Monthly Archives: October 2015

UN goals based on failed philosophies

The United Nations has established seventeen ambitious “sustainable development” goals  that it hopes will be accomplished within the next several decades.  However, as has become a pattern for the international body, its refusal to oppose the practices that maintain the very problems it seeks to resolve dooms those hopes to failure.  The U.N.’s predilection towards socialist-leaning economics, its tendency to adopt conclusions based more on public relations than actual research or science, and its avoidance of action against oppressive and aggressive regimes belies the frequently laudatory objectives it seeks to encourage.

The goals set forth by the world body are:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

An examination of U.N. statements in regard to those goals, however, makes it clear that the results appear to be only excuses to further an agenda which opposes capitalism, and transfer wealth from capitalist economies to those of other nations.  Essentially, that would result in weakening rich nations while making little long-term difference in the lives of those in countries whose adherence to socialist economies is the root cause of their poverty.

This unfortunate reality can be seen in U.N. statements regarding the goals. “We commit to making fundamental changes in the way that our societies produce and consume goods and services. Governments, international organizations, the business sector and other non-state actors and individuals must contribute to changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns, including through the mobilization, from all sources, of financial and technical assistance to strengthen developing countries’ scientific, technological and innovative capacities to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production…”

Ian Murray, writing for the Competitive Enterprise Institute,  (CEI) Notes that “…the U.N.’s emphasis on “sustainability,” as generally defined among development bureaucrats and NGOs, imposes significant burdens on developing countries’ freedom and ability to achieve the rapid increases in human welfare that were the target of the original Millennium goals.

The U.N. also ignores the lesson of the most successful developing economies. For instance, Hong Kong and Singapore followed a proven path to prosperity that is centered on principles that have significantly increased the resiliency of their societies…”

CEI recommends five alternative goals:

  1. Secure Property Rights. Markets, the source of wealth and prosperity, are impossible without security in property rights. Governments should make it their first priority to ensure that property rights are recognized and respected. ..
  2. Secure the Rule of Law. The rule of law reduces arbitrariness in government that can be a huge drain on an economy and human dignity. Research has found that improvements in the rule of law can empower the disadvantaged and help unleash entrepreneurial spirits even among the most previously oppressed peoples. A secure rule of law also reduces corruption…
  3. Ensure Access to Affordable Energy. Affordable energy is key to unleashing human potential, but the U.N.’s emphasis on sustainability perversely increases energy costs…
  4. Ensure Access to Capital and Credit. Access to capital is important to unleashing “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.” Credit allows those who have capital to share its benefits with those who do not, to mutual advantage…
  5. Allow Markets in Education. Recent research has shown that low-cost private education is available in many parts of the developing world, and that its quality outstrips that of supposedly free government schools.

CEI’s points are accurate.  Those nations with comparatively prosperous economies and acceptable records of human rights should stop supporting programs and goals that are counterproductive and based on failed political philosophies.

Women’s Group ignores abuse of women, concentrates on partisan politics

It has become readily apparent that some organizations allegedly representing women’s interest are simply using that important cause as little more than a smokescreen for their political agenda in matters unrelated to gender issues.

There can be little doubt that the most pressing danger facing females today is the abuse, slavery, and murder they receive at the hands of Islamic extremists.  Reports of the horrors women face are clear, well documented, and abundant. However, as “Hannah,” a courageous Tunisian young woman, a Fulbright scholar and an earnest advocate for equal rights in her homeland recently stated on the Vernuccio/Novak radio program, “No one seems to care for these women.  The so-called ‘sex jihad’ which justifies the treatment of women—especially young girls, as property and the ‘spoils of war’ is virtually ignored by some western organizations that claim to represent women.” (Due to continuing threats on her life by the Moslem Brotherhood, her real name cannot be disclosed.)

The plight of females in Islamic extremists lands was highlighted by the story of Malala. Malala was born in Pakistan in 1997. Her father was an advocate for education, and ran a school which admitted girls. In 2009 the Taliban told him to close the facility.

Malala and her father continued to advocate for the education of girls despite death threats. In 2012, Malala was shot.  Although severely injured, she recovered, continued her advocacy and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.  Despite this and numerous other atrocities, the Obama Administration has negotiated with the Taliban on the future of Afghanistan.

Abuse is not restricted to the Taliban. According to a United Nations Report  “Sexual violence is being committed strategically, in a widespread and systematic manner, and with a high-degree of sophistication by most parties to the conflict in Syria and Iraq,” according to the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura. “Women and girls are at risk and under assault at every point of their lives…”

Despite these horrors, one of the most powerful women’s organizations, The National Organization for Women  continues to overlook this most fundamental of all matters affecting women.

