Open Letter to Florida Power and Light CEO James L. Robo on Smart Meters

The Memory Hole blog published an open letter by James F. Tracy to James Robo, CEO of FP&L concerning its push to install smart meters on all of the homes of its customers. Memory Hole reports, “The letter below was sent to Florida Power and Light Chairman/CEO James L. Robo this week upon reviewing FPL’s policy to ‘opt out’ of Smart Meter technology for an ‘enrollment fee’ and subsequent monthly payments. Such payments amount to mob-style extortion that utility customers are forced to pay, simply to remain free from potential harassment or harm.”

James L. Robo
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Next Era Energy / Florida Power and Light
700 Universe Boulevard
Juno Beach, Florida 33408

Dear Mr. James L. Robo,

I am writing with regard to the “Smart Meter” appliance that your company, Next Era Energy / Florida Power and Light (NEE/FPL; NYSE: NEE) placed on my home and households throughout my Boca Raton neighborhood in April 2011, and your present bid for my family to “opt out” of exposure to such technology. As you are likely aware, after doing extensive research on the device and its implications for privacy and human health, in addition to conducting periodic measurements with my HF35-C RF Analyzer, I discovered how your Smart Meter apparatus was discharging microwave radiation on my family (which includes small children) in excess of 10,000 microwatts per square meter every thirty-to-ninety seconds. I requested that NEE/FPL remove the meter. NEE/FPL complied only after being repeatedly telephoned and furnished with my own observations delivered via certified mail and accompanied by copious scientific research that such “Smart Meter” technology poses a serious health hazard and privacy-related concerns (hereherehere, and here).

Yet Mr. Robo, as you are aware, even with this knowledge you have consciously chosen to act in a grossly irresponsible fashion by maintaining that the meters in question are safe, and have proceeded to keep them on millions of NEE/FPL customers’ homes throughout Florida without their awareness or express consent. This flagrant act demonstrated to such a manifold degree arguably constitutes fraud, negligence, and reckless endangerment on a truly astounding scale.

NOTE: An important interview with Take Back Your Power documentary producer Josh Del Sol:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ozwCHuW0Clg[/youtube]

In your most recent paraphernalia to customers you disingenuously assert that there are “no credible studies” concluding that “Smart Meter” radiation is dangerous to human health. As you are well aware, the body of research on the negative health effects of microwave RF dates to the 1960s and consists of several thousand military and scholarly scientific studies. In fact, the only studies that lack credibility and defy basic scientific standards are those commissioned by NEE/FPL and its peer utilities throughout North America to avert public concern over such risks.

Mr. Robo, as a Harvard Man twice over one might conclude that you hold scientific inquiry and proof thereof in high regard. Your irresponsible conduct in this matter suggests that any such intellectual training is not only placed in abeyance but wholly betrayed. Moreover, your most recent proposition to allow families to “opt out” for a fee of what is essentially a gigantic scientific experiment is tantamount to mob-style extortion.

I will appreciate the opportunity of meeting and conversing with you in person so that you may explain to me whether you have a “Smart Meter” attached to your office, living room, or bedroom wall, as so many of your customers’ families do. I am also interested to know how you are able to proceed with a clear conscience given that you are presiding over such a dangerous health-related trial that will almost certainly cause countless health problems and an overall deteriorating quality of life on unsuspecting millions.

An honest Fourth Estate vigorously airing the perils of the technology you have unilaterally mandated for every single Florida resident might result in a far more circumspect if not hostile citizenry. Such inattention by the press has allowed you to successfully bamboozle the Florida Public Utility Commission into approving the widescale deployment of this dangerous system and the uncertain effort to allow customers to “opt out.”

If the “Smart Meter” technology you stipulate were really safe and beneficial, your customer base would be clamoring to pay the $95.00 initiation and $13.00 monthly fee to “opt in” to the “Smart Grid.” Yet because the technology is unproven, hazardous, and perhaps even useless you must foist it on your customers without their knowledge and then proceed to confuse them, even as you disingenuously offer the option to say, “No.”

Mr. Robo, I once again offer you my emphatic “No!” “No!” to the fraud, “No!” to the guile, “No!” to the invasion of privacy, and “No!” to the assault on my family’s health that your outrageous and unfounded technology poses.

Sincerely,

James F. Tracy

Blue State Blues

Two headlines on Tuesday, March 18, are bound to give Democrats across the country a really bad case of heartburn. The Washington Free Beacon headline read: “Born to Run Away From High Taxes,” while a New York Times headline read, “Businessman Wins Republican Primary for Governor in Illinois.”

The Free Beacon story details the extent to which “New Jersey’s high taxes may be costing the state billions of dollars a year in lost revenue as high earning residents flee (the state).” According to the Free Beacon story, the study,” titled Exodus on the Parkway, was completed last year by Regent Atlantic, of Morristown, New Jersey, but held for publication until after the 2013 elections. The study stated it intentionally withheld its results because 2014 is not an election year for state legislators… and the dire findings of the study would “hopefully encourage a serious and objective dialogue aimed at addressing and solving the challenges that New Jersey currently faces.”

The study found that, since the Democrat-controlled legislature passed the “millionaire’s tax” in 2004, signed into law by Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey, New Jersey has been steadily losing high-net-worth residents. That ill-advised and counter-productive approach to revenue enhancement, which presupposes that the rich will just sit still forever and allow themselves to be taxed back into the middle class, or worse, imposed a 41 percent increase in the state income tax on those with annual incomes of $500,000, or more.

Lacking the capacity to understand basic economic principles, and having no ability to learn from their mistakes, New Jersey Democrats have continued to push for even higher taxes on the wealthy. Under threat of veto by a tough-minded Republican governor, Chris Christie, they have failed on three successive attempts.

According to the Regent Atlantic study, New Jersey collects $10 billion annually in personal income taxes, $4.2 billion of which is paid in by just one percent of the population. Before the millionaire’s tax was enacted, the aggregate net worth of New Jersey residents increased by $98 billion over a four year period. However, in the four year period following the tax increase, 70 percent of that aggregate increase in net worth has fled the state. Because New Jersey residents have learned how to vote with their feet, the state lost taxable income of $5.5 billion in 2010 alone because residents moved to more tax-friendly states.

However, it’s not just the wealthy that New Jersey Democrats wish to bilk in their never-ending quest to buy enough votes to maintain themselves in power. Democrats in the legislature have also proposed a five-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax, a tax on water consumption, a tax on plastic bags, a tax on plastic water bottles, and yet another increase in the income tax. These are increases that would damage everyone who lives in or drives through the Garden State.

Apparently New Jersey Democrats believe that they have reached nirvana when a majority of the people are on food stamps, AFDC, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and workman’s compensation, while the state confiscates 100 percent of the incomes and assets of those foolish enough to continue working… those for whom a job offer in Detroit would look like the opportunity of a lifetime.

Some 800 miles to the west, in Illinois, the state that currently resembles Detroit more than any other, wealthy private equity manager, Bruce Rauner, has won the Republican nomination for governor. Rauner, who spent $6 million of his own money in a four-way race for the GOP nomination, won 40.1% of the vote in defeating three better known GOP candidates, all long-time GOP officials in Springfield.

If Rauner is elected… and it looks as if he has the right stuff to get the job done… he will be taking on the toughest job of any Republican governor in the nation. Illinois is, after all, an economic basket-case, the worst run, most corrupt state in the nation.

On January 12, 2011, Investors Business Journal reported that the State of Illinois faced a budget deficit of $15 billion, “equivalent to more than half the state’s general fund.” According to the report, “(Illinois) officials warned that state government might not be able to pay its employees. It certainly would fall further behind in paying the businesses, charities, and schools that provide services on the state’s behalf.”

In response to that economic tsunami, the Governor of Illinois, Democrat Pat Quinn, and the Illinois legislature, controlled by Democrats (35-24 in the Senate and 64-54 in the House), developed a response that only a bunch of Democrats would see as a viable solution. In the midst of a major national recession they increased personal income taxes by 66% and corporate taxes by 46%, increases that were expected to produce an additional $6.8 billion per year… assuming, of course, that every employer then in Illinois, would remain in Illinois.

