Sunday, November 30, 2008

Improbable Events

By Alan Caruba

On December 1, President-elect Barack Obama will announce his diplomatic and national security team.

I doubt there is anyone in Washington, D.C. or, indeed, this galaxy, who would have predicted that Sen. Hillary Clinton would be his choice for Secretary of State.

In the relatively brief history of the nation, Presidents often found their choice for this position among members of the U.S. Senate. Foreign affairs is one of the most difficult portfolios anyone can undertake, subject as it is to unforeseeable events that can transform policy overnight.

By the mid-point of the last century the job began to be filled by men (and later women) who devoted themselves to diplomacy. One exception who turned out to be ideal was George C. Marshall, a general during World War II who served in the Truman administration. Those that followed, however, were drawn from the intelligentsia and an example would be Condoleezza Rice who will be returning to academia.

By almost any standard, Hillary Clinton seems a very odd choice at best. She has no real credentials as regards international diplomacy. Other than her stint as a Senator, an obvious launching pad for her presidential ambitions, she was a former First Lady.

It is likely she would want to tend to any unfinished work of her husband’s two terms in office and they were eight years in which he and his advisors largely ignored the rising levels of Islamic terrorism directed against the United States, setting the stage for 9/11.

President Clinton devoted a great deal of time to solving the unsolvable conflict between Israel, a sovereign nation, and the so-called Palestinians, led by the father of all modern day terrorists, Yassir Arafat. Nothing good came of it. Or will.

President Clinton did try to focus attention on Africa to some extent, but Africa was and is a continent-sized mental case, replete with some of the vilest despots to trod the Earth. Western nations have thrown billions in charity at African nations to no avail.

The Middle East has understandably held the attention of recent administrations. Earlier administrations, from Lyndon Johnson’s blundering to Richard Nixon’s efforts to extricate us from Vietnam, reflected the long Cold War that ended with the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. That was brought about by U.S. covert support of the Afghani tribes and the drop in the cost of oil which left Russia without enough hard currency to carry on.

At the top of the list of problems with which to contend when the new administration takes office is Iran. When it announces it has acquired nuclear weapons, the entire balance of power in the Middle East will shift. Arab nations will rediscover how much they really love the United States, though the Gulf nations already know who their real friend is.

President-elect Obama appears to be under the impression that diplomacy will solve most of the problems he is likely to encounter. History teaches another lesson and it is all about a strong military with which to back up our interests. The U.S. has, however, weakened its military over the past five years in Iraq and will need time to rebuild it. The problem is compounded by Obama’s antipathy to the military.

Finally, there is the problem that Secretary Clinton will be obliged to carry out Obama’s view of the world and his foreign policies. They are na├»ve at best, dangerous at worst.

Will foreign governments take Secretary Clinton seriously? She had minimal control over Bill when he was President and he was a dilettante when it came to foreign affairs. She has never run a huge bureaucracy like the State Department and she arrives in the office with no experience as a diplomat.

History is filled with improbable events. The election of Barack Obama, the first black President, is surely one of them. What follows is anyone’s guess.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Relentless Greening of America

By Alan Caruba

The late comedian, George Carlin, did a riff on environmentalists in which he castigated them and everyone else who thinks humans should or can “save the planet.” He reminded the audience that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, that 95% of all the species that ever lived are extinct, and that the Industrial Revolution is barely two hundred years old. The notion that, somehow, humans are destroying planet Earth is absurd.

The planet is just fine and totally indifferent to anything humans do. Humans over the past 200,000 years have learned how to build shelters and raise food. With regularity, the Earth reminds them who’s really in charge by providing them with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic irruptions, floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards.

Anyone who has spent any time experiencing nature knows it can be inspiring, but also too wet, too cold, too warm, and comes with a full supply of bugs and other creatures that think you’re dinner.

If people only experience nature from films and television, they have a scant notion of the reality. When you add in a total lack of knowledge or understanding of the weather, the climate, the atmosphere, how the Sun functions, the role of the Moon, and a thousand other things that constitute our environment, the fact that they can be led to believe lies about the environment should come as no surprise.

Like the proverbial fish in water, most people are utterly clueless about how anything works. It makes them vulnerable.

Then, when you add in a fulltime, non-stop, massive and multifaceted propaganda campaign, the odds that people will believe that the Earth is running out of oil or that coal is “dirty” or that it’s wrong to raise livestock to feed people or wrong to eradicate the many insects or weed species that attack wheat, rice, apples, cotton and every other crop on which we depend. Fully 80 percent of infectious diseases that kill off humans are transmitted by insect and rodent species.

All this leads me to take note of “Hollywood Goes Green”, a summit meeting to be held December 8-9, that has the lofty goal of “Helping Hollywood increase profits and lower costs in today’s volatile economy through sustainable innovation and corporate responsibility.” Other than the reference to increasing profits and a volatile economy, this is gobbledygook and gibberish. The only responsibility a corporation has is to make a profit, pay its workers a fair wage, its investors a dividend, and produce products and services of value. Saving the planet is not a priority, but not despoiling it is.

The Hollywood summit conference brings together many elements of the communications and entertainment industries. Keynote speakers will include people from the Fox Broadcasting Company, General Motors, HP, and the Walt Disney Studios. Other speakers and panelists will represent more than 40 enterprises that include News Corp, Discovery Channel, MTV Networks, the Southern California Edison Company, and Twentieth Century Television, to name just a few.

This great group hug is sponsored by iHollywood Forum, an entity that exists to put these confabs together so dedicated Green advocates can rub shoulders with technology executives and others. It is a mix of proselytizing and the opportunity for corporate folks to demonstrate how Green they really are.

Little wonder there is virtually no evidence of “the other side of the story” when Americans wonder why, if global warming is real, the Earth is actually in a decade-old cooling cycle that is going to get colder and last easily to 2050 or beyond. When you’re being force-fed Green lies by representatives of Hollywood, the news media, and major manufacturers, it is just so hard to know what is true.

What is true is that General Motors is on its last legs unless it declares bankruptcy and restructures itself. If not, it will take a big chunk of the staggering U.S. economy down the toilet with it. What is true is that the Southern California Edison Company had better build some more power plants or its customers are going to soon experience brown-outs and black-outs on a regular basis. And I am not talking about solar panels and wind turbines. I am talking about coal and nuclear.

What is true, too, is that Americans looking for a bit of entertainment from the film and television industry will continue to find all manner of Green messages intended to introduce and reinforce both old and new lies. The news industry has long since abrogated any allegiance to the truth.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Religion of Peace Strikes Again

By Alan Caruba

The attacks in Mumbai, India are the latest in the 1,400 year history of Islam and yet people continue to express surprise that the alleged religion of peace could harbor so many cold-blooded killers of innocent people.

Since 9/11, Muslims have carried out more than 11,000 attacks all in the name of Islam and Muhammad. Americans got a taste of it when 3,000 of their own were mercilessly killed without warning and, I might add, without any better reason than Muhammad’s call to “wage war against such of the infidels as are your neighbors.”

With more than 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, about 21 percent of the world’s population, that’s a lot of neighbors and wherever Muslims are gathered in great numbers or wherever they have immigrated, the demand for unbelievers is always the same, convert or die.

The death toll in Mumbai as of this writing is nearing 130 and the target area, just as with 9/11’s attack on the World Trade Center, is the financial center of India. Islam takes a dim view of capitalism wherever it is practiced, but then Islam takes a dim view of everything that is not Islamic.

To understand Islam is to understand two central factors, its sense of superiority and its certitude. While other religions exercise tolerance for those who do not share their faith, Islam requires that “unbelievers” either convert or be killed.

While not all Muslims seek their neighbor’s blood and many are good and decent people, the single truth about Islam is that its holy book is a call to war. This thought is so frightening that most in the West end up denying the threat it poses to their lives. Terror, however, was a means to secure new adherents from its beginning.

In a new book, “The 9/11 Verses: Terrorist Teachings in the Koran”, author Karl J. Trautwein has painstakingly studied the book that Muslims are taught is the word of Allah and the Haddith a collection of stories about Muhammad’s life that are intended to guide the lives of Muslims. Islam lays down rules for every single aspect of a Muslim’s life and it requires prayer five times a day, always facing Mecca. One can purchase the book from http://www.the911verses.com/.