What does it concentrate on? A review of its website  discussed enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, and an openly political attack on what N.O.W. members describe as “conservative” issues: “reproductive rights…affirmative action, public sector unions, voting rights, and (again) contraceptive insurance coverage exceptions under of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They are nearly all products of conservative legal advocacy organizations that have been strategically selected and guided to the Supreme Court as part a larger right wing agenda to erode workers’ rights, make access to abortion care difficult, restrict citizens’ access to the courts by limiting class action law suits, reduce access to higher education for students of color, and enhance conservative Republican candidates’ electoral chances…”

N.O.W’s political contributions have been given on approximately 50-1 ratio to Democrats over Republicans, an overtly partisan figure.

In June, Dr. Phyllis Chesler wrote in Breaking Israel News, “The upcoming annual conference of the National Organization for Women does not list ISIS or Boko Haram on its agenda…The new pseudo-feminists are … disproportionately focused on [what they perceive to be] Western imperialism, colonialism and capitalism than on Islam’s long and ongoing history of imperialism, colonialism, anti-black racism, slavery, forced conversion and gender and religious apartheid…The Middle East and Western Africa are burning; Iran is raping female civilians and torturing political prisoners; the Pakistani Taliban are shooting young girls in the head for trying to get an education and disfiguring them with acid if their veils are askew — and yet, NOW passed no resolution opposing this.”

Jen Kuznicki, writing in CNS notes “Horrific reports have been coming out about the terrible treatment of girls and women who are captured by ISIS.  Women and girls, including the pre-pubescent are being subjected to rape in the most brutal and depraved manner, causing some to take their own lives rather than endure the horror.  So sick is the Islamic State that reports are out that the ISIS fighters are demanding Viagra to carry on their unnatural crimes against humanity.

Here in America, leftist women who claim to hold the views of all women, have not made the human rights issue central to their arguments.  In fact, they haven’t mentioned the daily rape of these women at all.  Their central cause – amongst the devastating news of the fate of women captured by ISIS, virginity taken, abused and tortured – is free contraception…”

U.S. economy hampered by wrong priorities

While U.S. taxes soar, the American taxpayer is enduring a weakened economy and neglected national needs.

U.S. citizens and their businesses are paying increased amounts of taxes. Over the past year, reports the Wall Street Journal, corporate taxes rose 10%, individual income taxes 15%, and payroll taxes, 6%.  Despite that, Washington still runs vast annual deficits. Government spending overall increased 5% in fiscal year 2015, commanding a higher level of gross domestic product “than at any level seen between 1993 and 2008.”

The federal government has a debt of $18 and a half trillion, Social Security is heading towards insolvency, the nation’s infrastructure remains in poor condition, and the military is significantly underfunded.

While Washington’s spending concentrates on failed poverty programs, (spending on poverty programs has reached its highest level under President Obama) real median income of working Americans has declined. The Heritage Foundation notes that Eighty-five percent of the projected growth in spending over the next decade is due to entitlement spending and interest on the debt.

The Washington Times reported in 2014:  “Last year, government spent $943 billion providing cash, food, housing and medical care to poor and low-income Americans. (That figure doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare.) More than 100 million people, or one third of Americans, received some type of welfare aid, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. If converted into cash, this spending was five times what was needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States. [in 2014] The U.S. Census Bureau … released its annual poverty report. The report claims that in 2013, 14.5 percent of Americans were poor. Remarkably, that’s almost the same poverty rate as in 1967, three years after the War on Poverty started. How can that be? How can government spend $9,000 per recipient and have no effect on poverty?”

The U.S. Census Bureau reveals that “In 2014, real median household income was 6.5 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession. The real median income of non-Hispanic White households declined 1.7 percent between 2013 and 2014. For Black, Asian, and Hispanic-origin households, the 2013-2014 percentage changes in real median income were not statistically significant.”

A 2014 report by the Washington Post  notes that Median inflation-adjusted income in 2013 was still $2,100 lower than when President Obama took office in 2009 — and $3,600 lower than when President George W. Bush took office in 2001. …  “In 2013, most Americans had a good bit less money, after adjusting for taxes, than the year before. That’s because in 2013, a huge tax increase affecting ordinary workers took effect, raising the employee payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. A worker earning $50,000 a year saw disposable income decline by $1,000.It was the first time the payroll tax had increased since 1990, and previous payroll tax hikes had been smaller.”

Those increased taxes provided  a significant boost in funds to the federal government. A CNS study  discloses “that taxes in fiscal 2015 (which ended on Sept. 30), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement, equaled approximately $21,833 for every person in the country who had either a full-time or part-time job in September. It is also up about $212,927,100,000 in constant 2015 dollars from the $3,035,795,900,000 in revenue (in 2015 dollars) that the Treasury raked in during fiscal 2014. Even as the Treasury was hauling in a record $3,248,723,000,000 in tax revenues in fiscal 2015, the federal government was spending $3,687,622,000,000. So, the federal government ran a deficit of $438,899,000,000 for the fiscal year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total seasonally adjusted employment in the United States in September (including both full and part-time workers) was 148,800,000. That means that the federal tax haul for fiscal 2015 equaled about $21,832.82 for every person in the United States with a job.”

