Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All the News The Times Wants You to Know

By Alan Caruba

In a long career as a journalist, full time and freelance, I have sometimes said that I knew something was seriously wrong with The New York Times when I began to see my byline show up on stories that appeared briefly.

It’s been decades since I have held The Times in my hands though I have read an article or column on occasion via the Internet because I have long since concluded it cannot be trusted for anything it prints with the possible exception of obituaries.

During the early years when Stalin was the dictator of the Soviet Union, a Times reporter named Walter Duranty, based in Moscow from 1922 to 1936, would deliberately fail to report outrages such as the starving of the Ukrainians to force their capitulation to Moscow. Duranty would win a Pultizer Prize in 1932 which, to this day, the Times has not repudiated. Duranty, like The Times, harbored a lot of sympathy for Marxism.

My own opinion of The Times was shaped during the Vietnam War when it became apparent that the newspaper was rooting for the Vietcong. This culminated in the revelations of the famed Pentagon Papers, purloined by an anti-war activist. They revealed the many misconceptions that drove the conflict. Neither President Lyndon Johnson nor his advisors come away from that period with honor, but American soldiers fought with honor for what they believed was their nation’s struggle against communism.

I remember thinking that the Times would probably have published the plans for D-Day, the WWII invasion of Europe, if they had gotten their hands on them.

I was not surprised that The Times and some foreign newspapers published the latest WikiLeak’s “dump” of purloined U.S. State Department internal cables; some of which were marked Top Secret while others had lower ratings of secrecy.

Prior to posting and publication of the cables, The Wall Street Journal had been offered the trove and refused it. A previous WikiLeak’s release of data regarding U.S. combat efforts in Afghanistan raised the stakes against troop safety.

The Obama administration gives little indication that it has made any effort to use whatever means at its disposal to find and neutralize the man behind WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. He is an Australian (former?) computer hacker with little to indicate he would emerge as the leading activist attempting to embarrass and alter U.S. policy. He has now become a major threat to the nation’s ability to function in peace or war.

If there are no present laws regarding Assange’s acts, some need to be quickly crafted and passed. A nation needs to protect its secrets and punish those that reveal them.

The alleged source of the Afghanistan data is U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, a sexually confused young man drawn to the Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender movement and yet granted a security status sufficient to have given him access to secret information. He is under arrest and awaiting trial.

Clearly, there are way too many people cleared to read secret and top secret information. This is not a new situation. In the early 1960s even I was cleared to handle secret information by the U.S. Army though I was not much older than Manning. Wars, after all, are fought by young men.

The New York Times published a defense of its actions regarding the previously secret diplomatic documents, aggregating for itself the right to “illuminate aspects of American foreign policy” even if it meant that it would be a very long time before any foreign representative would speak candidly to a U.S. diplomat again.

Is foreign policy replete with duplicitous behavior? Yes. The world is a very dangerous place in the best of times and we are now living in times when Iran, led by a small band of lunatics taking their orders from Allah, is closing in on making nuclear weapons.

The cables revealed that the missiles to threaten the whole of the Middle East and parts of Europe transited from North Korea through China with its blessing. North Korea has been a case study in communist repression and aggression since the 1950s. The U.S. briefly fought a war there and settled for a stalemate. Gen. Douglas MacArthur once famously said there is no substitute for victory and he was right.

One could make a long list of nations that are essentially just waiting around for either the U.S. or Israel to solve the Iranian problem for them.

“For The Times to ignore this material would be to deny its own readers the careful reporting and thoughtful analysis they expect when this kind of information becomes public.” How modest of The Times and how thoroughly hypocritical.

Contrast this with the way The Times danced around the November 20, 2009 revelations when thousands of emails between the main perpetrators of the global warming hoax were posted online for all to see. Since the 1980s The Times has been one of the leading advocates of “global warming” despite the fact it had no basis in climate science or any science.

Its chief environmental hack reporter, Andrew C. Revkin, was very unhappy about what he called “the unauthorized distribution of the climate files.” The fact that those exchanging their plots and schemes were the recipients of British and U.S. governmental funding clearly meant they had an obligation to be transparent. Instead, one of the e-mailers, a Brit, admitted to destroying files to avoid his nation’s Freedom of Information laws, not dissimilar from our own.

Revkin’s description of what came to be called the “Climategate” emails was filled with words like “purloined documents” that were “uploaded surreptitiously” or “acquired illegally”, was intended to cast the revelations in the context of something quite evil. The Times continues to mislead readers about “climate change” in its quest for a one-world government, presumably run from the bowels of the United Nations.

The contrast between its assumption of noble journalistic laurels regarding the WikiLeak criminality and its view that the exposure of the Climategate emails was a corrupt act reveals an essential hypocrisy that belies The Times motto of “All the news that’s fit to print.”

It should be “All the news we want you to know” even if it is severely tainted by bias, inaccuracy, and an anti-American agenda.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lame Ducks Threaten Economic Recovery

By Alan Caruba

As if the forcing of Obamacare on a nation vastly opposed to it was not enough, the lame duck session of Congress between now and December 31st has the potential to harm economic recovery still more.

Congress includes sixty Democrat Representatives in the House who will not be returning and six in the Senate who were also voted out of office or who have announced their retirement. If the world made any sense, none would be permitted to vote on anything at this point.

If, indeed, Congress functioned in a reasoned and rational fashion, the nation would not be forced to wait until the last month of the year for it to resolve a range of fiscal and other issues despite the fact that Fiscal 2011 has begun. It has not passed a budget and it will need to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government until it does.

Americans and the business community in particular are still waiting to see if Congress will extend the Bush tax rates. They have been in effect for nine years. Everyone understands maintaining the existing rates is essential to avoid worsening an ailing economy.

For the President and Democrats in Congress, the issue has to do with “billionaires” and “millionaires” when the real issue is whether small to medium-sized businesses will be able to hire and expand. The issue is whether millions of Americans who are still employed will see their take-home pay reduced in January by additional taxes. It’s worth noting that those high earners already pay some 70% of the income taxes collected every year.

Another problem is Sen. Harry Reid’s intention to bring the “Dream Act”, yet another amnesty effort, to a vote. Here again, Americans overwhelmingly oppose any easing of laws regarding illegal aliens.

Democrats are also discussing a ban on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a policy that permits gays to serve in the military, but to keep their silence regarding their sexual orientation. In an all-volunteer military corps morale should trump this issue, but thanks to political correctness, it does not.

Medicare, who most agree was in need of repair, but not the bureaucratic monster of Obamacare, is required to reduce reimbursement rates for physicians every year and, to avoid that, Congress has always passed legislation to avoid the cut, called “the doctor’s fix.” If Congress does nothing in the lame duck session, reimbursement rates would plunge 23 percent. Those on Medicare would have to dig into personal funds as doctors would understandably raise their fees to make up for the loss.

The extension of unemployment insurance is going to prove a very difficult issue, which is why the Democrat-controlled Congress put it off until after the elections. Benefits averaging $310 per week are due to expire on November 30 and this affects some two million Americans. It is a disincentive to seeking employment.

Republicans and a contingent of Democrats are demanding that the cost of extending unemployment compensation be financed through budget cuts, but how does Congress achieve any savings when Obamacare creates a federal bureaucracy of more than 150,000 new employees? It will even provide insurance to non-U.S. residents whether they are here illegally or not. If that’s not bad enough, it gives the government real-time access to your bank account and the authority to make electronic fund transfers from it! That's not government, that's gangsterism.

Outside of Congress, another threat exists in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency’s illegal and obscene effort to regulate “greenhouse gas” emissions. The agency plans to initiate this power grab by January 2nd and it must be stopped.

After an orgy of borrowing for stimulus legislation that has failed to generate new jobs, the further devaluation of the U.S. dollar looms as the Federal Reserve undertakes a second “quantitative easing.” The first did not increase bank loans to businesses and others. The Russians and Chinese have just announced they will conduct bilateral trade using their own currencies, not the U.S. dollar that until now has been the global standard.