A year later, the Illinois Comptroller’s Office estimated that the backlog of unpaid bills was nearly $8 billion… and this after Democrats in Springfield placed a crushing load of new taxes on the shoulders of taxpayers and corporations.

Reactions were predictable. According to the Journal, neighboring states immediately began plotting to “lure business away from Illinois.” Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) said, “Years ago, Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ You are welcome here.”

Then-Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) said, “It’s like living next door to the ‘Simpsons’ – you know, the dysfunctional family down the block.” Gov. Daniels may have mixed a metaphor. To say that living next door to Illinois is like living next door to the Adams Family may have been a more apt comparison.

But now it appears that Republicans are about to field a candidate with some business sense who is not afraid to tell the people of Illinois what they need to hear, while Democrats continue to insist on telling them whatever is necessary to get their votes on Election Day. And while union leaders in Illinois could not have failed to notice that their state is now surrounded by states where right-to-work was once thought to be impossible… Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin… right-to-work is probably not something that will happen in Illinois until a hard-nosed Republican governor can make Republicanism respectable everywhere in the state except in America’s most corrupt city… Chicago.

Bruce Rauner may be that man. According to the Times story, Rauner has already angered the public sector unions. He has criticized union leaders, advocated charter schools, and suggested that recent reforms in the public employee pension system… with unfunded liabilities of about $80 billion… were far too timid.

Never in American history has a political party been as vulnerable to resounding defeat as is the Democrat Party in 2014. The only thing the Republican Party needs is leadership. With John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House, with Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Minority Leader of the Senate, and with Eric Cantor (R-VA) as House Majority Leader, the GOP is in great danger of wasting the opportunity to literally devastate the Democratic Party. Never before have there been three political leaders more capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Although most pundits agree that Republicans will maintain their majority in the House of Representatives, many hedge their bets by saying that the party could actually lose a few seats in the House. I believe the Republicans will maintain their majority in the House, picking up an additional five to ten seats in the process.

In the Senate, most pundits hedge their bets by predicting that Republicans have a shot at taking control, but with a slim majority of only one or two seats. I believe that those predictions are far too conservative and fail to take into account the foul mood of the American people and the intense unpopularity of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans have 15 Senate seats at stake. I believe Republicans will retain all of those seats. On the other hand, the Democrats have 21 seats at stake, only eight of which are all but certain to remain in Democrat hands. The remaining 13 seats are either leaning heavily Republican or are vulnerable to Republican takeover. A net gain of 10 seats by the GOP is not outside the realm of possibility.

All we need are leaders and candidates who are willing to take the battle to the enemy in a most forceful and straightforward way. At a recent rally in Illinois, Bruce Rauner shouted, “Let’s shake up Springfield! Let’s go get ‘em!” Republicans should never doubt that we have the people and the issues on our side. And if we can get Republicans across the country to adopt that same rallying cry, to say, “Let’s shake up America! Let’s go get ‘em!” we can win a victory in November that will make the Republican Revolution of 1994 pale by comparison.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured map is courtesy of Theshibboleth. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Can America Survive Obama?

After a series of events that continue the decline of America’s global reputation along with increasing questions about the level of Obama administration corruption within the Internal Revenue Service, these and other factors lead inevitably to the question of whether America can survive Barack Hussein Obama.

By March 12, a Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll indicated that Obama’s popularity had declined to an all-time low with 48% approval versus 54% disapproval. This is unchanged from December when the Obamacare rollout dominated the news. The rate of disapproval among Democrats stands at 20%.

The question of survival might sound absurd under normal circumstances, but there has not been anything “normal” about Obama’s first term in which he lied repeatedly to Americans to secure the passage of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—and then claimed that what he and Congressional Democrats said was an inadvertent misstatement of the facts. His namesake legislation has been a disaster from the beginning. Nothing about it works and it costs more while destroying the healthcare insurance system.

And he has continued to lie to the point where anyone above the age of five has concluded that nothing he says can be trusted. So, if he weren’t President, he could be fired, but he can’t. He can be impeached, but he won’t because Republicans tried that with Bill Clinton and it failed. So that leaves only the forthcoming November midterm elections as a means to curb his further destruction of the economy and all other aspects of life in America.

It is useful to keep in mind that Americans have survived hard times, from the long Revolutionary War to the Civil War through many financial crises and, of course, the Great Depression in the last century. In these and other hard times, many suffered, but the nation was sustained.

I know the headlines out of Wall Street continue to be good. The bankers and the investment crowd know how to turn a dollar, but there are scores of opinion pieces saying that the collapse of the dollar is eminent or that another financial crisis like the one in 2008 is just around the corner. For the record, the banks that survived that crisis, the ones that were “too big to fail”, were not only bailed out with taxpayer dollars, but paid it back and thereafter enjoyed enormous profits thanks to a Federal Reserve that charged no interest on the money it loans them.

On March 6, Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger opined that “Putin Carterizes Obama, Totally.” I remember Jimmy Carter mostly for the lines I had to wait in to get gas for my car. Then there was the seizure of American diplomats in Tehran, Iran in 1979. Every day since then the Iranians wake up crying out “Death to America. Death to Israel” and they mean it. So with whom is Barack Obama and his idiot Secretary of State, John Kerry, “negotiating”? The same Iranians. You know, the ones who were shipping dozens of Syrian-made surface-to-surface rockets to the Palestinians in Gaza until the Israelis boarded the ship in the Red Sea last week and put a stop to that. The same ones he relieved of the sanctions regarding their nuclear weapons program.

What makes me ask the question about survival is the way the ideologies that Obama believes—Communism, Islam, and his ability to influence other nations—blind him to reality. Thinking that diplomacy will get the Iranians to stop their quest to build their own nuclear weapons isn’t just stupid, it’s insane.

It’s the same with his views of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Having “re-set” the former Cold War relationship with Russia, Obama has just discovered that Putin has not. Given the political turmoil in Ukraine, Putin did what all of his predecessors did for hundreds of years; he decided to take control of the Crimea. Why not? Russia has essential shipping ports there and some airfields. The Crimea was part of Russia for hundreds of years. Putin knows that Obama will not go to war over these events. He wouldn’t even take on Syria when it used poison gas.

While Russian troops were moving into Crimea, the President had his Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, announce reductions in the Pentagon budget that would reduce our military power to pre-World War Two days. Last week, China announced it was going to increase its military budget 12.2% within a week or so of the U.S. announcement it was reducing its military budget to pre-World War Two levels.

Obama’s weakness and his policies that weaken America economically and militarily have not gone unnoticed around the world.

It’s hard to win wars with stateless fascist Muslims that call themselves al Qaeda and other names. Throughout the Middle East, despite their increase in numbers, the states there are trying to fight them. The Taliban will regain Afghanistan about a week after we leave while Egypt has allied with Russia after Obama backed the Muslim Brotherhood. A third of Iraq is now controlled by al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates just withdrew its ambassadors from Qatar for backing the Muslim Brotherhood. It is home to al Jazeera, the television channel.

At home the Environmental Protection Agency continues to play havoc with the economy and, in particular, our need for electricity with its “war on coal.” It is undertaking a regulatory storm to control all aspects of our lives.

The question of whether America can survive Obama is not inconsequential.

He’s all for same-sex marriage, the legalizing of marijuana, and forcing people to violate their strong moral and religious convictions. He keeps talking about jobs but there are millions unemployed and millions on government welfare programs. The nation’s economy has gotten worse since Obama was elected in 2008 to fix it. And he prefers to rely on executive orders than to work with Congress.

Elections have consequences. Let’s hope the voters keep that in mind in November.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

COMMON CORE ACTION ALERT: Making Phone Calls Does “Make a Difference”!

I can tell you first hand that making these calls makes a huge difference as I just spent a good 15 minutes on the phone speaking to Robert Schulte (Assistant to Kim McDougal – Governor Rick Scott’s Education Policy Coordinator).

Call the Governor’s office at: (850) 717-9376 and you can speak directly to Robert, like I just did.