According to the Office of Management and Budget, in 2014, 24% of federal dollars went to Social Security, 24% went to Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and related subsidies, 18% went to defense, 11% to safety net programs, 8% went to government retirees, 7% paid for interest on the national debt, 3% for transportation infrastructure, 2% for education, 2% for science and medical research, 1% for foreign aid, and 2% distributed for miscellaneous purposes.

The problems facing the U.S. have become structural.  To win elections, candidates continue to promise “free stuff,” which the economy cannot possibly provide. (This election year cycle’s big giveaway promise is free college tuition.) To then fulfill the unaffordable campaign promise, vital needs—keeping Social Security solvent, keeping the armed forces adequately equipped, maintaining infrastructure, are stripped of resources to pay for the latest set of “vote for me” promises.

A more rational approach to budgeting must include:

  • a level of taxes that keep U.S. enterprises competitive with global competition (America has the highest corporate tax rate of any of its trading partners) and reduces the tax burden on the middle class;
  • The funding of essential needs, such as providing a powerful defense, maintaining the solvency of Social Security, and keeping the national infrastructure intact, before commiting dollars to entitlements;
  • A commitment to providing a regulatory environment that encourages, rather than inhibits, the development of more job-producing activities;
  • A firm resolve to end deficit spending.

The myths dominating both parties

The final Republican presidential debate of 2015 sharply delineated the wide divide between the GOP candidates and their Democrat counterparts. Those who do go to the polls next November will, of course, cast their vote on the contender that most represents their views. But will many not go to the polls at all because they have lost trust in both parties?

The political events of the past year, in particular, sharply illustrate a rising tide of discontent among the rank and file members of both parties.

For Republicans, the revolt against the leadership of former speaker John Boehner represented the frustration that conservatives, Tea Party members, defense hawks, and others have endured over GOP officials who failed to confront the Obama Administration in any way other than mere words. For Democrats, the President’s pacifist foreign policy and low job growth economics are turning both some elected officials and middle class party members against their party leaders.

To the disaffected, the 2016 campaign is dominated by myths propagated by both parties.

Democrats continue to claim that they are a middle-class centered party. Judging by the policies both of the incumbent Democrat President and the candidates seeking to succeed him, little could be farther from the truth. The middle class and those aspiring to raise their incomes to middle class levels have suffered under the Administration’s actions, both those directly affecting the economy and others, such as Obamacare, that have significant indirect influence on the financial security of American workers.

Investors Business Daily  notes that “After six-plus years of President Obama’s big-spending, tax-raising policies, middle-class families have seen their incomes decline and more families have fallen into poverty, Census data show. The Census Bureau’s latest annual report on income and poverty in America shows that there was little to cheer about in 2014. Median family income dropped slightly to $53,657, down from the year before. Every income group suffered losses, with the lowest fifth of households dropping close to 1%.

The overall poverty number barely budged. But it climbed by almost 600,000 among blacks in 2014, more than half of whom were under age 18.”

Politico adds to that: “Since 2009, median income in the United States fell almost 4 percent to just over $51,000. That said, the past six years have seen a series of hits to middle-class economic security in the form of radical changes in healthcare; decreased pension guarantees from companies; less job security; and volatility in financial markets that has made retirement planning challenging. Cap that off with the massive hit to financial net worth because of the bursting of the housing bubble and you have a recipe for roiling discontent. Washington, meanwhile, anchored by the Obama administration, is widely seen as having done precious little other than shore up the financial system and the banks in 2009……The statistics on poverty are just as unpleasant. In Obama’s first year in office, 43.6 million people — or 14.3% of the population — lived in poverty. By 2014, that number had climbed by more than 3 million, pushing the poverty rate up to 14.8%. The poverty rate among blacks was 26.2% last year, up from 25.8% in 2009.

Reuters  reports: “Federal Reserve survey data show families in the middle fifth of the income scale now earn less and their net worth is lower than when Obama took office. In the six years through 2013, over the recession and recovery that have spanned Obama’s tenure, jobs have been added at the top and bottom of the wage scale…In the middle, the economy has shed positions…”

The Hill  reveals: “ObamaCare also has induced many companies to scale back benefits and others to drop them entirely. Relying on data from filings that insurers made to state regulators, Ed Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation found that nearly 5 million people lost employer-sponsored coverage during the first nine months of 2014.”