Muslims often point to the Koran’s verses on tolerance, but Trautwein notes that, “Passages teaching peace and tolerance are believed to come from the early days when Muhammad lived in Mecca. Verses calling for hate and violence are believed to have been revealed in Medina, which was later in his life.” In Medina, after Jewish tribes that lived there refused to accept him as a prophet and convert, Muhammad had between 600 and 900 men killed. Their wives and children were taken as slaves.

Trautwein calls Islam “bi-polar” because it contains two totally opposite beliefs and sets of behavior. The violence that the Koran demands cannot be “misinterpreted” any more than its more peaceful, earlier statements. Even so, the Koran promises great rewards for hunting, harming or killing non-believers. A statistical study of the Koran found that 52.7 percent of the verses are hatred aimed at infidels.

The lesson of 9/11, the attacks in Spain, the United Kingdom, Mumbai, and elsewhere around the world is that neither the West, nor anywhere else can “peace” be achieved with Islam. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, animists and all others are the legitimate targets for Muslims because they are not Muslims or refuse to submit to Islam.

The 21st century is now challenged by the 7th century and, everywhere, it finds itself bewildered by what appears to be appalling and senseless killing.

It makes perfect sense, however, to those who believe they are practicing Islam as commanded by Muhammad and the Koran. The Koran heaps scorn on both Judaism and Christianity despite incorporating aspects of both faiths that preceded Islam, claiming that Muhammad received the Koran from the archangel Gabriel and is the last of the prophets. This is a thin veneer to suggest the legitimacy of Islam.

Western and other nations put themselves at peril when they seek accommodation with Islam and it is an irony that 9/11 marked a moment in time when many Muslims began to question their faith, often leaving it either openly or secretly.

An “insult” to Muhammad carries with it a death sentence. Perceived insults can result in riots and attacks as occurred when a Danish cartoonist drew an unflattering picture of Muhammad. Apostasy, the act of converting to another religion is a death sentence for Muslims. Adultery, homosexuality, alcohol, and a long list of other “offenses” can get you killed.

It is an irony, too, that Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and others find themselves the victims of Islamofascism because Islam does not separate the state from the religion.

The final irony is that the United States of America has elected as its next President, Barack Hussein Obama, born to a Muslim father, adopted by a Muslim step-father while living in Indonesia, and emersed in Islam in his formative years.

Mumbai now becomes another page in the history of Islam’s war on the world when its two major sects, Sunni and Shia, are not making war on one another.

For the West and all around the world, there can be only one response to Islam, resistance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving!


Alan Caruba

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The PETA Thanksgiving Kill-Joys

By Alan Caruba

The folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, otherwise known as PETA, are back again trying to take the joy out of Thanksgiving and by that I mean trying to convince people that eating turkey is not only bad for you, but a gross violation of turkey rights.

They have offered their “Top Ten Reasons Not to Eat Turkeys” among which is the claim that turkeys “are smart animals with personality and character”, but this does not explain why not one single turkey has ever written a sonnet, composed an opera, or been elected to Congress—despite the fact that many of its members are frequently referred to as turkeys.

PETA goes on to claim that “turkey flesh is brimming with fat” and that unidentified “experts are warning that a virulent new strain of bird flu could spread to human beings and kill millions of Americans.” That’s right, we will either put on weight on Thanksgiving Day or we will die.

This kind of scare campaign is precisely why I founded The National Anxiety Center in 1990 as a clearinghouse for information about this and the countless other scare campaigns with which Americans are assailed on a daily basis.

The worst part of these campaigns is the way they too often become the law of the land. For example, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that points to the fact that we are into a global cooling cycle, but that is not likely to keep the Obama administration from trying to impose cap-and-trade restrictions on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The costs of such restrictions would finish off what’s left of our tattered economy.

PETA is utterly shameless in its quest to get Americans to give up eating meat, using or wearing anything made of leather, wearing fur of any kind, drinking milk, eating cheese or eggs, hunting, fishing, owning pets, going to the circus or rodeo, and generally enjoying life for any reason.

Meanwhile, according to government documents, PETA employees have killed more than 19,200 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens since 1998. The Center for Consumer Freedom keeps a close eye on PETA for the rest of us and what they reveal is, well, very revealing.

PETA is against all forms of medical research that requires the use of test animals even if it will find a cure for AIDS, cancer or any other disease or condition.

PETA has given tens of thousands of dollars to convicted arsonists and other violent criminals, some of whom the FBI identifies as “domestic terrorists.” These include the North American Earth Liberation Front.

PETA regularly targets children with their anti-milk and anti-meat propaganda. One piece of PETA literature tells them “Your Mommy Kills Animals!”

This is the kind of shameless and vile behavior that PETA engages in all the time.

It is, however, just one part of a far greater mosaic of “warnings” being slapped on everything we eat or use (a) to avoid litigation and (b) to influence our purchasing decisions. Do we really need caloric information when we visit a restaurant? Must we be forced to forego smoking by the imposition of appalling high taxes which go to state governments that either wastes the money or gives it to someone else?

Isn’t anyone angry about having to pay for an ethanol additive to every gallon of gasoline when it reduces its mileage while increasing not only its price, but the price of everything in the local supermarket by driving up the cost of corn and soybeans that are fed to the livestock whose meat we enjoy?

When the family gathers around the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day, whether the main course is turkey or a ham, give a thought to the many farmers and ranchers who have produced such an abundance of safe, delicious food.

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Explosion of Green Lies

By Alan Caruba

If you think you’ve been hearing and reading more and more Green lies about global warming and a whole range of other Green scares, you’re right. The election of Barack Obama has opened the floodgates to a deluge of propaganda by the many Green groups seeking to advance their various agendas.

The mainstream news media folk who have not yet figured out that their credibility has long since gone into the toilet keep pushing this stuff and with exquisite irony—no doubt lost on these geniuses—NBC nearly killed one of its Today Show anchors in a stunt that dispatched all them to the far corners of the globe to prove that global warming was happening.

At the very same time, it announced that it was firing the staff of its Weather Channel’s environmental unit! That’s right, while the famed anchors were trudging up mountains, hanging out on glaciers or snorkeling reefs, the entire staff of “Forecast Earth” was laid off halfway through NBC’s “Green Week.” In all, some 80 people were cut, but it was the Forecast Earth staff that existed solely to spread global warming lies despite the fact that the real Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1998.

Meanwhile, on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Ann Curry and more than a hundred local Masai porters were experiencing a dangerous condition called High Altitude Cerebral Edema in order to prove that global warming was causing the mountain’s ice cap to melt. Everything about this idiot stunt was wrong from the gitgo.

If anyone on the Today Show had bothered to do any research, they would have known that the mountain’s ice cap had been receding for years due to deforestation. In the October 2003 edition of Nature Magazine it was pointed out that, “Without the forest’s humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.” Sunshine! On the Equator!

A June 2007 study published in American Scientist revealed that the melting of Kilimanjaro’s icecap had been occurring for at least a century as forests were cleared for farmland. Indeed, most of the melting had occurred prior to 1953!

Curry, age 52, aborted the trek up the mountain that was intended to announce something that an NBC page spending a half-hour on Google could have told her was not just a waste of time, but a complete and total lie.

As the Obama administration makes ready to assume power, the Greens are going crazy with campaigns denouncing coal as “dirty” and demanding an end to the use of all plastic bottles, claiming that a life-threatening component exists. If this is so, don’t you think we would know about it by now? Plastic, of course, is made from oil and that too has been stigmatized for decades by the Greens. The plunge of global oil prices has been about the only good news that consumers have had in weeks.

The new big lie is that millions of jobs can be created from Green sustainable or “clean” energy in the form of solar and wind power, but even with vast government tax subsidies and other incentives, neither of these has gained a foothold because they both require back-up generation facilities when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

The notion that electric cars will replace those using the highly efficient gasoline powered automobiles and trucks has been around since the late 1800s and the problem now is the same problem as then; the batteries which must be so large and so frequently charged that they are impractical. A new electric auto from a company called Tesla will cost you $50,000 to purchase. Only demented Hollywood stars will be able to afford them.

There will be no explosion of jobs from so-called Green industries and the real industries, like auto industries, are just blowing smoke up your skirt when they trumpet how Green they are. It is a marketing scheme, not science, and frequently a costly waste of money that could have been spent more wisely to benefit their investors.

