Setting the Record Straight: Lottie Beebe Does Not Support Common Core

On March 22, 2014, the Monroe News-Star quoted Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member and St. Martin Parish Superintendent Lottie Beebe (pictured above) in such a manner as to incorrectly portray Beebe as supporting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Beebe does not support CCSS.

In her response below, Beebe clarifies not only her position against CCSS but also her experience and position on a number of so-called education “reform” issues mandated in Louisiana’s classrooms:

I have learned a lesson.  In the future, I will provide a written response to reporter inquiries.  This is my response to Common Core and there may be those who say I sound like a politician. To the contrary, I consider myself a public servant and educator. 

There has been much debate surrounding Common Core Standards.  According to Merriam-

Webster dictionary, a standard is a level of quality, achievement, etc. So what is the problem?  

 Many educators will say they are not opposed to rigorous standards and high expectations.  Some will say they are not opposed to Common Core (CC) standards because the standards are merely objectives—norms.  Two examples taken directly from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) website include the following:

3rd grade math:  Tell and write time to the nearest minute and measure time intervals in minutes.  Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of time intervals in minutes.

*5th grade reading:  Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text.

Again, what is the problem?  Upon close examination, many of the CC standards are not age/grade appropriate and are rigorous because students are now expected to perform at a skill level in which prerequisite learning has not yet occurred for many.  Many education researchers have pointed out that the K-3 standards are not age appropriate.  The same can be said for other grade levels due to the lack of requisite skills. The rigor comes into play when the standards, once addressed at 5th or 6th grade, are now addressed at 3 or 4th grade.  Simply put, performance expectations are increased (rigor) by setting the bar higher. 

 The Common Core debate is alive and somewhat contentious in Louisiana.  Some are quick to say Louisiana can no longer continue to rank last in educational outcomes next to Mississippi. Chas Roemer, BESE President, likes to reference the 700,000 students who are trapped in failing schools.  (Again, we must understand the rationale for CC implementation—follow the  money; examine the education reform agenda; examine BESE policy to see how quickly we are approving charter schools expediting the charter application process, and the emphasis on Choice options.)

Governor Jindal and members of BESE supported Common Core in 2010. (Jindal, with aspirations for a national political office,now sees the writing on the wall and is “crawfishing.”)  It is also important to note that Jindal is a member of the National Governors’ Association (NGA).  He was also supportive of John White for the position of state superintendent of education.  I often tell people the support for CC is bi-partisan–Republicans and Democrats embraced the CC agenda as early as 2008 and the support for CC continues to be a bi-partisan effort in 2014.

Bill Gates and other philanthropists lured others (educators) into the CC venture by providing money–representatives of the education associations were lured into believing in and advocating for CC standards.  This has been documented by Dr. Mercedes Schneider, a blogger, in several articles.

I will also add there are educators in Louisiana who strongly support CC standards. 

Therefore, it is difficult for those who don’t share the enthusiasm to stand up and be vocal.

Please note that Superintendents, Central Office Staff, Administrators, and teachers are often silent because educators are not supposed to reject standards.  How dare an educator object to the setting of standards!

The reality is superintendents, like me, are in awkward positions.  We are charged with a mandate from BESE and the LDOE.  If we speak up, we risk conveying a mixed message which could likely result in negative student outcomes.  For example, let’s compare the district superintendent to a military leader set to engage in battle. Does the military leader tell his troops all the reasons why they can’t defeat the enemy, or does the leader proceed with a positive attitude to say we will carry out our charge and claim the victory!  Superintendents have to be careful not to convey the wrong message; otherwise, teachers and students could likely give up and lose hope and do poorly on high stakes exams.  Districts could then earn failing grades and are subject to state takeover.  It is also important to note that the state superintendent of education holds the key to test data. (The picture is clearly evident.) Stand tall, be submissive, and you may be victorious!

After numerous hours of CC debates at a BESE meeting in October, it remains clear that many on BESE are in full support of “staying the CC course.”BESE’s response to the nearly 8 hours of debateof CC occurring in October was the approval of policy which gives parents an option to review textbooks and opt out if they view the material as inappropriate.  Again–an ineffectual response.  Parents have always had the autonomy to review textbooks and educational resources.

 I must be honest.  The Common Core discussion is somewhat challenging for me.  As an educator of 30 years, I value standards.  I have always set high standards for my students.  Having taught both regular and special education students, I fully appreciate establishing rigor while maintaining realistic expectations.  My objection does not lie with standards per se’, but I can’t negate what education research says regarding brain development and students’ ability to perform tasks which are not developmentally appropriate.   There have been numerous concerns expressed by education stakeholders regarding indoctrination, student data/privacy issues, and federal involvement in education.  I have viewed videos where it was stated that computer assisted tests can be manipulated to become  more complex while the student is taking the exam or technology can be utilized to gauge student aggression and can predict whether the student has the tendency to become a  criminal, etc.   Some might say this is hype, but this is a concern communicated by many parents.

  There was also the lack of communication regarding the implementation of Common Core Standards.The Louisiana  Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved these standards in 2010. There was very little input from educators, parents, and other education stakeholders in Louisiana. While it is often stated there was input from the education community, I have to question why the Louisiana Department of Education leadership failed to host community meetings to educate the public to the proposed changes to the Louisiana developed standards prior to the public outcry.  Because of the outcry, there have been scheduled meetings initiated by local school officials in an effort to educate the public.  Perhaps, the lack of education was not an oversight on the part of Louisiana officials.  A survey conducted by Phi Delta Kappa/Gallop Poll (2013) indicated 61 percent of Americans do not know about Common Core.  This is somewhat of a red flag when this is a national agenda.  Forty-five states and Washington, DC initially adopted Common Core standards.  (Some states are now backing away from the standards.)

As an educator, my concern lies with the reports from educational researchers who have studied the Common Core standards  and have indicated many of these standards are not developmentally appropriate and may negatively impact student outcomes.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the CC Standards review committee, did not sign off on the standards because she considered them to be “empty skill sets.”  Some months ago, there was a letter written by Catholic scholars who denounced Common Core.    There was no piloting of the standards in Louisiana or elsewhere to justify effectiveness.  These CC standards may be inferior to previously-implemented  Louisiana standards (The Fordham Institute gave Louisiana’s English Language Arts standards a B-plus, the same grade they gave CC.)

 The implementation of standards in Louisiana warrants a letter grade of F, in my opinion.  I feel Superintendent John White, his staff, and BESE failed to effectively communicate and provide proper guidance to local systems.  School systems were led to believe there would be a gradual transition into the Common Core.  Initially, the math curriculum for grades K and 1 was provided to districts.  District officials thought the ELA curriculum would also be available.  This did not occur. Many districts thought the LDOE would provide a Louisiana curriculum addressing the standards; however, this did not happen.

On May, 2013, it was fully disclosed that there would be no curriculum provided to school districts.  Superintendent John White touted autonomy for school systems.  While it is admirable to offer school districts and educators autonomy, it is important to understand teachers have different skill sets.  Some may have the skills to be curriculum writers; others are less likely to have extensive training in curriculum development. Therefore, this creates an inequitable playing field and puts some districts, schools, and educators at a great disadvantage within the accountability program. Recently, a LDOE staff member indicated “the state lacked the capacity to roll out a Louisiana developed curriculum.”  In essence, the state lacked the resources, or capacity, and then passed on this responsibility to school systems in the form of autonomy.  Many districts were put in a vulnerable position and were caught off guard and unprepared.  Superintendent White’s response to districts’ lack of preparedness was “some districts had their heads buried in the sand.”  This is an unfair characterization of school systems.  Many school districts put their trust in their leader who failed to respond in a responsible manner to their needs.

 Another issue of concern is PARCC–the assessment component.  Who has seen PARCC?  I must acknowledge there are sample PARCC-like items distributed to school systems, but who knows whether there will be changes.  (In Louisiana, we have become accustomed to changes—several that would need to be addressed in another article.) No one has seen the exam. Many states have backed away from PARCC, so where is the standard assessment?   One reason for promoting common standards and common assessments is to have more accurate comparisons relative to student achievement regardless of the student’s zipcode.  The decision of many states to back away from PARCC will result in higher test expenditures  for school systems.  There are also technology issues—many school districts are financially challenged.A lot of money has been invested in Common Core standards.  Textbook publishers have spent millions of dollars developing curriculum and supplemental resources.  The LDOE is advocating specific curriculum such as Eureka Math and the publishers who invested lots of money may be “holding the bag” although their product may be superior to Eureka Math.What happened to free enterprise?

There has been a move away from the previous state textbook adoption process—school systems now have the autonomy to review and select textbooks and other education resources.  This, again, proves challenging for districts because teachers, administrators, and central staff are preparing students for high stakes tests and PARCC field tests while engaged in textbook reviews.  The anticipated math and ELA textbook costs for the St. Martin Parish School System are at a minimum– two million dollars.  As a superintendent, I have questioned what happens if systems deviate from the LDOE Tier 1 approved publishers? Is this real autonomy or is there enough fear in the trenches to sway districts to go with the Tier 1 recommendation?   One also has to ask who and how many individuals at the LDOE review and approve publishers for Tiers 1, 2, or 3? 

Districts are challenged with costs associated with CC implementation and PARCC. Technology infrastructure and textbooks will be major expenditures for many systems.  Employer retirement contributions are increasing.  In March, 2014, BESE submitted a MFP resolution without a 2.75% increase over this year—the funding will remain constant to the money received in 2013-2014 in many instances.  School districts are expected to do more with less.  Expectations are to increase student achievement without funding the essential  resources!  Superintendent John White has stated he does not want to denigrate students and teachers.  He has acknowledged that principals know their teachers best and should be given the responsibility of rating teacher performance.  (Say what?)  In 2012, Governor Jindal and John White, State Superintendent of Education, toured the state saying 98% of the teachers in Louisiana received a satisfactory rating; only 2% received an unsatisfactory rating.  According to Jindal and White, this was unacceptable! (The suggestion was that principals were not effectively evaluating teachers.)  In 2013, 96% of teachers received an effective rating (synonymous to satisfactory) and 4% received ineffective (synonymous to unsatisfactory).  The results included teacher value-added (VAM) data.  Millions of dollars were invested in COMPASS—the teacher evaluation program.  Amid tremendous frustration and a mass exodus of teachers, Superintendent White recommended the suspension of VAM for a two year period.  (Note the timing here—VAM will resume after statewideelections—gubernatorial, BESE, and the legislature.) He also recommended an external researcher who will study VAM at a cost of $57,000 to taxpayers.  He then added he does not want to denigrate teachers and students.  Yet, he continues to advocate the assignment of letter grades to schools and school systems.  Doesn’t the labeling of schools and school districts denigrate students and teachers?

 One thing is certain–there is no consideration of the suspension of letter grades assigned to schools and school districts.  My question is why?  Although rhetorical, the answer lies with the dismantling of traditional public education and the increase of charter schools.  It is evident!   As an educator of 30 years, I have witnessed reform initiatives come and go. As educators, we have learned the art of submissiveness.  We go along with the mandates hoping that “this, too, shall pass!”

