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Baltimore Lawmakers, Not its Citizens, Are the Problem

Sadly, what’s happening in Baltimore shouldn’t surprise anyone.

You cannot have an environment where the political leaders leverage chaos for personal political gain and expect those on the side of law and order to sweep in and win the day. The real tragedy here is the growing fear now residing in the hearts of the good citizens of Baltimore, those being subjected to daily threats of deadly violence because of the disturbing and irresponsible actions of its political elite.

Baltimore Shooting Stats
Baltimore Arrests Stats

By now, most of us know the name Freddie Gray. But how many of us know the name Eladio Bennett or Kester Browne? And, how many of us have heard the name Shaquil Hinton? These are but a few of the more than 50 lives taken before their time since the death of Freddie Gray, yet their lives and untimely passing have drawn but a sliver of the attention paid to Freddie Gray.

We can’t help the good citizens of Baltimore, and America’s many struggling inner cities, if we are afraid to shine a spotlight on the real problem. The problem is an organized far-left cabal, which has hijacked the party of JFK, and an opposing political party with few leaders willing to confront them. The organized far-left has accurately calculated that they can leverage chaos and use it to place blame, and divide us into their (not our) pre-selected racial, cultural, religious, gender, and sexual preference silos. They also use this blame strategy to highlight the fictitious failings of our system of government, bed-rocked in freedom and individual liberty. Then, once the division and blame propaganda has set in, with few in the mainstream media willing to fight back against this narrative, they propose a better way “forward” where, conveniently, they are empowered, not you.

The new “way forward” relies on more of your money going to them through higher taxes and expensive government programs. It takes away your ability to make basic health care decisions for your family, and it orders your child to attend the school they choose, not the one you choose. If you were designing a system to fail then you couldn’t design it any better than this “way forward.”

It’s not just the political penalty we pay, where we lose control over our money through their relentless push for government empowerment subsequent to a crisis, we can also lose our lives. The complete lack of leadership in Baltimore and the constant apologies for lawbreakers who were given “room to destroy,” while ensuring an expedited rush to judgment for the police officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident, has broken what has made this country the global, historical exception; fidelity to process. Process, and the rule of law and order, has enabled us to prosper economically and become a global example for freedom and liberty. When this process breaks down and we become a country of rule by discretion, rather than rule by law, the entire system breaks down and it filters down to the police officers on the street.

Having been a law enforcement officer with the N.Y.P.D. and the U.S. Secret Service I have seen first-hand the dangers law enforcement officers knowingly face every day for little money, and even less accolades. All these men and women ask is that the cities and towns they have pledged to protect and serve grant them the same process and legal rights as the citizens they protect. I don’t know what happened behind those doors of the van Freddie Gray was placed in and, if it turns out that the officers involved committed a crime, then they should be prosecuted. But, when far-left legal scholars and conservative thought leaders agree that the charges leveled against the police officers by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby were political, and not firmly based on evidence, then we have a serious problem.

Police officers are an intelligent lot and they see this street justice prosecution as a direct attack on their ability to fight crime. Police officers are given tremendous discretion to combat crime and do their jobs and they are not legally mandated to arrest every person for every violation of the law they witness. I can imagine a scenario where many of these formerly discretionary police actions for non-violent, nuisance-crime-type activities, are not happening because the officers feel that the city of Baltimore will not be on their side if a police action for public urination turns into a use-of-force scenario. Sadly, it is this man or woman, who is engaged in this nuisance crime, and who is not confronted by law enforcement, that is typically the one who walks out of the alley and robs, rapes or kills someone.

In short, politicians and government are the problem in Baltimore, not the citizens. Nothing will change in Baltimore until the political leaders, who worship at the altar of big government are replaced by those who believe that the future of Baltimore is in the hands of the liberty of its citizens, fidelity to the rule of law, order and process, and not the permission of its government.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image of the Mayor of Baltimore is by Patrick Semansky | AP Photo.

