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For Too Many, It’s a Very Unhappy Fourth of July

As Americans pause to celebrate the 238th signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, it well may be one of the saddest Fourth’s in decades. The six and a half years of the Obama regime has failed to unleash the nation’s capacity to recover from the 2008 financial crisis and has left the nation saddled in debt and dependency.

This is not what freedom is about, nor did the Founding Fathers conceive of a President who ruled with “a pen and a phone.”

As The Wall Street Journal reported on January 13, “The year began with the news that “World economic freedom has reached record levels according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top ten most economically free countries.” What this means is that “those losing freedom risk economic stagnation, high unemployment, and deteriorating social conditions.”

That is a description of life in America today. It is a nation in which regard for Congress and the mainstream media has plunged to new lows.

In February, CNSnews reported that “The debt of the U.S. government has increased $6,666 trillion since President Barack Obama took office on January 20, 2009, according to the latest numbers release by the Treasury Department.” When he was first inaugurated, the debt was $10,626,877,913.08 and as of January 31, 2014 the debt was $17,293,019,654,983.61.” Looking back in time, the total debt of the U.S. did not exceed $6,666 trillion until July 2003, meaning that the U.S. has accumulated as much debt as it did in its first 227 years.

As the year began, the unemployment figures cited by the government were in dispute. One influential Wall Street advisor, David John Marotta, calculated that those not working when the year began represented 37.2% of the labor force as defined by the portion of people who did not have a job, had given up looking for one, and those who had no intention of working for a living. The government calculated the unemployment rate at 6.7%.

Being a native-born American offered no advantage for those seeking work. The Center for Immigration Studies released a study that said that “Since the year 2000 all of the net increase in the number of working-age (16-65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal)” even though native-born Americans accounted to two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population.

Since 2000 more than 17 million immigrants arrived in the country, a time period in which native employment “has deteriorated significantly.” Given the wholesale invasion of illegal immigrants that is occurring, this calls for the enforcement of existing immigration laws and a secure southern border.

Since Obama took office, all manner of government benefit programs have been expanded. They include Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, public housing, and  temporary Assistance for Needy Families. In the fourth quarter of 2011, the Census Bureau calculated that there were 109,592,000 who lived in a household that included people “on one or more means-tested programs.”   

Contrast that with 86,429,000 full-time private sector workers and it means that 14,802,00 non-veteran benefit takers outnumbered those whose taxes support them by a rate of 1.7 to 1.

There are more Americans, 10,982,920, receiving disability benefits than the individual populations of Greece, Portugal, Tunisia, and Burundi. November 2013 was the 202nd straight month that the number of disabled workers in the United States increased.

We live in a welfare state in which the federal government funds 126 separate programs targeted toward low-income people, 72 of which provide either cash or in-kind benefits to individuals. The Cato Institute said that “Congress and state legislatures should consider strengthening work requirements in welfare programs, removing exemptions, and narrowing the definition of work.” Keep in mind that welfare benefits are not taxed while wages are.

This is not to say that people on welfare are lazy. Surveys consistently demonstrate their desire for a job. The reality in America on the Fourth of July 2014 is that jobs do not exist and the cause is Big Government and policies that thwart the creation of new businesses and add costs to those that do. In America, corporations are taxed at a rate higher than most other nations.

Over recent years, the U.S. government has given our taxpayer money to a long list of other nations and even to terrorist organizations such as Hamas, a Palestinian non-state entity, which annually receives $440 million. Others include Mexico which has received $662 million, Kenya which received $816 million, and Nigeria which received $816 million. Pakistan has received $2 billion and Iraq which received $1.08 billion.

As the Fourth of July arrives, we have learned that American veterans are dying for lack of care by the Veterans Administration, conservative groups seeking non-profit status have been targeted by the Internal Revenue Service, and Obama immigration policies have deliberately triggered a wholesale invasion by illegal aliens. We have witnessed the failures associated with the introduction of Obamacare and are learning that it is filled with taxes while destroying what was regarded as the best healthcare system in the world.

As of late June, Gallup polls put the disapproval of the President at 52%. Confidence in the President was only 29% while Congress received only 7%.