Further threatening an economic apocalypse is the question of whether more European nations will join the ranks of failed economies from Greece to Ireland to Spain and Portugal. England and France are imposing much needed budget cuts while Germany, the strongest European economy, appears to be understandably reluctant to bail out the Euro.

The arrogance and incompetence of the Democrat Congress and Administration defy the imagination and the clear intention of a growing legend of Americans is to put an end to their liberal legislative abominations.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Climate Mafia Gather in Cancun

By Alan Caruba

On November 14, 1957, leaders of the American and other Mafia organizations gathered at the home of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara in Apalachin, New York; approximately one hundred Mafiosi from around the United States, Canada, and Italy attended.

Up to then, J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had refused to acknowledge that the Mafia even existed, but a succession of prime time television appearances before Congressional committees by members of the Mafia made it abundantly clear that crime in America was, indeed, organized and led by some very colorful and ruthless descendents of the Sicilian Mafia.

It is time for the U.S. government to acknowledge that a climate mafia has existed since the gathering in Kyoto, Japan, to establish the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The December 11, 1997 treaty was, upon ratification, to go into force on February 16, 2005. Its expressed purpose was to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the purpose of avoiding “global warming”, but its real purpose was to create an entirely bogus system of emissions trading to be known as “the carbon market.”

On July 25, 1997, the U.S. Senate, responsible for the ratification of international treaties, unanimously passed (95-0) a resolution rejecting the Kyoto Treaty on the grounds that it “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.”

As this is written, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is striving to secure authorization to regulate GHG emissions despite massive evidence that they pose no threat to the environment and despite the fact that this authority would, as in 1997, cripple and likely destroy an already ailing economy.

There was no “global warming” then or now. Carbon dioxide (CO2) was deemed the chief cause of “global warming” when, in fact, it plays little or no role in climate change.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a criminal enterprise set up as a mechanism to facilitate the sale of bogus “carbon credits” and to transfer billions from industrialized, developed nations to those that have failed to keep pace. This latter scheme is little more than extortion.

In 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Al Gore and the IPCC for their efforts to further this fraud. This demonstrates just how vast the effort to impose it had become. In the U.S., “Cap-and-Trade” legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) was passed in the House and sent to the Senate. Political pundits say it is unlikely to come up for a vote.

In November 2009, the leak of thousands of emails between the scientists leading two university-based climate research centers responsible for the data published by the IPCC demonstrated they had deliberately rigged the data to assert a “global warming” that did not exist then or now. It was quickly dubbed “Climategate.”

The Climategate revelations doomed last year’s conference in Copenhagen that was intended to further the “global warming” fraud. It was attended by President Obama who said, “Today we’ve made (a) meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough here in Copenhagen. For the first time in history all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.”

There is no threat of climate change beyond those natural climate events such as hurricanes and blizzards over which humankind has no control.

Abandoning the term “global warming” and substituting “climate change” does not change the fact that there has been NO dramatic increase in the Earth’s overall temperature and ignores the fact that, since 1998, the Earth has entered a predictable and natural cooling cycle.

The President was lying then and continues to lie today about “climate change.”

Billions worldwide have been wasted on the needless reduction of GHGs. Billions here in the U.S. have been diverted to two of the most unpredictable and least effective means of energy production, wind and solar power.

Billions have been wasted on the U.S. mandate that ethanol be mixed with the gasoline Americans purchase, despite the fact that ethanol releases more CO2 into the environment than gasoline without it. Due to expire on December 31st, it would save an estimated six billion dollars. Even Al Gore has disowned ethanol.

The IPCC meeting in Cancun begins on November 29 and will generate a lot of hot air for two weeks.

The Earth doesn’t need less carbon dioxide; vital to all crops, forests and vegetation. It needs more. The world doesn’t need less energy production. It needs more; vital to the economies of developed and developing nations.

The future of six billion people on planet Earth depends on the failure of the Cancun conference.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Climate Change Idiocy and The Economist

By Alan Caruba

For a brief period I subscribed to The Economist, the London-based internationally distributed magazine, but I stopped as it became obvious that its editors are idiots and the general purpose of the magazine is to ignore any and all facts that might contradict their obsession with “global warming” and now “climate change.”

Last year, The Economist had a cover that said, “Stop Climate Change.” That’s like saying stop the Earth from circumnavigating the Sun. The issue came out about the same time as the entire fictitious infrastructure of “global warming” came undone and resulted in the collapse of the last United Nations conference of liars who had gathered in Copenhagen to impose the purchase, sale and trade of “carbon credits” on the world.

A year later, the Chicago Exchange that had been set up to cash in on the scam had closed its doors. The one in Europe is selling carbon credits for pennies these days. Naturally, California, besotted with global warming idiocy, is preparing to have its own exchanges.

Apparently, despite glaring headlines in British newspapers, no one at The Economist was aware that the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia University had been found to be rigging the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data for years.

Did the Economist’s editors learn anything in the past year? No. Indeed, its latest issue sports a cover that says “How to Live with Climate Change.” In a year’s time, they have gone from saying stop climate change to learn to live with it. Is there a choice?

This is not the most original idea given the fact that human beings have been living with climate change since we climbed down from the trees and began walking upright, developing language, and spreading across the face of the Earth.

Eskimos found ways to survive in the Arctic. Polynesians learned to travel among Pacific islands. Everywhere civilizations came and went while agriculture was introduced to feed more and more people who, in turn, preferred living in cities as opposed to plowing the soil. The art and science of war flourished.

The Economist focused its attention on next week’s “meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, the subject of a conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico.

You may recall that President Obama attended last year’s conference in Copenhagen that foundered on the news that there never was any dramatic increase in the Earth’s temperature.

Leaked emails revealed that the only “proof” of “global warming” could be found in corrupt, falsified computer models churned out by the CRU and a coordinated climate scam out of Pennsylvania State University, the recipient of comparable “climate research” funding.

The President had to depart early because of a massive blizzard that enveloped Copenhagen.

Even the Economist had to admit that “in the wake of the Copenhagen summit, there is a growing acceptance that the effort to avert serious climate change has run out of steam.” That’s also likely due to the fact that there is no way to “avert serious climate change.”

The Economist, however, held out hope that “a few climatic disasters” might get the scam going again.

It is an act of journalistic criminality to publish outright lies, but The Economist is not deterred by anything resembling the truth. It asserts a “likelihood “ that “the Earth will be at least 3 degrees Celsius warmer at the end of this century than it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution, less warming is possible, but so is more, and quicker.” So there could be less, but there could be more

This is utter rot.

It is typical of the way “global warming” was always predicted to arrive twenty, fifty or a hundred years from now; all based on manipulated and mendacious computer models. The usual predictions of heat waves, droughts, along with melting poles and glaciers are cited in its cover editorial.

Just as the Cancun festival of climate lies will do, The Economist rhapsodizes about a massive redistribution of wealth from industrialized developed nations to those in the grip of despots, Islam, communism or other systems that keep them poor. When interviewed recently, IPCC official, Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist, bluntly said that “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy,”

So what is climate change policy really about? It is about how “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth….” If this sounds like the usual communist claptrap, it is.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

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Cutting It Down to Size

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

North Korea, China's Hidden Dagger

By Alan Caruba

The Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953. Having begun on June 25, 1950 with the blessings of Joseph Stalin, an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953 left the peninsula divided between the Republic of South Korea and the Peoples Republic of North Korea. How long ago was that? Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected largely on the promise to go there and secure an end to the conflict

By the time it was over the Red Chinese had intervened and American casualties were around 54,000 with 103,000 wounded. The North Koreans and Chinese were estimated to have lost ten times that number. The war was immensely unpopular with an American public that was still recovering from World War Two that had ended in 1945.

To his credit, President Truman did not hesitate to commit troops. Within two days after the invasion, Americans were fighting another war in Asia. The United Nations provided cover and the conflict was officially a UN action.

