Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paper Money, Real Debt, and Spendthrift Nations

By Alan Caruba

As the citizens of the United States and the seventeen member-nations of the European Union look on, a great drama regarding the future of the EU and its currency, the Euro, is occurring.

The essential problem is that both the U.S. dollar and the Euro are just so much paper, despite the promises and guarantees that they will be honored as real money. The trick has been to keep everyone believing there are sufficient real assets to back up those promises.

Since the U.S. dollar is a kind of universal currency to which other nations peg the value of their currencies the problem for everyone is that the U.S. is broke. Its debt exceeds its annual capacity to generate income, otherwise known as its Gross Domestic Product. Every hour of every day it must borrow billions to meet its obligations. Forty cents of every dollar the U.S. spends is borrowed.

There is a reason why television these days if filled with commercials offering to sell gold. Gold has always retained its value though it does fluctuate. The U.S. Treasury’s gold hoard has a value of more than $400 billion these days, but that value is the flip side of the Federal Reserve’s demolition of the dollar which has lost 95% of its value since1913, the same year the Fed was created.

Currently the Federal Reserve has been printing vast quantities of dollars—quantitative easing—that only serves to devalue it. The dollar is backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States, but for the first time in our history our credit rating has been downgraded by agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Not that the rating agencies haven’t also been part of the problem. They are famous for telling everyone that the bundled mortgage assets of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were okay right up to the day the 2008 financial crisis occurred and Lehman Brothers collapsed

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the American taxpayer was tapped to bail out a number of banks, a huge insurance company, and even General Motors. This was followed by “stimulus” spending, all of which drove U.S. debt levels to historic highs. The vast matrix of Federal Reserve central banks, government agencies charged with oversight of financial institutions, and the ratings agencies all contributed to the crisis.

The U.S. went off the gold standard in 1931, in effect exporting deflation around the world. Other nations followed suit. At the time, Americans were experiencing high debt burdens, unemployment, and money hoarding. If that also sounds like 2011, you’re right.

The crisis of 2008 was brought about by the “bundling” of mortgage assets. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two Depression-era social justice inventions, currently own 50% of mortgages, many of which were the result of pressures on banks to make loans to people who clearly could not pay them back. What the banks considered “assets” were phantoms whose collateral could often not be traced.

Ben Bernanke, Fed Chair
 Little noted is the role of the Federal Reserve. A government investigation into the causes of the 2008 financial crisis concluded that “The prime example is the Federal Reserve’s pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages which it could have done by setting prudent mortgage-lending standards. The Federal Reserve was the one entity empowered to do so and it did not…”

What the Fed had done, in fact, was to lower the interest rate it charged for lending to banks to very nearly zero.

In his book, “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis”, author James Rickards explains what is actually occurring.

“The United States now has a system in which the Treasury runs non-sustainable deficits and sells bonds to keep from going broke. The Fed prints money to buy those bonds and incurs losses by owning them. Then the Treasury takes IOUs back from the Fed to keep the Fed from going broke.”

We’ve been here before in two previous currency wars, the latter of which led to World War II. The problem then and now is the need for job creation, something that can only be achieved by private enterprise.

The United States government has not provided a good environment for its business and industrial community to invest and expand. It has, as just one example, very nearly the highest corporate tax in the world; beyond that, a vast matrix of regulations makes doing business in America expensive, difficult, and often uncompetitive.

How this will all play out depends in large part on whether Americans are prepared to reduce the size of a government that grew precipitously in the 1930s and the second half of the last century. We must begin to slowly and fairly phase out the “entitlement” programs.

The great question facing Europe is whether the EU disbands and its members return to individual national sovereignty in a response to a continent-wide economic disruption caused by unsustainable debt in its southern tier nations. The EU was a response to a history that generated two major wars in the last century, bankrupting the continent morally, socially, and economically. The road back has been in part due to U.S. aid and protection against the former Soviet threat.

While the possibility of abandoning the Euro was unthinkable bare months ago, it is now an option; a very difficult option because of the vast interconnectiveness of Europe’s and our own banks.

In America the only real hope we have is that in November 2012 we will elect men and women who will turn the ship of state around before the latest currency war sinks ours and the world’s economies.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Desperate Middle East Regimes

By Alan Caruba

The world hasn’t seen this much turmoil since the years leading up to World War II. By contrast even the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991 did not cause this much uncertainty.

The Middle East currently holds the greatest prospect for a hot war as Iran and its close ally, Syria, struggle to maintain control over their populations. Iran’s proxies in Syria and Lebanon, Hezbollah, and, in the Gaza, Hamas, are being told to get ready for a war on Israel. Meanwhile, the Arab League has turned on Syria and is hostile to Iran. Turkey is stationing troops on its border with Syria.

The Syrian dictator, the second generation Bashar Assad, is fighting for his life in much the same way as Libya’s former dictator, Moammar Gadhafi did. In Egypt, the people are occupying Cairo’s Tahir Square demanding that the military step aside for a government composed of elected representatives. An election is being held with the likely outcome that the Muslim Brotherhood will acquire political power there. This pattern will be repeated elsewhere.

The dictatorial regimes of Iran and Syria are using Israel in an attempt to divert the attention of their people from their efforts to remain in power. Anti-Semitism in the Middle East is as rabid as anywhere on Earth; but it is not working its old magic. An all-out war on Israel could, in fact, bring the regimes down, but these are desperate men in charge.

The real news is the covert efforts being used to undermine the military power of Iran and Syria. Iran just claimed it had captured twelve CIA spies. Additionally, Israel’s famed covert service, the Mossad, it also being blamed for recent events that must surely terrify the mullahs and the Assad regime.

DEBKA File, an Israeli news agency, in a November 25 analysis noted an “explosion which wiped out Iran’s entire missile command, including Maj. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, at the secret Revolutionary Guards base in Aghadir near Tehran on October 12.” Apparently it was not so secret!

On November 27 there was a tremendous explosion that rocked Isfahan, home to one of Iran’s main facilities for refining uranium for its nuclear program and Iran’s largest facility for research and development of ballistic missiles. Some reports say neither was affected, but speculation persists that one of them was.

On November 23, an illegal Hezbollah arsenal in Siddiqin housing Iranian-made missiles was blown up. These missiles were intended to be used in a war against Israel, but the explosion was credited to the anti-regime Free Syrian Army. “Graffiti left at the scene of the blast said it was revenge for Hezbollah’s aid to the Assad regime’s crackdown in Syrian cities and promised more.”

The DEBKA analysis concludes that “Both Iran and Hezbollah are gearing up for war” noting that Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Basji military units “began organizing in battle array in the various theaters assigned to them in the country.” The old order in the Middle East has been overthrown in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and is under attack in Syria. There is unrest in Bahrain and Yemen as well.

Both the U.S. and Russia have positioned aircraft carriers off the coast of Syria. A U.S. carrier fleet stands at the ready near the Persian Gulf. It is doubtful Russia wants to be drawn into a conflict. The drubbing it took in Afghanistan led to the downfall of the former Soviet Union. The U.S., bleeding money in all directions, withdrawing from Iraq, and isolated in Afghanistan, is unlikely to engage militarily in a land war, though air power remains an option.