National Review writes: “Democrats will point to Obamacare, or the allegedly Affordable Care Act, as one of their great gifts to the middle class. The problem is that middle-class Americans notice when they’re paying more in premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, and the math suggests that the overall program is a bad deal for the middle class…”

Despite the many middle-income members of the Democrat Party, there is little representation for them among the top presidential candidates.  Hillary Clinton’s policies are further to the left than those that marked the presidency of her husband. Senator Sanders is an admitted socialist.

Union support has always been crucial to the Democrat Party. While the Obama Administration has given much support to union leadership, it has failed to provide the most crucial need of union members–a strong, job-growth economy.  Similarly, Blacks, another key portion of the Democrat constituency, have fared poorly in areas such as job creation and race relations.

The Republican Party’s myth is that it has continued to effectively oppose Mr. Obama’s policies. After taking a beating in the media when its opposition to the President’s budget demands  caused an impasse with the White House that resulted in the federal government “shutting down” from October 1 to October 16 in 2013, GOP leaders have only mounted token resistance.

The same can be said for national security issues.  Once a defining feature of Republican policy, the current party leadership has failed to push in any effective manner for a reversal of Mr. Obama’s devastating cuts to the armed forces and his essentially pacifist foreign policy.

It is somewhat ironic that the candidate that most reflects the foreign policy views of the GOP’s most respected leader in the past 100 years, Lindsey Graham, remains far behind in polls among likely Republican voters.

Fury over the timidity of Republican leadership has produced a virtual civil war within party ranks. The fighting has resulted both in the overthrow of House Speaker John Boehner, and the rejection of Jeb Bush’s campaign bid in favor of outsiders Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.

This political cycle may not end in November with the 2016 elections. Certainly, the party that loses will face deep anger among its rank and file, and charges that it ignored the wishes of members resulting in the loss will fly.

Illegal voting danger increases

California’s new motor voter law provides a significant example of how voter fraud has become institutionalized in some locations. The measure, recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown, provides automatic voter registration upon obtaining or renewing a driver’s licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles for those qualified—but there is little effort to insure that only those qualified are registered. There is no required form to be filled out.

Since California allows illegals to obtain drivers licenses, it is inevitable that many will register to vote.  Clearly, Democrat Governor Brown has a vested interest in this occurring, since the policies of his party are particularly attractive to illegal immigrants.

Rasmussen reports that “Fifty-three percent (53%) of Democrats think tax-paying illegal immigrants should have the right to vote. Twenty-one percent (21%) of Republicans and 30% of voters not affiliated with either major political party agree.”

According to a Fox News Latino report, the state has already issued half a million licenses to illegals in the past nine months.

As significant as that number is, particularly in a state with so many electoral votes in the coming presidential election, it’s only the tip of the iceberg when viewed nationally. National Review notes that:

“President Obama’s recent executive orders granting provisional legal status to an estimated 5 million illegal aliens will likely allow an indeterminate number of them to cast ballots in elections across the United States — and it’s hard to see how it won’t affect the outcome of some number of close elections. Amnestied illegal aliens are now eligible to receive Social Security numbers and, in many cases, drivers’ licenses. Since the vast majority of states don’t require individuals to present proof of citizenship to either register or vote, and given the Obama administration’s zealous promotion of motor-voter registration and declared refusal to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (ensuring that only eligible individuals vote), it’s certain that appreciable numbers of amnestied illegal aliens will be able to vote.”

The measure has been blocked by the courts as a result of the lawsuits brought by 26 states, but given the Administration’s tendency to disregard laws it disagrees with, and the politicization of the Justice Department, there is little confidence that wrongful acts will be prevented. J. Christian Adams, who served for 5 years in the voting rights section of the DOJ, noted in his book “Injustice” that under President Obama “the very government department responsible for protecting voting rights and enforcing equal protection has been overrun by radicals bent on furthering a fringe political agenda…”

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton maintains that one organization, La Raza, promotes unlawful voting by illegal aliens as part of its wider goal of gaining greater Mexican influence in the U.S. Southwest.

An Investors Business Daily study  found thatThe National Council of La Raza is promoting no-identification voting states to its followers. Might that have something to do with its advocacy of illegal immigration and the Democrats’ flagging electoral fortunes?

“La Raza, as it’s known, is no ordinary nongovernmental organization in the ‘anti-poverty’ racket. A group of lawyers and activists, it has long functioned as the illegal alien lobby in the U.S., advocating aggressively for the cause of open borders.

“For its latest stunt, it has published on its website and social media a list of voting stations that don’t require IDs.”

Another pathway for the obtaining of driver’s licenses in states not as lenient as California is an unsecured form of identification called the “Matricula”, an identification card issued by the Mexican government for use by illegal immigrants in the United States.

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government has previously examined this issue.

Hans Spakovsky emphasizes the problem of noncitizens registering to vote.  He reports that in a random sampling of 3,000 registrations in California’s 39th Assembly District, 10% contained phony addresses or were not U.S. citizens.

