting.

The Washington Examiner  recently reported that eight journalism groups have sharply criticized Mr. Obama’s “politically driven suppression of the news.”

An example is a letter just submitted to the President by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) which stated:

Mr. President,

You recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government. You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in…

Recent research has indicated the problem is getting worse throughout the nation, particularly at the federal level. Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations. Contact is often blocked completely. When public affairs officers speak, even about routine public matters, they often do so confidentially in spite of having the title “spokesperson.” Reporters seeking interviews are expected to seek permission, often providing questions in advance. Delays can stretch for days, longer than most deadlines allow. Public affairs officers might send their own written responses of slick non-answers. Agencies hold on-background press conferences with unnamed officials, on a not-for-attribution basis.

In many cases, this is clearly being done to control what information journalists – and the audience they serve – have access to. A survey found 40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote.

It has not always been this way. In prior years, reporters walked the halls of agencies and called staff people at will. Only in the past two administrations have media access controls been tightened at most agencies. Under this administration, even non-defense agencies have asserted in writing their power to prohibit contact with journalists without surveillance. Meanwhile, agency personnel are free speak to others — lobbyists, special-interest representatives, people with money — without these controls and without public oversight…”

In its scope and extent, President Obama’s intentional interefence with the First Amendment is unprecedented and exceedingly dangerous.  Americans need to halt this before it is too late to do so.

The case of the missing national holiday

Call it the case of the missing national holiday.

It was 45 years ago this week that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to set foot on a celestial body other than planet Earth. They left a plaque stating that they came in peace for all mankind.

Armstrong, Aldrin, and Mike Collins, the commander of the Apollo 11 capsule that orbited the moon while they explored, were, of course, Americans.  Their mission was one of the greatest technological achievements in human history, and will probably be considered by future historians a watershed moment for all humanity.

Yet , since that momentous occurrence, its anniversaries pass with almost no fanfare, no special recognition, and no momentous celebratory events. That fact is a painful reminder of the growing failure of politicians, U.S. schools, media, and other national cultural institutions to instill a knowledge of and appreciation for the unique and extraordinary accomplishments of the American nation.

Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have expressed unease with the concept of U.S. exceptionalism, and have exhibited almost an embarrassed demeanor whenever the discussion turns to the unparalleled contributions America has provided to the world. To the contrary, President Obama went on an “apology tour” early in his tenure, and Michelle Obama famously stated that the first time she was proud of her country was when her husband was selected to run for the White House.

Far too many American schools and American textbooks provide a nasty, biased version of U.S. history that concentrates only on national imperfections, imperfections which have long since been remedied.

Today, while NASA languishes, no longer capable of even placing an astronaut in orbit, the Russians, Chinese, and even the United Arab Emirates are planning ambitious space ventures. The vast gains in technology and resources may go to them, much as Portugal, once a great exploratory nation, eventually was passed by when it lost its will to continue.

To prosper and advance, America  must once again find pride in its past and faith in its future ,and once again “push the envelope” to take the lead in this and other endeavors so pivotal to its future as a nation and a culture.