 As one in the education trenches, I can say there are many educators who have reconciled to the fact that Common Core is a state mandate.  We have struggled with the implementation and have invested numerous hours writing curriculum while searching other states’ websites for additional resources. We have seen education initiatives haphazardly implemented and later placed on hold, or reversed.

Simply put, our only hope is the Legislature and honestly, I don’t know if there is enough will among Louisiana legislators to end Common Core or PARCC.  The question is often asked—if not Common Core standards—what?

 It isn’t as though Louisiana was without standards prior to CC. Louisiana teachers are welcome to organize and review Louisiana’s standards and make changes according to what they view as good for Louisiana.

In closing, I know for every problem there is a solution. I still believe in the Louisiana product! So at the end of the day, developing new standards would be a major task, but one worth the effort considering what research reveals.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Lottie Beebe is courtesy of The Advocate.

EXPOSED: The U.S. and British “Sex Industrial Complex”

Former KGB spy and Pedophile Information Exchange (PIE) member Geoffrey Prime (left) and PIE Chairman Tom O’Carroll

The United Kingdom has been rocked by a scandal of major proportions involving government support for pedophilia & pederasty. Child rape has been going on for decades at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) offices. “The BBC will be plunged into a major crisis with the publication of a damning review, expected next month, that will reveal its staff turned a blind eye to the rape and sexual assault of up to 1,000 girls and boys by Jimmy Savile in the corporation’s changing rooms and studios,” reports Daniel Boffey from The Guardian.

The Daily Mail reported,”A vile paedophile group with links to senior Labour politicians was funded with huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, it has emerged. The Paedophile Information Exchange was allegedly given £70,000 by the Home Office between 1977 and 1980 – the equivalent today of about £400,000. The astonishing claims made by a whistleblower are now being investigated by the police and the government.”

Before It’s News reported in January 2013 how PIE became a ‘legal’ paedophile ring:

“This history must start in 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, both of whom had to have attained the age of 21, in England and Wales. It is important to note that  Homosexuality was not decriminalised in Scotland until 1980, and in Northern Ireland until 1982.

Following the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, homosexuals in parts of the UK other than England and Wales organised in an effort to attain equality in law. One such organisation, founded in 1969, was the Scottish Minorities Group (SMG). The SMG, which was based in Glasgow, was a self-help organisation working for the rights of homosexual men and women, and had the aims of providing counselling, working for law reform and providing meeting places for lesbians and gay men.

PIE, originally chaired by Michael Hanson,  began as a special interest group in 1974 under the SMG umbrella organisation. Note that paedophilia was no less illegal than homosexuality in Scotland at this time. PIE relocated to London in 1975 under a new chairman Keith Hose.

Read more.

Dr. Judith Reisman states, “‘The Sex Industrial Complex’ is an economic and attitudinal merger of pedophile and pederast crusaders with ‘sexology’ and its allies in other academic fields, along with commercial pornographers.  The pharmaceutical and abortion industries–both obviously profit from sexual promiscuity–are satellite players in the SIC. It was the academic pedophile/pederasty crusaders, largely employed by the pornography industry, with whom I locked horns in Wales when I presented my research on child pornography at the ‘British Psychological Association Conference on Love and Attraction’ in 1976.”

“Chasing down [Alfred] Kinsey and his closeted sexual revisionists is one of the most mesmerizing detective sagas in social history.  For, tracking the path of brazen clues left by liberal left ‘social scientists,’ we can learn a great deal about how and why our national moral philosophy was overturned,” notes Reisman.

Tom O’Carroll, the head of PIE, Pedophile Information Exchange, a pedophile supported by radical British political leaders, explained in his child molester’s handbook, Paedophilia, The Radical Case: “erotica had a powerful influence on my own attitudes, an influence almost as powerful and revolutionary as the impact on me of Ford and Beach and Kinsey.”  O’Carroll, the pioneering organizer of the English and European academic pedophile movement, nicely links together for us three key agents of “The Sex Industrial Complex” (SIC) discussed in detail in Chapter 5 of Reisman’s book Kinseyan Anthropology as relying upon three-key bodies of change agents:

a)  The pedophile/pederasty crusaders, (heterosexual and homosexual child molesters)
b)  Kinsey’s disciples in sexology and allied disciplines and
c)   The pornography industry.

We are seeing the same thing happen in the United States. Peter Bella in an August 2011 Washington Times article stated, “The modern age has been hailed as post-gender and post-racial. Meaning that we’ve grown as a society beyond petty discrimination against people on the basis of race or gender identity, and such discrimination is met with the entire wrath our legal and social institutions can muster. If some people have their way, this modern age will soon be post-pedophilia.   And playgrounds will be empty.”

According to Bella, “B4U-ACT is a Maryland-based group of mental health professionals, psychiatrists and pedophiles who want to normalize pedophilia. Instead of pejoratively calling them ‘pedophiles,’ ‘fiends,’ ‘deviants,’ ‘freaks,’ ‘perverts,’ ‘degenerates,’ ‘predators’ or ‘pedophiles,’ they would prefer that society refer to them by the sensitive and socially-accepting term: minor attracted persons.” (Daily Caller)

The target of pedophiles and pederasts remain our children. Call it what you may, it is wrong in so very many ways.

RELATED STORIES:

1977 Guardian article with Reisman quotes
How did the pro-paedophile group PIE exist openly for 10 years?
Pensioner backed Paedophile Information Exchange and may hold key to links with left wing groups
Home Office ‘gave Paedophile Information Exchange £70,000′: Group allegedly given taxpayers’ money between 1977 and 1980

Relentless Global Warming “Scientists” Continue Their Scams

Despite the growing worldwide recognition that global warming—now called climate change—is a hoax and that the Earth has been in a cooling cycle going on seventeen years, those most responsible for it continue to put forth baseless “science” about it.

The hoax has its base in the United Nations which is home to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and got its start with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 that went into force in 2005. It limits “greenhouse gas” emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2). It purports that the gases are warming the Earth and many nations signed on to reduce them. The U.S. did not and in 2011 Canada withdrew from it. Europe is suffering economically from the billions it invested in “alternative energy” sources, wind and solar power.

Five years ago, emails between a group of the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia scientists and others who were generating computer models that “proved” global warming were revealed. It was quickly dubbed “climategate” for the way the emails demonstrated the manipulation of data claiming that global warming was real. They had good reason to be worried, given the natural cooling cycle the Earth has entered, but of even greater concern was the potential loss of enormous amounts of money they were receiving for their deception.

To date, not one of theirs and other computer models “proving” global warming have been accurate.

On Wednesday, March 10, The Wall Street Journal published an article, “Scientists Say Four New Gases Threaten the Ozone.” It reported on the latest effort of “scientists” at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia and it is no coincidence that the university was the center for the original IPCC data created to introduce and maintain the global warming hoax.

“Traces of four previously undetected man-made gases have been discovered in the atmosphere, where they are endangering Earth’s protective ozone layer, a team of scientists from six countries reported Sunday.”

Trace gases are those that represent less than 1% in the Earth’s atmosphere. CO2, for example, represents a meager 0.038% of the atmosphere and represents no impact whatever on the Earth’s climate. It is, however, vital to all life on Earth as it is the “food” for all of its vegetation.

“The gases are of the sort that are banned or being phased out under a global treaty to safeguard the high altitude blanket of ozone that protects the planet from dangerous ultraviolet radiation, experts said.” These “experts” failed to mention that everywhere above the Earth’s active volcanoes the ozone is naturally affected by their massive natural discharge of various gases. The oceans routinely absorb and discharge CO2 to maintain a balance. The bans included the gas used primarily in air conditioners and for refrigeration. It has since been replaced.

Another gas that was banned is a byproduct of chemicals called pyrethroids that “are often used in household insecticides.” Banning insecticides is a great way of reducing the Earth’s population as insects spread diseases and destroy property. Ironically, termites produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide.

The means used to detect the gases included comparing “the atmosphere today to old air trapped in annual layers of Greenland snow” and they also studied “air collected by high altitude research aircraft and by sensors aboard routine passenger jet flights around the world.” Not mentioned is the fact that the Earth has had higher amounts of CO2 in earlier times which posed no threat to it, so a few trace gases hardly represent a “threat.”

This kind of questionable “science” was practiced by one of the most well-known of the East Anglia scientists, an American scientist named Michael Mann, who used tree ring data to prove a massive, sudden increase in CO2 in his “hockey stick” graph that has since been debunked by skeptical scientists.

Mann has brought a libel law suit against columnist Mark Steyn, the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, charging defamation. Such suits cost a lot of money and Robert Tracinski, writing in Real Clear Politics in February noted that “it’s interesting that no one asks who is going to go bankrupt funding Mann’s lawsuit. Who is insuring Mann against this loss?”

Tracinski pointed out that “It is libel to maliciously fabricate facts about someone” but that it is “legal for me, for example, to say that Michael Mann is a liar, if I don’t believe his erroneous scientific conclusions are the product of honest error. It is also legal for me to say that he is a coward and a liar, for hiding behind libel laws in an attempt to suppress criticism.” The East Anglia emails revealed that they were doing whatever they could to suppress the publication of studies that disputed global warming in various science journals.

How specious is this latest announcement about trace gases that they assert are a threat to the ozone layer? An atmospheric chemist, Johannes Laube of the East Anglia group making the announcement, was quoted as saying “We are not able to pinpoint any sources” for the trace gases. “We are not able to point a finger.”

The objective of the announcement is the same as the creation of the entire global warming hoax. It provides the basis for the transfer of funds between developed and undeveloped nations and would grant greater power to the United Nations to reduce the world’s manufacturing base while endangering and controlling the lives of everyone on Earth.

Is the latest “research” a lie? The data it cites has some basis in fact, but those facts are an excuse, like those cited about greenhouse gases, to frighten nations into wasting billions on climate threats that do not exist. The real threats remain climate events over which mankind never has and never will have any control.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Divided We Stand: A Traditionalist Manifesto

Conservatives are generally very nice people — who never saw a culture war they couldn’t lose. That is to say, we often hear cracks about how Barack Obama and his ilk may “evolve” on issues, but conservatives exhibit that tendency, too, and their evolution goes something like this:

“Marriage is between one man and one woman, period!”

Five years later…

“I can accept civil unions, but marriage should not be redefined.”

After five years more:

“The states can do whatever they want, just keep the feds out of it.”

And 10 years further on:

“People can do what they want. How does faux marriage affect me, anyway?” (This is the point British “conservatives” have reached.)

And at an even later juncture it’s, “Why shouldn’t homosexuals have the right to ‘marry’? It’s a matter of equality.” (Just ask some “conservatives” in Sweden.)

Oh, this isn’t limited to marriage or anything else some dismiss as “social issues.” Conservatives were against Social Security (in FDR’s time) before they tolerated it before they were for it before they demanded it. And they are against socialized medicine. But should it endure for 15 years, their children will tolerate it and then accept it and then expect it — as today’s conservatives do in Western Europe.