Obama still secretly backing Muslim Brotherhood as “moderate” alternative to Islamic State and al-Qaeda

The Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood all share the same goal: the imposition of Sharia over as much territory as possible, and ultimately over the whole world. But the Muslim Brotherhood is not working toward this goal with overt violence (except when it is), and so as far as Obama is concerned, it is “moderate.”

“Obama secretly backing Muslim Brotherhood,” by Bill Gertz, Washington Times, June 3, 2015 (thanks to Anne Crockett):

President Obama and his administration continue to support the global Islamist militant group known the Muslim Brotherhood. A White House strategy document regards the group as a moderate alternative to more violent Islamist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The policy of backing the Muslim Brotherhood is outlined in a secret directive called Presidential Study Directive-11, or PSD-11. The directive was produced in 2011 and outlines administration support for political reform in the Middle East and North Africa, according to officials familiar with the classified study.

Efforts to force the administration to release the directive or portions of it under the Freedom of Information Act have been unsuccessful.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment on PSD-11. “We have nothing for you on this,” she said.

The directive outlines why the administration has chosen the Muslim Brotherhood, which last year was labeled a terrorist organization by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as a key vehicle of U.S. backing for so-called political reform in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia in recent months appears to be moderating its opposition to the Brotherhood in a bid to gain more regional support against pro-Iran rebels in Yemen.

The UAE government also has labeled two U.S. affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, as terrorist support groups. Both groups denied the UAE claims. Egypt is considering imposing a death sentence on Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed former president who was ousted in military coup in July 2013.

Critics of the administration’s strategy say the Brotherhood masks its goals and objectives despite advocating an extremist ideology similar to those espoused by al Qaeda and the Islamic State, but with less violence. The group’s motto includes the phrase “jihad is our way.” Jihad means holy war and is the Islamist battle cry.

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The Idiocy of Modernity

President Obama proves over and over again how the idiocy of modernity is utterly jaw dropping.  The president recently stated that the United States is now the “most respected country in the world.”  I had to review that statement several times over and over again, just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.  First of all, from the outset of his first term in office, the White House Occupier has seen fit to purposefully disrespect our allies.  Not since the 1938 Munich Conference, where First Lord of the admiralty Duff Cooper resigned in protest from British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s cabinet has there been a leader of a nation so adamant to appease enemies of his country, until now.

Prime Minister Chamberlain believed in bending over backwards to try and please Herr Hitler through the language of sweet reasonableness.  History unfolded and fully exposed the folly Chamberlain’s day dream of being buddies with Hitler, by making nice and granting hideous concessions which eventually proved dreadfully harmful to Great Britain.  While Neville Chamberlain sought a favorable position in the eyes of Hitler, Sir Winston Churchill rightfully bristled with much concern and anger that heated to the boiling point.   He called Chamberlains appeasement effort “A misplaced belief in sweet reason and a moral fiber as stiff as two overripe melons crushed together.”

Much like Chamberlain, who granted more favor toward Hitler’s demands than the safety of Great Britain at the onset of World War Two, so is President Obama today consistently more concerned with enemy demands and desires than our national security.

Yet in stark contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been openly vocal about his refusal to give in to unreasonable demands of those who have vowed to destroy his delightful nation.  The idiocy of president Obama’s refusal to govern on behalf of the best interest of the United States, has resulted in America now teetering on the brink of tumbling down from her lofty perch as the world’s number one nation, militarily, morally, economically and socially.  Mr. Obama has methodically created a level of Allied nations distrust of the United States never experienced before in the history of our dear republic.

To gain a full grip on how idiotic President Obama’s policies are (at least from the angle of the rational self- interest of America) I watched a recent episode of an Egyptian television talk show.  The host and his guests were actually lamenting over the various economic, social, military, and moral decisions the president of our nation has made and are literally killing our country.  The Egyptian talk show participants laughed hysterically about Obama’s anemic approach toward ISIS, which is sweeping through the Middle East like a plague of murdering locusts.

