Obama and Arabs Find a Common Enemy — the Islamic State

For a larger view click on the map.

Given all the mutations that the Middle East has gone through thanks to the emergence of al Qaeda during the resistance to the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan, watching what is occurring now with an even more fanatical group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) and proclaiming itself the new caliphate has proven even more lethal and more feared.

Royal Saudi Air Force

The closest thing to a caliphate has been the assertion of al Saud, the royal family that runs Saudi Arabia who has long claimed to be the protector of Islam’s two most holy sites, Mecca and Medina, and of the true form of its expression, the strict Wahhabi interpretation. Were it not for its oil, the royals would have had to live off the earnings from the hajj, the visit to Mecca that all Muslims are required to make at least once in their lifetime.
The Saudis, despite having at least 250 U.S. and British advanced fighter aircraft, have typically avoided engaging in combat; the type that will be required to destroy ISIS. Instead, it gave $100 million to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center, but the latest news is that al Qaeda linked Syrian rebels from the Nusra Front battled U.N. military peacekeepers encamped on the Golan Heights on August 30, forcing some to escape to Israel. The UN’s peacekeeping role and its ability to deter wars are hardly notable.

Oil made the Middle East’s despots and monarchs wealthy, but former despots have been removed in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, while Syria’s has been engaged in what started as a civil war and became a magnet for the group that broke away from al Qaeda, espousing an even more fanatical interpretation of Islam.

Now Middle Eastern nations that have been enemies, like Saudi Arabia and Iran—one Arab, the other Persian, one Sunni, the other Shiite—have found themselves equally threatened.

This common enemy has caused other relationships to alter. Turkey which has been in conflict with the Kurds remained silent when Syrian Kurdish militias helped rescue the Yazidis who were driven from their homes by ISIS. Al Qaeda’s Syrian component, the Nustra Front, now finds itself at war with ISIS.

Even the Egyptians found themselves on the same side of the Israeli battle with Hamas, destroying many of the tunnels built from their nation into Gaza. They now both share a distrust of the United States.

Indeed, the United States is virtually without any friends left in the Middle East, at least at the level that previously existed. This is entirely the result of Barack Obama’s astonishing talent for picking the wrong side in events there.

His criticism of Israel defending itself against thousands of rockets from Hamas in Gaza has eroded what friendship existed after his criticism of its settlements and rude treatment of its Prime Minister. The Egyptians were offended by his support for the Muslim Brotherhood that took over after Mubarak was deposed. The Brotherhood was so dictatorial and so awful a military coup was required to remove its leader and it is now banned in Egypt.

Iraq is responsible for its own problems, having put a Shiite fanatic in charge as its prime minister along with its refusal to permit a contingent of American troops to remain. Now, unless the new prime minister—the choice of both Saudi Arabia and Iran—can unify what’s left of its government and work with the U.S. to destroy the Islamic State, Iraq could cease to exist along with Syria.

Other players in the region include the Gulf States of Qatar, a supporter of ISIS; Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman. The UAE recently joined with Egypt to conduct air strikes in Libya on armed Islamic terrorist groups there. Reports of the attacks were sketchy at best. Libya has been in turmoil since Muammar Gadhafi, its former dictator, was deposed in 2011.

The Islamic State has been able to do what no previous entity ever had. It has united the many different nations in the Middle East, each of which is responding in what it deems its own best interest while studiously trying to avoid direct military engagement.

Persian Iran, however, has put troops into Iraq to fight it.  At some point other Arab states will have to, but Saudi Arabia and all the others, Europe included, continue to wait for the United States to lead.

Barack Obama is the most confrontation-adverse President to have ever held the office and the only one who has ever had warm feelings for Islam. It took him eight days and three tries to actually say he wanted to “destroy” ISIS.

Obama must surely be under intense pressure because he has been increasing the bombings and the number of troops on the ground in Iraq.

What Obama tells the nation regarding plans to destroy the Islamic State is likely to fall far short of anything that will achieve that goal. This is why he is already talking about how long it will take. This is a job he wants to leave to the next President.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Republican Tim Scott Doesn’t Run from his Blackness

In the past, I have been extremely critical of so-called Black Republicans, as well as so-called Black conservatives – and that’s not going to change. Too often they feel the need to check their Blackness at the door under the perverted guise of currying favor with Whites within the party.

These are the type of Blacks that many in the party want to showcase. Getting on FOX News Channel seems to be their ultimate prize of validation. Most of these Blacks have no relationship with our community; and come across as so extreme that no one takes them seriously, other than FOX. Yet, many of these Blacks have become the public face of Black Republicans.

But South Carolina senator, Tim Scott, is everything a true Black Republican could and should be. He is Black and proud of it. His Blackness is what he is; his values are who he is.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an Indian-American, appointed Scott to fill the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Jim DeMint in 2013, making him the first Black senator from South Carolina and the first from the South since 1881; Republican Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi had been the last.

Prior to his appointment to the Senate, Scott was elected in November 2010 to represent South Carolina’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first Black Republican from the state since George W. Murray in 1897. Scott has also served in the South Carolina General Assembly (2009-2011) and on the Charleston County Council from 1996-2008. He and Corey Booker (D-N.J.) are the only two Blacks serving in the U.S. Senate.

To his credit, Scott has not bought into the ridiculous notion that you can’t be Black and Republican, too. I have never heard him make the asinine statement that “I am not a Black senator, I am a senator who happens to be Black,” as though he was just walking down the street and “Blackness” suddenly jumped all over him.

He realizes, like we all should, that his Blackness doesn’t define who he is, but rather the values and the choices he makes for his life. Unlike many Blacks in the past, he has willingly embraced the opportunities to speak to Black audiences anytime the national party has asked him.

Scott fully embraces opportunities presented by the national party to expand the base of the party; while being very cognizant that his first obligation is to the people of South Carolina. They are not mutually exclusive goals.

Scott has made it a point to visit all eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in his state. He actively embraces and seeks opportunities to meet and engage with Black voters of South Carolina whether they vote for him or not.

Several times a year he goes undercover and works low-wage jobs so he can learn what his average constituents go through. He does all this with no media fanfare or staff. Here is how the Washington Post reported on one such encounter, “James Copeland, who recently worked alongside Scott at a Goodwill store in Greenville, S.C. When Copeland – an African-American – was told of Scott’s identity, he responded positively. Oh, wow, I thought he was just some guy off the street. He was really speaking on my level. I felt like I can relate to him. I’d vote for him. Absolutely.”

Another major criticism I have made about Black Republicans is their refusal to hire Blacks on their staffs. This is not the case with Scott. His office is like a mini-United Nations. He actually has Blacks who have authority to make things happen. By doing do, he is opening doors for them to be future powerbrokers within the party.

Two months ago, Scott authored a non-binding resolution in the Senate promoting diversity in hiring. According to Scott, “The ultimate goal of the resolution was to hopefully heighten awareness of the opportunities to create the workforce of the future, today.” Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Rob Portman of Ohio all signed on as co-sponsors.

While these actions by Scott might seem small in the larger scheme of things, they are not. In the past, figures such as Senator Ed Brooke (R-Mass.), Secretary of Transportation Bill Coleman and Assistant Labor Secretary of Labor Art Fletcher were Republicans who never comprised their blackness. In recent years, however, it has almost a requirement that a Black Republican distance himself from his race to move ahead in the party. Scott may represent a long overdue shift in the other direction.

Through his actions, Scott has proven that Black Republicans don’t have to check their Blackness at the door. Being Black and Republican is not an either/or proposition; but rather a both/and proposition. Now, if we can just get more party members to understand the importance of what Scott is doing.