It is not a happy Fourth of July in America and far too many Americans—nearly half—still believe the President is doing a good job despite ample evidence that his “transformation” of America has harmed the nation in countless ways.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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The Obama Presidency Implodes

The first time I heard the term “military advisors” it was being used by John F. Kennedy and they were being sent to South Vietnam. A strong anti-communist, in 1961 Kennedy approved financing an increase in the size of the South Vietnamese army from 150,000 to 170,000 along with sending a thousand U.S. military advisors to help train them. We all know how the Vietnam War ended.

Earlier, the North Korean attack on the South had ended in a stalemate. Technically a state of war still exists. Since 1953, the U.S. has maintained a military force in South Korea. In the wake of World War II, we still have a military presence in Europe and Japan to aid in their defense.

Obama’s announcement that 300 military advisors are being sent to Iraq is too little, too late.

As of this writing Americans are witnessing what happened when Obama withdrew from Iraq and are anticipating the same result when we withdraw from Afghanistan. Yes, we were and are war-weary, but we do not like what we’re seeing in Iraq and the President’s foreign policy failures are compounding by the day.

We are weary, too, after six and a half years of the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. It has taken this long for all the predictions regarding his lack of experience and competence to come true.

The polls taken during the past week provide evidence of this. Gallup’s job approval poll of June 9-15 showed that 42% of “national adults” approved. Over at Rasmussen Reports, Obama’s job approval on June 21 was 48%. Asked by Rasmussen if the nation is headed in the right direction or not, 67% of likely voters said it was not. Reacting to the immigration invasion crisis a Gallup found that 69% thought he was doing a poor job.

Depending on events, polls rise and fall, but the numbers indicate a growing loss of confidence in Obama’s decisions and actions to date. I suspect that what they do not show is a growing sense of the man as utterly untrustworthy and increasingly distant from the demands of the office.

We are witnessing the implosion of the Obama presidency.

All presidencies have a scandal or two, usually relatively minor in the grand scheme of national management. Watergate was considered minor initially and took two years to materialize into the scandal that forced Nixon to resign. Obama, however, has generated directly and indirectly enough scandals for their combined weight to begin being noticed even by those who pay little attention to Washington, D.C.

The worst of the latests has been the revelation of how the Internal Revenue Service was politicized to attack organizations that were deemed to be affiliated with the Tea Party movement and patriotic objectives. The “loss” of Lois Lerner’s emails and others smells of the destruction of evidence Congress has demanded. The one element of the government that virtually all Americans interact with is the IRS.

Other scandals like Solyndra, representing the waste of billions on wind and solar companies, many of which went bankrupt after receiving all manner of grants and loans, did not registered in a similar fashion. The wiretapping of Associated Press reporters’ phone calls likewise did not evoke widespread concern. The failure of the “stimulus” that spent billions without producing an uptick in the economy was seen as just another way the government wastes our money. Even “Fast and Furious” in which thousands of weapons were purchased and transferred to Mexican drug cartels did not evoke more than a short expression of dismay.

Benghazi, however, in which a U.S. ambassador died along with three others, remains an unresolved scandal as much for the lies about a video as its cause as for the tragedy of the abandonment of those killed. The release of five leaders of the Taliban from Guantanamo without letting Congress know has piled on the previous scandals to a point where serious concerns about both Obama’s judgment have arisen.

What remains now is a combination of the President’s increasing use of Executive Orders to create as much mischief as possible along with the perception that he simply does not care what Americans in general and Congress in particular thinks about what he is doing. There is talk in the House of bringing a legal suit against the President regarding his heavy use of Executive Orders to bypass Congress while initiating policies that require congressional inclusion and oversight.

Those of us who pay close attention to what the President is doing know that the ultimate aim of his actions in office has been to harm the nation in a variety of ways from reducing our military to pre-World War Two levels to destroying a large element of the nation’s electrical energy supply by forcing coal-fired plants out of business.

Ultimately, the implosion of the Obama presidency has been the realization that he has put the nation at risk of the world’s bad actors by causing America’s global leadership position to erode. Americans have been accustomed to being a leading military and economic power since the end of World War Two and he has been undermining that in every way possible.

Voter payback is likely to see a major shift of political power in Congress away from the Democratic Party in the forthcoming midterm elections and would enable Republicans to slow or stop further damage to the nation. Failing that, the fate of the nation will be a great risk.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Executive fiats in the other Washington

Two western state governors intend to get low carbon fuel standards, by legislation or decree.

Progressives believe in free speech, robust debate, sound science and economics, transparency, government by the people and especially compassion for the poor – except when they don’t. These days, their commitment to these principles seems to be at low ebb … in both Washingtons.

