Monday, January 26, 2015

Obama Disses Alaska

Alaska's "prestine" wildlife refuge

By Alan Caruba

Fifty million Americans who live in the northeast will experience what is predicted to be a historic blizzard from Monday evening through Tuesday. Cities and towns will virtually or literally close down. People will be told to stay indoors for their safety and to facilitate the crews that will labor to clear the roads of snow.

In other words, welcome to Alaska, a place that is plenty cold most of the year and which is no stranger to snow and ice.

Alaska, however, has something that the whole world considers very valuable; oil and natural gas. Lots of it. In 1980 a U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Coastal Plain could contain up to 17 billion barrels of oil and 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In 1987, the U.S Department of Interior confirmed the earlier estimate, saying that “in place resources” ranged from 4.8 billion to 29.4 billion barrels of oil. Recoverable oil estimates ranged from 600 million barrels at the low end to 9.2 billion barrels at the high end.

A nation with an $18 trillion debt might be expected to want to take advantage of this source of revenue, but no, not if that debt was driven up by the idiotic policies of President Barack Obama and not if it could be reduced by the same energy industry that has tapped similar oil and natural gas reserves in the lower 48 states by drilling on private, not public lands.

Instead, on Sunday President Obama referred to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as “an incredible place—pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears” and other species and, guess what, tapping its vast oil and natural gas reserves would not interfere in any way with those species despite the whopping lie that “it’s very fragile.” 

At Obama’s direction, the Interior Department announced it was proposing to preserve as wilderness nearly 13 million acres of land in ANWR’s 19.8 million-acre area. That would include 1.5 million acres of coastal plains that Wall Street Journal reported to be “believed to have rich oil and natural gas reserves.” 

Not a whole lot of people choose ANWR as a place to vacation. It is a harsh, though often beautiful, area that only the most experienced visitor might want to spend some time. I would want to make every environmentalist who thinks any drilling would harm the area have to take up residence in its “pristine” wilderness to confirm that idiotic notion.

They would find plenty of caribou, polar bears and other species hanging out amidst the oil and gas rigs, and along the pipe line. The Central Arctic Caribou Herd that migrates through the Prudhoe Bay oil field, just next to ANWR has increased from 5,000 animals in the 1970s to more than 50,000 today. There is no evidence than any of the animal species have experienced any decline.

The Coastal Plain lies between known major discovery areas and the Prudhoe Bay, Lisburne, Endicott, Milne Point and Kuparuk oil fields are currently in production In 1996, the North Slope oil fields produced about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day or approximately 25% of the U.S. domestic production. Alaska is permitted to export its oil because of its high levels of productivity.

So why has Obama’s Department of the Interior decided it wants to shut off energy exploration and extraction in a whopping 13-million acres of what is already designated as a wildlife refuge and along its coastlines on the Beaufort and Chukchi seas? The answer is consistent with Obama’s six years of policies to deny Americans the benefits of the nation's vast energy reserves, whether it is the coal that has previously provided 50% of our electrical energy—now down by 10%--or access to reserves of oil and natural gas that would make our nation energy independent as well as a major exporter.

The good news is that only Congress has the authority to declare an area as wilderness. It has debated the issue for more than 30 years and in 12 votes in the House and 3 votes in the Senate it has passed legislation supporting development and opposing the wilderness designation.

And guess who is the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee? Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaskan Republican. She also heads up the appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the Interior Department!

This latest Obama ANWR gambit is going to go nowhere. It does, however, offer the Republican Congress an opportunity to demonstrate its pro-energy credentials.

“I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska,” said Sen. Murkowski when informed of Obama’s latest attack.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

ObamaCare Must Go!


By Alan Caruba

Can anyone remember how awful the U.S. healthcare free market system was that it needed to be replaced by the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare?  Can’t remember? That’s because it was ranked one of the best of the world and represented 17.9% of the nation’s economy in 2014.  That’s down from the 20% it represented in 2009 when ObamaCare was foisted on Americans.
 