FP&L’s Smart Meter Woes: Billing for Services Not Performed & Threatening Shut Offs to Disabled Veterans

Billing for Services Not Rendered

It was a busy time last week fielding phone calls from irate FP&L customers. In June 2014, FP&L began billing customers who did not want a smart meter installed on their home for what they call “NSMR” fees (Non-standard Meter Rider). The fees consist of an upfront one-time payment of $95 and monthly payment of $13.

Why the calls? Well part of that $13/month fee is the cost of FP&L sending a meter reader to actually read the meter so the customer can be billed properly. Several customers I spoke to are pretty irate because the bill they received was “estimated”. That means FP&L did not come out and read the meter. Upon calling FP&L customer service they were told that FP&L is within the Florida Public Service Commission rules to issue estimated bills up to 6 months. Despite cries of foul play, FP&L refused to issue them any credits.

The FPSC Order No. PSC-14-0036-TRF-EI clearly states on page 9, that of the $13.00 monthly fee, $6.81 is for a monthly manual meter reading and $.05 is the associated meter reading OSHA and V Accident costs. One would think that if FP&L does not roll that truck and employee to your home, they should be obliged to credit you the $6.86 since they did not perform the work, no? Apparently, not!

I guess that is something for me to take up at our protest hearing scheduled for September 30th in Tallahassee. Perhaps others will come with signs “No work, No Charge”.

I did check with this customer and there are no access issues for his property, that is, no locked gates or ferocious dogs. This customer also just got his second estimated bill. Twice billed for services NOT rendered.

FP&L Threatening Shut-Off to Disabled Veteran

Some people who refused to take the smart meter are also refusing to pay the extortion fees. They are paying for their electricity, but are not paying the opt-out fees. Well, collection notices and shut-off threats have started to go out causing more anguish.

One customer, Irving Friedman, an 88-year old disabled WWII veteran, who is also recovering from recent heart surgery, received his threatening shut off letter. When his daughter called FP&L on his behalf and explained his medical conditions and also stated that his electricity portion was paid in full she got nowhere. It was only a call to a reporter at the Palm Beach Post and that reporters’ phone inquiries to FP&L that made FP&L back off from their threats to shut off this veterans electric.

FP&L now states they will hold off any shut-offs for those withholding payment of opt-out fees until the FPSC makes a decision on the tariff case pending. That decision should come out some time in November.

Time to tell your lawmaker to let the Export-Import Bank expire!

Mac Zimmerman, Director of Policy Americans for Prosperity, in an email states:

Members of Congress have finally returned to Washington after a month-long vacation, and they’ll be deciding extremely soon whether or not to put an end to the wasteful, corrupt Export-Import Bank.

AFP activists have been leading the charge for months against the Export-Import Bank, and as our elected officials prepare to make their final decision, now’s the time to get all hands on deck to put an end to Ex-Im.

Video – “Break the Bank!”:

By paying foreign companies to buy American exports, the Export-Import Bank tilts the playing field away from mid-sized and small businesses in favor of large, politically connected corporations. Eliminating the Export-Import Bank would level the playing field and allow U.S. companies to compete for business on their merits rather than the strength of their political ties to the bank.

Not only does the Export-Import bank interfere with the free market, it also jeopardizes billions of taxpayer dollars. According to MIT, the bank is actually losing $200 million a year. These risky loans and poor accounting practices are harmful to taxpayers, who are left footing the bill. In fact, taxpayers have already bailed out this bank once before at a cost of $3 billion.

America deserves an international trade policy that is based on free-market mechanisms, not paying foreign companies to buy exports from large corporations with political connections.

EDITORS NOTE: To send a AFP prepared e-letter to your elected officials asking that they let the Export-Import Bank expire  you may go here.

What “International Community” is Obama Talking About?

The U.S. and Iran have been adversaries since 1979 when it seized our diplomats and held them for 444 days. In the wake of the Cold War, Russia has assisted Iran develop its nuclear program and has joined its war on the Islamic State. The U.S. has joined the conflict, making Iran, Syria and Russia our allies in a world where such relationships are changing so fast it is hard to keep up with them.

A Sept 5 Debka File report regarding recent air strikes by Syria on two meetings of Islamic State officers, noted that “The twin Syrian air offensive coincided with the opening of the two-day NATO Summit…the information about the two Al Qaeda meetings at Raqqa and Abu Kamal could have come from only two sources: U.S. surveillance satellites and aircraft, or Iranian agents embedded at strategic points across Syria.”

The Israeli news agency concluded that the success of the air strikes reflected “the widening military and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Iran in Iraq and Syria.” So maybe there has been a bonus of sorts from the U.S. negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program? The other component is the fact that Iran does not want a hostile Sunni Islamic State emerging in Iraq on its borders. It is more likely this is a short-term alliance.

Meanwhile, at the NATO meeting in Wales, Secretary of State John Kerry identified what he called a “core coalition” of ten nations that could help the U.S. go after the Islamic State (ISIL) terrorists. The seven he named were Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, and Poland. Of these, only Turkey is Islamic. There was no mention of Iran or Syria, both of whom are playing a significant role in the fight against ISIS.

“There is no containment policy for ISIS,” said Kerry. I suppose that’s better than wanting the ISIS threat to be “manageable” as the President recently said at the same time he said he had “no strategy” at present to deal with ISIS. Meanwhile, on Labor Day Vice President Biden, was saying the U.S. was going to follow ISIS “to the gates of hell” to destroy them.

If there is some confusion in the minds of Americans about what the White House is actually doing or not doing, its mixed messages suggest they have as little idea as the rest of us.

A Sept 5 Rasmussen Reports poll said “Voters show even more support for continued airstrikes in Iraq against the radical Islamic group ISIS despite a second public beheading of a U.S. journalist in retaliation for those strikes. Nearly half now support sending U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS.”

The President is fond of referring to “the international community” but that is essentially a meaningless phrase and has been for a very long time. Individual nations act in their own interest and if that coincides with other nations, they are allies. The result is that, over longer or shorter periods of time, the alliances change in response to various active or potential threats.

During World War II the U.S. was allied with the Soviet Union to destroy the Nazi regime but as soon as the war concluded we entered into a long Cold War until it collapsed in 1991. These days Russia represents a threat to the Ukraine and former Soviet satellite nations in Eastern Europe.

People may regard the United Nations as “the international community”, but in reality it is the most corrupt international community on Earth and its policies are heavily anti-American and anti-Israel.

At a Sept 2 press conference by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) Israel was slammed for “an unprecedented scale of destruction in Hamas” without a word about the thousands of Hamas rockets fired against Israel from Gaza. The OCHA spokesman made no mention of the estimated 200,000 dead in Syria resulting from its civil war or the persecution and slaughter of Iraqi Yazidis, Christians and other minorities. Apparently they lack the attention of those engaged in “humanitarian affairs.”

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is home to 12,000 employees and totally devoted to just one “refugee” group, the Palestinians. As Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted, despite caches of rockets found in UNRWA facilities or the intent of Hamas to destroy Israel, “UNRWA has become so enmeshed in the workings of Gaza that it effectively functions as a support service for the interests of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization that rules the territory.”

Not to be outdone, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on August 29, accused the United States of “racial profiling” and “the excessive use of force by the law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities” mentioning the death of Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO.  Among the nations represented on the Committee are Algeria, Russia, China, Pakistan, and Lebanon, nations where racial and religious discrimination thrive.

Why the U.S. continues to contribute taxpayer dollars to the United Nations defies any explanation. We can function in the diplomatic sphere without it, but it might well fail for lack of U.S. funding.