As the DEBKA File analysis makes clear, the U.S. and Israel are having considerable success with covert attacks in Iran and Syria, either directly or by proxies receiving intelligence and other assistance.

When Syria falls—as it surely will—it will leave Iran further isolated. Any admission that it has nuclear-equipped missiles would seal its fate. Its desperation is seen in a recent threat to unleash hundreds of missiles against Israel and, indeed, a northern Israeli city sustained a brief rocket attack from southern Lebanon on Monday, perhaps in an effort to lure it into a response.

The news of the day is an Iranian attack on the British Embassy in Tehran which mirrors the 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy that put the ayatollahs in command and led to the present crisis sparked by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran is running out of friends and its Islamic tantrums only speed the process. This is a rogue nation that does not play by the rules. It seems to be inviting an attack and that fits its apocalyptic view that includes the sacrifice of large portions of its population, chaos, to secure the return of the mythical Twelfth Imam.

No matter how this plays out, it will have a serious affect on the price of oil, a global commodity. It may remind Americans of the failure and refusal to permit access to our own vast reserves of oil and natural gas in Alaska, North Dakota’s Bakken area, and of course the offshore reserves along our Eastern and Western coasts. The delay of the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline will be felt. And then there is the Obama administration attack on coal producers and users.

The fact that a new U.S. oil refinery has not been built since the 1970s is testimony to a massive national failure to anticipate and prepare what is occurring in the Middle East. We are a decade or more behind the curve.

It is a common error to believe that the leaders of Iran and Syria think like their western counterparts. Baghdad is beginning to have more bombings. Pakistan is in a state of panic. In Turkey, a group of NATO and Arab officers have quietly established a command post for possible intervention in the Syrian crisis.

No one in the West, nor Russia or China, wants to participate, but the rabid dogs of war are loose and history has a nasty way of repeating itself.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pity the Democratic Party

By Alan Caruba

I actually pity the Democratic Party these days even though I think it has brought the nation to ruin because, as Joseph Curl recently noted in a Washington Times commentary, “Democrats must spend, spend, spend, and spend. It’s in their DNA.”

It got blown away in 1994 after forty years of control of the U.S. Congress when Newt Gingrich saved the nation from forty more. At the very least then-President Clinton had the political savvy to move to the center, earning a second term for himself.

This is not the case with President Obama who is running against a “do nothing” Congress to which he outsourced the writing of Obamacare, the stimulus programs, the budget, and, the most recent failure, the Super Committee which had been preceded by a blue ribbon commission whose recommendations he ignored.

Curl, like others, has come to the conclusion that Obama does not want to be reelected noting that this is the first President in the history of the nation to blame its present problems on Americans! While he campaigns furiously around the nation, he keeps telling voters that they are “lazy”, “a bit soft”, and have lost their “ambition and imagination.”

No, Americans are imagining what another four years of Obama would do to the nation and they don’t like what they see.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is stuck with their “messiah” and having some very serious second thoughts about him. When two top Democratic pollsters and strategists, Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas Schoen, go on record to urge the President to step aside and allow someone else—like Hillary Clinton—to run for the office in 2012, you know the party is in serious trouble.

The media personality, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, gained everlasting fame when he declared early in Obama’s 2008 campaign that he felt “a tingle” go up his leg when he contemplated an Obama presidency. These days, Matthews is telling anyone who will listen that he doesn’t think either Barack or Michelle “like being in the White House.” Michelle made that clear early on, openly saying she hated it.

When the likes of Rep. Barney Frank announces he will not run for reelection, he has joined fifteen other Democrats in Congress bailing out before the 2012 national elections, knowing it will be a political bloodbath for the Party. Watch for still more to opt out as well.

The Democrats who controlled both houses of Congress when Obama took office in 2009 lost the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections and saw a number of governorships go to Republicans. Unlike the Republicans who have numerous aspirants for the nomination, they have none. They are faced with spending millions to elect an unelectable President.

The chairwoman of the Democrat National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is so astoundingly stupid that it is a reflection on the party as a whole. Despite the fact that she drives an 2010 Infiniti FX35, a Japanese luxury SUV, she declared “If it were up to the candidates for president on the Republican side, we would be driving foreign cars. They would have the auto industry in America go down the tubes.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s EPA just announced it is preempting Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by imposing a ruling that America’s fleet of passenger cars and light trucks must meet an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a doubling of today’s average of 27 miles per gallon. The reason? Cars and light trucks emit a “pollutant”, carbon dioxide, a gas on which all life on Earth depends in equal measure with oxygen.

The EPA rule, by the way, defies the laws of physics inasmuch as one can only get a finite amount of power from a gallon of gasoline. When you add ethanol to the mix, you get less mileage, all in the name of saving the planet.

The sole reason the Party will offer regarding why voters will desert Obama in November 2012 will be "racism." Debbie Blabbermouth, ignoring the fact that Obama doubled and tripled the national debt and saw unemployment increase, has said, “people don’t like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is—the president’s problems are in large measure because of the color of his skin.”

A lot of people voted for Barack Obama because he was black (well, actually half black). Now they will vote for whoever the Republican nominee is because Obama has exacerbated all the Democrat programs that have brought the nation to ruin.

As a longtime recovering Democrat who switched to the Republican Party during Ronald Reagan’s era, I almost feel sorry for the Party, but that is but a fleeting thought when I consider that it has saddled us with Barack Obama, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the likes of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, among others (Jimmy Carter!) too numerous to name.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Threat of a Global Financial Collapse

By Alan Caruba

At present, the amount of the annual Gross Domestic Product, $14 trillion—the value of all the goods and services that generate income—is exceeded by the nation’s debts.

America is presently $15 trillion in debt and it grows daily.

In a November 21 Wall Street Journal interview, Erskine Bowles of the presidential advisory commission on the nation’s debt, said “If you take 100% of the revenue that came into the country last year, every single dime of it was consumed by our mandatory spending and interest on the debt.”

“Mandatory spending in English is basically the entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. That means that every single dollar we spent last year on national defense, homeland security, education, infrastructure, high-value added research—every single dollar was borrowed, and half of it was borrowed from foreign country.”

“That’s a formula for failure in anybody’s book.”

In truth, we are looking at a coming global financial collapse with experts from Credit Suisse to the Deutche Bank, the CEO of General Motors to Warren Buffett, all in agreement that the question is not if, but when.

It will come at a time when there is little, if any, real leadership to be found either in the U.S. or Europe, the most spendthrift of nations facing this crisis.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the most brilliant of our Founding Fathers, said “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” He also said that “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.”

Another Founding Father, James Madison, warned Americans against the concentration of power saying, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.”

Over the years, more and more power has been concentrated in the federal government and it requires the dismantlement and elimination of several of its components. Americans need to say no to the Departments of Education, Energy, along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. These are all functions previously addressed by the states.

You will not find any of these activities specified in the Constitution. Consider when they came into being:

Education was established in 1953, originally as the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In 1979, it was subdivided into Education and Health and Human Services.

The Department of Housing and Urban Affairs was created in 1965.

The Department of Energy was created in 1977.

Thus, between 1953 and 1979, a period of 26 years, the federal government took control of key factors of the nation’s affairs, most if not all are dealt with far better at the state and local level.

