Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Great Plan to Replace the EPA


By Alan Caruba

For years now I have been saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be eliminated and its powers given to the fifty states, all of which,have their own departments of environmental protection. Until now, however, there has been no plan put forth to do so.

Dr. Jay Lehr has done just that and his plan no doubt will be sent to the members of Congress and the state governors. Titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency” it should be read by everyone who, like Dr. Lehr, has concluded that the EPA was a good idea when it was introduced in 1971, but has since evolved into a rogue agency threatening the U.S. economy, attacking the fundamental concept of private property, and the lives of all Americans in countless and costly ways.

Dr. Jay Lehr
Dr. Lehr is the Science Director and Senior Fellow of The Heartland Institute, for whom I am a policy advisor. He is a leading authority on groundwater hydrology and the author of more than 500 magazine and journal articles, and 30 books. He has testified before Congress on more than three dozen occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the federal government and with many foreign countries. The Institute is a national nonprofit research and education organizations supported by voluntary contributions.

Ironically, he was among the scientists who called for the creation of the EPA and served on many of the then-new agency’s advisory councils. Over the course of its first ten years, he helped write a significant number of legislative bills to create a safety net for the environment.

As he notes in his plan, “Beginning around 1981, liberal activist groups recognized EPA could be used to advance their political agenda by regulating virtually all human activities regardless of their impact on the environment. Politicians recognized they could win votes by posing as protectors of the public health and wildlife. Industries saw a way to use regulations to handicap competitors or help themselves to public subsidies. Since that time, not a single environmental law or regulation has passed that benefited either the environment or society.”

“The takeover of EPA and all of its activities by liberal activists was slow and methodical over the past 30 years. Today, EPA is all but a wholly owned subsidiary of liberal activist groups. Its rules account for about half of the nearly $2 trillion a year cost of complying with all national regulations in the U.S. President Barack Obama is using it to circumvent Congress to impose regulations on the energy sector that will cause prices to ‘skyrocket.’ It is a rogue agency.”

Dr. Lehr says that “Incremental reform of EPA is simply not an option.”  He's right.

“I have come to believe that the national EPA must be systematically dismantled and replaced by a Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental protection agencies. Those agencies in nearly all cases long ago took over primary responsibility for the implementation of environmental laws passed by Congress (or simply handed down by EPA as fiat rulings without congressional vote or oversight.”

Looking back over the years, Dr. Lehr notes that “The initial laws I helped write have become increasingly draconian, yet they have not benefited our environment or the health of our citizens. Instead they suppress our economy and the right of our citizens to make an honest living. It seems to me, and to others, that this is actually the intention of those in EPA and in Congress who want to see government power expanded without regard to whether it is needed to protect the environment or public health.”

Eliminating the EPA would provide a major savings by eliminating 80% of its budget. The remaining 20% could be used to run its research labs and administer the Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental agencies. “The Committee would determine which regulations are actually mandated in law by Congress and which were established by EPA without congressional approval.”

Dr. Lehr estimates the EPA’s federal budget would be reduced from $8.2 billion to $2 billion. Staffing would be reduced from more than 15,000 to 300 and that staff would serve in a new national EPA headquarters he recommends be “located centrally in Topeka, Kansas, to allow the closest contact with the individual states.” The staff would consist of six delegate-employees from each of the 50 states.”

“Most states,” says Dr. Lehr, “will enthusiastically embrace this plan, as their opposition to EPA’s ‘regulatory train wreck’ grows and since it gives them the autonomy and authority they were promised when EPA was first created and the funding to carry it out.”

The EPA was a good idea when it was created, the nation’s air and water needed to be cleaned, but they have been at this point. Since then, the utterly bogus “global warming”, now called “climate change”, has been used to justify a torrent of EPA regulations. The science the EPA cites as justification is equally tainted and often kept secret from the public.

“It’s time for the national EPA to go,” says Dr. Lehr and I most emphatically agree. “All that is missing is the political will.”

