Monthly Archives: March 2016

Bureaucrats vs. the Ballot Box

Free elections in the United States are increasingly endangered. The threat comes from a number of fronts, including the use by the Obama Administration of federal agencies to intimidate political opponents, and the increasingly oppressive and biased actions of campaign regulatory agencies.

The most well-known scandal is the action by the Internal Revenue Service to attack Tea Party groups, which oppose President Obama’s policies. Despite the clearly illegal nature of the IRS action, and the mandate of the court to produce information about its misdeeds, the tax agency continues to evade compliance with the law.

Last month, as noted by the Courthouse News Service :

“The Sixth Circuit slammed the IRS for continuing to resist, after nearly a year, an order compelling it to release lists that Tea Party groups say singled them out for harsh scrutiny….The targets of such attention allegedly faced year-long delays in the processing of applications, tight deadlines for responses, and requests for large amounts of unneeded documents.     After a federal judge cracked the whip ….the IRS continually shrugged off the court order and filed its own petition claiming that the documents were confidential.  Disagreeing with that characterization, the three-judge appellate panel said applications that were accepted or rejected are not considered “tax-return” information, and are not afforded such confidentiality… the decision does demand the documents be released “without redactions, and without further delay.”

Judicial Watch’s  Investigation revealed that email exchanges between former Internal Revenue Services (IRS) Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner and enforcement attorneys at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) demonstrated that the IRS provided “detailed, confidential information concerning the tax exempt application status and returns of conservative groups to the FEC,” a violation of federal law.  Included with the email exchanges were IRS questionnaires to a conservative group that contained questions of a hostile nature.

In its March 16 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court bluntly  stated:

“Among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an Executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views. No citizen…should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds. Yet those are the grounds on which the plaintiffs allege they were mistreated by the IRS here. The allegations are substantial: most are drawn from findings made by the Treasury Department’s own Inspector General for Tax Administration. Those findings include that the IRS used political criteria to round up applications for tax-exempt status filed by so-called tea-party groups; that the IRS often took four times as long to process tea-party applications as other applications; and that the IRS served tea-party applicants with crushing demands for what the Inspector General called “unnecessary information.” Yet in this lawsuit the IRS has only compounded the conduct that gave rise to it. The plaintiffs seek damages on behalf of themselves and other groups whose applications the IRS treated in the manner described by the Inspector General. The lawsuit has progressed as slowly as the underlying applications themselves: at every turn the IRS has resisted the plaintiffs’ requests for information regarding the IRS’s treatment of the plaintiff class, eventually to the open frustration of the district court. At issue here are IRS “Be On the Lookout” lists of organizations allegedly targeted for unfavorable treatment because of their political beliefs. … almost a year later, the IRS still has not complied with the court’s orders.”

The IRS defiantly continues to seek to use its enormous power to influence elections.  A Capital Research  analysis reports:

“President Obama’s IRS is still holding nonprofit applications from conservative and Tea Party groups hostage even now, years after the IRS targeting scandal first made headlines. The IRS remains a powerful instrument of political repression in the hands of Obama. Always on the hunt for new ways to disadvantage his political adversaries, Obama is also now moving forward with a fresh campaign of political intimidation against nonprofit groups that strikes at the heart of the American democratic process. Ominously, IRS boss John Koskinen has vowed ‘to have new rules to limit political activities of nonprofit organizations in place before the 2016 election, raising the specter of another major fight over the tax agency and political targeting,’ the Washington Times paraphrased Koskinen saying. The IRS already tried to impose a rule preventing nonprofits from running voter registration drives (which is currently legal if done on a “nonpartisan” basis), but backed down in the face of a public backlash.”

The concept of campaign regulation is also threatening the future of free elections in the United States. It is, under the guise of “taking the influence of money out of politics,” placing both free speech and free elections under the thumb of biased bureaucrats intent on replacing the will of the people with the goals of a politically biased elite.

A CATO examination of campaign regulation noted:

“campaign finance regulations favor incumbents, stifle grassroots activity, distort and constrict political debate, and infringe on traditional First Amendment freedoms. There is little reason to believe that still more regulation and public funding will yield positive results.The framers of the Bill of Rights provided for the First Amendment to keep the government from attempting to limit political debate and criticism. We should recognize the wisdom of that decision and return to the system of campaign “regulation” that the Founders intended: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.”

An Institute for Justice study concurs:

“the federal government and most states have passed campaign finance laws that blatantly violate [free speech] rights. Sold as efforts to control the influence of ‘money’ in politics, the laws in fact regulate what money buys—political speech—and what it represents for many citizens—a meaningful opportunity to participate in the political process…In short, in America, it is now constitutional for the government to control and even ban political speech and participation. To borrow from Justice Thomas in his now-famous dissent in the Kelo case: Something has gone horribly awry with the Court’s—and the country’s—approach to the First Amendment.”