To these must be added Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, two government “entities” responsible for the housing mortgage crisis and currently asking Congress for billions more to cover their losses.

The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution specifically says that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Congress is filled with men and women for whom their position has become a sinecure as they are elected and reelected, some for decades But Congress has proved itself unwilling to govern the financial affairs of the nation. A recent vote in the House rejecting a proposed balanced budget amendment reflects this.

In 2012, the voters will have the opportunity to reverse this failure, electing men and women who will vote for term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and other necessary changes.

We have witnessed what happens when Americans lose sight of the vision of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution they bequeathed to posterity.

We are that posterity.

The present generations of Americans are obligated to save the nation or see it fail.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

America's Biggest Turkey: Barack Obama

By Alan Caruba

The 2012 national elections will be held on November 6 and I naturally want to get out ahead of all the other pundits and their predictions about its outcome. I cannot tell you who the Republican winner will be, but I can tell you that Barack Hussein Obama will be known as a former President.

He has most certainly turned out to be the biggest loser—a turkey—to hold the office of president. I can look back over my writings in 2008 and say “I told you so!” to anyone who voted for Obama.

It was surreal to watch how the mainstream media went out of its way to ignore the fact that there were virtually NO FACTS to cite regarding Obama-the-candidate. Any candidate who had gone to the extent of hiding the ordinary “paper trail” that all of us leave when we attend school, college, serve in the military, acquire a Social Security card, travel, or simply acquire friends and acquaintances, surely had something to hide.

To this day, no one seems to recall being in college with Obama, though he attended Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard. Surely you would think someone would pen a word or two of their memories of him. No student in the classes he taught on the Constitution at the University of Chicago has shared those days. If he dated anyone prior to Michelle, they remain incognito.

Like the fictional Shadow, Obama seemed to be able to “cloud men’s minds” when it came to any recall or inquiry about him.

The appalling performance of the mainstream media to get Obama elected was captured by Howard Kurtz, a columnist for The Washington Post who, on November 17, 2008, reported that NBC News was coming out with a DVD titled “Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story” and that ABC and USA Today were following suit to rush out a book about the election.

“We seem to have crossed a cultural line into mythmaking,” said Kurtz. “Whew! Are journalists fostering the notion that Obama is invincible, the leader of what the New York Times dubbed ‘Generation O’?” Kurtz asked, “aren’t media people supposed to resist this kind of hyperventilating?”

The confidence I have in my prediction that he will be unemployed as of the afternoon of January 20, 2013 lies in the fact that he has spent the last three years being rebuffed on one policy or another, not the least of which was the Affordable Health Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Rejected by 26 States that brought suit against it, Obamacare’s constitutionality will be addressed by none less than the U.S. Supreme Court; a decision that may come in the spring of 2012. Given the court’s long record of precedents on comparable decision, it’s toast. Recently, in the electoral battleground State of Ohio, voters resoundingly rejected its mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance under penalty of a fine.

2009 Inaugural Trash
In March 2010 an estimated one million people representing the Tea Party movement marched on Washington, D.C. to protest against passage Obamacare. They were a sharp contrast to the revelers that showed up for Obama’s inauguration and literally left tons of trash in their wake. We have seen this repeated by the Occupy movement participants.

There’s a term in boxing when a boxer has been hit hard enough to make him groggy, “stepping in post holes”, as he staggers around the ring. It seems an apt term for Obama who is finding fewer supporters and defenders beyond the hard core of liberal Democrats.

From promises to close Gitmo to efforts to try Islamic terrorists held there in civil courts, Obama was rebuffed.

Obama’s promises regarding jobs to be created by his “Stimulus” have proved baseless and costly.

On the numbers alone, Obama has been a disaster for America. Obama has presided over the first downgrade in the nation’s credit rating in its history. Federal spending has been the highest (25% of GDP) since World War II. Federal debt (67% if GDP) has been the highest since World War II.

Long-term unemployment (45.9%) is the highest since the 1930s. Those dependent on the government, receiving federal benefits (47%) is the highest in American history.

Obama’s aggressive anti-energy policies are costing jobs from the Gulf of Mexico to the now delayed Keystone XL pipeline and all points in between. Scandals involving the bankrupt Solyndra, a solar panel company and other “green energy” investments and loans are costing him support. This is true as well wherever coal is mined and where they drill for natural gas and oil.

Americans grew tired of his non-stop speeches and gaffs, with or without the Tele-Prompters that became a national joke. Now they must endure a year of his constant campaigning and his non-stop lies about Republicans and everything else.

His penchant for never accepting blame manifested itself in another punchline, “It’s George Bush’s fault.”

In 2010, voters returned power in the House of Representatives to the Republican Party. Does anyone at this point seriously think that these and other factors point to an Obama victory in 2012?

He will be defeated and by a margin that will astound everyone.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Climategate, Part Duh!

By Alan Caruba

At what point will it finally occur to the pea-brained legion of journalists, academics, alleged scientists, United Nations propagandists, and others still blathering about “global warming” and “climate change” that there is no global warming and that the climate has been changing for the past 4.5 billion years on planet Earth?

It would appear that no amount of the evidence of fraud is sufficient to convince them they have either participated or been taken in by the greatest hoax of the modern era.

Perhaps, though, the latest release of thousands of emails between the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change perpetrators may push them toward a rational conclusion and release the rest of humanity from the penalties and costs imposed by the global warming hoax.

It’s not that the IPCC is not relentless in this ugly business. A report released on November 18 by these reprehensible liars predicted “more extreme weather events.”

Well, duh! There isn’t a day that goes by without an extreme weather event occurring somewhere on the Earth. One might consider the weather at the northern and southern poles extreme. Or the heat of the Earth’s deserts? Then throw in the usual blizzards, floods, and droughts—and you have a non-stop variety of “extreme weather events” to which to point.

To put it another way, the whole hoax was working just fine until the Earth began to cool around 1998. So naturally the IPCC had to (1) change the terminology from global warming to climate change, (2) deny that its “scientists” were lying, and (3) continue the pathetic prediction scheme by pointing to “weather events.”

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “The scientific link between climate change and extreme weather, however, isn’t uniformly clear, according to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established in 1988 to assist policy makers with climate change.”

That’s right, this whole farce has been going on since 1988. At what point will the “enablers” of global warming accept defeat? Not soon if one considers that the IPCC is laying on another climate conference to be held in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 9. It will be the 17th opportunity for these deceivers to gather to wine and dine while taxpayers from the many nations they represent pick up the tab.

Here’s the kicker. “Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said “the report also underscored the need for governments to take action to reduce emissions.”

What emissions? Carbon dioxide? A trace gas in the atmosphere (0.038%) that has no effect whatever on climate or weather?

Does anyone grasp how costly all the lies about “emissions” have been and continue to be? The Christmas tree to be erected at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. comes complete with the purchase of so-called “carbon offsets” to pay for its transport 4,200 miles across the country from California. Eighty million tons of “carbon credits” were purchased.

Bear in mind, that tree and all others depend on carbon dioxide in the same way humans and other creatures depend on oxygen! CO2 is vital to the growth of all vegetation on Earth. Without it, we all die.

But what is one Christmas tree compared to an entire nation, Australia, whose government just imposed a carbon-emissions tax on everything? The tax will drive existing heavy industry and other generators of CO2 from the nation that can afford to leave and make those who cannot less competitive with global manufacturers and other businesses. Some business will just shut their doors.