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Nexus of Illegal Drugs and Illegal Immigration


By Alan Caruba

All manner of reasons are being offered to explain the influx of thousands of illegal aliens, not the least of which is President Obama’s open invitation to Latin Americans to come here with the promise of becoming citizens at some point. By overloading the southern border, this has opened the doors to criminals and potential terrorists as well.

In March, the Huffington Post took note of the other far lesser known or discussed reason our southern border is so porous. “Americans Spent About A Trillion Dollars on Illegal Drugs in the Last Decade.”  With that kind of money awaiting them, you can be sure that the drug cartels are going to make every effort to satisfy the market.

The article was about a Rand Corporation report by its Drug Policy Research Center as requested by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that tracked total expenditures, consumption, and number of users of marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin and methamphetamine. The decade tracked was 2000 to 2010.

Despite federal spending between $40 and $50 billion to fight the war on drugs, “American spending levels on illegal drugs stayed more or less the same.”  RAND drew some of its data from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program, but it is no longer funded by the federal government which, one must assume, leaves it unable to know if the market for illegal drugs has expanded, shrunk or stayed the same.

The news about the illegal immigration from Latin American nations has a side to it that has not received much news coverage. It has to do with the views of four-star Marine Corps General John Kelly who heads the U.S. Military’s Southern Command. In a July 8 essay in the Military Times, “Central America Drug War a Dire Threat to U.S. National Security”, Gen. Kelly noted how the drug cartels have overwhelmed the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, rendering any opposition to them too great a threat.

“Due to the insatiable U.S. demand for drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin and now methamphetamines, all produced in Latin American and smuggled into the U.S.” said Gen. Kelly, they have been left “near broken societies” in which the rule of law has been destroyed. How bad is it? According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., applications for asylum in neighboring countries—mostly Mexico and Costa Rica—are up 712%,

Cutting off aid to these countries as has been suggested by some will turn them into entities that are little more than names on a map and increase the distress of their law-abiding populations. Indeed, because so many of them have already come to the U.S., the children arriving here have families waiting for them. Seventy-three percent of the 47,017 minors apprehended at the border were from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They will stay here to be processed by a system that has not deterred the estimated eleven million illegal aliens already living here.

According to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, despite the illegal immigration crisis the U.S. has encountered, Gen. Kelly’s U.S. Southern Command is “only sourced (financed) at five percent of the capacity it needs.” Reducing the funding to the U.S. military has been a priority of the Obama agenda.

Allen West, a former Lt. Colonel and member of the House of Representatives, writing on his July 8 blog, said, “We know Obama has a penchant for turning generals who don’t toe his line and agenda points—like former CENTCOM Commander Marine Corps General Mattis—into civilians, I certainly hope we don’t see another truth-telling general, a commander, called on the carpet by Obama’s lapdog Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel—or worse, getting a call from the Capo di tutti Capi Valerie Jarrett.

The Center for Immigration Studies reports that “a significant majority of children coming across are not unaccompanied alien children according to the definition found in federal law.” As noted above they have family here in the U.S. Moreover, “there is little evidence to suggest that the recent arrivals are victims of trafficking which involves coercion.” Their families have paid smugglers to bring them to the U.S.”

While we read and hear references to those who smuggle immigrants to the U.S. border, known as “coyotes”, an Associated Press report noted a 2010 U.N. study that estimated this “service” generated $6.6. billion for the smugglers as the migrants pay anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 each for the journey across thousands of miles “in the care of smuggling networks that in turn pay off government officials, gangs operating on trains and drug cartels controlling the routes north.”

The appetite for illegal drugs that has been a part of life in the U.S. for many citizens has contributed to the illegal alien flow from the Latin American nations whose governments have been undermined by the drug cartels. It’s a vicious circle that is not likely to be broken any time soon, if ever.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Nemesis of Agenda21


By Alan Caruba


Watching left-wing organizations lose their wits denouncing conservatives is always fun and particularly if you know one of their targets. In my case, that would be Tom DeWeese, the founder and president of the American Policy Center; the most expert and outspoken opponent of Agenda21 in the nation.

