Monthly Archives: August 2014

Government Regulations Brew Problems

Americans have become aware of the extraordinary overreach of government, and a recent event in Washington, D.C. highlights why they can’t even have a good drink to escape their misery.

This week, an event in the nation’s Capital entitled “How Government affects your Beer” caught the attention of the Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank.  The discussion at the so-called drinking seminar, reported by CEI, detailed the ridiculous and unjustified meddling of various laws in the brewing business.

The DC Beer publication notes that “From taxes, which make up about half the cost of a beer, to the one man in the Treasury Department who approves every beer label, to the laws that dictate how brewers can sell their beer, rules and regulations have a huge impact on the cost, availability, and variety of beer in the market.”

Part of the problem can be traced all the way back to Prohibition, when limits of all sorts were placed on brewing.  Proving that even comparatively unsuccessful presidents can still accomplish some good, Jimmy Carter signed legislation overturning some of that lingering impact in 1978.

But the beer industry continues to be hampered by ongoing, absurd regulations. There are, for example, prohibitions against  direct sales to the public by breweries, which must first go through distributors, an industry which has shrunk from 3,250 in 1990 to less than 1,500 in 2013, according to the  Beer Institute data.

The overlarge and overbearing nature of government profoundly affects every facet of American life, and has generally produced far more harmful than helpful results.

Obama’s Stunning Press Conference

It was, arguably, one of the most stunning Presidential press conferences in U.S. history.

As ISIS continues its rampage throughout Iraq and Syria, pillaging, raping and murdering on a massive scale, and threatening to launch a major terror attack on American soil, Mr. Obama openly admitted yesterday that his Administration had not developed any strategy for dealing with the crisis.

At this extreme late date, the President wants his advisers to provide “a range of options,” and admits that his decision is not immediately forthcoming. Various reports indicate that information was available for his review for up to four years.

Now that he cannot escape public knowledge of his negligence, what is his plan going forward? He stated that he plans to meet with his national security team.  This begs the question: Why hasn’t he been meeting with these experts all along? This is a central part of his duties as Commander in Chief.

This isn’t a conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican question.  If, at this very late venture, the President hasn’t already engaged in numerous, intensive discussions with his key personnel on this deadly problem, then he hasn’t just made an incorrect decision on a particular challenge; he has utterly failed to do his job.

House Armed Services Chair Howard McKeon  noted “We need the President to explain to the American people what is at stake, what our objectives are, and the strategy for how to achieve them.”

One would hope that after his frightening admission of inattention, Mr. Obama would spend the rest of this week in the White House making up for lost time. But that is not occurring.  He will spend today attending Democrat fundraisers in several states.

Intelligence officials and military affairs commentators note that ISIS’s rise was not unexpected: They emphasize that this disaster had been brewing since 2009.

Mr. Obama’s premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq directly led to the vacuum ISIS filled. The President’s own defense personnel, including both uniformed members of the military as well as the Secretary of Defense, have voice alarm at ISIS’s progress.  Why has the President ignored these key figures?

What has the President been doing during this period? There is a disturbing pattern discernable in the Oval Office.  We still do not know where the President was during the Benghazi attack. His reaction to Russia’s expansionism in Eastern Europe has been strangely muted. He has yet to admit that the Obama/Clinton “Reset” strategy was a dismal failure, as Moscow arms to the teeth and displays no reluctance to employ its vast military machine.  As this article goes to press, Russian tanks have invaded Ukraine, with no credible reaction from Mr. Obama. (Important note: Mr. Obama withdrew all American tanks from Europe this year; NATO no longer has a credible deterrent to the Kremlin’s military.) He has barely discussed the growing Russian, China, and Iranian influence in Latin America, just as he has failed to address Beijing’s growing aggressiveness and military might in any manner other than the most marginal ways.

The American people face an urgent question. What steps can be taken to deal with a commander in chief who clearly fails to take his duties seriously?