This kind of deception is global. The International Energy Agency announced in early November that “dangerous climate change will be essentially irreversible within little over five years.” The news report concluded saying “The IEA uses conclusions from research collated by the United Nations. Most climate scientists agree with the U.N. conclusions, although recent polls show a growing proportion of the public in many countries is skeptical of climate change.”

No, most climate scientists do not agree with the U.N. data because they know how flawed and frequently fraudulent it is. This kind of casual journalistic reference is a lie, along with all the rest of the global warming and/or climate change data from “official” sources like the IPCC and IEA, et al.

In early November the U.S. Department of Energy published “estimates” of global carbon dioxide emissions for the year 2010. Writing in Forbes, James Taylor of The Heartland Institute, took note that the Department concluded that “emissions rose by 6% from 2009 to 2010. This constitutes the largest rise yet recorded.” And then he added that “global temperatures have not risen during the past decade.”

There is no correlation. Never was.

Whether it is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Departments of Energy, Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency, all depend on people being too ignorant or indifferent to grasp the truth that everything done in the name of global warming, climate change, or carbon dioxide emissions is a costly, evil deception.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Obama's Green Energy Fail

By Alan Caruba

Watching Secretary of Energy Steven Chu face nearly five hours of grilling by a congressional committee seeking answers to the multi-billion dollar loss taxpayers have taken after the department dispensed their money in pursuit of its Green energy program was a reminder that ideology is not a substitute for reality.

Dr. Chu received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987 for his work at Bell Labs, shared with colleagues, on cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. At the time he was appointed to head the Department of Energy, he was a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkley. He also had gained notice as an environmental enthusiast advocating a shift away from fossil fuels—coal, natural gas and oil—to combat “climate change.”

At one point Dr. Chu thought that painting roofs and other structures white would help reflect the sun’s radiation and save the nation and the world from global warming. Another nutty idea of his was a global “glucose economy” to create a “low-carbon economy” by shipping glucose from tropical plants would replace oil, the energy source that fuels transportation worldwide and serves a multitude of other uses.

Why any of this nonsense qualified him to be the chief administrator of the Department of Energy defies understanding. A footnote to this is the fact that the Department was the creation of the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter whose “windfall profits” legislation drove much of the oil industry out of America despite the fact that the U.S. sits atop some of the greatest deposits of oil in the world.

The loan guarantees of grants made by the Department of Energy are turning out to be a huge scandal for the Obama administration, rivaling the Department of Justice’s “Fast and Furious” gun-running program to the drug cartels of Mexico. When you toss in an unemployment rate that rivals that of the Great Depression, it is hard to understand why anyone would suggest that Obama will be reelected.

As reported in The Washington Post in September, “A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show.”

This works out to $5,077.574 per job created.

We are now familiar with the Solyndra scandal, one of the companies that received loan guarantees despite grave misgivings of DOE staff members. It declared a very predictable bankruptcy as a manufacturer of solar panels. Its failure was blamed on competition from China, also a major producer of wind turbines.

Between solar and wind technology, the failure of these two Green energy producers touted by the Obama administration, is beginning to be noticed at the same time the Environmental Protection Agency is hell-bent on closing down coal-fired electrical power plants and the companies that mine coal.

Another DOE beneficiary was BrightSource, another solar firm which received a $1.4 billion bailout. It turns out that the DOE officials involved was Sanjay Wagle, formerly a principal in Robert Kennedy, Jr’s firm. In 2010, BrightSource whose largest shareholder was Kennedy’s VantagePoint Partners, had $1.8 billion of debt obligations and had lost $71.6 million.

Just how many billions the Obama administration’s Green energy program will have lost by the time they are eventually calculated will be testimony to the general failure of solar and wind power. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club is celebrating Obama’s decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, estimated to generate 20,000 jobs.

The Department of the Interior has just delayed shale gas drilling in Ohio “for up to six months” and an industry group estimates that drilling in the Utica shale affected by the delay would produce 204,500 jobs by 2015.

In mid-November, Lisa Murkowski, a Senator from Alaska, wrote an opinion published in The Wall Street Journal, noting that the Obama administration’s proposed expansion of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are its first concession since its moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. The administration still opposes offshore drilling on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Sen. Murkowski pointed out that “Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, Canada and Russia are all moving ahead on offshore development adjacent to our borders,” noting that according to the Department of Interior, “our offshore areas hold more than 86 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Artic Oceans is projected to hold 20% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas.”

Why anyone thought Dr. Chu was qualified in any fashion to run the Department of Energy defies the imagination. Why anyone still believes that solar and wind energy can replace traditional proven sources of energy is testimony to environmental propaganda and myth-making.

Green energy is simply one more way the Obama administration has set about destroying America’s capacity to generate the energy needed for everything requiring electricity. It is one more way to impoverish the nation. And he is running for reelection in 2012.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ripping Our Society to Shreds

By Alan Caruba

There was a time when civil rights were understood to mean those enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. Now, at least in the State of Massachusetts, they mean the right of homosexuals and transgender people to flaunt their lifestyle anywhere, any time. If you don’t like it and say so, the police can arrest you.

I have always been a live-and-let-live kind of person. I consider a person’s sexual preferences to be their own business. No longer. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender crowd is determined to impose their sexual “orientations” on everyone, starting in, but not limited to schools.

On November 16, the Massachusetts legislature pushed through a controversial “Transgender Rights and Hate Crimes” bill. The whole process was so unethical as to be breathtaking. In two hours, the bill went from committee release to re-write, to a late-night House vote and early-morning Senate final passage. The Senate, unlike the House, passed it by voice vote to avoid a roll call to identify who supported it.

Wham, bam, thank you Maam.

Apparently, in Massachusetts the proper review, discussion, and passage of legislation only applies to those laws not favored by its homosexual lobby.

As MassResistance, a pro-family group, noted, “Its passage appears to be timed to coincide with ‘Transgender Awareness Week’ in Massachusetts.” Since when did that State or any other get to the point of having such absurd events? Since when have we reached a point where any spoken objection to Gay Pride parades or similar events can be deemed a crime? It’s not a crime. It’s free speech.

MassResistance noted that Governor Deval Patrick “a strong supporter of homosexual and transgender movements will sign the bill within days. The only Republican in the state legislature to vote for the bill was Rep. Dan Winslow who just happens to have been former Gov. Romney’s chief legal counsel and is credited with facilitating gay marriages in Massachusetts.

Gay marriage is an oxymoron. Marriage is the union of a man with a woman. To redefine this institution, central to all societies, is to shred the bonds and standards on which society is based. What we have learned, however, is that homosexuals are not content with being granted civil unions with rights comparable to marriage.

The arrogance this represents is appalling, but the implications of the homosexual and transgender lobby’s efforts have far greater implications for everyone, but especially for families who do not want their children exposed to “choices” they are too young to understand and which their parent’s faith or beliefs disapprove. These matters do not belong in a school curriculum.

Making homosexuality “mainstream” and doing so by force of law runs counter to common community values that Americans have held since the nation’s founding. Exercising tolerance is one thing, but facing jail for any act of disapproval is quite another.