A number of states have attempted to attack fraudulent registrations by passing legislation requiring a valid ID to vote.  To the dismay of those dedicated to honest balloting, The Obama Justice Department has responded with significant hostility to this measure.  Although almost all the reported fraud has aided hard-left Democrats, Kelly reports, even liberal United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated “There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of  state’s interest in counting only eligible voters’ votes” in a 2008 case that upheld Indiana’s stringent ID law following a challenge by the Democrat Party and its allies.

 In testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Rules ad Administration, CATO’s John Samples,  stated that the Motor Voter Act “has made it difficult if not impossible to maintain clean registration rolls…the inaccuracy in the rolls caused by the Act has thrown into doubt the integrity of our electoral system.”

The Judicial Watch organization, in response to its August 9, 2011 Freedom of Information Act filing, has received records which they describe as detailing friendly communications between the Justice Department and a former ACORN attorney now serving as Director of Advocacy for Project Vote.  The ACORN connection is ominous. 70 ACORN staff throughout 12 states were convicted of voter registration fraud; more than one third of the registrations that group submitted were found to be invalid.

Several observers notes that to become a U.S. citizen, at least a minimal proficiency in English is required. Logically, then, with the possible exception of those living on Native American (Indian) reservations, there is no logical reason for mandating the printing of ballots in any language other than English, other than assisting those who do not have the legal right to cast votes.

Proenglish notes that “in 1975, Congress greatly expanded the Voting Rights Act’s original intent by inserting special protections for ‘language minorities.’ The language minorities singled out for protection under Section 203 of the Act were: American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and citizens of Spanish Heritage. For the first time in our history, states and counties with substantial populations of these protected language minorities were required to provide ballot and election materials in languages other than English.” The organization notes thatThe United States is an English-speaking country in which almost all citizens speak, read, and understand the English language. Since 1907, the United States has required immigrants to learn English in order to naturalize and acquire the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote in federal elections. This is entirely appropriate for a nation whose Constitution and founding documents are written entirely in the English language. Therefore, forcing state and local governments to print foreign-language ballots for citizens who are already required to read and understand English is both redundant and wasteful.

“The only logical rationale for the mandatory provision of ballots and voting materials in other languages is to facilitate and encourage voting by non-citizens – a violation of federal law. Thus, bilingual ballots debase the meaning of citizenship, encourage voter fraud, and undermine the integrity of the naturalization process by eliminating an incentive for immigrants to learn English.”

Obama’s dangerous experiment in sharp military cuts endangers U.S.

The Obama Administration’s dangerous experiment to determine whether aggressive states such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea would respond positively to a diminished U.S. military and a reduced worldwide presence has been a failure.

Russia and China have engaged in a vast, dramatic arms buildup of both their conventional and strategic nuclear forces. Both have developed aggressive postures, including invasions of neighboring nations (Russia in Ukraine, China in the offshore exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.) North Korea has accelerated its nuclear program, and Iran continues to advance its armed forces and supported terrorist activities.  Non-state actors, such as ISIS, have risen to previously unimagined strength.

While all this has been occurring, the Obama Administration has refused to change its deeply flawed and risky course. The American military, already sharply reduced from its 1990 Cold War levels, has been forced to further shrink and deteriorate. The proposed 2016 defense budget is smaller than its 2009 counterpart, when Mr. Obama first took office, and will result in further cuts.

The National Interest notes that “The announcement that the U.S. Army is to lose 40,000 troops and 17,000 civilian employees by 2017 has taken some by surprise. Although it has long been known that the Obama administration was to pursue reductions in the size of the military in line with sequestration, the timing by which those economies are to take place is causing some controversy—especially in light of ongoing events in the Middle East and Europe…they are yet more evidence of a macro-level acceptance by America’s political elite that the country’s global supremacy should be allowed to dwindle—particularly in military terms. By countenancing the strictures of sequestration instead of trying to find a bipartisan escape from mandated cuts, the U.S. political class has effectively acquiesced in a winnowing away of the country’s military supremacy, come rain or shine…

“ Under current spending plans, projections are that the Army will drop to around 420,000 active troops—a size that military planners warn would jeopardize the military’s ability to effectively deploy to multiple war zones at any one time. Not only would this number be a far cry from the circa 566,000 troop–level seen at the height of Iraq and Afghanistan, but it would double-down on the Pentagon’s previous repudiation of a decades-old mantra that the United States ought to be able to fight multiple land wars simultaneously. Under President Kennedy, the military was supposed to be capable of waging two-and-a-half full-scale wars at one time. In the 1980s, Casper Weinberger even articulated plans for a three-and-a-half war strategy. But in 2010, Robert Gates announced that the United States would no longer even prepare to fight two wars simultaneously, preferring instead to organize itself for nontraditional threats like cybersecurity and terrorism.

