America in Decline

When Obama was running for president he promised, some say threatened, to fundamentally change America. The doubters now say he has fundamentally ruined America. Whichever way one views it, America is in serious decline.

For a president that promised to reduce the national debt Obama has added a massive seven trillion dollars to that debt. Under his presidency, America has accumulated as much new debt as it did in its first 227 years.

He heads an Administration that produces food stamps, legalizes marijuana, pries into people’s private lives, and sets government agencies against political opponents. Obama is following the guide book of Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” and putting Alinsky’s primer into practice from the White House. The results of his experiment are devastating.

Under Obama, prices and taxes rose while take home pay fell 7%. Government hand-outs increased dramatically as the national debt has exploded. Recent estimates put 50 million Americans on food stamps, and millions without healthcare.

Obama, the community organizer, preferred social justice over a robust market place, but, under his presidency, people are worse off today than they were back in 2009 when he promised them change. By the end of the first quarter of 2014 America had six million people not only unemployed but also not on the labor list, the vast majority under the age of 55. This implies they had given up all hope of finding work. More than forty million Americans lived below the poverty line.

Increasingly, America is becoming a nation of dysfunctional families. 41% of babies are born out of wedlock. Under America’s first black president, American blacks are increasingly unemployed, and 72% of black kids are born out of wedlock, a terrible indictment on American society. The corrosive results of government hand-outs are now rampant in America. A nanny-state produces a population of dependency, not independence or an entrepreneurial spirit.

Obama has ratings in the 30s and falling on issues such as security, healthcare, economy, jobs, transparency in government, and the US image abroad. It seems that Obama doesn’t care. Deep into a second term, this lame duck president is determined to press on with his failed agenda, even if it takes executive powers to do it. American democracy is in jeopardy as Obama takes steps that are clearly unconstitutional.

The president’s credibility is trashed, and a major part of that is his failure to launch the unpopular healthcare policy that carries his name, “Obamacare.”  March 2014, saw the thirty first delay in a public display of total inefficiency.

Scandals follow in the wake of Obama appointees to key governmental jobs. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary, apologized, last October, for the abject failure of the computer system that was supposed to deliver the Obamacare plan to the American public.

“In these early weeks, access to health care has been a miserably frustrating experience. You deserve better,” she said. It wasn’t weeks. The planning team had been working on the computer system for years.

On the nationally popular “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart accused Sebelius of lying about parts of Obamacare. When that happens, you know you’re in trouble.

There is an ongoing investigation into wrongdoings by America’s tax authority, the IRS. They are accused of targeting opposition groups. In a TV interview with Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, President Obama claimed there was “not a smidgeon of evidence” about tax attacks on conservative and libertine groups. However, Obama appointee, Lois Lerner, head of the IRS Exempt Organization division, twice took the Fifth while refusing to divulge information to the Congressional Oversight Committee. Chairman Darrell Issa complained, “In the wake of Ms. Lerner’s refusal to testify and answer questions, this report offers detailed evidence about steps she took to crack down on organizations that exercised their constitutional rights to free political speech.”

Obama’s nomination of Demo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division sent shockwaves through the American political system. Adebile represented an unrepentant cop-killer in 1981. This brought vocal opposition from national law-enforcement officials. The president’s judgment was badly flawed in selecting this poor choice of candidate. It was based more on Adegbile’s far left political activism rather than someone steeped in legal experience.

Obama followed up with yet another dubious choice of Vivek Murthy to be the next US Surgeon-General. Murthy, yet another political activist and the founder of “Doctors for Obama,” repeatedly described gun ownership as “a public health issue.” He is opposed by the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying force in America. He is also facing strong opposition by many Democrats. The right to bear arms is an integral part of the US Constitution.  The job of Surgeon-General is not gun control. It is about disease and disease prevention. The usual criterion for Surgeon-General is someone who has run a major hospital or headed a state healthcare system. Murthy has only been an attending doctor for eight years. His political activism far outweighs his public health experience.

Obama’s record of nominating radical politocos, rather than efficient and successful technocrats, particularly at the expense of the US Constitution, is a symptom of the demise of America.

It goes on. Recently, Obama nominated several of his campaign donors to ambassadorships. The problem was that they had never visited their nominated countries, Iceland, Norway, and Argentina. The nominee for Norway, George Tsunis, didn’t even know that country had a king, and not a president. Such is the level of presidential incompetence in Obama’s personal nominees to major positions of government.

Revelations concerning widespread governmental electronic surveillance of law-abiding citizens set alarm bells ringing when whistleblower, Edward Snowden, divulged that the National Security Agency had been snooping on 340 million cell phones in the United States.  A Federal judge described it as “almost Orwellian.”  It is, in fact, a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.  

A Guardian newspaper report on March 5, 2014, divulged that President Obama knew the CIA had spied on the Senate intelligence committee using agency computers.  “I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight powers and for our democracy,” Democratic Congressman Mark Udall wrote to Obama.

President Obama lied to the people. The mid-term elections in November will hinge on which Democratic candidates echoed the Obama mantra “under Obamacare you can keep your health plan and you can keep your doctor.” Neither of these claims is true.

When you have a foreign policy of “leading from behind” you lose the political momentum to advance values.

With Obama, it began with his apology tour to Muslim nations which included his bowing to the Saudi Arabian king, a gesture interpreted in the Islamic world as submission. From that point it spiraled downward.

On his watch, and that of his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, an American ambassador and three CIA operatives were murdered in Benghazi, Libya. They claimed, for weeks, that their deaths were caused by a mob angry at an amateur video, when, in fact, it was an organized terror attack that killed them. It was revealed that repeated calls for help were ignored by both the White House and the State Department. Knowing the truth, according to recent evidence, both Obama and Clinton lied to the nation, and worse, to the families of the dead Americans.

Since Benghazi, Obama touted Al-Qaida’s demise thirty two times, according to White House transcripts. “Decimated” is a word that Obama likes to use to describe Al-Qaida. However, on January 29, 2014, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, testified on Capitol Hill that the threat from Al-Qaida is not less than it was a decade ago and that it is “much more globally dispersed.”  The question arises, how is it that the president is out of touch with his national security advisors?  Al-Qaida is on the rise because of a feckless American leadership.

Back in September, John Kerry told Democrats that America faced “its Munich moment” over the Syrian use of chemical weapons. Considering that, six months later, Assad still possesses the vast majority of his stockpile it appears that this has been a failure of American leadership. Another “Munich moment” is taking place with the smiley, touchy, talks that are taking place with the Iranians over their nuclear ambitions. Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia is convinced that the softly-softly approach with Tehran is the way to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. A third “Munich moment” is taking place over the Russian domination of the Ukraine. This also looks doomed to failure in light of a massive vote in the Crimea for Russian patronage. With the Israeli-Palestinian talks about to crash into the buffers of failure, the Kerry-initiative looks impressive in its impotence to persuade Mahmoud Abbas to recognize the Jewish State. Kerry even called it a “mistake” for Israel even to make this elementary condition a demand, thereby showing his total lack of understanding of what lies as the root cause of this conflict.

We know what happened post-Munich. We are witnessing American Munich moments on a global scale. We dread for the future.

The Wall Street Journal printed an article written by Mitt Romney. Although he can be seen as a biased observer, he stated something that is patently obvious.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident. It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure is due to their failure to act when action was possible and needed.”

When American power draws back it leaves a dangerous vacuum.  With the US withdrawing from Afghanistan, Afghanistan’s Karsei will pivot to whoever keeps him in power. US out. Taliban in!

Mishandling by President Obama of several foreign issues has also led to a power vacuum that is being filled by a resurgent Russia. His “lead from behind” policy allowed the Russians to dictate negotiations with their ally, Assad. Obama’s sanction regime on Iran is badly fraying at the edges as the Iranian negotiators waltz the clock to midnight on their nuclear ambitions. With the serious crack in tenuous relations with Russia over the Ukraine, Russia is sure to throw even more support behind Tehran as a further poke in Washington’s eye. The tense situation with Russia points to the potentially dangerous result of America’s shortsighted 2009 refusal to establish a missile shield to protect eastern Europe, particularly Poland and the Czech Republic.

This vacuum allowed Russia to become high profile and active in the Middle East.  In August, 2013, the White House cut off military aid to Egypt. This was a misreading of the political map in Egypt. Egypt refused to take phone calls from Defense Secretary Hagel and turned to Russia for aid. Al Tahrir newspaper ran the headline, “Let the US aid go to hell!”  So much for the Obama apology tour, that began in Cairo.

Russia is emboldened to assert itself in Europe. Crimea is a Russian test of the extent of American weakness. The White House sanctioned seven Russian businessmen. They shrugged off that threat causing Putin’s deputy Prime Minister to tweet that he thought some joker wrote the US Presidential order.

With Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Iran turning to Russia, with major oil-trading nations negotiating deals in a currency other than the US dollar, with the contempt felt for America’s weakness in foreign policy, with Iran, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban resurgent in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa, can anyone doubt that America is in decline?