I keep telling people that businesses large and small exist to make a profit!

At some point, when the economy reaches a truly horrid low point, people will begin to shed all the nonsense they have been taught in America’s schools about the environment and start thinking about where the next rent or mortgage payment will come from. They will have noticed by then that, wherever they live, it is getting colder and the cold weather is lasting longer.

Over at the Weather Channel, the newly trimmed down staff will be tracking and talking about the latest blizzards burying cities and rural areas in snow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The UN Celebrates "Palestinians", Hates Jews

By Alan Caruba

On Monday, November 24, the United Nations will commemorate its annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”, a hate-filled day that ignores its own role in the establishment of Israel.

An international institution that trumpets its Universal Declaration of Human Rights while openly seeking the destruction of the population of one of its member nations is so inherently debased that it should cease to exist.

The notion that the United States of America should continue to participate in the UN on the grounds that it is the only forum or means to resolve conflicts is absurd.

Monday’s observance marks November 29, 1947, the day that the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish and an Arab state in what was formerly the Palestinian Mandate whose administration had been ceded to Great Britain following the end of World War One.

The State of Israel was not created out of “Palestinian” lands. It was part of the Ottoman Empire that had ruled much of the Middle East for four hundred years and which, at the Versailles conference following the end of WWI, was divided into nations conjured up by England and France. Among the newly designated nations were Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

There were no “Palestinian” people claiming a land called Palestine. Most of the Arabs regarded themselves as living in the southern portion of Syria.

The 1947 UN partition plan mandated the creation of two states on the remaining twenty percent of the Palestine Mandate. There was to be the State of Israel for the Jews and a new state for the Arabs.

What happened, however, was that the Arabs rejected a state of their own and launched a genocidal war against Israel. The war was the primary cause of the Arab refugee problem that exists today because none of the Arab nations in the region would accept the refugees and the UN facilitated their permanent status and continues to do so today.

There were, however, Jewish refugees. Between 1949 and 1954, an estimated 800,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab and Muslims lands where they had lived for hundreds of years. In addition, many European Jews who had survived the Nazi Holocaust migrated to Israel. Later they would be followed by the persecuted Jews of Russia and other lands.

On Monday afternoon, the UN General Assembly will convene to discuss the “Question of Palestine” and if this is redolent of the Nazi “Final Solution” the comparison is accurate. The General Assembly is scheduled to adopt six resolutions condemning only Israel for violations of human rights. This will bring the total thus far this year to twenty such resolutions as opposed to four resolutions critical of any of the remaining 191 UN member nations.

Israel is not “occupying” land that belongs to a Palestinian state because no such state exists. It has occupied land won repeatedly in combat for its very existence. In recent years it ceded the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Liberation Authority, Fatah, but the result has been that Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza at gunpoint and now uses it to launch rockets against Israel on a daily basis. The West Bank, by any international standard, is a legitimate part of Israel.

The Arabs who did not flee Israel in 1947 were the lucky ones. They were able to remain in the only functioning, true democracy in the Middle East and today their children and grandchildren number more than a million Israel citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli Knesset or parliament, on the Israeli Supreme Court benches, and as tenured professors in Israeli colleges and universities.

The United Nations continues to promulgate the most offensive anti-Semitism found anywhere in the world and Monday’s observance is just one aspect of it. Its “Durban II” conference on racism to be held in Geneva in April 2009 will be a repeat of the hateful first conference that was boycotted by several nations, including the United States. It should be condemned and avoided by all nations that take the professed UN Human Rights declaration at its word.

Those attending Monday’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should be hosed down and driven from the chambers where it is held. The General Assembly should be seen for what it is, a place of shame, duplicity, and genocidal hatred in which no civilized nation should take its seat.

The Boring Institute, R.I.P.

By Alan Caruba

It was this week in 1984, just prior to the famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that it occurred to me that it looked the same, year after year. There’s nothing wrong in that. A parade is a parade, although it must be said that those in recent years seem all about merchandizing something or other.

I was practicing the magic arts of public relations back then and was well aware that the print and broadcast media were always susceptible to some utterly ludicrous claim. Their other passion is lists. This is why, at the beginning of every New Year or end of one, we are all assailed by lists of the Ten Best or Ten Worst.

I am possessed of a mind that endlessly entertains me. I make myself laugh. I don’t know if others do this, but I find my thoughts either astonishingly profound or amusingly idiotic. Either way, I am always surprised.

So, in 1984, I sat down to dash off a news release, but one has to have a “place” from which to dispatch news. I invented The Boring Institute® on the spot and proceeded to “announce” that experts at the Institute, after considerable research and analysis, had concluded that there was, in truth, no Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade occurring in New York! The whole thing was a huge hoax and everyone in the city knew it.

What people outside of New York were watching was a videotape of a previous parade, perhaps from a decade earlier! Moreover, I pronounced the whole thing a great bore.

If one is of a certain age—say older than five or at the most ten years of age, one knows that, in truth, the parade does look much the same each year and the enchantment of its balloons, the marching bands, and the elaborate floats begins to wear thin. By the time Santa Claus arrives, the question inevitably arises, if he is in the parade, why isn’t he at the North Pole?

For my part, I was simply amusing myself by satirizing the elements of any news release, postulating an imaginary “Institute”, filled with “experts”, and offering an absurd conclusion.

Little did I know I was setting off on an adventure that would last almost two decades. During that time, the Institute gained considerable fame putting out annual lists of the most boring films of the year, predicting which new television shows would be a bore, and, most famously, a list of the year’s most boring celebrities.

Though it may seem hard to believe, at the height of the Institute’s fame, I averaged a thousand radio interviews a year, all clustered around the various events, and even did some television appearances. I talked with radio hosts from Australia to England, New Zealand to Germany, and everywhere in America.

The ubiquity of American culture initially surprised me, but it was clear that it dominated the world. Everyone knew our celebrities, knew our films and television shows, knew an awful lot about America, and they wanted me to explain its mysteries and charms to them.

The real lesson, however, that I drew from the experience was the extraordinary role that boredom plays in everyone’s lives. It is a precursor to depression and suicide. It leads many into crime, often just for the excitement it offers. It leads married people to cheat on their spouse. It can be a root cause of divorce. In short, boredom is trouble, trouble, trouble!

After 9/11, I reckoned that putting out the annual lists was inappropriate to the times. Without any fanfare, I put The Boring Institute® on hiatus. I am reminded of it whenever the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is pending.

I won’t watch it or if I do I keep the sound on mute in order to avoid listening to the inane prattle of the television hosts who should, as an act of mercy, be dragged from their perch overlooking the parade and sequestered in Macy’s basement until the parade ends.

I had a lot of fun with The Boring Institute® but I think it will remain on hiatus and possibly moribund. The truth? After a while all that chattering on radio or the occasional five minutes of television fame became boring.

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 22, 1963

By Alan Caruba

I doubt that most Americans will recall that, forty-five years ago, on November 22, 1963, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Clearly, part of the reason is that a lot of Americans have been born since then, but the other part of the reason is that, according to a newly released study, most Americans simply have not been successfully taught American history or civics since the 1960s. They have no real knowledge, facts, dates, events, to call upon.

That is no accident. There has been a deliberate effort to “dumb down” Americans to a point where they literally do not know how their government came to be and what its guiding principles, embodied in the U.S. Constitution, permits, proscribes, and limits.

Assassination is the ultimate act of treason. It renders the entire electoral process null and void despite the rule of succession that elevates the vice president to the position of chief executive. Only once in our history, the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency, has an assassination produced a President of truly great stature.

I recall hearing the news of JFK’s assassination. I was working in Miami at the time, a callow youth of 26, well educated, but lacking any real insight to the event. Two other things happened that day. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new President and I quit my job and returned home. Shortly after, I became a journalist.

What would follow in fairly short order would be the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy while campaigning in Los Angeles against a first full term for Johnson and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At that point, the nation was engulfed in the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement and, with the election of Johnson, would find itself mired in the Vietnam War. The streets of Washington, D.C. would fill, time and again, with Americans protesting that war.

Johnson would decide not to run for a second term. The nation would elect Richard M. Nixon twice, only to see him disgrace the office with the Watergate scandal and become the first President to resign.

In a very real way, all of these events began on November 22, 1963.

