Monthly Archives: November 2015

UN seeks to enforce worldwide wealth transfer

The United Nations climate change summit will take place from November 30—December 11. More than just a gathering to exchange ideas, it seeks to impose a global framework to enforce views, many unproven and intended largely to facilitate the transfer of wealth from developed nations to the third world, in a manner enforced by international law.

According to numerous sources, the establishment of an “International Tribunal of Climate Justice” will be established. The Daily Mail  reports that the tribunal “could see states who fail to uphold the international deal to tackle climate change brought before a court…” If agreed to by the Obama Administration, as appears likely, it would represent yet another major international treaty called by an alternate title for the purpose of bypassing Senate approval.

Once again, as has been seen before in international agreements entered into by the Obama Administration, a distinction is made between “developed” and third world countries:

“Developed country Parties shall undertake nationally determined mitigation commitments while developing country Parties should undertake nationally determined mitigation contributions/actions.”

A framework for penalizing developed nations is established:

“Parties acknowledge the importance of addressing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts and recognize the need for international cooperation and solidarity, including through the institutional arrangements as defined in this Agreement.”

A WND analysis concludes that “Congress would be bypassed – left out in the cold – by this climate deal, critics say…Policies once left to sovereign nations could be turned over to a U.N. body… According to the proposed draft text of the climate treaty, the tribunal would take up issues such as “climate justice,” “climate finance,” “technology transfers,” and “climate debt.”

The implications for the United States could be staggering. A New American  review of the negotiations leading up to the conference reveals that “Each Party to the Convention whose per capita greenhouse gas emissions exceed the global average per capita greenhouse gas emissions” shall be listed as an ‘Annex I’ nation,’ which means its citizens will be assigned a 300-year ‘carbon debt’ for the period 1750-2050. And called on to pay it.  We’re not talking mere hundreds of billions of dollars here. As we have reported previously, various UN proposals have demanded tens of trillions of dollars as ‘climate reparations.’ ”

Bloomberg News reports “As part of any agreement, poor nations, such as Brazil and India, want wealthier countries to pay them a lot of money, both for scaling back their emissions and for adapting to a warming climate. Their argument has traction. Wealthy nations have agreed, in principle, to provide $100 billion by 2020 to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund. Last year, President Barack Obama pledged to give $3 billion…poor countries have a second and perhaps more compelling idea: corrective justice. In particular, they call for “reparations…”

The United Nations Regional Information Center for Western Europe notes that Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated in February that “the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement.” Once again, the emphasis appears less on dealing with unsubstantiated claims of man-made climate change than in establishing a scheme to massively transfer wealth from developed nations to undeveloped nations.

In addition to the inappropriate move to base a major international agreement (one that would literally transform the world economy and notions of sovereignty on unproven theories) the concept of diverting wealth from nations with generally stable economies and governments to governments that adhere to failed economic theories and practices can only lead to massive fraud and waste. The end result will be a drain on the prosperity of the nations that are leading the world out of poverty, with no viable gain for those nations receiving the transferred funds.

The alluring fraud of free stuff

The 2016 election cycle is underway, and the contrast between the candidates is stark.  Some have concentrated on the growing dangers from issues such as America’s unmanageable national debt, excessive taxes, the rise of international terrorism, Russia’s increased aggressiveness, China’s actions in the Pacific, or the challenges arising from illegal immigration.

Others have promised free stuff.

The allure of free stuff is seductive for a voting population suffering from continued long-term unemployment, stagnant wages, increasing prices in many key essentials, and heavy student debt from unjustifiably high college tuition. Politicians promising giveaways, particularly in an era when many in the media are inclined to agree with the practice of more entitlements and disinclined to examine how to pay for them, have a distinct edge.  It calls to mind Benjamin Franklin’s warning that “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

A list of the give-away ideas floated by several of the presidential hopefuls includes budget-breakers such as, to take two prominent examples, free college tuition and more subsidized or free health care. They also continue to favor more leniency on illegal immigration, which increases the population dependent on government largess.  It’s not just illegal immigration that presents an increased dependency problem.  U.S. consulates abroad feature helpful pamphlets on how to apply for benefits upon arrival in America. The United States cannot afford to function as the welfare agency for planet Earth.