This gets at the only consistent definition of conservatism: a desire to “conserve,” to preserve the status quo. This is why while 1950s conservatives in the US were staunchly anti-communist, conservatives in the USSR were communist. As the status quo changes, so does the nature of the prevailing conservatism. And it is liberals, as the agents of change (without the hope), who shape tomorrow’s status quo.

Here’s how it works: the liberals come to the bargaining table demanding a change. The conservatives don’t like it, but being “reasonable” they give the other side some part of what they want. And it doesn’t matter if it amounts to 50 percent, 30, 15 or just 1 percent.

Because the libs will be back, next year, next election cycle, next decade.

Again and again and again.

And each time the cons will get conned, giving the libs a few more slices, until the left has the whole loaf and those ideological loafers, conservatives, are left with crumbs and a crumbled culture.

In a word, today’s conservatives are generally people who have assimilated into yesterday’s liberals’ culture. And every time we compromise — on civil unions, big-government programs or whatever it may be — we assimilate further. And what is the nature of this evolution?
It is nothing less than a superior culture being subsumed by an inferior one.

Now, all this perhaps sounds hopeless. Are we damned to inexorable and irrevocable movement toward the “left,” at least until the complete collapse of civilization is wrought? Well, there is an alternative to assimilation.

Separation.

There has been some talk of secession lately. But note that there is a prerequisite for political separation: cultural separation. Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Slovenia didn’t become their own nations because they suddenly thought the name Yugoslavia was no longer cool, but because of profound cultural differences. And Catalans in Spain some time back empowered parties that have called for an independence referendum this year because of cultural differences. Make the cultural differences great enough, and separation (assuming you can avoid bondage via a governmental iron fist, which is the other possibility) is a natural by-product.

But a key to increasing that cultural divide is avoiding assimilation. Did you ever hear of an Ainu (Japan’s original people) independence movement in Japan? No, because they’ve been largely absorbed by the wider culture, sort of how traditionalists get absorbed by our modernistic culture and end up having, at best, children who’ll reflect today’s liberals and be called tomorrow’s conservatives. So how can further assimilation be avoided?

We only need to look at how it’s done all over the world. And there are two ways. To illustrate the first, consider how ardent Muslims avoid being subsumed. They don’t view fellow citizens in a host nation as national brothers.

But as the “other.”

Oh, the others may occupy the same borders, but they are as alien as anyone outside them. Their culture is to be rejected not just because it’s decadent and despicable — and our liberal-created variety is certainly those things — but because it is of the other. So it is with the others’ laws, social codes, and traditions, too: they are born of an infidel, alien culture and are to be viewed with extreme suspicion if not hostility.

And this is precisely how leftists should be viewed.

For this to work, our instincts must be thus: If liberals say left, we go right. If they say down, we say up. If they scream “Change!” we shout all the louder “Tradition!” and then push for our own change — tradition’s restoration.

Note here that I’m not speaking of a cold intellectual understanding of the issues, which, don’t get me wrong, is important. But just as it is passion that makes a man fight for a woman, it is passion that makes you fight for a cause. Loathe what the liberals stand for, meet their agenda with animosity, cultivate a visceral desire to wipe it from the face of the Earth. Hate, hate, hate it with the fires of a thousand burning suns.

One drawback to this tactic for division, however, is that it constitutes a blind defiance that could conceivably reject virtue along with vice. An example of this is when elements of the black community dismiss education, Christianity and higher culture because they view embracing them as “acting white.” Yet since liberals are right only about 0.4 percent of the time (and I’m perhaps being generous), this isn’t the greatest of dangers at the moment. Nonetheless, this brings us to the ideal method for separation.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” A good example of love-driven separation is the Amish. They do try to avoid hating anyone (although I suspect they hate certain ideas), yet their love for their culture is so great that they remain a people apart. Of course, where they fall short is that they won’t fight at all, even politically. And this philosophy will not yield separation on a wide scale because the left simply won’t allow millions of people to live “off the grid.” Someone has to fund the nanny state, after all.

But the proper combination is obvious. We need sort of an Amish jihad, a deep love of the good and hatred of the evil that translates into action. But there is a prerequisite for this, and it brings us to something both the Amish and Muslim jihadists have in common.

They believe in Truth.

Sure, the Muslims may call it the will of Allah; the Amish, God’s law. But the point is that they aren’t awash in a relativism that, amounting to the Protagorean notion that “man is the measure of all things,” is unduly influenced by man. They don’t see a large number of people lobbying for some loony social innovation and figure that, with man as arbiter, they have to “get with the times.” Rooted to what they see as eternal, they don’t bend to the ephemeral.

Quite the opposite of G.W. Bush, I’m a divider — not a uniter. If this sounds bad, note that Jesus himself said He had not come to unite the world but as a sword to divide brother against brother. And while I certainly don’t claim to be God or even godly, I do know that tolerance of evil in unity’s name is a vice — and blessed division a virtue.

We can hate what is in front of us, love what is behind us, or both. But if we’re sheep and not soldiers, compromisers and not crusaders, Western civilization’s days will be behind us — and in front, perhaps, a thousand years of darkness.

Florida one of 46 States Tied to Common Core in 2009?

In June 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) held an education symposium in which NGA outlined its plans for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money. Twenty-one governors attended; so did US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The following information is included a part of that June 2009 report:

At the Symposium, Secretary Duncan made an important announcement regarding these [ARRA] funds: $350 million of the Race to the Top (RTTT) funds has been earmarked to support the development of high-quality common assessments.With 46 states and three territories already signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association-led initiative to develop a set of common core standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher, this announcement was greeted  enthusiastically by Symposium participants. [Emphasis added.]

That’s fishy: In June 2009, NGA reported that 46 states and three territories had already signed on to the NGA- and CCSSO-led Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

CCSS would not be finished for another year (June 2010).

RTTT would not be announced for another month (July 2009).

And now, in March 2014, we have former Florida Governor Jeb Bush urging states to “stay the course” with CCSS.

Stay the course?? According to NGA, 46 governors signed on to the race before there was a course and before there was even a race.

That’s dumb.

It’s 2014. CCSS is electric. What is a governor (or former governor) with 2016 presidential aspirations to do?

Bush is apparently putting the full force of his political clout behind CCSS via commercial ads.

However, not all Republican governors are doing so.

Take Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, for instance.

In May 2009, Jindal and then-State Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed the CCSS memorandum of understanding and included it as part of Louisiana’s RTTT application, dated January 19, 2010  (appendices are here). The following statement is from page 52 of Louisiana’s Phase 1 RTTT application:

On May 14, 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and State Superintendant Paul Pastorek signed the Memorandum of Agreement with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) to participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).

Jindal– who was quick to sign Louisiana on for a not-yet-existent CCSS– and who thought the majority of Louisiana’s school districts would be lured along by the possibility of federal funding– is playing “cautious, silent.”

Ever mindful of his own political career, Jindal offered the following noncommittal statement regarding CCSS to the Baton Rouge Advocate on March 21, 2014:

In general, we think we should have strong standards as a state. We don’t think we should be going backwards on standards.

Which standards should “we” have, Bobby? The former Louisiana standards, or the current, amalgamated CCSS?

(I’m thinking that is the royal “we.” “We” tend to follow only what serves “us,” not what benefits Louisiana citizens.)

As to that May 2009 CCSS MOU:

It was no good, at least initially, without the support of the local school districts.

Louisiana has 69 school districts. Only 26 districts are on record as voting in the affirmative to adopt CCSS (see page 52 of the Louisiana RTTT application appendices).

This was a problem for Jindal and Pastorek. They counted on Louisiana districts’ buying into the already-signed CCSS MOU.

As St. Tammany Parish School Board (Louisiana) member Mary K. Bellisario recalls in a March 21, 2014, email,

In 2009 and early 2010, “to participate in the CCSS initiative” literally meant for each state to compete against the other states for the RTTT money–which of course was the impetus for the CCSS initiative.  Better to use the RTTT funding as the carrot, rather than Common Core itself.  This was the 3-hour debate in our board room the night we voted it down – how much funding were they talking about (the state couldn’t tell us that night), and how committed would we be to standards which weren’t even written at that time.

Most importantly, what would those standards say?

At first it was felt at LA DOE (where Pastorek was then superintendent) that all would go well, that each parish would vote in favor (after all, who would turn down “free” money?), and then the state could apply [for RTTT].

They (La DOE) were stunned when so many parishes voted no. 

The deadline in March for Round 1 of RTTT was fast approaching, and they lacked a major component (see page 18) of the application—a large number of cooperative parishes.

Too bad for them that so many parishes had total distrust of Supt. Pastorek! That was a major reason many of them turned it down.

There should be media sources after March which refer to the altering of the “participation” process at the national level. After the first round’s submissions in March 2010, the rules were relaxed so that a state could “participate” by being signed up by their governor and state supt. regardless of what individual counties/parishes determined.

Ironically LA didn’t win any [RTTT] money in the second round, either. 

But because we were now “participating,” we got the Common Core standards, whether we wanted them or not.

Bellisario continues in a separate email:

In early January 2010, St. Tammany Parish had to vote. … 

Pastorek was sure LA would get the RTTT/Common Core simply by applying and listing those parishes which had voted yes.  (Eventually 28 parishes and RSD schools did vote yes.) 

It wasn’t until sometime in late May or early June that the state officially adopted them via Jindal’s signature.  

We had thought we were safe — until Jindal and Pastorek signed up the entire state, once LA failed to get the RTTT money in early spring, because not enough parishes had signed up.  … 

After that, the rules were changed so that a governor and a state supt. could jointly sign up a state [for CCSS].

Jindal and Pastorek did exactly that. [Emphasis added.]

Louisiana’s application for RTTT funding was rejected. Among the application’s  reviewer comments is the following statement regarding the low participation by local school boards as concerns a section on the grading rubric, Translating LEA(local education agency) participation into Statewide Impact:

The hope is that non participating LEAs will adopt best practices through RTT. No evidence is provided that peer pressure will compel non participating LEAs to change. No evidence was given to support the idea of non participating LEAs making the shift on their own. [Emphasis added.]

Peer pressure??

That certainly does not sound very “voluntary.”

Common Core Lord of the Flies.

The “state-led” CCSS was initially supposed to be informed by the democratic process– one in which a state’s local school boards could vote on CCSS adoption. Then, when that did not yield the “right” response, the democratic process was conveniently discarded for the corporate-reform-style of “forced volunteering” under the sham name of “state leading.”

Allow me to add that the language of the CCSS MOU stands alone as a commitment to CCSS not contingent upon RTTT funding. Therefore, a governor’s and state superintendent’s signatures bind the state to CCSS. (Note: this so-called “agreement” violates Subpart 2, Section 9527 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act {ESEA}.)

In CommonCoreSpeak, the “state” is the governor and the state education superintendent.

In June 2009, NGA had it right when they called CCSS “NGA and CCSSO-led.”

Sometimes, however, Arne still needs to intervene in order to tie as much of the USA as is possible to his education privatization project. Thus, in 2012, Duncan decided to bypass the state and allow districts to deal directly with USDOE in applying for RTTT money.