There is no reason to assume that a Hillary Clinton presidency will improve America’s foreign strength. She flunked the 3 a.m. phone call test as Secretary of State when Benghazi called. She simply turned over and went back to sleep. Her tour of duty did nothing to affirm US values. It is doubtful she will move away from Obama’s bad habits of upsetting allies and cuddling up to their enemies.

Political bungling at home and abroad is appalling. When his record is etched, Obama will go down as the worst, most damaging president, in American history until, perhaps, the next one.

Obama’s War on America is His Top Priority

We all know that the “sanctions” Obama has placed on a few of Putin’s pals thus far and those Obama wants the European Union to impose will have no effect whatever on Putin’s decision to annex the Crimea from Ukraine.

One of Obama’s solutions to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty includes giving it a billion dollars because Russia has raised the price of the natural gas it sells to the Ukraine. This means Putin just made a billion while reacquiring Crimea.

One way to bring Russia to its knees would be for Obama–if he could–to impose the same things he is doing in America on the Russian Federation:

  • Require Russia to adopt Obamacare.
  • Ban the mining and use of coal in Russia.
  • Do not allow any drilling on Russian publicly-held land.
  • Redefine the Russian work week to 30 hours.
  • Raise the Russian minimum wage.
  • Mandate overtime pay for Russian government workers.
  • Demand that Russia pay welfare benefits to its illegal immigrants.
  • Require Russia to enact the same regulations as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Increase the Russian national debt by $6 trillion dollars.
  • Require Russia to reduce all elements of its military force and capabilities by reductions to its military budget.

These policies since 2009 have weakened the United States and, if applied to Russia, they would have the same effect. It’s bad enough what Obama has done and is doing to the U.S., but neither we nor the rest of the world would be better off with a weak Russia. Its economy is too tied into the world’s.

Putin insists that it was the West led by the U.S. that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 after seventy years of communist rule, but it was Communism that brought it to its knees. The other element was a decline in the prices of oil and natural gas–still the primary source of income for the Russian Federation—that undermined its economy.

While a panoply of experts keeps talking about the prospect of Russia aggression toward its former satellite nations in Eastern Europe, the simple fact is that Putin’s reacquisition of the Crimea just added to Russia’s financial pressures. He can barely afford Crimea. All the hand-wringing about its annexation ignores the fact that it was part of Russia for hundreds of years.

Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, recently spelled out Russia’s economic woes in a Wall Street Journal commentary titled “Putin’s Potemkin Economy.”

“Mr. Putin’s real power base, the economy, is crumbling,” says Sharma. “Russia’s economic growth rate has plummeted from the 7% average annual pace of the last decade to 1.3% last year,” adding that “the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has been fighting to prevent a ruble collapse since the Crimean crisis began.”

Does that sound like a Russia that wants to invade its neighbors at this time?

“The result,” says Sharma, “is that the Russian state has few new sources of income outside of oil and gas, at a time when it is taking on more dependents” in Crimea. As for the rest of the Ukraine population, it’s only the younger generation that did not grow up under the oppression of the former Soviet Russia that thinks giving up its sovereignty is a good idea. Ukrainians with a memory of the pre-1991 days know better.

Europe, much of which depends on Russian gas, will be in no hurry to punish Russia beyond a few relatively meaningless sanctions. It’s all a charade.

It’s true that Europe went to war twice for far less reason than the Crimean annexation, but its present leaders have no wish to repeat that error for all the talk about international law.

What is being debated now is whether Putin will, for whatever reason, invade Ukraine. Only Putin knows that and the decision would be a bad one for him and everyone else.

As we strive to survive Obama’s war on the U.S. economy and the current havoc resulting from Obamacare, it is doubtful that even Obama has any inclination to see Russia collapse and could not reverse the Crimean situation even if he cared about it.

He doesn’t seem to care about what he’s doing to the rest of us so it’s the war at home which we have to survive.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Russia: The Ukraine, Venezuela Connection

Florida Governor Rick Scott met this week with Venezuelan activists who are seeking US action against the “government’s crackdown on protestors in their South American country.” “Mr. president, you’ve got to declare economic sanctions. You’ve got to show up,” Scott told a group of Venezuelan exiles at a Florida restaurant, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “He cares about Ukraine. But he’s not caring about Venezuela,” Scott said on Monday.

220px-Nicolas_Maduro-05-2013

Nicolás Maduro Moros

Students and other Venezuelans have been protesting President Nicolás Maduro Moros and his government since early 2014, but Maduro has ordered an aggressive crackdown on these demonstrations. More than a dozen people have died during the crackdown, and more than 100 have been injured.

There is one common denominator in both Ukraine and Venezuela – Russia.

Luis Fleischman co-Editor of The Americas Report writes, “As  Russian control of Crimea consolidates and the fear of a potential invasion of continental Ukraine increases, Russian activities closer to home in the Western Hemisphere have been largely overlooked or perhaps just disregarded. There have been reports of  increasing Russian  military cooperation with countries in Latin America that are hostile to the United States, mainly Cuba, Venezuela, and  Nicaragua.  This includes agreements between Russia and the above named countries that would enable Russia to place their naval logistic facilities in Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan territory. According to Russia’s Secretary of Defense, those facilities could serve long-range aircraft. The motive, according to Russia expert, Stephen Blank is that Russia seeks access to ports and air bases for refueling purposes as well as  great power influence.”

Fleishman notes, “Furthermore, as the U.S. was presenting a clear benevolent post-cold war approach, the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and similar governments in Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua emerged. Their  political agenda was quite clear as they became  openly hostile  towards  the United States  with aspirations of reducing   American influence in the region and if possible in the world.”

“This did not go unnoticed by Vladimir Putin and his Machiavellian circle. In my book ‘Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era‘ I warned that Russia may use Latin America as a card to prevent the further advance of the West and NATO in the former Soviet sphere of influence. Thus, I concluded Russia’s presence in the region could have negative geo-political consequences,” warns Fleishman.

ABOUT LUIS FLEISCHMAN

Luis Fleischman is co-editor of The Americas Report and the author of the book, “Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States.”

Hacking Law and Governance with Startup Cities: How Innovation Can Fix Our Social Tech by ZACHARY CACERES

Outside of Stockholm, vandals and vines have taken over Eastman Kodak’s massive factories. The buildings are cold metal husks, slowly falling down and surrendering to nature.  The walls are covered in colorful (and sometimes vulgar) spray paint. In the words of one graffiti artist: It’s “a Kodak moment.”

After its founding in 1888, Eastman Kodak became the uncontested champion of photography for almost a century. But in early 2012, the once $30-billion company with over 140,000 employees filed for bankruptcy.

Kodak was the victim of innovation—a process that economist Joseph Schumpeter called “the gales of creative destruction.” Kodak could dominate the market only so long as a better, stable alternative to its services didn’t exist. Once that alternative—digital photography—had been created, Kodak’s fate was sealed. The camera giant slowly lost market share to upstarts like Sony and Nikon until suddenly “everyone” needed a digital camera and Kodaks were headed to antique shows.

How does this happen? Christian Sandström, a technologist from the Ratio Institute in Sweden, argues that most major innovation follows a common path.

From Fringe Markets to the Mainstream

Disruptive technologies start in “fringe markets,” and they’re usually worse in almost every way. Early digital cameras were bulky, expensive, heavy, and made low-quality pictures. But an innovation has some advantage over the dominant technology: for digital cameras it was the convenience of avoiding film. This advantage allows the innovation to serve a niche market. A tiny group of early adopters is mostly ignored by an established firm like Kodak because the dominant technology controls the mass market.

But the new technology doesn’t remain on the fringe forever. Eventually its performance improves and suddenly it rivals the leading technology. Digital cameras already dispensed with the need to hassle with film; in time, they became capable of higher resolution than film cameras, easier to use, and cheaper. Kodak pivoted and tried to enter the digital market, but it was too late. The innovation sweeps through the market and the dominant firm drowns beneath the waves of technological change.

Disruptive innovation makes the world better by challenging monopolies like Kodak. It churns through nearly every market except for one: law and governance.

Social Technology

British common law, parliamentary democracy, the gold standard: It may seem strange to call these “technologies.” But W. Brian Arthur, a Santa Fe Institute economist and author of The Nature of Technology, suggests that they are. “Business organizations, legal systems, monetary systems, and contracts…” he writes, “… share the properties of technology.”

Technologies harness some phenomenon toward a purpose. Although we may feel that technologies should harness something physical, like electrons or radio waves, law and governance systems harness behavioral and social phenomena instead. So one might call British common law or Parliamentary democracy “social technologies.”

Innovation in “social tech” might still seem like a stretch. But people also once took Kodak’s near-total control of photography for granted (in some countries, the word for “camera” is “Kodak”). But after disruptive innovation occurs, it seems obvious that Kodak was inferior and that the change was good. Our legal and political systems, as technologies, are just as open to disruptive innovation. It’s easy to take our social techs for granted because the market for law and governance is so rarely disrupted by innovations.