One question can be answered—how the President escapes public rebuke for his complete failure to perform his duties.  Most of the major media, which strongly supported Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, has abandoned its journalistic ethics and has, essentially, served as a protective shield for this White House.

Obama’s Jurisdictional Confusion

The Obama Administration is displaying a deeply disturbing, fundamental lack of comprehension concerning the role of the federal government, and the dominion of its various agencies. The problem is reflected in issues both foreign and domestic, and is profoundly changing the relationship between Washington, the states, and individual American citizens.

The White House response to the recent beheading of an American journalist, as well as the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi is illustrative of this deep confusion.  Each of these actions were military in nature, the former performed under the aegis of an adversarial armed force, the latter by organized terrorists using the weapons and tactics of war.

Rather than allow the appropriate organization, The Department of Defense, to timely respond, the Justice Department was absurdly given jurisdiction.  This is an irrational move for two key reasons. First, enemy military organizations are not vulnerable to nor concerned with American jurisprudence. Second, DOJ simply doesn’t have the capability to bring a foreign military to heel. Indeed, as has been amply demonstrated, even the heroic arrest or elimination by Special Forces of individual culpable leaders, Osama bin Laden being a prime example, does nothing substantive to reduce the threat.  Bin Laden is dead, but Islamic extremism is stronger than ever. Removing major figures has only strengthened the resolve of the movement, which now controls more territory than ever, a direct consequence of the Obama Administration’s decision to prematurely remove U.S. forces from Iraq and its announcement of a departure date from Afghanistan.

Domestically, the Department of Justice has failed to prosecute the tidal wave of illegal aliens flooding through America’s southern border, but has not hesitated to move against state and local officials seeking to do this vital task that the White House has abandoned.

It’s bewilderment over what it is supposed to do—and what it has no jurisdiction over– can also be seen in the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. The proper course of action in the wake of the shooting of a black robbery suspect by a white police officer was to have the Missouri state legal system investigate and take appropriate action. No evidence of a civil rights violation was established before Attorney General Eric Holder became involved, sending numerous FBI agents to the area and travelling there himself. Since a civil rights violation had not been established, DOJ lacked jurisdiction and its presence was inappropriate.

In contrast, The Department of Justice has repeatedly refrained from investigating fairly obvious actions which affected Americans’ fundamental rights, including acts of voter intimidation, the harassment of journalists, and the abuse of the Internal Revenue Service involving partisan political attacks. It has also consistently interfered with states seeking to insure that their voter registration rolls are accurate.

While the Department of Justice is a key problem, other federal agencies have, during the tenure of the current White House, also been responsible for numerous, dramatic and frequently unwarranted and constitutionally inappropriate increases in Washington’s authority, endangering the rights and property of individual citizens and enterprises. The expansionist policies of the Environmental Protection Agency has caused significant harm and raised constitutional issues.

Washington’s overreach has created a regulatory climate that is Kafkaesque.

In his 2013 testimony before the Congressional Committee on over-criminalization, John G. Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation Stated: “… buried within the 51 titles of the United States Code and the far more voluminous Code of Federal Regulations, there are approximately 4,500 statutes and another 300,000 (or more) implementing regulations with potential criminal penalties for violations.  There are so many criminal laws and regulations, in fact, that nobody really knows how many there are, with scores more being created every year.  And that’s just federal offenses.”

It is clear that the Constitution never envisioned this vast and direct role for the federal government. The Bill of Rights’ Tenth Amendment clearly states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This combination of confused jurisdiction between individual federal agencies, combined with Washington’s constitutionally inappropriate overreach into the jurisdiction of the states, reflects a government badly at odds with both common sense and its own founding principles.

 

Moscow Moves Again

Following its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow appears to be playing a hostile role in yet another regional dispute by delivering and servicing ballistic missiles and launchers to Armenia, which is using them to threaten neighboring Azerbaijan. The weapons include SCUD-B and potentially Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM).  Transfers of such weapons are banned under the Missile Technology Control Regime and The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.