A perfect example is the Oregon and Washington governors’ determined effort to enact Low Carbon Fuel Standards – via deceptive tax-funded campaigns, tilted legislative processes and executive fiat.

The standards require that conventional vehicle fuels be blended with alternative manmade fuels said to have less carbon in their chemical makeup or across the life cycle of creating and using the fuels. They comport with political viewpoints that oppose hydrocarbon use, prefer mass transit, are enchanted by the idea of growing fuels instead of drilling and fracking for them, and/or are convinced that even slightly reduced carbon dioxide will help reduce or prevent “dangerous manmade climate change.”

LCFS fuels include ethanol, biodiesel and still essentially nonexistent cellulosic biofuels, but the concept of lower carbon and CO2 naturally extends to boosting the number of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Putting aside the swirling controversies over natural versus manmade climate change, its dangers to humans and wildlife, the phony 97% consensus, and the failure of climate models – addressed in Climate Change Reconsidered and at the Heartland Institute’s Climate Conference – the LCFS agenda itself is highly contentious, for economic, technological, environmental and especially political reasons.

California has long led the nation on climate and “green” energy initiatives, spending billions on subsidies, while relying heavily on other states for its energy needs. The programs have sent the cost of energy steadily upward, driven thousands of families and businesses out of the state, and made it the fourth worst jobless state in America. Governors Jerry Brown, John Kitzhaber and Jay Inslee (of California, Oregon and Washington, respectively) recently joined British Columbia Premier Christy Clark in signing an agreement that had been developed behind closed doors, to coordinate policies on climate change, low carbon fuel standards and greenhouse gas emission limits throughout the region.

California and BC have already implemented LCFS and other rules. Oregon has LCFS, but its law terminates the program at the end of 2015, unless the legislature extends it. As that seems unlikely, Mr. Kitzhaber has promised that he will use an executive order to impose an extension and “fully implement” the state’s Clean Fuels Program. “We have the opportunity to spark a homegrown clean fuels industry,” the governor said, and he is determined to use “every tool at my disposal” to make that happen. He is convinced it will create jobs, though experience elsewhere suggests the opposite is much more likely.

Mr. Inslee is equally committed to implementing a climate agenda, LCFS and “carbon market.” If the legislature won’t support his plans, he will use his executive authority, a state-wide ballot initiative or campaigns against recalcitrant legislators – utilizing support from coal and hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer. Indeed, Inslee attended a closed-door fundraiser in Steyer’s home the very day he signed the climate agreement. The governor says he won’t proceed until a “rigorous analysis” of LCFS costs and technologies has been conducted, but he plans to sole-source that task to a liberal California company.

Their ultimate goal is simple. As Mother Jones magazine put it, “if Washington acts strongly on climate, the impact will extend far beyond Washington…. The more these Pacific coast states are unified, the more the United States and even the world will have to take notice.”

But to what end? In a world that is surging ahead economically, to lift billions out of abject poverty and disease – with over 80% of the energy provided by coal, oil and natural gas – few countries (or states) are likely to follow. They would be crazy to do so. Supposed environmental and climate benefits will therefore be few, whereas damage to economies, families and habitats will be extensive.

The Oregonian says the LCFS is “ultimately a complicated way of forcing people who use conventional fuels to subsidize those who use low-carbon fuels. It’s a hidden tax to support ‘green’ transportation. It will raise fuel prices … create a costly compliance burden … [and] harm Oregon’s competitiveness far more than it will help the environment. And that assumes it works as intended.” It will not and cannot.

LCFS laws will raise the cost of motor fuels by up to 170% over the next ten years – on top of all the other price hikes like minimum wages and the $1.86 trillion in total annual federal (only) regulatory compliance costs that businesses and families already have to pay – the Charles River Associates economic forecasting firm calculates. If these LCFS standards were applied nationally, CRA concluded, they would also destroy between 2.5 million and 4.5 million American jobs. 

Ethanol gets 30% less mileage than gasoline, so motorists pay the same price per tank but can drive fewer miles. It collects water, clogs fuel lines, corrodes engine parts, and wreaks havoc on lawn mowers and other small engines. E15 fuel blends (15% ethanol) exacerbate these problems, and low-carbon mandates (“goals”) would likely require 20% ethanol and biodiesel blends, trucking and other groups point out.