I was struck by the adulation, the exuberance of the huge crowds that turned out during President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign. It reminded me a great deal of the same response the then-youngest President, John F. Kennedy, engendered. Rumors would circulate after his election that the Chicago machine, led by then-Mayor Richard J. Daley, had stuffed the ballot boxes to ensure his victory.

The reason it is essential to know something of the history of the nation is the ability to draw lessons from it. As popular as JFK was, he quickly blundered into the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, having won office in 1960. This was redeemed only by the standoff with the Soviets that forced them to withdraw their missiles from Cuba in 1962. A year later, JFK was dead; the victim of what some have said was an extraordinary feat of marksmanship attributed to Lee Harvey Oswald, a leftist malcontent.

The election of Barack Obama has been hailed as historic and, as the first Afro-American President, it surely qualifies, but history has a relentless repetition to it.

I am not suggesting the President Obama will fall to an assassin’s bullet, but I am suggesting that whoever holds the office of President will determine whether America continues to lead the world economically, militarily, culturally, and—yes—physically. If 9/11 was just a taste of what the Islamofascists have in mind for us, we are surely as threatened today as ever in history. Taking a longer view, we need to be mindful of the military buildup in China.

That is why it is essential to pay attention to Obama’s expressed views on homeland security and defense issues. President Ronald Reagan said that there was no evidence in all of human history that a nation was attacked because it was too strong. Even the ancient Romans knew that truth. “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” If you want peace, plan for war.

That’s why, as we commemorate the loss of John F. Kennedy to an assassin’s bullet, we need also to ask why an Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano, is being considered for Director of Homeland Security. If she could not or would not defend the border of her State with Mexico against illegal aliens and drug smugglers, why should we expect her to do this and more for the entire nation?

President-elect Obama is already on record saying, “I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear systems.” It can be argued that nuclear weapons have deterred a fourth world war and conflicts between nations that possess them.

Leaving America defenseless or at least greatly weakened in a dangerous world is a suicidal policy.

It is said that Obama sees himself as some kind of national and international “transformative” figure. History will write the final chapter on that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Bad Laws Get Enacted

By Alan Caruba

The way the Greens have imposed their agenda on America has largely been through deception, an often multi-layered effort to create the appearance of an environmental reality that does not exist.

A classic example of that is the current effort of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate so-called greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) that is wrongly presented as the cause of a non-existent global warming.

Other than oxygen, there is no other gas more essential to life on Earth than CO2. Regulating it is absurd!

The Heartland Institute, a non-profit, free market think tank, has just filed its first comment on the Environmental Protection Agency's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on "Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act" which was published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2008. The deadline for public comments is November 28, 2008.

The complete Heartland comment is available online: http://www.heartland.org/article.html?articleid=24179

Among the objections The Heartland Institute noted was that the ANPR and its supporting documentation violate the Information Quality Act and "EPA Guidelines.”

“Much of the scientific evidence put forth by EPA staff in the proposed ANPR and its Technical Support Document (TSD) has taken the melodramatic form of climate alarmism without the appropriate balance of scientific and economic rationale that should have bearing on any environmental policy established by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“There is a significant omission of climate science data published after 2006 and no coherent review of the debate in scientific literature. There is little evidence in the EPA Endangerment TSD to indicate that the climate is warming. The data provided are inaccurate and biased.”

And that, ladies and gents, is how you pass off bad science as good science.

The Heartland Institute evaluation further noted that the EPA cannot rely on incomplete draft documents to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

“The draft of the EPA Endangerment TSD is based upon the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Synthesis Report that was published for comment on July 17, 2008 and subsequently withdrawn. Only eight of the 21 underlying Synthesis and Assessment Products (SAP) had been finalized. NOAA withdrew its Synthesis Report after numerous complaints about the deficits it contained under the Information Quality Act. No further SAPs have been published, so what the ANPR includes by way of scientific documents is a draft based on a draft.”

Need it be said that the EPA relies on a U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that suggests there is an anthropogenic (human) cause for global warming, but it does not cite any reports suggesting global warming may be due to natural causes?

“There are no studies of the relationships between shifting ice sheets and atmospheric temperatures."

"The IPCC report ignores the role of solar activity upon global temperatures. There is no discussion of the dynamic relationship between water vapor and global temperature.
These factors must be taken into consideration when determining the cause of increases in global temperatures and certainly when developing a national policy to establish a form of government climate control. Such a regulation would be pointless if the cause of global warming is not anthropogenic emissions.”

"The ANPR data are deficient because they rely upon the IPCC documents that link manmade greenhouse gas emissions to climate change based upon now-discredited computer modeling."

This is how this proposed regulation is being offered for comment and the Heartland Institute did not shrink from commenting “In short, the draft of the ANPR is a large regulation looking for a scientific basis."

"It provides sweeping powers across political and legal jurisdictions without a full hearing of the scientific, legal, or economic consequences of its implementation. EPA should not proceed without the full consent of Congress and a scientifically measurable guideline for success or failure of its outcomes.”

The lack of any real science behind most of what passes for environmental legislation and regulation is the factor that most distinguishes it.

This proposed regulation has no basis in fact, no support except from the usual flawed and often deliberately misleading “computer models” that the IPCC and others conjure up at a keystroke.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Complicating Life

By Alan Caruba

There was a time when getting the oil changed, along with the filters, and checking the air pressure in the tires of one’s car could be done easily in less than an hour. That was before cars came equipped with more computer power than the original Lander on the Moon.

Thus this otherwise ordinary task turned into a second hour of “interface” with a computer today because some dashboard light was not cooperating. My mechanical skills are largely limited to opening a can of corn for dinner and the mechanic at the service station was serious as a heart attack about solving the problem, but I just wanted to go home.

When I did get home, I had a message from my Internet domain provider and it took a call to customer service to access my account because, for reasons known only to them, they would change my password, but not tell me what my ID name was.

Intellectually, I know that life has improved greatly over the days when the milk was delivered in a wagon drawn by a very large horse to the front of our home. It was World War II and gas was in short supply, but there was something about how that horse knew where the stops along the way were that delighted me as a very young child.

I read a commentary in my local daily about how a large percentage of people in my generation and older don’t know how to use a computer and do not connect to the Internet. That’s a shame because I suspect most newspapers will end up as websites and little more. That’s the route the Christian Science Monitor has taken.

Every time I contemplate how “complicated” life has become from a purely technical point of view, I am also reminded of my Mother telling me how excited she and her sisters were to listen to a radio for the first time in the 1920s. It was just a device in a cigar box with earphones attached, but they could hear a voice coming out of that box and it was extraordinary at the time.

I remember hot summers without the benefit of air conditioning because it hadn’t been invented to the point where you could plug one into the window and turn it on to cool the room. I can remember when there was no such thing as television.

As a writer, I went from a manual typewriter, to an electric one, to one that had a bit of memory, to a computer. I could not write anything these days without the computer.

Technology is a wonderful thing for the way it has enhanced our lives in so many ways, but it often serves to complicate it because we now need an army of people who know how it works when it fails to work. It tends to be less and less forgiving.

When people say, “Life was simpler then”, it was true. A lot of things about life in the era before and after World War II were simpler because there were understood rules of conduct and behavior. They were also more demanding because many tasks were still done by hand. A burst of innovation and productivity after WWII provided clothes washers and dryers, television sets in every home, air conditioners, and every manner of labor-saving device.

The best part, though, was that families really did sit down together at dinner time and mother made the meal from original ingredients. Conversation existed as opposed to text messaging. Life may be “easier” in many ways today, but it is a lot more complicated in others. The rules seem to be missing and the interface with the dashboard computer is not working as it should.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We're Broke, So Let's Give Our Money to Foreigners

By Alan Caruba

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress,
but then I repeat myself "– Mark Twain

Given the talk of President-elect Obama’s possible selection of Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in his new administration, the likelihood of “change” is growing more distant by the hour.

The Obama administration is going to look very much like the Clinton administration and, if anyone recalls, we spent the 1990s sorting out its many scandals and failures, despite a healthy economy bequeathed by the Reagan years. Clinton finished his term pardoning—among a raft of miscreants, Linda Evans, a former member of the Weatherman terrorist group led by Obama pal, William Ayers.