Who defines a “hate crime” and when did America begin to criminalize thought, as opposed to action? The answer is that hate crime legislation is the invention of the gay lobby.

Now, for your edification, here is the actual text of Section 7 of chapter 4 as amended by the following clause:

“Fifty-ninth, "Gender identity" shall mean a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person's core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.”

So, are we to assume that anyone can claim “gender identify” any time someone objects to the way they dress or behave in school, at work, or in any public place? This opens the door to a lot of cross-dressing and other folks who want to pursue their lifestyle no matter what affect it has on others.

These are not women. They are cross-dressing men
who got together at Capone's Restaurant, Peabody, MA

A case in point. In 2010, Capone’s Restaurant in Peabody, Massachusetts tossed out a group of men dressed as women who were upsetting its customers and even using the woman’s restrooms. When the new law goes into effect, the restaurant will be subject to fines, as would be its customers if found guilty of trying to “intimidate” them with their reaction to their presence.

This isn’t about gender. It isn’t about intolerance. It isn’t about civil rights. It is about the all-out assault on the rights of the majority heterosexual society to assert commonly held values regarding sexually-related behavior as it affects society as a whole..

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

System Failure on a Global Scale

By Alan Caruba

We are living in times when the structures involving the global financial system, national security, and self-governance are under attack, decaying, or just self-destructing due to all the ills to which humanity is prone.

Wars in the twentieth century were always an example of either the failure of nations to resolve their differences or of the ancient human inclination to steal whatever they can from their neighbor. Wars organize this into armies for that purpose. The other cause for war is the necessity to rid the neighborhood of the crazy guy who’s hoarding weapons and building bombs.

What is occurring of late, however, goes beyond the usual casus belli to something far greater, a loss of faith in national and international banking systems, aggravated by the failure of nations to act in a prudent fashion to protect the wealth of their citizens and their national sovereignty.

The cause of this is socialism, the polite name for communism. Like Islam, it exists for world domination, the control of the population for the enrichment of those holding the reins of power. It is no accident that the U.S. Congress is filled with millionaires or those who soon will be.

Communism, the creation of a man who never held a job in his life, Karl Marx, and its theoretically gentler version, Socialism, has proved to be a failure wherever it was implemented. It is always introduced as the antechamber to utopia, a better life for everyone and it has always led to the slaughter of millions in the name of achieving it. It is just another form of slavery.

Socialism, as practiced throughout the United States and Europe, dependent as it is on the “redistribution of wealth” in the form of “entitlement” programs is now crashing down around the heads of various elected leaders.

As the former British Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher, once famously said, “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

When you pile on debt beyond the mind’s capacity to imagine and you empower “super committees” or hold desperate meetings as are occurring in Europe, public faith in national currencies begins to disappear and with it a rational world in which goods and services generate income.

We are now 66 years since the end of World War Two, the war that followed “the war to end all wars”, World War One. Peace—the absence of war—lasted a scant twenty-one years in Europe before the latter cataclysm began in 1939.

Times of turmoil are the perfect opportunity for tyrants of every description to emerge, organize the collective anger, and launch new wars. In the past 66 years of “peace” there has been a succession of wars, usually between Communist and Capitalist nations such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars or civil wars. The recent wars and revolutions in the Middle East have been about oil and who gets to pump it out of the ground.

Threatening the entire world is the rise of the Islamic Revolution. Islam is less a religion than a battle plan for global conquest that has the added fillip of enslaving its adherents in a faith system that demands total obedience on pain of death. Unbelievers in general face this threat. Israel in particular always has.

Capitalism isn’t a perfect system, subject to periodic cycles of recession and depression, but it does require a greater measure of individual freedom than any other in order to encourage the kind of innovation and risk-taking that creates vast wealth-producing economies.

The problem the West is facing has been brought on by the profligate and often corrupt waste of the people’s wealth. This has been the result of metastasizing laws whose ultimate purpose is to keep populations from demanding more freedom from rapacious taxing, borrowing, and spending. Even central banks are powerless against this. Ours, the Federal Reserve, has responded by printing dollars out of thin air.

On November 18th a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Congress to balance the budget failed in the House. The U.S. is currently $15 trillion in debt. The worst fears of our Founding Fathers are coming true. Presiding over the nation is a Marxist ideologue and his henchmen.

When the Congress of the United States of America refuses to obey the limits of the Constitution, you have failure.

When that same Congress refuses to reform “entitlement” programs and reduce massive spending, you have failure.

When the Federal Reserve—a central bank that is not a part of the federal government— owns most of the nation’s debt, you have failure.

In my lifetime, the United States of America went from a largely Capitalist system and society to one of near total government control. It is Socialism supported by an insane system of taxation lacking even the appearance of fairness.

The United States has moved too far away from the purpose of the Constitution, established to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

We are that posterity,

In the decades since the last Great Depression a succession of Congresses has bankrupted the nation once again. It is happening as well in Europe because nations like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and France thought they too could defy common sense and fiscal prudence.

It is system failure on a global scale.

Americans and the citizens of Europe are the unwilling victims of too much government, too much regulation, too much corruption, too much taxation, and the general inclination of those in charge to acquire as much wealth for themselves while keeping the rest of the population complacent with “redistribution of wealth” schemes that always fail.

The Tea Party movement is calling for a restoration of America. We have precious little time to do that and it is the Democratic Party in league with unions who oppose that goal.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Super Committee Suicide

By Alan Caruba

By the weekend, news reports indicated that the congressional Super Committee was closing in on an agreement. The deficit-cutting panel is mandated to trim at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years and, failing an agreement, automatic cuts would begin in 2013, after the national elections.

In days, however, it was clear that there was no agreement and the Super Committee, as Congress has always done, was looking at a variety of gimmicks and magical thinking to avoid having to address what is now a $15 trillion national debt, more than an entire year’s Gross Domestic Product.

The Super Committee was and is a bad idea on many levels if for no other reason than the Constitution requires that all bills involving expenditures must originate in the House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 7), but “the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.” The Constitution, however, has mattered less and less to U.S. Congresses for a very long time.

On November 8, ABC News reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “suggested that the White House is pulling for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction…to fail because success would step on their storyline of Republican obstructionism.” Because Washington is a house of mirrors, the news of the past week has been of Democratic obstructionism.

By the end of the week, the President said that he would not sign any bill that repeals the automatic spending reductions that would occur if the Committee does not come to an agreement. “That veto threat,” said a Wall Street Journal article “was a response to GOP lawmakers’ proposals to shield the Pentagon from such cuts.”

On Veteran’s Day, November 11th, a Wall Street Journal editorial, “If Iran Gets the Bomb", took note of the International Atomic Energy Agency report that Iran was closing in on having its own nuclear weapons, saying that “The serious choice now before the Administration is between military strikes and more of the same. As the IAEA report makes painfully clear, more of the same means a nuclear Iran, possibly within a year.”

So, while Iran closes in on becoming a nuclear power, national election campaigns will be raging in 2012 with Obama’s only hope of reelection being to claim that the Republican Party is blocking his efforts to tame unemployment, revive the economy, and keep America safe. Meanwhile, Democrat members of the committee keep pushing for new taxes in the midst of a “recession” that rivals the Great Depression.