Those blends would void vehicle engine warranties and cause extensive damages and repair costs. The higher fuel costs would affect small business expansion, hiring, profitability and survival. The impact of lost jobs, repair costs, and soaring food and fuel bills will hit poor and minority families especially hard.

Some farmers make a lot of money off ethanol. However, beef, pork, chicken, egg and fish producers must pay more for feed, which means family food bills go up. Biofuel mandates also mean international aid agencies must pay more for corn and wheat, so more starving people remain malnourished longer.

Biofuels harm the environment. America has at least a century of petroleum right under our feet, right here in the United States, but “renewable” energy advocates don’t want us to lease, drill, frack or use that energy. However, the per-acre energy from biofuels is minuscule compared to what we get from oil and gas production. In fact, to grow corn for ethanol, we are already plowing an area bigger than Iowa – millions of acres that could be food crops or wildlife habitat. To meet the latest biodiesel mandate of 1.3 billion gallons, producers will have to extract oil from 430 million bushels of soybeans – which means converting countless more acres from food or habitat to energy.

Producing biofuels also requires massive quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels – and water. The US Department of Energy calculates that fracking requires 0.6 to 6.0 gallons of fresh or brackish water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, corn-based ethanol requires 2,500 to 29,000 gallons of fresh water per million Btu of energy – and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of fresh water per million Btu!

Moreover, biofuels bring no net “carbon” benefits. In terms of carbon molecules consumed and carbon dioxide emitted over the entire planting, growing, harvesting, refining, shipping and fuel use cycle, ethanol, biodiesel and other “green” fuels are no better than conventional gasoline and diesel.

Put bluntly, giving politicians, bureaucrats and eco-activists power over our energy would be even worse than having them run our healthcare system and insurance websites. Spend enough billions (much of it  taxpayer money) on subsidies and propaganda campaigns – and you might convince a lot of people they should pay more at the pump and grocery store, and maybe lose their jobs, for illusory environmental benefits. But low-carbon mandates are a horrid idea that must be scrutinized in open, robust debate.

It’s time we stopped letting ideology trump science, economics and sanity. We certainly cannot afford to let despotic presidents and governors continue using executive orders to trample on our legislative processes, government by the people, constitutions, laws, freedoms, livelihoods and living standards.

Fiats are fun cars to drive. Executive fiats are dictatorial paths to bad public policy.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

Fixing our dictatorial EPA

EPA, White House and activists must no longer deceive America and rule by executive fiat

Last year, Congress enacted 72 new laws and federal agencies promulgated 3,659 new rules, imposing $1.86 trillion in annual regulatory compliance costs on American businesses and families. It’s hardly surprising that America’s economy shrank by 1% the first quarter of 2014, our labor participation rate is a miserable 63% and real unemployment stands at 12-23% (and even worse for blacks and Hispanics).

It’s no wonder a recent Gallup poll found that 56% of respondents said the economy, unemployment and dissatisfaction with government are the most serious problems facing our nation – whereas only 3% said it is environmental issues, with climate change only a small segment of that.

So naturally, the Environmental Protection Agency issued another round of draconian restrictions on coal-fired power plants, once again targeting carbon dioxide emissions. EPA rules now effectively prevent the construction of new plants and require the closure of hundreds of older facilities. By 2030 the regulations will cost 224,000 jobs, force US consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity, and lower disposable incomes for American households by $586 billion, the US Chamber of Commerce calculates.

The House of Representatives holds hearings and investigations, and drafts corrective legislation that the Harry Reid Senate immediately squelches. When questions or challenges arise, the courts defer to “agency discretion,” even when agencies ignore or rewrite statutory provisions. Our three co-equal branches of government have become an “Executive Branch trumps all” system – epitomized by EPA.

Some legal philosophers refer to this as “post-modernism.” President Obama’s constitutional law professor called it “the curvature of constitutional space.” A better term might be neo-colonialism – under which an uncompromising American ruler and his agents control citizens by executive fiat, to slash fossil fuel use, fundamentally transform our Constitution, economy and social structure, and redistribute wealth and political power to cronies, campaign contributors and voting blocs that keep them in power.

Even worse, in the case of climate change, this process is buttressed by secrecy, highly questionable research, contrived peer reviews, outright dishonesty, and an absence of accountability.