To understand how we might create disruptive innovation in law and governance, we first need to find, like Nikon did to Kodak, an area where the dominant technologies can be improved.

Where Today’s Social Techs Fail

Around the world, law and governance systems fail to provide their markets with countless services. In many developing countries, most of the population lives outside the law.

Their businesses cannot be registered. Their contracts can’t be taken to court. They cannot get permission to build a house. Many live in constant fear and danger since their governance systems cannot even provide basic security. The ability to start a legal business, to build a home, to go school, to live in safe community—all of these “functions” of social technologies are missing for billions of people.

These failures of social technology create widespread poverty and violence. Businesses that succeed do so because they’re run by cronies of the powerful and are protected from competition by the legal system. The networks of cooperation necessary for economic growth cannot form in such restrictive environments. The poor cannot become entrepreneurs without legal tools. Innovations never reach the market. Dominant firms and technologies go unchallenged by upstarts.

Here’s our niche market.

If we could find a better way to provide one or some of these services (even if we couldn’t provide everything better than the dominant political system), we might find ourselves in the position of Nikon before Kodak’s collapse. We could leverage our niche market into something much bigger.

Hacking Law and Governance with Startup Cities

A growing movement around the world to build new communities offers ways to hack our current social tech. A host nation creates multiple, small jurisdictions with new, independent law and governance. Citizens are free to immigrate to any jurisdiction of their choosing. Like any new technology, these startup cities compete to provide new and better functions—in this case, to provide citizens with services they want and need.

One new zone hosting a startup city might pioneer different environmental law or tax policy. Another may offer a custom-tailored regulatory environment for finance or universities. Still another may try a new model for funding social services.

Startup cities are a powerful alternative to risky, difficult, and politically improbable national reform. Startup cities are like low-cost prototypes for new social techs. Good social techs pioneered by startup cities can be brought into the national system.

But if bad social techs lead a zone to fail, we don’t gamble the entire nation’s livelihood. People can easily exit a startup city—effectively putting the project “out of business.” If a nation chooses to use private capital for infrastructure or other services, taxpayers can be protected from getting stuck with the bill for someone’s bad idea. Startup cities also enhance the democratic voice of citizens by giving them the power of exit.

Looking at our niche market, a startup city in a developing nation could offer streamlined incorporation laws and credible courts for poor citizens who want to become entrepreneurs. Another project could focus on building safe places for commerce and homes by piloting police and security reform. In reality, many of these functions could (and should) be combined into a single startup city project.

Like any good tech startup, startup cities would be small and agile at first. They will not be able to rival many things that dominant law and governance systems provide. But as long as people are free to enter and exit, startup cities will grow and improve over time. What began as a small, unimpressive idea to serve a niche market can blossom into a paradigm shift in social technologies.

Several countries have already begun developing startup city projects, and many others are considering them. The early stages of this movement will almost certainly be as unimpressive as the bulky, toy-like early digital cameras. Farsighted nations will invest wisely in developing their own disruptive social techs, pioneered in startup cities. Other nations—probably rich and established ones—will ignore these “niche market reforms” around the developing world. And they just might end up like Kodak—outcompeted by new social techs developed in poor and desperate nations.

The hacker finds vulnerabilities in dominant technology and uses them to create something new. In a sense, all disruptive innovation is hacking, since it relies on a niche—a crack in the armor—of the reigning tech. Our law and governance systems are no different. Startup cities are disruptive innovation in social tech. Their future is just beginning, but one need only remember the fate of Kodak—that monolithic, unstoppable monopolist—to see a world of possibility.

Those interested in learning more about the growing startup cities movement should visit startupcities.org or contact startupcities@ufm.edu.

ABOUT ZACHARY CACERES

Zachary Caceres is the CIO of the Startup Cities Institute at UFM and editor of Radical Social Entrepreneurs.

The State as a Metanarrative: How the postmodern critique can augment the libertarian one by Casey Given

Most people don’t see postmodernism and libertarianism as sharing much in common. After all, the former refers to a philosophical trend embraced by largely leftist academics over the past half-century, while the latter refers to a political ideology of limited government that many characterize as center-right, originating to a great degree in the Enlightenment. One would be hard pressed to find someone subscribing to both schools of thought.

But have libertarians too quickly dismissed postmodernism without critically examining the philosophy in depth? Some of its elements are compatible with libertarianism and can enhance the libertarian critique of the State.

What Is Postmodernism?

Libertarian stereotypes of postmodernism have a grain of truth. Foremost, postmodern philosophers are notoriously obscure in their writing. Trying to comprehensively understand the work of thinkers like Jacques Derrida or Judith Butler is extremely strenuous, leading many who undergo the task to abandon the project altogether. Such opacity is the unfortunate result of a French intellectual culture that emphasizes density over substance. As Michel Foucault famously remarked to the American philosopher John Searle, “In France, you gotta have ten percent incomprehensible, otherwise people won’t think it’s deep—they won’t think you’re a profound thinker.”

Furthermore, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact definition of postmodernism, since most so-called postmodern academics deny that they’re such. Derrida, Butler, and Foucault have all shunned the term at one point or another, despite their work being largely classified into the same school of thought. Adding to the confusion, historians have trouble distinguishing postmodernism from modernism, its supposed predecessor. As literary critic Andreas Huyssen once said, “One critic’s postmodernism is another critic’s modernism.”

But a comprehendible explanation of postmodernism does exist. The clearest definition probably comes from the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, who wrote in 1979, “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives.”

As the word’s etymology implies, metanarratives are narratives about narratives, giving a grand structural story to human history. In plain English, they’re the tales we’ve been told all our lives about existence from various perspectives. Christianity’s metanarrative, for example, is that humans have been sinful since Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, but there is hope for salvation in accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Enlightenment’s metanarrative is that rational thought grounded in empiricism leads to human progress. Marxism’s metanarrative is that the history of the world has been one of class oppression, and a revolution of the proletariat is the only solution to end poverty, scarcity, and injustice.

Postmodernism, as Lyotard explains, is fundamentally defined by skepticism toward these metanarratives. The postmodernist examines, scrutinizes, or “deconstructs” such metanarratives (as Derrida would say), calling into question the premises behind metanarratives’ assumptions. Contrary to the common stereotype of postmodernism muddling philosophical thought, the underlying aim of the school of thought is ultimately to bring greater clarity to our complex world.

How Can Postmodernism Be Libertarian?

Much like various religions and philosophical schools, the government tells its own metanarratives to justify its purpose in exercising a monopoly on violence. Every citizen is familiar with the State’s metanarrative, especially if they’ve read a little Hobbes. Namely, the government monopolizes violence in order to prevent society from devolving into chaos.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren provides a contemporary example of this metanarrative in a 2012 speech that President Obama famously regurgitated later that year:

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory—and hire someone to protect against this—because of the work the rest of us did.

A good postmodernist, therefore, would challenge this metanarrative, questioning Warren’s underlying assumptions about the State being a necessary force of protection and progress in a cruel, Hobbesian world.

Do roads have to be publicly funded, or do contemporary examples point to the possibility for large-scale networks of private thoroughfares? Does education have to be a function of the State, or would a truly free market provide schooling? Do police always serve to protect, or do they create more violence than peace? Would life truly be “nasty, brutish, and short” without the State, or can market coordination provide the peace and prosperity needed for individuals to flourish?

In this way, a postmodern outlook on politics could be a libertarian one, calling into question the government’s power structure, which has been thoroughly rationalized and accepted for centuries. While most left-leaning postmodernists may shudder at the thought (and libertarians for that matter), these two schools of thought can indeed be compatible.

Postmodernist Libertarianism?

A postmodern political outlook, however, would not simply reaffirm libertarians’ radical questioning of the State. Many postmodern philosophers like Foucault have pushed beyond this, toward analysis of society, in ways that can add meaningfully to traditional libertarian analysis.

Foucault, for instance, was interested not just in how the State directly regulated society through coercion, but also how indirect arms cultivated citizens to regulate themselves—what he coins “biopower.” According to Foucault, the State has “numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations” beyond the traditional institutions of coercion (like the police, the military, and the judicial system).

Hospitals, for instance, regulate a social norm of how to care for one’s own body. Mental institutions regulate what “normal” behavior is. Schools regulate what historical knowledge and political attitudes citizens should be taught.

As German sociologist Thomas Lemuke summarizes Foucault’s view, “What we observe today is not a diminishment or a reduction of state sovereignty and planning capacities but a displacement from formal to informal techniques of government and the appearance of new actors on the scene of government (e.g., NGOs) that indicate fundamental transformations in statehood and a new relation between state and civil society actors.” The government’s reach into civil society has become so broad through indirect means like grants, tax breaks, accreditation, and regulations that it is constantly creating and reinforcing norms of how a citizen should act—and, in turn, justifying itself as society’s protector.