It was a proxy war, part of the long Cold War that had begun at the end of World War Two. The Chinese got involved when Gen. Douglas McArthur’s strategies put U.S. troops close to their border. He wanted to finish off not just the North Koreans, but the fledgling communist Chinese government as well. Truman relieved him of command after he neglected the fact that U.S. armies fight under civilian control in the form of an elected Commander-in-Chief and authorization from Congress.

In time, China for reasons of proximity and other factors became the power that controlled North Korea. Under Kim ill-Sung, known as the “Great Leader”, a Soviet protégée of Stalin’s, and his son Kim Jong-il, the “Dear Leader”, North Korea has evolved into the classic rogue nation. It was named one of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil.”

China provides life support for North Korea, the supplier of food and energy. In his 2004 book, “Rogue State: How a Nuclear North Korea Threatens America”, William C. Triplett II, noted that “communist China is central to all North Korean issues, from human rights to weapons proliferation.”

Whatever North Korea does is sanctioned by China. This fact has been largely shielded by U.S. policy from the American public. North Korea is known in diplomatic circles as “China’s hidden dagger.” The phrase is taken from an ancient Chinese military text called “36 Srategems.” It means the covert use of another country to annihilate your enemy. North Korea threatens South Korea and Japan, and by extension the U.S. which is committed to come to its defense.

American administrations have negotiated with North Korea and each has learned that they will not adhere to any agreement, using negotiations to secure bribes of all kinds, including one in which the U.S. agreed to build two nuclear facilities there! Recent news revealed they have increased their ability to produce nuclear weapons to the utter astonishment of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Its nuclear program was begun by Moscow and Beijing converted it to a weapons program. Triplett said that Beijing uses North Korea as a proxy distributor of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles to terrorist nations that include Iran and Syria. They in turn, provide weapons to their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Like Iran, no sanctions and no threats of military reprisal have ever had any serious affect on North Korea.

Writing during the George W. Bush administration, Triplett said “There is no endgame strategy. North Korean aggression and provocations still go unpunished.” Together, the North Koreans and China “have successfully bogged any progress in endless diplomatic meetings and conferences while North Korea’s nuclear research marches on.”

America is in no position to fight another war on the Korean peninsula and is dependent on China (and Japan) to purchase its securities to keep its economy functioning in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. America’s manufacturing base has largely been undermined by the transfer of many of our industries to China.

Americans have largely forgotten the threat of communism.

The latest North Korean attacks are China’s way of reminding the U.S. of its dilemma and dependence.

The failure to secure a victory over North Korea in the 1950s, too much dithering since then, and too much distraction fighting recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have combined to render America a paper tiger who, despite our vast military power, will not or cannot pull the trigger.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Whatever Happened to the Fourth Amendment?

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon propable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Barack the Barbarian

By Alan Caruba

In the film, Conan the Barbarian, his father asks him what is best in life and Conan answers “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you and to hear the lamentations of their women.”

Fortunately, Barack Obama has not been able to crush his “enemies” which, in the run-up to the midterm elections, he identified as “Republicans.” Nor have the independents and the Tea Party movement been driven from the political battlefield. They’re gaining ground.

The Obama administration has been able to inflict a great deal of damage to the nation and, if it was an invading army, Americans would have taken up arms long ago against it.

They may have to form militias to protect themselves along the nation’s southern border while the administration sues Arizona and does little to stem the flow of illegal aliens and an invasion of narco-warriors. Meanwhile, half the States are suing the federal government supporting Arizona and, of course, in opposition to Obamacare.

Americans, accustomed to obeying the law, are beginning to look like the Jews of Europe in the 1930s and 40s who were told they were being “relocated” and voluntarily boarded cattle cars to the Nazi death camps. Aggressive airport scans and searches are generating anger against an increasingly intrusive and coercive government. Are ID cards far behind?

The response is predictable. According to the most recent Zogby polls, “President Barack Obama’s job approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his presidency at 39%. The percentage of likely voters who say the nation is on the wrong track “is now the highest since Obama took office at 69%.” Nearly as high, are the 61% oppose the airport security measures.

Americans have witnessed a take-no-prisoners approach to politics from a president so partisan that even meeting with Republicans was limited to a handful of charades intended to pass for a discussion of the issues, most prominently his meeting to “discuss” healthcare reform.

Obama's condescension regarding his political opposition is beginning to be matched by his growing disenchantment with the press and the feeling is mutual.

The one aspect of life in the Oval Office thus far that hasn’t attracted a lot of attention is the fact that Obama adopted all of George W. Bush’s military agenda. He recently announced that U.S. troops will stay on in Afghanistan through 2014.

His aggressive use of drones to kill Taliban and al Qaeda lurking along the Pakistan border has now been extended to Yemen, so in point of fact Obama has also adopted the Israeli policy of killing terrorist leaders before that make more trouble. There’s a lot of irony in all of this.

If Obama has been hearing the lamentations from Americans who have lost their jobs and homes, it has been mostly rhetorical. Other than seeking to extend unemployment payments to the far horizon, he has been spectacularly incapable or indifferent to job creation. If anything, the moratorium on Gulf oil drilling cast even more thousands out of work and the EPA is hell bent on shutting down coal mines and the utilities, fifty percent of which, use coal to generate electricity.

Why would anyone expect a man wedded to the unions and socialist ideology to have any idea about how to create a job? Or care about workers who are not government employees?

Barack the Barbarian is giving every evidence of being an enemy of the people as the U.S. Constitution is shoved aside to destroy the economy and deprive Americans of their rights.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Monday, November 22, 2010

NJ Gov. Christie for President!

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It's Muslim Terrorists, Stupid, Not Americans!

By Alan Caruba

When was the last time an American terrorist got on a commercial airliner and attempted to blow it up mid-flight?

The answer is never.

The 19 hijackers of the 9/11 airplanes were all foreign-born Arab Muslims. They passed through airport screening despite having box cutters on their persons. My suspenders have set off that machine. Now you can’t even carry on nail clippers. Who has ever attempted to seize an airplane with nail clippers?

The infamous “shoebomber”, Richard Reid, was a British citizen, the son of a career criminal who followed in his father’s footsteps. After his release from prison in 1996, the year in which Osama bin Laden announced a holy war against America, he joined the Brixton Mosque, later attending the Finsbury Park Mosque. From 1999 through 2000 he was in Pakistan and trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan according to informants.

After being turned away from boarding a Paris to Miami flight on December 21, 2001, the French National Police allowed Reid to be re-issued a ticket for a flight the next day. On December 22, 2001, he boarded American Airlines Flight 63 to Miami wearing shoes packed with plastic explosives. The bomb malfunctioned and it took several passengers to subdue him.

On Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in Amsterdam on route to Detroit. He had purchased his ticket with cash in Ghana. His bomb, sown into his underwear, also malfunctioned. It contained plastic explosive, the same used by Richard Reid. After being taken into custody, he admitted to having obtained the device in Yemen. Earlier, his father had gone to the American embassy to warn against his son’s affiliation with al Qaeda.

The underwear bomber was a classic case of information being available and entered into the U.S. intelligence data base, but not coordinated effectively enough to have been acted upon. Suffice it to say, the U.S. receives and must evaluate vast quantities of such data. Despite Abdulmutallab’s lack of a passport, he was still passed through.

Ever since Reid’s attempt, Americans seeking to board a flight originating here have had to take off their shoes. One shoebomber from abroad versus hundreds of thousands of Americans inconvenienced ever since.

The confluence of having spent time in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen should be enough to deny most people access to a commercial flight for any reason. Issuing such people visas to enter the United States for any reason should be a far more vigorous process.

On the grounds that the lives of those on flights are at risk, a far greater risk exists for all Americans because the Fourth Amendment says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated…”

There have been no arrests of any American getting on a flight in the United States to commit an act of terrorism.

There is little reason to believe that most of the things that the Transportation Security Administration is doing is of much use. The late Senator Ted Kennedy was repeatedly detained because his name was on a no-fly list. The singer, Diana Ross, slapped an agent whose groping was offensive. And every day we hear of people who fit no terrorist profile encountering absurd and often humiliating searches.