Robert Schulte was as professional, helpful and congenial as anyone could ask for. I picked his brain. I told him what I have done to fight Common Core these past 10 months; asked him some very pertinent questions about Common Core – with the most important one being: “Do phone calls like the one I am making to you, really matter and are they being recorded?” Robert answered my question by telling me: “Willy, every single call that we get in this office is tracked. We make notes as to what the call was about; what the topic was; and if it was a negative or positive call – in terms of an issue…such as Common Core”.

In case of phone calls about Common Core – which is the most talked about issue in Tallahassee right now – Robert told me that every single comment from callers are tracked and forwarded to Kim McDougal then, compiled and forwarded to the governor, himself. So, every call that we make, matters. Especially when they are “Calls Complaining about Common Core” – the “4 C’s. Those calls are tracked, counted and accounted for. So, PLEASE MAKE THESE PHONE CALLS!!! The more “negative” calls that the governor’s office receives about Common Core – the more of a chance we have in “reversing the Curse“. That is one reason why Governor Scott threw PARCC out of Florida several months ago. If we can put enough pressure on Governor Scott – he may just throw out Common Core once and for all…and he’s got a good throwing arm.

The most important topic that Robert and I spoke about was the “Elections in November”, as we all know that Governor Scott needs every single vote that he can muster. And, cutting to the chase, I asked Robert a simple question: “How important is Governor Scott’s decision to either implement Common Core in the state of Florida or to drop Common Core, altogether in regards to him being re-elected?” Knowing that we constituents hold Governor’s Scott’s votes, Robert told me that this controversy of Common Core weighs very heavy on whether Rick Scott will be re-elected. Friends: I know for a fact that this Common Core issue will either make or break Governor Scott and will be the determining factor of whether he gets another term as our governor of Florida.

So, please make these phone calls because they count…just like every one of our votes.

ACTION ITEM: HOW MUCH WILL COMMON CORE COST YOU?

Posted by Vic Cirillo

There has never been a fiscal study of how much it will cost to implement Common Core. No one really knows how much it will cost your local school district to implement CC. A few years ago the feds bribed Florida with “Race to the Top” money to get our politicians to agree to implement Common Core, but guess what? The Race to the Top money is almost gone so Common Core costs will have to be covered with new money. Is Tallahassee going to start giving more money to the schools? Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Most likely new expenses will be unfunded mandates that your local school district will have to cover and they probably don’t have the money to do so. That means they will have to cut something else or get more taxes from you, all to implement an education curriculum whose merits have been shrouded in secrecy. Good public policy is done in the sunlight, not in secrecy. Florida has been conned, we need to tell our elected officials to back out of Common Core. The mood in Tallahassee is that many of our legislators are on the fence and they need to know that we the citizens don’t want liberal, ham-fisted, D.C. central planner’s data mining our kids and gaming the lesson plans to teach them to be good little servants of the state. These are OUR schools, the schools WE pay for, the schools WE elect school board members to govern, the schools WE and our neighbors send our children to, the FLORIDA schools, not the federal schools.

Legislative Subterfuge

Common Core Opponents just returning from Tallahassee report that after meetings with members of the House and Senate Education Committees on the issue of Common Core those legislators and their staff were all working off the same talking points to sidetrack and confuse those opposing Common Core, including the Governor’s office. The Florida Department of Education recently made minor adjustments to Common Core and Rep. Janet Adkins and the K-12 Subcommittee passed a bill (PCB TKS 14-01) , that removes references to Common Core and changes the name to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards or Florida Standards. Remember that last year our Florida legislators redefined the term Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include Common Core. This is just a change in semantics with no change in implementation. After just a couple of meetings, it would have been laughable if weren’t so sad that they actually think we will be fooled by their subterfuge. Despite minor changes to the standards and a new name, Common Core Standards are still moving forward in Florida.

SB 864 and HB 921 are end around bills designed to make the public believe they oppose Federal intrusion and Common Core standards (see below). If all the textbooks we have to choose from are aligned to Common Core, and the students’ tests will be based on Common Core, and schools and teachers will be graded on their students’ tests, there is still no choice for school districts but Common Core aligned curriculum, most of which is produced by Pearson PLC and the College Board.

Senate President Don Gaetz and Speaker Will Weatherford told us in person that these are the bills they support and they will not allow SB 1316 and HB 25 to be heard in Committee: Why Not? Because, Debby Mayfield’s bill HB 25, is the only bill that actually will stop Common Core, and they know it.

HB 25 is Representative Debbie Mayfield’s Stop Common Core bill. Its first committee stop is the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Representative Eric Fresen. So far he is refusing to schedule the bill for a committee hearing. Call him at 850-717-5114 and demand that he schedule the bill for a hearing.

Representative Marlene O’Toole is Chair of the House Education committee. Call her at 850-717-5033 and tell her you support HB25 and want it heard in her committee.

SB1316 by Senator Evers is the Senate companion bill to HB25. Senator John Legg is the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Call Senator Legg at 850-487-5017 and tell him you support SB1316 and want it scheduled for a hearing in his committee.

Finally, call the Governor’s Education Policy Coordinator, Kim McDougal at 850-717-9376. You will get her assistant, Robert Schulte. Tell him you want to speak to Kim McDougal. He will want to take a message for her. Tell him to tell his boss, that her boss, the Governor, will pay a high price at the polls in November if he continues with the implementation of Common Core.

We must not go quietly! We must not go down without a fight! CALL TODAY!

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of Holger.Ellgaard. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Obamacare Victims: 50 States, 50 Stories

David Rutz from the Washington Free Beacon reports, “Whether it’s been soaring premiums, insurance cancellations, frustrations with the state and federal exchanges, cutting employee hours or even day care centers closing down, the Affordable Care Act’s negative effects have touched all 50 states. Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) saw it a different way in a strange outburst on the floor Feb. 26, calling all Obamacare horror stories ‘lies’ and ‘stories made up from whole cloth.’”

Here are 50 states worth of Harry Reid’s liars.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/gFDm0mGhcdg[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORY: John Goodman: ObamaCare’s Fourth Anniversary—A Costly Failed Experiment – Wall Street Journal

Common Core opponents under attack by big business

Recently we reported about Common Core and shared this enlightening video regarding the government’s attempt to mandate education standards.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/PprP5TCZBRI[/youtube]

Common Core has run into very strong grassroots opposition and has become a focal issue for the conservative grassroots Tea Party. However, Common Core supporters, backed by big business special interests, aren’t going down without a fight. And they’ll fight in the manner they know best — with big money.

According to Politico, a coalition including the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch a national advertising blitz Sunday targeted at Republicans skeptical about the standards. Spots promoting the Common Core will air on Fox News and other conservative outlets.

The campaign — a major ad buy that could last months — aims to undercut dire tea party warnings that the standards amount to a federal power grab, akin to Obamacare. The TV spots and online ads will project a positive tone, featuring teachers praising the Common Core.

I spent a year teaching American and world history as well as honors government in high school after my retirement from the Army. I can attest that what is happening in our schools is not teaching but rather instructing on test-taking strategies. We are not preparing young people to be productive participants in our communities, developing their critical thinking skills or making education relevant.

It’s all because bureaucrats and those who profit from them are developing standards — national standards — that seem to forget one integral aspect of education: it is local. We have school boards for a reason and that’s to set standards and guidelines that educate children in coordination with the local community.

For example, you might think that since South Florida is home to maritime heavy industry, education would focus on preparing our children here for that industry. And why wouldn’t the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce support more private sector involvement in practical application of education to support the theory taught? Evaluations should be based on skill set development, not nebulous and arbitrary standards developed by folks just peddling their wares, textbooks and such.

The bottom line is that big business has been recruited by Common Core proponents to destroy the grassroots, everyday Americans. And they intend to use their financial might to meet that end.

Dane Linn, vice president of the Business Roundtable and one of the architects of the Common Core says “State leaders, and the general public, need to understand why employers care about the Common Core.” The Business Roundtable, he said, is urging members to work their connections with “governors, committee chairs, House speakers, presidents of Senates” to stop any bills that could undercut the standards.

Mr. Linn needs to understand why parents care about Common Core.

And so it begins folks, the fight between big business and the grassroots. As I’ve said before, progressivism has nothing to do with party affiliation. It’s all about a philosophy of governance and the relation between government and the individual.