Fewer than half of Americans believe climate change is manmade or dangerous. Many know that China, Australia, Canada, India and even European countries are revising policies that have pummeled families, jobs, economies and industries with anti-hydrocarbon and renewable energy requirements. They understand that even eliminating coal and petroleum use in the United States will not lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels or control a climate that has changed repeatedly throughout Earth’s history.

Mr. Obama and EPA chief Gina McCarthy are nevertheless determined to slash reliance on coal, even in 20 states that rely on this fuel for half to 95% of their electricity, potentially crippling their economies. The President has said electricity rates will “necessarily skyrocket,” coal companies will face bankruptcy, and if Congress does not act on climate change and cap-tax-and-trade, he will. Ms. McCarthy has similarly said she “didn’t go to Washington to sit around and wait for congressional action.”

However, they know “pollution” and “children’s health” resonate much better than “climate disruption” among voters. So now they mix their climate chaos rhetoric with assertions that shutting down coal-fired power plants will reduce asthma rates among children. It is a false, disingenuous argument.

Steadily improving air pollution controls have sent sulfur dioxide emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants tumbling by more than 40% and particulate emissions (the alleged cause of asthma) by more than 90% since 1970, says air quality expert Joel Schwartz, even as coal use tripled. In fact, asthma rates have increased, while air pollution has declined – underscoring that asthma hospitalizations and outdoor air pollution are not related. The real causes of asthma are that young children live in tightly insulated homes, spend less time outdoors, don’t get exposed to enough allergens to reduce immune hyperactivity and allergic hypersensitivity, and get insufficient exercise to keep lungs robust, health experts explain.

But the American Lung Association backs up the White House and EPA claims – vigorously promoting the phony pollution/asthma link. However, EPA’s $24.7 million in grants to the ALA over the past 15 years should raise questions about the association’s credibility and integrity on climate and pollution.

EPA also channels vast sums to its “independent” Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which likewise rubberstamps the agency’s pollution claims and regulations: $180.8 million  to 15 CASAC members since 2000. Imagine the outrage and credibility gap if Big Oil gave that kind of money to scientists who question the “dangerous manmade climate change” mantra.

Moreover, even EPA’s illegal studies on humans have failed to show harmful effects from pollution levels the agency intends to impose. Other EPA rules are based on epidemiological data that the agency now says it cannot find. (Perhaps they fell into same black hole as Lois Lerner’s missing IRS emails.) EPA’s CO2 rulings are based on GIGO computer models that are fed simplistic assumptions about human impacts on Earth’s climate, and on cherry-picked analyses that are faulty and misleading.

In numerous instances, EPA’s actions completely ignore the harmful impacts that its regulations will have on the health and well-being of millions of Americans. EPA trumpets wildly exaggerated benefits its anti-fossil-fuel rules will supposedly bring but refuses to assess even obvious harm from unemployment, soaring energy costs and reduced family incomes. And now Mr. Obama wants another $2.5 billion for FY-2015 climate change models and “assessments” via EPA and the Global Change Research Program.

EPA’s actions routinely violate the Information Quality Act. The IQA is intended to ensure the quality, integrity, credibility and reliability of any science used by federal agencies to justify regulatory actions.  Office of Management and Budget guidelines require that agencies provide for full independent peer review of all “influential scientific information” used as the basis for regulations. The law and OMB guidelines also direct federal agencies to provide adequate administrative mechanisms for affected parties to review agency failures to respond to requests for correction or reconsideration of scientific information.

Those who control carbon control our lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards and life spans. It is essential that EPA’s climate and pollution data and analyses reflect the utmost in integrity, reliability, transparency and accountability. A closed circle of EPA and IPCC reviewers – accompanied by a massive taxpayer-funded public relations and propaganda campaign – must no longer be allowed to rubberstamp junk science that is used to justify federal diktats. Governors, state and federal legislators, attorneys general, and citizen and scientific groups must take action:

·         File FOIA and IQA legal actions, to gain access to all EPA and other government data, computer codes, climate models and studies use to justify pollution, climate and energy regulations;

·         Subject all such information to proper peer review by independent scientists, including the significant numbers of experts who are skeptical of alarmist pollution and climate change claims;

·         Demand that new members be appointed to CASAC and other peer review groups, and that they represent a broad spectrum of viewpoints, organizations and interests;

·         Scrutinize the $2.5 billion currently earmarked for the USGCRP and its programs, reduce the allocation to compel a slow-down in EPA’s excessive regulatory programs, and direct that a significant portion of that money support research into natural causes of climate change; and

·         Delay or suspend any implementation of EPA’s carbon dioxide and other regulations, until all questions are fully answered, and genuine evidence-based science is restored to the regulatory process – and used to evaluate the honesty and validity of studies used to justify the regulations.