One of the best ways to follow the ObamaCare story is via Health Care News, a monthly newspaper published by The Heartland Institute. The January issue begins with an article by Sean Parnell, the managing editor, reporting that ObamaCare enrollment is overstated by 400,000.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) once again lowered its estimate of the number of Americans enrolled in health plans through government exchanges in 2014. The 6.7 million enrollees who remain are far lower than the eight million touted in May at the end of the last open-enrollment period.”

ObamaCare has been a lie from the moment it was introduced for a vote, all 2,700 pages of it, to the present day. Everything President Obama said about it was a lie. As to its present enrollments, they keep dropping because some 900,000 who did sign up did not make the first premium payment or later stopped paying.

Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies as the Cato Institute, said the dropout rate is a troubling trend. “It means that potentially hundreds of thousands of Exchange enrollees are realizing they are better off waiting until they get sick to purchase coverage. If enough people come to that conclusion, the exchanges collapse.”

Elsewhere in this month’s edition, there is an article, “States Struggle to Fund Exchanges”, that reports on the difficulties that “states are experiencing difficulty in paying the ongoing costs of the exchanges, especially small states. “’The feds are asking us to do their jobs for them. We get saddled with the operating costs,’ said Edmund Haislmaier, senior research fellow for health care policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.” Some are imposing a two percent tax on the insurance companies which, of course, gets passed along to the consumer. Even so, the exchanges are not generating enough income to be maintained.

Why would anyone want ObamaCare insurance when its rates keep rising dramatically? In Nebraska the rates have nearly doubled and another article notes that “A 2014 study finds large numbers of doctors are declining to participate in health plans offered through exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, raising questions about whether people buying insurance through exchanges will be able to access health care in a timely manner.” One reason physicians gave was that they would have to hire additional staff “just to manage the insurance verification process.”

Dr. Kris Held, a Texas eye surgeon, said ObamaCare “fails to provide affordable health insurance and fails to provide access to actual medical care to more people, but succeeds in compounding existing health care costs and accessibility problems and creating new ones.”

Health Care News reports what few other news outlets have noted. “In Section 227 of the recently enacted ‘Cromnibus’ spending measure, Congress added critical but little-noticed language that prohibits the use of funds appropriated to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pay for insurance company bailouts.” William Todd, an Ohio attorney, further noted that “Congress did not appropriate any separate funding for ‘bailouts.’” Todd predicted that “some insurers are likely to raise premiums to avoid losses, or they will simply stop offering policies on the exchanges altogether.”

The picture of ObamaCare failure emerging from these excerpts is a very true one. Its momentum, in fact, is gaining.

In mid-December, the Wall Street Journal opined that “With the Supreme Court due to rule on a major ObamaCare legal challenge by next summer, thoughts in Washington are turning to the practical and political response. If the Court does strike down insurance subsidies, the question for Republicans running Congress is whether they will try to fix the problems Democrats created, or merely allow ObamaCare damage to grow.”

“King v. Burwell will be heard in March with a ruling likely in June. “Of the 5.4 million consumers on federal exchanges, some 87% drew subsidies in 2014, according to a Rand Corporation analysis.”

The Wall Street Journal recommended that “The immediate Republican goal should be to make insurance cheaper so people need less of a subsidy to obtain insurance. This means deregulating the exchanges, plank by plank. Devolve to states their traditional insurance oversight role, and allow them to enter into cross-border compacts to increase choice and competition. Allow insurers to sell any configuration of benefits to anyone, anywhere, and the private market will gradually heal.”

Or, to put it another way, eliminate ObamaCare entirely and return to the healthcare insurance system that had served Americans well until the White House decided that socialism was superior to capitalism.

The problem with the Affordable Care Act is that the cost of the insurance sold under the Act is not affordable and ObamaCare is actually causing hospitals and clinics to close their doors, thus reducing healthcare services for those who need them.