Interestingly enough, those advocating for free stuff have not expressed equal concern for the fact that non-entitlement benefits already paid for by workers such as Social Security face bankruptcy, or that America’s military personnel and veterans continue to be underpaid or receive inadequate post-service care.

Prudent voters should ask how candidates promising free stuff intend to pay for their generous plans. The concept of taxing the rich is unconvincing.  It would not reduce “inequality,” another idea floated by candidates who favor increased entitlements. A review noted that “researchers …looked at what would happen if all the extra money raised from the tax hike on the rich were given to America’s poorest. Lower-income families would receive about $2,650 a year, they found. The country would still remain far more unequal than it was in the 1970s.”

John Stossel, writing in Forbes, notes “it’s a fantasy to imagine that raising taxes on the rich will solve our deficit problem. If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That’s only a third of this year’s deficit. Our national debt would continue to explode.” Add to that fact the reality that increased taxes serves as a disincentive to hire and invest.  A shrinking economy does not help pay for increased entitlements.  Margaret Thatcher, the late British Prime Minister, perhaps stated the problem most succinctly: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Details such as how to pay for giveaway plans fail to get airtime during televised debates, in the breathless press releases of campaigns promising more and greater entitlements, or in reviews by a generally left-leaning media. That lack of specificity tends to assist candidates proposing free stuff, and works to the detriment of candidates who focus on looming threats or fiscal reality.

It’s not just candidates that endure harsh criticism when entitlements are involved. In Maine, reports the Daily Signal, Governor LePage has enforced stricter requirements for food stamps, and has taken considerable press criticism for the effort.

“Since LePage assumed the governorship, Maine has reduced enrollment in the state’s food stamp program by over 58,000; currently… there are 197,000 people on food stamps, down from a high of 255,663 in February 2012…the decline is due to eliminating the waiver of the work requirement previously attached to food stamps, as also witnessed in Kansas. Under the new legislation, recipients would need to work 20 hours per week, volunteer for about an hour a day, or attend a class to receive food stamps past three months.”

Mary Mayhew is the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for administering Maine’s food stamp program. She has taken considerable criticism, she notes in a Daily Signal interview. “I can’t stress enough what an attack campaign it has been from the media for four and a half years…Mayhew claims that detractors—who mostly take issue with welfare reforms enacted by Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, since his election in 2011—have gone so far as to call her ‘Commissioner Evil,’ and her and LePage’s policies a ‘War on the Poor.”

The 24 hour news cycle may be broad, but far too often it is also shallow. Voters enduring America’s weak economy are targeted by candidates who promise free stuff and are confident there will be little follow-up on how to pay for their proposals. On the other hand, candidates with more realistic platforms are seen as miserly and uncaring.

When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1940, he famously said “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” His blunt honesty in the darkest days of World War 2 helped rally his nation to victory. One wonders how an American version of Churchill would fare in a campaign against a candidate who simply offered more free stuff.

Returning power to the states

Public trust in the government reached near historic lows in recent years, according to the Pew Research organization  and others. The rise and popularity of “outsider” candidates such as Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump put a heavy emphasis on the significant disdain voters have for the Washington establishment.

The federal governments’ growing obtrusiveness into so much of the nation’s economic life and daily activities far exceeds anything envisioned by the nation’s founders. The trend began in the early 20th century and has accelerated in the past eight years. Add to this unintended power is the simple fact that Washington has caused more problems than it has solved with all this power, and, arguably, has impaired America’s recovery from the Great Recession, which was itself the result of the federal government’s meddling in the housing market.

These factors, combined with the Republican capture of both houses of Congress and the rising activism of conservative legislators may give rise to another look at a Constitutional Amendment providing the states with more influence in national lawmaking.

One proposal to address this is the Repeal Amendment, which was introduced into Congress in 2011. It would also be considered by state legislatures. The Repeal Amendment would give two-thirds of the states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. The text is fairly straightforward:

“Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.”

The amendment was reintroduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah) and introduced before the Senate by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming.) Florida became the first state legislature to call for an Article V convention to adopt this proposed Amendment.