What’s interesting about this analysis from a libertarian standpoint is that these indirect institutions of the State have so often been wrong throughout history. Hospitals once displayed posters of a Department of Agriculture-approved food pyramid that encouraged citizens to eat largely grains and less meat, only to replace it in 2005 because of nutritional concerns. Mental institutions once used severe shock treatment for a number of psychological ills such as depression. Public schools once showed their students public service announcements warning children of the danger of homosexuality.

The underlying point is that the State’s metanarratives allow it to exert control over the population. Even that point is something we can draw from postmodernism, though it’s not the only source of that insight. But the analysis—and even deconstruction—of metanarratives is postmodernism’s bread and butter. Libertarians can learn a thing or two from this. What’s more, it’s consistent with more familiar thinkers in our tradition, like F. A. Hayek, who saw government power as being at odds with a complex, emergent social order. (In fact, Foucault is believed to have developed an interest with Hayek’s work later in his life and encouraged students to read it.) Liberal economics and postmodern philosophy, then, can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Both call us to expose problems with the ways the State justifies its existence and perpetuates its own power.

ABOUT CASEY GIVEN

Casey Given is an editor and political commentator with Young Voices, a project aiming to promote millennials’ policy opinions in the media.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Massachusetts: Scott Lively upends LGBT gubernatorial candidate forum!

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. – George Orwell

Candidate Scott Lively shocked the politicians and audience at the Massachusetts LGBT gubernatorial debate. Doesn’t flinch from the truth! A lesson for the pro-family movement.

Pastor Scott Lively, an independent candidate for Governor of Massachusetts,  shocked the other politicians and audience members at a televised candidate forum on “LGBTQ issues” at the Boston Public Library on March 25. Rather than join in the pro-“gay” chorus, Lively described the truths about those behaviors from a medical, sociological, and biblical standpoint. It was a cold dose of common sense that few there had likely heard before.

The forum was held in the Boston Public Library on March 25. It was jointly sponsored by the homosexual lobby group MassEquality and the left-wing public television station WGBH. All of the declared candidates for Governor participated except the two Republicans, Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher.

Candidates for Governor (left to right): biotech executive Joe Avellone (D), former Medicare and Medicaid administrator Don Berwick (D), Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), health care executive Evan Falchuk (I), State Treasurer Steve Grossman (D), former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem (D),Scott Lively (I), venture capitalist Jeff McCormick (I).

Pandering vs straight talk

All seven of the other candidates for Governor — both Democrats and Independents, including the current state Attorney General and Treasurer — enthusiastically voiced their support for the homosexual and transgender agendas  and their willingness to advance them in the state if elected.

For most people it’s particularly frightening to see the extent that many politicians are willing to bow to the radical homosexual and transgender movement without seemingly any second thoughts. Few pro-family people realize that.

But Lively told the group that as governor he “would ban LGBT propaganda to children.” Regarding laws supporting transgenderism he said, “It’s perfectly rational and reasonable to exercise discrimination on those grounds . . . We should be helping people to overcome this and not encourage those who persist in the delusion.”

Attorney General Martha Coakley (left) and Scott Lively.

Very hostile environment

The hostility during the event against Lively was fairly dramatic. The crowd of about 150 appeared to consist overwhelmingly of pro-homosexual supporters. There were also about 6-12 Lively supporters there. But just about every time he spoke he was interrupted by loud, rude noises from the audience, which the moderator made little effort to stop. It’s been observed that homosexual activists are emotionally much like 10-year-olds, and that was certainly evident there. (Even then, this was actually more orderly than other venues. At least the activists stayed in their seats this time!)

The audience entering the auditorium just before the forum begins.

In addition, the other candidates were visibly annoyed with Lively’s straight talk. At one point during the debate, Independent candidate Jeff McCormick, who spoke right after Lively, sneered at him and said, “I should win an award after this. Someone owes me a martini.”

But watching this was a clinic on how to fight back in a seemingly overwhelming situation. It wasn’t an easy venue for any pro-family politician. But Lively took it in stride. He did not take any of the hostile bait thrown at him, nor did he veer from his calm but forceful demeanor. This seemed to make his message all the more powerful.

Watch the video of the forum. (1 hr 25 min.) Just watching the first several minutes shows you all you need to see!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/K547pmAoz1I[/youtube]

A few of the questions and answers from the forum

Here is a sample of three of the questions, and how various candidates (and Lively) answered them.

Q. How do you plan to use your role as governor to make Massachusetts the best place for LGBTQ people to live? And how would you tout these initiatives across the country? And how would you use the governor’s office as the bully pulpit?

Joe Avellone. I’m going to have an LGBT Summit yearly to understand the evolving positions and create an LGBT agenda from the governor’s office that we will use in the Legislature to make sure that we keep advancing the agenda.

Attorney General Martha Coakley. We just passed the amendment to the bullying bill and we’ll make sure it’s implemented in the corner office to make sure that LGBTQ children get all the help they need to be good students and have a good future.

Evan Falachuk. The Mass LGBTQ Commission for Youth laid a pretty thorough agenda of items that need to be taken care of. As governor I’ll appoint an assistant secretary and someone who’s a program manager. You need someone in charge of quarterbacking to make that happen, and that will be a big part of my agenda.

Scott Lively. As governor I would ban LGBT propaganda to children. This is a law that I advocated for in Russia. They have found it to be successful for their society. There remains no objective proof that homosexuality is innate and unchangeable despite decades of effort which means that it is an acquired condition. We must assume that that’s true and if that assumption is true, then it is extraordinarily irresponsible to be treating our children as guinea pigs in a massive social experiment. They should be protected from the promotion of homosexuality as good, normal alternative choice for themselves.

Q. Do you support non-discrimination protection for transgender people in public places or accommodations? If so, how do you respond to arguments opposing these protections that provoke controversy and allege public safety issues?

Jeff McCormick. Absolutely I support that. It actually makes my skin crawl to understand how some people can take a segment of our population [and discriminate against it] . . . If I’m having a Catholic wedding or if I’m having a bar mitzvah, it doesn’t make sense to me how someone can selectively discriminate in our society at all. To me this is an absolute no-brainer.

Scott Lively. Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or nationality is completely irrational because those things are morally neutral. But sexual conduct is not morally neutral. And has serious public health, sociological, moral implications. Its perfectly rational and reasonable to exercise discrimination on those grounds. So all the arguments attempting to compare race with homosexuality and transgenderism are simply comparing apples and oranges. I think transgenderism is clearly self-evidently dysfunctional and this it is simply insanity for our society to be embracing it as a normal variant of human sexuality. We should be helping people to overcome this and not encourage those who persist in the delusion.

Juliette Kayyem. Absolutely I would support an inclusion of transgender. Let me be clear on the transgender issue. We can respect other view points, but we’re on the right side of history here. Anyone who has lived the last 20, 30, 40 years know that we are on the right side of history. There is only one way forward in Massachusetts, let alone the United States, and its going to be to include transgender, non-conforming gender, however you want to describe the anti-discrimination statute. We should be ahead of this and we are not.

Q. May 2014 is the ten year anniversary of marriage equality. Yet state data shows persistent disparities for LGBTQ youth, especially for LGBTQ youth of color and transgender youth. What do you see as the most urgent needs of this most vulnerable population and how will you measure your success as governor in addressing these disparities?

State Treasurer Steve Grossman. I’m very proud of the Governor who has $38 million in the budget for a variety of mental health services, many of which directly affect LGBT youth and homeless youth and I think that’s a budget that we can build on. Even during tough economic times we have to recognize that our most vulnerable populations need to be served on mental health and behavioral health need to be funded adequately.

Juliette Kayyem. I believe a lot of this can be addressed through focusing on kindness. The bullying that occurs against many students that are LGBTQ is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable as a legal matter. And as I told you earlier I brought the federal government’s first anti-bullying complaint against a school district. It was the football players against the cheerleaders — but it had a similar focus which was the schools, and the governments that give them money, have the responsibility to make sure its kids are kind to each other . . . I also think straight children of gay parents are also facing discrimination that we can address as well. It begins with focusing on kindness.

Scott Lively. Frankly I agree, that kindness is what the kids need most. I don’t think its kind to affirm a dysfunctional sexual identity, that our lives are fluid. If an adult decides they want to identify as a homosexual, bi-sexual, or transgender, that’s their choice. But we shouldn’t push that on the kids. We should assume that they have the ability to overcome that problem. I was a street kid myself and I knew a lot of people who were struggling with this. Most of them did not want to have a homosexual orientation and if they had had a chance to have counseling for that, they would have taken it. Regarding bullying, I don’t think that we should be having bullying policies that force all the kids to be pro-gay when we can solve the problem by teaching them to respect each other despite their differences.

Reaction from the liberal press

After the forum finished, most of the press in attendance — predictably biased against the pro-family viewpoint — nevertheless seemed to gather around Lively. If nothing else, he stood out as an independent thinker. The other candidates had generally repeated the same rather mindless pro-“gay” political pandering. As one newspaper reported, “Other than Lively, the candidates agreed on most issues.”

Lively being interviewed by reporter for Boston homosexual newspaper Rainbow Times.