In a review on the state of the U.S. military, the American Enterprise Institute  notes:

“Even though the number and severity of threats to the United States continues to expand, the US military is only getting smaller. In the 1990s, the US prematurely dismantled the force that helped it win the Cold War. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the size of the US Air Force and US Navy continued to decline, while the size of the US Army rose temporarily before contracting just as sharply… As he prepared to leave office, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno warned that the Army is now “dangerously close” to the point where it can no longer serve as an effective deterrent against foreign aggression…The National Defense Panel rightly warns that the quality of military platforms is no substitute for sufficient quantity. Potential US adversaries are also improving the quality of their forces, in some cases more rapidly than we are.

“The combat Air Force is too small to ensure American air superiority. [It is] is stuck with 20th-century aircraft.

The Navy is too small to maintain presence in the Pacific, Persian Gulf, and Mediterranean…[It] cannot keep up with missile defense demand…The US Navy has a “carrier gap” in the Western Pacific…it is an 11 carrier navy in a 15 carrier world.”

“Since 2011, the Army has cancelled 21 programs, delayed 125 and restructured 124 . . . [as] procurement funding dropped from $21.3 billion to $13.5 billion. The Army is not ready to respond to large crises. Readiness has been degraded to its lowest level in 20 years. . . . Today we only have 33% of our brigades ready to the extent we would expect them to be if asked to fight.”

“American power has slowly but surely atrophied relative to the burgeoning threats that confront the United States. Seemingly attractive short-term defense cuts carried long-term costs, not only in monetary terms, but also in proliferating risk to American national interests. Military spending has fallen since 1991 by every metric—as a percentage of GDP, as a percentage of the federal budget, and in real terms—even as a declining share of the Pentagon budget funds combat-related activities.”

The diminished American military now faces the most formidable threat in U.S. history, as the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian militaries train together and share, in many cases, common goals.

The Obama Administration’s disturbing negligence in foreign affairs

A disturbing attitude from America’s Commander-in-Chief and his appointees was in full view during the past week.

On Capitol Hill, former Secretary of State Clinton testified that she didn’t see and wasn’t informed of numerous, desperate pleas for additional security at the Benghazi facility. It’s a lose-lose situation for her; either she was negligent in her oversight responsibilities, or her judgment was so poor in the matter that it led to a disastrous result.

There was little or no discussion of why the Administration helped topple former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who had moved to the same side as the U.S. in fighting al Qaeda and the Moslem Brotherhood. This pointless and counterproductive move gave rise to the conditions which resulted in the chaos that gave rise to the Benghazi attack, just as the President’s reckless and premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq gave rise to the conditions that allowed ISIS to come to power which, in turn, resulted in Iran’s huge growth of influence in the Middle East as the only force on the ground willing to take them on.

At the White House, Mr. Obama threatened to veto what is, essentially, his own defense spending bill in an effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, where terrorists are housed in a setting where no American civilians can be harmed. He also seeks to use his veto threat as a way of forcing Congress to comply with his effort to shift funds from the defense budget, which is substantially smaller than when he took office, (and accounting for only 18% of the federal budget and a significantly lower share of GDP than it has for decades) to entitlements (although not social security) which have expanded greatly, without any success in reducing poverty.  Speaking of things Cuban, the President has also failed to explain why, one month after Havana agreed to allow the Russian Navy to return to its cold war base on the island nation, he, strangely, rewarded this threatening action by restoring relations with Castro’s government.

The President, it has been noted, has failed in the past to regularly attend his own staff’s national security briefings. He appears uninterested at a time when troubling events, some of which are the results of his own inattention, are placing the world in greater danger than at any time since the conclusion of the Second World War.

Throughout the tenure of the current White House and throughout the stewardship of both Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry, there has been an almost childlike attitude towards international affairs. The President and his appointed Secretaries of State seem to believe that if they simply pretend a threat doesn’t exist, it will go away. Those who disagree with this reality have only one alternative explanation: the President believes that it is America that is causing the world’s problems, a conviction that is contrary to the facts. In this line of thinking, it better to let others—Russia, Iran, etc., take the lead. If this is, indeed, his belief, he has not had the honesty or the courage to share this view with his constituency.

Mr. Obama is determined to pursue his expensive (and so far, unproductive) domestic agenda at all costs. But presidents do not have the luxury of simply ignoring 50% of their responsibility.  They can neither focus on domestic affairs to the exclusion of foreign affairs, nor vice-versa. They do not have the moral or Constitutional right to completely reverse course on key areas of policy and practice, in this case national defense and foreign affairs, without a candid disclosure of intention to Congress and the people.