According to the Heritage Foundation, as of 2012 the U.S. “was assessed 22 percent of the regular budget, which is nearly $567 million in gross contributions…The U.S. is assessed more than 180 other U.N. member states combined and 22,000 times more than the least assessed countries. Together, the top 15 contributors pay over 81.4 percent of the U.N. regular budget. Moreover, under U.N. rules, the 129 member states that contribute less than 1.3 percent can pass the budget over the objections of the countries paying over 98 percent.”

As for the NATO coalition to which John Kerry made mention none of these nations has the military capacity to destroy ISIS that the U.S. possesses. Indeed, the European members are trying to deal with the threat that Russia poses in the Ukraine and form Soviet satellite nations.

Rarely mentioned has been the failure of many NATO member nations to allocate sufficient funding to their military. Several have a serious internal Islamic threat from Muslims who are citizens. The British just announced plans to crack down on any citizen who went off to join ISIS or who may be returning from battles in Iraq or Syria.

There have been vast, complex changes occurring in the Middle East. As former Ambassador Chas Freeman noted in a 2013 speech to the National Council on U.S. Arab Relations, “The simple world of colonial and superpower rivalries is long vanished. The notion that one is either ‘with us or against us’ has lost all resonance in the modern Middle East. No government in the region is prepared now to entrust its future to foreigners, still less to a single foreign power.”

“Americans no longer command the ability to shape trends in the Middle East,” said Freeman, and “Almost no one now expects us to do so…for better or ill, the states of the region have seized control of their own destiny.”

Turns out, most of them are depending on the U.S. to rid them of the Islamic State and even former adversaries like Iran are willing to work with us to achieve that objective. If recent polls are any indicator, we will be back on the Iraqi field of battle with “boots on the ground” and at least half of the population understands why and supports it.

The Islamic State, a self-declared caliphate, is the true face of Islam. It even scares Muslims.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

An Open Letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan — Choose Gays or God!

In response to the news that the St. Patrick’s Parade in New York would now accept “gay” groups in the parade and that Cardinal Timothy Dolan would serve as Grand Marshall of the parade, Catholic Citizens of Illinois has sent an open letter to Cardinal Dolan, which is re-published below.

Catholic Citizens of Illinois
106 Calendar Court, PMB #122
La Grange, IL 60525-2325

An Open Letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan

September 5, 2014

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York
1011 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Your Eminence,

We were dismayed and discouraged to read that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York will now include organizations that openly oppose the Catholic teaching concerning human sexuality. After years of resisting the pressure from gays and big donors as well as the pretense of public support, the parade committee has caved in to their bullying and unreasonable demands. Additionally, we are disappointed that you have agreed to be the Grand Marshall of the parade.

We are fully aware that there are good and holy people with homosexual inclinations that are striving to live chaste lives in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church, which we are all called to do.  However, no one can deceive themselves that the national and international “gay” organizations are striving for that lifestyle.  One need only look at the “gay” pride parades around the world and see the public nudity and simulation of sex acts to know that they are portraying  an “in your face” demand that such acts be normalized and that we approve of them.

We understand your deference to those who are on the planning committee for the parade and your efforts to not be “judgmental.“ However, we ask you to put aside those concerns, knowing that your primary duty as Cardinal is to act as a “Shepherd of the Faithful,” secondary in authority to that of the Pope.

We implore you to withdraw as Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of the great probability of misunderstandings, confusion and scandal among the faithful. It is likely that many will believe that the Church has changed her teaching that homosexual acts are “disordered” and “can never be approved” and even worse, they may assume that you support such acts. Does the statement of Jesus about scandalizing little ones no longer apply?

We write this letter to you as faithful Catholics and we look to you to give the example of what a true Shepherd must be. We offer our prayers that the Holy Spirit will inspire you and guide you in this important decision.

Sincerely,

Mary Anne Hackett, President
For the Board of Directors and Members of
Catholic Citizens of Illinois

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Is Islam the Enemy?

Muslims beheading Americans. Syria: Muslims killing Muslims. Boco Haram: Muslims killing Christians. ISIS: Muslims killing everyone. Al Qaeda: Muslims killing Westerners. HAMAS – CAIR – Muslim Brotherhood…

What is going on with ISLAM?

On September 11, 2013 I delivered a “controversial” speech in Venice, Florida on the necessity to define the enemy, in order to defeat the enemy, or else there will be more September 11, 2001 disasters. In this presentation I, in a non-politically correct fashion, state unequivocally that the root problem of Islamic terrorism is – ISLAM.

I make a distinction between a Muslim, as a human and the totalitarian, supremacist system of theocratic Islam. This presentation created quite a bit of debate, discussion and maybe even some new thinking. Watch it as a prelude to the activities of September 11, 2014 and make up your own mind.

New York Times admits Obama not born in U.S.?

The New York Times, in a back handed way, has joined the Obama not born in the United States movement. In the September 8th, 2014 New York Times crossword puzzle the 6 DOWN hint is: First president born outside the continental U.S.

The answer is OBAMA.

08 Sep 14 New York Times Crossword Solution

Image is courtesy of NYTCrossword.com.

NYTCrossword.com states:

6. First president born outside the continental U.S. OBAMA
Despite rumors to the contrary, I am pretty sure that Barack Hussein Obama II was indeed born in Hawaii. President Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the first president to have been born outside of the continental US.”

A July 2014 Rasmussen poll on conspiracy theories found forty-one percent (41%) of Republicans believe Obama is not an American citizen, compared to 21% of unaffiliateds and 11% of Democrats. Just over 20% of Republicans and unaffiliated adults also are not sure, but only seven percent (7%) of those in the president’s party share that doubt.

Has the New York Times joined with those who believe Obama is not an American citizen? We report, you decide.

Islamic Gulen Cult Pours Money into Political Campaigns by Andrew Walden

For Mark Takai the campaign contributions are rolling in … from the secretive union-busting Turkish Gulen cult.

When Reps. Rida Cabanilla and Mark Takai, took a free 2013 trip to the South Caucasian Republic of Azerbaijan together, the $8,000 gift raised eyebrows even in the fetid swamps of the Hawaii legislature.

The Daily KOS called the trip “an oil industry-funded junket to Azerbaijan,” sponsored by the Houston-based “Turquoise Council” an  organization with deep oil-industry connections co-chaired by the sister of Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry.  The Turquoise Council is also one of dozens of US-based groups run by the Turkish Islamist Hizmet movement, controlled by secretive Imam Fethulla Gulen from his home-in-exile and headquarters in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

The Washington Post May 30, 2013 called it, “Time to Cash In“.

Politico described the trip as part of “a multimillion-dollar industry of recruiting current and former U.S. officials.”

The Washington Diplomat, June 26, 2013 explains, “Some state legislators may even one day end up in the halls of Congress.  So courting them is important to Azerbaijan.”

For Takai the campaign cash started rolling soon after he returned.  Now twelve of his top 150 contributors are Turkish including several executives of identified Gulen cult organizations.  The total payoff for Takai, $20,000 and counting.

Given the Gulen cult’s predilection for labor law violations at cult-connected charter schools, it is possible that these contributions may be considered illegal false-name contributions from the Gulen movement itself.  Cult members laboring for the Imam under “Tuzuk contracts” are obligated to kick back all of their salaries beyond a bare minimum needed to survive.