Armenia’s President, Serzh Sargsyan, recently threatened to unleash those short-range ballistic missiles against several Azerbaijani cities, according to Denis Jaffe, the military analyst for the U.S. Azeris network. 

Armenia and Azerbaijani have a history of antagonistic relationships.

President Sargsyan, according to an  ArmenPress, state news agency, recently stated: “the Azerbaijani leadership is well aware of the capacities and abilities of the Armenian Armed Forces. They are well aware that we have ballistic rockets, the radius of action of which exceeds 300 km and which, in a very short period of time, can turn any flourishing region into ruins. They are well aware that we have ballistic rockets, the radius of action of which exceeds 300 km and which, in a very short period of time, can turn any flourishing region into ruins, like the ruins of Agdam now.”

Jaffe’s analysis of the Armenian leader’s comments notes that it:

“1) threatens its neighboring country, Azerbaijan, with even greater aggression against its sovereignty and territorial integrity – on top of the continuing illegal military occupation of 16% of Azerbaijan for the past 20 years and ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Azerbaijanis;

2) takes pride in previously destroying the city of Agdam, with population of 153,000 whose residents were all ethnically Azerbaijani, in 1993, making it a ghost town, and

3) circumvents the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), by acquiring and using ballistic missiles with a range of over 300 kilometers.”

U.S. Navy Attacked

Reviewed in its entirety, the Obama Administration’s various measures that have reduced the American military, given concessions to adversaries, and directly attacked the morale of U.S. service members by reducing benefits constitute an assault on American national security as great as any direct attack from a foreign power.

In the latest move, The Navy Times reports that The United States Navy is pressuring 8,000 senior enlisted personnel, staff chiefs, to “prove their value” or retire. According to a report published in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, “all active-duty and full-time support staff chiefs with three years in rate and 19 years in service will be evaluated… Selected Reserve and Voluntary Training Unit chiefs in similar positions will also face scrutiny.”

The U.S. Navy, which has been reduced from 600 ships to 284 since 1990, faces major new threats from across the globe. Russia has committed vast funds to modernizing and expanding its naval forces. It has returned to Cold War bases in Cuba. China has developed a powerful navy that in size and sophistication is a major threat to the American Pacific fleet, regional nations, and international commerce.

As Russia and China substantially increase the size and capabilities of their naval forces, the one advantage retained by the diminished American navy is the experience of its personnel.  Efforts to encourage sailors with extensive experience to retire eliminates that last, remaining advantage.

Unending Job Crisis

America’s jobs crisis is not easing.  Although statistics indicate that the unemployment rate has improved, the jobs created have been lower in pay and taken in large measure by immigrants.

Officially, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics   (BLS) latest employment report gives a “U-3” unemployment rate of 6.2%, the most widely reported indicator of the jobs picture. The more accurate figure, known as the “U-6,” which includes those unemployed, employed only part time, or just marginally attached to the work force is a far higher 12.2%.

BLS also notes that the disturbingly high number of long-term unemployed remained at a very high 3.2 million, a number accounting for 32.9% of all those unemployed. As noted in a U.S. News study, “The long-term unemployment rate remains more than double what it averaged before the downturn…and may be putting downward pressure on the overall participation rate.”

But even that far higher number doesn’t outline the real challenge facing American citizens.

Investors Business Daily  notes that the reported rise in employment from the depths of the great recession “was almost exactly matched by an equal number of “involuntary” part-time jobs—that is, workers who want a full-time job but can’t find part time.  You can thank Obamacare’s 30-hour-a-week rule for this disappearance of full time jobs. Meanwhile, the overall labor force participation rate remained at its three-decade low.”

The jobs that have come back following the depths of the recession have been lower paying than those that were lost. The Wall Street Journal  reports “[T]he job market is a far cry from what it was before the financial crisis slammed the economy in 2008.  The number of jobs in manufacturing, construction and government—typically well-paying fields—has shrunk, while lower- wage work grew.  The U.S. has 1.6 million fewer manufacturing jobs than when the recession began, but 941,000 more jobs in the accommodation and food-service sector.  More than 40% of the jobs added in just the past year have come in generally lower-paying fields such as food service, retail, and temporary help.”