If it wasn’t so absurd, it would be laughable, but it is also the worst possible time to have automatic budget cuts that would take as much as $500 billion out of the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade if the Super Committee cannot find agreement. Reportedly, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was looking for potential savings in the budget by cutting the Pentagon’s nuclear arsenal!

The state of our military equipment is geriatric and it is dwindling. The F-15 fighter jets that make up half the fleet, have an average age of 25 years! Air force strategic bombers average 34 years of age and refueling aircraft are 47 years old. The Navy has fewer ships today than on 9/11; 284 now compared to 316 in 2001.

Equipment and vehicles in use since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq are in need of replacement. If the automatic cuts kick in, the Pentagon budget will be cut by $500 billion over the next ten years, precisely at the time the military will need the means to fight a war that would presumably start in the Middle East if Iran’s threats mean anything.

Cutting the Pentagon budget at this time and into the near future is the worst idea to come out of Congress when a kindergartner could find ways to cut $1.5 trillion from the U.S. budget.

Iran’s leaders, from the day in 1979 they seized American diplomats and held them hostage for 444 days, have been in a state of war against America. An Iranian truck bomb was used against the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon and against Marine barracks in 1983. Iranian-made IEDs killed many U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Within recent weeks we learned of a thwarted Iranian plan to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in a Washington, D.C. restaurant.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei has called for the destruction of Israel, the “little Satan” and America, the “big Satan.”

Ignoring such threats is suicidal.

Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor with a preemptive strike in 1981 and did the same to Syria’s secret nuclear program in 2007. It is unimaginable how events would have played out if Iraq had acquired nuclear weapons. The notion that the United States of America must depend on Israel to end the Iranian threat is cowardly and shameful.

Cutting the Pentagon’s budget now or over the next decade would be suicidal.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Green Pillage and Plunder

By Alan Caruba

To understand what is behind all the talk, the legislation, the protests in support of “global warming”, now commonly called “climate change”, you have to understand the millions, if not billions, at stake for the liars who dreamed up this greatest hoax of the modern era.

The basics:

There is no dramatic warming of the Earth. There never was though it has passed through periods of warming. The most recent mini-ice age lasted from around 1300 and ended around 1850; the Earth began to warm again to normal levels. Warming and cooling cycles, like Ice Ages, are well documented and warm is better because it produces greater crop yields, increased forest growth, whereas cooling endangers life.

The Earth entered a normal cooling cycle around 1998 and is still in that cycle. The Earth is at the end of an interglacial period between Ice Ages and it will enter a new one. The Earth is not heating up. It will get very cold and stay that way for thousands of years.

During the last Ice Age more than a third of the Earth was covered in ice and the air had less, not more, carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide correlates with periods of warmth and the most recent such period saw the rise of human civilization and expansion of the human population during the current interglacial period.

Carbon dioxide plays no role whatever in “heating up” the Earth. In terms of the Earth’s atmosphere, it is a miniscule 0.038%. The rest is mostly water vapor. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is equivalent to one penny out of $100.00.

Volcanic eruptions produce more CO2 than human-related activity and there are at least twenty such eruptions from active volcanoes occurring as you read this.

If you shut down all the power plants, all the factories, all the bakeries, all commerce, the only result would be the destruction of the economy. Similarly, if you thwarted all coal, natural gas, and oil production, the agenda of the current administration, the only effect would be to render millions without jobs and without the capacity to turn on the lights or heat their homes.

Carbon dioxide is vital to all life on Earth because no vegetation can exist without it.

The UN and Green Organizations:

The global warming hoax is the creation of the United Nations and, in particular, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the agency responsible for the Kyoto Protocols of December 11, 1997 intended to reduce CO2 production worldwide. What purpose is served by this? One answer is the weakening of the economies of industrialized nations. It is a little known fact that both China and India were exempt from the Protocols.

It has taken some nations a while to wake up to the suicidal effects of the IPCC program. In early November, Canada slashed the budget of its environmental program; in particular the ozone monitoring costs that were the result of the Montreal Protocol. If the U.S. was to follow suit, the savings would be billions. The EPA and NOAA budgets for 2010 were $10.3 billion and $5.5 billion dollars, respectively.

As recently as November 1st, the IPCC was claiming that weather events from the October snowstorm that hit northeastern U.S. and the record floods in Thailand were the result of—you guess it—global warming. It’s latest report asserts that it is “virtually certain” that the world would have more extreme spells of heat and fewer of cold. Thus, by this warped logic, warming causes blizzards.

The perpetrators of the “climate models” produced by the IPCC over the years were exposed in 2009 in what has since been called “Climategate.” Emails between them revealed the deliberate deception. It is estimated that the U.S. has spent over $50 billion on “climate research” since the late 1990s.

Support for the global warming hoax came from science journals and the mainstream media. The IPCC received a Nobel Prize. Al Gore’s documentary on global warming received an Oscars. It was all a lie, but the sale of bogus “carbon credits” reaped millions for those engaged until the exchanges offering them were forced to close their doors.

Much of the regulation being forced upon the American economy by the Environmental Protection Agency is predicated on the “control” of carbon dioxide and is directed at plants that generate fifty percent of all the electricity used daily and coal mines that provide that energy.

On November 8th, the Obama administration announced its intention to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants. On November 10th, it announced a delay in the authorization of a new oil pipeline from Canada. Environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth were jubilant despite the estimated 20,000 jobs that were lost from the delay. There are some 50,000 pipelines in the U.S. that provide the energy we use daily.

We are witnessing the strangulation of the American economy by the United Nations, the Obama administration, U.S. and international environmental organizations, and much of the mainstream media that continues to report on “greenhouse gas emissions.”

We are long since passed the time for U.S. withdrawal from the UN and the shutdown of the EPA. Every day that passes is a nail in the nation’s coffin.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Concerned about OWS?

Iran's Nuclear Armageddon

By Alan Caruba

During the long years of the Cold War from 1945 to 1991, the U.S. and the former Soviet Union faced off against each other, both having an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Only once, during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, did the prospect of a real threat to the homeland arise. After a U.S. naval blockade was imposed, the Russians took their missiles home.

The key factor was that the Russian leaders were not suicidal. They were not crazy. They fully understood what it would mean to actually use nuclear weapons or be on the receiving end of them.

The Iranian ayatollahs are a different case entirely. Over the years, they have voiced a rather nonchalant attitude toward being on the receiving end of nuclear weapons because they are a Shiite martyrdom cult. During its eight-year war with Iraq, initiated by Saddam Hussein, an estimated 500,000 Iranians died, including 100,000 children sent to clear mine fields by setting them off.

The failure to grasp the depth and insanity of the current leaders of Iran is pushing the world toward the first nuclear confrontation since A-bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end World War II in 1945.

Yoram Ettinger, a former Israel consul general in Houston, Texas, warns that “Iran’s geostrategic goals are energized by its current Islamic zeal, viewing jihad (holy war) as the permanent state of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, while peace and cease-fire accords are tenuous.”

So, when the Israelis shared intelligence with President Obama in mid-November that the Iranians “will already have five nuclear bombs or warheads” by late March 2012, it raised the stakes for President Obama and the nation.