Randy Barnett of the Georgetown University Law Center  described the measure:

“At present, the only way for states to contest a federal law or regulation is to bring a constitutional challenge in federal court or seek an amendment to the Constitution. A state repeal power would provide a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations without either relying on federal judges or permanently amending the text of the Constitution just to correct a specific abuse of federal power.

“A state repeal power should not be confused with the power of federal courts to ‘nullify’ unconstitutional laws. Unlike the judiciary, under the Repeal Amendment, states can reject a federal law for policy reasons that are irrelevant to constitutional concerns. In this sense, a state repeal power is more like the President’s veto power, though it can be applied to any existing law or regulation that has already been enacted.

“This provision would help restore the original balance between state and federal power and allow states to protect the liberties and rights of their citizens, as well as their own operations, from overreaching federal power. It places confidence in the collective wisdom of the men and women from diverse backgrounds, elected by diverse constituencies, who comprise the modern legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Put another way, it allows thousands of democratically elected representatives outside the Beltway to check the will of 535 elected representatives in Washington, D.C.

“While it is no panacea, the Repeal Amendment would restore the states’ ability to protect the powers ‘reserved to the states’ noted in the Tenth Amendment. Moreover, it would provide citizens with another political avenue to protect the “rights … retained by the people” to which the Ninth Amendment refers. In short, the Repeal Amendment would provide a new political check on the threat to American liberties posed by a runaway federal government…

“In part because the judiciary has failed to exercise its own checking function, the powers of Congress have grown so enormously that they swamp the operations of state governments. For this reason the Court has recognized certain limits on Congress vis-a-vis state legislatures and state executive officials. The Repeal Amendment merely places an additional structural check in the hands of democratically elected members of state legislatures…”

Not surprisingly, the concept has been attacked by those with a vested interest in keeping the Washington establishment’s grip on power intact. Advocates of increased regulation, expanding entitlement programs, and the virtual absence of checks on illegal immigration will fight furiously to prevent the resurrection of the concept.

American prosperity based on courage and free enterprise

In the various statements made by nations envious of America, demands are frequently made that U.S. taxpayers share the “bounty” of their land.  Completely lost in the demands for American assistance is the fact that the U.S. is prosperous for two reasons.

The first is the courage of those who first ventured here, in the face of great danger and uncertainty. Those early settlers endured extraordinary danger and hardship, and many newcomers died in their first winter on the shores of the New World.  The same can be said for the pioneers who moved the nation’s population westward to the Pacific.

The second is the free enterprise economic system that took its firmest root in America.  It is ironic that both domestic and foreign critics of America both seek the largesse of its people while criticizing the capitalist philosophy that created its wealth.

Rod Bragg, author of The Pilgrim Chronicles: An Eyewitness History of the Pilgrims and the Founding of Plymouth Colony (Regnery History) describes the journey of the Pilgrims.  On this Thanksgiving, it’s appropriate to consider how courageous those men and women were:

 “It was no small decision to go. Those leaving for America knew that they might never again see those loved ones and friends they were leaving behind. They also knew at least some of the dangers they faced. Would they drown in a storm crossing the fierce Atlantic or die of the ‘bloody flux’ like others before them? Would illness or accident claim them in the mysterious American wilderness? Would they be murdered by the natives—the Indians—who were known as ‘savages’ in England? Would they be up to the hard labor of building new homes and lives in a strange and untamed new land? For most, who had fled England a decade earlier, this would be their second exodus: Would it finally resolve their quest for freedom of faith? The answers to such life-and-death questions, they left to the sovereignty of God. After all—in the words of William Bradford—‘they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits…

“The most fearful among them presumably remained in Holland or England, but Bradford conceded that fear of the wilderness and the dangers it contained was ‘neither unreasonable nor unprobable.’ Even the drinking water in America was believed it be harmful. In reality, the freshwater streams in America were far healthier than the water sources in England. There, water quality was so questionable that the beverage commonly consumed by English families, including Puritans and Separatists, was beer or ale. The water in America was just one worry for the Pilgrims: they had also been led to fear indigenous foods—and even the air itself. ‘The change of air, diet and drinking of water would affect their bodies with sore sicknesses and grievous disease,’ it was commonly believed.