In the early 1990s I sent him a commentary and he published it in The DeWeese Report, a publication of the Center, and thereafter I served as the Center’s communications director for a while. These days I am on its board of advisors.

He is a patriot and he lives his love for America by devoting himself to educating people to the dangers of the United Nations Agenda 21 with its emphasis on “sustainable development” and a range of issues involving ill-conceived environmental policies and programs, the importance of private property rights, the threat of federal computer banks to individual privacy rights, as well as issues such as federal education policies in our nation’s schools.

At the heart of Agenda21 is “sustainable development” which is justified by the global warming hoax that is based on reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other so-called greenhouse gases. The Earth’s temperature and climate is determined by the sun. The gases of its atmosphere are in flux as oceans absorb and release CO2, and clouds come and go in a constant dynamic of change. What mankind does has virtually no impact on the weather short-term or the climate long-term.

“Sustainable Development”, Tom wrote in “How Global Policy Becomes Local”, “is truly stunning in its magnitude to transform the world into feudal-like governance by make nature the central organizing principle for our economy and society. It is a scheme fueled by unsound science and discredited economics that can only lead modern society down the road to a new Dark Age.”

“It is systematically implemented through the creation of non-elected visioning boards and planning commissions. There is no place in the Sustainable world for individual thought, private property or free enterprise. It is the exact opposite of the free society envisioned by this nation’s founders.”

I told you he was a patriot, didn’t I? Because only patriots feel thqt passionately about individual freedom, property rights, free enterprise, and all those concepts that make Leftists break out in a cold sweat.

Among the left-wing groups that do not like Tom is the Southern Poverty Law Center and it devotes a lot of time denouncing him. On their website, the SPLC reveals its own agenda and why Tom is the enemy. “For 20 years now, Tom DeWeese has been on a jihad against global plans for sustainable development.” The key word here is “global” as in U.N., not U.S.

Imagine my surprise as I read the SPLC post that said, “Serving on the board of DeWeese’s American Policy Center (is) Alan Caruba” and noting that I blog for the Tea Party Nation. I contribute to their blog section, but I do not blog for the group.  It should come as no surprise that the SPLC identifies Tea Party Nation as “a hate group.” It’s a pretty good description of the SPLC!

“DeWeese’s outfit,” says the SPLC denunciation, “is only one of several obsessed with what has become one of the main conspiracy theories of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.” What’s amusing is the backhanded way SPLC acknowledged his success. “The effect of the fear-mongering fairy tale offered up by DeWeese and other conspiracy theorists have been almost unbelievable. Not only have some counties passed resolutions opposing Agenda21” but the Republican National Committee” did so as well in 2012.

DeWeese offers advice to those who visit the APC site on how to stop Agenda21.

If “fear-mongering” includes pointing out that the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for the last seventeen years and that wind and solar power is an illusion costing far more than the value of the electricity it produces, then the SPLC has plenty to worry about.

America is fortunate to have patriots like Tom DeWeese who take its Constitution and its values so seriously that they devote their lives to protecting them.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Obama Encounters an Apex of Anger


By Alan Caruba

Barack Obama has managed to do something one would hardly imagine a President could achieve by the midpoint of his second term. He has managed to anger most segments of the American populace, including those to the far Left who constitute a significant part of his base.  It has taken time for most people to reach this point.

Americans are amazingly patient with their presidents, but Obama has pushed them beyond scandal fatigue. The “final straw” appears to be the illegal alien invasion masterminded by Obama.

What they are seeing and hearing is not what they were sold; a charming man of allegedly extraordinary intelligence. Friday’s press conference regarding the shoot down of the Malaysian commercial aircraft showed us a man utterly lacking any moral outrage and, as always, “leading from behind” by insisting this was Europe’s problem, not one that would be addressed by an America doing anything more than applying a few economic sanctions.