We already know Obama wants a reduction in nuclear arms. He signed a treaty with the Russians to achieve this. He refused to permit missiles to be based in Poland, presumably for the same reason. The surface to air missiles, however, could have deterred any missiles headed toward Europe.

I have absolutely no confidence in Obama when it comes to the preemptive action that must be taken against Iran’s nuclear and military facilities in order to end a threat that even the President acknowledged in a recemt Hawaii press conference would be directed not just at Israel, but at the United States as well.

The stakes just don’t get any higher and this President has not demonstrated any backbone except to okay the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the man behind the attack on 9/11. That was a no-brainer.

I don’t know what military assets and options we have in the Persian Gulf, but if an attack to deter an Iranian nuclear threat is undertaken either by Israel or together, we will likely need a lot of them.

Military observers have concluded that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz that provides access to and from the Persian Gulf, thus putting enormous strain on the provision of Middle East oil that flows through the Straits on a daily basis, not just from Iran, but from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. An estimated 40% of all seaborne oil passes through the Strait, the equivalent of 20% of the total amount of oil traded worldwide. If closed, it would drive the cost of oil to stratospheric heights.

The failure of the U.S. to develop its own extensive oil reserves will prove to be a massive strategic error. The delay of a proposed Canadian oil pipeline to deliver oil to the U.S. is just one small element of this failure.

In an August 6, 2009 Jerusalem Post article, Anne Bayefsky of wrote, “The Iranians have already called Obama’s bluff. An Iranian newspaper referred to the American agenda on July 20 this way: ‘The Obama administration is prepared to accept the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran…they have no long-term plan for dealing with Iran. Their strategy consists of begging us to talk to them.”

Ultimately it will be Israel’s call if U.S. leaders fail to step up to the task and, in the judgment of the Iranians, the U.S. will not. The Israelis have no choice.

In February 2010 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, addressing a crowd celebrating the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran,said  “Iran is now a nuclear state.”

The world is rapidly running out of time to prevent an Iranian Armageddon.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Missing George W. Bush

By Alan Caruba

It's not fashionable to speak well of Obama's predecessor, but it grows more difficult by the day to find anything good to say about the incumbent President who recently opined that Americans are “lazy” and have "lost our ambition." As I recall he spent his first year in office going around the world apologizing for what he deemed America’s past sins and exceptualism.

No, I am talking about George W. Bush, often referred to as Bush 43. I think historians are going to treat him more kindly than might seem likely to some at this point almost three years since the current President took the oath of office in January 2009. Bush43, with Trumanesque self-discipline and modesty, went home and has not spoken out about his successor’s decisions in office, neither to criticize nor praise. That’s how presidents are expected to behave.

Bush43, however, did begin writing a memoir of his eight years in office called “Decision Points” and, when it was first published, it became a bestseller. It is available now in a softcover edition from Broadway Books at $18.00, but already discounted to an affordable twelve dollars and change on As a longtime book reviewer, I received the softcover edition and have been reading it in lieu of watching the horrid stuff that passes for television these days.

I begin with a confession that, throughout his two terms, I had a good opinion of George W. Bush. I disagreed with his No Child Left Behind approach to education and I thought that adding a prescription benefit to an already broke Medicare was unwise. I had some qualms about the creation of the super agency, Homeland Security, and the Patriot Act. By the time the “surge” in Iraq arrived, I thought it was a bad idea to have invaded even though I understood the threat that Saddam Hussein posed in the region. As it turned out, other Middle East dictators began to fall like dominoes in the wake of the U.S. action.

Bush’s book surprised me. I had no idea of the depth of his religious faith and how it sustained him through the trial of 9/11 and other difficult times such as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This is a man who begins his day by reading the Bible. Frankly, I found that comforting.

I looked upon his presidency as being part of the “family business.” His grandfather, Prescott Bush had been a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. His father, George H.W. Bush had served as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President before being elected President in his own right. What comes through George W’s memoir is his deep love for his parents, his brothers, and his own family, wife Laura and his twin girls.

The memoir is not some coldly intellectual analysis, but rather is infused with his own emotions as he dealt with crisis, the greatest of which—9/11—turned him into a wartime president. I think he met the challenge of the first attack on the homeland since Pearl Harbor and one that took the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, including first responders.

When Bush visited the site of Ground Zero in New York amidst the still smoking ruins, a soot-covered firefighter “looked me in square in the eye and said, ‘George, find the bastards who did this and kill them.’ It’s not often that people call the president by his first name. But that was fine with me. This was personal.”

What distinguishes “Decision Points” is the fact that it is devoted to explaining why he did what he did during his two terms. We need to remind ourselves of the times in which those decisions were occurring and, perhaps, to remember how frightened the nation was in the wake of 9/11.

That fear gave way quickly to the leadership Bush provided; his decision to invade Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and al Qaeda, the creation of “Gitmo” as a place to hold non-state combatants and the reorganization of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to better coordinate their ability to share information. In the eight years that followed, no further attacks were successful.

That stands in contrast with President Obama’s announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed. It was filled with “I did this” and “I did that” and never once mentioned that it was possible only because of the machinery that George W. Bush had put in place. Indeed, Obama had wanted to close Gitmo and try the planner of 9/11 in a civil court with all the protections the U.S. Constitution provides Americans. Both proposals were abandoned after widespread opposition.

Bush’s second term ended under a cloud from the housing mortgage crisis that required extraordinary efforts to avoid the collapse of the nation’s financial system. It obscured Bush’s tax cut, signed into law in May 2003, that led to economic growth for 46 consecutive months and resulted in an unemployment rate that averaged only 5.3 percent during his presidency.

There is much more that can and will be credited to George W. Bush for his two terms and, given the failure of the present administration to reverse the recession, to turn the tide on unemployment, to have increased the national debt to a level that exceeds all previous presidents in just three years, and to have been the first to see the nation’s credit rating downgraded, the contrast is too great to ignore.

Elections do have consequences. In both cases, the elections of George W. Bush were “squeakers” that might have put Al Gore or John Kerry in the White House. I think America dodged a bullet, but then forgot how important it is to put someone in office who will protect the nation and grow its economy. 2012 will give us another opportunity to do that.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

America Started as a Protest

Chicago Police, 1968
By Alan Caruba

So I am watching the police in Portland, Oregon drive the Occupy protesters from some area they choose, tearing down the makeshift living quarters, tossing the signs onto a pile to be carted off. All across America mayors have decided that the pattern of disease, crime, and uncivil behavior has lost its charm. “They’ve had enough time to make their point,” said one.

Most of us are still trying to figure out what the Occupy protests were all about. There was a lot of whining about having to actually pay back a college loan, a general unhappiness with banks, but it was both leaderless and unfocused. A protest just to have a protest.

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times” said the narrator of A Tale of Two Cities, but it is always the best and worst of times, depending on whether you are old or young, have a roof over your head, and most of all a means to earn a living. Interesting phrase, “earn a living.” Pull it inside out and it says that life is not free. No matter what you want, there’s a price on it. It’s called the free market. Or taxes. Or both.

In my seventy-plus years, I suspect there was always a protest going on somewhere in America. Indeed, if you think about it, America started as a protest. “No taxation without representation.” The Revolution was six long years of protest, interspersed by a number of battles from Bunker Hill to Yorktown.