ObamaCare must go. If the Republicans in Congress did nothing more than repeal ObamaCare, the outcome of the 2016 election would be a predictable win no matter who their candidate will be. If not repeal, some separate actions must be taken such as eliminating the tax on medical instruments.

If the Republican Congress fails to take swift and deliberate action on ObamaCare between now and the 2016 elections, they will have defeated themselves.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Supreme Court Malfeasance

Question asked at a gay protest event

By Alan Caruba

Over the course of its history the Supreme Court has made some very bad decisions and the decision to declare abortion legal ranks high among them. On January 22, 1973, in Roe v. Wade the Court interpreted the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to extend a right of privacy to a woman’s decision to have an abortion prior to the third trimester of pregnancy.

There have been 57.5 million abortions since 1973—42 years—when the decision became the law of the land. In all the wars America has fought, going back to the Revolution, the total of those killed in combat as of September 2014 was 1,343,812.

The casualties of the Supreme Court’s decision about unborn Americans reveal the wide gap between the morality, as opposed to the legality, of the Court’s decision.

Now the Court has taken on cases that will determine the legality of same-sex marriage and here again the morality of sanctioning this definition of marriage is a world apart from the morality of marriage occurring exclusively between a man and woman as has been the norm since the earliest history of mankind.

Marriage has always been understood as the critical cornerstone of a healthy functioning society. It has always been understood that children raised by a mother and father are a benefit to society while those deprived of this union are frequently subject to problems of one sort or another.

In the United States, however, many of the traditional morals that served the interest of society have been abandoned since around the middle of the last century. The gap between liberals and conservatives has widened.

One result was recently announced in a Pew Research Center study that found that less than half of all American children now live in a two-parent household with two married heterosexual parents who are, in fact, their own parents.

The Daily Caller reported that “In addition, fully 41% of all American babies are currently born out of wedlock. By way of comparison, in 1960 73% of all American children” lived in a traditional married household.

An earlier Pew Research Center study, announced in August 2013, depicted mothers as the main provider in 40% of American households with children. Jennifer Marshall, Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, noted that 25% of “households with children under 18 are supported by a single mother.” Their median income was $23,000 and 44% are never-married moms. “More than a third of these single mothers aren’t working at all—meaning they are much more likely to depend on government welfare.”

What all these statistics add up to is a nation in which traditional marriage is under attack while living together unmarried or having children as a single mother have become accepted at an alternative lifestyle.

Now we are being told that America should abandon the concept of legal citizenship and accord it to anyone who crosses the border. This isn’t how an orderly society or sovereign state is defined. It is a definition of anarchy.

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear the same-sex marriage case, the rest of us are wondering why a tiny minority of society should be granted a right that no society in history has ever imparted.

How small is it? In September 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that men who have sex with men (gay and bisexual) comprise about 2% of the U.S. population. When you add in lesbians the number moves up to about 3%.

The CDC tracks such things because “In 2010, among persons newly infected with HIV, 63% were men have sex with men (MSM) and among persons living with HIV, 52% were MSM.” According to the CDC it is contracted primarily through anal sex. Despite federal spending to combat AIDS, between 2008 and 2010 “new infections increased 22% among young (aged 13-24) gay and bisexual men and 13% among gay and bisexual men overall” regardless of age.

So the nation has been experiencing a holocaust of murdered fetuses thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling and now we are supposed to abandon the ancient definition of marriage to accommodate a tiny minority of those who engage in sex with the same gender. If justification for that can be found in the Constitution, then it can be interpreted in any manner to degrade our society and the nation.

Same-sex marriage is an issue that President Obama said was “America at its best” in his State of the Union speech. Seven years earlier, campaigning to become President, he said that marriage was “a sacred union” and was “between a man and a woman.”

I don’t care that a number of states have already extended a legal status to same-sex marriage. I don’t care that it applies to a very small number of Americans. They can have “civil unions” that resolve any legal issues, but “marriage”? No.