If the state will not “lead” districts into corporate reform, USDOE is willing to dismiss the state.

And so, this is the manipulative game against which numerous states are fighting in the 2014 legislative session.

Jeb is pushing.

Bobby is squirming.

And somehow, in the midst of all of this education exploitation, America continues to be a world superpower.

Amazing, isn’t it?

RELATED STORY: Bill Gates loves Common Core for your kids, BUT NOT HIS

England Goes Back to the 17th Century: The Insane Wood Bonfire

The Brits have decided to Save the Planet by going back to burning wood instead of coal. The giant DRAX power plant in Yorkshire, which provides about 6% of Britain’s electricity – you know, heat, lights, telly – is being converted from burning coal to burning wood, 100 year-old hardwood, the kind prized for making furniture. American wood, from North Carolina.

No, I’m not making this up. No sane person could make this up. I know because I’ve read it in a British newspaper by a proper Brit reporter.

MoS2 Template Master

The Daily Mail is a rather skeptical Brit newspaper, meaning they don’t seem to uncritically accept what the Brit upper class tells them is good for them, like Charles, Prince of …let’s not go there.

I’m telling you this because the people who support the claims of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) are so world class stupid that explaining the science to them does no good. Perhaps pointing out the idiocy of their remedies for the non-existent “global warming crisis” will make an impression. The reductio ad absurdum works in math and logic; perhaps it will rouse our voters to get rid of these morons.

Secretary of State John Kerry confuses carbon dioxide, equally diffused through the atmosphere, with ozone, mostly in the stratosphere. Senator Nelson believes sea level will rise enough by 2100 to put 28 million Floridians under water. These are people who believe their highest priority – yes, that’s what Kerry said – is stopping – totally – the increase of “carbon pollution” in Earth’s atmosphere. We all exhale “carbon pollution” with every breath; it’s really carbon dioxide, invisible, odorless, and essential to all life on this planet. I really wish Kerry and Nelson would walk their talk – but, these are politicians – and stop exhaling their “carbon pollution.”

So, what did the Brit fishwrap say? A few quotes:

On a perfect spring day in the coastal forest of North Carolina I hike along a nature trail – a thread of dry gravel between the pools of the Roanoke river backwaters. A glistening otter dives for lunch just a few feet away.

Majestic trees soar straight and tall, their roots sunk deep in the swampland: maples, sweetgums and several kinds of oak. A pileated woodpecker – the world’s largest species, with a wingspan of almost 2ft – whistles as it flutters across the canopy. There the leaves are starting to bud, 100ft above the ground.
The trees seem to stretch to the horizon: a serene and timeless landscape.

Sounds pleasant. Not fast-growing trash trees, like pines for pulp. What else?

The UK is committed by law to a radical shift to renewable energy. By 2020, the proportion of Britain’s electricity generated from ‘renewable’ sources is supposed to almost triple to 30 per cent, with more than a third of that from what is called ‘biomass’.

The only large-scale way to do this is by burning wood, man’s oldest fuel – because EU rules have determined it is ‘carbon-neutral’.
So our biggest power station, the leviathan Drax plant near Selby in North Yorkshire, is switching from dirty, non-renewable coal. Biomass is far more expensive, but the consumer helps the process by paying subsidies via levies on energy bills.

So this “renewable biomass” (from America) will cost much more than coal. It also costs much more than natural gas – of which Britain still has a fair amount. They could have far more, of course, if they began fracking, but the EU disapproves of fracking. But, surely, this will save the planet by reducing carbon dioxide emission, right? No!

In fact, Burdett admits, Drax’s wood-fuelled furnaces actually produce three per cent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal – and well over twice as much as gas: 870g per megawatt hour (MW/hr) is belched out by wood, compared to just 400g for gas.

Then there’s the extra CO2 produced by manufacturing the pellets and transporting them 3,800 miles. According to Burdett, when all that is taken into account, using biomass for generating power produces 20 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

There are additional reasons to believe this is insanity run amok, but why belabor the obvious? These are rules from the European Union. Now you understand why Vladimir Putin can take over Crimea without objection from the EU. Angela Merkel and Germany get 40% of their energy from Russian gas. The BMW production line will not shut down for Crimea.

Surely, the British voters will rise up and sweep out of power the government that fosters such policies? No; there are three major parties in Britain (Labour, Liberal, and Conservatives), who all support this green stupidity. No hope there.

But, no doubt OUR Environmental Protection Agency will step in to protect the home of the pileated woodpecker? No; American wind farms have been given a license to kill bald eagles, golden eagles, other raptors, bats… EPA works for the Marxist thug in the White House, who’s been sitting on the Keystone XL decision for five years. Three more years of stupid.

The word “bonfire” comes from “bonfire”, in the years when the Black Death created dead bodies faster than they could be buried. Now the Green Death is sweeping across Europe – and America. Goodbye, pileated woodpecker.

RELATED STORIES:

New Study: President Obama a “member of the Flat Earth Society” on Climate Change

Climate Truth and US Government Climate Policy

Even a child could understand climate change

EDITORS NOTE: The feature image of a bonfire is by Janne Karaste. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

In the dictionary under weakness, there’s a picture of —

Slide15-300x180The dictionary defines weak as liable to yield, break or collapse under pressure or strain; not having much political strength, governing power or authority; impotent, ineffectual, or inadequate…well, you get the idea.

This week we saw clearly the contrast between weak and strong. This week President Obama did his NCAA basketball bracket, delightfully referred to as “Barack-etology.” discussed mom jeans with Ryan Seacrest, and chatted up Ellen Degeneres about Obamacare and those critical issues on “House of Cards” and “Scandal.”

In the same week, the territory (Crimea) of a sovereign nation (Ukraine) was annexed by an invading one (Russia). Down South, would-be football champions dream of going “between the hedges.” Instead, we have a President who went “between two ferns” — and that’s supposed to instill confidence? Nah, that’s a display of weakness, regardless of how liberals see it themselves.

Now, some believe President Obama is displaying the highest degree of strength and resolve — by not fighting back. They think only a real strong guy can say “there will be no military option.” It reminds me of another heroic Obama administration idea: the Combat Restraint Medal. Yep, a medal to be rewarded to combat troops for NOT firing back at the enemy. Only in Obamaworld is not shooting back at the enemy reason for an award.

In the world of progressive socialists, crushing your political opposition by using governmental power is strength. I call it tyranny. However, not standing up to a dictator who has invaded a sovereign free nation is showing strength? Both instances show weakness. Rhetoric about standing with protesters is courageous — unless of course those protesters are Iranian and belong to the Green movement. Then no one stands for you.

Liberal progressives are very adept at changing the meaning of words, altering the lexicon and turning words upside down. After all, a terrorist attack is just a man-caused disaster or workplace violence. Ergo weak is relative, according to the “living” meaning of the word. What a crock!

America, we elected a president who believed we needed to improve our global image. Someone who thought that it was more important to be “liked” — as if foreign policy is a Facebook page — than respected. We elected a person as Commander-in-Chief who truly believes “peace through strength” is an imposing and threatening mantra, and prefers “peace through appeasement” as a means to make friends. We elected a person who hasn’t a clue about geo-political strategy — as he evidenced by his sarcastic remark to Gov. Mitt Romney telling him “the 80s are asking for their foreign policy back.”

The only thing Barack Hussein Obama has brought to America is domestic tyranny and a cult of personality — neither impress the current list of despots, dictators, autocrats, and theocrats who now salivate at the naiveté and weakness of this “prankster.” Both are making us weak, at home and abroad.

So what does this mean for the American Republic? It means we have three more years during which we shall suffer, unless we wise up and take the gavel away from Harry Reid in the US Senate. But then again, Obama, keeper of the pen and phone, has shown his abject disdain for the rule of law and our governing Republican principles of separation of powers, coequal branches of government, and checks and balances. Has anyone ever had a front row seat to a train wreck? You do now. Sadly, there are those who actually bought the tickets — twice—and the rest of us are forced to watch. Heck, we’re all on the train.

The spinmeisters can try all they want, but you cannot deny the fact that Obama is weak and it is crippling America. The seminal question is, how low does America have to go? Have we now decided as a people that we no longer wish to lead? We no longer aspire to be exceptional? Are we fine with just sitting around watching reality TV shows, getting fat, and smoking dope while a new era of global brutes step forward? Barack Obama is forcing us to decide, and define, who we are: weak or strong.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

Ought Implies Can by Steven Horwitz

Ethical Pronouncements without Economics Lead to Disastrous Public Policies.

One of the most common objections to free markets is that they ignore ethical considerations. In particular, critics argue that there are many things we “ought” to do that they believe will make people’s lives better off. We ought to “redistribute” income to the poor, they say. We ought to make health care a right. We ought to fix the economy by bailing out the financial industry.

The problem with all these “oughts” is that they eventually confront the principle ought implies can. Can the desired end (improving the welfare of the poor, for example) be achieved by the chosen means (income “redistribution”)? If not, then what does the “ought” really mean? “Oughts” without “cans”–ethical pronouncements without economics–are likely to lead to disastrous public policies.

In exploring the relationship between economics and ethics, we can start with two definitions that seem relevant here. The economist David Prychitko once defined economics as “the art of putting parameters on our utopias.” And in a particularly insightful definition, Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek wrote that “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” What both definitions suggest is that economics deals with the realm of the possibleand in doing so demarcates the limits to what should be imaginable. Before we say we “ought” to do something, perhaps we should be sure we can do it, in the sense that the action is likely to achieve the intended ends. Put differently: ought implies can.

Ethicists can imagine all kinds of schemes to remedy perceived social ills, but none of the aspiring benefactors can afford to ignore economic analysis. Being able to dream something doesn’t guarantee it is possible. Too often ethical pronouncements have an air of hubris about them, as the pronouncer simply assumes we can do what he says we ought to do. By contrast, economics demands some humility. We always have to ask whether it’s humanly possible to do what the ethicists say we ought. To say we ought to do something we cannot do, in the sense that it won’t achieve our end, is to engage in a pointless exercise. If we cannot do it, to say that we ought to is to command the impossible.

So contrary to the commonly heard complaint, it is not that economists ignore ethical issues. Rather we attempt to describe the likely results of putting particular ethical rules into practice. For example, someone can argue that a living wage is an ethical imperative, but that doesn’t change the economic analysis of minimum-wage laws. Those laws increase unemployment and/or lead to reductions in nonmonetary forms of compensation among all unskilled workers, but especially the young, male, and nonwhite. No matter how much we think we ought to pass such legislation as a way of helping the poor, the reality remains that economics shows us that we cannot help them that way. Those who argue we ought to have such a law can still pass it if they want, but they should do it with eyes wide open to the fact that it will not achieve the result they wish, no matter how much they think we ought to have it.

It might be more accurate to say that ethicists ignore economics than that economists ignore ethics. To the extent that good economics shows what we can and cannot do with social policy, it is engaged with ethics. After all, if the point of saying we ought to do X is that we think it will achieve some set of morally desirable goals, then knowing whether or not doing X will actually achieve those goals is, or at least should be, a key part of moral inquiry. One of the tasks that economists should set for themselves is to engage in this sort of dialogue with moral philosophers and others who argue from “oughts.” Economist Leland Yeager’s recent book Ethics as Social Science is a good example of how economics can inform ethical questions just this way.

