Take A Bow For The New Revolution

From the outset, President Obama directed his powerful government agencies and congressional allies to help him “fundamentally transform” the United States. Too many of them were eager to nationalize the nation’s healthcare system, ignore or rewrite inconvenient laws, control the internet and political speech, implement new regulations that imposed enormous costs for few or illusory benefits, and shut down oil, gas and coal in favor of expensive, unreliable, heavily subsidized wind, solar and biofuel energy.

We voters and citizens were supposed to “tip our hats to the new Constitution” and “take a bow for the new revolution,” as The Who put it in their classic song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

But now people seem less inclined to “smile and grin at the change all around.” They increasingly grasp the enormous costs of this ruling class totalitarian anarchy, refuse to get fooled again, and are telling Mr. Obama that “Your states and your citizens are beyond your command,” as Bob Dylan might say. Perhaps “the times are a-changing” once again, and “the losers now will be later to win” – in 2016 and beyond.

Pervasive signs certainly portend a newer revolution. Indeed, the reactions of some previous cheerleaders respond to the disdain the president often seems to show for their jobs and well-being. The energy and environment arena is only part of the total picture, but it’s a vitally important one.

Ozone. EPA is determined to implement stringent new ozone regulations – even though US ozone levels and overall air quality have improved steadily for decades, and the already tough 2008 ozone standards have not yet been fully implemented. This action would turn hundreds of cities and counties into nonattainment areas, impair manufacturing and transportation, cost up to $140 billion per year, and increase unemployment – for health benefits that are inflated or even fabricated.

A Small Business Entrepreneurship Council study found that EPA’s proposed rules would put numerous jobs at risk in a six-county Chicago area that is home to 65% of Illinois’ population, over 60% of its Latinos and 80% of its blacks, 73% of its GDP and 70% of its employment. With the unemployment rate already at 12% for Latinos and 25% for blacks, elected officials and business owners are alarmed.

The US Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Association of Regional Councils – Democrats and Republicans representing 19,000 cities, 3,000 counties and 500 councils – have all expressed deep concern and asked EPA to retain the 2008 ozone standards. So have the National and Illinois Black Chambers of Commerce, US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.

They worry that the new rules would stifle economic growth and investment, and cause major job losses across the country. The rules set ozone standards lower than naturally occurring in many national parks. Thus far, EPA is ignoring the pleas, though Inside EPA says the agency may grant a one-year extension for some areas to comply with the 2008 standards, before slapping them with the newer diktats.

Coal-fueled electricity generation. The Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will force still more coal mines and power plants to close, imposing higher electricity costs on businesses and families, and causing lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare. It will hit blacks and Hispanics especially hard and require families to pay $1,225 more per year for electricity, heating and air conditioning in 2030 than in 2012.

A dozen states have already sued EPA to prevent it from implementing the plan. They and other experts note that the CPP will bring no climate benefits, even if carbon dioxide actually is a major factor in global warming. In fact, even EPA admits it would prevent merely 0.03 degrees F of warming – because China, India, Germany and other countries are planning or building nearly 2,200 coal-fired power plants. That and increasing natural gas and gasoline use worldwide will raise atmospheric CO2 levels still higher.

Impacts on people. EPA’s rules are devastating coal-reliant communities. By 2020, they will cost 75,000 direct jobs in coal mines, power plants and railroads, a union study estimates; by 2035, job losses will reach 152,000. When secondary employment is included, the total impact will be some 485,000 lost jobs. This will also affect state tax revenues and funding for company pensions and retirement health care benefits, putting hundreds of thousands of current and future retirees in harm’s way.

EPA ignores the huge toll that job losses have on people’s health and welfare. Unemployed families find it harder to buy food, pay for doctor visits and medicine, give to churches and charities, save for college and retirement, and make mortgage, rent and car payments. They face less sleep, worse nutrition and more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, strokes and heart attacks.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says “a lot of people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are going to die” because of the CPP. Liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe (who once hired Barack Obama as a legal research assistant) says the EPA plan is unconstitutional. National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford calls it “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.”

Trade unions. Once strong supporters of President Obama, the United Mine Workers of America, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other unions have come out in strong opposition to the Administration’s job-killing actions on the Keystone XL Pipeline and other initiatives.

Wind power. States are reducing or terminating Renewable Portfolio Standards and programs; Kansas, West Virginia and Indiana repealed their mandate; Ohio froze its standard at 2.5% renewable electricity; and North Carolina may freeze its RPS. Wildlife groups are finally recognizing and objecting to the serious habitat destruction and bird and bat slaughter that is a hallmark of wind and solar facilities.