Since the current administration came to power, and as a specific result of White House actions, the already weakened American military has shriveled to a dangerously low level, unprecedented since before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Additionally, relations with allies have deteriorated to an extraordinary degree. The United Kingdom, Poland, Philippines, and Israel are all prime examples.  There is staggering loss of trust in the dependability of Washington as a partner for safety and peace.

Truly bad actors on the international stage seem to have been given carte blanche to engage in the type of actions that has typified aggressors throughout history.   Russia clearly seeks to regain the full international power of the Soviet Union, with a new military that is far more efficient and modern.  China, having benefited from its acquisition of American technology (President Clinton’s allowance of a sale of a Cray supercomputer in the 1990’s, as well as cyber-theft) moves confidentially and illegally to exert control over the Eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans. North Korea and Iran move forward with advanced missile and nuclear technology. Terrorist forces, not just in the Middle East but also in Latin America, Africa and Afghanistan have attained unprecedented levels of power and influence.

As all this occurs, the President focuses on boutique ideological issues such as the closing of Guantanamo Bay and continuing his give-away programs to his core constituency.

India’s vital new role

India may play an increasingly vital role in countering China’s push to dominate key portions of the Indian Ocean, a move encouraged by the United States.

Four critical waterways, including the Suez Canal, the Bab el Mandeb, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Strait of Malacca tie into the Indian Ocean. According to the Asia Times, Zhang Wei, researcher of the PLA Navy Academic Institute, said “More Chinese ships are crossing the Indian Ocean as it has become a major pipeline for trade for China.”

Beijing has used its rapidly growing naval power to assert major claims to Pacific region waterways. It alleges that it owns four-fifths of the South China Sea, a vital area through which about 70% of the world’s maritime commerce passes. It powerful navy, which will become the world’s largest by 2020, gives it the firepower to back the claim.

Earlier this year, The White House announced “India is indispensable to promoting peace, prosperity and stability…We call on all parties to avoid the threat or use of force and pursue resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea…Over the next five years, we will strengthen our regional dialogues, invest in making trilateral consultations with third countries in the region more robust, deepen regional integration, strengthen regional forumsexplore additional multilateral opportunities for engagement, and pursue areas where we can build capacity in the region that bolster long-term peace and prosperity for all.”

Admiral Harris, quoted in India Strategic while in New Delhi to discuss Indo-US naval cooperation with India’s Naval Chief Admiral Dhowan, observed that cooperation between India, US and other major powers like Japan and Australia was imperative for peace and stability in the Asia Pacific. He noted that India plays a pivotal role in the U.S. naval strategy.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has provided a more activist Indian outlook on regional defense issues. Author C. Raja Mohan notes that Modi believes “India was punching below its weight and we (India) should now “improve our weight and punch proportionately.”

Other nations have encouraged India to step up its defense activities.  Bloomberg News  reports that Singapore “wants India to play a bigger role in the South China Sea as China hastens land reclamation in the disputed waters that carry some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes…       [Singapore Minister For Defense Ng Eng Hen] stated in March that “We hope that their presence and participation will increase — that really adds up to engagement and confidence building and mutual understanding,” Ng said, referring to Asia’s third-biggest economy. “India is a big country and it’s an influential country.”

“India’s involvement in the region could give Southeast Asian nations a further buffer against China as that country seeks to enforce its claims to the majority of the South China Sea and push back against decades of U.S. military dominance in the Pacific. China is also looking to build a maritime trade route linking a network of ports through the Indian Ocean with Europe via the Suez Canal, a prospect that has unnerved India.”

The Philippines, which has endured China’s incursion into its Exclusive Economic Zone, and Vietnam both encourage an enhanced role for India. Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay is also a potential site for foreign naval vessels, particularly those of the United States, to base ships to discourage China’s adventurism. Currently, Russian naval vessels dock there.

According to the National Interest  “India now appears to be picking up the pace. Under the Modi government, New Delhi has turned the ‘Look East Policy’ into the ‘Act East Policy’, made direct comments on the need to resolve the [South China Sea dispute] signed a joint strategic vision with the U.S. for the Asia–Pacific and the Indian Ocean region and is in talks with key regional countries to increase security collaboration, especially in the maritime domain.”

The military rating source Global Firepower indicates that India has a powerful navy, consisting of 202 ships, including two aircraft carriers, 15 frigates, 9 destroyers, 25 corvettes, 15 submarines, 46 coastal defense craft, and 7 mine warfare vessels.

White House plans to transfer internet control faces challenge

President Obama continues to move forward with his controversial plan to transfer control of Internet domain name functions to an international agency, a move encouraged by Russia and China.  Clearly, those nations have radically different views of free speech rights than those held by Americans.

Congress has objected, but the White House maintains that the contentious action can be done through executive action. That leaves lawmakers with the challenge of attempting to find a legal means to halt Mr. Obama’s plan.