The New York Post’s examination of the Big Apple’s local campaign finance board concluded:

“Tired of voting? Here’s good news: The city’s Campaign Finance Board might soon do the choosing for you. It’s headed that way, anyhow. Even now, the CFB’s independence is in doubt, as current members may curry favor to win reappointment…the CFB, which pretends to boost democracy … operates as an unelected barrier to campaigns and political speech. In fact, the city’s entire campaign-finance system, which costs taxpayers millions, has proven itself a sham that’s only invited abuse and corruption.”

Why Obama Finally Decided ISIS is Genocidal

Long after it had become painfully obvious to even to the most casual observers, the Obama Administration has decided that ISIS is guilty of genocide.  It has, however, failed to admit that its own incompetence led to the conditions allowing ISIS to become a powerful force.

The timing of Secretary of State Kerry’s announcement, and the deployment of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to Iraq, reveals much about the mindset of the Administration’s attitude towards foreign affairs, not just in the deeply troubled Middle East but also in its perception of the American role in the world.

Since the end of World War 2, the United States and its NATO partners have been the most powerful alliance on Earth, both politically and diplomatically. That partnership was hugely successful. Another world war was averted, and the Soviet Union was stared down and collapsed without yet another global conflict. A period of extraordinary prosperity was ushered in.  Numerous nations gained independence.

This was not accomplished without major cost, both to the U.S. taxpayer and to those who served and sometimes gave life or limb in the armed forces.  But the results were extraordinary.

Mr. Obama and those who ideologically agree with him nevertheless have been uncomfortable with Washington’s leading role. They disagree with the commitment of many billions of dollars to defense purposes instead of social welfare programs. They are troubled by the American philosophies of capitalism and individual rights. They seek to reduce the influence of the United States.

Reducing America’s international role from one of leadership to just one of many, or in some cases a junior partner, just feels right to them.

The conflict in Iraq had already long lost popular support before Mr. Obama took the oath of office in 2009. However, the continuing post-war presence of American troops served an important purpose.  Iraq’s internal conflicts, never far from the surface, were kept somewhat at bay as the nation moved slowly but significantly towards democracy.  Who can forget the images of Iraqi voters proudly holding up purple thumbs, signifying that they had voted for the first time in a true election? Equally as important, the presence of U.S. troops kept a lid on the influence of the darkest forces in the region.

That salutary effect was eliminated when those troops were wholly withdrawn, the last leaving on December 18, 2011, against the advice of military leaders. In 2015, the Washington Times reported that many current and former  military believed that  the untimely and complete exit “left the door open for the Islamic State’s land grab…The assessment comes from the Army chief of staff, a former Marine commandant, a former U.S. Central Command chief, a former defense secretary and, privately, from the officer running the war in Iraq against…ISIS.”

Not long after, in 2014, ISIS began to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. Since then, as Secretary Kerry noted on March 17,    ISIS (also known as Daesh) “is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions … Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.…Daesh killed hundreds of Yezidi men and older women in the town of Kocho … Daesh captured and enslaved thousands of Yezidi women and girls – selling them at auction, raping them at will, and destroying the communities in which they had lived for countless generations. We know that in Mosul, Qaraqosh, and elsewhere, Daesh has executed Christians solely because of their faith; that it executed 49 Coptic and Ethiopian Christians in Libya; and that it has also forced Christian women and girls into sexual slavery. We know that Daesh massacred hundreds of Shia Turkmen and Shabaks at Tal Afar and Mosul; besieged and starved the Turkmen town of Amerli; and kidnapped hundreds of Shia Turkmen women, raping many in front of their own families. We know that in areas under its control, Daesh has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities – destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches; blowing up monasteries and the tombs of prophets; desecrating cemeteries; and in Palmyra, even beheading the 83-year-old scholar who had spent a lifetime preserving antiquities there.”

The American military response—limited use of bombing runs– was little more than the armed equivalent of a pinprick.

The premature American withdrawal emboldened more than just ISIS. Moscow has long coveted a much larger role in the Middle East for several reasons.

Russia’s navy is handicapped by a geography that makes many of its ports ice-bound for a portion of the year, so warm water alternatives are a much desired commodity.  Hence, the importance of its naval base at the Syrian city of Tartus. This goal can also be seen in the recent agreement with Cuba to allow the Kremlin’s naval vessels to dock there.