He looked and sounded bored, annoyed that he had to utter a bunch of empty platitudes about Russia; the same Russia with which he and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had declared a “reset” from previous administrations’ relations. Putin took his measure and saw weakness.

Obama’s response to the Middle East was to pull out all our troops from Iraq and a muddled series of actions in Afghanistan topped by the announcement of when troops there would leave, always a very bad idea when the enemy is still in the field. The “Arab Spring” became another Obama nightmare of bad decisions.

Lies, Lies, and More Lies

It took years, but it eventually became clear to most paying any attention that Obama has told so many lies that whatever he says now is deemed worthless. Then, too, his administration is now subject to congressional investigations that include the Internal Revenue Service and the Veterans Administration.

The Attorney General was slapped with contempt of Congress. A key figure in the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner, has pled the Fifth.

The House of Representatives is getting ready to sue Obama for failing to obey the Constitution’s separation of powers. The President’s efforts to ignore the Constitution have been met with an extraordinary number of Supreme Court rebuffs, many of which were unanimous.

How bad is Obama’s situation at present? One indication is the way the news media has been slowly, but steadily falling out of love with him. As Paul Bedard noted recently in the Washington Examiner, “In unprecedented criticism of the White House 38 journalism groups have assailed the president’s team for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials, and overall ‘politically-driven suppression of the news.”

David Cuiller, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, said, “It is up to journalists—and citizens—to push back against this force. Hard!” As a member of the SPJ since the 1970s this is a welcome expression of indignation, but it is also been occurring across a full spectrum of Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters as various Obama policies have negatively affected them.

No President has ever much liked the news media. This one, though, took them from adoration to distrust. With the exception of the network news shows and steadfast liberal newspapers, Obama’s news coverage is going to become increasingly harsh. Or should we say “accurate”?

The illegal alien immigration issue has enraged average Americans and Obama is not helped when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims that “the borders are secure” or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi makes some equally absurd and moronic claim.

In the six years since Obama took office in 2009, Americans have encountered a succession of scandals that began with Operation Fast and Furious when a scheme to transfer arms to Mexican cartels was covered up by the assertion of executive privilege. The Obamacare lies were followed by administration efforts to force corporations and religious organizations to forego their faith-based beliefs. Millions of Americans lost their healthcare insurance plans, only to have them replaced for far more expensive ones.

On top of the problems Americans encountered with the implementation of Obamacare, along came revelations that the Department of Veterans Affairs was letting some veterans seeking healthcare die by falsifying treatment records.

While this was occurring the nation’s debt rose to a historic high of $17 trillion, causing its credit rating to be reduced for the first time. There has been no budget during his first and second terms. There are still more than 90 million Americans out of work and the prices of food and gasoline are rising.

Following the Benghazi attack, the scandal was the lies told by Obama and Hillary Clinton, then the Secretary of State, describing it as a random attack despite the fact it occurred on the anniversary of 9/11. When the administration released five high ranking Taliban leaders at the same time we continue to be engaged in a war against them in Afghanistan, the public really began to take notice. It angered veterans and others.

No one in Congress believes a word Obama says and the House of Representatives is getting ready to sue him for his failure to enforce the laws Congress has passed and his usurpation of unconstitutional power to alter laws whenever he wants. This is unprecedented in the history of the nation.

And the scandals noted are only a small number of the actions Obama and his administration have taken that have finally combined to create a body of evidence that he has been acting against the interest and welfare of Americans he took an oath to protect. How does he expect to do that as he reduces the nation’s military strength to pre-WWII levels?

Obama’s response to the growing level of anger has been to concentrate on fund raising for the Democratic Party, but even those benefitting from it do not want to be seen with him.

In August he will take a long vacation in the ultra-rich environs of Martha’s Vineyard while thousands of illegal aliens continue to stream in and his only “solution” is to ask Congress for billions to care for them. And to blame Congress—Republicans—for failing to pass an immigration bill that amounts to an amnesty no one wants.