Studying “Ought,” Ignoring “Can”

The more interesting question is the degree to which moral philosophers are engaged with economics as they develop their theories. It might be true that introductory economics courses do not consider moral questions as often as they might, but it would seem at least as true that courses in ethics and religious studies are unlikely to confront either economic arguments or economic data that relate to their subjects. Exploring the “ought” without broaching the “can” will not get one far in designing policies that will achieve the intended results. One exception to this neglect of economics is the philosopher Daniel Shapiro’s Is the Welfare State Justified? In that book he brings to bear a good deal of empirical data and economic theory on the question of whether the welfare state can do what its proponents claim for it. From the philosophy side, this is the kind of work that needs to be done.

Can Doesn’t Imply Ought

Once we recognize the insight behind “ought implies can,” we can see that the reverse is true as well. Just as we cannot do everything people say we ought, we ought not do everything we can. We see this in the frequent calls for political actors to “do something” in the face of a crisis. There are many things politicians can actually do in a crisis, and doing them is often fairly easy, especially if the politicians can generate a climate of fear to help make the “ought” seem more pressing. But the fact that they can do something does not always mean they ought to. Even if it is true that “yes we can,” understanding the unseen and unintended consequences of what politicians are able to do should help us to decide whether they ought to do it.

Both ways of looking at “ought implies can” put economists in the position of throwing cold water on the plans and designs of social engineers left and right. This is what Prychitko and Hayek mean. Economists are thus often seen as only knocking down the ideas of others without coming up with solutions of their own. There is some truth to this claim. That is how economists spend much of their time. But it’s an important function: showing why a proposed solution would only make matters worse is a valuable contribution to the broader process of solving the problem.

More relevant, however, is that economics teaches us that solutions are much more often found in the actions of individuals and organizations responding entrepreneurially to the situations they face. The notion of a top-down solution to any social problem is going to attract the economist’s critical eye. In terms of “ought implies can,” economists are often reluctant to say what everyone ought to do because no one person or group knows what people can do. If ought implies can, and “can” is particular people in particular contexts developing solutions to their problems, then it is difficult to say what we all ought to do, especially in a crisis. This is the way that Prychitko’s and Hayek’s definitions cash out in the real world.

All the themes above have been on display in the current economic crisis. The bailout of the financial sector is a classic example of both letting the “ought” blot out the “can” and of assuming we ought to do whatever apparently can be done. The original promise of the bailout was that government would buy up the bad assets of troubled financial institutions then later resell the assets, making the real cost substantially less than the original $700 billion. Many critics, including many economists, suggested not only that this plan was counterproductive–because it only enhanced the likelihood that other firms would take unwise risks in the future–but also that the availability of those funds would lead to demands for the government to use them in other equally unproductive ways. That is more or less what has happened, as the bailout expanded to partial government ownership of banks and then demands from the auto and insurance companies to get in on the goodies. The plan changed again when the government announced it wouldn’t purchase troubled assets but instead would inject money directly into banks and other kinds of businesses. But soon all the “oughts” were crashing against the limits of what can be done via government intervention. Meanwhile, the machinery of government did many things it can do–borrow and create money, for example–without the planners thinking very much about whether they ought to do any of those things.

Social scientists who disregard ethical issues abandon one of their central roles in bettering the human condition, and ethicists who ignore social science in formulating their moral prescriptions are negligent for not asking whether those solutions will achieve their stated ends. Only when both realize that ought implies can will we get public policies based on an accurate understanding of human interaction.

ABOUT STEVEN HORWITZ

Contributing editor and Freeman Online columnist Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University and the author of Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective, now in paperback. This summer, he will be lecturing for FEE at Rebels with a Cause.

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

US Foreign Policy In A Tailspin

The weak and inadequate leadership displayed by the occupant of the Oval Office, over the last 5 years, is responsible for, and has created the worldwide political destabilization we are witnessing. When Obama came into office, he felt the United States prior inordinate stature in the international community was an undeserved stature and a result of unfairly acquired advantage, Obama now believes that the US underserved stature has been reset by “changes” he instilled in US policies, and Obama is bent on continuing to bring the Republic down in its military and economic strength. Obama sees US foreign policy as antithetical to domestic spending, since military readiness would be retained only at the expense of public entitlement. There is no Obama Foreign Policy or Obama Doctrine; just an intent to be sure that the United States will not be the only Superpower in the world.

Hillary Clinton’s naïve “RESET” with Russia obviously didn’t work, and was wrecked by Putin’s aggression in Crimea. Putin invaded Crimea because he has been watching Obama lead from behind for 5 years. The situation in Ukraine is rapidly deteriorating with Ukraine on the brink of war with Russia, yet Obama takes feeble action that has the Russians laughing and the world community shaking their collective heads. Obama should encourage NATO to join with the US in taking a number of actions that will send an strong signals to Putin that may get him to stop. Obama should halt his unilateral disarming of the US military, should support the development of energy resources on federal lands that he has restricted from domestic exploration for the last 5 years, provide the missile defenses systems for Poland and Czechoslovakia that Obama cancelled as soon as he was inaugurated in 2008, send humanitarian supplies to the people of Ukraine on a nonstop Military airlift bridge, deploy US Navy destroyers into the Black Sea, move a carrier battle group to the eastern Mediterranean, commence NATO exercises with the former Eastern member nations, and provide the Ukrainian Defense Force with the small arms they have been desperately asked the US for. The “Red Line” in Syria only empowered Putin; Putin has been supporting Assad’s suppression of the Syrian people, and he hoodwinked Obama into thinking Assad would turn in his chemical weapons which has come to a halt. Putin has given whistleblower Edward Snowden political asylum to demonstrate to the world that he has obvious disrespect for Obama. Obama’s now empty “Red Line” in Syria, then his empty “Red Line” in Crimea, has encouraged Putin’s to consider future land grabs in Eastern Ukraine, Moldova, more of Georgia, and he will probably takes bites out of the Baltic States.

Obama’s employment of standoff aerial drones to attack Al Qaeda’s leadership over the last 5 years has been ineffective, because leader are just replaced by the next in line. Instead of employing Special Operations Forces on the ground to decimate rank and file terrorists & capture others to develop operational intelligence for future strikes, he used drones and is solely responsible for the massive expansion of a depleted Al Q’ieda when President Bush left office—Al Q’ieda terrorists have no fear of attacks or capture by Special Operational Forces. The proliferation of Al Qaeda has manifested itself with the Black Flag of Al Qaeda flying over much of Libya, flying over the northeastern region of Syria, flying in Fallujah and the western regions of Iraq, flying throughout Somalia, and the Black Flag will soon be flying over Afghanistan once again, because Obama has been signaling Al Q’ieda for over 3 years that he will definitely pull out all US military forces from Afghanistan in about 8 months—–does anyone believe Obama’s false pronouncements in his last Presidential campaign that “Al Qaeda has been defeated and is on the run.” Military casualties in Afghanistan have increased by 358%/year over the last 5 years, over the annual casualty rate during the previous 8 years, because of Obama’s new and very dangerous Rules Of Engagement forced upon the US Armed Forces by Admiral Mullen. Mullen’s legacy has created unheard of casualty rates and Killed In Action rates in Afghanistan.

All efforts to achieve an effective Iranian boycott to stop a nuclear Iran have been abandoned by Obama, and without concessions. Iran is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power and has been providing Republican Guard ground troops in Syria to kill freedom loving Syrians. The support for Israel has been be relegated to the trash heap of history, and Israel knows it is on its own. A nuclear confrontation is in the making in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey seeking nuclear weapons from Pakistan in self-defense. The heroic effort to stabilize Iraq by US Combatant Forces was thrown away when Obama yanked all US troops out of Iraq after the success of the “Surge,”; US military forces were abruptly pulled out without the negotiation of a Status of Forces Agreement (Iraq is the only country in the world, that the US saved from a dictator, that the US hasn’t entered into a Status of Forces Agreement with). Iran has filled in the void in Iraq left by the abrupt removal of US military forces from Iraq by Obama, and is now repeating the benefits of an alliance with Iraq as a result of the sacrifice the finest sons of America who removed the despot, Saddam Hussein, from power.

Relationships in the Middle East are in shambles. Obama’s unwise initiative to develop diplomatic relations with Iran at a time when it is threatening old US friends in the Middle East, killing freedom fighters in Iran, destabilizing Lebanon, Iraq, & Bahrain, is threatening the destruction of Israel, has fractured US relations with US diverse friends such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. When the US commenced negotiating to normalize diplomatic relations with Iran, in its defense, Saudi Arabia established an independent coalition with the Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Jordan, and is now developing close relations with Putin. Libya whose ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, was turned from being hostile to be more supportive of the US, was deposed by military strikes led by the US, the attack on Gaddafi unleashed Al Qaeda that built 10 training camps in eastern Libya, and those training camps provided the commandos that attacked the US Mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of 4 Americans because Obama refused to authorize “Cross Border Authority” required to send in military support; now a destabilized Libya has become Somalia on the Mediterranean, and is another failed state created by ineptness of the Obama administration.

Egypt’s Pro-US Prime Minister, Hosni Mubarak, was deposed by Obama, so the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi could come to power, Morsi permitted the Muslim Brotherhood to start murdering Christians throughout Egypt, and for over a year the Obama administration has had proof from Egyptian intelligence that Morsi was complicit in having his followers participate in the attack on the US Mission in Benghazi; when Morsi was deposed by the US trained & US friendly Military Junta, Obama had all arms shipments and financial aid to Egypt promptly cancelled. Saudi Arabia was infuriated when Mubarak was deposed by Obama in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi, the Saudis helped undermine Morsi, and provided 10 times more financial aid to the pro us Junta than Obama cancelled. Putin jumped in to replace the military arms shipment Obama cancelled, and now for the first time in 35 years Egypt has moved away from the US and is more friendly to Putin’s Russia.

China, Russia, and Iran are building and modernizing their very powerful military armed forces, while Obama continues to degrade the US Military to pre-World War II levels. The US unilateral reduction of its nuclear arsenal with no concessions from anyone, together with our Hamlet-like stance toward China, has terrified our Pacific allies. The US Navy had more ships in the Pacific when Jimmy Carter was President than the US has in the entire US Navy today, and President Reagan’s 660 ship Navy is headed to a less than 200 ship Obama Navy (less ships than the US Navy had before WWI). China is expanding its navy with its first aircraft carrier and many missile firing submarines; it is getting ready to forcibly annex the 5 tiny Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands that Japan purchased many years ago. China Like Russia and Iran viewed Obama’s follow thru when his “Red Lines” were crossed in Syria and Crimea. In the next three years, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (and perhaps the Philippines and Australia as well) will either make concessions to China or threaten to go nuclear—especially if their suspicions continue to grow that they are no longer under the US strategic umbrella.