Just as I say no to those who want to strip the practice of religion from any public ceremony or remove the saying of prayer in our schools, I will say no to those who want to remove the moral pillars that have served our society and all societies over the millennia.

We can only hope that enough of the current Supreme Court justices feel that way too.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Isn't It Treason?

Yemini terrorists released from Gitmo

By Alan Caruba

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” – Article Three, Section Three, U.S. Constitution.

Given the fact that one of the suspects, Said Kouachi, in the Paris killings had traveled to Yemen in 2011 and that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the killings, does it strike anyone as strange that Obama set free five Yemeni detainees out of Guantanomo Bay? Four were sent to Oman, a nation that neighbors Yemen. A fifth was transferred to Estonia. It was the first time either nation had accepted Gitmo prisoners for resettlement.

Does anyone think that the five Afghan Taliban leaders Obama set free last year are still in Qatar? Among the things Obama will be remembered for will be his promise to close Gitmo and these releases of U.S. enemies.

Since when is freeing Islamic terrorists to return to the battlefield not giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Well, it is not if you are the President of the United States because, believe it or not, what he did was entirely within his legal authority.

Most dramatic was Obama’s decision not to join the forty other world leaders in Paris to demonstrate a common opposition to Islamic terrorism. Indeed, he has denied the use of any reference to Islamic terrorism by government spokespersons or in government documents. To this day, the Fort Hood killings are still referred to as “workplace violence” despite the fact that the perpetrator was shouting “Allah akbar” as he killed his victims.

How stupid is it to continue to ignore the evidence that we have a President who is more inclined to side with our Islamic enemies than with Americans?

He withdrew our troops from Iraq, setting up the creation of the Islamic State (ISIS) to fill the vacuum that was created. He has officially declared an end to the American role in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Yes, he has authorized drone killing of al Qaeda leaders and bombing of the ISIS troops, but neither has demonstrated any significant reduction in terrorism.

Then there is Obama’s “war on coal” which has resulted in a torrent of Environmental Protection Agency regulations and actions that between 2012 and 2020 will bring about the loss of 60 gigawatts of electricity generated by coal-fired plants around the nation. Replacing that lost production is not going to occur overnight. At this point, according to the Associated Press, more than 32 mostly coal-fired plants have closed or are in the process. “Another 36 plants could be forced to shut down as the result of new EPA rules regulating air pollution.”

In a response to the State of the Union speech, Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said, “President Obama failed to offer answers about the calamitous consequences of his environmental regulations. Rather than seek a commonsense energy plan for America, President Obama bypassed Congress and is forging ahead with his climate crusade at the expense of the nation’s economic security.”

If a foreign nation had invaded the United States and began closing down the plants on which vast areas of the nation depend for electricity, wouldn’t we consider that an act of war?  What is the difference if it results from the actions of the U.S. President? Moreover, these closures are totally unnecessary because they are based on false “science” regarding so-called greenhouse gas emissions. Is the planet warming? No. It has been cooling for 19 years.

I am not a lawyer or authority on the Constitution, but it is hard not to consider that Obama’s long record of lying to Americans doesn’t qualify him, if not for treason as it is defined, at least for fraud. The way ObamaCare was sold to the public is a classic example and, as it turns out, Jonathan Gruber, one of its architects and advisors to Obama, made it quite clear that deception was the key to its passage, referring to voters as “stupid.”

The 2014 elections demonstrated that Obama’s policies were firmly rejected by the voters as power in both the Senate and House was turned over to the Republican Party, but he is giving no evidence of moderating the arrogance that has distinguished his term in office to date.

On Tuesday, January 20, the nation was two years from the day in 2017 that Obama’s second and final term ends and a new President takes power. We need to make sure we elect a patriotic, God-fearing man to begin the process of reversing and ending the damage Obama has done thus far.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Obama Has Two More Years Left to Destroy the U.S.