Syria’s Bashir al-Assad has been a valuable ally for allowing the continuation of Russia’s armed presence in his nation, but the value of a powerful presence in the Middle East doesn’t end there.  Moscow’s economy is dependent on the export of energy.  The ability to influence the Middle Eastern energy economy is a major factor in Putin’s aggressive planning for the future.

Russia’s active use of military force in the Middle East was not aimed at stopping the depredations of ISIS, but on the twin goals of propping up a regime friendly to Moscow’s military goals and demonstrating the growing power of the Russian/Iranian alliance, which has now clearly replaced Western influence in the region. Israel, in particular, has been placed greatly at risk by the rise of Iranian influence in the region and Tehran’s increasingly powerful missile arsenal.

President Putin, however, has used the atrocities committed by ISIS as a justification for his commitment of Russian forces in the region. Secretary Kerry’s long overdue acknowledgement of ISIS’ depredations and the deployment of Marines follow in its wake.  What was unacceptable as an American initiative—particularly the commitment of ground troops—is now acceptable to the White House, so long as it is an act that dovetails with, and serves as a junior partner to, the actions of the Russian/Iranian axis.

 

Millennials: Their Challenges and Views

How are Millennials faring, and how do they view America?

Millennials, those born after 1980, will play a major role in the 2016 election, and an increasingly large role in the U.S. economy. They are the most ethnically diverse group in U.S. history, and the first to grow up with the internet and personal computers. They have eclipsed prior generations in overall size, and, now, in their percentage of the workforce. They are, according to the White House,  the largest single group in America, representing one-third of the U.S. population.

As it has for every other generation, the environment millennials grew up in influences their thinking, their identity, and their outlook.

They have been brought up in schools providing a much less appreciative view of American history and culture. Pew Research notes that “[Millennials]  are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people…Millennials have also been keeping their distance from another core institution of society—marriage. Just 26% of this generation is married. When they were the age that Millennials are now, 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the members of the Silent Generation were married… Most unmarried Millennials (69%) say they would like to marry, but many…lack what they deem to be a necessary prerequisite—a solid economic foundation… Millennials have emerged into adulthood with low levels of social trust. In response to a long-standing social science survey question, ‘Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people,’ just 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents and 40% of Boomers.”

One vital factor must be kept in mind about the Millennial outlook on life: their extraordinary level of debt. Pew notes that Millennials are “…the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations …Their difficult economic circumstances in part reflect the impact of the Great Recession (2007-2009) and in part the longer-term effects of globalization and rapid technological change on the American workforce. Median household income in the U.S. today remains below its 1999 peak, the longest stretch of stagnation in the modern era…”

That may explain why, despite not having great loyalty or membership in political parties, they are attracted to candidates in the Democrat Party who advocate policies that have the government pick up the tab for tuition and health care.

The White House notes that  “Total student outstanding loan debt surpassed $1 trillion by the end of the second quarter of 2014, making it the second largest category of household debt. In part, this increase in the aggregate level of outstanding student debt is due to greater enrollment among Millennials and to the changing composition of students, including a larger share of students from lower-income families.”

Generation Opportunity’s 2016 “State of the Millennial Report”  emphasizes that: “One of the toughest challenges facing young Americans is finding a way to pay for a college education that empowers them to find employment, pay off their student loans, and create better lives for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, government interference in higher education has driven up the cost of college through excessive subsidies that inflate prices. Government interference has also limited choice and competition in higher education by preventing new and innovative educational programs from competing and offering better, inexpensive alternatives. Making higher education work for present and future generations of Americans requires a major overhaul of the current system.”

The White House study also found that “Millennials are more likely to focus exclusively on studies instead of combining school and work. With college enrollments at historic highs there has been a corresponding decline in labor market participation among 16 to 24 year-olds.”

Not unrelated, Millennials are less likely to be homeowners than young adults in previous generations, and more likely to be living with their parents then their immediate predecessors.

The Generation Opportunity’s report adds:  “while previous generations experienced relatively stable growth and an improvement in their economic condition, the Millennial Generation faces an uphill climb to success… Significant barriers to opportunity created by government impede the ability of young Americans to make a better life for themselves and their families. The number of young people making less than $25,000 a year is at its highest level since the 1990s. Worse, 48 percent of Millennials now believe that the American Dream is dead…

“These negative trends are caused by years of government intervention disrupting economic growth in countless parts of our lives. Enacting the following policy initiatives would be a start to turning around these developments… Government barriers to starting a new business have made it harder than ever for Millennials to chase after their versions of the American Dream. Government regulations have skyrocketed out of control growing from nearly 10,000 pages in 1954 to over 80,000 by 2013.22 The complexity of the tax code has also made it difficult to do business. In 1954 the tax code was only 14,000 pages long, but by 2013 it reached nearly 74,000.23 Occupational licensing requirements are another barrier. In 1950, only five percent of the American workforce needed a permission slip from the government to work. Today that number is around 30 percent, and it’s costing us up to 2.85 million jobs.”