The anger that has been building is likely to be expressed on November 4 when Americans go to the polls to clean house and, by that, I mean ridding Congress of as many Democrats as possible and replacing them with openly avowed conservatives. That’s just over a hundred days from now.

The cliché is that “the fish stinks from the head” and it is clear now that the Obama administration reflects the corruption and incompetence of Barack Obama, a Chicago politician who leapt to power despite not even having served a full term as a U.S. Senator. He was elected to be the first black President of the United States and it is no small irony that even African-Americans know he has done little or nothing to address their needs and concerns.

He will not be impeached as he should be, but he will increasingly lack any power other than executive orders. The constitutional system will work, but it will take decades to repair the damage.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How "Normal" is Bowe Bergdahl?

Bowe Bergdahl and a Taliban friend
By Alan Caruba

There are few military crimes worse than desertion to the enemy short of outright treason by giving them aid and comfort.

So why is the U.S. Army declaring Sgt. Berghdal (he received a promotion from private first class while being either a Taliban captive or guest) a “normal soldier now”?  When one’s entire unit declares him a deserter for leaving their Afghanistan based on June 30, 2009—as they did on a show with Fox’s Megyn Kelly—by what stretch of the imagination is he just a normal soldier stationed at the headquarters of Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston?

Fox News reported that former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow who served with Bergdahl as saying “I think it’s very clear he deserted his post. He thought about what he was doing, he mailed some things home, he walked away and we have witnesses who saw him walking away. And if you’re walking away in one of the worst, most dangerous areas of Afghanistan without your weapon and gear, I don’t believe you’re planning on coming back.”

If he is found to be a deserter, the release of five high level Taliban generals to get him back is one more Obama obscenity since it is well known that he has wanted to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center for enemy combatants captured on the field. Having already investigated the circumstances surrounding his having left his unit, the U.S. Army surely knew whether Bergdahl was a deserter at the time the decision was made to swap for him. I suspect, too, that a major ransom was paid the Taliban for his release.

This is, however, a different Army than the past. It, like the other elements of our military has become highly politicized by the Obama administration; one that continues to reduce its size under the cover of sequestration. Many of the military’s top officers have been relieved of command or pushed into retirement. Even officers in the field in Afghanistan are being fired. The effect on the troop’s morale is incalculable.

Fox News reported on July 14 that “Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could have a tax-free $350,000 dropped into his bank account if the current investigation into his disappearance from his base in Afghanistan was not desertion, and if he is deemed to have been a prisoner of war for the five years he was held by Islamic militants.” 

Given the circumstances of his decision to leave his unit, immediately becoming liable to capture, and the reported statements, letters, and other views he held about his deployment and about the U.S. Army, Berghdal is most certainly not “a normal soldier.”

One must ask why Obama thought the announcement of his release merited a White House presentation that included his parents; his father uttered an Islamic phrase that drew a presidential smile. The phrase “bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim” is a common Arabic phrase, considered by some to be a major pillar of Islam and featured prominently in the Koran.

To date, however, Bergdahl has reportedly not spoken to his parents. Why? And how “normal” is that?

If Bergdahl went AWOL in Afghanistan, why are we being told he is free to move around at will? One has to wonder if he doesn’t have some military “minders” with him at all times to avoid a problem that would cause a big scandal. What we do know is that this Army sergeant has hired a Yale University legal scholar to represent him.

I suspect that a major cover-up is going on and that the official Army decision will be that he was a prisoner of war after leaving his unit. A soldier whose return was celebrated in the White House rose garden by the President is not likely to see a day in the brig. At most he might receive a dishonorable discharge for going AWOL. After that both the White House and the Army will hope he sinks into anonymity.

Everything surrounding Bergdahl’s “disappearance” from his unit and his return shouts cover-up. One element is likely to be a very lengthy “investigation”, one that surely will not come to a conclusion before the forthcoming November midterm elections.