The bad news for Americans doesn’t stop there. An analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)  notes that “two thirds of the net increase in employment since President Obama took office has gone to immigrant workers, primarily legal immigrants. [but also including some illegals]”

CIS outlines three steps taken by the Obama Administration that has tipped the scales in favor of immigrants versus native workers:

[President Obama] offered work authorization to an estimated two million illegal immigrants who arrived in the country before age 16. When auditing employers who hire illegal workers, the Administration has not detained the illegal workers as a matter of policy, allowing them to take new jobs. The Administration called on the Supreme Court in 2010 to strike down Arizona’s law requiring employers to verify the legal status of new workers.

The replacement of native workers with immigrants produces a downward pressure on wages, and edges out American workers at the lower end of the earnings scale.

Overall, as noted by the Wall Street Examiner, “Job growth is too slow to grow the U.S. out of its unemployment problem. As for the quality of the new jobs being created, let’s not even go there.”

Hollywood’s Warped Vision

Apparently not many Hollywood script writers read or watch the news.

The United States faces many real threats, including massive levels of espionage by China, patrols by nuclear capable Russian bombers and submarines off our coasts, Islamic extremists constantly plotting to produce a new and more devastating 9/11 attack, assorted racial arsonists constantly looking for an excuse to start riots, and uncontrolled numbers of illegal aliens streaming across our border

Some of the threats are from our own government agencies. The Internal Revenue Service uses its vast powers to warp the electoral process by intimidating groups that dare to disagree with the White House. The Department of Justice interferes with state government attempts to combat fraudulent voting. The list goes on and on. Several liberal-dominated state Boards of Elections, as well as several leftist U.S. senators, have attempted to limit First Amendment Rights

But in entertainment industry’s warped mind, there is only one threat: anyone who isn’t a left-winger. In so many shows, reality is bent into a pretzel in an attempt to portray centrist and conservative Americans as sinister.  Consider just a few recent examples:

In a recent movie, an attack on the White House is perpetrated by a crazed U.S. arms manufacturer.

In a recent television series about the world suffering from the complete destruction of electrical power, the bad guys turn out to be a group called “the patriots” who are fond of wearing American flags on their clothing. In a more recent show about an undercover FBI agent, the evil doers are a group led by a “founding father” whose headquarters features an emblem bearing the Revolutionary War slogan, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Both the reference to a founding father and the slogan are slaps at the Tea Party.

The bias isn’t restricted to dramas. The monologues of Hollywood’s most touted comedians frequently sound as though they were written by left-wing politicians.

Of course, there are a number of films and TV series that portray soldiers and others as heroes—and they generally get great ratings. But they get relatively little acclaim from the Hollywood establishment, just as conservative actors frequently suffer from harassment and discrimination.

First Amendment Under Sustained Attack

Two further serious attacks have been made on First Amendment rights. The ongoing attempts to limit this most fundamental American freedom are serious, substantial, and persistent.

In a stunning report first reported by the New York Post, The New York State Board of Elections has enacted blatantly unconstitutional “emergency regulations” that they threaten to make permanent within a month. The new measures regulate spending by any citizen or group that voices its opinion on any issue.  Failure to comply could produce penalties.

If a citizen, concerned about a particular issue, merely prints out and distributes a flyer to 500 or more people, in which he or she encourages the passage or defeat of any ballot proposal or candidate, they must first comply with the bureaucratic procedures of the Board. The same applies to any broadcast or published statement.

The Thomas More Law Center  reports that the City Council of Dallas, Texas has enacted a measure imposing fines up to $500 for expressing opinions by holding up a sign or wearing clothing bearing a political message on pedestrian overpasses.