Obama’s outreach to Latin America’s Marxist regimes has been a colossal failure. Bolivia has now become a Marxist state; Communist Cuba, Ecuador and Argentina are more anti-American than ever. Ortega of Nicaragua humiliated the US with his long public dressing down of Obama. To make matters worse, on November 19, 2013 Secretary of State John Kerry declared the 200 year old policy that was adopted by the US Congress in 1823, The Monroe Doctrine, is “dead!” Obama’s strongly support for Hugo Chavez’s Marxist Venezuela, while he ignored the pro US demonstrators in the streets voicing their opposition to Marxist regime of Chavez, they were seeking a democratic form of government. It is interesting to know that Obama did support demonstrators in the streets during the Arab Spring who were trying to destabilized governments allied with the US in the Middle East; Chavez prevailed against the freedom seeking demonstrators in the streets, destroyed the economy of Venezuela, and now Venezuela is another failed Marxist state.

Obama feels his foreign policy towards China, Russia, and Iran has been a smashing success, and because the left of center liberal media establishment is deeply invested in Obama’s success, they obviate, obscure, mislead, and outright lie to confuse the American people about the truth on issues. However, for the past 5 years, despite the attempt by the media and the Obama administration to mislead the American people, clear thinking Patriots understand how completely Obama has failed the United States, leaving the Republic less secure, gave them a weaker military establishment, financially weakened the Republic, and the nation is now less respected in the eyes of the international community. The long and the short of it is that, Putin is a dynamic leader who is maximizing what little military power he has and is rapidly rebuilding his military, while the United States is virtually leaderless on the international stage with a strong military establishment that is rapidly being degraded by Obama. More likely over the next 3 years, we will see a doubling down by Obama on reducing US influence, going into a project debt of $24 trillion, reducing the US military strength in the world, and ensuring the US no longer has, a too-prominent global profile.

The only thing the American voters can do is elect Senators and Congressmen in less than seven months who will put a stop to Obama’s failed foreign policy, and his out of control spending. The thirty-four endorsed Combat Veterans For Congress are some of the Patriotic Americans who will support the principles upon which our Forefathers based the US Bill of Rights and the US Constitution—elect them in November to protect and defend the US Constitution and The Free Enterprise System.

EDITORS NOTE: The flag used as the featured image is that of the United States Secretary of State.

The Economist Who Said Maybe by Michael Clark

The answer to most economic questions begins with “I don’t know”!

Is microfinance in the developing world a beneficial strategy? Is bitcoin a good idea? Will 3-D printing substantially change our way of living? Imagine a panel of economists being asked questions like these. What kind of answer do you expect from them? Plenty of economic and techie jargon will get thrown around by those who have done their homework. Many of their answers will contain substantial merit, but I think the best answer is a simple “I don’t know.”

It’s not a complete reply and should be followed by some reasoned response. But “I don’t know” should be a prelude to more responses to economic questions, even pivotal ones about the future of our currency or the development of impoverished nations.

It might not look like a good answer for a trained economist to give. But humility is the most important lesson that training in economics yields. From Adam Smith to F. A. Hayek and many in between, a sound approach to economics involves understanding our limited capacity to answer such questions.

The essence of this humility is the respect for spontaneous order; market-based institutions answer questions like the ones above in ways no individual could. This yields phenomena, as Adam Ferguson puts it, of “human action, but not of human design.” The deep appreciation of the phenomenon of spontaneous order leads one to humility; we never know exactly what the market solutions will be.

The Evolution of Music

Consider a blunt history of music as entertainment. The trend of big bands was replaced in 1948 by LP vinyl records and moved individuals out of the dance halls and into their own homes. After vinyl came the 8-track in the late 1960s, the cassette tape in the late 1970s, and then the CD started to gain popularity in the late 1980s. The big band, vinyl, 8-track, cassette, CD progression is a bit of a simplification because radio had come into play as a separate market and multiple platforms had alternate sizes and models. However, the general popular-use trend was quite clear: About every decade, a better platform was developed.

It was not weird for people in the early 1990s to think that their CD collection was only temporary; most people thought something better would come along. More than a few thought they knew exactly what it was. The common thought was that popular music would be widely used on a disc similar to a CD, but the disc would be much smaller. If you watch the 1997 film Men in Black, the two characters have a discussion about the future technology. One complains that he’s going to have to buy the Beatles’ White Album again soon to replace his CD with the mini-CD.

But just about everyone was wrong. Mini-CDs never supplanted the original CD. But a new market did emerge as the format of choice right around the year 2000. When answering the question, “What will be the next thing to hold our popular music,” the actual answer was, “Well, nothing!” What followed the CD was a digital file that could be transported via the Internet. Imagine an individual trying to convince you in 1992 that the next step beyond a CD is in fact nothing. You wouldn’t have anything physical on you. You’d have nothing to search for underneath the passenger seat of your car, nothing to put into binders or towers for storage, and nothing to worry about getting scratched, mangled, or tangled. You’d have this file called an MP3. You would essentially have nothing physical to replace the CD. Convincing someone of this invention before its existence would seem fairly absurd.

So What?

In a market society the answers to questions like “Is X a good idea?” are often conclusions that exceed what most people originally considered possible. The market system often moves beyond what we were capable of seeing. How is the market so effective at progress? It is the same reason why I think the answer “I don’t know” is often a great answer for an economist.

The true benefit of freedom is that the institution or the market system (not any one individual or expert) bears the cognitive burden of figuring out what is a good idea. The profit and loss system, where consumers voice their opinions, quickly guides entrepreneurs. What serves consumers’ needs best? Do we value using titanium for the current design of a tennis racquet or would it be better used in a new design of a toaster oven? With so many consumers having so many preferences for so many products, it is no easy task to figure out what the best use of a resource is. That is, unless you have the profit and loss system.

Many entrepreneurs play their role in helping us to figure out little parts of what works and, perhaps even more importantly, what doesn’t work. Entrepreneurial actions bring disjointed, disparate, and detailed local knowledge to the forefront. When filtered through the market mechanism of profit and loss, the gathering of knowledge from the many will exceed the foresight of most, if not all, experts. Markets bring together the best from many and help us discover together instead of in isolation. When determining what works and what doesn’t, it is the market setting that allows a spontaneous order to do the heavy lifting that individual planners and experts simply cannot manage.

So is bitcoin a good idea? Is microfinance a path to prosperity for the impoverished? We have some grasp of the beneficial aspects of those ideas, and we can try to push forward some lines of argumentation to help the process. But it is a large part of our responsibility to remember our humility when it comes to questions of economics. F. A. Hayek put the context of discussing economics best when he stated, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

ABOUT MICHAEL CLARK

Michael Clark holds the Reemelin Chair in Free Market Economics at Hillsdale College.

CYBER WARFARE: Muslim Twitter Attack forces ABC to Cancel “Alice in Arabia”

The problematic ABC Family pilot of “Alice in Arabia” that we posted on yesterday has been cancelled by the Disney-owned cable TV channel.  CAIR launched a Twitter campaign on Tuesday inundating the ABC Family channel with tweets and a letter to the channel’s  President demanding control over the production.  According to a report in Variety, the social media campaign worked; the pilot has been cancelled.  This is yet another example of how the Hamas- Muslim Brotherhood affiliate engages in intimidation tactics to ensure that the media adheres to an airbrushed Hallmarkian view of Islam in America.  Moreover, with the threat of Lawfare menacing free speech CAIR strived to avoid any mention that Sharia sanctions abduction of American children of Saudi parents to the Royal Kingdom.  See our NER article and Iconoclast post; “ An American Child Kidnapped in Accordance with Shariah” and  “Rescue from an Abduction to Saudi Arabia: Interview with Floridian Yasmeen A. Davis”.

Here is the Variety report,  “ABC Family Pulls Plug on ‘Alice in Arabia’ After Muslim Org Backlash”:

Just days after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) expressed concerns over potential stereotyping in the pilot for ABC Family’s “Alice in Arabia” and requested a meeting with execs, the network has decided not to pursue the show that had been announced Monday.

An ABC Family spokesperson said Friday, “The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.”

The show’s premise centered on an American teen kidnapped by her Saudi Arabian family after tragedy befalls her parents.

The pilot was penned by Brooke Eikmeier, who served in the U.S. Army as a Cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language and trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East.

CAIR previously challenged actual and potential anti-Muslim stereotypes in “Executive Decision,” “24,” “The Siege,” “True Lies,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Obsession,” “The Third Jihad,” “Jihad in America” and “The Sum of All Fears.” The org has also acted as a consultant on films including DreamWorks Animation’s “The Prince of Egypt.”

This amounts to CAIR using Mafia –like tactics to suggest that major TV and film studios might be forced out of business if they comply.   Once again, Taqiyya , religiously sanctioned dissimilitude or lying for Allah,  trumps truth.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured photo is by I.Barrios & J.Ligero. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Jeb Bush: Willing to Emotionally Damage Your Child for a Higher Test Score

Former Florida Governor (and likely 2016 presidential hopeful) Jeb Bush made the following comment, recorded in The Miami Herald, on March 21, 2014. It’s Bush’s undeniably callous perspective on attempting to force American public education to fit a mold that benefits American education corporations such as Pearson (and here, and here):

Let me tell you something. In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self esteem. They care about math, whether they can read – in English – whether they understand why science is important, whether they have the grit and determination to be successful,” Bush said.

You tell me which society is going to be the winner in this 21st Century: The one that worries about how they feel, or the one that worries about making sure the next generation has the capacity to eat everybody’s lunch? [Emphasis added.]

Think about this, folks: Do we really want this guy in the White House? Do we want him (and the corporations in his pocket) pushing his damaging, perpetually failing education reforms from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Ahh, but Bush is in good company. Call it Common Core Callousness. Bush’s statement reeks of David Coleman’s sentiment regarding his vision of “Bringing the Common Core to Life.” From blogger Christel Swasey (Swasey’s entire article is worth a read):

The absolutely least lovely comment I’ve ever heard from any educator, ever, came from David Coleman:

As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.”

There you have it, in case there was any doubt:

The Common Core Brought to Life.

Jeb Bush and David Coleman offer the same sociopathio-pedagogical vision for American education: Death to emotional health, joy of learning, empathy, and good will to man.

The country able to step on the faces of other countries via the highest test scores “wins.”

You can hear Coleman for yourself in this brief video clip (my thanks to Tim Furman). Keep in mind that Coleman believes he is selling the Common Core to his listeners:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Pu6lin88YXU[/youtube]

Coleman and Bush: Serrated Education Partners.

Back to Bush’s assertion that Asia does not care for the well being of its students. Bush is wrong:

Chinese educational experts are taking a more somber view in the face of the stellar achievements by their students, saying the results are at most partial and covering up shortcomings in creating well-rounded, critical thinking individuals.

“This should not be considered a pride for us, because overall it still measures one’s test-taking ability. You can have the best answer for a theoretical model, but can you build a factory on a test paper?” asked Xiong Bingqi, a Shanghai-based scholar on education.

“The biggest criticism is that China’s education has sacrificed everything else for test scores, such as life skills, character building, mental health, and physical health,” Xiong said.