Of all the media coverage, probably the fairest came from the Boston University newspaper, the Daily Free Press. It covered the event without noticeable bias.

On the other hand, the left-leaning Springfield Republican newspaper in Western Massachusetts was over-the-top in its bias and near-hysteria in its coverage.

The Springfield Republican newspaper’s flaming headline.

An important lesson for the pro-family movement

Many conservatives, including us, have stated repeatedly that the major factor for pro-family losses on these issues has been the almost universal reluctance of politicians and pro-family leaders to tell the truth. Instead, under pressure they usually sink into a mushy morass of political correctness and moral compromise (e.g., civil unions, “gay” adoptions). In our opinion, that’s how we lost the major gay-marriage court cases last year and it’s how we continue to lose in legislatures, in courtrooms, and in the public square.

Our people, and particularly our politicians, are deathly afraid of being called names or demeaned by the liberal establishment. It’s the road to hell.

Without the truth there are no weapons for a fight, only gradual capitulation. But telling the truth forcefully and fearlessly over and over again is the basis of victory over a movement that depends on lies and disinformation for its success.

It’s going to be an interesting political summer in Massachusetts.

In a video taken right after the forum ended, Scott Lively gives his reaction. (32 sec.)

[youtube]http://youtu.be/PyXEu6Oaaso[/youtube]

3 Things That Don’t Make Sense in Putin’s World

Amy Payne from the Heritage Foundation writes, “Russia’s Vladimir Putin took part of a country. So what kind of world does that mean we’re living in? It’s a world where we can’t act like we did yesterday. Here are three things that simply don’t make sense for America to keep doing.”

1. Leaving Europe high and dry

The Obama administration canceled a missile defense site in Europe several years ago and has recently canceled military training with European allies as well. These are bad moves. It’s no wonder that, as Heritage experts note, “There is a general view among officials in the region that the U.S. is relegating its relations with Europe to a lower priority.”

This is the time to be assuring NATO allies that America stands with them in the face of aggressors like Putin. This solidarity includes deploying U.S. assets to the region—assets that might be required to defend the territorial integrity of NATO countries close to Russia.

2. Letting Russia dominate the regional energy supply

Heritage energy and security experts point out that, “Much of Russia’s power in the region is the result of its control of energy supplies and distribution systems.” So if Russia decides you’re not a friend anymore, this is a problem.

Guess who could export more energy to nations like Ukraine? America could. If Washington would lift the barriers, our country could export crude oil and natural gas, which would help relieve the pressure on Russia’s neighbors. Getting more energy to the global market—from diverse sources—“would diminish the ability of any nation, including Russia, to use energy as a weapon to impose its will in the future,” Heritage experts suggest.

3. Reducing American defense capabilities

Under President Obama, America’s military has been on the decline. It’s long past time to reverse this dangerous trend.

And it’s time to stop reducing America’s nuclear capabilities—and modernize our weapons systems instead. As Heritage expert Michaela Dodge says, “The U.S. is projecting weakness by reducing its own arsenal while Russia builds up its forces.” It’s absurd that “the U.S. remains the only nuclear weapons state that is not modernizing its nuclear forces,” as Dodge points out, and it certainly doesn’t make sense in the current environment.

In a forthcoming paper, Heritage experts spell it out:

In invading Crimea, the Russian regime can no longer be considered a responsible nation or a suitable partner for the United States in solving regional and strategic security issues. The U.S. should adopt a new, long-term strategy that addresses protecting its vital interests against the irresponsible and illegal actions of Moscow.

Payne notes, “Whether or not Putin continues his quest for more land, Washington has to change its ways.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of EPA/SERGEY GUNEEV/ POOL/Newscom.

The UAW Against the Volunteer State: Labor politics is desperate, thanks to capital mobility by Wendy McElroy

The United Automobile Workers (UAW) recently failed to unionize the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The campaign—and failure—revealed the desperation and changing dynamics of modern labor unions.

The UAW is the richest union in North America, with assets of reportedly more than $1 billion at the end of 2012. It is arguably also the most politically influential, because it donates large amounts of money to Democrats. Like most unions, however, its membership and dues are in decline while its costs, such as pension benefits, are climbing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Union Members Summary (Jan. 24, 2014), there were 14.5 million members in 2013, compared with 17.7 million in 1983, and 11.3 percent of workers belonged to a union in 2013, compared to 20.1 percent in 1983.

For the UAW and, perhaps, labor unions in general, the Chattanooga vote was a pivotal event: Foreign manufacturers employ a huge—and non unionized—workforce.

The stumbling block: Foreign auto manufacturers such as Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz have set up plants in
Southern “right-to-work” states. These states defend a worker’s right not to join a labor union; other states allow closed shops in specific industries, meaning that they exclude non-union workers. A February 15 Forbes article explained, “In more than 30 years, none of the free-standing assembly plants owned by foreign manufacturers in the United States have ever been organized. (This doesn’t include factories that originally began as joint ventures.)”

According to CBC News, the UAW isn’t alone in its concern: “Detroit’s three automakers—Ford, Chrysler and General Motors—are increasingly anxious about the 78-year old union’s future.”

Why would the UAW’s future worry Detroit’s big three? Unions and corporate executives, though they’re usually cast as enemies, share a vested interest in keeping the union strong.

“For them, it’s a ‘devil you know’ situation. They worry that the 382,000-member UAW could be absorbed by a more hostile union. Such a merger could disrupt a decade of labour-management peace that has helped America’s auto industry survive the financial crisis and emerge much stronger, according to a person with knowledge of executive discussions,” CBC News reported.

A standard method by which to unionize an American workplace is to have at least 30 percent of employees request a union, usually in the form of signing a card or a petition. After the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approves the request, a secret-ballot election is held. If more than 50 percent of the employees vote for unionization, then a union is usually formed unless there are circumstances such as an appeal. A second procedure called a “card check” offers a different route; that’s when over 50 percent of workers request unionization. National Review explained what happens next: “The employer can choose to recognize the union, and it’s formed without a secret ballot. If the employer declines . . . a secret ballot election is held that requires majority support.”

The secret ballot has become a flashpoint, with surprising advocates and opponents. In decades past, unions pushed for secret ballots because they perceived a need to protect pro-union workers from threats or retaliation by employers. In short, secret ballots were a consciously pro-union measure to ensure workers could vote freely. Now, depending upon the politics of particular states and industries, unions want to make obsolete the secret ballot, which can function as an anti-union measure. That is, employees who vote secretly do not experience peer pressure or blowback from coworkers and union organizers. In some situations, this makes employees less likely to vote for unionization.

In recent years, Democrats have repeatedly introduced legislation into Congress that would automatically create a union without the step of a secret ballot or the need for employer consent. The only requirement would be for 50 percent of workers to request unionization. The legislative attempts have been unsuccessful so far. If the unionization in Chattanooga had succeeded, however, it would have established precedent, bypassing legislation altogether. It would have also made a crack in the barrier that has prevented the unionization of foreign manufacturers in the South. Unfolding the Chattanooga event reveals modern labor-union strategy.

The Pivotal Event

In February, the UAW seemed poised for victory in Chattanooga. A month earlier, it had publicly declared a victory by claiming that card check had demonstrated that a majority of workers wanted the union. It asked Volkswagen’s management for official recognition. But eight workers complained to the NLRB, reporting that the UAW had used thug tactics and misrepresentation in the ballot-casting. They also accused the management in Germany of threatening to cut the flow of work to the Chattanooga plant unless unionization occurred.

That might be the most interesting aspect of the story. As the Washington Post asked, “The German company is campaigning for the UAW, not against it, in a kind of employer-union partnership America has seldom seen. What gives?” Most foreign manufacturers oppose unionization of their American plants because it would usher in expensive benefits packages and weaken their control of workplace practices, such as hiring and firing. But labor practices in Germany are union-friendly. Volkswagen was undoubtedly targeted because the company is open to establishing a German-style works council, which would have been the first of its kind in America. A works council consists of blue- and white-collar employees who are partners in management decisions on issues such as productivity and workplace conditions. American labor laws, though, make this arrangement illegal without unionization. Specifically, federal NLRA statute section 8(a)(2) prohibits so-called “company unions,” which the VW works council would be categorized as.

The most powerful pushback against the UAW came from state officials who believed unionization would harm Tennessee’s economy and make the state far less attractive to business. One of the obstacles officials erected was a 2011 state law on secret ballots and the “selection of exclusive bargaining representative(s).” The law states,

Should employees and employers seek to designate an exclusive bargaining representative through an election, they have the right to a secret ballot election; if a secret ballot election is chosen, no alternative means of designation shall be used.

The state law has been called unconstitutional because it may contradict federal rules on unionization. Nevertheless, the state law clearly indicates Tennessee’s opposition. State Sen. Mark Green, the vice chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, also called for Volkswagen to facilitate a secret ballot to protect workers’ privacy and shield them from intimidation. The likelihood of intimidation increases because most petition signatures are generated employee to employee, face to face. Green argued, “You’ve got seven guys standing around you who work with you every day and they’re saying, ‘hey, sign this card.’” Green concluded, “We don’t elect the governor that way, we don’t elect our representatives that way, the ballot is secret. That’s democracy.” The senator also claimed to know of four large manufacturers that were monitoring the Chattanooga situation before committing to expansion within Tennessee.