Considering the unfairly critical views Millennials have been exposed to about their nation, and the hardships they have endured in an uncharacteristically harsh and increasingly overregulated  economy, it is not surprising that some of  their perspectives are even more cynical towards traditional  American values than their famously rebellious parents who came of age in the 60’s.

What did Obama’s Cuban Trip Achieve?

The results of President Obama’s recent trip to Cuba, and, indeed, the reasons for his traveling there at all, remain shrouded in mystery.

The original timing of Washington’s opening of relations with Cuba raised eyebrows.  The Russians had just resumed their naval presence in the island nation, ruled by the same family that had urged Moscow to strike the United States with nuclear weapons in the 1960’s. The harsh repression of the Cuban people had not considerably lessened, Havana continued to harbor American criminals, and the Castro regime still supported terrorists.

None of these factors had changed before the President’s visit, and none has even started to change since.

Raoul Castro humiliated Mr. Obama by not greeting him at the airport, did not express any willingness to discuss human rights issues in any meaningful way, and did not show any sign of disinviting Moscow’s spy ships from its ports.  But the dictator did enthusiastically mention one point: his desire to have the United States return the Guantanamo Bay naval base to Cuba.

As the New York Analysis of Policy & Government noted before Mr. Obama flew to Cuba, the President has been dedicated to both closing the prison at the “Gitmo” base as well as reducing the overall U.S. defense budget.

There no reliable, fully comprehensive details of what the President and Castro discussed. We remain concerned that handing over the entire base to Havana may have been a key point.

The White House  itself has not listed any significant gains for the U.S.:

“The visit is a historic milestone after more than a year of progress from the day in December of 2014 when the President first announced he was abandoning a failed, Cold War-era approach to Cuba in favor of a new course to normalize relations. Since then, we’ve restored non-stop flights between our two countries. We’ve helped facilitate more people-to-people interaction and commercial enterprise. We’ve allowed U.S. dollars to be used in more financial transactions with Cuba. And today, we’re restoring direct mail for the first time in 50 years. The first flight carrying that first batch of U.S. direct mail to Cuba took off yesterday.”

Those limited returns are hardly substantive.

The aftermath of the trip hardly provides any encouraging news. A Yahoo news item notes this disappointing fact:

“On Tuesday, President Obama addressed Cubans about the importance of human rights and peaceful dialogue. On Thursday, pro-democracy demonstrators in Havana were beaten and arrested by Cuban police agents just steps away from where Obama had spoken. The demonstration occurred three blocks from the Grand Theater of Havana, where Obama spoke live to the Cuban nation, and was swiftly broken up by plainclothes officers, who attacked demonstrators violently and then stuffed those they had captured into police cars and swept them away within moments. “

While Cuba has gained from the President’s visit, there is little more than “hope” that anything America is seeking will be accomplished. In a March 22 press conference, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked:  “You’ve said in the past that the embargo would not be lifted unless there’s improvement on the human rights record of Cuba, yet yesterday the President said he believed that the embargo would be lifted. Would that happen if there is no progress in the human rights record in Cuba?”

Kerry’s response was typical of the vacillating foreign policy stance the Obama administration has adhered to:” No, I think the President is really referring to – it would be lifted over a period of time, because there will be, I’m confident, changes taking place. Changes are taking place in Cuba even now. I mean, I know some people want some dramatic announcement that all of a sudden, okay, here’s the new rules of the road, but that’s not the way it’s going to happen. But there is more political space today in Cuba than there was before the announcement of our embassy and before I came here to raise the flag, and in the year following, more people are traveling, more people are exchanging information, more people are meeting. There is an atmosphere of transformation that is taking place, and it doesn’t happen overnight anywhere. It has never happened; it’s been a slow, long building process in most places.”

This has been a standard course of action in President Obama’s international dealings.  The United States provides solid concessions, such as handing Russia the lead in nuclear weapons in the New Start Treaty, giving Iran the financial considerations it seeks, and so on, while getting no guaranteed gains in return.  It has not worked well for the U.S.

Obama Missing in Action in the War on Terror

Mr. Obama’s odd nonresponse to the latest terrorist attack, the bombing of the Brussels Airport and a metro station near the headquarters of the European Union, raises uncomfortable questions.

The President chose to go to a ball game with Raoul Castro, rather than return to the White House. Some will question whether he could have done anything substantive no matter where he was. However, when a key leader continues to display nonchalance on a level that indicates a lack of concern or attention about a major challenge, it sends a signal to the perpetrators that they will face no significant obstacle to their efforts.