A raft of insanely liberal legislation is waiting to be foisted on Americans. One up for consideration by the lame duck Congress is S. 2433, otherwise known as the “Global Poverty Act of 2007.”

In his book, “The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest have Done so Much Ill and so Little Good”, William Easterly noted that, in 2002 “We had the world’s twenty-five most undemocratic government rulers (out of 199 countries the World Bank rated on democracy) get a sum of $9 billion in foreign aid…similarly, the world’s most corrupt countries got $9.4 billion in foreign aid.”

Easterly, an expert on such aid efforts pointed out that “Since donors understandably don’t want to admit they are dealing with bad governments, diplomatic language in aid agencies becomes an art form. A war is a ‘conflict-related reallocation of resources.’ Aid efforts to deal with homicidal warlords are ‘difficult partnerships.’ Countries whose presidents loot the treasury experience ‘governance issues.’

It is estimated that at least a billion of the world’s population lives in poverty. Nobody denies it remains widespread, but poverty is solved by maintaining educational systems that ensure literacy and other useful skills, encouraging entrepreneurship, and mostly by ending the corruption that is the hallmark of virtually every nation on the continent of Africa, the distinguishing feature of Middle Eastern nations, and too many others.

For decades the nations of the West have transferred billions of dollars to nations with no evidence of any progress.

The Global Poverty Act proposes to work with what is possibly the most corrupt international institution in the world, the United Nations, as well as other “international organizations, international financial institutions, the governments of developing and developed countries, United States and international nongovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, and other appropriate entities…”

Its expressed purpose is “To require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global policy, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 a day.”

Its sponsors include Sen. Barack Obama and a who’s who of liberal legislators that include Joe Biden, John Kerry, Diane Feinstein, et al.

Let us understand this. We and the rest of the world are not under attack from Islamofascists because of poverty. This is a movement drawn entirely from the Koran, an alleged holy book that serves as a battle plan for the complete subjugation of the world to Islam. We’re not going to end this conflict by giving the al Qaeda, the Taliban, or the nations in which they flourish a few billion.

As Easterly and many others point out, much if not most of the foreign aid the U.S. has spread around the world has been a complete and utter waste of our financial resources. The poverty it was supposed to end continues and will continue until the recipient nations operate under the rule of law that is not laid down by the dictators who control and loot nations.

The Global Poverty Act of 2007 will further sap the United States of its financial resources at the same time they should be applied to the nation’s aging infrastructure and resolve the huge burdens of reckless debt that exist from small towns up the States and the federal government.

This is just the beginning of comparable legislation that will wreck America’s economy, leave us bereft of the energy we require, and ruin the future of “Generation O” along with the rest of us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Santa Obama


By Alan Caruba

January 20 may be a day that Barack Obama comes to rue. At that point all that change he’s been promising will begin to become visible.

Not everyone will like it.

Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post reporter on the nation’s media, has noticed the complete abandonment of any reality by journalists in the print and broadcast media these days, asking, “Are journalists fostering the notion that Obama is invincible, the leader of what the New York Times dubbed “Generation O”?

I am reminded of President-elect Obama’s campaign warning that, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times…and just expect that other countries are going to say okay…” Or maybe we wouldn’t have to worry so much about what other nations say as what our Congress will say.

Congress has already banned the future sale of incandescent light bulbs. Don’t like having a choice? Too bad. The list of environmentally incorrect things Congress may ban is endless.

Meanwhile, billions more of OUR MONEY may be tossed to the ailing Detroit auto industry even though polls suggest most Americans think that is a bad idea as opposed to they’re having to declare bankruptcy and restructure their way out of crushing union contracts.

Energy independence? You won’t get it if the ban on off-shore exploration and drilling is not lifted and the ban on drilling in ANWR remains intact. There are lots of other places in the nation that will be declared off limits to drilling and mining. Why is that you ask?

Sen. Harry Reid, Majority Leader, wants to pass an Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, a monstrous cornucopia of more than a hundred bills that would place new restrictions on energy exploration, home construction, and business activity. Reid (D-NV) is hoping to slip it through this week’s lame duck session of the Senate. Hopefully it will die in the House.

Millions of acres of land, both public and private, would be put off limits to any useful purpose through the creation of National Heritage Areas, new wilderness area designations, and the introduction of something ghastly called “view scapes” and “sound scapes” that would render vast areas restricted from any new roads, expansion of towns, farming, mining, drilling, and anything else that might contribute to the nation’s energy and economic needs.

This and other nasty pieces of legislation are going to come flying out of the Democrat-controlled Congress that, for the last two years of Bush’s administration, is notable for having done almost nothing. I suspect President Obama is going to find himself at odds with Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid, both of whom favor increasing taxes and festooning the nation with more bizarre environmental restrictions.

Meanwhile, the governors and mayors of states and cities that have been spending money and digging an ever-deeper hole with civil service pensions and other benefits are going to be trekking to Washington, DC, hats in hand, for a piece of the action.

President-elect Obama will discover there is less and less money to give away. The United States, if we had to pay off our present debts and entitlement program obligations, is essentially broke. So are the States and so are many of the cities.

It won’t be Santa Obama. It will be the Obama who has already told us to tighten our belts, lower the thermostats, drive and eat less.

Notice that I say “us”, not the federal government, the cause of all our current miseries.

What good are property rights if Congress can simply confiscate privately owned land by declaring it a "view scape"?

Do you seriously think Congress will rein in the $1 trillion regulatory death grip it has imposed?

Do you really think Congress will provide more access to our own oil, natural gas, and coal reserves? Wilderness protection is wonderful right up to the moment we discover we no longer have a timber industry and have to import it from other nations.

Can we expect Congress to reform U.S. agriculture policies left over from the Great Depression?

Do you think Congress will liberalize trade with other nations?

Would an Obama administration want to admit that global warming is not happening?

There are so many things that Santa Obama and the Congress will not do to energize the most productive people on Earth.

So, stock up on those incandescent light bulbs, canned foods, and, oh yes, ammunition.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When Almost Everyone is Lying to You

By Alan Caruba

In March of this year I attended a conference on climate change sponsored by The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free market think tank. Some five hundred people attended to hear three days of lectures and seminars on the true science, the known science, regarding the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind, global warming.

How can it be that millions can be led to believe the Earth is warming when, in fact, the warming that occurred following the end of the last Little Ice Age in 1850 was completely natural? Nothing “forced” it to occur as is the claim about the Industrial Revolution, the use of so-called fossil fuels, and an utterly false assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary factor for the warming. Like all periods of warming (and cooling) the Sun was and is the primary factor. Everything else pales in comparison.

My eye was caught by a report on Saturday in a British newspaper, the Daily Mail, that took note of “a surreal scientific blunder last week that raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming.”

The reporter, Christopher Booker, noted that “On Monday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr. James Hansen, and is one of the four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.”

The announcement, of course, was based on the same “computer models” that have been the basis for the global warming hoax. These models, scientists will tell you, are significantly flawed. For example, they are unable to account for a major weather factor, clouds. To this day, clouds remain a mystery to scientists because they form and disappear often in seconds or minutes, yet they play a very real role in determining the weather. Just consider, for example, the satellite photos of hurricanes with their huge circulating cloud formations or just your nightly weather report that show you the movement of clouds in your area.

“Across the world,” noted Booker, “there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand.”

“In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperature for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th warmest October in 114 years.”

The erroneous NASA report was caught and reported by the blogs of a U.S. meteorologist, Anthony Watts, and a Canadian computer analyst, Steve McIntyre. Some excuse was offered by NASA, but the fact remains that anything that is announced by Dr. James Hansen’s agency must be immediately suspect.

It was Hansen who told Congress back in the 1980s that global warming was a huge threat and who has prospered mightily for his protestations that seas will rise and the land will be scorched unless we shut down everything that generates CO2. This, of course, is the mantra of Al Gore, also prospering with the sale of bogus “carbon credits” and other “sustainable” energy schemes.

At about the same time that NASA was putting out false data, the United Nations was announcing that clouds of soot, particles and chemicals stretching from the Persian Gulf to Asia threatened health and food supplies in the world, citing what it called the newest threat to the global environment, neglecting to mention that clouds of soot, dust, and other things have always circulated around the globe.