Gary Casteel, the UAW’s regional director, denied the charges of union intimidation and threw the accusation back at the state government. A secret ballot, he argued, would give “outside interests” a 40-day window in which to take out ads and otherwise communicate anti-union messages to VW workers. By contrast, Casteel claimed the cards in the card check would carry a simple, self-explanatory message and not be confusing.

On February 14, the Chattanooga Volkswagen workers cast a secret ballot. They defeated unionization by a vote of 712 to 626. The defeat occurred even though Volkswagen had signed a neutrality agreement, pledging not to interfere with the UAW’s efforts; such agreements are considered to be endorsements of unionization. Volkswagen workers also defeated unionization despite a strong drive by the UAW that included public support voiced by President Obama. They defeated it even though the NLRB facilitated the election by fast-tracking it.  An anti-union campaign headed by Sen. Robert Corker, Jr., and Tennesseans’ concern about unemployment, prevailed.

Conclusion

Predictably, the UAW has appealed the February 14 results and seeks a revote. The union accuses state officials of “dirty politics.” For example, it argues that officials threatened to withdraw state-financed incentives if Volkswagen workers unionized. As of this writing (March 27), the NLRB has set a hearing for April 21, but delays are probable. Rejecting the vote would mean rejecting the solid precedent of siding with the voice of workers. Accepting the vote would mean undercutting labor unions on a matter that may be key to their future. Whatever the decision, union politics in America is changing.

ABOUT WENDY MCELROY

Contributing editor Wendy McElroy is an author and the editor of iFeminists.com.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Anonymous: Operation American Spring, May 16, 2014

Operation American Spring will begin on May 16th 2014, in Washington DC.

MISSION: Restoration of Constitutional government, rule of law, freedom, liberty ”of the people, for the people, by the people” from despotic and tyrannical federal leadership.

ASSUMPTIONS: Millions of Americans will participate. American Veterans and Patriots are energized to end the tyranny, lawlessness, and shredding of the US Constitution Government is not the target, it is sound…Corrupt and criminal leadership must be removed.

Field millions, as many as ten million Patriots Who will assemble in a non-violent, physically unarmed (Spiritually/Constitutionally armed) display of unswerving loyalty to the US Constitution. Go full-bore, no looking back, steadfast in the mission!

We are asking, pleading with you, and any others that have resources, national voices, email lists, blogs, FB, Twitter. To call for a non-violent American Spring on May 16, 2014 in Washington D.C.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/EMim-LMCPz4[/youtube]

To learn more go to:  Operation American Spring.

RELATED COLUMN: Americans rising up against government – USA Today

Obamacare is an American Catastrophe

If you type in “Obamacare” on Wikipedia you will discover 25,500,000 links. That’s a lot of news coverage and related commentary about the Affordable Care Act. Most of it is negative. The more people have learned about it, the less they like it and, if we had a Congress that could or would do anything about it, it would have been repealed by now.

A March 28 Associated Press poll revealed that only 26% of Americans support Obamacare, a point less than December 2013 and January 2014.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted more than 60 times to repeal or dismantle Obamacare. The Senate, namely Harry Reid its Majority Leader, has killed all efforts to address what is clearly a national catastrophe. When passed in 2009, not one Republican member of Congress voted for it. When it was passed, then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, famously said they had to pass the 2,700 page act in order to find out what was in it.

In 2010, voters gave power in the House to Republicans, but the Senate remained under Democrat control. The fact that Barack Obama, when campaigning to become President in 2008 and thereafter lied repeatedly to Americans about it has tarnished his reputation and his approval ratings. Since then he has altered the law unilaterally despite the fact that he utterly lacks any constitutional right to do so.

In February the Heritage Foundation’s legal experts put together a list of seven illegal actions by the President that included delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate, giving Congress and their staffs special taxpayer-funded subsidies, preventing layoff notices from going out just days before the 2012 election, as well as non-Obamacare actions that included gutting the work requirement from welfare reform, stonewalling an application for storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, and making “recess” appointments when the Senate was still legally in session.

The first element of the Obamacare catastrophe is an utterly lawless President who Congress has done little to restrain and nothing to impeach.

Another element of the Obamacare catastrophe has been the failure of the mainstream media to address the impact the law has had on America. On March 26, the Media Research Center reported that “They’re just burying the story. They aren’t in denial. They know the truth. They’re just choosing to ignore it. They are pretending there are no broken promises about keeping your insurance plan, or keeping your doctor, or lowering your premium by $2,500 a year.”

An analysis by the Center of the three network evening news broadcasts in 2014 “found only 12 stories on three networks in almost three months.” For example, “NBC Nightly News” broadcast only one story on Obamacare and that was on January 1st when Lester Holt called it “a new era in health care in this country.” ABC “World News” provided only six minutes and 58 seconds on Obamacare and “CBS Evening News” managed to provide only 19 minutes and 17 seconds over the course of three months.

“None of the networks,” said the Center’s analysis, “dared to report the ongoing opposition of the American people to Obamacare in 2014, even when they were the ones doing the polling.”

Sen. John Thune, (R-SD) posted an article from the Washington Free Beacon on his website, “Fourth Anniversary of Obamacare Brings Billions in Costs to Economy” that cited a report by the American Action Forum that concluded that “From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local government and affected entities.”

Sen. Thune said, that “Four years after Obamacare became the law of the land, millions of Americans have little but canceled policies, fewer choices, and skyrocketing costs to show for it. From seniors to young adults, to middle-class families, and small businesses, Obamacare has been to be an equal opportunity offender…people living under this law are acutely aware of the harm Obamacare is causing in their lives.”

I have held back from writing about Obamacare because so many others are doing so, but it is impossible to hold back from declaring it the worst law ever passed by Congress and to urge readers to go to the polls in the November midterm elections and remove from office those Democrats who voted for it and are seeking reelection.

There is little need for me to do an Obamacare analysis, but I can recommend one that appeared in The Weekly Standard on February 17. Those who have been following the history of lies and broken promises will find it a detailed study. Is author, Christopher Conover, summed it up saying that “Obamacare has failed miserably on nearly every major promise made about it. The processes used to enact and implement the law have been tarnished by actions of questionable legality and a pervasive lack of transparency.”

The ultimate impact of Obamacare on the economy must wait for a calculation, but the demand for its repeal must increase to a point where a future Congress must respond to the voter’s demand. Without that, we are headed for an economic collapse.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Do We Hate If We Are Critical Of Islam?

david gaubaz daugher with iragi girls

Christian Gaubatz with two Iraqi girls.

This is my daughter (Christian) in the middle and two of her best friends. This is from late 2003, after I returned home from Iraq. The two Iraqi girls (Muslim) and my daughter care and love one another very much. I assisted in bringing over the Iraqi girls and their family. The girls family had helped to save POW Private Jessica Lynch. This Iraqi family also saved my life while in Iraq on more than one occasion.

Please remember this statement while reading my article.

“A Radical Muslim’ is a ‘Practicing Muslim’, a ‘Moderate Muslim’ is a ‘non Practicing Muslim’ or otherwise known as an Apostate of Islam…The penalty for Apostasy under Sharia law is Death”

I firmly believe this with all my heart, and based on my interactions with Muslims from all over the world, the vast majority of people who identify with Islam are non practicing Muslims. Now which side they would choose if it ever came down to an allegiance with America or an Islamic nation is another question.

The Islamic world and their millions of non Muslims who support the Islamic ideology condemn me and most of you. Many of us have been critical of the Islamic ideology. Does this qualify you or I as racists, haters, etc…?

I proclaim just the opposite. Human beings are much like computer hard drives. What you put in is what you get out. It is well known throughout the Muslim world that hatred and violence toward non Muslims is taught to innocent Muslim children from when they take their first breath. Why then would society expect a large percentage of Muslims who have been taught this to not carry out acts of hatred and violence for over 1400 years?

Being that I have studied Islam for over 3 decades, I have come to the reality that this ideology is very, very dangerous, and it is the children who will suffer. The only way to change this is for Islam to be branded as evil, just as Hitler and the KKK are. The ideology of Islam, Hitler, and the KKK all have the same common denominator. Hate and violence are woven within all three ideologies.

It is because I care so much for the children (all races and religions) that I expose Islam for the danger it is. I do not play political correctness games and do not try to appease anyone. I simply call it like I see it, and the way many of you view Islam. It is not a set of people that I hate, it is the ideology of Islam and any other ideology that destroys the hearts of children.

Fo those of us who try to educate others on the pure form of Islam, we will continue to be labeled the bad guys and gals. That is ok. We can go to bed each night knowing we have given every ounce of ourselves to protect the children and their future.