Now the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, wants special procedures for screening Muslim women so they can avoid pat-downs and reportedly Homeland Security is considering letting them pat themselves down!

At $30 million each the machines that technologically strip everyone naked are in direct conflict with the Fourth Amendment as are the idiotic body searches. Both represent an authority the government has asserted for itself and both are a threat to a constitutional freedom guaranteed every American.

Two isolated cases, eight years apart, are slim justification for imposing measures negated both times by the fact that the flights were boarded in other nations and, fortunately, both bombs failed.

The worst terrorist incident in the United States since 9/11 was committed by an Arab-American Muslim, a U.S. Army Major, Nidal Hasan, at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009. Despite donning Arab garb when off-duty and expressing opinions that troubled his fellow officers, nothing was done to flag Hasan before he walked into an infirmary and killed thirteen soldiers and wounded others while yelling “Allahu Akbar.”

The Transportation Security Administration has become yet another federal agency with too many people doing too many things of no value to its mission and to the great annoyance of the people they are supposed to be protecting.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Denying Americans Their Own Energy

By Alan Caruba

What kind of government deliberately denies its citizens access to the energy they need to live, to conduct business, to transport goods, to travel, and to just turn on the lights? Answer: The United States of America.

In a letter to members of the G-20, the finance ministers and central bankers of leading industrial nations, President Obama said, “We should make sustained effort to carry through with our groundbreaking Pittsburgh commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

The result of such action would give international energy companies in other nations a large competitive advantage while penalizing U.S. oil and natural gas companies.

As Dr. Richard Swier noted recently, “In the U.S., support for the oil and gas industry is largely about investment depreciation rules which are available to many industries.” Energy companies routinely put huge amounts of money at risk to explore, discover, and extract the so-called fossil fuels. Take away the subsidies and the cost of all energy use in the U.S. goes up.

Meanwhile, CNN Money reported on November 12 that “President Obama lifted his moratorium on deepwater oil drilling nearly a month ago, but the government still hasn’t issued any new permits in the Gulf of Mexico. And most analysts say permits will be slow in coming through 2011.” (emphasis added)

This is great news for Saudi Arabia and bad news for Americans who think we should be accessing our own vast oil reserves. This failure to revive the oil drilling industry in the Gulf comes at a time when the price of a barrel of oil is rising while leaving thousands of oil industry workers in the Gulf States out of work.

A day earlier in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal it was revealed that while “President Obama continues to advertise the $814 billion stimulus and its green energy subsidy programs in particular as unqualified successes” an eight-page memo from his chief economic advisor, Larry Summers, environment and energy “czar”, Carol Browner, and policy aide, Ron Klain reveals that a $6 billion Department of Energy guarantee of loans and other disbursements was being resisted by the House budget office (OMB) and Treasury had found severe problems with “the economy integrity of government support for renewables.” (emphasis added)

Renewables is a code word for wind and solar energy projects. Loan guarantees, block grants, and government mandates often benefit large administration supporters such as General Electric and other political donors engaged in such projects.

One such project in Oregon would tap taxpayers for $1.2 billion while GE and Caithness Energy LLC would only put in about 11% of the project cost. It is corporate welfare that leaves the public with one of the two worst ways of generating electricity, as opposed to coal-fired and nuclear plants. Even hydroelectric power (generated by dams) is more reliable and less costly.

Back in October, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved a 50-megawatt Silver State Solar Project for Clark County, Nevada and three large solar power projects in California, all to be sited on federal land. This is not exactly what conservationists had in mind when such land was set aside. It diverts and wastes billions.

While all this is going on, the Environmental Protection Agency is still demanding that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced, the best known of which is carbon dioxide. They are referred to as “heat-trapping” gas and identified as the source of “global warming.” Only there is NO global warming and hasn’t been for a decade as the Earth’s overall temperatures have slid into a perfectly natural cooling cycle.

Thanks to Climategate, we now know that “global warming” was a complete fiction put forth by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The question no one at EPA wants to answer is this: if greenhouse gases trap heat, why don’t they do it in the winter? If they are so powerful that they can trap heat, how come it gets cold as winter arrives in either the northern or southern hemispheres? Carbon dioxide does not trap heat, but more CO2 would in fact increase crop yields and aid forest and jungle growth worldwide.

According to CNSnews.com, “Tough new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency restricting greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the global mean temperature by only 0.006 to 0.0015 of a degree Celsius by the year 2100 according to the EPA’s analysis.” In plain terms, no reduction whatever and none needed!

Greenhouse gas restrictions are nothing less than a criminal act against the citizens of the United States. It is utterly baseless, a fraud no less than “global warming.”

There are many other examples of what the government, under the present and preceding administrations going back to Jimmy Carter’s, have been doing to choke off the acquisition of American’s vast reserves of coal, natural gas, and oil.

This isn’t a energy policy. It’s a suicide pact to drive up the cost of energy for all Americans, diminishing our competitiveness, and making our lives harsher.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

November 22, 1963: Changing History with a Bullet

By Alan Caruba

On November 22, 1963 I was in the office of a human rights organization in downtown Miami, Florida, fresh from service in the U.S. Army.

I was happy that President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev had not gone to war in October 1962 over Soviet missiles in Cuba. My battalion, part of the Second Infantry Division, had been put on alert to invade. A U.S. naval blockade had stopped any new missiles from being delivered and those that had been were withdrawn.

The Cold War had been going on since 1945 and tensions between the U.S. and Russia had briefly and dangerously reached a tipping point. Fortunately, the leaders of both nations pulled back. Elsewhere a relatively small, backwater conflict was going on in Vietnam, but few were paying it any attention.

John F. Kennedy was incredibly popular. He said that the torch of freedom had passed to a new generation and, at age 26, I was convinced his generation and mine were going to solve all of the world’s problems. I was unaware that JFK had so failed to impress Krushchev when they had met in Vienna in 1961 that the Soviet leader had felt emboldened to put missiles in Castro's Cuba.

On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, Lee Oswald, a leftist malcontent who had spent some time in Russia, shot and killed the President. Within days I had packed and returned home where I would take up a career in journalism.

Anyone who was alive on that day can probably tell you where they were when they got the news. For later generations, it is just a date in the history books.

After Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn into office to serve out JFK’s term and won election on his own, history took a turn for the worse when he escalated the Vietnam War. Some 58,000 young men died in that conflict and President Johnson, after a huge election victory in 1964, announced on March 21, 1968 that he would not run for a second full term. He had served from 1963 to 1969.

Johnson had unleashed a tidal wave of liberal programs such as “the Great Society” and “the war on poverty”, signed the Civil Rights Act into law, initiated Public Broadcasting, instituted Medicare and Medicaid, and increased aid to education.

The nation turned away from liberalism and elected Richard M. Nixon who would serve from 1969 until forced to resign from the presidency in 1974 as the result of the Watergate scandal. The nation swung back toward liberalism and elected a little known governor from Georgia, Jimmy Carter. He lasted one term and the nation swung back toward conservatism and elected Ronald Reagan. Twelve years later, after Bush 41, it would swing back again and elect Bill Clinton.

For nearly fifty years, America has been seesawing back and forth between conservatism and liberalism without seeming to learn the lessons of the experience.

Liberalism and its many entitlement programs, the expansion of the federal government, the debasement of our educational system, congressional raids on the Social Security fund, and the failure to rein in the “government sponsored entities”, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have brought us to a point of economic collapse not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s..

After November 22, 1963 everything that followed began with a single bullet. It sent the nation careening off on a spending spree that by 2008 took an infusion of billions of public dollars to avoid a banking industry catastrophe. It would be followed by an increase of two trillion in the national debt under a new, young, and briefly popular president.

Did we learn anything from those previous decades? Apparently not.

In 2008, the voters elected a virtually unknown U.S. Senator from Illinois who had barely spent a few months in the Senate before setting out to become the 44th president. Like JFK he was young, charismatic, and eloquent so long as Teleprompters fed him the words to say.