[After arriving in the New World] “Some of the Pilgrims had carelessly left their firearms on the shore where they had beached the shallop, and a band of Indians attempted to capture the weapons. To cover their raid on the firearms, the Indians unleashed a volley of arrows on the Pilgrims’ campsite—which is how the explorers found themselves in a hail of arrows. Remarkably, no one was hit. The Pilgrims on the beach yelled a warning to the others—‘Indians! Indians!’—and the men in camp opened up with their firearms. It was a brisk skirmish, but apparently no one on either side was killed. Outgunned, the Indians retreated into the forest, and the Pilgrims ‘gave God solemn thanks and praise for their deliverance.’ They dubbed the site of their skirmish ‘the First Encounter’… When Massasoit arrived at Plymouth, the Pilgrim leaders treated Massasoit with the respect afforded a head of state. They seated him on a rug and pillows in one of the Pilgrim homes, and referred to him as the tribal ‘king.’ Their respect and diplomacy were successful: Chief Massasoit agreed to a peace treaty that would be rarely duplicated in the American Colonial Era—both sides would honor it for more than half a century.

“To prepare for the colony’s autumn thanksgiving observance, Governor Bradford dispatched a four-man hunting party to obtain game for the celebration. The hunters returned with a week’s supply of ‘waterfowl’ and ‘wild Turkeys.’ Added to the event’s menu was a supply of venison, which was contributed by Pokanoket Indians. Chief Massasoit and more than ninety members of the tribe attended the celebration. Although they outnumbered the Pilgrims two to one, the Indians were ‘entertained and feasted’ as honored guests by the Pilgrims, who now viewed the Pokanokets with little fear.”

Russia’s Mideast goals

In the wake of the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet that, according to the Turkish government, violated Turkey’s airspace, tensions between Moscow’s forces and America’s allies have escalated to a dangerous degree,  It is an appropriate time to review what the Kremlin’s actual goals in the region may be.

Moscow’s explanation of its activities in Syria in regard to ISIS has been blunt, and strongly stated during an interview on the Rossiya television network with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev 

After all, everyone can see that their (Western) activities in this region to combat ISIS have amounted to practically nothing, and ISIS continues to spread. Only Russia’s involvement has changed the situation.”

Paul Davis, a retired US Army military intelligence and former Soviet analyst serves as the president of the Janus consulting firm. Writing in Rudaw, he presents a different point of view:

“Russia is building a regional coalition to include Syria, Iran and Iraq…Russian fighters have tested Turkish air defenses by flying into Turkish air space. Russian have flown toward US fighters in Syria turning just outside the range of US air-to-air missiles. Elsewhere Russia has tested US and European reaction in the air and at sea…All military operations have both short term and long term goals. The short term Russian goal is twofold… First to shore up Assad and second to impose itself once again into the Middle East. Beyond this is reducing or removing United States influence, being able to sit on the oil distribution routes to Europe and the rest of the world, and continuing turmoil in the region. What then is Russia’s long term goals? First they need to consolidate the gains made in the Crimea and in Ukraine. For that to happen NATO needs to be occupied on other problems. Second they need to fix their economy which has tanked as it is dependent on oil, so causing a crisis in the Middle East has always sent oil prices soaring. Last they need the world to know they will resort to the military option if necessary and not just in the near abroad…”

NATO believes that the Kremlin stands to gain from ISIS activities in several ways:

“[ISIS] has provided Moscow with the opportunity to engage in the Middle East where – despite the Kremlin’s proclamations – its interests are only indirectly related to the fight against ISIL.

The exodus of foreigners to ISIL-controlled territory has implications for the global community. As is the case with those who joined revolutionary movements in the past – including the Bolsheviks – there are a variety of motivations and reasons. Their numbers are considerable, from several hundred to several thousand a month. A few thousand are from the former Soviet Union. Several hundred are from Muslim Central Asia. Possibly several hundred have come from Muslim enclaves in the Russian heartland –– Tatarstan and Bashkiria. Still, the majority clearly is from the Russian North Caucasus, mainly Chechnya. And this benefits the Kremlin considerably, relieving it from the troubles that plagued both Yeltsin and Putin throughout most of post-Soviet history. Moreover, this exodus has provided Putin with the opportunity to engage in the Syrian venture without fear of possible repercussions.