I call trying to protect all children love and caring. This overrides what any person supporting Islam labels me as. Let’s continue doing our best to brand Islam as evil and the result if we are successful is for children of future generations to live in peace.

RELATED STORY: Indiana, Tennessee, Florida: Muslims busted in various acts of fraud

RELATED VIDEO: AFLC Co-Founders and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise gave a presentation in Cincinnati to a standing-room-only crowd entitled, “Sharia: Threat to American Freedom.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/1hF7s6ohjco[/youtube]

Common Core the Movie: “Building the Machine”

In the documentary, both proponents and opponents will present their perspectives so that you can draw your own conclusions on this important educational issue. To learn more visit: http://www.commoncoremovie.com.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/zjxBClx01jc[/youtube]

 

EDITORS NOTE: A leaked email from the deputy executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the nonprofits that developed and owns the copyrights to the Common Core standards, indicates the group is mobilizing Common Core supporters in the face of the release of a documentary film from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) on Monday….

Missouri Education Watchdog provided the text of the email from Carissa Moffat Miller of CCSSO, the subject of which is “Anti Common Core Movie, embargoed materials.”

Many of you are likely aware of an anti-common core movie slated to be released in a few days. The Home School Legal Defense Association, a Virginia-based organization opposed to the Common Core, has produced a film called “Building the Machine.” The film’s anticipated online release date (which has changed several times), is currently set for March 31, 2014. The film implies that the Common Core was created through politics, misinformation and corruption. Using stark graphics and ominous music, the film features interviews with Common Core opponents arguing against the standards’ development and implementation—interspersed with misleading snippets of interviews from Common Core supporters…

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fordham have put together the attached two documents that can be used to clarify the vast amount of misinformation that will be circulated as a result of the movie. Please note – these are EMBARGOED until Monday, March 31st. Please do not distribute.

The Deceptive Push to “Implement” Common Core

I just returned home from speaking at the iRefuse Rally on March 29, 2014, in Port Jefferson Station, New York. My trip was an adventure in many ways, not the least of which was in my managing to get to New York.

In short, my flight to NYC was canceled; I was able to fly to Baltimore on standby and rent a car at 1:30 a.m. to drive through the night to Long Island (250 miles).

(It turns out that the kind individual who anonymously paid for my airfare and hotel approached me after hearing my story and offered to pay for the rental car, as well.)

I was determined to make it to the iRefuse event. It was certainly worth the effort. The rally was wonderful. Several hundred people showed to listen to almost a dozen speakers despite the dreary, rainy weather.

I spoke for about 30 minutes. The title of my talk was The Politics of Standards. I did not use notes, so I cannot post exact, complete content just yet. The rally was video recorded; once I receive the video, I will post my complete speech.

My speech came near the end of the rally; the audience was tired, and so was I (having been awake for 34 hours by then). I polled the audience before deciding upon the content I delivered. I wanted to ensure that I connected with my audience; I did not want to sound too “technical.”

My avoiding sounding too technical does not mean I avoided presenting facts.

In this post, I would like to offer some discussion included in my talk– what I believe to be an important, under-discussed development regarding the push to “implement” the so-called Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

The currently-subtle promotion of a regulatory agency to “ensure” that curriculum “aligns with” CCSS.

Next Stop: CCSS-Approved Curriculum

In the following two publications, I have seen language promoting such an agency. One is this March 26, 2014, Hechinger Report article about a CCSS math problem that went viral. The article argues that the problem is with the selected curriculum, not with CCSS.

One statement caught my attention:

The problem the question highlights is not an issue with the Common Core itself, McCallum said, but rather one of curriculum.  … So far, there has been little qualitycontrol[Emphasis added.]

Major, looming question:

Just who is supposed to “control” curriculum “quality”??

Why a “CCSS czar”– or a CCSS regulatory board.

I first read about these two horrible concepts in this March 19, 2014, EAG Newsarticle by Ben Velderman, a reflection on this summer 2014 Education Next article by the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) Michael McShane. The Education Next article actually proposes among other “implementation solutions” the two “CCSS management” ideas of a CCSS regulatory board and even a single individual in charge of All Things CCSS– a CCSS “czar”:

Former National Education Association chief John Wilson has called for the creation of a “Common Core Czar” to manage the common core. He believes that this person, who would need to have “excellent education credentials including teaching experience, understand a systems approach to education, and have the trust of teachers and parents” and “the respect of both political parties,” could be appointed by the NGA and CCSSO to “oversee the implementation, call out bad practices, and recommend policy changes to the politicians.” Quite a tall order, especially if the “czar” has no government-based authority. [Emphasis added.]

One individual placed in charge of CCSS “implementation.”

Wow. Am I reading Vonnegut? Huxley? Serling?

Perhaps this “czar” idea is too much (tongue in cheek).  Let’s just go for McShane’s next highlighted offering: a CCSS regulatory board:

Patrick McGuinn, a Drew University political scientist, has offered several other possible models for common core governance. Leaders could create a national network of organizations like the NGA and CCSSO, as well as prominent nonprofits and unions, that would serve as revisers, implementation watchdogs, and political advisors. Alternatively, a structure could be developed like the National Assessment Governing Board, which currently oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Empowered by law, the board is required to represent major constituent groups. States could then enter into a memorandum of understanding to agree to abide by the board’s rulings. 

As Velderman observes:

That (the CCSS regulatory board idea) sounds an awful lot like local school districts and states surrendering their autonomy to some type of centralized authority, whether it be national or regional. [Emphasis added.]

Corporate reform certainly does benefit from the surrendering of local authority (via few signatures, mind you) via so-called memoranda of understanding (MOUs)– not the least of which is the original CCSS MOU.

McShane states that until someone steps up to regulate CCSS, “folks will look to the federal government.”

Allow me to contradict McShane:

“Folks” are fighting the very idea of CCSS, period.

If they were not, there would be no pro-CCSS “call to “rebrand” in an effort to fool the “folks.”

However, it is clear that the public should take seriously the proposed ideas for CCSS “regulation”– and it should know that such “regulation” would certainly include curriculum.

CCSS Curriculum “Regulation”: In the Cards for Years Now

The push for such a CCSS regulatory agency should be expected based upon the declared push for “everything” to “line up”– CCSS, curriculum, and tests– an idea that has been publicized by the National Governors Association (NGA) since 2008.

I discussed this “alignment” in my Common Core, Aligned Curriculum… post:

In June 2008, the Hunt Institute and the National Governors Association (NGA) offered the following information as part of an NGA press release regarding the “need” for “rigorous standards.” Notice the inclusion of curriculum in this 2008 statement:

“High, rigorous standards are the foundation of a strong education system. Content standards specify the knowledge and skills that students need at each grade level. These standards must be supported by an aligned and clearly articulated system of curriculum, assessments, teacher preparation and professional development, textbook selection and appropriate supports for students.[Emphasis added.]

On July 21, 2009, Bill Gates made the following declaration in a speech to legislators:

…Identifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards. [Emphasis added.]

One month prior to the Gates speech, on June 14-15, 2009, NGA offered the now-loaded word, implementation, in reference to aligning all documents that could possibly control the teacher-student relationship– including curriculum:

Well-planned implementation processes are necessary for success. Standards alone will not ensure student success. Wilhoit cautioned that higher standards will not be effective if teachers and local
education authorities are not prepared to use them. High-quality standards represent the knowledge and skills that states want students to acquire, but this goal cannot be realized without an implementation system that includes curriculum, instructional tools and materials, formative and summative assessments, student supports, and teacher preparation and professional development that are aligned with the new standards. [Emphasis added.]

Thus, those publicly promoting “correct implementation” of CCSS as a “solution” to the undeniable national resistance to CCSS are actually pushing for an agency to regulate an implementation system that includes curriculum– whether such promoters admit as much or even realize as much.

Do not be deceived by the seeming diplomatic promotion of “proper CCSSimplementation.”

Note that a major message my “common core” blog category is that those pushing hardest for CCSS (including implementation) overwhelmingly tend to be those without a direct, personal connection to the classroom. Those pushing hardest for CCSS are not teachers, parents, or students.

The CCSS “push” is nondemocratic.

The CCSS implementation “push” will also be a slap to democracy.

Calling Out the “Implementation” Term

One of the iRefuse attendees (and speakers, though I did not arrive in time to hear him) was New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) President Richard Iannuzzi. We spoke after the rally regarding NYSUT’s position on CCSS. He mentioned his stance against CCSS testing, including a freedom of information (FOIA) request NYSUT recently filed regarding CCSS testing in New York. He also mentioned the botched implementation of CCSS.

I asked if NYSUT planned to file other FOIAs specifically related to CCSS. Iannuzzi said yes.

Iannuzzi told me, “As long as Common Core is carved in stone, I do not support it.”

I told him that he needed to publicize that message– his being against a rigid CCSS– rather than the “implementation” message since “implementation” implies that one believes CCSS is fine as it is– no flexibility needed– and that the public isn’t buying it.

I also know that the “implementation is the problem, not CCSS itself” message leads America down the road toward a CCSS regulatory agency.