Gulen’s illegal labor contracts are described as “ugly unionbusting” by the Chicago Federation of Teachers.  A 2011 Gulen effort to take over Mokapu Elementry school on Kaneohe Marine Base was thwarted by HSTA members after they became aware of the organization’s anti-labor ties.

a2.azerbaijan.envoy.story

Rida T.R. Cabanilla, who represents District 41 in the Hawaii Legislature, left, and Mark Takai, who represents Hawaii’s District 33, present Azerbaijani Ambassador Elin Suleymanov with a box of Hawaiian Host chocolate-covered macadamia nuts during an Independence Day reception in Baku. Photo: Larry Luxner, Washington Diplomat

Civil Beat July 11, 2013 reports: “Cabanilla and Takai said they aren’t particularly concerned about accepting such an expensive trip because it doesn’t violate their own personal ethics or state standards. They both said that they measure the appropriateness of accepting such junkets by weighing how the underlying donation might influence them.

“There’s nothing in the Legislature now that would directly benefit Azerbaijan,” Takai said, “so it passes the ethics concern.”

But Takai is running for Congress.  And with thousands of Islamist foreign fighters flying to Ankara to cross the border and join ISIS, US-Turkish relations are front and center in efforts to avoid returning US ground troops to the region.

The Star-Advertiser August 30, 2014 says “(Takai) prefers a nonmilitary option….”

Stopping the influx of foreign fighters has got to be high on any list of non-military options.  But it appears the influence peddling doesn’t work both ways.  Takai declined comment when Hawai’i Free Press asked if he had spoken to any Turkish or Azeri contacts about infiltration of foreign ISIS fighters into Syria and Iraq.

Its not a casual question.  Even after a recent falling out with the Turkish government, the Gulen cult is believe to count amongst its members as many as 80% of Turkish police.

Azeri police detain an opposition supporter in Baku, October 12, 2013. David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

Buzzfeed, June 3, 2014 points out that the Turquoise Council is a front group for Gulen, and asks, “Why has Baku teamed up with the Gulenist movement to win the hearts and minds of small-time US lawmakers?”  Wyoming state Rep. Dave Zwonitzer told Buzzfeed, “You don’t get a free 10-day trip sponsored by the oil company without somebody asking for something.”

Maui News columnist Ben Lowenthal February 28, 2014 explains:

“Mark Takai doesn’t seem to have a problem with taking sides. Last year he—along with other American legislators—signed off on a birthday note to the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. Takai congratulated Aliyev in his efforts to reduce crime within the country and promoting allegiances abroad.

“Aliyev has been criticized by many diplomats and those that follow international relations as an autocrat. After taking office in 2003, he eliminated term limits for himself from the constitution. He’s been accused of running a corrupt government, clamping down on a free press, and rigged elections. The infamous Wikileaks website released a cache of diplomatic cables in 2012 that compare him to a mafia crime boss. Surely, Takai was aware of this before congratulating him on reducing crime in his country eight time zones away, right?

“Takai hasn’t talked about the birthday note recently, but perhaps his views on foreign policy will be examined soon. After all, he is among the seven candidates running for Congress in the First District. What exactly does Takai think about Azerbaijan?”

Civil Beat February 11, 2014 reports, “Reps. Rida Cabanilla and Mark Takai…co-sponsored …House Resolution 13 recogniz(ing) the 22nd anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy which, according to the resolution, involved the slaughter of hundreds of innocent civilians in Azerbaijan in February 1992 (and) House Resolution 9 call(ing) on the United States to strengthen its efforts to facilitate a political settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.”

Campaigning for Congress, Takai didn’t make time for many committee meetings this session.  But while racking up an impressive number of absences elsewhere, he did show up to chair the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Military, and International Affairs, and Culture and the Arts where his resolutions were referred.

In February 12, 2014 testimony before the committee, progressive activist Dr. Dawn Morais Webster points out, the “rather strange resolution … will be used to strengthen a false representation of historical facts about the relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia….  Since 1998 the United States has been rendering official assistance to Ngorno-Karabakh to help overcome the consequences of the devastating aggression by Azerbaijan….  (D)uring the Karabakh war, between 1993 and 1994, Azerbaijan used its connections with Islamic terrorist networks to hire thousands of Afghan mujahedeens and other Islamic mercenaries linked to various international terrorist organizations to fight against Armenia and Karabakh.”

In a move unusual for Hawaii’s chair-deferent legislators, both resolutions were rejected by members of Takai’s own committee.

SOURCES:

PDF: Takai Gulen Donors

Extortion, Criminal Conspiracy: FBI investigating Gulen Religious Cult behind Mokapu STEM School, Pacifica Institute

Anti-gay religious cult tied to torture seeks Charter conversion of Mokapu Elementary

Gulen Cult: Legislators to welcome “Ugly Unionbusting” to Hawaii schools?

Did Sen Mike Gabbard get hoaxed by fake Turkic President?

Legislators Have No Business In Turkey

Gulen Cult trying to bribe Legislators with Free Trip to Turkey

The End of Politics—Part One by Max Borders

Our current social operating system might soon be obsolete.

Someday we’ll look back on politics and shake our heads. It will have been a necessary phase—but not one we’ll want to relive. Necessary, because we have been undergoing a series of phases, none of which we could have bypassed.

We have already entered the next phase. Call it the Age of Connection. Once we realize all the benefits of this next phase, we’ll see how wasteful and acrimonious the prior phase had been.

Trench warfare

Most days it doesn’t seem like we are entering a transpartisan, post-political era. Most people are so locked into the political paradigm that arguments about who is to fund whose birth control—or whether the schools should get another bond—seem bigger than life. Each side cedes mere inches back and forth between election cycles in a kind of trench warfare. Such is the nature of politics. And in politics the only thing we share in common is a desire to take power, as there is one ring to bind them.

The tribe who has the ring rules the land, at least for a while. The other side snatches it back sooner or later and the whole thing starts all over again. Yet each side labors under the idea that if they can just get and keep the ring, they will use it to good ends. We’ll give it to the right people, they imagine. The right people are incorruptible. We’re still waiting on the right people.

So we engage in a titanic tug of war. Time and energy we could use on creative activities we spend locked in counterproductive struggles. We polarize. We argue. Our tribal-coalitional natures—as well as the unwavering belief in our own laundry list of values and virtues—divide us in ways that go deeper than party affiliation. One side wants to take away the guns and the sodas, the other wants to pray away the gay, and the rest of us hang out at the margins. People can scarcely talk to each other without spitting venom. If there are any beneficiaries to this tit-for-tat, it’s rarely the ones we send our prayers up to in the voting booth. A parasite class of special interests reaps most of the rewards, because the real action is on K Street. For the rest of us, politics is at best a spectacle, a kind of team sport.

Was all this struggle necessary?

And yet there is virtue in such a zero-sum game. Politics is a way humanely to fight over the control of hierarchy. The U.S. republic was in certain respects designed to create checks between factions and parties by setting them against each other. Ballots over bullets and all that. It was thought of as a necessary evil—an alternative to the subjugation of people, which came from monarchy, feudalism, and aristocratic privilege. In Madison’s Federalist 10, he expressed concern about the “mischiefs of faction” found in democracies of various sizes. The republic had been a way to temper the consequences of faction, even as “causes of faction cannot be removed.” The democratic republic was thus a kind of rationally conceived operating system, forged in compromise after a unique opportunity to start fresh. In other respects, however, the development of this American-style republic was a phase transition.

In other words, the democratic republic was likely to have arisen at some point due to the world’s becoming more complex. Some revere the founding as the explication of timeless principles we only had to discover using reason. And yet we know the founders were crafting rules at a certain stage of technological development and historical context. They were moving headlong into a future informed by reasonable assumptions about human nature and the world in which they found themselves. To understand this stage and stages prior, it will benefit us first to take our time machine a little further into the past, then to zip back to the future.