That perception may be correct. It is difficult to imagine any other President (or Secretary of State) who would not have responded in some way to the Benghazi attack, to cite just one example. The primary duty of the federal government is to safeguard the American people. But in response to repeated terror attacks at home, and abroad in places frequented by U.S. visitors, President Obama has displayed little interest and less concern.

The day after the Benghazi attack, he flew to Las Vegas for a fund raiser.

He labels clear-cut cases of terrorism, such as the shooting at an American military base by an Islamic extremist, as “workplace violence.”

Following the terrorist assault in San Bernardino, he gave a speech saying that Americans have too many guns.

International authorities warned Washington about the danger from the individuals who bombed the Boston Marathon, but nothing was done.

He didn’t join other western leaders in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

He continues to ignore Iran’s missile development.

He negotiates with the Taliban, the organization that helped attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

He continues to advocate bringing more Syrian refugees to the United States, despite the clear example of the problems this has caused in Europe. Oddly enough, though, there is no priority given to Christians or Yazdis, who have been the chief targets of the terrorists. Almost none have been admitted.

The President visited and spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore Mosque, (ISB) known for its links to terrorism. The Investigative Project on Terrorism  notes that:

“ISB leaders have amassed a record of support for radical Islamic causes over the years, including endorsing the Chechen jihad and Palestinian suicide bombings. Its former imam was active in a charity later linked to terror financing including Hamas, the Taliban, and for providing “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to Osama bin Laden… It’s safe to assume the White House vetted the ISB and found it an acceptable venue for a presidential appearance despite this history. And that is not surprising. The Obama administration has repeatedly embraced contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, repeatedly meeting with its officials during and after the Arab Spring while ignoring secular democracy advocates. It praised the early tenure of Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi when he briefly served as Egypt’s president. The administration also helped a Brotherhood delegation skip routine screening by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon landing in America. And, as we reported in December, a White House meeting also aimed at standing by the Muslim-American community featured representatives of Islamist groups, including some with consistent records of opposing U.S. law enforcement counter-terrorism efforts. ISB officials have worked closely with one of those groups…”

He continues to advocate bringing more Syrian refugees to the United States, despite the clear example of the problems this has caused in Europe. Oddly enough, though, there is no priority given to Christians or Yazdis, who have been the chief targets of the terrorists. Almost none have been admitted.

James Carafano, writing for Fox News, uses this analogy: “Imagine if, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, FDR had taken to the radio and declared everything was under control. The Nov. 13 terrorist attack on Paris, paired with [the] attacks in Brussels, is the European equivalent of back-to-back Pearl Harbors. Yet, the U.S. administration sits as sanguine as ever, arguing it has everything in hand.”

As ISIS rose to power in the Middle East, President Obama insisted that they were an insignificant threat, dismissing them as a “JV team.”  Against the advice of his own military advisors, he withdrew all U.S. troops from Iraq, creating the vacuum that gave ISIS the opportunity to thrive.  He is on the verge of repeating the mistake in Afghanistan.

President Obama won’t even use the term “Islamic terrorism.” In the drug-addled era of the 1960’s, there was a cliché that went, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” Under President Obama, a war has been declared by radical Islam that the U.S. has barely shown up for. The answer to the question raised by ‘60’s cliché is, innocents will die.

The Assasination of Republican Front Runners

Donald Trump is no one’s idea of a perfect candidate.  He is blustery, short on specifics, and tall in hyperbole. He speaks harshly, egotistically, and is politically incorrect. It is difficult to support a candidate who provides so little details about his policy choices.

But he is not, in any way, the terror that the media and his political opposition portray. He reflects the very real frustration of a population tired of seeing their nation deteriorate by the day at the hands of an elitist and inept leadership (particularly at the White House level,) and being forced to accept that their children will be the first generation to do worse than their parents.

A reasonable case can be made that either of Trump’s GOP rivals could address these challenges  better than Trump. But while the media takes every opportunity to frame each of his comments as a solicitation for Armageddon, they go out of their way to ignore the horrifying record, ridiculous ideas, and overwhelming ethical violations of Hillary Clinton, and the nonsensical socialist policies of Bernie Sanders which have already failed in every venue in which they have been tried.

Let’s be clear on what is occurring. As the GOP front runner, Trump has a very large target on his back, the same as Chris Christie had much earlier when he appeared to have a significant edge. Back then, the media made more of Christie’s alleged “bridgegate” involvement (in which his appointees reportedly caused a traffic jam in revenge against a local mayor for a political quarrel) than they did about Clinton’s failed “reset” with Russia, her incompetence in Benghazi, or any other of her long history of policy failures and ethical failings.