It is not the purview of the federal government to nationalize education standards. Nor is it proper for the federal government to blackmail states into accepting their terms of education. And it’s certainly not proper for big business to seek to financially crush the voices of concerned parents and teachers.

Neither I, nor my wife, Dr. Angela Graham-West, PhD, support common core. And I offer a word of advice to Republican candidates: listen to the people, and resist the temptation to betray them over the 30 pieces of silver these special interest groups promise. You will lose. I for one am more than willing and ready to stand up to Big Business as a champion for the American people.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. The featured photo is of The United States Chamber of Commerce headquarters at 1615 H Street, NW in Washington, D.C. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia.

ABC Pilot “Alice in Arabia”: The Truth more Damning than Fiction

Creeping Sharia (CS) has featured our NER articles and Iconoclast posts on kidnapping of American children by Saudi Fathers. See An American Child Kidnapped in Accordance with Sharia and An American’s Rescue from Abduction to Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday, CS posted on an InsideTV/ Entertainment Weekly story about CAIR’s demand to control an ABC Family pilot about a fictional abduction by Saudi relatives of an American girl and her eventual escape. That pales by comparison with the truth about real episodes of such kidnappings.

We wonder what both Professor Margaret McClain and Yasmeen Alexandria Davis would say regarding this latest attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood front. They are  seeking to intimidate the  pilot’s producers and the cable TV channel for daring to unveil Sharia intrusion on the fundamental Constitution rights of American citizens, women and children.  We believe that Professor McClain’s story portrays Sharia Islamic law practiced by Saudi men denying basic liberties under our Constitution in violation of state and federal laws, as well as, international conventions against parental kidnapping.  As portrayed in our interview with Ms. Davis, our State Department did little to rescue her.  Instead, it was left to the resourcefulness of her mother and grandmother to accomplish that feat.   Ms. Davis’ resistance to physical abuse by her Saudi Father for her refusal to convert to Islam was a living nightmare.  A nightmare that is still very real and palpable.  Her Saudi father, who made threats to kill her, still keeps tabs on her via lawyers’ letters and attempts to visit her by an ex-FBI agent. They continually ask her if she would refrain from invoking an outstanding Interpol warrant for her father’s arrest for his abduction of her.  He is seeking  to bring  children by another marriage from Saudi Arabia on a visit to Disney World.

That is the ultimate chutzpah of Sharia, practiced by fundamentalist Muslims both here and abroad.  Sharia, when intrudes on our laws, should be deterred from recognition in state legal systems, including Florida.   American Law for American Courts legislation is currently making its fourth attempt at passage in the Florida legislature.  Perhaps this latest attempt by CAIR to muzzle free thought, coupled with stories of Sharia’s war on American women and children, can aid in  securing passage in the 2014 session of the  Florida state legislature. We shall see.

Our thanks to the team at CS for pointing out this related story and the cases of both Professor McClain and Ms. Davis.  Sending those stories to the ABC Family producers of the fictional pilot might embolden them to tell the truth about what lies behind the medieval barbarity of Sharia.  If so inclined you might Tweet at hashtag #AliceinArabia to protest CAIR’s move or call   ABC Family President Tom Ascheim at  818- 460-7477.  818-460-747   Let him know that the pilot needs to rebut CAIR’s intimidation by revealing the truth of these cautionary testimonies by Professor McClain and Ms. Davis.

Here is the CS post: Terror-linked CAIR wants to control ABC Family’s pilot on Saudi kidnapping of American girl

Real life Saudi-Muslim abduction dramas are playing out in the U.S. daily…while terror-linked CAIR is busy fighting for Sharia law across the U.S. via ABC Family’s ‘Alice in Arabia’ sparks outrage | Inside TV | EW.com.

ABC Family’s recently announced drama pilot Alice in Arabia is inciting significant backlash on Twitter and from a Muslim civil liberties organization. The pilot follows an American teen who is kidnapped by her Saudi Arabian extended family and must “find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, called for the cable network to meet with Muslim and Arab-American community leaders to discuss their grievances with the potential series. CAIR sent a letter to ABC Family president Tom Ascheim on Tuesday requesting a meeting with its organization and other groups.

“We want ABC to sit down and to meet with us and have a dialogue,” spokeswoman Yasmin Nouh told EW. “[And] to recognize that the portrayal of [this story has] real consequences on Muslims and especially on Muslim youth, not only how others treat them, but in terms of how they see themselves.”

The organization has not yet received a response from ABC Family, which is owned by Disney, but a spokesperson for the cable network  issued the following statement: “We hope people will wait to judge this show on its actual merits once it is filmed. The writer is an incredible storyteller and we expect “Alice” to be a nuanced and character driven show.”

Here is the full ABC Family description of the pilot:

“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil. The pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously served in the US Army as a Cryptologic Linguist in the Arabic language, trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East. She left the service in September 2013 with the rank  of E-4 Specialist.”

Very troubling to several on Twitter is the reference to living life “behind the veil,” which Nouh says is just part of the bigger issue with the plot line. “The veil connotes and is equated to oppression, you are in an oppressive land with oppressive people and the veil is just a part of that,” she said.

The response on Twitter has been immense since Tuesday, with people using the Twitter hashtag #AliceinArabia to share their opinions and solicit a call to action.

Will ABC Family agree to the terror-linked, FBI-banned CAIR demands and meet with the Hamas front group? Will the unindicted co-conspirator be allowed to dictate what is shown and said on network television? 

Is Brooke Eikmeier aware of who CAIR is? Was her training whitewashed to prevent her from learning the truth about terror-linked Muslim organizations in the United States? Will she too be smeared and submitted to Hamas-CAIR litigation jihad? Will she whitewash the reality of what goes on in Saudi Arabia? Are real life Alice’s “intrigued by its [Saudi Muslim slavery] offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation”?

RELATED COLUMN: Islamic sharia law adopted by British legal chiefs

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Florida TV Station Exposes Voter Fraud, DOJ Sues State to Stop Purging Rolls

“While the Obama Justice Department mounts a legal challenge against Florida for purging ineligible voters from its rolls, a television news station broadcasts an unbelievable segment that proves non U.S. citizens living in the Sunshine State vote regularly in elections,” reports Judicial Watch.

The investigative piece was aired this week by an NBC affiliate in southwest Florida that actually tracked down and interviewed non U.S. citizens who are registered to vote and have cast ballots in numerous elections. The segment focused on Lee County, which has a population of about 620,000 and Collier County with a population of around 322,000. The reporter spent about two months digging around the voter rolls in the two counties and the discoveries are dumbfounding.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/2hjmKBfrycQ[/youtube]

In that short time, more than 100 people registered to vote in those two areas were proven to be ineligible by the reporter. A Cape Coral woman, eligible to vote in elections, was tracked down through jury excusal forms that verify she’s not a U.S. citizen. A Naples woman, who is not a U.S. citizen either, voted six times in 11 years without being detected by authorities. A Jamaican man is also registered to vote though he’s not eligible. The reporter obtained his 2007 voter registration form, which shows the Jamaican man claims to be a U.S. citizen. Problem is, no one bothers checking to see if applicants are being truthful.

Incredibly, election supervisors confirmed on camera that there’s no way for them to verify the citizenship of people who register to vote. The only way to detect fraud is if the county offices that oversee elections receive a tip, they say, and only then can they follow up.  As inconceivable as this may seem, it appears to be true. Election supervisors in counties across the United States have their hands tied when it comes to this sort of voter registration fraud. They neither have the resources nor the authority to take action without knowledge of specific wrongdoing.

In an effort to remedy the situation, Florida Governor Rick Scott launched a program a few years ago to purge ineligible voters from registration rolls. The Department of Justice (DOJ) was quick to sue the state to stop the purging because the agency claims it discriminates against minorities. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has colluded with the DOJ in Florida and the head of the group’s local chapter says purging voter rolls disproportionately affects the state’s most vulnerable groups, namely minorities.

ABOUT JUDICIAL WATCH

Judicial Watch has been a leader in investigating voter fraud and in 2012 launched a special Election Integrity Project. As part of the initiative JW has examined publicly available data that indicates that voter rolls in a number of states—including Florida, Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, California, Colorado and Ohio—contain the names of individuals who are ineligible to vote. The JW investigation has shown that there appear to be more individuals on voter registration lists in these states than there are individuals eligible to vote, including dead people.