The rise of hierarchy

For millennia, our ancestors roamed the African steppe. Early humans were hunter-gatherers, anthropologists say. And as those ancestors succeeded at hunting and gathering, their numbers grew. But the world was no Garden of Eden for long. Life could be nasty, brutish, and short. As their numbers grew, these tribal bands eventually confronted life-threatening scarcities. And old Malthus was more or less correct: Success in procreating meant the land would reach its carrying capacity. To avoid Malthus’s trap, early folk had to move about. Their migrations contributed to the world’s great peopling.

As the early humans moved around, they collided. There was fierce competition for available resources. Peoples faced off in bloody conflict. Inter-tribal warfare meant the hunter-gatherer tribes had to become warrior clans. They had not only to learn to fight and kill, but they also had to learn to organize themselves to fight together better. None of this is meant to suggest that early peoples did not trade peacefully across tribes. Many did. But those who did not become traders were raiders.

Such a harsh state of affairs meant that, to survive, your tribe had to develop better “social technology.” We’re not talking about Windows for Cavemen. Social technology is our shorthand for how people organize themselves. The victors transmitted their stories of glory and successful warfare strategies into the future. Likewise, while strength, courage, and superior weaponry go a very long way, social technology could also make or break a clan society.

Agriculture and statecraft helped settle some of these fighter nomads. With settling came civilization. Still, much of history since the world’s great peopling has nevertheless been a story of warfare. After all, civilization often comes with wealth and power.

In the simultaneous development of warfare and civilization, one social technology came to dominate: hierarchy. Atop this form of organization there was usually one person. He went by many names—chief, king, warlord—but to succeed he would have to be a leader capable of gaining the fear, respect, and loyalty of his people. In accepting this leader, the clan would have gained an advantage. By letting a skilled strategist command them as a force, they could operate as a single, fierce unit. Such would be a recipe for survival and glory in an age of conquest.

Of course, those capable of such fierceness and cunning were also capable of suppressing dissent. Those who wished to survive in the order were likely to accept the order, survival being preferable to slaughter.

Once-great empires soon grew up amid the detritus of war. The clan-king became a god-king. The administration of empire required more layers of hierarchy, which meant delegating power to satraps and governors. The emperor would issue commands to subordinates and those commands would be carried out by those on down the chains of command. Patronage relationships became the norm. The order of man lording power over man took on religious dimensions. Values such as loyalty, honor, obedience, and patriotism firmed up the hierarchy, and without such values, the structure could be weakened either from internal dissent or from better organized enemies.

Hierarchy became more elaborate over time as each layer was added, and hierarchy persisted, apparently, as humanity’s dominant social technology.

Despite a couple of eighteenth century revolutions in France and America, hierarchy was still, in many respects, the dominant form of social organization throughout the world. That is to say, more of the world is structured more like medieval Europe or feudal Japan than like Switzerland, and Japan and Switzerland have their command-and-control structures. Even the United States—that great beacon of freedom—now bears a striking resemblance to Rome. The American Founders had made improvements by creating institutional checks on power within its hierarchy. But its hierarchy persists. Is it long for this world?

Better all the time

Now to the present. There is no doubt too much war in the world today. The good news, however, is that the human race is entering an unprecedented age of peace, connection, and prosperity. The great fact is that since about 1800, we’ve been growing more and more prosperous. It’s all thanks to an ongoing process of decentralization in which humanity reaps the rewards of innovation, production, and trade. More and more of the world runs on adaptive, lateral relationships instead of command-and-control structures, on open systems rather than closed ones. Nested networks of human flourishing abound, and they are challenging the hierarchies around them. The question that should puzzle us is whether these nested networks exist despite or because of prevailing national hierarchies. Paradoxically, the answer could be “both,” depending on where and when in the world we look.

To read the news, though, you wouldn’t think anybody could claim things are getting better. The media sell more spectacle and turmoil than they offer happier trends over longer timescales. Their reports leave many of us with both a false impression and a general ignorance about just how good we’ve got it compared to people throughout most of history. As writer and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker says in an interview with the New Scientist:

I was struck by a graph I saw of homicide rates in British towns and cities going back to the 14th century. The rates had plummeted by between 30 and 100-fold. That stuck with me, because you tend to have an image of medieval times with happy peasants coexisting in close-knit communities, whereas we think of the present as filled with school shootings and muggings and terrorist attacks.

Then in Lawrence Keeley’s 1996 book War Before Civilization I read that modern states at their worst, such as Germany in the twentieth century or France in the nineteenth century, had rates of death in warfare that were dwarfed by those of hunter-gatherer and hunter-horticultural societies. That, too, is of profound significance in terms of our understanding of the costs and benefits of civilization.

From the perspective of the grand sweep of history, we are living in an age of peace and abundance.

Even the poorest places on earth are far better off than they were just a few decades ago. Indeed, in the last 30 years alone, the number of people living in abject poverty has been cut in half. Day by day, violent aggression over resources is rapidly being replaced by the structures of commercial competition and human cooperation.

Commercial competition creates for us a positive-sum world—that is, a world of ever-increasing wealth. Today, the titanic struggles are far more often among companies competing to offer, say, better gadgets. Small businesses are battling it out at the intersection of Third and Main to serve a better taco, brew a craftier beer, or open a hotter nightclub. The ones who benefit are those who are best served by this competition. And, of course, those who serve customers best—finding that sweet spot between production costs and price—get wealthy. All exist in an ecosystem of value.

In this more benevolent form of competition a fundamental truth remains: The fittest social technology will survive. Over time—as conquest culture has given way to commercial culture—we have come to see fewer warlords, clan kings, kings, and emperors, and more bosses, executives, and CEOs. To some, this may not sound like such a big improvement. The competition is still fierce. Companies are still frequently cast as villainous exploiters, occasionally for good reason. But this shift from conquest to commerce has resulted in more people enjoying more good things than at any time in human history. And it’s only getting better.

But in this transition we have to ask: Will CEOs and middle managers also go the way of kings and lords?

Both the modern nation-state and the modern corporation share social technologies that go back thousands of years. But in between hierarchical governments and hierarchical firms, there is a great teeming. It is not chaos. People truck, barter, exchange, collaborate, and cooperate. In some cases—such as Morning Star Packing Company and Zappos—phase transition has already been made.

Outside the firm, community groups meet over potluck dinners planned online. Friends find each other in dive bars. Husbands and wives find their way home to one another, the bills get paid, and the kids get to school. Lovers find each other online in a kind of dating anarchy. And all of it happens without a director or a designer, like starlings in murmuration—a beautiful, unconducted symphony. More and more of the world operates in a place between rigid order and errant chaos—unmanaged, and yet orderly. More and more of the world is self-organizing.

Phase transition

Complexity science predicts the global trend to which I alluded above. At the risk of oversimplifying, the theory says “complexity transitions” will happen according to the amount and type of information flowing through a system. Remember, whether we’re talking about a collection of PCs or a collection of people, if information gets transmitted among them, you’ve got a system. How elements of that system deal with information and resources—or, in the case of firms, knowledge and decisions—will determine the nature of that system to a great degree.

Because information helps coordinate behaviors within a system, the way a system is organized will determine whether the system lives or dies. Because systems always exist in some environment, often competing with other systems, evolutionary pressures are going to determine whether a system such as your club, company, county, or country can compete. And to compete, a system has to deal effectively with information.