It is reminiscent of the favorable, almost fawning, treatment John McCain received from the press, right up until the time it was clear that he was going to become the Republican nominee in 2008. Then it turned largely negative.

Almost no air time has been spent on the utterly disgraceful conspiracy by Soros and his outrageous Moveon.org to deprive the American people of the right to hear one of the candidates simply because they don’t like him.  That’s mob rule at its worst.

The major media have not only lost any sense of objectivity, they have interjected themselves into the process in a manner even worse than when one of their ilk, as a moderator in a presidential  debate between Romney and Obama, interjected herself into the 2012 race by openly tilting the forum against the GOP.

In 2016, they are, in essence, aiding and abetting the criminal actions of a well-financed and well organized mob to prevent the American voter from hearing the views of a candidate.

Make no mistake: If Ted Cruz or John Kasich somehow overtake Trump and become the frontrunner, major media outlets will find a way of portraying them as the spawn of Satan.

The detractors of Trump today, Christie previously, and whoever is in the lead in the coming months are not limited to political opponents, the media, and the Soros/Moveon.org mobsters.

Any GOP frontrunner, whether it’s Trump claiming he wants to “Make America Great” or Cruz seeking to restore “Morning in America” or any candidate seeking to establish hope to the American people and return the U.S. to the pre-eminent position it held before the Obama wrecking crew got a hold of the country is a threat to those who have dedicated themselves to knocking the U.S. down as far it can go.

The Obama acolytes and would-be successors believe that America is evil and the aggressors in Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere are benign. They should be embarrassed at the devastation wrought upon the middle class, seniors, and youthful job seekers by their Progressive policies. They don’t want to allow candidates with viable solutions to demonstrate what a huge folly their leftist political agenda has been.

Trump, Cruz and Kasich may have uphill battles, but they can take comfort in knowing that their Progressive opponents  are sufficiently concerned about them that they have resorted to an unprecedented campaign of slander and in some cases violence to prevent them from moving forward.

It’s time that the voters, no matter who they support or whatever issues concern them most, reject the biased reporting of the media and the fascist tactics of the leftist extremists who seek to impose their will by lies and force.

 

Seniors Adversely Affected as Federal Funds are Diverted

America’s seniors are suffering as federal funds are diverted to questionable uses.

As America’s national debt rapidly soars to the $20 trillion mark (it currently stands at over $19 trillion) key needs are facing a lack of funds, and Americans relying on Social Security and Medicare are the most directly affected.  The problems are not just the future insolvency of those programs. The impact has already been felt.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) projects that “Social Security’s Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund now faces an urgent threat of reserve depletion, requiring prompt corrective action by lawmakers if sudden reductions or interruptions in benefit payments are to be avoided. Beyond DI, Social Security as a whole as well as Medicare cannot sustain projected long-run program costs under currently scheduled financing.”

Social Security will face virtual bankruptcy by 2034. Medicare will endure the same fate by 2030.

But those future dates are not the extent of the problem. During the Obama Administration, seniors have been subjected to an unprecedented lack of cost of living increases.

Since the regular program of Cost of Living increases began in 1975, (prior to that increases were provided by legislation) there has never been a period when such adjustments were lower than they have been under President Obama’s term. Not once had there been a year in which there was no increase at all. Since 2009, two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010, provided no adjustments, and there was also no adjustment in 2015.  Before 2009, the average annual increase was 4.4%; during the Obama presidency, it was 1.7%.

Social Security Cost-Of-Living Adjustments

(Chart provided by the Social Security Administration

Year COLA
1975 8.0
1976 6.4
1977 5.9
1978 6.5
1979 9.9
1980 14.3
1981 11.2
1982 7.4
1983 3.5
1984 3.5
1985 3.1
1986 1.3
1987 4.2
1988 4.0
1989 4.7
Year COLA
1990 5.4
1991 3.7
1992 3.0
1993 2.6
1994 2.8
1995 2.6
1996 2.9
1997 2.1
1998 1.3
1999  a 2.5
2000 3.5
2001 2.6
2002 1.4
2003 2.1
2004 2.7
Year COLA
2005 4.1
2006 3.3
2007 2.3
2008 5.8
2009 0.0
2010 0.0
2011 3.6
2012 1.7
2013 1.5
2014 1.7
2015 0.0

It’s not just Social Security problems that are affecting America’s seniors. Medicare has taken a hit, and the problem has been accelerated and worsened due to Obamacare.  Three examples of how Obamacare hurts seniors are provided by The Daily Signal:

 1) Huge payment reductions that reduce access to care. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Obamacare will reduce Medicare reimbursements by $716 billion over 10 years. These cuts will hit Part A providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and hospices, along with Medicare Advantage plans. The trustees predict that if Congress allows these cuts to go into effect, 15 percent of Medicare providers would go in the red by 2019, 25 percent by 2030, and 40 percent by 2050…

2) Medicare “savings” are spent on other parts of Obamacare. As CBO plainly states, “CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected [hospital insurance] revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no.”