Rigidity requires a regulatory agency. Flexibility does not.

I challenged Iannuzzi to publicize the words he spoke to me– that so long as CCSS is “carved in stone,” he does not support it. I asked him to make this message clear via press releases and on the NYSUT website, which needs updating since it still includes the “we support CCSS” message.

He said that his updated stance could be found on the Stronger Together website.

I told him that people looking for NYSUT’s position will not go to the Stronger Together website– they will go to the NYSUT website, as I did– and they will read the “we support CCSS” message.

He agreed to update the NYSUT website, and he agreed to publicize his opposition to inflexible CCSS.

It was a hard-hitting conversation, but a good one.

As I was leaving the building, Iannuzzi stopped his car near me, rolled down the window, and told me that he just tweeted his anti-”carved in stone”-CCSS message.

And so he had:

@RichardIannuzzi · Mar 29 If CC is written in stone then it is unacceptable. NY must have a mind of its own! @beth_dimino @NYSAPE @lacetothetop

Based upon the pushback to All Things CCSS in New York State, it is clear to me that New York does indeed “have a mind of its own”– and that “mind” is fighting hard for its right to the democratic process in public education.

In Closing

Fortunately, this CCSS resistance is not unique to New York. CCSS resistance is nationwide, and we are too smart to be pacified by the “better CCSS implementation” strategy.

We want CCSS gone.

A nonexistent CCSS erases any possibility of a CCSS “czar”– or a CCSS regulatory agency– or the federal government defaulting as a CCSS regulatory agency.

Formal regulation of CCSS curriculum is next on the top-down list.

Kill CCSS, kill curriculum regulation.

EDITORS NOTE: New Yorkers gathered for the 1st Annual NYS iREFUSE! rally, a forum and protest against high stakes testing and Common Core. Featuring Dr. Joe Rella, Mark Ferreris, Nicole Ehrhard, Mary Calamia, Beth Dimino, Dick Iannuzzi, Michael Bohr, Rob Astorino, Tim Farley, Assemblyman Al Graf, Ruth Bryant White, Professor Steve White, Dave Greene, Dr. Mercedes Schneider and Yvonne Gasperino. Following is the full length video taken in Port Jefferson, New York. March 29, 2014:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/gq_H8TF5vLA[/youtube]

Obama Caught Secretly Giving “Free” US Army and Marine Equipment to Putin

Congressman James Bridenstine (R-OK, District 1) has uncovered another Obama secret scandal. The deal that was entered into behind closed doors by President Obama with Russian President Putin. The deal is to give Russia “Free of Charge” crucial, mid-grade sensitive US military technology, used by US Special Operations Forces to get ready for combat operations.

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A Republic of Korea (ROK) Soldier armed with a 5.56mm K2 assault RIFLE wears Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) gear during the combined Exercises Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration/Foal Eagle 2002 (RSOI/FE 02).

The National Nuclear Security Agency has been providing the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) to Russia. The transfer has been facilitated by Obama appointee, Secretary of Energy Ernst Moritz. Moritz is overseeing this dangerous and potentially illegal transfer of crucial, mid-grad, sensitive US military technology to Putin. All this while Russia was invading Crimea and is poised to invade Ukraine.  Moritz is continuing the transfer in the midst of Putin the mobilization of 150,000 Russian troops along the Ukrainian border.

Every American should be informed of this illegal transfer by the Obama administration.  The Democrats in the Senate and House, under the leadership of Senator Reid, Rep. Pelosi and President Obama have, by their actions, been degrading the “Combat Effectiveness” the US Armed Forces.  They have been caught secretly giving US Army and US Marine Corps military sensitive technology to Putin, rather than giving it to the National Guard, the US Marine Corps Reserve, and the US Army Reserve who desperately need that that type of equipment to prepare their personnel for combat operations.

The question every American should be asking is why didn’t Speaker Boehner halt the “illegal” transfer of crucial, mid-grade technology US military sensitive technology, to Russia “Free Of Charge” and allowed it to inserted in the House Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal 2015 budgets? Why did it require the investigation of  Congressman Bridenstine to discover the traitorous and illegal transfer of US military sensitive technology to Russia “Free of Charge”?

Will the Speaker stop this transfer of sensitive US military technology to Russia?

Or will he, as he has been doing with the Benghazi investigation for 18 months, nothing? Boehner has been frustrating 186 Congressmen who keep asking the Speaker to appoint a Select House Investigative Committee on The Battle of Benghazi, so they can finally have subpoena powers that the 5 House investigations on Benghazi do not have. To cover up what happened in The Battle of Benghazi, the Obama administration has classified information on Benghazi that should never been classified and has prevented thirty-two US personnel who were on the ground during The Battle of  Benghazi from testifying—-the only way to get around that is for the House to have subpoena powers which Boehner has prevented 186 Congressmen from doing for 18 month.

Twenty-six million veterans in the United States, millions of patriotic American citizens, all the members of the US Armed Forces, Republicans,  Independents, Tea Party Patriots, and Blue Dog Democrats are waiting for you to “do something”.

In addition to allowing the US Military’s sensitive crucial mid-grade technology to be transferred “Free of Charge ” to Russia, Speaker Boehner has also allowed cuts to military benefits to already poorly paid enlisted military personnel, the elimination of military commissaries, reduction of the US navy below its strength at the beginning of WWI, cutting the US Army below its strength at the beginning of WWII, elimination of entire categories of US Air Force Combat aircraft and allowing President Obama to kill the cornerstone of US Naval Power–The Tomahawk & Hellfire Missile Programs

Will you, Mr. Speaker, ever “do something”? You do control the purse strings and have massive powers given you by the framers of the US Constitution.

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Julianne Ortman: The Solution to America’s Al Franken Problem

Just when Mary was mastering not over-cooking (burning) steaks on our grill at home in Florida, duty called us back on the road, with our Conservative Campaign Committee team traveling to freezing Minnesota to defeat Al Franken.

My charcoal-grill-master-in-training awesome wife hates cold weather. Nevertheless, she is willing to brave bone-chilling temperatures and snow to fire Franken!

Not only is Franken responsible for causing pain and suffering to millions of Americans by providing the 60th vote which enacted Obamacare, but Franken also threw Minnesotans under the Obama bus in the process.

Unique to Minnesota, they already had a program (MinnesotaCare) which provided affordable and accessible healthcare — on a sliding-scale-premium basis, without mandates for anyone else. As a result of Min-Care, Minnesota had the third-highest insurance coverages in the nation, accomplishing a great thing on a state level. Thus, no federal intervention/program was needed.

Franken sold-out Minnesotans to implement Obama’s unprecedented tyrannical power-grab, further proving himself to be a loyal servant of Obama rather than a representative of his constituents. Franken repeated and promoted Obama’s lie: “If you like your health care plan you can keep it.”

Rather than repeating liberal Democrat incumbent Franken’s long list of offenses, I wish to focus on our solution. I am extremely excited and proud to announce that Conservative Campaign Committee endorses Conservative Republican State Senator Julianne Ortman for U.S. Senate in Minnesota.

Candidly, our endorsement did not come easy. Our CCC team thoroughly and critically examined the field of candidates, and Ortman rose to the top. We could not stomach another RINO (Republican In Name Only).

With the GOP openly warring against the Tea Party, Ortman is the only candidate in the race who has reached out, meeting with over 50 Tea Party groups. How refreshing and encouraging.

Ortman wants to repeal Obamacare, folks, fighting it since 2010.

In her facebook ad, Ortman proclaims, “Keep your doctor. Change your senator. Repeal Obamacare!” I love it!

A shocking article which exposed that hospitals are using aborted babies in their furnaces for heat documents a growing callous disrespect for human life. Thus, I am elated to announce that Ortman is pro-life, endorsed by the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life State PAC.

During my research of Ortman, it was obvious that Ortman is a strategist. Excellent! We need more conservatives who know how to get things done, fighting alongside Sen.Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee.

Here are just a few other reasons why Ortman deserves your prayers and support.

Ortman has an impressive track record of fighting for lower taxes, less government spending, and less government regulations over our businesses and families. How scary and outrageous is that, folks — government regulating our families?

As Chair of the Minnesota Senate Tax Committee, Ortman lead the charge to eliminate Minnesota’s $6-billion deficit without raising taxes.

Ortman served as a spokesperson for the Senate Republican Caucus, confidently articulating and championing conservative principles. Yes, that’s what I am talking about!

Here is another bit of good news, folks. Ortman has won the endorsement of ShePAC, the fantastic organization that backs conservative women for office.

Ortman is a proven winner — the kind of formidable opponent needed to take down Franken. She won her last 8 elections, including re-election to the Minnesota State Senate in 2012 with 65% of the vote. Wow!

Breaking news, just in: Sarah Palin endorses Julianne Ortman.

Yes, I am pretty stoked about this candidate — a bold, bright and strong conservative woman. I salute Ortman with my tribute song to conservative women I recorded a few years ago titled, “Our Girls”. It will bring a smile to your face. Go Ortman!

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