The United States was founded upon the greatest set of national principles ever assembled, other than what is found in the Bible.  Yet, she like a drunken idiot of modernity, the government continues to write and enact mountains of laws and regulations the create lack of function.  Thus, America is taken further and further away from the mighty foundational rock the made our republic, the greatest nation ever.  The ever growing system of unlawful laws and regulations are turning America into a self-destroyer of her economy, military, educational system, churches and even our constitutionally limited republic way of life.

Under the idiocy of today, America has devolved from a nation where the government was of by and for the people into of by and for the elite progressives, who now live to destructively lord over “We the People.”  As I have state3d before in The Edwards Notebook radio commentary, wisdom has sprouted wings and flown back to the Father, or God.  The evidence is almost everywhere.  How else can one explain the stupidity of instructing the police to no longer approach suspicious looking characters?  To magnify the problems, the know it all city governments refuse to allow the police to reestablish a more aggressive posture towards potential criminals despite major spikes in the street cretin activity. Simply check out statistics in Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo.  Cleveland may soon be added to the list of cities with a dramatic increase in crime. Thanks to the Department of Justice hamstringing police officers with extraneous overbearing regulations that will make it impossible for them to be a real force against thug activity.

Dear reader, the idiocy culture now strangling the life out of our overburdened nation is obviously destructive indeed.  But the good news is that this tragedy by design can and I believe, will be overcome.  That is, if we are willing to put aside petty differences and decide that America is worth rescuing and rebuilding.  Those of us who desire authentic life liberty and the pursuit of happiness must look to the same providential provider who granted great wisdom and overcoming power to many great Americans of the past and present.  The likes of which include the founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan and the founders of Women Defending America.

I firmly believe that wisdom returning from the Father will soon resonate in the minds of those with the heartbeat of Christ and the iron are going to reconstruct this sweet land of liberty.  The really good news is that we are obligated nor should we be willing to sit idly by and watch our America be swept away by those who hate her.  Victory is achievable.  So let us take hold of it and win.

The Greatest U.S. National Security Threat: A Godless Military

In May 2014 I wrote about the U.S. military being trained to be Godless. I wrote, “It appears God has been removed from the soldier, Godlessness is becoming the norm.”

Today a U.S. military survey bears out what I said then.

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council in a column titled A Morale Dilemma writes:

The slogan used to be “An Army of one.” And if the military isn’t careful, that’s exactly what they’ll have. America’s soldiers are more disgruntled than ever, a new report in a depressing string of outcomes shows. Of the branch’s 777,000 soldiers more than half (52 percent) are unhappy — or worse, “rarely count(ing) on good things happening” to them. Almost as many — 48 percent — explain that what was once one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet is now anything but.

Dissatisfied and disrespected, hundreds of thousands of soldiers say their commitment is waning. The warning signs have been there all along, but only recently have the surveys started to confirm what most long suspected: that this administration’s radical policies are having a catastrophic effect on the troops. Only 28 percent of the Army and National Guard feel good about what they do — a low-water mark for one of the nation’s proudest traditions: military service. Two-thirds, USA Today reports, are “borderline or worse for an area called ‘catastrophic thinking'” — despite six years of an “optimism program” meant to make soldiers resilient. At $287 million, the campaign has been a dismal failure.

Like most of the Pentagon’s fixes, this one can’t seem to overcome the toxic environment created by the President’s attacks on faith, values, and brotherhood. The Army’s “positive psychology” never had a chance in a culture of non-stop sexual engineering and foreign policy incompetence. Not to mention that this “optimism program” doesn’t compete with the original one — and that’s faith! Why not save a quarter of a billion dollars and stop discouraging a source of real positivity: religion?

This is not a new issue.