Bill Gates’ Sobering 2009 Speech on Common Core Data Mining

On March 13, 2014, Bill Gates had dinner with 80 senators and other elected officials. Given his keynote the following day to members of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), make no mistake that Gates used his time with the senators and other officials to push the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

However, Gates is more than CCSS. Gates is the entire spectrum of reforms, and he is more than willing to use his influence to promote his opinion of educational reform to those supposedly elected By the People.

The following text is an excerpt from Gates’ 2009, speech to the National Council of State Legislatures, which “co-chair” Gates offered as part of his complete speech on so-called education reform.

The entire speech is worth a sobering read:

We’ve been in an economic crisis for a year or so. But we’ve been in an education crisis for decades. …

You are the authorizers and appropriators of school reform in America. The president and the Congress can make recommendations—and they have passed a stimulus package with billions of dollars you can spend to advance school reform—but ultimately, you decide.

(Keep in mind Gates is speaking to legislators.)

I hope you decide to accelerate reform.

The institutions and innovations that are getting great outcomes should be expanded. Those that aren’t should be changed or ended.

To do this, we need to measure what matters. …

Without measurement, there is no pressure for improvement. …

I would urge the legislators here (with colleges) to start the push to greater measurement by asking the colleges and universities in your districts to publish their graduation rates. …

Caps should be lifted for charter school operators who have a proven record of success—and charters should be offered the same per-pupil funding as other public schools. As you know, a relatively small percentage of schools are responsible for a high percentage of the dropouts. We can make dramatic advances by replacing the worst schools with high-performing charters —operated by organizations with a great track record. …

(“Great track record” = high test scores)

Charter schools, in my view, have been the lead researchers in the most important recent finding in the field of school reform. Namely: The most decisive factor in student achievement is the teacher. …

No factor advances student achievement more than an effective teacher. So a true reformer will be obsessed with one question: “What changes will improve the quality of teaching, so every student can have an effective teacher?”

We need to take two enabling steps: we need longitudinal data systems that track student performance and are linked to the teacher; and we need fewer, clearer, higher standards that are common from state to state. The standards will tell the teachers what their students are supposed to learn, and the data will tell them whether they’re learning it. …

Fortunately, the state-led Common Core State Standards Initiative is developing clear, rigorous common standards that match the best in the world. Last month, 46 Governors and Chief State School Officers made a public commitment to embrace these common standards.

This is encouraging—but identifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.

Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced that $350 million of the stimulus package will be used to create just these kinds of tests—next-generation assessments aligned to the common core.

When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buyproducts that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. …

All states and districts should collect common data on teachers and students.We need to define the data in a standardized way, we need to collect all of it for all of our students, and we need to enter it in something cheap and simple that people can share.  …

We’ll know we have the answer when teachers are eager to see the data….

(This contradicts Gates’ comment below about “pushback.” Teachers are not “eager” to have their classrooms and careers standardized.)

This responsibility—to a great extent—lies with you.

(The legislators hold the power– not the teachers– not the parents.)

I’m asking you to draw on the stimulus funding to do two things:

1. Embrace common standards and data systems so we can know where we stand and how to move forward.

 2. Raise the quality of teaching by measuring teacher effectiveness, encouraging innovation, and spreading best practices.

I know you’ll face pressure if you push for reform. …

(So now, in 2014, Gates is “helping” legislators who are “facing pressure.” It’s called grassroots pushback from violating the tenets of democratic process, Bill.)

This is a national challenge.

It doesn’t really matter whether you are driven by an ethical commitment to equal opportunity or by a long-term economic vision for the country. Both lines of reasoning lead to the same conclusion. We need to measure progress. We need to hold teachers and schools accountable. …

If your state doesn’t join the common standards, your kids will be left behind;and if too many states opt out—the country will be left behind. Remember—this is not a debate that China, Korea, and Japan are having. Either our schools will get better—or our economic position will get worse.

(Keep in mind that the economic crisis of 2008 was not induced by America’s public education system. It was the product of deregulation and corporate greed by powerful individuals– not by common citizens.)

Common standards define what the students need to learn; robust data systems tell us whether they’re learning it—and they tell us a whole lot more than that. [Bolding and commentary added.]

(Regarding the “whole lot more”– consider this lawsuit against ACT and College Board– two companies that were really “at the table” in CCSS development– for the selling of personal student information.)

There you have it.

For years, Gates has been pushing his version of so-called education reform for Other People’s Children.

His kids attend Seattle’s elite Lakeside School, a place where there is no corporate reform “pushback” because there are no corporate-driven reforms.

We regular folk need to keep up the fight.

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

Florida House: Resident In-state Tuition for Illegal Aliens passes by vote of 81-33! Did they read the bill?

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) states, “When immigration is viewed only racially and culturally, limits and legality will never be imposed.  The debate must focus on limitations and lawfulness, otherwise open borders will make the United States a marketplace and not a country.”

Florida resident Tad MacKie was perplexed at the overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives to grant illegal aliens resident in-state tuition to Florida’s colleges and universities. In an email to his representatives and senators MacKie states:

Rep’s Pilon, Steube and Boyd,

Thank you all for your NO votes on HB 851… You each are part of the few who actually took your fiduciary duty to the citizens of Florida, in general, and to your constituents, in particular, seriously.

It is a shame that 70% of your “colleagues” do not, including two from the Sarasota/Manatee delegation.

Rep’s Rouson and Holder,

The two of you, on the other hand, apparently believe that $700/year, from EVERY legal household in Florida, is just, somehow, not enough to give to, or spend because of, those people who have seen fit to break into our Country and our State. You have chosen to completely ignore the rights of, and your fiduciary duty to, EVERY person in your respective districts and in Florida who is either a citizen or those more-than-welcomed immigrants who have been respective of our laws… How dare you?.. You have brought both dishonor and shame on yourselves and the office with which the LEGAL citizens and voters have entrusted you.

Senators Detert and Galvano,

It is my fervent hope and desire that both of you will show the wisdom, fortitude and respect for your office, your constituents and the rule of law, as Rep’s Pilon, Steube and Boyd have, when the same question is brought before you.

For the rest of my readers,

How did YOUR “Representative”, that is, the person who, supposedly, represents YOU, vote on the issue of granting tuition waivers to ILLEGAL aliens? By the way, that “in-state tuition”…? Well… It amounts to right about $13, 500, per year, per student, out of your tax money.

See the “Summary Analysis” and “Full Analysis” of the bill.

The Summary Analysis does not even mention that illegals will be given waivers and neither the Summary nor Full Analysis states what the fiscal impact will be on the state education budget.

If the Representatives only read the Summary Analysis, they didn’t even know what they were voting on.

The Full Analysis reads:

The bill provides that students, regardless of immigration status, who attend a Florida high school for 3 consecutive years and enroll in an institution of higher education within 24 months after graduation are not required to pay out-of-state fees, provided they submit their high school transcript as documentary evidence of attendance and graduation. While these students are not classified as residents for tuition purposes, they may be reported for purposes of state funding[Emphasis added]

MacKie points out the “Summary Analysis” exempts the following types of students from the payment of out-of-state fees:

Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, including reserve components, who physically reside in Florida while enrolled in a Florida postsecondary institution; and

Students who attend a Florida high school for 3 consecutive years and enroll in a postsecondary institution within 24 months after graduation, provided they submit their high school transcript as documentary evidence of attendance and graduation.”

“You’ll notice the Summary Analysis does NOT say “regardless of immigration status”, as does the actual bill and the Full Analysis [above]. The point being that IF the house member did not read the entire “Full Analysis”, he/she could have easily misinterpreted the meaning and intent of the bill,” writes MacKie.

Click here to view how each member of the Florida House of Representatives voted on HB 851.

FILMEN concludes, “The bottom line nationally is that illegal immigration continues to hurt American families, take away jobs and depress wages of fathers and mothers who desperately want to support their children without going on welfare. The bottom line here in Florida is HB851/SB1400 will cause an unknown number of legal students to be displaced from college by illegal alien students. There is absolutely no estimate of the fiscal cost of college tuition subsidy for illegal aliens.”