President Barack Obama did not bring a “brain trust” into office with him like FDR or “the best and the brightest” as Kennedy did. Instead, he installed a large group of “czars”, men and women, dedicated socialists and loony environmentalists who mostly bypassed the Congressional vetting process, but who have wielded great power behind the scenes.

Obama’s popularity, like Carter’s, disappeared in less than two years. The recent midterm elections were historic. The Republicans will control of the House and Democrats will have a narrow control of the Senate when a new Congress returns in January. Until then, the political chess game is astonishing as the nation races toward deadlines that include extending the Bush tax cuts and the continued funding of the government.

A remarkable movement, the Tea Party, emerged; leaderless, but composed of millions of Americans determined to take back the power that had been taken from them by a Congress indifferent to their wishes. The damage of the first two years of Obama’s term will take time to repair, but it will be repaired.

History might have been very different had it not been for November 22, 1963, but we shall never know how different.

What we do know is that liberalism, socialism, does not work. It debases fiscal prudence, spreads poverty, and subverts the Founder’s intention of a small central government while shackling the States with unfunded mandates.

For an older generation of Americans, we have lived through a lot of history and, 47 years ago, a single bullet set it in motion.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Halfway Between Sanity and Bedlam

By Alan Caruba

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

To listen, watch, or read the news these days, one is struck by the sheer insanity of most of the activities sanctioned by the government and encouraged by the signs of sanity reflected by the outcome of the midterm elections.

The people have spoken! And they are still at risk of being ignored by the White House and the Democrats.

For example, the “enhanced” airport inspections complete with full-body scanners and “pat downs” that have managed to enrage air travelers. The Israelis don’t do this and they have never had an El Al flight hijacked or blown up. Meanwhile, al Qaeda is enjoying the way the Department of Homeland Security has vastly over-reacted to its threat. As many rational observers have pointed out, identifying ARABS and/or MUSLIMS for a closer look is a very good idea. There is no record of a Catholic nun having ever hijacked a commercial jet.

In March of this year close to a million Americans showed up near the Capitol steps to protest Obamacare. They were dismissed by David Axelrod, a White House advisor, who said, “They’re wrong.” This was followed by Speaker Pelosi telling Americans that Obamacare had to be passed first so everyone could know what was in it and that included the members of Congress who voted for it. That is a definition of crazy. Almost immediately, corporations and unions began to file for waivers for their employees and members. Laws are supposed to apply equally to all Americans. Obamacare does so by raising your health insurance premiums.

The Federal Reserve, charged with the responsibility of protecting the value of the dollar, hasn’t done that for decades. Since the dollar is not pegged to a commodity such as gold, it is merely a piece of paper that the government promises to honor. That is now in jeopardy as the Fed engages in yet another “quantitative easing”, buying U.S. debt with devalued U.S. dollars. Other nations watching this slight-of-hand are not fooled and at some point they will stop buying $50 billion in U.S. securities every day.

One sign of sanity were the midterm elections that returned power in the House to the Republicans and narrowed the power of Democrats in the Senate. Members of the Republican Party and Independents are waiting to see if its leadership has figured out that they do not want any compromise with the White House that has never shown any compromise during the last two disastrous years.

The Republicans have real depth in terms of whoever they might choose to run against Obama, but all the “buzz” remains focused on former Governor Sarah Palin who can be seen these days in a Discovery Channel series about her family and Alaska. I doubt Sarah will take us on a tour of the utterly barren Alaska National Wildlife Refuge under which lies millions of barrels of untapped AMERICAN oil. It is just insane to not tap the enormous reserves of oil that are known to exist throughout and offshore of AMERICA.

On November 20, General Motors held an initial public offering (IPO). You will recall that, instead of being allowed to go through the normal process of bankruptcy and restructuring, the Obama administration stepped in and made all Americans part owners. Isn’t that called Communism?

John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said this of the IPO: “What exactly is so remarkable about a company coming back to life after a $65 billion taxpayer bailout, additional billions in tax breaks not available to other companies, and even an amazing “sovereign immunity” exemption for this IPO from anti-fraud securities laws and lawsuits? With this massive infusion of government aid and favors, even a company selling ketchup Popsicles to women wearing white gloves would likely show a profitable quarter!”

If, by now, you have seen a pattern of public policy that has staggered back and forth between sanity and bedlam, you are not alone. The first two years of the Obama administration has systematically destroyed confidence in America from within and without.

The international slap-downs the President has encountered speak to an insane policy that includes adding trillions to the national debt; thus putting the United States on a par with member nations of the European Union that are in financial trouble.

Americans, usually known for their common sense, are in near rebellion.

They don’t want to be fondled on their way to a vacation or business flight.

They don’t want the government to tell them what they should eat.

They don’t want a million mandates about everything they purchase.

They don’t want their children brainwashed in schools and colleges to believe utter nonsense about “climate change” and all the absurd claims attached to it. Change is what the climate has done for 4.5 billion years on planet Earth.

They don’t want amnesty programs for people who entered the nation illegally.

They don’t like the fact that government workers, thanks to the largest union in America, earn far more than those in the private sector and receive outsized pension and health benefits.

Et cetera!

America lost its mind over a totally unknown Senator from Illinois in 2008. In 2010 it is struggling to regain its sanity and is demanding the same of those whom it has elected to protect the nation against him.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 20, 2009: The Day "Global Warming" Ended

By Alan Caruba

November 20, 2009 is an important date because it was the day that “global warming” ended. It was the day that a total fabrication, a hoax, was revealed to be the work of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aided and abetted by a vast network of governmental and business leaders, a compliant media, and scientists who sold their souls for grants and other funding.

It was the day that Al Gore was shown to be unworthy to share a Nobel Peace Prize with the iniquitous IPCC, nor an Oscar for his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

It was the day that Cap-and-Trade legislation, the largest tax ever on energy use, was eviscerated as lacking any basis in science. The legislation proposed to establish a “carbon credits” trade that would have enriched the Chicago Climate Exchange created by investors that included Goldman Sachs. Following the "global warming" hoax revelations, the Exchange would close its doors within a year.

November 20 was the day that three thousand emails between the meteorologists at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, England, specifically its director, Phil Jones, and Penn State’s Michael Mann, as well as others involved in the hoax were made available on the Internet.

The Washington Times reported that “Obama administration climate czar Carol Browner rejected the revelations in the email exchanges, saying “I’m sticking with the 2,500,” referring to the IPCC climate science members. “These people have been studying this issue for a very long time and agree this problem is real.” This, like all the other assertions about “global warming” was a lie.

It must be noted that President Barack Obama continues to talk about “climate change”, the term used to replace “global warming”. His administration has many “global warming” advocates including his science advisor, Dr. John Holden, and Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu. The Environmental Protection Agency is engaged in securing authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gas emissions” as this is being written.

The administration’s funding through subsidies and mandates for “renewable energy” sources such as solar and wind energy is entirely based on the assertion that the generation of energy by coal-fired plants, is causing “global warming.” Neither solar, nor wind can even begin to provide sufficient energy for the nation, now or in the future. Support for ethanol, a biofuel, is equally without merit.

The primary assertion behind “global warming” was that it was “anthropogenic”, created by human activity, primarily the burning of “fossil fuels” by utilities to generate electricity and by industrial users. Similarly the use of oil derivatives, gasoline and diesel for transportation is blamed.

A segment of IPCC members did not support the global warming hoax and tried for years to marshall opposition to the Panel’s findings, published in reports shot through with baseless distortions and assertions that the Earth was heating to an extraordinary degree. Over time, they came forth and publicly disputed the IPCC for spreading the "global warming" hoax.

A year earlier in 2008, testifying before a congressional committee, Dr. Roy Spencer, the principal research scientist of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said, “Despite decades of persistent uncertainty over how sensitive the climate system is to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, we now have new satellite evidence which strongly suggests that the climate system is much less sensitive than is claimed by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

“The warming we have experienced in the last 100 years is mostly natural,” said Dr. Spencer, adding that whatever warming had occurred had since been replaced by satellite data documenting that the Earth had “not warmed for at least seven years now.”