In the July 2000 Journal of Military History column Character Education in the U.S. Army, 1947-1977, Anne C. Loveland wrote,  “In 1947, amidst great fanfare, the US Army activated and experimental unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky, made up of 664 young men between the ages of 17 and 20 (average age 17 1/2). Since the autumn of 1945, the Truman Administration had been pressing Congress to institute universal military training (UMT), and the Fort Know unit was set up to demonstrate the kind of instruction it would involve… But the most publicized aspect of the experiment was the program of moral, religious, and citizenship instruction administered by three chaplains who delivered fifty-minute lectures on such subjects as ‘The Ten Commandments,’ ‘Grounds for Moral Conduct,’ ‘Purity in Thought, Word and Deed,’ ‘Marriage as a Sacred Institution,’ The Citizen and Morality,’ and ‘Citizen and Honesty’.”

“The program developed for the Fort Knox experimental unit and subsequently expanded to the Army as a whole emphasized three inter-dependent components: religion, character building, and citizenship,” notes Loveland. “Army publications explicitly stated the religious basis of Character guidance, pointed out that the principles the chaplains taught came from God. A lecture entitled ‘Natural Law’ and ‘Moral Law’ concluded with the declaration that ‘our chief responsibly as moral beings is toward God.”

Over time Loveland reports that there was push back against character and morals training by unit commanders, who wanted the time spent on unit training.

Loveland writes, “Whatever the reason for it, it is clear that chaplain disaffection played as important a role as command resistance in undermining character education in the 1970s. In 1977, the Army officially discontinued the already moribund Human Self Development program [which replaced moral and character programs]. Thus ended the Army’s thirty-year experiment in character education.”

Loveland concludes, “If the concern with national preparedness in the 1940s impelled Army leaders to institute character education, the decision to end the draft in 1973 hastened the demise of the program. In the early 1970s, when Army leaders began planning implementation of the all-volunteer force, they decided to deemphasize the existing character education program. With public approval of the draft no longer a concern, they sidelined a program designed to inculcate personal and civic values in an army of citizen-soldiers, relying instead on a revitalized military ethic to teach the values and behavior of professional soldiers.”

We now have a military without character. An immoral perhaps Godless military. 

History repeats itself. We have seen and fought against army’s without character in WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Sadly, the U.S. Military has morphed into a “professional force” without character. As President Harry Truman wrote, “[T]he spiritual and moral health of the Armed Forces is a vital element in our national security.” 

Our national security is threatened by our post-draft, post-modern and Godless military.

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Thoughts on President Obama’s State of Dis-Union Speech

You have to give Mr. Obama credit, he is in no way recognizing the worst political defeat in recent history. Obama will remain focused on his, and yes I mean “His” political talking points.

The new narrative to be established is quite clear ­ middle class talking points. Now here’s a guy who’s own so­called economic policies have done nothing but decimate the Middle Class. From ObamaDoesntCare act being shoved down Americans throats and one year after implementation the Middle Class is seeing double digit rate increases, not knowing if they are able to afford to keep their “Affordable Healthcare” plan. Obama’s ideology has been nothing but the radical big government agenda under the “progressive” banner. There’s nothing progressive with an agenda that demonizes success in our Constitutional Republic. A Republic’s who’s economic history bases it’s ideology on Capitalism and the Free Enterprise System.

Mr. Obama is an unabashed radical left wing social Marxist. Theirs no hiding he espouses the Karl Marx theory of economics ­Government is the cure all: “You didn’t build that”; tax the rich; Fairness; income inequality; Fair wages; Middle Class; Working Poor and Income Redistribution.

Mr. Obama’s track record of no fiscal restraint or coherent economic policy, will continue in 2015. Which way is the wind blowing today? Who holds the Congressional power? Obama has no problem taking his antique road show on the campaign tour to try out his latest of soundbites: Free College tuition, tax cuts for the middle class; tax the rich and higher minimum wage. He’s an economy killer, a capitalist calamity and a Free Enterprise Fraud. This is the same man who’s radical EPA shut down coal mines in West Virginia in 2014, which caused the loss of 1,000 very good “Middle Class” paying jobs. Jobs with an average annual salary of $65,000. So you have to give Obama credit for continuing his taxpayer funded infomercial roadshow and lying to the faces of his sycophant supporters, knowing the media honks following him. will not hold him accountable for uh um lying to the American people. However, those Obama infomercials make for great soundbites airing on the 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. nightly news.

