Is Barack Obama Like Benito Mussolini on Environmentalism?

Myron Ebell Sinister

What do Barack Obama and Benito Mussolini have in common? A fascist agenda, of course! According to Myron Ebell, Director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, environmentalists have a ‘sinister’ agenda akin to Italian fascism of the 1920s and ’30s. He spoke at the “Climate: What Tom Steyer Won’t Tell You” panel at CPAC, where climate deniers united to ridicule all the silly environmentalists, from Steyer to President Obama to Secretary of State John Kerry, and of course EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

Panelists included Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX 17), who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Becky Norton Dunlop, the panel moderator and Vice President of External Relations at the Heritage Foundation; Andrew Langer, President of the Institute for Liberty; and Gary Broadbent, assistant general counsel of Murray Energy Corporation, one of largest coal mining operations in America. Ebell replaced Joe Bast of the Heartland Institute, a renowned climate denier, who had to leave the conference because, according to Dunlop, “a great scientist [and renowned climate denier], Willie Soon, is under attack by the left and he asked Joe to come up to be with he (sic) and his family.” Damn those leftists for challenging a scientist who has been funded largely from the fossil fuel industry!

Opening the panel, Dunlop charged the environmental movement with lying. Flores repeatedly decried “junk science.” Ebell was emphatic that no global warming has taken place in the last 18 years. Langer talked about the “war on conservative speech.”

And shockingly, the coal industry lawyer lamented the dying coal industry. Broadbent spent several minutes discussing the economic hardships imposed on coal miners, the elderly, and the poor — supposedly from the overwhelming regulatory costs on his industry. Talking about miners facing job losses from mine closures, Broadbent wondered how they would survive and claimed that “coal mining is their passion.” Hmm, yes, passionate about black lung. Or perhaps they are passionate about keeping jobs that pay more than 1.65 times the national average across all industries, in an economic environment of falling wages.

It was hard to choose between Ebell’s and Broadbent’s claims for most mind-boggling. But in the end, you always have to pick the corporate shill who likens activists trying to conserve the environment (in an era of unprecedented giveaways to multinational corporations), to the very form of government they are fighting. Lest we forget, the words of Benito Mussolini:

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

Watch highlights from Ebell’s speech on the panel and my interview with him below, and subscribe to The Undercurrent on YouTube for more independent, on-the-ground reporting. You can see the full panel here.


Homeland Security Showdown Is An “American Snafu”

American Snafu3 Thumb


Today, American Family Voices (an organization where I consult) released “American Snafu,” a parody of an “American Sniper” movie trailer themed around the current Department of Homeland Security funding debacle. AFV is calling on Congress to pass a clean funding bill, without the contentious Republican riders to defund President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

Without resolution by Friday, DHS employees from Border Patrol to FEMA to the Secret Service to the TSA will be furloughed or forced to work without pay. Not only is this showdown irresponsible, but it’s also dangerous, especially in times of escalating terror threats from ISIS and increasingly extreme winter weather conditions that have triggered a State of Emergency across the country. This is neither fiscal nor defense conservatism — ideologies the Republican Party likes to preach, but not practice.

AFV and I agree with former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge — the debate over immigration should not be held on the backs of DHS employees, and Congress should not be playing political games with national security. The employees of DHS deserve better, Americans deserve better.

Watch “American Snafu” below…

GOP Rep Will Vote to Let Homeland Security Funding Lapse

At the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, I asked Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC 7) if he would vote for a clean appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, that is one without the Republican riders defunding President Obama’s executive order on immigration. Chuckling, the South Carolina congressman said he would vote against a clean bill. Rice was hardly alone in that sentiment, although other legislators in attendance, such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), were not quite as concrete in what actions they would support. While Cruz said that he was pressing his colleagues to use the “power of the purse” to fight back against President Obama’s “unconstitutional amnesty,” he stopped short of saying whether or not he would let the department’s funding lapse.

On Sunday, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN that 30,000 workers, primarily administrative employees, would be furloughed if funding for the department is not approved by Congress by February 27. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) would be particularly hard hit, with approximately 80% of its staff subject to the cuts. This presents an ideological quandary for Republicans, who traditionally emphasize defense spending in their party platform.