Many see this as Republicans pandering for votes among Florida’s Hispanic population. Dr. Larry Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, wrote, “Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people. If you encourage something, you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it.”

The short term effect of Republican pandering to get Hispanic votes harms all Floridians in the long run. Rewarding lawlessness will cause more lawlessness. The floodgates to our colleges and universities are now wide open to illegal aliens. People who have broken the laws of this land will be sitting next to legal students thumbing their collective illegal noses at them.

Is this vote is just one step towards a vote for amnesty? That is the question.

RELATED STORY: Jeb Bush Praises Illegal Immigrants as ‘Risk Takers,’ Defends Common Core

Meet The Florida Citizen Lobbyists backing ALAC in the 2014 Legislative Session

The Florida version of the American Law for American Courts (ALAC) is up for its fourth try in the 2014 Legislative session in Tallahassee. In contrast to prior years, there is concerted effort by bill sponsors, Sen. Alan Hays (R- Umatilla) and Rep. Neil Combee in the House of Representatives to seek Senate and House leadership, as well as Committee commitments for passage of the bills. There is also  new message that was conveyed to Florida legislators on both House and Senate Committees; Senate Bill 0386/House Bill 903:  “acceptance of foreign law in certain cases”.  The message is that ALAC guards against the recognition of foreign laws in Florida Courts in violation of fundamental Constitutional rights of all citizens, especially women and children.

Professor Margaret McClain

Professor Margaret McClain at CFC 2014 Legislative Prayer Breakfast, Tallahassee

That message was communicated  at the March 13th  Florida Christian Family Coalition (CFC)   Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast by Professor Margaret McClain , a retired Arkansas State University professor, whose  daughter Heidi  was kidnapped at the age of 5 and removed to Saudi Arabia by her ex-Husband..  See our New English Review article, An American Child Kidnapped in Accordance with Shariah.  Professor McClain’s experience was also  amplified  in a recent  Iconoclast  interview  with  Yasmeen Alexandria Davis, a Florida young woman, who at  13 years of age  was  rescued from  a kidnapping by her Saudi father through the resourcefulness and persistence of her mother and grandmother. Her Saudi father relentless keep tabs on her through a  US lawyers and an ex-FBI agent retained by him. See An American’s Rescue from Abduction to Saudi Arabia.

Both incidents were violations of state, federal and international conventions on parental kidnapping, but sanctioned under Sharia Islamic law. Professor McClain and Yasmeen Alexandria Davis testified about abduction of American children to  Saudi Arabia  in a panel of such women, children, and a father at a US House 2002 Government Reform Committee chaired by former Indian Republican Rep. Dan Burton. Professor McClain  gave proof f to the CFC lobbyists based on her personal experience why passage of ALA in Florida was needed to protect American women and children against alien laws that imperil their  fundamental Constitutional  and basic human rights. The CFC has made passage of ALAC a priority in the 2014 legislature.

Sen_ Alan Hays Sponsor of ALAC

Sen. Alan Hays, Sponsor of Florida ALAC, SB 0386 at CFC Legislative Prayer Breakfast, 2014.

The 75  trained men and women, members of the CFC who heard Professor McClain and ALAC Senate Bill sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays,  Rep. Larry Ahern, sponsor of  a bill, Offenses against the Unborn Children (OAUC), fanned out to meet legislators. They  were  equipped with FAQs sheet on why ALAC  is needed and a  list of nearly  two dozen Florida lower court and appellate cases in which foreign laws were recognized . How effective were they? According to a report by the CFC:

They met with a total of thirty-nine (39) lawmakers and secured thirty-two (32) co-sponsors/supporters on our legislative priorities. Nineteen (19) co-sponsors and supporters on American Laws for American Courts and thirteen (13) co-sponsors and supporters on the Offenses Against the Unborn Bill.

Neither they nor CFC’s executive director, Anthony Vertigo is resting on their laurels.  They are planning another Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Citizen Lobby Day in Tallahassee the week prior to the close of the Florida legislative session on May 2nd, to assure that those ALAC commitments and others are honored.

Anthony Verdugo  CFC executive director

Anthony Verdugo, executive director, CFC Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast.

CFC, according to its executive director Verdugo has been going to Tallahassee for 10 years to lobby on issues like ALAC and OAUC.   CFC has more than 1,500 pastors and churches and over 16,000 members in Florida.  Its scorecard in conducting Citizen Lobbying on social issues of concern has been effective..  Verdugo said in an email that CFC’s among successes were the bi-partisan Stand for Israel resolution, Prayer Time in Schools, etc. – Parental Notification, Ultrasound Bill, Boy Scout Resolution, and Parental Rights Resolution. A so-called Anti-Bullying and Domestic Partnership bills were dropped.  “All told, we have made the difference on about [a] dozen bills over the last ten years”.

While it is too early to tell, the fourth try at passing ALAC is yielding some initial success, The House version of ALAC HB903 passed the House Civil Justice  Subcommittee on March 18th on a partisan vote of 8 Republicans to 4 Democrats.  The House version of ALAC has been also referred  to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing.  That  is the last Committee hearing  before a  Floor vote is  to be scheduled.  A looming first hearing on the Senate version, SB 0386, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25th before the Senate Judiciary Committee..  SB0386 has  also been referred to  Government Oversight and Rules before a possible floor Vote.

ALAC in Florida may have better prospects than in the three previous sessions. The evidence  from research of   recognition  of foreign laws in a significant number of lower court and appellate level decisions  in Florida may answer legislators’ questions of why it is needed. Protection of Florida’s women and children from foreign laws appears to  put a human face on why ALAC should be passed.  Nonetheless,  political horse trading will be  crucial in navigating the legislative process to a possible successful conclusion in the 2014 session in Tallahassee.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

LA City Council Ignores Science; Claims Hydraulic Fracturing Caused Earthquake

In their efforts to block hydraulic fracturing, some Los Angeles City Council members don’t want to let the St. Patrick’s Day earthquake go to waste:

Three Los Angeles City Council members want city, state and federal groups to look into whether hydraulic fracturing and other forms of oil and gas “well stimulation” played any role in the earthquake that rattled the city early Monday morning.

The motion, presented Tuesday by Councilmen Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin and seconded by Councilman Bernard Parks, asks for city departments to team up with the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to report back on the likelihood that such activities contributed to the 4.4-magnitude quake.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/KiB7ny52-xw[/youtube]

 

National Review Online talked to City Council Member Bernand Parks:

Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”

No one should be surprised that the ground often rumbles in Los Angeles, a city lying on top of an area prone to earthquakes, but that doesn’t mean city leaders can ignore geophysics.

A scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey stated nicely that Council Members’ theory that hydraulic fracturing caused Monday’s earthquake is hogwash:

Seismologist Lucy Jones, a USGS science advisor for risk reduction, said she would need to know much more about nearby pumping in the area, such as whether someone was changing the water pressure deep in the ground, to say whether it could have been a factor in the Monday temblor.

However, “my first impression is that sounds implausible,” Jones said, “just because the earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this.”

According to seismographic data, the quake was six miles beneath the surface.

What’s more, Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics in the Stanford School of Earth Sciences, hydraulic fracturing expert, and a former advisor for the Obama administration’s Department of Energy has said that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t have the oomph to cause earthquakes and poses “no danger to the public”:

The energy released by one of these tiny microseismic events is equivalent to the energy of a gallon of milk hitting the floor after falling off a kitchen counter.

The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch reports on other research finding tenuous links between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes:

A peer-reviewed 2012 study on fracking in the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles County found that “the high-volume hydraulic fracturing and high-rate gravel packs had no detectable effects on vibration, and did not induce seismicity (earthquakes).”

The National Research Council, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, also found last year that fracking poses a low risk for “inducing felt seismic events.”

“We also find that there is no evidence to suggest that hydraulic fracturing itself is the cause of the increased rate of earthquakes,” wrote David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, in a 2012 report.

This effort is the latest in the Los Angeles City Council’s anti-hydraulic fracturing crusade. In February, the Council agreed to draw up rules to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, and in March, it followed through by authorizing changes in land-use laws to ban the technology in the city.