This Tuesday evening Mr. Obama will conduct his seventh State of the Union address. It will be more of the same self serving shameless dividing whine: the voice of discord, uninspiring, continue blaming and taxing the rich, and in all likelihood say something to the effect: all we are asking is for the wealthiest of Americans to pay their fair share. Yes, that’s all the big government Great Divider is asking! More class warfare, class envy to be spewed by the Great Divider. We’ll hear the good ole liberal democratic slogan “Government Investment”, “Investing in the future” which is the Progressives answer in keeping Americans indentured to the federal government. An $18 trillion debt and growing is nothing for the irresponsible economic wrecking ball in the White House!

It’s incumbent upon the Democratic Party, including Barack Hussein Obama, to create an entitlement mindset for our youth. The government will pay for it! Uh um who is the government? The taxpayers are the government, but Barack and Company want more of what you earn!

So Tuesday evening at 9:00 p.m. EST one might as well watch real comedians and tune in to tru-TV’s Impractical Jokers!

U.S. counter-terrorism strategy is based on politically correct fictions and is getting people killed

This is exactly what I have been saying for years now. “CVE has been a colossal disaster because it has no roots in reality. It was always intended as a convenient fiction for politicians, bureaucrats, media and academics to avoid talking about the problem of the ideology that supports Islamic terrorism.”

“‘Lone Wolf,’ or ‘Known Wolf’? The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure,” by Patrick Poole, PJ Media, October 24, 2014:

Katie Gorka of the Council on Global Security has released an important report, “The Flawed Science Behind America’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy,” and events of this week show that it couldn’t be more timely. The separate terror attacks in Canada and a long string of terror attacks here in the U.S. show that the counter-terrorism policies of Western governments are fundamentally broken, and are directly responsible for getting their citizens killed. Even as I write this there are breaking reports of yet another attack.

The primary targets of Gorka’s new report are the various fictitious narratives and bogus social science models that drive Western counter-terrorism efforts. Chief among these is the “countering violent extremism (CVE)” narrative that has been the centerpiece for U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.

CVE has been a colossal disaster because it has no roots in reality. It was always intended as a convenient fiction for politicians, bureaucrats, media and academics to avoid talking about the problem of the ideology that supports Islamic terrorism.

There has never once been a recorded case of anyone on the planet swearing their allegiance to the ideology of “violent extremism” and their willingness to kill others and die in the cause of “violent extremism.” It is a null set. There is nothing to counter, which is the whole point. And yet there are academics and institutions who are the beneficiaries of mountains of taxpayer cash to pursue the elusive CVE unicorn.

CVE has been used to smuggle all kinds of crackpot theories into not just our counter-terrorism policy, but also our foreign policy.

One crackpot theory has been that there are good Islamists that we can use against the bad Islamists. This was the keystone of the Obama administration’s Arab Spring policies. And this theory put into practice in Egypt, Libya, Syria and other places has left the Middle East in even worse shape than Obama found it.

As Gorka observes, the administration’s head cheerleader for this “good Islamist/bad Islamist” approach has been Quintan Wiktorowicz, who served as senior director of the National Security Council under Obama. But the disaster of the Arab Spring has prompted Wiktorowicz and his CVE pals to double-down on this approach. Now we have entirely new categories of actors, such as “vetted moderates,” and even “good bad Islamists,” who presumably are any jihadists not currently wearing a suicide belt….

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Why is Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL 16) worried about the West African black rhino?

U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL District 16) sends out email alerts to his constituents to keep them informed on what is happening in Washington, D.C. and key issues facing Floridians. Buchanan co-chairs the Florida Congressional delegation and sits on the House Committee on Ways and Means.