“The freedom from jihadist worries at home provides Putin with a free hand to engage in Syrian ventures. This is why one should take his public proclamations about Russia’s active involvement in the Syrian crisis with a grain of salt: This action is not being taken out of fear of ISIL; as outlined above, ISIL has paradoxically helped Putin by destroying the North Caucasian resistance as an organised force. Rather, Russia wants to demonstrate its arrival and relevance in the Middle East. It is a message sent not just to the United States but to a much broader audience, signaling to both the Arabs in the Middle East and to Israel that – at a time when Washington’s allies in the region are concerned that the United States appears to be wavering – Moscow could be a good back-up.

“The second important aspect of the Syrian venture is the implicit appeal to Europe to readmit Russia to the West… Putin’s increasing flirtation with China and Iran reflects a desire to show the West that Moscow has other options…By engaging in Syria, Putin is trying to demonstrate to Europe that Russia could be a leading force in saving Europe and Western civilisation from the threat of violent and extremist Islamism – and that Moscow should therefore not be ostracised…What are the practical implications for these actions? On the one hand, being basically free from fear of Islamic insurrection at home and, in many ways, benefiting from ISIL as a magnet for Russian-born extremists, Moscow is confident enough to stay in the Middle East for a long time and be assured that its interests in the region are respected.”

Cuba continues to repress dissidents, hosts Russian military

It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand the White House‘s reopening of relations with Cuba.

In addition to the renewed presence of Russian naval and intelligence facilities on the island nation and continued repression of the island’s population, the Castro regime has refused to make any significant concessions to the U.S., and indeed, has pressed baseless financial claims against America. There has been no progress on any restitution of private assets nationalized during the Cuban Revolution.

An example of the bizarre nature of President Obama’s relations with the Castro regime was seen on September 30, when a political dissident who was recently released, according to Cuban Exile Quarter attempted to escape into the U.S. embassy.  Carlos Manuel Figueroa was returned to Cuban authorities, who reportedly beat him. According to Cuban Exile Quarter, “The human rights situation in Cuba has been steadily deteriorating during the Obama administration with rising levels of violence and the extrajudicial execution of opposition leaders since 2009.  Equally concerning is the claim made by Ivan Hernandez Carrillo over twitter that Carlos Manuel Figueroa is a U.S. citizen of Cuban origin.  The claim made by the Obama administration that human rights would be a priority with the new policy on Cuba would be laughable, if it were not so tragic.”

Human Rights Watch  reports “The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. While in recent years it has relied less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and other critics have increased dramatically. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.”

This occurs despite the December 2014 announcement by President Obama that the United States would normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease restrictions on travel and commerce with the island in exchange for several concessions by the Cuban government.

Human Rights Watch notes that Havana “continues to rely on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate individuals who exercise their fundamental rights. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN)—an independent human rights group the government views as illegal—received over 7,188 reports of arbitrary detentions from January through August 2014, a sharp increase from approximately 2,900 in 2013 and 1,100 in 2010 during the same time period.

Security officers virtually never present arrest orders to justify the detention of critics and threaten them with criminal sentences if they continue to participate in “counterrevolutionary” activities. In some cases, detainees are released after receiving official warnings, which prosecutors can then use in subsequent criminal trials to show a pattern of delinquent behavior. Dissidents said these warnings aim to discourage them from participating in activities seen as critical of the government.

Detention is often used preemptively to prevent individuals from participating in peaceful marches or meetings to discuss politics. In the days leading up to the summit meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), for example, which took place in Havana on January 28 and 29, 2014, at least 40 people were arbitrarily detained, and 5 held under house arrest until the conference had ended…

Members of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White)—a group founded by the wives, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners and which the government considers illegal—are routinely detained before or after they attend Sunday mass…Even after the conditional release of dozens of political prisoners in December 2014, dozens more remain in Cuban prisons according to local human rights groups. These groups estimate that there are more political prisoners whose cases they cannot document because the government prevents independent national or international human rights groups from accessing its prisons…Cubans who criticize the government continue to face the threat of criminal prosecution. They do not benefit from due process guarantees, such as the right to fair and public hearings by a competent and impartial tribunal. In practice, courts are “subordinated” to the executive and legislative branches, denying meaningful judicial independence…The government controls all media outlets in Cuba and tightly restricts access to outside information, severely limiting the right to freedom of expression. Only a very small fraction of Cubans are able to read independent websites and blogs because of the high cost of, and limited access to, the Internet…A May 2013 government decree directed at expanding Internet access stipulates that the Internet cannot be used for activities that undermine “public security, the integrity, the economy, independence, and national security” of Cuba—broadly worded conditions that could be used against government critics.”