It’s apparent that science won’t stop these politicians from exploiting a natural event in order to slam hydraulic fracturing, an extremely beneficial tool for creating jobs and improving America’s energy security.

Frustrating Michael Moore by Sheldon Richman

The filmmaker needs to discover truly radical political economy.

If Michael Moore would study a little political economy he might turn into a potent champion of individual liberty.

As we see in Moore’s new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore is offended by some truly offensive things: banks engaging in wild speculation without concern for the risk, taxpayer bailouts for banks and other businesses, cozy relations between Wall Street and Washington, politicians getting favors from companies that want benefits from government, and big institutions pushing less powerful individuals around. True, he’s offended by some inoffensive things as well, such as the cut in the 90 percent top income-tax rate nearly 30 years ago. But by and large, what he rails against should be railed against.

(Update: Moore gets the tax-rate story wrong, and I let it get by me. The 91 percent top marginal rate fell to 77 in 1964 and 70 in 1965; this was the Kennedy tax cut — I wonder why Moore didn’t say that Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were the rate cutters. Under Republican Ronald Reagan, whom Moore wishes to demonize for cutting taxes for the rich, the rate dropped to 50 and eventually to 28 percent. HT: Gary Chartier.)

Had he called his movie State Capitalism: A Love Story, I might be applauding (with some reservations). But he’s targeting the more ambiguous “capitalism,” which he uses interchangeably with “the free market.” He can be forgiven for this, however. Most people would say that the current U.S. economic system is capitalist. Moore has probably heard that all his life. He’d hear if he watched a Fox financial program. Would Ben Stein or Lawrence Kudlow disagree? Moore has also heard Republican politicians, George W. Bush, for example, praise the existing system, with all its deep government interventions, as capitalist. He did this even as he and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former chief of Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs, stampeded Congress into passing the $700 billion TARP bailout last year. Moore takes such people at their word: The free market is capitalism, and capitalism is what we have today.

Can we blame him for thinking this way?

Yes, it’s sloppy thinking, and had he been more curious and read beyond the confines of “Progressive” literature, he could have gotten the straight story. But many knowledgeable advocates of the free market contribute to the confusion by exhibiting what Kevin Carson calls “vulgar libertarianism,” or what Roderick Long describes as “the tendency to treat the case for the free market as though it justified various unlovely features of actually existing corporatist society.” How often have you heard a free-market advocate condemn pro-business intervention in one breath, then defend existing dominant corporations in the next — as though they did not arise in the interventionist environment just condemned? Pro-market is not the same as pro-business. If some market advocates don’t understand that, why should Moore? Vulgar libertarianism is a disconnect that makes the free-market philosophy look like a corporate apologetic. It’s done incalculable damage to the cause of freedom, in part by alienating potential allies. Who knows, maybe even Michael Moore.

Aversion to Profit

This may go a long way in explaining Moore’s aversion to profit — at least other people’s. He associates profit with business, which he associates with (state) capitalism. So for him, profit per se is suspect. But he should see a problem here. Does he think he’s exploiting moviegoers when his production company ends up with a profit? Do the co-ops and worker-owned firms he loves exploit their customers when they sell their products for more than their money costs? When two people barter, are they mutually exploiting each other because each gets more value than he gives up? To consistently oppose profit, one would have to oppose all human action, since every action aims at a surplus of subjective benefit over subjective opportunity cost.

Cornered like this, Moore might say he’s only the against excessive profits that capitalist market power permits. But now we’re back where we started. To the extent that intervention hampers competition by erecting barriers to entry — which is the usual effect, intended or not — protected firms are free to charge higher prices and reap more profits than would have been the case in an open market. Corporate power and privilege derive from political power and can’t exist without it. In contrast to existing capitalism, the truly free market would have no legal barriers to competitive entry, assuring that prices and returns are economically justified and not the fruits of privilege. Strictly speaking, entrepreneurial profit in a true market gets competed away because the very process of capturing them reveals valuable information to others and invites imitation. It takes innovation and efficiency — that is, superior service to consumers — to create new profits. Only the State permits business to make profits by withholding benefits from consumers.

But Moore doesn’t know this. What he “knows” is that the choice is between the current corrupt system — and it is corrupt — and some vaguely defined scheme of control by benevolent politicians, which he calls socialism and democracy.

In his movie Moore expresses affection for socialism, but he’s not clear what he means. He never advocates collectivization of the means of production or the abolition of markets. Instead he suggests that socialism means workers having a say in how the companies they work for are run. But why assume that’s anti-free market? He praises worker-owned companies and notes that hundreds of them exist in the United States today. He might be surprised to learn that these things are entirely compatible with the free market. In fact, it’s a perfectly libertarian intuition to abhor being subject to the arbitrary whim of anyone — yes, even a private employer. If government regulatory and tax obstacles to new competition and self-employment did not exist, workers would have their maximum bargaining power and widest array of alternatives. I imagine we’d see more departures from the traditional firm. People used to get their “social insurance” from mutual aid societies. Maybe in a true free market, we’d see a bigger role for the employment counterpart to these public, yet not governmental, organizations.

What would Moore think about a system in which no one could collude with politicians to legally plunder the rest of us for their own benefit and everyone was free to enter into any cooperative arrangements to produce and offer goods to others in voluntary exchange? Michael, that’s the free market!

FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

Of course, Moore naively looks to government to provide things. His movie laments that FDR died before he could see his Second Bill of Rights enacted. Roosevelt wanted government to guarantee everyone a good education, job, home, health care, and so on. Has Moore ever wondered where government would get the resources for this? He can’t really believe that somewhere there’s a massive pot of collective wealth waiting to be distributed. He must realize that the tax system would provide the money. But how can he not know that if government appears to penalize wealth creation with confiscation, less wealth will be created?

Moore is unaware that he commits the “Nirvana fallacy.” This is the erroneous idea that our choice is between the admittedly imperfect world we’re bound to live in if government leaves us alone and an imagined utopia in which benevolent and all-wise rulers oversee and regulate everything. Of course that is not the choice. Moore’s preferred system, whatever he calls it, would be run by individuals whose insight into the public interest would be no sharper and whose motives no purer than other people’s. However, since they would wield political power — which is the legal authority to compel obedience– they would be far more dangerous than anyone in a free market could ever be. He knows how corrupt politicians are. Why does he think different people would run things in his utopia? Does he really want them in charge of everyone’s job, education, healthcare, housing, pension, and the rest? It’s hard to understand why he isn’t uncomfortable with the idea of the people being tenants and employees of the State.

Whether he realizes it or not, Moore favors a system in which an elite necessarily would make critical decisions for the rest of us. He’d be incredulous to hear that, but if he ever comes to understand it, libertarians might end up with an unlikely ally.

ABOUT SHELDON RICHMAN

Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and TheFreemanOnline.org, and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America’s Families.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Michael Moore is by Andrew McFarlane. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Beyond Crony Capitalism by Sandy Ikeda

Some libertarians don’t like the term “crony capitalism.” They complain that cronyism—the use of political power for private gain—is incompatible with capitalism, so why conflate the two terms? While they may have a point, I’d like to look beyond the issue of terminology and focus on the underlying phenomenon: The problems with interventionism go far beyond cronyism.

On Facebook and other places, libertarians talk among themselves with a heavy, almost exclusive focus on cronyism over other forms of interventionism. It troubles me.

What Is Crony Capitalism?

The idea behind crony capitalism is what we used to call “special-interest politics” or the more technical “rent seeking.” The politically powerful, or those with connections to them, use that power to channel wealth from other people to themselves.

Examples of cronyism aren’t hard to find, of course. Here in New York, our new mayor wants to tax high-income earners to fund pre-kindergarten programs in public schools in order to reward teachers’ unions for their help in getting him elected. Erecting trade barriers to protect the textile industry has a long and dishonorable history. And aspects of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) seem to have been designed to privilege well-established insurance companies, who can afford to lobby, at the expense of smaller ones who can’t.

I don’t want to go over this well-trod ground again. I raise the issue of cronyism for two reasons.