One year in particular stands out for its protests, 1968. I had just entered my 30s. My Army service was well behind me and I had no concerns about being called up to go to Vietnam, but that war was raging in 1968 and so were the protests against it.

On a parallel track the Civil Rights movement, despite the passage in 1964 of federal laws, was still going strong and had been joined by a feminist movement and a nascent gay rights movement. It was hard to keep track of who was protesting what, but in1968 they all seemed to come together during the Democratic Party convention in Chicago and that turned into a police riot against the protesters.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Occupy Wall Street has gotten is measure of media coverage, but in 1968 people were talking about Resurrection City, a protest to demand attention on behalf of the rural and urban poor. A shantytown was put up parallel to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In April, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis. The Resurrection City protest was all but over when, in May, rain of biblical proportions turned it into a slum, a very muddy one at that.

As the nation grieved Dr. King’s assassination and in the wake of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s announcement that he would not run for the office again, Kennedy’s brother, Robert, entered the race in mid-March. On June 4, after celebrating a primary win in California, a Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan shot him in the hotel’s kitchen. He died twenty-six hours later on June 6. Barely two months had passed since Dr. King’s death.

On August 26, the Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago. It would nominate Hubert H. Humphrey, LBJ’s Vice President as its candidate. The battles with anti-war protesters in Lincoln Park and a few nights later in Grant Park were the real news.

In November 1968, Richard M. Nixon, a Republican, was elected President. How close was it? Nixon received 43.4 percent of the popular vote. Humphrey won 42.7 percent. An independent candidate, a racist Alabama Governor named George Wallace, received 13.5 percent.

As 1968 wound down, Douglas Engelbart and fellow researchers at Stanford University announced the invention of the world’s first word processor that included something called “a mouse.” Elvis Presley made a comeback with a TV special on NBC. On December 24th, the crew of Apollo 8 sent back the first images of Earthrise and read from the book of Genesis.

There were 549,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam as 1968 came to an end. Nearly 17,000 had been killed in action that year.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

If Not Romney, Who?

By Alan Caruba

Generally overlooked in the midst of the many debates and the usual competition between Republican candidates for the Party’s nomination is the fact that a rather impressive number have thrown their hats in the ring. It is testimony to the health, depth, and diversity of the Party. Compare that with the Democratic Party’s lone candidate, a President already ceded the title of worst ever.

As campaigns proceed toward the on-rushing primaries, Republicans are increasingly focused beyond the usual circus atmosphere, including the latest problems encountered by Herman Cain and Rick Perry’s gaffs. Selecting the GOP candidate has now reached the critical stage.

That is why a lengthy editorial in a recent Wall Street Journal is noteworthy. “Romney’s Fiscal Awakening” was a thorough analysis of a November 4th Romney speech on the subject of reversing the nation’s economic problems. The Journal said “his remarks deserve more attention than they’ve received as a guide to how he might govern.”

Romney has run a smart campaign to this point, not attacking the other candidates and waiting for them to exhaust themselves while he maintained a fairly constant 25% of support to this point. Unlike the boxer who spends all his energy in the first or third round, Romney has tended to the grassroots kind of effort necessary to succeed in the early primaries.

He’s been here before--losing the nomination to John McCain the last time and it is likely that many Republicans have some very serious regrets about that. He learned from that effort, probably in the same way Ronald Reagan did when he challenged Gerald Ford for the nomination. McCain was an updated version of Bob Dole, the kind of GOP candidate who gets the nod because he was judged to have earned it even if he couldn’t campaign is way out of a paper bag.

Increasingly, Republicans are asking themselves, “If not Romney, who?”

While many believe that almost any GOP candidate could beat Obama that kind of optimism is unwise because an incumbent president has a lot of resources to draw on between now and Election Day. That said, Republicans have seen their own incumbents, George H.W. Bush and the aforementioned Gerald Ford defeated.

On Saturday, November 12th, Rasmussen Reports reviewed the week’s polling results. “Poll after poll shows former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to be the Republican presidential contender voters are most comfortable with and the GOP hopeful who continues to run most competitively with President Obama. But that's not enough for a lot of Republican voters.”

“Just this past week, new surveying found that Romney is the GOP candidate viewed most favorably by all voters. This parallels other recent findings that voters see Romney as the GOP hopeful most qualified to be president and the candidate for the White House closest to the mainstream in a group that includes Obama.”

I would recommend reading “Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics” by R. B. Scott (Lyons Press) because it is not an authorized biographical profile, the author has excellent journalistic credentials, and he provides useful insights regarding the Mormon Church you are not likely to read elsewhere.

I have concluded that Romney’s religion is not going to play that much of a role in the forthcoming election. Consider that he won the governorship of Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states and a Democratic stronghold. Romney knows how to win elections.

In saying that, I am also saying he is a very skilled politician. In addition, he has also a proven record in the world of business and finance. These are two elements that are going to be vital to his election in 2012. Yes, I think he will get the GOP nomination. Yes, I would vote for him.

The highest hurdle Romney must overcome is his reputation as a “flip-flopper.” There is no question that he has changed his views over the years on many topics, but that can be easily countered by merely listing the many times that Obama has done the same or, in his case, voted “present.”

Whether it’s been about abortion and choice, stem cell research, gun control, immigration, or taxes, Romney has been on one side of the issue or the other over the years. What is called “flip-flopping” can also been seen as a process of growth, of examining his positions on these issues and—yes—changing them.

Here’s where Romney’s religion really plays a role. The Mormon Church, in which he has been an active leader, is famous for its moral code. They don’t drink. They don’t smoke. And they have positions on major moral issues that are not dissimilar from the Roman Catholic Church.

As R.B. Scott says in his book, Mormons have values that include “veneration for the experience, wisdom, and caution of the elderly; respect for the talents and pragmatism of skilled tradesmen; honor and gratitude for those who perform heavy labor; deep admiration for poets, musicians, writers, entertainers, and athletes; and veneration for religious, academic, and secular achievements.”

Romney has diverged from the church’s positions on occasion, but Mormons also hold to a fundamental tenet, the doctrine of free agency. “Regardless of existing laws, faithful Mormons had the obligation to make moral judgments for themselves”, says Scott. Romney has done that.

Romney has been the clear winner of the recent debates. Rick Perry was the biggest loser and the rest of the candidates increasingly look like window dressing.

Romney has been successful at almost everything he has ever put his hand to. He is the right man at the right time to defeat Barack Hussein Obama in 2012.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Day - 11/11/11

As a veteran I naturally feel an afinity for all who have served their nation in uniform, but I am no fan of war. Those who commanded and those who served often feel the same. And then there are those who gave their lives. Their numbers would astound you and their bravery confounds the imagination. Veteran's Day is especially for them, but for the living, too.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.... A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their own free choice—is often the means of their regeneration."
-- John Stuart Mill, "The Contest in America,"

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity."
       -- Dwight  D. Eisenhower, speech, Jan. 10, 1946

"I know not with what weapons World War II will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
-- Albert Einstein

And, a poem by Henry Reed, an English poet who was killed in World War I. Told in the voice of an instructor teaching new soldiers about their rifle, it juxtaposes the poet's observation of the beauty of nature around him and the absurdity of war for any but the most noble purpose.

By Henry Reed

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens
And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.