3) The ominous and looming power of IPAB.  When Medicare spending surpasses the target, IPAB will have to make recommendations to lower Medicare spending.

While America’s seniors, who have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits through a lifetime of work, face cuts, questions arise about the diversion of federal funds to pay for benefits for illegal immigrants.

The Federation for Immigration Reform has estimated the cost of illegal immigration to U.S. taxpayers:

  • Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments.
  • The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117. The fiscal impact per household varies considerably because the greatest share of the burden falls on state and local taxpayers whose burden depends on the size of the illegal alien population in that locality
  • Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments.
  • At the federal level, about one-third of outlays are matched by tax collections from illegal aliens. At the state and local level, an average of less than 5 percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration is recouped through taxes collected from illegal aliens.
  • Most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes. Among those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal aliens when they file tax returns. Many are also claiming tax credits resulting in payments from the U.S. Treasury.

The lack of priority the Obama Administration has given to the needs of seniors, while turning a blind eye towards the growing financial impact of illegal aliens, is a cause of deep concern.

(Note: We originally published this article on March 18. However, we were informed that many subscribers were not able to view it due to technical issues arising from a website update.) 

The Crisis that the White House Pretends Doesn’t Exist

From one end of the globe to the other, powers overtly unfriendly to the United States and its allies are substantially and rapidly building their military might.  It is a clear indication that the White House policy of unilateral reduction in defense spending combined with appeasement diplomacy has been a dismal failure.

North Korea has placed its nuclear arsenal on “standby,” and Kim Jong Un has ordered his substantial armed forces into a “pre-emptive attack mode,” according to reports by the Korean Central News Agency first as reported by the Financial Times.

In February, the White House stated, in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear threat,  that:

“This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.  North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region…The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community.  The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies. We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action.”

The President’s analysis of the situation was correct, and his plans to increase cooperation with regional allies is appropriate.  However, there is a problem with the approach:  The United States lacks the actual power-in-being to actually address the crisis.  The slashing of the defense budget during the course of the Obama Administration, and the Oval Office decision not to have an armed forces capable of fighting a two-front war renders his response little more than words.  Sanctions have failed to halt North Korea’s belligerence or nuclear progress in the past and there is no reason to assume they will do so in the future.

The President speaks of a “pivot” to Asia, which if it were real, could give Pyongyang pause.  But the pivot is just verbiage with nothing much behind it.  The diminished U.S. Navy, at less than half the strength it posed in 1990 and at its smallest level since World War I, doesn’t intimidate North Korea which rests with the Chinese sphere of influence.  China already has more submarines than the U.S., along with greater regional forces and a growing bluewater fleet that will outnumber America’s by 2020.

There is another factor, as well.  The White House’s practice of tough words followed by a lack of action demonstrates that it lacks the willpower to follow through. Think of the abandoned Red Line in Syria. The failure to avenge the Benghazi attack. The weak response to Russia’s Ukrainian invasion. The lack of action in response to Moscow’s growing presence in the Western Hemisphere.  The failure to even lodge a diplomatic protest in response to Beijing’s invasion of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

On the other side of the Eurasian landmass, Iran has conducted  number of forbidden ballistic missile tests, openly making  mockery of the nuclear weapons agreement before the ink has even dried on the document.  The Iranians are fully aware that North Korea cut a deal with President Clinton in the 1990’s in which $4 billion in aid was provided in response to Pyongyang’s solemn promise not to build nukes.  President Clinton did nothing in response to the violation, just as President Obama has no credible plans to respond to Tehran’s violation.

Indeed, Mr. Obama’s response to military provocations has been more appeasement. His response to Russia’s return to cold war era bases in Cuba was, strangely, to restore diplomatic relations with Havana.  He has done nothing in response to Moscow’s move to use Nicaragua as a refueling base for its nuclear Tupolev bombers.

The President doesn’t even discuss the fact that Russia, after signing the New Start treaty in 2009, now, for the first time in history, has become the world’s preeminent nuclear power. The skyrocketing growth of China’s military is also a non-topic in the Oval office.

Mr. Obama is well known for his absolute refusal to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism.” Unfortunately, his flight from reality also includes every threat to the safety of the United States, as well.  In the past, some presidents have emphasized national security more than others.  However, we have never before had a Commander in Chief who completely neglects the entire topic.