The Menges Hemispheric Security Symposium held in October concluded: “The powerful, fact-based and analytically rigorous interventions by …world-class authorities underscore a reality lost on most Americans:  The stakes regarding developments in Cuba and Venezuela – and, indeed, in much of the Western Hemisphere – could not be higher for the United States.  The Castro brothers’ regime is a metastasizing cancer in our region, as is its client in Venezuela.  President Obama’s much-ballyhooed rapprochement with the former is national security fraud.  His administration’s ongoing efforts to achieve a similar outcome with the latter would greatly compound that act of malfeasance.”

America’s widening division

There have been numerous elections filled with contentious and divisive issues. However, the 2016 presidential contest is highlighted by differences so profound that they have little precedent in American politics. Unlike other discordant eras, where singular topics or approaches to crises produced sharp differences within the electorate, it is the very fabric of the nation that is being argued over.

Consider these bedrock current topics:

What is the role of the federal government? What issues involve personal choice, as opposed to those that come under the purview of elected officials, administrative agencies, and the courts? Should the U.S. have enforceable borders? What is America’s role in the world? Which nations are our friends, and which are our enemies? Should U.S. foreign policy be subordinated to the United Nations? Should international treaties have precedent over American law? Should taxpayer dollars be used for citizens, or should some portion of them be set aside for the benefit of people around the world? How sacrosanct are the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights? How closely must the Constitution be followed in areas such as the separation of powers?   What is the best economic system for the U.S., one based on a free market, or that more closely identified with socialist systems? Should campaign regulations be allowed to interfere with free speech rights?

There are a number of illustrations, clarified by the recent televised candidate debates, which exemplify the yawning gap between the growing divisions in U.S. society.

In the economic sphere, Senator Bernie Sanders openly espouses a more socialist economic system, and the other two presidential hopefuls within his party are not that different from him in their economic views.  It’s not liberalism they are espousing; it is a form of true socialism.  Their solutions involve more federal programs, higher taxation, and increased regulation.  In sharp contrast, the GOP candidates advocate reducing the role of government in the marketplace and lowering taxes.  They point to the fact that programs such as the War on Poverty have spent over a trillion dollars and have failed to reduce the percentage of Americans in poverty, and emphasize that increased regulations prevents the economy from growing, impedes success in competing with other nations, and keeps unemployment high.

Unexpectedly, the First Amendment has become a political battleground. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to amend it to eliminate the right when it comes to paid political speech. Others within the Democrat party advocate strict campaign regulations that also require limiting free speech.  Most Republicans take the opposite tack, and maintain that no limit on the First Amendment is acceptable.

The differences are generational as well.  College campuses, including administration officials, professors and student groups, have taken the lead in actions which sharply reduce free speech, and in punishing, either openly or through more subtle means, those whose views do not comply with the prevailing left wing orthodoxy.

The Pew Research organization  has found that 40% of Millennials are OK with limiting speech they term offensive to minorities.  That news may be even more worrying to free speech advocates than it at first seems.  The “offensive language” referred to is not racial slurs or related derogatory comments.  In many instances, what has been termed offensive are actually little more than disagreements about issues not directly related to race at all.  Saying, for example, that All Lives Matter, rather than just Black Lives Matter, has been termed offensive by some. Again, the differences are stark. The three Democrat candidates adhere to the Black Lives Matter saying; the Republicans prefer All Lives Matter.

Beyond the contentious issue of race, the increasing use of terms such as “micro aggression”—essentially any disagreement that makes someone uncomfortable– are employed to justify free speech limitations, in any variety of areas. When combined with the potential for international control of the internet which will give influence to nations advocating censorship, there is ample reason for the concern expressed by advocates. The concept of limiting coverage under the Bill of Rights is one that leaves little room for compromise between the growing divisions in American society.