Complexity science shows that in order to deal with more information, systems have to change. The process starts with a group getting big enough to form a hierarchy. This usually happens when the group has outgrown the organizational limits of the clan structure. As more power gets delegated, growing the chains of hierarchy, the system becomes more complicated. But the hierarchy can only handle so much complication. Eventually the system breaks down or changes into something that looks more like a network, with an increasing number of “nodes” operating in peer-to-peer fashion. Lateral relationships form. Decision-making power spreads down and out. This is the complexity transition.

Yaneer Bar-Yam (quite literally) wrote the textbook on complex systems. He describes the process that unfolded historically:

Ancient empires replaced various smaller kingdoms that had developed during a process of consolidation of yet smaller associations of human beings. The degree of control in these systems varied, but the progression toward larger more centrally controlled entities is apparent. … this led to a decrease of complexity of behaviors of many individuals, but a more complex behavior on the larger scale.

But this could only be sustained for so long.

As time progressed, the behavior of individuals diversified as did the collective tasks performed by them. Diversity of individuals implies that the behavior of the entire system on the scale of the individual became more complex. This required … adding layers of management that served to exercise local control. As viewed by the higher levels of management, each layer simplified the behavior to the point where an individual could control it. The hierarchy acts as a mechanism for communication of information to and from management.

But how far can introducing layers of management be sustained? At “the point at which the collective complexity is the maximum individual complicity, the process breaks down. Hierarchical structures are not able to provide a higher complexity.”

Complexity science tells us the battle lines will be drawn mainly in terms of how each organization processes information and applies knowledge to make decisions. And if there is a way for an organization to deal with complexity beyond hierarchy, that form of organization is poised to challenge the reigning paradigm.

So, if we put our ears to the ground, we can hear the rumbling of two great organizational types: one that looks more like a hierarchy and one that looks more like a network. Hierarchy still dominates. It is powerful—especially as it appeals to the human desire to be in control. Consciously or unconsciously, people in hierarchical organizations will also fight for the status quo as long as they benefit from it. It’s human nature. Yet, decentralized systems can be more flexible, and as Taleb says, “anti-fragile.” So the question remains: Which form will win?

Before we try to answer that question, I want to leave you with more than just the image of clashing social technologies. Because what we’re really interested in here is human flourishing—or, more specifically, how people can organize themselves to improve their well-being. The extent to which we can organize ourselves to be happier, healthier people is the extent to which we can organize ourselves to create more peace and prosperity. Hard to believe? Despite some of the wrenching changes that will be hastened by this coming clash of systems, a more abundant and humane world awaits.

Founding redux

In thinking about phase transition, though, the Founding still looms large. The American Republic and many democratic republics since were brilliantly crafted systems designed to maximize freedom and limit the excesses of hierarchy. Or, put another way, documents like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution put forth answers to the question, “What sort of political order can be created to unleash as much human autonomy possible?”

But our operating system, as operating systems will, has become buggy, strained, and outdated. Not only are people becoming weary of a system designed to pit people against each other with a crude majoritarian calculus, but new systems are being developed to accommodate phase transition. Indeed, some of these systems don’t require the permission of authorities. They arise from technologically connected people along the lines of what James C. Scott describes in Two Cheers for Anarchism:

More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish Democracy,” the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Some will try to argue that our social operating system as originally conceived by the Founders would be a lot better than the corrupted version we have now. I am sympathetic to that position, but Public Choice considerations like those found in the works of James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and Mancur Olson caution otherwise. With the rise of special interests, they remind us, something is bound to go wrong. Now there is a sense in which we cannot turn back the clock and debug the program. Instead, for the first time in history, technology and culture are allowing us more and more opportunities to create new systems and migrate between them. Indeed, it used to be that to change systems, one had quite literally to migrate, as in pick up within one territorial jurisdiction and move to another. And that, too, is an increasingly viable option. But migrating between systems is also something that, these days, you can do from your sofa.

This is the first in a two-part series. Read part two here.

MaxBordersVEsmlABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also co-founder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

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

CLICHÉS OF PROGRESSIVISM #21 – “Capitalism’s Sweatshops and Child Labor Cry Out for Government Intervention” by Paul L. Poirot

Prevalent in the United States and other industrialized countries is the belief that without govern­mental intervention, such as wage and hour legislation, child labor laws, and rules concerning work­ing conditions for women, the long hours and grueling conditions of the “sweatshop” would run rampant.

The implication is that legislators, in the days of Abraham Lin­coln, for instance, were cruel and inconsiderate of the poor—no better than the caricatured fac­tory owners of the times who would employ men and women and children at low wages, long hours, and poor working conditions. Otherwise, had they been humani­tarians, legislators of a century ago and earlier would have prohibited child labor, legislated a 40-hour work week, and passed other laws to improve working condi­tions.

But the simple truth is that legislators of a few generations ago in the United States were powerless, as Mao or Nehru or Chavez or Castro has been powerless in more recent times, to wave a wand of restrictionist legislation and thereby raise the level of living and abolish poverty among the people. If such a miracle were pos­sible, every dictator and every democratically chosen legislator would “push the button” without hesitation. (Editor’s note: See the recommended readings below for abundant historical evidence of this point).

The reason why women and children no longer find it neces­sary to work for low wages under poor conditions from dawn to dusk six days or more a week is the same reason why strong healthy men can avoid such onerous labor in a comparatively free industrialized society: surviving and earning a living are made easier through the use of tools and capital accumu­lated by personal saving and in­vestment.

In fiction, the children of na­ture may dwell in an earthly para­dise; but in the real life of all primitive societies, the men and women and all the children strug­gle constantly against the threat of starvation. Such agrarian econ­omies support all the people they can, but with high infant mortal­ity and short life spans for all survivors.

When savings can be accumu­lated, then tools can be made and life’s struggle somewhat eased—industrialization begins. And with the growth of savings and tools and production and trade, the pop­ulation may increase. As incomes rise and medical practices im­prove, children stand a better chance of survival, and men and women may live longer with less effort. Not that savings are ac­cumulated rapidly or that indus­trialization occurs overnight; it is a long, slow process. And in its early stages, the surviving women and children are likely to be found improving their chances as best they can by working in factories and so-called sweatshops. To pass a law prohibiting such effort at that stage of development of the so­ciety would simply be to condemn to death a portion of the expand­ing population. To prohibit child labor in developing countries today would be to condemn millions to starvation.

Once a people have developed habits of industry and thrift, learned to respect life and prop­erty, discovered how to invest their savings in creative and pro­ductive and profitable enterprise, found the mainspring of human progress—then, and only then, after the fact of industrialization and a prosperous expanding econ­omy, is it possible to enact child labor laws without thereby pass­ing a death sentence.

A wise and honest humanitarian will know that poverty (and worse) lurks behind every minimum wage law that sets a wage higher than some individual is capable of earn­ing; behind every compulsory 40-hour week rule that catches a man with a family he can’t support ex­cept through more than 40 hours of effort; behind every legislated condition of employment that forces some marginal employer into bankruptcy, thus destroying the job opportunities he otherwise afforded; behind every legal ac­tion that virtually compels retire­ment at age 65.

Men will take their children and women out of sweatshops as fast as they can afford it—as fast as better job opportunities develop—as fast as the supply of capital available per worker increases. The only laws necessary for that purpose are those that protect life and private property and thus encourage personal saving and in­vestment.

To believe that labor laws are the cause of improved living and working conditions, rather than an afterthought, leads to harmful laws that burden wealth creation, sap the incentive of the energetic, and close the doors of opportunity to those least able to afford it. And the ultimate effect is not a boon to mankind but a major push back toward barbarism.