A lapse in funding would not impact the critical operations of DHS, though. Workers with Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, and the TSA would still report to work, they just wouldn’t be receiving paychecks. So while the security threat may be low, the threat of backlash to the GOP from angry public employees is very high. Watch the video below to see Rep. Rice’s answer…

Ted Cruz Pressing Congress to Defund “Unconstitutional” Amnesty

At the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention in Myrtle Beach this weekend, conservatives gathered to rally the troops ahead of the 2016 presidential race. Possible contenders included Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump. I broke through the mob around Cruz to ask him whether or not he would vote for a clean funding bill for the Dept. of Homeland Security, i.e. a bill without the Republican riders that would defund President Obama’s executive order on immigration…

With Trade Deal, Will Obama Be Wall Street’s Errand Boy?

Since the Republican takeover of the Senate, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty has been re-energized as a possible area of cooperation between the GOP and President Obama, who is seeking Fast Track Authority to push the deal through Congress without amendment. Activists gathered outside the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office on Monday, Dec. 8 to protest TPP generally and Fast Track specifically. I spoke with Ben Beachy, Research Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and Erich Pica, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, about the dangers of the trade deal many are calling ‘NAFTA on Steroids’ …

Barack in Blunderland: The Carrollian Surveillance State

Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul filibustered President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. Sounds like a normal day in the Senate, right? Wrong. Paul brought back the old-school ‘talking filibuster’ and spoke for nearly thirteen hours to protest the Obama administration’s controversial use of drones in targeted killings. You see, the junior senator from Kentucky sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting clarification on the use of drones in targeted attacks against American non-combatants, and received an ambiguous reply that did not expressly rule out that option.

This sounds like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, but it’s a clear continuation of the Bush-era Patriot Act and the abrogation of civil liberties by our Constitutional lawyer-cum-president. Senator Paul himself invoked Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to characterize the administration’s stance:

They say Lewis Carroll is fiction. Alice never fell down a rabbit hole and the White Queen’s caustic judgments are not really a threat to your security. Or has America the Beautiful become Alice’s Wonderland? …

‘No, no,’ said the queen. ‘Sentence first; Verdict afterwards.’

‘Stuff and nonsense,’ Alice said widely — loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first?’

‘Hold your tongue,’ said the queen, turning purple.

‘I won’t,’ said Alice.

‘Release the drones,’ said the queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice.

During the filibuster, Paul was joined by twelve Republicans and 1 Democrat. This is a disgrace. Why wasn’t there more support for our Constitutional rights from senators from BOTH sides of the aisle? Civil liberties should be non-partisan issues. The erosion of rights to privacy, probable cause, due process, and trial by jury did not begin with President Obama, but he has done little to abate it. The president re-authorized the “roving wiretaps,” warrantless wiretapping, and e-mail monitoring of terrorism suspects under both the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Most significantly, his National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 entitles the U.S. government to indefinitely detain American citizens without warrant or charge. Issuing a signing statement saying you have this power but won’t use it doesn’t make you a civil rights warrior… It makes you a coward.

Both Eric Holder and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that President Obama does not have the authority to order drone strikes against Americans on American soil. This assertion is cold comfort in the increasingly Orwellian, or perhaps Carrollian, surveillance state in which we now live. Have we fallen down the rabbit hole when it comes to Big Brother? Who will lead the charge in reclaiming our Constitutional rights? Be a patriot, and #StandWithRand.


Brother, Can You Spare A Paradigm?

The Occupy movement has prided itself on being non-partisan and non-hierarchical in its quest to transition the world into a Post-Consumer Age from the current political, economic, and cultural paradigm that is American capitalism. There is a stubborn fear within Occupy of co-option, whether by the Democratic Party or or the unions. This fear, while warranted to a certain degree, quite frankly obstructs progress. Vicious infighting occurs over things like citizen journalists getting paid for their work, activists working with the unions, and the appearance of Occupy endorsing political organizations—with which it should be building coalitions anyway.