One recent email caught my eye. The email had the powerful titled “Mass Extinction”. When I first opened it I thought it was about Hamas wanting to destroy Israel. Buchanan is a stalwart supporter of Israel and its security. However, this email was about recent changes to the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website:

The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend…

Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened. For the purposes of the ESA, Congress defined species to include subspecies, varieties, and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments.

I thought it important to analyse Buchanan’s comments and give them some perspective. My analysis of Buchanan’s statements are indented in italics.

“Mass Extinction” by Rep. Vern Buchanan

Once a species is extinct, it’s gone forever.

Stating the obvious is interesting but not necessarily germane (relevant) to the issue. There have been many species, like the dinosaurs and most recently the West African black rhino, who have become extinct.

The majestic West African black rhino was declared extinct in 2011. The black rhino was killed off by poachers who sold its horns as an aphrodisiac. Here in the United States, the Endangered Species Act has saved an estimated 227 species from extinction, including the bald eagle, the humpback whale and the grey wolf.

The market demand for the aphrodisiac associated with rhino horns, including those of the black rhino Buchanan refers to, was created in the 1950s by Mao Zedong, the new leader of Communist China. John R. Platt from Scientific American reported, “Mao promoted so-called traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a tool for unifying the country he had recently come to lead. That’s when poachers descended on Africa. Between 1960 and 1995 an astonishing 98 percent of black rhinos were killed by poachers, either to feed the new and voracious demand for TCM or, to a lesser extent, for horns to be used as ceremonial knife handles in the Middle East.”

Platt reported, “In 1999 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published a report called “African Rhino: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan.” The authors wrote of the almost insurmountable challenge in preserving these final 10 western black rhinos. “Demographically and genetically the western black rhino seems doomed unless the discrete populations are captured and concentrated in one area of its range. Under current conditions, however, this would probably make the remaining animals more vulnerable to poaching.” The act of locating, catching and collecting these rhinos in one place would also be expensive and logistically next to impossible, as Cameroon at the time was plagued by corruption, civil unrest, currency devaluation and mistrust of the West. Even if that feat had been accomplished, the land in northern Cameroon was poorly suited for rhinos and provided very little food. Providing safe habitat for just 20 rhinos would require a fenced-in sanctuary 400 square kilometers in size.”

As the WWF noted government action would not have saved the West African black rhino as the costs of doing so were “insurmountable.” 

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most significant and successful environmental programs enacted in the past half century.

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) states, “The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, was designed to recover species to a level at which they are no longer considered endangered and therefore do not require the Act’s protection.  Unfortunately, the law has had the opposite effect on many species.  The ESA can severely penalize landowners for harboring species on their property, and as a result many landowners have rid their property of the species and habitat rather than suffer the consequences.” [Emphasis mine]

I wanted to let you know of an important – and unfortunate – vote that took place in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Over my strong objections, the U.S. House voted to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

I was one of eight Republicans to oppose this misguided bill, which was soundly criticized by the Sierra Club, the U.S. Humane Society, the League of Conservation Voters and many other environmental groups.

On the Board of Directors of the League of Conservation, an environmental lobbying group, is Carol Browner, Chair Center for American Progress. Ms. Browner most recently served as Assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport, and related policy across the federal government.

 The National Review’s Wesley J. Smith in his column “The Sierra Club’s War on Humans” writes, “Take a new book being promoted by the once sane Sierra Club that advocates cutting the work week in half so that we can all live less prosperous lives. From the promotion of the book Time on Our Side in Sierra magazine:

“There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the U.S.,” Worldwatch senior fellow Erik Assadourian says. “We have to de-grow our economy, which is obviously not a popular stance to take in a culture that celebrates growth in all forms.