International relations have always proved divisive, and again the differences are stark, but not always divided on strict party lines. The recently withdrawn Democrat candidate Jim Webb advocated a more muscular approach, as do the majority of GOP candidates. However, Republican Rand Paul has advised lesser U.S. involvement overseas. The clearest division is how international threats are perceived, not necessarily in the best way to deter them.  Under the leadership of President Obama and in the positions taken by those Democrats who hope to succeed him, the threats from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Islamic extremists have been downplayed. (Hillary Clinton has identified Republicans as the enemy.) The GOP hopefuls have stressed the dangers from those nations and organizations.

Similarly, Democrats tend to favor increased international influence from multinational treaties and organizations on internal American affairs. Republicans point to the lesser rights provided to citizens around the world, and worry that international influence will diminish American rights.

U.S. citizens increasingly read different publications, watch and listen to different news programs, and quote different versions of history. How this will affect the unity of the nation is an issue all sides should be troubled by.

Reducing incarceration will increase crime

In the aftermath of the October killing of a New York City police officer by a career criminal, outrage was expressed by many that the perpetrator was not in jail.

Despite the reality that an increase in incarceration, (rates of incarceration increased by 400% from 1970 to 2010, according to the Marshall Project) has resulted in a significantly lower crime rate for the past several decades, some continue to call for alternatives to incarceration that would allow some criminals to roam free.

In his October 17 weekly address,  President Obama reiterated several of the myths guiding the call to reverse the strategy that has lowered crime.  A White House description summarizes his comments:

“In this week’s address, the President highlighted the problems in our criminal justice system. Our country faces a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. There are 2.2 million people behind bars in America today, compared to 500,000 just 30 years ago. This topic isn’t new – the President has talked about the unfairness of much of the criminal justice system since his time in the Senate. And while we’ve taken steps to address this issue, members of both parties agree that we can do more. Over the next few weeks, the President will travel the country and meet with Americans who are working to fix the criminal justice system, from law enforcement officials working to lower the crime and incarceration rates, to former prisoners who are earning their second chance. And he promised to continue to work with Congress to pass meaningful criminal justice reform that makes the system cost-effective, fairer, and smarter, while enhancing the ability of law enforcement to keep our communities safe.”

The Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes that America is in the midst of “the biggest de-legitimization of law enforcement in recent memory.”

Progressives incorrectly allege that the prison population is comprised in large part of nonviolent minor drug offenders. Ms. MacDonald provides more accurate statistics indicating that violent criminals and serial thieves constitute the vast majority of the incarcerated population. 87% of prisoners are in state jails. In 2013, drug offenders made up less than 16% of state prison populations. In the far smaller federal system, only 1% were imprisoned for simple drug possession, and 49% for serious drug trafficking. The next review will find that even those comparatively small numbers will be lowered even further in the aftermath of the dismantling of tough drug laws in the past few years.

The campaign against incarceration has produced a number of startling comments. A New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik typifies the progressive perspective: “How did we get here? How is it that our civilization, which rejects hanging and flogging and disembowelling, came to believe that caging vast numbers of people for decades is an acceptably humane sanction…William J. Stuntz, a [deceased] professor at Harvard Law School… startlingly suggests that the Bill of Rights is a terrible document with which to start a justice system—much inferior to the exactly contemporary French Declaration of the Rights of Man, which Jefferson, he points out, may have helped shape while his protégé Madison was writing ours.The trouble with the Bill of Rights, he argues, is that it emphasizes process and procedure rather than principles. The Declaration of the Rights of Man says, Be just! The Bill of Rights says, Be fair!”

As attitudes against incarceration harden, violent crime increases. Melanie Batley, writing for Newsmax provides a number of examples:

“A city-by-city look shows:

  • In Baltimore, shootings are up 82.5 percent, or nearly double from last year…
  • In Chicago, there have been over 900 shootings this year, a 40 percent increase, and a 29 percent increase in homicides in the first three months of the year…
  • In New York City, murders have increased 20 percent and the mayor has already announced that he will put an additional 330 cops on the street by Monday in response to the spike in homicides and shootings.
  • In Los Angeles, violent crime rates increased by more than 25 percent and the city is also deploying more officers to areas where crime is on the rise…

And according to

  • In St. Louis, there have been 55 murders this year
  • In Dallas, violent crime is up 10 percent
  • In Atlanta, homicides are up 32 percent
  • In Milwaukee, homicides have increased by 180 percent.”