Legislative measures such as these, combined with the increasingly restrictive measures enacted by numerous boards of elections, campaign finance authorities and the like are a direct threat to free speech. They frequently arise in the context of “progressive-” or “liberal-”  dominated agencies seeking to limit the influence or electoral chances of more centrist or conservative groups.

These and similar attempts must be seen in the context of attempts by two prominent Democrat senators, Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Charles Schumer (D-New York), who proposed a measure that would limit free speech protections as they pertain to campaign donations. The proposed legislation gained 43 Senate supporters—all Democrats. At a Senate Rules Committee hearing earlier this year, Schumer stated that “”The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute. By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans.”

“Social Justice” and the Social Contract

In Ferguson, Missouri, martial law has been declared in the wake of unrest following the shooting death of a black male by a white police officer. The person shot has been implicated in a recent robbery. Before any of the facts could be ascertained, rioting ensued and racial arsonists from across the nation descended on the town.

The battle cry of those who seek to politically gain from incidents such as this is “No Justice, No Peace.” Those chanting it don’t want justice via the rule of law to prevail.  It has come to mean a demand for instantaneous, preconceived punishment, regardless of the facts and the truth as determined by law enforcement, Judges and juries.

We are seeing this now in Ferguson, where the Governor has declared martial law, and to a lesser extent recently in Staten Island, New York, where an individual died following an apparently resisted arrest.  In each instance the individuals died after encounters with a white cop.  Both of the deceased were breaking the law albeit in minor ways.

That these two ended up dead is a tragedy.  That both situations were seized upon by racial arsonists and criminals determined to exploit the racial anger and chaos are also tragedies. Individuals such as Al Sharpton have made a career out of exploiting racial tensions.

These agitators for personal gain ignore black on black crime in places like NYC and Chicago and wait in the tree line for “unequal power” events which end with the death of a black “victim,” as defined by them.

“Victimhood,” with all its waivers for personal responsibility, actions and behavior is what people like Al Sharpton sell like a drug.

The politics of “victimhood” has resulted in double standards throughout American life and the predictable and resultant fraying of the social contract.  “Victimhood” has also been grafted onto certain groups thereby resulting in knee jerk reactions when bad things happen.

America is a nation of laws that protect individual rights.  No person and no group is supposed to be exempt.  Yet that is exactly what far too many of those who exploit “victims” who break the law want.  Non designated victims don’t have a prayer of getting public sympathy for this position because the prevailing progressive ethos does not allow that to happen.

“Victimhood” must be retained only for those who can be used to help bring down the “system” as extreme leftists Cloward and Piven would have it.  So it is reserved for blacks, Muslims, gays, illegals and others extremists wish to characterize as outside the mainstream.  Those they can’t portray as outsiders just don’t count.  Those promoting “victimhood” want chaos because chaos obliterates the social contract and leaves them in charge.

Ferguson, Missouri is currently ground zero for “Social Justice” where first amendment rights and law and order are being attacked in pursuit of Saul Alinsky’s dream of overthrowing an America ruled by laws respecting individual rights.

Ferguson, Missouri  is also social justice progressivism at its finest or at its worst depending on from which side you are viewing it.  It is where this President who was supposed to end racial strife and his allies has taken us in their fundamental transformation of America. Ironically, because this White House has been so eager to add fuel to the fire of racial tensions, Al Sharpton is really not needed anymore.

This article was written by Larry Allison.

Vernuccio/Allison Report

Herbert Stupp, a distinguished former Reagan Administration official, will appear on Thursday’s Vernuccio/Allison Report (10am EST on amfm247) to discuss the politicalization of federal agencies. Tune in at amfm247.com  worldwide on the net, and on regular radio in the following cities: Las Vegas, Nevada (1520am & 107.1 fm,) Lancaster, Pennsylvania (1640 am & 102.1fm),  Tampa, FL(1630 am, 102.1 fm),  Macon Georgia ( 810 am & 98.3 fm ), Boulder, Colorado ( 100.7 fm ) and Milwaukee, Wisconsin (104.1fm).