By Alan Caruba

As 2015 began the Journal Editorial Report on Fox News was devoted to having its reporters, some of the best there are, speculate on what 2015 holds in terms of who might run for president and what the economy might be. The key word here is “speculate” because even experts know that it is unanticipated events that determine the future and the future is often all about unanticipated events.

How different would the world have been if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated? One can reasonably assume there would not have been the long war in Vietnam because he wanted no part of the conflict there. Few would have predicted that an unknown Governor from Arkansas would emerge to become President as Bill Clinton did. Who would believe we are talking about his wife running for President? That is so bizarre it is mind-boggling.

Most certainly, few would have predicted that an unknown first term Senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, would push aside Hillary Clinton to become the first black American to be nominated for President and to win in 2008. Despite the takeover of the nation’s healthcare system with a series of boldfaced lies, he still won a second term.

Obama now has two more years in which to try to destroy the U.S. economy; particularly its manufacturing and energy sectors. The extent to which he is putting in place the means to do that still remains largely unreported or under-reported in terms of the threat it represents.
 
The vehicle for the nation’s destruction is the greatest hoax of the modern era, the claim that global warming must be avoided by reducing “greenhouse gas” emissions.

A President who lied to Americans about the Affordable Care Act, telling them they could keep their insurance plans, their doctors, and not have to pay more is surely not going to tell Americans that the planet is now into its 19th year of a cooling cycle with no warming in sight.

To raise the ante of the planetary threat hoax, he has added “climate change” when one would assume even the simple-minded would know humans have nothing to do with the Earth’s climate, nor the ability to initiate or stop any change.

In 2015, the White House is launching a vast propaganda campaign through the many elements of the federal government to reach into the nation’s schools with the climate lies and through other agencies to spread them.

In particular, Obama has been striving to utilize the Environmental Protection Agency to subvert existing environmental laws and, indeed, the Constitution unless Congress or the courts stop an attack that will greatly weaken the business, industrial and energy sectors. It will fundamentally put our lives at risk when there is not enough electricity to power homes and workplaces in various areas of the nation. At the very least, the cost of electricity will, in the President’s own words, “skyrocket.”

Why doesn’t anyone in Congress or the rest of the population wonder why White House policies are closing coal-fired plants that provided fifty percent of our electricity when Obama took office and now have been reduced to forty percent? Did you know that more than 1,200 new coal-fired plants are planned in other nations with two-thirds of them to be built in India and China? We live in a nation that has such huge reserves of coal we export it.

The EPA attack on these plants is so illegal and unethical that one of the nation’s leading liberal attorneys, Laurence H. Tribe, who began teaching about environmental law 45 years ago, went on record to declare the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

The plan is a regulatory proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s electric power plants. Tribe pointed out that a two-decade old Supreme Court precedent forbids the federal government from taking action to commandeer the powers of state governments by leaving them no choice but to implement it.
 
“The brute fact,” said Tribe “is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.”

As 2014 came to a close, the Obama administration either proposed or imposed more than 1,200 new regulations on the American people.

Alex Newman, writing in the New American, calculated they will add “even more to the already crushing $2 trillion per year cost burden of the federal regulatory machine.” Not surprisingly, “most of the new regulatory schemes involve energy and the environment—139 during a mere two-week period in December, to be precise.”

“In all,” Newman reported, “the Obama administration foisted more than 75,000 pages of regulations on the United States in 2014, costing over $200 billion, on the low end, if new proposed rules are taken into account.” Just one, the EPA’s “coal ash” regulation, “is expected to cost as much as $20 billion, estimates suggest.”

Then add to that the EPA’s “ozone rule” that is estimated to cost “as much as $270 billion per year and put millions of American jobs at risk under the guise of further regulating emissions of the natural gas.” Released the day before Thanksgiving, “Experts also pointed out that the EPA’s own 2007 studies showed no adverse health effects from exposure to even high levels of ozone.”

These are just two examples of the regulatory strangulation of the nation’s economy and energy infrastructure.