Now connect the dots. If you want to know why we continue to hear about alleged new threats to the global environment and false assertions of a warming that is not happening, you need begin with the United Nations—in particular its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—and then factor in the deliberate machinations of various U.S. government (and other nation’s) agencies that are committed to maintaining the global warming hoax.

This is not about the climate! It is about the private gain of many people, some of them the world’s wealthiest already, and the need by various governments to keep people frightened and distracted from the simple truth that the Earth is now fully a decade into a distinct, identifiable, and verifiable cooling cycle.

As Lord Monckton wrote in a letter to John McCain, “Not for a single moment longer must you allow yourself to be distracted by the murderous foolishness of the climate alarmists.” This is good advice for all of us.

The problem for Americans is that the next administration will be as green, if not more green, than ever before. You can expect to hear that blizzards that leave entire states and regions under several feet of snow are the result of global warming.

Want the truth? Subscribe to Environment & Climate News, just $36, published ten times annually by The Heartland Institute. You can order online at http://www.heartland.org/.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Too Many Coincidenses

By Alan Caruba

My mind keeps circling back to the recent campaign and focusing on two coincidences. I am the last person to subscribe to conspiracies, but it is entirely likely that two events during the campaigns were something less than just coincidence.

At a point in the campaign when John McCain looked like he had a decent chance to aggregate enough votes to win, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson held a sudden press briefing in which he put forth a three-page proposal that would put him in sole control of the distribution of billions of dollars.

Let us grant that the prospect of major investment houses collapsing and taking Wall Street with them would have been enough to scare the daylights out of anyone in his position, but let us also grant the crisis had been in the making since at least 2006. Let it also be said that the announcement could not have come at a worse time for the McCain campaign. His response, going off-schedule, rushing to Washington, D.C., didn’t help. By contrast, Obama remained preternaturally calm.

History hinges on such events, but try to imagine how the campaign might have gone without that dramatic event? It wasn’t as if the “bundling” of those worthless mortgage loans hadn’t been going on for a very long time and at the time McCain was tied neck-and-neck with Obama for much of the campaign.

The second coincidence was the way the price of oil dropped precipitously during the last months of the campaign. Indeed, exactly four months before Election Day. A friend and veteran oil industry insider suggests that this was “a deliberate move by OPEC to get the American public to forget about high gasoline prices before the presidential election,” adding, “I would say that OPEC’s plan worked perfectly.”

Recall now that in June “the main issue in America was high fuel prices.” When John McCain said he favored lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling, the prices began to fall. Currently, President-elect Obama who previously signaled that he agreed with McCain now says he favors continuing the ban on offshore drilling.

The likelihood is that oil prices will begin to rise again. OPEC wants the price of a barrel of oil to hover around $70.00.

To this day, I have neither heard nor read any of the usual pundits make a connection between the skyrocketing cost of oil that made it impossible for any business to accurately plan for the future. It kicked off the cascade of business failures, lay-offs, defaulting mortgages, and foreclosures that led to the financial meltdown.

Over the weekend the leaders of various nations will meet to try to find ways to restructure the international banking system. There is one way to deal with the financial crisis and that is to let the “market”, the millions of individual decisions people make regarding what to purchase and where to invest, correct itself.

After all, banks are in the business of making loans and a nation with sufficient energy reserves is in control of its own fate.

It has always been government intervention in the “market”; interfering in some way or other that triggers these financial crises. And now the federal government has purchased ownership in banks, insurance companies, and is contemplating a multi-billion bailout of some automobile manufacturers who fell victim to both predatory unions and bad management decisions. The “market” would let them fail.

There are those who do not believe anything that happens is “accidental.” Those who believe that everything that happens is part of a “conspiracy.” And those who believe that whatever happens could have an element of both involved.

If one draws no other lesson from this financial crisis, it is that the world runs on oil.

The failure and the refusal of America’s leaders to permit our own vast reserves of oil to be tapped will keep us all at the mercy of OPEC and other foreign suppliers. The minute America’s energy potential, its reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, and of nuclear power, is unleashed is the minute America becomes a powerhouse once again.

It’s like Pogo said, “We have found the enemy and they are us.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Change" for the Worse

By Alan Caruba

Previously I have written that the global warming hoax was essentially dead and that the many Green organizations advocating all kinds of programs to wreck the nation’s economy were “desperate.”

I was wrong.

The Sierra Club, the Friends of the Environment, and the countless other Green organizations are euphoric and they have reason to be.

The election of Barack Obama and a Democrat controlled Congress has put the Greens in the driver’s seat and we face at least four and possibly eight years of executive orders, legislation, and regulation based on a scientifically baseless lie that will introduce Americans to what life is like in Third World nations where electricity is both costly and unpredictable.

It seems likely that the ban on offshore oil exploration and drilling will be extended, despite President-elect Obama’s hints that he would consider lifting it. At present 85% of America’s continental shelf remains unexplored despite the fact that it is widely believed extensive reserves of oil and natural gas exist.

No oil company will spend the billions necessary to build a new refinery in America while under the threat of a windfall profits tax. Indeed, the few that remain may consider moving their headquarters to friendlier locales.

The nation will need to vastly increase its ability to provide more electricity by 2030 as our population increases, but we have an aging “grid” that was built in the 1950’s and 60s. It is in need of significant upgrading and expansion. At the same time, utilities are being required by states to spend millions purchasing millions of dollars of worthless “carbon credits” in order to continue their present operations, more than half of which depends on coal-fired generation plants. Meanwhile, China is opening a new one every week, recognizing that it cannot meet the needs of its people without considerably more electrical power.

What utility will want to invest millions in building much-needed nuclear plants when the current Senate Majority Leader refuses to allow Yucca Mountain to open in order to receive spent fuel for storage?

The billions that will be given to ineffective and impractical “clean energy” alternatives such as wind and solar power will simply be a diversion from the proven means of generating electricity and will prove to be unreliable. Wind turbines, on the average, only operate a third of the time and generally at off-peak hours, and thus require traditional generation plants as constant backup.

The global warming hoax will gain new life despite the obvious evidence that the Earth is now into a new cooling cycle and has been since 1998. The good news is that Congress will not act on a bill to limit alleged heat-trapped 'greenhouse gases" until at least 2010. It has other priorities such as a huge financial crisis.

Americans who are already drowning in messages to live a “green” life will find that communities and cities will impose laws that will eliminate their choices. California has passed laws restricting the building of fireplaces in homes and it is not beyond possibility that many other laws will follow in other states, ranging from a ban on backyard barbeques to restrictions on gasoline-operated lawn mowers. Congress has already banned the sale of incandescent light bulbs in a few years. There is nothing to stop it from banning plastic bags and anything else that is not deemed bad for the environment.

Life in America is going to become more costly and offer fewer lifestyle choices. It is also likely to grow darker as brown-outs and black-outs become more common, disrupting business and personal activities, including the use of every computer that depends on a reliable, constant source of electricity.

It’s bad enough that Sen. John McCain believed that global warming is occurring. Now we have a President-elect and new Congress that will be able to act on that false belief. That is what 52% of Americans have elected to office.

It’s bad enough that America has enemies like Al Qaeda and nations such as Iran, Russia, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, to name just a few. Now we will have internal enemies dedicated to thwarting any new energy vital to our growth and eager to require that you to live a “green” life whether you want to or not.

The warnings have been ignored. The fanatics are in the halls of power. This is the reality of the “change” for which a majority of Americans voted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Looting the National Treasury

By Alan Caruba

In the November issue of The DeWeese Report, published by the American Policy Center, Tom DeWeese provides one of the most cogent explanations for the current financial crisis that you will read anywhere. You can read it online at http://www.americanpolicy.org/more/market.htm.

For a decade I was the Director of Communications for the Center and remain affiliated. In a time when the need for truth and straight talk is critical, you might well want to join and support the Center.

The November issue contains a speech that was made on the floor of the House of Representatives by Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee. The year was 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression. Here are some excerpts:

“We have in the country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks, hereinafter called the FED. The Fed has cheated the government of these United States and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the nation’s debt…many times over.”

How timely this is as the U.S. treasury is being raided to bail out banks, an insurance company, investment firms, and possibly individual auto companies and others to the tune of billions.

In 1934, McFadden noted that “This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of the United States, has bankrupted itself and has practically bankrupted our government.” What we are witnessing, of course, is the devaluation of the U.S. dollar and this must be laid at the feet of the Fed, the institution that was created to protect its value.

“Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States government institutions,” said McFadden. “They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers: foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.”

Consider how the present financial crisis was the direct result of government mandates that banks and other lending companies had to provide mortgage loans to people that otherwise would never have received them had prudent banking practices been allowed to function.

“The United States has been ransacked and pillaged. Our structures have been gutted and only the walls are left standing…What we need to do is send the reserves of our national banks home to the people who earned and produced them, and who still own them, and to the banks which were compelled to surrender them to predatory interests.”

This is precisely why banking and investment institutions “bundled” and sold mortgage loans as alleged “assets” for which no value could be assigned, knowing that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were backed by the U.S. government. As Tom DeWeese says in his commentary, “These were worthless loans to satisfy politically correct motives, and worthless money to pay for it all.”

The global impact of the U.S. financial crisis was anticipated by McFadden who called the Fed “a public trough of American wealth in which the foreigners claim rights to or greater than Americans…All this is done at the expense of the United States government and at a sickening loss to the American people.”

For those who might be tempted to dismiss those remarks from 74 years ago, I can tell you that I recently talked with a former Fed auditor who confirmed that its oversight of banks was and is farcical. “We were dealing with people who knew the regulations inside and out, who knew all the loopholes. It was not unusual for us to spend our days working The New York Times crossword puzzle to pass the time.”

The current Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, who announced a financial crisis rather conveniently for Barack Obama just before Election Day has now announced that plans for the $700 billion bailout money have changed. No more buying of “toxic paper” because, after all, it is worthless. The taxpayer’s money will now be redirected. Where? We have not been informed. The nation is being run these days by Goldman Sachs.

The Fed is a quasi-government institution. It is a consortium of twelve regional banks that is presumed to be answerable to the federal government. Under the regime of Alan Greenspan, its former chairman, it permitted, indeed, encouraged this debacle to occur. It is time to end the reign of the Federal Reserve. It was time in 1934.

Americans are watching the plundering and looting of the U.S. Treasury for political and private gain. Apparently, there is nothing we can do about it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Trip to the Mall

By Alan Caruba

A trip to a local mall today was instructive, if not a bit enervating. What is most obvious is the astonishing amount of merchandize there is for sale; clothes, clothes, and more clothes, followed by all manner of other goods. I was there to check out flat-screen televisions. I could say I thought it was my patriotic duty to buy one, but the truth is I was looking for sales.

The really big ones are still pricey, but the smaller models are within most people’s budgets and I saw a fair number of fellow patriots checking them out.

The mall is the quintessential American invention, not unlike supermarkets. Ours is a consumer society, but a lot of people are asking if we have forgotten how to manufacture anything any more. In truth, Americans still manufacture lots of stuff.

This thing called “globalization” is just capitalism at work as corporations and others look for the most competitive, best price to get their goods made. As much as I would like to see “Made in America” on anything I purchase, I must confess it no longer matters that much to me. Perhaps the most unexpected result has been the co-dependence we now share with China.

Herbert Meyer, a former intelligence analyst during the Reagan administration, has pointed out that American business has been going through a major restructuring for a long time. “A generation ago, IBM used to make every part of their computer. Now Intel makes the chips, Microsoft makes the software, and someone else makes the modems, hard drives, monitors, etc. IBM even out-sources their call center.”

IBM, like so many U.S. corporations, has become an aggregator as opposed to a manufacturer. It creates a vast network of companies, some here in the U.S., others overseas, all of whom are dependent on the other for the ultimate success of the product. It’s a very good reason for reducing the endless regulations imposed on American businesses, large and small, to the tune of costing a trillion dollars annually. It’s a good reason for tax cuts to encourage consumers to consume.

After wasting a lot of time trying to make communism work, the Chinese have embraced capitalism. By 2020, they will be producing more cars than the U.S. They have a billion people, compared to our current three hundred million. That means a lot of Chinese are going to want to drive to work and elsewhere. Unlike the U.S., the Chinese are building and upgrading their infrastructure of highways and bridges while ours are full of potholes and bridges that occasionally collapse. Investment in our infrastructure would be good for a dozen reasons.

The urge to have the federal government “bail out” companies that have been poorly managed is strong, but it is not the way capitalism is supposed to work. On the other hand, when the U.S. Postal Service makes ready to lay off 40,000 workers, it is an example of how new technologies drive out earlier ones. It’s sad for the workers, but then we no longer get around in horse drawn carriages, and milk and ice are not delivered to one’s home by horse drawn wagons.

I needed to actually see and compare the flat-screen television sets competing for my dollar. Proof, I guess, that sometimes, you just have to go to the mall. And sometimes, while you’re there, you realize how the world has shrunk and how our American style of doing things has been embraced by the world.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rallying the Republican Troops

By Alan Caruba

Perhaps the best news of the day is that Newt Gingrich has made it clear that he is available to take over the leadership of the Republican Party and reverse the current political catastrophe.

In 1994, Gingrich engineered the Republican return to power after forty years in the Democrat wilderness called Congress. It was no small feat, but even genius can be flawed and, in time, Gingrich had to give up his job as Speaker of the House and ultimately turned to writing some excellent novels based on Civil War events and a host of other activities.

He had arrived in Congress from Georgia after having been a professor of history and nothing will serve him so well, should he become the GOP choice to head the party, than that long sweep of the past that, for the Republicans began with a candidate from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln. We had some really nifty ones like Teddy Roosevelt, Ike Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, as well as others like the less memorable Calvin Coolidge who historians say did a good job too.

Then we had Nixon; twice elected, once resigned for crimes against the Constitution and pardoned by Gerald Ford whom few can recall. And, it would appear, two Bush’s too many.

Over the years since Franklin Delano Roosevelt struggled unsuccessfully to get us out of the Great Depression and led, successfully, the nation through World War II, Republicans have drifted with the rest of the population toward an ever-growing, ever-expanding federal government. Even Reagan could not rid us of the Department of Education that has ruined our schools.

Liberalism like the “Blob” of the movies engulfed everyone and everything in its path. Unlike Al Capp’s “Shmoo” of the Little Abner comic strip, the Blog does not provide for all our daily needs. Instead, it sucks the life out of its victims until they no longer want to take responsibility for their lives.

Republicans have spent the last week attacking one another for either attacking or supporting the McCain-Palin ticket. This kind of blood-letting is predictable and one hopes will be short-lived.

It is time now to rally the troops. Republicans have to organize, organize, organize for the next four years if they are ever to regain the White House and Congress.

This last election suffered seriously from a ticket that was too squishy and semi-liberal with McCain and, dare it be said, a tad too far to the right with Palin. Neither should be regarded as the future of the party if the party is to have a future.

Republicans are not totally bereft of talent and new faces. Let me suggest just one. Michael Steele has the look of a potential presidential candidate for 2012. There are others.

For now, we must be good soldiers and brave.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Republican Remorse

By Alan Caruba

Just barely a week passed the election, a tsunami of Republican remorse is sweeping over the party and those who identify themselves as its members. It’s not pretty, but it is all too human and all too necessary if the GOP is not to remain in the political wilderness any longer than necessary.

For those of us who quite simply underestimated the charisma of Barack Obama, the words “President-elect” are jarring. We were so sure that John McCain could pull out a victory or, at the very least, were praying for some kind of miracle. There are, however, no miracles in politics, only votes, and in our system they have the final say.

It was, however, impossible to ignore the huge crowds that came out for the man we mockingly called the Messiah or “The One.” The contrast between the cool, self-assured Obama and McCain, particularly during the debates, was striking. If you turned off the sound, what you saw was McCain with his eyes blinking furiously, his hands flailing the air, and that smile of his that seemed to beg people to understand that he really was a very nice man.

McCain, who we had reason to believe would be a polished campaigner by now appeared to have no idea how to run. Maybe it was just the crushing realization that all the fates had conspired against him in this last hurrah. He had the burden of George W. Bush, a failing economy, and even a hurricane that delayed the opening of the Republican convention. He even believes in global warming despite the fact the Earth has been cooling for the past decade.

And, let’s say it—he ignored the fact that Obama had vanquished the powerful Clinton faction within the Democrat Party to thwart a woman candidate who had demonstrated considerable popularity of her own. So what did McCain do? He selected a woman as his vice president running mate! In retrospect, that was a form of political suicide, but at this point disappointed Republicans are actually bandying around the notion of running her in 2012. No, sorry, time for Gov. Palin to go back to Alaska. And stay there.