Collusion. There is growing concern about the cozy ties and private meetings between EPA officials and eco-activists, their sue-and-settle deals, and EPA payments to advisory committees and environmental pressure groups that propagandize for agency actions. Far too many regulations have their origins in collusion, collaboration, and secretive input and “reports” from radical anti-hydrocarbon groups.

The Secret Science Reform Act would compel EPA to develop regulations and scientific studies in the open, and allow truly independent experts to examine and challenge data, evidence and studies that supposedly support EPA dictates that could cost billions of dollars and millions of jobs. It is long overdue.

The Supremes. Even if it must ignore the clear intent or language of laws like ObamaCare, the US Supreme Court has often been another reliable Obama rubberstamp. Yet it recently ruled in Michigan v. EPA that EPA violated the law by failing to consider monetary costs in deciding to regulate air pollution from power plants. The agency’s refusal to recognize the damage its regulations inflict on human health and welfare is a far more serious offense, and the agency must not be allowed to continue doing that.

Dwindling overseas support. Countries once enamored with “renewable” energy are now reexamining those policies, as they realize wind and solar energy kills four to six jobs for every “green” job created via unsustainable subsidies – and the electricity costs families and businesses up to 36-40 cents per kilowatt-hour (without counting taxpayer subsidies), compared to 8-9 cents per kWh in coal-reliant US states.

The African Development Bank says it will no longer tolerate policies that prevent construction of coal-fired power plants needed to bring electricity to 730 million Africans who do not yet enjoy the countless blessings that this miracle energy brings. About the only reason poor countries support a new climate treaty is that they (or at least their ruling elites) expect to share in the $100 billion per year that they claim developed nations must pay them for supposed global warming “reparation, mitigation and prevention.”

Far too many EPA and other environmental regulations are wrong for workers, families, states and the overall “quality of the human environment.” That’s why “there’s a battle outside raging.” Free, responsible citizens do not want or need to be “fundamentally transformed” by deceit, collusion and decree.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Scott Walker Gives Presidential Announcement Speech

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin announced his presidential run Monday, becoming the 15th major Republican to seek his party’s nomination for the 2016 race.

Walker made the announcement in Waukesha, Wis., just outside Milwaukee, apparently working without a teleprompter. The Wisconsin governor has the distinction of winning the election for his office three times in four years, after surviving a recall election in 2012 over legislation which ended collective bargaining for most of the state’s public union workers.

“If our conservative reforms can work in a blue state like Wisconsin, they can work anywhere in America,” Walker said Monday, referring to his battle with unions later in the speech:

As a reform governor in a state long saddled with failed liberal policies, I have proven I will fight the good fights, and I know how to win. It is time to restore and reclaim the great results of the American experiment – the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The second-term, three time elected governor called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. “We need to put patients back in charge of their health care decisions, not the federal government,” he said. He also promised to sign Keystone XL into law “on day one.” Ahead of his announcement Monday, Walker declared in a video, “America needs new, fresh leadership with big, bold ideas from outside Washington to get things done.”

On foreign policy Walker said, “Under the Obama-Clinton doctrine, America is leading from behind,” and “[t]he greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism.”

“We must defeat ISIS and the threat of radical Islamic terrorism before it threatens the homeland,” he insisted. “We need to acknowledge that Israel is our ally and start treating them like one. We need to stop Russian aggression. We need to stop China’s cyber attacks, slow its advances into international waters, and speak out about its abysmal human rights record.”

Walker did not criticize China on economic sanctions, but said he would “put in place crippling sanctions on Iran and convince our allies to do exactly the same thing.”

Walker also did not state his position on immigration in his speech. He has been on both sides of the issue, saying at one point undocumented immigrants should be granted “no amnesty,” then articulating a position where undocumented immigrants could be granted a pathway to citizenship, The Wall Street Journal reported in March.

Like his opponent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Walker made his announcement speech without a coat and tie, wearing a light blue shirt. One way Walker distinguished himself from Bush, however, was with a line on education reform. “Empowering families also means no national school board and no Common Core,” Walker said.