Even the party-run People’s Daily noted the burden on Shanghai students. “While many countries have been urged to increase more study time and more homework for their students, Shanghai clearly needs some alleviation,” the editorial reads.

Japan’s education minister, Hakubun Shimomura, pointed to the test results as evidence of success in reforms aimed at reducing class sizes — despite continued criticism of the pressure-filled university entrance examination system. Many Japanese students also attend cram schools to get an extra edge.

“Asian countries do better than European and American schools because we are ‘examination hell’ countries,” said Koji Kato, a professor emeritus of education at Tokyo’s Sophia University. “There is more pressure to teach to the test. In my experience in working with teachers the situation is becoming worse and worse.” [Emphasis added.]

In his January 2014 address to a parents congress, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan lauded South Korean test scores.

Duncan failed to mention South Korea’s high unemployment for those with college degrees (in 2011, 40 percent of college grads were unemployed four months following graduation)– and the associated designation of South Korea as “the most suicidal society” despite a drop in South Korean suicides in 2013.

In order to curb the suicide rate, the government banned pesticides– a cheap and easily accessible means of suicide.

One Korean’s response to the pesticide ban:

But we still have bridges and charcoal briquettes.

What is driving South Koreans to kill themselves in unprecedented numbers?

They want their government to care about them:

Jang Chong-yoon, who almost committed suicide 12 years ago, agrees with the pesticide ban, but thinks more could be done to address the mental well-being of South Koreans:

“Old and young people have their own pain from either quick economic development or unemployment,” he said, adding: “I hope the government will care more about people’s health.” [Emphasis added.]

What a sobering realization to think that Presidential Hopeful Jeb Bush has no qualms about pushing America down this despairing path.

RELATED STORIES:

Is Common Core Intentionally Designed to Make America’s Children Mentally Ill?

Bush Foundation is stepping it up a notch through the media

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Turkey’s Foolhardy Twitter Ban Backfires: @TwitterTurkey

The municipal elections in Turkey  are less  than eight day hence.  Premier Erdogan  perpetrated a  foolhardy and heedless Twitter ban. He is  desperate to stave off a  possible last minute disclosure about more corruption revelations to  possibly be  released on Tuesday March 25.  With this ban Turkey joins a select group of countries who have similarly banned Twitter; China and Iran.  Within less than 24 hours  of announcing the ban at a campaign rally Thursday, March 20th  in Bursa, Turkey, it backfired.   According to  the website TwitTurk, more than 500,000 tweets were sent protesting the ban demonstrating how tech-savvy Turks  could work around the shutdown of Twitter.  Newsweek  reported:

According to TechCrunch, which compared Twitter activity in Turkey in the past few days, while the ban does seem to have had some negative effect on the number of tweets coming out of the country, it may have done Erdogan more harm than good in terms of global exposure. Before Thursday, there were about 200 tweets per day around the world that mentioned both “Turkey” and “Twitter.” On Friday, there were more than 80,000.

Globally, Twitter users have begun circulating a poster designed in the style of the Turkish flag but depicting Pac-Man eating Twitter’s bird logo.

President Gul, a co-founder of the AKP  with Premier Erdogan, sent a tweet objecting to the ban saying, “can’t be condoned”.  But then  Gul had signed a law  asserting the government’s control over the internet. The absurd part of Erdogan’s Twitter ban was his own party was poised to roll out  campaign  solicitations for the municipal elections  using the social  media.  The   AKP  deputy premier and Istanbul Mayor were  still using Twitter to communicate.   Lutfi Elvan (no relation to Gezi Park victim Berkin Elvan), the minister for communications , absurdly premised the Twitter ban  on a court ruling related to pornographic pictures.  The  opposition  People’s Republican Party (CHP)  leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said the ban was hurting Turkey’s image abroad and his party would seek to overturn it.   The Turkish bar association called the ban illegal and immediately filed a criminal complaint.  Twitter had unnerved Erdogan as the social media became the source of revelations  from release of taped phone calls  to the extent of  family involvement  in money laundering, and interference with the judiciary in the swirl of corruption charges.

Erdogan’s  vain attempt at controlling social media, whether Facebook, Twitter or You Tube  might make a difference in next Sunday’s municipal elections.   His  actions denying free speech and engaging in desperate cover-ups of corruption might  unleash  a massive wave  of Turkish voters going to the polls committed  to cast votes for the opposition. That might reduce the chances of Erdogan doing a kind of ‘Putin –Medeved maneuver’ if a national referendum is passed prior to the 2015  general elections creating an executive Presidency.

Twitter Power in Turkey: the death of Berkin Elvan

The power of Twitter was evident on March 10th with the announcement by the grieving parents of  the passing  of 15 year old  Berkin Elvan using the social media  . They wrote ,” We lost our son. May he rest in peace .” Elvan  had lain in a coma  for 269 days reduced to less than 35 pounds,  after he had suffered a head injury from a tear gas canister fired by riot police during the Gezi Park protests of last June. The irony was that young  Elvan was  mortally injured on his way to purchase food for his family.  The announcement  of Elvan’s death sparked  further protests against Erdogan, as he had ordered the riot police to break up the Gezi Park sit-ins. His passing marked the sixth  death from the breakup of the Gezi  Park sit-in protests.  Those Twitter messages led to  protests by ex-pat Turkish communities organized throughout  the EU and large crowds  that swarmed  to protest rallies in Turkey.  The funeral of Elvan was attended  by thousands.   Sheikh Mohammed Fethulleh Gulen offered his condolences to the Elvan family. But nothing from Premier Erdogan who had called Gezi park protesters,  “looters”. He referred to Twitter last June as a  “ troublemaker” and in February 2014 as the “robot lobby”.

Erdogan’s  pique at Twitter was because of the corruption scandals revealed  through the social media. Bloomberg  reported :

The tweets targeted by Erdogan are primarily from two anonymous users: one going by the name of Haramzadeler, a phrase translated by Turkish media as “Sons of Thieves” though it could also mean “bastards,” and another called Bascalan or “Prime Thief,” a play on the Turkish term for prime minister.

Local media has reported that the most damaging leaks were yet to come. In a column in the Yeni Safak newspaper, Hayrettin Karaman, a retired professor of Islamic law, preemptively denied the validity of a tape he said would be aired showing him advising Erdogan on whether Islam would permit him to order the killing of politician Muhsin Yazicioglu, who died in a helicopter crash on March 25, 2009.

Twitter has become the weapon of choice seeking to topple tyranny in Turkey.  There are more than 10 million Twitter users in Turkey, a testament to the use of  social media to communicate the news. This  despite the controls imposed on both print and  other electronic media, including state TV channels.  It is the 21st Century equivalent of those computers, video recorders and fax machines sent to Poland from  the US by NGO’s. Using  secret  CIA funds  and Catholic Church support  that allowed Solidarity to  survive the declaration of the martial law regime in 1981. Those electronic devices   got ting the word out  in samizdat publications that  ultimately  defeated  the Communist government and  returned Solidarity’s legal status in 1989.

The Bursa Campaign Rally launch  of the Twitter Ban that failed

Premier Erdogan had earlier castigated  the immorality of Twitter and other social media. On Thursday at a campaign rally in Bursa he launched his failed campaign.  “We’ll dig up Twitter – all of them – from the roots,” he raged, “they’ll see the power of the Republic of Turkey”. Within a few hours of the Bursa campaign announcement the ban began in earnest when countrywide access  to Twitter  was  blocked.

The Guardian noted the immediate responses by what it termed  tech savvy Turks:

Thursday was Twitter’s eighth birthday. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s birthday present to the social media giant, and to millions of Turks who use it daily, was to block the site. At about 11.20pm Thursday, those who wanted to use Twitter were greeted by a message from the Telecommunications Presidency referencing a court order that blocked access to it.

Within minutes, detailed methods of bypassing the block by changing DNS numbers and using VPNs were shared via Facebook, WhatsApp and text message. Hashtags using the Turkish for “Twitter Is Blocked in Turkey”, “Turkey Blocked Twitter” and “Dictator Erdo?an” began trending worldwide almost immediately. When the official Turkish account of Twitter tweeted, “Turkish users can send Tweets using SMS” and gave detailed instructions, Turks were already ahead of the game.

The Irish Times noted the swift action by  San Francisco-based Twitter and the resourcefulness of Turkish Twitter users:

Twitter sent out mobile numbers that allowed Turkish consumers to keep using its service. In another technical fix against the ban, Turkish downloads of Hotspot Shield, the world’s most popular virtual private network service, rose to 270,000 on Friday – from a daily average of 7,000.

The Turkish users’ defiance and the sheer scale of their activity suggest no immediate end to the battering Mr. Erdogan has suffered in cyberspace.

Adverse Comments on  Erdogan’s Twitter Ban

Yesterday afternoon, “Twitter’s @Policy account tweeted that the company was opposed to Erdogan’s ban”.  White House press spokesman Jay Carney said called, the Administration was  “deeply concerned”   about Erdogan’s Twitter ban as it undermined Turkish citizens’ “ability to exercise freedom of expression.”

The EUObserver noted these instant tweets:

The EU commissioner on digital affairs, Neelie Kroes, tweeted on Thursday (20 March) that the move “is groundless, pointless, and cowardly. Turkish people and intl [international] community will see this as censorship. It is.”

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, himself a prolific user of the US micro-blogging site, noted: “Erdogan is not only damaging himself, but his entire nation.”

The EU’s former ambassador to Turkey, Marc Pierini, now an analyst at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels, said: “Turkey is estranging itself from the world.”

Australian  film actor Russell Crowe, appearing in the latest Bible epic, “Noah” tweeted, “Turkey has banned Twitter? That is a terrible decision. I don’t understand it?”

Now, let’s see what further revelations about Erdogan’s corruption will be Tweeted on Tuesday, March 25th.  As  a takeoff  on the radio serial program from my youth, the Shadow, might say, What evil lurks in the hearts and minds of men, only Erdogan knows, and he isn’t telling”.  But Twitter soon might.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured graphic is courtesy of Twitter.

Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Downfall of a Country by Fernando J. Milanes. M.D.

It was not easy. With many diverse factors, interests and ideology at play, our forefathers were able to unanimously agree on a beautiful and simple manuscript, the Declaration of Independence. The words that began the second paragraph of this document became the basis upon which the philosophy of a new country would be built.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

After defeating the English empire under the brilliant direction of George Washington, and the signing of the Constitution, an experiment consisting of a different form of Democracy was started. The success of the United States of America was dependent on the strength of four ideological pillars.

Our Constitution; when the first ten of the twelve proposed amendments of this document, known as the Bill of Rights, were drafted by James Madison its main purpose was to avoid a takeover of individual rights by a central power. This idea of limiting central authority and concentrating it on the citizen was crucial to the success of the system. Power to the States, and separation of federal governance by three equal branches, legislative, judicial and executive would provide checks and balances to the structure. Human folly, including personal ambition was supposed, paraphrasing Madison, to neutralize each other. The success of the US and its democratic approach was highly dependent, explained Alec De Tocqueville, on the wisdom and education of its citizens.