Only in this manner can the United States expect to see a return to the essential separation of powers, checks and balances, economic and employment growth – and the quality, integrity, transparency and accountability that every American should expect in our government.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

“Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall”

On June 12, 1987, the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, speaking in Berlin, said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” It fell in 1989 and, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. From the end of World War Two in 1945, the United States had stood strong against the Communist empire’s effort to extend its power and influence around the world.

 

Today, however, we have a President who not only swapped five Taliban generals, men whom the United Nations regards as war criminals, but likely also paid a yet unreported ransom as well. We have a President who made it clear that he intended to close Guantanamo where jihadist enemies have been detained because he thinks the United States is provoking the Islamic fanatics by maintaining it.

 

President Obama’s mindset is so favorable to Islam that he seemingly cannot grasp that jihad is a sacred duty for Muslims and nothing the U.S. or any other nation does will cause their holy war to end. Or maybe he does understand that and his true sympathies are with the growing army of Islamists?

 

The Rand Corporation, a think tank, recently released a report noting the accelerating rate of jihadist groups worldwide and the number of jihadist fighters which it estimates at 100,000. The number of attacks by al Qaeda affiliates between 2010 and 2013 rose to approximately one thousand from an initial 392.

 

The five Taliban generals were sent to Qatar, a small Arab state that borders Saudi Arabia, with the understanding they would remain there for a year. That is unlikely. Muslims are permitted to lie to infidels to advance Islam and jihad. The practice is call taqqiya. I have little doubt we will see them return to Afghanistan and Pakistan, both of which are still home to al Qaeda and allied groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban.

 

At the heart of the deal struck to get the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter from his unit in Afghanistan, bespeaks the utter weakness of American foreign policy that has been the hallmark of the Obama administration. In a recent commentary,”Meet Obama’s Kissingers”,Wall Street Journal columnist, Kimberly A. Strassel, spelled out the alarming fact that Obama’s key national security and foreign affairs advisors are all politicians as opposed to experts in those respective fields.

 

Presidents dating back to Harry Truman who initiated the National Security Council have relied on it for decision-making, but Obama’s first advisor, Marine General and NATO Commander, Jim Jones, left after just two years “following clashes with Mr. Obama’s inner circle.” Today, the most visible member of the NSC is Susan Rice who has established a reputation for appearing on Sunday television news programs to lie about the cause of the 2012 Benghazi attack and now the character of Sgt. Bergdahl.

 

Obama has never made a secret of the fact that he wanted U.S. troops out of Iraq and is looking forward to removing them from Afghanistan. It is true that Americans had grown weary of these long military engagements. Even the ancient Romans felt the same way in their time. The Iraq withdrawal has left behind a nation besieged with bombing attacks in its major cities that are ceding control to the Iraqi branch of al Qaeda and Afghanistan will return to the horrors of Taliban control once our troops are gone.

 

There are times when a President must use his powers as Commander-in-Chief to demonstrate that those who kill Americans or pose a significant threat must be reminded of our power. Reagan did this in Libya with a bombing that got the attention of its dictator Muamar Gaddafi and Clinton did this with a strike against a suspected chemical weapons facility in Sudan.  Obama’s weapon of choice has been armed drones, but his use of them against al Qaeda leaders has diminished to zero since last December.


It was not lost on anyone that the Iranians released captive American diplomats the day Ronald Reagan was first sworn into office. They knew this was a President who would respond in ways that would make them pay for this outrage. As he once said, “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”

Obama, by contrast, exudes weakness. His speech at West Point was universally deemed an ineffectual response to the realities of the threats the U.S and its allies face around the world.

 

At one point he told the graduating cadets, “But as I said last year, in taking direct action we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat and only where there is no certainty — there is near certainty of no civilian casualties.  For our actions should meet a simple test:  We must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.”

 

In reality, a nation creates enemies when they feel they can triumph against it. A strong nation creates caution.

 

I began with a Reagan quote and will conclude with one.

 

“It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad, and the collapse of imperial Communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile, because they might just wind up lowering our flag.”  — February 3, 1994.

 

© Alan Caruba, 2014