Walker’s team prematurely tweeted his announcement Friday before deleting it. Even before Walker made it to the stage, the AFL-CIO, one of the most influential unions in the nation, issued a one sentence release Monday characterizing their feelings about the Wisconsin governor:

Scott Walker is a national disgrace

Would you vote for Scott Walker? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

BREAKING: The Supreme Court Just Made A HUGE Move That Threatens Dem Campaign Cash

In a surprise move that could pose a major threat to organized labor — a key Democrat constituency that supports liberal candidates with vast amounts of campaign cash — the U.S. Supreme Court has just said it will hear a controversial case out of California. USA Today reports that the justices have agreed to consider the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, “challenging the requirement that teachers contribute to unions, even if they don’t join them or agree with their positions on issues.”

The USA Today article points out that, in the most recent case to come before the court in which the forced union dues have been challenged by people who don’t support what those dues have paid for politically, a sharply divided court ruled against the union policy.

“…the court ruled 5-4 along ideological lines that home-care workers in Illinois do not have to pay dues to public employee unions. The workers said the unions lobbied the government, often on issues the workers oppose — thereby abridging their First Amendment rights.”

In the California case that will bring the critical issue back before the Supreme Court in late fall, two lower courts have upheld the demand by the California Teachers Association that teachers contribute to the union, even if they don’t belong to the union or don’t agree with the group’s position of issues.

The Los Angeles Times article on the high court’s taking up the case notes just how important the eventual outcome of the matter could be to public employee unions and the causes, candidates and campaigns they support with massive amounts of money. What makes this pending decision even more critical is its timing as the 2016 election cycle moves into high gear.

The case is likely to be seen as crucial test of public employee unions, which have under political attack in several Republican-led states. The outcome may well have a political impact as well, because these unions have been reliable supporters of the Democratic Party.

The Times coverage notes just how much money the public-sector union collects from each member and non-member. “The lawsuit said full dues for teachers who join the union are about $1,000 a year, but non-members still have to pay about $650 on average for their share of the cost of collective bargaining….”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Missouri Legislature Passes Right-To-Work Legislation

The Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would make the Show-Me State the 26th right-to-work state in the country.

The House voted 92 to 66 for the right-to-work legislation Wednesday, while the Senate voted 21 to 13 Tuesday. As The New York Times notes, the bill would forbid employers from making union dues or representation fees mandatory. The map below shows which states have comparable legislation:

National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation

National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation

“Freedom to work is necessary if Missouri wishes to regain a competitive standard with the states that surround us,” said state Rep. Eric Burlison, a Republican who sponsored the legislation. “It will encourage job growth and help unions become stronger.”

But the bill has a large hill to overcome, with a Democratic governor and the lack of a veto proof majority. 109 votes are needed in the House, while 23 are needed in the Senate. One Republican lawmaker asserts passing the bill this late in the legislative term was an ineffective move. “This symbolic gesture has killed all of our bills,” argued Republican state Rep. Kevin Engler. “Does this make any sense?”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has signaled he would veto the bill. “Attacking workers and weakening the middle class will not create jobs,” he said in a statement Thursday:

In fact, rolling back the rights of working people would weaken our economy by lowering wages and making it harder for middle-class families to move up the economic ladder.

This bill also takes the extreme step of subjecting Missouri employers to criminal and unlimited civil liability, which would stifle growth and discourage investment in our state. At a time when our economy is picking up steam and businesses are creating good jobs, this so-called right-to-work bill would take Missouri backwards.

The Missouri GOP also has another issue to deal with. State House Speaker John Diehl resigned Thursday after the Kansas City Star alleged he had a sexual relationship with a college-aged intern, according to Talking Points Memo.

h/t: KCRU

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

In A Cop Culture, The Bill Of Rights Doesn’t Amount To Much

Police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be held financially accountable for their actions.—Law professor Joanna C. Schwartz (paraphrased)

“In a democratic society,” observed Oakland police chief Sean Whent, “people have a say in how they are policed.”

Unfortunately, if you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is never held accountable for violating your rights and his oath of office to serve and protect, never forced to make amends, never told that what he did was wrong, and never made to change his modus operandi, then you don’t live in a constitutional republic.

You live in a police state.

It doesn’t even matter that “crime is at historic lows and most cities are safer than they have been in generations, for residents and officers alike,” as the New York Times reports.

What matters is whether you’re going to make it through a police confrontation alive and with your health and freedoms intact. For a growing number of Americans, those confrontations do not end well.

As David O. Brown, the Dallas chief of police, noted: “Sometimes it seems like our young officers want to get into an athletic event with people they want to arrest. They have a ‘don’t retreat’ mentality. They feel like they’re warriors and they can’t back down when someone is running from them, no matter how minor the underlying crime is.”