A “little ice age” from about 1300 to 1850 was well known to meteorologists and climate scientists.. Dennis T. Avery, the director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute, noted in April 2008 that “The Earth’s warming since 1850 totals about 0.7 degrees C. Most of this occurred before 1940.” The global warming hoax went into high gear in the late 1980s when no significant warming was occurring. Avery, too, noted that “The Earth has experienced no discernible temperature increase since 1998, nearly nine years ago.”

Following the leaked emails, on November 26, 2009, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal concluded that “the impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.”

By then, however, the lies put forth by the IPCC had been debunked by a series of international conferences on climate change sponsored by The Heartland Institute. Participants represented many internationally respected climate scientists.

How profitable was it for those involved? Al Gore and others are alleged to have made millions from the now defunct Chicago-based Climate Change Exchange. The emails revealed that CRU director Phil Jones had, since 1990, collected a staggering 13.7 million British pounds (about #22.6 million US) in grants.

In the United States, an estimated $50 to $60 billion in government grants for climate research had been squandered since the late 1980s when James E. Hansen, a NASA employee, Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), testified before a congressional committee claiming that a massive heating of the Earth was occurring.

Drs. Mann and Jones have both been exonerated by the universities for their work, but there has been a seismic shift in the scientific community as institutions such as the Royal Society in England have begun to back off from their support of the “global warming” hoax.

The “global warming” hoax was supported vociferously by the mainstream media in the U.S. and around the world. The worst offenders have been The New York Times, Newsweek and Time magazines, but there are others too numerous to list, including leading scientific publications.

On November 20, 2009, the world began to awake from a totally fictitious nightmare called “global warming.” It persists among those desperate to keep the truth from reaching a world that has been duped by the largest collection of governmental leaders, politicians, scientists, and media collaborators ever to engage in such a Big Lie.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Dems Pick Nancy as Minority Leader

Democrats Pick Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leaders in the House.
Republicans rejoice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A War with Iran is Inevitable

 By Alan Caruba

If the U.S. and allies had known that Nazi Germany would embark on the genocide of six million Jews in Europe, along with five million others that included gypsies, homosexuals, and political opponents, is there any doubt they would have taken preemptive measures to stop the Holocaust?

What we know about the Iranian regime is that it is led by Shiite fanatics that believe that the only way the mythical Twelfth Imam can return is for the earth to be in a state of complete chaos and anarchy. Almost from the beginning, following the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, the regime has engaged in an effort to achieve nuclear weapons. Their use against Israel is a certainty, but they would also be targeted against Europe.

Thus, when Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) recently called for war with Iran, I assumed he has some information I do not. Sen. Graham said, “I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies.”

In the 1980s, Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq. It ended in a stalemate, a million casualties, and the need to rebuild from scratch what was left of its military. Iran is located in one of the nastiest neighborhoods of planet Earth. It shares borders with Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

The Gulf States deeply distrust Iran’s nuclear and other hegemonic ambitions. The Saudis and the Egyptians recently conducted joint military maneuvers for that reason.

Internally, it faces a growing opposition from its mostly young citizens to the rule of the Supreme Ayatollah, Mamoud Ahmadinejad, and others who support the dictatorship that passes for a government there. Given time and covert assistance, one assumes they might prevail, but the real question is whether the world has the time?

Iran’s economy is in a state of collapse. As recently as November 9th there was a report of the arrest of four prominent Iranian student activists and others in anticipation of a government plan to phase out basic food and fuel subsidies. “The government is bracing for social unrest,” said one report.

If Iran’s leadership were rational, the last thing they need at this point is a war. They are not and their openly expressed hatred for Israel gives every indication of that.

As the primary source of funding for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza strip, Iran would seem to favor having its proxies take over Lebanon by force and to wage a new war on Israel. This would take some attention and pressure off of Iran as it works its will behind the scenes.

The Department of Defense and the CIA have war-gamed various plans against Iran over the years and the feedback was that neither liked the outcome because they always included the problem of an uncontrollable escalation.

As a point of reference, we put too few troops into Iraq in the 2003 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq regime and, while Baghdad quickly fell, the result became a long, unpopular war.

This raises the question of why, before leaving for his Asia trip on November 6, President Obama, according to Debka File, ordered the Pentagon “not just to beef up American and NATO military pressure on Iran, but to do so as conspicuously as possible.”

There are three aircraft carriers, four nuclear submarines, and marine assault units in the vicinity of Iranian shores as this is being written. This suggests that U.S. intelligence has picked up some disturbing signs or that the Obama administration simply wants to send a message to Iran that any trouble-making in the Middle East would be unwise.

Meanwhile, Sen. Graham called for “sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force, and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guards.” We can do that any time we want. What is the Senator not sharing with us that increases the urgency of such action now?

The problem Iran poses ultimately comes down to choking off the Straits of Harmuz through which flow millions of barrels of oil to the West. That would be a very destabilizing event and not permissible to the U.S., NATO nations, and others. If, however, Iran’s goal is to create world chaos, nuclear-tipped missiles would be the best way to achieve it.

As with so many geopolitical and military options, there are few good choices, but much of Iran’s bellicosity likely comes from its internal situation which, as we have seen, is an increasing threat to its regime. A show of force is a good idea. The use of it before Iran goes nuclear is even better.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Good Old Days

By Alan Caruba

It started with a haircut in the morning. I sat in a barber chair I had sat in initially around the age of five. In those days, the 1940s, four Italian gentlemen cut hair and it cost 25 cents for a kid and $1.25 for an adult. Same shop, but my haircut cost $16.00 not counting the tip. Except for the owner, some lovely gals cut hair there these days.

When my parents moved to an upscale suburb of Newark, New Jersey in 1942, they paid $11,000 for a three-bedroom home with a stand-alone garage. I sold it for many multiples of that and it was essentially the same house with a few improvements. I sold because, in 2000, the town had reevaluated the property and literally doubled the taxes. Ten years later, a second reevaluation was deemed worthy of an article in The Wall Street Journal.

My parents put two sons through college on the earnings of my Father, a CPA with vivid memories of the Great Depression. He was a liberal, a Democrat, and advocate of the United Nations. Starting in the 1950s Mother taught gourmet cooking in the adult schools that sprang up after the war, earning enough to purchase the family cars and otherwise contribute to the budget. They remained married for over sixty years. He never learned to drive.

After the haircut, I topped out the gas, a little under a half-tank, and paid $21 for a mixture of gasoline and ethanol, the latter mandated by the government and heavily subsidized. The cost included state and federal taxes. I can recall when gasoline in the 60s and 70s was around 60 cents a gallon. I can also remember long lines at the pumps in both 1967 and 1973-74 when the Saudis, angered by the U.S. support for Israel, implemented oil embargoes.

A visit to the supermarket these days is a carnival of sticker-shock. The price of food has been rising thanks in part to the increase of the cost of energy to produce it and the diversion of corn to produce ethanol that reduces the mileage you get from the gas you purchase and likely harms your car’s engine. Corn is a major feedstock so the cost of a steak is rising too.

During WWII, the milk was delivered to my home by a horse-drawn wagon. Before refrigeration became widely available, we kept it in an ice box that required the delivery of large blocks of ice. There was radio, but no television. If you wanted air conditioning, you had to go to the local movie theatre. Price of admission, plus popcorn cost a kid about twenty-five cents. I saw my first television program in the 1950s. Within no time, everyone had a TV.

When I attended elementary, middle and high school there was zero talk about illegal drug use because there was none and I cannot recall any mention, let alone the teaching of heterosexual or homosexual sex of any kind. The school day began with a pledge of allegiance and a prayer. We did not have a politically correct curriculum or have to listen to fantasies about the planet heating up.

We did not recycle because everyone knew it was just the garbage.