Given the honor, loyalty and sacrifice of thousands of U.S. soldiers on duty today, as veterans and as fallen heroes, the Bergdahl story is an offence to them and to all Americans. It is one more chapter in the legacy of a President who has been far more sympathetic to our nation’s enemies than our military.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Obamacare Must Be Repealed

By Alan Caruba

While the issue of immigration is uppermost in people’s minds right now, it is likely at this point halfway through his second term that President Obama will be identified by historians most closely with his signature, namesake legislation, the Affordable Patient Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

They will do so for two reasons; that he lied to everyone about it and it has been a failure in countless ways from the moment its website was introduced.

In April PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, announced the “most significant falsehood of the year” and it came as no surprise it was “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” An April Fox News poll revealed that 61% of respondents said the Obama lies at least some of the time on important issues. Only 15% thought he was completely truthful. 

By July 2 a Quinnipiac University poll announced that its survey had determined that 33% of the respondents believed Obama was the “Worst President Since WWII.”  The poll also revealed that between 54% and 44% believed the Obama administration was not competent to run the government.

If you want proof of that, you need only follow the horror story of Obamacare.

In September 2013, prior to Obamacare’s implementation the following month, Daniel Henninger, a Wall Street Journal columnist, wisely noted that “Obamacare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its fundamental beliefs. This thing called ‘Obamacare’ carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state.”

“If Obamacare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people” adding that “only the American people can kill Obamacare.”

The great Prohibition experiment was killed by the American people and it took a Constitutional amendment to do it. It was a monumental failure.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that no Republican voted for Obamacare. It was entirely a Democratic Party creation, one it has wanted going back to the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.

What Americans have learned in the short time since Obamacare has been implemented is that virtually everything they were told about it was and is a lie.

People who were insured lost their health plan—six million had been cancelled by May, nor could they keep their doctor because many health care plans sold on federal and state exchanges have a limited number of in-network physicians from whom to choose. The costs of Obamacare plans costs are frequently in excess of those from the previous free market and include elements that do not fit the age or sex of those who sign up, such as maternity coverage for women beyond childbearing age.

Obamacare exists because the Supreme Court deemed it to be a “tax”, but it is demonstrably unconstitutional insofar as it represents the mandate of the federal government that everyone buy something that they may not want and, more importantly, cannot afford. When the government can tell you what you must buy, you are no longer living in a free society.

Sharyl Attkisson, writing in Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, reported one source as saying, “In general healthy people are paying more and unhealthy people are paying less.” There isn’t even a “smidgen” of fairness in this.

At no point before or since its inception has the Obama administration told the truth about any aspect of Obamacare, particularly how many legitimate enrollments there have been thus far. In April the number cited was eight million. Attkisson reported that observers immediately pointed out that “the figure is overstated because it counted people who weren’t actually covered because they hadn’t paid their premiums. That actual enrollment was likely closer to between 6.4 and 6.8 million, both below the eight million figure and the stated target of seven million.”

Arnold Ahlert, writing for CanadaFreePress.com, noted in early July that “A pair of reports released by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General reveal ‘internal’ controls for evaluating healthcare applications are ineffective, and 85% of 2.9 million data ‘inconsistencies’ on Obamacare applications cannot be resolved, even after nine months of attempting to do so.” Not only did many of the 39 state exchanges fail to work, but the enrollments are plagued with evidence of both data errors and fraud.

Obamacare is so flawed that the President has had to unilaterally and unconstitutionally step in to alter the terms of the law thus far. That is an impeachable offense.

Obamacare is a massive travesty and, hidden below the headlines is the fact that the failures inherent in its implementation are causing some to die because of bureaucratic delays encountered while waiting to receive the care their plans are supposed to provide, if they were even able to secure a plan.

The election in November of enough Republicans to control the Senate and an increase in the House would permit them to act upon the numerous bills the House has passed to end Obamacare and which are blocked in the Senate by Harry Reid, its Majority Leader.  Ending Obamacare would truly be a blessing for all Americans.

© Alan Caruba, 2014