The internal strife plays out along two divisions: the Anarchists, who generally believe that real change can only occur if the current system is destroyed and who refuse to partner with political groups; and the Reformists, who generally think that coalition-building is an absolute necessity. Further, there is division between activists and citizen journalists, whom the former often suspect of profiting off the Occupy brand through donations or sponsorships they receive, at least in Los Angeles anyway. I fall into the latter camps, and I certainly have not profited monetarily from this movement. Equipment and travel expenses to attend protests are costly—not to mention the personal gifts of time and energy. The vast majority of those receiving compensation for their work are not even breaking even.

The people, typically anarchists, who bitch about citizen journalists getting funding for their work, usually do so in the context that they themselves are economic martyrs for the cause; that Occupy is really anti-capitalist; and that the goal of the movement is to transition to an open-source direct democracy. Basically, “If you’re getting paid, I should be paid, too… What’s yours is mine… Media is common property.” Anyone who can obtain funding should. Occupy is powered by the hard work of both activists and citizen journalists, who devote their time, energy, and money to creating actions and the media to promote them, mostly for free. Both parties have bills to pay in the meantime before they can frolic around in some communal utopia—which, by the way, not everyone is advocating.

The movement was built on a foundation of anti-crony-capitalism, to see justice done in the financial sector to the actors who caused the economic meltdown, and to address growing wealth disparity and pervasive corporate influence in politics. The demonization of media and reform-minded activists must stop in the name of solidarity. I have witnessed the defection of many sorely needed media members because a few bad apples wanted to rant and rave on e-mail threads. Hell, I’ve defected to other Occupies myself because of it. No one wants to put up with abuse no matter how passionate they are about the cause.

We, as individuals and as a movement, must take advantage of every resource that will allow us to perpetuate the cause. Much ado was made in Occupy Los Angeles (OLA) about using an SEIU union hall for media meetings. Should OLA be taking advantage of that offer? Absolutely. We can only change the system through unity. Using resources provided by unions does not mean we endorse unions themselves. Occupiers must start to be able to identify strategic partners, and to differentiate between short- and long-term goals. Accepting help allows for dollars to be allocated elsewhere, with less money coming out of the pockets of already cash-strapped activists. This fight will not be won in months, but in years, and I dare say decades. Care must certainly be taken in order to avoid co-option, but the greater threat at this point is losing motivated participants, and thereby losing relevance.

Thus, Occupy must build coalitions with other organizations of the progressive left. This statement alone has provoked much ire from people who don’t believe that Occupy is a progressive movement—“We are non-partisan! We’re not progressive! We are the 99%!” Okay, well, to those not in the movement, Occupy is progressive. Its major issues are social justice issues, i.e. progressivism. So deny the label, but it will still be applied by outsiders. I may want to be called ‘Caucasian-American,’ but people will call me ‘white’ regardless.

The militantly anti-partisan/anti-voting stance of many within the movement is corrosive to gaining the traction necessary to effect major change. If we don’t mobilize the movement into a voting bloc and offer a focused progressive vision, we don’t represent a real threat to politicians. To a politician, that translates to voting, not camping. Right now the Tea Party poses a bigger danger to President Obama than we do. Armed with registered voters and ultra-conservative values, the Tea Party has become a major force in electoral politics, and it has Congress by the balls as a result. Just witness the sharp right turn of Mitt Romney’s campaign during the primary to prove his record as “a severe conservative,” or the defeat of old-guard Republican Senator Dick Lugar by Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock. Hence, politicians do not take us seriously, nor do the mainstream media and the average people we seek to persuade. The common refrain is, “What does Occupy want? What are your demands, objectives, etc.?” When you see Occupiers themselves unable to answer those simple questions on camera, who can blame them?

I’ve heard some say that Occupy doesn’t need to have the solutions, that it is enough that the movement is a show of resistance to the current power structure. But that line of thinking is dangerously naïve. The rigid idealogues calling for radical systemic change, bypassing the electoral process, risk any progress that can be made in the short term. For example, getting corporate money out of politics, ending corporate personhood, and instituting public campaign financing have widespread support, and they have to be done first for any other reform to be remotely successful. The movement must coalesce around these specific policy initiatives en masse. Introducing legislation and running candidates committed to those goals should be the top priority. Barack Obama campaigned for presidency seeking change. For progressives, we envisioned and expected him to usher in, not just change, but a new paradigm. Now we must force him to deliver it.