The community; our population was and is based on immigrants. The attraction to come to the U.S. was rooted on the search for freedom and opportunity. Most of the newcomers shared the Judeo-Christian values of the original pilgrims. Freedom to worship, to labor, and to raise a family was central to these original inhabitants. With the initial success of the country, the idea of opportunity for liberty and the pursuit of happiness attracted many that were unable to achieve those in their nation of origin. Our nation’s accomplishments increased with these new arrivals. In addition to a strong family unit, religious support, and schooling, the people were educated by what was supposed to be a fourth power, the press.

Education; the earlier and most important education, came from the family unit, religious advisors and schools. These institutions were in agreement of the importance of love for one another, for our land, work, sacrifice, and helping those in need. As adults the free press gave us facts, many diverse opinions, and demonstrated impartiality in order to help us form an independent opinion, not to manipulate our thoughts. People that achieved, worked hard, and had some luck and entrepreneurship abilities, were able to accumulate riches in our capitalistic economic approach.

Free markets; the economy grew based on free market principles with limited regulations, competition, and incentives for individuals to come up with new and original ideas. There was no limit for achievement, and those who made it were praised and admired and became a source of inspiration as written in the popular Horatio Alger stories of rags to riches.

As described in the Chinese torture of one thousand cuts, our way of life was attacked in a thousand ways, causing inexorable erosion to the four pillars previously described. Our Constitution became old, before our times, needing revision. The separation of powers became a farce, with the legislative branch weak, the judicial dependent and subservient to the executive that appointed them, and a presidency more and more resembling the strong voice that our forefathers feared. Persons with ambition united, instead of cancelling each other as Madison had hoped. Individual liberty has increasingly been defined by the bias of the leaders, thus curtailing the ability to voice an independent opinion.

The family nucleus has been eroded to the extent that marriage, in its symbolic definition, has been eliminated; couples remain together in dwindling numbers, religion beliefs, especially Judeo-Christian, are not respected, and God is eliminated from our teachings.

The press has become, for the most part, a propaganda apparatus in the service of the establishment. The ones that dare to oppose the governing machinery are surreptitiously being attacked by branches of the same government that we elected to represent us.

Our schools and institutions of higher learning are led by teachers that spouse a particular point of view, thus intellectually forming a new youth, with preconceived notions of reality.

Our citizens are mostly uninterested in the electoral process, more and more ignorant, and attracted less by the opportunity to pursuit happiness than the guarantee of receiving it.

A symbiotic relationship between capitalists and politicians has changed our free market system into one where regulations kill initiative, and favors the crony allies of the rulers.

What was decades ago the majority of the population that revered our nation, constitution and way of life, are now defined as extreme, selfish, uneducated and racist. As in Europe, both political parties are of a liberal philosophy, the less extreme called conservatives. Whether this erosion of our way of life has been caused by many diverse circumstances, and/or an inevitable cycle of the rise and falls of civilizations, or, as some belief, under the direction of a single evil force, is debatable.

What are not are the facts, and these are clear, and demonstrate our continuing decline and eventual downfall.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Bear Witness Central.

China is engaged in a Currency War with the US by Frank de Varona

Currency war, also known as competitive devaluation, is a situation where countries compete against each other to achieve a relatively low exchange rate for their own currency. As the price to buy a particularly currency goes down so does the real price of exports from the country. Imports become more expensive and that helps the domestic industry increase sales. Of course, a currency war triggered by one nation could bring retaliatory action by other countries which in turn can lead to a general decline in international trade, harming all countries.

Guido Mantega, the Minister of Finance of Brazil, announced on September 27, 2010, that the world is “in the midst of an international currency war.”  His view was accepted by numerous other government officials and financial journalist from around the world. During this time the United States complained over the evaluation of the yuan in China. The United States accused China of keeping the price its currency artificially low in order to keep United States and other nations exports out of China, thus creating an enormous trade imbalance against the United States and other countries. Of course, the United States was not an innocent bystander since it engaged in massive quantitative easing (QE).

federal reserve printing pressQuantitative easing is the practice in which a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, tries to fight a recession or to stimulate a slow-growing economy by increasing the money supply of the nation. The enormous annual deficits of the federal government in excess of $1 trillion over several years have increased the federal debt to more than $17.3 trillion. Sadly, the real debt of the United States, when one includes the enormous debts of the states, counties, and municipalities as well as the unfunded entitlements of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obama Care, is estimated to be in excess of $150 trillion.

James Rickards, an advisor to the CIA and the Pentagon, wrote Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis (2011) describing the dangerous battlefield of global finance. He pointed out how China is purchasing secretly up to 4,000 tons of gold. Some believe that China has already over 5,000 tons of gold since it is acquiring gold mines throughout the world and continue to purchase secretly more gold. Rickards also wrote on the hidden agendas of sovereign wealth funds of nations that hate us which may attack the United States financially. Rickards is convinced these two situations are a very real threat to the collapse of the dollar.

James Rickards wrote that the Federal Reserve attempts to prop up economic growth could be devastating for our national security. He argues that a financial attack against the United States could destroy the confidence in the dollar. He believes that the policy of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve would lead to a lack confidence in the dollar which could create chaos in the global financer markets. Rickards argues that we are currently going through a third currency war based on competitive devaluations. He believes that competitive devaluations are in race to the bottom, and those instruments are a sort of warfare. He argues that the continued depreciation and devaluation of the dollar will ultimately lead to a collapse, which will come about through a widespread abandonment of the U.S. dollar.

Rickards explained that the two previous currency wars  ended badly. The first one brought about  the Great Depression and World War II.  It was started when Germany, unable to pay back the enormous war reparations to Great Britain, France and other countries after being defeated in World War I, decided to seriously devalue the German mark. The other countries did the same with their currencies  as well as the United States. Soon high tariffs were imposed and world trade collapsed. The world-wide Great Depression resulted in Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini coming to power in Germany and Italy.

The second currency war of 1971 was started by Charles De Gaulle in France. President Richard Nixon was forced to abandon the gold standard and imposed for a while price controls in order to protect the value of the  dollar. While the outcome of the current currency war is still uncertain, our nation needs to prepare to make certain that our economy and our currency are not destroyed by nations that wish us harm.

Geoff Dyer wrote a book entitled The Contest of the Century: the New Era of Competition with China– and How America Can Win (2014). Dyer is a former British Financial Times newspaper bureau chief in Beijing and who lived in China for many years. He argued that the real currency war for the next few decades is the contest between China and the United States over which currency will prevail as the global currency.

Dyer described in detail the ambitious plan to allow the Chinese currency to play a larger role in the global economy. A HSBC’s Chinese economist stated the following: “We could be on the verge of a financial revolution of truly epic proportions. The world is slowly, but surely, moving from greenbacks to redbacks.” Another Washington-based economist said that the Chinese renminbi could become “the premier reserve currency by the end of this decade, or early next decade.” China has designated Hong Kong and the international place for the world’s new global currency, the renminbi. HSBC predicts that by 2015 at least half of China’s trade with the developing world, approximately $2 trillion, will be in renminbi.

Dyer, explained that the issue of whether the renminbi will supplant the dollar is one of the central contest that will determine the shift of power from the United States to China over the course of the next few decades, a combination of high finance and geopolitics. He wrote that the National Intelligence Council, which publishes the United States government’s official intelligence estimate stated the following: “The fall of the dollar as the global reserve currency… Would be one of the sharpest indication of the loss of the United States global economic position, strongly undermining Washington’s political influence.”

Both China and Russia have announced that they want to destroy the dollar as the global reserve currency. If they were to succeed in displacing the dollar with the Chinese currency, America will no longer be a superpower. Both China and Russia believe that the United States under the Obama administration has become “a paper tiger” and that the United States is a superpower in retreat and decline.

640px-Barack_Obama_Cabinet_Sebelius_Hillary_Clinton_Swine_Flu_5-1Hillary Clinton shortly after she became Secretary of State stated “how do you deal toughly with your banker?” China has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world, at around $3.3 trillion. It is estimated that China owns around $2 trillion of United States government’s debt. Never before has the United States depended on a single country’s government for so much financing. Obama’s irresponsible annual deficits and his refusal to reform the entitlements have put our national security in serious danger. Our nation is facing a fiscal abysm.

When the United States announced in 2010 that it wanted to sell more weapons to Taiwan, three generals of the People Liberation Army said that China should retaliate by selling U.S. government debt, which could lead to a sharp rise in the United States interest rates. Reporters have written in Chinese newspaper what they call “the nuclear option”, which is a threat to dump dollar bonds in order to change American policy.

There is no question that China wants to destroy the dollar as an international currency. China’s President Hu Jintao said in 2008 that he wants a “new international financial order that is fair, just, inclusive and orderly.” Dyer explained that by the end of 2012, around 15% of China’s trade was being conducted in renminbi. He wrote that one Chinese academic said that ending the dominance of the dollar is as important for China’s ability to project power as was China become a nuclear power.

During the 2007 war games in Russia, with the leaders of the military alliance the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member nations in attendance, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russian strategic bombers were going to resume regular long-range patrols for the first time since the Cold War. Putin said the following: “Our pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life.”  Iran is not yet a member of this alliance. It is an observer nation. An Iranian official said at the meeting that “the SCO is a good venue for designating a new banking system which is independent from the international banking systems.” The Russian leader stated the following: “We now clearly see the defectiveness of the monopoly in world finance and the policy of economic selfishness. To solve the current problem, Russia will take part in changing the global financial structure so that it will be able to guarantee stability and prosperity in the world and to ensure progress. The world is seeing the emergence of a qualitatively different geopolitical situation, with the emergence of new centers of economic growth and political influence.”

Geoff Dyer wrote the following: “There certainly is no shortage of reasons for thinking that the United States could be heading for the sort of crisis that would shake the foundation of the dollar era. The litany is a familiar one– high debt levels, chronic budget deficits, political gridlock, spiraling entitlement spending, and crumbling infrastructure… It is not completely out of the question that the United States will suffer a financial convulsion. The downgrading of the United States government debt by Standard and Poor’s was a stark warning about the potential erosion of the confidence in the dollar. Ever since then, Washington has been living from one budget crisis to another.”

Conclusion

President Barack Obama and Congress need to put rapidly our financial house in order. Failure to do so will create hyperinflation, increased unemployment and a possible economic recession. Our nation needs to move aggressively to reduce government spending and our federal debt in order to protect the value of the dollar. China will surpass the U.S. economy in the next few years and China will continue working together with Russia to replace the dollar as the world’s international currency. Our nation needs to act now and reform all entitlement programs since all of them are unsustainable in the long-term. The United States  needs start living within its means.

One of 3 articles on China:

2. How China and America See Each Other

3. Is China a Gathering Threat to our National Security?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of the banner of the Wuchang uprising (zh:武昌起义) of October 10, 1911, subsequently used as the flag of the army of the Republic of China, ca. 1913-1928. It appears on many varieties of Chinese currency issued during the 1910’s and 1920’s.  This image shows a variant of the flag with 18 yellow dots. This column originally appeared on Bear Witness Central.