This is Obama’s agenda for the remaining two years of his second and thankfully last term in office. Whether you know anything about the science of the climate or have ever even read the Constitution, the sheer disaster of ObamaCare should have told you by now that everything Obama has put in motion has had the single objective of destroying the nation's economy in every possible way.

The voters have put Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress and their primary responsibility will be to reverse and repeal the damage of Obama’s first six years. The courts will play a role, but this is a job for our elected representatives.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Al Sharpton Seeing Red Over All-White Oscars


By Alan Caruba

I do not care who was nominated for the 2015 Oscars and I care even less about what the Rev. Al Sharpton has to say about the fact that this year no blacks were nominated in any category.

The Oscars are about films, not race, but you wouldn’t know that from all the nonsense about the “all white” nominees this year. Back in 1998 the same thing occurred and maybe it had something to do with the films that year?

Sharpton has shown a talent for getting involved in various events over the years claiming racial connotations; beginning with the lies he told about Tawana Brawley in the 1980s, alleging she was a victim of rape that led to a defamation suit he lost in 1998. Flash forward and you have a man whom The New York Times reports has “more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.”

This is the same man who has been rubbing elbows lately with the President of the United States (!) and hailed as a civil rights icon at a recent fund-raising event by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Obama hailed him for his “dedication to the righteous cause of perfecting our union”, whatever that means. As The Times reported, “Major corporations sponsored the lavish affair.”
 

There is the reek of corruption surrounding Rev. Sharpton that speaks poorly of the high ranked politicians who lend him credibility and the corporations that help underwrite his blatant exploitation of racial events such as those in Ferguson, Missouri. It does not speak well of MSNBC that has provided him with a television show as a platform devoted to stirring up resentment among blacks.

“The lack of diversity in today’s Oscar nominations is appalling,” Rev. Sharpton said “and while it is good that Selma was nominated for ‘Best Picture’, it’s ironic that they nominated a story about the racial shutout around voting while there is a racial shutout around the Oscar nominations.” 

The Oscars are not about “diversity.” They are the result of the voting by some 6,000 members of the Motion Picture Academy. The Hollywood Reporter noted that 94% are white, 77% are male, and 86% are age 50 or older. The Academy, however, has demonstrated its support for black films and performers dating back to 1939 when Hattie McDaniel won a Supporting Actress Award for her role in ‘Gone with the Wind.’

The list of black actors and actresses who have either been nominated or won Oscars is rather impressive and includes Sidney Pointier, Louis Gosset Jr, Denzel Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, and Morgan Freeman among the 44 black actors nominated. Others include Ethel Waters in 1948, Dorothy Dandridge in 1954, James Earl Jones in 1970, to name just a few.

The attention the Oscars get is based on the films Hollywood produces, many of which are quite forgettable. The award show is one of the most tedious shows on television bar none. Am I upset because one of my favorite actors and directors, Clint Eastwood, was left out of the director category? No. Am I miffed because Jennifer Aniston, another favorite of mine, did not receive an acting nomination? No. I am a fan, but whether they win a prize or not is of little importance to me.

I am at the point where every new film seems a re-run of every earlier one I ever saw. Others are merely cartoonish violence. I am sure some good films are being made, but I no longer have much interest in films these days. 

As for “Selma”, I remember the actual event and that was dramatic enough. On top of that, I later personally met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and had a short chat with him. He was an extraordinary man.  The film received a best picture nomination, but I am under the impression that it has not drawn much of an audience.
 
I have reached an age where the analysis of every event in American life seems to come down to race, gender or some other factor often unrelated to what is occurring. We are too often a nation of unrelenting complainers unwilling to see what a great nation it is.

I can only speak for myself when I say I am deeply offended by the antics of Rev. Sharpton because he’s unhappy this year’s Oscar nominees are “white.” Last time I checked, not paying your taxes was a crime.

Oh, by the way, I will not be watching the Oscar awards. Other than the State of the Union speech, it is one of the most boring annual shows on television.

© Alan Caruba, 2015