Paul L. Poirot

Summary

  • Sweatshops and child labor were commonplace in preindustrial, precapitalist days because production and productivity were so low, not because people disliked their wives and children more than they do today.
  • Savings, investment, and economic growth improve working and economic conditions faster and more assuredly than well-intentioned but misguided laws that simply close doors of opportunity.

For further information, see:

“Child Labor and the British Industrial Revolution” by Lawrence W. Reed

“Sweatshop Blues: An Interview with Benjamin Powell”

“Book Review: Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution by Clark Nardinelli” as reviewed by David M. Brown

“Why Economies Grow” by Aaron Schavey

“The Man Behind the Hong Kong Miracle” by Lawrence W. Reed

ABOUT PAUL L. POIROT

Paul L. Poirot was a long-time member of the staff of the Foundation for Economic Education and editor of its journal, The Freeman, from 1956 to 1987.

EDITORS NOTE: Paul L. Poirot was a long-time editor of FEE’s journal, The Freeman. This essay is slightly edited from the original, published there in 1963 under the title “To Abolish Sweatshops.”) The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Happy Capital Day? Why not? by Lawrence W. Reed

Any good economist will tell you that as complementary factors of production, labor and capital are not only indispensable but hugely dependent upon each other as well.

Capital without labor means machines with no operators, or financial resources without the manpower to invest in. Labor without capital looks like Haiti or North Korea: plenty of people working but doing it with sticks instead of bulldozers, or starting a small enterprise with pocket change instead of a bank loan.

Capital can refer to either the tools of production or the funds that finance them. There may be no place in the world where there’s a shortage of labor but every inch of the planet is short of capital. There is no worker who couldn’t become more productive and better himself and society in the process if he had a more powerful labor-saving machine or a little more venture funding behind him. It ought to be abundantly clear that the vast improvement in standards of living over the past century is not explained by physical labor (we actually do less of that), but rather to the application of capital.

Harmony of Interest

This is not class warfare. I’m not “taking sides” between labor and capital. I don’t see them as natural antagonists in spite of some people’s attempts to make them so. Don’t think of capital as something possessed and deployed only by bankers, the college-educated, the rich, or the elite. We workers of all income levels are “capital-ists” too—every time we save and invest, buy a share of stock, fix a machine, or start a business.

And yet, we have a “Labor Day” in America but not a “Capital Day.”

Perhaps subconsciously, Americans do understand to some extent that those who invest and deploy capital are important. After all, most people would surely have an easier time naming the “top ten capitalists” in our history than the “top ten workers.” We take pride in the kids in our neighborhoods when they put up a sidewalk lemonade stand. President Obama continues to be roundly excoriated for his demeaning remark, “You didn’t build that; somebody else made that happen.”

Bad Eggs

That’s not to say there aren’t bad eggs in the capitalist basket. Some use political connections to get special advantages from government. Others cut corners, cheat some customers or pollute a stream. But those are the exception, not the rule, in a society that values character. Workers are not all saints either—who among us doesn’t know of one who stole from his employer, called in sick when he wasn’t, or abused the disability or unemployment compensation rules? Those exceptions shouldn’t diminish the importance of work or the nobility of most workers.

Like most Americans, I’ve traditionally celebrated labor on Labor Day weekend—not organized labor or compulsory labor unions, mind you, but the noble act of physical labor to produce the things we want and need. Nothing at all wrong about that!

But this year on Labor Day weekend, I’ll also be thinking about the remarkable achievements of inventors of labor-saving devices, the risk-taking venture capitalists who put their own money (not your tax money) on the line and the fact that nobody in America has to dig a ditch with a spoon or cut his lawn with a knife. Indeed, what could possibly be wrong about having a “Capital Day” in odd numbered years and a “Labor Day” in the even-numbered ones?

Labor Day and Capital Day. I know of no good reason why we should have just one and not the other.

EDITORS NOTE: This article first ran on September 3, 2012.

larry reed new thumbABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

Drought Conditions in the U.S. and Immigration

As water resources necessary for survival dwindle the U.S. Senate, in all its’ wisdom, passed legislation last year that would have doubled mass immigration levels to 2 million a year, dramatically increase worker visas and grant amnesty. Democrats are interested in poverty level voters and Republicans cheap labor. Fortunately the House refused to take up a bill which had no benefits but many negatives for the citizens that voted them into office.

In addition, contemplate what could happen if the population continues to soar.

Here is a link to an article about India, second most populated country in the world, and water their shortages. Don’t forget we are the third most populated country in the world and have 20% of all the world’s immigrants already living here.

When is enough enough?

U.S. No Longer has Influence in the Middle East

The rise of the Sunni Islamic State (ISIS) and its barbarity may be news to the West, but it is a very old story in the Middle East.

Briefly stated, the Arabs have been at war with one another for some 1,400 years before and since the emergence of Islam and the schism that occurred between its Sunni and Shiite components.

Dr, Daniel Pipes, a noted Middle East scholar, writing in an August 24 Turkish newspaper regarding the announcement of the Islamic State caliphate noted that “The classic concept of the caliphate—of a single successor to Muhammad ruling a unified Muslim state—lasted just over a century and expired with the emergence of two caliphs in 750 CE. The power of the caliphate collapsed in about the year 940 CE.”  Arabs could not unite following the death of Muhammad, resulting in the two caliphs who claimed his mantle.

Apparently anyone can declare themselves a caliph as did ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on June 29, 2014. There is some question, for example, whether Abubakar Shakau, the leader of Boko Haram, has acknowledged al-Baghdadi or whether he was declaring his own separate caliphate in Nigeria where his group controls a large swath of the northern part of that nation.

Dr. Pipes predicts that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will not survive due to “the hostility both from neighbors and its subject population, it will not last long.” As demonstrated in Nigeria, “other ambitious Islamists will act more boldly by declaring themselves caliph” and this could occur “from Nigeria to Somalia to Afghanistan to Indonesia, and beyond.”

When not fighting with each other as Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and other Muslim nationalities have been united by their disdain of the West which resisted Islam and which manifested its power via the colonization that occurred as the West reached out with its naval capabilities and military superiority wherever it could gain control.

When the Middle East’s decaying Ottoman Empire sided with Germany in World War I, it was dissected by France and Great Britain whose diplomats literally created new “nations” such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Trans-Jordan by drawing lines on a map. Using local sheiks as their flunkies, they governed through them. In time, military coups by local despots replaced them.

The Islamic State is only the latest manifestation of the ancient desire to not only control the whole of the Middle East, but to reach out and through terror to exert domination over the entire world in the name of Islam. Anyone familiar with the Koran knows this is a demand that is to be fulfilled with jihad or holy war.

In the real world, however, nations deal with threats to their sovereignty and economic interests. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Bush41 put together a coalition to drive him back into Iraq. The U.S. did nothing, however, when he had previously waged war with Iran for eight years after Iran had taken diplomats as hostages in 1979, releasing them in 1981. When al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, Bush43 launched an attack on al Qaeda’s stronghold in Afghanistan, driving them into Pakistan. Saddam Hussein continued to be a threat to the stability of the region and, in particular the Saudis, so Iraq was invaded to depose him.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. discovered there was literally nothing resembling a functional government and so remained on to do some “nation building” at the cost of military lives and deployment. The ancient divide between Sunnis and Shiites has continued to make it impossible to modernize, i.e. westernize, the governance of either nation.

Since it took power in 2009 the policies of the Obama administration have proven to be a disaster, leaving the U.S. with no influence and no Arab  allies in the Middle East. Even Israel has been rudely treated.