Having gained control of Congress in 1994 after forty years of Democrat dominance, Republicans went after Clinton with a vengeance and he “triangulated” by adopting programs that he now claims were his! Let us be gracious and say that the Democrats put forth two utterly lame candidates in Gore and Kerry. Were it not for 9/11, George W. Bush would not have his name—writ large—into the history books temporarily chasing the Taliban out of Afghanistan and invading Iraq.

As it is, it does not take a degree in economics to know that eight years of profligate spending and borrowing, topped by a war that is now into its fifth year, must be judged severely in retrospect. They cost Republicans the election.

In the near term, the Republican Party has to begin to stand for something other than horrible fiscal policies, bad military judgment coupled with a foreign policy that angered allies and enemies alike, and a hubris that has cost us dearly.

It should be said, however, that the nation has been so evenly divided politically for decades that whatever changes occurred in the red and blue map of the nation are more likely temporary shifts than long term predictions. If Democrats can return John Murtha to office and Republicans can re-elect a convicted Ted Stevens, anything is possible.

If President Obama turns out to be a pragmatist, he may just surprise a lot of people who have seen him up to now as a dedicated socialist with plans to reshape America, but the truth is that Americans has been adopting socialism for a very long time.

It goes back to the 1930s and 40s with FDR and moves forward unrelentingly through the all the presidencies and every Congress since. Most recently, there was the costly addition of a prescription program to Medicare that was advocated and passed by Republicans. Massive farm policy giveaways have been around long since they became unnecessary and wasteful. Et Cetera!

Just as Democrats could not believe they were being defeated by the likes of George W. Bush to the point of insisting he “stole” it (pretty funny for folks whose Chicago machine is famous for such tactics), Republicans need to take a deep breath and begin to formulate some policies that an entirely new generation of conservatives can agree upon.

We need to be less of a war party. Americans are quite thoroughly sick of war and military engagements. They were sick of it after ten years in Vietnam and they are sick of Iraq.

We need to move beyond abortion as the sole litmus test of political purity. It is the law of the land and has been now since the 1960s. Some battles, even the most noble, are just simply lost. Even Republicans have abortions.

We need to become the party of energy. We need to insist that America’s vast oil, natural gas, and coal reserves be tapped, along with the building of many more nuclear plants for the energy America will need by 2030. There is no such thing as energy “independence”, but there is a need for sensible energy policies, something Democrats have thwarted for decades.

Republicans have to fight to protect the Internet and talk radio from censorship. The Democrats hate both, except to use the former to raise campaign funding.

I could go on, but the message is obvious. WE LOST. GET OVER IT!

We had weaker candidates, weaker arguments to address the fiscal crisis that included a massive “bailout” using the public treasury to literally buy interest in banks and insurance companies (sounds socialist to me). Now we’re being asked to do the same for some auto manufacturers who bargained poorly with their unions and built cars a lot of people didn’t want to buy.

Republicans need to renew their commitment to smaller government, real fiscal prudence, fewer foreign entanglements (can you say ‘United Nations’?) and, of course, pride in and adherence to the U.S. Constitution.

Or, as one wag has suggested, “We’re all Democrats now.”

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Let Omar bin Laden Live in America

By Alan Caruba

Poor Omar bin Laden. He is the fourth of eleven children Osama bin Laden fathered with his first wife and one of a total of nineteen children.

After seeking political asylum, Spain recently told him he cannot live there. Even though he had nothing to do with it, the likelihood is that the train bombings that killed more than 190 people commuting into Madrid on March 11, 2004 is still as fresh in the minds of Spaniards as 9/11 is for Americans.

Before Spain turned him down, England made it clear to Omar that he was not welcome to settle down in the village of Moulton in Cheshire. A former scrap-metal merchant, Omar was seeking a settlement visa, but no luck. It didn’t help that jihad bombings in London and an airport in Scotland made for a chilly reception.

Despite 9/11, I would still suggest that America give Omar and his wife, Zaina Alsabah, refuge here. There is precedent for it.

Svetlana, the daughter of Joseph Stalin, the dictator who shaped Soviet Russia, lived out her final years in America. The last president of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, lived out his final years in Miami after the takeover by Fidel Castro in 1959. Today, the son of the former Shah of Iran, Reza Pallavi, lives in the Washington, DC area and is an outspoken critic of Iran’s current regime.

It didn’t help Omar much when he initially said he could not be certain that Osama, his father, was behind 9/11, but Osama made it clear to the entire world that he was. Omar, however, has made a number of statements in interviews condemning violent acts. Because of Arab culture, he is unable and unwilling to criticize his father by name. It’s just not done.

For me, providing refuge for Omar and his wife would be a kind of poetic justice. It would probably make Osama bin Laden even crazier than he already is. Imagine Osama waking up every day knowing that one of his sons is enjoying life in America?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Election Post-Mortem

By Alan Caruba

Every time a political party loses an election, someone pronounces its death. The Democrats and Republicans, under one name or another, have been around from the beginning of the nation whether they were called Whigs, Federalists, or Dixiecrats. The once solidly Democrat South became Republican after the Civil Rights movement succeeded.

Those of a certain political philosophy will always find a home in one party or the other.
This may also explain why the Green Party, the Constitution Party and the Libertarians never seem to gain any ground. Their agendas are far too narrow or extreme to attract people who, from both sides of the political spectrum, simply want America to prosper.

There’s a pretty good explanation why the GOP lost the White House and his name is George W. Bush. This is why it frequently appeared that Barack Obama was campaigning against him and not John McCain. This wasn’t just a political ploy, this was a political reality.

Bush will leave the White House as unpopular as former President Truman. In Truman’s case, historians have since concluded he was one of the best presidents we’ve had for his role in containing the spread of Soviet communism and saving Europe via the Marshall Plan. If in fifty years or so the Middle East looks different in terms of more democratic forms of government and exporting something other than terrorism and oil, Bush may be judged less harshly.

Obituaries for the Republican Party are premature. Its loss, however, was entirely predictable. Washington, D.C., no matter which party attains the reins of power, corrupts them by virtue of the enormous scale of money at stake. Politics is about money because the game in the nation’s capital is predicated on who gets to control—dare I say it—its redistribution.

This explains, for example, why my home state of New Jersey only gets 61 cents back on every dollar it sends to Washington. Life is unfair said John F. Kennedy and this is quite true when it comes to the way money is spent by the federal government. The worst of it is the mind-boggling waste of millions on programs that, once in place, never seem to end.

The Republicans, traditionally thought to be more prudent and sophisticated regarding the nation’s economy, proved to be as profligate as the widely-perceived “tax and spend” Democrats. That’s because power is a drug and an addictive one at that.

This brings us to a fundamental truth about our President-elect and the new Congress. There is going to be a lot less money available to do the many things they want. The economy has, for the near term, been ruined by the very people we sent to Washington to protect, preserve, and increase it.

The only way that the Democrat majority and White House can acquire money for their agenda or just to keep the wheels of government turning is to borrow it. This nation, however, is so deeply in debt that it needs, as much as possible, to stop borrowing. This is not going to happen. Just watch the returning Congress for a taste of what is yet to come.

Democrat policies dating back to the days of Jimmy Carter are responsible for the credit crunch and mortgage meltdown. Even the pro-Democrat Wall Street went into a slump on news of Obama’s victory. Republicans, when in power, expanded an already troubled entitlement program, Medicare, by adding a prescription program. At the behest of the President, they have engaged in a dubious war in Iraq with the Democrat votes needed to maintain it. It wasn’t until the height of the Vietnam War protests that Congress finally summoned the courage to cut off funds for it.

What America needs most is a period of rest and recuperation.

It needs to get its fiscal house in order.

It needs to reduce its military involvement in places that do not directly affect our national security.

It needs to abandon programs based on a global warming that is not happening.

It needs to tap its own extensive oil, natural gas, and coal reserves, along with building more nuclear plants for the increased electricity it will soon require and to keep its fleet of cars and trucks on its roads.

None of this will happen. An empire doesn’t work that way. It grows until it implodes. That is the history of Rome, Great Britain, France, the Russians and every other nation that exhausted itself in the quest for global hegemony.