But as the saying goes, if everyone consumed like Americans, we’d need four planets.” Whether you move to a smaller house or an apartment, downsize to one or no car, or simply have fewer lattes to-go, a smaller paycheck could reduce consumption overall…

Shorter workweeks could mean more time for psychologically gratifying pursuits such as gardening, reading, or biking.In other words, we should intentionally become poorer in order to save the planet. [Emphasis mine]

This bill will divert money away from saving wildlife for the purpose of creating a reporting database of highly questionable value. In fact, this new “transparency” actually could put endangered species at greater risk of poaching by publicizing the nesting sites and specific location of threatened wildlife. The bill also waters down the definition of “best available science” by requiring federal agencies to utilize all information submitted by cities, counties and tribes even if the data is unscientific, flawed and inaccurate.

The NCPA notes, “Over 1,900 species of plants and animals — 1,351 domestic and 570 foreign — are currently considered by the federal government to be in danger of extinction.  Once a species is listed, they are subject to a variety of conservation efforts, including federal recovery plans that can include a wide variety of measures including habitat protection.  However, these conservation efforts rarely, if ever, consider the total costs of species recovery to federal, state or local governments, and especially to private landowners. The greatest problem with the Act is its land-use control provisions.”

The Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition said the bill “makes a mockery of science” and “prevents species from getting critically needed safeguards.” It passed the House 233-190 and now heads to the U.S. Senate. Fortunately, it is not expected to gain any traction in the Senate.

The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) is a political action group much in line with the Sierra Club and League of Conservation. Brock Evans joined ESC in 1997 as the Executive Director and President of the Endangered Species Coalition. Prior to assuming leadership of the ESC, Evans served as Vice President for National Issues for the National Audubon Society for 15 years. Earlier, he had served for eight years as Director (head lobbyist) of the Sierra Club’s Washington DC Office.

Member groups include the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Earth Action Network and  1000 Friends of Florida

Promoting the preservation of animal and plant species should be a bipartisan issue important to all of us. Since its enactment in 1973, the Endangered Species Act been so successful that 99 percent of the species placed under its protection have been saved from extinction.

The National Center for Policy Analysis disputes what Buchanan states. NCPA reports:

The ESA’s punitive nature also helps explain the Act’s sorry record conserving species.  Proponents of the ESA cite species that have recovered due to the Act.  Yet, almost invariably these claims are untrue or exaggerated.  For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially claims 46 delisted species — 19 due to recovery, 17 due to data error, 9 due to extinction and one due to partial recovery/data error.  In reality, the delistings were due to the following:

  • Twenty-seven species have been removed due to data error — including the American alligator, which was delisted soon after its initial listing because it was found to be abundant, clearly indicating it was never endangered and was improperly surveyed.
  • Nine species were determined to be extinct.
  • Five species were delisted due primarily to factors unrelated to the ESA, including the ban on the pesticide DDT.
  • Five species were delisted for a variety of other reasons including: private conservation; state, not federal, conservation efforts; and recovery despite harm done by the ESA.

Congress and others have offered cosmetic reforms to improve the ESA’s effectiveness — tacitly admitting that the Act’s punitive approach has failed and that new approaches are needed.  However, these reforms will do little to remove the penalties that undermine the ESA.

The key to future success for endangered species protection is to set a new course based on the recognition that landowners will be cooperative and even helpful when they benefit from, or are at least are not harmed by, conservation initiatives.  This means stripping the ESA of its land-use controls. [Emphasis mine]

Earlier this year, I was honored to receive the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislative Leader award for my record in Congress. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the Endangered Species Act and fight to preserve our wildlife and ecosystems now and in the future.

Steve Foley from the California Report writes, “In parts of New Mexico children have no choice but to wait for their school bus inside of cages. These ‘kid cages’ are the result of government agencies abuse of the Endangered Species Act. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service has placed wolves in populated areas where they have become an economic burden for small business owners, infringed upon private property rights, burdened taxpayers with management costs, and placed fear in the hearts of those who have to deal with them on a daily basis.”

Please let me know what you think,

Vern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pivotal Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

ABOUT WENDY MCELROY

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

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