It was the rare child who came from a family that had experienced divorce or who was being raised by a single parent. There was no segregation in the north, but my high school was almost completely white. That ratio has been reversed.

The Draft ensured that every able-bodied young man would serve a minimum of two years in the military learning the arts of warfare. We had all been born early enough to have passed through World War Two as very young children. This was followed by a conflict in Korea in the 1950s when we were teens. By the time the Vietnam War came along it was a new generation of conscripts fighting it. After that, the military became entirely staffed by volunteers.

The biggest scandal of the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower involved a vicuna coat his chief of staff had accepted as a gift. It would take Watergate to stain and end Nixon’s presidency, an ugly sexual dalliance to undermine Clinton’s, and a parade of congressional felons that constitutes a non-stop perp-walk these days.

Since I was a lad the government added a Department of Education, a Department of Energy, a Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others I cannot recall. Regulation of everything has exploded. Borrowing and spending has exploded. If anybody had told me back then that the government was broke, I would have thought he was crazy, but the debt ceiling kept being raised until there is, in effect, no ceiling.

In my memory, American society began to shift from traditional values and patterns in the 1960s. The century-long failure of the South to rid itself of the aftermath of the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws, eventually found expression among blacks, but it also caused riots in U.S. cities.

In time, gays in New York would rebel against police harassment and a whole new movement would be sparked, culminating in the demand for same-sex marriage, along with an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the military. The lives of women changed with the advent of “the Pill” and demands for more equality.

Sex, drugs and rock’n roll became the order of the day. We have gone from Frank Sinatra to Lady Ga-Ga. Later generations than mine share a more chaotic vision of society and a far more costly one in which to live.

It has taken the emergence of the Tea Party movement to capture and focus the independent voters who have seesawed back and forth between the comfort of Eisenhower's conservatism to the free-spending of Lyndon Johnson, the conservative values of Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama’s effort to force European-style socialism on America.

In my life, we have gone from the Great Depression to an era in which whole nations have discovered that a highly centralized government inherently cannot function without bankrupting its citizens whether they live in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Portugal, Greece or in the former Soviet Union.

As international organizations have flourished, from the United Nations to the European Union, the more unwieldy, corrupt, and grasping they have become.

We live now in the Age of Terrorism. No one in authority seems to want to acknowledge the source, the threat to civilization called Islam. Few Americans knew anything about Islam before 9/11. Now you can’t get on a plane without a full body scan and search.

If your grandpa or grandma say they miss the “good old days”, keep in mind that in many fundamental ways, they really were good.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Pat Me Down, Please

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Organic Food Scam

By Alan Caruba

Once, years ago, I was in a Midwestern State talking with a farmer. I raised the question of how much pesticide he used on his crop to ward off or kill insect predators or, in the case of weeds, how much herbicide.

“Look, my family and I eat a part of what I grow,” he said. “Do you think I am going to put anything on the crop that would endanger them?” Good answer.

I thought about that encounter while reading a really extraordinary book by an organic crop inspector that just blows the whole scam about organic foods wide open. “Is It Organic?” is a 599-page book by Mischa Popoff that comes with a wonderful history of farming while revealing why the public is being conned into believing that organic foods are safer and better for them when all they are is more expensive.

The book is available from http://www.isitorganic.ca/. If you’re a consumer interested in environmentalism, the history and politics of organic foods, or you are involved in agriculture the price is worth it. If you like plain talk and honest outrage, every fact-filled page will prove far more educational than most of the literature about environmentalism, energy, socialism, and agriculture than you will find anywhere.

“I believed in the principle of producing top-quality food and letting the market decide if it was worth more. Still do in fact,” writes Popoff. “But I learned the organic industry abandoned living up to that principle long ago.”

The secret this multi-billion dollar industry doesn’t want anyone to know is that “there is no field testing on certified organic farms to ensure synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals are not being used and to ensure harmful pathogens from animal waste are safely eliminated. The excuse I was given is that field testing is too expensive; something I later learned is patently false.”

“Testing in the field goes straight to the heart of what organic farming always meant throughout its vibrant history, until it was ruined by political activists. You’ll hear talk of end-product testing, but it’s a BIG waste of time. Synthetic chemicals dissipate if you wait long enough.”

“Honest organic farmers want field testing and so do consumers; so why is it rejected in this multi-billion dollar industry at the same time as it’s talked about as if it was the routine?”

Popoff explains that, “Organic food sold from one end of this continent to the other, whether grown locally or overseas, becomes ‘certified’ based on paperwork refereed by activist private-sector bureaucrats who make money hand over fist by giving their stamp of approval.”

Like global warming, organic food is a scam and it is run by an “unscientific, undemocratic, radical socialist movement” that eclipses the organic farmer “and bilks consumers in order to underwrite a political revolution that is about to impact your ability to feed your family.”

Food Pornography

Popoff calls it “food pornography”, an industry that calls itself organic, “but which is really just pure marketing from start to finish, promising everything and delivering nothing.”

“The genius of claiming that private companies test organic food,” says Popoff, “before they accept it as truly organic and put their corporate brand on it lies in the fact that there’s no possible way to know if it’s true.”

This is a very refreshing book to read on many levels and it’s worth knowing the author did not grow up in some suburban enclave and lived a privileged life. He was a farm boy “My family didn’t have a phone ‘til I was seven and I got my first horse before we got a television. I learned to drive a tractor and the bail truck when I was ten, and I got my first car, a three-speed standard, at the age of twelve.”

Far from the usual story of some PhD holding forth based solely on academic study and research, Popoff worked his way through college “grinding hamburger on the graveyard shift at a local grocery store.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1991 with honors in history and a minor in philosophy.

I doubt that “Is it Organic?” will leap onto the bestseller lists, but it deserves to be widely noted and widely read. It’s the literary equivalent of a lighted dynamite stick, exciting to read and thrillingly honest, a dangerous book in the best possible way.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Federal Reserve's Magic Money

By Alan Caruba

Historically, the Federal Reserve has had a poor record when it comes to correcting an economic slide into Depression.

In his book, “New Deal or Raw Deal?” historian Burton Folsom, Jr, asked and answered the question “What caused the Great Depression?” Among the factors he cited was the huge debt left over from World War One. In the United States, the national debt had ballooned from $1.3 billion to $24 billion in three short years, half of which consisted of loans made to the allies.

Today the U.S. is feeling the impact of the aftermath of 9/11 when military action was taken first in 2001 and then in 2003. We are still in Afghanistan and Iraq without much to show for it. As opposed to short, preemptive, lightning strikes, we have become involved in “nation building.” Forgotten is the fact that it was the Russian intervention in Afghanistan that ultimately brought down the former Soviet Union.

In the 1930s, in addition to tariffs on imported goods, “The third cause of the Great Depression was the poor performance of the Federal Reserve,” concluded Folsom. “The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 to control the money system by regulating interest rates and lending money to banks.”

In an eerie way, Raymond Moley, a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “brain trust” of advisors and an initial advocate of the New Deal, reflects the widespread perception of Barack Obama today. In 1933 Moley broke with FDR and became a conservative. Following a meeting with FDR, Moley recorded his observations.

“I was impressed as never before by the utter lack of logic of the man, the scantiness of his precise knowledge of things that he was talking about, the gross inaccuracies in his statements, by the almost pathological lack of sequence in his statements, by the complete rectitude that he felt as to his own conduct, by the immense and growing egotism that come from his office, by his willingness to continue the excoriation of the press and business in order to get votes for himself, by his indifference to what effort the long continued pursuit of these ends would have upon the civilization in which he was playing a part.”

This description of FDR is, in astonishing ways, a mirror image of Barack Hussein Obama.

The dissatisfaction that Moley expressed has been manifested in the immergence of the Tea Party movement and the rejection of many in Congress who supported Obama’s agenda, including Obamacare, his failed efforts to jump-start the economy with large, temporary stimulus bills, temporary housing rebates and business tax credits, and the one-time cash-for-clunkers program that followed the federal takeover of General Motors and Chrysler.

There are harsh facts being ignored about the present economic crisis. More than 42 million Americans were on food stamps in August, an all-time record and a number that is 17% higher than a year ago. The U.S. is experiencing massive unemployment and the American Bankruptcy Institute predicts there will be an estimated 1.6 million consumer bankruptcies this year.

The U.S. government is completely and totally broke. A Boston University economics professor, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, has concluded that the U.S. government is facing a “fiscal gap” of $202 trillion dollars.

John Allison, who for two decades served as chairman and CEO of BB&T, the nation's 10th largest bank, told CNSNews.com that it is a “mathematical certainty” the United States government “will go bankrupt unless it dramatically changes its fiscal direction immediately.”

Having tried “quantitative easing” once already the Federal Reserve is undertaking a second effort. It consists of printing magical money and using it to purchase U.S. treasury securities. QE-1 cost $1.7 trillion and did not work. QE-2 will fail as well to the tune of $0.9 trillion.

The U.S. dollar has lost 50% of its purchasing power since 1986 and it has dropped 11% in value since June of this year.

Writing in the November 8 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Kevin M. Warsh, a member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, went public to warn against QE-2. “Fiscal authorities should resist the temptation to increase government expenditures to compensate for shortfalls of private consumption and investment,” said Warsh who urged “a strict economic diet of fiscal austerity.”

Whether it is Congress or the Federal Reserve, the failures of the present reflect the failures of the past. Major surgery is needed to pare the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare. Instead, Obamacare added millions to the Medicare rolls.

The government sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, need to be privatized to avoid using billions more in public funds to save them and the too-big-to-fail banks that engaged in “liar’s loans”; mortgage loans that ignored prudent lending practices resulting in the housing market collapse.

TARP did work as an emergency measure, but the government has got to stop being the lender of last resort. It’s our money.

The Federal Reserve is contemplating the creation of “magical money” at a time when the U.S. economy is in deep trouble. It is a trouble that can only be cured by retaining the Bush tax cuts and by simplifying the current insane tax code. Why is there such slow growth? American corporations pay the second highest tax rate in the world.

The burden of federal regulation must be reduced. Economists W. Mark and Nicole Crain, noted in a September Wall Street Journal that “The annual cost of federal regulations increased to more than $1.75 trillion in 2008, a 3% real increase over five years, to about 14% of U.S. national income.”

The President’s original economic advisors have departed. They, like Raymond Moley in the 1930s, know that he is either clueless and/or resistant to any pragmatic solutions.

The midterm elections gave power to the Republicans in the House, the branch from which all financial bills must originate. Failing to do the same in the Senate, it may take two years to repeal Obamacare, but efforts must be taken to defund it, to render it inoperable. The courts may offer relief with a decision that it is unconstitutional.

When the new Congress meets in January 2011, every pressure possible must be brought to bear on the Federal Reserve to stop short-term failed “solutions” before the U.S. dollar is utterly debased.

© Alan Caruba, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cartoon Round Up

Did Someone Say Donate?

You may have noticed that a "Donate" button has been added to the blog. And you may have noticed that "Warning Signs" has never had any advertising. In these challenging times, in lieu of ad revenue, I am hopeful that, if you like a particular commentary or the whole genre of posts, you will consider a donation to help underwrite the effort.


Thou Shalt Not

By Alan Caruba

Is there anything that some special interest group or some government agency doesn’t want to forbid you from eating, driving, wearing, using, and enjoying? We live surrounded by a multitude of “thou shalt not’s.”

Throughout history people have been afflicted with rulers and others who felt compelled to create lists of things forbidden to them. In matters of moral behavior, the Decalogue, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments, is quite sufficient to get you through life. Generally speaking, everything else from dress, food, and fun should be an individual decision so long as no one else is harmed.

The biggest “success” story among the lifestyle puritans are the endless restrictions on smoking. The biggest crock is the claim that “secondhand smoke” killed a lot of people who did not puff on a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Worse, millions in “stimulus” money, public funds, have been allocated to anti-smoking campaigns.

As just one example, Georgia’s Dekalb County’s Board of Health received $3.2 million for an anti-smoking campaign and it is just one of four urban areas that have received such funding. A total of $650 million is being wasted in this fashion. How many jobs will this create? None.

My late Father lived into his early 90s and I cannot recall a day he did not light up his pipe, nor the sweet perfume of the smoke as it wafted around the house. My late Mother, who never smoked a day in her life, also lived well into her 90s.

Mother was a cookbook author who taught classes in gourmet cooking and dining for three decades in the adult schools where we lived. An authority on wines and liquors, we had a wine cellar in the basement fit for royalty; apparently all that wine had no adverse affect and likely prolonged her life, Dad’s and mine.

Americans love fast food. We love our McDonald’s, our Burger King’s, the many pizza franchises, Red Lobster’s, Olive Garden’s, Outback, and all the other wonderful places to take the family or a date. They all remain the object of scorn and scolding by endless self-appointed “consumer advocates” They and every other thing we eat are blamed for an alleged epidemic of obesity. Do I care if someone is fat? No. It’s none of my business.

Claiming that fat people cost taxpayer’s money is absurd. Many come from a long family line of hefty ancestors. Surely all those people who are genetically disposed to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses cost money as well, particularly if they have lost their jobs and no longer have health insurance.

I am concerned about illegal drug use, mostly because it fuels the Mexican drug cartel wars that are killing Americans foolish enough to wander into bandito land. I yield to my libertarian inclination to think that we could eliminate a lot of wasted time and money if we just legalized drugs and let those foolish enough to use them pay taxes for the privilege.

I know that drug users, like alcoholics, underage drinkers, and a wide variety of solid citizens will drink and drive, but that’s why we have police and jails. Nothing will stop it except perhaps for bartenders who refuse to sell “one more for the road.” You could close every liquor store in sight and people, as in the bad old days of Prohibition, would find a way to have a drink or two or three.

I grew up in a time when kids rode bikes without mandatory safety helmets, drank water from the garden hose, played ball in the street, and lived to tell about it. We were told “don’t talk to strangers” and it was good advice. We were told to be home for dinner, a time set aside for the entire family to sit down together and discuss the events of their day.

I dislike the eco-freaks who demand that everyone buy a hideously expensive electric car when the ones we do buy are marvels of technology while there’s an estimated thirteen trillion untapped barrels of oil sufficient to keep them running on high octane for a very long time to come. Consumers will save an estimated five billion dollars if the government allows the ethanol mandate to end this year.

I don’t frankly want to hear that every single thing I buy is not sufficiently “Green” or that my “lifestyle” is an offense to planet Earth. I harbor the notion that the Earth doesn’t care and that these annoying people will complain that my ashes were despoiling the Atlantic Ocean when I pass from this mortal coil.

I have a friend who lives in a cabin in the backwoods of Missouri with two dogs as his companions. In the past he has enjoyed a fair degree of success as an author and other literary endeavors, but these days, when not earning a living as an editor, he is into the distilling arts and sciences, making some excellent hard cider and other potable potions. For his 51st birthday, he has signed off social networking on Facebook and yanked his blog from the Internet. To his longtime friends he said you know my phone number and address.

He is a happy man, having earlier rid himself of a crazed wife and dodged a potential one for whom he was the perfect “fixer-upper.” An unfortunate investment in a saloon in the methamphetamine capitol of the U.S. did not pan out. He accepts the fact that the nation is broke and that he cannot do a damn thing about it, nor does he expect Congress will do anything sensible to avoid this outcome.

I find his attitude refreshing though it is my “job” to warn against the coming collapse.

It is, however, the nature of all people elected or appointed to any position of power, no matter how low or high, to thereafter enlist an army of bureaucrats to enforce a multi-volume encyclopedia of regulations intended to save us from ourselves and to behave exactly as they want us to. I don’t like any of these people.

I wish all those harridans, hypocrites, and others who think they know better how you and I should live our lives would all be transported to the dark side of the Moon.

© Alan Caruba, 2010