Making matters worse, in the cop culture that is America today, the Bill of Rights doesn’t amount to much. Unless, that is, it’s the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), which protects police officers from being subjected to the kinds of debilitating indignities heaped upon the average citizen.

Most Americans, oblivious about their own rights, aren’t even aware that police officers have their own Bill of Rights. Yet at the same time that our own protections against government abuses have been reduced to little more than historic window dressing, 14 states have already adopted LEOBoRs—written by police unions and being considered by many more states and Congress—which provides police officers accused of a crime with special due process rights and privileges not afforded to the average citizen.

In other words, the LEOBoR protects police officers from being treated as we are treated during criminal investigations: questioned unmercifully for hours on end, harassed, harangued, browbeaten, denied food/water/bathroom breaks, subjected to hostile interrogations, and left in the dark about our accusers and any charges and evidence against us.

Not only are officers given a 10-day “cooling-off period during which they cannot be forced to make any statements about the incident; but when they are questioned, it must be “for a reasonable length of time, at a reasonable hour, by only one or two investigators (who must be fellow policemen), and with plenty of breaks for food and water.”

According to investigative journalist Eli Hager, the most common rights afforded police officers accused of wrongdoing are as follows:

  • If a department decides to pursue a complaint against an officer, the department must notify the officer and his union.
  • The officer must be informed of the complainants, and their testimony against him, before he is questioned.
  • During questioning, investigators may not harass, threaten, or promise rewards to the officer, as interrogators not infrequently do to civilian suspects.
  • Bathroom breaks are assured during questioning.
  • In Maryland, the officer may appeal his case to a “hearing board,” whose decision is binding, before a final decision has been made by his superiors about his discipline. The hearing board consists of three of the suspected offender’s fellow officers.
  • In some jurisdictions, the officer may not be disciplined if more than a certain number of days (often 100) have passed since his alleged misconduct, which limits the time for investigation.
  • Even if the officer is suspended, the department must continue to pay salary and benefits, as well as the cost of the officer’s attorney.

It’s a pretty sweet deal if you can get it, I suppose: protection from the courts, immunity from wrongdoing, paid leave while you’re under investigation, and the assurance that you won’t have to spend a dime of your own money in your defense. And yet these LEOBoR epitomize everything that is wrong with America today.

Once in a while, the system appears to work on the side of justice; and police officers engaged in wrongdoing are actually charged for abusing their authority and using excessive force against American citizens.

Yet even in these instances, it’s still the American taxpayer who foots the bill.

For example, Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees. If the six Baltimore police officers charged with the death of Freddie Gray are convicted, you can rest assured it will be the Baltimore taxpayers who feel the pinch.

New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $1,130 per year per police officer (there are 34,500 officers in the NYPD) to address charges of misconduct. That translates to $38 million every year just to clean up after these so-called public servants.

Over a 10-year-period, Oakland, Calif., taxpayers were made to cough up more than $57 million (curiously enough, the same amount as the city’s deficit back in 2011) in order to settle accounts with alleged victims of police abuse.

Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day alone to victims of police misconduct, with one person slated to receive $22.5 million, potentially the largest single amount settled on any one victim. The City has paid more than half a billion dollars to victims over the course of a decade. The Chicago City Council actually had to borrow $100 million just to pay off lawsuits arising over police misconduct in 2013. The city’s payout for 2014 was estimated to be in the same ballpark, especially with cases pending such as the one involving the man who was reportedly sodomized by a police officer’s gun in order to force him to “cooperate.”

Over 78% of the funds paid out by Denver taxpayers over the course of a decade arose as a result of alleged abuse or excessive use of force by the Denver police and sheriff departments. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Ferguson, Missouri, are being asked to pay $40 million in compensation—more than the city’s entire budget—for police officers treating them “‘as if they were war combatants,’ using tactics like beating, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and stun grenades, while the plaintiffs were peacefully protesting, sitting in a McDonalds, and in one case walking down the street to visit relatives.”

That’s just a small sampling of the most egregious payouts, but just about every community—large and small—feels the pinch when it comes to compensating victims who have been subjected to deadly or excessive force by police.

The ones who rarely ever feel the pinch are the officers accused or convicted of wrongdoing, “even if they are disciplined or terminated by their department, criminally prosecuted, or even imprisoned.” Indeed, a study published in the NYU Law Review reveals that 99.8% of the monies paid in settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases never come out of the officers’ own pockets, even when state laws require them to be held liable. Moreover, these officers rarely ever have to pay for their own legal defense.