Environmental Extremists Hijack U.S. Schools

When it comes to science in the classroom, are American schools educating or indoctrinating?

In 2010, MRC TV reported that a middle school near San Bernardino, California produced a video featuring students dressed as members of an “environmental police agency” arresting “non-environmentalists.”

Art Horn, an independent meteorologist writing in PJ Media, gave a presentation to an elementary school which included some skepticism towards global warming theories.

“At several of the elementary schools,” he wrote, “this was actually met with approval. Some teachers approached me at the end of my talk and thanked me for giving the kids a different point of view — since all they hear otherwise is that the future will be a climate calamity..”

However, in response to his pointing out that polar bears were not drowning and that their numbers have been increasing,  and that nature has changed climate in the past and would likely continue to do so in the future, complaints were lodged.

One teacher who invited him actually had to do a special project about global warming to set the parents minds at ease.

Jo Kwong, writing for the Acton Institute,  presents a similar report:

“A growing number of people are disturbed by the methods and strategies used by the environmental special interest movement, particularly in the realm of environmental education… Educators have embraced environmental extremism, fully accepting the anti-man, anti-technology, and anti-economic growth positions. School systems across the nation, often at the requirement of government mandates, are incorporating environmental education into traditional subjects such as mathematics, history, languages, and civics.”

Her review of environmental education teachings revealed a number of unsettling trends and strategies.    She notes: “…it is apparent that 1) children are being scared into becoming environmental activists, 2) there is widespread misinformation in materials aimed at children, 3) children are being taught what to think, rather than how to think, 4) children are taught that man is evil, and 5) environmental education is being used to undermine the simple joys of childhood. These findings raise an important question: Are we raising critically-thinking leaders, or are we merely raising automatons that can recite the latest environmental dogma?”

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) focused on the issue at the college level. In a recent report,  on “sustainability,” (which uses the theory of manmade global warming as a reason to impose substantial and costly regulations that are often little more than old big-government mantras,)  it found:

“Sustainability has become a discipline in its own right. We identified 1,438 degree programs at 475 colleges and universities in 65 states and provinces focused on or relating to sustainability studies. In the U.S. alone, there are 1,274 programs, with at least one program in each of the 50 states…The sustainability movement – a major force on college campuses in the United States and the rest of the Western world – has largely escaped serious critical scrutiny, until now… on campuses across the United States, where sustainability has become dogma, honest investigation of global warming is nearly impossible…Sustainability activists blur the line between pragmatic environmental protection and their utopian dreams – dreams of a carbon-free economy and dreams of a new social order that imposes redistribution of wealth and their own version of “equality.” We support good stewardship of natural resources and agree commonsense conservation measures should be encouraged. The sustainability movement works against those goals by turning environmental policymaking into regulatory power grabs.”

In response to the harms being done by the sustainability movement in higher education, NAS offered ten recommendations under three categories:

Respect Intellectual Freedom

  1. “Create neutral ground. Colleges and universities should be neutral in important and unresolved scientific debates, such as the debate over dangerous anthropogenic global warming. Claims made on the authority of “science” must be made on the basis of transparent evidence and openness to good arguments regardless of their source. 2. Cut the apocalyptic rhetoric. Presenting students with a steady diet of doomsday scenarios undermines liberal education. 3. Maintain civility. Some student sustainability protests have aimed at preventing opponents from speaking. Personal vitriol and ad hominem attack have no place in institutions of higher learning. 4. Stop “nudging.” Leave students the space to make their own decisions about sustainability, and free faculty members from the implied pressure to imbed sustainability into the curricula of unrelated courses.

Uphold Institutional Integrity

 “Withdraw from the President’s Climate Commitment. Colleges that have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment should withdraw in favor of openminded debate on the subject. 6. Open the books and pull back the sustainability hires. Make the pursuit of sustainability by colleges financially transparent. The growth of administrative and staff positions in sustainability drives up costs and institutionalizes advocacy at the expense of education. 7. Uphold environmental stewardship. Campuses need to recover the distinction between real environmental stewardship and a movement that uses the term as a springboard for a much broader agenda. 8. Credential wisely. Curtail the aggrandizement of sustainability as a subject. Sustainability is not a discipline or even a subject area. It is an ideology.

Be Even-Handed

  1. “Equalize treatment for advocates. Treat sustainability groups on campus under the same rubric as other advocacy groups. They should not enjoy privileged immunity from ordinary rules and special access to institutional resources. 10. Examine motives. College and university boards of trustees should examine demands for divestment from fossil fuels skeptically and with full awareness of the ideological context in which those demands are made.”