On August 19, as reported in the Daily Caller, “The highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia condemned the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.” The Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh was quoted saying “Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism, which spread decay on Earth, destroying human civilization, are not in any way part of Islam, but are the enemy number one of Islam. And Muslims are their first victims.”

When a Saudi cleric worries about “human civilization” at the same time he lives in a nation that routinely punishes its criminals with beheading and amputations, as well as limiting the rights of women, and forbidding any other religion to exist there, one has to also keep in mind the millions of dollars that members of the royal family and other Saudis have given to those advancing the Sunni brand of Islam. It has come back to bite them.  Will they muster the courage to join in any military coalition using their air force and other military to defeat ISIS?

The Islamic State, however, has other enemies as well. As IDF Lt. Col. (ret) Michael Segall, a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has written, Sunni jihadists “now constitute a real threat to Iran’s strategic assets in Syria and Lebanon, and especially its aspiration to restore Shiite supremacy.”

“The United States, says Lt. Col. Segall, “has lost almost all its cards and traditional allies in the region. One open question is whether it will also give up the Iranian nuclear card for a hollow promise from Tehran to help stabilize Iraq.”

Welcome, once again, to the Sunni-Shiite rivalry and animosity. The Islamic State is a challenge to what has been called the Shiite Crescent stretching from Iran to Syria.

Islam has been posing a threat to the West for a very long time now. It didn’t begin with the attack on the World Trade Center towers in 2001. It has its roots in the nation’s earliest years, dating back to when Thomas Jefferson was President, but in more recent times Al Qaeda attacked U.S. embassies in the 1980s.

Israel has been the only focus for unity among Arab nations, having been attacked unsuccessfully several times since 1948 when it declared its sovereignty. The creation of “Palestinians” permitted the wars to continue in other forms. It is currently engaged in a war with Hamas, a terrorist group whose goals mirror those of the Islamic State. The hidden hand of Iran can be found in attacks directed against Israel insofar as Hamas and Hezbollah are Iranian proxies.

For the next two years America’s options to change the course of events in the Middle East will be determined by a President who was elected to get the U.S. out of Iraq and intends to do the same thing in Afghanistan. He is a President who released five Taliban leaders while the nation still has troops in Afghanistan and he did so without consulting Congress. He drew back from taking any action in Syria a year ago.

President Obama has said he wants no “boots on the ground” but even his Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have made it clear that is the only realistic option if the Islamic State is to be destroyed. Military experts say it could be eliminated in months if we used our power to do so.

As always, however, when it comes to the Middle East, Obama arrives late, lacking an understanding of its true dynamics, and lingers too long to make a decision.

At this point in time, the U.S. can settle for nothing less than the destruction of the Islamic State, but it is unlikely to get much support from either European allies or action from the Arab states.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Yes, I Blame White Liberals

A white teacher said he routinely overhears vulgar and racist comments from students at an all black high school. I blame the black youth’s negative mindset on blacks in the civil rights exploitation business and white liberals with their stomach-turning bigotry of lowered expectations.

We see snooty arrogant superior intellectual sounding white liberal pundits and hosts all over TV touting their absurd narrative that blacks have a right to be angry in racist America and must be coddled. These liberal celebs followed certain steps and behaviors to achieve success. And yet, they claim expecting blacks to follow the same road map to success is racist. Blacks should be repulsed by this liberal narrative which implies that we are inferior. I want to scream, “How dare you lower the bar for me! I “be” as smart as any white person!” Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I have witnessed the same racist mindset in a white liberal couple who are longtime friends. They have had financial highs and lows in their efforts to run various businesses. They work hard and will take any job to pay their bills. Applying for government welfare is not on their radar. They employed horrible black employees, always making excuses for them; giving them a pass because they were black. I was amazed that they could not see the racism at the root of their low expectations, disguised as compassion.

At every turn liberals send the message that blacks are lesser Americans. Liberals say it is hateful for conservatives/Republicans to expect blacks to speak English correctly, show an ID to vote, refrain from murdering each other and stop dropping out of school. White liberals say asking blacks to refrain from having babies out of wedlock is culturally insensitive and imposes morality on them. Libs ignore the truth that fatherless households contribute to gang membership, black on black violence and poverty. Do you see the pattern? White liberals insinuate that urban blacks are poor uncouth savages. Therefore, a 6’4” 290 pound black thug should be given a pass for robbing a convenience store, assaulting the clerk and attacking a police officer while on his way to grandma’s house.

By the way, 54% of black kids grow up in single parent households which was reported as high as 72% in 2010.

Years ago, I spoke to a class of black students at a Baltimore middle school. Diction was so lazy and poor, I had to ask several students numerous times to pronounce their names before I understood what they were saying. Why was such lazy speech tolerated?

My late Aunt Nee was a pastor and a brilliant black women with only a fourth grade formal education; an avid reader and studier. Aunt Nee did not tolerate lazy or inarticulate speaking from me and my siblings. Etched on my brain is her sending me to the corner store at 7 or 8 years old. “Ask the man for Uneeda Biscuits.” She pronounced each syllable and spelled it. She respected my intelligence.

Politically, white liberals pander to blacks to recruit Democrat voters which furthers their socialist/progressives agenda. Their sales pitch is every problem in the black community is caused by racist white America. Therefore, blacks can not achieve without big government intervention; lowered standards and entitlements to make things fair. I suspect secretly, many white liberals do believe they are superior.

White students are taught to feel guilty for their “white privilege”; instructed to be tolerant of black anger and irresponsible behavior. Black students who do not resent white America are called stupid traitors to their race.

During a debate on TV, a fellow black guest attacked me saying, “I have researched you and you never met a white person you didn’t like.” The liberal host of the TV show said nothing. Imagine the fallout had that same statement been made by a white person to another white person. “You never met a black you didn’t like.”

To all you liberal college professors and intellectuals who say blacks are still suffering the psychological repercussions of slavery, please knock it off. You evil race hustlers are all about exploiting the goodness and fair-mindedness of the American people.

Slavery happened a ga-zillion years ago; get over it.

KIRK KISS UHURAIn the 1960s, my black college buddies and I were huge Star Trek fans. We loved watching the racially mixed crew of the star-ship Enterprise on which race was not an issue. Further making the point was the episode that white Captain Kirk kissed black Lieutenant Uhura which was pretty racy and shocking on TV back then.

Gifting an unworthy black president two terms confirms that Americans long to be united as one nation under God. America’s desire for national unity is sabotaged by liberals. Their modus operandi is to divide Americans into feuding angry voting blocs – rich vs poor, black vs white, employers vs employees; Americans convinced they are victims due to their race, gender or economic standing. Liberals consistently rip open “healed” racial civil rights wounds and pour in fresh salt. Despicable.

Liberals have been feeding black America excrement sandwiches for decades. Sadly, a majority of my fellow black Americans blinded by decades of liberal indoctrination and MSM spin keep consuming their excrement as if it is filet mignon.

For crying out loud, look at what liberals offer us. They did an extreme makeover packaging black thugs Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown; promoting them as heroes to black America. White liberals awarded an immoral black rapper who had 11 babies by 10 women with his own reality TV show titled, “All My Babies’ Mamas”.

Meanwhile, liberals reject and even vilify excellent black role models like world renown retired neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson and businessman extraordinaire Herman Cain. Why would liberals do that if they truly care about empowering blacks? Why do they offer us low rent faux black role models and reject the real deal?

Black America, you have been sleeping with the enemy, Democrats and white liberals, far too long. It is time to politically get out of bed, shower to wash away the stench of liberal racist low expectations and use Conservatism as the vehicle to speed to the fulfillment of your American dreams.