A coalition of representatives and senators believe they may have found a viable approach. Questioning the constitutionality of the President’s plan, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley,  House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Darrell Issa are questioning whether the plan would result in the transfer of government property, which could violate Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution.

At issue are key components of the Internet’s infrastructure, collectively known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, which enable the efficient operation of the Internet. Included is the management of the root zone file, which was developed by taxpayer-funded Department of Defense researchers, and which remains designated as a “national IT asset” by the U.S. government. Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to transfer government property. If this file—or other government-developed components of the Internet—are determined to be the property of the government, then transferring their control to a nongovernmental entity without congressional consent, as the Department of Commerce has proposed, may violate the Constitution.

The Commerce Department’s contracts with the organizations that administer Internet name and address system policies explicitly state that the root zone file is “the property of the U.S. government,” and changes cannot be made to the file without government approval.  Congress has also passed legislation blocking federal funding for efforts to relinquish stewardship of the domain name system, including the root zone file.

To ensure that Congress is informed of any government property that may be transferred without its approval, the lawmakers asked GAO to study the government property implications of the Department of Commerce’s proposal. They also asked GAO to determine whether the agency has the legal authority to conduct such a transfer to a nongovernmental entity without congressional approval.

–Text of the letter–

September 22, 2015

Mr. Gene Dodaro
Comptroller General
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC  20548
Dear Mr. Dodaro: 

On March 14, 2014, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) announced its intent to relinquish oversight of Internet domain name functions to the “global stakeholder community.”  This proposed transition raises questions about NTIA’s authority to transfer possession and control of critical components of the Internet’s infrastructure to a third party. 

The Internet as we know it has evolved from a network infrastructure first created by Department of Defense researchers. One key component of that infrastructure is the root zone file, which the federal government currently designates as a “national IT asset.”[1] Creation of the root zone file was funded by the American taxpayer and coordinated by the Department of Defense, and the file has remained under United States control ever since. 

Under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution, Congress has the exclusive power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.”  One question arising from NTIA’s decision to transfer its Internet oversight functions to a third party is whether NTIA may relinquish possession and control of the root zone file—or any other similar component of the Internet that was financed and developed by the United States—without authorization from Congress.  This concern was raised in 2000 by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), which questioned whether NTIA could relinquish authority over the root zone file and concluded that it was “unclear whether such a transition would involve a transfer of government property to a private entity.”[2] The 2000 GAO report further detailed that the Department of Commerce advised the GAO at the time that “we have not devoted the possibly substantial staff resources that would be necessary to develop a legal opinion as to whether legislation would be necessary” to authorize transfer of the root zone file. Congress should be made aware of the legal status of the root zone file—or any other potential government property—before it makes any final decisions about whether to transfer the government’s Internet oversight functions to a third party.

Some observers and parties involved in the proposed transfer have asserted that the termination of NTIA’s contract with ICANN would not result in the transfer of United States Government property.[3] Others believe that termination of this contract would result in government property being transferred to ICANN and point to a number of factors that would indicate that the root zone file and other contractual deliverables are property of the United States.  Supporters of this position point to the fact that the United States acquired title to the root zone file because it was invented pursuant to Department of Defense contracts.[4]  In addition, the United States has long claimed ownership or control over the root zone file.  For example, President Clinton’s Internet “czar” Ira Magaziner asserted United States ownership of the entire Domain Name System because “[t]he United States paid for the Internet, the Net was created under its auspices, and most importantly everything [researchers] did was pursuant to government contracts.”[5] Additionally the Commerce Department’s contract with ICANN explicitly declares that “[a]ll deliverables provided under this contract,” including the “automated root zone,” are “the property of the U.S. government.”[6] And Verisign and ICANN contracts make clear that changes to the root zone file cannot be made without approval of the Department of Commerce.[7] Congress has also been actively engaged in managing the root zone file.  Recently, it enacted the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, which explicitly prohibited the Commerce Department from using federal funds to relinquish stewardship of the domain name system, “including responsibility with respect to the authoritative root zone file.”[8]

Given this history, we are concerned that NTIA might potentially relinquish ownership of some form of United States property. To inform the Congress so that it may take any necessary and appropriate steps regarding NTIA’s planned transition of the IANA functions, we would like the GAO to conduct a review to address a number of specific questions.

  1.  Would the termination of the NTIA’s contract with ICANN cause Government property, of any kind, to be transferred to ICANN?
    2.    Is the authoritative root zone file, or other related or similar materials or information, United States government property?
    3.    If so, does the NTIA have the authority to transfer the root zone file or, other related materials or information to a non-federal entity?  

Please include in this report a description and analysis of the relevant legal authorities and case law dealing with the transfer of United States Government property. We understand that to perform this work, GAO will need to conduct both significant audit work and complex legal analysis…