For instance, law professor Joanna C. Schwartz references a case in which three Denver police officers chased and then beat a 16-year-old boy, stomping “on the boy’s back while using a fence for leverage, breaking his ribs and causing him to suffer kidney damage and a lacerated liver.” The cost to Denver taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $885,000. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Kathryn Johnston, 92 years old, was shot and killed during a SWAT team raid that went awry. Attempting to cover their backs, the officers falsely claimed Johnston’s home was the site of a cocaine sale and went so far as to plant marijuana in the house to support their claim. The cost to Atlanta taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $4.9 million. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, a police officer was convicted of raping a woman in his police car, in addition to sexually assaulting four other women and girls, physically abusing two additional women, and kidnapping or falsely imprisoning five men and boys. The cost to the Albuquerque taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $1,000,000. The amount the officer contributed: 0.

Human Rights Watch notes that taxpayers actually pay three times for officers who repeatedly commit abuses: “once to cover their salaries while they commit abuses; next to pay settlements or civil jury awards against officers; and a third time through payments into police ‘defense’ funds provided by the cities.”

Still, the number of times a police officer is actually held accountable for wrongdoing while on the job is miniscule compared to the number of times cops are allowed to walk away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

A large part of the problem can be chalked up to influential police unions and laws providing for qualified immunity, not to mention these Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights laws, which allow officers to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing.

Another part of the problem is rampant cronyism among government bureaucrats; those deciding whether a police officer should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils, and judges.

Most of all, what we’re dealing with is systemic corruption that protects wrongdoing and recasts it in a noble light. However, there is nothing noble about government agents who kick, punch, shoot, and kill defenseless individuals. There is nothing just about police officers rendered largely immune from prosecution for wrongdoing. There is nothing democratic about the word of a government agent being given greater weight in court than that of the average citizen. And no good can come about when the average citizen has no real means of defense against a system that is weighted in favor of government bureaucrats.

So if you want a recipe for disaster, this is it: Take police cadets, train them in the ways of war, dress and equip them for battle, teach them to see the people they serve not as human beings but as suspects and enemies, and then indoctrinate them into believing that their main priority is to make it home alive at any cost. While you’re at it, spend more time drilling them on how to use a gun (58 hours) and employ defensive tactics (49 hours) than on how to calm a situation before resorting to force (8 hours).

Then, once they’re hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge and their gun, throw in a few court rulings suggesting that security takes precedence over individual rights, set it against a backdrop of endless wars and militarized law enforcement, and then add to the mix a populace distracted by entertainment, out of touch with the workings of their government, and more inclined to let a few sorry souls suffer injustice than challenge the status quo or appear unpatriotic.

That’s not to discount the many honorable police officers working thankless jobs across the country in order to serve and protect their fellow citizens; but there can be no denying that, as journalist Michael Daly acknowledges, there is a troublesome “cop culture that tends to dehumanize or at least objectify suspected lawbreakers of whatever race. The instant you are deemed a candidate for arrest, you become not so much a person as a ‘perp.’”

Older cops are equally troubled by this shift in how police are being trained to view Americans—as things, not people. Daly had a veteran police officer join him to review the video footage of 43-year-old Eric Garner crying out and struggling to breathe as cops held him in a chokehold. (In yet another example of how the legal system and the police protect their own, no police officers were charged for Garner’s death.) Daly describes the veteran officer’s reaction to the footage, which as Daly points out, “constitutes a moral indictment not so much of what the police did but of what the police did not do”:

“I don’t see anyone in that video saying, ‘Look, we got to ease up,’” says the veteran officer. “Where’s the human side of you in that you’ve got a guy saying, ‘I can’t breathe?’” The veteran officer goes on, “Somebody needs to say, ‘Stop it!’ That’s what’s missing here was a voice of reason. The only voice we’re hearing is of Eric Garner.” The veteran officer believes Garner might have survived had anybody heeded his pleas. “He could have had a chance,” says the officer, who is black. “Butyou got to believe he’s a human being first. A human being saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’”

As I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, when all is said and done, the various problems we’re facing today—militarized police, police shootings of unarmed people, the electronic concentration camp being erected around us, SWAT team raids, etc.—can be attributed to the fact that our government and its agents have ceased to see us as humans first.

Then again, perhaps we are just as much to blame for this sorry state of affairs. After all, if we want to be treated like human beings—with dignity and worth—then we need to start treating those around us in the same manner. As Martin Luther King Jr. warned in a speech given exactly one year to the day before he was killed: “We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth