Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pageantry, History, and Change

By Alan Caruba

Last week ended in pageantry that altered history in ways the whole world could take notice, vicariously participate, and absorb into the collective conscience. On Friday the heir to the British throne married and a former commoner became the future queen of England. The world rejoiced.

On Sunday, Pope John Paul was beatified, a step toward sainthood, in an expedited Vatican process that was a response to the crowds who gathered at his funeral on April 8, 2005 and cried out “Santos Subito!” Sainthood now.

The evening before was the annual black-tie White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner, a gathering whose humble beginnings reflected the job of covering the presidency. The Association was formed in 1914 in response to news that President Wilson wanted to hold regular press conferences, but wasn’t sure who should attend. The reporters wanted to make sure they made that decision. They held their first dinner in 1920 and, in 1924, Calvin Coolidge was the first President to attend.

Today the dinner is a glitzy affair and can be watched on C-SPAN. As Dana Milbank of The Washington Post noted in an April 29 commentary, the dinner has spawned twenty parties around the event, sponsored by corporations and media organizations who invite film and television celebrities who are also guests at the dinner. It’s a chance for star-struck reporters to rub shoulders with them.

“The correspondent’s association dinner was a minor annoyance for years,” wrote Milbank, “when it was a ‘nerd prom’ for journalists and a few minor celebrities. But as with so much else in this town, the event has spun out of control. Now awash in lobbyists and corporate money, it is another display of Washington’s excesses.”

What ties the dinner together with the beatification ceremony the following day was inadvertently touched upon by Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, historian, best selling author, and a national treasure.

Writing about Pope John Paul’s historic visit to his native Poland in June 1979, Noonan noted that the Mass he conducted was attended by easily a million or more Poles, but when “Everyone at the Mass went home and put on state-controlled television to see the coverage of the great event, they knew millions had been there, they knew what was said, they knew everyone there was part of a spiritual uprising. But the state-run TV had nothing. State-run TV had a few people in the mud and a picture of the pope.”

“Everyone looked at the propaganda of the state, at its lack of truthfulness and its disrespect for reality, and they thought: It’s all lies. Everything the government says is a lie. The government itself is a lie.”

Poland along with Eastern Europe was still in the iron grip of the Soviet Union as it had been since the end of World War Two. In Poland, however, resistance had begun in the form of the Solidarity Movement. Lech Walessa, its leader, told Noonon “We knew…communism could not be reformed. But we knew the minute he touched the foundations of communism, it would collapse.”

The collapse that came began with the failure of the Polish state-controlled press to tell the truth.

While the United States does not have a state-controlled press, the rise of many news and news analysis sites on the Internet has made it clear to a growing body of Americans that the mainstream news media (MSM) has failed or refused to report the truth.

The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 is now largely attributed to the slavish adoration and biased reporting that lifted him from virtual obscurity and put him in the Oval Office.

The release of an obviously fraudulent “birth certificate” this past week evoked virtually no outrage in the MSM. Instead they demanded that the issue of Obama’s eligibility to hold the highest office in the land had been settled. It had taken nearly two years since an initial, comparable certificate had been put out by his campaign to get a repeat of that fraud.

The trust that was formerly given the MSM has been steadily eroded for years and with good reason.

Milbank wrote that he did not fault any one host for throwing a party “or any journalist for attending. Many of them are friends. There’s nothing inherently wrong with savoring Johnnie Walker Blue with the politicians we cover. But the cumulative effect is icky.”

That’s a pretty good description of the nation’s mood about President Obama and those charged with reporting on him. It’s “icky.”

This is a President who is calling for higher taxes in the midst of a severe recession, increasing inflation, $4 a gallon gasoline at the pump, a distressed housing market, and high unemployment.

This is a President who will not let our vast national reserves of oil and coal be developed for America’s use. This is a President advocating high speed trains, wind and solar power, electric cars. He shuns our allies and thinks he can pick the winners and losers in the “Arab spring” as despots are being overthrown and challenged.

Not only has our federal government been debased by a Marxist regime, but those charged with reporting on it have allowed themselves to be seduced by it.

“Santos Subito!” is a call for a renewed spiritual faith and the spiritual values that Americans of all faiths want and need in order to replace the quasi-communist regime in Washington, D.C.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cartoon Round Up

Nobody Does It Better

Nobody does it better
when it comes to Royal weddings.
We wish the Royal couple
a long and happy marriage.
Alan Caruba

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things I Don't Care About

By Alan Caruba

The alleged Obama birth certificate has now become a cottage industry with YouTube videos explaining why it is a fake and a torrent of articles in the mainstream press about its release by the White House.

I don’t care about it.

Well before Obama was elected I had concluded that he was a complete fake with a totally fabricated life that included not one, but two, memoirs to provide the illusion of his progress from his birth to when he began to campaign for the presidency.

I relied then and now on Dr. Jerome R. Corsi’s excellent book, “The Obamanation”, published in 2008. His new book is presciently titled “Where’s The Birth Certificate?”

In another excellent book, “Dupes”, Prof. Paul Kengor chronicled the way the Communists among us have been manipulating public opinion and policy going back to the days when the Soviet Union was established in 1917 and immediately set up an international army of spies, advocates, and the dupes who fell for the lies about their murderous political system.

“The facts were,” wrote Kengor, “that many of Obama’s friends had been dedicated Marxists, Maoists, and Stalinists; he was party to a long-running personnel and professional association with people from the most extreme Left…”

In the two years since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, there has been a steady flow of books revealing more facts to confirm this. That latest is Jack Cashill’s “Deconstructing Obama” regarding the true authorship of the alleged memoirs that appear to be the work of Bill Ayers, a longtime Obama friend and a self-defined “Communist with a small ‘c’”. famed as one of the 1960’s Weather Underground terrorist group.

Other books include Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s “The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America”, Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski’s “The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency”, and “The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists” by Aaron Klein.

It’s not as if Obama’s totally fabricated “life” has not been thoroughly exposed and the only relevant question is why is he still in the White House?

The “Birther” movement has managed to obfuscate the obvious. Obama is not, as clearly defined, “a natural born” American insofar as his father was a Kenyan citizen. As such, he was not and is not eligible to be President.

I credit Donald Trump for forcing Obama’s hand in producing an alleged birth certificate, but it still does not resolve anything. One of the many other things I don’t care about is Donald Trump, a relentlessly self-promoting real estate mogul and television personality.

I don’t care about the “debt ceiling” that has been routinely raised seventy-four times since 1962. It will be raised again because the federal government keeps spending and spending and spending. This is enabled by the Federal Reserve that keeps printing U.S. dollars whose value declines each time they do. I do care about that!

The list of things I do not care about is quite extensive, but I will conclude by saying I do not care who wins the next “American Idol” or “Dancing with the Stars.” I don’t care what happens to Charlie Sheen’s career or life. A small part of me, however, wants Lindsay Lohan to get clean, grow up, and get on with her acting career.

For the next year and a half we shall all remain prisoners of the state, ruled by the worst, dumbest, and most malevolent President in the nation’s short history. A lot of Americans care very deeply about the consequences of that.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

History is No Help to the Federal Reserve

By Alan Caruba

Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, gave a press conference on Wednesday and, try as I did, I fell asleep almost immediately. For those suffering from insomnia, I would recommend you “take two Bernanke’s and call me in the morning.”

At the time of his appointment Bernanke was widely known as an expert on the history of the Great Depression. It was commonly thought that he would avoid putting the nation through a similar experience, but a long, deep recession has put that in doubt.

In “New Deal or Raw Deal”, historian Burton Folsom, Jr., identified three major causes of the Great Depression, beginning with a Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act on imported goods that was signed in June 1930 by Herbert Hoover. It was the highest tariff on imported goods in U.S. history. Other nations retaliated. “Our exports, therefore, dropped from $7 billion in 1929 to $2.5 billion by 1932.” The result was that “By July the stock market had lost one-third of its value in ten months”, a second major cause of the Depression whose beginning is generally dated to the Wall Street crash of October 1929.

The other cause was due to the fact that, in the three years leading up to the bill, “the national debt balloon(ed) from $1.3 billion to $24 billion.” Our current national debt is equal to our entire Gross Domestic Product, the value of all of the nation’s goods and services.

Folsom identified the third leading cause as “the poor performance of the Federal Reserve. “In practice, the Fed had raised interest rates four times, from 3.5 percent to 6 percent, during 1928 and 1929. That made it harder for businessmen to borrow money to invest, which hindered economic growth.”

Under former Chairman Alan Greenspan and Bernanke, the Fed has kept the interest rates it charges banks to nearly zero. Bernanke is no doubt aware that the Fed’s failure to lend money to cash-hungry banks led to the collapse of hundreds during the Great Depression.

Fast-forward to present times and we see that the Fed has literally flooded the economy with cash, essentially by simply printing money out of thin air. All of it is backed by the “full faith and credit” of the government.

On April 25, The Wall Street Journal headlined an article, “Fed Searches for Next Step” noting that it “is likely to begin closing a wide-open credit spigot this week—but faces a major decision: when to start draining the excess credit out of the economy by raising interest rates.”

Whether the economy was infused with great gobs of cash or whether that liquidity is slowed, the Fed—then and now—is caught in a vice because history demonstrates that neither action had the desired purpose. If this was a game of Monopoly, the players could put the board away in its box, but neither history nor current trends point to anything other than a severe depression.

The rating service, Standard & Poors, recently issued a warning that the U.S. debt was slipping into a “negative” situation and this has been followed with a prediction by the International Monetary Fund that the U.S. economy will be overtaken by China in just five years. S&P is famous for its failure to spot bad guys like Enron, to whom it gave high ratings right up to the day it collapsed, nor should we believe the IMF propaganda which suspiciously tries to panic Americans.

The Fed was created by a small group of bankers and came into being in 1913. In good times and bad it has functioned in concert with international banks to control the volatility of the financial marketplace and sustain the viability of the individual nations they represent. The Fed functions largely in secret. The oversight that Congress is supposed to exercise is much the same of its regulatory agencies that have rarely seen trouble brewing, nor been able to do much about it except to clean up the mess with taxpayer’s funds.

The problem in the 1930s and now is the national debt, the result of insane, profligate spending. Those in the White House and the Democratic Party are opposing any rational steps to reduce it.

Instead, it enacted Obamacare, legislation that will further crash the economies of individual States. Some twenty-eight States are already on record opposing it. An effort to have it declared unconstitutional was greeted by the Supreme Court with a refusal to expedite the case just before the judges began a three month vacation.

An April 27, 2010 Cato Institute briefing paper by Arnold King presciently noted that “Recently, the Federal Reserve has significantly altered the procedures and goal that it had followed for decades. It has more than doubled its balance sheet, paid interest to banks on reserves held as deposits with the Fed, made decisions about which institutions to prop up and which should be allowed to fail, invested in assets that expose taxpayers to large losses, and raised questions about how it will avoid inflation despite an unprecedented increase in the monetary base.”

The Cato paper was titled “The Case for Auditing the Fed is Obvious.” The fate of the nation is held in the hands of the Federal Reserve. It performed poorly in the late 1920s and 30s, and confidence in its ability to extricate the nation from its enormous debt may well be misplaced.

A combination of unsustainable entitlement programs, too much spending, and the collapse of the housing market that resulted from Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s belief that housing prices would never fall has brought us to this point in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The response by the government, however, was to buy the bank’s bad debts and engage in multi-billion dollar “stimulus programs” which we were told would create employment and put the economy on track to recovery. It has not happened.

Instead, taxpayers have had the nation’s future put in jeopardy into the next and further generations, some of whom are as yet unborn.

Despite the Fed’s printing presses, the U.S. dollar is in decline at the same time that the price of gasoline, food, and everything else is rising.

The 2010 elections that put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, the branch of government that initiates spending bills, has resulted in partisan warfare on Capitol Hill as the GOP weighs what steps it can take. Ambivalence about raising the debt ceiling reflects GOP concerns regarding the 2012 national elections and their fear that they, not the Democrats that regained control of Congress in 2006 will be blamed for the current crisis.

Suffice to say that both political parties deserve blame for years spent initiating excessive spending and ignoring the warning signs.

Meanwhile President Obama has declared his candidacy airily demanding that taxes be raised on “the rich” at a time when raising taxes is the worst possible choice to make as the economy struggles to recover. For the passed two years, the Obama administration has engaged in every effort to undermine and destroy the economy.

John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and the nation’s second President, warned “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

2012 looms as an election year in which Americans will decide whether to change course or, indeed, commit suicide.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scaring Mothers and All Others - The BPA File, Part Four

By Alan Caruba

In a revealing article in the April issue of The Atlantic, “Beyond BPA: Could ‘BPA-Free’ Products Be Just as Unsafe?” the effort to scare American consumers and others around the world comes full circle. In essence, the people and organizations behind campaigns to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) and anything made from plastic exist to frighten everyone about everything.

From the snake oil salesmen who pitched their phony medicines in the days of the early West to today’s purveyors of fear about a wide range of chemicals that protect health and extend life, the key element remains the same; they lie to enrich themselves.

As John Entine wrote in an article, “Scared to Death”, “When it comes to stories on so-called toxic substances, the public discourse seems infected by a malady worse than microscopic residues: chemophobia.”

“Webster’s defines chemophobia as the irrational belief that ‘chemicals’ are bad and ‘natural’ things are good. Labeling a chemical ‘toxic’ or a ‘contaminant’ is meaningless. Toxicity is a question of degree, exposure is different from effect.”

In plain terms, our bodies are designed to process and excrete all manner of things we breathe or ingest. Our bodies are, in fact, chemical factories that produce chemicals to protect and maintain their functions while, at the same time, removing what it does not require.

A massive campaign has been underway for several years to demonize bisphenol-A, BPA, a chemical in use for more than 50 years to line cans and plastic containers for the precise purpose of protecting their contents against contamination up to and including botulism, a lethal food-borne disease.

One might think that more than a half-century of its use without any evidence that it poses any harm would be sufficient to support its use, but liars who defame BPA are catering to other, more sinister agendas and fear is the means they use to advance them.

In a lengthy analysis available on, it is noted that “BPA is one of the best tested substances” and has “been evaluated by regulatory bodies around the world” that found that:

• BPA is not carcinogenic or mutagenic

• BPA does not adversely effect reproduction or development at any realistic dose

• BPA shows weak estrogenic effects only at extremely high dose levels never reached in daily life

• BPA is efficiently ‘metabolized’ and rapidly excreted after oral exposure.

A primary target for the scare campaigns waged against BPA are women and, in particular, pregnant woman and mothers of infants. The product most targeted is plastic baby bottles.

Countless articles have been published in magazines, newspapers, and on Internet sites and blogs devoted to “environmental” topics and health issues that “report” various clinical studies all purporting that BPA represents a great risk to women.

Women unfamiliar with the scientific process are particularly vulnerable to reports that a small study of few females “may” or “could” or “might” reflect a connection between BPA and the alleged results, particularly if they are reported in medical journals that routinely publish such studies. The language of such studies is always couched in vague terminality such as indications of a “strong association” with the condition cited. In real life terms, this is meaningless.

Other reports exhibit both ignorance and bias such as a Huffington Post article that asserted “There’s no ‘Safe’ Plastic, Already!” Such a claim is absurd on its face. Lacking any basis in fact, the author claimed that “the latest science shows that plastics are really, really bad news” ignoring the fact that plastic containers of food and drink are ubiquitous. The claim itself sounds like it came from an ignorant child.

The sheer numbers involving plastic bottles should indicate their use is safe. For example, nine billion gallons of bottled water are sold every year in the United States. That’s 50 billion bottles. If they posed a health threat, it would be evident, but they do not, nor do the huge numbers of baby bottles, but expectant and new mothers are repeatedly told they should be avoided, especially by manufacturers who trumpet the news they do not use BPA.

A report in the Los Angeles Times claimed that eating canned food poses a health threat, repeating the tired and extensively disputed claims about BPA. The study, however, was released by two environmental groups that thrive on scare campaigns, the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute. Out of hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S., the study was based on just five!

What is not reported is the fact that modern science can detect infinitesimal amounts of any chemical substance and it is the fact that they are so small that means they represent no threat. As always, it is the amount of exposure that determines hazard and mere “trace” amounts that can only be detected in a laboratory represent a phantom hazard.

In the end, telling new mothers and everyone else that they should not eat or drink anything from a can or bottle protected by BPA is, in fact, to put them, their babies, and everyone else at a far greater risk.

Editor's Note: Parts One through Three of The BPA File are available on the "Warning Signs" blog.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

The General Motors Debacle

By Alan Caruba

I received an email from my friend, Seldon B. Graham, Jr., a veteran of the oil industry, possessing both engineering and law degrees. I first became aware of him through his book, “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High.”

“After years of my campaigning for transparency and full disclosure, the media still does not give the American public the actual price of OPEC foreign oil or the actual price of U.S. oil. Who in America knows that the actual price of OPEC foreign oil last week was $119.82 per barrel? Who in America knows that the actual price of U.S. oil, which is always lower than OPEC foreign oil, last week was $4.86 cheaper? Now, you are some of the very few who know.”

“Why isn't the media disclosing the actual oil prices to the public? Someone might figure out that American consumers could save $4.86 x 3.3 billion barrels of foreign oil annually = $16 Billion annually if US oil replaced foreign oil imports. Doesn't everyone in America want cheaper gasoline?”

I don’t know anyone in America who doesn’t want cheaper gasoline except for President Barack Obama and his Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu. And therein lies the problem because, between moratoriums on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, obstacles to increased drilling in Alaska (not even including ANWR), and the general ban on any offshore drilling along U.S. coastlines, the likelihood that Americans will have access to their own less costly oil, barely exists.

It really doesn’t get much dumber than this unless, of course, you consider the Obama administration’s bailout of General Motors. Amidst a bevy of costly bailout measures in 2009, Obama stepped in to “rescue” GM when, in fact, all it had to do is step aside and let the company file for bankruptcy, get restructured, and begin again. Countless companies, large and small, do this every year. The rescue, however, was not about GM so much as it was the United Auto Workers, a union that was largely responsible for putting GM in the poor house.

Fast forward to 2011 and reports that the U.S. government, Treasury, plans to sell off “a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer.” Despite a much heralded initial public offering of stock last November, beginning in January 2011, the stock’s value had fallen 18 percent, “to about $31, which is $2 below its IPO price.

In January, Investor’s Business Daily grabbed reality by the scruff of its neck, shook it, and reported, “The bailout of General Motors wasn't supposed to cost taxpayers. In fact, the promise was that taxpayers would profit. Now the government says the bailout's a loser. No one should be surprised. Washington has handed out $50 billion to General Motors and another $35 billion to Chrysler and GMAC to keep those companies in business. Taxpayers were told their money wouldn't end up lost in a rat hole.”

A variety of factors have contributed to shareholder and investor confidence in GM and The Wall Street Journal cited “the rise in gas prices” as one of them because it “hurt sales of big, highly profitable trucks.”

It didn’t help that the Obama administration insisted that GM step up its electric car program, always notoriously unprofitable, or that the steering wheels on some Chevy Cruze models literally came off in the driver’s hands!

Of the 61 percent ownership the government once owned, it is now down to 26 percent, but to break even, the government would have to sell at $53 per share whereas it is now priced at less than $30 per share, a new low as of April 19.

The original “investment” was $50 billion. Estimates of the sell-off of remaining shares suggest a loss of more than $11 billion if the shares were sold now.

It’s one thing if some speculator takes a loss and that happens all the time, but when it is John Q. Public’s money, the expectation is that would be more cautiously managed. Nothing about the GM bailout suggests this. The dismal results of the alleged “stimulus” funding that was supposed to generate thousands of jobs can be summed up in the statistic that only 45% of Americans are working these days.

No matter which way the taxpayer turns, the decisions made by the Obama administration has resulted in the loss of billions, an unemployment rate that resembles some third world nation, and obdurate resistance to the proposed GOP budget that calls for cutting spending and reducing the debt.

Don’t expect anything like that to occur so long as this hapless, clueless gang controls the White House and the Senate.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Middle East Mess

By Alan Caruba

Anyone such as myself who lived through the long years of the Vietnam quagmire knows that the United States is repeating the same errors in the Middle East that we did with that nation. We seem incapable of recognizing a civil war when we see one and incapable of not inserting ourselves in the midst of it.

I speak specifically of Libya and the inchoate decisions and measures taken by the Obama administration. To suggest that the present White House and State Department have a Middle East “policy” is to vastly overstate and misunderstand their ignorance of that region of the world and the forces at work within it.

The United States has been militarily involved in Afghanistan since 2001, shortly after 9/11. What should have been a short sortie to inflict punishment on the al Qaeda and the Taliban has turned into a classic “quagmire”. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 reflects this as well.

Like many, I thought that the application of U.S. military intervention would somehow drag the Middle East into the 21st century, but clearly the region remains subject to the seventh century religion of Islam and its schism between the majority Sunnis and the minority Shiites. Islam, plus a tribalism that reaches back millennia, renders the Middle East intractable to the West’s efforts.

Billions have been squandered in Afghanistan and Iraq, while the real enemy, Iran, has been allowed to go unscathed in its pursuit of regional hegemony and its pursuit of nuclear parity with its “neighbors”, Pakistan, India, and Russia.

As this is written, Saudi Arabia has concluded that the United States will take no action to stop the Iranian nuclear program and is seeking to pull together a Gulf State coalition to end the expansionist ambitions of the Iranian ayatollahs. The Saudis have also consulted with Israel.

Forty years seems to be the limit that Middle Eastern populations will tolerate the various despots that have controlled Islamic nations. In Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria those in charge have found themselves under siege and, in some cases, removed.

In two cases, Libya and Egypt, the Obama administration has openly sided with the rebels. At the same time, it has incomprehensibly offered a weak defense of Syria’s dictator, Bashar el-Assad, Iran’s strongest ally in the region. Sensing a shift in power, even Egypt’s new ruling body has reached out to Iran to thaw decades of antipathy.

The only consistent Middle Eastern policy of the Obama administration has been its hostility to Israel, the region’s only democracy and America’s traditional ally since its founding just over sixty years ago. For all the caterwauling about the Palestinians, they have long since been abandoned by the Arab nations and are now well within the Iranian orbit of influence and support.

The Palestinians could have had a separate state decades ago but have always pursued an all-or-nothing policy aimed at the destruction of Israel. It is widely believed that they will initiate a new war as Iran’s proxies, from Lebanon in the north and Gaza in the south.

The Palestinians, in fact, have a sovereign nation. It is called Jordan which lost the West Bank, part of ancient Israel, to modern Israel after attacking it in 1947-48 and 1967.

Iraq has made it clear to the United States that it wants to see American troops withdrawn as agreed by the end of the year. Its Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki recently ordered an attack on Camp Ashraf, home to 3,500 Iranian dissidents for the past twenty-six years. That should tell even the casual observer that Iraq is now in the Iranian orbit. This is true as well of Lebanon, first occupied by Syria for decades and now in the grip of the Palestinian Hezbollah.

As to the Iranian people, the Obama administration made it clear they have been abandoned after protests against Mamoud Ahmadinejad’s stolen election last year received no support whatever by a U.S.

America has severely weakened itself since 9/11 with ill-advised military excursions that, like the Vietnam debacle, have proven costly in treasure and lives sacrificed in an area that is resentful of our unwanted incursions, coupled with our addled “nation building” schemes.

There is a massive realignment occurring as the result of the popular uprisings against despots across the North African Maghreb and the heart of Middle Eastern nations, several of which were the artificial creations of Western interests. Resentments against the tyrannies of former despots will likely give way to new despots, not democratic reform.

There is no end to the resentment against America and the West.

Lacking any kind of cohesive policy toward Arab nations except for the oil they provide, the only sensible policy America should pursue would be to drill for our own extensive oil reserves to prevent a severe shock to our economy and security. So long as Obama is President, this will not happen.

There is no perceivable policy in place to stand against Iran and has not been since the Carter administration abandoned the Pahlavi regime in 1979. The fall of Tunisia’s Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Mubarack, Syria’s Assad, and the resistance to Gadhafi, along with unrest in Yemen and Bahrain will be seen, in retrospect, as inevitable.

What remains is a Maghreb and Middle East in a volatile struggle to determine whether it returns to an Islamism reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire or an enlightened embrace of Western values.

There is little reason to hope for a good outcome.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Happy Easter

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cartoon Round Up

600+ Followers for Warning Signs

At some point today, Warning Signs acquired two new Followers, bringing the total to just over 600. Welcome to these new folks and a warm Good Friday greeting to all you others.

Thank you for your interest and your support.

Alan Caruba

Earth Day Predictions of 1970.

I do not know the author who compiled these quotes, but they are a good reason why they were wrong in 1970 when Earth Day was established and continue to be wrong today, Earth Day 2011.

"For the next 24 hours, the media will assault us with tales of imminent disaster that always accompany the annual Earth Day Doom & Gloom Extravaganza.

Ignore them. They’ll be wrong. We’re confident in saying that because they’ve always been wrong. And always will be.

Need proof? Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.

“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.”
• Martin Litton, Sierra Club director

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
• Sen. Gaylord Nelson

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Keep these predictions in mind when you hear the same predictions made today. They’ve been making the same predictions for 39 years. And they’re going to continue making them until…well…forever.

Here we are, 39 years later and the economy sucks, but the ecology’s fine. In fact this planet is doing a lot better than the planet on which those green lunatics live."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Obama's Make-Believe Life

The date was January 2, 2010 and I started the year with some thoughts on Barack Obama that ended up going around the world a couple of times. Insofar as Friday 22nd is Good Friday, I am going to post those thoughts again in lieu of an original commentary. Feel free to share this with friends and family.

By Alan Caruba

I have this theory about Barack Obama. I think he’s led a kind of make-believe life in which money was provided and doors were opened because at some point early on somebody or some group took a look at this tall, good looking, half-white, half-black, young man with an exotic African/Muslim name and concluded he could be guided toward a life in politics where his facile speaking skills could even put him in the White House.

In a very real way, he has been a young man in a very big hurry. Who else do you know has written two memoirs before the age of 45? “Dreams of My Father” was published in 1995 when he was only 34 years old. The “Audacity of Hope” followed in 2006. If, indeed, he did write them himself. There are some who think that his mentor and friend, Bill Ayers, a man who calls himself a “communist with a small ‘c’” was the real author.

His political skills consisted of rarely voting on anything that might be deemed controversial. He went from a legislator in the Illinois legislature to the Senator from that state because he had the good fortune of having Mayor Daley’s formidable political machine at his disposal.

He was in the U.S. Senate so briefly that his bid for the presidency was either an act of astonishing self-confidence or part of some greater game plan that had been determined before he first stepped foot in the Capital. How, many must wonder, was he selected to be a 2004 keynote speaker at the Democrat convention that nominated John Kerry when virtually no one had ever even heard of him before?

He outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton in primaries. He took Iowa by storm. A charming young man, an anomaly in the state with a very small black population, he oozed “cool” in a place where agriculture was the antithesis of cool. He dazzled the locals. And he had an army of volunteers drawn to a charisma that hid any real substance.

And then he had the great good fortune of having the Republicans select one of the most inept candidates for the presidency since Bob Dole. And then John McCain did something crazy. He picked Sarah Palin, an unknown female governor from the very distant state of Alaska. It was a ticket that was reminiscent of 1984’s Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro and they went down to defeat.

The mainstream political media fell in love with him. It was a schoolgirl crush with febrile commentators like Chris Mathews swooning then and now over the man. The venom directed against McCain and, in particular, Palin, was extraordinary.

Now, nearly a full year into his first term, all of those gilded years leading up to the White House have left him unprepared to be President. Left to his own instincts, he has a talent for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It swiftly became a joke that he could not deliver even the briefest of statements without the ever-present Tele-Prompters.

Far worse, however, is his capacity to want to “wish away” some terrible realities, not the least of which is the Islamist intention to destroy America and enslave the West. Any student of history knows how swiftly Islam initially spread. It knocked on the doors of Europe, having gained a foothold in Spain.

The great crowds that greeted him at home or on his campaign “world tour” were no substitute for having even the slightest grasp of history and the reality of a world filled with really bad people with really bad intentions.

Oddly and perhaps even inevitably, his political experience, a cakewalk, has positioned him to destroy the Democrat Party’s hold on power in Congress because in the end it was never about the Party. It was always about his communist ideology, learned at an early age from family, mentors, college professors, and extreme leftist friends and colleagues.

Obama is a man who could deliver a snap judgment about a Boston police officer who arrested an “obstreperous” Harvard professor-friend, but would warn Americans against “jumping to conclusions” about a mass murderer at Fort Hood who shouted “Allahu Akbar.” The absurdity of that was lost on no one. He has since compounded this by calling the Christmas bomber “an isolated extremist” only to have to admit a day or two later that he was part of an al Qaeda plot.

He is a man who could strive to close down our detention facility at Guantanamo even though those released were known to have returned to the battlefield against America. He could even instruct his Attorney General to afford the perpetrator of 9/11 a civil trial when no one else would ever even consider such an obscenity. And he is a man who could wait three days before having anything to say about the perpetrator of yet another terrorist attack on Americans and then have to elaborate on his remarks the following day because his first statement was so lame.

The pattern repeats itself. He either blames any problem on the Bush administration or he naively seeks to wish away the truth.

Knock, knock. Anyone home? Anyone there? Barack Obama exists only as the sock puppet of his handlers, of the people who have maneuvered and manufactured this pathetic individual’s life.

When anyone else would quickly and easily produce a birth certificate, this man has spent over a million dollars to deny access to his. Most other documents, the paper trail we all leave in our wake, have been sequestered from review. He has lived a make-believe life whose true facts remain hidden.

We laugh at the ventriloquist’s dummy, but what do you do when the dummy is President of the United States of America?

(c) Alan Caruba

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Islam: A Battle Plan to Conquer the World

By Alan Caruba

As Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday and then Easter, it behooves them to understand what the Koran, the book held sacred as the word of God (Allah), says about Christianity, Judaism and all other faiths.

This is particularly pertinent in an era in which Islam, the religion of more than a billion people throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and in increasing numbers, Europe, has entered upon a period of terrorism and warfare to advance its domination of the peoples of the Earth. Suffice to say Islam is not about tolerance.

In 2001, Diane Drew wrote a comparison of Christian scriptures with the teachings of Muhammad as found in the Koran, as well as a collection of his sayings, the Hadith. Ms. Drew makes no claims to being anything other than a Christian. She knows her Old and New Testament, and the Koran. Her website provides a clarity that is a gift to Christians who should make the effort to understand a religion that divides humanity between Dar es Islam and Dar es Harb, the world of Islam and the world of War.

I have taken the liberty of quoting from her exegesis—interpretation—that reveals not just the deep differences between Christianity and Islam, but the threat it poses to Christians, Jews, and all other “infidels”.

“Islam rejects the concept of the Trinity. The Koran misrepresents the teaching of Christianity regarding the Godhead, claiming Christians believe in ‘three gods’—Father, Mother, and Son.” (Sura 5:116, 5:73-75;cp. – Koran 5:114)

“Islam regards Jesus a prophet just like Moses, Abraham, and Noah” whereas, at the heart of Christianity is the belief that “Jesus was more than a prophet. He is God.” (Matthew 17.5; Mark 1:1; Luke 1:35; Philippians 2.6; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 4:15). “Islam rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ.” Other religions share this view, but they do not call for the death for those who refuse conversation or death for Muslims that convert to other faiths.

“Islam rejects the doctrine of original sin” citing Muhammad’s assertion that “Every human being is born in a state of a pure nature; but through the influence of his parents, he may become non-Muslim.”

Islam denies the crucifixion of Jesus. “They denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared ‘We have put to death the Messiah Jesus the son of Mary the apostle of Allah. They did not crucify him, but they thought they did…They have no knowledge thereof but the pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but God took him up to Himself.” (Koran 4:154-158).

Of particular concern for Christians and Jews is the way that “Islam both allows and forbids murder and violence, depending on who is the recipient of the act,” says Dew, noting that the Koran calls on Muslims to “Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion (Islam) reigns supreme, (Koran 8:37)

“The Koran instructs not to make friendship with Jews and Christians (Koran 5:51), but to war against them: ‘When the Sacred Months are over, kill those who ascribe partners to God wheresoever ye find them; seize them, encompass them, and ambush them; then if they repent and observe prayer and pay the alms, let them go their way’.” (Koran 4:5)

More to the point, the Koran instructs Muslims to “…kill the disbelievers wherever we find them” (Koran 2:191) and “murder them and treat them harshly” (Koran 9:123), and “Strike off the heads of the disbelievers” (Koran 8:12, cp. 8:60).

What Ms. Dew’s scholarly comparison of the texts of the Old and New Testament with the Koran reveals is less a religion than a battle plan for the conquest of the world. It is not the religion of love that Christianity professes, but of hatred for the unbeliever (the infidel) who must either convert or be killed.

Islam’s holy scriptures are regarded by Muslims as the word of God (Allah) and Islam regards Muhammad’s life as a guide to the practice of Islam.

I can make no claim to any great knowledge of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, but like anyone else, I can read and compare their holy scriptures. You can, too.

Islam is a religion divided by two sects, Sunni and Shiite, the members of which do not hesitate to kill each other, attacking each other’s mosques, murdering those attending funerals.

No one, not Jew, nor Christian, nor Buddhist, nor Hindu, nor atheist, is safe from Islam.

Americans and others around the world learned that afresh on 9/11. As Christians gather for Good Friday and for Easter, they must absorb, understand, and gird themselves against this harsh and dangerous reality.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Greens Really Believe

By Alan Caruba

Earth Day was established in 1970 and millions of Americans and others around the world have been steadily brainwashed to embrace the impression that environmentalism is about protecting the Earth, but when Greens talk among themselves, it is a very different story and a frightening one at that.

The massive propaganda program that supports the Green agenda is impressive in its scope. Its locus is the United Nations whose Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was revealed in 2009 to be a complete hoax based on the manipulation of computer models to predict a warming due to excess carbon dioxide. There never was any threat from CO2. It is a gas that is vital to the growth of all vegetation on Earth. It represents a very minor, even miniscule, part of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Nothing, however, deters the Green agenda and, since the first Earth Day, it has penetrated the nation’s schools and, of course, its politics, deliberately deterring and thwarting access to the nation’s vast reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas; the greatest such reserves in the world! It is a drag on business development. It is the ultimate nanny state seeking to alter people's lifestyles through coercion, legislation, and persuasion.

What most people are unaware of is the fascistic hatred of mankind that underlies the philosophic basis of environmentalism.

Kenneth Boulding, originator of the “Spaceship Earth” concept, was quoted by William Tuck in “Progress and Privilege”, 1982, as saying “The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals, but absolutely limited by the state.” Lamont Cole, an ecologist, has said, “To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem."

Stewart Brand, writing in the Whole Earth Catalog, wrote, “We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into the Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!”

I doubt most people are wishing for a disaster and, when they occur such as the earthquakes in Haiti and in Japan, the first instinct of decent people worldwide is to mobilize to help those affected. This is a very human reaction, but it is not a Green one.

Helen Caldicott, co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, characterized capitalism, saying “Free enterprise really means rich people get richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process…Capitalism is destroying the earth.”

It is no coincidence that Earth Day is also the birthday of Vladimir Illich Lenin, the founder of the former Soviet Union and devotee of Karl Marx, the creator of Communism. The Communist revolution worldwide led to the murder of an estimated one hundred million throughout the last century.

At the heart of environmentalism, aside from its wish for far fewer humans, is a hatred of capitalism. The failures of communism and socialism everywhere attest to the way state control of all aspects of life is ignored by Greens.

David Foreman, founder of Earth First!, said, “We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects…We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, hold dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wildness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settle land.”

Thus, agriculture, the key to civilization, is decried as harming the Earth and all manner of business and industrial enterprises, dependent on the provision of energy, is regarded as evil.

Major environmental organizations, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club to name just two, oppose the use of coal, oil, and natural gas to provide energy.

So much of what environmentalism preaches and claims in its propaganda is utterly false, but telling lies is part and parcel of the Green message.

Timothy Wirth, a former U.S. Senator (D-CO) said, “What we’ve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

Virtually everything being advocated by the Obama administration represents this willingness to take action and tell lies about the nation’s need for energy, with the exception of the worst ways of producing it, wind, solar, and biofuels. Even before gasoline prices climbed to new highs, negatively affecting all aspects of life in America, Dr. Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, was advocating higher prices.

The few quotes cited here do not begin to illuminate the horrors that environmentalism would visit on mankind or the nihilistic view it holds, but they represent a far greater body of Green writings and statements over the years that indicate the extent of the threat it poses to humanity.

A deluge of environmental propaganda will precede Earth Day, April 22, 2011. It should be seen as a warning to all who believe in the Creator and all who wish to advance a world at peace, one in which humanity benefits from trade, prosperity, and modern technology worldwide.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Debt Beyond Belief

By Alan Caruba

Have you noticed the many television advertisements urging you to buy gold, to refinance your home, to get a reverse mortgage, or to fix your personal credit score? There’s a reason for this, not just individuals are financially stressed, but the entire nation is broke.

The nation has not seen this level of debt since the end of World War Two. We have debt equal to the entire value of our Gross Domestic Product. The government cannot collect enough taxes to make a dent in it. It has to cut spending. It has to find ways to reduce the need to borrow.

Monday’s Standard & Poors' downgrade, not of the nation’s triple-A rating for its treasury securities, but a warning that the nation’s “sovereign rating” has a “negative outlook” says that America has wandered into a dangerous area in which worldwide confidence in the dollar is slipping away.

For too long, too many of the economic advisors to presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, have been allowed to cause this damage and then, as often as not, return to their ivory tower jobs secure in the knowledge that more knucklehead economists will fail to apply the brakes.

How does a nation engaged in two foreign wars do that? The answer is that it can’t. No matter how much government waste is exposed, it rarely translates to a reduction. The bureaucrats running federal departments and agencies understand that failure to spend as much of their current budget as possible threatens their ability to ask for and get more

The responses to the S&P news, as reported in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, demonstrate that economists, tightly wrapped in their favorite theories and masses of numbers, are clueless. Mark Thomas of the University of Oregon dismissed the S&P warning, airily saying “the political process will deal with this problem.” It is the political process, specifically decades of interfering with the nation’s housing market that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

Add in interference with the energy marketplace since the days of Jimmy Carter and you have $5.00 a gallon gas by June, maybe sooner.

It is the political process that is blathering about raising the debt ceiling when all it has ever done is raise the debt ceiling. The same political process has proven incapable of eliminating federal government agencies and programs that have ballooned the debt while slowing economic growth.

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research noted S&Ps “horrible track record for judging credit worthiness” and, considering that it “gave Lehman, Bear Stearns, and Enron top ratings right up until their collapse”, he’s got a point. Much of the alleged structure in place to avoid banking failures has been a failure.

Steven Richhiuto of Mizuho Securities suggested the “political realities” will make it difficult “to achieve the type of entitlement and tax reform necessary to put the deficit on a credible declining trajectory.” You think? For decades Social Security and later Medicare have been the famed “third rail” of politics.

No one wanted to address the way changing demographics—more older people, fewer working people—had rendered the systems unsustainable. Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 proposed budget does, in fact, address these and other problems, but if “political realities” fail to bring about the changes he and several deficit commissions have recommended, then the S&P warning is the equivalent of being on the Titanic.

Paul Krugman, Princeton University’s Nobel Prize winner, and New York Times columnist just repeats that same nonsense that “the U.S. is perfectly capable both of running large deficits now and getting its fiscal house in order over time”, cautiously adding, “but not if the parties cannot agree on any solution.”

The political parties have not been able to agree for decades. When the economy rebounded from President Reagan’s tough love, it still took a 1994 historic change in Congress to Republican control before welfare reform was embraced by President Clinton. He then took credit for an improving economy. In 2010 the voters returned control of the House to the Republicans, but the previous Democrat House and two other branches of government, the Senate and the White House, have plunged the nation into its current crisis by tripling the debt by trillions.

The bottom line is that the nation cannot continue to run large deficits because it cannot afford to pay huge interest rates on every dollar it borrows. That is a cycle that must be broken.

At the heart of present dangers is the Federal Reserve that has been printing money out of thin air for the purpose of buying the bank’s “toxic paper”, the millions in “bundled mortgages” for homes, the ownership of which is often in question. This is called “quantitative easing”. Other nations have gone this route and achieved little as a result.

Writing in November 2010, Bill Bonner, creator of newsletter The Daily Reckoning, said, “America’s own experience with quantitative easing is similarly discouraging. Between the beginning of 2009 and March 2010, the Feb bought $1.7 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities, creating new money specifically for that purpose. Where did the new money go? Into the coffers of the banks. Did it stimulate the economy? Not so’s you’d notice.”

By April 2011, all the major economic and social indices by which a nation’s financial status is measured have been in the negative. Economists and others may choose to ignore the S&P warning, but eventually the nation’s economic system will simply collapse on its own if steps are not taken to dramatically address the issue.

You don’t have to be an economist to know that something is terribly wrong with the way all levels of government have horribly mismanaged the nation’s and the state’s fiscal affairs. You just have to watch the television commercials.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

The Great Education Rip-Off

By Alan Caruba

It has taken a severe recession, combined with rising costs for gas and the weekly grocery list, for Americans to begin to seriously question where their tax dollars are going and why. As individuals, as families, and communities, we can no longer be indifferent or profligate.

The events in Wisconsin where the teacher’s union led to protests against collective bargaining has made many Americans begin to question all those TV ads about what a great job teachers are doing and the reassuring message that it’s all about the kids. No, it’s all about salaries, health benefits, and pensions that far exceed those in the private sector.

A recent Policy Analysis (No. 662) published by the Cato Institute on March 10th and written by Adam Schaeffer is titled “They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools.”

The analysis is based on a review of district budgets and state records for the nation’s five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia. “It reveals that, on average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44% higher than officially reported.” In other words, taxpayers simply had no idea how big a part of their local and state budget the educational system actually represented. That is deceit on a massive scale.

“Real spending per pupil ranged from a low of nearly $12,000 in the Phoenix area schools to a high of nearly $27,000 in the New York metro area. The gap between real and reported per-pupil spending ranges from a low of 23% in the Chicago area to a high of 90% in the Los Angeles metro region. (Emphasis added)

The educational system has been so thorough degraded with political correctness and idiotic “No Child Left Behind” national testing standards that it is little wonder many school systems have massive, unforgivable dropout rates. Black students are routinely put on a fast track to juvenile detention while others are passed through the system to avoid closer scrutiny from the state and federal Department of Education.

And Mr. and Mrs. America are picking up the tab. “Citizens drastically underestimate current per-student spending and are misled by official figures,” says Schaeffer. “Taxpayers cannot make informed decisions about public school funding unless they know how much districts currently spend.”

This is no small concern because state and local officials came up more than $158 billion short of projected tax revenue when they planned their 2010 budgets in the previous year. In response, more than 30 states raised taxes and 43 reduced services. It just got worse, “as the economy deteriorated and tax revenue plummeted more quickly than expected, 39 states discovered additional budget shortfalls of nearly $34 billion.”

Schaeffer noted that “K-12 schooling is the biggest item on state and local budgets. How big? Based on 2005-2006 totals from the national Center for Education Statistics updated to 2009 dollars, state and local governments are spending well over $500 billion on public K-12 education.”

Both the Bush and Obama administrations are responsible for “a startling increase in the federal involvement in and funding of K-12 education, but state and local governments still provide the majority of funds.” That’s YOU.

As shocking as the expenditure of all this money for schools generating students who do not compete academically with those in dozens of other nations is the fact that the statistics being published about the cost of this money pit is always three to four years out of date!

If you were to try to find out what the actual amounts involved were, you could look for timely information on total spending at individual school district budgets and even a skilled analyst like Schaeffer says “The budgets are complex and often confusing.”

“If a district is spending $30,000 per child, surely that is enough to ensure a high-quality education. If the school buildings are nonetheless in disrepair and the kids can’t read, then there is good reason to suspect that a massive share of that money is being wasted.”

Call it the Great Education Rip-Off.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Happy Passover

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Earth Day and Environmental Insanity

By Alan Caruba

Anyone who has been paying any attention to the environmental movement has got to have concluded it is insane.

• While the United States stands poised on defaulting on its ever-growing debt—the highest in the nation’s history;

• While wars and insurrections are waged in the Middle East, across northern Africa, and in the Ivory Coast;

• While Japan struggles to deal with a major earthquake and nuclear plant meltdown;

• While Islam wages terrorism worldwide, and

• While European nations attempt to deal with their own financial crisis, the environmentalists—Greens—engage in the most absurd frauds and nonsense since the Dark Ages.

In news from the United Nations—a misnomer if ever there was one—Bolivia is proposing a UN treaty that will give “Mother Earth” the same rights as accorded to human beings. It has just passed a domestic law that grants these rights to bugs, trees, and all other natural things in its own country.

According to the Bolivian proposal, humans have sought to “dominate and exploit” the Earth in ways that threaten the “well-being and existence of many beings” such as malaria-bearing mosquitoes, lice and ticks that spread disease, trees that provide timber for shelter and countless other uses, venomous snakes, and every other creature upon which we depend for food---beef, chickens, and fish, to name just three.

The Bolivian law, if successful, will end the extraction of all natural resources in that nation, thus effectively plunging it into insolvency. That is a definition of insanity. It is also a description of the United States of America where access to its vast reserves of coal, natural gas, and oil is being systematically denied by the government.

This is occurring as the Environmental Protection Agency continues its effort to declare carbon dioxide (CO2) a “pollutant” that must be regulated, despite the fact that is vital to all life on Earth.

In America, there has been a resurgence of bed bugs, formerly controlled by DDT. The EPA recently awarded $550,000 in grants to the University of Missouri, Texas A&M University, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Rutgers University, and the Michigan Department of Community Health, for bed bug “education, outreach, and environmental justice departments.” So, instead of authorizing the use of a pesticide to rid us all of bed bugs, it wants to “educate” us to live with them. That’s insane.

The U.S. Forest Service scientists will hire field crews “to gather information on the conditions of forests from approximately 1,000 sites in five western states, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington, “for a comprehensive study on the health of trees in urban areas.” No mention of the millions this will waste, but it is heralded as part of Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.”

At the same time, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has just announced that the department will spend $1 million in “cost-sharing funding for children’s programs in 18 States and Puerto Rico, furthering USDA’s commitment to connect young people around the country with America’s great outdoors.” Why?

A rational nation that’s $14 trillion in debt, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, would not do such things, but the United States does while its President calls for higher taxes. And why not? The Obama administration spent up to $200 million to promote Obamacare. While that was happening, 26 States joined in demanding its repeal and a U.S. federal court judge declared it unconstitutional.

As the nation struggles to reverse an unsustainable trend toward financial doom, Greens are trumpeting an “Extended Producer Responsibility” program to achieve “waste reduction and increased recycling” that would make manufacturers “liable for the cost of recycling TVs and other electronics at the end of their useful lives” and alter the way they package goods. This is not the manufacturer’s responsibility and will increase the cost of everything everyone purchases.

On Earth Day, everyone will be exhorted to engage in “A billion acts of Green” and to purchase “Green” products, all of which cost more than everything else one purchases in the normal course of everyday life.

We are only now recovering from the greatest fraud of the modern era, “global warming.” The United States wasted an estimated $50 billion on so-called scientific research, all of which existed for the purpose of advancing this hoax. It is rarely mentioned any more except for its fraudulent new name, “climate change.”

As we approach April 22nd, designated “Earth Day”, it would be well to recall that it is the birthday of Vladimir Illich Lenin, a devotee of Karl Marx and a man who plunged Russia into more than seventy years of Communism until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Environmentalism, worldwide and in the United States of America, is devoted to the collapse of every scientific and technological advance of the past century, along with the capitalist system that made them possible.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dump "The Donald"

By Alan Caruba

Listening to and watching Donald Trump talk with Fox News’s Sean Hannity about how rich he is and how smart he is was truly a vomit-inducing moment. The notion that this extremely successful egomaniac would ever be President of the United States is surreal. It’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on steroids.

Now we learn that he is going to announce whether he is going to run on the season finale of “The Apprentice.” The show is scheduled to air on May 15. Reportedly he will hold a press conference to announce the decision about being a candidate in the Trump Tower in New York “a few days after” the finale.

This is such a naked sham for the purpose of getting lots of viewers for his show that it should be embarrassing to everyone who has, even momentarily, taken his phony “campaign” to gain the Republican Party’s nomination seriously. Hannity was snookered or, more likely, he was using Trump to hype his show’s ratings and vice versa. In a similar fashion, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren has of late used Trump appearances for her show.

Just as I and others cautioned voters in 2008 that Barack Obama was a completely unknown quantity with a totally fabricated life story, it behooves me to warn voters to GET SERIOUS about Trump.

Running the nation requires credentials that go well beyond being a successful businessman. America has coast-to-coast successful businessmen and women, but if a company’s CEO makes bad decisions, the Board of Directors can fire them. You can’t say “You’re fired!” to the President of the United States until the next election.

Let me get the formalities out of the way. I am not jealous of Donald Trump because he’s rich. Much of the population is richer than me and I could not care less. I understand that Trump has exhibited considerable business acumen, but that is not the same as political acumen, nor does it suggest that it prepares him to deal with heads of state and the nasty events that occur; frequently unexpectedly.

Nor has everything Trump has put his name to been a great success. He gambled on gambling in Atlantic City and that was a bad bet. Fortunately he owed the banks so much money he could write his own ticket. In fairness, all the casinos took a bath. Instead of gambling, the few people visiting Atlantic City these days are there to buy its famous salt water taffy.

Trump is a strident self-promoter. He is a bombast. He lacks subtlety which, for his line of work may be a good thing, but for someone to whom we would have to trust the future of the nation, what he lacks most is the experience that a professional politician acquires over time. I hate to admit this, but it is true. The lack of this experience and judgment is blindingly apparent in the current White House resident.

Trump wants to win—all the time. Politicians want to survive with their principles reasonably intact and a fat government pension. It is a whole different mindset. The ones the voters reject tend to become lobbyists.

We have a history of presidents who just stunk up the job because they came to it as engineers like Hoover and Carter or ivory tower scholars like Wilson. For a long time, Americans elected a succession of generals because the president’s job was mostly about expanding the size of the nation, generally by shooting our way to the West Coast, or fending off Barbary Pirates, yet another of Thomas Jefferson’s many achievements.

Presidents become celebrities AFTER they’ve been in the office. Few are celebrities going in unless, like Obama, their celebrity is totally manufactured by skilled public relations professionals. After two years in the job, the only things we know for sure about Obama is that he’s a moron, probably a Muslim, and definitely a Marxist.

If you want business acumen, Mitt Romney has it to spare. True, he’s a bit of a RINO, but it’s hard to find a Republican these days who isn’t. Gov. Pawlenty is a politician and that is not a bad thing. Gov. Huckabee was a politician, but is now a successful anchor of his own show on Fox News. He is going to stay put. Rep. Bachman is the political equivalent of your ex-wife, smart and, like Trump, impossible to shut up. There's a reason we haven't heard from Sarah Palin lately and that's because she's smart enough to not want the job.

I guarantee you that, within one month of his inaugural, you would be kicking yourself for voting for Trump. His incessant need to demonstrate he knows best and is the greatest president ever would be the mirror image of Barack Obama’s crazed ideology.

Right now Trump is a novelty, a distraction, a false hope. There’s plenty of time for the campaign process to sort out who will be the Republican choice. My bet is that Trump will announce he’s not running. If I am wrong, the happiest man in America will be Barack Obama.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obama's Budget Speech Bombs

h/t to

How to Avoid a Fiscal Train Wreck

By Alan Caruba

In the wake of the agreement to avoid shutting down the government, both sides have claimed to be winners and, depending on whether you are a Democrat or Republican, both sides have generated the usual prose to support that contention.

In truth, all that occurred was a brief stop on the way to a fiscal train wreck.

There were no winners. There are only losers. They are the American taxpayers. The government of the United States of America has been mismanaging its financial affairs for decades, most notably dating back to the creation of a private central bank called, ironically, the Federal Reserve.

As the columnist, Jimmy Breslin, once observed, the last successful government program was World War Two.

Avoiding a shutdown and raising the debt ceiling ignore the fact that, sooner or later, the government will not be able to borrow enough, let alone tax enough. Raising taxes only represses the investment needed to start new businesses and expand existing ones. Without either, unemployment will remain high. Meanwhile, the cost of commodities is rising in a world where the U.S. has real competition for them.

The nation now owes $14 trillion in debt and that is equal to every dime and dollar earned by the sale of our products and services, the gross domestic product. The U.S. government, in addition to the taxes it collects, exists only because other nations still buy our Treasury notes.

While the shut down argument was over how many billions would be cut from spending, the nation at the same time was borrowing many times more billions. That is completely unsustainable.

What else is unsustainable?

The two real wars in which we have been engaged for a nebulous “war on terror” and the new one, a gift from a President who ignored the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Congress to go to war in Libya. A week later he handed it off to NATO. If the U.S. had not founded NATO and was not a part of NATO, there would be no NATO. None of these wars will have a good ending for the United States.

The U.S. provides some twenty-two percent of the regular budget of the United Nations and twenty-seven percent of its laughable peacekeeping activities. That should have ended long ago.

The government should, of course, eliminate the millions wasted on duplicated programs in various departments and agencies.

The government should rid itself of the Environmental Protection Agency, the greatest obstacle to growth and development with its huge and growing matrix of regulations. The monitoring of the nation’s air and water could be undertaken by the States and, for all practical purposes, is.

Foreign aid should be greatly reduced. It is little more than bribes. It does little to secure the level of cooperation and support attributed to it. Foreign nations need to be responsible for their own development. We need to pay down our debt.

All pork projects initiated by members of Congress should be eliminated. Mandating that non-essential airports and bridges be built is a pernicious practice. If States want to build such things, they should fund them themselves. Why taxpayers in Texas should help fund something built in Minnesota defies understanding.

All manner of non-essential spending such as that for National Public Radio should be eliminated. Let NPR compete in the marketplace. Funding Planned Parenthood is funding abortions. Lots of them.

Funding for dubious “science” research such as the $50 billion wasted on proving that “global warming” was real should be eliminated. By contrast, science that contributes to providing new technology for national defense or the elimination of disease deserves support.

The services of the U.S. Postal Service should be privatized, as should obstacles to the provision of private healthcare insurance; it would provide the same savings to consumers as occur in other insurance areas. Social Security, while grandfathering those who have paid into it, should be eliminated at some point in favor of encouraging private savings and retirement planning.

The Department of Education should be eliminated. The word “education” does not appears anywhere in the U.S. Constitution and has always been a state and local responsibility.

There are more ways that the size and expense of government can and should be reduced. Too many people work for the government, while fewer and fewer are involved in manufacturing, the source of all real wealth.

It is time to stop listening to all the economists and their failed theories, and apply common sense before we end up like Zimbabwe with paper money that has lots of zeros signifying that a loaf of bread will cost a thousand dollars.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Raising Taxes is a Very Old, Very Bad Idea

By Alan Caruba

The absurdity of raising taxes in the midst of a recession that increasingly looks and feels like a depression only underscores the Democrat’s historic and failed policies from the past; the same ones they continue to push these days.

In “New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy has Damaged America”, historian Burton Folsom, Jr., examined the many ways the Great Depression was prolonged and deepened. In his first week in office, Roosevelt took America off the gold standard and “issued an executive order, under penalty of a fine or a prison term, forcing Americans to surrender all their gold to the U.S. government in return for paper dollars.”

Today, in an era of economic uncertainty, the television airwaves are filled with advertisements to buy gold.

Roosevelt was all about high taxation while portraying himself as a friend of the people and an enemy of “economic royalists”, by which he meant business, industry, banks and Wall Street. Historians and economists point to FDR’s tax policies for the failure of the nation to recover from the Great Depression. By 1936, the new tax rate started at 5% on low income taxpayers and skyrocketed to 79% on top incomes.

The Great Depression began in October 1929 when the stock market crashed. A year later my older brother was born. Our father was a Certified Public Accountant, a profession people need in good times and bad. The experience of the Depression left an indelible impression on both my parents.

My Father never bought any stock. His biggest investment was the home he bought in 1942 in a posh New Jersey suburb. My Mother used to tell me of the large bill they ran up at the butcher’s during the Depression. World War Two imposed strict rationing because food and other items were scarce. In all the years after the war our refrigerator was always kept filled with food. Those memories imprint themselves on people.

I don’t think there is much historical or institutional memory left in America. The educational system, the media, and what passes for news these days has erased “the way it was” for most Americans in that era. Only the senior citizens and their children recall it. The nation, however, is repeating all the previous errors.

It is difficult to believe that the nation is on the brink of financial collapse, but it is.

Not surprisingly President Obama and the Democratic Party want to tax more, particularly “the rich.” Efforts to cut spending and reduce the size of a bloated federal government are fought by Democrats even if cutting a few billion is a teaspoon in an ocean of debt

Robert Williams of the Tax Policy Institute was interviewed on an April 14th National Public Radio program. Using 2009 as his baseline, he pointed out that “about 47 percent of Americans will not pay any federal income tax for 2009.” They included families with children, the elderly, low income households, and those who benefit from all the deductions, credits, and exemptions in the income tax.

People with incomes over $500,000, said Williams, represent about 24% of tax revenues collected and those earning a bit above $100,000 represent about 56% of all income and pay about 70% of all taxes. “About 75% to 80% of us pay more payroll tax than income tax.” Taxing the rich instead of instituting a fair tax, based on consumption, is a very bad idea.

In a collection of essays from his popular blog, The Daily Reckoning, Bill Bonner’s latest book “Dice Have No Memory: Big Bets & Bad Economics from Paris to the Pampas” provides a wealth of insight regarding the way the Federal Reserve and other central bankers have created financial havoc since 1913.

Writing in February 2011, Bonner said, “Probably the most remarkable proposition of the whole decade came into focus in the past six months. It was the idea that the Fed could spur a recovery by creating money out of thin air.” This is what is meant when you hear the term “quantitative easing.”

QE, by November 2010, had added $2.3 trillion to the nation’s monetary supply. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, a reputed expert on the Great Depression, added three times as many dollars to America’s core money supply as all the Treasury secretaries and Fed chairmen who came before him put together!

There is and always has been only one way money retains confidence and that is by manufacturing and selling goods and services. Therein lies true value, not the idiocy of simply printing dollars.

“In 1913,” notes Bonner, “the dollar was worth about the same thing it had been worth 100 years before. Now, almost a hundred years later, it is worth only three cents.”

Bonner noted that “The Great Depression may have been an accident, but the debasement of the dollar certainly was not. It was a matter of policy...The gold standard stood in the way; it was abandoned like a bad neighborhood”; a policy completed under President Nixon in 1971.

Writing on July 30, 2010, Bonner said, “Mainstream opinion is contradicted by the facts. Fewer people are employed today in the United States than when the stimulus program began. Sales are down. Growth is failing. Credit is contracting. Even hairstylists and cab drivers know something is wrong.”

John Maynard Keynes: the economist whose theories FDR and other administrations have based their policies upon, “thought consumer spending was the key to prosperity; he saw savings as a threat. He had it backward. Consumer spending is made possible by savings, investment, and hard work—not the other way around.”

“We remind readers,” Bonner wrote in 2003, well before the 2008 financial crisis, “when the Fed creates money out of thin air, it does not create any corresponding wealth. The world’s supply of services or swimming pools does not magically increase when Ben Bernanke turns up the dial on the printing press. What it does is create an illusion of wealth.”

That illusion, that nightmare is now understood by a majority of Americans who also understand that the President they elected in 2008 has been focused on expanding government ownership and control of vast elements of the economy from General Motors to AIG to the nation’s health system.

And now the President wants to raise taxes. It is as if nothing was learned from the Great Depression, from the entire history of the New Deal, and from the collapse of the communist Soviet Union in 1991.

© Alan Caruba, 2011