The clear correlation between the increase in incarceration rates and the historic decrease in crime cannot be overlooked. To undue that success poses a true danger to the public.

American safety, finances jeopardized

Yesterday’s passage of legislation in the House of Representatives requiring that additional security checks be completed before Syrian refugees are admitted (by a margin of 289-137, with 47 Democrats joining their GOP counterparts,) represents the growing distance between the majority of Americans and the “progressive” minority that rules and influences the nation from the White House, the board rooms of the major media, and on college campuses.

Yahoo news recently noted that  “Some of the suspects in the Paris attacks took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to “slip in” unnoticed, the French premier said Thursday, …”

The New York Post reports that “ISIS is infiltrating refugee camps to penetrate Europe and the United States. But … Obama dismissed the danger, doubling down on his plans to settle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees here. The White House insists Syrian refugees go through ‘extensive screening.’ That’s a deadly lie. Obama’s own intelligence experts admit screening Syrian refugees is impossible, because the FBI and Homeland Security Department have no data on Syrians — no fingerprints, arrest records, travel data — to indicate what these people did in Syria, or even whether they are who they claim to be. ‘There won’t be anything in our database,’ FBI head James Comey cautioned Congress last month. ‘So I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that — there’s no risk associated with this.’ But Obama’s in denial.”

The very same individuals and organizations that vehemently oppose any action on the part of the United States that could be interpreted as being the “world’s policeman” enthusiastically endorse the concept of America as being the world’s welfare agency, and admitting those who require significant financial assistance or seek to harm the American people.

Despite a national debt of over $18 trillion dollars, progressives seek to extend Washington’s largesse to everyone in need across the face of the globe—even to those that wish America ill. The fact that U.S. citizens and businesses are already paying excessive taxes—in some areas, higher than all of America’s trading partners– apparently matters little to those who see nothing wrong with increasing rates to pay for benefits to immigrants, legal and illegal, or that U.S. consulates overseas instruct potential newcomers on how to apply for welfare upon reaching American shores, even as vital domestic needs go unmet.

Seeking to evade the will of a disapproving Congress and the majority of voters on a host of issues, the White House increasingly signs onto international treaties it calls “agreements” that don’t require Senate consent.

This is particularly true in the increasing subordination of American interests to United Nations actions, including its recent call for the U.S. to admit  23,092 Syrian refugees. Nothing is said by the mandarins of the left about the U.N.’s rampant anti-Semitism, its acceptance of corrupt governments, the major roles played by totalitarian governments, or its increasingly blatant anti-capitalism.  Examine, for example, how the U.N. uses environmental concerns as an excuse to demand a transfer wealth from the West to the third world. Review the role of dictatorial regimes in positions where they can influence the future of the internet.

With real unemployment numbers still high (despite faulty Bureau of Labor Statistics figures) and middle class wages that have been stagnant for far too long, the President continues to turn a blind eye to illegal immigration, and now seeks to allow 10,000 Syrians into the U.S., despite the fact that this is how some of the perpetrators of the recent Paris attacks entered France. It’s not just opening the borders. It’s also allowing criminal immigrants to remain within. The Associated Press reports that The Obama administration deported the fewest number of immigrants in the past 12 months since 2006, according to new government figures…The figures also show that deportations of criminal immigrants have dropped to the lowest numbers since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, despite his pledge to focus on finding and deporting criminals living in the country illegally… Total deportations dropped 42 percent since 2012.”

As the President remains insistent on his plan to allow entry to a group that inevitably includes terrorists who will endanger the safety of the American people, he should be reminded that his constitutional duty is to the people of the nation that elected him, not to the rest of the planet. If his conscience mandates that he assist the people of the Middle East who have been ravaged by the Islamic extremism he refuses to admit even exists, he should take firmer action against ISIS and others who are the root of the crisis.