Imputing Bad Motives

First, the charge of cronyism or political opportunism assumes that those who favor interventionism do so for narrowly selfish, even venal reasons. Painting your opponents as crony capitalists puts you on the side of virtue—a free-market good guy who really wants to promote the general welfare.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not saying that free-market advocates don’t have good intentions. What I am saying is that imputing bad intentions to your opponents from the get-go may be fitting for a street fight—and I know there sometimes are street fights—but it’s a bad idea if you want constructive dialogue or debate.

F. A. Hayek explained that he dedicated his great book The Road to Serfdom “To Socialists of All Parties” not to mock his opponents but to open a conversation with them. Like his mentor Ludwig von Mises, he typically chose to treat people with whom he disagreed as men and women of goodwill. In other words, he refrained from assuming his adversaries were intellectually dishonest, unconquerably stupid, or plain evil. I know many of you will say, “But these people are evil!” Sorry, I don’t go there because it’s unnecessary, and if you want to know why, read this and this. When you foreclose honest dialogue, bullets replace ideas.

Ideas Inform Interests

Ultimately what underlies crony capitalism is bad ideas.

A common idea is that getting very rich from voluntary trade is tantamount to getting very rich from political redistribution. If the ways in which Vladimir Putin and Bill Gates each became billionaires are morally equivalent, the former mostly through threats of violence and the latter mostly by selling stuff, then what’s wrong with using aggression to get rich? Or, if they are equivalent, then can’t political power serve as a countervailing force against “economic power”? It’s easy to see how such ideas might appear to legitimize political power for special-interest pleading.

So bad intent may not always motivate even cronyism. I believe most of us, whatever our ideology, want to do good—for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities—most of the time. Mises wisely pointed out that the dichotomy between “interests versus ideology” is unhelpful because “it is not sensible to declare that ideas are a product of interests. Ideas tell a man what his interests are.”

Thus, as Henry Hazlitt argued long ago, preferring short-term gains for a small group of people over long-term improvement to the general welfare is just a bad idea because it ultimately runs counter to the interests of those who favor it.

Other Forms of Interventionism Are at Least As Important

The second reason I’m raising this issue is that the study of interventionism also includes looking at the unintended consequences of interventionism. Interventions are subject, to one degree or another, to what are called knowledge problems. Because knowledge in both the private and governmental spheres is imperfect, it’s simply not possible to be aware beforehand of how people will respond to an intervention. Knowledge problems generate perverse incentives that tend to frustrate the intentions of even well-meaning interventionists.

Perverse incentives refer to things such as people driving more recklessly as a result of mandating airbags in all cars, which is an example I used in a recent column. It also includes the spectacle of people losing their low-cost insurance because under Obamacare their coverage doesn’t meet the new minimum standards. (NBC news reported that the Obama administration may have known this would happen, but unlike crony capitalism it’s hard to see how this particular aspect of the ACA benefits anyone systematically, especially politically.)  Advocates of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour don’t realize the negative impact this increase would have on already disadvantaged low-wage workers, who will now be priced out of the labor market. For example, Time magazine reports that it could “lift 4–6 million out of poverty” but fails to mention that it could also increase unemployment by hundreds of thousands.

It’s hard to change the minds of hard-core proponents of interventionism (and of hard-core proponents of any ideology, including libertarianism) but there have been important examples. A recent one is the surprising change of heart by the activist/rock star Bono on the value of capitalism in developing countries. If changing minds through ideas isn’t possible, then I’m in the wrong business.

I don’t think I am.

I’m a Misesian on many issues, including this one. But here I’m also a Keynesian. In the closing paragraphs of his General Theory, Lord Keynes famously wrote:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. . . . I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.

I worry that focusing so narrowly on crony capitalism feeds into the very human but very misguided tendency to feel contempt for anyone who doesn’t believe as you do. Of course, there are those who do mock and tease, or worse, in arguments. But if you’re facing serious opponents, it’s better to regard them as people with gaps in their knowledge (which we all have) than to dismiss them as invincibly ignorant. Better to patiently point out the weaknesses of their arguments and to listen to what they have to say.

That’s hard, but it’s the only way to win. And by “win” I mean maintaining respect for yourself and being able to improve your position by seeing the weaknesses, as well as the strengths, in your own ideas.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?

Solar and Wind Power Losing Worldwide Support

In his state of the union speech in January President Obama claimed that the U.S. was closer to “energy independence” than ever. He was referring to solar energy while ignoring that his administration has been the most anti-fossil fuel energy than any previous one.

The U.S. has the greatest energy reserves, coal, oil and natural gas, of any nation in the world, but Obama has been waging a “war on coal”, delaying the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, and slow to issue permits to explore for new sources of energy reserves on federal lands. The impact on the economy is incalculable, but it is driving up the cost of energy for everyone and every industry.

Meanwhile, Obama keeps talking about “green jobs” and doubling the nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years.” This another fantasy to which he clings.

As Taylor Smith, a senior policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, points out “Despite years of favorable public policy, including renewable power mandates and billions in subsidies, solar power still produces only about 0.2 percent of the nation’s electricity. The National Conference of State Legislatures says power from most large, utility-scaled solar installations still costs about 35 percent more than electricity from natural gas plants; many other experts estimate the levelized cost is even higher.”

U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the United States is producing less electricity now than it did when Obama took office even with the inclusion of wind energy.

From 2008 to 2012, U.S. electricity production declined by 1.7 percent. That’s what happens when Environmental Protection Agency regulations force coal mines to close along with coal-fired plants that previously produced 50 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Suffice to say, Obama is the enemy of fossil fuel production and the energy it provides for electricity production and our transportation needs. That makes him the enemy of the American people.

In February, the National Review had an article, “Europe’s Green Collapse”, by Stephen Moore in which he noted that “Not long ago nearly all the nations of Europe bought into this same dream of a green energy free lunch as they legislated tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for solar and wind power while directly and indirectly taxing and capping carbon-based energy.”

That policy was set in motion by the United Nations Kyoto treaty in 1997. It was based on the global warming hoax that called for a reduction in so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions. The U.S. did not sign onto the treaty and Canada withdrew from it in 2012.

The Earth, however, has been in a natural cooling cycle for going on seventeen years, the result not of any manmade gases, but because of the Sun has been producing lower levels of solar radiation. The hoax is based largely on the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide warms the Earth when, in fact, it plays virtually no role whatever in the Earth’s climate. The Earth is likely to remain cooler for decades.

That fact has been brutally clear in Europe where the cold has been comparable to the temperatures the U.S. has been encountering. Moore reported that “In January Brussels announced with little media fanfare that the European Union is ditching their renewable-energy standards.” It is a matter of economic survival for Europe.

What is astonishing is the way both the U.S. and Europe adopted renewable energy production because it is unpredictable and mindlessly expensive. A major factor why the global warming hoax is collapsing, it has cost everyone here and in Europe billions in loans and subsidies. Both solar and wind require a backup from traditional power sources that utilize coal, oil and natural gas.

“Thanks to about $33 billion a year in government subsidies, Germany currently gets 25 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power, and that is scheduled to rise 40 to 45 percent by 2025.” Watch Germany abandon its plans. “The EU admits that the cost of electric power in member nations is often 50 to 100 percent higher than in the U.S,” noted Moore. “Manufacturers are starting to move plants out of the EU and even to, of all places, the U.S.”

“Here is a textbook case of how centralized industrial planning—or ‘government investment’ as we now say—usually leads to catastrophically wrong bets.” In the U.S. it began in the 1970s when President Carter spent billions on renewable energy and projects like the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a predecessor of Solyndra and other companies that went bankrupt shortly after receiving loans during the Obama administration’s first term in office.

Under Obama’s “stimulus” program, 83 percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Acts Section 1705 loans went to solar energy projects with wind receiving 11 percent of the funds.

“What saved the U.S. economy from replicating the Euro-industrial malaise was the entirely spontaneous oil-and-gas boom driven by technology and billions in investment by wildcat entrepreneurs…” That’s called capitalism. The sooner we get the U.S. government out of “investing” in such nonsense, the better.

As with everything else Obama has to say, his advocacy of renewable energy, like Carter’s, has proven to be a massive, costly failure.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of a wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains of California, taken July 2001 by Stan Shebs. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.